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Friday August 12th, 2022

Sri Lanka’s “elderly” MPs must resign to make way for youth protestors: bus union chief

ECONOMYNEXT – President Ranil Wickremesinghe must see to it that at least five “elderly” MPs vacate their parliamentary seats to make way for representatives of Sri Lanka’s youth-led protest movement, Chairman of Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association (LPBOA) Gemunu Wijeratne said

Speaking to reporters on Monday August 01, Wijearatne suggested that five key individuals from the ‘Aragalaya’ (Struggle) protest movement must enter parliament through the national list.

Sri Lanka’s youth have been demonstrating against the government’s handling of the country’s economic crisis since April and their protests saw the ouster of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled the country on July 13.

One of the demands of the Galle Face protestors is more youth participation in parliament. Wijearatne told EconomyNext that “elderly” members of parliament should resign of their own accord to make way for new personalities with new ideas.

We have ministers that can’t walk and we expect them to be able to run a country. So I make this suggestion in good faith, to give the young generation a chance to have their voices heard.”

“The president must decide which parliamentary seats will be replaced,” he said.

A majority have been asking for elections after President Wickremesinghe was sworn in, the private bus union chief said.

“Even if there is an election under this proportional representation voting system, the youth will never be able to get elected to parliament, because every day it’s the same wine in a new bottle,” he said.

Wijeratne, who is not directly affiliated with the Aragalaya, said he’s making this proposal as a solution to Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis since Independence. He claimed he has been a witness to injustice and disparity within the system, hence his call for youth leadership in Sri Lanka.

S V Nadarajah, a protestor who has been in the struggle since its inception, is not hostile to Wijeratne’s proposal.

“Most politicians are in their retirement age and there is no inflow of new ideas nor any vision. When the youngsters enter parliament, it will change,” she said, adding that the younger generation is looking to join active politics.

“Sri Lanka is following 74-year-old politics which doesn’t work for today,” she said.

However, not all protestors are interested in entering parliament and working with the establishment. Chathura Bandara, a frequent protestor, said: “Five members of the Aragalaya against 220 existing members of parliament will not, once again, be a reflection of the people.”

One of the main arguments of the anti-government protestors is that the current parliament is not representative of the public and that the present set of rulers are not in touch with the people and their hardships.

“If we wanted to join the parliament, we would have campaigned during elections. That is not what we want. We want a system change, but we don’t want a system change with the existing 225 [members of parliament],” said Bandara.

Despite some setbacks, sections of the Aragalaya are persistent with their demand that President Wickremesinghe also vacate his office. This has been particularly the case since what critics claimed was an unprovoked attack on peaceful protestors on July 22 when the military allegedly attacked protestors at Galle Face and forcefully evicted them the Presidential Secretariat even after a prior notice that they would be leaving.

“We didn’t come to protest to fill a vacant seat in parliament,” says Melanie Gunathilaka, an occupant at Galle Face who has been protesting since April..

Wickremesinghe was elected president by parliament with 134 votes out of 225. On Sunday July 31, he renewed his call for an all-party government to lead Sri Lanka out of its economic crisis.

A Wall Street Journal interview on Sunday saw him reiterate his call for political stability.

Related:

Political stability will help Sri Lanka turn a corner, president tells WSJ

The president has also controversially claimed that the Aragalaya has been hijacked by what he calls fascist elements aiming to destabilise the country. He has pointed to acts of violence including acts of arson and the killing of government MP Amarakeerthi Atukorala as evidence.

Since the protest is a decentralised movement with the participation of a wide array of citizens, said Gunatillake, some may be fond of the idea getting into parliament. But this was go against the core demands of the Aragalaya, she said.

“This is a move to bring new young faces with the bunch of old faces. You can’t have new when you’re surrounded by the old,” she said. (Colombo/Aug01/2022)

Comments (1)

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  1. Rubu Fernando says:

    There definitely must be certain criteria for MP’s.
    1. Minimum a university edcation
    2. Proficent in all 3 languages – English a must
    3. No more than 65 years of age
    4. Must have a proven track record
    5. No crimial records, including traffic violations
    6. Should follow a minimum 3 month course on parliamentary norms, behavior rules and etiquett and pass a rigid test
    7 Basically follow the Singapore model.

    Ministers of the cabinet should be subject matter experts with education, knowlege of the subject and experience from corporate.

    Government should vacate from owning and operating businesses and MP chit system of recruitment to Government jobs cease forthwith. Government should not be in the business of providing employment – it should be left to free market enterprises to do so.

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Comments (1)

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Rubu Fernando says:

    There definitely must be certain criteria for MP’s.
    1. Minimum a university edcation
    2. Proficent in all 3 languages – English a must
    3. No more than 65 years of age
    4. Must have a proven track record
    5. No crimial records, including traffic violations
    6. Should follow a minimum 3 month course on parliamentary norms, behavior rules and etiquett and pass a rigid test
    7 Basically follow the Singapore model.

    Ministers of the cabinet should be subject matter experts with education, knowlege of the subject and experience from corporate.

    Government should vacate from owning and operating businesses and MP chit system of recruitment to Government jobs cease forthwith. Government should not be in the business of providing employment – it should be left to free market enterprises to do so.

Sri Lanka cancels visa of Scotswoman who documented anti-govt protests

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration and Emigration has cancelled the visa of Kayleigh Fraser, a Scotswoman who had been documenting the country’s anti-government protests on social media.

