A sad day for democracy!
Posted on August 11th, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The Joint Opposition (JO) MPs yesterday staged a protest in Parliament against the Office on Missing Persons Bill (OMPB), which was originally scheduled to be put to the vote today. But, since no JO MPs spoke during the debate thereon, the government made the most of the situation and rushed it through Parliament with some amendments. There has been a serious lapse on the part of the JO.

The Rajapaksa loyalists should have moved the judiciary and sought a judicial review of the Bill at issue weeks ago. But, they were busy with other things to gain political mileage to the neglect of their legislative duties. The government took steps to place it on the Order Paper of Parliament and secure its passage with ease.

Instead of plunging Parliament into turmoil, the protesting MPs should have knelt down on either side of the road leading to Parliament, apologising to the public for having shirked their legislative responsibilities. Of what use is an Opposition which cannot figure out a constitutional amendment disguised as an ordinary Bill and invoke the jurisdiction of the apex court to thwart its presentation to Parliament?

It was obvious that the OMPB, in its original form, inter alia, sought to whittle down the powers of the executive president further. It made the Constitutional Council (CC) recommendations mandatory in respect of the appointment of personnel to the Office on Missing Persons; this kind of additional responsibility given to the CC amounted to further curtailment of the powers of the executive president elected directly by the people and, therefore, the OMPB, according to the original draft, was a constitutional amendment in all but name. It violated the Constitution. Article 82 (1) states: “No Bill for the amendment of any provision of the Constitution shall be placed on the Order Paper of Parliament, unless the provision to be repealed, altered or added, and consequential amendments, if any, are expressly specified in the Bill and is described in the long title thereof as being an Act for the amendment of the Constitution.” The OMPB, on the Order Paper, had not been presented as a constitutional amendment. Unfortunately, the protesting MPs hadn’t stressed this aspect of the issue in their appeals to the President.

It is too early to say whether the amendments which are said to have been introduced in a hurry yesterday, have rid the OMPB of the sections inconsistent with the Constitution.

The JO MPs belatedly sought a presidential intervention to have the OMPB referred to the Supreme Court for an opinion. Unfortunately, they made a political issue out of a legal one and landed President Maithripala Sirisena in an embarrassing position. If they had explained the legal position to him clearly, perhaps he would have been able to act without antagonising his allies in the ruling coalition. Mere rhetoric and threats won’t do. Shame on the JO!

However, the manner in which the government secured the passage of the OMPB yesterday has left a bad taste in many a mouth. The entire process of passing the crucial Bill, described as being inimical to the national interest, took less than two hours, we are told. The government’s modus operandi was antithetical to good governance the ruling coalition claims to promote. A Bill of this nature should have been subjected to a wider public discussion and all stakeholders consulted before its presentation to Parliament for ratification. The irresponsible conduct of the JO members cannot be cited in extenuation of the deplorable manner in which the OMPB was passed. The self-appointed champions of good governance have demonstrated once again that, though they are critical of the last regime’s unspeakable practice of steamrollering Bills through Parliament, they, too, do not hesitate to do so to further their political interests. Shame on them as well!

12 Responses to “A sad day for democracy!”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Democracy died in Lanka when the TNA became the Parliamentary Opposition. The TNA is in agreement with the UNP led Yahap, whatever skullduggery the Yahap does against the People of Lanka.

    The last time the Tamil parties were in power as the Parliamentary Opposition, was during the JRJ time. Then the 13-A was imposed ILLEGALLY on the JRJ govt by INDIA in 1987. There was narry a whimper of protest from the Opposition on the matter. You see the pattern ? The Tamil leaders, then and now, do not have the country’s interests at heart ?

    We have this strange situtation in the country where a self appointed Jnt Opposition is supposed to do the work of the actual Parliamentary Opposition, the TNA.

    This JO does not get the proper recognition or the benefits of a Parliament Opposition !
    When it suits the powers that be, the JO is legit and not legit when it suits them.

