Speaker: Serious threat to MPs in Parliament

Dy. minister suspended over bottle throwing


By Saman Indrajith

The Parliament yesterday suspended Deputy Petroleum Industries Minister, Sarana Gunawardena for a week for allegedly throwing a bottle of water towards UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe during a mini-battle in parliament while the budget was being presented on Nov. 21.

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa announced Gunawardena’s suspension following a motion moved by Leader of the House Irrigation Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva calling for the suspension of Gampaha District MP Gunawardena for the disturbances caused during the President’s Budget speech. Parliamentarians exchanged blows with MP Gunawardene caught in camera throwing a bottle of water. However, it landed close to President Rajapaksa splashing some water on him.  

MP Gunawardena has been dealt with under the provisions in Standing Orders 72 (1) and 74 (2).

At the commencement of business in Parliament yesterday morning, Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa condemned the conduct of those involved in the clash. He said that such incidents would bring parliament into disrepute.

The Speaker: "Such incidents pose a severious threat to members of parliament.

Therefore, it’s our duty and responsibility to ensure that such incidents will not be repeated. Both Deputy Speaker and I investigated this and decided to take action. We are of the view that a group of Opposition MPs provoked Government MPs by displaying posters inside the chamber while the President was presenting the budget. An attempt by a group of government MPs to grab those posters led to a mini-battle."

Denouncing the conduct of all those involved in the brawl, Speaker Rajapaksa said that MP Gunawardena had caused a grievous breach of discipline.

Commenting on breach of security in parliament, Speaker Rajapaksa said that he had received reports to the effect that some MPs had declined to adhere to existing security measures. "They defied security measures by smuggling in various items through the member’s entrance. This poses a serious threat to parliament. We cannot overlook previous unfortunate incidents which caused the loss of life of MP Keerthi Abeywickrema and assaults on MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara," the Speaker said.

The Speaker announced plans to appoint a committee to recommend ways and means to protect the dignity and traditions of Parliament, to maintain discipline within the House and to ensure the safety of Parliament.


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