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Constitutional Assembly meets tomorrow

The Constitutional Assembly will meet at 10.30am tomorrow with Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri presiding.

The expert panel report, which contains draft constitutional proposals, will be tabled by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during the sitting. The views of political parties are also given in the report and the report will be available in all three languages. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya is the Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly, but since he is not available in the country, the Deputy Speaker will chair the sittings.

Once the report is tabled, the floor will be opened for party leaders to express their views. The Constitutional Assembly will continue till 12.30pm and Parliament will commence at 1.30pm.

The Steering Committee headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe presented an interim report on September 21, 2017. It was then debated for five days. The 10-member expert panel handed over its report to the Steering Committee on August 8, 2018. The members of the Panel of Experts included Prof. Suri Ratnapala, Prof. Austin Pulle, Prof. A.M Navaratna Bandara, N. Selvakkumaran, Prof. Camena Gunaratne, Prof. Kapila Perera, Suren Fernando, Niran Ankatell, Asoka Gunawardena and Chamindry Saparamadu. They were appointed based on nominations from different political parties in the Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee had conducted about 80 meetings since its first meeting on April 5, 2016.


Investigations into Lasantha’s killing nearing completion, those responsible will be exposed soon:Mangala

Investigations into veteran Journalist Lasantha Wickremetunge’s killing is fast nearing completion, while those responsible for the killing would be exposed soon, said Media and Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera in Parliament yesterday.

“From 2005 to 2015, during that decade alone, 44 media personnel were killed in this country, while 34 were subjected to cruel attacks and media institutions were attacked and set on fire. They even threatened media institution owners and over 80 media personnel had to flee the country in order to save their lives,” he added.

At a time when the tenth year commemoration of Lasantha Wickrematunge’s killing, certain parties are asking that the media should be treated kindly and fairly, he said, adding that, “We will get to know through the investigation and the case, whether or not Lasantha Wickrematunge was killed due to his expose on the largest fraud, the MiG deal or not. Together with the 10th death anniversary of Wickrematunge, President Maithripala Sirisena and the good governance government also celebrates its fourth year in office. We have put an end to media oppression and hunt.”

Samaraweera said the government celebrates four years in office having ended the dark era of the past. “Having come out of such dark times, we feel sad and disturbed, when the same people who were involved in such atrocities in the past are now shedding crocodile tears.”

He said the government was being blamed for not giving advertisements to certain media institutions, but said that they had not uttered a word to the media despite many attacks against the government.


SL Security Forces did not use cluster bombs or chemical weapons during war:Defence Minister

There is no evidence to prove that the Sri Lankan Security Forces used cluster bombs or chemical weapons during the war, said State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardena, in response to claims made by TNA MPs during the debate on Amendments to Chemical Weapons Convention in Parliament yesterday.

“The Sri Lankan forces did not use chemical weapons during the war and although there are allegations that cluster bombs were used, there had not been any evidence found to prove this allegation. Hence, we refute these allegations,” he said.

Wijewardena noted with regret the statements made in Parliament by certain MPs with the aim of instigating racial discord. “Even during the recent floods, the Military worked tirelessly to save the people from floods and assisted them in their time of need. But Wigneswaran and others who share his racist views, have been making numerous allegations against the security forces and are trying to bring them to disrepute. We regret this, as these soldiers have had to face issues while trying to help the Tamil people during their time of need. There is a group of politicians who share the same racial tendencies as Wigneswaran.”

He also refuted allegations that the government was dancing to the tune of the international forces, adding that the government is committed to doing what is best for the people of this country at all times. Therefore, he said although the government maintains good relations with other countries, they do not dance to their tune.

Commenting on calls for international investigations, the State Minister said that there was absolutely no need for international investigations and that we are capable of conducting our own investigations as a country. “We are quite capable of conducting our own investigations, but there is absolutely no evidence to suggest the government forces used chemical weapons or cluster bombs and as such, calls are irrelevant.”

TNA-MP S. Sritharan said that Sri Lankan Security Forces had used cluster bombs and chemical weapons during the last stages of the war and that there was evidence to prove it.

He questioned as to why the security forces are afraid of an international inquiry if these allegations were not true. He noted that several persons in the Kilinochchi area show signs of wounds on their skins that proves that chemical weapons had been used.

TNA-MP Shanthi Sriskandarasa expressed similar sentiments and called for an international investigation regarding this matter.


US-Sri Lanka Defence Pact:Opp. Leader should make a statement:Nalinda

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa should make a statement on the US-Sri Lanka Defence Pact signed in 2007, JVP MP Dr Nalinda Jayatissa said in Parliament yesterday.

He pointed out the Acquisition and Cross-Services Agreement signed between the then US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O’Blake and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on July 7, 2007, permitted the US Military to use Sri Lankan land, sea and air space.

“There were concerns on the arrival of some US vessels to Sri Lanka in recent times. There is a fair doubt that the door to this type of affair was opened as a result of the agreement signed by the former Defence Secretary, who himself is a US citizen,” he said.

UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara was critical during his speech of the suspected US Military extensions in Sri Lanka. Dr Jayatissa, stating that he too does not agree to any US intervention to our country, however pointed out that those who object to it today were silent when the Acquisition and Cross-Services Agreement was signed in 2007. “Patriotism cannot be selectively applied,” he added.

