Women MPs yearn for foreign trips with Speaker
UPFA sets all in place for presidential poll
United National Party (UNP) General Secretary TissaAttanayake received numerous telephone calls last week, inquiring about the exclusion of some MPs from the G 20, the team appointed by the party hierarchy to work out the campaign strategy for the snap presidential election to be conducted in January.
The G 20 met for the third time last Friday. Right at the commencement of the meeting, Mr. Attanayake said he did not have a say in increasing the membership of G 20 at this moment.
“I can only resign to make way for another member to be accommodated,” he said.
Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe tried to allay the worries of such MPs saying that he appointed this team for collective decision making regarding the proposed snap election, and for nothing more than that.
In his attempt to pacify the worrying members, he recalled that even he was barred from such responsibilities during the presidential election campaigns of late leaders J.R.Jayewardene and R. Premadasa.
“Then President the late Jayewardene included party stalwarts such as Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake and Cyril Mathew. I did not play a similar role in the committee that spearheaded the presidential election campaign of late President R. Premadasa. I became a part of such a body only as a presidential candidate later on. Therefore, there is nothing to worry,” he said.
There is a perception among some UNP members that the G 20 is virtually the blueprint for the Cabinet of a future government, and therefore, those left out will not receive any ministerial perk in case the party is voted into power. The party leader tried to allay such fears among those concerned. Party’s Kandy district MP Lakshman Kiriella gave a fillip to Mr. Wickremesinghe’s attempts in allaying such worries though in a lighter spirit.
“There are only 20 MPs in the G 20. But, the UNP has the option to appoint 25 members to the Cabinet. Therefore, five more members from outside the G 20 stand the chance to join the Cabinet. So, we can ask them not to worry about ministerial perks,” he jovially remarked. His remarks were received with a burst of laughter by the participants.
The G 20 includes MPs Sajith Premadasa (Deputy Leader), KaruJayasuriya (Leadership Council Chairman), Kabir Hasheem(Chairman), Tissa Attanayake, Daya Gamage (National Organiser), Joseph Michael Perera, Mangala Samaraweera, Lakshman Kiriella, P.Harrison, Gayantha Karunatilake, Wijedasa Rajapakse, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Thalata Atukorale, D.M. Swaminathan, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Eran Wickramaratne, Harin Fernando, Ruwan Wijewardene, Ravi Karunanayake and Rosy Senanayake.
"There is a perception among some UNP members that the G 20 is virtually the blueprint for the Cabinet of a future government, and therefore, those left out will not receive any ministerial perk in case the party is voted into power"
The G 20 met with leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in the chair, and discussed the strategies for the next election. Mr. Wickremesinghe told the meeting that he had done successful negotiations with like-minded parties for co-operation at the election.
It was made mandatory for all the members to attend the meetings of G 20 hereafter, as it is the most important body discussing matters pertaining to the election widely anticipated in January.
Rosy wants more woman MPs in foreign jaunts
Sri Lanka branch of the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) met with Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa in the chair in the parliamentary complex on Tuesday. The Speaker notified the MPs that the IPU had restricted its funding, and therefore, the foreign study tours would be limited for them in future.
It did not come as happy news for the MPs looking for foreign jaunts. They did not want to see any curtailment of such tours. So, they pleaded the Speaker to engage the IPU to secure necessary funds.
Alongside, UNP MP Rosy Senanayake requested the Speaker to make sure that at least two woman MPs were included in parliamentary delegations undertaking overseas visits under IPU sponsored programmes.
UNP MP Wijeyakala Maheswaran, the widow of slain UNP MP T. Maheswaran, was quick to add that she could enjoy most during tours undertaken with the Speaker as the head of the delegation.
“We can enjoy most when travelling with the Speaker as the head of the delegation only,” she said.
All the participants were curious to know the reason for such special treatments for delegations headed by the Speaker. Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga revealed the secret at this point.
“The Speaker is the elder brother of the King governing this country. So, he is well received, and treated with all the luxuries abroad. We can also get the same treatment by travelling with him,” he said.
After such bantering, the Speaker mentioned about a tour being scheduled for March next year. There was general concern among the participants whether the government would have declared a general election by that time, making it impossible to be undertaken. The Speaker asked the MPs representing the ruling party to say whether there was an element of truth in such speculation about a general elections by March.
Lights cross talks ensued between the members in this regard, and ruling party MP Janaka Bandara only said it would be better to extend the term of the present parliament rather than declaring general elections.
