18 June, 2021

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Sarath Weerasekera Dictates Terms Over Rishard’s Parliamentary Attendance; House Erupts

A fierce debate raged over the fate of opposition lawmaker Rishard Bathiudeen in parliament on Wednesday (5), after the Public Security Minister and Viyathmaga frontliner rear admiral Sarath Weerasekera told the Speaker to prevent the MP from attending sittings on the basis of “national security”.

Weerasekera

Bathiudeen was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act on April 24, as the Government was coming under heavy criticism for failing to act against the perpetrators of the Easter Sunday bombings after putting the bombings at the center of its 2019 presidential election platform.

President’s Counsel and TNA Jaffna District MP M.A. Sumanthiran flagged the unprecedented nature of Weerasekera’s demand before the Speaker. For the first time ever, a Minister had stated that someone who is detained by an administrative detention order cannot be brought to Parliament, the TNA legislator said.

“This has never happened in the history of this House. Before a person is at least judicially pronounced to be a convict, he has never lost his seat in Parliament. If what the Hon Minister says is the rule, then for three months somebody can be administratively detained on suspicion and lose his parliamentary seat. That cannot be the rule,” Sumanthiran charged.

The TNA lawmaker refers to Bathiudeen’s detention as “administrative” because PTA detainees are ordered into custody by the Defence Minister and not a court of law. President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered Bathiudeen’s detention and interrogation under the draconian anti-terror law for 90 days.

Addressing the President and the Prime Minister, who were both present in Parliament on Wednesday, Sumanthiran said they were nodding in agreement with him and urged them to speak up.

“Otherwise, a wholly unprecedented thing will happen where any political opponent can be arrested and administratively detained even without being found guilty judicially and lose his parliamentary seat,” the Jaffna District MP charged.

The Speaker of Parliament has the sole jurisdiction over the rights and privileges of members of the legislature and ordered the CID last week to make arrangements to allow Bathiudeen to attend sittings of the House. However, citing different reasons, the Leader of the ACMC and former Industries Minister was never brought to Parliament by the CID.

Opposition Lawmakers charged that the Government of President Nandasena Rajapaksa was using the PTA to muzzle outspoken members of the opposition and were setting out to make them lose their parliamentary seats. Main opposition SJB MPs said there were similar efforts to arrest Harin Fernando under the PTA and subject him to a lengthy detention order. Fernando petitioned the Supreme Court against his imminent arrest. The SJB claimed that this was a violation of the rights and privileges of MPs and urged the Speaker of Parliament to defend legislators.

A member of Parliament who does not attend sessions for three consecutive months is deemed to have vacated his seat. Under the PTA, detainees can be held without charge for 180 days (six months).

Rear Admiral Weerasekera, the hawkish and Sinhala hardline Public Security Minister who once served as head of the Civil Defence Force, told the Speaker that no MP arrested under the PTA should be allowed to attend Parliament until the investigations are complete. He claimed the MP could use parliamentary privilege to reveal certain facts about the investigation that could obstruct the work of the CID.

“So I am requesting you, Hon. Speaker not to bring Bathiudeen to parliament until the investigations are complete. The CID does not simply arrest MPs arbitrarily. They will do so only with good reason. Only if they have grounds to detain him. We are not ready to function the way MPs Sumanthiran and Sarath Fonseka want us to,” Weerasekera charged.

Field Marshall and former Army Chief Sarath Fonseka charged that CID officials could not simply “catch a MP” and detain him for three months to make sure he loses his parliamentary seat. “If that is the law according to you, that is not only unjust, it is completely worthless to the people of this country. Rishard Bathiudeen is a representative of his people,” Fonseka said, taking a swipe again at the Public Security Minister with whom he had a fierce exchange of words previously that day over the presidential pardon granted to convicted mass murderer, Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake.

Weerasekera’s statement to the House was extremely serious, SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman said addressing Parliament about Bathiudeen’s attendance.

He said: “The Public Security minister has just stood up in this House and said that an elected member of parliament is under a detention order and he has ordered that he cannot be brought to parliament. As Speaker you need to make a statement about who gave this minister the power to prevent an elected representative from attending Parliamentary sittings,” the Colombo District SJB MP said.

Rahuman also revealed that Bathiudeen had been subjected to a PCR test at 3PM on Monday, but by Wednesday afternoon the results had not yet been released. The detained MP had also received a vaccination against Covid-19, Rahuman emphasized. 

SJB MP Harsha De Silva said that the country’s laws were governed by the constitution, and charged that a minister of the Government cannot determine the law.

SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella said that the opposition had been given three separate excuses over the course of 24 hours for why Rishard Bathiudeen was not being permitted to attend parliamentary sittings this week.

“When his family had inquired about it, they were told he could not be released because the Speaker had not signed some documents. At the party leaders meeting the Speaker said his absence was related to the Covid-19 outbreak. Now the Minister is claiming he is not here because it is a national security issue. So what is the real reason? This is obfuscation,” Kiriella charged.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa backed Kiriella’s claim. Premadasa said the Speaker had never mentioned national security when Bathiudeen’s attendance was brought up in a business committee. “They said Rishard Bathiudeen had come into contact with a person who had tested positive for Covid-19. It is his right to be able to attend Parliament,” Premadasa said.

A clearly uncomfortable Speaker of Parliament said he would reach a decision in due course after the matters raised had been studied at length.

Rishard Bathuideen, a politician from Mannar and a former IDP, who leads Sri Lanka’s second largest Muslim party, was cleared by the Easter Sunday Commission which found no evidence of wrongdoing on the former Minister’s part. However the Government has continued to hold the sword of damocles over his head, as fodder for its rabidly racist electoral base, which has been baying for Bathiudeen’s blood for several years. Bathiudeen and his brother are often arrested when the Government’s popularity is plummeting, in a clear attempt to shore up support among its hardline base. (By Chinthika de Silva)

 

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Latest comments

  • 16
    5

    They are going against the laws and norms, just to score political points, show their vindictiveness, or make an example of someone to others. How low have they gone? Have much lower can they go? It seems they are lost causes, and the country and people will suffer the consequences.
    They don’t seem to give a damn.

    • 23
      3

      Ranil should be blamed for all this. He should have locked up the Family when he had the chance, and thrown away the key. You can’t be polite with viruses.

      • 13
        1

        OC,
        .
        was RW former president ?
        police powers were under RW but final deciaions were made by POLONANNRUWA donkey… or am I wrong here ?


        Why should RW be responsible for all the mess ? Thanks to him only, police become somewhat deceent during 2015-2019. …. Election commission functioned indepedently. ..

        To me, former SORYSENA was the man, who always stood on the way not allowing any of RAJAPAKSHES and their henchmen be arrested/jailed. It is evident gold buiscuit quenn, Mahinda s murderous wife… was not even interogated, on that Jamal Khashogi style misterios murder of Wasim Thadjudeen…. who was behind it…. none other than polonnaruwe donkey….. he himself did let the wicked woman be interogated.. remember… ?
        :
        That iron lady of commissioner who worked diehard arresting all high criminals… was later sacked by POLONNARUWE donkey abusing his executive powers… .. remember

        Looking back, it is high time abusive BIASED media to correct it today. Also for BOND SCAM, it was introduced to the nation, as if it was initiated by RW-MS govt. But the truth is …. GOD FATHER OF BOND SCAM was by Mahinda Rajapaksshe and his wandibattaya Ajit Cabral. True the appointment of Mahendran was a failure, but he is former srilanken with not black marks in his CV…. please study it.

    • 21
      3

      This guy Sarath is sick owing to his racism. He should see a psychiatrist. One can imagine what and what he would have done while in uniform. He is a shame but really nothing called shame in SL. It is simply pathetic.

      • 12
        3

        Black Lankan

        Can we not send this Prince of Darkness to join his brother Buddangala Ananda Thero (Major General Ananda Weerasekara) at Buddhangala Forest Hermitage, which people of this island would consider the greatest service to the country and the world.

      • 5
        1

        ………..One can imagine what and what he would have done while in uniform…….

        Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka is down on record as having said that the Rear-Admiral Sarath Weerasekera was nowhere near a gunshot at the height of the Wanni operation.
        Probably he took his designation seriously and was in the rear seated on his rear.
        At times he wears the National, at times full suit with tie to boot;,chances are that his Naval uniform was nowhere close to sodium Chloride!

        His speech in Parliament was to impress his boss. After all, he is His Masters Voice.

  • 14
    1

    “Crying Naval Office”, as per Sarth Fonseka is today acting like a “Thug” in the Parliament. It’s time the Speaker shuts him up. It’s sad the stupidity he displays is reflecting badly on the President. Vyathmaga has become Gonmaga.

  • 13
    3

    The Pompous Twit shows up in full suit with a tie pin and thinks he is king. What a low third class pariah. Violating parliamentary procedures to exact revenge. Also aimed at fooling everyone on who was behind the bombings.

