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Thursday September 29th, 2022

Uproar in Sri Lanka parliament over opposition MP’s electric torch

The sun sets over the Parliament at Shri Jayewardenepura

ECONOMYNEXT – Government and opposition MPs in Sri Lanka traded raucous allegations and jibes Thursday (24) morning when Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawarena seemingly saw a sinister plot in an electric torch brought to the chamber by opposition MP Harin Fernando.

Gunawardena called for an investigation into the “devices” brought by an opposition MP, claiming that their components, if mixed with other substances, could be used in the triggering of a chemical reaction.

Raising a point of order, the minister said bringing in items that are not included in the list of objects allowed in the parliament premises poses a threat to the security of the House and the MPs themselves.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said party leaders had already agreed not to bring in objects that aren’t permitted within the premises. This decision will prevail, he said.

Main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Harin Fernando, a vocal critic of the government’s investigations into the Easter bombings, said Gunawardena was referring to three electric torches he had brought.

“I brought a torch because of the power cuts. There’s nothing wrong with that. How is one supposed to use the bathroom when there are no lights? That’s why I brought a torch,” he said.

Sri Lanka is in the midst of a power crisis brought about by a forex shortage triggered by excess money printing. Daily power cuts have now exceeded four hours a day, though power supply to parliament is usually uninterrupted.

“There is never total darkness in parliament. If they came knowing in advance that there would be total darkness, we would need a second investigation into that,” responded Gunawardena.

“This is an illegal act. Ban it immediately,” he called on the speaker, his voice rising as MPs were heard shouting themselves hoarse.

Gunwardena, his own voice now high-pitched, said: “Our security will be under threat if this is permitted.” (Colombo/Feb24/2022)

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