Parliament will not be dissolved until the economy stabilises - President | Sunday Observer

Parliament will not be dissolved until the economy stabilises - President

27 November, 2022

President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Wednesday, November 23, that any attempt to create another ‘Aragalaya’ aimed at changing the Government will not be allowed.

He said that the military will be deployed and Emergency Law will be enforced to prevent such attempts as there is no room for Dinh Diems in this country. The President said that the public no longer supports the ‘Aragalaya’ and public protests. The ‘Aragalaya’ is being hyped by the media. He said that he will appoint a commission to investigate the alleged media involvement in the ‘Aragalaya’ and what led to chaos in the country.

President Wickremesinghe said that differences in opinion in the House should not lead to the deaths of MPs, such as those which took place during the recent unrest.

He condemned the destruction of property of MPs during the unrest. “These MPs did not fall from the sky. There are good and bad MPs, and 196 of them were elected by the people. They need to be protected. On July 9, 2022, the then President was chased away, and they ransacked the President’s House. Then they occupied the President’s Office.”

He said that his own residence was torched because he refused to step down and questioned why he should when he commanded the majority in Parliament. The President also said he will not dissolve Parliament until the economy is stabilised and not to allow another Aragalaya to change the Government.

He said, “Sri Lanka is facing a massive economic crisis and therefore attention should be given to solve it. The public is not demanding an election but they are seeking relief.”

Membership suspended

The SLFP Central Committee on Monday, November 21 suspended the membership of nine members including former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga until the disciplinary action against them is concluded. The other suspended members are Nimal Siripala de Silva, Mahinda Amaraweera, Jagath Pushpakumara, Chamara Sampath Dassanayake, Shantha Bandara, Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Ranjith Siyambalapiriya and Suren Raghawan, those who joined the present Government accepting ministerial portfolios.

SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara said disciplinary action against them will be taken for violating the party’s constitution. Meanwhile, the Central Committee on Monday, November 21 appointed former Deputy Speaker and Parliamentarian Thilanga Sumathipala as the new General Secretary of the SLFP-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) by replacing Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.

However, five constituent parties of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) have stated that they do not accept MP Thilanga Sumathipala as the new General Secretary of the political alliance. Issuing a joint statement, the parties point out that they have not been notified regarding the removal of Minister Mahinda Amaraweera who was the General Secretary of the UPFA, or the appointment of a new General Secretary.


SJB Hambantota District Parliamentarian Dilip Wedaarachchi, demanding solutions to a series of issues suffered by the fishing community, sat in the middle of the Chamber in protest during the Second Reading debate on Budget 2023 proposals on Monday, November 21.

MP Wedaarachchi sat in the middle of the Chamber after he finished his speech. During his speech, Wedaarachchi said that fishermen who spend months in multi-day fishing boats do not get a fair price for the harvest.

He said that while the world is celebrating World Fisheries Day, Sri Lankan fishermen are struggling to survive. He said that there is a secret transaction pertaining to importing ‘Linna’ (mackerel fish) to Sri Lanka from China. Due to this, local fishermen cannot get a fair price for their harvest. Following his speech, MP Wedaarachchi came into the middle of the Chamber and sat there for about 10 minutes.

Unconditional support

Chief Government Whip Minister Prasanna Ranatunga said that the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has decided to extend its unconditional support to the Budget for 2023.

He said that the SLPP has not put any conditions to support President Ranil Wickremsinghe at this crucial time. He said that the current President was appointed with the support of Pohottuwa and therefore, there is a mutual understanding between the two parties because of this reason.

“We have decided to support the Budget at this time as the best support that we can give to save the country from the prevailing economic crisis.” Ranatunga said. “We accept that the Government has not presented a welfare Budget at this time according to the current situation in the country. This is not the time to provide welfare benefits to anyone. It is time to work together to help the people of the country from the prevailing crisis situation by reducing expenses while increasing income in order to stabilise the economy,” he said.

