Minister Premajayantha blames Speaker for turmoil | Sunday Observer

Minister Premajayantha blames Speaker for turmoil

Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs and Justice Susil Premajayantha told the Sunday Observer that the Government’s position regarding the present political crisis, is to have an early election and get a mandate from the people.

Q: How do you view Friday’s pandemonium in Parliament?

A: The Government MPs were protesting against the Speaker’s conduct because he did not listen to the ruling party members. As an independent person, it is the duty of the Speaker to listen to both sides. On Thursday, two UNP MPs came to the Chamber armed with knives. Our MPs complained to the Police Post in Parliament. But the Police will not take action without the Speaker’s permission. Although it is the duty of the Speaker to protect all MPs, he didn’t do that. Before he came to the Speaker’s chair, the Government MPs started protesting against the Speaker, demanding the arrest of these two UNP MPs. After about an hour, the Speaker entered the Chamber with 30-40 policemen, using a side door, and we protested as the Police are not permitted to enter the Chamber.

The Speaker, using a microphone, asked to present the resolution, and somebody read out something. We didn’t hear it due to the disturbances. The Speaker then asked for a vote. The MPs were shouting and thugs connected to the UNP were hooting and throwing books at the Chamber. The Speaker should have stopped it and asked them to leave the gallery before conducting the proceedings, and adjourning Parliament. He failed to comply with the Standing Orders and Parliamentary procedure.

Q: After the No Confidence Motion (NCM) was hurriedly passed in Parliament by a voice vote, the Speaker said, the appointment of the new Prime Minister and the Cabinet was no longer valid. How do you look at this ruling?

A: The Speaker has no authority to disregard the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. On Thursday, he said, he did not accept the new Prime Minister or the Government. But on Friday, he allowed a JVP MP to table another resolution against the Prime Minister. So if there is no Prime Minister, how can they table another resolution? The former Prime Minister was removed and a new Prime Minister appointed by the President on October 26. But for more than two weeks, nobody went to courts and challenged the appointments.

The entire country including Ambassadors of some western countries invited by the Speaker could see that a proper vote was not taken by the Speaker on the NCM. Our position is to have an election so that we can go to the people and get their mandate. The ousted Government has created anarchy in both Parliament and the country.

Q: Was the NCM presented in Parliament on Wednesday, and the voice vote taken on it, valid?

A: No. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Speaker violating the Constitution, Standing Orders and parliamentary tradition called for a vote by voice. There is no provision to suspend the Standing Orders in such an arbitrary manner. The biased approach of the Speaker was to allow the Opposition to present their NCM. We could see JVP MP Vijitha Herath rushing and handing over a letter to the Secretary General of Parliament. The Speaker willfully violated the Constitution and Standing Orders of Parliament, and took a vote by only listening to the voice. The members of the ruling party then approached the Speaker’s chair and the Opposition members also followed suit and there was chaos in Parliament.

Q: The President outlined many reasons for the removal of the UNP Government. Are they still valid in the light of the recent events?

A: Yes, they are valid. The President has told the parliamentary delegation he met on Thursday that his action has also been challenged by the Speaker’s letter. The President’s action cannot be challenged in Parliament. He is the Executive President of the country.

Q: What will the Government do to counter the UNP’s apparent show of a majority since you say the appointment of the new Prime Minister was legal and constitutional?

A: Actually, the UNP or Ranil Wickremesinghe do not have any majority in Parliament. They count the 15 TNA MPs and 6 JVP MPs. If we set aside 21 from 122, the UNP has only 101 MPs. But we have more than 101 votes.

Q: How do you see the Supreme Court stay order on the dissolution? Do you see this as a positive sign for the independence of the Judiciary?

A: It is only a suspension till December 7 until the final determination is made. Why can’t we respect the Supreme Court ruling and wait till December 7?

Q: What do you make of the unprecedented foreign Government and media interest in this whole episode? Do you think some sort of international moves are afoot to topple this Government and have a UNP Government again?

A: I can remember even in 2010 immediately after the Presidential Election day, foreign delegates and media were invited to Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel where the then UNP supported Presidential candidate was in occupation. Today, they are applying the same thing. It is the duty of the people to elect their true representatives from Sri Lanka, it is not a matter for foreign countries.

Q: Several MPs who crossed over to the Government returned to the UNP fold in Parliament on Wednesday. What is your comment on this?

A: That is the very reason why we ask for a General Election. The people can take a decision and give their verdict.

Q: If this situation continues when Parliament meets on November 19, what action will the Government take?

A: The Speaker can run Parliament smoothly, with the support of the ruling party, the Prime Minister, Leader of the House and Chief Government Whip, if he adheres to the parliamentary Standing Orders and traditions.

Q: As claimed by certain sections, is there any political instability in the country owing to this situation in Parliament?

A: There is no political instability.The country is in chaos due to the arbitrary decisions taken by the Speaker. The Government officials will continue their day to day activities amid the political turmoil. The President can give orders to his Secretaries to ensure administration. 

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