Token strike, an absolute flop
That the token strike called by the joint Opposition on May 21 was an
absolute flop came to light when Leader of the House and Irrigation and
Water Management Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva made certain
references to the futile strike on the floor of the House. The Minister
in a special statement told the House that if ever more such strikes are
staged by the Opposition the Government could have better attendance in
the public sector.
The Minister supported his argument with statistical data. He said
that the attendance of Government employees had been well above the
average percentage on that particular day.
He alleged that the JVP which was behind the failed strike had
destroyed over 5,000 transformers during the black July. He recounted
how the JVP supported the J.R. Jayewardene Government in the 1980 July
strike during which thousands of public workers were sacked.
He recalled how UNP goons attacked public servants who took to the
streets demanding a pay hike and subsequently sent thousands of workers
home. Many of those July strikers who were deprived of their jobs
committed suicide while a large number of their families became
helpless. The UNP's talking of workers' rights is nothing but mere
shedding crocodile tears. A boycott can be
a powerful weapon for the workers to win their rights. The workforce
was not ready to use this weapon at the instance of a bankrupt
Opposition, he said.
Co-operative and Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando too said
that the strike action launched by the Opposition to topple the
Government was a flop as the people did not support it. Even the wife of
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who is a lecturer at Kelaniya
University did not keep away from work.
Instead of being on the road along with the strikers, Opposition
parliamentarians went to Parliament and asked questions, he said.
The Opposition Leader responding to the Minister said that the
university teachers were on strike the previous day. The adjournment
motion by TNA Parliamentary Group Leader A. Sampanthan on the recently
passed UN-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka turned into a hot
topic. The Government legislators countered the issues raised by
Sampanthan in his 90-minute speech.
They accused Sampanthan of catering to the interests of international
organisations. Ports and Aviation Projects Minister Rohitha
Abeygunawardene who opened the debate on behalf of the Government said,
the TNA always attempted to create problems for their survival.
When the LTTE violated the human rights of all people for over 30
years, Sampanthan who was in Parliament had turned a blind eye. Economic
Development deputy Minister Susantha Punchuinilame said Sampanthan is
held responsible for bringing the racist germ to Trincomalee. The TNA
does not utter a word on the freedom enjoyed by the Tamil community at
present, he said.Sampanthan attempted to portray that the resolution in
Geneva and his own initiative in proposing this motion was not intended
to cause no harm to the country or its people.
External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris who responded to
Sampanthan's statement said that he does not agree with Sampanthan and
what he is doing is intended to inflict any harm on the country and its
people. The Minister said that the whole thrust of Sampanthan's speech
is that the resolution passed in Geneva was good and proper.
It embodies the truth and it's something that should be accepted
without question. He wants us to believe that the resolution was founded
on an objective premise, he said. Prof. Peiris said that the MP omitted
to mention that this resolution was not proposed by the USA for the
first time, but it was originally brought up by Canada. The initiative
came from Canada. The Minister told the House that what took place in
Geneva had many unusual consequences.
The USA joined the UNHRC in 2009 and this was the first occasion at
which they proposed or even supported a country-specific resolution of
this kind. Small or big, all countries are equal before the UN. Sri
Lanka's relations with the UN are multifaceted, he said.
UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera who joined the adjournment debate said
despite the optimism of the Secretary General of the Commonwealth,
Kamlesh Sharma about holding CHOGM in Sri Lanka, there is a discrepancy
between the core values of the Commonwealth and the agenda of the
incoming Chairperson. He said that independent commissions should be set
up before the Northern Provincial Council elections are held.
This is essential if the GHOGM is to be held in November in Sri
Lanka, he said. Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardene condemned certain
references made by Samaraweera on the Government.
He said Mangala Samaraweera is having a "Rajapaksa phobia". Mangala
looks like a storm which comes and goes off. He said that he did not
wish to recall the past mud-slinging newspaper and poster campaigns
launched by Mangala or how he printed the first mud-slinging newspaper
against the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
"I am happy since a mud-slinging person such as Mangala left the SLFP
formed by an illustrious politician of the calibre of S.W.R.D.
Bandaranaike", he said.UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella raised three important
questions with Minister G.L. Peiris relating to the 13th Amendment,
Northern Provincial Council Elections and his recent telephone
conversation with Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Kurshid.
Minister Peiris said that there were three schools of thought within the
Government with regard to the 13th Amendment.
One view is that it should be abolished, the other that it should be
further strengthened and the third that it should be changed as it was
hastily drafted and its deficiencies should also be addressed.
The Minister said that the sort of debate within the Government over
the 13th Amendment is a sign of the vibrant democracy prevailing in the
country. In a coalition administration there could be a variety of views
expressed by its constituent parties.
The media reports on the telephone conversation he had with India's
External Affairs Minister were fictitious. It was a pleasant
conversation. The President has categorically said that elections will
be held in the North in September this year, Minister Peiris said.