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Opposition wants OMP Bill resubmitted to House

The Office of the Missing Persons Bill will have to be tabled afresh in Parliament as it had been signed by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya without including the amendments submitted by the JVP and other opposition parties.

Leader of the House and Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament that he would discuss with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera the possibility of presenting the Bill again.

The Leader of the House made the announcement when the opposition MPs pointed out that their amendments had not been included in the Bill signed into law by the Speaker.

MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardena: We have stated many times that this Bill cannot be considered as passed according to the provisions of the Standing Orders. We reiterate that the OMP Bill is null and void. That was why we asked for time to inform the House of the mistake the government had committed. This happened once when the government took a vote on a financial bill. Later it was corrected. We submitted 31 amendments to the OMP Bill and do not know what happened to them.

NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa: I asked for a division when the Bill was taken up in this House. The Speaker might not have heard it because of shouting. The Bill was rushed through the House in an arbitrary manner. The end result was the Bill included amendments of the government and overlooked those submitted by the opposition. We opposed this Bill and therefore our amendments have not included our amendments. Then what about the amendments of those who supported the Bill? They have become frustrated today. This office is not to find the truth about those gone missing in 1988-89 period. It is against the war heroes.

Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella: I was really keen to participate in the debate on the OMP Bill. But, it was not we who disrupted the debate. The Opposition should have participated in the debate without invading the Well. The Bill was presented to this House on May 22. Had you had any opposition there to you could have gone before court. Now it is too late. The Speaker has placed his signature thereon. It contains all necessary amendments.

Chief Opposition Whip Anura Kumara Dissanayake: You as the Leader of the House should announce the time for amendments and should call for the amendments. The Hansard does not have any invitation from the Leader of the House. We should be given an opportunity to present those amendments again.

Leader of the House: We can discuss it.

Anura Kumara Dissanayake: Those who came to the Well did not want this Bill. Their intention was to deprive us of our right to participate in the debate. What we wanted was to present amendments to the Bill. The Chair could not follow procedure because of the disturbance in the middle of the Chamber. Bring the Bill before Parliament again and give us the opportunity to present amendments.

JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake: We submitted our amendments to the Foreign Minister and the Speaker. I presented amendments in my speech, too. But those amendments are not in the Bill signed by the Speaker. It is not the Speaker who deprived us of our right but a small group of protesters. We should have the right to present our amendments.

Leader of the House: The Bill has been passed. To include the amendments, the bill has to be brought before Parliament again. I will discuss it with the subject minister and give a solution soon.

Bimal Ratnayake: Setting up of the office would take three more months. Give us the opportunity to bring amendments.
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