Opposition should understand people’s needs -Minister

Friday, 10 January 2020

The Opposition led by the UNP should understand the pulse of the people, said Foreign Relations and Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations Minister and Leader of the House of Parliament Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday.He made this observation joining second day of the debate on the Policy Statement made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Parliament on January 3.

Minister Gunawardena said that 6.9 million people expressed their mandate to elect Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the President in order to develop the country and to guarantee their freedom, security and protect the nation’s sovereignty. He added however the former government handed over a bankrupt country.

“On the other hand the Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor National Policy Framework has made proposals to strengthen the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary,” Minister Gunawardena said.The President also invited the Opposition to assist the government’s constructive programme.

Minister Gunawardena also requested the Opposition to make responsible statements that could build the people’s confidence in Parliament.”He further said that the UNP government inked agreements without informing Parliament. This resulted in the country facing economic bankruptcy. The pepper and cinnamon based rural economy suffered a setback.

Minister Gunawardena added that the government would face the next election in a positive manner further strengthening its National Policy Framework titled ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor’.

“As proposed, there has been a considerable reduction in taxes. Small and Medium Scale Industries have been strengthened. The country is to maintain a neutral Foreign Policy unlike the previous government. The UNP government introduced the Anti Terrorism Act despite the objection of all including the Ven Buddhist Monks and His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. But, on being elected President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa removed it”.

“When MPs were arrested, even the Speaker was consulted,” Minister Gunawardena said. “But we have a list of MPs like Wimal Weerawansa, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Johnston Fernando etc who were victims of the UNP government’s political hatred and vengeance.”

He also said that all the moves made by the previous government failed. Even the MCC agreement, the amendments to the Constitution and other agreements were failures.

“The Opposition should act in a responsible manner with the country’s and people’s best interests at heart, at this critical juncture,” Minister Gunawardena said.

Bills to amend Muslim Marriages Act


Five bills to amend the Muslim marriage laws deeming the marriage of underage Muslim girls a crime was presented to Parliament yesterday.The five bills presented in the form of Private Member Bills by MPs Ven. Aturaliye Rathana Thera and UNP Kegalle District MP Dr.Thusitha Wijemanne.

MP Rathana Thera presented two bills one to amend the Marriages (General) Ordinance No. 19 of 1907, and another to repeal the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, No. 13 of 1951. The first bill would amend the Marriages (General) Ordinance No. 19 of 1907 by deleting the words “other than the marriages of Muslims” from its preamble. The second bill seeks to repeal the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, No. 13 of 1951.

The bill titled Marriage Registration (Amendment) Act, No. of 2019 presented by MP Dr. Wijemanne seeks to remove the words ‘other than the marriages of Muslims’ from the Marriage Registration Ordinance No. 19 of 1907.

The second bill by the same MP titled Bill to introduce the Minimum Age of Marriage Act in Sri Lanka says that the “child or underage marriage is an infringement of a young person’s right to education, development and security and as such, is considered a serious social evil that may render vulnerable the children of Sri Lanka to forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse:

WHEREAS that Sri Lanka guarantees equal protection of the law to all its people regardless of age, race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any one of such grounds:

WHEREAS the duty of the State owed to future generations to ensure that such future generations have the opportunity to learn, develop and grow to become a better and more prosperous society: and WHEREAS of this Act to afford to all persons under the age of eighteen all possible protection of the law and to ensure that no person shall consent or decide on their behalf to enter them into a marriage and to introduce measures for the relevant organs of the State give full effect to the spirit and letter of this Act and thereby convey that the State is committed to the elimination of child marriage.

No marriage contracted after the coming into force of this Act shall be valid, unless both parties to the marriage have completed eighteen years of age.

(1) Every child marriage, whether solemnised before or after the commencement of this Act, shall be voidable at the option of the contracting party who was a child at the time of the marriage.

(2) Provided that an application for annulling a child marriage by a decree of nullity may be filed in the District court in the local jurisdiction in which the applicant resides and by only a contracting party to the marriage who was child at the time of the marriage.

(3) If at the time of filing an application, the applicant is a minor, the application may be filed through his or her guardian or next friend.

(4) The application under this section may be filed at any time but before the child filing the application completes two years of attaining majority.

(5) Every application under this section shall be made in writing and shall be signed by the applicant or the person making the application on his behalf and shall be free of any stamp duty. Every summons to a respondent or a witness shall also be free of stamp duty.

(6) Once an application is filed and Court is satisfied on the application that (a) the applicant had not reached the age of 18 at the time the marriage was registered; and (b) that the marriage was registered, the Court shall make grant a decree of nullity of marriage.

