SLFP wants to reconsider abolishing Executive Presidency ?
Posted on February 6th, 2017

BY GAGANI WEERAKOON Courtesy Ceylon Today

Sri Lanka yesterday celebrated the 69th anniversary of gaining independence from Britain, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of Independence Day sent the following message: “It gives me great pleasure to send Your Excellency Maithripala Sirisena my congratulations on the celebration of your National Day, together with my best wishes for the good fortune and happiness of the people of Sri Lanka in the coming year — Elizabeth R”.

While many argue whether Sri Lanka has achieved freedom in the true meaning of the word, the most awaited and sought after piece of legislation of the country in the recent past, the Right to Information (RTI) Act was gazetted on the day before the National Day, which would hopefully enable its citizen to ‘know what’ in many cases.

The RTI aims at restoring transparency and good governance in a country that has been plagued by corruption and misrule. The government last week gazetted the categories of public authorities that fall within the purview of the RTI.

“RTI is new to us, so we can’t expect it to be 100% perfect.But we will learn from experience. However, we urge the public to make use of the new law,” Minister of Mass Media Gayantha Karunathilaka told media while strongly encouraging the citizens to make use of the RTI Act, even though the minister admitted the process could be subject to teething problems.

As of now, it seems that the corruption watchdog, Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) will submit at least six RTI queries on the basis of public interest inquiry. According to TISL spokesperson, one such would be filed at the Presidential Secretariat requesting information about the President’s assets declaration. The rest would be filed at the Employees’ Provident Fund, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Land Reform Commission, the Elections Commission, the Ministry of Health and the Department of Customs.

“From the Elections Commission, we have requested for financial reports of registered political parties,” the TISL Spokesman said.

Applications for information can be made orally, in writing or electronically through email, and citizens should be clear about what information specifically they are applying for.

As per the Gazette notification, every public authority that falls within the purview of the RTI Act must place public notices from Monday (6), with details of the Information Officer appointed for the office, with the officer’s name, email address and telephone number. In the event an Information Officer, having not been appointed at that institution, the head of the institution becomes the information officer.

Information requests made at Government offices must be processed within 14 days, but if further time is required, the office may request a 14-day extension.

President warns his Cabinet Ministers

With RTI coming into effect, President Sirisena too warned his Cabinet Ministers to get their act together and work diligently.

Cracking the whip on those who were accused of being errant in the past so many months, President Sirisena, in Eravur on Wednesday, made it clear that he would have to take firm decisions, in the future, over the wrongdoings committed by the government.

“This government too is engaging in wrongdoings, the people know who is doing what. A new government was installed not to commit the same thefts, thuggery, corruption and fraud that the previous government engaged in.

Therefore, if those in the government engage in wrongdoing they have to be aware of the fact that they too will receive charge sheets from me and investigations will be launched. As a result, there are no factions as former and present. Whoever commits wrong is wrong,” the President said.

He also said that, even though certain individuals say that they will topple the government that can only be done by the people.

He added that, in the future he will reveal how the previous government engaged in State administration.

Speaking further, the President said that certain people say they are going to topple the government but these are merely dreams they see in their sleep.

“Those who engaged in governing and those who engaged in wrongdoing are fond of power.When they go to sleep they can see in their dreams how they ruled the country. They recall the privileges they were deprived of.They remember how they used State property, State assets and the Treasury for their private purposes. They are not aware of how they caused billions of USD losses to SriLankan Airlines by travelling round the world in aircrafts of the government and retaining them for days on end.During that time, helicopters were used like the motor cycles at home. If they are saying that they want to govern again, I have many things to think about.”

President Sirisena on the previous day at the Cabinet meeting did mention of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle. Accordingly, while it is expected that some ministers are bound to lose the portfolios they are currently holding several others will get additional subjects to handle, with their current portfolios.

President Sirisena had also warned the ministers to be mindful of what they are saying as nothing should lead to jeopardize the unity of the Unity Government till 2020.

Dayasiri lashes out at Wigneswaran

While the President maintains such a position, Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, last week, was seen lashing out at Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran saying the latter’s statements made Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members of the government to think twice about abolishing the Executive Presidency.

Addressing media at the SLFP Headquarters in Colombo he said because there were doubts about the abolishing of the Executive Presidency there should be a capable leader to contest at the next presidential election and so far the SLFP has only one capable leader and that is President Maithripala Sirisena.

When a journalist pointed out to him President Sirisena’s election pledge not to contest again and that he had reaffirmed he would not contest for another term on several occasions, Minister Jayasekara said it was a party decision and as President Sirisena is the leader of SLFP he would obviously be the candidate to contest at the next presidential election, but if he did not have such an intention he should state his stance to the contrary.

The Minister stressed that CM Wigneswaran was promoting racism through his statements and feeding the Sinahala and Tamil extremists.

The majority of the Tamil people living in the North and the East want some devolution of power and economic development and they do not want what CM Wigneswaran was highlighting through media. It was for the consumption of the Tamil Disapora and NGO’s who were working for the LTTE’s agendas. Many parliamentarians had agreed to devolution of power to some extent. Therefore, the Chief Minister was trying to raise the stakes and create issues among Sinhalese and Tamils in the North, Minister Jayasekara said.

Commenting on former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent statement that the Joint Opposition (JO) would contest separately from the SLFP at the forthcoming Local Government election, State Minister of City Planning and Water Supply Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle requested former President Rajapaksa not to divide the party as it would be of no advantage either to the JO or the SLFP.

