Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Politics and Governance

An unprecedented constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka elicits a yawn

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Sri Lanka’s Parliament debated the impeachment of the country’s Chief Justice over two days last week.

In the course of these debates, and akin to the critical submissions by him during the equally chaotic and pivotal debate on the 18th Amendment in September 2010, Tamil National Alliance MP M.A. Sumanthiran delivered one of the most widely quoted speeches against the impeachment and in particular, the Icarean stance of the President and members of the ruling party that Parliament was above and beyond the purview of the Courts.

After announcing that it would be Sumanthiran’s turn to speak, and in the midst of mindless shouting and general chaos in the Chambers, presiding over one of the most important debates in Parliament ever, what does the Deputy Speaker do?

He yawns.

And in that precise moment, moments before Sumanthiran’s submission that was, as in 2010 – frequently and rudely interrupted – one saw the Rajapaksa regime’s real interest in, and capacity to engage with constitutional governance.

A video of the MP’s submission can be viewed below in the quality it was recorded and sent to Groundviews.

  • Concerned

    The disgrace which is our Parliament

  • Dev

    Is it not ironic that the much maligned TNA and one of it’s MP”s Sumanthiran (esp by the likes of Rajasingham Narendran) is the only one making a stand against the govt ?

  • Thrishantha

    Fantastic speech exposing the nudity of opportunists like MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara. Vasudeva openly threatened the independent judiciary during the impeachment motion debate. It is a shame. I respect honorable Sumanthiran for making this speech amidst uncivilized interference from the ruling party MPs.

  • Aravinda

    The sad thing about the political jokes is that they get elected.

  • citizen

    Thank you Hon. Sumanthiran. Excellent speech!!

    I think no one can save this wretched country!!
    The conduct of the members of parliament are even worse than animals!!
    This is what happens when you elect people without any qualification, or any decency!!!They have lost the ability to think and are following their “so called leaders” for the crumbs which falls from their tables!!!

  • Balachandran

    Courages man. This is what we wanted from our parliamentarians. Sadly I didn’t see anybody who spoke with so much of knowledge and pointed out the constitution for every question that were raised except for mr. Sumanthiran not even form the so called main opposition UNP….

  • My goodness, this is really a farce.

    Vasudeva was one of my heroes for a long time too. I am ashamed of myself, really really ashamed. how can a man stoop so low I can’t comprehend.

  • Jayalath



    Thank you very much for you . You have demonstrated as a true human among vicious human animals ,and its our unfortunate and the country’ s unfortunate as that we are lack people like you .
    We are living now in an environment we need more people like you to rebuild the crumbling country .
    Very very great , I’m very curious to watch British parliament debates and I always do , then every time I regret of thinking what are the debates that we have in our parliament , the reason is , our parliament is full of human animals , not all but majority . All the mobs in the country and professional murderers with brewers are in parliament to rule the country , these people have no shame .
    Honestly , they do not know the distinguish between right and wrong ., that is the reason why we are in this situation now .
    Why can’t we learn from other ., outrageous and appaling .We have been humiliated by these mobs and this is the curse for the country , the curse isn’t come from another world it is created by ourselves . Therefore , please enough is enough , lets gether to save our country sake of our children . this is my discussion , as I always said we need to change , it is the root for whole future ,without we entirely change the role , the good days of dream will not come . It is down to the people , who should know whom they should vote for , unless brother we will perish , no one can save us . We will dig own grave . Sorry ,very sorry .

    Once again I will thank you .

  • Max Headroom

    First of all, regret that I have t write this comment under a pen name. I hope there will be a time in my life, I would be able to express my feelings about my native country Sri Lanka without anonymity.

    This is an excellent speech by Hon. M. A. Sumanthiran MP. I am a Sri Lankan, Sinhalese, Buddhist and I am ashamed of the majority of members in the parliament, on the side of the Government, interrupting this person. I am ashamed of Vasudeva Nanayakkara.

    I think Sri Lanka is a failed state and I am glad that I left Sri Lanka to live in another country. I am on the brink of forgetting Sri Lanka.

  • mike pelham

    Is the debate in a parliament or in the deep jungle in some god forsaken land? Get civilised! Shameful, disgraceful and a ruination of democracy. Hats off to the the guy trying to speak above a bleating cacophony of chaos!!

