Sajith never worked for UNP, only wanted to grab leadership– Saman Rathnapriya | Sunday Observer

Sajith never worked for UNP, only wanted to grab leadership– Saman Rathnapriya

24 January, 2021

Government lawmakers were highly critical of SJB Parliamentarian Harin Fernando’s speech in Parliament on Wednesday, January 20 regarding the recent imprisonment of SJB MP Ranjan Ramanayake for Contempt of Court.

SLPP Parliamentarian Upul Galappaththi, raising a Point of Order, said that MP Harin Fernando was misleading the House by attempting to imply that Ramanayake was imprisoned by the Government, which he said was incorrect and totally misleading. Galappaththi said that Ramanayake was imprisoned by the Supreme Court for an offence he committed.

Opposition lawmaker Harin Fernando said that he will wear a black shawl in Parliament until justice is served to fellow Parliamentarian Ranjan Ramanayake who was imprisoned for Contempt of Court recently.

He said, “Unlike those who wear the kurahan sataka in the Chamber to show their family power in Parliament, I will wear a black shawl in the Chamber seeking justice.”

State Minister Kanchana Wijesekara said Harin Fernando should have worn the black shawl when hundreds of innocent Christians were brutally killed by the terror attacks at Katuwapitiya and Kochchikade churches on Easter Sunday.

He said Harin Fernando using the parliamentary privileges attempts to speak to Ranjan Ramanayake’s voters as he cannot contest the elections for seven years due to his imprisonment for Contempt of Court. At present Fernando sheds ‘crocodile tears’ for Ranjan Ramanayake.

Agriculture Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that he admits the fact that the Government has failed as they couldn’t punish the bond scam culprits. “Yes, we failed, because we couldn’t punish the culprits.

“Harin Fernando who wore a black shawl simply for the TV cameras and removed it later. He has become so helpless so he goes from SJB MP to MP and urges them to speak on behalf of him,” he said.

State Minister Shehan Semasinghe challenged the Opposition lawmakers to publicly criticise the court ruling issued on Ramanayake rather than hiding behind parliamentary privileges. “Don’t hide behind parliamentary privileges and be cowards,” he said.

Court’s decision

Semasinghe said, “I saw MP Harin Fernando wearing a black shawl to demonstrate his disagreement with the decision given by the Supreme Court. Is he dishonouring or criticising the Supreme Court’s decision? I think Harin Fernando, in his heart, wants to say sorry to MP Ramanayake as many in the Yahapalana Government used him as their mouthpiece. Now that he has been punished for Contempt of Court, all these MPs in the Opposition feel responsible. The Opposition, by using MP Ramanayake, was trying to defame the judiciary of this country and make people lose their faith in the state.”

Leader of the House and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena called upon Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to rule SJB Parliamentarian Harin Fernano out, stating that he was violating Standing Orders despite being an experienced Parliamentarian.

The Minister made this request raising a Point of Order, while Fernando was on his feet, seconding the Adjournment Motion moved by JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Minister Gunawardena said that the content of Harin Fernando’s speech should be qualitative. He said under the Standing Order 83, a decision by the Supreme Court or by its justices, or any document published under the signature of the President, could be criticised personally only under this Standing Order.

Harin Fernando is not a novice Parliamentarian; the Speaker could allow him to make such a statement on the Supreme Court judgement, justices, or the conduct of the President only under due procedure.

Gunawardena said, “We have protected discipline while being in both the Government and the Opposition. “We have to protect these values, regardless of whether we are on the Government’s side or the Opposition’s side.”

Exchange of words

Responding to Minister Gunawardena’s remarks, MP Fernando said, “I did not speak about judges and spoke about MP Ranjan Ramanayake. I did not talk about the President, but about Hitler and Charlie Chaplin. I also regret that Minister Gunawardena whom I respect cannot understand the difference. I wanted to talk about the large number of gazettes put out by the Government but failed to control the prices.”

Government and Opposition lawmakers were involved in heated exchange of words in Parliament on Tuesday, January 19 over the report of the Commission that probed political victimisation. Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage during the parliamentary debate said, “We saw the list of individuals who were punished by Ranil Wickremesinghe.”

SJB Parliamentarian Harin Fernando insisted that court cases filed in connection to those who have figured in the report, cannot be withdrawn. “Just because a Presidential Commission was appointed and its report had been approved by the Cabinet, can the court cases be cancelled?” Fernando queried. He claimed that at least 200 cases have been filed in court against the individuals who have appeared before the Commission.