  • 16
    3

    The PM and his son seems to have bought their law degree from the flee market. Every time when here is injustice been done only Sumithran seems to stand up and register his protest.

  • 11
    2

    Sarath Weerasekara says, “The CID does not simply arrest MPs arbitrarily.” Is that so? Many believe this is done to deprive the M.P. of his parliamentary seat. It is up to the Speaker of the House to rule on this matter according to the law. But the Speaker of the House does not strike me as having a backbone. A Speaker who knows his job could have made a ruling then and there without asking for time to study the matter at length.

  • 6
    4

    At least let the sinhalese to realise that always need a tamil to save the fools and expose the sad situation in governing this pathetic country. And this is why the racist dont like Tamils and to want them silenced. This guy in “neck tie collar pocket no dolla” , situation and people are starving and come to parliament with tie pin and perfume as going for a wedding and to mask the stink. Where is the Sinhala Buddhist dress my dear hypocrite.

    • 5
      2

      Black Lankan

      “At least let the sinhalese to realise that always need a tamil to save the fools and expose the sad situation in governing this pathetic country. “

      The noisy Tamil Diaspora hates Sumanthiran. Now this is another opportunity for them to refresh their strategy of undermining him at any cost. Some of the ill-informed, ignorant, morons among them believe Sumanthiran works for the Sinhala state.

      Is there any truth in their opinion? Even if there isn’t an iota of truth the morons will continue their campaign, simply because they have become anti-intellectuals, a legacy of 30 years of war.

      This is not to defend Sumanthiran. As a politician he may have his own agenda however for the noisy Tamil Diaspora truth does not matter.

  • 2
    1

    Native V, these so called diaspora are some good for nothing morons who cant think straight and just howling like dogs. But they are small in number and may even prefer unsettled situation to prevail in SL so that they can hang on there. In fact guys like Sarath W helps these guys by exposing SL as a real banana republic with no credibility at all. Birds of a feather flock together.

  • 10
    2

    Sumanthiran and others can talk about law as much as they can in the parliament or in Courts which are not worth for a penny and Rajapaksas will not listen to them because 69 million voted to arrest Muslim, Tamil, and SJB and JVP MPs and who are voted for them. Sarath Weerasekara is a military man who was part of a group of military thugs working for a military leader in a militarised country.
    This is the law at present:
    Follow the orders or Find the way to Heaven or Hell.

    • 3
      2

      Ajith

      “Sumanthiran and others can talk about law as much as they can in the parliament or in Courts which are not worth for a penny and Rajapaksas will not listen to them because 69 million voted to arrest Muslim, Tamil, and SJB and JVP MPs and who are voted for them. “

      What exactly is your point.
      Just because the corrupt clan overrides every court, every law, every policeman, every honest functionary, every judge, every international law, every human decency do you think people should give up on what is right and wrong, give up fighting for their rights, ……………
      .
      If you kick professionals like Sumanthiran out of democratic process, out of parliament, out of courts, who is going to legally record, protest, …. remedy the injured parties, ….. You mean Mavai, his son, Siritharan, Sivagilingam, Ananty Sasitharan, ……. Douglas, …. or perhaps Wimal Weerawansa, HLD M, Gamanpilla, Pillayan, or perhaps the noisy LTTE Diaspora?

  • 0
    0

    A fear is expressed, though not yet practiced, that MP’s not finding favor of the “Security Apparatus” may find themselves detained to such periods of time well beyond the period of permitted absence without leave and then lose their seat. Whenever, an MP is detained, remanded, or even sentenced but under appeal the detaining authority “complies” with the direction of the Speaker to permit the MP to attend the proceedings of the house. Is that prerogative available for other elected members, say of provincial councils, municipal councils or Pradeshiya Sabhas? No! and why is this anomaly? The fear is the possible invocation of “Privileges” which is only applicable to MPs. There were instances where Mr. Speaker chose to over-rule court decisions and refuse comply with such decisions. Can, say, the chair of a Provincial Council does so? Obviously, there ought to be a clear-cut law that would allow the elected representative of whatever house to perform his/her duties as an elected representative and prevent him/her from not abusing the position by utterances that would undermine an investigation. In India, even MP’s out on bail would NEVER discuss their case before the courts in the house. HERE???

  • 3
    2

    This sarath weerasekera is an uneducated water buffalo who is running free in the parliament. Someone should throw a rope around the fat neck of this water buffalo and tie him to a tree.

  • 2
    0

    The real culprit is Gotha. Without a green light from Gotha his twit would not have made this demand from the Speaker. Now let us see how he Speaker rules on the matter.

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