For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
An opposition member of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC), probing charges against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, yesterday suggested that the proceedings of the Committee be opened to the media as it would help to stop the outflow of distorted information.
“Let us open this committee to the media. Then wrong information will not go out. Today, every Court in this country is open to the media. It is the duty of Parliament and the media to reveal the true facts to the public,” UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella said.
The UNP MP’s comments came after PSC Chairman Anura Priyadhsrshana Yapa urged the Speaker to issue guidelines to the media to be followed when reporting issues related to the Committee.
“There is no provision in Standing Orders of Parliament to report on what happens at the PSC, but I noticed that all newspapers are doing this. Therefore, I request the Speaker to issue guidelines to the media to be followed in this regard,” Minister Yapa said.
Chief opposition Whip John Amaratunga said that the entire proceedings of the PSC had appeared on a particular website and hence it was difficult to control such information from becoming public.
Housing Minister Wimal Weerawansa, who is also a member of the PSC, said that opening the committee to the media would be detrimental to the Chief Justice. “We are probing charges against her and hence all of them will get reported in the media even if the allegations are not proved,” he said.
The Minister also refuted allegations that he was biased. “I will look at the evidence and decide if it is true or false and if they are proved to be wrong, I will not hesitate to state so. On other occasions also, my party did not hesitate to state do so” he said.
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the Opposition had no control over the way that the media behaved, but it was the government which could do that. “You can threaten to take back the interest free loan and the laptops,” he laughingly said.
Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody, who was presiding, said he would refer the matter to the Speaker.
By Saman Indrajith