Three sports regulations debated in Parliament | Sunday Observer

Three sports regulations debated in Parliament

Arjuna Ranatunga-Haren Fernando
Arjuna Ranatunga-Haren Fernando

Minister of Telecommunication, Foreign Employment and Sports Harin Fernando who introduced three regulations under the Sports Law in Parliament on Thursday (November 07) said no one engaged in match fixing, betting and corruption will have room to enter sports or sports administration and added that this is an attempt to clean up Sri Lankan sport.

Commencing the debate, Minister Fernando said that new laws will be formulated to prevent corruption, fraud and match fixing in sports. He said many issues faced by sportsmen will be resolved in the future by introducing fresh legislation.

Three regulations

The Minister said even though three regulations under the Sports law are debated today, the Sports Bill is not included in the Order Paper. These regulations have been introduced to free sports from corruption. The most important regulation is to prevent corruption and gambling in sports. In future, no one indulging in gambling and even a relative of such a person will not be allowed to join sports or sports administration.

He said however, the Oversight Committee had the quorum to debate the Prevention of Offences in the Sports Bill but the Bill is not in today’s Order Paper. “The regulations which didn’t have the quorum that day are included in the today’s Order Paper. It seems that there is an attempt in Parliament to protect the gamblers in sports. I doubt if there is a deliberate attempt to protect a former Deputy Speaker who involved himself in sports and gambling. I request to launch an investigation to ascertain who had attempted to prevent this Bill being taken up in Parliament. Sometimes, they might think that they could cover them after November 16.”

Minister Fernando told the House that the Bill formulated over a long period of time and delayed on 16 occasions was to punish the offenders in Sports. He said if one’s involvement in sports-related offenses was proved beyond reasonable doubt before a High Court, one should be fined Rs. 100 million and given 10 years imprisonment. “I would like to see before November 16 the group which is opposing the new Sports Bill. The people should know the people who are against freeing sports from corruption.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe under Standing Order No.16 has requested the Speaker to hold a special Parliamentary session on November 11 at 10.30 am to debate the Bill on the Prevention of Offences in Sports and the National Innovation Agency Bill. The Business Committee headed by the Speaker had decided to hold a special Parliamentary sitting on November 11 to debate the two bills.

Minister Fernando said “We always maintain that sports should be free from corruption. Then, we should start from this point. Recently a Pakistani national who engaged himself in betting was arrested and produced before the Negombo courts. However, he was released as there is no law to deal with him. The mastermind behind batting is also in this House. According to these new sports regulations, those who have engaged in turf accounting cannot enter sports and sports bodies with effect from today. But there is a question as to why that Sports Act was blocked without being presented in Parliament and this is a very dangerous situation.”

Serious mistake

The Minister said the Government has done its job in introducing this Bill. What should be looked into is as to why this Bill was not presented in Parliament when it was passed at the Oversight Committee. The question is as to why this Bill was not included in the Parliament Order Paper. A serious mistake has been made on the part of the Parliament.

Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Arjuna Ranathunga who joined the debate said an Interim Cricket Board should be appointed to protect cricket in the country. He said that the turf accountants too should be prevented from joining cricket administration so that the cricket can be developed.

Minister Ranatunga said that it was commendable that laws have been brought in to prevent shortcomings in sports including corruption, betting, match fixing and similar matters. “In the past, I pointed out such faults in relation to sports to the leaders and Sports Ministers but none took measures to ban them.” He said that the situation with sports before 2015 was pathetic. He said that although he thought that sports would be developed after 2015 but that it was not successful. It happened due those persons who were defeated at the last General Election being appointed to Parliament from the National List.

The Minister further said that there are laws to prevent the turf accountants coming into administer the sport activities which have become an issue to the development of Sports. But the Sports Ministers had not attended to them. Earlier, only a chartered accountant could be appointed as the Treasurer of Sri Lanka Cricket but later the laws were amended enabling even an accounts clerk to be appointed to the position. Much corruption occurred after appointing disqualified persons. The present Sports Minister met the International Cricket Council officials at which he was shown the footage on match fixing.

Minister Ranatunga said “We saw what happened to the Zimbabwe Cricket match with Sri Lanka which the latter had 70 percent chance to win but Zimbabwe achieved a massive victory. The betting people then earned unpredictably.

These are the matters that we have to investigate.” He said that match fixing has descended even to the level of club cricket. By now two cricket clubs are involved in match fixing. One person has direct involvement in it. Even Sanath Jayasuriya has been banned from sports for a period of two years. We have received a report that corruption to the tune of USD 100,000 has taken place in this incident.

UPFA MP Thilanga Sumathipala said that he doesn’t have any knowledge of such a report and added that one who is involved in corruption is using parliamentary privileges to cover t up. Minister Harin Fernando said that they have received such a report from the International Cricket Council (ICC). We have been instructed to use it in legal matters.

Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said that the ICC did not send such a report without any basis. Therefore, I request an inquiry into this report and take legal action.

There were allegations against me and Aravinda de Silva then and they were investigated. He said even corrupt persons have been appointed to COPE. If we need to protect Cricket, we have to appoint an Interim Cricket Board.

UPFA MP Thilanga Sumathipala said that he doesn’t have any personal issue in introducing these new sports regulations. He said I have told this House about my family members and my businesses.

I have continuously expressed my stance to the House. It is more appropriate to introduce the new Sports Act which had been planned to present today. We can also extend our support to that and it is valid not only for cricket but also other sports. According to the Act, if any wrongdoing or fraud is committed, action can be taken against those who resorted to that.

COPE

Sumathipala said MP Sunil Handunneththi in his speech mentioned about appointing me as a member of COPE. He said there are 487 institutions coming under the purview of COPE. I am surprised that the JVP talks about norms. Of 487 institutions, Sri Lanka Cricket is only one institution coming under the scrutiny of COPE. There are no charges against me in any report.

I will discuss this matter with COPE as well. I feel attempts are being made to take undue political advantage by talking about my appointment to COPE.

 

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