At this point, MP Nanayakkara said that he being a minister during that time, asked former President Rajapaksa in writing on that agreement. “Former President Rajapaksa replied saying that the said agreement was not valid without his signature. He said the agreement signed between an Ambassador and the Defence Secretary would have no effect,” MP Nanayakkara said.

Following Nanayakkara’s reply, Dr Jayatissa observed that the agreement had been in force for more than a decade and now it was claimed to be an invalid document. “The Defence Ministry was under the former President and its Secretary was his own brother. How can he claim that he was not aware of its signing? The minister holding the portfolio must take the responsibility of any agreement signed by the Secretary of that Ministry. Former President Rajapaksa must make a statement to Parliament to clarify these matters,” Jayatissa said.


High Posts Committee has no power to question conduct of envoy:Vasu

UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara yesterday, said that the High Posts Committee does not have a power to question the conduct of an envoy after appointing him/her to the post. Nanayakkara further said that an Ambassador does not report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but to the President of Sri Lanka.

Nanayakkara made these observations in reply to Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) MP Bimal Rathnayake, who said that Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s conduct has been questioned at thee Parliamentary High Posts Committee on Tuesday (08).

Nanayakkara made this remark participating in the Second Reading of the Chemical Weapon Convention (Amendment) Bill yesterday (09).

“The people who wanted reports from the Foreign Ministry about Dr. Jayatilleka should have double checked their facts. Dr. Jayatilleka is requested to analyse the International Policy of Sri Lanka and to convey that policy to the World by President Maithripala Sirisena. That is what Dr. Jayatilleka is doing. There is no problem in that,” Nanayakkara pointed out.

JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake alleged that Dr. Jayatilleka is more like a political campaigner than a political scientist. Because of this, his conduct as an Ambassador is highly questionable.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry should carry out an investigation about this and submit a report to Parliament, he added.


MPs casting accusations at each other

Parliament may lose its credibility:Dr. Amunugama

UPFA MP Dr. Sarath Amunugama yesterday, pointed out that “Parliament is not a stage where MPs can freely throw accusations at each other.” Dr. Amunugama made this observation while criticizing several MPs who diverted from the debate topic for the day. Amunugama also expressed his concerns that Parliament may lose its credibility in the eye of the general public if the MPs continue telling groundless stories instead of delivering comprehensive speeches in the House.

“These MPs are given opportunities to study and deliver good speeches for given topics. But at the rate this is going, whatever the topic given, these people will be talking about the same old rubbish,” Dr. Amunugama said.

Meanwhile, participating in the debate on the Second Reading of the Chemical Weapons Convention Amendment Bill, Dr. Amunugama pointed out the importance of solving internal political matters through discussions without making room for future armed conflicts in the country.

“Concerns have been raised about the usage of chemical weapons in many conflicts such as in Syria. This highlights that we as a country should find solutions for our issues through discussions.

If we permit another conflict to grow in this country, mind you, it would not be the same. Chemical and mass destruction weapons would be used in such a future conflict.

Thousands of civilians would be victimized. We cannot afford that. We need to cooperate and solve our problems. One should be extremely cautious of promoting racism and religious animosities because the repercussion would be grave,” Dr. Amunugama observed.


Deputy Speaker tables names of members appointed to Parliament Committees

Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri yesterday, tabled the names of members appointed to the Parliament Committees including the COPA, Public Finance Committee, Committee on Standing Orders, House Committee and the Committee on Ethics and Privileges.

The Committee on Public Accounts include MPs Niroshan Wickremeratne, Ali Zahir Mawulana, Buddhika Pathirana, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Duminda Dissanayake, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Udaya Gammanpila, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Palitha Range Bandara, S. Shridharan, Thushara Indunil Amarasena, Chandima Gamage, Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa, Dr. Kavinda Jayawardena, Hirunika Premachandra and Bandula Lal Bandarigoda.

The Public Finance Committee includes MPs Susil Premajayantha, Bandula Gunawardena, Susantha Punchinilame, Keheliya Rambukwella, Bimal Rathnayake, Lakshman Wijemanna, M.A. Sumanthiran, M. Thilakaraja, Mayantha Dissanayake, Wijepala Hettiarachchi, Dr. Ashubodha Marasinghe and Dr. Mohammad Ismail.

The Committee on Standing Orders includes MPs Thilak Marapana, Ajith P. Perera, Chamal Rajapaksa, Chandima Weerakkody, S. Shridharan and Dr. Jayampathi Wickremeratne.

Committee on Ethics and Privileges include MPs Gayantha Karunathilake, Thilak Marapana, Ranjith Maddumabandara, Mano Ganesan, Ajith P. Perera, Susil Premajayantha, Mujibar Rahuman, E. Sarawanapawan, Widura Wickremenayake and Shriyani Wijewickreme.

House Committee includes Ranjith Aluwihare, Thilanga Sumathipala, Nihal Galappaththi, K.K. Piyadasa, S. Yogeshwaran, S. Welukumar, Hirunika Premachandra, Ishaq Rahuman and Kanchana Wijesekara. The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) is yet to be appointed.

The Chairpersons for the above Committees are to be appointed at the inauguration meetings of these respective committees.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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