  • Mohan

    These Singhela speaking politicians don’t know or don’t want to know about the Singhela speaking forces are abusing Tamilela speaking Indigenous People in their own country. I could hear Sumanthiran and another member spoke in Tamilela, crying for the Justice for the Tamilela Speaking WOMEN. It is sad 3000 years old Aryan killings are NOT going to Stop.

  • Florence

    I am born and bread in Sri Lanka but now I am domicile in a different country and have noticed the difference how the some other Democratic countries rule. They are more concern about the people and the development of the country rather than their personal gains. Sri Lanka is suppose to be a Buddhist dominated country. The parliament is mostly followers of Buddhism and if they are truly believe their religion, they would not stoop down such arrogance and atrocious behavior. I am concern about the future of my children and their kids. Is this the example the present parliamentarians setting for the future generation. Shame on you people. Grow up. Our country is rich in heritage and is should not be wasted like people like you. High time all Sri Lankan do something serious to get rid of these hooliganism.

  • The government of Sri Lanka(GOSL) has gone rogue; breaching the constitution, rule of law, Human Rights and civilised behaviour.

    Mahinda Rajapakse and the entire 155 legislators who voted to impeach the Chief Justice, are themselves said to be 100 percent corrupt and dishonest.

    These kleptocrats are believed to be looting the state and stashing the loot abroad or keeping with their kith and kin.

    They have made the people to be poor as never before.

    Last week, the opposition legislators had a massive demonstration and brought an impeachment motion against their head of state in Hong Kong.

    Leung Ching-Ying, the head of state, was accused of; a) using dishonest ways to win election and be in power, b) serious breaches of law and c) dereliction of duty.

    Surely, Sri Lankans are living in a Zoo !! In a Zoo, you accept what the Zookeeper does regardless of what is right or wrong, good or bad. If the Zookeeper pisses on the face and calls it rain, the message is “shut up and live with it”.

  • Simply excellent! I will consider Hon. Sumanthiran as a hero canceling my earlier thoughts towards Vasudeva and Prof. Pieris who sank at their petty advantages to continue as ministers. I salute honarable DEW Gunasekara as well who stuck to his principles. I am ashamed of prof. Vitharana as well.

    Justice must prevail at all costs.

    These honarable nitwits must go to hell, not the judiciary.


    • Burning_Issue

      “Justice must prevail at all costs.”

      I suppose the statement above is applied selectively! The massacres of Tamil civilians during the last stages of the war do not qualify for this!

      • Fall of Tamils has a cause originated from their own community, unlike the case of CJ. Application of justice therefore in these two cases I don’t think is identical. Nature of justice is that it is applicable to each case differently. I don’t think application of justice in two cases differently is selective justice and against the prevailing of justice.


        • Burning_Issue

          Interesting! I hope the Sinhala in general have better understanding of Justice than you Yapa. Otherwise there is no hope!

  • Suppressed

    Thank you Mr. Sumanthiran for the excellent speech. Thank god we have at least a few MPs who can speak & make a point on a serious topic like then when. You did well to expose the so called public interest activist Vasudeva who is silent about large-scale corruption that is happening under his own government.

  • Venerable Medamulana Vipassi Thero

    The most disgusting place in the word is SRI LANKA PARLIAMENT. I love the eloquent speech of Hon. Sumanthiran, MP.

  • Lanka Liar

    Well Done Sumanthiran

    We could see many things here.

    the Muslims who spoke say “We are your humble servants”
    the Sinhalese say “who cares”.
    the Tamils say “where is justice”

    this is going on for centuries.
    So where is justice with these servants . who cares.
    In any parliament these hooligans would have been kicked out.
    From speakers to the MPs needs rehabilitation.
    If Idi Amin was alive he would have been delighted to see many of his incarnations.
    What a shame

  • Sohan Fernando

    Incidentally, the way Sumanthiran was treated (and also do recall similar past incidents, e.g. during the 18th Amendment fiasco) shows us that when Hell begins to freeze over, we can go ice skate on Diyawana…

    Thanks for this, GV and relevant others.
    (And goes without saying, huge thanks to Mr. Sumanthiran. Excellent. )

    Fellow readers: if you prefer reading, or have bandwidth problems for video, I believe I heard that:

    * the TEXT of his speech was somewhere online — it may have been a post on Colombo Telegraph; and,

    * the AUDIO alone (less bandwidth than video) was also supposedly available, linked to by one of the comments on that same post.


    appears to allow you to DOWNLOAD the VIDEO, for offline viewing — several different video file sizes are shown.