    What a country – it is the wonder of wonders that Lanka is still carrying on …. where to, one wonders.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Fran,

    You made an important observation about the lack of a valid and functioning parliamentary opposition. As in JRJ’s time, the lack of a payritic opposition now may lead to disaster.

    IT IS TIME for the JO to abandon it’s subjugation by Sirisena as SLFP chairman, and form a NEW PARTY, perhaps calling itself the PATRIOTIC SLFP to distinguish itself from the existing SLFP, and take leadership of the Parliamentary Opposition into its own hands as the largest opposition group in Parliament.

    BTW, as you know various Western Powers have been sending officials to pressure Sri Lanka on the Tamil Diaspora’s agenda. Every time this happens, Sampanthan is present as the Leader of the Opposition, to welcome the arriving officials, whose arrival was arranged at his and the Tamil Diaspora behest.

    The latest in the line of foreign officials to arrive is the Nowegian Prime Minister, who was received by Sri Lankan leaders including …. you guessed it …. Sampanthan of the TNA …. the esteemed Leader of the Unpatriotic Opposition!

    As you exclaim ….. What an ABYSMAL state of affairs, with TRAITORS representing BOTH the GOSL and the OPPOSITION!

    This DISASTROUS SITUATION must be ENDED, and ENDED SOON before our Motherland disintegrates into pieces that cannot be put back together!

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Thank you Editor The Island for boldly stating facts once again. I earnestly request Sinhalese to keep eyes open to these gimmicks.

    This further proves the modus operandi of Joint Opposition leaders. Instead of resolving a grave problem, they turn it into a political issue to fool Sinhala people and gain political mileage. Thereafter they succumb quietly to the problem.

    Take the case of UNHRC resolutions. The then government (correctly) blasted UNHRC resolutions as neo-colonialism, Indian interference and LTTE Rump instigated threats on sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Using these they won the WPC election. Well and good.

    But they did nothing to counter it. In fact, they succumbed to it by removing army camps, wasting 85% of borrowed funds in the north, implementing 13A and even promising 13 Plus, deliberately not resettling displaced Sinhalese and Muslims in the north and treating the successor LTTE leader KP to VIP treatment. In addition a very senior person of the then ruling elite implicated the STF heroes of war crimes to Robert Blake (Wikileaks expose is available for anyone to see). Foolish Sinhalese, divided and blinded by UNP-SLFP politics, swallowed these hook, line and sinker.

    The JO cunningly helped the passing of the bill by not participating in the debate. The JO leader, as usual, was not in parliament at the time! Media statements and black bands are just for fools’ consumption. The JO leader was not in parliament when voting for the budget took place. He never placed his signature to the no-confidence motion against the finance minister, calling the president to intervene against the OMP bill and on all other crucial matters. He was missing when the no confidence voting against finance minister came up. Wimal Weerawansa too failed to make an impact.

    The JO should have joined the debate, pointed out the disagreements and asked for more time to study the bill. That would have given it time to challenge it in the Supreme Court. But that would have made it even more unpopular among Tamils, India and the UNHRC. That was why the JO didn’t do it. If Sinhalese think the JO stands by national interests, they are being fooled yet again. Since the JO is the only powerful group to do it, people should put tough challenges to the JO, demand it has a leader who is courageous enough to at least come to parliament on crucial days and change its leadership to bold leaders who stand by Sri Lanka.

    JO’s political strategy is to allow UNP destroy the country and then cry UNP destroyed the country and win votes.
    VAT case is a rare exception as lower VAT helps Indians and even TNA/LTTE Rump visitors to Sri Lanka too.

  4. nilwala Says:

    Kudos to the Editor of The Island for this hard hitting editorial that focuses on the ineptitude of the JO who have clearly demonstrated themselves to be more concerned of their self interest rather than the national interest at a time the UNP-led Yahapalana govt is sneakily working to leave the Sinhala nation disintegrated and maimed. The JO has resorted to sitting it out in order to enjoy a blame game that could possibly yield political advantage for themselves. Two important Bills, the VAT and OMP have been passed without adequate debate. Shame on the JO! Are they not aware of the implications of these 2 Bills, and especially the OMP??