(7) While granting a decree of nullity under this section, the Court shall make an order directing both the parties to the marriage and their parents or their guardians to return to the other party, his or her parents or guardian, as the case may be, the money, valuables, ornaments other gifts and money: Provided that no order under this section shall be executed unless the concerned parties have been given notice to appear before the Court and show cause why such an order should not be passed.

(8) Where there are children born of the child marriage, the Court shall make an appropriate order for the custody of such children. While making an order for the custody of a child under this section, the welfare and best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration to be given by the Court.

Wimal tells Sajith: stick to written document

Raising a Point of Order, Minister Wimal Weerawansa noted that Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa has no provisions to speak under Standing Orders 27/2 other than what is in the written document.Thereafter when Sajith Premadasa was continuing despite objections, Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando citing 27/4 brought to the notice of the Chair that he should not be allowed to continue.

The presiding member in the Chair ruled that the Opposition Leader should not proceed with his speech.

Sajith Premadasa in his speech said that there is talk that the government has cancelled a number of appointments made during the UNP regime and commenced a political witch-hunt. After our government was appointed in 2015, we never engaged in political vengeance. Hence, I inquire whether the government intends to reinstate these employees and when.”

He asked if the government intends to grant 100,000 jobs in January by removing those who had been given employment during his government.

However, the government members objected to the Opposition Leader and stated that it could not be taken up for debate and only the written document could be read out.

The presiding member in the Chair told the Opposition Leader that he could not continue.

No one can influence the Judiciary – Dullas

Education Minister Dullas Alahapperuma said in Parliament yesterday (8) that the Government condemns the US drone attack which killed Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Commander of its Quds Force Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

Alahapperuma said, although yesterday’s debate was on the policy statement of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and inspite of the US President accepting responsibility for the attack which killed Soleimani, none of the countries which usually talk about human rights have spoken a word regarding this attack.

“We condemn the US actions. This incident could be taken as a threat to the leaders of other countries, especially those who speak against imperialism. This is a very serious matter.”

Minister Alahapperuma further said that the United National Party (UNP) as a responsible Opposition, should not stay silent on this matter.

“The UNP should express its opinion about this incident. This is a threat to the lives of both the leaders and citizens of countries which speak against imperialism. Everyone should speak for the safety of them,” he added.

Getting back to the issues affecting the country at present he said that over the past 72 hours, the confidence and faith placed by the people in the Judiciary had been greatly tarnished as a result of the voice tapes that had been leaked where a former Deputy Minister is trying to influence the judiciary.

Referring to implications made by certain opposition MPs that there is a power struggle between the Rajapaksa brothers, he said, “there is absolutely no issue in the Rajapaksa camp. In fact President Gotabaya clearly explained the significance of the shawl (Satakaya) worn by the Rajapaksas and said that although he does not wear it he too rules and shares the principles of the Satakaya. Therefore, those who want to dream can do so, as it is their right, but don’t have any illusions regarding the instability of the Rajapaksa government.”

Ranjan plays lead role in ‘Handapata Eliyata’ film- Wimal

The sound recordings that are released over social media resulting in a major hue and cry are not those seized by the Police from the possession of MP Ranjan Ramanayake but some that had been obtained before those CDs were seized by the Police.

Small and Medium Business and Entrepreneur Development, Industry, Logistics Management Minister Wimal Weerawansa in Parliament yesterday.

He said that the people elected the President thinking of the country and not about their stomachs.

He added that the UNP government never thought about the people or the country. “These days a new film is being screened,” Wimal Weerawansa said.

“Its name is ‘Handapata Eliyata’. Ranjan plays the main role in it. Shani Abeysekara, Piyumi Hansamali and Pathmini Ranawaka’s sound recordings are out by now. There are around 127,000 sound recordings in the CDs.”

He also said that when the UNP government was elected, they expressed their hatred by removing the flowerpots at Temple Trees. He added that the so called Good Governance Government attempted to imprison MPs like Namal, Johnston etc. “But finally the truth is out,” Minister Weerawansa said. “I demand the IGP to produce those sound recordings.”

The Good Governance government took revenge from Tissa Attanayake, then from his (Wimal’s) wife. “They imprisoned me too,” Wimal Weerawansa said. “Sajith Premadasa was in the same government but speaks like a new born baby now.” He also said that the sound recordings that were released to social media are not from those seized by the Police but those who had made copies of them before the CDs were seized by the Police.

Opposition trying to misinterpret country’s National Security interests – Vasu

State Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that the Opposition should not misinterpret that giving priority to the National Security meant increasing military power across the country by the government.

He made this observation yesterday joining the second day Adjournment Debate on the Policy Statement of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made in Parliament on January 3.

“There is a wrong interpretation that the Government is resorting to militarism in the guise of National Security,” State Minister Nanayakkara said.

“The Government’s principle about National Security gives priority to the national economy, unitary status and sovereignty of the country etc”.