President Gotabaya Rajapaksa extended well-wishes to his new US counterpart, Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on their inauguration. Taking to his official Twitter account, the President said the Government of Sri Lanka looks forward to working together with the U.S. towards a mutually beneficial and stronger bilateral relationship.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa also extended well-wishes to the newly sworn-in U.S. leaders, through a tweet. The 78-year-old Democrat Joe Biden won the US election in November last year and was elected the 46th President of the country with over 270 electoral votes on his side.

Foreign investors

Former Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera has endorsed the decision taken by the Government led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to develop the East Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port with the involvement of foreign investors.

Former Minister Samaraweera in a media release stated, “As a true patriot, I am happy with the Government’s decision to get foreign investors to develop the Colombo Port. I am confident that this new investment will bring prosperity to Sri Lanka.”

Samaraweera viewed President Rajapaksa’s decision as an encouraging development while urging “true patriots” to dismiss the rhetoric planted by certain politicians, popularising the sentiment of attracting foreign investments as a betrayal to the nation.

He said, “Those lies and the ensuing deception have boomeranged and even though they are trying to do something constructive, they are being destroyed by the very lies they have disseminated. Even though I knew it before and spoke about it, I’m not happy about it. It is essential to attract foreign investors to develop this country.”

Samaraweera said that even socialist countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia realised the critical role of foreign investments and formed policies to attract investors from abroad.


There is media speculation that former Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has decided not to actively participate in the political activities of the UNP in the future. Ranatunga had refused to accept the post of Deputy Chairman of the UNP which was presented to him and he also did not attend the inauguration ceremony of the new officers at Sirikotha recently. Although he had earlier resigned from the leadership of the United National Party in the Gampaha District, he actively participated in the work of the party.

Meanwhile, although it is speculated that an alliance is to be formed under the leadership of Karu Jayasuriya, and that former Deputy Leader of the UNP Ravi Karunanayake and National Organiser Navin Dissanayake and Arjuna Ranatunga are to join it, but this has not been confirmed as yet.

Members of the Maha Sangha have criticised the Government over attempts that are allowing foreign entities to acquire the country’s resources. Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera told journalists “Just as the Sacred Tooth Relic protects the Dalada Maligawa, we must protect the East Container Terminal.” Some civic groups and trade unions have also criticised the Government’s efforts to hand over a 49 percent stake of the Colombo Port’s East Container Terminal to an Indian company.

Ven. Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thera told the media, “We believe that the President is a person who loves the country, but since he was elected to power, various entities have been trying to manipulate him.”

Secretary of the Sinhala Ravaya Organisation, Ven. Magalkande Sudantha Thera said that the Government that pledged to refrain from allowing the country’s resources to be sold to foreign entities before coming into power, is acting in a contrary manner.

New office-bearers

The new office-bearers of the UNP assumed their duties in the presence of Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at party headquarters, Sirikotha on Thursday, January 21. However, UNP seniors Sagala Ratnayake, Daya Gamage, Ravi Karunanayake and Arjuna Ranatunga had not attended the ceremony. The ceremony held under the patronage of Party Leader Wickremesinghe was conducted adhering to the health guidelines.

Amid the blessings of the Maha Sangha, UNP Deputy Leader Ruwan Wijewardena, Assistant Leader Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, General Secretary Palitha Range Bandara and Chairman Vajira Abeywardena assumed duties.

The UNP Working Committee which convened recently chaired by Party Leader Wickremesinghe made new appointments to top posts in the party. However, no change has been made to the party leadership and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will continue to lead the party. All nominations submitted by Party Leader Wickremesinghe for party posts for the year 2021 were approved by the Working Committee.

“Willing to rejoin”

Former UNP Parliamentarian Saman Rathnapriya said Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa didn’t work for the UNP’s victory when he was in the UNP and whatever he did in the party was aimed at grabbing the party’s leadership.

Rathnapriya told a group of UNP Local Government representatives at Ratnapura a couple of days ago, that Premadasa left the party because he failed to become the leader of the party.

He said, “A group of senior UNP members who defied the party leadership have already expressed their willingness to rejoin the UNP.” Rathnapriya said that a united force is a must for victory at the next election and division will only lead to defeat. He said that Opposition Leader Premadasa and former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga are likely to contest the next Presidential election.

“The people have already felt the absence of our party leader in Parliament. The shortcomings among us needs to be rectified if we actually want to tread on the path of victory,” Rathnapriya said.

The media reported that former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s residence in Horagolla had been burgled by an unidentified person or a group on January 20.

As reported, the incident happened while several police officers were on duty at the premises.

According to the police, the suspect or suspects had entered the residence by breaking one of the doors while the former President was at her official residence in Colombo. However, the situation is problematic as the incident had taken place in the morning and also when Police officers had been deployed for security.