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

Bid to use private member’s motion to put off LG polls alleged

Published

on

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Foreign Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris has questioned the rationale behind President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s warning that the military will be deployed to curb protest vis-a-vis a Foreign Ministry undertaking to boost foreign trade and investment.

Addressing the Parliament, during the Budget committee stage debate, on 28 Nov., Prof. Peiris said the Foreign Ministry couldn’t expect to succeed in economic diplomacy while the government was resorting to repressive measures.

Prof. Peiris asked who would want to invest in a country where the people were warned of dire consequences if they held protests, and elections were arbitrarily postponed.

Referring to the long overdue Provincial Council polls, Prof. Peiris discussed how postponement of scheduled Local Government polls could further jeopardise Sri Lanka’s standing among the international community.

Prof. Peiris alleged that the government was planning to use private members’ motion submitted by Attorney-at-Law Premanath C. Dolawatta (SLPP, Colombo District) to put off scheduled Local Government polls further. The ex-Minister claimed that the motion meant to enhance youth representation in governance would be utilised to delay the polls indefinitely. He recalled how the Yahapalana government had postponed the Provincial Council elections indefinitely.

The rebel SLPP Chairman pointed out that the government had chosen MP Dolawatta’s motion, handed over recently, though SJB’s Imthiaz Bakeer Markar submitted a private member’s motion on the same lines much earlier.

MP Dolawatta handed over a copy of his motion to President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Oct 31. Prof. Peiris said that they wouldn’t find fault with the lawmaker for making proposals which the academic said were timely.

Prof. Peiris warned Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC, that Sri Lanka wouldn’t be an appealing destination for investments unless the government adopted tangible measures to curb corruption. Shocking disclosures at parliamentary watchdog committees underscored that corruption was at unprecedented level and needed immediate attention.

Speaking on behalf of the breakaway SLPP faction, Nidahasa Jathika Sabhawa aka Freedom People’s Congress Prof. Peiris said that the recent declaration by the World Bank that it would audit the procurement and distribution of fertiliser here meant that the world had no faith in our system.

Commenting on assurances given by the government that a new Anti-Corruption Bill would be introduced soon, Prof. Peiris said that existing laws were quite sufficient. The issue at hand is absence of political will to battle corruption, the former Minister said, meant flight of professionals and intolerable increase in taxes on business wouldn’t encourage Foreign Ministry’s drive.

At the onset of his speech, lawmaker Peiris asked whether the government was genuine about the recent declaration that the national issue could be resolved by the enactment of a new Constitution by the next Independence Day. Who would take such a promise seriously against the backdrop of all previous attempts undertaken by far more stable governments failing to achieve the desired results? the former law professor asked. The former minister also questioned the feasibility of forming an apparatus on the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa. Prof. Peiris asked whether those now at the helm really had the wherewithal to meet the South African standards.

Continue Reading

News

State FM assures there won’t be shortage of milk powder

Published

on

State Finance Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya told Parliament yesterday (29) that there would be no shortage of milk powder in the coming days due to the Customs holding a consignment of six containers of milk powder, imported into the country, for violating regulations.

Minister Siyambalapitiya said the six containers had 105,375 kilos of full cream milk powder, imported from New Zealand, via Malaysia. It reached the Colombo port on 20 Oct. It was only after the consignment had arrived in the Port that the importers submitted the letters to get the consignment released from the Controller Imports and Exports. Arrangements would be made to release the stock from the harbour on the recommendation of the Secretary to the Ministry of Trade and Food Security.

As such, there is no need for permission from the Controller Import and Export to release the stock, the minister said, adding that there were no limitations imposed on importing milk powder and there would be no cause for panic buying in fear of a shortage of milk powder in the coming days.

Continue Reading

News

Dolawatta responds to GL

Published

on

premanath-c-Dolawatta

SLPP MP Premanath C. Dolawatta said his private member’s motion wouldn’t lead to the postponement of local government polls. He said he felt the need to restore the 25% quota for youth, even before he entered Parliament, consequent to the August 2020 general election. The government and the Opposition could quickly reach a consensus on the proposals, and avoid unnecessary complications. MP Dolawatta said so when The Island sought his response to accusations made by Prof. Peiris, who said that time was rapidly running out for Local Government polls. As the nomination process needed to be commenced soon to ensure that 341 Local Government bodies could be constituted by 20 March 2023.

Continue Reading

Trending