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8th, March 1998

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No longer a gentlemans game?

By M.H.M. Manasique

As women’s cricket in Sri Lanka blooms out to reach hopefully the spectacular heights that Arjuna Ranatunge’s men have reached on the international scene, allegations of party politics along with personal aims or ambition are creeping in to spoil things.

If things get bad when men fight, chauvinism apart, they could get worse when the dispute involves the wives of present ministers and former ministers on both sides of the battle for control over women’s cricket.

Leading the battle on one side is Gwen Herat, prominent during the UNP regime not only as the wife of Minister Harold Herat but also as a writer and a women’s affairs organizer.

Though her husband and party had been out of office, the flamboyant Ms. Herat during the past few years has played a leading role in promoting women’s cricket. In January last year she claimed to have brought together eight clubs to form the Women’s Cricket Association of Sri Lanka and obtained what she claimed is a letter of recognition from the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL). But former schoolboy cricket star and Colt’s captain W. Premaratna, spokesman for other groups and clubs promoting women’s cricket, said the letter that Ms. Herat had got from two senior officials of the board just a piece a paper and meant nothing in law.

He said that under the sports law the Cricket Board had no authority to give recognition to any association. and that had to be done by the Sports Ministry. Mr. Premaratne also alleged that the letter was obtained at a time when top officials of the Cricket Board were seeking votes from district Cricket associations in view of upcoming elections. Ms. Herat heads the Puttalam district Cricket Association.

The most notable and perhaps controversial achievement of the WCASL was the green light it got to participate in the world cup in Calcutta conducted by the world controlling body - the International Women’s Cricket Conference (IWCC). The IWCC is regarded as the International Cricket Conference (ICC) for world cricket. Ms. Herat says the Sports Ministry gave approval for the WCASL team to go to India. but Mr. Premaratne says they were not given the right to go as a Sri Lanka national team and use the national flag.

When teams from India and Holland came here and the WCASL team was being selected for the world cup in Calcutta, disputes arose among various groups involved with women’s cricket Then Ms. Herat claims politics came in.

But in Mr. Premaratne’s view, there was no politics and it was only an excuse or imagination for Ms. Herat.

Sports Minister S.B. Dissanayake and wife Tamara, Women’s Affairs Minister Hema Ratnayake, wives of the ministers C.V. Gooneratne and Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, beauty queen Rosy Senanayake and other well known figures then came on to the scene as rival bids were launched for official recognition.

In Calcutta the WCASL team was recognized by the IWCC as an official national team from Sri Lanka. The team fared exceptionally well to enter the semi finals.

It was when the team came back that the battle began to hot up. Sports Minister Dissanayake had expressed reservation regarding the WCASL team going to Calcutta saying they might spoil the name of Arjuna Ranatunga’s cricketers. But Ms. Herat was confident and she says she was proved right.

In January this year the Sports Minister using his powers issued a gazette notification recognising women’s cricket as a national sport. this is the first step towards forming an official national governing body for the sports. In terms of the sports law the minister gave three months time till April 13 for various bodies involved in the game to submit applications for recognition by the Sports Ministry as the official governing body for women’s cricket.

some clubs and other groups, Mr. Premaratne said were together applying for recognition as the national women’s Cricket Board or Federations. They will nominate Women’s Affairs Minister Hema Ratnayake as president of the proposed body while Ms. Dissanayake, Ms. C.V. Gooneratne, Ms. Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Ms. Rosy Senanayake and several other prominent figures are also to be nominated.

Ms. Herat is furious. She accuses the Sports Minister of bowling a political bouncer to under cut her and get her out of the scene. She believes the minister is being influenced by interested parties who have a personal or political grudge against her.

With a little more than a month to go for the deadline, Ms. Herat is taking a strong stand claiming that the WCASL has already got recognition from the international body and there is no reason to set up another board.

She says her WCASL team will take part in the next women’s world cup in the year 2000 in New Zealand and she is confident that no other team from Sri Lanka would be entertained even if they claim to represent the official board.

But Mr. Premaratne says that Ms. Herath’s WCASL is illegal because she did not set it up under the provisions of the sports law. He alleges that the WCASL was not duly constituted, not properly represented and that even the election of Ms, Herat as President of WCASL was done more through personal than legal means.

