who was silent when Minister A.H.M.
Fowzie was being silenced by UNP
defector Rajitha Senaratne over the
proposed ‘no noise’ law, decided to
speak up for the same cause when he
saw that the other MPs were not
allowing Environment Minister Champika
Ranawaka to defend it.
Never has any
party leader in the country endured
such an embarrassing moment. The
incident undoubtedly highlights the
deterioration that has set in in
government, apart from being an
indication of the present position of
the Rajapakse administration, after a
mere one year and ten months since
started with senior SLFP Minister
A.H.M. Fowzie facing an unfortunate
incident at the government
parliamentary group meeting.
a key role in bringing Rajapakse to
power. It was Fowzie and his son
Nauzer who gave prominence to
Rajapakse under Kumaratunga. Their
allegiance to Rajapakse at times made
them lose out on the political front.
The likes of
Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Vijithamuni
Soyza, Dulles Alahapperuma, Mervyn
Silva and Jagath Pushpakumara who have
now pledged loyalty to the Rajapakses
were the very people who attacked
those who were supportive of him
before he assumed office.
six months after assuming office as
President, Rajapakse showed his
gratitude by attacking Fowzie and his
son. The first to be attacked was the
however decided to keep quiet and go
on with their work.
At the last
ministerial meeting, Fowzie said that
the new laws on sound pollution
proposed by the Environment Ministry
were unfair by the religious
activities practiced in the country.
He said that
as a Muslim member, the law would
seriously pose a threat to the
religious activities of the Muslims.
the proposed legislation making
blaring sounds between 10 p.m. and 6
a.m. will be prohibited. This
encompasses the usage of loudspeakers.
pointed out that this timing clashed
with the prayer times in mosques.
However, he did not speak on behalf of
Muslims alone. He said the laws would
affect Buddhists as well.
Fowzie said that the government had to
take a decision on the matter.
As soon as
Fowzie finished speaking, UNP defector
and Minister Rajitha Senaratne started
to make fun of Fowzie’s comments. He
asked if Fowzie had read the proposed
laws before speaking. "Yes, Mr.
Minister, I did read it and it clearly
has laws that would prevent mosques
from using loudspeakers during prayer
time," Fowzie responded.
"It is not a
big issue, the bill also states that
you could make noise after receiving a
court order," Senaratne said.
"What are you
saying? Can a mosque go from court to
court requesting for an order to
pray?" Fowzie asked.
"This is the
Supreme Court determination. It has to
be done accordingly or else there is
nothing that could be done," Senaratne
"That is why
I said that we have to make a decision
as a government. We can ask the
Supreme Court," Fowzie continued, but
was interrupted by Senaratne who said,
"That cannot be done. I do not know
from which planet you have come from."
Rajapakse kept quiet with a slight
smile on his face.
realised that the President approved
of Senaratne for the comments passed
at Fowzie and decided to remain silent
without siding with Fowzie.
everyone remained silent during the
meeting, soon after it ended many
started to gather around Fowzie to
express their support to his
statement. "Why Mr. Minister did you
keep silent when Rajitha tried to
belittle you. You should have given
him back," they said.
"We are faced
with a funny situation. Those who
called Mahinda Rajapakse a thief on
stage during the presidential election
have today become his saviours and
those who stood by him in the hour of
need like Fowzie have now become
traitors," some other ministers said.
surrounded Fowzie said that they
cannot allow things to go on like
It was in
this backdrop that the government
parliamentary group was summoned to
brief them on the finance bills that
were to be presented on Thursday in
briefing the President asked Minister
Jeyaraj Fernandopulle how the
opposition was planning to vote on the
bills. Fernandopulle said that the UNP,
JVP and the TNA have already decided
to oppose the bills.
then inquired if it would be a close
call for the government. However,
Fernandopulle said that it would not
be a problem as JVP’s Wimal Weerawansa
and nine other members along with 10
TNA members were overseas.
but we have to be ready on Thursday.
There is no need for unwanted
problems. I have said on several
occasions that all government MPs
should attend parliament on the days
we are sitting. I see that there has
been no change in it as several MPs
are still absent during voting time.
