Connect with us

news

Mangala launches new initiative to rally masses against SLPP

Published

on

…..Radical Centre claims to follow centrist path

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who quit the 2020 parliamentary election in the second week of June, will launch a programme today (6) to protect, what a close associate of his called democratic gains made during the yahapalana administration.

 Samaraweera will launch social media-based campaigns, in stages, beginning 10 am. The former minister’s aide told The Island that the carefully arranged project aimed to sustain post-war reconciliation efforts launched in the wake of the change of government in January 2015.

 In spite of quitting the contest, Samaraweera yesterday exercised his franchise in Matara.

Samaraweera led the Matara District Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) nominations list. There had never been a previous instance of a senior politician quitting the contest having accepted nominations.

Samaraweera served as foreign and finance ministers alternatively during the previous administration.

Responding to another query, the aide said that the launch of the project coincided with the commencement of the counting of the ballot papers. “The former minister will issue a statement around noon, about two hours after the issuance of new movement’s first statement,” the aide said.

 As part of the overall measures in place to neutralize continuing threat posed by the coronavirus, the Election Commission did away with overnight counting. Counting of ballot papers will commence today (Thursday) at 7 am.

 Asked whether Samaraweera’s project was aimed at challenging the new government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the aide emphasized it certainly was not the intention.

 The former minister, in spite of giving up parliamentary politics was however determined to pursue his political objectives, the aide said, adding that he would closely work with those elected to the new parliament.

The new civil society initiative undertaken by some of those who backed the yahapalana administration was unveiled at an event held at the New Town Hall on July 8. Samaraweera participated in the event though he did not address the gathering.

 The grouping styled itself as ‘Freedom: People’s Collective’ vowed to do whatever it took to thwart the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) plan to do away with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Jaffna District candidate M.A. Sumanthiran PC represented the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Minister Samaraweerra, in a statement under the theme ‘an agenda for true patriots’ issued via a new set up called ‘The Radical Centre’ stated: ‘The ‘Radical Centre’ entails the creation of a centrist middle way where dissenting voices and opinions from every part of the political spectrum would have a place within a democratic framework of decentralized governance. It is a system where diversity in all its manifestations is celebrated; the years of deep mistrust between the different communities must lose its sting within a non-violent, democratic framework where pluralism and secularism flourish. The radical centre should show the intolerant that those they hate are in fact, quite similar to them and have the same dreams and aspirations as well as the same fears and concerns as human beings. The radical centre should be the point where all Sri Lankans can discover their common humanity going beyond the boundaries of race, creed and caste.”

 Declaring that democracy, in spite of all its shortcomings remains the best system of governance as we move towards the second quarter of the 21st century, Samaraweera emphasized that an urgent re-commitment to democracy has become the need of the hour as Sri Lanka hurls towards an autocracy with the rapid convergence of the executive, the military and the clergy; the legislature and the judiciary are being turned into mere rubber seals of the executive President.

Commenting on the growing threat posed by narcotics, the former minister said that stringent new laws were required to curb the menace. Samaraweera said: “Many of the big time drug barons have the highest political patronage and drug money is being laundered into the mainstream, formal economy through casinos, stock market, media institutions et al. In the fight against drug abuse, only addicts and low level dealers are brought to book. Stringent new legislation is needed urgently to curb this menace. A three pronged war against extremism and drug abuse is the need of the hour while special rehabilitation programmes must be introduced to treat the addicted youth.”

 

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

news

20A passed at first reading stage amidst protests from SJB

Published

on

By Saman Indrajith

 

The 20th Amendment Bill was passed yesterday in Parliament at the first reading stage amidst protests from the SJB.

Justice Minister Ali Sabry presented the Bill to the House.

SJB members who were wearing black armbands and badges with ‘No to 20’ printed on them shouted. They held placards denouncing the 20th Amendment.

 Some SJB MPs were seen coming from their desks to the Well of the House, and then the government MPs too came down and shouted, ‘Yes to 20’.

Serjeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando and his deputy Kushan Jayaratne were seen standing before the Mace

 Trade Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardane moved a number of Orders under the Special Commodity Levy Act for debate.

Seconding the move, Samurdhi, Household Economy, Micro Finance, Self-Employment, Business Development and Underutilised State Resources Development State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said that the Opposition should have raised their concerns elsewhere.

“They can now go before court and express their concerns. They have one more option. That is to secure a two-third majority in Parliament and defeat the Bill. Without doing any of them they shout here to disrupt sittings and thereby waste public funds. We remember how they behaved when they were in power; they brought in several no-confidence motions. They did so after suspending the Standing Orders of the House. The then Speaker Karu Jayasuriya suspended Standing Orders to allow JVP MP Vijitha Herath to move a motion. We do not act in such undemocratic manner. People have given us a mandate to do away with the 19th Amendment. We act according to that mandate.”

SJB Kegalle District MP Kabir Hashim:

There are two groups in this House. One group ruled this country for 20 years. We were in power for five years.

If they say that they need more powers to develop this country that is a joke.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said the TV camera was not focussed on MP Hashim.

SJB MPs shouted demanding that the camera be focussed on him

MP Hashim:

If this is the manner the government ensuring the rights of MPs before the 20th Amendment, what will happen to us after it becomes law?

