Diana Gamage launches scathing attack on SJB | Sunday Observer

Diana Gamage launches scathing attack on SJB

10 October, 2021

The Pandora Papers revelations turned into a hot topic in Parliament and the Government and the Opposition lawmakers engaged in a heated argument over the issue.

The heated exchange of words broke out when SJB Parliamentarian Thushara Indunil Amarasena attempted to drag the names of high ups in the Government together with former Deputy Minister Nirupama Rajapaksa and her husband Thirukumar Nadesan, whose names had been among the persons disclosed by the Pandora papers as allegedly having offshore accounts. The Government members slammed the Opposition for making unverified claims without knowing the facts.

SJB Parliamentarian Thusara Indunil Amarasena told Parliament that the Pandora papers have disclosed that Nirupama Rajapaksa had undisclosed assets worth US$ 160 million. “This comes to around Rs. 35 billion and is sufficient to feed their future generations for 200 years.”

Unverified facts

“However, Government members accused the MP of presenting unverified facts in Parliament. State Minister Shehan Semasinghe who responded to MP Amarasena questioned whether he is aware of Vidya Amarapala whose name was disclosed by the ‘Panama Papers’ a few years ago. The State Minister said, “Amarasena is speaking about Thiru Nadesan but isn’t he aware of who depended on Vidya Amarapala at that time? Aren’t you aware of the ‘Panama Papers’ revelations? Who depended on money mentioned in the ‘Panama Papers’?”

He said MP Amarasena should not utter things without knowing proper facts. Semasinghe said that the allegations had nothing to do with the President or Prime Minister. He also said that Thirukumar Nadesan had dealings with former Presidents J. R. Jayawardena, D.B. Wijetunga, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and former Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption to launch an immediate investigation into the Sri Lankans and the related transactions revealed in the Pandora Papers and submit a report in a month. The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) has also demanded an investigation into the Pandora Papers which has caused much controversy in the country. Several other countries have already begun investigations into the revelations of the ‘Pandora Papers’, which have stirred a hornet’s nest around the world.

Meanwhile, Thirukumar Nadesan, the husband of former Deputy Minister Nirupama Rajapaksa, one of two Sri Lankans identified in the Pandora Papers exposé, has written to President Rajapaksa declaring his innocence and seeking an independent investigation into the Pandora Papers. In his letter addressed to President Rajapaksa, he has said that he and his wife are “Totally innocent and are guilty of no wrongdoings.” Nadesan arrived at the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) on Friday, October 8 to record a three-hour-long statement.

“I hold the deed”

The SJB Working Committee has decided to expel National List MP Diana Gamage from the party. According to SJB General Secretary MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara, the decision was made by the Working Committee considering the reformation of the Disciplinary Committee appointed to look into her case.

In late October last year, MP Gamage and several other members of the Main Opposition backed the Government by voting in favour of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution which was passed in Parliament with a two-thirds majority.

Madduma Bandara said, “We have expelled Diana Gamage for going against the party’s decision to vote against the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.” He said action against other MPs who voted in favour of the 20th amendment will be taken by the respective parties they belong to.

However, Gamage has said that she would file legal action against the move. Speaking in Parliament on Friday, October 8, Parliamentarian Diana Gamage launched a scathing attack on the SJB for its decision to expel her from the party. She said that it was shameful that the Party General Secretary had failed to inform her of her expulsion. She likened this to giving shelter to a group stranded in the rain, at her home and the group changing the locks in the home when she had stepped out. “Remember, it is I who hold the deed,” she said.

President meets Indian Foreign Secretary

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla that the people in the two countries should be properly apprised regarding the decisions taken by the two sides in reaching an agreement. The President emphasised the need to act with the consent of the majority of the people by explaining the advantages and disadvantages.

The President said so when he met the Indian Foreign Secretary at the Presidential Secretariat on Tuesday, October 5.

President Rajapaksa outlined the need to re-establish the friendship and relations between India and Sri Lanka that existed in the 1960s and 70s. The President said that he is expecting to obtain India’s support in advancing the 1971 proposal made by Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike to declare the Indian Ocean a peace zone.

Both sides were of the view that short and long-term steps that should be taken to bring relations between the two countries to a higher level. The President also told the Foreign Secretary that he extends an invitation to the Indian Prime Minister to undertake a state visit to Sri Lanka.

The Indian Foreign Secretary commended Sri Lanka on the success of the Covid vaccination program and praised the measures taken to control the spread of Covid-19. Welcoming the President’s in-depth explanation, the Foreign Secretary said that the friendship between the two countries could be further strengthened since the two countries share similar views.

Heated debate

A heated debate took place in Parliament over the leasing of oil storage tanks in Trincomalee to India, when Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila revealed that the agreement signed by the Opposition at the time had leased the 99 oil tanks to India for 35 years.

However, the Opposition members rejected these claims pertaining to the handover of the oil tanks in Trincomalee to India through an agreement. Chief Opposition Whip MP Lakshman Kiriella said 15 of the 100 tanks within the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm were given to the Lanka Indian Oil Company (LIOC) while it was agreed upon to develop the remaining 85 tanks jointly by Sri Lanka and India.

