by Shamindra Ferdinando
The government has given an assurance that the unitary status of the country wouldn’t be changed under any circumstances.
Deputy Power and Renewable Energy Minister Ajith Perera made the pledge during a live debate on Sirasa Saturday night.
The Kalutara District MP emphasised that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government wouldn’t renege on assurance that the unitary status would be retained.
Attorney-at-law Perera insisted that contrary to what he called lies being propagated by certain vested interests the Eastern Province wouldn’t be re-merged with the Northern Province through constitutional means.
The former Deputy Foreign Minister declared that as a member of the team involved in the constitutional making process he was aware that there was absolutely no basis for claims that the government would compromise on the unitary status or re-merge the Eastern Province with the Northern Province. The MP referred to a presentation scheduled to be made in Parliament on Jan. 9 of a resolution for the appointment of a Constituent Assembly as the first step towards enactment of a new Constitution.
A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Oct. 2006 declared that the proclamation made by the then President J. R. Jayewardene merging the Northern and Eastern provinces as one administrative province had no force in law.
Deputy Minister Perera alleged that a section of the Opposition had been propagating lies to cause trouble. Displaying President Maithripala Sirisena’s manifesto as well as UNP policy statement put out at the last parliamentary polls, Deputy Minister Perera emphasised that the administration would uphold both.
Speaking on behalf of the Joint Opposition, Kandy District MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage asserted that Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe wouldn’t abide by promises given in the run-up to presidential and parliamentary polls. Former Sports Minister said that as the Prime Minister had deprived MP Perera of a ministerial portfolio the statements made by him couldn’t be taken seriously. MP Aluthgamage castigated the government for denying the Joint Opposition adequate time in Parliament to make representations on behalf of the people. The SLFPer said that the much touted promise to restore democracy was nothing but a joke against the backdrop of the Joint Opposition constantly being harassed in parliament. The MP alleged that Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan and JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, in their capacity as the Opposition Leader and Chief Opposition Whip, respectively, had shared the time at their (Joint Opposition’s) expense.
MP Aluthgamage expressed serious concern over Speaker Karu Jayasuriya continuing to ignore their request for recognition as a separate group of members. The MP said that 53 members had made a request to the Speaker in that regard.
Responding to a query, MP Aluthgamage said that their campaign was on track and the yahapalana administration could be toppled within one year. When Deputy Minister Perera pointed out that Parliament couldn’t be dissolved for four and half years from the last general election, MP Aluthgamage shot back that there were other means to effect a change of government.