Connect with us


Winner should be decided on the number of electorates won, not popular vote-SLPP MP



Presidential election

By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP National List MP Gevindu Cumaratunga yesterday (5) said that he strongly believed Sri Lanka should adopt a system similar to that of the US as part of the overall measures to ensure a level playing field at the presidential election.

Convenor of Yuthukama civil society organization Cumaratunga said that he would soon hand over their proposals to a Committee led by Romesh de Silva, PC, tasked with formulating the new Constitution.

Lawmaker Cumaratunga said so when The Island asked him whether he still wanted an electoral system similar to that of the US in the wake of unprecedented turmoil caused by President Donald Trump threatening to seek Supreme Court intervention, having declared himself the winner.

MP Cumaratunga said that regardless of the chaos caused due to President Trump’s stand, the US system ensured political stability by preventing a particular candidate from exploiting special circumstances to his or her advantage.

Asked to explain, the lawmaker said that ‘Yuthukama’ was of the view that like in the US the winner shouldn’t be decided on the popular vote. Instead, Sri Lanka should go for a system that decided the winner on the number of electorates won by him or her instead of the number of votes.

Responding to another query, Cumaratunga pointed out that as electorates were constituted on the basis of territory and population, the winner at presidential election should be decided on that. The NL MP emphasized ‘Yuthukama’ never advocated a US electoral college system where each State is worth a certain number of electoral college votes depending on the size of its population.

Referring to the 2015 presidential election lost by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Cumaratunga said that President Rajapaksa lost the election though he comfortably secured a far larger number of electorates than Opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena. However, Sirisena secured certain electorates in the Northern and Eastern Provinces as well as Nuwara Eliya on the basis of agreements with members of the UNP-led unholy alliance, MP Cumaratunga said.

Appreciating the enactment of the 20th Amendment as a sort of stop gap measure to restore stability, lawmaker Cumaratunga emphasized the importance of thwarting political maneuvering.

He recalled how all electoral districts in the Northern and Eastern Provinces were delivered by one-time LTTE mouthpiece, the TNA to the then Opposition candidate General Sarath Fonseka. Having accused the war winning Army under Fonseka’s command of war crimes on the northern battlefields, the TNA had no qualms in backing him, MP Cumaratunga said, pointing out such political maneuvering wouldn’t be practical if Sri Lanka decided the winner on the basis of the total number of electorates secured by a candidate than the number of votes.

National Freedom Front leader Wimal Weerawansa has backed Cumaratunga’s call for far reaching changes in the presidential election system.

MP Cumaratunga alleged that UNP leader JRJ granted citizenship to Tamils of Indian origin in the run-up to the 1982 presidential election. Acknowledging that the matter shouldn’t be politicized under any circumstances and the needs of those who had been brought to Sri Lanka by the British considered humanly, MP Cumaratunga said however developments invariably paved the way for promotion of agenda often inimical to the State.

The MP also cited President Ranasinghe Premadasa bending backwards to appease the SLMC at presidential election in late 80s for the same reason. MP Cumaratunga alleged that both JRJ and Premadasa sought to win over selected sections of voters even at the expense of stability.

President Trump’s strong reaction to his rival Biden’s challenge shouldn’t deter Sri Lanka from introducing much required change. The MP blamed the crisis on the President, emphasizing it shouldn’t be, in anyway considered a defect of the system.

Pointing out that the Constitution that had been enacted over 40 years ago was repeatedly tinkered over the years and a new Constitution was long overdue, the ‘Yuthukama’ Chief called for uniformity and streamlining of the entire electoral process. The MP expressed the view that the success of the new Constitution making process depended on cohesive action to deal with both constitutional and electoral issues.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Sajith blames ‘Viyathmaga doc’



Cause of Mahara Prison riot:

By Saman Indrajith

The recent Mahara Prison riot erupted as 120 inmates afflicted with COVID-19 had been taken there from the Welikada prison at the behest of a Director in charge of prisoners’ health, who was a Viyathmaga member, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday.