  5. NAK Says:

    The editorial blame and vilify the the JO for their failure to prevent this bill being passed in the parliament,but I don’t think it is fair to blame them.
    Why should the JO save Sirisena from being embarrassed when it is his own making.
    The JO is not the legal advisor to the president.
    They at least brought to his notice and getting legal advice or not is Sirisena’s responsibility.

    Actually it is the JVP as the organiser for the opposition that failed miserably,not really failed but they played along with the UNP/TNA by agreeing to pass the bill without a vote.

    There was nothing for the JO to debate except waste some words as the UNP was not going to debate but pass the bill in hurry,with a debate or not but without a vote!

    Now the President who promised the military leaders that nothing adverse will happen to the forces personnel will have to see to that but saving the political leaders that lead the war will be a different ball game.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    We fully Agree with NAK’s comment.

    Also, blaming the JO for Yahap failures is sort of blaming MR – that is exactly what Yahap wants people to do ! Let us not play into Yahap hands.

    The present actual Opposition in the Lanka Parliament (TNA etc) should take the blame for not contesting the ETCA & the OMP Bills.

    ———

    Ananda,

    I wish I could agree with you that the JO should form a new political party. But that would mean a split SLFP giving a sure win to the “jackal Ranil’s” UNP ?

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Fran,

    Regarding the split SLFP, it is already split and the Sirisena faction supporting the UNPatriotic Party in all of its destructive moves, and leaving the nation at the mercy of traitors in both the government and the opposition.

    We cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs; and unfortunately we need an omelette right now.

    I am advocatin a new PATRIOTIC faction of the SLFP to be created so it can be officially recognized as a separate party and attracted the MAJORITY of SLFP voters and MP’s away from the Sirisena led faction.

    We are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. If the choice is not made in time to generate widespread support and protect the nation in Parliamentary votes, the nation will go down the nation may go down the tubes well before the next general and presidential elections. If this does not happen, like the OMP Bill that was RUSHED THROUGH PARLIAMENT WITHOUT OPPOSITION, the ETCA, a Federal Constiution with Buddhism displaced from primacy in a newly secular state may become realities.

  8. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    FRAN !! SLFP HAS TO BE SPLIT INTO TWO, THE PATRIOTIC SLFP, AND THE JACKALS SLFP. I SUGGESTED THIS LONG TIME AGO, BUT MAHINDA IS VACILLATING, AND HE APPEARS TO BE INDECISIVE. HE HAS TO BREAK AWAY, JUST LIKE WHAT SWRD DID, AND BE A STRONG LEADER. MY3s SLFP LEADERSHIP WILL BE BROUGHT TO ITS KNEES. JUST MY POINT OF VIEW.

  9. plumblossom Says:

    The missing persons commission, the name is a misnomer. it should be called ‘those combatants on all sides who died in the war i.e. Sri Lankan Forces, Police Force. Civil Defence Forces, IPKF, Tamil Armed Groups against the LTTE and the LTTE terrorists themselves and whose bodies have not be found’. Therefore the name itself is wrong and invented by the UNHRC to tarnish the image of the armed forces of Sri Lanka.

    The missing persons commission to date has receive 24,000 complaints from 1983-2009 period. Of this number over 5,000 are regarding missing Sri Lankan Forces members, whereabouts unknown, almost certainly executed by the LTTE terrorists. Over 12,000 complaints are against the LTTE itself recruiting young persons by coercion. Therefore over 70% of complaints are against the LTTE itself which amounts to over 17,000 complaints. The rest of the complaints are I am sure about the whereabouts of LTTE combatants or terrorists who died while fighting but whose bodies have not been found.

    My question is, why cannot the UNHRC the US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India accept that Sri Lankan Forces, Police Force, Civil Defence Forces, IPKF, Tamil Armed Groups against the LTTE and the LTTE terrorists themselves died fighting in this war and leave it at that. What is the point in looking for these combatants now? Why is it that the UNHRC the US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India never ever talk about the over 35,000 Sri Lankan Forces, Police Force, civil Defence Force members who died in the war? or the 1,200 IPKF members or the over 2,000 Tamils Armed Groups against the LTTE members who died in the war? or the over 6,000-7,000 Sinhala civilians and even Muslims civilians who were massacred by the LTTE? or the around (my estimate) over 3,000 Tamil civilians massacred by the LTTE?

