By Saman Indrajith
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena yesterday announced that TNA parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran’s complaint that he had been wrongly accused of evading sessions of the Presidential Commission of inquiry into political victimisation would be referred to the Parliamentary Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
The Speaker said that a motion could be permitted to refer to the privilege matter raised by MP Sumanthiran on Nov 28, 2020.
On Nov 28, 2020, MP Sumanthiran raised a privilege issue as regards the Commission of inquiry into political victimization and announced that he would be named for evading the commission proceedings. “I have received from time to time summons from the commission to attend before the commissions. I have been named a respondent in that summons. Since they were in the Sinhala language I wrote to the commission that I be provided with the material to respond and to send an English to Tamil translations of those matters. I appeared twice before the said commission and made the same request. There the Commissioner ordered that I be provided with material and their translations. Nothing of the sort happened.
“Last week, I received another summons very late after I went home from parliament sittings, and I responded to the Commissioner concerned the following day informing him of the fact that the material had not been provided to me in English or Tamil and I was not able to appear before the Commission when there were parliament sittings. Later, I read in the newspapers that Commissioner of Inquiry Upali Abeyratne had said some MPs, including me were not coming before the commission and we would be named. This is in breach of my privileges. I urge the Speaker to inform the Commission of Inquiry that I should not be named since I was attending parliament.”
Earlier in the day, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya called on Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to intervene in restoring STF security accorded to TNA Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran.
Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella said that MP Sumanthiran’s life had been exposed to danger and the latter’s security should be restored without further delay. “We know the results of removing the security of political leaders who are in danger. When Janaka Perera contested for the Chief Minister post of the North Central Province, his security detail was removed. There was only one bodyguard left with him on the day he was killed. That was a very unfortunate incident. We have lost many good Tamil political leaders. It is our duty to protect the minorities and we call on the Speaker to take action to restore MP Sumanthiran’s security.”
MP Kiriella said that an MP’s security should not be removed just because that MP attended a protest march. “When Mahinda Rajapaksa participated in Pada Yathra his security was not removed.”
Gampaha District SJB MP Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka said that it was wrong to state a court order had been taken against the march. “As far as we know that the court order had been taken against violating the quarantine laws. You cannot remove the security of an MP on the charge of violating quarantine laws. It is wrong to describe our attempt to restore security of MP Sumanthiran as an attempt to give security to a terrorist. Then what about the security accorded to Karuna Amman and Pillayan? Who is Pillayan? He used to come to my office on all fours. Now, he has bodyguards. Sumanthiran was always against terrorism. It is unfair for you to lump him with the terrorists.”
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: MP Sumanthiran was given special security owing to threats to his life. That has been removed now. However threats prevail even now. I therefore request the Speaker to intervene in this matter to restore MP Sumanthiran’s security.