With a formidable team of personalities arrayed on the other side, Ms. Herat is likely to seek political support for herself. This means her husband and other ex-ministers are likely to push for the UNP to officially intervene. Source close to Ms. Herat says she could even persuade the UNP to warn that if a new national board is recognised, the party would dissolve it when it comes to office.

By Annesly Ferreira

With nominations closing on Friday, the battle had hotted up over the weekend for the most powerful post in Sri Lankan sports amidst allegations of political interference on behalf of one cnadidate and possible court action by another. The Sri Lanka Cricket Board’s powerful and often controversial President Upali Dharmadasa is stepping down after two years .

Seeking election to the top post are Vice President Thilanga Sumathipala, whose name figured prominently in last year’s WorldTel bribery controversy, a former president Ana Punchihewa and two others — M. Muzammil and B. N. R. Jurangpathy.

Over the weekend, the executive committee of the Cricket Board, which has powers to ratify or reject these nominations was meeting amidst reports that Mr. Punchihewa may not get the go ahead on the basis of a recent ruling by the Sports Minster under the sports law.

The Sports Minster, on authority conferred on him by the sports law, recently ruled that any one seeking election to high post in the board showld have played Division One cricket. Board officials say Mr. Punchihewa does not qulaify on this score. But sources close to Mr. Punchihewa say he may take the matter to courts.

Cricket analysts say, if Mr. Punchihewa’s nomination is rejected it would be fairly easy game for Mr. Sumathipala who is reported to be backed by the Sports Minister. Among those who submitted nominations for other top posts were Saliya Ahangama, Abu Fuard and Nusky Mohamed are reported to be locking Mr. the Sumathipala in a backstage battle that has been going on for control of the board.

Mr. Ahangama is seeking the powerful post of board secretary, Mr. Mohamed as treasurer and Mr. Fuard as a vice president.

The annual general meeting is scheduled for March 29 but there could be a delay if legal action is taken.

UNP sets down limits of power sharing

The UNP has released the second instalment of its power sharing proposals, highlighting among others, the extent of which the party could tolerate devolution. It has stressed that it cannot go beyond the limits of provincial councils.

Some of the salient points of the UNP proposals are as follows:

“1.1 Sri Lanka has for several centuries consisted of many communities - Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers, Malays et cetera - and many religions - Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity. Each community has a history, traditions and culture of its own, deserving of recognition by the others. The United National Party is of the view therefore that the primary objective of the Constitution should be to strengthen and build the unity of all these communities and religions within a democratic framework. The provisions of the Constitution must be such as to create a Sri Lankan identity and thus ensure the indivisibility and unity of Sri Lanka as a nation.”

“1.2 For several centuries these peoples of different races and religions have co-existed throughout its territory. Constitutional provisions must therefore necessarily give effect to non-racialism and ensure democratic co-existence. We recognize that Buddhism shall retain its foremost place (this includes the protection of the Sasana) while guaranteeing the rights of all other religions. No law or executive action should subject any community or religion to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of other communities or religions are not made liable. The rule of law and the equal protection of the law to all citizens must be the bed-rock of the Constitution.”

“1.3 A Constitution which embodies the aforesaid basic principles will be fair by all the communities and religions which together make up the Sri Lankan nation and will give justification for maintaining the unity and territorial integrity of the Republic.”

“1.4 Sri Lanka is not a conglomerate of provinces or regions. It is a single sovereign entity. Its territory is divided into several provinces, with provincial administration having the right to determine matters relating to the province, within the above framework.”

“1.5 All citizens should be entitled to:

i. a common citizenship - the citizenship of Sri Lanka;

ii. equal protection of the law;

iii. the right to his religion, language and culture without discrimination by law or executive action;

iv. fundamental rights;

v. equal opportunity to participate in government of the Republic at all levels;

vi. participate in public activities without discrimination;

vii. enjoy equal opportunities in education and employment without discrimination;

viii. the security of his person and property without distinction on grounds of race, religion or political opinion;

ix. freedom to reside, work and own property in any part of the country.”

“1.6 Every citizen whose name appears in an electoral register shall have the right to exercise his franchise at the Election of Members of Parliament, Provincial Councils and Local Authorities and at every Referendum all of which will be conducted throughout the Republic in a free and fair manner.

1.7 The Courts must be invested with the jurisdiction to ensure compliance by the State and all public authorities of the aforesaid provisions.