He said, however, it did not materialise and Sri Lanka continues to own the tanks in Trincomalee. However, Minister Gammanpila insisted that in 2003, an agreement was reached with India for all 99 oil tanks to be leased for 35 years.

At this point, SJB Parliamentarian Kabir Hashim accused Minister Gammanpila of misleading the House and the public, adding that only a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in order to reach an agreement in six months. MP Hashim demanded to know if the Government will take over these oil tanks even now. “Will the Government acquire all the LIOC petrol sheds as well?” he questioned.


An all-party meeting organised by the National Movement Against Teacher-Principal Salary Anomalies (NMATPSA), was held at the Abhayarama Temple in Narahenpita on Wednesday, October 6 to discuss the teacher-principal salary anomaly issue and for the Movement to intervene to find a fair solution to the matter.

The meeting was attended by Chief Incumbent of the Abhayarama Temple Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran and a large number of civil society representatives. It was also noteworthy that several politicians from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), one of the main coalition partners of the Ruling Party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) were also present including former President Maithripala Sirisena and SLFP Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara.

MPs Ven. Athuraliye Ratana Thera and Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe were also present representing the SLPP. Opposition Leader Premadasa, during the meeting, has said that the immense sacrifices made by the teachers and principals for the welfare of the students should never be underestimated and that their very reasonable demands should be fulfilled. He said, “Despite all the difficulties, the role played by the teachers was immense and their issues should therefore be resolved.”

TNA tussle

TNA Leader R. Sampanthan admitting that lack of joint meetings and discussions due to pandemic has led to some misunderstanding in certain matters said that there are elements endeavouring to create disunity within the Alliance.

However, a longstanding tussle between two TNA factions was exposed by the media recently when TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran was not invited to a discussion held by its Leader R. Sampanthan in Colombo on September 29. The crisis within the TNA was due to the signing of a letter sent to the Geneva Human Rights Commission intensifying the rivalry between MP Sumanthiran and TNA Leader Sampanthan.

However, Sampanthan in a media release stated that TNA leaders, Members of Parliament and other functionaries generally reside in their districts in the North and the East. The Coronavirus pandemic has been an impediment to personal meetings and group discussions. This has led to lack of clarity on some matters.

He said the TNA’s main political objective is the evolution of a political solution through Constitutional measures of the National Question. Sampanthan said on this fundamental question, the TNA has articulated its position quite clearly and is firm. In regard to some other issues however, lack of joint meetings and discussions has led to some misunderstanding and confusion. There have also been some elements who have endeavoured to disunite the TNA.

“Will quit politics”

Trade Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardane said he would quit politics permanently, if he was proved guilty in the garlic fraud case. The Minister said he would not talk on behalf of the Government about any matter other than the subjects that come under his purview until these frauds in connection with garlic imports are investigated and completed.

However, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament the Government is staging a drama without punishing the real culprits of the Lak Sathosa garlic scam. Raising a question under the Standing Order 27 (2), Premadasa said, “In the wake of this incident, an Executive Director of the Consumer Affairs Authority resigned. Ministers have also made statements saying that he and top officials are not involved in the said frauds. Does the Government admit that such a fraud took place at Lanka Sathosa? If not, what was the methodology given to a private entrepreneur at a loss of over Rs. 10 million for the stock of garlic issued to Lak Sathosa by the Port?” Premadasa questioned.

Sajith meets Chaminda

Chief Opposition Whip and SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella said that Party Leader Sajith Premadasa had a discussion with MP Chaminda Wijesiri and the issue has been resolved to a great extent. MP Wijesiri at a recent press conference launched a verbal tirade against their Leader Premadasa saying that the party will not gain anything by pointing out the shortcomings of the Government and trying to gain power by making use of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference, MP Kiriella said that he also spoke to Wijesiri to settle the issue. He said, “There is no rift within the SJB. We are marching forward under the able leadership of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa.” Kiriella said that every MP should understand that they are in Parliament because Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa succeeded in retaining the village level vote base. He further said that people at grassroots level are of the opinion that they will be well looked after if Sajith Premadasa comes into power. “The poor and downtrodden have been stranded today,” he said.


Trade Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena in Parliament on Tuesday, October 5 recited a congratulatory poem to young singer Yohani de Silva on her internationally recognised song Menike Mage Hithe. Minister Gunawardena said that he extends his heartfelt wishes to young artist Yohani, who has taken Sri Lanka to the international arena. The Minister also said that the Government will take measures to facilitate artistes and young Sri Lankans who lift the name of the country in the international arena. He was participating in the debate on orders and regulations under the Value Added Tax Act, the Inland Revenue Act and the Finance Act.

National People’s Power MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said that it has been three months since the principals and teachers commenced their protests demanding solutions for their salary issues, but so far, the Government has not been able to provide a viable solution.

Raising questions in Parliament under Standing Orders 27 (02) Dissanayake posed several questions to the Minister of Education for his response. As a result, the teachers’ and principals’ issue is being dragged on, affecting the education of over four million students.

He said, “In the past, several Commissions had been appointed to resolve these teachers’ and principals’ salary anomalies, but none of them had come up with a viable solution. The National Wages Commissions of all Governments that were in power so far, had not been able to resolve this salary anomaly issue.”