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Now, SJB lawmaker accused of being a UK citizen

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EC Chairman denies allegations

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Election Commission (EC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya has denied accusations that controversial SJB National List lawmaker Diana Gamage is a dual citizen, and therefore not eligible to be a member of parliament.

Responding to a spate of allegations, the EC Chairman has said that both the Registrar of Persons and the Immigration and Emigration Department confirmed she was born at Kalubowila in 1965 and carried a Sri Lankan passport and not registered as a dual citizen.

In terms of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution enacted in early 2015, dual citizens are not eligible to contest either parliamentary or presidential elections.

Defeated UNP Colombo District candidate at the recently concluded general election Oshala Herath yesterday told The Island that the public really appreciated the EC Chairman responding to him personally after he raised the issue on the social media.

Herath alleged that lawmaker Diana Gamage at the time she took oaths as an MP held British citizenship. One-time aide to President Maithripala Sirisena acknowledged she may have not probably sought dual citizenship and, therefore, was a British citizen in Sri Lanka Parliament.

Herath said that he had received an assurance from Deshapriya a copy of Diana Gamage’s National identity Card handed over to the EC along with the Samagi Jana Balavegaya’s National List proved she was a Sri Lanka. Herath however said that UK trade information provider ‘Companies House’ recognised the new MP as a British national.

Responding to criticism against him on social media, Deshapriya emphasised that it wouldn’t be fair to criticise him as he wasn’t the EC. Deshapriya suggested whatever inquiries and complaints should be directed to the EC.

The EC comprises three members. In addition to Deshapriya, Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole and Nalin Abeysekera PC constitute the EC.

Diana Gamage was among eight Opposition MPs who voted for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution last Thursday (22) in violation of a decision taken by the SJB to oppose the Bill. She also voted for the clause that permitted dual citizens to enter Parliament.

Diana Gamage held the post of Secretary of Ape Jathika Peramuna, a political party recognised by the Election department/Election Commission before dissident UNP group led by Sajith Premadasa took over that party in the run-up to last the parliamentary election. Premadasa re-registered Ape Jathika Peramuna as the Samagi Jana Balavegaya under controversial circumstances, according to a complaint lodged by Herath with the CIABOC (Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption).

In terms of the agreement between the two parties to the agreement, Diana Gamage received one of the seven National List slots secured by the SJB.

In the previous parliament, Galle District MP Geetha Kumarasinghe lost her seat following the Supreme Court ruling that she had been a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and Switzerland at the time of her election.

Herath said that he would complain to police headquarters later this week about the dual citizenship issue.

SLPP MPs including Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila are on record as having said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assured them the prohibition on dual citizens will be re-imposed when his government brings in a new Constitution.

 

 



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Six member committee appointed to inquire into Sri Lanka Cricket Team’s conduct in Australia

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Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Roshan Ranasinghe has appointed a six member committee headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena to inquire into the incidents reported against some members of the Sri Lanka Cricket team that participated at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.

 

 

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SJB MP: Most parents have to choose between food and children’s education

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By Saman Indrajith

Most Sri Lankan parents are compelled to choose between food for their families and their children’s eduction, SJB Matale District MP Rohini Kumari Wijerathne told Parliament yesterday.

Only a few parents were able to feed and educate their children the MP said, participating in the debate on Budget 2023 under the expenditure heads of Ministries of Education and Women and Child Affairs.

“An 80-page exercise book costs Rs. 200. A CR book costs Rs 560. A pencil or pen costs Rs 40. A box of colour pencils costs Rs 570 while a bottle of glue costs Rs 150. If the father is a daily wage earner he has to spend one fourth of his salary on a box of colour pencils for his child. A satchel now costs around Rs 4,000. A pair of school shoes is above Rs 3,500. The Minister of Education knows well how many days a child could use an 80-page exercise book for taking notes. Roughly, stationery cost is around Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per child, MP Wijerathne said, adding that only Rs. 232 billion had been allotted for the Ministry of Education by Budget 2023.

“After paying salaries of teachers and covering officials’ expenses, etc., there will be very little left for other important matters,” the MP said, noting that Sri Lanka would soon be known as the country that made the lowest allocation of funds for education in the South Asian region.

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All crises boil down to flaws in education system, says Dullas

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By Saman Indrajith

All the crises Sri Lanka was beset with were due to the country’s outdated education system, MP Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament yesterday.

“The political and economic crisis we are facing is the direct result of our education,” he said.

The Sri Lankan education system had not changed with global developments. Our system is not even geared for employment. Our examination system is antiquated and our classrooms are in the 19th Century.

However, the students belong to the 21st century. How can you cater to 21st Century children under an outdated system?” he queried.

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