Former Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and well – known civil society leader  Chandra Jayaratne in a letter to the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya while welcoming the government’s initiative to introduce a code of ethics for the Members of Parliament has suggested some useful amendments to the draft code.

Following are the suggested Additions and Amendments

Chandra Jayaratne
Chandra Jayaratne

1. Re;  Article 3 Duties of Members – Include under Article 3 the following amendment and additional Duty
a. Amend 3.1 to read as follows:
By virtue of the oath, or affirmation, of allegiance taken by all members when they are elected to the House, Members have a duty to uphold and defend the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and uphold the integrity of the State and to secure to all its citizens Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
b. The members have a duty to uphold highest standards of honesty and propriety in public life, exercise prudence, equity and transparency in the allocation and control of national resources and commit to build a peaceful, harmonious and law-abiding nation with a strong, stable and sustainable economy and society, whilst promoting diversity, ethno-religious co-existence, preserving socio-cultural practices and the heritage of all segments of society

2. Re; Rules of Conduct – Expand Article 5.1 by including under 5.1.1 the undernoted additional dot points;
•  Act in conformity with accepted socio-cultural norms
•  Engage in protecting the sustainability of the environment and ecology
•  Uphold law and order and refrain from abuse of privileges
•  Uphold meritocracy and refrain from acts of nepotism
•  Uphold gender equality and refrain from any acts of sexual harassment
•  Act in conformity with international obligations, covenants and practices subscribed for by the State
•  Refrain from acts of bribery and corruption,
•  Refrain from inflammatory  and hate speech or engage in any actions arousing violence

3. Re: Article 5.2 – Disclosure and Public Interests – Amend the heading to read as  “Conflicts of Interest, Disclosure and Public Interests”  and state;
Members must ensure that no conflict arises, or could reasonably be perceived to arise, between their public duties and their private interests, financial or otherwise.  It is the personal responsibility of each Member to decide whether and what action is needed to avoid a conflict or the perception of a conflict, taking account of best advice as appropriate.

Members must scrupulously avoid any danger of an actual or perceived conflict of interest between their parliamentary position and their private financial interests. They should be guided by the general principle that they should either dispose of the interest giving rise to the conflict or take alternative steps to prevent it. In reaching their decision they should be guided by the best available advice

4.   Include a new Article (inserted at the appropriate place) titled Bribery,
Corruption, Insider Information and Market Abuse, with undernoted sub points;
•  Members shall not, directly or indirectly, solicit, accept or receive any gift, payment, facilitation fee or other advantage from any person in return for providing any improper business or other advantage or a facilitation to secure or expedite the performance by any state official of an action, contract or transaction
•  No Member shall use insider information for his own pecuniary advantage or for that of a close family member, friend or relative.
•  No Member shall directly or indirectly use any price sensitive information for dealing in any market transactions, dealing in shares or securities and shall not commit market abuse
•  No Members shall directly or indirectly engage or be associated in any transaction which he/she knows or suspects to involve the proceeds of crime or any criminal activity
• No Member shall directly or indirectly be involved in any money laundering activity or be associated in any activities or
transactions contravening any Exchange Control and/or any anti-money laundering legislation
•  Where any Member is aware of or suspects another Member to have contravened or is likely to contravene the commitments hereinbefore set out, he/she is expected to ‘Whistle Blow’ using the procedure established under Article 7 of this Code

5. Include a new Article (inserted at the appropriate place) titled Declaration of Assets and Liabilities
All Members shall be duty-bound, with diligence and accuracy, to a make full and complete declaration of Assets and Liabilities annually in accordance with the provisions of the applicable legislation

6. Include a new Article (inserted at the appropriate place) titled Declaration of Compliance
Every Member shall annually submit, in terms of administrative procedures governing this Code, a duly completed declaration of due compliance with the provisions of this Code of Conduct