A new disaster act may be a good way to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the tsunami

Posted on October 18, 2009  /  1 Comments

The following quote in a recent article by a Sri Lankan disaster management expert in the government newspaper caught my attention:

There was a time gap of nearly three hours between the time Indonesia was affected and the time that Sri Lanka was affected and also the coastline was hit by the wave at different times. Even within Sri Lanka, the Eastern shores were hit first, which gradually spread to North, South and finally the West. The country simply did not have an early warning and dissemination system.

This was the first I had heard anyone in government admit even indirectly that many lives could have been saved if the government had communicated to the media the information it received from the Navy and STF on the East Coast. I thank the writer for that.

But then, I was pained by the following sentence:

Now it is over four years since the Sri Lanka Disaster Management Act was passed in Parliament on May 13, 2005 that helped create confidence among the population to a certain extent.

I have seen bad laws, but seriously this is the worst piece of junk smuggled through Parliament in several decades. Why do I say smuggled? Because it was approved in violation of Constitutional provisions that permit interested parties to examine the Bill and make representations to the Constitutional Court if required. This text was kept secret even from State Counsel in the Attorney General’s Department!

This is the one piece of legislation that does not allow the operational entity to draw from the Consolidated Fund. The current Minister had to be co-opted to serve on the Council, because it was written on the assumption that the subject would be always under the President. Here is the full analysis.

Seriously, this gives me no confidence. Better get a new Act.

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