Govt promotes national harmony - Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva
Despite the attempts by the Opposition to make a big hue & cry on the
floor of the House on the definition of the term 'terrorist' in the
Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Bill,
the Government on Friday gave an exact definition to the disputed term.
The third reading of the Bill was passed in Parliament with amendments.
The Government categorically stated that the sole purpose of this
piece of legislation was to suppress terrorist financing.
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa had to suspend the debate on the Suppression
of Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday for nearly one hour
owing to disagreement by the Opposition that there was no clear
definition of the term 'terrorist'. This led the Speaker to call for an
urgent Party Leaders' meeting to discuss the issue.
When the debate was resumed Deputy External Affairs Minister Neomal
Perera presented the Bill. UNP parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake raising
a point of order drew the attention of the House to the fact that the
Bill had not provided a clear definition of the term 'terrorist'. Deputy
Minister Perera said that the debate was on an Amendment to Act No. 25
of 2005 and the definition provided in the Act was still valid and
He said even the UN charter has not clearly defined the term
'terrorist'. The Bill had clearly defined the term terrorist as one
engaged in terrorist activities, he said.
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe too demanded to know the exact
definition of the term and attempted to highlight that the Government
could to fix the terrorist label on anyone if there was no proper
definition. If the UN Charter has not clearly defined the term,
'terrorist', various other definitions could be made. The Opposition
Leader was of the view that the term 'terrorist' should be properly
defined in the Bill.
Chief Government Whip and Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh
Gunawardena who responded to the Opposition members said that he did not
want to remind the House of what the UNP resorted to during the LTTE
He said that the term had not been properly defined and therefore
called upon the Chair to suspend sittings for 10 minutes so that the
Party Leaders could meet and decide on the debate. When the House
resumed, Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody said that the Bill would be
debated and the Parliamentary Consultative Committee would meet to
ascertain the legal implications of the term and get the Bill for the
third reading on Friday.
UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella stressed the point that the Bill had not
made a clear definition of the term 'terrorist'. Under these
circumstances, the Government can fix the terrorist label even on an
innocent person. He said State terrorism is the biggest problem faced
UPFA Parliamentarian Shantha Bandara was very critical of the remarks
by Kiriella on State terrorism. He drew the attention of the House how
youth were unable to walk on the roads during the 1988-1989 terror
He said 139,000 youth were brutally massacred by then UNP Government.
Today the UNP has forgotten these atrocities committed by them. MP
Bandara alleged that it was the UNP which is responsible for creating
State terrorism in Sri Lanka.
DNA Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath said that according to certain
clauses in the Bill upholding political or religious ideologies can also
be defined as a terrorist act. He told the House that this was not a
clause endorsed at the Consultative Committee meeting. Leader of the
House and Irrigation and Water Management Minister Nimal Siripala de
Silva queried whether any attempts to divide the country based on a
political ideology, should also be allowed. He also pointed out that
there is no merit in the point raised by the MP.
Deputy Minister Neomal Perera said that the Bill was discussed at
length at the Consultative Committee and the term 'terrorist' has been
clearly defined. Therefore, the Government is not ready to make further
amendments to the Bill at this juncture, he said.
The issue of Halal certification came into light due to a special
statement made by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday.
He said that All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) organisation has no
legal right to impose Halal certification on business organisations by
force and demanded to know why the Government has permitted this
organisation to do so.
He said that there was a query pertaining to Halal certification. He
attempted to portray that Halal certification is an entirely voluntary
matter. He made the point if anyone has forced Halal certification on
business organizations, an inquiry should be held if a complaint is made
to that effect. He queried why a private organization is assigned to
perform this function which is the responsibility of the Sri Lanka
Institute of Standards?
The Muslim leadership he met is in favour of resolving this issue in
a manner acceptable to all parties. Therefore, he asked the Government
as to why it allowed this question to boil over. Wickremesinghe said
nowhere the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) Act says that it is the
authorized body to issue the Halal certificate."
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva in reply to the Opposition Leader's
statement, said that the Government would not let anyone to impose Halal
certification on others and it was a personal choice of people to accept
or reject it. The Minister also said neither Sri Lankan Government nor
any Government body had recognised this Organisation. There is no
Government approval needed for this since it is only voluntary to obtain
Halal food certification. It is up to the consumers to accept or reject
Halal food or Halal certification. The Government would not permit any
person or body to impose Halal certification.
The Minister said the Government condemned the Opposition Leader's
statement on the Halal certification and the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul
Ulama (ACJU). He said how the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) played
a vital role in last Geneva conference in defending the unitary status
of the country as against the influences exerted by anti-Sri Lankan
The Opposition Leader found fault with this organisation since it did
not want to become the Opposition cat's paw. However, the Minister in
his statement vehemently denied the allegation by the Opposition Leader
that ten Muslim places of worship had been attacked in the recent past.
He condemned this distortion of facts and challenged the Opposition
Leader to tell this august assembly which mosque had been attacked and
on what dates. President Mahinda Rajapaksa constantly meets religious
and political leaders and seeks their advice to promote national and
religious harmony. The President has instructed the political and the
police to get rid of any movement that would cause the religious
disharmony in the country.
Minister de Silva said the Opposition Leader's statement was just
grumbling that the Government is either instigating religious disharmony
or the Government was not acting against instigators. The Minister said
that there was no other Government ever elected to power in this country
such as the incumbent one which has done its utmsot to ensure
inter-community harmony in the coutnry.
The President had highlighted in his address to the nation on
Independence Day that he was committed to eliminate racial and religious