Immigration officers had approached Fraser at her home on August 02 and confiscated her passport.

“This is what will happen if you raise your voice against state violence in Sri Lanka,” Fraser wrote on Wednesday August 10, posting a letter ordering her to leave the country by August 15.

“I am proud to have been a part of this. I am proud to have met so many of you. I have… so many social enterprises I want to work on here that I know will benefit so many,” Fraser said on Instagram.

“Deporting me is a massive, massive mistake for this country. The love I have for it and its people appears to be a threat to the current rulers. Does that sound right to you?”

Fraser posted that she was not prepared for the financial cost of flights and relocation, and that all her funds were in Sri Lankan currency, and that banks were not allowing foreign transactions.

Police spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa had told a privately owned news organisation that Fraser was sharing “negative content” about Sri Lanka via her social media.

“It is not right for a foreign national to be in our country and share such mass negative content. She is not a media personnel either, to cover the protests and GotaGoGama,” he has said.

Fraser has been vocal about state sanctioned violence against protestors.

News of Fraser’s deportation has caused a small riot on social media, with many protestors voicing out their support for the foreigner who documented and showed support next to them.

Seemingly indiscriminate arrests of protestors aided by an ongoing State of Emergency have both angered and frightened Sri Lankan protestors, and many active protestors have gone into hiding to evade arrest.

Some protestors said they were “taking a break” or “distancing themselves” due to continued harassment.

However, the authorities maintain that all arrests are in accordance with the law. The government has pointed to acts of retaliatory mob violence on May 09 and the forced occupation of government buildings by protestors on July 09.

“They are calling us terrorists for holding placards. This was such a peaceful protest, the only terrorism carried out was by the government against the people,” said an active protestor, who preferred not to be named.

Fraser wrote that Sri Lankans should not forget that they got to the streets for a system change.

“Live in such a way that your children will thank you for the world they inherit,” she said.

“It’s not over till it’s over. I have an unbelievable amount of high profile people fighting this order for me to leave.”(Colombo/Aug11/2022)

 

 

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Sri Lanka to acquire 35,000MT of petrol; unloading on Aug 12

ECONOMYNEXT-  Sri Lanka to receive a cargo of 35,000 metric tonns of petrol on Thursday August 11 with unloading scheduled for Friday, Minister of Power & Energy Kanchana Wijesekara said.

Wijesekara tweeted that the ship will arrive at the Colombo port Thursday night, and that the payment for the cargo had been completed with the support of the Central Bank by Wednesday.

The minister had said earlier on Wednesday that a separate cargo of crude oil is also expected on Saturday August 13, and from August 19 onwards, locally produced fuel is expected to be released to the market from the Sapugaskanda refinery.

Meanwhile, in an earlier report, Lanka IOC, a local unit of the Indian Oil Corporation (OIC), said a vessel carrying 30,000 metric tons of fuel for LIOC is scheduled to arrive between August 10 and 15.

Related: Three shipments of fuel to arrive in Sri Lanka by mid, end July, August: Lanka IOC

Meanwhile, Wijesekara said that 5.7 million people have signed up for the QR-code facilitated National Fuel Pass.

From July 21 up to now, Wijesekara said, a total of 54.9 million litres of fuel had been sold through 1,053 CPC fuel stations while 207 LIOC stations have sold 11.26 million litres of fuel. (Colombo/Aug11/2022)

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MPs nominated to Sri Lanka’s parliamentary committee on public finance

The sun sets over the Parliament at Shri Jayewardenepura

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s parliament has appointed members to its Committee on Public Finance, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said.

According to his announcement made in parliament on Wednesday August 10, in terms of the provisions of the Standing Order 121 of Parliament, MPs Bandula Gunawardana,  Vidura Wickramanayaka,  Nalin Fernando,  Anura Priyadharshana Yapa,  Vijitha Herath,  Duminda Dissanayake,  Shehan Semasinghe,  Premitha Bandara Tennakoon and Harsha de Silva have been appointed.

Indika Anuruddha Herath,  Siripala Gamalath, Seetha Arambepola, Suren Raghavan,  M A Sumanthiran,   Kavinda Heshan Jayawardhana,  Mujibur Rahuman,  Harshana Rajakaruna,  Chaminda Wijesiri,  Isuru Dodangoda,  Anupa Pasqual and  (Prof) Ranjith Bandara also have been appointed to serve as members in the Committee on Public Finance.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe tabled a proposed framework during his time as Prime Minister under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for sectoral oversight committees in parliament with the objective of increased bipartisan parliamentary involvement in governance and policy-making.

Wickremesinghe told parliament on July 06 that under such a system, the entire parliament irrespective of party difference will participate in governance.

On July 06, he said he had approached former Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayauriya to formulate a proposal on activating the sectoral oversight committees.

Sectoral Oversight Committees shall function for the duration of Parliament and conduct its inquiries notwithstanding any adjournment or prorogation of Parliament, according to the parliament website.

The Committee of Selection shall determine the subjects and functions to be allocated to each Sectoral Oversight Committee.

The Sectoral Oversight Committees shall have the power to examine any Bill, any subsidiary legislation including Regulation, Resolution, Treaty, Report or any other matter relating to subjects and functions within their jurisdiction.

The Parliament, any Committee or a Minister may refer any matter to a Sectoral Oversight Committee having jurisdiction over the subject or function for its consideration and report. (Colombo/Aug11/2022)

 

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