By Saman Indrajith
SJB Kandy District MP and Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella, yesterday, said that the Speaker of the House had not recognised him when he had attempted to raise a point of order, prior to the swearing in of MP Premalal Jayasekara on Tuesday.
MP Kiriella: “Yesterday I tried to raise a point of order on behalf of the Opposition. It was not about anything personal. However, the Speaker did not recognise me. The Secretary’s office too ignored me; they didn’t even look at me. It was only after the swearing in was complete that I was allowed to raise the point of order. That is wrong. The tradition of the House is when the Chief Opposition Whip raises a point of order, you have to give him an opportunity to speak. After I spoke you could have taken whatever the decision. You gave me the chance only after the swearing in. That is against the Parliament tradition.”
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said: “Swearing in of any MP is a solemn moment.
It is not appropriate to raise questions.
MP Kiriella: “You did not know what I was going to say. It was a point of order.”
However, during the incident Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena pointed out that as per the Standing Orders, the MPs could not raise points of order when the Speaker was making an announcement.
The Speaker questioned what kind of a point of order could be raised when an MP was taking oaths.
SJB MP Harin Fernando expressed his concerns about the Opposition’s protest against MP Jayasekara taking oaths on Tuesday (08). “We did not talk about a judgment. It was you who read out the judgment. All I did was to read out the rest of the judgment to the House. After that, Minister Mahindananda requested you to remove those parts from Hansard. I don’t think that is necessary. We spoke as per the Standing Orders. We hope you will protect all MPs in the House. We hope that what we spoke in the House concerning this matter would not be removed from the Hansard.”
Hemasiri’s counsel complains to PCoI against ex-President Sirisena’s media statement
… says it has placed the life of his client at risk
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Former President Maithripala Sirisena had placed ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando’s life at risk by issuing a media statement that the evidence given by the latter before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks was “malicious and fictitious”, Attorney-at-Law Dilshan Jayasuriya appearing for Fernando said yesterday.
Jayasuriya told the PCoI that by issuing that statement Sirisena had also undermined the PCoI.
Sirisena, on Sunday, issued a press release claiming that the testimony given by Fernando at the PCoI about his behavior was completely false.
“I vehemently deny what was said at the Commission by Fernando. These are malicious and fictitious statements and I wish to reiterate to the public that Fernando’s statements are false,” Sirisena said.
Counsel Jayasuriya pointed out that by disseminating such an idea, the former President was trying to intimidate the former Defence Secretary who was still testifying before the PCoI. Sirisena, who was a former President, a current Parliamentarian and a party leader, was powerful and thus, there were now concerns about the security of his client, Jayasuriya said.
The counsel said that it was up to the Commission to decide whether Fernando’s evidence was true or false.
Issuing of a statement undermining Fernando by Sirisena, who was the Commander-in-Chief, the Minister of Defence and the Minister in charge of law and order at the time of the Easter Sunday attacks, was a very bad precedent, the counsel for the ex-Defence Secretary said.
“The former President has been given the opportunity to crossexamine Fernando. However, he has issued press releases. People will be afraid to tell the truth openly if powerful people start issuing press releases on judicial matters,” counsel Jayasuriya added.
Jayasuriya requested the Commission that Sirisena’s Personal Secretary, Sameera de Silva, who issued this media statement, be summoned before the Commission. Silva should explain why he should not be charged with contempt of court. He also requested the Commission to take measures to ensure the safety of his client.
When the Commission asked the counsel appearing for the former President if he had anything to say in that regard, he said that he had not received any advice from his client. Accordingly, the Chairman of the Commission ordered that if there was anything to be said by Sirisena in that regard, it be presented before the Commission today through his legal representatives.
The Additional Solicitor General, who is leading Fernando’s evidence, also informed the Commission that she hoped to comment on the matter once the explanations were made by the former President.
What remains of the building that collapsed
Ill-fated building constructed on loose soil
By Ifham Nizam
Structural engineers’ approval was essential for the construction of building in hilly areas, a senior scientist said.
The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) Director (Landslide Research and Risk Management Division) R.M.S. Bandara told The Island to ascertain the real cause of the building collapse in Kandy on Sunday, an investigation would be conducted within the course of this week. “Initially we thought that could be done in two days or so,” he said
Bandara said that they would work with the Kandy Municipal Council Building Department to find out whether the original plan of the structure had been changed.
According to Senior Chartered Geologist Laksiri Indritilake, who was at the site, the NBRO team was carrying out the technical inquiry into the incident. He said as per their observations the collapsed building was an ad-hoc construction which had been erected blocking a valley path.
“Water flows from above grounds via a valley path. From our preliminary observations, it was evident that this building has been constructed blocking such a valley path. No safety precautions had been taken.”
“The multi-storyed building has been constructed on loose layers of soil in the respective valley region, and the building had caved-in, as the soil layers could not bear the weight of the construction,” said Samantha Bogahapitiya – NBRO’s Geologist in-charge of the Kandy district.
According to him, four families in the area have been were temporarily relocated as a precaution measure.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Geological and Mines Bureau, Anura Walpola said that the collapse had not been caused by a tremor.
SJB MPs decide unanimously to oppose 20A
by Akitha Perera
The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) would oppose the 20th amendment to the constitution to be presented to Parliament, today, Chief Opposition Whip, MP Lakshman Kiriella said yesterday.
The SJB had studied all the proposed amendment in detail and they couldn’t agree with any of them, he said. Therefore, the SJB had no choice but to work with like-minded forces inside and outside parliament to prevent the bill from becoming law, the MP said.
Kiriella said that SJB MPs HAS met yesterday in Parliament to discuss the matter and they unanimously agreed to oppose the amendment given the weakening of checks and balances imposed by the 19th amendment to the Constitution.
The Chief Opposition Whip said that the replacement of the constitutional council with a parliamentary council, the weakening of the independent commissions, increasing the powers of the executive presidency and removing a number of key institutions from the purview of the auditor general were proposals that would not be accepted by any democratic minded person.
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