The Minister said there are a few people in the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) who are afraid to accept challenges. They think that they would not be able to face those challenges. They only know to criticise everything. They do not have a proper program to free this country from the prevailing crisis.”

Fairy tales

SJB Parliamentarian Imthiaz Bakeer Markar told Parliament the Government cannot deceive the youth of the country with meaningless talk or fairy tales. Opening the debate on the Second Reading of the 2023 Budget on Monday.

MP Bakeer Markar said that even though the Budget seems to have many liberal aspects, its politics is not so liberal. He said, “A Government that tries to maintain its ground solely on suppression cannot be considered as a democratic Government. A country that is not politically stable cannot draw the attention of foreign investors. If the country wants economic stabilisation, we first need to appoint a Government that has a people’s mandate.” He said that the Opposition has superseded traditional politics and is supporting a number of social welfare oriented projects.

Unethical behaviour

The Opposition raised concerns in Parliament over the National Police Commission (NPC) Chairman Chandra Fernando and another NPC member being among those who welcomed former Minister and SLPP National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa on last Sunday, November 20.

While saying that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution proposes Independent Commissions, the Opposition questioned as to how the Government plans to set up Independent Commissions while the chief of such a commission is involved in welcoming a former Minister. Several Opposition MPs raised concerns in Parliament on Monday on the ‘VIP’ treatment provided to former Finance Minister Rajapaksa upon his arrival in Sri Lanka last Sunday.

SJB MP Nalin Bandara said that such individuals are an obstruction to the establishment of Independent Commissions and the development of Sri Lanka.

Speaking to the media on Monday, November 21, Chandra Fernando refuted the allegations that he went to welcome Rajapaksa.

He said, “I was at the BIA when I heard Basil Rajapaksa had arrived in the country. I heard some people had gathered there to spark clashes. That was why I went there. I am not biased towards anyone because it is not suitable for my post.”

Second Reading passed

The Second Reading of the Budget 2023 was passed by a majority of 37 votes in Parliament on Tuesday, November 22. One-hundred-and-twenty-one votes were cast in support of the second reading of the Budget while 84 votes were against it. Samagi Jana Balawegaya, National People’s Power, independent MPs group led by MP Dullas Alahapperuma and the independent MPs group led by MP Wimal Weerawansa voted against the Budget.

Of the 225 MPs, 18 were not present in the Chamber when the vote was taken including 10 MPs of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani Leader MP C. V. Wigneswaran abstained from voting. Government MPs who were absent during the voting include Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena and MP Janaka Thissakuttiaarachchi due to health reasons.

Independent MPs who voted in favour of the Budget were W.D.J. Seneviratne, A.L.M. Athaulla, Priyankara Jayarathna, Nimal Lanza, Duminda Dissanayake, Jeevan Thondaman, Ali Sabry Raheem and M. Rameshwaran.

Independent MPs groups that voted against the Budget included a group led by Prof. G.L. Peiris group, group led by MP Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, SLFP group led by former President Maithripala Sirisena, group led by MP Wimal Weerawansa and independent MP Ishak Rahuman.

Democratic ‘Aragalaya’

Opposition Leader Premadasa said told Parliament on Friday, November 25, that he is supportive of a democratic ‘Aragalaya’ unconditionally. Opposition Leader Premadasa said that he sent an official response to the offer for him to become the Prime Minister in the Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime, to which both Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and Samagi Jana Sandanaya (SJS) consented.

Premadasa said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe partially quoted his letter to the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa regarding the matter. He said that he would never have taken up the post without forwarding any conditions. Premadasa also said that he is not power hungry to agree to such an arrangement without any conditions.

“Like an auction”

SLPP Parliamentarian Rohitha Abeygunawardena said if President Ranil Wickremesinghe did not take up the challenge to resolve the economic and political issues, the country would have turned into a graveyard.

Joining the Committee Stage debate on the Budget Proposals 2023, Abeygunawardena said, “During former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s rule, there was a serious protest against him. The protesters also occupied the President’s house. When he planned to appoint a Prime Minister there were several names proposed including Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sajith Premadasa, Sarath Fonseka, Anura Dissanayake and Dullas Alahapperuma.