Devolution of Power to the Provinces

2.1 The 13th Amendment to the Constitution which empowered devolution of power to the provinces was introduced by the UNP government. Devolution should not be made a process for fragmenting the State into separate units or regions, but rather a process whereby each province could determine its economic, social and cultural development. The UNP favours the broadest form of devolution of power within the framework of an indivisible Sri Lanka.

The United National Party therefore advocates:

A. Provincial Council consisting of members elected by all the citizens entitled to exercise the franchise for each province; and

B. Provincial Administration responsible to such Council;

shall have the right to determine matters relating to the province within the framework of the Constitution.”

“2.2 The subjects to be devolved to the Provincial Council should be clearly determine and free from ambiguity. Many subjects could be devolved reserving, of course, for the centre the core subjects of National importance. These have to be identified after further discussion within the Select Committee. The process of identification of the subject of National importance must necessarily be above parochial interest.”

“2.2.1 The UNP is of the view that Defence, Foreign Affairs, National and International Finance, National and International Trade, National Health Policy, National Education Policy, National Industrial Policy, Inter Provincial Irrigation, Posts and Telecommunications, Broadcasting and Television, Justice, Control and Regulation of Ports and Airports, National Transport including Roads and Rails are some of the subjects that should be retained for the centre. The exercise of executive power in respect of some aspects of the core subjects of national importance could also be devolved to the Provincial Councils and even to Local Authorities as agents of the government.”

“2.2.2 The UNP is of the view that, in addition to the subjects in the present Provincial List subjects which are related to Culture, Youth Affairs, Women’s Affairs, Sports, School and Technical Education, Promotion of Religious Activities, Health, Housing, Local Government, Roads, Irrigation and Agrarian Services should be devolved to the Provincial Councils as List 1.”

“2.3 The subjects which then remain in the present Concurrent Lists together with other subjects identified by the Select Committee will constitute List 2. Subjects in List 2 shall be devolved to Provincial Councils according to needs of each province. The Select Committee will have to evolve a constitutional mechanism by which the Provincial Councils could assume the powers in respect of the relevant subjects set out in List 2. (For example, a Provincial Council could with the concurrence of Parliament take for itself subjects according to its needs.)”

“2.4 Meaningful devolution requires consideration been given to special or particular needs of a given province.”

“2.5 The UNP is of the view that there is a need to redraft the subjects in more detail to prevent conflicts between the Centre and the provinces.”

“2.6 The UNP proposals regarding (1) Financial Devolution and (2) Independent National Police Commission and Provincial Police Commission were submitted earlier. The proposals on State Lands will be submitted separately.”

“2.7 There is also the need for an Administrative Commission to restructure the State Administrative Commission to restructure the State Administrative Machinery to ensure transfer of personnel, material resources and finance to make devolution a reality.”

“2.8 In regard to devolved subjects there will be certain areas which will require legislation by Parliament on specified grounds. There are:

a. matters that cannot be effectively regulated by an individual Provincial Council;

b. the maintenance of legal or economic unity including the maintenance of uniformity in living conditions;

c. Co-ordination of national policy.

The Provincial Council shall be responsible for executing such laws. The government shall have the power to give directions to ensure compliance with such laws. The Provincial Administration will have the right to appeal to Court in respect of any such direction.”

“2.9 A Provincial Council may by resolution decide not to exercise its powers to make statutes in respect of any matter. In such instance Parliament shall exercise the power to legislate in respect of that matter for the relevant province.”

“2.10 No statute of a Provincial Council shall contravene or be inconsistent with the Constitution A Provincial Council shall not abdicate or alienate its legislative power.”

“2.11 Parliament may pass legislation in respect of matters under the jurisdiction of Provincial Councils to:

a. prevent action taken by a Provincial Council or a Provincial Administration prejudicial to the interests of another Provincial Council or Provincial Administration or the nation as a whole. The Select Committee should specify in the Constitution definite criteria for determining what actions are considered prejudicial.

b. implement any treaty agreement or convention to which the Republic is a party or the decision of any international organization of which the Republic is a member.

A provincial Administration shall have the right to challenge any Bill presented to Parliament in respect of any such matter. The Courts shall uphold such challenge if the Bill does not fulfil the requirements for presenting such Bill or is inconsistent with any of the provisions of the Constitution or has no news to (a) or (b) above. If the challenge or the Bill is upheld, Parliament shall proceed with the same.”

