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Prez promises to appoint new PM, Cabinet soon



19-A to be revived, and action taken to abolish executive presidency

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in his address to the nation, last night, said he would appoint a new Prime Minister and Cabinet soon. A person who commanded the confidence of the majority of parliamentarians as well as the people would be appointed Prime Minister, he said.

The President mentioned that a new constitutional amendment, containing the provisions of the 19th Amendment, would be brought in.

The 19th Amendment, passed in 2015, curbed the power of the President. It was replaced by the 20th Amendment, which enhanced the President’s powers.

The President added that the new Prime Minister and the Cabinet could present a plan to bring about stability.

“Some people have asked for the abolition of the executive presidency. I will also make room for that after discussing with all stakeholders. The country is facing a serious crisis and I urge your support to keep the state machinery going,” President Rajapaksa said.

The President also said that action would be taken against those who carried out violence that left nine dead and 300 injured.

Text of the President’s speech: “Most Venerable Maha Sangha, Other Religious Dignitaries, Mothers and Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, Beloved Children, Friends, At present, our country is facing the worst crisis in its history. The economic crisis that preceded this event, created social and political instability due to the difficulties faced by the people.

“As a solution to these problems, a common proposal was put forward by various parties to form a new government with a majority of parties represented in the Parliament. In the past, I have had many discussions with leaders of various parties and groups in this regard. I too accepted that idea and took some difficult and tough decisions to set the platform for this solution. When the last Cabinet was replaced, a new Cabinet was appointed, consisting of young MPs, where a large number of former Senior Ministers, as well as Rajapaksas, were not appointed.

“Also, the Prime Minister resigned and an agreement was reached to dissolve the entire Cabinet and make room for a new Prime Minister and Cabinet. But on Monday morning, May 9, as you all know, a very unfortunate situation arose. Based on this incident, riots broke out all over the country in a very short period of time.

“Even before the curfew was imposed and the tri-forces were deployed, this process took place in an organized manner throughout the country. Within hours, about nine people, including a Member of Parliament, were brutally beaten to death. Approximately 300 were hospitalized. Also, a large number of houses were set on fire. Looting began all over the country.

“I strongly condemn without prejudice the original incident which led to these events. The IGP has been instructed to initiate investigations into the incident. However, the series of murders, assaults, intimidation and destruction of property that followed cannot be justified. From the moment this incident took place, I have been taking steps to control the situation in the country with the involvement of the Secretary of Defence, the Chiefs of the Armed Forces, the Inspector General of Police, the Chiefs of Intelligence and the Security Council. At this juncture, the primary responsibility of the government is to ensure the safety of all citizens.

“Therefore, the three Armed Forces and the Police have been ordered to strictly enforce the law against the rioters. Steps will be taken to strictly enforce the law against all those who planned, supported and promoted this incident. Therefore, I urge everyone to refrain from such acts of sabotage. I urge the responsible citizens of this country to look at the loss of life and property that has taken place so far and to condemn the groups that continue to spread hatred.

“While working to ensure the security of the country, I will work with all party leaders to bring about political stability in the country. I am taking steps to form a new government to control the current situation, to prevent the country from falling into anarchy as well as to maintain the affairs of the government that have been halted. This week, I will appoint a Prime Minister who commands the majority in Parliament and can secure the confidence of the people and a Cabinet of Ministers.

“Thereafter, I will take steps to amend the Constitution to re-enact the contents of the 19th Amendment to empower that Parliament. The new Prime Minister of the new government will be given the opportunity to present a new programme and to take the country forward.

There have also been calls from various factions for the abolition of the presidential system. After the new government stabilizes the country, the opportunity will be given to discuss with everyone and to work in this regard. I request the assistance in maintaining the state machinery uninterrupted to protect the lives of the people as well as their property and to provide the essentials to the people without allowing the country to collapse at this critical juncture. Therefore, I urge all Sri Lankans to act with restraint and prudently at this juncture.”

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Enter correct age of children when setting up email accounts for them- Police Crimes Division




Officials of the Police Crime Division told the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Reconciliation and National Unity that email accounts for school children should not be set up giving parents details but by entering the correct age of the children.

The officials pointed out that as online education has become a necessity it was necessary to provide the children with mobile phones (Smart Phone active) to access computer devices. However, they pointed out that by providing the parents’ data for this purpose when giving smart phones and setting up email accounts, the children will have the opportunity to access any website. But, if the information including the correct age of the children are provided, the internet system itself will control the ability and access of the children to view inappropriate videos and websites.

