Speaker happy with govt. progress | Daily News

Speaker happy with govt. progress

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said he was happy with the progress the government had made so far.

He listed out the government's recent accomplishments, mentioning among them the efficiency of the Police Commission and the "very active" nature of the current Human Rights Commission.

Jayasuriya added that electoral reforms and discussions for a new constitution were also underway.

"We have made a start," he said. "It is important to give it some time."

The Speaker made these comments at the release of the book by Professor Rajiva Wijesinha titled Reform, Rights and Good Governance, a commentary on Sri Lankan governance and policy-making on December 22.

Dr. Sarath Amunugama

"The book is quite comprehensive," said International Alert Program officer Kamaya Jayatissa at the launch, adding: "It seeks to re-evaluate our approach to the state, put citizens at the centre of attention than at the periphery, and discusses issues of governance in relation with conflict."

The book divided into three sections, consists of a second section that is largely based on the series entitled 'Sri Lanka Rights Watch', published by the author in the Daily News in 2012.

While describing the commitment of most governments to change, the article also addresses the delays in progress due to the absence of efficient coordinating mechanisms.

Among other themes, the book speaks significantly of protecting mechanisms for women and children, equitable education, land rights, judicial reform and accountability. "The need for consultation, transparency and accountability are recurring themes in the book," said Jayatissa, during a short review of the book.

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha

Prof. Wijesinha, a strong proponent of policy reform, was instrumental in drafting the National Human Rights Action Plan under Mahinda Samarasinghe's Human Rights Ministry.

Asked at the event about palpable reform in Sri Lanka, he said a significant change in policy did not occur despite his efforts.

"I don't see sufficient commitment," he added, referring to the work the government put into inspiring change.

"There is a need for thorough training" among Members of the Parliament, he said, in terms of good governance.

Special Assignments Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama stressed the importance of "calling on a public debate" about policies, governance and the decisions made by Parliament.

Expressing gratitude for the opinions and solutions put forth by the author in his book, seeing them as contributions to a healthy public debate, he said: "It is most important to create space in our society for wider debate and varied views."

The minister also explained how the demographics of Sri Lanka are evolving, in terms of gender, population and wealth, and that "it is important that demographics and social phenomena have to be factored in when talking about policy and reform."

'Reform, Rights and Good Governance' is a compilation of articles that offer simple solutions to increase accountability by the Government, and explores a range of governance issues like reforming Sri Lanka's political culture, the need for solid local consultation systems, divorcing executive action from electoral advantage, and setting up mandatory response mechanisms to ensure responses to public concerns.

The book, published by Godage Publications is available at the Godage Bookstore in Maradana. 

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