United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Parliamentarian Arundika Fernando yesterday (8), apologised for sitting on the Speaker’s chair on 16 November 2018.
Following President Maithripala Sirisena appointing former President and current Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister on 26 October 2018, violent clashes erupted in the Chamber on 14, 15 and 16 November 2018, causing injuries to the MPs and damage to property inside the Chamber.
On 16 November 2018, Fernando was seen leading a mock sitting without allowing Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to preside over the House, along with a group of UPFA MPs. As a result of this mock Sitting, the Speaker was forced to enter the Chamber from a side door along with Serjeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando, who carried the Mace. They were protected by a human chain of unarmed Parliament Police personnel. When they tried to enter the Chamber, some of the MPs of the said group threw chilie powder mixed water, books, and chairs at them. It is said that this incident was the lowest point in the entire history of the Sri Lanka Parliament.
Participating in the debate on the Regulations under the Diplomatic Privileges Act, Fernando expressed his regret for sitting on the Speaker’s Chair.
He said, “We had to do that because we wanted to protest the Speaker’s actions of those days. I respect the post of the Speaker and his chair as a symbol. We urged the Speaker to take action against the two MPs who sneaked in knives to the Chamber at a Party Leaders’ Meeting held prior to the sittings. The Speaker’s reaction to our complaints made us very angry. However, the Mace was not inside when I sat on the Speaker’s Chair.”
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Methmalie Dissanayake)