Ask LTTE also to stop terrorism, Hemakumara
Amid heightened security and war clouds looming
large, Parliament met on Tuesday to extend the state of emergency
by another month.
Though once again the Tamil National Alliance MPs took centre stage
by their noisy walkout, this did little or nothing to hinder the
emergency debate which continued through the rest of the day. With
black bands wrapped round their necks and carrying a big white banner
calling for an end to "state terrorism against Tamils",
the TNA MPs walked down the Well of the House and left the Chamber
through the Opposition exit.
While on their way out, the MPs were accosted
by UNP MP Hemakumara Nanayakkara who told them that while calling
for an end to state terrorism the TNA MPs should also call for an
end to LTTE terrorism.
This bit of advice ensued in a heated exchange
of words between Mr. Nanayakkara and several TNA MPs but sadly though,
there were no other UNP MPs or for that matter any other opposition
member to speak in support of Mr. Nanayakkara who had to shout himself
hoarse to be heard over the din created by the group of angry TNA
It was the timely intervention of the Sergeant-at-Arms
Anil Samarasekera, which finally led to the TNA MPs leaving the
Chamber and thus prevented an ugly situation turning uglier.
Mr. Nanayakkara said it was a shame that
people who came to parliament on the votes of the Tamil community
had forgotten about them and were now carrying out an agenda thrust
upon them by the LTTE.
Before the walkout, TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah
made a statement on behalf of his party and blamed the government
for the escalation of violence
"The attack on the Army Headquarters
is a direct consequence of the state terror that has been unleashed
on Tamil civilians in the north and east," Mr. Senathirajah
charged adding that in recent weeks more than 40,000 civilians had
left the government-controlled areas and fled to un-cleared areas.
He warned that a complete breakdown of the
ceasefire agreement was now inevitable unless the government acted
more responsibly. With the TNA MPs out of the Chamber, this was
the first occasion in nearly two months that the emergency debate
was continued without any disturbance.
Kandy district UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella said
the government must fulfill the pledges it made at the Geneva talks
and act responsibly. "The LTTE is a terrorist organization
so it has no responsibility but the government cannot act in a similar
manner," he said.
Mr. Kiriella’s words were not taken
lying down by the JVP parliamentary group leader Wimal Weerawansa
who said the UNP MP was stating exactly what the TNA MPs said about
the government’s failure to act on the Geneva talks.
"The LTTE launched unprovoked attacks
on the security forces. Why isn’t he questioning that,"
Mr. Weerawansa queried? He said the LTTE was now attempting to take
Sri Lanka towards a Sudan-type solution – under which the
country would be divided into two with UN intervention.
He made specific reference to comments attributed
to Japan’s special envoy Yasushi Akashi who had reportedly
said that a UN peace keeping mission would be required for the country
if the violence continued.
Mr.Weerawansa said it was time for the people
to decide whether they were on the side of terrorism or on the side
which opposed terrorism and said the LTTE had to be defeated in
the only manner they wanted. Leader of the House and senior Minister
Nimal Siripala de Silva said there were plenty of reasons for the
government to continue with the emergency regulations even though
it preferred to administer the country without such laws.
"There have been many instances of the
LTTE launching unprovoked attacks on government troops, the most
serious being the attack on the Army Commander.
Hence the emergency is needed to deal with
such situations," he said.
But Mr. de Silva did not close the door for talks with the LTTE
and said the government was always willing to resume talks with
"We have accommodated every demand
made by the LTTE. Don’t take it as a sign of weakness. It
was all done to show our commitment to peace," he added, While
Mr. Nanayakkara pledged the UNP’s full support to the government
to crack down on terrorism, not all UNP MPs’ voiced the same
Strangely the Chief Opposition Whip Joseph
Michael Perera used his entire speech to talk of corruption in the
police, the Constitutional Council and economic woes of the country
while not bothering too much to talk on the escalation of violence
in the country.
He also announced his party would abstain
from voting on the emergency regulations and despite the UNP MPs
abstaining the emergency regulations were approved un-opposed.
The UNP had another pressing problem with
regard to the seating arrangement for its members in the Legislature.
After the JVP left the UPFA government and moved to the opposition
benches, several UNP MPs were forced to sit on the government side
due to insufficient seats on the opposition section of the House
to accommodate so many of MPs.
The problem of the seating arrangements
was discussed at length while some of the UNP MPs blamed the Speaker
for not using the powers vested in him to allocate seats for MPs.
The UNP said the JVP was playing a double
game by supporting the government while continuing to sit in opposition.
However the JVP insists that since the signing of the P-TOMS agreement
last year, the JVP had formally left the UPFA government and had
written to the Parliament Secretary General stating they are an
independent opposition group.
Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara said he has told
the Chief Opposition Whip to talk to other opposition MPs and come
to some agreement on the seating arrangements.
A proposal to allocate seats in the opposition
benches according to seniority has also failed as not a single TNA
MP wants to sit on the Government side and hence the stalemate continues.
On Thursday parliamentarians paid a tribute
to Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar during the vote of condolence
on his demise. Mr. Kadirgarmar came in for praise from all speakers,
particularly for his tireless efforts that led to Vesak being declared
an international holiday.
Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa
said Mr.Kadirgamar was loved by people of all communities and worked
to bring peace to the country.
“He scarified all his monetary gains for the sake of the country
and despite security concerns, he fulfilled all his obligations
as the Foreign Minister,” Mr.Yapa said.
JVP MP Sunil Hadunnetti said the JVP and
Mr.Kadirgamar had developed a close bond and understanding even
though they did not agree on each and every matter.
He said the late minister admired the dedication
and discipline of the party.
“He was a progressive politician and the void left by his
death cannot be easily filled,” the Minister added. JHU MP
Ellawala Medananda Thero said the late minister had helped portray
Sri Lanka in a positive light in the international community and
destroy the facade the LTTE was carrying out calling itself the
sole representatives of the Tamil people.