For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
The government yesterday thwarted an attempt by UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya to present a private member’s bill which provided for the freedom of access to official information.Soon after the question time, Mr. Jayasuriya rose on his feet to present the bill which provided for access to official information or else specify grounds on which access could be denied. Also, the bill sought to establish a Freedom of Information Commission and to appoint information officers setting out the procedure for making requests for information on matters concerned.
Chief Government Whip Dinesh Gunawardane remarked that it had been agreed not to present this private member’s bill on an earlier occasion, and therefore, the government would object to it.
Around a year ago, Mr. Jayasuriya tried to introduce this bill in the House. However, he withdrew the decision after the government assured it would bring a similar bill, leaving no room for MPs to make individual attempts.
Mr. Jayasuriya responded to Mr. Gunawardane yesterday saying he (Mr. Jayasuriya) waited for months, and decided eventually to bring his bill again because there was no such piece of legislation being worked out by the government.