This would continue if I do not take
action against two or three people,"
Rajapakse told Fernandopulle.
"That is true
Mr. President, some action has to be
taken," Fernandopulle said.
then looked at the group and said, "I
am making parliament compulsory for
all of you. I will take stern action
against those who do not attend
then inquired from Fernandopulle the
number of government members who were
overseas at the time. Fernandopulle
said that five or six members were out
of the island.
"Ask them to
return to the island. If they do not
get back, I will tell later the action
I would take against them," the
parliament agenda was taken up for
stood once again to take a swipe at
some other senior SLFP members.
President, I have great doubts about
the functions of COPE in parliament. I
think that some in the committee are
trying to put some of us who have
supported you in difficulty. Now the
Chairman of COPE has last week given
an interview to an English weekend
newspaper. He has clearly brought out
this issue during the discussion. He
has said that when COPE started to
investigate into corruption that has
taken place in the past, some have
joined the government and accepted
portfolios. Is he not openly attacking
our ministers who have supported you?
Besides, how can the COPE chairman
give such newspaper interviews? What
authority does he have? Does the
government allow him to do as he
pleases? If he continues like this,
Wijedasa Rajapaksa too would have to
be investigated," Senaratne said.
Senaratne unleashed a verbal attack
against Wijedasa Rajapaksa, it was
Minister Dilan Perera who rose to his
"What are you
saying? Why are you behaving like
this? COPE did not hold investigations
to suit anyone’s agenda. And it will
not be so. Besides, none of the
decisions were taken by Wijedasa
alone. It was the unanimous decision
of the committee represented by all
political parties in parliament. Why
have you been disturbed by it? We
cannot do anything just because some
from your group have been entangled in
it. We called witnesses. We arrived at
the decision after all that. We cannot
stop the investigations just because
some of you joined the government. If
that happens, it will be a shame for
"No one has
so far been punished legally.
According to our revelations, the
Bribery Commission and the Attorney
General’s Department will do what is
necessary. Why have you got so excited
before anything? It is also ugly to
scold Wijedasa Rajapaksa when he is
not here. If these allegations were
leveled at a time he was here, he
would have responded to them. It is
not good to keep silent when he is
present and to shout in his absence,"
well supported by his colleagues.
another UNP defector, Mano Wijeratne
who responded to Perera on the
allegations leveled against Rajapaksa.
Minister Rajitha said was true. COPE
has carried this further than
necessary. It is believed that COPE
carries out its work according to the
UNP’s wishes. It is clear because
those in COPE don’t just wait after
investigating. The chairman and
members come out and accuse people of
being rogues. To my knowledge
parliamentary committee chairmen do
not behave like this," he said.
Wijeratne’s words, some began to
question, "If you have not stolen then
why are you scared?"
again stood to respond to Wijeratne,
but the President interrupted him.
are not ready to accept everything
that you say. There is something that
I too accept. That is the fact that
COPE is going overboard. Also, I have
a doubt if there is some political
agenda behind it. You can’t play games
with me," Rajapakse said.
responded angrily but the President
retorted, "Dilan sit down. This
government functions according to what
I say. Those who do not want to abide
by it can leave."
and the UNP defectors looked at the
SLFP members with a smile on their
faces. Perera kept quiet and the other
members too remained silent.
Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa then
once again raised the issue previously
raised by Fowzie.
He said that
apart from the Muslim mosques, the
laws would also pose a problem to
temples during the chanting of
Pirith, especially during times of
the perahera. Yapa added that the
thoughtless laws proposed by the
Environment Ministry would stifle
Minister Champika Ranawaka then
responded to Yapa’s and Fowzie’s
interruptions by Yapa, Ranawaka
started to raise his voice and the
silent SLFP members began to shout:
"What you say does not happen in Sri
Lanka. First get your feet on the
ground. Go to the villages and see.
