Ousted Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe should leave the Prime Minister’s official residence, Temple Trees, immediately, the JVP stressed yesterday (29), after the Motion to suspend the expenditure of the Prime Minister’s Secretary was moved.
JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, participating in the debate on the Motion moved by the UNP, noted that if the UNP was genuine in brining the Motion, they do not have a moral right to stay further at Temple Trees, at public expense.
He said, “Both former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe do not have a right to enjoy the privileges allocated for the Prime Minister.
The duo is equal to any other MP. It has been clearly stated that there is no Government at the moment, therefore, they cannot use public money and the privileges given to a Prime Minister.”
Dissanayake noted that on 28 November there was a meeting at Temple Trees and all UNP members of Local Government bodies were summoned to the main hall. “This is a political meeting. It should have been held at UNP headquarters Sirikotha, not at Temple Tree”, he said and queried as to who was paying the electricity bill and hall charges at Temple Trees for these meetings.
“The taxpayers have to bear the burden of two Prime Ministers now. Since, Rajapaksa is a former President of the country, he can enjoy the privileges this position brings. But he cannot enjoy the privileges of a Premier.
However, he shows that he is the Premier and use public money for that. That is why we support this Motion to stop State funds from being used by the Prime Minister’s Secretary,” he added.
In response, UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella said the cost for the meeting in question at Temple Trees including the electricity bill is borne privately by the UNP and its supporters.
Dissanayake: “Just tell me this, has Temple Trees become a hotel which could be hired by anybody in the country now?”
Kiriella: “If the JVP wants Temple Trees, we can make arrangements to give it to them.”
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauf Hakeem in his speech said that Wickremesinghe was occupying the Temple Trees because they were of the opinion that his removal should be treated as invalid from the outset.
“We say that the decision by the President to remove Wickremesinghe is ‘ab initio void’ and that matter is now before the Supreme Court through a petition. Therefore, we cannot come to the conclusion that Wickremesinghe is illegally occupying the Temple Trees. Wickremesinge had always respected the verdict of the people and had honourably left the Temple Trees. Here when the Executive President has unlawfully and unconstitutionally removed the Premier, it is his contention and our contention that he can remain there as a legal occupant unless the Court holds the otherwise. I would dare say that we would even be willing to replenish all the costs that might incur out of wrongful occupation of the Temple Trees if the Court holds otherwise,” he asserted.
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Methmalie Dissanayake)