    Why is it that the UNHRC the US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India is not concerned about the over 10,000 Sri Lankan Forces members permanently disabled by the war, or the over 23,000 Sri Lankan Forces members both temporarily and permanently disabled by the war? or the over 136,000 Sri Lankan Forces members who were injured due to the war?

    Why is it that the UNHRC the US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India not concerned about the over 65,000 Sinhala people and over 75,000 muslims ethnically cleansed from the North?

    Why is it that the only the around 35,000 LTTE terrorists who died inclusive of Prabhakaran are the concern of the UNHRC the US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India? Perhaps this missing persons commission should answer that question first.

  10. plumblossom Says:

    The missing persons, the name itself is a misnomer. When a soldier or an LTTE terrorist died in combat and a body was not found due to let us say the other side burying the body, the combatant is considered missing in action. Therefore the name of this commission should be ‘Those who died in the war on all sides and whose bodies have not been found’. Therefore now looking for all of these combatants whether LTTE terrorists or Sri Lanka Forces members is useless since it is a complete waste of time. Also what about all the navy personnel or even LTTE terrorists who died at sea, their bodies certainly would not have been found. So all of these combatants are missing in action.

    The missing persons commission to date has receive 24,000 complaints from 1983-2009 period. Of this number over 5,000 are regarding missing Sri Lankan Forces members, whereabouts unknown, almost certainly executed by the LTTE terrorists. Over 12,000 complaints are against the LTTE itself recruiting young persons by coercion. Therefore over 70% of complaints are against the LTTE itself which amounts to over 17,000 complaints. The rest of the complaints are I am sure about the whereabouts of LTTE combatants or terrorists who died while fighting but whose bodies have not been found.

    Therefore it is extremely clear that it is the LTTE which should be questioned about these missing persons and this treacherous yahapalanaya has placed our Sri Lankan Armed Forces in deep trouble for no reason as usual.

  11. plumblossom Says:

    The JVP until around 2010 was an extremely patriotic political party. However after Rathu Ali Patiya or Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the traitor, took over and a few other traitors to their own motherland took over (Sunil Handunneti, Vijitha Herath, Tilvin Silva etc.) the JVP has become traitors to their own Sri Lankan people and to their own motherland and become lakcys of ultra, extreme capitalist forces and lackys of the US,UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India (‘mankolla kalliya’ who steal other countries resources by bombing those countries) the racist TNA, the separatist terrorists etc.

    The JVP is today being indirectly funded by thousands of US dollars and they are indirectly working for US imperialism. It is absolutely clear to most people. It calls itself ‘socialist’ only to hoodwink its gullible supporters in order to get those gullible supporters votes.

    The US imperialists have done this elsewhere, in other countries, who resist their imperialism. They buy off small fake socialist parties indirectly with thousands of US dollars. These fake socialist parties are useful since they are there to raise some valid but not so important issues (but not at all a threat to US imperialism’s aims in the unfortunate country concerned) and hoodwink a few thousand voters to support them. In Sri Lanka the JVP, Wickramabahu and the NSSP, the FLSP they are all indirectly supportive of setting up an Eelam and indirectly supporting US imperialism. It is obvious from their actions, utterances and statements especially regarding national security, sovereignty of the country, independence, freedom. separate state, federalism, lack of any comments about the racist, fascist TNA, lack of any comments about the thousands upon thousands of Sri Lankan armed forces members and civilians massacred by the LTTE terrorists etc.

    In other independently thinking countries also where the US wants to bring about ‘regime change’ the US imperialists support small fake socialist parties such as the JVP, FLSP, Wickramabahu of the NSSP. So this is not at all a surprise to anyone who has observed these world trends over many years.

