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POSTED AT 03:53 PM 11-10-2017

PC Elections (Amendment) Act carries very positive features: Musthapha

The Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) Act carries very positive features,although there has been significant concerns regarding the procedure followed in enacting the law, Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Faiszer Musthapha said.

“Although a few people are opposed to this move,there are some who oppose every positive measure that this Government takes, as it would build goodwill among the people,” the Minister said.

He further said the womens representation and Electoral Reforms, which are the key features of this Act are for the people’s benefit.

According to this Act, there shall be a quota allocating a guaranteed 25% of the seats to women in all Provincial Councils, Minister Musthapha said.

“In the past, only 5.8% of the Parliamentary seats were allocated to women and as of the 2013 statistics, only 3.9% of Provincial Councils comprised of women,” he added.

He further noted that 80% of those women who have been elected emerged from political background. Most women were not willing to enter politics.But today, women play an active role in politics around the world and their roles have substantially contributed towards political stability.

“The Mixed Member Proportional System is another change to the electoral system we introduced through the Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) Act following a recommendation of MP Dinesh Gunawardena.It was also a promise in the election manifesto of President Maithripala Sirisena,” the Minister said.

“The Provincial Council Elections Act seeks to introduce a change to the electoral process by electing 50% of Provincial Council Members through the First Past the Post system and 50% of the members through the Proportional Representation system,” he said.

“Throughout the history of post-independence politics in Sri Lanka, the citizens have observed the best and worst of the First Past the Post system and the Proportional Representation system.

The Mixed Member Proportional system was born combining the best of both. Most people are in favour of this system, and it is truly in the interests of justice and democracy that I believe this is the way forward,” the Minister added.

The additional clauses in respect of the electoral system were added upon a request by minority parties. This is the reason why many of the minority parties, including the Tamil National Alliance, supported this amendment.

Certain entities were uncomfortable with the idea of passing it in haste and it could have been better for us to initiate a dialogue and obtain a consensus prior to bringing in this amendment at the Committee Stage dealing with the Mixed Member Proportional System.

He further said that political expediency required the passage of this amendment to introduce electoral reforms.

It would not have been prudent to have the Provincial Councils under the Proportional Representation system and the rest after passing the amendment for the Mixed Member Proportional system.

“There was no necessity to be hasty, as the procedure was well within the law and a very welcome piece of legislation that would only help this country progress.

However, de-limitation would require time and effort, and if there is a lesson we have learnt in the recent past, it is what delays in delimitation can cost us,” Minister .

Musthapha said.

“There is an urgent requirement to commence a De-limitation Commission on this subject, and there is also a need to encourage deserving and capable women to participate in politics if this initiative is to be truly fruitful,”the Minister added.

“Now that the necessary changes have been passed in to law, we must carry forward the positive efforts without looking backwards and ensure that our political future is in secure hands,” he said. 

Ishara Mudugamuwa