Ruckus in the House
The UPFA rebel MPs again displayed their unruly behaviour when they
attempted to stage a protest in the well of the House on Tuesday
(October 6) against the move to set up a hybrid court to prosecute war
heroes who eradicated terrorism. The 'drama' enacted by the MPs of the
National Freedom Front (NFF) and Mahajana Eaksath Peramuna (MEP), two
constituent partners of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA)
caused pandemonium in the House leading to sittings being suspended
NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa who was instrumental in enacting the
'drama' demanded to know as to why the government had not allocated time
to debate the recent UNHRC Resolution on Sri Lanka. Leader of the House
and Minister of Higher Education and Highways Lakshman Kiriella told the
MP that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed to permit a
debate at the party Leaders' meeting. Rejecting Weerawansa's claims,
Minister Kiriella said there was no mention of the hybrid court in the
Resolution. The Minister also inquired from former President and
Kurunegala District UPFA MP Mahinda Rajapaksa seated in the front row of
the Opposition benches, whether there was any reference to a hybrid
court in the Resolution. The former President merely smiled at Kiriella
and waved down his request.
Following this, UPFA MPs Jayantha Samaraweera, Sisira Jayakody,
Weerakumara Dissanayake, Niroshan Premaratne and Piyal Nishantha enacted
the first episode of their 'drama' putting up a huge banner which said,
"Reject the hybrid court that targets war heroes" and displayed it from
the Opposition benches.
Former President Rajapaksa, MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardena and DLF
Leader Vasudeva Nanayakkara witnessed the protest from their chairs. MP
Weerawansa was seen capturing visuals of the protest without joining in
the protest. A few minutes later, the MPs holding the banner aloft
marched to the well of the House. Except for SLFP MP Lohan Ratwatte, no
other SLFP MP joined the protest perhaps due to their fear of
disciplinary action being taken against them by the party leadership.
Minister Rauff Hakeem found fault with MP Weerawansa for capturing
the visuals of the protest seeking cheap publicity. He recalled as to
how MP Weerawansa staged a fast-unto-death protest opposite the UN
office in Colombo when an issue similar to this cropped up.
MP Weerawansa responded that he did not meet Velupillai Prabhakaran
and took money from him. He alleged that those who met Prabahakaran and
took money from him may be perturbed when they protest against a hybrid
UNP MPs Palitha Thevarapperuma and Nalin Bandara walked towards the
protesting opposition MPs and tried to snatch the banner. As this led to
a tense situation in the well of the House, Deputy Speaker Thilanga
Sumathipala suspended sittings for ten minutes.
The UPFA rebel MPs walked out of the Chamber on Thursday protesting
against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe using unparliamentary
language. They told the House that they would leave the chamber to
protest against the Premier using words such as Pimpiya and Ahikuntikaya
(gypsies) to refer to Opposition members. Before leaving the Chamber,
the UPFA MPs staged a protest following an argument that disrupted
sittings for more than 30 minutes on the very first day parliamentary
proceedings were telecast live on Rupavahini.
When the House reconvened, MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardena sought
permission to make a statement under Section 17 of the Standing Orders
as a matter of national importance.
However, the Speaker told the MP that he needed time to study the
issue before permitting to move it. This led to a heated argument
between the government and the opposition members who shouted at the
Prime Minister. As the situation turned hectic with MPs of both sides
shouting at each other, Speaker Jayasuriya suspended sittings for ten
The Party Leaders of the UPFA rainbow coalition called upon the
Speaker to recognize them as separate political parties in Parliament
and resolve this issue in keeping with the traditions of Parliament. MP
Weerawansa said that they had been deprived of their right to
participate in debates and party leaders' meetings. He requested the
Speaker to give his opinion on this issue.
Minister Kiriella who rejected Weerawansa's claim pointed out, that
the Parliament recognizes only six parties and the Speaker too had
decided to recognise only six parties.
The Minister told the MP that they do not recognize parties within
alliances and alleged that these MPs came to Parliament thanks to the
In the backdrop of the campaign calling for the restoration of the
death penalty, UNP Colombo District parliamentarian Hirunika
Premachandra moved an adjournment motion calling for capital punishment
for those convicted for child abuse and murder. Presenting the motion MP
Premachandra stressed the need to protect innocent children and said
that there is provision for an accused to seek justice even from the
apex Court to prove his innocence.
However, most of the government and the opposition members who joined
the debate stressed the importance of taking immediate measures to
arrest the rising wave of crime rather than reintroducing the death
penalty. Minister of Housing and Construction Sajith Premadasa told the
House that he was in favour of the death penalty, and added that if one
says that the death penalty could be used to prevent crime, it is not
The Minister said before enforcing capital punishment, the judiciary
and Police should be depoliticised. Deputy Minister of Power and
Renewable Energy Ajith P. Perera said the rate of crime has declined in
developed countries not because of capital punishment.
It is because justice and moral values are upheld. It is incumbent on
the government to minimise the rate of crime in the country. Capital
punishment is articulated only by the uninitiated, he said.