Ringing bells in temples alone would
did not allow Ranawaka to speak and
when he tried to continue, some of the
SLFPers seated at the back started to
hoot at him. Ranawaka was immediately
silenced and the President who
realised that the SLFP members were
none too pleased with the situation
said, "It’s Ok, I too am against the
bill. Champika first told me that it
was good, but now I understand that it
is not practical. I have asked the
secretary of the Buddha Sasana
Ministry to meet me. I want to tell
him to inform the Supreme Court
through the Attorney General that the
government finds it difficult to enact
the bill. We might then be able to
amend the bill and present it without
who kept quiet at the cabinet meeting
when Senaratne tried to ridicule
Fowzie had to intervene this time and
oppose the bill as the SLFPers ganged
up against the leadership.
At the end of
the meeting, many surrounded Perera
and congratulated him for standing up
to the leadership. "Great, you were
the only with a backbone to stand in
front of the leader," they said. Even
Mahindananda Aluthgamage who
approached Perera secretively shook
hands with him and said it was
too later heard of the support
received by Perera at the end of the
parliamentary group meeting and the
fact that he is perceived by SLFP MPs
as supporting the UNP defectors and
other alliance partners at the expense
of the SLFPers.
firm ‘no’ to military solution
It is evident
that President Mahinda Rajapakse and
his government have adopted an
arrogant attitude towards the
shown his arrogance to many countries
and even to the UN. However,
neighbouring India was at the
receiving end of Rajapakse’s arrogance
Sri Lanka to
an extent lost the relationship it had
built with India over the years due to
the attitude of the Rajapakses in
dealing with the giant neighbour.
Finally realising that losing India’s
friendship was a great loss to the
country, the President decided to send
two of his brothers – Basil and
Gotabaya, and Presidential Secretary
Lalith Weeratunga to India to engage
in some damage control work.
Indian leader they met was National
Security Advisor, M.K. Narayanan last
Sunday. He was the highest ranking
official the Presidential delegation
was able to meet during their tour to
India and the Sri Lankans received a
strong message from India.
and Gotabaya briefed Narayanan on the
situation in the north and east of the
country and the general security
spoke of resettling the displaced
Tamils and spoke of the measures to be
taken in the future in this regard.
they also told Narayanan that the
government forces have captured
Silavathurai and that since the LTTE
did not seem keen to resume the peace
process, the government was planning
on using its full force to launch an
offensive in the north.
listening to what Basil and Gotabaya
had to say, Narayanan explained
India’s stance on Sri Lanka’s north
He gave a
clear response. He said that India did
not wish to support Sri Lanka’s
decision to solve the problem through
asked Basil and Gotabaya not to opt
for a military solution, as it would
have an impact on India’s central
government. He said that when the
government launches an offensive in
the north, the Tamils in the area
would flee to South India and the
southern government would then exert
pressure on the central government on
He also said
that the reason for the north-east
problem to have gone so far was the
government’s inability to present the
Tamil people with an acceptable
political settlement. Narayanan added
that although Rajapakse had on several
occasions promised the Indian Premier
to find a political solution to the
problem, no such proposals have so far
President said that the north and the
east would be merged according to the
Indo-Lanka Agreement and that a
solution acceptable to the Tamil
people would be presented. But, when
you look at it, your government has
broken its promise. Therefore, this
cannot go on like this. A political
settlement has to be put forward and
then return to the negotiating table,"
For the past
several years, India has provided Sri
Lanka with military training and
facilities. However, the cold war
started by Rajapakse has resulted in
India deciding not to provide any
military equipment to the country
another reason for India to arrive at
this decision. That was the fact that
Sri Lanka while accepting non
offensive material free from India,
paid large sums of money to Pakistan,
China and Ukraine for military
backdrop, Basil and Gotabaya decided
to do some explaining to Narayanan.
They said that Sri Lanka was facing an
economic crisis and that it was
difficult for the country to pay for
responded that India could not change
its policies, but said they could
consider granting a special concession
to Sri Lanka. He said that payments
could be made in installments subject
to a low interest rate.
Lankan delegation then spoke of South
Indian politician Nedumaran’s decision
to forcefully enter Jaffna.
that if Nedumaran entered Jaffna with
relief supplies for the people in the
north, it would lead to a diplomatic
clash and that it would be a problem
for the Sri Lanka Navy. They asked
Narayanan to stop the visit.