    • Sohan, apologies for not publishing previous comment. We do not allow ad hominem comments on this site. Please consider revising your comment, in line with our guidelines, and resubmitting it.

  • Wallflower

    I felt ashamed to hear a Tamil Member of Parliament expressing the thoughts of the majority of this country while those so called champions of Democracy, the majority of them Sinhalese being wonderful examples of Lap dogs. More strength to you, Honorable Mr:M.A.Sumanthiram.

  • citizen

    The Sinhalese people who were jealous of the Tamils, used to spread the false propaganda that the Tamils were favoured by the British etc. They will realise now that the success of the Tamils wherever they live was due to the hard work, honesty, law abiding character etc. etc.

    Unfortunately some of the Tamils like Douglas, Karuna, Pillaiyan and several like him are fallen into the TRAP and has become the DOWN FALL of the Tamils!!!

    I hope the sinhalese will realise their folly and allow the Tamil to live peacefully!!

    • Ha! Ha!!, This is a very popular story, blowing own trumpets wherever get a chance.

      “Tamils are superior”, very opinion among Tamils to paved way to their community’s disaster, racist idea of supremacy over other communities, induced by colonialists.


      • truth

        People have to do a bit of souls searching to find out what went wrong in Sri Lanka!! A lot of energy and resources were wasted by the successive Sinhalese govts. to put down the Tamils!! Instead of finding ways and means of encouraging everyone to work hard and uphold law and order and be honest and to abolish bribery, corruption and nepotism, the so called leaders aided and abetted the common man to belief that by halting the advancement of the Tamils, the sinhalese can achieve success!!!

        Laws were enacted to limit the success of the Tamils!!! State SPONSORED POGROMS were organised and carried out with millions of worth of property and lives were destroyed from time time!!!It is still continuing away from the eyes of the world in the North and East and Vanni!!!

        The “so called leaders” lead the people to ruin while making money for themselves and their families. “Learned” Sinhalese people kept silent and the irony is that they defended the actions of the Government and supported all the evil deeds of their “leaders” Now people are afraid to raise their voices for fear of their lives!!!

        The common man should try to think for themselves and each one of them should learn to work hard and uplift themselves than trying to ruin the successful man next door!!!

  • dingiri

    Jackals howling.
    Donkies braying.
    monkies hooting.
    Speaker yawning.
    One man speaking.
    No one listening.

    And that sums Sri Lanka’s parliament. What an excuse for a democracy!

    • truth

      Brilliant!! Short and Sweet!! Unfortunately these people lack the sixth sense to understand and analyse!!

  • Mallika perera

    Excellent speech.When can we get rid of the Sinhala fools in Parliament?
    Wishful thinking because the uneducated in the country keeps electing
    the fools and once the fools are elected they LOVE the perks
    and not even bunkerbusters can dislodge them.Our only hope is that the doomsday prediction will come about soon!!!!!!

  • Disgusted lawyer

    Great speech suma, would not have expected anything less from you.. Regrettably, wasted on a bunch of disgusting and more importantly shameless excuses for humans. It is very saddening to watch helplessly the way the digniity of this country and its people are being raped by these so called elected representatives. What disgusted me most was the manner in which the so called deputy speaker being an attorney at law like us conducted himself. This demonstrates being qualified is not being educated. Although possiblty qualified he is certainly not educated, similar to most of the hooligans and thugs who have bought their seat in parliament. He claimed that he will discharge his duties. Could he honeslty watch this video and say that he did? The sad plight is that he will claim “yes, i did”. I know him personally and disgusted the stooge that he has become and whatever dignity that he had that he has squarely laid it at the feet of the rajapakse’s. The perennial question is where do we go from here. To me the answer that cries out is to becoming zimbabwe, sooner than later.

    • joke

      “This demonstrates being qualified is not being educated. Although possiblty qualified he is, certainly not educated”

      One cannot be sure of any ones qualification in Sri Lanka these days, especially those who are close to the “power base” The only qualification they may have is they may be the son, brother, of someone influential!!!