SLFP Tells President to Guard Loose Cannons Before Losing Simple Majority

By Gagani Weerakoon | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 4 2021
Ceylon Politics SLFP Tells President to Guard Loose Cannons Before Losing Simple Majority
By Gagani Weerakoon

If any action is not taken on SLPP MPs who are loose cannons and are overconfident about the two-third majority, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is deemed to end up with a Government without even a simple majority, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party warned, recently.

Senior Vice President of the SLFP and Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera said if the SLFP along with the constituent parties who are disgruntled within the SLPP, were to opt out of the current Government, the latter stands to lose even a simple majority in the present Parliament.

Amaraweera pointed out that the total number of MPs who could leave this Government could even be over 50.

“We urge the President to be wary of certain SLPP MPs who have been demanding the SLFP to leave the present regime, as that could well be a sinister plot hatched within the Government to politically destabilise the President,” he said.

The Minister mentioned that the very people who have been urging the SLFP to leave the SLPP Government had done likewise to smaller parties led by Ministers Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and Vasudeva Nanayakkara as well.

But, he insisted that the SLFP has no intention of severing links with the Government and then to back any Opposition Party to assume power.

Speaker disappointed

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena on Tuesday (30) expressed his disappointment over front row members – majority of whom are ministers – in the Chamber not attending Parliamentary sittings. 

The Speaker who addressed Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando told the latter to inform the ministers not to avoid attending the sittings. 

The Speaker: “I am highly disappointed to see empty seats in the front benches. None of the ministers who are sitting beside the Chief Government Whip are present. I request the Chief Government Whip to advise them to attend the sittings frequently as it is a collective responsibility of the House.”

Furthermore, the Speaker said that all the ministers never miss sittings where the President participates. 

“It seems that we might have to request the President to attend every sitting at this scale, to have ministers in the Chamber,” he stressed. 

Sri Lanka to export cannabis 

State Minister of Promotion of Indigenous Medicine, Development of Rural and Ayurvedic Hospitals Sisira Jayakody said that necessary Bills will be tabled in Parliament within the next 90-day period aimed at exporting of medicinal cannabis.

He stated that medicinal cannabis has been proved to be a cure for diseases such as cancer and nerve related ailments as well as mental illnesses.

Jayakody added that within the next three months the Government will look to submit the relevant laws and Bills to Parliament ahead of their ratification.

 “Sold or leased?” – Ranil and Tissa lock horns 

A heated argument erupted between UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and SJB MP Tissa Attanayake over the Hambantota Port, on Thursday (2) in Parliament.

Participating in the Committee Stage Debate on Expenditure Heads of the Ports and Shipping Ministry, Attanayake said the Hambantota Port was sold.

Wickremesinghe, who intervened, said the port was not sold, but was given on lease for only 70 years.

Attanayake: “I do not want to argue with Wickremesinghe. He was my former leader. But when an asset is leased for more than 33 years, it is considered sold. Can you tell me if we have ever taken back an asset which was leased decades back?”

Wickremesinghe: “If we want to take back the port, we can do it even tomorrow. According to the agreement, we will have to pay a fine. That is what is mentioned in the agreement.”

Ports Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena: “What the former PM said about the lease period of Hambantota Port is incorrect. It has been leased for 99 years, not for 70 years. I will send a copy of the agreement to the former PM.”

Parliament in darkness 

A major electricity breakdown occurred around the island on Friday (3) with Parliament also being affected. Parliament was also without electricity for a few minutes during the Budget debate before the generators were switched on. However, after few hours the generator also stopped with only the Chamber lights and back up battery of the audio system working.

Meanwhile, SJB MP Thushara Indunil Amarasena and SLPP MP Lalith Ellawala were stuck the Parliament lift for about 15 minutes, during the power cut.

Vijitha fires salvo at GMOA 

Jathika Jana Balawegaya (JJB) MP Vijitha Herath on Tuesday (30) blamed the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) for pressuring the Health Ministry not to appoint medical administrator grade doctors to hospitals, in order to carry out its own agenda in the Health Ministry and State hospitals. 

Participating in the Committee Stage Debate on the Expenditure Head of the Health Ministry, Herath said that there is an administrative crisis in the country’s health service.

“The success of any institute depends on its administration. There is an administration crisis in State hospitals. Main reason for this is not appointing chief administrative officers to hospitals. A mechanism was introduced years ago to recruit medical administrator grade doctors. To provide education and training to a medical officer to become a medical administrator grade doctor, the Government spends about Rs 20 million. However, they are not recruited to hospitals. They have been neglected by the Health Ministry. Medical administrator grade doctors went to Court and the Health Ministry Secretary agreed to recruit them within three weeks. Although the Gazette Notification was issued, no recruitment was done. When the Gazette was discussed at Cabinet meetings, both the former and current Health Minister tried to cancel the Gazette,” he claimed.

The reason behind this is the influence of the GMOA. They pressure ministers not to recruit medical administrator grade doctors. Several GMOA members try to make the Health Ministry to dance to their tunes. They want to carry out their agendas in the Ministry and hospitals, Herath alleged and added, “That is why Muruththettuwe Ananada Thera said that a GMOA member requested him to influence the authorities to appoint the latter as the Health Ministry Secretary. Therefore, the situation is very clear. Ministers believe that medical administrator grade doctors should be appointed. But they are scared of the GMOA. That is why the administration of hospitals is in a sorry state. The GMOA wants to control the Health Ministry and the doctors. That is why they pressure the ministers not to appoint medical administrator grade doctors.”

While Herath was speaking, SLPP MP Dr.Upul Galappaththi disturbed him, raising a Point of Order. However, Deputy Speaker Ranjith Siyambalapitiya,  who was presiding at the sitting at the moment, turned down the request as it was not a Point of Order. A few minutes later, Galappaththi was given the microphone. 

Galappaththi: “Wives of former JVP MPs Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa and Nihal Galappaththi are also GMOA members. What are they doing there if the GMOA is that bad?”

Herath: “One can only expect a dumb question from a dumb person.”

Although Galappaththi continued protesting, his microphone was taken away. Herath continued his speech alleging that a very few members of the GMOA are trying to sabotage the hospital administration. 

“I did not say that all the members of the GMOA are responsible for this issue. It is only a handful of people who are behind this. The membership does not have anything to do with this issue. Even the administrative grade medical doctors are the members of the GMOA. Galappaththi is trying to act like a baby.”

He continued, “Sabotage of the hospital administration might not be a problem to the dumb. But it is a huge problem to other sensible humans.”

By Gagani Weerakoon | Published: 2:00 AM Dec 4 2021

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