Parliament | Daily News


President dedicated to find solution to ethnic problem: Samarasinghe

President Maithripala Sirisena who won back international accolades for Sri Lanka in 2015, is dedicated for a political solution to the ethnic problem in the country, Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

Minister Samarasinghe also said that the present government protected the country’s war heroes who were under serious international pressure by 2015 and said that the government would continue doing so in the future as well.

We have a President who believes that our diversity is our strength, Minister Samaraweera said. “President Sirisena believes that it is through protecting and nurturing this diversity only could we empower the reconciliation process of this country. We have a President who respect the diversity of this country.

Minister Samarasinghe pointed out that the President’s policy statement highlighted that he wants to strengthen the provincial council system in providing a political solution to the ethnic problem in the country. “This statement itself demonstrates that President Sirisena is committed to bring a lasting solution to the ethnic problem in this country.” he added.

Minister Samarasinghe pointed out that the present government is working towards a comprehensive reconciliation process. “The political solution should be one that is agreed upon, not only by the people of North and East, but also by the people of the South. We need sustainable peace. This political solution should also be within a unitary state.” he said.

“We now have people such as Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan. They are not extremists. They are people who accept and value the sovereignty of our country. We cannot abandon these people. We must work with them for sustainable peace,” Minister Samarasinghe pointed out.

Minister Samarasinghe also pointed out that when President Sirisena took over the country, he faced the challenge of possible economic sanctions.

“President Sirisena together with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, diplomatically dealt with the issue and promised to take rapid steps towards reconciliation. There is no use of delivering speeches at international summits. This government has done an immense contribution to strengthen the reconciliation process of the country,” he further said.

Division will not benefit country nor Tamil speaking people: Sampanthan

Division of the country will not be beneficial to the country nor to the Tamil speaking people, said Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, appealing to the Tamil speaking people not to lend their support to any political movement that advocates the bifurcation of the country.

“This was the position taken by the Federal Party in 1970 in its election manifesto that they were opposed to the bifurcation of the country and wanted the Tamil people to vote against any political movement that advocated the bifurcation of the country. Many people seem to think we are demanding a separation and we are responsible for the state in which the country is. It was after the election in 1970 and the enactment of the 1972 Constitution that there was a demand for a separate state. But ever since the Indo-Sri Lanka pact in 1987 and certain constitutional changes that came about with that agreement, all Tamil political parties in this country have been prepared to find an acceptable solution within the framework of a united undivided indivisible Sri Lanka. This has been our position at all elections in the past, almost three decades since 1988 at Provincial and Parliamentary elections,” he noted.

Joining the Adjournment debate on the President’s speech made in Parliament on May 8, at the ceremonial opening of the second session of the 8th Parliament, Sampanthan said the President had made a note of the North East issue as it was one of the most serious issues facing this country. He noted with regret however, that despite three constitutions over the past 60 years since Independence, the country has still not been able to adopt a constitution that enables all Sri Lankans to live in peace as a single nation.

He said since 1988, the process of making a new constitution has been a continuous process. “The political, social and cultural rights of the Tamil speaking people of this country cannot be buried. Even today, we want a united and undivided country, but we wish to live as equal citizens assured of our dignity and justice. I don’t think that could be denied to us,” he said, adding that any government should have the courage to take decisions that are challenging.

Focus must be on implementation of policies :Patali

Focus should be on implementation and productivity of government policies but not on how craftily they are worded, Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said yesterday.

Joining the Adjournment debate on President Maithripala Sirisena’s policy statement, Minister Ranawaka observed that the execution and delivery of government policies are more important than the policies themselves.

“This government has taken a number of steps to establish law and order in the country. It has also ensured social stability. However, there are a number of issues unsolved in the economic sector, due to disagreements between the main parties involved in the government.

The government had been focused on political manifestos more than it had on economic policies. It had created several problems to the government. In the backdrop of the results of the last Local Government Election, I have proposed a series of 47 policies highlighting important areas we should focus on in the next coming months,” Minister Ranawaka said.

