Speak Or Strip
Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe’s decision to remove his Commonwealth Parliamentary Union (CPU) tie inside the Chamber of the House was subject to much talk in parliament last week. Most governing party members humored opposition members by saying it’s “speak or strip” time in the House.
Wickremesinghe removed his tie and walked out of the Chamber as a mark of protest for not allowing him to make a special statement in the House. The following day Housing and Construction Minister Wimal Weerawansa told the House that disciplinary action should be taken against Wickremasinghe for removing his clothes in parliament.
Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody listened to the explanations and objections by both sides. Weerawansa said the tie is part of the Western attire and removing it was symbolic to removing part of your clothes.
The opposition said that former parliamentarian Dahanayake had attended parliament in a loin cloth (amudaya).
Finally Weerawansa said, “Let the Opposition Leader make the speech, or else we don’t know what else he would remove from his attire.”
Weerakkody said that the House has discussed ties and loin clothes and the only thing left to be discussed were ladies’ under garments.
Taking MR’s Advice
The UNP last week organized a protest rally in Colombo after a long spell of silence.
The UNPers called for Sarath Fonseka’s release and to safeguard the Sinhala business community. Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe led the protest rally that commenced from Hyde Park.
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa hailed the UNP’s protest rally saying the opposition has finally taken the advice given by President Mahinda Rajapaksa during the 2012 budget speech in parliament.
The President said the country needed a strong opposition to help the government. He said the opposition played a vital role in a country as much as a government. According to Basil Rajapaksa, the President’s words have awakened the opposition that was in a slumber.
Meanwhile, at the rally Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa was not allocated a seat and was not included in the list of speakers that day.
When Premadasa arrived, the organizers got some security personnel to bring a chair for him.
However, the organizers of the protest were faced with a predicament when the people shouted and asked for a speech by Premadasa when Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne mentioned Wickremasinghe’s name at the beginning of his speech. A section of the crowd continued to cheer Premadasa and the organizers therefore had to prevent Dr. Karunaratne’s speech from being publicized in the media.
A No Show
A no show by two leading leaders at an event organized in the Gampaha District last week resulted in fisticuffs with the organizers being assaulted by the persons who attended the ceremony.
Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge and First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa were said to have been invited as the chief guests at a prize giving ceremony organized by the Diriya Daruwo Children’s Foundation at Henarathgoda in Gampaha. After Kumaratunge and Rajapaksa failed to attend the ceremony even hours after its commencement, the disgruntled people had attacked the organizers and had even taken away some of the prizes.
The two leading ladies had not attended the event until it had concluded.
Following complaints by the police, seven organizers had been arrested and four were released on bail.
Politicos On The Highway
The Southern Expressway has now become a popular traveling path to the South even among politicos.
While some governing party politicians, namely Housing and Construction Minister Wimal Weerawansa has criticized the Southern Expressway, some others have opted to test the road for themselves.
Soon after the opening of the expressway, Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka used the highway to reach Galle on an inspection tour following the damages caused by the strong winds experienced by the South last week.
Along the way, a sight that had captured the attention of the Minister was the large number of dead dogs lying by the side of the highway after being run over by speeding vehicles. Two JVPers, Wasantha Samarasinghe and K. D. Lalkantha also used the expressway to reach Galle for a seminar on the 29th.
After reaching Galle, Lalkantha told the gathering that he had used the expressway, and that the country should have received such a highway several decades ago.
The JVP decided not to attend the protest rally organized by the UNP.
The UNP a few weeks earlier claimed that the JVP had been extended an invitation to participate in the rally.
However, even on the day before the rally, the JVP leaders had not received any invitation from the UNP. The party leaders however, were pleased that an invitation had not been received since they would have had to turn it down.
“The JVP has held many anti- government protests and is currently in the process of holding a series of islandwide protest campaigns,” a JVP senior said.
Meanwhile, Sarath Fonskea’ wife Anoma Fonseka who had originally accepted the UNP invitation to attend the rally later informed the party that she would not be participating in it.
The Generation Gap
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa doing an inspection round in the parliament recently had come across a painting he found intriguing on the ground floor.
Rajapaksa had stopped for a while to admire the painting when UNP Matara District parliamentarian Buddhika Pathirana approached the Speaker.
Pathirana also looked at the painting the Speaker was looking at in a pensive manner. Rajapaksa had then turned and asked Pathirana what he thought about the painting.
Pathirana had quipped that his thoughts were the same as the Speaker’s. Rajapaksa had asked with a smile how Pathirana could have the same feelings given the considerable age gap between the two.
Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody had also joined the group and when informed of the conversation, had laughed saying Pathirana is unable to think clearly since his mind was otherwise occupied.