By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Joint Opposition (JO), yesterday, strongly opposed the inclusion of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) in a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the Easter Sunday bombings as a key suspect in custody had been on the JVP’s National List at the last parliamentary election in August 2015.
Addressing the media at the Opposition Leader’s Office, Colombo, MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara asked Speaker Karu Jayasuriya why the JVP had been accommodated in the PSC, given its involvement with Mohammad Yusuf Ibrahim, whose two sons, together with others, carried out the April 21 suicide attacks. Ibrahim’s daughter-in-law, too, triggered another suicide blast when the police raided his Dematagoda residence on the afternoon of April 21.
Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri heads the PSC. MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa represents the JVP Nanayakkara said that as it was a clear case of conflict of interests he would request the Speaker to remove the JVPer from the PSC.
Within 48 hours after the suicide bombings, the JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva, issued a statement admitting that Mohammad Yusuf Ibrahim had been on its National List.
The Ibrahims owned Wellampitiya copper factory, where some of those implicated in the suicide bombings worked.
Lawmaker Nanayakkara found fault with Speaker Jayasuriya for having accommodated a JVPer in the PSC in spite of knowing that the father of two suicide bombers was on its National List. The MP said that the JO lacked confidence in the PSC hence its decision to boycott.
The media was told that the JO considered the no-confidence motion (NCM) against Industry and Commerce Minister and the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) Rishad Bathiudeen a collective campaign against Muslim extremism and terrorism rather than a move targeting an individual.
MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that a major government operation was underway to defeat the NCM moved by the JO. Alleging that the government spent millions of rupees in a bid to thwart the NCM, Aluthgamage claimed that extremists here had received a staggering Rs 1 bn from an Arab country.
Aluthgamage paid a glowing tribute to State Minister for National Policies and Economic Affairs Niroshan Perera for taking a principled stand on the NCM moved against Minister Bathiudeen.
Claiming that the 16-member Tamil National Alliance (TNA), too, had been split over the NCM, Aluthgamage said that the JVP, having made a desperate bid to muddy the waters by moving a NCM against the government on its own, now pledged its support to the JO’s move.
At the last parliamentary election, the UNP secured 106 seats, including that of the Speaker. The UNP received the backing of solitary SLMC MP, whereas six of its members were either elected or appointed on the UNP ticket or its National List, respectively.
The UPFA won 95, the TNA 16, the JVP six and the EPDP one.
MP Aluthgamage said that the JO would be able to secure the required simple majority for the NCM thanks to the split in the TNA, the JVP switching its allegiance to the JO project and State Minister Perera taking an unprecedented stand.
Aluthgamage said that the JO would launch protests in the run-up to the two-day debate on the NCM scheduled for June 18 and 19.
The veteran leftist said that Blake made a transparent bid to secure wartime Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s approval as well as of the JO by publicly praising the security setup implemented during the war.
Nanayakkara alleged that Blake made an attempt to entice Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The JO MP pointed out that Blake’s remarks were made against the backdrop of the Easter Sunday carnage.
MP Ranjith Zoysa pointed out that in addition to Ibrahim being in the JVP National List, Dr. Shihabdeen Mohammed Safi attached to the Kurunegala Hospital now in custody over alleged sterilisations carried out without consent, contested Kurunegala at the last general election on the UNP ticket. The MP said that attempts to save him should be examined against the backdrop of him being with the UNP.