Dinesh only UPFA’s Deputy Leader
By Dhammika Ranaweera
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said, he appears for the rights of the Joint Opposition to the maximum of his powers, considering it as his duty. "Not only they, but the Inter Parliamentary Union also praised me for that."
Q: You have said an attempt to safeguard the dignity of Parliament proved futile. Why was that?
A: Our Parliament is now 70 years old. We have both successes as well as drawbacks in this period. Within the past two years, we worked hard to safeguard the dignity of the MPs by way of establishing sectional committees. The meetings of Parliament are telecast live, but still a minority behaves badly.
Q: What is that minority?
A: The entire country saw them.
Q: But if the National Freedom Front (NFF) led by Wimal Weerawansa was admitted as an individual party, this would not have happened.
A: Present Parliament is represented only by six recognized parties. That MP's party is not among them. One can refer to 1928/02 Gazette notification dated 19 August for further details.
Q:In 2005, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) contested the election as an alliance. However, the Speaker recognized them as an individual party. Why aren't you ready for such a decision?
A: The party with which the JVP allied did not object to their stand at that time. The parties settled the issue within the alliance and the then Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara recognized the JVP as an individual party. But the General Secretary of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) has informed me in writing that they oppose the group led by MP Wimal Weerawansa resigning the alliance.
Q: Was Dinesh Gunawardena given the party leader's privileges?
A: Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva is the leader of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Parliamentary group. They have agreed to recognize MP Dinesh Gunawardena only as a deputy leader. That is the settlement. I appeared for the rights of the Joint Opposition to the maximum of my powers, considering it as my duty. Not only they but also the Inter Parliamentary Union also praised me for that.
Q: But the Joint Opposition argued that you were unaware of simple mathematics in terms of the power of the Opposition when appointing the Opposition Leader. Is this correct?
A: The content of the present Parliament is strange. Two major parties have allied to form the government. Those who argue that I don't know mathematics are still in the coalition. A section of the government cannot appoint the Opposition Leader.
Q: Is a section of an alliance acting independently a threat to the existence of Parliament?
A: Some alliances have many parties. If we offer them privileges separately, it will lead to a very complicated situation. They may even use the privileges wrongly.
Q: Some MPs become independent as individuals in Parliament. Isn't this law valid to them?
A: MPs claim for any rights merely because they are independent. They are only the internal issues of political parties.
Q: Are you representing the United National Party (UNP) while being the Speaker?
A: I am not ready to act against the Parliamentary regulations and the traditions. A Speaker cannot act on the advice of political parties. For example, both the government and the Joint Opposition (JO) accused me regarding the position of the Opposition Leader. But as the Speaker of Parliament, I don't have a political agenda. I work for a respectable Parliament.
Q: Hasn't the opposition charged that you have no backbone?
A: A Speaker does not come to conclusions using his backbone. We have regulations and traditions inherited from British Parliament. Also I have my conscience. I act according to it. I don't think anyone who respects Parliamentary traditions would make such allegations.
Q: President Maithripala Sirisena recently said, he and the Speaker could change the government. Is there such an attempt?
A: The people of this country have given us a mandate. We act according to it. I will only perform my duty as the Speaker. After that I will retire.
Q: Some UNP MPs accuse you for not visiting the UNP headquarters Sirikotha. Are you tired of UNP politics?
A: After I was appointed the Speaker, I did not go there. It is not because I am angry with UNP.That party will be respected for making me the Speaker who acts independently.
Q: You said that standing orders of Parliament will be amended to safeguard the dignity of Parliamentarians. How is the present situation of the process?
A: We are now consulting the MPs in terms of amending the standing orders pertaining to sectional committees.
Q: But people are of the view that Parliament is a place that provides jokes. Can this be true?
A: Good things are not communicated to people as fast as bad things. That is the reason for the present situation. The MPs must respect the people who have voted them.
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