Camelia Nathaniel, Sandasen Marasinghe and Amali Mallawarachchi
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced that the No Confidence Motion (NCM) against Industry and Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons, Co-operative Development and Vocational Training and Skills Development Minister Rishad Bathiudeen would be taken up for debate on June 18 and 19.
Speaker Jayasuriya made this announcement in Parliament yesterday when opposition member Vasudeva Nanayakkara inquired of the decision of the Chair on the matter. He said further that the decision was reached at the Party Leaders’ Meeting held in the morning yesterday.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he had made two requests, the first being an interim report of the Parliamentary Select Commiittee on the Easter Sunday suicide attacks be submitted within a fortnight. He added the second request was to decide the dates for debate over the NCM against Minister Bathiudeen at the Party Leaders’ Meeting.
However, when the Speaker made the announcement opposition member Wimal Weerawansa argued the chair that debate on the No Confidence Motion should be taken up on June 6 and 7. Government and Opposition members had an exchange of words with MP Weerawansa’s demand but things returned to normal. Wimal Weerawansa said that this debate should be taken up soon. He added that Parliament sittings commence on June 4. He added that hence the debate could be taken up on June 6 and 7.
Speaker Jayasuriya responding to Weerawansa said that the dates for the debate have been fixed for June 18 and 19. He added more resolutions related to the Justice Ministry are to be taken up on June 6 and 7. “Dates in July were proposed for the NCM debate at the Party Leaders’ Meeting,” the Speaker said. “I suggested that it should be taken up for debate soon and then the June dates were considered.”
When MP Weerawansa further demanded that the NCM debate be taken up earlier, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that there was no point in debating this matter at a time even as the Opposition Leader was not present in the House. The dates on the NCM debate should have to be decided at the Parliamentary Business Committee and the Speaker. “However, as there are two NCMs against a Minister and the Government, the latter is the serious matter,” the Prime Minister said. “Hence, according to Erskine May’s principles, the NCM against the Government should be taken up first for debate.”
At this juncture, Opposition Member S.B.Dissanayake said that by taking the interim report within two weeks, the government’s is attempt to cover Minister Rishad Bathiudeen from his allegations. He added due to this reason they would not take part in the Parliamentary Select Committee that would investigate matters pertaining to the allegations against Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader and MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the Parliament Select Committee are two separate matters and the NCM against Minister Bathiudeen was handed over first and the one tendered against the government by the JVP was handed over later. “We need to debated it later,” Dissanayake said. “That is the reason why we did not ask for dates to debate it.”
However, Parliamentary sources said that at the Party Leaders’ Meeting, a tense situation prevailed when the dates for the NCM was decided. Opposition members wanted to take up the debate on June 6 and 7.They were ready to assist the government to pass those resolutions that were to be debated on June 6 and 7 on June 4.
However, Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella maintained that it was the government that decides the date for a No Confidence Motion. Finally, it was decided to to take up the debate on June 18 and 19.