Minister Ranawaka also said that while countries such as Malaysia had achieved economic development through the adoption of scientific or democratic based governance approaches, Sri Lanka over the last 70 years, had adopted a method of governance based on short sighted political promises.

“Over the last seventy or so years, most of our governments have adopted a governance approach merely to stay in or gain power. This promises based approach does not benefit the economy or the people of this country. Only approaches adopted by Sirimavo Bandaranaike and J.R. Jayewardene, poles apart they may be, were really focused on developing the economy of this country,” Minister Ranawaka said.

The Minister pointed out that in the ex-regime Rs. 1 Trillion had been spent on highways. It is a 42% of the capital expenditure, whereas only a 6% was allocated to the Health sector and a mere 4% to the Education sector, he pointed out.

“The World Bank has said that spending money on highways had only a minus rate of return. However, if we spend on education, health and social welfare, they would give a positive rate of return. Thus, this government has taken steps to focus on these three sectors when implementing government policies,” he further said.

Govt. failed to rebuild country entrusted by people’s vote: Anura Kumara

The government has failed to rebuild the country which was entrusted to them by the vote of the people, having defeated the dictatorial and ruthless previous regime, said JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

Joining the Adjournment debate on the Government’s Policy Statement, which was delivered by President Maithripala Sirisena at the opening of the second session of Parliament on May 8, Dissanayake said the past three years had been wasted by the government. He said this inactive period had forced the country further into crisis.

“The Maithri-Ranil regime over the past three years, was the most unsuccessful and unproductive rule, the country had ever experienced. No other government had ever received such discontentment by the people in such a short period of rule. The President and Prime Minister have totally disregarded the mandate and expectations of the people and were merely embroiled in a power struggle. Even the President in his speech, accepted that there was an internal power struggle within the government.

There was a power struggle between the ministers of the President’s party and the Prime Minister’s party.”

Dissanayake pointing to allegations levelled against former Minister S.B. Dissanayake, said that the Government MPs are now levelling these charges against him, only as he had left the government and were silent during the past three years. He said there are many within the government who are guilty of various offences, but no one within the government is pointing them out, but they would do so the day they step out of the government.

He charged that during the past three years, members of the government were engrossed in their own power struggle to outdo each other and had deliberately failed to uplift the country’s economy, preserve the rights of the people, rebuild the country, etc. But at the end of three years, the country is facing a dire crisis, as both parties within the government are engaged in this power struggle instead of being concerned with the plight of the country, he added.

He said the President nor his ministers had failed to notify Parliament as to the reasons that led to the proroguing of Parliament.

“The internal crisis within the government is what led to the President taking the decision to prorogue Parliament. The power struggle of both parties of the government has led to the downfall of the government and led to this destructive political fate.

With just 23 members from a party that has around 95 members, how could this be termed a national government? This cannot be a national government, but a government comprising of UNP members and a group of members from another party. Hence, the concept of a national government had also ended after these three years.”

He noted that due to the government’s failed economic policies, the rupee has crashed to unprecedented levels, making it difficult for an average family to afford a decent meal. “The whole country is dependent on imports, while the export market had crashed, employment is an empty promise and the government’s economic policies have proved to be worthless. The government has no proper economic policies to uplift the country’s economy.

The worst dilemma is the unparalleled rate of fraud and corruption. This government is unable to tackle these problems. The government’s highest officer is the President’s Secretary and he too is currently facing charges of corruption. Hence, how can the country be rid of corruption when officials at the highest positions are corrupt?” he questioned.

The JVP Leader said that the people had given their mandate to this government to break down the wall of corruption and fraud that was built by the previous regime, but instead, this government too had further strengthened and built up this wall even higher, destroying any atom of hope and faith that was placed in them by the people.

Hate speech, a criminal offence: Hakeem

Minister of City Planning and Water Supply and Leader of the Muslim Congress Rauff Hakeem, requested the government to recognize hate speech as a criminal offense and add it to the Penal Code.

