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JJB MP questions voters’ responsibility in deterioration of parliamentary system

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…the Executive bane of the country

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Jathika Jana Balavegaya (JJB) lawmaker Dr. Harini Amarasuriya says the Parliament has to be reformed. The Parliament is necessary and the urgent need is to make it stronger, the civil society activist asserts.

Dr. Amarasuriya said so in response to The Island query how she felt about the failure on the part of the Parliament to guarantee financial discipline, as a first time entrant into parliamentary politics and a member of the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA).

Dr. Amarasuriya recently chaired COPA proceedings temporarily in the absence of its Chairman Prof. Tissa Vitharana.

Whatever the inadequacies, the country couldn’t do away with the Parliamentary system, Dr. Amarasuriya said, underscoring the need to reform the Parliament with a view to meeting the aspirations of the people.

The JVP contested the last general election in August 2000 under JJB symbol. The JJB secured three seats, including one National List seat. The JVP deviated from the controversial practice of appointing wholesale its defeated candidates through the National List, by accommodating Dr. Amarasuriya on the single NL seat it won.

When The Island sought Dr. Amarasuriya views on the bleak picture depicted by statements issued as regards proceedings of three watchdog committees, namely COPA, COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) and PFC (Public Finance Committee), the academic said the electorate couldn’t under any circumstance absolve themselves of the responsibility for the current turmoil caused by those who exercised political power.

Was it fair to parliament when the electorate repeatedly elected the same lot? Dr. Amarasuriya asked. Those who exercised their franchise to elect questionable members should accept the consequences, too, the lawmaker said, pointing out the responsibility on the part of the print and electronic media to educate the public.

When The Island pointed out that the electorate first picked a political party before choosing candidates, Dr. Amarasuriya reiterated the fact that voters should accept the responsibility for their choices.

Of the 225-member Parliament, 196 are elected whereas 29 entered on the National Lists of various parties. Of the 29 NL members in the current parliament, the ruling SLPP  and the SJB won 17 and 07, respectively, and the remaining six were shared one each by the ITAK, JJB, AITC (Ahila Illankai Thamil Congress), UNP and OPPP( Our Power of People Party).

Dr. Amarasuriya pointed out the absurdity in those complaining about successive governments they themselves voted in. She emphasized that her stand as regards the issue at hand applied for those who raised the issue on behalf of the media. The JJB lawmaker asserted that the Parliament would have been in a much better position to address the grievances of the public if the electorate voted prudently.

MP Amarasuriya warned of dire consequences in depicting the Parliament as a useless and failed institution at a time when efforts were being made to weaken the parliamentary democracy.

In addition to the electorate irresponsibly voting for the same lot over and over again, the weakening of the Parliament by way of such despicable Amendments as the 20th, too, contributed to the overall deterioration of the systems in place.

The SLPP enacted the 20th Amendment last October at the expense of the 19th brought in early 2015 with over 200 lawmakers voting for it, MP Amarasuriya said. The 20th received a two-thirds majority with over a half a dozen Opposition MPs voting with the SLPP. All JJB lawmakers voted against the 20th Amendment which JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake called a dictatorial project.

MP Amarasuriya said that the electorate should take their responsibilities seriously. They should recognize the danger in repeatedly empowering the same political parties and their representatives. The Island pointed out the people today blamed the executive, legislature and the judiciary for the current state of affairs. The Island also raised the confusion caused by those who represented the parliament as accusations and counter-accusations as regards negligence and the responsibility pertaining to the Easter Sunday attacks and the father of two Easter Sunday suicide cadres ending up in the JVP National List for the 2015 general elections. And after having got elected many more members, the JVP shamelessly cavorted with the UNP in abusing political opponents using the law enforcers and particularly the police for the purpose even after two bond robberies staged in broad daylight by the yahapalana government.

 Dr. Amarasuriya emphasized the need to strengthen the parliament and stop efforts to dilute the parliamentary powers for the benefit of the executive. The MP claimed that the executive presidency was the bane of the democracy. Reforming the parliament would be the remedial measure, the country needed now, the MP said.



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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