JO wants Govt to tell Parliament what action will be taken against Chief Minister for violating constitution
Sampanthan says Wigneswaran’s speech did not contain some remarks attributed to him
Kiriella claims JO trying to stir up nationalism by raising Chief Minister’s remarks
Joint Opposition Legislators demanded an official Government response condemning statements made by Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran in Parliament yesterday, saying his remarks at a controversial rally in Jaffna had been in violation of the constitution he was sworn to protect.
Raising a question in the House last afternoon, Joint Opposition Convenor and UPFA MP Dinesh Gunewardane said the Chief Minister’s statements at the Eluga Tamil (Rise, Tamil!) rally were dangerous because they were harmful to the country, endangered the peace and violate the constitution.
Gunewardane claimed Wigneswaran was demanding that the construction of Buddhist places of worship in the North was discontinued and seeking the removal of all Buddhist statues already in place in the region. He was also calling for the removal of Sinhalese families living in the North and wants to prevent any further Sinhalese settlements in the area, Gunewardane charged.
“We want the Government to officially condemn the statements by the Northern Province Chief Minister and tell this House what steps it would take to prevent the Chief Minister from violating the constitution,” Gunewardane charged. The Chief Minister’s demands were in violation of the freedom of movement and protection of Buddhism guaranteed by the constitution, the Joint Opposition Convenor claimed.
Responding in the absence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to whom Gunewardane posed his question, Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella noted that it was unjust to raise Wigneswaran’s remarks in Parliament when the Chief Minister had already denied making the statements.
“The Joint Opposition will seize upon anything that will stir up nationalism,” Kiriella told the House. Opposition Leader and TNA Chief R. Sampanthan also defended the Chief Minister, saying he had read Wigneswaran’s speech at the rally in Tamil and found that many of the statements attributed to him were not in the transcript of the speech.
“I don’t think he said all the things that are being attributed to him. In fairness to him, he is not here. He is a very responsible person and Chief Minister of the Northern Province, duly elected by a substantial majority. He was a judge of the Supreme Court. When he says he did not make the statement attributed to him, before he is hauled over the coals, one should verify and try to ascertain the true positions,” the Opposition Leader said.
Sampanthan told the House that the TNA had ‘good reason’ not to participate in the Eluga Tamil event, since they were presently engaged in discussions with the Government on various matters on which they hoped to reach consensus.
However Sampanthan said the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces had undergone immense difficulties, over a long period of time and had various grievances that needed to be addressed urgently.
“I have complained in this very house on a number of occasions that I am dissatisfied with the pace of this Government in addressing these issues and that the Government must do those things more expeditiously.
Amid protests by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya that Parliament was not scheduled to have a debate on the issue, UPFA MP and Joint Opposition Member Wimal Weerawansa who rose to speak, said the Chief Minister was yet to issue a denial to the press for the statements that received wide publicity.
“The TNA can’t say these are the Chief Minister’s private opinions. He is a candidate that contested on the TNA ticket and he represents the positions of the TNA. The TNA should either make it clear officially that Wigneswaran’s remarks don’t represent the party position, or they must remove the Chief Minister from their party,” he charged.
Chief Minister Wigneswaran has denied making the statements Gunewardane and other media reports attributed to him at the rally on 24 September.
In a statement he read out in Sinhalese at the National Sports Festival in Jaffna at which President Maithripala Sirisena was also in attendance, the Chief Minister however denied he had demanded the removal of Buddha statues in the North in his speech at the Eluga Tamil rally, but only pointed to the injustice of Buddhist statues and shrines being arbitrarily constructed in the Northern Province with the assistance of the military, completely bypassing approvals by the provincial authorities.
But a letter from the Chief Minister on the eve of the Eluga Tamil rally, urging people to participate, said the protest would highlight alleged Sinhala colonization and the construction of Buddhist shrines in the Hindu dominated Northern Province.
ITAK wants investigation into alleged plot to assassinate Wigneswaran
ITAK General Secretary seeks more police protection for Chief Minister in wake of Wigneswaran’s revelation about threats to his life
The Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) leadership is urging protection for its Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, in the wake of his own claims that there was a plot to assassinate him.
ITAK General Secretary Mavai Senathirajah told Daily FT he has urged TNA Leader R. Sampanthan to inform the President and request the IGP to investigate the threats and provide additional police protection to the Chief Minister. In a message that was read out at a book launch in Jaffna last Saturday (1) Chief Minister Wigneswaran revealed that his life was under threat.
“I have been receiving information continuously that there are efforts being taken to kill me and to put the blame on the LTTE,” he said, in the message that was read out at the Saraswathy Hall.
Senathirajah told Daily FT that Chief Minister Wigneswaran was a responsible person and a retired Supreme Court judge, who had indicated that there was a plot to murder him in writing. “This must be taken seriously,” the ITAK General Secretary said. He said that the Chief Minister had signed nominations papers as a candidate of ITAK and as such the party had a responsibility to ensure his safety and request an investigation. “We have urged Mr. Sampanthan to take the matter up,” Senathirajah noted.
Speaking to Daily FT, Opposition Leader and TNA Chief R. Sampanthan confirmed Senathirajah had communicated this position to him and added that the matter was under consideration.