Week in PARLIAMENT
Consensus urged on national issues
The Government once again showed its utmost commitment in Parliament
to find a lasting solution to the national question and stressed the
importance of creating an extensive dialogue among all political parties
to address this issue irrespective of petty political differences.
The Government's sincere efforts to resolve the national question was
clearly elaborated in the House following the remarks made by Leader of
the House Irrigation and Water Management Minister Nimal Siripala de
Silva responding to the adjournment motion moved by the TNA
Parliamentary Group Leader R. Sampanthan who requested the Government to
address the core issues of the conflict and to evolve an acceptable
Minister Silva explaining the government's stance informed the House
the Government is not ready to accept any solution thrust upon Sri Lanka
by the international forces. The Government will not take decisions due
to pressure exerted by the international community. Whatever political
solution provided to the national question should be an acceptable one
to all the communities in the North and the South. The Minister told the
House that a political solution cannot be given overnight as claimed by
the UNP and stressed the importance of conducting extensive discussions
with all political parties.
He said the UNP does not have positive thinking to evolve a process
to resolve this issue. If the UNP is not willing to join hands to
resolve the national question, that means the UNP needs to drag this
problem without resolving.
Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne who moved the motion to extend the
emergency regulations informed the House that the significant progress
achieved by the Government's peace and reconciliation efforts has
resulted in a large number of Tamil people who went abroad due to LTTE
terrorist activities returning to Sri Lanka.
Construction and Engineering Services Minister Wimal Weerawansa who
joined the emergency debate said it is not easy to re-commence the lives
of the people in the North as some in Colombo think. The Government is
creating the necessary environment conducive to hold the Local
Government election in the North. He also warned the attempts made by
certain elements to disrupt link between the people and the Security
Forces in the North. A certain group has undertaken the contract to
create a conflict atmosphere in Sri Lanka when the Human Rights
Commission is going to be meet in Geneva in September.
The issue of cricket once again turned into a hot topic in the House
when Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage responded to queries
raised by the Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga. The Minister who
categorically denied the claims made by the Opposition informed the
House that cricket has not collapsed or been politicised as the
Opposition alleges. The Minister who talked about the international
ranking of cricket said Sri Lankan has been able to maintain second
place in one day internationals and forth place in Tests. The Minister
citing an example said if Sri Lanka cricket has been politicised, Sanath
Jayasuriya would have been in the World Cup team. He urged the
Opposition MPs not to politicise sports.
Rizana's case was highlighted in the House due to an oral question
raised by MP Jayasekera. Foreign Employment Promotion Minister Dilan
Perera who responded to the MP said both the Government and the
Opposition have engaged in a process to save the life of Rizana.
However, the Minister said there is a certain group which is waiting
until Rizana's life is in danger to take political advantage.
UNP National List MP Dr. Harsha de Silva who joined the debate on the
supplementary estimate of Rs. 20 billion for the operational activities
of the Defence Ministry praised the remarks made by the UPFA National
List MP Prof. Rajiva Wijesinghe in the BBC Hard Talk program. Dr. Silva
commended the President for appointing an intellectual like Prof. Rajiva
Wijesinghe as a MP from the UPFA National List.
The MP in his speech informed the House as an Opposition
Parliamentarian he has never criticised the Armed Forces or undermined
the victory achieved by the Armed Forces.
Dr. Silva in his speech explained how the Parliamentarians should act
and comment with responsibility on matters relating to the country's
national interest. The MP citing an example said when Darusman report
was released, he had gone to US to get the Eisenhower Award. General
Colin Powell had requested him to speak about the alleged human rights
violations committed by the Sri Lankan Security Forces.
The MP explained how he rejected that invitation and categorically
denied the claims made. The audience has highly applauded by the comment
made by the MP. The MP said all should appreciate the role of the Armed
Forces to safeguard the country from the clutches of LTTE terrorism.
Senior Minister for the International Monitary Cooperation Dr. Sarath
Amunugama who responded to certain remarks made by the Opposition MPs at
the debate on the supplementary estimate of Rs.20 billion for the
construction of a building to the Defence Ministry commented on the lack
of practical knowledge of some MPs. He told the House the Government
will construct an Army Headquarters similar to Pentagon.
External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris commented on the
appointment of military personnel to diplomatic postings following a
statement made by the Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga. Prof Peiris
said he was amazed the statement made by Amaratunga that Sri Lanka's
interests are jeopardized due to the appointment of military personnel
to diplomatic posts.
The Minister said these top military brass have made a yeoman service
to the country by defeating terrorism. He explained how Major General
Shavendra Silva courageously faced and exposed the deficiencies of the
Channel 4 video footage in New York.
The issue of importing substandard petrol was also highlighted in the
House due to a special statement made by DNA MP Anura Kumara
The MP queried whether the Government planned to compensate the
owners of vehicles damaged due to low quality fuel. Petroleum Industries
Minister Susil Premajayantha informed the House the filling stations
damaged by pumping inferior quality petrol would be repaired by the
Government free of charge while the Government is willing to grant
compensation for those affected by petrol impurity crisis.