An uproar that erupted in Parliament today regarding an earlier decision by the Speaker to release an audio CD containing nine phone conversations of MP Ranjan Ramanayake made the Speaker to reconsider his decision.
He announced that he had decided to release an edited version of the CD to the MPs after editing them. “We discussed this matter at the party leaders meeting while the CD was viewed by a committee of four MPs. It has been found out that the conversations contained un-parliamentary language.” he said.
“The MP has tabled the CD a day after he made the speech in the House. Therefore it is not the practice of Parliament to accept any document or anything after a speech is made. However I have decided to release the CD to MPs because they have insisted that I do it. I categorically state that this should not be used as a precedent,” the Speaker said.
Minister Vimal Weerawansa asked why the decision was made to release the CD so that someone could make political gains out of it. “We like to know the contents of the CDs so that it will be possible for us to determine whether anyone is trying to gain political advantage out of it,” he said.
MP Wijyaedasa Rajapaksha said there were no provisions to release the CDs under standing orders and that a CD could not be considered a document. However Mr. Rajapaksha said he would not criticize the speaker because the party leaders had decided that the CD should be released to the MPs.
Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said the CD has been released without the consent of the party leaders and that releasing the CD would not be a healthy move because it contained statements which insulted certain countries. “Imagine the consequences which Sri Lanka would suffer if the CD is released,” he said.
JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said holding back the CD would also create a bad precedent as an MP will have to seek the permission of the House and the ruling party when tabling a document in the future.
MP Harin Fernando said holding back the CD would be unfair as long as Mr. Ramanayake is concerned. “Some of Mr. Ramanayake’s conversations have already come out in the media without his consent. It is time to allow Mr. Ramanayake to release the conversations with his consent,” he said.
Speaker said he would reconsider his decision and seek the advise of party leaders once again on this matter. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)