Govt. MP strikes discordant note, slams Parliament over National List farce … condemns halting of Law College exams in Sinhala
Posted on December 9th, 2021

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy Island

SLPP MP Gevindu Cumaratunga says a section of the ruling coalition is pursuing political strategies contrary to the mandate received by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna at the 2019 presidential and 2020 parliamentary elections.

MP Cumaratunga also strongly criticised the conduct of the Parliament as the highest institution in the country on the basis of continuing manipulation of the National List to accommodate those who had been rejected by the electorate and appointed outside the respective National Lists of political parties. The parliament consists of 196 elected and 29 appointed members.

The MP explained how the UNP schemed in the late 80s to manipulate the entire process to introduce the National List. Reference was made to the appointment of defeated candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe on the UNP National List and Basil Rajapaksa on the SLPP National List.

SLPP National List MP Cumaratunga who is also the President of the Yuthukama civil society group questioned rationale in pushing for the holding of the much delayed Provincial Council polls as quickly as possible.

The MP summoned a media briefing after he was denied the time to address the Parliament during the debate on the Justice Ministry vote. The lawmaker found fault with the government for its failure to unveil the Draft Constitution before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa completed two years in office. Cumaratunga is one of the MPs who had pledged his support to the battle against the highly questionable deal on the Yugadanavi Power Station that is now before the Supreme Court.

The civil society activist emphasized that Provincial Council polls shouldn’t be held under any circumstances until the introduction of the new Constitution. Lawmaker Cumaratunga said that the country received an assurance from Justice Minister Ali Sabry, PC that the draft Constitution would be presented within two years. Therefore, the delay couldn’t be accepted though the global epidemic Covid-19 caused immense problems.

MP Cumaratunga emphasized that he didn’t want to discuss other matters as the media briefing was especially called to address some specific issues namely the new Constitution and some matters related to the Justice Ministry.

Alleging that the Provincial Councils system in its present form violated the unitary status of the country, MP Cumaratunga said that in line with the mandates received at two national elections, the proposed new Constitution should do away with all those Amendments introduced in the wake of the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987 meant to appease separatist sentiments.

Responding to media queries, lawmaker Cumaratunga said that those who voted for the SLPP at the 2019 presidential and 2020 parliamentary elections expected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to fulfill the pledges given.

Commenting on the enactment of the 20th Amendment in Oct 2020 with an overwhelming 2/3 majority, MP Cumaratunga said that the country expected a new Constitution. Acknowledging the need for what he called an interim constitutional measure in the wake of 2019 presidential election victory, MP Cumaratunga said that he expected the proposed draft Constitution to include the valuable provision to prevent dual citizens with divided loyalties entering Parliament. Cumaratunga said that particular provision introduced trough the 19th Amendment had been neutralized by the 20th Amendment. Therefore, that provision should be brought back.

The post-war Sri Lanka needed a Constitution that reflected Sri Lanka’s triumph over terrorism. Similarly, elections reforms were required to abolish the current Proportional Representation system that encouraged, promoted and strengthened corruption at every level, he said.

Lawmaker Cumaratunga questioned the appointment of Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara as the head of Presidential Task Force (PTF) appointed to promote ‘One Country, One Law Concept.’ The civil society activist said that though he appreciated the concept the appointment of Ven. Gnanasara undermined the very concept President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promoted.

Towards the end of the briefing, Cumaratunga discussed how the incumbent government violated the Constitution by creating ministries in excess of the constitutional stipulation that restricted the number of cabinet ministers to 30 and State Ministers and Deputies to 40. The MP expressed appreciation to engineer Kapila Renuka Perera for seeking the Supreme Court intervention in that regard. Lawmaker Cumaratunga said that the 19th Amendment brought in restrictions on the number of ministers at a time the public agitated against top heavy government.

The outspoken MP fiercely criticized those within the government who believed in a so-called national government to overcome constitutional restrictions imposed on the number of ministers. The Yuthukama Chief warned such measures would cause rapid deterioration of the government and erode public confidence on the SLPP administration.

Alleging that former Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem had stopped conduct of classes for law students in Sinhala, MP Cumaratunga said that incumbent minister Sabry stopped conducting of Law College examinations in Sinhala. The MP said that the government should be ashamed of the situation. The MP also pointed out that Supreme Court judgments were delivered only In English and even the Parliament was deprived of a Sinhala copy in respect of major issues such as the ruling on the Colombo Port Commission Bill.

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