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Right To Information Bill Will Ensure Good Governance – Manusha Nanayakara

By  Ifham Nizam

It is sad to say it was the politicians who kept on delaying the Right to Information Bill. While certain sections kept on spreading rumours that it would affect the freedom of the journalists, as a journalist I could assure it would certainly benefit us, says Manusha Nanayakara, United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Galle District parliamentarian. Expressing his views to The Sunday Leader, he says that the Bill has been proposed with the intention of upholding good governance.He added that the Bill will act as a ‘checks and balances’ mechanism as it will increase the accountability of the government with the public being granted access to information about public entities.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: What is your opinion about the present situation of the war crimes report to be submitted in Geneva shortly? Do you think as a country we are in the right direction?

A: Up to date, as a nation Sri Lanka has done remarkably well and in the right direction when it comes to fundamental or Human Rights related issues. Internationally too we had captured the hearts in this regard.
However, there are a few issues related to conflict of interest, according to some. This had been dragged by them. This should not be the trend. We should not have any conflicts with the international community.
We should have our own proposals that would be expected by the international community. It should be the way forward. As a nation, we must consider about the welfare of the masses. However, anything done when it comes to Human Rights should be transparent.

 

Q: Government is of the view that the problem should be tackled by the local and not by the foreigners. What is your view in this regard?

A: Yes. But it should be readily accepted and recognized by the international community. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the Unity Nation Party led coalition is in the right direction. The international adores this coalition. Needless to say those constitutional reforms are high in our agenda. In other words reforms would immensely benefit the society.

 

Q: What do think about the Right to Information Bill?

A: Sad to say it was the politicians who kept on delaying. While certain sections kept on spreading rumours that it affects the journalists, as a journalist I could assure it would benefit us.
The Bill has been proposed with the intention of upholding good governance.
The Bill will act as a ‘checks and balances’ mechanism as it will increase the accountability of the government with the public being granted access to information about public entities.

 

Q: Do you stick with the good governance policy?

A:Of course,yes.
We opposed the granting of a service extension to Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, who was said to be involved in the alleged bond scam at the bank.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party opposed this appointment from the beginning and will never keep silent on financial frauds.
We revealed that the SLFP stalwarts in the government had discussed the matter of the Central Bank Governor with the President and the Prime Minister.

 

Q: Your opinion on foreign judges?

A: The government has reiterated that it will not agree to have foreign judges in the domestic accountability process over its civil war and only accept technical assistance.
President Maithripala Sirisena has been very clear that war crimes did not take place in Sri Lanka.
Some groups are however attempting to give the impression that a war crime investigation will take place in Sri Lanka with the participation of foreign judges.

 

Q:  In your opinion why certain UPFA Parliamentarians and several top officials who had abused power had not been dealt with?

A: The people were disgusted with that as well and that no action was taken. That was the mistake made by us. Now we have rectified that mistake.
We have learnt a lesson and have placed such people in appropriate slots. When we were in power, we may have not properly identified these offences committed by politicians and top officials. During this period in the Opposition, we rectified our mistakes and will move forward.

 

Q: Why does the SLFP high command vacillate to deny nominations to its corrupt Parliamentarians which are not secretive?

A: Merely because an allegation is levelled against a politician, he cannot be denied nominations. Those allegations should be proved before the law.
But the decision not to give nominations can only be taken if they are found guilty before any court of law. Now a social opinion has been created by branding some politicians as corrupt elements.
This has made some impact to change the nomination lists. If some politician has committed any offence, it should be legally proved before he is denied nomination. As a party, we have taken a decision not to give nominations to some candidates who have tarnished the party’s image. Until a candidate is found guilty by law, it is unfair to reject his nomination.

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