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Sumanthiran on President’s proposal to send separate delegation to Geneva

MA Sumanthiran 700 02

Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian M.A Sumanthiran has raised the issue of President’s proposal to send a separate Opposition delegation to Geneva to represent himself when a government delegation is also attending the UNHRC sessions.

He was addressing the House during the Budget debate. He said:

“If one scans the figures that have been proposed one can see that the president’s office has the lion’s share only second to the elections secretariat. It’s almost Rs. 2,933 million more than the allocation for parliament itself which is Rs. 2,779 million.

I want to raise a few issues that have already been raised by the speaker who opened the debate today with regard to the disputes that exist between several personalities whom these expenditures have been proposed. All of these important offices seem to be at loggerheads and the smooth functioning has been disrupted thanks to the plot on October 26 last year. We are still reeling after that onslaught and all of these institutions are at each other’s throats.

One important issue is the present sessions that are going on at the UNHRC and the announcement by the president that he intends sending three members to represent him and move away from the commitment Sri Lanka has given twice before with his blessings and then counter to that the Prime Minister’s and foreign ministers offices that they would co-sponsor the new resolution at the UNHRC sessions this year. We demand to know what the real situation is from the President whether he is sending another delegation and what legal authority such a delegation would have and whether members of the Opposition can go to represent the country at sessions in Geneva. Can the Parliament authorize expenditure for the President’s Office if the President intends to send a separate delegation?. Can Opposition members represent the government when a Foreign Ministry delegation is going? It would be proper for the Foreign Minister to go for the sessions to represent the government. As such can another delegation represent the present at the UNHRC and can the parliament authorise such expenditure. It would not be proper.

The President is the head of the executive. He’s the chair of the Cabinet and the government. As such can another member of his own party hold the post of the Leader of the Opposition? Two members are of the same party, where one is the head of the government and the other is the head of the opposition. Now we are seeing how it is working. The head of the one is now trying to send members of the opposition to represent him. This shows the ridiculous state of affairs the parliament has been brought into. President also wishes to send the governor of the Northern Province and he is sending me letters saying the he is going to Geneva to represent the people of the Northern Province. How can the Governor represent the people? The Governor is the agent of the president. The province has various elected representatives at various levels and we will represent the people. He is only an agent of the president.

The Governor has also proposed to go to India on an official trip to meet the refugees there. Is he authorized to do that? He proposes to go there with a delegation and he has suggested persons who should go with him and that list strangely includes a sitting member of the judiciary. This is the ridiculous state the executive has come to.

This is being extended and we are also discussing the head of expenditure to the Supreme Court. Last month when we had a debate members of both sides said the Supreme Court is independent now after the cases Last November. They said we don’t need independent judges and we don’t need foreign judges as our judiciary has proved it is independent. I intervened and said that may be so when it comes to two political parties in the country. But when it comes to the issue of the state and an armed rebel group, the local judiciary will not be independent and this has been proved by certain court proceedings that happened last week.”





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