Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa affirmed yesterday (18) that the Samagi Jana Balawegaya(SJB),
under his leadership, will vehemently reject and oppose the Online Safety Bill (OSB) when it is brought before the Parliament by the Government.
He emphasised that the SJB reached a definitive conclusion on the bill after engaging in discussions with media organisations, civil society groups, trade unions, and various stakeholders.
Premadasa made these comments during a special meeting held at the opposition leader's office, where he engaged with representatives from Civil Society Organisations and activist groups regarding the Online Safety Bill set to be tabled in Parliament next week.
Premadasa said the Government, under the pretext of safeguarding the rights of the nation’s children, mothers, ordinary citizens, and vulnerable groups, is consolidating a monopoly in the country through the introduction of anti-democratic laws.
The Opposition leader noted that this is a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech, discussion, debate, and access to information. He emphasised that such actions undermine democratic processes.
“The President, despite projecting a democratic persona to the nation and the global community has betrayed this image through the enactment of this Act. This legislation grants him, along with the appointed commission members and designated security forces, the power to exert arbitrary pressure on the general population. The President has embarked on a program to silence the people by employing the threat of imprisonment,” he said.
Furthermore, the Opposition leader advised that if the President is genuinely committed to democratic principles, it would be prudent to revoke this poorly conceived Act. Instead, he suggested engaging in a thoughtful and inclusive discussion with all stakeholders to avoid a scenario where the country’s social media landscape will be negatively affected.
Premadasa also assured that once the SJB forms a Government it will repeal all anti-democratic laws and foster democratic principles.
Premadasa reiterated that every possible democratic and peaceful measures would be pursued by the SJB to block the anti-democratic laws introduced by the current Government.