House shouts ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to 20A Bill | Daily News


 

House shouts ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to 20A Bill

Opposition MPs carrying slogans protesting the Twentieth Amendment Bill in Parliament yesterday.Picture by Wimal Karunatilake.
Opposition MPs carrying slogans protesting the Twentieth Amendment Bill in Parliament yesterday.Picture by Wimal Karunatilake.

The Bill titled 20th amendment to the Constitution was presented to Parliament and passed its first reading amidst the echoes of protests and jeers from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya members in Parliament yesterday.

At the commencement of public business, Justice Minister Ali Sabry presented the bill to the House and a tense situation ensued when the SJB members began to shout slogans ‘No to 20th amendment’ which urged a section of government side members to reiterate ‘Yes to the 20th’.

State Minister Shehan Semasinghe said that the 6.9 million people of the country mandated twice to bring the 20th amendment and then a new one. He added that hence the SJB with a little number of MPs protested against the people’s mandate. He also said that despite their protest the government would fulfill its election pledge to the people by bringing in the 20th amendment to the Constitution.

SJB members who were wearing black armlets and badges stating ‘No to 20’ shouted against the government.

Some of them held placards denouncing the 20th Amendment.

Some SJB MPs were seen coming to the well of the House and then the government MPs too came down to the House and shouted ‘Yes to 20’.

While the protest was on, the Speaker continued proceedings. Serjeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando and his deputy Kushan Jayaratne were seen standing before the Mace protecting it from the protesting MPs.

Trade Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena moved a number of Orders under the Special Commodity Levy Act for the debate continuing the business of the day. However the SJB members were continuing their protest in the Well before the Speaker’s chair. In the meantime Samurdhi, Household Economy, Micro Finance, Self Employment, Business Development and Underutilized State Resources Development State Minister Shehan Semasinghe seconded the motion.

State Minister Semasinghe while the protest was in progress spoke and said that the opposition had selected the wrong ground and means to protest. He added that the SJB members can now go before court and point out their concerns. “They have one more option, State Minister Semasinghe said. “That is to secure two third power in parliament and defeat the bill. Without doing any of them they shout here to disrupt sittings and thereby to waste the public funds. During the time they were in the government we remember how they brought in no confidence motions. They did so after suspending the Standing Orders of the House. The then Speaker Karu Jayasuriya suspended Standing Orders to allow JVP MP Vijitha Herath to move the motion. We do not act in such undemocratic manner. People have given us a mandate to do away with the 19th Amendment. We act according to that mandate.”

He also said that despite their protest the government would fulfill it selection pledge to the people by bringing in the 20th amendment to the Constitution.

Thereafter SJB Kegalle District MP Kabir Hashim rose to his feet. The SJB members were seen shouting around him interrupting the business of the day. However MP Hashim commenced to speak and said there are two groups in this House. One group ruled this country for 20 years. “We were in power for five years,” Hashim said. “Their need for more powers to develop this country is groundless.”

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa pointed out that MP Hashim had not got the TV Camera on them and SJB MPs shouted demanding the Camera for MP Hashim.

MP Hashim said that it was his right to get the camera. If this is the manner the government ensures the rights of MPs before the 20th Amendment, what will happen to us after it becomes the law?

The Speaker instructed the officials to give the camera to the MP. When MP Hashim got the camera, SJB MPs stood around him holding placards to the camera. Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage: This is a government of people. We would not bring anything against people’s aspirations. We maintain democracy. During the times when you were in the government you did not hold elections. There are many MPs in the opposition who want to join our government. As per this morning there are 17 opposition MPs who are prepared to join us. “We will get 20 MPs from the opposition to win this bill,” Minister Aluthgamage said. “You do not worry about the powers of Prime Minister. You had passed the 19th Amendment to prevent Rajapaksas coming to power.”

Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa raising a point of order said that MPs cannot demand for camera. “Whenever there is a protest in the House, the camera should focus either on the Speaker or the Mace,” Minister Weerawansa said. “That is the procedure. It was introduced by the former Speaker W.J.M.Lokubandara. Now the MPs demand the focus of the camera. That is to put up a show”.

However amidst the protest MP Harin Fernando was seen walking from member to member carrying a placard of black colour rolled like a torch. He also had a blue colour lighter in his hand.