Lansa, Ramanayake lock horns in Parliament | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Lansa, Ramanayake lock horns in Parliament

The SLPP-SLFP marriage suffered another fatal blow after a section of the SLFP Parliamentary group decided to abstain from voting for the UNF Budget, allowing the Government to pass the key legislation with 119 votes, and reducing the Joint Opposition (JO) numbers to 74 in total, even less than the number that voted 76 against the Budget in its Second Reading. Despite several discussions between two UPFA factions-one associated with SLPP led by Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa and other UPFA group in President Maithripala Sirisena’s camp to reach final consensus on the third reading vote of the Budget 2019, both camps failed to come to a compromise clearly depicting the unresolved crisis between the two camps. When the UPFA MPs in the JO during the Committee Stage debate hinted out their deliberate attempt at defeating the Budget, the Government ranks once again showed their courage in having passed the Budget with a majority of 45 votes. Following a division called by UPFA MP Dinesh Gunawardena, the Budget received 119 votes in favour and 74 against.

Since the inception of the Budget debate, Joint Opposition MPs aligned with SLPP said that they would vote against the Budget and defeat it. Even the President during the Opposition Group meeting had stressed the need to build a broad coalition between the SLFP and the SLPP in preparing for the upcoming Elections. However, the conflicting views in President Sirisena’s camp became clearly evident again due to the notable absence of some UPFA frontliners including MPs Mahinda Amaraweera, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Duminda Dissanayake and Dayasiri Jayasekara. However, UPFA Parliamentarians S.B. Dissanayake, Dilan Perera and Lakshman Wasantha Perera voted against the Budget.

Winding up the Committee Stage debate of the Budget 2019, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera expressed his regret over a political leader such as Mahinda Rajapaksa giving leadership to a group of the ilk of the present Joint Opposition. The Minister said he very well knows the history of Mahinda Rajapaksa more than many of the Joint Opposition members who make a big hue and cry in Parliament today. Minister Samaraweera said Mahinda Rajapaksa is a leader who made revolutionary changes such as forming the Mother’s Front by going to Geneva to fight on behalf of them. He was also a former President and Prime Minister. The Minister told the House in lighter vein “when looked at the manner,

Opposition Leader Rajapaksa spoke in Parliament today, I also felt to give him a hug.” The Government law makers were seen laughing at the remarks made by the Minister. “I regret a leader like him has to give leadership to the present Opposition.” The Minister further said Mahinda Rajapaksa is his oldest political friend and he was the politician who talked to him when he first stepped into SLFP Headquarters at Darley Road in 1988 as a SLFP Organiser.

Joining the Committee Stage debate on the Defence and Environment ministries, State Minister of Highways and Road Development Ranjan Ramanayake drew the attention of President Maithripala Sirisena who was in the Chamber at that time to seriously look into as to how the Shangri-La land deal had been done during the regime of former Government. The State Minister alleged that a prime state-owned land in the Capital had been sold out to Shangri-La and not on the 99 year lease. He requested the President to take immediate action against those who had earned huge commissions from this fraudulent land deal. Ramanayake told the House no country has sold its Security Headquarters to set up a private hotel. He queried whether the state lands can be sold outright to private parties. He said those who sold precious state properties today talk about patriotism beat their chests. State Minister Ramanayake also said there may be lapses on the part of the Yahapalana Government but it didn’t resort to killings or abductions as allegedly committed by the previous regime. “This Government has not killed either 36 journalists or rugby players”. When the State Minister requested the President at least to tell the House what action will be taken against this Shangri-La land transaction, the President didn’t make any comment on it.

