Speaker of House Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has announced that a committee will be appointed to look into the unruly incidents reported within the Parliament chamber, on Friday and Saturday.
At the commencement of Parliament proceedings this morning, Speaker Abeywardena said the committee comprising senior Members of Parliament will be appointed to conduct a probe and submit a report.
The Speaker said several unruly incidents had occurred last week, and therefore requested the support of the MPs to maintain the decorum of the house.
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said MPs must be mindful of standing orders and traditions while attending Parliament sessions.
Meanwhile, after the Speaker’s announcement, the Leader of the National People’s Power, Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayaka there is no point in appointing such committees.
MP Dissanayaka claimed no action was taken, although various committees were appointed in the past to look into such incidents.
MP Anura Kumara Dissanayaka claimed if this is the situation faced by a Member of Parliament, and groups of MPs attempt to assault others based on what they said in Parliament, and MPs have to hide and use the Speaker’s entrance or the public entrance to leave the House, and use another vehicle instead of their own to hide and leave the premises, it shows that they don’t have security and are facing threats.
MP Dissanayaka noted Parliament has seen the appointment of committees, discussions and reports adding that on a prior occasion an investigation was conducted by the Criminal Investigation Department as well, regarding an assault incident in Parliament.
MP Dissanayaka said however nothing was revealed through the CID report and no one was given a minimum punishment of at least a suspension from Parliamentary proceedings for a week.
He added the report of the committee that is due to be appointed will take around three months, while stating however that there is an issue regarding the security of MPs.
MP Dissanayaka noted the Speaker can see and understand the situation and everything is recorded, adding therefore the Speaker can listen to the recording.
He stressed if a group of MPs is in fear when attending Parliament sessions, Parliament democracy and freedom of speech are not safeguarded.
MP Dissanayaka added instead of delaying the matter through the appointment of a committee, the Speaker has a responsibility to look into the recordings and reach a decision.
He claimed appointing senior MPs to a committee will only create more divisions and it will not be fair, adding that government MPs will try to prove they are right while opposition MPs will show that their faction is right.
MP Anura Kumara Dissanayaka said therefore the same debate within Parliament will take place amongst the committee as well, adding the Speaker has a responsibility to reach a decision regarding which MPs attempted to carry out the assault on another group of MPs.
Joining the debate Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said they have a responsibility to prevent a Member of Parliament from obstructing the duties of the Speaker and threatening him, regardless of whether it is a government or opposition MP.
Minister Gunawardena noted they have a responsibility to safeguard the Speaker and ensure proceedings can continue.
The Minister added the incident was reported in the evening, claiming there was a power outage in Parliament prior to the incident.
He stressed it is a dangerous situation if the power supply in Parliament is disrupted. Minister Gunawardena noted if frequent checks are carried out, such a situation can be avoided.
The Minister stressed the government has provided necessary funds through the Treasury, for this purpose. He added officials must ensure they fulfil their responsibilities.
Joining the debate Chief Government Whip Minister Johnston Fernando said some claim the Speaker carries out duties based on the agenda of the government, claiming such incidents took place during the term of the former government.
Minister Fernando said government MPs were only allocated two to three minutes, adding if the opposition MPs are allowed to talk for longer and are allocated time after 5pm, it is an injustice to MPs who spoke during the morning.
He urged the Speaker to investigate the matter and ensure it does not repeat in the future. Minister Fernando said another alleged incident took place the next day, and urged the Speaker to investigate the relevant incident as well.
He noted the government will not object to such moves.
Meanwhile, a group of opposition Members of Parliament today boycotted the Parliamentary proceedings over concerns pertaining to their security.
They staged a protest within the Parliamentary complex without entering the chamber. Opposition Members accuse the Speaker of House of acting in a partisan manner.
They also allege the Speaker of working based on an agenda of the government.
According to protesting MPs, Members aligned with the government are receiving benefits while opposition MPs have been at the receiving end of threats.
Therefore, opposition MPs urged the Speaker to act in an independent manner and ensure the safety of all Members of Parliament.
Meanwhile, following the boycott of opposition MPs, today’s Parliament proceedings lasted for only three hours. Accordingly, expenditure heads of the Ministries of Urban Development and Housing and Tourism and State Ministries of Urban Development, Waste Disposal and Community Cleanliness, Rural Housing, Construction and Building Material Industries, Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure, Coast Conservation & Low-Lying Lands Development and Aviation and Export Zones Development were passed in Parliament today.