Group of SLPP “Independent” MPs Try to Nominate Gammanpila to the Constitutional Council Instead of Siddhathan; TNA Spokesperson MA Sumanthiran MP Says Tamil Community is Being Denied Due Representation on CC which already has 5 Sinhala&1 Muslim MPs


Mirudhula Thambiah

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday (20) expressed dissatisfaction that a Tamil representative was not permitted to be nominated to the Constitutional Council (CC) by some MPs who had crossed over to the Opposition from the Government.

The TNA had also brought this matter to the notice of President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana during the all-party conference that was held recently at the Presidential Secretariat.

Speaking to The Morning, TNA Spokesman and Opposition MP President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran said yesterday that his party had nominated its MP Dharmalingam Siddarthan to the CC, while those MPs who had crossed over from the Government to the Opposition had wanted to nominate their own MP.

“I nominated Siddarthan’s name at the last meeting, but some MPs who have crossed over from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to the Opposition were present at the meeting when they shouldn’t have been, as they don’t belong to the Opposition – they were elected on the SLPP ticket. They nominated MP Udaya Gammanpila. I objected to their participation at the meeting.

This is supposed to be the group that is not the Government or the party to which the Opposition Leader belongs,” he added.

He noted that this meeting was held to nominate an MP to the CC, and that it was held on 8 December.

“The TNA, which is the third-largest party in Parliament, can make the nomination. All of these people were SLPP Members, whether they sit on the Opposition or the Government side. They are MPs only by virtue of the fact that they are still SLPP Members. On that account, I objected to it. They then wanted a vote to be taken. We objected to this, and said that if a vote was called for, we would walk out. The Speaker refused to take a vote.

“Another matter is that the right to nominate is not for the two largest parties, but for the third-largest party and the other parties. The other factor is that out of the seven MPs who constitute the CC, the other six members have already been chosen, namely the Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader, the President’s nominee Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, the Prime Minister’s nominee Attorney Sagara Kariyawasam, and the Opposition Leader’s nominee Kabir Hashim. Therefore, we suggested Siddarthan’s name on the basis that we can get the other slot. Accordingly, there are already five Sinhalese representatives and one member from the Muslim community, and we nominated one from the Tamil community. But they are asking for the final slot as well.

Sumanthiran said that this is a very serious issue and noted that the due representation of a Tamil member has been denied.
“Although it is not given out on that basis, there is a rule where we must have all the representations enabled. In any case, we are a party that is eligible. We objected to this instance of majoritarianism at its worst.”

He further said that although the Speaker did not have an election, the issue has not been resolved, and the seventh slot of the CC thus remains vacant.

According to the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, the CC consists of 10 members, including the Premier, the Speaker (the Chairperson), the Opposition Leader, a nominee of the President, two nominees by the collective of the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader, a nominee of the parties to which the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader do not belong, and three non-MP civil society representatives nominated together by the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader.

Courtesy:The Morning