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SJB constituents struggling to cope with rebels

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SLMC leader Hakeem reacts at Sunday’s meeting at Colpetty where the party called for written explanation from dissident members (pic courtesy SLMC)

 

SLMC: Dissident group that voted with SLPP in majority

 

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) has threatened disciplinary action against those who voted for the 20th Amendment on Oct 22, but it is struggling to cope with the situation as rebels are in the majority, according to political sources.

The expulsion of the rebel group was certainly not possible, sources said, pointing out that of the five-member SLMC group, four elected MPs, H. M. M. Harees (Digamadulla), Faizal Cassim (Digamadulla) , M.S.M. Thowfeek (Trincomalee) and Nazeer Ahamed  (Batticaloa) had switched their allegiance to the ruling SLPP. They are among the eight Opposition members who voted for the 20th Amendment, which was opposed by the SJB-led Opposition.

Parliament ratified the 20th Amendment with a two-thirds majority.

Of the five-member SLMC group, only Mahanuwara District lawmaker SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem voted against the 20th Amendment. All of them were elected to parliament on the SJB ticket.

SLMC Secretary M. Nizam Kariapper, PC, said that the party would decide on action once individual members submitted written explanations to the party leader and the Secretary by Dec 31, 2020. The office-bearers of SLMC high command announced the decision on Sunday (13).

Sunday’s meeting took place at the SLMC leader’s Kollupitiya residence. The discussion covered the conduct of the rebel group members subsequent to them voting for the 20th Amendment and the current political situation. Having received their explanations verbally, they were asked to provide their account in writing, sources said,

 In addition to the four SLMC lawmakers, four other Opposition members switched their allegiance to the SLPP. They are ACMC (All Ceylon Makkal Congress) member Ishak Rahuman (Anuradhapura), who contested on the SJB ticket, SJB National List MP Diana Gamage, Democratic People’s Front (DPF) member and SJB lawmaker A. Aravindh Kumar (Badulla) and Muslim National Alliance (MNA) MP Ali Sabri Raheem (Puttalam).

Taking part in the Sirasa Pathikada programme DPF leader Mano Ganesan yesterday (14) told interviewer Asoka Dias that disciplinary action would be definitely taken in respect of Aravindh Kumar. Former yahapalana minister Ganesan assured that the party would follow laid down procedure in dealing with the MP.

The SLMC, the ACMC and the DPF are constituents of the main Opposition party SJB. The SJB group includes seven National List MPs. Of the seven NL members, rebel Gamage is the only newcomer to parliamentary politics.

 Political sources said that SJB had been compelled to deal with one of its own MPs breaking ranks, while three of its constituents experienced serious trouble with the SLMC being the worst affected.



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JVP accuses EC of conspiring to delay LG polls

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has told Parliament that the Election Commission and its Chairman are collaborating with the government to postpone the local government elections.

Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023, on Friday, MP Dissanayake said that as local government bodies should be reconstituted before March 20 2023, the Election Commission had to publish a gazette calling nominations by late December or early January.

“The EC has the authority to do so. It has sought the Attorney General’s opinion on some matters. There is no need at all for it to seek the AG’s advice,” he said.

“This is a conspiracy. The Elections Commission can publish the gazette even tomorrow. It is clear that the Elections Commission is collaborating with the government,” he said.

Dissnayake said that Election Commissioner Nimal Punchihewa’s impartiality was in question. “We know where Punchihewa worked before and at what party office. We know the governments and persons he has worked with closely. He is not an independent person.”

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Diana wants bars open 24/7

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By Saman Indrajith

State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage says liquor outlets should be kept open longer if the country wants to boost tourism.Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023 on Friday, State Minister Gamage said: “We have to keep these places open 24/7. I have spoken about it many times. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need, because all the places are closed.

We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries, people must have entertainment.”

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time. We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other countries, museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places to spend their money.”

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SJB asks govt. to introduce political reforms fast

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has asked the government when it will introduce the political reforms demanded by the international community.

Speaking in Parliament on Saturday, Kiriella said that when the Opposition parties met the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community during the Aragalaya protests, the latter had demanded that Sri Lanka implement political and economic reforms to receive foreign assistance to get out of the prevailing crisis. “That was six months ago. We have been asking the government repeatedly to inform this House whether it has implemented those reforms.

“The riginal plan was to establish an interim government for six months to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was stated that an election would be held after six months. Now, what has happened? The politicians who are responsible for the crisis are still in power.

“Foreign Minister Al Sabry met USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Friday. Samantha Power called for the same political and economic reforms again. The international community is asking for the same.”

Leader of the House, Minister Susil Premjayantha said that political reforms were being implemented. “It is as part of the political reforms we are setting up a National Council, Sectoral Oversight Committees and three other committees. Counter terrorism act is in the pipeline. It will be taken up within couple of weeks. We passed several bills with your support. There were nine amendments to be introduced to the criminal law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: “The bills and amendments that have been passed are not enough as far as the international community and we are concerned. The biggest request is to allow the people of this country for a new mandate. Allow the people to express their will. Give them a chance to establish a new government or to maintain the same government now they have.”

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