PARLIAMENT | Daily News

PARLIAMENT

Sandasen Marasinghe and Disna Mudalige

 

Lack of facilities to function Independent Commissions:

PM refers problem to Speaker

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday, referred to matters on lack of facilities for the proper functioning of independent commissions to the Speaker for his attention.

The Prime Minister was replying to a point of order raised by MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardena who directed the attention of the House to a newspaper article by Ratnajeevan Hoole, a member of the Elections Commission. MP Gunwawardena said the writer of the article had been critical of the Constitutional Council and as well as the conduct of the Elections Commission, pointing to the lack of budgetary provisions made to the Commissions.

The Prime Minister said he had received some requests for facilities for independent commissions, adding that some of those had already been granted. However, he said some requests such as office room facilities still remained unaddressed and asked the Speaker to look into them.

Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill:

Bill would confine dark era to pages of SL history book

The Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill would confine the dark eras when persons disappeared, to the pages of the history book of Sri Lanka, said Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

He also said that the same enabled the loved ones of missing persons to get a certificate to the effect that their relative is missing and would accept it by law.

He made these observations yesterday, joining the second reading debate on the Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill.

“In 1990, I recall that Mahinda Rajapaksa as an opposition member said in one his speeches in Parliament, that he would not only go to Geneva but even to hell if necessary to represent the tears of the loved ones of the missing persons,” said Minister Samaraweera. “Now we have introduced a mechanism to addresses these issue neither by going to Geneva not to hell.”

He said that according to the ICRC, 16,008 people had gone missing, while the same number was 12,000 and 24,000 according to the statistics of the Working Group of Empowering Disappearances and the Paranagama Commission report respectively. He also said however 5,100 security personnel and police were also reported to be missing.

“If a person is missing and not heard of for one year and is attributed to the North and East conflict, political unrest, or civil disturbances and members of security forces and Police identified as missing, their relatives could apply for this certificate in line with the provisions of the Act,” the minister said.

He said that the certificate was valid for two years and at the expiration of two years, the District Secretary would inquire from the relatives the current situation and reissue the certificate for another period of two years.

“There is an allegation that the persons who are said to be missing are living elsewhere peacefully and provisions are made in the Act to cancel the certificate if they were heard of even after the certificate was issued,” Minister Samaraweera said.

He also said that the mental agony of parents, wives’ children and siblings was so severe in such disappearances and said a mother of a disappeared youth in late 80’s was thinking that her son was living somewhere even after 30 years of his disappearance. He added that era could be brought to an end with this piece of legislature being passed and future generations would not face such a tragic fate which the country experienced from time to time since independence was achieved.

Any amendment missed at committee stage will be accommodated - PM

The Government is ready is accommodate any Amendment to the Office on Missing Persons Act which had been missed at its Committee Stage, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament yesterday.

The Prime Minister made this observation when Chief Opposition Whip and JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake queried the Government’s stance on the Amendment proposed by the JVP which had been missed.

MP Dissanayake pointed out one out of the three Amendments proposed by the JVP had not been accommodated as it was not read out at the Committee stage.

“MP Bimal Ratnayake who was present in the chamber to present our party’s Amendments had not been given a chance by the Speaker at that time.

It may be due to the chaotic situation which prevailed.

The Hansard report of the day shows the confusion that prevailed at that time,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the matter would be discussed with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. “We will look into all the options available to include this Amendment. If there was no other way, we will bring in an Amendment Bill to the OMP Act,” he said.

Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella asked the JVP to submit the Amendment in writing.

 

Approval of Committee on High Posts will be granted - Speaker

No sooner reports on ambassadors and chairmen are submitted:

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday observed that the approval of the Committee on High Posts would be granted to ambassadors and chairmen of government institutions no sooner the required reports on them are submitted. He added that he had instructed the relevant authorities to provide those reports, which were in progress.

The Speaker made these observations yesterday in response to a query made by Opposition Member Dinesh Gunawardena in his special statement made under standing orders 23(2). He questioned as to when the approval of the Committee on High Posts would be taken to persons who are appointed to high posts such as ambassadors and chairmen of government institutions.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe stated in response to the same query made by MP Gunawardena, that there was a delay in taking the approval for persons who are appointed to high posts. He added that it was same in the past as well.

“Their appointments should be approved by the Committee on High Posts within a period of two weeks after their appointment is made,” Premier Wickremesinghe said. “Then there is a delay in getting the required reports to approve their appointments. Then I sure, a time frame should be introduced to provide these reports by whom those were issued. Those institutions issue them while the rest of the functions are in progress.”

He also said that due to this reason, Party Leaders have to decide which report should be called in granting the approval to the persons who are appointed to high posts. He also said that party leaders should also decide if the committee could get the reports direct by itself. “If these matters could be finalized by the party leaders, the government would support it,” the Premier said. “The delay is not good for all.”

Joint Opposition Member Dinesh Gunawardena in a statement said that more than 300 persons who were appointed to high posts so far, have not taken approval of the Committee of High Posts in Parliament, although one year had lapsed following this government being elected. “It is not fair for them to function without the approval of the Committee of High Posts,” Gunawardena said.

The Speaker observed that the Committee on High Posts had been functioning for five to six years. He added that now the government did not appoint persons to High Posts on contacts. He also said they are interviewed for 10 to 15 minutes before their appointments were made. He added that Police reports, Health reports and Income Tax reports are considered when their appointments are made. Due to this procedure, we have been able to return several persons without making appointments.

“So far 14 ambassadors and 22 chairmen of government institutions have been cleared and reports of another four ready,” the Speaker said.