“Many explanations have been given by ministers about the riot at Mahara Prison. The number of deaths is not yet known and around 120 are wounded. One minister said that there was an invisible hand behind the clashes. Another said the motive was to bring the government into disrepute internationally. A theory was concocted that prisoners had taken some narcotic tablets called Reverse and they and fought because they wanted to see blood. But the truth is otherwise. The real cause is that 120 inmates infected with coronavirus were transferred to Mahara from the Welikada prison at the behest of a director in charge of prisoners’ health. That director is a member of the Viyathmaga. Those who were transferred to Mahara prison caused a cluster of 183 persons. As the infection spread fast there was unrest and tension. That was the reason for Mahara riots.”

He said that ministers had their own theories, but one day the truth would surface. “I hope that the ministerial committee appointed to probe the riots will conduct an impartial investigation and they will reveal the truth.”

“Prisoners have rights. I do not wish that this country would permit the perpetuation of the killing culture and state terrorism. The government members should keep in mind that there is a concept called rule of law and we all are expected to uphold it. So, we should dump those theories of Reverse tablets and strive to find the truth.”

Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera: The health officer in charge of Mahara Prison is not a member of Viyathmaga.

Opposition Leader Premadasa: I did not say so. What I said was that 120 inmates were transferred from Welikada prison to the Mahara prison violating COVID-19 protocols. That order to transfer those had been given by a doctor who is a member of Viyathmaga. I do not mention his name. You can easily find it.

Chief Government Whip Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said that the Opposition leader talked of lofty ideals of prisoners’ welfare but the yahapalana government had failed to construct at least a single prison to ease the congestion in the prisons. “When I was incarcerated by your government, I was in a cell with 51 other inmates. There was no place to sleep. In the Kegalle prison, they put 225 in a hall enough for 50 inmates. The former government pre-occupied with the task of constructing new courts to imprison its political enemies but did not build a single prison for the benefit of inmates.”

Opposition Leader Premadasa: We did not want to build prisons, we built schools. Mahatma Gandhi has once said that when you open a single school, thousand prisons could be closed. We followed that.

Continue Reading


‘It will take four years to ensure quality of drinking water from small projects’



By Saman Indrajith

The safety of drinking water from small scale community drinking water projects could guaranteed only after the implementation of a project to check the quality of water and that would take four years, Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara told Parliament yesterday.

The Minister said so, when Matara District SJB MP Buddhika Pathirana pointed out that although the safety of drinking water from the National Water Supply and Drainage Board was guaranteed the same could not be said of water from small scale projects.

“There are many harmful elements in water such as lead, cadmium and mercury. We know that Water Board supplied water is purified, but water from small scale project could be contaminated with them. It is said that mercury in a CFL bulb has the potential to pollute around 6,000 litres of ground water and causing kidney diseases. This is a dangerous situation. One trillion rupees have been allocated for the Water Supply ministry. Apart from the COVID-19 threat, the biggest threat to the lives of people in this country is from non-communicable diseases. Can the ministry introduce a mechanism to provide each district with at least a single testing unit to ensure the safety of drinking water supplied by the small scale community drinking water projects.”

Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that safety of water from the Water Board was guaranteed owing to sophisticated purification methods employed by treatment plants. He said that it would take at least four years to provide testing units to ensure drinking water from the small scale community drinking water projects countrywide too is safe from harmful elements.

Continue Reading


Teachers’ Union boss Stalin accuses govt of attempting Akila’s failed stunt



By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was an attempt to create a new post, Director General – Sports, at the Ministry of Education and to appoint a political henchman, Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) General Secretary, Joseph Stalin told The Island yesterday.

“According to the Education Administrative Service minute, any appointment has to be made through a competitive exam. However, this post has been created through a Cabinet paper and an SLPP henchman is to be appointed to it.”

The CTU General Secretary said that during the yahapalanaya administration, then Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam had tried to appoint a UNP henchman to the post of Director – Sports at the Ministry. Kariyawasam had been compelled to back off due to the stiff opposition of the education sector unions, Stalin said.

“The court has also ruled that people should be appointed in keeping with the Education Administrative Service Minute. The President came into power promising to uphold the rule of law, but this government, too, is attempting to undermine the education system by appointing unqualified people to high posts.”

The post of Director General – Sports would have the same perks of an Assistant Secretary and the person to be appointed was a person representing a government affiliated union, Stalin said.

“95% of unions of the education sector will oppose if the government creates this post for the benefit of a henchman. We will resort to trade union and legal action.”

Minister of Education, Prof. G. L. Peiris was not immediately available for comment.

Continue Reading