Mon, 27 May 2024 Today's Paper

Who’s to blame for Ms. Diana’s flaws - EDITORIAL

13 May 2024 05:20 am - 3     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Oh dear, oh dear, a British citizen and non-Sri Lankan, MP Diana (not to be mistaken for Britain’s Princess Diana) has been unseated as a Member of our Parliament. O tempora, o mores we are once again being made the laughing stock of the world. A British citizen is not only a member of our Parliament, she is also a State Minister of this country.


The 60-year-old was (according to media reports) appointed a National List MP by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) in return for the transferring of control of the Ape Jathika Peramuna (AJP) to the SJB. 


Ever-popular past Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya -respected for his nonpartisan rulings during election controversies- and an expert on election practices, speaking to this newspaper days ago said: “Sri Lankan law only prevents a non-citizen from becoming a Member of Parliament, to contest an election, while the law also prohibits a non-citizen to vote in an election...”. 


The AJP, Deshapriya said, was founded by late MPs Mangala Samaraweera and late Sripathi Sooriyarachchi when they broke off their political alliance with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. 
The General Secretary of AJP was Ruwan Ferdinandez. Diana Gamage’s husband took over the post later. Gamage’s husband Senaka de Silva, was a one-time aide to then General Sarath Fonseka, the current chairman of the SJB. 


So whose fault is it that Diana Gamage, a British citizen- was nominated a member of Parliament? Poor, poor Diana, did she even realise this state of affairs when she demanded or accepted the nomination as a National List MP of the SJB? 


Surely the leader of the SJB -especially a person occupying the position of Leader of the Opposition- should have done his homework on the eligibility of persons they nominate as National List members of Parliament of their party. 


Or on the other hand was it desperation to meet the timeline for registration of a political party before an election, which made it imperative they ignored particular stipulations of the Parliamentary Act? 
However, the leader of the SJB Sajith Premadasa needs to confess the mistake (knowingly or otherwise) in nominating a noncitizen of this country as a member of Parliament.
Similarly, this situation does not absolve our President or Prime Minister for appointing an individual, who falsely claimed Sri Lankan citizenship, to the role of a State Minister. 


Several other pertinent issues arise out of this case. Has Diana committed perjury by claiming to be a citizen of Sri Lanka? She entered the country using a British passport. The court was also told her Sri Lanka visa expired on 16 July, 2015, and no documentary evidence shows the renewal of the visa. 
The Controller General of Emigration and Immigration in an affidavit admitted  his department has not issued a citizenship certificate to Diana Gamage.


Persons belonging to deprived sections of our community are charged in Court and or remain in prison for the crime of not being able to provide bail for minor crimes!  
The Supreme Court overturning a particular Court of Appeal verdict and unseating ex-MP Diana Gamage is therefore very welcome.


BUT, and it is indeed a very big but, is that verdict sufficient deterrent compared to the crimes and offences committed. A report by the Asian Human Rights Commission points out that “more than 70% of those admitted as convicted persons to Lankan prisons in 2019 was due to defaulting payment of fines. 78-82% of those admitted to prisons between 2015-2019 are suspects (remand prisoners).


In this case, a privileged member of society has played the system. The lady has used public funds, transport, housing and security in addition to many other perks available to members of parliament and the position of a State.


Should not those who indulge in similar nefarious activities be made to repay all expenses and income received during the time they sit in parliament back to the State? Or will these privileged members of society be allowed to get away with a mere slap on the wrist?


  Comments - 3

  • Najimudeen Monday, 13 May 2024 06:07 PM

    The opposition leader has made a British citizen as member of parliament and the president has made her as a deputy minister of tourism. A tourist has become a deputy minister of tourism. On top of that a British citizen is given a diplomatic -red- passport.

    Chris D S Monday, 13 May 2024 07:02 PM

    What does the British constitution say about a british citizen applying for citizenship in another country, also being a member of parliament in that country. Very interesting.

    NV Jen Monday, 13 May 2024 08:44 PM

    Sajith in desperation has missed a point while nominating Diana. The EC's rule of allowing only a party registered for 4 or more years to contest rule, does not make sense. Also how Gota was holding positions under MR, when he was a US citizen, and Basi,l finance minister post under Gota? In this country people search for answers only when something goes wrong.


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