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Private member’s Bill deemed unconstitutional:Tissa says he only complied with ‘Bills Office’ request

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… rejects Dr. Amarasekera’s concerns

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) lawmaker Tissa Attanayake says that he moved the controversial ‘Human Rights Organisation (Incorporation) Act’ on the request of Bills Office of the Parliament.

National List MP Attanayake insists he only tried to help the Bills Office as he felt it was a quite legitimate request. The former General Secretary of the UNP acknowledged that he was aware of the unsuccessful bids made in 2013 and 2015 to move the same Bill.

When The Island pointed out that the Supreme Court recently deemed the Bill unconstitutional, MP Attanayake pointed out that Parliament adopted a transparent process in that regard. “I have nothing to hide. In fact, I have absolutely no interest in this particular Bill. Sometimes, the Bills Office seeks our help to present Bills that had been held up for various reasons,” MP Attanayake said.

Attanayake is one of the seven National List MPs in the 54-member SJB parliamentary group.

Asked whether he was aware of Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera, on behalf of the Federation of National Organisations (FNO) recently taking up the matter with SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, MP Attanayake said that he explained the issue at hand to the party leader. Declaring his move on behalf of the Bills Office nothing but routine assistance provided by MPs on request, lawmaker Attanayake acknowledged that the SJB leader inquired from him about the issue.

Dr. Amarasekera wrote to MP Premadasa with copies to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena in the wake of The Island report, headlined ‘SC deems SJB MP’s move unconstitutional’ published, with strapline ‘How Parliament violated Standing Orders and Constitution in gazetting twice rejected controversial Bill’ on Sept.09 edition.

MP Attanayake dismissed accusations that he had been involved in a clandestine project meant to undermine the country. “Anyone who believes I have been part of any such project should have his or her head examined,” MP Attanayake.

Responding to another query, MP Attanayake emphasized that the course of action followed by the Parliament as regards the disputed Bill shouldn’t have created such a controversy.

Dr. Amarasekera has requested Premier Rajapaksa, Speaker Abeywardena and SJB leader Premadasa to inquire into the matter.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, Justice Mahinda Samayawardhena and Justice Arjuna Obeyesekere ruled that Clause 6 of the Bill is not consistent with Article 76(1) of the Constitution. The SC has also ruled that Clause 7 of the Bill is not consistent with Articles 3, 4 and 12(1) of the Constitution. Having said so, the SC declared that in terms of the Article 123(2) of the Constitution, the Bill should be passed by a special majority in line with paragraph (2) of Article 84 and endorsed at a Referendum.

Dr. Wasantha Bandara, Raja Goonerathne and Nuwan Ballantudawa moved the SC in terms of Article 121 of the Constitution. In their petition, the Attorney General was named the respondent.

Dr. Amarasekera pointed out in his letter Dr. Bandara said that the same Private Bill had been previously submitted by H. Farook in 2013 (not Hunais Farook as previously reported) and Ali Zahir Moulana in 2015. However, on both occasions, they had failed to proceed with the project due to objections raised by the relevant ministers, Dr. Amarasekera said.

 According to the petition the Bill had been gazetted on July 20, 2021 and placed on the Order Paper of Parliament on August 3 without obtaining the Attorney General’s opinion. Therefore the procedure adopted by Parliament not only violated Standing Orders but Article 78 (2) of the Constitution as well, the SC noted on the basis of submissions made on behalf of the petitioners.

MP Attanayake said that he was given an opportunity to submit the Bill in question with required amendments in terms of the SC ruling. “I didn’t want to do that. Therefore, I have nothing to do with it anymore.”

Asked whether he obtained prior permission from the party to move that Bill, MP Attanayake insisted that there was absolutely no requirement to do so. Members moved Private Bills all the time, the MP said.

Dr. Amarasekera said that Parliament should inquire into this. How Bills Ofice secured privately an MP’s help to move such a controversial matter without it being subjected to Attorney General’s perusal. Dr. Amarasekera said that MP Attanayake’s claim pertaining to the role played by the Bills Office should be properly inquired into.



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Explanation sought over Monetary Board Secy.’s sudden transfer

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Rohini calls for social media campaign against govt. move

By Shamindra Ferdinando

 The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) has sought an explanation from the government over the sudden removal of the Secretary to the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, K.M.A.N. Daulagala on16 Sept.

Matale District lawmaker Rohini Kaviratne yesterday (19) questioned the rationale behind Assistant Governor Daulagala’s removal. The former UNP MP emphasised that Daulagala had played a critically important role in the Central Bank’s response in the wake of Treasury bond scams perpetrated in 2015 and 2016. Therefore, her removal was quite suspicious and might facilitate efforts to suppress those scams as well as future frauds as well.

MP Kaviratne represented the UNP during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as the Prime Minister (2015-2019).

Declaring that Daulagaha had been at the forefront of the efforts to create a clean administration, Kaviratne stressed that she was second only to Rohini Nanayakkara of the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) and earned the respect of all for courageously taking a stand against fraudulent practices.

