Connect with us


SJB disrupts sittings over convict Premalal taking oaths as MP



A section of the protesting SBJ lawmakers in parliament yesterday.

By Saman Indrajith

SLPP Ratnapura District MP Premalal Jayasekera, convicted of murder and sentenced to death, was sworn in as an MP amidst protests from the SJB in Parliament, yesterday.

At the commencement of sittings, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced that Jayasekera could take his oath as an MP.

As the announcement came, SJB Kandy District MP and Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella protested against the swearing in. He was joined by SJB MPs wearing black shawls around their necks.

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.

SJB MPs Harin Fernando, Nalin Bandara and Kiriella shouted that it was illegal for Jayasekera to take oaths as an MP.

Amidst the din, Serjeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando accompanied Jayasekera to the Speaker’s Chair and he was sworn in.

MP Jayasekera was congratulated by SLPP members Vijitha Berugoda, Janaka Wakkumbura and front row members of the government side.

Thereafter the Speaker permitted the Opposition to raise their points of order.

Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella: “Today, a person who has been sentenced to death by a High Court took oaths as an MP before the Speaker (shouting from the government ranks). In 2010, when Sarath Fonseka was elected to this House but could not come to take oath as he was in the prison. We raised the issue asked the Chair to permit him to take his oath. But Prof GL Peiris raised objections, citing the provisions of the Section 89 of the Constitution and informed the House that the MP elect could not take oaths if he or she had been convicted by a court. As per Prof Peiris, the MP elect would lose his seat the moment he was convicted by a High Court. In addition Prof Peiris told this very same House that a person sentenced to death could not become an MP. He said that in such a situation the Speaker’s ruling had no power above the court’s conviction. Prof. Peiris said that it was clearly outlined in the Constitution.

Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena: A new MP who had been elected by his people now has taken his oaths. Thereafter, there is no room for others to raise points of order against it. As per Standing Order, anyone who is sworn in before the Speaker as an MP has rights and privileges of an MP.

SJB Gampaha District MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka: The Constitution states that a person sentenced to death cannot become an MP and is not even entitled to cast his vote. That was the reason given when I was incarcerated in 2010. That was not at least by a court of law but an outfit which had exercised the powers of a court. I was taken into custody by the orders of the then President. As per the rules, I could not have been arrested by an officer junior to me. But they did so. I was given a 30-year sentence after I took an oath as an MP. Today, one took oaths after he had been sentenced to death.

SJB MP Harin Fernando: This is not something personal against Premalal Jayasekera. I will read the judgment to the House. The Speaker permitting this swearing in is setting a wrong precedent. I request that all those sentenced to death should be given an opportunity to visit their homes once a week.

Thereafter, the Speaker moved the House to proceed with the day’s business. The SJB MPs got up and shouted. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and SJB MPs threw their black shawls to the well of the House and left the chamber in protest.

However, none of the TNA or NPP members joined the protest. After several minutes passed SJB MPs Lakshman Kiriella and Eran Wickremaratne were seen returning to their seats.

Newly sworn in MP Jayasekera took a seat in the back row of the government ranks.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived in the chamber several minutes after the new MP taken his oaths.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


About Rs 3 bn paid as OT during past few months



Overtime gravy train for CPC refinery workers:

By Saman Indrajith

About Rs. 3,000 million had been paid as overtime for the employees of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation oil refinery, during the past few months, Parliament was told yesterday.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that he had asked for a detailed report as to whom and on what grounds the overtime payments had been made and it would be submitted to Parliament.

Fielding a question asked by Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella, Minister Wijesekera said instructions had been issued to regulate overtime.

MP Kiriella demanded to know why overtime had been paid to employees of an institution that had been shut down. “There are reports that over Rs 4,000 million has been paid as overtime to the workers of the refinery that was not functioning owing to the non-availability of crude oil. This is a crime,” Kiriella said.

Minister Wijesekera: “I made inquiries after I saw newspaper reports on payment of overtime to refinery workers. I inquired from the Finance Manager of the CPC. I was told that a sum between Rs 2.5 billion to Rs 3 billion had been paid as overtime. The refinery was not closed during the months of March and April. It was closed only during the last month. They had issued refined fuel on all seven days of the week continuously. When an institution operates full time in such a manner the employees would have to be paid for their overtime work. However, I admit that could have been done with some level of management in the payment process,” the Minister said.

Continue Reading


Wigneswaran claims RW accepted all his demands



Head of the Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK), C. V. Wigneswaran told the media recently that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed to all demands he had made, including the release of Tamil ‘political prisoners’, to secure his vote during last month’s Parliament election, to elect a President.

He made this statement following a meeting with the President in Colombo to discuss the establishment of an all-party government.

“We have made several requests and if the President is ready to comply with them, we will consider taking part in the all party government,” he said.

“We met him when he was Prime Minister. Before the parliamentary vote to elect the President, I made these demands and he agreed to them. That is why I voted for him. Now, it is for him to keep his promises. I am here to remind him of this,” Wigenswaran said.

Wickremesinghe, as the Prime Minister in the yahapalana government, vehemently denied that there were Tamil ‘political prisoners’ in the country. (RK)

Continue Reading


MPs are not immune from country’s laws – SJB



By Saman Indrajith

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that the MPs were not immune from the Penal Code despite the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.

Premadasa said Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardane had claimed that incidents in Parliament could not be dealt with under the regular law.

“This claim sends the wrong message to people. Aren’t the provisions of the Penal Code or the Offences against Public Property Act applicable to the MPs? There were incidents in this Chamber during the 52-day coup conspiracy; some MPs damaged public property. There were investigations by the CID and also by Parliament.

The Secretary General announced the cost of the damage. When the process was on to prosecute those MPs responsible for the damage, political influence was exerted on the CID not to file cases against the culprits. It is against this background that Minister Gunawardane, in his position as the Cabinet spokesman, makes this false claim. His statement is sending a message saying that there is one law inside the Parliament and another outside it.

“He also claims that the Speaker decides whether these laws are applicable to Parliament or not,” Premadasa said.

Colombo District SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman said that people were already against the MPs and this new wrong message would further exacerbate their anger against elected members. “The Cabinet Spokesman says that the MPs have a different set of laws while the people are dealt with by the country’s laws. That is wrong. We are also liable for criminal offences that we commit,” Rahuman said.

“The CID conducted an investigation and was prepared to file cases, but that was prevented through political influence. The Cabinet Spokesman’s statement is fueling public hatred towards the MPs. Please, request the Cabinet Spokesman to refrain from making such statements,” he said.

Minister Gunawardane said that he was only responding to a question raised by a journalist and the question was about fairness of cracking down on protesters for destroying public property, during anti-government protests, when MPs, who damaged Parliament, property under the former government, are yet to be apprehended.

Minister Gunawardane said as a public representative in Parliament for the last 33 years he had only explained that the law would be implemented against those engaged in violent activities during peaceful protests.

“I said MPs had Parliament privileges and the Parliament law. I also explained that MPs attending Parliament cannot be arrested as they are engaged in legislative activities,” he said.

Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said that the MPs had no such legal immunity. and Parliament privileges only cover MPs from being arrested while they are on their way to attend and when they leave Parliament. “Therefore, there is no law that says they are exempt from other laws of the country,” Kiriella said.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, agreeing with Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella, said that all other laws in the country applied to the MPs.

Continue Reading