The Joint Opposition (JO) yesterday said that the UNP-led government could comfortably muster a two-thirds majority in parliament anytime.
JO MPs Bandula Gunawardena and Sisira Jayakody acknowledged that the grouping never had a chance to thwart the passage of the controversial Reparations Bill meant to set up Office for Reparations in parliament two weeks ago.
Gunawardena and Jayakody said so when the media repeatedly asked for an explanation why the JO couldn’t ensure all its 69 members to vote against the Bill.
Jayakody said that over 50 had voted against the Bill. The Island pointed out that only 43 lawmakers opposed the Bill whereas 59 voted for it.
The JO MPs said in case all their members were present, the government could have brought in the
required number as many ministers and other members were in parliament though they weren’t in the chamber at the time of the voting.
The JO said that in addition to those elected and appointed on the UNP parliamentary group plus one elected on the SLMC, the government had the backing of the SLFP (26), TNA (16) and the JVP (06)-a staggering total of 155 lawmakers. Jayakody said that those on the government side were ready rush in if their intervention was required.
Asked whether they would admit that the parliament was in serious crisis due unprecedented increase in absenteeism, Gunawardena said that his participation in sitting in the month of August was impressive. The Island pointed out that former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa, too, had admitted that absenteeism was a serious problem.
Jayakody alleged that the Office for Reparations would pave the way for compensation payments to those who waged war against the country to divide it on ethnic lines. Jayakody said that it would encourage separatism and could cause serious problems.
The Gampaha District MP said that the government was offering compensation to terrorists and families of terrorists whereas those who had been affected by accidental blasts at the Salawa ammunition depot were not compensated adequately. The MP pointed out that those who had been affected by various natural calamities and lost property due to various state development projects too were yet to receive sufficient compensation (SF)