 

There is no party called Joint Opposition, but only an UPFA ‘ginger group’ - Mangala

Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera invited the UPFA’s Ginger Group to join hands to strenghten peace and develop the economy without maintaining double standards.

He added that the previous government led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa too had invited a large number of foreign experts to involve in various issues although the same members oppose it when they sat with the Opposition.

He made these observations yesterday, joining the second reading debate on the Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill.

Minister Samaraweera said certain political groups spread baseless rumours on the Office of Missing Persons Bill on August 19.

He said that there was no political party or group in Parliament called the ‘Joint Opposition,’ but a ginger group of the UPFA. They make various baseless allegations without adhering to proper procedures. “They could have gone before Court against the Office of Missing Persons Bill,” Minister Samaraweera said, but make various baseless allegations.

“One such baseless rumour they spread is that the government passed the same with an urgency,” Minister Samaraweera said. “The truth is that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe brought in moving Bills to an end by the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.”

Minister Samaraweera said the former government brought the 18th Amendment to the Constitution on September 21, 2009, as an urgent Bill to set up a dictatorial government.

It was to enable a person to contest as many times as one wishes at the Presidential elections. The objective of the same was to make the Election Commission, Police Commission and other commissions’ cats paws of the Executive President.

“We brought all those measures to an end and bringing urgent bills to and end as one could misuse such provisions to set up a dictatorship,” Minister Samaraweera said. The Office of the Missing Persons Bill was not moved urgently.”

The minister said Cabinet approval for the Bill was granted on May 24 and gazetted later. The same was moved on June 22 in Parliament. The same was taken up before an Oversight Committees on July 20 and on August 09. He added that the Bill was passed on August 19. “Could it be an urgent Bill,” the Minister questioned.

He also said that there was no such group or political party in Parliament as the Joint Opposition. He added that parties in Parliament were the UNP, UPFA, TNA, JVP, EPDP and SLMC. “There is no such party as joint opposition,” he said. “It is a Ginger Group of the UPFA.”

The minister said that when this Ginger Group said that they needed more time, the government came forward to continue the debate until midnight.

He added that the Premier too agreed to continue the debate until 2 pm the following day.

“But they sang songs in the Well when I initiated the debate,” Minister Samaraweera said. “I was told by a foreigner that this government had created an environment in the country that not only the people, but also the Opposition could lead a happy life. When I asked him as to why, he said those people came from Kandy to Colombo in a march singing songs.”

Professor G L Peiris agreed to grant land and police powers in 1994 through the Constitution to the North, even than India had granted to theirs. He said Professor Peiris had turned racist now and is misleading the people.

‘Govt. will not delay elections’

The government has no intention of delaying any election, Finance State Minister Laxman Yapa Abeywardena said.

He said that the 1953 electorate divisions have submitted amendments and 974 of them are complaints.

He added that these issues will be solved and the Local Government elections could be held early next year.

The minister made these observations yesterday in response to an adjournment motion moved by opposition member Bandula Gunawardena. He demanded that the government uphold democracy by holding the Local Government elections that have been delayed by one year and three months.

He said that as these institutions have come under the public officers due to elections not being held, the people who come to obtain the services of these institutions face various difficulties.

Minister Abeywardena said there was an opinion in February 2016 that there were flaws in the delimitation process.

He added that delimitation has not been finalised in five districts due to these complaints and amendments. However speedy measures have been taken to address these issues.

‘Bill protects dependents of all missing persons’ families’

Irrespective of race, religion or creed one belongs to, the Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill becomes an Act that protects the fundamental rights of all Sri Lankans above all, Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardane told Parliament yesterday.

He made this observation in reply to a speech at the end of the second reading debate on Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill.

“Nobody could oppose this Act since it protects the rights of all the dependents of the families of missing persons who lost their fundamental rights.” the Minister said.

He said that various groups criticize our government for bringing this Act in order to fulfill their narrow political purposes. “So we do not wish to respond to these baseless criticisms,” he said.

Uphold democracy by holding elections - Bandula

The government has no intention to delay any election, said Finance State Minister Laxman Yapa Abeywardena.

He said that since 1953, electorate divisions have submitted amendments and 974 of them were complaints. He said these issues would be solved and local government elections could be held early next year.

The minister made these observations yesterday in response to an adjournment motion moved by Opposition MP Bandula Gunawardena, who demanded the government to uphold democracy by holding local government elections that had been delayed by one year and three months. He said that as these institutions have come under the public officers due to elections not being held, the people who come for services from these institutions face various difficulties.

Minister Laxman Yapa Abeywardena said that there was an opinion by February 2016 that there were flaws in the delimitation. He added that the delimitation is not finalized in five districts due to these complaints and amendments. However, speedy steps have been taken to address these issues.

Present Govt could come to power only with God’s help - Wimalaweera

UPFA MP Wimalaweera Dissanayake told Parliament yesterday, that the present government had not done anything new for the development of the country and only continues with the development projects implemented during the previous regime.

Joining the second reading debate on the Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill, MP Dissanayake said the people of this country did not have faith in the present government and they could only come to power with the help of God.

The present government is boasting about international recognition which they could earn after they came into power. So they have to seek the votes of President Obama or Prime Minister Modi to come to power again.

Country’s people would never vote them to power.

“Still I am worrying over the death of LTTE women’s Political Wing leader Thamilini, since she was a leader with a clear vision on war and peace.

In her book, Thamilini she had clearly mentioned the efforts taken by the Armed Forces to save the lives of civilians trapped in Nandikadal during the final days of the war,” the MP said.

He further added that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the Prince of Peace who had given life to thousands of people who lived at the threshold of death.

 

 

 

 


 

Add new comment

Or log in with...