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Speaker dismisses issues being raised over Premalal becoming MP



Says it should have been raised in court

By Saman Indrajith

It was too late to make an issue of Premalal Jayasekera (SLPP) becoming an MP, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament on Thursday, adding that it should have been raised in the Court of Appeal before it decided to allow Jayasekera to take oaths.

 The Speaker said so when Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa raised objections to Jayasekera taking oaths as an MP while on death row for a murder. 

Raising a point of order, Opposition Leader Premadasa said that by allowing Jayasekera to take oaths the Speaker had set a wrong precedent.  “In 1982, Selvarajah Yogachandran, also known as Kuttimani, one of the leaders of the TELO, was nominated to Parliament. His name was gazetted to become an MP. However, the then Speaker Bakeer Markar citing the Sections 89 and 91 of the Constitution did not permit Yogachandran to take oaths as an MP because the latter had been sentenced to death. Yogachandran too had appealed against the sentence. That is the precedent in Parliament. That should not have been breached as per section 91 (1) (a) of the Constitution no person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament or to sit and vote in Parliament if he is or becomes subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 89. The Section 89 (d) of the Constitution says that, no person shall be qualified to be an elector at an election of the President, or of the Members of Parliament or to vote at any referendum if he is under sentence of death and he will lose his right to vote under such a sentence. The Speaker by the act of permitting Jayasekera to take oaths violated the Constitutional provisions.

Speaker Abeywardena:

It is too late and this is not the forum to raise the matter. You should have raised it at the Court of Appeal before it decided to permit Jayasekera to take oaths. The court informed Parliament of its ruling to permit Jayasekera to sit here. We carried out that order.

Opposition Leader Premadasa:

We are not talking of the duty of judges or how they are appointed. What we are talking about is the violation of the constitution and a parliamentary precedent. The Speaker should have followed the example set by former Speakers Bakeer Markar and Anura Bandaranaike, who said Parliament was above the judiciary. We are in no way casting aspersions on Jayasekera. This is not a matter against him personally. We are talking of the matter in principle.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella:

When the court gave an order the former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake could not be subjected to questions of a parliamentary select committee, the then speaker Chamal Rajapaksa ignored the court order stating that Parliament was not bound to follow court orders.

The speaker:

That is a separate issue. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella:

You said that you followed the court order to permit Jayasekera to take oaths. You should have followed the precedent and not permitted the murder convict to take oaths. 

Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena:

The speaker has given a ruling on the matter. It cannot be debated. That is against the Standing Orders. Now, on the pretext of points of order, the Opposition keeps discussing a past issue. This matter is over. These points of order are causing a great injustice to people who voted for MP Jayasekera. You cannot raise points of order to discuss a matter pertaining to a ruling of the Speaker. If there is a matter against the ruling of the chair, then there is a procedure to be followed in addressing it. You have to bring it in the form of a substantive motion. There you have provisions to raise the issue in a motion. Then we could debate it here.

Kurunegala District SJB MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha:

The executive, legislature and the judiciary are the three main pillars of government. The speaker is the head of legislature. The act of allowing Jayasekera to become an MP, has now gone beyond the borders of this country. It is now reported in The Guardian and The New York Times. Those reports have mentioned your name too. This is a great dishonor to this legislature. The matter should be taken seriously.

Speaker Abeywardena said that the matter was hindering other business of parliament and moved the House to the next item on the agenda.

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Udaya questions why CPC prevented from entering LPG market



Minister Gammanpila at the abandoned Sapugaskanda facility

…reveals Rs 37 mn loss suffered during Asantha’s tenure as Chairman

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila recently alleged that the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) had suffered Rs 37 mn loss due to an abortive bid made by the state enterprise to enter the LPG (liquid petroleum gas) in 2008.

Lawmaker Gammanpila, who is also the leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, said that the CPC had made the attempt in violation of an agreement with Shell and Laugfs Gas to supply its entire output of LPG from the Sapugaskanda refinery to the above mentioned companies.

The Minister said so after inspecting an abandoned gas filling facility at the CPC facility at Sapugaskanda. The visit took place, on Thursday (24), after a three-member committee headed by the Energy Ministry’s head of Internal Audit D. P. S. J. Kumara inquired into the failed operation.