He said that not signing agreements with foreign countries which could impinge on the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is also an aspect of National Security. “Therefore, the Opposition including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) should not interpret our National Security principles only with the military aspect,” said State Minister Nanayakkara.

He also said that the majority of the people, especially the youth voted for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa based on national interests.

“It is always noticeable that the Sinhalese always stand against getting help from imperialists while Tamil Nationalists are always willing to seek help from imperialists. The Leftists always stand against imperialism.The Tamil parties should understand this fact,” State Minister Nanayakkara said.

“Therefore, it is not fair to ignore the wishes of the majority,” he said.

President’s Policy Statement action, result oriented – TNA Leader

Debating the Policy Statement enunciated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Parliament last Friday (03), TNA Leader R. Sampanthan said he had identified issues of importance and accepted that it is action oriented and result oriented.

“Depending on its implementation, things could get substantially done and one must concede that people and youth could benefit. The emphasis laid on the technological progress is important. If we use Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean region, developing Sri Lanka into an export oriented economic hub with an export orientation both in Asia and Europe will be vital for the country’s economic resurgence. Everyone knows that the country is deep in debt both locally and internationally.”

He pointed out that the majority of the debt was due to the terrorist conflict which lasted for over 25 years.This conflict could have been avoided. He noted that the country’s income is insufficient to service its debt.

“We are in the doldrums and we need massive domestic and foreign investments. There has to be massive investment and development with export oriented production. All these things have been talked about in the past but never materialsied. We have not been able to get our act together.

We have been in conflict shortly after independence,” MP Sampanthan said.

Sampanthan said that if we are to succeed in our own efforts to introduce substantial changes, the country needs to be seen in a different perspective. “We are a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multicultural and pluralistic society. While acknowledging that the Sinhala Buddhist majority cannot be ignored, he also said that it does not mean that everybody else lives in a subordinate position. There are others with their own traditions and civilizations. The Tamils have historically inhabited the North and the East. Our intention is not to confront anyone but to cooperate in such a manner to resolve the issues in the country in an amicable manner.”

State Minister Lanza tells Speaker

Remove MP Ranjan from Madiwela Parliamentarians’ Official Residences Complex

Community Development State Minister Nimal Lanza demanded Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to remove Opposition MP Ranjan Ramanayake from the Madiwela Parliamentarians’ Official Residences Complex in order to protect the honour of the parliamentarians.

He also demanded the UNP to hold a disciplinary inquiry against Ranjan Ramanayake on his behaviour and make a decision on him at party level.

He made these observations yesterday joining the second day Adjournment Debate on the Policy Statement of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa made in Parliament on January 3.

He said the sound recordings of Ranjan Ramanayake that have created a hue and cry in society provide sufficient evidence to the effect that he had influenced the Police, Judiciary and Court judgements. Hence, he could be brought before the law.

State Minister Lanza said that he revealed many facts about Ranjan Ramanayake’s unacceptable behaviour last December but nobody believed him.

He also said that among those recordings, there are dialogues with actresses, female judges and some other judges. They include questionable dialogues.

He added that there are many more revelations to be made.

Easter Sunday terror attacks could have been prevented – Premajayantha

The Easter Sunday terror attacks on churches and Five Star hotels could have been prevented had Brig.

Suresh Salley had remained as the Head of Military Intelligence, said International Co-operation State Minister Susil Premajayantha yesterday. He made this assurance yesterday joining the second day Adjournment Debate on the Policy Statement made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Parliament on January 3.

He further said that the tape recordings of Ranjan Ramanayake has dialogues of removing Salley from his position.

If he was not removed from his position as Head of Military Intelligence this attack could have been prevented.

“This is the reason why President Gotabaya Rajapaksa requested the public to elect educated and intelligent MPs to Parliament,” Minister Premajayantha said.

“The President’s need is to bring about a new political culture in the country and to eradicate poverty from the country.

He has envisaged the mechanism in his Vistas of Prosperity and Splendor National Policy Framework,” Premajayantha said.

Private Members’ Bill to amend minimum age for marriage

A Private Members Bill to prevent children from marrying under the age of 18 has been introduced to the parliament by the Kegalle district MP Dr. Thusitha Wijemanne.

According to the Bill, the minimum age of marriage is introduced as below and published under a Gazette Notification.

Any marriage that takes place after the enactment of the introduced Bill shall not be valid unless both parties have reached the age of 18 years.

The Gazette Notification also states that Sri Lanka has guaranteed equal protection for all people irrespective of age, race, religion, language, caste, gender, political views, place of birth or any other matter on that regard.

The bill has been introduced as a Private Members Bill to prevent the sexual abuse of children as well as mental and physical violence against children in Sri Lanka occurring as a result of underage marriages.