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Safeguard decorum of House -Deputy Speaker

Despite ample time given by the Government, the UNP at the eleventh hour avoided the opportunity of moving their adjournment motion on the electricity tariff hike and the Norochcholai power plant and ended up in a mere protest _ a sham. Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody had to adjourn the House abruptly on Friday due to the UNP's protest.

The Government had allocated a full day for the adjournment motion to be moved by UNP Parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake. After the one hour question time ended, Leader of the House and Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva moved the motion to adjourn the House until February 18. Later Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody who was in the chair called upon MP Karunanayake to move his adjournment motion.

At this point, the UNP Members got up and took out the placards that they had concealed inside their tables and displayed them.

Some UNP members advanced towards the Chair shouting slogans while the Deputy Speaker Weerakkody warned them to safeguard the dignity and decorum of the House. However, the UNP MPs who moved into the well of the House with placards shouting in front of the Chair and demanded to bring down the prices of essential commodities.

While the UNP members created a din, the TNA MPs and JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake were remained in their seats witnessing the agitation. Amidst the uproar created by the UNP MPs, Deputy Speaker Weerakkody at several times called upon MP Karunanayake to move his motion. Instead Karunanayake attempted to raise a point of order. Later he was seen taking part in the protest. Thereafter, Deputy Speaker announced that the House would meet again on February 18 and left the Chair.

Even after the House was adjourned by the Deputy Speaker, the UNP members remained in the Chamber displaying placards and shouting slogans. The UNP Members who went before the Chair were seen getting the pictures of the protest using their mobile phones. UNP Parliamentarians Rosy Senanayake, Chandrani Bandara, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Harin Fernando, Ravi Karunanayake, Sajith Premadasa and several of their colleagues gathered in front of the table of the Secretary General and displayed the placards while UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera was seen capturing stills of the protest with his high-tech mobile phone. This unparliamentary behaviour by the UNP members was a clear reflection on their present plight. Although the UNP attempted to move the adjournment motion with a big hue and cry eventually they had to give it up as they didn't have any constructive arguments on the issues in the motion.

The attempt by the UNP on the pretext of Standing Orders to gain political mileage on the recent price hike of powdered milk turned futile due to the reply by Co-operatives and Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando to Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga's Special statement. Amaratunga in his statement demanded to know whether the Government would remove taxes on milk powder to ease the burden of the high cost of living. He said the prices of packets of 400 gram and one kilogram milk powder were increased by Rs 61 and Rs 152 from February 1. As a result, the price of a 400 gram milk powder packet has gone up to Rs 366 and the price of a one kilogram of milk powder packet has been increased to Rs 962. Minister Fernando in his reply told the House that through the government permitted the price increase of milk powder, it did not increase taxes on them.

Responding to a series of queries raised by Chief Opposition Whip the Minister told the House that the Government's intention was not to bring down the prices of powdered milk but to promote liquid milk. He said as the President clearly envisioned in 'Mahinda Chintana', the Government policy is to protect the interests of the indigenous dairy farmers and the industry. The Government hopes to make the country self-sufficient in liquid milk by 2020. Minister Fernando said the UNP had no right to talk about taxes. The Government has not increased taxes, but only permitted the price increase of powdered milk. The Opposition is pressurizing to bringing down the taxes on imported milk powder so that local dairy farmers would be affected. Then the UNP may think that it would be able to mobilize them against the government. The Minister categorically stated the incumbent Government does not bring down the prices of consumer goods by targeting elections.

The internal crisis within the UNP took a new turn on Wednesday as UNP Kalutara District MP Palitha Thevarapperuma had walked towards the head table issuing threats when the UNP Parliamentary Group meeting was held at Parliamentary complex under the patronage of party's National Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe. At the commencement of the meeting, MP Thevarapperuma had lashed out at party leadership for the recent electoral defeats and found fault with party seniors on the way they had selected a candidate from Matugama area to contest forthcoming Western Provincial Council Elections sources said.

The MP had blamed the seniors for not consulting him before selecting a candidate from his seat. The MP had turned aggressive rushing towards the head table threatening to smash them all. The party's group meeting ended abruptly and Thevarapperuma continued to shout at the party seniors at the Parliament lobby as well. As the MP advanced towards Wickremesinghe, UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake had shielded his leader. Ramanayake after much efforts had managed to bring the situation under control. Wickremesinghe had instructed party General Secretary Tissa Attanayake to hold a disciplinary inquiry against Thevarapperuma's misconduct.

The Government's initiative to face the challenges at the upcoming UNHRC sessions and the international arena came to light due to the detailed answer by External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L.Peiris to an oral question raised by UNP Parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake on Wednesday. Raising a supplementary question the MP asked the minister as to why the Government does not take legal action against Channel 4 for defaming Sri Lanka. Karunanayake said if the Government cannot take legal action, the Opposition is ready to fulfill that responsibility on behalf of the country. Prof. Peiris told the MP that instead of going to courts, there are so many precautionary measures that can be taken to deal with the situation. He said this should be treated as a national issue, and not a political issue. The Minister said MP Ravi Karunanayake does not need to go to court as the Government is fully committed to fulfill its responsibilities. The Minister asked were there no other measures to be taken on this issue instead of going to courts? It is a decision to be taken solely by the Government.

Prof. Peiris said that some Western countries have attempted to use human rights as a political tool. He said attempts are also being made by certain international forces to realise their goals using different strategies as they could not do so by military means. Citing the recent incident faced by India's Deputy Consul General in New York, Devyani Khobragode, the Minister pointed out the double standards adopted by the Western world.

He said when the photographs of the incident faced by the Indian diplomat was released, the US Government categorically rejected them. However, when the Channel 4 released its concocted video on the alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, they meekly accepted it.

 

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