The SJB spokesperson said that Daulagala, in her capacity as the head of the non-banking sector financial institutions, handled the ETI investigation at the onset (2010-2012) of the probe. In the wake of her recommendations pertaining to the ETI being rejected by the Central Bank, she received a transfer to another section, MP Kaviratne said.

The Monetary Board is responsible for making all policy decisions related to the management, operation and administration of the Central Bank. It comprises Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Finance Secretary S.R. Attygalle, Sanjeeva Jayawardena, PC, Dr (Mrs) Ranee Jaymaha and Samantha Kumarasinghe.

Cabraal, who served as the Governor (2006-2014) recently replaced W.D. Lakshman on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s request.

Kaviratne asked who had benefited from the removal of the Secretary to the Monetary Board?

MP Kaviratne said that Daulagala had been involved in the internal process following the first Treasury bond scam and the subsequent developments, including the coordination between the Central Bank and the Attorney General’s Department pertaining to the Treasury bond scams. Urging women’s organsations, civil society and law abiding citizens to take up Daulagala’s removal through social media, lawmaker Kaviratne said that the issue at hand should receive attention of the parliament.

“The Parliament is responsible for public finance. The Parliament cannot turn a blind eye to what is going on in the Central Bank. The national economy is in such a perilous state every effort should be made to investigate past frauds and thwart future adventures,” the MP said.

MP Kaviratne also recalled the role played by Deepa Seneviratne, Superintendent of Public Debt at the time of the first Treasury bond scam in exposing the then Governor’s culpability. “Unfortunately, we seem to be unable to change the direction regardless of exposure of past misdeeds,” she said.

Declaring that she had no intention of protecting any wrongdoer under any circumstances, MP Kaviratne said that the incumbent government should ensure transparency and accountability in public finance.

Examination of COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises), COPA (Committee on Public Accounts) and COPF (Committee on Public Finance) proceedings revealed a frightening picture, lawmaker Kaviratne said. Shocking revelations made by the watchdog committee should be examined against the backdrop of overall deterioration of the national economy over the past several years, the MP said.

She said that it would be a grave mistake on the government’s part to blame the current crisis on the raging Covid-19 epidemic. Acknowledging the difficulties caused by the economic downturn, MP Kaviratne said that the country was paying a huge price for unbridled waste, corruption, irregularities and negligence.

The MP asserted that the citizenry could play a bigger role in a political campaign on social media. The vast majority of those who use social media strengthened democratic opposition, she said. Removal of Daulagala could be a rallying point, she said, urging public onslaught on the SLPP government.

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Those responsible for Easter carnage will be haunted eternally – Bishop Galle

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Text and pictures by PRIYAN DE SILVA

The Chief Celebrant of the 114th annual feast of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Matara, Bishop of the Diocese of Galle, Rev. Dr. Raymond Wickremasinghe told a virtual congregation that the conscience of those responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage would never be at peace and it would haunt them eternally.

 The celebrations of the 114th annual Feast of the National shrine of Our Lady of Matara commenced on 05 September with the raising of the flagstaff and ended on Sunday 12 September. This year’s feast was held in keeping with strict health guidelines sans public participation.

 Rev Dr. Wickremasinghe reiterated that it was the wish of the general public, especially all Christians that those who carried out and those masterminded and those who knew but did not prevent the Easter Sunday carnage would be exposed and Justice served. “It is our prayer that the divine father guides the authorities in their endeavours” the Bishop added

 Rev. Wickremesinghe also called upon every person including decision-makers to heed the advice of the experts and act intelligently to overcome the pandemic.

 The Marian procession carrying the miraculous statue of our lady of Matara. accompanied by clergy and security personnel paraded the town, concluding this year’s festivities.

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Wild jumbos destroy houses in search of newly harvested paddy

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BY CYRIL WIMALASURENDRE

KANDY— Herds of wild elephants raid Ududumbara and Minipe area sdestroying houses in search of newly harvested paddy.

Farmers of Minipe, Hasalaka and Udadumbara keep paddy in their houses as they are without proper storage facilities.

Kandy District Secretary Chandana Tennakoon visited the house of a farmer destroyed by elepheants in Kongahaela, Hasalaka.

The victim informed the District Secretary Tennakoon that a herd of elephants including young ones were roaming had attacked his house.

Similar complaints were made to the District Secretary by farmers at Minipe, Hasalaka, Welgala, Ulpathagama and Udunuwara.

The farmers said at least they should be provided with an adequate number of elephant crackers to scare the elephants away. The farmers had to travel about 30 km to the Randenigala Wildlife Office office to receive one cracker each, they said, adding that they needed many more.

District secretary Tennakoon told the farmers that steps would be taken to resolve the issue this year by putting up an elephant  fence around the affected villages of Ududumbara, Medsadumbara, Minipe and Hasalaka sector.

The project would cost about Rs. 100 million. The length of the fence would be about 43 km, he said.

Divisional Secretary of Minipe Nuwan Hemachandra and Deputy Director of Plan Implementation Palitha Rajapakse were present.

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