PSC to enable expat Sri Lankans to vote

By Saman Indrajith

Leaders of the political parties represented in Parliament had given their nod for appointing a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to evolve a mechanism to enable hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan expatriates to vote at future elections to be held here, parliament sources said yesterday.

The party leaders had also agreed to approve a motion seeking the appointment of the PSC without debate on April 06, sources said.

The JVP has already submitted a no-date motion on the appointment of a PSC to look into and report on the possibility of enabling Sri Lankans employed overseas to exercise their franchise at future elections. The no-date motion has been included in the Addendum to the Order book of Parliament. At the last party leaders’ meeting Chief Opposition Whip and JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake requested Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to shift the motion from the Order book to the Order Paper on April 06 and have it approved by Parliament.

The party leaders had agreed to approve the motion on that day as an unopposed business without debate, the sources told The Island.

The motion signed by 23 MPs says that the right to exercise franchise is a fundamental right of Sri Lankan every citizen and citizens of Sri Lanka employed overseas have not had the opportunity to exercise their franchise in local elections up to now.

Sri Lankans employed overseas make an invaluable contribution to the sustenance of the economy of Sri Lanka at present through the earning of foreign exchange; and creating the necessary background for the migrant workers to engage in their employment with dignity is the responsibility of the government, the motion says adding that Select Committee of Parliament should be appointed to look into the difficulties faced by Sri Lankans employed overseas and the possibility of providing them the opportunity to exercise their franchise at elections and report to Parliament on the same with observations and recommendations.

Committee and its Chairman shall be nominated by the Speaker and shall consist of not more than twenty one (21) Members notwithstanding the provisions of the Standing Order No. 95 of Parliament.

The Committee shall have the power to (a) fix its quorum; (b) send for persons, papers and records, may order any person to attend before Parliament or before such Committee, and to produce any paper, book, record or document in the possession or under the control of such person; (c) verify or otherwise ascertain by the oral examination of witnesses and examine witnesses upon oath or affirmation which the Chairman of the Committee or a person specially authorized for that purpose may administer; (d) obtain the services of specialists and experts in the relevant fields to assist the Committee; and (e) make interim reports from time to time and to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of Parliament. The Committee shall present its report to Parliament within a period of six (06) months from the first meeting of the Committee or within such further period as Parliament may grant, the motion seeks.

The Motion has been signed by MPs Sunil Handunnetti, Nihal Galappaththi, Anura Dissanayaka, Ajith P. Perera, Eran Wickramaratne, Edward Gunasekara, Dilip Wedaarachchi, Ajith Mannapperuma, Kanchana Wijesekera, D. V. Chanaka, Mujibur Rahuman, Dr. Nalinda Jayathissa, Wimalaweera Dissanayaka, Imran Maharoof, Harshana Rajakaruna, Chaminda Wijesiri, Dr. Kavinda Heshan Jayawardana, Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, Karunarathna Paranawithana, S. Shritharan, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, Vijitha Herath and Ranjan Ramanayake.