Belittled August Assembly | Page 2 | Daily News

Belittled August Assembly

The first sitting of our Parliament for the New Year was a realistic picture of what we can expect for the rest of days to follow. Not the fact as to how our MPs stoop to so low in an “August Assembly” where national laws and policies are being made, but the fact as to why the likes of these MPs being elected at every election must be pondered on. It would be a worthwhile exercise on the verge of yet another election where candidates of all hues have entered the fray basking in the glory of their political masters in Parliament.

The ugly scenes in Parliament on Wednesday were no longer shocking or unusual given the repetitive nature of similar occurrences over the past several years. For the umpteenth time, Parliament was a complete mayhem as the Joint Opposition MPs resorted to an unruly protest in the well of the House during the special sitting convened to discuss the Bond issue.

The UNP backbenchers should also get a fair share of the blame for the violent scenes unfolded in the House as they resorted to react to the antics of the JO and turned aggressive after suspension of the House. Hit and run games, exchange of fisticuffs and grappling of MPs became the order of the day, ending up in blood shell of MPs and torn up files and documents scattered all over the floor of the main chamber.

PM sets the record straight

It was obvious that the JO’s was a pre-planned demonstration equipped with posters carrying slogans on the bond saga. The non-availability of the Bond Commission report ignited an argument in the House, and this was sufficient reason for the JO to cry foul and make a din in the House. They stormed the well of the House when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was on his feet making a statement on the Bond issue.

The PM, who continued his speech amidst heavy disturbances of the JO, set the record straight by detailing on the swift actions taken by his Government to probe the incident in the most transparent manner and duly address the issue. At the same time, he turned tables on the JO highlighting the questionable bond transactions from 2008-2014.

“The majority of the bond issuances from 2008 to 2014 were issued as direct private placements. There was absolutely no transparency. During this period bonds to the tune of Rs. 5,147 billion had been issued and out of that Rs.4,702 billion had been issued as direct private placements. None of these transactions had received the approval of the Monetary Board,” the PM said challenging former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was the then Finance Minister, to come to Parliament and make a statement in that regard. The Premier wrapped up his speech leading a slogan Kauda hora-Mahinda hora (Who is the thief- Mahinda is the thief) with his UNP group making rather dramatic moves from his hands.

Fracas in Parliament

The true colours of our MPs came out no sooner the sittings of the House were suspended by the Speaker to have a Party Leaders’ Meeting after the PM’s speech. The JO members and the UNP backbenchers clashed head-on exchanging blows at each other. The posters, files and documents on the MPs benches were flung at each other.

UNP MP S M Marrikar and JO MP Gamini Lokuge confronted each other and exchanged heavy blows. JO MP Prasanna Ranatunga punched UNP MP Chaminda Wijesiri on the face and ran out of the chamber.

As the situation intensified, UNP MP Rohini Kaviratne was caught up in the melee. As she was dragged and pushed to and fro by the other MPs, MPs Hirunika Premachandra and Thisitha Wijemanne hurried to help her get out of the fight. The incident was surely a cause for concern for all female candidates in vying for Local Government bodies with the hope of making a debut in politics. No doubt, it was a serious blow to the Government’s efforts to encourage female representation in politics.

Fully engulfed in the fistfight, JO MP Prasanna Ranaweera was quite oblivious to the fact that his shirt buttons were ripped open. Many more bloody blows followed up and Ranjith de Soysa was injured during the brawl.

UNP MP Kavinda Jayawardena who was seen arguing with the JO MPs fainted and fell down in the middle of the well. He was taken to a chair and sprinkled water on the face by fellow UNP members. After a while, MP Jayawardena was taken out of the chamber for medical treatments.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who usually tends to leave the chamber when the House runs into disarray, remained in the chamber probably because of the intensity of the scuffle and tried to bring the situation to normalcy with Ministers Sagala Rathnayaka, Malik Samarawickrama and Vajira Abeywardena. However, the ministers prevented the PM from advancing towards the direction of the brawl. The PM was seen talking to UNP backbenchers as well as MP Dinesh Gunawardena to stop the fight.

Live videos by MPs

In a new turn of events, JO MP Kanchana Wijesekara uploaded live Facebook videos of their demonstration in Parliament. The Parliamentarians are not allowed to take photos inside the main chamber, but in recent times the MPs were increasingly seen using their high-tech mobile phones to take pictures of what was happening inside the chamber. Those photos were later circulated on the social media platforms.

However, this would be the first time that an MP went live on Facebook inside the main chamber while the sittings were in progress. The video footage showed how the JO MPs misbehaved in Parliament and how the JO and UNP back-benchers clashed with each other. The comments received to the video indicated the public anger towards the conduct of MPs in Parliament for which Rs 5 million public funds are said to be spent to conduct a day’s sitting.

Parliament awaits Bond report

The MPs who were desperately seeking for a copy of the Bond Commission report pressed the Speaker to summon the Secretary to the President to Parliament to inquire about it. JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardena and TNA MP M A Sumanthiran collectively called on the Speaker to summon the officials in possession of the Bond report to secure a copy and get it tabled in Parliament. They expressed the view that a copy of the report must have been sent to Parliament prior to sending it to the Central Bank and the Bribery Commission as the control of public finance lies with the legislature.

However, the Speaker maintained that the matter should not cause a rift between the Executive and the Legislature. The Prime Minister maintained that the report must be presented to the Cabinet first. Parliament awaits the Bond report from the President to schedule a debate on the much-hyped bond saga and the President has agreed to present it within a week.

As Opposition Leader R Sampanthan perfectly worded, the citizenry is keen on fast-paced investigations of all acts of corruption in the country, in the past and the present. He also urged the Government to get into the root causes of corruption and keep the public informed of the truth. 

 


 

There is 1 Comment

JO is totally responsible for this kind of mayhem in Parliament. We have seen this many times before. Our Hon. MR , as the former Finance Minister should have responded to what the Prime Minister said , and addressed the Parliament. But he hides all the time, taking cover under such ugly incidents.

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