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Murder convict in Parliament

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I must candidly say that I am disappointed as our politicians act without much foresight in their efforts to please acolytes who were loyal to them at the expense of good order and in the process defame the national legislature.

Mark Twain said that politicians must be changed like diapers often and for the same reason. Yes, such change took place recently; sadly the majority came from the same caboodle that rotate and cling to the legislature. In referring to what MT said, I am kept guessing whether we have men of stature who can place the image of the country first and not pander to the whims and fancies of leaders who act for short term gain and stand up to what is right.

Assuming that there was no legal impediment for him to be sworn in it’s my humble view that it was important to give more weight to the morality of having a man convicted of murder in the legislature.

There is a landmark decision given by a man of learning, eminently suitable for the position of Speaker who did not act to protect his position. He was the late Anura Bandaranaike.

When he was Speaker he gave a historic ruling on the 20th June 2001 when a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court issued a stay order to restrain the Speaker from appointing a select committee to inquire into the conduct of the Chief Justice consequent to a motion of impeachment against him. Quite apart from his standard of moral conduct, he did irreparable damage to the justice system and the country has paid heavily for such omissions and commissions.

Anura Bandaranaike ruled on the SUPREMACY of Parliament and rejected a THREE-JUDGE BENCH stay order, REFUSED intervention or interference and amply strengthened the hands of those who took office after him on how to administer Parliament and maintain the dignity of the August Assembly described as “UTTARITHARA ” However politicians mouth this word when it suits them.

In this back drop I fail to comprehend how a man convicted of murder and sentenced to death now in jail for life as the death penalty is not functional being allowed to come to Parliament to be sworn in. Is the Parliament supreme now with a convicted murderer as a member? He is a man who had transgressed the law and was sentenced by the High Court and hence is he a suitable person to legislate to law abiding citizens.

I learnt with horror that a leftist has said Jayasekera is presumed innocent till his appeal is heard. It is evident that he is cannot appreciate that a murderer in the death row is unfit to be sworn in a as a legislator. Are other accused sentenced to death allowed to revert to their normal lives till they are pronounced innocent by a higher court on a future date.

The person who figured must go through the due process and the Appeal Court must provide a verdict that the accused is innocent and cleared of the charge of murder since that is the practice that exists in our country and I guess all over the world. If the law is the same for all then it should apply to him too.

Mr. Editor you without any ambiguity said in a recent editorial that a person being tried for murder should never have been nominated to contest an election. None who value good order will disagree with you.

The country is well aware as a reader pointed out recently that a leading light of the ruling party mounted the stage and exhorted the ignorant gullible voters to give a Manape to him. It is indeed sad that we have in our system politicians who are incapable of assessing the incalculable harm they do and the horrendous lesson they impart to the young when they act in that manner.. The many substandard politicians who had a piggyback rides who got washed into the legislature will now follow him as the senior did not recognise the need for credibility and for public acceptance of good order. Any politician of whatever hue, must set standards to the people and this applies to the 225.

Is this a signal that a pardon is to follow and possibly apply to others too who have political connections?

Sri Lanka has many firsts starting with the world’s first woman Prime Minister emerging from our small country which gave us immense joy. Therefore what has taken place is most unacceptable.

Mr. Speaker I learnt that some ignoramus had requested you to expunge from Hansard what took place so that future generations will not observe the quality of our legislators. I do not think it’s correct to expunge since only what is unprintable that flow from the mouths of substandard men who engage in fisticuffs after a heavily subsidized meal enjoy that luxury gets expunged. The Hansard must contain an accurate record of Parliamentary proceedings and that is the tradition that prevails in all Parliaments.

Mr. Speaker to your credit none has said that you are a corrupt politician. However your image stands badly sullied. In any other country, the Speaker would have resigned over such an issue. Perhaps, you are aware the president and Prime Minister have gone public claiming that they did not influence any person regarding the entry of a man from the death row.

If you do history will place you among erudite men who adorned that seat before the era where copies of the Bible and the Quran, chilie powder etc started flying with the blessings of seniors.

We were recovering slowly and getting back to the civilised world after acquisition of honours like sacking the Chief Justice after a trial by nondescripts and the jailing of the war-winning general tried by a kangaroo court when a murderer was brought from the death cell by you and an oath administered.

Another matter of critical importance for the present ruler is to bear in mind that the results of laws implemented now will be felt only in decades to come and those who brokered them will not be around to observe the good or bad. Hence they should give serious THOUGHT before fresh legislation is enacted.

