ECONOMYNEXT – A high level parliamentary committee has been appointed to investigate an alleged assault attempt on an opposition MP in Sri Lanka, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said, even as the main opposition threatened to take the matter to the Supreme Court.
The committee, chaired by Deputy Speaker Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, will make recommendations on any action to be taken against the alleged incident and steps to prevent recurrences.
The main opposition, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) claims that MPs representing the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) had attempted to assault SJB MP Manusha Nanayakkara on at least two separate occasions last Friday (03) and Saturday (04) at the parliament complex.
The party boycotted parliament on Monday (06) and Tuesday (07) demanding that the safety of opposition legislators is guaranteed. The boycotted ended Wednesday (08), and SJB MP and Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella urged the Speaker to take action based on what he himself had witnessed.
“You are the main witness. We don’t wish to take this outside parliament. We are still willing to resolve the matter internally. Otherwise, albeit reluctantly, we will have to take it to the Supreme Court,” said Kirella.
“We cannot allow this parliament to be run by the chillie powder gang,” he added, referring to the chaotic times of the 52-day SLPP government of late 2018 that saw, among other things, chllie powder being thrown across the aisle.
Kiriella on Monday (06), in his capacity as opposition whip, wrote to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), formally complaining to the two bodies of the alleged incident.
Speaking in parliament Wednesday morning, Education Minister and Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena implied that the SJB was trying to question the Speaker.
“MP Kirella is not a new member. The sanding orders specify how the Speaker can be questioned, if needed.
“Anyone can go to the Supreme Court. Anyone can go t o the IPU. Letters have already been sent,” said Gunawardena,” said Gunawardena.
“Now they’re saying you are the main witness. There was no mention of that in the letter sent to the IPU,” he added.
Speaker Abeywardena maintained that he had taken the right course of action, and that there is no need to take matters of parliament to any court outside.
“I would like to inform the House that I have already taken steps to ensure the safety of all MPs,” he said.
“We must try to resolve thing that happen in the house internally. There is no need to discuss this matter. A committee has been appointed comprising some of the most senior MPs who have earned everyoen’s respect. They will make the recommendations needed,” he said.
The committee comprises government MPs Chamal Rajapaksa, Bandula Gunawardena, Vasudewa Nanayakkara, Susil Premajayantha, and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, SJB MPs Gayantha Karunatillake, Rauf Hakeem and R M Ranjith Madduma Bandara, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Vijitha Herath, and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M A Sumanthiran. (Colombo/Dec08/2021)