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TISL invites MPs to signal a culture of accountability by disclosing assets

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Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has written to all MPs to publicly disclose their asset declarations for 2020/2021.

Issuing a press release, the TISL said it calls on the MPs to follow the example set by 12 Parliamentarians of the previous Parliament, from various parties, who came forward to unilaterally publish their asset declarations in the public domain, marking a significant shift towards a culture of electoral accountability. TISL said it also encourages all elected officials at the Provincial Council and Local Government level to join the cause by publicly disclosing their asset declarations.

Given below are excerpts of the TISL statement;

“TISL recalls that in February this year, the Right to Information Commission (RTIC) in the matter of Chamara Sampath vs Parliament of Sri Lanka, has stated that the Parliament should release immediately the list of Members of Parliament (MPs) who have handed over their respective Declarations of Assets and Liabilities from 2010 to 2018. TISL is greatly encouraged by the interest shown by journalists and other activists to take up the cause of asset declaration transparency.

“In the past, TISL has also requested similar information from the Office of the Cabinet of Ministers Sri Lanka and the information was disclosed with no hesitation. One of the first RTI applications since the RTI Act was operationalized in Sri Lanka in 2017, filed by TISL, was on asset declarations. There as well, the RTI Commission ruled in favour of disclosure, deciding that the Presidential Secretariat should release to TISL the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities of the then Prime Minister. This historic decision made by the RTI Commission enabled TISL to lobby all 225 MPs to unilaterally publicly disclose asset declarations as an example of their commitment to an open democracy.

“Following the recent decision of RTI Commission, TISL revives its call to all MPs to step forward to take up the cause of accountability by disclosing their asset declarations to the public and to their own electorates, while submitting the respective Declarations of Assets and Liabilities to the relevant authorities by the statutory deadline of 30th June 2021.

“TISL is hopeful that all elected officials at both the provincial and local council level will also join the members of Parliament who have already taken this step and publicly disclose their asset declarations via any suitable means.”



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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice

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 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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Protests against 13A used to arouse communal feelings – SJB

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Protests against the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution are being used to arouse communal feelings among people ahead of an election, says the main Opposition SJB.

Addressing the media on Saturday, at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip, SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said:

“This country has witnessed many instances in the past. This time, too, the same old slogan of the country being divided is heard again.

“The 13th Amendment is part of the Constitution. All parties have contested elections under the 13th Amendment. The UNP, SLFP, SLPP and JVP have contested provincial council elections. It shows that they have accepted the 13th Amendment. Those in such parties now opposing the 13th Amendment must first explain how they oppose it directly while accepting the same indirectly by sending their members to the provincial councils set up under the 13th Amendment,” Kiriella said.

“The claim of the country being divided by the 13th amendment is made to arouse the communal feelings.

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