ECONOMYNEXT — A mysterious luxury mattress said to have been paid for by a private company has found its way to the president’s office in the parliament complex, an opposition MP claimed, leading to an innuendo-filled exchange of words between the MP and the chief government whip.
Main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Buddhika Pathirana told parliament on Friday December 09 that on July 28, a week after President Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in, some “items” had been transported to the parliament complex.
“None of these items were purchased by parliament. A private company had paid for them,” said Pathirana, announcing his intention to table all receipts.
According to the MP, the items had been moved to the space allocated for the president’s office inside the parliament building. Among these items had been a luxury mattress that the Matara district MP claimed was one foot thick.
“Why has a mattress like that been brought here, and why is it in the president’s office? As far as I know, nobody sleeps in that room. This raises a serious question as to whether someone goes to bed in that room,” he said.
“Either the president has to sleep in it or it’s his staff,” he added.
Pathirana urged Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena to appoint a committee of MPs to investigate the matter, and the MP volunteered to inspect the bed himself.”
“We’ll also go and take a look. That’ll be good for president’s security and for that of this House. Can things paid for by a private company be brought in here?”
MP Pathirana claimed that though it was said that President Wickremesinghe had covered all expenses of his swearing in ceremony with his private funds, the company that paid for the mysterious mattress had in fact made the payments.
Pathirana’s SJB colleague Hesha Withanage who came to the MP’s defence amid howls of laughter from the government benches said it was a serious matter, urging the lawmakers not to make light of it. Withanage claimed that he had in his possession a letter directing an unnamed authority to provide the company in question 20 acres of land in Hambegamuwa, Hambantota.
He did not elaborate.
Chief Government Whip Prasanna Ranatunga, meanwhile, told Pathirana and the SJB that the Speaker had said he would look into the matter.
“The speaker has said he will look into it. You’re not going to sleep in that bed, are you? I don’t know if you do and if that is why you’re so interested.
“There are much more important things to discuss. Talk about problems of the country without talking about about beds,” he said. (Colombo/Dec09/2022)