I am confident the current non-traditional politician President whose simple life style demonstrate, will ensure only laws that will benefit generations to come will be law when they can proudly say we are Sri Lankans.

I make this humble appeal as we observe that much of the chaos that prevails today is due to short term gain decisions of politicians to gain power.

May the blessings of the Noble Triple Gem be with the rulers to take wise decisions that will not impact adversely on generations to come and use the rare opportunity gained to strengthen institutions. We desperately need strong institutions where the law applies to all citizens alike.

 

Brian de Silva

Colombo

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Opinion

Youth battle against drugs needed

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Twenty-one-year-old student Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul read a 10-point manifesto aimed at reform of Thailand’s politically powerful monarchy

If our university students are daring enough to challenge the government for their rights for a clear-cut education policy, that no government could change, according to their whims and fancies or for the benefit of corrupt ministers, and state officials, then our university students’ unions could also challenge the government, regarding the drug mafia.

They should follow the 21-year-old. Thailand girl, from Thammasat University, who stood up against Royalty and called for a monarchy change, saying all humans have red blood and called for various reforms, as she fearlessly delivered the manifesto, including the call to change the constitution and education. This speech could have sent her to jail for 15 years, but she stood her ground.

Our university students, for the sake of our young generation, and those to be born, could challenge the government to take genuine action, as promised at the recent election, against all those who are involved in the drug mafia, be they ministers, officials or relatives. It is a well known fact that such an amount of drugs, etc., cannot be imported without the help of VVIPs.

Only the challenging from the young generation of all fields could induce positive action to expose the culprits. Mr. President, you asked the people to give you the strength to fight all corruption. You got it, but the people are worried about the outcome. Was it an ‘election gundu’? Do it, though you may not get the goodwill of corrupt ministers and officials, but the people, the honest and the hard working parents will be thankful to you.

Save the children before introducing any long term plans. Remember this drug mafia is very much worse than terrorists, because ministers did not get commissions from the war, but drugs bring in millions of rupees.

 

Barbara Seneviratne

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Opinion

Reduce number of vehicles on our roads

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Please allow me a short comment on the perceptive article by George Braine, in The Island ( 4th September, page 6), on renationalizing the private bus service. I hope it catches the eye of our President.

Firstly, his observation about how in Hong Kong and (Singapore too), buses are washed every day, and trains are comfortable and clean. Let alone comfort, couldn’t the “higher powers” provide us AT LEAST with CLEAN public transport, despite the now ingrained lack of hygiene in Sri Lankan society (it’s now part of Sri Lankan culture!). We have become an unhygienic people immune to uncleanliness – if you doubt this, tell me the name of ONE South Asian country which is as filthy as us. (Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Hong Kong …?). Habits such as spitting betel leaf in public, onto the pavement, throwing “Buth Parcels” on to it for the purported purpose of obtaining “merit”, by feeding the disease- infected stray dogs and cats (I almost forgot to include the rats) – this is us!. If you still doubt, go have a look at the state of our Public Toilets ANYWHERE, including the “international” Airport. Our children should be taught at an early age, how to use a toilet correctly – obviously most parents don’t know this skill.

Forty years ago, the belching buses with people hanging onto the footboard for dear life, were a common sight. It remains so today – in what aspects did we lopsidedly “Develop”? Highways – for whom?

Recently I travelled from Colombo to Galle, and last week, from Colombo to Nuwara-Eliya by car. On the Galle trip, I saw private buses tearing along, racing each other on the wrong side of the Galle Road. It was reported the following day that three had died in a head-on collision. On the Nuwara-Eliya trip, even up in the dangerous winding hills, private buses were engaged in a permanent roadrace to gather passengers.

In the very same newspaper (September 4th), on page 3, headlines read – “Three persons killed, three others seriously injured in car mishap”. It goes on to say that due to speeding, two young men sent themselves to a premature death. At least three die every day in fatal road accidents. The country’s Traffic Police are out of touch with reality. Dishing out parking fines (for the ulterior motive of collecting revenue!), watching idly as trishaws (a law unto themselves), cut across the line of traffic, allowing motorcycles to “short-cut” along the pavement, Mr Braine’s suggestion that vehicle imports should be BANNED (including Duty Free ) for five years is absolutely right! I hope the President will firmly refuse to bow to pressures in this regard, in the public interest.

He will receive fervent thanks from the public at large if he can reduce the number of vehicles on our already clogged roads. By prohibiting vehicle imports he also creates jobs for the numerous vehicle repair shops needed to keep existing vehicles in good order.

