‘Ranjan’s voice clips might lead to serious issues if released’

Karu Jayasuriya - Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka

There was no agreement among party leaders on releasing all the phone recordings that were tabled by UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake to MPs as it might create serious issues, Parliament was told yesterday.

Earlier this month Speaker Jayasuriya said that Parliament Library would allow MPs to access CDs, containing phone call recordings handed over by UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake, after obtaining party leaders’ approval.

The Speaker, yesterday, however, told the house that party leaders had decided to release certain recordings to the MPs after editing them and that a four-member committee had been appointed to examine them.

The Speaker said: “There are parliamentary traditions governing the documents that are tabled. They can be tabled only with the Speaker’s approval. Once a document is tabled, usually we don’t edit it. However, based on the request made by the MPs and the agreement reached at the party leaders’ meeting, it was decided that to edit the recordings prior to making them available to the MPs. This practice should not be a precedent.”

However Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said that party leaders had not agreed to release those recordings.

“It was discussed at the party leaders’ meeting due to the negative impact it could have on the integrity of the esteemed House. That is why they considered editing them.  However, the party leaders did not agree to table them.”

Premadasa said that some recordings could even cause serious diplomatic issues because there are recordings of senior politicians speaking harshly of foreign nations.

Leader of the House Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that the recordings should not be released if the House was not in agreement about allowing access to them. He also agreed with Premadasa that the party leaders had not agreed to table the recordings.

In response the Speaker said that if the House was not in agreement, they could stop the tabling of the recordings.

Meanwhile UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake said that he had tabled the recordings so that people would be aware of the extent of corruption in the country. He had not included only those concerning national security.

Ramanayake said: “We came to catch crooks but we didn’t. This was my way of trying to do something. Now in prison I am next to Udayanga Weeratunge and Kapila Chandrasena. They are in for corruption. I am in for fighting corruption.”

The MP added that among the recordings he submitted was an 18-minute conversation with MP Namal Rajapaksa.

The JVP MPs, Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Bimal Rathnayake insisted that the MPs had the right to access all the recordings tabled by Ranjan Ramanayake.

(Source: The Island – By Rathindra Kuruwita)