Sri Lanka Freedom Party, United People’s Freedom Alliance and People’s United Front handed over their proposals in writing yesterday (11) to the Select Committee of Parliament to identify appropriate reforms of the election laws and the electoral system and to recommend necessary amendments.
Hon. Minister Mahinda Amaraweera, Hon. State Ministers Dayasiri Jayasekara and Lasantha Alagiyawanna handed over the proposals to the hon. Chairman of the Committee, Leader of the House, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on behalf of their parties.
State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara speaking on behalf of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party said that the country needs a mixed electoral system at present. He emphasized the need of the executive presidency, and pointed out that proper procedures should be put in place to prevent the appointment of dual citizens to the presidency.
The State Minister said that the possibility of holding the Presidential and General Elections on the same day and the possibility of holding the Provincial Council and Local Government Elections on the same day should be specially looked into. The State Minister also emphasized the need to introduce a district council system in the decentralization of provincial council powers.
Speaking on behalf of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that a system should be set up to hand over the relevant Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to the Elections Commission when political parties enter into an alliance. He further stated that every party should have a fair campaign opportunity in the elections.
Speaking on behalf of the People’s United Front, State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna said that special attention should be paid towards bringing in new reforms to reduce election campaign expenses. Speaking on behalf of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, Hon. Member of Parliament Prof. Tissa Vitarana said that there is an urgent need to establish a new electoral system in the country to protect the rights of all communities. He also pointed out the importance of preventing the misuse of state property.
Representatives of the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) who addressed the committee pointed out that the electoral system should be in place to protect the rights of minorities. It was also emphasized that the representation of the plantation workers should be ensured.
Speaking at the committee meeting, the Democratic Left Front said that it was very important to hold elections on time. They also proposed the complete abolition of the executive presidency and the strengthening of the parliamentary system.
The Communist Party of Sri Lanka, the Democratic United National Front and the Arunalu Janatha Peramuna also presented proposals before the Committee. The Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, also presented his proposals to the Committee, saying that new reforms should focus on increasing the representation of women in politics.
Representatives of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) suggested that many countries in the world have resorted to the method of counting votes electronically and that it should be experimented in Sri Lanka as a pilot project.
Accordingly, the next meeting of the Committee is scheduled to be held on August 18 said the Secretary to the Committee, Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary General Ms. Kushani Rohanadheera.
Hon. Ministers Nimal Siripala de Silva, Prof. G. L. Peiris, M.U.M Ali Sabry, Hon. State Minister Jeevan Thondaman, Hon. Members of Parliament Madhura Withanage and Sagara Kariyawasam were also present at the Committee Meeting.
Officials from the Election Commission, the Delimitation Commission and the Attorney General’s Department were also present at this committee meeting.