…alleges police adopted Gestapo style tactics
Former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday (18) said that free and fair election couldn’t be expected under the supervision of the Election Commission (EC) appointed in terms of the 20th Amendment.
Jayasuriya said so addressing the media, in his capacity as the Chairman, the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ), at Janaki Hotel.
The EC consists of Nimal G. Punchihewa (Chairman), S.B. Diwarathne, M.M. Mohammed, K. P. P. Pathirana, and Jeevan Thiagarajah.
Referring to recent reports pertaining to moves to conduct much delayed Provincial Council polls, Jayasuriya emphasised the responsibility on the part of the incumbent government to guarantee the impartiality of the EC. Jayasuriya said that they couldn’t anticipate free and fair elections as members of the EC were directly involved with the government political machinery.
One-time UNP Deputy Leader alleged that the EC would side with the government at a crucial moment at the expense of those who expected a level playing field. Therefore, the independence of the EC should be proved before elections. Jayasuriya said the next Provincial Council polls shouldn’t be conducted on a staggered basis under any circumstances.
Jayasuriya accepted the NMSJ leadership after having declined to contest/National List of both the JVP and the UNP breakaway faction, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) at the Aug 2020 general election.
Pointing out that the 20th Amendment had been enacted at the expense of the 19th Amendment introduced during his tenure as the Speaker, Jayasuriya said President Rajapaksa should re-examine the 20th Amendment.
Commenting on the ongoing efforts by a 9-member committee led by Romesh de Silva, PC, to draft a new Constitution, Jayuriya urged the President and the SLPP to do away with dictatorial features created by way of the 20th Amendment. The former Speaker warned of dire consequences if the incumbent government tried to retain dictatorial features in the 20th Amendment in the new Constitution.
The draft of the proposed new Constitution is expected to be ready in April. Romesh de Silva’s committee began deliberations in Sept last year.
The former Speaker also urged the government to discard controversial political victimisation committee report to avoid further crises. Declaring that retired Supreme Court Justice Upali Abeyratne’s report wasn’t acceptable to the vast majority of people, Jayasuriya requested President Rajapaksa to reveal his stand on the report.
Recently Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, MP, and Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe moved court against the Commission report.
NMSJ Chief challenged the government to take tangible and punitive measures against all those involved in the scandalous sugar duty scam that cost the country much needed revenue. Pointing out that the losses had been estimated at over Rs 15 bn, Jayasuriya said that the government could not remain silent on the revelations made by the Committee on Public Finance (CoPF).
The deal exposed by JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake in parliament on Dec 12, 2020, was investigated by the CoPF under the directions of its Chairman SLPP member Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.
Jayasuriya said that failure to act against those responsible would cause irreparable harm to the government and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The former Speaker also slammed the government for the continuing destruction of forests and efforts to suppress the truth of adopting Gestapo style tactics against those who dared to speak up. Recent scare tactics adopted in respect of a girl who criticised destruction of Sinharaja over Sirasa Lakshapathi exposed the government, he said.
Jayasuriya also strongly criticised what he called politicisation of the public sector. The former UNPer said that the moves to select members to the public through examinations conducted by the Public Administration Ministry instead of the Examination Department could cause serious harm.