| Contrary to earlier expectations of a Parliamentary Select Committee to address Tamil grievances, the Government will now appoint one “to recommend and report political and constitutional measures to empower the people of Sri Lanka as one nation.”
Thirteen Cabinet Ministers are among the 18 parliamentarians who have given notice of a motion in Parliament last week. They want it listed in the Addendum to the Order Book No 4 of Parliament. The proposed Parliamentary Select Committee, they have said, should recommend to the House within six months the initiative appropriate to achieve political and constitutional measures to:
- Enhance the unity of the people of Sri Lanka
- Further empower the people to work as a nation, and
- Enable the people to take decisions
For this purpose, the motion says,
- That the committee and its chairman shall be nominated by the Speaker.
- That notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 95, the committee shall consist of not more than thirty one (31) members.
The motion is based on three different grounds. First is that a unique opportunity has arisen for the people of Sri Lanka to unite and work together as a nation towards the economic, social and political development of the country and its citizens. The second is that to this end it is opportune to take steps to enhance the unity of the people of Sri Lanka and empower them to take decisions and engage in actions towards their economic, social and political development.
The third is that a Select Committee of Members of Parliament being a committee of elected representatives of the people is best equipped to determine the nature and scope of steps to be taken to enable the reasons stated above.
The motion, among other matters, says that the PSC is empowered to summon such persons and documents as it deemed necessary, examine on oath or affirmation persons so summoned, continue notwithstanding adjournment of Parliament from time to time and submit interim reports from time to time.
The Government had earlier planned to appoint a PSC to address issues relating to Tamil grievances. This was in fact conveyed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa when a high powered three-member Indian delegation visited Sri Lanka. It was headed by India’s National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, the then External Affairs Ministry Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar.
Government sources told the Sunday Times yesterday that while addressing issues related to Tamil grievance, the proposed committee will also look at broad issues that concern all communities in Sri Lanka.
Signatories to the motion are Susil Premajayantha, Champika Ranawaka, Rauff Hakeem, Tissa Vitarana, Douglas Devananda, Dinesh Gunawardena, Maithripala Sirisena, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Rishad Badhiutheen, Basil Rajapaksa, V.S. Radakrishnan, D.E.W. Gunasekera, Muthu Sivalingam, Perumal Rajadurai, Rajiva Wijesinha and Dullas Alahapperuma.