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Government Gazette

No confidence motion, a damp squib

Another futile attempt by the main Opposition UNP to move a no-confidence motion against Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Minister Dilan Perera was defeated by the Government on Tuesday with an overwhelming majority of 104 votes. That the UNP-sponsored motion secured only 32 votes and it's more eloquent speakers kept mum during the debate proved the fact that the no-confidence motion was ill-timed. It was a notable feature that the TNA members were absent at the time of voting.

The motion presented by UNP parliamentarian Ajith P. Perera signed by 14 UNP MPs had alleged Minister Dilan Perera had failed to save the life of Rizana Nafeek who was beheaded in January this year by the Saudi authorities in connection with the death of an infant under her care. Although MP Ajith Perera and MP Ranjan Ramanayake attempted to make a big hue and cry over the issue, the more eloquent speakers of the Opposition remained in their seats without participating in the debate. Government legislators who joined the debate said that the main Opposition UNP had presented this motion to cover up its political bankruptcy while there were other more vital issues if they so desired to take up with the Government. All eloquent speakers in the Government benches and the Party Leaders who joined the debate commended the political career of Minister Perera and expressed their fullest confidence in him. A large number of Minister Dilan Perera's supporters launched an agitation campaign near the Parliament roundabout to express their solidarity to the Minister and protested against the UNP-sponsored no-confidence motion.

UNP MP Ajith Perera who moved the no-confidence motion said that an Indonesian housemaid alleged to have killed an infant was released after court proceedings even though she had confessed to killing the infant by poisoning. Indonesia even appointed a special task force to address this incident, he said. The MP who explained the reason for bringing in this motion told the House that the purpose of it was to prevent a two million Sri Lankan migrant work force falling victim to such a fate in future. He said that Minister Dilan Perera was not fully responsible for this tragedy. He however, said a no-confidence motion had to be moved against the incumbent Minister on this issue.

A tense situation arose on the floor of the House when UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake began his speech. MP Ramanayake in his speech dealt a severe blow to the Government and the Minister on Rizana's death. The MP also attempted to criticise the Minister on personal grounds, while the Government members continuously interrupted him.

Petroleum Industries Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa who was on his feet accused MP Ramanayake of descending to a regrettably low level in his speech. Later a few Government members who were really piqued over his speech asked him not to sling mud at Minister Dilan Perera on personal grounds. The MP in his speech said that Rizana had to face the tragedy due to the inefficiency on the part of the Government and its diplomatic missions. He said when most countries in the region had banned housemaids to Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka is the only country which continues to send housemaids to Saudi Arabia.

Some of the Government legislators compared this no-confidence motion to an attempt to fulfill political ambitions despite the fact that it is based on unfounded grounds. The UNP's no-confidence motion was severely criticised by Leader of the House and Irrigation and Water Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. The Minister said the motion is clear evidence of the division within the UNP. The Government did the optimum to save Rizana's life. At present the UNP is not in position to even draft a motion. This is just another futile attempt made by them to sling mud at Government. Neither Minister Dilan Perera nor External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris is responsible for faking a passport for Rizana and sending her to Saudi Arabia, the minister said. The Opposition attempts to put everything into Government account and has presented this motion based on such baseless grounds. It is absurd to bring this kind of no-confidence motions against Ministers. The Opposition should not attempt to gain political mileage from every issue. The Opposition is shedding crocodile tears on Rizana, he further said.

Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa said that he could bear testimony to the spotless political career of Minister Dilan Perera. He said Minister Perera is a politician who has not swindled even a single cent of public funds during his 25 years of political life. He said in fact the House should pass a motion of full confidence in a politician such as Dilan Perera. The Minister commended Minister Perera's candid efforts to give due recognition to the Sri Lankan expatriates by calling them Rata viruvo. The Opposition is jealous of the Rata Viruvo who bring in highest foreign exchange earnings to the country. The Minister told the House that the Opposition should withdraw this motion even at this later stage.

Senior Minister D.E.W. Gunasekera said that the UNP's no-confidence motion is an insult to the political culture and its morality. The Opposition should not conduct itself in this manner. He expressed his regret over this kind of no-confidence motions against honest and efficient Ministers such as Dilan Perera. Construction and Engineering Services Minister Wimal Weerawansa told the House that this no-confidence motion by the UNP was a mere joke. He told MP Ajith Perera who moved the motion to consult his party seniors and learn on what grounds a no-confidence motion should be moved. He told the House in lighter vein that this no-confidence drama could be named Harima Badu Dekak. Minister Weerawansa in concluding his speech amidst the cheers of his colleagues called upon the UNP to move a similar no-confidence motion against him if they so wished.

Minister Dilan Perera in his reply mingled with emotion spoke of his spotless political career of twenty five years. Both the Government and the Opposition parliamentarians were seemed to be impressed by his speech. The Minister said that it is no surprise that the UNP has brought this no-confidence motion against him when it is still fresh in his memory how the UNP attempted to destroy him in 1988.

He asked the Opposition whether it did not wish to see anyone honestly engaging in politics. He asked the Opposition not to demoralize politicians who had sacrificed their political career for the sake of public well-being. The Minister who rejecting the allegations against him on Rizana's death tabled a set of documents to prove the confidence placed in him by Rizana's parents.

The issue of electricity tariff hike surfaced due to an adjournment motion moved by UNP MP Tissa Attanayake. The MP said that the Government should withdraw the proposal to increase the electricity tariff as it is unbearable to the people. Attanakaye said that the entire Cabinet is collectively responsible for the electricity hike. He said even some of the Government Ministers had spoken against this move. Public Administration and Home Affairs Minister W.D.J. Seneviratne said that the Opposition has turned electricity tariff hike into a sort of political movement against the Government. Power and Energy Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi told the House that the Opposition wanted to capitalise on the electricity tariff hike for political mileage.

 

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