But, ruling party MP A.H.M. Azwer welcomed elections at any time, and queried as to why the opposition was so worried to face elections. He drew a sarcastic response from UNP MP Gayantha Karunatilake for such remarks.
“You are always nominated on the National List. So, there is nothing for you to worry. Also, you keep on switching sides in keeping with the political trend of the country. You have represented both the UNP and the government on the National List,” he told Mr. Azwer.
Dinesh invites Rosy for a project visit
UNP MP Rosy Senanayake raised a question about what she called ‘the dilapidated condition of the main pump house supplying drinking water to the Trincomalee area from the Kantalai tank. She involved herself in a debate with Water Supply Minister Dinesh Gunawardane over the matter. Finally, Mr. Gunawardane, who said the pump house was functioning well, asked her to join him on the next project visit.
Ms. Senanayake willingly agreed to join the trip and see for herself the ground reality.
Douglas wants Deyata Kirula in North
At the Jaffna District Co-ordinating Committee meeting, Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda requested President Mahinda Rajapksa to conduct the 2016 Deyata Kirula exhibition in the North.
So far, the government had conducted this exhibition accompanied by a major development drive in the area concerned, covering the North Central, North Western, Eastern and Uva provinces. It will be conducted next year in Matara covering the Southern province. So, the Minister wanted it next time in the North
Besides,Mr. Devananda is engaging the government to secure the release of Tamil youths held up in jail for their involvement in the LTTE activities. Particularly he wants the release of those accused of less serious crimes during their involvement with the terrorist organisation. “I am preparing a list of those needed to be set free. We the government, rehabilitated more than 12,000 LTTE cadres and re-united them with society,” he said.
Minister Devananda was on the top of the LTTE hit list at that time. He survived many an attempt to take his life by the terrorist outfit before it was decimated in May, 2009.
Mano-Wiggie talks on presidential polls
Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran held one on one talks with Democratic People’s Front leader Mano Ganeshan on Tuesday covering a wide range of political issues, with particular emphasis on those related to the anticipated presidential election.
Mr.Wigneswaran said he, as the chief executive officer of the only provincial council governed by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), had a duty entrusted upon him. He is reported to have said that he has been elected under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, and that, there is a duty cast upon him to implement its powers as the representative elected under the constitutional provisions.
While the TNA engages the government for a power sharing arrangement beyond the 13th Amendment, he said that he, as the Chief Minister, should execute powers vested with him under the present Constitution. Yet, he reportedly raised concerns that he did not even enjoy the powers given to the chief ministers of the other provincial councils operating in the South.
For the appointment of a governor and a provincial secretary, he said the other chief ministers had been consulted properly. In this respect, he drew a comparison between him and Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga.
In his opinion, nobody is bothered about the existence of Western Province Governor Alavi Moulana as he had little involvement in running the council. Likewise, the Chief Minister enjoys better administrative powers. Nonetheless, he opined to Mr. Ganeshan that he has a total different situation in the North where, he charged, the governor was wielding his powers.
Articulating his position on the presidential election, he said he would take a stand after considering the approach of the respective candidates towards the implementation of the 13th Amendment.
Basil strict on organisers
The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is in the process of opening election co-ordinating offices throughout the country. One such office was opened on October 19 in Kegalle with the participation of party seniors such as Ministers W.D.J. Seneviratne, S.M. Chandrasena and the party organisers in the district.
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa convened a meeting of the party organisers at his Gampaha office last Sunday. The Minister asked the organisers to unite with each other and work for the election, casting aside all differences.
Kelaniya Urban Council Chairman Prasanna Munaweera who is at loggerheads with area organiser Minister Mervin Silva, stood up to raise a matter. But, Minister Rajapaksa, apparently sensing the nature of the complaint, was not ready to entertain Mr. Ranaweera.
Instead, the Minister asked him to go elsewhere and work for the party if he was unable to co-operate with the organiser of his electorate at the moment.
“There is no need for the organisers to restrict themselves to their particular electorates only. They can go elsewhere and work,” he said.
Arjuna invited to join UNP
Democratic National Alliance (DNA) MP Arjuna Ranatunga has been invited to team up with the UNP. It is learnt that his family members prefer him to join at least the UNP rather than being in the DNA. Mr. Ranatunga, the world cup winning skipper, started politics with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. At the last presidential election, he supported the candidacy of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka. Soon after, he contested at the general elections under the DNA led by Mr. Fonseka and got elected from the Kalutara district. However, he fell out with Mr. Fonseka later.