Newly-appointed Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees, Colombo District UPFA MP Thilanga Sumathipala took office last morning.
MP Sumathipala is the eighth Deputy Speaker to hold office under the 1978 Constitution. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake, Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Niel Iddawelawere also present.
United National Party MP representing Balapitiya was the first Deputy Speaker (first Parliament – from 21 September 1978 till 20 December 1988). UNP MP Matara Gamini Fonseka (second Parliament from 9 March 1989-24 June 1994), Anil Kumar Munasinghe (third Parliament – 25 August-18 August 2000) and Maj. Gen. Sarath Munasinghe (fourth Parliament from 18 October 2000 till 10 October 2001) were the early predecessors. The office of the Deputy Speaker was vacant throughout the fifth Parliament held from 19 December 2001 till 7 February 2004. UPFA National List MP Gitanjana Gunawardena and UPFA Puttalam District MP Priyankara Jayaratne held office during the sixth Parliament from 22 April 2004-9 February 2010. MP Jayarathne continued as the Deputy Speaker in the seventh Parliament before handing over the office to Galle District UPFA MP Chandima Weerakkody. (AH)