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SJB MP condemns those who back 20A, having voted for 19A

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… predicts disaster if 20A becomes law

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Opposition lawmaker Rohini Kaviratne lambasted the members of parliament who had now thrown their weight behind the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution after having voted for both the 18th and 19th Amendments in 2010 and 2015, respectively.

Education Minister and SLPP Chairman Prof. G. L. Peiris on Monday (7) said that the 20th Amendment would be presented to Parliament in October ahead of Budget 2021.

Addressing a public gathering at Kirimatiyawa, Ukuwela, Kaviratne, who represents the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) questioned the credibility of those who routinely changed their stand on vital matters.

Alleging that those who were now backing the 20th Amendment moved by the SLPP after having voted for the 19th Amendment, she said were nothing but opportunists, who sought political favors at the expense of democratic institutions.

State Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera was the only former UPFA lawmaker to vote against the 19th Amendment regardless of the then President Maithripala Sirisena’s efforts to ensure the passage of the new legislation with the backing of the entire parliamentary group.

MP Kaviratne said that 61 of her colleagues who voted for the 18th Amendment that paved the way for twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa to secure a third term, five years later voted for weakening of the executive presidency. Then they had no qualms in voting for 19th Amendment that empowered the parliamentary system at the expense of the President. Now, the same lot was singing a different tune, lawmaker Kaviratne said.

She chided those who now gave ‘voice cuts’ underscoring the importance of giving dictatorial powers to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the expense of his brother Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Former UNP lawmaker alleged that the 20th Amendment would create an authoritarian rule far worse than that of JR Jayewardene.

Commenting on those SLFPers elected to parliament on the SLPP ticket at the recently concluded general election, lawmaker Kaviratne alleged ‘Pohottu’ leadership enticed them by indicating they would receive ministerial portfolios once the parliament endorsed 20th Amendment by two-thirds majority. Alleging that Professors, G.L. Peiris and Tissa Vitharana routinely changed their stand on vital matters, the SJB lawmaker said that former President Maithripala Sirisena’s lot were desperate and felt neglected.

Kaviratne claimed that there were 23 lawmakers who pledged support to the 20th Amendment after having voted for 17th, 18th and 19th Amendments. Pointing out that she was the only Opposition lawmaker to represent Matale district, Kaviratne said that political culture deteriorated to such an extent today many lawmakers no longer cared how the public felt about them.

The SJB secured 54 seats to become the main Opposition whereas the UNP ended up with one National List slot.

Kaviratne asked whether the Matale district overwhelming voted for the SLPP for Basil Rajapaksa, who held dual citizenship to re-enter parliament through the National List, to abolish the Police Commission to pave the way for Wayamba style poll or for ministers to hear cases in police stations?

Lawmaker Kaviratne flayed the government for destruction of Wanathavilluwa, Sinharaja and stepped up clearing of jungles. She asked whether the people really believed the SLPP believed in fair play and justice.

The MP warned of dire consequences unless the Opposition thwarted the despicable SLPP project. She alleged that the 20th Amendment was never meant to restore stability but to consolidate power at the expense of democratic governance. The former UNP MP said that the very existence of democratic way of life was at stake with the parliamentary democracy threatened by authoritarian rule.

The MP urged those genuinely interested in parliamentary democracy to peruse the 20th Amendment. It was certainly a frightening piece of proposed legislation that could ruin the country, the MP alleged.

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EC member Hoole moves SC against 20A

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Petitions challenging 20A before five-judge bench of SC today 

By Chitra Weerarathne

Petitions filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, will be called before a five-judge bench today.

These petitions have said that people’s approval at a referendum as well as a two-thirds majority in Parliament will be needed to enact the Bill.

All the petitions have basically said that the Bill has a section, which says a dual citizen can contest to enter the Parliament of Sri Lanka and run for President threatened national security.

The petitions challenge the powers vested in the President. The President could sack the Prime Minister and the Ministers. Once the Bill becomes law, fundamental rights petitions could not be filed to challenge an act of the President, the petitions have pointed out.

The investigating powers of the Auditor General have been curtailed. The powers vested in the Elections Commission when an election is on is also limited, the petitioners have argued.

The petitions have requested the Supreme Court to declare that a two-thirds majority in Parliament and people’s approval at a referendum will be needed to enact the proposed amendment.

Among the petitioners are Elections Commission member Ratnajeevan Hoole, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya, Attorney-at-Law Indika Gallage, Mayantha Dissanayake, S. J. B. Member of Parliament for the Kandy District and also the President of the Youth League of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya.

The Supreme Court bench will comprise the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice S. Thurairajah and Justice Vijith K. Malalgoda.

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Senasinghe announces quitting politics

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By Akitha Perera

Former non-cabinet minister of the yahapalana government Sujeewa Senasinghe announced yesterday that he would quit politics. 

He had also stepped down as the SJB Deputy Secretary, Senasinghe said. 

Senasinghe said that he intended to focus on his business in the future and that he would commence work on his PhD from January 2021. 

He unsuccessfully contested the Aug 05 general election from the Colombo district on SJB ticket.

Senasinghe commenced his political career as a member of the Western Provincial Council of the UNP. He was elected to Parliament twice from the same party. 

He earned notoriety by publishing a book denying the bond scam ever took place.

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Pujith insists his hands were tied during crucial period 

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

He had been aware that the activities and preaching of Islamists would have an impact on reconciliation, but those in higher positions were convinced otherwise, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara, yesterday, told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

The ex-IGP said that although he too had received information about activities of Islamic extremists by late 2018, he had been barred from the National Security Council (NSC) by then.

“I couldn’t share the information I had and I didn’t know what was discussed there. I couldn’t even assign a senior officer to represent me there.”

Jayasundara added that after he had received, on April 09, a report from State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Nilantha Jayawardena about a possible terrorist attack, he forwarded the report to SDIG of Western Province, Nandana Munasinghe, SDIG crimes and STF M.R. Latheef, DIG special protection range Priyalal Dasanayake and Director of the Terrorism Investigation Division, Waruna Jayasundara and spoke to them over the phone.

Jayasundara said that he had also phoned all SDIGs in charge of provinces. The witness added that he had wanted to ensure that there would not be a leak, causing unnecessary problems in society.

“For example, the letter I sent to the Special Protection Range (SPR) was leaked to the media after the attacks.”

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