Expert panel’s proposed Constitutional Amendments come under fire
Posted on July 19th, 2018

METHMALIE DISSANAYAKE Courtesy Ceylon Today

Heated words were exchanged in the Parliament over the discussion paper of the Constitutional Amendments prepared by the Expert Panel.

United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekara noted that the expert panel had been divided on its report and that four out of its 10 members had not signed it.

It is said that only MPs Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, M.A. Sumanthiran and Suren Fernando had been involved in the drafting of the Constitutional Amendments. How can this happen when there are several members in the committee. For the first time, a Provision has been included to give powers to the Prime Minister, the Speaker and the Opposition Leader to remove the President if all of them agree with it. We cannot support this type of Constitution,” Jayasekara claimed.

Speaker Karu Jayauriya told Jayasekara that he would discuss the matter raised by the latter with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

At this juncture, Joint Opposition (JO) MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage alleged that a signature of an Expert Committee member had been forged in the report. This member had not come to Sri Lanka for six months now. He is overseas, but the report has contained his signature. It seems that the Speaker does not have a genuine interest to look into the matter. Why are you doing this?” he questioned from the Speaker.

The Speaker refuted the allegations Aluthgamage made against him. He dismissed certain words said by Aluthgamage claiming that they were un-Parliamentary.

Joining the discussion, JO Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena said that there is no wonder that the members of the expert panel had contradictory and clashing views on the content of the report.

A few individuals had compiled it and other members had been forced to sign it. The Prime Minister also accepted the views expressed by the experts that they are not being heard. Therefore the Steering Committee asked the panel to re-produce the report. This is a serious problem. MP Jayasekara said that a conspiracy has been hatched to remove the President. The Speaker should allow us to talk about this.” he said.

Chief Government Whip and Minister Gayantha Karunatileka stressed that the JO wanted to distract the Parliament by bringing up problems like this. An important debate on recent the New York Times report on Sri Lanka is scheduled to be held. Because of that these people are trying to waste time and distract the Parliament from its original purpose. The Speaker should not allow that to happen,” he asserted.

Chief Opposition Whip and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake then explained as to what had taken place at the Steering Committee meeting on 18 July.

He said that, The Steering Committee, when it met on 18 July, rejected the discussion paper prepared by the Expert Panel as it was revealed that it lacked the unanimous agreement of the panel. The 10-member expert panel was asked to meet again and arrive at a consensus on the discussion paper.”

Speaker Jayasuriya assured that he would look into the matter. He said that the scheduled operations of the House should be carried out without a further delay.

Minister of Highways and Road Development Kabir Hashim joining the discussion and said that the draft of the Constitutional Amendments would be presented only after conducting a broader discussion to have the opinions of all parties which are involved in the matter.

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