By Ashwin Hemmathagama
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya warned lawmakers yesterday to maintain the quorum at all times during each Parliament sitting.
Bringing the seriousness of wasting public money and incapacity of Parliament to pass laws necessary to govern the country, the Speaker said: “There were several instances Parliament was adjourned unable to proceed in the absence of quorum. I bring this serious situation to the attention of the lawmakers. Ministerial notices, Bills that requires Parliament approval, Orders and Notices, and matters related the Constitution are moved in Parliament despite the day’s proceedings of Parliament. Most of these motions are valid for a limited time period before getting expired.
“A considerable amount of public money is spent to maintain and hold a Parliament sitting. So allowing Parliament to adjourn prematurely in the absence of quorum is pathetic. Maintaining the quorum is a co-responsibility of the Government as well as a Constitutional responsibility of the Opposition of Parliament. I hope this will not happen in the future.”
During the last nine months, Parliament was adjourned due to lack of a quorum on 19 July, 9 August and 6 September.
Parliament receives petitions on 20th Amendment
Parliament has received the copies of the 10 petitions filed at the Supreme Court challenging the 20th Amendment moved in Parliament recently expecting to abolish the Executive Presidency.
Opposition lawmaker, JVP MP Vijitha Herath moved the 20th Amendment to the Constitution as a private member Bill in Parliament to amend the Constitution on 5th September. The Bill mainly proposes amending Article 4, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 41c, 42, 43, 44, 46, 48, 50, 51, 52, 65, 70, 80, 85, 88, 89, 92, 93, 94, 99, 111C, 129, 153, and 156 of the current Constitution. Later on, the Bill was referred to the Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs for report to Parliament under Standing Order 52 (6) of the Parliament.
MP Herath who was granted leave to introduce the Bill held explaining the purpose of moving a private member motion that many candidates offered to abolish the Executive Presidency at the last presidential election and the same has surfaced at different forums that discussed amending the Constitution even though nothing substantial was not done.
Criticising the lethargic process followed to draft a new Constitution, the MP Herath said: “Even though abolishing of the Executive Presidency was considered at the point of moving the 19thAmendment nothing of that sort happened. Constitutional Assembly started drafting a new Constitution, but it appears to take a long time. From the point of the public, in order to establish democracy in the country the executive presidency should be abolished. This Bill is aimed at abolishing the Executive Presidency as the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. We think massive power entrusted on one person is an issue that needs to get changed. We seek the Parliament approval to pass this Bill and the public support to establish a civilised country.” (AH)