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Speaker dismisses issues being raised over Premalal becoming MP

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Says it should have been raised in court

By Saman Indrajith

It was too late to make an issue of Premalal Jayasekera (SLPP) becoming an MP, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament on Thursday, adding that it should have been raised in the Court of Appeal before it decided to allow Jayasekera to take oaths.

 The Speaker said so when Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa raised objections to Jayasekera taking oaths as an MP while on death row for a murder. 

Raising a point of order, Opposition Leader Premadasa said that by allowing Jayasekera to take oaths the Speaker had set a wrong precedent.  “In 1982, Selvarajah Yogachandran, also known as Kuttimani, one of the leaders of the TELO, was nominated to Parliament. His name was gazetted to become an MP. However, the then Speaker Bakeer Markar citing the Sections 89 and 91 of the Constitution did not permit Yogachandran to take oaths as an MP because the latter had been sentenced to death. Yogachandran too had appealed against the sentence. That is the precedent in Parliament. That should not have been breached as per section 91 (1) (a) of the Constitution no person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament or to sit and vote in Parliament if he is or becomes subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 89. The Section 89 (d) of the Constitution says that, no person shall be qualified to be an elector at an election of the President, or of the Members of Parliament or to vote at any referendum if he is under sentence of death and he will lose his right to vote under such a sentence. The Speaker by the act of permitting Jayasekera to take oaths violated the Constitutional provisions.

Speaker Abeywardena:

It is too late and this is not the forum to raise the matter. You should have raised it at the Court of Appeal before it decided to permit Jayasekera to take oaths. The court informed Parliament of its ruling to permit Jayasekera to sit here. We carried out that order.

Opposition Leader Premadasa:

We are not talking of the duty of judges or how they are appointed. What we are talking about is the violation of the constitution and a parliamentary precedent. The Speaker should have followed the example set by former Speakers Bakeer Markar and Anura Bandaranaike, who said Parliament was above the judiciary. We are in no way casting aspersions on Jayasekera. This is not a matter against him personally. We are talking of the matter in principle.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella:

When the court gave an order the former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake could not be subjected to questions of a parliamentary select committee, the then speaker Chamal Rajapaksa ignored the court order stating that Parliament was not bound to follow court orders.

The speaker:

That is a separate issue. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella:

You said that you followed the court order to permit Jayasekera to take oaths. You should have followed the precedent and not permitted the murder convict to take oaths. 

Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena:

The speaker has given a ruling on the matter. It cannot be debated. That is against the Standing Orders. Now, on the pretext of points of order, the Opposition keeps discussing a past issue. This matter is over. These points of order are causing a great injustice to people who voted for MP Jayasekera. You cannot raise points of order to discuss a matter pertaining to a ruling of the Speaker. If there is a matter against the ruling of the chair, then there is a procedure to be followed in addressing it. You have to bring it in the form of a substantive motion. There you have provisions to raise the issue in a motion. Then we could debate it here.

Kurunegala District SJB MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha:

The executive, legislature and the judiciary are the three main pillars of government. The speaker is the head of legislature. The act of allowing Jayasekera to become an MP, has now gone beyond the borders of this country. It is now reported in The Guardian and The New York Times. Those reports have mentioned your name too. This is a great dishonor to this legislature. The matter should be taken seriously.

Speaker Abeywardena said that the matter was hindering other business of parliament and moved the House to the next item on the agenda.



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Fake computer institutes ruin career of Odisha jobseekers

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When Rajendra Sahu from the Jajpur district furnished an application for Gram Rojgar Sevak (GRS) post with a bachelor’s degree and computer proficiency certificates, little did he know that his application would be rejected on the grounds that his computer literacy certificate was not acceptable as the said institute where he obtained it is not an affiliated/recognised institute from any university/DOEACC.

