[Parliament– (11-03-2017)]

Speaker promises to attend to JO request and give a ruling

Sandasen Marasinghe and Disna Mudalige

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya observed that he would attend to the matter of Joint Opposition Member Wimal Weerawansa and his fellow members to sit independently in the joint opposition and give a ruling later. He also added that he needed to conduct the sessions in a fair manner.

He made this observation yesterday following MP Weerawansa's speech on the Speaker's decision delivered on Tuesday. The Speaker allowed Wimal Werawansa MP to speak on the Speaker's decision as promised earlier.

NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa said the members of the Joint Opposition get only 10 minutes a day to speak if there were four members to speak. He said that the official opposition in Parliament does not speak on genuine issues of the country such as the Geneva UNHRC sessions, incarceration of Intelligence Unit members, government's tendency to follow in the policies of the West and suspension of MP Dinesh Gunawardena. Part of the Opposition joined the government to suspend MP Gunawardena, while the other part kept mum.

"The National Government was formed by the UNP and the SLFP," MP Weerawansa said. "The UPFA did not join the government. Please recognize our right to dissent. You as the Speaker should respect the precedence set by your predecessors not be bound by letters and opinions of Nimal Siripala de Silva or Mahinda Amaraweera."

He also said that in 2004, the JVP contested with the UPFA and then in 2005 contested separately at the General Election. He added that the then Chair accepted the JVP as an independent group in Parliament. He also said that when W J M Lokubandara was Speaker, he left the JVP with 10 or 11 others and sat independently. The Chair accepted their right to sit independently in the House.

He requested the Chair to accept their right to act as an opposition party, adding that otherwise this problem would prevail and conducting the business of this House would be difficult.

At this staged UNP MP Hector Appuhamy raising a point of order, said that MP Weerawansa was threatening the House.

"I too need to conduct the sessions in a just and fair manner. I will discuss the issue of MP Weerawansa," the Speaker said.


 

I always act according to my conscience: Speaker

Sandasen Marasinghe and Disna Mudalige

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday in Parliament, stressed that he always follows his conscience and that he would not remain in his position if he could not do so.

The Speaker made this comment while responding to a statement by UPFA MP Dullas Alahapperuma. MP Alahapperuma speaking on behalf of the Joint Opposition Group appealed to the Speaker to ask his own Conscience whether he made the right decision over the JO’s request. “You are a well-regarded personality and there is an opinion in society that you treat everybody fairly. Your struggle to bring forth the Right to Information Bill is known. Do not destroy that image of yours. You were the UNP Deputy Leader but remember you should act independently when you are in that seat,” he said.

Replying to such a statement, the Speaker noted that he was not holding any position in the UNP since he was appointed Speaker of Parliamen. “I have not stepped into the Sirikotha since the last elections. I was appointed unanimously and I have a duty of being impartial to everybody. Knowing the difficulties we encountered in the Opposition, I always try to give fair hearing to the Opposition. However, at times, my hands are tied as Speaker. I cannot intervene to internal matters of parties. Those should be resolved among themselves. I took a decision over MP Dinesh Gunawardena after pleading him nine times to allow me to continue the day’s business without interruption. Appointing another to represent him is a decision that needs the approval of the UPFA,” he explained.

MP Alahapperuma requested fair time for the JO to raise their voice in the House, observing that their group had the second majority numbering 51 members after the 106 of the UNP. “What we are asking is our right to represent our people. We are not asking for luxurious building spaces or vehicles. Critical matters that affect the country are not properly brought out in the House. This is not good for democracy and is against Lichchavi principles,” he said. 


US House of Representatives delegation in Sri Lanka

A bipartisan delegation from the United States House of Representatives who were visiting Sri Lanka, paid a courtesy call on Parliamentary Reforms and Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilake at the Chief Government Whip's office in Parliament recently.

House Democracy Partnership (HDP) leader HDP Chairman, Congressman Peter Roskam (Republican-Illinois) and included Ranking Member Congressman David Price (Democrat-North Carolina), Congressman Gerry Connolly (Democrat-Virginia), and Congressman Adrian Smith (Republican-Nebraska), Susan Davis, Jeff Billman, Justin Wein, Jed Meline. US ambassador in Colombo Athul Keshap were also present.


JO to continue struggle for main opposition status

Sandasen Marasinghe and Disna Mudalige

The Joint Opposition members observed that the JO would continue with their struggle to gain the status of the main opposition in and out of Parliament.

Joint Opposition Parliamentarians made this observation at a press briefing held at the Parliamentary Complex.

Dallas Alahapperuma said their efforts made in Parliament yesterday, was the beginning of the struggle. He also said that they requested speaker Karu Jayasuriya and former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to give heed to their request. He said the Joint Opposition invited the former Speaker to help them in their endeavour and the latter had accepted the invitation. MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara speaking at the press briefing, said giving the status of the main opposition to the JVP and the TNA was not fair as the joint opposition had more seats.

MP Jayantha Samaraweera said the JVP and TNA could not be recognized as the Opposition since the government has the blessings of these parties for everything it does.

The Joint Opposition also said that the Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella's behaviour was worse than that of MP Dinesh Gunawardena. They added that Minister Kiriella applied more pressure and threats on the Speaker.


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