MP Hashim:

Have you been able to bring down the price of a single commodity after coming to power? When you came to power in 1994 you promised to abolish the executive presidency, and do away with the open economic policies. You did not do so. Mahinda Rajapaksa too came to power on the same promises. But his government did not honour thems. Today, we are staging this protest to save the powers of the Prime Minister not for our sake. Do you remember the Subha and Yasa story. A palace guard and the king exchanged their places for the fun of it. But the guard did not give back the throne to the king. He remained in the position and even killed the King. The same will happen here when the 20th Amendment is passed.

Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage:

This is a government of the people. We will not do anything against people’s aspirations. We uphold democracy. During the times when you were in the government you did not hold elections. There are many MPs in the opposition today who want to join our government. By this morning there were 17 opposition MPs who wanted to join us. We will get 20 MPs from the Opposition to secure the passage of this Bill. You do not worry about saving the powers of the Prime Minister. We will see to that. You passed the 19th Amendment to prevent the Rajapaksas from coming to power. The Opposition paints a dismal picture of the 20th Amendment. Former Minister Hashim laments about the prices of commodities. Tell me the price of a coconut. Tell me. You cannot because you do not know. You do not know because you are living in luxury away from people.  Today a coconut is Rs 70 in the market. You are not with the people that is why you lost the election.

Industry Minister Wimal Weerawansa raising a point of order said that MPs could not demand that the camera be focussed on them. “Whenever there is a protest in the House, the camera should focus either on the Speaker or the Mace. That is the procedure. It was introduced by the former Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara.”

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa:

We register our opposition and frustration over the 20th Amendment. This amendment has provisions that will erode democratic values.

Continue Reading

news

Speaker berates opposition for resorting to harangue at question time

Published

on

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday (22) reprimanded the Opposition MPs for wasting the time of the House. He said that MPs should not make speeches when raising questions listed in the Order Paper because only one hour had been allotted for the question time.

He said so when Ratnapura District SJB MP Hesha Withanage raised supplementary questions and made a lengthy speech.

Withanage demanded to know from the Prime Minister the number of Cabinet ministers in governments since 1978.

Responding on behalf of the Prime Minister Chief of the Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said that there had been nine parliaments since 1978 and there had been different numbers of Cabinet ministers in those government. He said that the first parliament in 1978 had 25 cabinet ministers and the second parliament in 1989 had 21 cabinet ministers. The third parliament in 1994 had 23 cabinet and 31 deputy ministers with a total of 54. The fourth parliament of 2000 had 42 cabinet and 36 deputy ministers with a total of 78. The Fifth Parliament of 2001 had 25 cabinet, 27 non-cabinet and eight deputy ministers with a total of 60. The sixth parliament of 2004 had 31 cabinet, three non-cabinet and 31 deputy ministers with a total of 65. The seventh parliament of 2010 had 37 cabinet 39 deputy ministers with a total of 76 ministers. The eighth parliament of 2015 had 45 cabinet and 38 state ministers making a total of 87 ministers. The eighth parliament of 2019 had 16 cabinet and 38 state ministers with a total of 54. The ninth parliament of 2020 has 27 cabinet and 40 state ministers with a total of 67.

The first and second parliaments of 1978 and 1989 had one female cabinet minister each. Third parliament of 1994 had three cabinet and five deputy female ministers with a total eight female members. The Fourth parliament of 2000 had four female cabinet ministers. The fifth parliament of 2001 had only one female cabinet minister. The sixth parliament of 2004 had three female cabinet ministers. The seventh parliament of 2010 had two female cabinet ministers and one female deputy minister post making it three female ministers. The eighth parliament of 2015 had a total number of six female ministerial posts – two cabinet, two state and two deputy posts.  The eighth parliament of 2019 had one female cabinet minister. The ninth parliament of 2020 has one female cabinet minister and two female state ministers with a total of three.

The highest percentage of female ministers was in 1994 with 13.04% and the lowest was in 2020 with 3.7 percent, Minister Fernando said.

Responding to the question the percentage of female ministers in the present government, Minister Fernando said it was 3.6. He said the figure was the same as the percentage of female representation in Parliament.

When the time came for the supplementary questions, MP Withanage said that if the funds spent on the number of Cabinet ministers since 1978 had been spent for the development, the country would have been in a better position. Then he lamented that the percentage of female members in parliament did not tally with the population’s female percentage. Thereafter, he said that under the previous government a ceiling on the number of Cabinet ministers had been imposed and the incumbent government was planning to remove it. He asked how the government would justify the proposed increase in the number of ministers.

Speaker Abeywardena intervened and said the MPs could not be allowed to make speeches making use of time allocated for questions. “You should ask only supplementary question. This cannot be permitted. We have to give consideration to the time. We move on to the next item in the order paper.”

S.M. Marikkar raising a point of order said that the government Cabinet, state and deputy ministerial posts to serve their people. The Opposition MPs had only one opportunity and that was by raising the people’s questions. “That is our right. Do not deprive us of our right,” MP Marikkar said.

The Speaker said that his concern too was to ensure the MPs’ rights and for that purpose time had to be managed.

Minister Fernando said that MP Withanage had not raised a single supplementary question and made a speech instead and, therefore, if the latter could raise a specific question the government was ready to answer them.

Continue Reading

news

20A challenged in SC

Published

on

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court by Indika Gallage, a lawyer, yesterday, challenging the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. The petitioner has requested the Court to declare that a referendum and a two-thirds majority in Parliament are needed for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

Gallage has made the Attorney General the respondent. The petition claims that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution violates Articles 01, 03, 04 (d,) 12.1, 14 (1) g, 27 (2) and 27 (3.)

Continue Reading

Trending