“The Prime Minister’s post was basically like an auction. We agreed to Ranil Wickremesinghe’s name because he is a seasoned politician with strong local and international relations. If Gotabaya Rajapaksa did not resign, he would not be alive now. If Ranil Wickremesinghe did not take up the challenge, this country would have turned into a graveyard.

“We, as the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, believed that we should appoint our then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the President. We could not allow anarchy to prevail. Whatever happens, we first need to establish democratic rule in the country,” he said.

Unfortunate situation

National People’s Power MP Vijitha Herath told Parliament on Wednesday, November 23 that President Ranil Wickremesinghe should be grateful for the ‘Aragalaya’ protesters as he was able to become the President because of their protest.

MP Herath said that instead of being grateful, he is now hunting down the protesters and using military and police to eliminate them. It is an unfortunate situation.

Joining the Committee Stage debate on the Budget 2023, Herath said that Wickremesinghe is occupying the seat of the Executive Presidency owing to the commitment of the youth in the country. He said that the ‘Aragalaya’ did not spring suddenly from nowhere and pointed out that because of it, the political arena underwent major changes.

“Nameboard only”

Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is going on the wrong path and will become a Party limited to only a name board and a building soon.

The Minister in reply to a question raised by a journalist following a ceremony in Colombo on Tuesday, November 22 said that he has not been officially notified of his alleged removal from the post of General Secretary of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).

Amaraweera said that a group of Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s strongmen, who obtained hundreds of thousands of votes, have been removed and another group has been given new positions in the party. The Minister also said that he has not changed parties unlike some in the now holding office in the SLFP.

Not officially informed

Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva at a press conference in Colombo on Thursday, November 24 said that a set of opportunists who e joined the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) recently have started pointing fingers at them for defecting from the party. He said that these elements are not aware that it was the SLFP which first took the decision to support the Government in power to form a National Government to address burning issues of the country.

The Minister said that the party has not officially informed them about their removal from the party. He said “We will take legal action after we are informed about the suspension of party membership.”


SJB Parliamentarian Chaminda Wijesiri was suspended from attending Parliamentary sessions on Wednesday, November 23 by the Speaker for attempting to assault SLPP Parliamentarian Nimal Lanza inside the Chambers.

The incident took place when MP Lanza expressed his opinion on Local Government Elections during the Committee Stage debate on the Budget 2023. Lanza said that the Government does not want to postpone the Local Government election.

“However, people say there are too many council members already. People see the election as a waste of money. That is why we are trying to minimise the number of electoral divisions. All parties should get together and come to an agreement regarding this.”

After MP Lanza made that comment MP Wijesiri questioned it off mike. Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requested MP Wijesiri to not create trouble in the Chamber. Then raising a Point of Order, Leader of the House Minister Susil Premajayantha said, “Look at the behaviour of this MP. He tried to assault the other MP. Please refer this matter to the disciplinary committee.This House is there to discuss matters, not to assault people. How can he assault another MP?”

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena who was present at the Chamber too expressed his dissatisfaction over the SJB MP’s behaviour and requested the Speaker to send the MP out. As per the Standing Orders, the Speaker then ordered MP Chaminda Wijesiri to leave the Chamber.

“Nefarious elements”

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said that the incumbent Chairman and the General Secretary of the SLFP are not aware of how a membership of a party member is suspended.

She said, “It is the normal procedure to call for explanation from the member in question before a decision is taken to suspend his or her party membership.”

At a press conference in Colombo on Wednesday, November 23, the former President said that she came to know that her party membership has been suspended through the media.

She said, “Maithripala Sirisena was the patron of the party for five years and he has instructed the party not to invite me for any party meeting.”

Former President Kumaratunga said that she has been working with the party members and the majority of party members are with her. “These nefarious elements are trying to auction the party to the Rajapaksas’ again,” she said.