Indian law, anyone taking things out
of the country has to pay taxes. If
Nedumaran tries to leave the country
with any commodities, the Indian
Customs would tax him. If anyone tries
to take things illegally, they will be
arrested. That is the law. However,
since the Sri Lankan government is
worried about him, I will go to South
India and speak about this issue. I
will also meet Karunanidhi. Let’s try
to solve it without letting it get out
of hand," Narayanan said.
Lankan delegation also held
discussions with the Indian Defence
Secretary, Foreign Secretary and heads
of intelligence units.
also a decision that the meetings will
be kept confidential but no sooner the
official visit ended the government
put out an ‘official communiqué’ on
the ‘decisions’ reached including one
to appoint a joint defence committee
much to India’s embarrassment.
history the Rajapakse way
Mahinda Rajapakse is determined to
re-write the history of the SLFP.
over the party leadership during
former leader Chandrika Kumaratunga’s
absence from the country, Rajapakse
has systematically sidelined those who
supported the earlier dispensation and
brought in those loyal to him to
manage party affairs.
But what has
irked senior SLFP members is the
humiliation the old guard is subjected
to by Rajapakse completely oblivious
to the past actions of the newcomers
of Rajapakse is to break with the past
completely and present the SLFP as a
party following the Rajapakse
Chinthanaya as opposed to that of
S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and it is to
further that objective he invited
former SLFP General Secretary J.R.P.
Suriyapperuma to be the guest speaker
at last week’s SLFP convention.
This move the
President believed would humiliate
Kumaratunga to whom the President
directed an invitation be sent as the
party’s patron. The idea was to have
Kumaratunga in the audience and get
Suriyapperuma to praise the virtues of
Rajapakse and attack the Bandaranaike
wind of this move Kumaratunga decided
to boycott the ceremony and launch a
scathing attack on the direction of
the SLFP under Rajapakse’s leadership.
anticipated, Suriyapperuma in his
speech praised the father of the
nation, D.S. Senanayake and projected
Rajapakse as the next great leader Sri
Lanka has produced. The message was
that S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Sirimavo
Bandaranaike and Chandrika Kumaratunga
not to mention, Dudley Senanayake, Sir
John Kotelawala, W. Dahanayake, J.R.
Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa and
D.B. Wijetunge did not qualify to even
stand alongside Rajapakse.
hearing the strategy afoot,
Kumaratunga came out all guns blazing,
passing her own indictment on
Asked for a
response as to why she did not attend
the convention, this is what
Kumaratunga had to say:
first time since I left the presidency
of the country, I have been sent an
invitation by the SLFP in due time.
Before this, either I was not invited
at all for important party meetings or
the invitation was sent only a day or
two earlier giving me no time to
prepare my schedule to attend the
of the 56
anniversary of the party, I would have
been happy to attend to pay my
dedicated respects to the party, even
though the present government led by
the SLFP President has radically
changed the party’s fundamental
policies and principles in a manner
seriously detrimental to the party’s
interest. For instance, the SLFP was
the premier people’s party, which
brought in the peoples era in 1956
under the leadership of the party’s
Founder Leader, Hon. S. W. R. D.
Bandaranaike. All governments of our
party continued these people’s
policies in economic, social and
cultural spheres, until November 2005.
"Today it is
sad to note, that the policies of the
Bandaranaikes on which the party was
founded and carried forward with the
full approval of the people have been
thrown overboard, without presenting a
it is so with the SLFP policies on the
ethnic question. In 1958 the BC Pact,
and from 1994-2005 my government’s
proposals embodied the concept of
power sharing through extensive
devolution of political power. This
has been changed radically by the
"What is even
more serious is that the changes of
policy have been done without
consultation with the relevant bodies
of the party. Until November 2005,
especially during the period of my
government, extensive discussions at
various levels were held with members
of the party and leaders on the
proposals for devolution of power.
These policies were adopted only after
the party’s relevant bodies gave their
full and free consent, after lengthy
discussions regarding the proposals.
