Mini battle on
day of condolences
The continuing tug of-war between the executive and
the legislature was reflected in Parliament with the President once
again failing to name an appointee to the post of Secretary General
of Parliament, although the government had highlighted the administrative
problems in the House caused by the delay.
Office instead announced that the Deputy Secretary General Priyanee
Wijesekera had been appointed as the acting SG after her previous
acting appointment of two weeks had lapsed few days earlier.
Michael Perera too was out of the country along with other legislators
including Anura Bandaranaike, attending a conference in Namibia.
In the absence of a Deputy Speaker, it fell on the Deputy Chairman
of Committees Siri Andrahennadi to conduct proceedings. It's close
to a year since the election of this Parliament but the post of
the Deputy speaker has remained vacant, with the two sides unable
to agree on who should take up the post.
acting Speaker may have been counting on two days of smooth sailing
with only two non controversial amendment bills, the Rent and National
Housing Development Authority (Amendment) Bills set for debate on
Tuesday and the next sitting day allotted for votes of Condolences,
the opposition stirred up enough noise in the Chambers to have Mr.Andrahennadi
trying hard to keep the situation under control.
began when parliamentarian Dinesh Gunawardene said he was asking
for an adjournment debate on a matter of public importance-the situation
in the north and east and said he had given notice of it to the
acting Speaker. Twenty members on the opposition side too rose in
their places to support him as required by standing orders if such
a motion is to be taken up for debate.
first said no to the debate on the confidence vote they wanted to
move themselves as well as the no -confidence motion against Defence
Minister Tilak Marapana. We are now asking for an adjournment debate
on the increasingly dangerous situation developing in the north,"
Government Whip Mahinda Samarasinghe said the motion had been made
available only a day earlier and the government could not allow
it as they needed time to prepare the speakers and also be ready
comprehensively for the debate.
prepared to give not one day but two or three days, if we are given
proper notice. This question is being put purely to play to the
gallery," Mr. Samarasinghe charged.
didn't take the criticism lightly and JVP's Wimal weerawansa accused
the government of attempting to prevent any kind of debate on the
north-east situation until the so-called talks in Thailand are concluded.
ruled that a debate cannot be allowed, the arguments dragged on
for more than half an hour. There was still a lot of shouting going
on when Parliamentary Affairs Minister A.H.M. Azwar moved the vote
of condolence on the death of Ashley Soundranayagam - the Batticaloa
district MP who was killed in November 2000 - less than two months
after he was elected to Parliament.
the situation in the country, what the opposition did get was a
chance to talk on a motion moved by Opposition leader Mahinda Rajapakse
condemning the terrorist attacks on America a year ago and a resolution
to support the global war on terrorism.
PA and UNF members
spoke on the scourge of terrorism gripping the world and the need
to put an end to it but cautioned on the need to distinguish between
liberation struggles and terrorism.
It was the lone
JVP speaker Anura Dissanayake who said the USA was reaping what
it had sowed by causing dissension in many countries in the world
over the years and the attacks were a result of that. He also went
onto attack the UNF government accusing it's members of slaying
more than 60,000 of their comrades in the period of 1988-90.
these government members engaged in getting sadistic pleasures by
killing innocent people," he charged amidst shouts by UNF legislators
that it was the JVP that unleashed death and mayhem in the country
and not the other way.
K.N.Choksy too took time in the House to answer the allegations
again by Dinesh Gunawardene that he had disregarded the suggestions
made by the Supreme Court to make amendments to the VAT Bill before
it was passed in Parliament.
said that the SC had said that " no question of unconstitutionality
was involved here" and the amendment suggested by the Supreme
Court was related merely to a matter of policy and not of constitutionality.
He said the suggested amendment was made before the Bill was passed.