Street protests raise fears of SJB cluster | Sunday Observer

Street protests raise fears of SJB cluster

21 November, 2021

The religious ceremony to unveil the Sandahiru Seya in Anuradhapura was held under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday, November 18.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said that the Sandahiru Seya built in honour of the valiant soldiers who stopped bloodshed in the country is now dedicated for the people’s veneration. The Premier said, “My fervent wish while vesting this magnificent Chethiya to the Buddha Sasana is that the country will never undergo such a gloomy and miserable era again.”

Premier Rajapaksa said that he had enormous confidence in the Security Forces. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was the then Secretary of Defence succeeded in steering the Security Forces on the correct path to peace with the support of the Tri-Forces Commanders.

He said, “No matter how small our country is, we must have the freedom to live. The Prime Minister emphasised that it is the responsibility of present and future leaders to ensure the safety of fallen heros who made sacrifices towards the freedom of our country and safeguard the freedom that the war heroes have brought upon us by sacrificing their lives.”

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday, November 18 unveiled the plaque and the pinnacle of the Sandahiru Seya in Anuradhapura amid Jaya Pirith chanting, Deva Aradhana and sounds of Hewisi.

The Sandahiru Seya which was built in honour of thousands of valiant soldiers who laid down their lives and sacrificed their limbs for the protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country was consecrated to the Buddha Sasana while Sri Lanka Air Force helicopters showered flowers on the Chethiya.

The Maha Sangha and the chief guests offered flowers and incence to the Buddha statue at the main Wahalkada and at the shrine room of the temple. The President placed the jewellery in the casket of the sacred relics and Dolosmahe Pahana open.

The President also switched on the illuminations of the Seya and the offering of Gilanpasa to the Sacred Relics took place at the Relics Chamber. Thereafter, the President presented the Sannaspatra (Citation) to the Atamasthanadhipathi Most Ven. Pallegama Srinivasa Thera.

On the following day, an almsgiving was held in front of the Sandahiru Seya under the patronage of the President for the Maha Sangha who arrived from many parts of the country.

Pointing fingers

Media Minister Dullas Alahapperuma told Parliament on Friday that all parties claim to be innocent like Bodhisathvayo when they are in the Opposition and become Devadattas when their Government takes over. Alahapperuma said that this is what has happened throughout history, adding that all are pointing the finger at an unpleasant and irresponsible past and not the future. Participating in the debate on the Second Reading of the Budget, the Minister said, “During the five days of the Budget debate, what have we done other than point fingers at each other?”.

He said there have been a number of tragedies in history, adding that in 88-89 the youth uprising claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. “The terrorist war claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands more. This was a great tragedy. Now it’s the pandemic, which is the worst the country has experienced since Independence.

The Minister said, “We are facing a terrible epidemic that has paralysed not only our country but the whole world. Under such a predicament that the Budget was presented in an unfavourable situation within an impenetrable economy and paralysed education.


A protest led by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) created chaos on the streets of Colombo on Tuesday, November 16. Hundreds of people attended the rally including Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa. Severe traffic congestion was seen on the streets near the Opposition Leader’s Office and on the Galle Road during the protest.

The protest also raised fears of an ‘SJB Cluster’ forming as social distancing was not followed. Although the Police prevented the people marching into Colombo from the outskirts by putting up barricades and turning away the buses carrying the protesters to maintain health guidelines to prevent spread of Covid-19, the main Opposition SJB held its rally and protest march in Colombo disregarding health protocols.

Addressing the gathering at the Galle Face Roundabout in Colombo following the SJB protest, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa pledged to create a truly capable Government free of corruption and fraud and to rebuild the collapsed country. He called on all the people to take responsibility for the country and create a new era with a new vision.

On the following day, SJB Parliamentarians staged a protest carrying placards in the Parliament Chamber against police intervention in their demonstration. SJB General Secretary MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara who addressed the House during the Second Reading debate of the Budget, alleged that the Government used the police to suppress the protesters.

He said, “The Government is very scared of the SJB and the public. The Police sought court orders, but the requests were rejected.”

However, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told the Parliament on Friday, November 19 that all the MPs who participated in the SJB protest in Colombo recently should be subjected to a PCR test.

The Minister said this while raising a point of order during the debate on the Second Reading of the Budget 2022. Minister Ranatunga pointing out that MP Mano Ganesan has also tested positive for Covid-19, said that it seems the Opposition Leader’s ‘stupid wave’ has created more Covid-19 infected MPs in the House.

Good-for-nothing Opposition

Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando challenged Opposition members who were criticising the Budget 2022 to come up with an alternative to it, if possible.

Following a progress review meeting at his Ministry, Minister Fernando told journalists that the entire world was reeling from the effects of the pandemic, and high inflation rates have been experienced by all economies across the globe.

He said, “Price increases in a situation like today is natural but temporary. When there is no production of goods, there is a price increase. When the situation returns to normal, the prices will come down. Our good-for-nothing Opposition members can make speeches blaming the Government and its Budget for various ills. There is no point in criticising something if you do not have a better alternative or substitute. I challenge them to come with alternative Budget proposals if they have any.”

“We as a Government are working hard to manage this situation, while the Opposition speaks as if inflation is a problem only in this country,” he said.