“2.12 A Provincial Council shall consist of:

A. Special number of members elected by PR; and

B.The Heads of All Local Authorities in the province. Each Head of a Local Authority shall be directly elected by the voters of the Local Authority; and Heads of Local Authorities becoming ex-officio members of the Council will assist in the integration of Local Authorities with the Provincial Council and thus enable common programs and policies to be followed in civic matters within the province.”

“2.13 Parliament may by Resolution of both Chambers to be passed by not less than half the number of members of each Chamber (including those not present) suspend the powers and authority of a Provincial Council and vest the same in the Governor of the province for stipulated period of time where pressing national interests so require. Thus, where Parliament is of opinion that:

A. a situation of imminent danger has arisen in the province which threatens the integrity or sovereignty or unity of the State;

B. an armed insurrection or rebellion takes place or is imminent in the province;

C. the Provincial Council or Administration willfully fails to implement laws passed by Parliament or fulfil its obligations thereunder;

D. an irretrievable breakdown had occurred in the administration of the province which is prejudicial to the interest of the citizens of such province and will cause hardships to them;

such resolution may be passed.

At the end of such period, Parliament may by Resolution remove the suspension of the Provincial Council and Administration or dissolve the Council and direct an election to be held for the election of a new Council. Such Resolution shall be passed in the same manner as the Resolution referred to above.

A mechanism to ensure that the decision of Parliament is based on objective criteria, a right of review by the Supreme Court at the instance of the Provincial Council Administration could be considered and laid down by the Select Committee.”

Local Government

“3.1 Local Authorities have a long tradition and are the oldest elected bodies in Sri Lanka. Decentralization of the Government Administrative machinery to the Pradeshiya Level, is another important step in bringing administration to the grassroots. The UNP is of the view that grassroots elected bodies have a vital role to play in devolving power and making people’s participation in government, a reality by unifying the Pradeshiya Secretariat with the Local Authority. This will provide strong elected bodies to manage community affairs. It will enable many tasks to be executed more effectively at the lowest level. Strong local bodies within a province will also conserve the social, cultural, economic and political diversity within the larger entity. Therefore, the UNP proposes that the Constitution must guarantee the right of the Local Authorities to manage local affairs within the limits set by the law.”

“3. 2 Every province shall consist of Local Authorities each having its own defined boundaries. A Local Authority has the right to administer on its own initiate the Local Government affairs of its community subject to laws passed by Parliament and the Statutes of the Provincial Council. Local Authorities shall exercise all powers vested under existing laws.”

“3. 3 The Constitution, Form and Structure, shall be determined by Laws passed by Parliament in consultation with the Provincial Councils. The Provincial Council shall have the power to make statues for the supervision of Local Authorities.”

“3. 4 Every Local Authority shall execute the statutes of the province and laws made by Parliament in respect of provincial matters as Agents of the Provincial Administration, unless otherwise provided by the relevant law. The Local Authorities shall be subject to the instructions of the Provincial Administration which shall have the right to supervise the execution of such laws.”

“3. 5 Parliament may by law empower Local Authorities to exercise powers in respect of specified matters subject to the right of the government, in consultation with the Provincial Administration, to give directions in respect of such matter.”

“3. 6 Members of Local Authorities shall be elected on a ward basis with specified reservations in respect of Youth and Women.”

Legislative Powers of Parliament

“4.1 Parliament shall have exclusive powers of legislation in respect of all matters not coming under the Provincial Councils, including power to amend the Constitution, subject to approval by the people at a Referendum for specified amendments.”

“4.2 Any Amendment to the Constitution will require a simple majority is required in the First Chamber. However where a two-thirds majority in the First Chamber and Referendum is required for a Constitutional Amendment, a two-third majority will be required in the Second Chamber.”

“4.3 The existing powers of the Supreme Court in regard to Constitutional Amendments should be continued.”

“4.4 The Supreme Court shall have the power to declare all laws - including existing laws - inconsistent with the Constitution.”

“4.5 The power of Parliament to pass legislation with retrospective effect must be subject to specified safeguards in the interests of the fundamental rights of citizens.”

“4.6 When List 1 and List 2 are drafted free of ambiguity, the subjects not listed in either List are subjects reserved for Parliament and we see no need to list them in a Reserved List.”

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