Certain NGOs in their haste to take advantage of the Right to Information (RTI) Act for their own agendas have applied for information on the assets declaration of the President and the Prime Minister soon after the RTI was enacted on February 3, President Maithripala Sirisena said yesterday.
He said the RTI envisioned the strengthening of the rule of law, ensuring good governance, democracy and transparency in state affairs and added that the Government introduced the RTI to eradicate corruption amid the people believing that 85% of public servants and 100% of the politicians were corrupt.
Delivering the keynote address at the ceremony held to mark the enactment of the RTI, the President said the law relating to the assets declaration by politicians and public servants was already in the statute book and any citizen could obtain information on the assets of a parliamentarian from the Speaker, by paying the relevant fee.
"Those seeking information under the RTI Act must be aware that they cannot obtain personal information of individuals and information relating to national security," he said adding that this information could be used for character assassination by unscrupulous individuals or groups.
He said information relating to public affairs, public expenditure and national development could be obtained.
“Our country is faced with indiscipline. Although we have the highest rate of literacy, the lack of discipline among the public, officials and politicians is a major setback in our forward march. Our people never do what should be done. This government was elected not to do what the previous government did. The people gave me a mandate with the hope that I will restore the rule of law, strengthen democracy and good governance,” the President said.
He said the people and the media enjoy the new found freedom under this government with certain groups taking to the streets, inconveniencing the public.
"A few people claiming to be disabled soldiers attempted to invade the Presidential Secretariat after removing their artificial limbs, demanding full pension benefits, though they had resigned from military service a few years after recruitment," the President said.
"The former prime minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was severely harassed by the opposition. In the short period that he ruled the country, not a day passed without protests staged by the opposition. It is no different with the unity government. The media and the opposition are misusing the freedom restored by the unity government." (Sandun A Jayasekera)