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Wiggy’s reference to Tamil homeland concept won’t be expunged – Speaker



‘Members have a right to express views freely’

By Saman Indrajith

Every MP had a right to speak and express his or her views freely and that right was ensured in the House and, therefore, TMTK MP C.V. Wigneswaran’s opening statement with references to the Tamil homeland concept would not be expunged from Hansard, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena told Parliament yesterday.

The Speaker said so when the matter was brought up by Galle District SJB MP Manusha Nanayakkara raising a point of order that the speech made by MP Wingeswaran was there in the unedited version of the parliamentary proceedings report. MP Nanayakkara said: “We raised a privilege matter in this House and pointed out that MP Wigneswaran’s statement with regard to Tamil homeland in the North and the East of the country was against the oath we have taken and demanded that it should be expunged. However it is printed in Hansard. This should be revised and the controversial statement expunged.”

Speaker Abeywardena:

That is not a point of order. One MP has made a statement. He did so in keeping with his rights. He has the right to express his views freely. That right should be there. If there is any discrepancy that has to be rectified, then you too can make a speech and express your views. The statement would not be expunged from Hansard.  It does not matter whether the MP is from the government or the Opposition. He or she has that right and you too have the same right to express your views.”

Kurunegala District SLPP MP Shantha Bandara: The Chair promised to look into this matter when the issue was first raised. The controversial statement could be removed from Hansard. There is such a tradition that whenever an MP makes a statement against the Constitution, the chair is empowered to remove it from Hansard. Therefore, we request the Speaker to remove this reference with regard to the traditional Tamil homeland concept.

Rauff Hakeem: Parliamentary powers and privileges Act has ensured that each member has the freedom of speech in Parliament. The Speaker in keeping with the Act made an order. I think that the Speaker is perfectly right in his order.

SJB Kurunegala District MP Nalin Bandara: We took an oath on the first day here that we would not support separatism directly or indirectly. But within an hour after taking that oath MP Wingeswaran violated it. He should be expelled from this House. Does the Speaker think that the oath has no meaning?

Speaker Abeywardena: It is not a point of order.

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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.

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Kandy tragedy:



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.

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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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