Speaker needs more time to clear Opposition Leader doubt

Wednesday, 8 April 2015 00:49 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Ashwin Hemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent Despite a promise made on 23 March that he would give a ruling on the appointment of the Opposition Leader, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa said he would need more time to study the situation before he could deliver his verdict. The Speaker, responding to a reminder made by UPFA Parliamentarian Kumara Welgama, said: “This is a new situation. So I am studying it in-depth. I am unable to give a timeframe. Let’s see how it goes.” The conduct of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, which is now a part of the National Government, came under fire on 23 March in Parliament, with Opposition lawmaker Anura Dissanayake seeking the Speaker’s intervention to define the role of the Opposition Leader and the procedures required to select one. Addressing the House following Standing Order 23 (2), MP Dissanayake found fault with the Standing Orders saying they did not provide for appointment of an Opposition Leader. “In the absence of guidelines in Standing Orders, we follow the traditions followed by this House. In the period between 1977 and 1983 the Leader of the Opposition was A. Amirthalingam who had 17 seats. From 1983-1988, with the TULF walking out, Anura Bandaranaike became the Opposition Leader with his eight MPs. From 1989 to 1994 former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the Leader of the Opposition and there were 67 seats. From 25 August 1994 to 24 October 1994 Gamini Dissanayake was the Leader of the Opposition with 94 seats,” MP Dissanayake said. “But from 1994-2000 present Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe held the Opposition Leader’s post. However, from time to time many MPs left the party and joined the Government. From 2000-2001 there were 89 UNP MPs in Parliament with MP Ranil Wickremesinghe serving as the Opposition Leader. Between 2001 and 2002 Former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake became the Opposition Leader with 77 seats. During 2002-2004 Mahinda Rajapaksa was the Opposition Leader. But from 2004-2015 the Opposition Leader was Ranil Wickremesinghe. So this shows that the Prime Minster was appointed from the party where the most members were represented in the Opposition. What you have here is nothing more than a child’s playhouse where friends appoint friends for the Opposition and the Government. This is a joke where the SLFP represents both the Government as well as the Opposition.”