Saturday, 26 April 2014 00:00
UNP MP Eran Wickramaratne has urged Speaker to act against Mattala mob which attacked a group of Opposition MPs who were on an inspection tour of sea and air ports in Hambantota recently.“I request that appropriate action be taken against the UPFA Mayor of Hambantota, the other individuals who were part of the unlawful assembly acting in furtherance of the said breaches of parliamentary privileges, and the police officers who aided and abetted by their inaction, including the police spokesperson, who also demonstrably aided and abetted the breaches by his subsequent interest in attempting to cover up the police inaction and the breaches, by trifling the criminal acts which took place,” he said.Wickramaratne’s full speech is reproduced below:
Hon. Speaker, as you are aware I as an MP have contributed to many of the debates relating to public finance, which I firmly believe is an essential aspect of the sovereignty of the people. I have raised concerns as to the viability of the MRIA and Hambantota Port, and have explored means to convert them into viable investments.
During debates on these investments we have been invited by Government MPs to visit and see for ourselves that these investments are in fact (according to the Government) viable.
Therefore, I together with four other MPs, namely Ajith Perera, R Yogarajan, Ajith Mannapperuma and Nalin Bandara, chartered a bus and with prior intimation to the Minister of Civil Aviation and the Chairman Ports Authority, decided to visit the MRIA and Hambantota Port on 17 April.
After our visit to the MRIA several individuals began verbally abusing us, and acted in a threatening manner, alleging that we have criticised the MRIA and Hambantota Port in Parliament. Criminal force was used on Ajith Perera by a citizen, who can be clearly identified by video recordings, now circulating on the internet.
Thereafter we proceeded to the Hambantota Port after informing several high-ranking officers of the Sri Lanka Police including McCarthy Perera – DIG Tangalle.
After we inspected the port, a large group, which included the UPFA Mayor of Hambantota, acted in a violent manner, throwing eggs and stones at us and the vehicle we travelled in. The vehicle was damaged. Their accusation against us was that we had visited the Port to thereafter criticise its functioning, the group sought to provoke us into a fight. Needless to say we did not engage. The media persons present were subject to similar abuse and intimidation.
An individual brandishing a gun, identified as the Mayor of Hambantota, was running towards our vehicle followed by others, causing panic among those in the bus. While we took cover from a possible shooting, the driver and MSD officers bravely steered the bus away from the Port.
The ASP, HQI Hambantota and other Police officers present did nothing to prevent the criminal attacks against us. Meanwhile the Police Spokesperson initially made a statement suggesting that the incidents had not warranted Police intervention.
When it was clear that the vehicle of the HQI Hambantota was about to overtake us, we sought to flag it down, since we suspected we were being followed. But the Police vehicle sped off, being unwilling to assist us.
Statements were obtained from the MPs, but no action taken against the gun-wielding thug inside the High Security Zone, the port.
The Constitution requires Parliament to exercise full control over public finance. This can only happen if MPs are able to engage in meaningful and informed debate. As Members of Parliament we have a right and obligation to visit and inspect these projects since they come under the purview of and are financed by funds provided by Parliament in terms of Chapter XVII of the Constitution of the Republic.
The attack on us was clearly, among other things, towards compelling us to vote in favour of UPFA positions on the MRIA and Hambantota Port and/or to prevent us from exposing serious issues relating to same. This is clear considering that the attacks were led by the UPFA Mayor, and aided and abetted by the inaction of the Government-controlled Police.
Quite apart from the violations of the criminal law, these incidents constitutes a serious breach of privilege of both Parliament and these members and myself specifically set out in item 1 and 2 of part A of the schedule to Parliament (Powers and Privileges) Act.
I request that appropriate action be taken against the UPFA Mayor of Hambantota, the other individuals who were part of the unlawful assembly acting in furtherance of the said breaches of parliamentary privileges, and the Police officers who aided and abetted by their inaction, including the police spokesperson, who also demonstrably aided and abetted the breaches by his subsequent interest in attempting to cover up the Police inaction and the breaches, by trifling the criminal acts which took place.