She stressed that the JO would not win the election and the SLFP would be weakened but the advantage of the split would go to United National Party.

Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said it was still too early to come to a conclusion based on the statements made by former President Rajapaksa as he had changed his statements from time to time. Therefore, the party should patiently wait till he officially makes a statement.

He noted that if the party is divided, the SLFP would not be able to come back to power at the least for another 20 years.

Minister Jayasekera claimed that those who are trying to divide the SLFP are trying to bring back former President Rajapaksa to power.

Northern Provincial Council Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran in response said that the Tamil people’s issues could not be solved by chasing him (Wigneswaran) away.

Replying to a statement made by Sports Minister Jayasekara recently, he made this remark, at a function held in Vavuniya to declare open the new two-storey building of the Vavuniya South Sinhala Pradeshiya Sabha.

“Minister Jayasekara recently said that I should be banished from the Northern Province. But the issues faced by the Tamils would not be solved by banishing me. Not only me, even my successor will say the same thing I said, as we always speak the truth,” he said.

Enter Praveena Raviraj

In a bid to take the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to the youth of the country, the party is planning to field young candidates at future elections. As an initiative, Praveena Raviraj, Attorney-at-Law, the twenty-five-year- old daughter of former Member of Parliament and Attorney-at-Law, Nadarajah Raviraj, will enter politics.

She has decided to enter politics, following an official invitation by the TNA and will take membership of the party soon. TNA sources also said that she would receive a post in charge of youth affairs. She will be contesting at the next general election, on the TNA ticket.

Praveena is a past student of Bishop’s College and recently returned from the United Kingdom as a law graduate. She was a teenager at the time of her father’s murder.

Navy Commander on Indian visit

The Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne completing his five-day official tour of India visited the Southern Naval Command in Kochi.

During this visit, the Commander of the Navy met the Flag Officer Commanding Chief Southern Naval Command (FOC-in-C, South), Vice Admiral A.R. Karve, AVSM and Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST), South, Rear Admiral M.A. Hampiholi, NM as well.

At the cordial discussions held with Rear Admiral M.A. Hampiholi, Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne shed light on the present stance of the Sri Lanka Navy which is in a period of transition, changing from Fast Attack Craft operations to operating Offshore Patrol Vessels with high hopes towards the future. As such, he requested all assistance in realizing that hope in terms of providing constant training for Sri Lankan officers and sailors in operating Offshore Patrol Vessels.

As part of this tour, the Commander of the Navy also took time off to visit the Joint Operations Command and Anti- Submarine School in Kochi.

Moreover, he shared a light moment with the Sri Lankan naval officers and sailors undergoing training there. Coincidently, the Anti- Submarine School in Kochi happened to be the place where the Commander of the Navy completed his Anti-Submarine Warfare specialization in 1989.

During his visit, the Navy Commander speaking to Indian media assured India that neither will its land nor water around it be used for any activity against Indian interests, amid increased Chinese naval forays into the Indian Ocean.

“We assure the Indian Government that nothing against India will happen in Sri Lankan land and waters around it,” Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne said when asked about the docking of Chinese submarines there.

He asserted that the Chinese presence in Sri Lanka was purely for economic reasons.

“We have also invited Indian firms,” he said.

Wijegunaratne said security at the Colombo Financial City would be entrusted to the Sri Lanka Navy and not the Chinese as is being speculated.

He also hoped that training of Sri Lankan defence personnel at the Defence Service Staff College at Wellington in Tamil Nadu will restart.

As he was touring in India, the Oceanographic Research Vessel of the People’s Liberation Army Navy, ‘Quan Sanqiang’ arrived at the Port of Colombo for a replenishment and technical halt.

The ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in accordance with naval traditions, on her arrival. Subsequently, the Commanding Officer of ‘Quan Sanqiang’ Lieutenant Commander Yang Haitao paid a courtesy call on the Commander Western Naval Area, Rear Admiral Niraja Attygalle at the Western Naval Command Headquarters and held cordial discussions. Mementoes were also exchanged to mark the significance of this official meeting. The Chinese ship is scheduled to stay in Sri Lanka till tomorrow.

One Response to “SLFP wants to reconsider abolishing Executive Presidency ?”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    “Addressing media at the SLFP Headquarters in Colombo he said because there were doubts about the abolishing of the Executive Presidency there should be a capable leader to contest at the next presidential election and so far the SLFP has only one capable leader and that is President Maithripala Sirisena.”

    I AGREE.

    GR is NOT yet in politics. So My3 is the ONLY capable leader to have ANY CHANCE of winning the presidential election until GR comes along and My3 agreeing.

    DIVIDING the SLFP will help UriNePee win the election easily.

    Either way MR is OUT. IF GR becomes president MR CANNOT become PM!! It is RIDICULOUS for president and PM to be from the same family. IF My3 wins again he will NOT make MR the PM.

    We have to make up our mind and KEEP UNP out of power.

    My3 is CUNNING than most of you think. He has a PLAN. Come the next presidential election in 30 months and RUN-NIL will contest it. My3 will put all BLAME on Run-nil and ministers. He will INVESTIGATE them!! That alone will be enough to DEFEAT Run-nil.

    But if MR DIVIDES the SLFP (hoping to get the PM post from Run-nil), the president elect will be RUN-NIL.

    IF My3 dies before that RAJITHA will be the president.

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