The Sectoral Oversight Committee on Reconciliation and National Unity met under the Chairmanship of Member of Parliament Dilan Perera in order to discuss the program to be carried out in collaboration with the National Reconciliation and Children and Women Bureau .


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New legislation being drafted to address land, labour, capital and technology laws – Presidential Advisor




Addressing the Panel Discussion of the National Law Conference 2023, Presidential Advisor Dr. R.H.S Samaratunga, emphasized the need for a comprehensive review of land laws, labour laws, capital laws, and technology laws in order to meet the requirements of a competitive economy. He noted that the Presidential Secretariat is currently examining a series of new legislation drafts that address these four crucial sectors.

The National Law Conference 2023/24 was held from June 02 to June 04, 2023 at The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya. The 2nd segment of the conference focused on sectoral views on strengthening the economy and a number of local and foreign key stakeholders gave their comments. They also commended the effort of the BASL in organizing such a conference and appreciated the government’s genuine efforts to recover the country from the crisis and extended their support in rebuilding the country focusing on areas in which they could contribute to.

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March 12 Movement, MP Rajakaruna ask Prez to sack gold-smuggling MP



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Declaring that Muslim National Alliance (MNA) MP Ali Sabri Raheem couldn’t continue to be an MP after being fined for an abortive attempt to smuggle in Rs 78.2 mn worth of gold and smartphones, the March 12 Movement has appealed to the executive, legislature and the judiciary to sack the MP, who, they say, has brought Parliament into disrepute.

Civil society activist Rohana Hettiarachchi, on behalf of the March 12 Movement, told The Island that MP Raheem should be dealt with the way the late President J.R. Jayewardene had handled the case of Kandy District UNP MP Anura Daniel. Jayewardene had removed MP Daniel, who was nabbed for a similar smuggling offence, Hettiarachchi said, urging President Ranil Wickremesinghe to take the initiative.

Pointing out that Customs had fined MP Raheem Rs 7.4 mn over two weeks back, Hettiarachchi found fault with the President and Parliament for failing to take tangible measures in that regard. The All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC), which fielded Raheem from the Puttalam District at the last parliamentary election (2020), couldn’t absolve itself of the responsibility for the MP’s despicable action, Hettiarachchi said.

Vanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen, who entered Parliament on the SJB ticket, is the leader of ACMC.

Hettiarachchi, who is also the Executive Director of PAFFREL (People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections), said that the government conveniently forgot to investigate whether MP Raheem smuggled in gold, smartphones or any other items on earlier occasions, since he entered Parliament. Since 01 March this year MP Raheem had gone abroad (to Dubai) on five occasions before he was caught, Hettiarachchi said, finding fault with Parliament for not going the whole hog.

There should have been no holds barred investigation, Hettiarachchi pointed out and said Customs owed an explanation why a maximum fine was not imposed on the gold smuggling MP. Instead, the MP was fined Rs 7.4 mn and allowed to proceed to Parliament where he voted against a government motion.

Hettiarachchi said that the Customs response to the detection should be examined taking into consideration Customs (Amendment) Act (No 83 of 1988).

Responding to another query, Hettiarachchi said that in spite of leaders of several political parties requesting the Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to take up this issue, the Speaker seemed to be determined not to get involved.

SJB MP Harshana Rajakaruna yesterday told The Island that though ACMC nominee Raheem entered Parliament on the MNA ticket, only President Ranil Wickremesinghe could compel the offending MP to quit Parliament. “That is the reality,” the Gampaha District MP said, pointing out that MP Raheem served the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa administration.

Recalling how MP Raheem voted for the 21 Amendment to the Constitution in October 2020, MP Rajakaruna said that the MP also voted for Ranil Wickremesinghe at the House vote to elect an MP to complete the remainder of ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s five-year term.

MP Raheem voting with the Opposition on the motion to remove Janaka Ratnayake as the Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission hadn’t changed the relationship between the two parties (the government and the MNA), MP Rajakaruna said. According to him, those responsible turned a blind eye to the incident.

Civil society member Hettiarachchi said that they sought information relating to MP Raheem’s case from Customs in terms of the RTI (Right to Information) Act as the crux of the matter is the imposition of a lower fine regardless of the provision to declare harshest fine in terms of Customs law.

Hettiarachchi raised the possibility of the government interfering with MP Raheem’s case as there couldn’t be any other reason for Customs to impose a relatively lower fine.

MP Raheem is on record as having claimed that Customs fined him Rs 7.4 mn whereas a close associate of him who smuggled the undisclosed gold and smartphones was fined just Rs 100,000.

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