Not an adversary

Joining the Budget debate in Parliament, Minister Wimal Weerawansa said, that it is the responsibility of all to support the Government in ensuring a safe environment for the people to live a healthy life, despite the conflict of interest within the Government.

Weerawansa said, that despite their difference of opinions, his party is not an adversary of the Government. “We may have differences and conflicts with the Government but we must all assist the Government in creating a healthy and safe environment for the people to live in.

“Simply because we are angry with the face there is no need to cut the nose off. Simply because there are differences with the Government, no one should act in a manner that will increase the risk of the country falling back into a Covid -19 wave. Our responsibility is to ensure that the Government goes on the path that was expected of them when the people voted for them,” he said.

The Minister said, “We are not going to simply stand by and watch while the Government goes on the wrong path, without uttering a word. We are not adversaries of the Government and we will not take pleasure in watching the Government take wrong decisions.”

One Country, One Law

Chairman of the National Movement for Social Justice former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said former MP Ranjan Ramanayake is languishing in prison while big-time criminals are pardoned. Jayasuriya told the media that Ramanayake’s career and health had been ruined because he fought against corruption. He said, “This is another example of how there is one law for the rich and the powerful, and another for others.”

The former Speaker said, “In recent times, the Government is harping on the ‘One Country, One Law’ policy. However, recent events have made it clear that one law exists to protect the powerful while another law exists to oppress the downtrodden. The majority of people today have come to understand this reality.”

Second anniversary

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa marked his second anniversary in office on Thursday, November 18. The President secured a resounding mandate at the last Presidential Election, held on November 16, 2019 for the implementation of his National Policy Framework “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour” which contained the national program that was crafted for nearly four years by incorporating his vision with the ideas and recommendations of national organisations.

President Rajapaksa was sworn in as the seventh Executive President of the country at the historic Ruwanweli Maha Seya premises on November 18, 2019.

The President also engaged in religious observances at the historic Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi premises in Anuradhapura on Friday, November 19 morning.

President Rajapaksa who arrived at the sacred site called on the Chief Incumbent of Atamasthana, Ven. Dr. Pallegama Siriniwasa Thera and received his blessings. The President offered the Kiri Ahara at the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. The President also spoke to the people who had arrived to pay homage to the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi and inquired into their well-being.


Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa attended a meeting at the Parliamentary Complex recently on the controversy over the gazette on Muthurajawela.

Several Government lawmakers had stood outside the parliamentary committee room, waiting for the Finance Minister’s arrival. Among these members were State Ministers Nimal Lanza and Sanath Nishantha and SLPP MPs Sagara Kariyawasam and Jayantha Ketagoda. When Minister Rajapaksa arrived at the venue, he had first turned to Lanza and said, “Have you now taken over the issue of the Ramsar Wetlands?” Lanza had responded saying that he had intervened and taken over the subject, as it would otherwise be taken over by the Opposition, SJB and JVP. Environment Minister Mahinda Amaraweera had invited Minister Rajapaksa to sit at the head table. He smiled and said, “That’s okay. You go ahead. I will sit with the aggrieved parties today.” Then the meeting commenced with Minister Amaraweera and State Minister Dr. Nalaka Godahewa at the head table.

Not against SLFP

SJB Kalutara District MP and ‘Api Sri Lanka Sandanaya’ President Kumara Welgama said the SLFP leaders say they are being slandered by the Government. However, they are still in uncomfortable political cohabitation with the Government.

Welgama said, “We are not against the SLFP. But can we move forward with the current leader? As we could not tolerate such a situation, we left the Government.”

Speaking at a meeting of activists of the alliance at Dadella, Galle, MP Welgama said, “We need to consider the views of all to build a better country. If we allow this pitiful state of affairs to continue, world powers such as China, India and the US will invade our country.”

He said, therefore, a good national policy should be made which would be appropriate for the present and the future. A good Constitution should be enacted and a good country should be built for future generations.

No need to fear investigation

Chief Government Whip Minister Johnston Fernando told Parliament the Opposition is trying to use the name of Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando as a means to an end. Minister Fernando made this observation in response to a statement made by SJB Parliamentarian Dr. Kavinda Jayawardena alleging that the Government is putting pressure on Rev. Fr. Fernando by summoning him to the CID several times and questioning him for hours.

In response Minister Fernando said, “I am a Catholic MP as well. If Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini knows something about the Easter Sunday terror attacks, is it wrong to question him? If you or I know something about this terrorist attack, it should be the same. The CID is there to investigate. There is no need to fear any investigation. Say it is me or MP Harin Fernando, we need to provide whatever evidence we know. It is not a matter of religion. So do not try to instigate disharmony between religious groups.”


SJB Parliamentarian Champika Ranawaka has invited JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake to a face-to-face dialogue if the latter has suspicions regarding the work he carried out as a Minister. Ranawaka said he had recently noticed a trend where he had been targeted by low rankers in the JVP and that false allegations are being made against him.

Ranawaka said, “Several members at higher level are also confirming those allegations in an indirect manner and as a result of their making some statements that seem to aid those accusations.” MP Ranawaka said that news items regarding the orchid garden at Water’s Edge and the fact that he was said to have obtained commissions in respect of emission tests he introduced during his tenure as Environment Minister are being spread around as propaganda by lower rank members of the JVP in an organised manner and the fact that some top leaders of the JVP are aiding and abetting these statements can be pointed out as the real examples.