TNA Leader R. Sampanthan who joined the Committee Stage debate on the Budget said two issues that were important to the country today in his view were the implementation of the resolution co- sponsored by the Sri Lankan Government and unanimously adopted by the UNHRC and the UNHRC resolution based on two investigations conducted by an independent panel appointed by the UN Secretary General and the second investigation conducted by the UNHRC itself. Sampanthan pointed that out both investigations have concluded that war crimes and crimes against humanity had committed and there was a violation of humanitarian and human rights laws during the civil conflict and as such the matters need to be further investigated. He said Sri Lanka has conducted no investigation of any sort, not even a domestic investigation and persisted that it will not implement certain aspects of the UNHRC resolution. From the point of view of Sri Lanka, there was only the LLRC report and even their recommendations have not yet been implemented. He said the Tamil question remains unresolved for the last 70 years and the constitutional process started in 1988 and we are today in 2019. Thirty years down the road but not yet completed. He said “ you were unable to complete it and you don’t know what is happening. You want to keep the Tamil people as second class citizens. You want to suppress them militarily so that they are not able resort to even civil disobedience.” Sampanthan said more than 50 percent of Tamil population in Sri Lanka has left the country. Is it your belief that if you persist your military course of action even the balance 50 percent will leave the country? He categorically stated that they are committed to a solution within the framework of a united, undivided and indivisible Sri Lanka.

UPFA Parliamentarian Nimal Lansa and State Minister of Highways and Road Development Ranjan Ramanayake locked horns in Parliament on Friday (April 05) hurling insults and abuses at each other. Participating in the Committee Stage debate, MP Lansa vehemently criticized State Minister Ramanayake showering the latter with insults in filthy language. MP Lansa in his aggressive form of speech used animals’ names and sexually demeaning language to insult Ramanayake alleging that Ramanayake was also to be blamed for the plight of ETI depositors. However, Ramanayake who walked into the Chamber while Lansa was on his feet counter-attacked him repeating the allegation that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited MP Lansa to protect the latter when the STF carried out a drug raid in Lansa’s house in Negombo.

Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam and Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella stressed the need to maintain a decent debate observing that there are school children in the public gallery. As the heated exchange of words continued, JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake called on the Chair to remove the school children from the gallery. UNP MP Velu Kumar who was in the Chair at that time repeatedly ordered the two MPs to be mindful of their language, but his attempts were in vein. At the end of Lansa’s speech, he ordered that all un-parliamentary words used in the argument be expunged from the Hansard. A few days back too un-parliamentary language was used in the well of the House during a heated argument erupted between UPFA MP Mohan Priyadarashana de Silva and State Minister Ranjan Ramanayake with regard to selling of vehicle permits meant for MPs. On the following day, the Speaker expressed his regret and displeasure over the damage to the dignity of Parliament by the two Parliamentarians using abusive language. He said Parliamentarians must refrain from using un- parliamentary obscene language within the Chamber.

UNP Parliamentarian Prof. Ashu Marasinghe critical of the comment by UPFA Parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardena on the Committee on Public Finance requested him to participate in the Committee deliberations without making false statements to get cheap publicity. MP Gunawardena in his speech attempted to convince the House that the country’s banking sector has collapsed. Prof.Marasinghe responding to the MP’s allegation pointed out that the banking sector has to face issues as some people have defaulted their loans obtained from the bank. Citing an example, Prof.Marasinghe said the Colombo Commercial High Court on February 26 issued an order to MP Gunawardena to pay Rs.1.2 million to the Pan Asia Bank. The court had ruled otherwise his Jambugasmulla house will have to be sold to get back that money. MP Marasinghe told the House former State Minister of Finance Bandula Gunawardena has defaulted on bank loans. He is throwing stones while being in a glass house. However,

MP Gunawardena responding to the allegation said this is a great insult made to a MP by another MP and said that this should be referred to the Parliament Privilege Committee.

The MP further said in his ‘samsaric journey’ he has not obtained even a 50 cent loan from a private bank. Gunawardena said he signed as a guarantor to a loan obtained by a person and he has fledged the country.

He said as the bank has asked him to pay back that loan, he has already appealed to the Supreme Court in this regard.