The 25-year-old jobseeker had pinned high hopes on making it to the merit list as he graduated with honours obtaining 62% of marks. With the state government making computer-literacy mandatory for base level contractual jobs, he enrolled in a PGDCA course in a private institute.

Sahu was not aware of the fact that the institute is not affiliated/recognised from any university/DOEACC. He got the certificate without attending any online/offline classes or exams. He had to cough up Rs 5,000 towards the admission charges with additional Rs 1,000 towards the cost of the certificate. He paid the fees out of the hard-earned money of his father, a small-scale farmer.

Sahu committed the cardinal mistake in seeking admission in an unauthorised institute instead of pursuing the course in a government-authorised institution. Sahu is not alone to face this predicament. Like him, lakhs of other unemployed youths have been taken for a ride by such institutes mushrooming in the state. Sahu has finally realised his gaffe and is currently enrolled with an authorised institute in computer proficiency course. – Statesman/ANN

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Devotees leave thousands of kilos of plastic in Kumana

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Wildlife officers, at Kumana National Park, removed about 4000 kilos of plastic waste, left behind by devotees who visited the Kebilitta Devale, Park Warden R.A.D. Samaranayaka said.Officials collected the plastic waste from a 18 km range, from the entrance to the park to Kebilitta Devale.Samaranayaka said most of the waste was biscuit wrappers.

He said that officials had collected the plastic during a special cleanup program between 8 and 10 August. Over 300 people took part in the programme.

“We were assisted by Navy officers as well as volunteers. This was a great help. Each year, we collect thousands of kilos of plastic waste following the pilgrimage,” he said.

The devotees have been making this trip for hundreds of years and that it was only in the last three decades that plastic had become a serious problem, he said.

“If we leave the plastic waste in the park, it will have a significant negative impact on the environment. Animals will also eat them and die painfully from digestive tract issues. We urge devotees to use less plastic as possible,” he said. (IN)

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Karu supports 22nd Amendment and calls on Parliament to pass it unanimously

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The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution is a step forward for the future benefit of the country, Karu Jayasuriya, the Chairman of the National Movement for a Just Society, said.He said that it is the responsibility of the people’s representatives to ensure it is adopted unanimously.

“We highly appreciate the submission of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution to the Parliament which will revoke the 20th Amendment, which paved the way for a dictatorial government by severely distorting the democratic governance traditions of Sri Lanka. We consider it as a positive step taken to update the 19th Amendment to the Constitution,” he said.

Given below are excerpts of the statement. “It also must be noted that the step to be taken on September 6 to do away with the attempts to retain a number of crucial powers of the Executive Presidency, as included in the previous draft, will be commended by all who value democracy. As the National Movement for Social Justice, we express our gratitude to the Honourable President, the Minister of Justice and the Government for standing up for such democratic reforms.

“It is our expectation that when the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution is debated, in Parliament, on September 6, all the members of Parliament will stand on the side of the people. We also hope that the amendment can be adopted unanimously, after the debate on it.

“The foremost responsibility of the people’s representatives, in this country, is to create a country where future generations can live happily by working to ensure democracy and the betterment of the people. In order to fulfil that responsibility, we must focus our attention on the political and economic reforms that must be carried out. This is why we had to fight against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution brought by the previous government and struggle to have it withdrawn. That is why we continue to advocate for social and political transformations, including economic reforms that should be carried out for the good of the country.

“At the same time, the other important point that we emphasise is that although the government is working towards admirable political changes, such as the introduction of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, which is praised, not only by Sri Lankan’s respecting democratic values, but also the civilised world, we, as an organisation, do not agree with certain measures taken by the government through the use of Emergency powers.

We do not condone the harassment of trade union leaders and activists of the peaceful struggle who have made great sacrifices for democracy, under any circumstance. We are greatly saddened by these incidents. We are also deeply concerned about reports of what could be considered as abductions. Such events cause both national and internationally negative effects on the country. We, therefore, believe that the honourable President must pay personal attention to these matters.”

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