Much ado about MRís security
Joint Opposition members enacted a Ďdramaí again in Parliament on
Wednesday protesting against a government decision to reduce security
provided for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Joint Opposition
members who made a hue an cry in the Chamber accused the government of
putting the former Presidentís life in jeopardy following the recent
detection of a suicide jacket, explosives and ammunition in
Chavakachcheri. Amidst the uproar created by the Joint Opposition
members, Leader of the House and Higher Education and Highways Minister
Lakshman Kiriella told the House that the government had provided
adequate security to the former President as they too want to guarantee
The Joint Opposition members launched their protest following the
special statement by UPFA Colombo District MP Dinesh Gunawardena who
alleged that the government had decided to remove the Army Commandos
deployed for the former Presidentís security.
Gunawardena in his hard-hitting remarks demanded to know whether the
government would change its latest decision and ensure the safety of the
former President. The MP attempted to emphasise that in the context in
which a suicide jacket, explosives and ammunition had been recovered in
Chavakachcheri, it is extremely dangerous to remove the
specially-trained Commando unit from the former Presidentís security
division. MP Gunawardena along with other Joint Opposition members
demanded to reverse the government decision and restore the security of
the former President.
Minister Kiriella told the House that former President Rajapaksa has
already been provided 206 security officers with 103 Army personnel and
103 police officers as part of his security contingent and added that it
is not the government that is putting the former Presidentís life in
danger, but the Joint Opposition members by revealing the details of his
security arrangements to the public.
He also told the vociferous Joint Opposition members as to how the
former UPFA government completely removed the security detail of the
then Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka soon after the 2010
Presidential election by making him an easy target to his enemies.
Breach of security
Minister Sarath Fonseka endorsing the point raised by Minister
Kiriella drew the attention of the House to the fact that former
President Rajapaksa had obtained a Supreme Court order to reduce the
security detail of an ex-President and said that he was the only person
in the Security Council who objected to the move. Minister Fonseka said
the revelations in Parliament regarding the security of the former
President Rajapaksa were a mistake and a breach of security.
Chaos broke out in Parliament on Wednesday when government
legislators failed to state the exact number of Ministers, State
Ministers and Deputy Ministers within its ranks. Raising a Point of
Order, UPFA Matara District MP Chandrasiri Gajadeera demanded to know
the actual number of Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the government.
As government legislators made various statements without revealing the
actual number, the Joint Opposition members rose to their feet shouting
Justice and Buddasasana Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe assured
the House that he would give the exact number of Ministers, State
Ministers and Deputy Ministers on Thursday.
He said in lighter vein that this was not a matter to be raised in
the House. The answer was so simple if the number of members of the
Joint Opposition who joined the government is added to the numbers in
the Cabinet, he said.
Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunatilake
told Parliament the following day that there are altogether 92 Cabinet,
State and Deputy Ministers and invited the Opposition MPs to join the
Government and be rewarded with ministerial portfolios as a national
government was in power.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya responding to a request by NFF Leader Wimal
Weerawansa to recognise the NFF as an Independent Group in Parliament
told him to take up the matter with the Secretary General of Parliament
if the NFF MPs wanted to act as an Independent Group. If the NFF leader
succeeds in his efforts arrangements could be made to provide all
privileges they are entitled to as a separate group in Parliament, the
MP Weerawansa said the history of Sri Lankaís Parliament had enough
precedents where breakaway groups acted as Independent in Parliament.
Citing an example Weerawansa said when the JVP left the Peopleís
Alliance government and demanded to recognise them as an Independent
Group, their request was acceded to.
The Constitutional Assembly met for the first time on Tuesday and
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected unanimously as the
Chairman of the Steering Committee which is charged with the task of
preparing a new constitution for the country.
When the Constitutional Assembly met Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Chief
Government Whip, Minister Gayantha Karunatilake proposed the name of
Premier Wickremesinghe to the post of Chairman of the Steering Committee
of the Assembly and twenty MPs as members of the Steering Committee.
Leader of the House, Minister Lakshman Kiriella proposed the names of
seven MPs for the posts of Deputy Chairmen and was seconded by TNA
parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.
Members of the Joint Opposition on Tuesday handed over a
No-Confidence Motion against Megapolis and Western Province Development
Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.
The motion was signed by 42 Joint Opposition MPs. Minister Ranawaka
had abused his powers by influencing a police investigation on a traffic
accident in Rajagiriya where two youth were injured and thereby breached
the confidence reposed in him, they alleged.