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Submissions to Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms



1. Manifestoes of Political Parties and/or Candidates of Presidential and Parliamentary Elections

All registered political parties and/or candidates contesting any Presidential and Parliamentary elections be compulsorily required to submit to the Election Commission, along with the nomination papers, a formal document setting out their respective party or personal manifesto, clearly articulating their intentions, plans and commitments to be promoted, planned and implemented following successful election. Along with the manifesto, the candidates be required to provide associated, estimated incremental cash flow and funds flow statements, indicating clearly the proposed incremental spends consequent to the implementation of the proposals in the manifesto, including therein separately classified both spends of a revenue and capital nature, including specifically the proposed increases in state employment opportunities, salaries, pensions, benefits, subsidies, giveaways, transfers, maintenance, upgrading and reconstructions, new development and new infrastructure spends, etc.; further clearly indicating the method of raising required necessary and supportive revenue, income, grants/aid and loans, in financing and fund the incremental spends promoted, planned and committed to by the candidates; with the estimates provided being duly cross referred with clear notes supporting the assumptions and basis estimation and computations.

The Election Commission be required to place in a publicly accessible domain, within one week of the acceptance of nominations for any Presidential or Parliamentary elections, the manifesto and accompanying documentation submitted by all registered political parties and/or candidates contesting any Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

Where any candidate fails to provide such a manifesto and associated estimates the Election Commission be duly empowered to reject such nomination applications.

It is to be further stipulated that the failure to abide by the above requirement and/or knowingly and or willfully making submissions or statements which tantamount to a misrepresentation of fact and or including any inaccurate or illogical estimation in the manifesto; and/or making any promises, pronouncements or publishing any campaign statements or promotional leaflets, etc., either directly or indirectly or via accredited agents, which promises, pronouncements or distributing campaign statements which falls outside of or exceeds or are contrary to the promises, pronouncements or campaign statements submitted by way of the above stated manifesto and associated documentation, are deemed to be acts contrary to the acceptable conduct of a nominee or candidate and all such miscreant candidates be deemed to have committed an election offense, and be punishable by a duly constituted court of law in Sri Lanka and upon such conviction being affirmed, such candidate is ipso facto deemed to have vacated the elected office.

2. Affidavits to be Submitted by Candidates Seeking to Contest any Presidential or Parliamentary Elections

All candidates contesting any Presidential and Parliamentary elections be compulsorily required to submit with the nomination papers a declaration by way of a sworn affidavit setting that he/she is a ” fit and proper person”;and

In support of such justification, table in an annex personal details, attainments, both academically and professionally, track record of achievements, leadership experiences in public life, and a record of public services; and further affirm that

*such nominee is not subject to at present, nor will be subject to following such election, to any disqualification in terms of any written law to contest as a candidate or hold such office after election; and

*such nominee is not subject to at present, nor will be subject to following such election to any further disqualifications on account of any conflicts of interest, and/or being in or holding any position or office in any institution or in a contractual relationship with the State or any other institution or corporate body or being engaged with related party commitment, all of which may be in conflict with the role and responsibility to be assumed post election; and

*such nominee is not nor will be subject to upon fresh appointment/election, to any forms of conflicts of interest or related party transactions on account of any close members of the family (including the spouse, children, mother, father, father-in-law, mother-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law and step children or any institution controlled or influenced by them); and

*such nominee shall agree to avoid all such situations of personal interest or related party transactions or any such situations of potential conflicts of interest or related party transactions, or be in a situation where any such personal interest might appear to conflict with the position of responsibility or be perceived as having given preference to personal or family interests so long as he holds such elected office; and

*such nominee has not been alleged to have engaged directly or indirectly, in any acts of abuse, manipulation or unlawful dealings or in any acts contravening the statue law of the State , and

* such nominee has not been alleged to have engaged directly or indirectly, in any acts of violating the provisions of the Public Property Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Act and Bribery Act; and

*such nominee has not been alleged to have engaged directly or indirectly, in any acts that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community: and

*such nominee has not been alleged to have engaged directly or indirectly in any acts deemed to be acts of dishonesty or other immorality that is determined by a court to be present in the commission of a criminal offense: and

*such nominee possesses academic or professional qualifications or effective experience befitting the holding of such office; and

*such nominee is a citizen of Sri Lankan domiciled in Sri Lanka; and

*such nominee is not over 70 years of age as at the date of seeking nominations; and

*further that such nominee has not been found by any court of law, regulatory or supervisory authority, professional association, Commission of Inquiry, tribunal or other body established by law in Sri Lanka or abroad, to the effect that such person has committed or has been connected with the commission of, any act which involves fraud, deceit, dishonesty, improper conduct or non-compliances with provisions of any statute or rules, regulations, directions, codes of conduct and ethics, or determinations issued there under; and

*such nominee has not been convicted by any Court in Sri Lanka or abroad in respect of an offence involving criminal activity; and

*such nominee has not been found guilty of an offence of moral turpitude involving conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals; and

*such nominee has not been declared insolvent or declared bankrupt in Sri Lanka or abroad: and

*such nominee has not failed to satisfy any judgment or order of any Court whether in Sri Lanka or abroad, or to repay a debt: and

*such nominee has not been declared by a Court of competent jurisdiction in Sri Lanka or abroad, to be of unsound mind.



