Freedom of Information Bill: Sirikotha says it’s a Wickremesinghe initiative

Freedom of Information Bill: Sirikotha says it’s a Wickremesinghe initiative

In spite of the widening rift between the UNP and the Reformists over political strategy, both are expected to cooperate in efforts to pressure the SLFP-led UPFA to approve the Freedom of Information Bill.

But, the UNP was unlikely to allow the Reformists to exploit the issue to further their cause, political sources said.

In the wake of former UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya, MP, declaring his intention to take up the issue again, Sirikotha said that the Freedom of Information Bill was an initiative of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Addressing the media at his Kirulapone office, MP Jayasuriya vowed to step up efforts to ensure the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill. A bill on Right to Information presented by MP Jayasuriya on June 21, 2011 was defeated with 99 voting against and 32 for.

Senior Minister Dew Gunasekera told The Island that in line with Standing Orders of Parliament, the defeated Bill couldn’t be presented during the ongoing session.

However, Sirikotha, in a special statement said that notwithstanding the defeat of the bill presented by Jayasuriya, on the instructions of UNP leader Wickremesinghe, Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga had presented the Bill again on April 23.

According to Sirikotha, it was Wickremesinghe who presented the Bill as a private member’s motion in July 2010 on the basis of a draft approved by the Cabinet in January 2003. As the then Secretary General of Parliament said that the Opposition Leader couldn’t present a private member’s motion, Wickremesinghe instructed, his then deputy, Karu Jayasuriya to present the Bill. Subsequently, MP Jayasuriya presented the Bill on Sept. 23, 2010, though it was withdrawn when the government assured that it would present a Bill of its own. Then again on the advice of Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, MP Jayasuriya presented the Bill, again on June 21, 2011, which was defeated by 99 votes to 32.

The Island:

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