Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi said in the Parliament Select Committee to identify appropriate reforms of the election laws and the electoral system and to recommend necessary amendment July 28 that legal action should be taken to increase the representation of women in elections. The Minister emphasized in the committee that with the preferential voting system, it is difficult for women to contest and that women often enter politics from their family backgrounds and it is very difficult for women who do not have such family background to come to the Parliament.

The Committee to identify appropriate reforms of the election laws and the electoral system met under the chairmanship of the Leader of the House Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at the Parliament premises. Minister Prof. GL Peiris pointed out in the Committee that if elections were held under the fully First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) system, a huge imbalance would arise.

Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara stated that the Presidential and General Elections should be held on the same day. Meanwhile, six political parties currently not representing the Parliament addressed the Select Committee on Elections and Law Reforms yesterday. The General Secretary of the Liberal Party Kamal Nissanka stated that it is appropriate for Sri Lanka to use the New Zealand electoral system. He told the committee that his party was opposed to the district proportional system but that the national list system should be remained.

Mr. Nissanka suggested that, in electing the 225 members of Parliament, 160 should be elected by an election and 65 from the national list.

The chairman of the Akil Ilankai Tamilar Maha Sabai Mr. K Wigneswaran, addressing the committee said that the 1.5 million people who went abroad due to the 30-year war should be given the opportunity to vote and laws should be introduced for that purpose.

The Tamil Social Democratic Party stated in the committee that the representation of women should be increased by 30%. It should also apply to Parliament, Provincial Councils and Local Government Authorities, the party said.

The Samathuvakkadchi Party stressed in the Committee that the existing proportional system should continue without any changes. They pointed out that under the proportional system, all nations have the opportunity to represent themselves in parliament, which is a very important factor for democracy. The Samathuvakkadchi Party also proposed to the Committee that the representation of women in the Provincial Councils should be increased to 25%. The party further suggested that the voting rights of those living abroad and those displaced should be protected.

The United Peace Alliance said in the committee that the necessary legislation should be enacted to hold the elections on time and postponement of elections is not appropriate.

The UPFA also pointed out the need for candidates to introduce a methodology for handing over their assets and liabilities to the Elections Commission without delay.

Addressing the committee, Sinhaladeepa Jathika Peramuna, said that a proper policy should be formulated to prevent political parties from forming alliances. The party also said in the committee that the new legislation should focus on abolishing the seats of MPs who support other parties after winning elections.

The Committee will meet for four days next month, Secretary to the Committee, Chief of Staff and the Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Kushani Rohanadeera said.
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, MPs Mano Ganeshan, Madura Vithanage and Sagara Kariyawasam also participated in this committee. In addition, former Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya, officials of the Election Commission as well as officials of the Attorney General’s Department also participated in this Committee.