"None of this
has happened today. A couple of
people, supposedly with the
participation of extremists from other
groups have drawn up a confused
so-called policy statement. Varying
statements are being made by different
leaders of the SLFP regarding the so
called new policy.
party’s present President has obtained
approval from the party’s central
committee and ex-co, without allowing
any discussion, even shouting down
very senior members of the party.
"Even in this
backdrop, I wished to attend the
party’s anniversary commemoration as a
loyal and dedicated party member, if
only to pay my deep respect to the
"But when I
learnt that the only key note speaker
was to be Mr. J. R. P. Suriyapperuma,
I could not agree to stoop as low to
participate in an event where Mr.
Suriyapperuma talked to SLFPers on the
SLFP. This was for the following
Suriyapperuma shouted on platforms all
over the country that he would remove
and throw away every single stone in
the Bandaranaike Samadhi and
grow manioc on the Samadhi.
sometime he was forgiven and taken
back into the party and then he joined
with Mr. Dulles Alahapperuma,
Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda
Rajapakse and a few others to tour the
entire country addressing SLFPers
requesting them to join in ousting
Sirimavo Bandaranaike from the party
leadership. This was in 1980 when Mrs.
Bandaranaike’s civic rights were
unjustly removed by the J.R.
Jayewardene government. J. R. P.
Suriyapperuma was the leading speaker
who went about abusing Mrs.
Bandaranaike in the lowest terms.
iii. It was
Vijaya and I together with Hon. T. B.
Illangaratne, Hon. Hector Kobbekaduwa,
Hon. Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and
other seniors of the party who fought
this treacherous lot and protected
Mrs. Bandaranaike’s leadership and
prevented the party from breaking up.
iv. The anti-Mrs.
Bandaranaike group did not forgive
Vijaya and me for this and succeeded
after sometime in getting Vijaya
suspended from the party. Maithripala
Sirisena, Mahinda Rajapakse and
Stanley Tillekeratne were the main
leaders of the group. It is the
sacking of Vijaya that caused, T. B.
Illangaratne, Kobbekaduwa, B. W.
Kularatne, myself and a large number
of SLFP leaders and organisers to
leave the party. They did not go off
on their own free will. It was the
Mahinda and Maithri group that was
responsible for chasing them out.
v. This same,
J. R. P. Suriyapperuma went around
attacking me when I first contested as
chief minister and then as premiership
v . This is
the period during which Mahinda
organised a four-page rag sheet
exclusively for the purpose of
attacking me in filth. The editor of
this was Dulles. They even went as far
as publishing that Vimukthi was not
Therefore even though other SLFPers
through greed for power may be willing
to sacrifice principles, I could not
listen to Mr. J. R. P. Suriyapperuma
about the SLFP."
decides to take Karu to task
parliamentary group met last Monday.
commenced with Opposition Leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe briefing the group on
the five financial bills the
government was planning to present to
He said that
the government was planning on
imposing several new taxes that would
further burden the people.
through the budget that taxes are
usually proposed. This is to hoodwink
the people. When they impose the taxes
now, they have nothing to include in
the budget. The people would then see
it as a rosy budget. The proposed tax
on mobile phones is unacceptable. We
have to oppose all these bills," he
agreed with Wickremesinghe and decided
to vote against the bills in
Karunanayake spoke next. He explained
the problems faced by the people due
to the depreciation of the rupee
against the dollar. The parliamentary
group agreed to act on it as well.
Wickremesinghe spoke again and brought
to the notice of the group, a
statement made by Karu Jayasuriya. "He
has said that we were trying to buy
back some of the UNP members who went
with them through a person called
Gnanakoon. It is an irresponsible
statement. If it is true, then Karu
Jayasuriya should go to the Bribery
Commission and make a statement, but
he has not done so," Wickremesinghe
He then asked
Joseph Michael Perera to send
Jayasuriya a letter on the matter.
the UNP political affairs committee
arrived at an important decision at
its last meeting chaired by
That was to
withdraw from the All Party
Representatives Committee (APRC).
agreed that it was pointless to be
part of the APRC as the government was
not planning to bring a solution to
the problem in the north and east.
was also appointed to look into the
report submitted by the select
committee published under the 17