Joining the Adjournment debate on the President’s policy statement said, he said, “The President said that the government is committed to protect the people’s freedom of speech. It should rightfully be done. But there is also the issue of hate speech. It was evident how hate speech ignited the recent communal clashes in Kandy and Ampara. Hence, we should not allow hate speech to spread in the country. Therefore, it should be recognized as a criminal offense and added to the Penal Code.”

Hakeem noted that there were several salient points in the President’s speech and it was also regrettable that he offered no solutions to address the issues facing the country.

According to Hakeem, the minorities needed a complete Constitutional change.

A steering committee was appointed to look into the matter and it had submitted its report. But there is no discussion that had been initiated on the findings and recommendations of this report.

We even cannot get a parliamentary debate to discuss it. It is sad that the President did not mention it in his policy statement and we are disappointed,” he added.

He said that amendments to the constitution had been proposed by the JVP, but added that it is futile to make any more amendments to the Constitution and it was time for a new constitution altogether.

“The President mentioned in his speech that 85% of civilians’ lands which was used by both the military and the government, had been released. But, that is not enough. These land belong to the people. These are their inherited and agricultural lands. We cannot agree with these lands being held any longer by the military and government ministries. These lands should be returned to the people,” he added.

As a result of the recent communal clashes, the minorities have lost their faith in the country’s law and order, said Hakeem, adding that the people wish for a permanent solution to the national problem and they will not accept any temporary solution.

Dissolve Parliament: Dinesh

The only solution in addressing the prevailing anarchistic situation in the country is to dissolve Parliament and call for an election, said Joint Opposition (JO) Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena.

Joining the Adjournment debate on President Maithripala Sirisena’s inauguration speech of the second sitting of the 8th Parliament, MP Gunawardena said that the President had failed to deliver a fruitful government policy statement at the inaugural sitting, as previously done by former presidents, when a new session of Parliament commences.

“We expected that President Sirisena would do the same. But unfortunately, he failed to deliver a fruitful and innovative policy statement as was done by previous presidents,” Gunawardena said.

“The country’s economy has collapsed at the moment. As a result of the Central Bank scam (CBSL), the people have lost faith in the monetary system of the country. This government tries to please foreigners, but not its own citizens. National assets are being sold to foreigners and private companies.

The value of the rupee has crashed to unimaginable levels. There are many serious problems which need immediate solutions. But the President did not present any remedial measures to resolve these problems through his policy statement,” added Gunawardena.

He pointed out that it was the President who is vested with the responsibility of steering the government. His policy statement provided guidelines for a government. “But, we did not see anything to that effect from President Sirisena’s policy statement. Since he failed to provide such guidelines, we have to believe that this government does not have any plans for the country,” he said.

“What the President implied in his statement is that this consensual government had no capacity to rule the country. He said that the two parties of this government do not have an ability to sustain a government together. By saying so, he indirectly accepted that the consensual government is nothing but a failure. The government had led the country towards anarchy. The country is at a virtual collapse and running bankrupt. I am sorry to use these exact words, but it is the truth,” he added.

Commenting on the Provincial Council elections, Gunawardena said that the government is deliberately postponing Provincial Council Elections. “Terms of the Eastern, Sabaragamuwa and North Central PCs had expired last year. But the elections for these PCs are yet to be held.

The government promised to hold these PC elections before the end of March this year, but neglected the promise. Terms of several other PCs will also expire in September. However, we do not see any plan on the part of the government to hold elections for these PCs,” he said, adding that the only remedy to the current political crisis in the country is to dissolve Parliament and hold fresh elections.

Opposition Leader failed to allocate time - TNA MP

TNA Vanni District MP Shivashakthi Anandan, raising a point of order yesterday, complained that Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan has continuously failed to allocate sufficient time for him to speak before Parliament.

MP Anandan complained that he was not given an opportunity to voice the grievances of people living in the Vanni district and held the Opposition Leader responsible for the situation. Calling Sampanthan’s act a treacherous one, MP Anandan pointed out that this was not the first time he was making a complain on the matter. MP Anandan said that he had become a part of the audience at Parliament, instead of becoming an active Parliamentarian.








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