    In addition, NORAD wrote a detailed report about why the 2001-20014 treacherous Ranil’s Eelam project failed. There the NORAD report mentions buying off the JVP and the Hela Urumaya for future success in setting up an Eelam. that is exactly what has happened today as anyone can see.

  12. plumblossom Says:

    In the missing persons act, a relative or a friend can make an official complaint to the OMP by e-mail the whereabouts of their relative or friend. There are over 8 lakhs to 10 lakhs Tamil diaspora asylum seekers (actually economic migrants), a majority of whom support the separatist terrorist LTTE and its aim of a separate state.

    If even 40,000 of these Tamil diaspora who support the separatist terrorist LTTE write bogus emails to the OMP inquiring the whereabouts of their friend or relative (but this friend or relative is actually living alongside them in these countries i.e. the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) these inquiries will officially be accepted by the OMP as 40,000 missing persons.

    In the OMP Act, even if the OMP inquires after these let us say 40,000 and finds out that these are all bogus inquiries and that all these 40,000 persons are actually living alongside the inquirer i.e. their relative or friend and these complaints about these persons being missing are all bogus, the missing persons, now found by the OMP, can request that their whereabouts not be revealed to their relative or friend or be made public. So officially these 40,000 persons will still be missing!!!

    Then the OMP will use these bogus 40,000 missing persons (who are actually living comfortably in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) as ‘evidence’ that war crimes happened in Sri Lanka (and all these bogus inquiries will state that these persons went missing during the 2006-2009 period) and our Sri Lankan Forces will be persecuted for committing war crimes by a judicial process using these bogus email inquiries.

    The missing persons act states specifically that if the missing person who is found requests that the fact that they are found not be revealed to the public that person will remain as missing as far as the OMP is concerned. This is how the OMP will manufacture bogus evidence of 40,000 missing persons so that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces can be persecuted for committing bogus war crimes.

    The OMP emails cannot be checked by any outside body as stated in the act since all evidence (almost all bogus) gathered by the OMP remains confidential. The OMP cannot be taken to the supreme court on this issue. However OMP should be taken to the supreme court regarding what I have written above which is what would happen when this OMP is set up.

    The OMP will become a bogus evidence manufacturing machine which will gather such bogus inquiries via email from those members of the Tamil diaspora who are supportive of the LTTE terrorists and who will send bogus email inquiries in their thousands. All these bogus inquiries (of people who are actually living in in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) will then be used as missing persons inquiries.

    I did not realize that the Sinhalese were this stupid as to allow such a process within the missing persons act which can be blatantly misused in order to manufacture bogus evidence like this. The OMP process is not transparent, it will happen in totally secrecy, no one in Sri Lanka will be able to question it, not our police, our courts, Sri Lankan citizens, nobody. All the OMP will do is gather bogus email ‘evidence’ such as described above to try the Sri Lankan Armed Forces for bogus war crimes which they never committed.

    The OMP process as described above must be stopped immediately. If a relative or a friend really and genuinely wants to find out about their genuinely missing relative or friend, they can make a complain to the OMP in person in public. This is the only way that Sri Lanka and the world will know that this inquiry is genuine. This was the methodology followed by the earlier Paranagama Commission which then received 24,000 complaints from relatives or friends of the missing persons but they complained in public in person to the commission. Even some of these complaints may be bogus too.

    The OMP should be stopped immediately since it is not a transparent process at all as described above. If the UNHRC, the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India, the TNA and the separatist terrorists genuinely want to find out about perished LTTE terrorists, this yahapalanaya government could expand the scope of the Paranagama Commission in order to make such inquiries. This process should be totally following Sri Lankan Law, within Sri Lankan jurisdiction, paid for totally by the Sri Lankan Government only and with only Sri Lankan citizens appointed as commission members and investigators. In fact the entire staff should be Sri Lankan citizens only. The process should be a totally domestic process with no interference or input whatsoever from foreign countries. Most importantly, all complaints should be made in person by relatives and friends in public if their complaint is genuine.

    The missing persons act as it is totally dangerous as pointed out above and should be dismissed totally as it is highly dangerous and a totally secretive process as described above to manufacture bogus evidence against the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

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