Parliament should follow Covid 19 Regulations and postpone 20A debate – Opposition

Opposition lawmakers protest constitutional amendments in Sri Lanka on Sep 23, 2020

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s Parliamentary Opposition is demanding that sittings of the Legislature be conducted according to Regulations imposed on gatherings by the government last week in the face of the second wave of Covid 19 infections.

The Chief Opposition Whip, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Member of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella in a letter to the Speaker has pointed out that in Parliament the seating between legislators “violates the Regulations Gazetted by the government as the distance between Members is less than that stipulated in the Regulations.”

“It will be a bad example to set to the country if the place laws are made is seen to be breaking the law,” Kiriella wrote.

This will require the postponement of the debate over the controversial 20th Amendment to the Constitution which is scheduled for Wednesday, October 21, which the government appears to want to steamroller through the Legislature as popular opinion against it gathers momentum.

The 20A takes power away from Parliament and the Prime Minister and gives it to the President.

Meanwhile, the SJB General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara says the government should
conduct PCR tests for all MPs prior to the parliament sittings this week.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Madduma Bandara said that although the new regulations state to maintain one-meter distance between individuals, there is only about half meter distance between the seats of two MPs in the parliament.

“The government is trying to create a dictatorial law by breaking the law in the very same place where laws are made,” he said.

Further, he said if the Speaker or the government fails conduct PCR tests on every MP before parliament sittings, the whole parliament would be forced to close for months even if one MPs gets infected with the virus as a lot of MPs associate with the people in their electorates.

The Opposition also said that the government has been slow to bring regulations to bear with regard to restrictions imposed on the people with regards to the pandemic. Other countries had the laws in place by May, but this government brought them only this month. (Colombo, October 19, 2020)

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Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe

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