Chandra Jayaratne

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MPs can show their colours



I refer to this article, ‘Covid bonanza for….’ by Shamnidra Ferdinando.

It was obvious that the LC could not easily be cancelled. It will be interesting to know when the LC was actually opened; before or after Cabinet approval? The answer will be revealing.

Now that the vehicles will come in, come hell or high water with burning ships, there is a simple solution.

If the government is sincere in its intentions to reverse this totally unnecessary expenditure, which the country cannot afford,  scraping the bottom of the vangediya as it is, then the vehicles can be sold in the open market, in a transparent manner and at a profit, too, and the wasted  funds reimbursed to the Treasury. Personally, I know this will not happen, seeing what we are helplessly seeing being enacted in the country yesterday, today and alarmingly, tomorrow, too.

The next best option is for those MPs who oppose this criminal waste of public funds, to work out a method by which they can sell the vehicles presented to them by the starving masses, in a transparent manner and utilise the proceeds again in a transparent manner to uplift the lives of the millions of poor citizens in their electorates.

ACabinet given opportunity for Members of Parliament to show their true, even if highly faded and smudged, colours!



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Gazette Bill in blatant conflict with Constitution



The Colombo Port City Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill had been gazetted on March 24 after Cabinet approval, and placed in the order paper of Parliament on April 9. Normally, before placing a Bill on the order paper of the Parliament, it goes through the levels of the Legal Draftsman, Attorney General, Ministry of Justice, and the Cabinet of Ministers.

According to a news item that appeared in the Daily News, on April 27, the Attorney General has informed the Presidential Secretary that the Port City Economic Commission Draft Bill is not inconsistent with the Constitution. But the same Attorney General has advanced the submissions and amendments in court, during the hearing of 18 petitions filed by members of civil society alleging the Bill is inconsistent with the Constitution.

The Supreme Court has found more than one third of its clauses are conflicting with the Constitution – the supreme law of Sri Lanka. Thus, it has been proved the Gazette Bill was in blatant conflict with the Constitution.

High officials of the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General and the Legal Draftsman who are supposed to have been involved in the drafting of this Bill are professionals of recognized capability. They are committed to follow the best practices of their professions and should adhere to standards in procedural manuals and professional codes of conduct and ethics. They are bound by the oath taken by them in line with the Constitution and the accountability of the offices they hold. They also would have been supported by several legal eagles and experienced politicians in the Cabinet.

Citizens are confused as to how on earth such a Bill, in blatant conflict with the Constitution, could have been approved by the Attorney General and be drafted by the Legal Draftsman. 149 Members of Parliament have voted to amend 26 clauses of 75 clauses of the Legal Draftsman’s Bill. This is tantamount to a No Confidence Motion on the Legal Draftsman.


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Probe into expressway construction and floods



The news item appearing in your issue of 10th June, regarding the Expressway Construction and Floods, is of interest to me, as I had handled Road Projects when attached to the then Department of Public Works [PWD] and later the Ministry for Highways.

It’s stated that Minister Johnston Fernando had instructed his Ministry Secretary to investigate immediately, whether there was any truth in the claim that some areas in Gampaha were inundated owing to the construction work, in the first phase of the Central Expressway, from Kadawatha to Mirigama; and continues to say ‘Yahapalana adjustments to the construction master plan may have lead to the present situation’, which could be insinuated as placing the blame on the previous Yahapalana government. This is the usual blame-game adopted by bankrupt politicians. It will not be surprising if the present government will be blamed when a new government is formed, for mismanagement of projects carried out now.

As far as I know, while construction is on, there comes up certain problems, which may necessitate altering or deviating from the original design. Hence the responsibility lies entirely on the Engineer, and not on any politician or government in power. Here the integrity of the Engineer counts. Sad to say, there have been accusations where professionals have given way to political pressure and projects have become failures. I would like to quote Moeller’s theory “One of the major reasons for a country to be subjected to bad governance is when its professionals do not speak out, but worst still, these professionals actually gang up with those committing anarchy for their own benefit. What the professionals do not realize is that in the long term, they too would be subjected to the worst treatment by these despotic dictators whom they were keen to protect. Moeller’s theory being proved time and again consorting with an autocratic regime is a worst act of treason against one’s own country and its people”

To the credit of Minister Johnston Fernando, he also mentions the likelihood of this flooding by saying “We must keep in mind that the highest rainfall in the known history was reported from this area”. Whatever, the findings of the investigations be, the accusation should be taken as fault finding of Engineers, and they should now come forward to protect their prestigious profession and give reasons, which lay, incompetent politicians, do not have the capacity to understand. Hope the Sri Lanka Institute of Engineers will expose the viles of politicians to steer this country in the correct direction. This goes for other professions as well.



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