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Sunday, 26 September 2010

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[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 Assembly.

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 Opposition.

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 similar Bill.

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