ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s main opposition the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) will not be taking up cabinet positions in the proposed all-party government as doing so will not be the ‘system change’ being sought, opposition and SJB leader Sajith Premadasa said.
“We will not be accepting ministerial portfolios because that would not be a system change. It would be changing seats and promoting corruption,” said Premadasa speaking at an event in Colombo on Tuesday August 16.
Premadasa said the SJB’s approach was to fulfill the needs of the nation through parliamentary committees that the party wishes to be part of.
“If I was invited to be the President of the US or even the Prime Minister of the UK, I would not accept those positions but would choose to stand with my nation, my country,” he said.
The event was an SJB-organised national assembly for women activists with representation from a number of groups involved in Sri Lanka’s youth-led Aragalaya (struggle) protest movement. Discussions focused on the economic crisis and its effect on Sri Lanka’s women.
Tilted Maha Jana Sabhawa or People’s Council, the round of discussions was chaired by Premadasa. SJB national organiser Tissa Attanayake and former parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra were also present.
Speaking at the event, Attanayake said the SJB wishes to work with the government amicably but SJB members have been advised not to take the government up on any offers of positions.
The event was attended by several groups that were involved in the Aragalaya, with representation from the deaf community, lawyers, mothers and state workers.
SJB spokespersons said the progamme was launched to give due consideration to decisions that impact women in leadership as well as to discuss women’s issues in general. Seeking justice for protestors injured in a military raid on July 22 was also taken up.
Among the issues raised was prices of sanitary napkins and menstrual products.
In a recent tweet, Premadasa had praised Scotland for becoming the first country to provide sanitary napkins and menstrual products free of charge.
“We raised this matter in parliament 2019 and we were laughed at and hooted at. It was not taken any notice of and I was not surprised.
“They famously said they would implement it, but it was limited to words, not action,” he said. (Colombo/Aug17/2022)