Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 24 July 2016





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Govt stands up to all and sundry

The issue of national reconciliation turned into a hot topic on the floor of the House following an exchange of words between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Colombo District UPFA MP Wimal Weerawansa which led the Premier to inquire from MP Weerawansa whether he is in favour or against promoting national reconciliation. Responding to a query by Weerawansa, the Premier told the House he was not aware of any institution by the name of Task Force for National Reconciliation headed by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga as alleged by the MP.

The Premier told MP Weerawansa if he so desires, to call former President Kumaratunga who was his old friend, and verify the truth.

The Premier also queried whether he could not remember that he joined hands with her to form a Government sometime back. Weerawansa, dissatisfied with the Premier’s response, said, he raised a question and desired a responsible answer and not enact a comedy. When the Premier reminded Weerawansa that Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was his one time friend, the MP retorted that their friendship has since expired, but that the Premier has become her new friend. The Premier told the MP in lighter vein that he and Chandrika were friends since childhood, and both attended the same dancing class. Are you against reconciliation, the Premier demanded from MP Weerawansa. This led to an argument between the two. The MP said, there was no point in the Prime Minister asking questions from him when it is the legitimate role of the Opposition MPs to ask questions from the Prime Minister and the Government Ministers.

Cold feet

It was former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who agreed with Ban Ki-moon to set up a war crimes tribunal and MP Weerawansa too supported him. All including MP Weerawansa opposed it when they got cold feet that they too would be hauled before the court, and that is the true story, the Prime Minister said. However, such matters ended with the advent of Maithripala Sirisena’s presidency. MP Weerawansa said it was former President Rajapaksa who brought about reconciliation by ending the war and his Government never agreed with anyone to set up a war crimes tribunal.

The MP said, today one could very well enjoy the dividends of the so-called peace and reconciliation at the turn of events in the country. He pointed out that Sinhala students in the Jaffna University are being assaulted and chased away. The angry MP told the Premier that there is no point asking questions from a Prime Minister such as him.

JVP Kalutara District Parliamentarian Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa called upon the Government to set up a special ward at the National Hospital and name it ‘FCID ward’ to accommodate Opposition members being taken into custody over various allegations. He told the House the FCID under Minister Sagala Rathnayake is arresting opposition politicians, producing them before courts, putting them behind bars and finally transfering them to the Colombo National Hospital.

He queried whether the FCID is arresting only sick people. He asked why politicians fall sick in this manner when arrested, and stressed the need to set up an FCID ward at the National Hospital. Responding to it, Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Rathnayake said, the FCID does not arrest only the sick and added that those who fall sick when remanded recover overnight and could even join protest walks on being granted bail.

Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Gunawardena charged that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had acted in an irresponsible manner by calling for suggestions from the international community regarding a special judicial tribunal. The MP who participated in the adjournment debate alleged the Foreign Affairs Ministry had directed the Lankan Embassy in Washington to seek suggestions from the Sri Lankan Diaspora and other lobbies in America, regarding the mechanism to establish a special judicial tribunal in Sri Lanka.

He queried, how could the Foreign Affairs Ministry issue such a notice when President Mairthripala Sirisena has categorically stated that no foreign individuals will be permitted to participate in investigating the alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka. MP Gunawardena told the House, he doubted whether the President or other Ministers were aware of these actions and asked how the Foreign Affairs Ministry has by-passed Parliament. MP Gunawardena stressed the need to change the Government’s mechanism of suppressing all voices against the Government. He alleged the Government used the illegally established FCID to suppress political opponents.

RDA jobs

The number of consultants recruited to the Road Development Authority (RDA) led to a big hue and cry in the well of the House, following a question raised by JVP Kalutara District MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa. The MP who read out a long list of names alleged that political henchmen of the UNP had been given the jobs at the RDA.

He said, two consultants from one family have been appointed for the same project while a Buddhist monk was appointed as a consultant. Responding to it, Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella said, 56 consultants were recruited to the RDA.

The Minister, justifying the appointments said, the Government was inclined to recruit persons who helped the UNP to secure victory at the last Presidential and General Elections as consultants to various projects under the RDA. MP Jayatissa told the House, of the 56 consultants, only two had Advanced Level qualifications and the rest either only Ordinary Level or less.

He queried what sort of consultancy can be expected from people with such educational backgrounds?

Sri Lanka Freedom Party General Secretary and Agriculture Minister Duminda Dissanyake hinted that the National Government will continue for five years and no one would be able to topple it.

Addressing a media briefing at the Parliament complex the Minister said, the SLFP and the UNP signed the Memorandum of Understanding to form a Government of Consensus for only two years, but the mutual understanding between the two parties is more important than the MOU to continue as a strong Government.

He described the Government of Consensus as a proposed marriage and the two parties have been able to work together peacefully and added that proposed marriages are more successful than love marriages.


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