in yet another lawless scene: Uncle sir, correct yourself
By Santhush Fernando
Who did what during parliament's terrible Tuesday is being widely
and differently analysed or interpreted - but perhaps the most devastating
indictment came from a Year-Five girl of a Galle school. Responding
with justifiable indignation to a comparison on a TV talk show where
the outrageous behaviour of some MPs was described as being like
that of Grade Five children.
child fired out an immediate fax message to State-run ITN saying
that comparing the gangland political uncles with Year-Five children
like her was an insult and attack on the sincerity and honesty of
in her own innocent way, the importance of being law-abiding citizens,
the child said Year-Five students always obeyed the teacher and
would never run away with items belonging to the school.
the small girl's innocent but soul-searching remarks will wake up
our legislators is doubtful as rumpus in the well of the august
assembly has more or less become commonplace. Tuesday's shame began
with a dispute over the swearing-in of a new JHU MP.
row turned into a brawl when some government MPs tried to prevent
Ven. Akmeemana Dayarathana Thera from taking oaths as a parliamentarian
because they believed it was against a court order. Speaker W.J.M.
Lokubandara called out the name of the Thera who was to fill the
vacancy created by the controversial resignation of Ven. Kathaluwe
on his feet was Chief Government Whip Jeyeraj Fernandopulle. Raising
a point-of-order, he said there was a District Court order that
prevented Ven. Dayarathana Thera from taking oaths as an MP and
a lawyer had sent a copy of the order to parliament.
thera has no legitimate right to appear here today," the Govt.
Chief Whip said. The Speaker's response was that he had received
no such order either from the court or from any lawyer.
making inquiries from the Parliamentary Secretary General as to
whether any letter to this effect had reached parliament, the Speaker
said he would go ahead with the swearing-in and promised to take
necessary action when such a letter was received.
Speaker's remarks added more fuel to what was about to happen. Backing
the Speaker's stance was Chief Opposition Whip Mahinda Samarasinghe
who wanted the swearing-in to go ahead. "No one can 'order'
the Speaker – a son of Uva," he said, prompting Dilan
Perera, the government MP from Uva to join the fray.
heat was building up, JVP Parliamentary group leader Wimal Weerawansa
hit back at the JHU monks - his bete noir - and quoting from Buddhist
scriptures said, "Bikkhus, Obey the Law of the Land" .
Speaker, sticking to the letter of the standing orders, directed
Sergeant-At-Arms Wijaya Palliyaguruge to escort Ven. Dayarathana
Thera towards the dais.
this stage, all hell broke loose. Protesting government MPs stormed
the well. Some even sat down, blocking the isle. Undeterred, Ven.
Dayarthana Thera continued his march towards the dais. He was pulled,
pushed and manhandled by some MPs, while Serjeant-at-Arms Palliyaguruge
and his deputies Anil Samarasinghe and Naren Fernando tried to protect
MPs and JHU colleagues also rushed to protect the monk, sparking
off, first, a war of words with a good measure of abusive language
being thrown in and then an exchange of blows.
MPs, Ven. Kolonnawe Sumangala, Ven. Athureliye Rathana and Ven.
Uduwe Dhammmaloka Thera rushed to protect the new MP-to-be who was
being jostled around, but they themselves had to take in some of
the blows during this episode that lasted for more than 20 minutes.
Deputy Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage was seen running off with
the Mace through an exit at the Government side of the House. Running
after him was Deputy Serjeant-At-Arms Naren Fernando who wanted
to rescue the Mace. The JVP’s Wimal Weerawansa and some MPs
were seen using their hi-tech camera phones to record the brawl.
among all this pandemonium, Opposition MPs, T. Maheswaran and Sagala
Ratnayake, managed to escort Ven. Dayarathana Thera along the outer
alley of the Opposition side, to the Speaker's Dais. The Government
MPs then thronged the dais.
several unsuccessful bids to get the Mace back, the Speaker decided
to administer the oath. A TNA MP was heard to say: there is no law
in the country. Forget the Mace. Go on with the proceedings."
being sworn in, the monk was escorted to his seat in parliament
by opposition MPs. The swearing-in of two UPFA nominees –
Nirmala Kothalawala and H.R. Mithrapala – did not take place
because of the chaos. The Government MPs said the swearing-in was
invalid because there was no mace. Dismissing this argument, the
opposition said the Mace was only symbolic and cited several instances
irony of the situation is that while Erskine May was being resurrected,
let alone Standing Orders, the basic decorum associated with the
supreme assembly which exercises the legislative power of the people,
had been forgotten.
efforts to restore order failed, the Speaker suspended sittings
for fifteen minutes and called for a party Leaders' meeting. About
four hours after the Mace went missing, it was returned to the Sergeant-at
-Arms. Soon after the party leaders' meeting, the session began
again. House Leader Maithripala Sirisena then proposed that the
House be adjourned until July 20. All agreed.
had met for the third time after the April 2 general elections,
but it is yet to take up any legislative matters.