Parliament

Disna Mudalige, Camelia Nathaniel and Amali Mallawaarachchi

During No Confidence Motion: Sampanthan regrets non use of electronic voting system

Leader of the Opposition TNA Leader R. Sampanthan addressing the media in Parliament yesterday, said that it was very unfortunately that the electronic voting system could not be used nor could members be called by name at the vote taken during the No Confidence Motion on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in Parliament yesterday, due to the conduct of some parliamentarians who supported Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“The drama commenced on October 26, when Mahinda Rajapaksa was appointed the Prime Minister by President Maithripala Sirisena presumably on the basis that the President believed that Rajapaksa had the majority in Parliament. It was the duty of Mahinda Rajapaksa to attend Parliament without delay and prove his majority through a vote in Parliament which he failed to do. On the contrary, he and his supporters engaged in bribing members of Parliament portfolios and Deputy portfolios with money. This was a matter of public knowledge which was not a secret. Despite all his efforts, he was still not able to muster a majority and get the much needed 113 members in a 225 member Parliament to prove he had a majority,” he added.

Consequently, he said that the parties opposing him and who knew he did not have a majority in Parliament decided to move a No Confidence resolution against him and his government in Parliament. That resolution was moved and passed in Parliament on November 14. The resolution was adopted on a voice vote. “122 members of Parliament signed a written statement stating that they had no confidence in Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister or in his government. Subsequently, Parliament met again on November 15 and Rajapaksa made a statement and at the end of the statement, a resolution was moved rejecting the statement and reaffirming that Parliament had no confidence in him. This resolution was adopted by voice vote and passed.”

However, Sampanthan noted that there were some views being raised about a voice vote and it was decided that when Parliament met yesterday, that a resolution would be moved stating that Parliament had no confidence in Mahinda Rajapaksa or his government and that a vote would be adopted either through the electronic voting system or by the calling of names, to ensure that everything was done in a way beyond question.

“But yesterday, they prevented the Speaker taking his seat in Parliament. They surrounded the Speaker’s chair and one member shamefully sat on the Speaker’s chair with others around him, shouting slogans and preventing the Speaker from taking his seat. However, the Speaker did arrive, though delayed, with Police protection and conducted the proceedings of Parliament pertaining to that resolution,” he said, adding that the Standing Orders were suspended and the resolution moved and once again adopted by a voice vote.


Speaker should take responsibility for chaos

The Speaker should take the blame and responsibility for the unrest which took place in Parliament yesterday, said Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, addressing the media at Parliament yesterday. The UPFA/SLFP held a media briefing at the Parliament Committee room after the unfortunate brawl which erupted at the Chamber. They said despite several of the senior SLFP members meeting Speaker Karu Jayasuriya earlier around 11.30 yesterday and requesting him to take the vote on a latter date, he went ahead with it knowing very well what the outcome would be.

They said that two UNP MPs had brought knives into the Chamber on Thursday and the UPFA MPs had demanded that action be taken against them. The SLFP members pointed out that despite claims by the IGP to investigate the incident and take action, it was the Speaker who should facilitate such action when such incidents take place within Parliament chambers.

Minister Susil Premajayantha alleged that resolutions were being passed one after the other without following proper Parliamentary procedures, accusing the Speaker of acting entirely in favour of the UNP. “There is a proper way of getting such resolutions passed by establishing proper procedures. It was clearly shown that two of the UNP MPs had knives in their hand and it was the Speaker who should have complained to the Police. Otherwise, the Parliament police would not accept complaints. The Speaker is responsible for what happens in Parliament. But the Speaker was not interested in discussing the matter with the President and taking a suitable course of action. He was hell bent on repeating the same thing he did earlier and have this NCM passed against Prime Minister Rajapaksa. He got down the International media and filled the gallery with UNP thugs and did what his party wanted him to do.”

He pointed out that no one could enter Parliament without the permission of the Speaker, while yesterday, the viewing gallery was filled with UNP supporters who were shouting slogans and creating a rumpus. “How did they come there? We never allowed anyone to come. There were hundreds of UNP thugs who were their supporters allowed into the public gallery and saw them throwing objects at us from upstairs. Before the Speaker’s arrival, the UPFA/SLFP members were demanding that knife wielding MPs be taken into custody.”

He noted that the Speaker had then entered the Chamber surrounded by a battalion of Police officers without their badges. “This is also illegal.


Permitting thugs to enter Parliament: Speaker has tarnished reputation of House

The Speaker has created a huge issue between the executive and the legislative, said former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa. “The Speaker came to Parliament yesterday, surrounded by a large group of police personnel. This is very ugly. If the Speaker was unable to attend Parliament without a Police escort, then there is no democracy. Under these circumstances, we cannot continue to respect the Speaker of this Parliament. Similarly, we cannot allow Parliamentary proceedings to continue either. We could only render him our cooperation in carrying out parliamentary operations only if he is impartial. But when he takes sides and acts in a biased manner, we cannot cooperate with him. When we met the Speaker, we told him to delay Parliament as both sides were agitated, but he did not heed our warning and went ahead with his plan. The Speaker has tarnished the reputation of Parliament by allowing thugs to come into Parliament. In such a volatile situation, they should never have allowed outsiders to enter Parliament. But they deliberately did so and the Speaker facilitated it.”

Accusing the Speaker of having approved UNP thugs to come into Parliament yesterday, the UPFA called on Parliamentary authorities to release the list of names of the civilians who were allowed into the viewing gallery during yesterday’s Parliamentary sessions. They said they were thugs brought by the UNP. The UPFA said that the UNP is trying to cling onto power with the assistance of foreign diplomats.

