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The Chamber Door

 

Mr Speaker, 

I am glad to join in this debate today in support of the extension of the Emergency, for I think we can note a sea change in the manner in which the Opposition has approached the debate. It was instructive I believe that one of the Hon Members for Jaffna raised a Point of Order to the effect that this debate was happening too soon. 

In the past Mr Speaker, Members of the Opposition were delighted to use the opportunity of an Emergency Debate to abuse the government, to claim that all sorts of wrongs were taking place under cover of the Emergency. Although old habits die hard, like indeed Emergency Regulations, since we cannot expect total change immediately, today’s debate suggested that the Opposition no longer feels the same sense of urgency, and would have been perfectly happy if this debate had not taken place today. 

Thus the Leader of the Opposition talked about what he sees as erosion of the financial powers of Parliament, he and a Member from Colombo talked of problems with regard to court martials, a Member from Kegalle complained about the 18th Amendment and a Member from Jaffna referred to the situation of the people who had been displaced and abused for the LTTE for so long, and urged that more be done for them. 

And then the Member who spoke just before me joined all this up together, but he rightly drew attention to the excesses of his leader – at least I think he is still their leader – when the Prevention of Terrorism Act was piled on top of the Emergency, when as he eloquently put it, trade union and students were beaten up ruthlessly, when as he seems to have forgotten, Tamils were assaulted all over the country. That style of government led to an increase in terror, terror that lasted a quarter of a century and more, whereas I am sure the Honourable member will grant that this government was actually able to put an end to terror in Sri Lanka. 

But we should be more concerned, Mr Speaker, with the points raised by the Members from Jaffna. These are issues of some importance and could be considered relevant to the Emergency. Their requests for more attention in particular areas were perfectly reasonable, and of course government will do its best to alleviate the situation of those who suffered for so long through no fault of their own. The same indeed is true of the country as a whole and, as we have seen, the development that is happening all over the country, the restoration of confidence, the spread of business opportunities, these are the best remedies that can be provided, laying the groundwork so that our people can help themselves. 

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Rajiva Wijesinha

September 2010
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