A special Parliament session would be conducted on October 3 to mark the 70th anniversary of Parliament, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said.
He said all Speakers from SAARC countries would be invited for this ceremonial sitting.
He further said several veteran politicians would also be among the invitees at the event. “We were able to continue Parliament democracy for 70 long years amidst difficulties. In 1960s there had been two failed military coups, and in 1971 and 1989 the youth unrest created turbulence in the country. Then the country suffered immensely due to the war fought against terrorism. Amidst all these, we were able to continue Parliament democracy, which was a real achievement,” he recalled.
The Speaker pointed out as Sri Lankan Parliament celebrates 70 years, it has earned the admiration of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) for its work to uphold democracy.
“Over the past 2-3 months, about 50-60 young parliamentarians elsewhere in the world visited our Parliament for training sessions. Despite the fact that we have less women representation, many women Parliamentarians in SAARC countries, Asia and Latin America also came here on study tours. The Sectoral Oversight Committees that we set up recently are a concept in the US and EU and not much seen in South Asian countries. Going a further step ahead we shared their Chairmanship equally between the Government and Opposition. This is real power sharing,” he added.
Promoting the concept of parliamentary diplomacy, the Sri Lankan parliament has started relations with about 40-50 countries enabling training and exchange programmes, the Speaker said. “About 100 MPs have already visited China for study tours. These were not from public money, but with the funds granted by various countries and organizations. The USAID is supporting a lot for training programmes of MPs. We entered into an agreement with the US Government to strengthen democracy and received a large sum of money for the purpose. In the same way India, EU, Germany and the UK are also supporting various projects,” the Speaker explained.
The Speaker also said a fully fledged media center would be set up in Parliament with the USAID funding. He also requested the Government’s support for the endeavour.