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Government Gazette

WEEK IN PARLIAMENT

Govt explains need for Emergency

The extension of the Emergency turned into a controversial topic in Parliament on Thursday following an adjournment motion moved by DNA MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake demanding from the Government to repeal the State of Emergency. The Government explained the rationale for extending the Emergency in the post conflict scenario while the Opposition queried why the country cannot be brought under the normal law.

Though MP Dissanayake moved the motion with the purpose of getting more Opposition support, except for DNA MP Vijitha Herath who seconded the motion, no other DNA MPs were seen in the Chamber. Another significant feature was the absence of all UNP frontliners like Sajith Premadasa, Ravi Karunanayake, Karu Jayasuriya and Dayasiri Jayasekera. Except for UNP MP Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, all other UNP MPs who had asked questions for oral answers were also not in the Chamber during the oral question session on Thursday. UPFA MP A.H.M. Azwer also drew the attention of the Speaker to the absence of Opposition MPs. Dissanayake in his speech said that though 20 months have passed after the conclusion of the war against terrorism, the Government has not been able to bring the country under the normal law.

The MP queried the purpose of extending the Emergency. The MP in his remarks said the Government extends the Emergency in a bid to suppress the Opposition and journalists who criticise the Government. UPFA MP A.H.M.Azwer who interrupted the MP's speech, asked him why he doesn't speak about journalists who were killed during the JVP terror period.Leader of the House and Irrigation and Water Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva who responded to the MP's speech explained the need for extending the Emergency. The Minister briefed the House on the information received by intelligence sources about the attempts made by pro-LTTE elements and its diaspora to re-group in foreign soil. The Minister stressed that this was one of the major reasons for extending the Emergency, under which such persons can be immediately arrested.

Minister de Silva categorically stated that only a few Emergency regulations were in existence now. The Minister citing an example said there is liberty to utter any diabolical lie about the President or the Government. The Minister made the point that whatever rumours are spread by the Opposition, the Government cannot take action as it has repealed that clause. The Minister was critical about the attempts made by certain forces to disturb the political equilibrium. He said everyone should extend their support to the Government to preserve the territorial integrity of the country. Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne described MP Dissanayake's speech as a political speech targeting the forthcoming Local Government polls. He said even DNA MPs did not attend Parliament to support Anura Dissanayake's motion.

The Prime Minister noted that the Emergency has not made an adverse effect on the country's normal law. While the Premier was making his speech, DNA MPs Anura Dissanayake and Vijitha Herath were seen leaving the chamber. The Premier told the House in lighter vein that the two MPs left the Chamber as Minister Wimal Weerawansa came to the Chamber to respond to MP Dissanayake's speech.

The Prime Minister was critical about some remarks made by MP Dissanayake about Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, told the House that the manner in which the MP spoke clearly showed his ungratefulness. He criticised the attempts made by the DNA MP to speak with hatred about a top official such as the Defence Secretary.

The Prime Minister apologised to the Defence Secretary on behalf of DNA MP Anura Dissanayake who brought up his name in his absence during the adjournment debate.

The Prime Minister who showed the Government's utmost commitment for the nation, said there is an urgent need for Emergency regulations to facilitate the ongoing investigations against LTTE cadres who are still at large and in custody. He assured the House that the Government would do away with Emergency regulations when they are no longer needed. UNP MP Jayalath Jayawardene who joined the debate asked the Government as to why the Local Government election cannot be held on a single day by repealing the Emergency. The MP in his speech queried the reason for postponing the Local polls in the Northern province without giving democratic rights to the people.TNA MP A.Adaikkalanathan in his speech pointed how the Emergency has seriously affected the Tamil people. According to TNA MP, though the people have been resettled, the Government has not been able to establish civil administration in these areas. Senior Minister of Human Resources D.E.W. Gunasekera criticised certain remarks made by DNA MP Anura Dissanayake. The Minister explained to the House details on the origin of Emergency Regulations owing to the incidents that took place during Black July in 1983. Minister Gunasekera informed the House that these Emergency regulations have prevailed under six leaders who ruled the country.

Minister Gunasekera recalling his unpleasant memories gained in 1983 told the House that he was one of the first people imprisoned in 1983 due to the Emergency. In a hard hitting speech, he explained how he was treated in prison without permitting even a single politician of his party to come to prison to see him. He said that even during the war against terrorists, the present Government used the Emergency in a minimal manner. He also stressed the point that if there are any Government officials who misuse the Emergency, the Opposition or anybody can go to Courts against them.

According to the Minister it was the JVP which clamoured for the extension of the Emergency. But they have suddenly developed an affection for the Tamil community. The stance maintained by the JVP in the past and today are completely different. But the Government is firmly maintaining the same stance.Once again the prices of essential commodities turned into a key topic in the House on Wednesday when Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Ranjith Siyambalapitiya presented an order made under the Excise (Special Provisions) act.

The Minister in his speech criticised attempts made by the Opposition to highlight the increase the prices of goods as a phenomenon restricted only to Sri Lanka. The Minister alleged that the prices of goods had become the main slogan of the Opposition due to their political bankruptcy.Minister Siyambalapitiya told the House that though the Government has entered into agreements with various international monetary organisations, it has never agreed to curtail the rights of public servants or reclaim the paddy lands as pledged by the former UNP Government. The policy of the Government is to safeguard all the relief measures given to the people when dealing with these organisations. He said even the IMF has commended the economic progress achieved by Sri Lanka.Certain comments made by UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella on the Government's "Mathata Thitha" program led to heated arguments between Deputy Finance and Planning Minister Geethanjana Gunawardene and MP Kiriella.

 

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