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Speaker orders MP elect in prison to be brought to Parliament

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By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, yesterday, ordered the Prisons Department to enable Ratnapura district MP elect Premalal Jayasekara to attend Parliament.

The Prisons Department had earlier been ordered to allow Jayasekara to attend Parliament.

However Jayasekara, who is currently on death row, had not been brought to Parliament.

 SLPP Colombo District MP Premanath C. Dolawatte, raising a point of order, told the Speaker that the people of Ratnapura were deprived of representation in Parliament when their MP Jayasekera was denied the opportunity to attend parliamentary sessions.

 “Jayasekera polled over 140,000 preferential votes at the last general election. Following his sentence, he appealed to the Court of Appeal against the sentence. He is not allowed to come to this House. There is no court order preventing him from coming to Parliament. There is the possibility of him becoming not guilty at the end of the Appeal court case. You have powers to issue an order to the head of the Prisons Department to bring him to Parliament. Suppose he will win the case at the Appeal Court and thereafter he would be allowed to attend sessions. But until then, the people who voted for him are not represented here. I bring to the notice of the Chair a ruling given by former Speaker Anura

Bandaranaike on a similar issue on June 20, 2001 that Parliament process is not bound by a court order.

I call on you not on behalf of Premalal Jayasekera but on behalf of Ratnapura people who voted for him. You have powers to bring him here and we hope you will take actions necessary for the purpose,” MP Dolawatte said.

MP SB Dissanayake said that an MP in remand prison had the right to attend parliament sessions. “There has been precedent. I availed myself of that opportunity. Therefore MP elect Jayasekera should be allowed to come to Parliament,” Dissanayake said

According to the Parliament Secretariat sources, the Sergeant-at-Arms of Parliament had informed the Commissioner General of Prisons to make arrangements to facilitate the MP to attend Parliamentary sittings.

Speaker Abeywardena said that his office had not been informed of the appeal of Jayasekera. “Not permitting him to come to Parliament is wrong. Therefore I order the prison administration to bring him to parliament,” the Speaker said.

 

 

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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