Pandemonium erupted in the parliamentary group meeting of the ruling party held on Friday (09) afternoon as heated arguments and slandering between several MPs
became the order of the day.
This meeting was convened by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapksa to clear doubts pertaining to the 20th Amendment among ruling party parliamentarians with a view to explaining the true facts relating to the new amendment bill.
This meeting has been arranged under the patronage of President Gotabya Rajapaksa following complaints on the lack of clear understanding about the bill among many ruling party MPs.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena and SLFP MPs were also present at the meeting which lasted around two and half hours from 4.00 pm to 6.30 pm.
Difficulties in removing the AG and the IGP
Delivering the opening speech, Education Minister Prof. G.L.Peiris noted that it has become difficult to remove the Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) due to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
He emphasized the need of introducing the 20th Amendment while abolishing the 19th Amendment as the country had been governed by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe through various Cabinet sub committees during the previous regime of President Maithripala Sirisena.
Branding G.L.Peiris’s speech as a joke, a stalwart of the ruling party noted that the removal of the AG and the IGP has no connection whatsoever to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
He added that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe moved a motion in parliament in 2002 which allowed them to remove the AG and the IGP at any moment by passing a resolution in parliament with a majority vote under the Act No 5 of 2002.
He further noted that the allegation of governing the country via Cabinet sub committees cannot be accepted. However, the President had objected to him when he tried to explain the matter at the meeting, he disclosed.
Ali Sabri’s pep talks
Meanwhile, briefing matters relating to government auditing, Justice Minister Ali Sabri claimed that such auditing is useless.
Citing examples from auditing in Malaysia and India, he pointed out that auditing by the government has not brought any tangible benefits to the country.
Previously, he categorically stated that there was no connection between him and the 20th Amendment to the Constitution and he has presented the bill in parliament on the directions of the President.
President shuts down Gevindu's concerns!
It is reported that President Rajapaksa had continuously disrupted the proceedings when parliamentarian Gevindu Kumuranatunge was expressing his views at the parliamentary group meeting on Friday.
Gevindu has urged the head of the meeting to permit him to express views on the 20th Amendment as they are the people who shaped public opinion to bring the government into power and to appoint Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the high post.
He complained that persons in air-conditioned rooms now have not done anything towards bringing the 'Pohottuwa' into power.
Reacting with sheer anger, the President said: “There is nothing to discuss here. I am the Executive President of this country elected by a massive mandate of 6.9 million people to change the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and develop the country. Therefore, don’t disturb me unnecessarily."
He reiterated loudly and clearly that there was no need to issue circulars to officials to take necessary action and that his orders are sufficient for action as he is the Executive President of this country.
Let these party leaders express their views" - Prime Minister implores
President Rajapaksa has also objected vehemently, when Minister Wimal Weerawansa inquired as to why they were summoned for a meeting if their suggestions weren't needed at this moment.
At this instance, PM Mahinda Rajapaksa made a request from the chair to allow party leaders to express their views but the President rejected it and continued his disruptions against the proceedings.
Thereafter, speaking on behalf of the SLFP, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva stressed the need of introducing the 20th Amendment.
Responding promptly, Minister Wimal Weerawansa informed the President that this man, Nimal, is a crook and a coward, as he was highly critical of the 20th Amendment when he met him in parliament.
He disclosed that this man, who just yesterday met him in parliament and hailed him as a great person for opposing the 20th Amendment, is praising and saying hosannas today in favour of the Amendment.
"Mr. President, many leaders in this country have been wronged by such rogues. Therefore, it is better for you to be careful," he said.
Thereafter, speaking on behalf of the President, Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi reiterated the need of abolishing the 19th Amendment as it was enacted in parliament to take political revenge from opponents.
Minister of Water Supply Vasudeva Nanayakkara vehemently criticized Justice Minister Ali Sabri’s submissions on government auditing amidst obstructions of the ruling party backbenchers.
At this moment, several MPs including Wijeydasa Rajapakshe, Vidura Wickramanyake and Tiran Alas had stepped into express their views amidst the objections of the President.
He categorically stated that the people have given him a mandate and he will act accordingly and there was no need for any more discussions about it.
Accordingly, the Prime Minister has concluded the proceedings saying that it is better to stop this discussion at this point.
Basil convenes a separate meeting
Meanwhile, one of the participants who spoke to us after the meeting said that the President had spoken for more than two hours at the meeting.
The President had continuously interrupted the proceedings without allowing the constituent ruling party leaders to speak. Parliamentarians loyal to Basil Rajapaksa had continued to obstruct any member that expressed their views against the 20th Amendment," he said.
He further noted that prior to the parliamentary group meeting, Basil Rajapaksa had convened a special meeting for over two hours with the backbenchers that were loyal to him.
This person has a fake smile - Uvindu Kurukulasuriya
Meanwhile, editor-in-chief of the 'Colombo Telegraph', Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, published a post on Facebook last night on the meeting held at Temple Trees.
He observed that if they are forced to keep their mouths shut without power, what would happen if the Constitution is amended.
Hitler, who came to power in Germany after the failure of anticipated reforms in the German Weimar Constitution, had carried out his activities in a very similar manner, he said.