PSC not the need of the hour – Opposition


By Saman Indrajith

The Opposition yesterday demanded that the government explain why it thought the Opposition political parties should participate in the Parliament Select Committee to Recommend and Report on Political and Constitutional Measures to Empower the People of Sri Lanka to Live as One Nation.

Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga and JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, making two separate special statements, pointed out that the need of the hour was not a PSC to make recommendations but the implementation of LLRC recommendations and the government’s undertakings as set out in the Joint Statement with the UN Secretary General in May, 2009.

Full text of MP Amaratunga’s statement:

The Leader of the Opposition is currently out of the country and a comprehensive statement will be issued by him on the United National Party position regarding the Select Committee of Parliament to Recommend and Report on Political and Constitutional Measures to Empower the People of Sri Lanka to Live as One Nation.

In the meantime I had undertaken to make a brief statement regarding the UNP position at the Party Leaders’ meeting and this statement is pursuant to that undertaking.

Consequent to the UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka in May, 2009 and the visit of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a Joint Statement was issued by the UN Secretary General and the Government of Sri Lanka, wherein the Secretary General welcomed the bringing in of  a lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka, where among other matters:

"The Government expressed its commitment to ensure the economic and political empowerment of the people of the North through its programmes.

"President Rajapaksa and the Secretary-General agreed that addressing the aspirations and grievances of all communities and working towards a lasting political solution was fundamental to ensuring long term socio-economic development.  The Secretary General welcomed the assurance of the President of Sri Lanka contained in his statement in Parliament on 19 May, 2009 that a national solution acceptable to all sections of people will be evolved.  President Rajapaksa expressed his firm resolve to proceed with the implementation of the 13th Amendment, as we all, to begin a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil parties in the new circumstances, to further enhance this process and to bring about lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka.

"The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) made several recommendations pertaining to the solution of the ethnic problem and related matters.

In the teeth of this and the undertaking to expand the scope of the 13th Amendment and the repeal of the 18th Amendment which did away with the independent Commissions in respect of such vital areas as the Judiciary, Police, Public Service, Elections and so on.

"The Government has failed both in respects of recommendations of the LLRC and its undertakings as set out in the Joint Statement with the UN Secretary General.

"Notwithstanding this, the Leader of the Opposition wrote to the President on 12 June 2013 seeking an appointment to discuss among other things, the restoration of the 17th Amendment, and the implementation of the LLRC Report and the appointing of Commonwealth Observers prior to the Elections.

"The President has yet failed to respond to this letter.  I am tabling a copy of the letter.

In the light of this, we in the United National Party fail to see the need to appoint yet another Select Committee all over again to merely go through the same matters.

What we need now is a White Paper setting out detailed proposals regarding the implementation of the recommendations and undertakings already made", MP Amaratunga said.

JVP Parliamentary Group Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that the government had not yet made public its solution to the national problem.

He demanded to know why the Opposition should participate in the PSC when the government had not announced its solution and asked what was there to be discussed at the PSC.

Making a special statement in Parliament, the JVP Parliamentarian said the government should have addressed the problems and grievances of the Tamil people during the recent past. "We do not believe that the government has a genuine interest in finding solutions to the problems of the Tamil people. The government had a unique opportunity to address them immediately after the war. But nothing has been done in this regard. In resettling the displaced, the government gave Rs. 25,000 and 12 corrugated roofing sheets and left them to their own devices." That was not the way to set about resettling, MP Dissanayake said, claiming that there was a semi-military regime in the North and the rights of the people were suppressed.

"The government has no intention of finding a solution. The PSC is nothing but a talk shop which will lead to the waste of public money and time. The government should first tell the nation what its position on the 13th amendment and provincial councils is. We the JVP has no time to waste at the PSC.

 "To sort out the national problem, all the people have to be ensured of their rights, democracy should be restored, racism and religious extremism defeated and the government should make a special intervention with regard to economic, administrative and cultural problems of people and groups who have been marginalised."

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