Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha On the 2013 Budget - 12 Nov 2012
The Budget Speech delivered last week, Mr Speaker, lays down a range of imaginative and constructive policies which it is an honour to support. The hallmark of great Liberal governments at a time of social change was the pursuit of reform that promoted opportunities for all, and this is the basic principle behind the proposals laid down in the budget speech. Amongst those of immense importance are the commitment to promote school enrollment amongst low income families and the determination to improve transport facilities for this purpose. Twinning this with mechanisms to ensure connectivity to market places is symptomatic of the understanding that social services must also aim at empowerment, not simply the provision of handouts.
It is also important that health care services be extended. I have noted the comparative excellence of the Ministry of Health in not just restoring, but also improving, services in areas affected by conflict. The concern the budget speech makes clear for expanding such services to areas in need is most welcome, and also the understanding of the need for people participation in improving conditions, as exemplified in the proposal to intensify knowledge sharing programmes on child nutrition. In this regard the development of the dairy industry is a timely step, and I hope the strides made in this regard over the last couple of years will be taken further. The same applies with regard to poultry farming, and recent emphasis on this, and the concerted efforts made through the Divi Neguma initiative, provide a model of policy innovations that have been carried out with practical efficiency.
Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha During the Adjournment Motion on The Rule of Law November 6th 2012
Mr Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to speak on an Adjourment Motion that seeks to strengthen the Rule of Law in Sri Lanka. This is an admirable aim, and I will give the mover of this motion the benefit of the doubt, and treat that as his principal aim. It would be a pity then if we allowed ourselves to be distracted, in discussing the matter, by efforts to make petty political points, as he seemed to do in his speech, or rather his performance.
Unfortunately much of the text of the motion brought before this House deals with the aftermath of terrorism, and goes against one of the most important principles in the administration of Justice, graphically expressed by Shakespeare in the lines
Earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.
This was the principle government decided to adopt in dealing with former combatants. In fact, whereas earlier it had thought three of the seven categories into which former LTTE combatants were divided might be prosecuted, it has released almost all of them. Just a few in the category of the most committed remain in custody, but most of them too will soon be released. And while the majority of these were conscripts, forced to fight, so that the sympathy with which we have dealt with them is understandable, government has also decided to send for rehabilitation rather than prosecution many of those who had been detained on suspicion of terrorism before the conflict concluded. So, while I agree with the Hon TNA member, about the need for quicker resolution of those cases, what has already been done should be recognized. That is why the LLRC Action Plan Task Force should have a website to set down what has been achieved, as well as timelines for further action.