by Shamindra Ferdinando
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, yesterday, said that it would be the responsibility of Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya to take action in respect of the recent disclosure of UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake’s audio clips.
Government Spokesman State Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, on Wednesday (08), said that there were a staggering 121,000 audio clips collected over a four and half years though fewer than two dozen were currently in the public domain.
PM Rajapaksa said that the leaked telephone conversations between Ramanayake and various persons, including members of the judiciary, had caused serious harm to the latter, the CJ should intervene immediately.
He said so at a meeting with editors of national newspapers and journalists at Temple Trees.
Ex-President Rajapaksa called for the CJ’s intervention as Kalinga Indatissa, PC, President of the BASL sought an urgent meeting with CJ Jayasuriya to discuss how to tackle the issue.
The BASL requested for AG’s intervention while assuring him of its backing for whatever remedial measures taken by him in that regard.
The PM also pointed out that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), too, had to play a role in clearing up the mess.
Pivithuru Hela Urumaya leader Udaya Gammanpila said that though there had been accusations as regards political interference in judiciary, they had never received evidence to prove such allegations until the disclosure of lawmaker Ramanayake’s telephone recordings.
Asked whether Mahinda Rajapaksa had received calls from MP Ramanayake during yahapalana administration, a smiling Mahinda Rajapaksa said that had there been such calls, they would have been in public domain now.
The Island asked PM Rajapaksa whether he believed Ramanayake’s conduct as a member of parliament reflected the deterioration of parliamentary standards to such a low level that the public confidence in parliament had suffered a serious setback, the PM compared the situation at the time he entered the House and now. Premier Rajapaksa expressed concern over the current state of affairs in Parliament.
Referring to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy statement delivered on January 03, 2020, The Island asked how Parliament proposed to restore public confidence in it, Premier Rajapaksa replied that they intended to follow that statement.
Rajapaksa endorsed the President’s declaration that Parliament should once again become an exemplary institution where real issues were discussed. He emphasised that the restoration of public confidence in parliament would be the responsibility of the members of parliament.
During yesterday’s briefing reference was made to Ramanayake’s leaked conversations with one High Court judge and two Magistrates.
The media also raised former UNP Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse’s motion in consultation with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to amend the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
Responding to the query on behalf of Premier Rajapaksa, lawmaker Dullus Alahapperuma explained MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakse’s move had nothing to do with President Rajapaksa’s policy statement.
MP Alahapperuma said that three UNP MPs in parliament on Wednesday, January 08 had wrongly interpreted former Justice Minister’s motion as part of the government strategy. Declaring there was absolutely no basis for claims that President Rajapaksa was seeking to promote a Sinhala Buddhist nation, the Matara District MP pointed out the discrepancy in the private member’s motion and the President’s comment on proposed electoral reforms.
Referring to the policy statement, MP Alahapperuma said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had emphasized the need for electoral reforms required to ensure a stable Parliament while retaining what he called positive characteristics of the Proportional Representation system introduced in 1988.
MP Alahapperuma pointed out that since the introduction of the PR system, there had been seven general elections though only on two occasions-in 1988 and 2010 the winning party was able to secure a comfortable majority in parliament. Majorities were obtained under exceptional circumstances, lawmaker Alahapperuma said, pointing out that the 1988 election was held during the JVP inspired second insurgency and the other soon after the eradication of the LTTE.
The MP said that electoral reforms were required to stabilise Parliament though the government would never suppress the rights of other political parties.