During a press conference at the opposition leader’s office, Member of Parliament Mr. Ranjith Madduma Bandara expressed concern over the erosion of democratic freedom in Sri Lanka. He pointed to the detrimental impact of the Online Security Act and the Retrospective Act, both introduced by the government to exert control over the populace.
Mr. Madduma Bandara highlighted that the Retrospective Act, introduced in an election year, aimed at suppressing the people and influencing election outcomes. Despite the Supreme Court’s decision to amend specific sections of the Online Security Act, both the speaker and the government disregarded the court’s ruling.
Speaking further, Mr. Madduma Bandara addressed the various crises facing the nation, including economic challenges, escalating bills for utilities, and soaring prices of essential goods. He emphasized that the cost of living has risen significantly, while people’s wages remain insufficient. Additionally, he raised concerns about the exodus of youth leaving the country, citing a lack of government initiatives to address the challenges faced by the younger generation.
Mr. Madduma Bandara criticized the government for enacting ordinances, such as the Retrospective Act, that curtail democratic rights. He highlighted the ambiguous definition of “terrorist” in the act, enabling arrests for expressing dissent against the government.
Regarding the Online Security Act, he criticized the assignment of judicial powers to a politically appointed commission, undermining the independence of the judiciary. Despite the Supreme Court’s directive to amend certain sections, the government chose to ignore it.
The MP announced plans for a massive demonstration in Colombo on January 30, organized by the Samagi Jana Balavega, to call for relief from economic pressures and the restoration of democratic freedoms. He asserted that the United People’s Force is prepared to fight for the people’s democratic rights.
Touching on the issue of drug addiction, Mr. Madduma Bandara criticized the government’s lack of a rehabilitation program for addicts. He stressed the need for a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the approximately 2 lakh drug users in Sri Lanka and called for international conventions to be adhered to in addressing this issue.