 

JAYANTA KURUKULASURIYA

 

 

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Opinion

A true People’s Company for a People-Centered Economy

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By JUSTIN KEPPETIYAGAMA
Jdkgama02@gmail.com

 

As per the policy manifesto of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ (‘Rata Hadana Saubhagyaye Dekma’), the main objective of the government is creating a people-centered economy through rural development.

In achieving these expectations, Sapiri Gamak, a community-based development programme is being implemented, anticipating to convert the entire country to one development zone, by building a people-centric economy that will be fully owned by the people of the country, and strengthen the local entrepreneurs; instead of selling and mortgaging national resources and financial assets of the country to foreigners.

The objectives of this programme are, improving employment and livelihoods through development of rural facilities, and thereby uplifting the socio-economic condition of the rural economy. These development projects should facilitate the income pathways of villagers and generate self-employment opportunities.

Under the guidance of the Prime Minister through this programme, projects for development of roads, infrastructure facilities required by the agriculture sector, facilities required to uplift the economy at rural levels, facilities required for development and upgrading of rural health, development of education by providing electricity, water and sanitary facilities for schools and other priority physical infrastructure facilities that are directly attributed to development of rural economy will be implemented.

Under this programme, Rs. 2 M. will be spent to implement development programs at each Grama Niladhari Division, covering 14,021 Grama Niladhari divisions of the country. At present, under this program, 37,862 development projects worth of Rs. 27,920 M. are being implemented island-wide by the Divisional Secretaries under the supervision of District Secretaries.

Divisional Secretaries and District Secretaries are not the stakeholders of these projects. To implement this project there should be a mechanism that should include all villagers as the stakeholders of this project. It should not be a mechanism, operated by bureaucrats, or one dependent on budgetary funding. It should be a mechanism, funded by the people, entrepreneurs, farmers, producers, consumers, living within the G.N. division and supplemented by the Government. It should be a mechanism, owned by the villagers and operated by the villagers and for the benefits of the villagers. This should be a self-financing mechanism; a legal entity having its own identity. It should be a village-based mechanism to address the problems faced by the villagers. It should be a mechanism that leads to a self-sufficient economy.

The situation prevalent today must be changed. The course of development followed so far must be reversed totally. It must be village-based. All modes of production must be village based. The villagers must be given the knowledge to improve all their economic activities. Any industries facilitating all economic activities of villagers should be commenced in the village itself and by the villagers themselves. All technological knowledge we get must reach the villagers. This mechanism should transform all villagers to stakeholders in the village economy.

1. To create a people-centered rural economy I propose to promote one co-operative society per G.N area under the Co-operative Societies Act. It should be an enterprise of villagers, by the villagers for the benefit of the villagers. There should be 14,021 co-operative societies covering the entire island. The objectives of these co-operative societies should include:

a. Buying, stocking, selling and supplying all forms of industrial, agricultural and trading inputs and consumables and livestock required for raising the living standard of villagers.

b. Accepting deposits from members and providing venture capital or debenture capital to them to carry on their business activities. It should be the Rural Bank.

c. Providing credit, in cash, or in kind, to members to meet their other needs.

d. Undertaking the promotion, management, control and supervision of any enterprise or scheme using identified deposits of members for the benefits and advancement of such members or a group of members, and charging a fee, commission or a share of profits for such services.

e. Making investment of identified deposits of members in stock, shares or securities, on behalf of such identified members

f. Carrying out survey and research, issuing publications, and maintaining a database helpful for improvement of economic conditions of its members.

g. Providing professional services to the members regarding investment in income generating activities.

h. Promoting all types of business entities as sole proprietorships, partnerships, joint ventures, limited liability companies, or cooperative societies among or between members and be a partner, shareholder as the case may be, of such business.

i. Consulting, promoting, issuing, organizing, managing and administering mutual funds of any type or character for the benefit of their members.

j. Rendering managerial, marketing, technical and administrative advice to members to carry on any form of commercial or economic activity.

All government development projects relevant to a particular G.N. area should be contracted to the relevant co-operative society. They also should be agents for state owned enterprises such as Paddy Marketing Board, Sathosa, Milk Board, Fisheries Co-operation and State Banks.

2. To create a people-centered national economy the government should promote one Peoples Company making all 14,021 G.N level co-operative societies and all State Owned Enterprises as its shareholders. Government’s all national level development projects should be contracted to this company.

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