The CPC undertook the project during former national cricketer Ashantha de Mel’s tenure as the CPC Chairman. A. H. M. Fowzie had been the minister in charge of the subject.

The Minister called for a report when the media revealed that the facility had been abandoned a decade back.

Gammanpila vowed to reveal the person who had caused losses to the CPC, having misled its Board of Directors as regards the viability of the project.

The PHU leader requested state enterprise Litro Gas to explore the possibility of accommodating the facility in its current production setup. The minister described the facility installed at Sapugaskanda as technologically outdated even at the time 2008 administration acquired it.

When the CPC made an attempt to enter the LPG market, Laugfs successfully moved the Supreme Court against it. The CPC abandoned the facility following the Supreme Court directive.

The Energy Minister questioned how the CPC had been prevented from entering the gas market. Underscoring the importance of market competition, the lawmaker said that the Energy Ministry intended to inquire into how the CPC reached an understanding with competitors that prevented the state enterprise from entering the LPG market. The minister said that he would examine the obstacles placed before the CPC in entering the market without undermining Litro.

Declaring that Sri Lanka had substantial natural gas deposits in the Mannar basin, the Energy Minister said that the government intended to enter the gas market. Attorney-at-law Gammanpila said that a new enterprise would be established under the CPC to provide healthy competition.

Addressing the post-Cabinet media briefing on Sept. 10, co-Cabinet spokesperson Gammanpila said that Surath Ovitigama had been named the Director-General of the Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat and Saliya Wickramasuriya had been appointed advisor.

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Saumya Liyanage removed from posts of Dean and Professor 



From M.A. Kaleel, Kalmunai Corr. 

Professor Saumya Liyanage of the University of Visual and Performing Arts has been summarily removed from the posts of Professor and Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies he was holding at the university. 

 The decision was taken by the University Council chaired by the Competent Authority of the University Professor Abayaratne Bandara. 

 According to the Council, the decision for his removal is that he had not obtained a postgraduate degree by research (Master or PhD) within the probationary period of eight years. When a lecturer is appointed on probationary basis, he is given eight years to complete postgraduate degree––a master’s or a PhD.  

Liyanage holds a PhD from La Trobe University, Australia and he claims he submitted his PhD thesis within the stipulated period of 8 years, and the university has recommended him for the award of PhD with minor corrections. The effective date of PhD could be the date of submission of corrected thesis or the date of annual convocation. It differs from university to university. 

Liyanage, who joined the university in 2007, was supposed to obtain his PhD before 2015, but the university has taken 5 years to detect that he has not completed his PhD within the probationary period. He was promoted as a Professor and the Dean of Graduate Studies.  

 Professor Abayaratne Bandara also served as the Director General of National Institute of Education.  When Bandula Gunawardena became the Education Minister, he removed Dr. Upali S. Sedera from the post of DG only a few months after his appointment and appointed Professor Abayaratne Bandara to the post.

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SF under delusion that he is still Army Chief – SLPP MP



‘Even Vasu is capable of flooring him’

By Saman Indrajith

Badulla District SLPP MP Chamara Sampath Dassanayake told Parliament, yesterday, that the SJB Gampaha District MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka was under the delusion that he was still commanding the army.

“He should realise that he is in Parliament. Yesterday, he threatened to take on the entire front row of government ranks single-handedly. We do not need an entire row of members to match him. We could send a single person that is our minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara.

MP Fonseka thinks all those here have passed only Grade Eight. What is wrong with a person with that kind of educational qualification becoming an MP? What about the late Mr. D. S. Senanayake? He was the first prime minister of the country.  He had passed only the fifth standard. We have had leaders who had not studied beyond Grade Eight. Didn’t they govern this country well? On the contrary, where is UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was considered educated and intelligent? What has he done? He is not even in this Parliament today. Was he able to govern this country successfully?”

“We know a lot about him and his ways of conduct. When he was the commander of the Army he sent a helicopter to Colombo to fetch two loaves of bread, while denying so many wounded soldiers the chance to be flown to Colombo. He also brought water from the Iyakkachi well in Vettailaikerni to Colombo because that was his favourite drinking water. We know all this”.

MP Dassanayake said that they had come to Parliament with great trust in it. Yet, he said that there were no thugs in the parliament and no room would be spared to turn the Ninth parliament into the same situation as the Eighth parliament.

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