Meanwhile, joining the press briefing Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara noted that due to the assassination plot, President Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa had to unite. “This is a Kangaroo Parliament and the only solution is to go for a General Election. Under the current volatile situation, that is the only option. Why is the UNP so afraid of going for an election? It is because they know they could not win, while the Speaker is behaving in this manner to safeguard the position of the UNP.”

“When we met the Party leaders earlier, Patali Champika and Rajitha Senaratne behaved in an arrogant and confrontational manner, retorting that we had no business being in the government. Under these circumstances, we knew that there was no purpose in having this vote today. We did not act provocatively yesterday, it was rightful resistance to an illegal procedure and improper resolution inside Parliament. When you don’t follow a procedure it becomes a nullity. You can’t allow a nullity to be given the ceremonial sanctity of Parliament.

Therefore, the members said we are in danger of our lives with knife wielding members of the Opposition and asked that action be taken against them. We said, until you take action against them there would be no meeting of Parliament,” he said.


PM Rajapaksa kept silent, while MPs behaved in unruly manner:JVP

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), while blaming Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa for the unrest created in Parliament yesterday (16), said he should take responsibility for the violence that triggered at the Parliament Chamber.

Addressing a media briefing after the unfortunate brawl that erupted at the Chamber, JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, said the situation could have been brought under control by Rajapaksa if he really wanted to do so.

“But Rajapaksa did not make such an attempt. Instead, he was silent while his MPs were behaving in an unruly manner in the Chamber. It was he who instructed them to behave in that manner. Everything happened under his supervision. He should take full responsibility for what took place today’s Parliamentary Sittings,” Dissanayake said.

He pointed out that if the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MPs wanted to punish Palitha Thewarapperuma for bringing a butter knife into the Chamber on November 15, they should have reported it to President Maithripala Sirisena as the Police Department was under him. “But, they did not do so. They wanted to stop the No-confidence Motion being passed by behaving in an unruly manner. This was the first time in history where a Speaker had come under physical assault in the Chamber. They even brought chilli powder mixed with waterto attack their fellow MPs. This is the true face of the Rajapaksa faction,” he noted.


Damage done to democracy cannot be easily recovered

Following the pandemonium in the House yesterday, Ranil Wickremesinghe together with leading politicos supportive of the No Confidence Motion against Mahinda Rajapaksa, blasted the unruly behaviour of the UNFA MPs in the Chamber, in a press brief held at the Parliament premises yesterday. The damage done to democracy prevailing in the country could not be easily recovered, they observed.

Wickremesinghe pointed out that the series of incidents that took place inside the House, was a disgrace to the Nation. He observed that it held Sri Lanka low in the eyes of the International Community.

Wickremesinghe, Patali Champika Ranawaka, Sajith Premadasa, Jayawickreme Perera, Rajitha Senaratne, Mangala Samaraweera, Mano Ganesan, P. Digambaram, Rauf Hakeem and Rishad Bathiudin were present at the press briefing, which was held at the Parliament premises.

“This disgraceful incident at Parliament shames the whole nation. In should be condemned in the harshest possible term. It is a blow to democracy and it is a blow to all of us who are voters of Sri Lanka in whom the sovereignty lies,” Wickremesinghe observed.

Further speaking, Wickremesinghe noted that, “Today Parliament convened after our delegation met the President who requested that another resolution be passed in Parliament. We acted according to that decision taken by the committee.

But unfortunately, the Chamber was occupied by a section of the MPs belonging to the SLPP and SLFP. Mahinda Rajapaksa was present in Parliament. But the Speaker was prevented from entering the Chamber.”

“We have seen incidents in Parliament, but not of this nature or scale. This has to be condemned, whatever the party you voted for.

We are not going to allow this to happen with the majority we have. The majority will have its way. The people would ensure that the damage done to our system was restored, but it would take a long time,” Wickremesinghe noted.

“The injuries sustained by Jayawickreme Perera, Malik Samarawickreme and Vijitha Herath could be with medical treatment cured, but the damage to country’s democracy, would not be easily repaired,” Wickremesinghe observed.

Meanwhile, UNP MP Jayawickrema Perera who was attacked by the UPFA MPs with “chili powder mixed water,” addressed the media after returning from medical treatment. An emotional Jayawickreme who broke down before the cameras, requested President Maithripala Sirisena to immediately take a decision that would restore the balance and democracy in the country.

Jayawickreme Perera observed that he had been an MP for a long period of time, but nothing similar to yesterday’s incident had ever taken place. Perera also commended the way in which the MPs who are supportive of the NCM behaved.

Patali Champaka Ranawaka who then addressed the media, questioned as to how fair would Mahinda Rajapaksa hold a general election if this was the way his “gang members” are distrupting Parliamentary proceedings and attacking the Speaker of the House. Ranawaka also questioned as to whether the Rajapaksa desciples were not even listening to the President.

We moved the resolution for the third time because the President wanted a clear vote, but the UPFA MPs kept behaving in a disgraceful manner, Ranawaka further observed. These Rajapaksa supporters utterly disregard the Constitution, Legislation and the Standing Orders for the last few days, Ranawaka said.

President Maithripala Sirisena who had the Military Forces and the Police under his control, should immediately remove Rajapaksa and his supporters from the offices they are occupying after the Speaker officially informed the President on the results of the NCM. Meanwhile, Sajith Premadasa speaking at the press briefing, pointed out that it was a battle between democracy and political terrorism, instigated by Rajapaksa and his supporters. Premadasa also pointed out that Rajapaksa was trying to have a “Chili-Powder Governance.” Premadasa expressed his confidance that the President would take a favourable decision soon.

Rajitha Senaratne denied the allegations levelled by UPFA MPs that the proceedings of the Chamber were illegal.

 



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