GL complains that 13 ‘independents’ silenced in P’ment
BY Buwanajee Coralage
Thirteen “independent” former Government MPs have been stripped of their right to speech in Parliament, claimed Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Chairman MP Prof. G.L. Peiris.
“These 13 independent MPs have not been given the chance to speak in Parliament, nor much in public. The right of speech, being a basic right of an MP, has been stripped from us, thus highlighting the undemocratic practices inside Parliament today,” said Peiris.
Furthermore, he stated that at this very crucial juncture where discussions should be held to come up with strategies to increase the national income, these MPs’ chance to voice out their concerns and their suggestions has been intentionally blocked by the Government.
He stated that they will take needed action to publicise this violation of the rights of MPs, not only in the local arena, but also in the international arena, such as with the Commonwealth Parliamentary offices, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and the Association of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation) Parliaments.
He emphasised that though a National Council has now been established to prove the unity among all MPs, they are not even allowed the basic right to speak in Parliament. Moreover, he stated that this treatment has continued since 31 August for 21 days straight.
The 13 independent MPs in question include Dullas Alahapperuma, Dilan Perera, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, Prof. Charitha Herath, Prof. Channa Jayasumana, K.P.S. Kumarasiri, Gunapala Rathnasekara, Udayana Kirindigoda, Wasantha Yapa Bandara, Upul Galappaththi, Thilak Rajapakshe, Lalith Ellawala, and Prof. Peiris
Commenting on the matter, Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa questioned in Parliament whether the reason for this treatment is linked to the fact that these 13 MPs did not support the current President in the Parliamentary vote that took place, as a result of which the current President assumed duties. Furthermore, he stressed the fact that this group includes educated and opinionated people such as lawyers, professors, lecturers, and doctors whose input would add value to most discussions in Parliament.
Replying to this, Chief Government Whip Prasanna Ranatunga stated that though he accepts the fact that everyone in Parliament has the right to speak, with Parliament being regulated according to the Westminster Parliamentary system, it only includes a ruling party and the Opposition, which leaves out these independent members. He emphasised that they need to be included, so as to be given the chance to speak.