[Week in PARLIAMENT]
Speaker stresses need for dignity and decorum
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa reinforcing his utmost commitment to uphold
the dignity and decorum of the House on Friday warned the members of
both sides to behave in a responsible manner inside the Chamber as there
are children and visitors who come to view the Parliamentary sessions at
the Public Gallery.
The Speaker also told Opposition Members that he would not allow oral
questions if the MPs waste time creating chaos in the House. The Speaker
said oral questions should be raised in brief and their answers should
also be brief. The Speaker had to come up with this suggestion owing to
an uproar in the House when UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake raised a
supplementary question during the oral question sessions.
As his usual practice UNP MP Sajith Premadasa raising a supplementary
question asked Deputy Health Minister Mahinda Amaraweera whether the
nutrition package given to certain categories of pregnant mothers can be
given to all pregnant mothers.
The Deputy Minister who responded to the MP in a lighter vain told
him then the Government will have to give this even to pregnant mothers
in Colombo 7. The Deputy Minister told the MP the Government cannot
bring a specific law only for Hambantota. Laws are formulated covering
the entire country. Therefore MP Premadasa should also think about the
entire country, not only Hambantota.
Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne moving the motion to extend the State of
Emergency by another one month stressed the need for a sustainable
program to prevent the recurrence of any war or conflict. He maintained
the view that the State of Emergency is needed to support such programs.
Premier informed the House though terrorism has been eradicated there is
information about LTTE friendly elements abroad who want to revive the
separatist movement. These activists have commenced work to spread their
Eelam project from those lands to Sri Lankan soil.
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who participated in the
emergency debate said the Government has undermined the powers of
Parliament by summoning Former Army Chief Sarath Fonseka before a Court
Martial. However, the verdict against Fonseka by the second Court
martial is not valid until it is confirmed by the President, he said.
When DNA MP Sunil Handunnetti focused the attention of the House that
DNA MP Sarath Fonseka was not being allowed to attend Parliamentary
sessions, Deputy Highways Minister Mervyn Silva interrupted MP's speech.
MP Handunnetti who responded to the Deputy Minister's comment told
him in lighter vein that instead of the doctorate given to him he should
be given the title of professor. The MP suggested that Deputy Minister
Silva should be appointed as a professor of justice and law.
UNP MP Gamini Jayawickrama Perera completely changing his normal
style of addressing the House used poetry at the Emergency debate. This
infused humour to the proceedings and Government Members interrupted his
speech. The MP told the House that he has not spoken in an Emergency
debate during the past 10 or 12 years, but decided to speak today using
a different style. Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Deputy Minister
Wijith Wijithamuni Zoysa said Jayawickrema Perera's speech looks like
retribution for his wrong acts committed during his younger age.
Today the Opposition Leader and some MPs go to various "dewalas" to
invoke evil things against the Government. The UNP and the JVP together
made a cart and used Fonseka to draw it. Today, the JVP speaks about the
law of the jungle. But I would like to remind the JVP of its past. It
was the people who acted against the UNP and the JVP, not the
Government. Deputy Highways Minister Mervyn Silva who joined the
emergency debate too responded to MP Jayawickrema Perera's speech in
poetry. He queried as to why they imprisoned Vijaya Kumaratunga, Felix
Perera and myself by branding us as Naxalites. "How did the UNP deprive
the civic rights of late Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike ? How did
President J.R.Jayewardene extend his term through a referendum. The UNP
did also these things using the law of the jungle."
He also queried can a person like Sarath Fonseka who curbed the media
and harass mediamen talk about human rights?
UNP MP Kabir Hashim said if Sarath Fonseka is punished, people like
KP should also be punished using that same law. He questioned as to why
double standards are maintained by the Government on this issue. Today
the Government uses the emergency to curb the Opposition. However the MP
appreciated the statement made by the President at the UN General
The Chief Government Whip and Water Supply and Drainage Minister
Dinesh Gunawardene said the Opposition is full of childish arguments.
When the 18th Amendment was moved, the Opposition didn't have the
strength to be in the House and express their views. Even the UNP didn't
have a strength to field a candidate at the last Presidential Election.
Today the UNP is facing a crisis as a result of extending their
support to an unknown person at the Presidential Election. The
Government is not responsible for its defeat and setback of the
UNP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera told the House the person who created the
environment for everybody to live freely has been prevented from
attending Parliament. Each MP has a right to attend the Parliamentary
sittings. We have no past experience on the removal of medals, other
portfolios and pension earned by a military official. If Sarath Fonseka
had engaged in any illegal transaction, the Parliament has powers to
summon him before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). However the
Government conducted a court martial against him without summoning him
to the PAC.
During the two days in Parliament, the issue of DNA MP Sarath Fonseka
was raised by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, UNP MP Dayasiri
Jayasekera and DNA MP Vijitha Herath. The Speaker responding to these
privilege issues raised by the MPs informed the House that he will take
action against anyone who violates MP Fonseka's privileges by preventing
him from attending the Parliament sittings.
JHU MP Ven.Athuraliye Rathana Thera speaking at the emergency debate
highly praised the speech made by the President at the UN General
Assembly (UNGA). Today we have produced a leader who could speak even at
the UNGA about an economic system based on the Buddhist philosophy.A
move by the UNP MP Karu Jayasuriya to present a Private Members Bill to
provide for freedom of access to official information was prevented in
Parliament on Thursday after the Government ranks forced the MP to
withdraw the Bill. Minister Dinesh Gunawardene asked the MP to withdraw
the Bill on the grounds that the Government in the process of drafting a