18th Amendment, Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Politics and Governance, Post-War

“Sound is no substitute for argument”: Exclusive video of TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran’s speech in parliament against 18th Amendment

This video complements Exclusive video: Parliamentary debate and objections to 18th Amendment published on Groundviews.

The reasoned, well-argued full text of the speech made by TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran against the 18th amendment bill is published elsewhere on the Internet. However this video, procured exclusively by Groundviews, captures much more than the TNA MP’s own submission to Parliament on 8th September 2010. For example, responding to opposition by Government MPs, Mr. Sumanthiran makes two points,

Revoltingly, Mr. Sumanthiran is called ‘kotiya‘ (tiger/terrorist) at around 1.26 minutes into his submission by a member of parliament who can only be from Government. Admirably holding his peace and instructing fellow Tamil MPs close to him to not respond in a similar fashion, Mr. Sumanthiran only notes repeatedly that “sound is no substitute for argument”. At around 21.11 minutes in, this outrageous accusation is levelled again with an MP pointedly noting that there is a “kotiya inside the house”. Mr. Sumanthiran quipped that “yes this is true, you have some on your side”. At around 22 minutes in, the refrain ‘kotiyek kotiyek kotiyek‘ reaches a crescendo, forcing the Speaker to intervene. This happens again around 33 minutes into Mr. Sumanthiran’s submission. Groundviews leaves it to readers to pass judgement of elected representatives in government, ostensibly partial to the President’s avowed desire for national reconciliation, who cannot even countenance informed, civil dissent in Parliament, much less respect a fellow Tamil MP.

Noting the manner in which the 18th Amendment was rushed through, the MP in his submission referred to the ‘exceptionally talented judges of the Supreme Court’ who ‘seemed to be able to be able to dissect the proposed constitutional amendments with consummate ease’, and repeatedly noted the stifling of any debate on the Bill in the country and even in a parliament sans many members of the Opposition.

From ignorance over what is a point of order in parliament to the constitution of the Bar Association and incredibly even on points related to the constitution of Sri Lanka, Mr. Sumanthiran is forced to make a number of clarifications to fellow MPs, many of whom try to shout down this submission and suggest he is misleading the House.

We also note that Mr. Sumanthiran quotes at length from the Statement on the Proposed 18th Amendment to the Constitution by University academics first published on Groundviews.

At around 40 minutes in, the proceedings completely break down. For around 5 to 6 minutes an unholy cacophony of shouting and diatribes ensues, which the Speaker, occasionally blithely smiling at the chaos around him, seems unable or unwilling to control in order to allow Mr. Sumanthiran to continue with his submission.

Read the final text of TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran’s speech in Parliament opposing the 18th Amendment.