By Kusal Perera –
This is a follow up on my previous letter to the Speaker of Parliament on Assets and Liabilities. While the Speaker is held responsible for declaration of Assets and Liabilities of MPs, political parties can not evade responsibility in ensuring their party MPs adhering to the law of the land that goes beyond the law.
31 December, 2012
Secretary General / General Secretary,
The UPFA, UNP, ITAK and DNA,
represented in parliament.
Dear Secretary General/General Secretary,
Regarding Declaration of Assets & Liabilities – Members of Parliament
I honestly believe you are aware by now of the letter I have already addressed to the Hon. Speaker of parliament on the above subject on 25 December 2012, requesting his assistance in obtaining information on declaration of assets and liabilities by MPs on the legal provision in Sub Section 5(2)(3) of the relevant Act. I am annexing a copy of same herewith, for your convenience.
While awaiting a reply from the Hon. Speaker to that said letter, I thought it is relevant and important that I address this to you, on the same issue, as you may as a political party decide to participate in the debate on the impeachment motion report by the PSC against the Chief Justice, handed over to the Speaker that raised the issue of declaration of assets and liabilities as a serious charge against her in her conduct as the Chief Justice.
It is not for me to tell you that the “Declaration of Assets and Liabilities (Amendment) Act No. 74 of 1988” is equally applicable to all 225 Members of Parliament in the same way as it does to the Hon. Chief Justice and to all other public officers, mentioned under Section 2.(b) of the above named Act. I would say, it goes beyond that legal provision as a moral and a political obligation as well, for all elected politicians as Members of Parliament to strictly abide by the law.
The social reason and necessity for such an Act to be adopted as law, is plain and clear in a democratic system of representative governance. The society needs checks and balances to ensure and guarantee that public officials in State institutes and elected representatives in any Legislature do not take to corruption and fraud. As political parties that vie for political power at every elections, you are morally and ethically bound to adhere and abide by this Act, each time you promise good governance, accountability and transparency at every elections, win or loose.
Beyond the responsibility and duty of the Speaker in ensuring the adherence to this law, political party leaderships too have a serious role, an unmistakable binding to the voter, to honour this law to the very letter. No parliament is “Supreme”, if its MPs don’t abide by the law that ensures accountability and transparency to the extent that the citizenry could agree the elected representatives are not into corruption and fraud. If MPs don’t prove to the public that they do respect the law in declaring their assets and liabilities, this parliament would not be “Supreme” in any way, though written on paper.
Therefore I hold the leadership of the political party as wholly responsible in the implementation of the “Declaration of Assets and Liabilities (Amendment) Act No. 74 of 1988” as a law of this land. I hold the Secretary General/General Secretary of the party responsible as the authorised legal entity in the party who signs nominations under the Elections Law, in ensuring candidates nominated by you to the Elections Commissioner, submit their required declaration of assets and liabilities when handing over nominations. Where that responsibility has not been properly carried out, which is almost all the time, I hold you responsible in ensuring your elected party Members, submit their declarations before swearing in as a Member of Parliament. This I say, is a responsibility you can not ignore, forget or evade, even if the accusation against the CJ for improper declaration of assets and liabilities is not on the table for debate and discussion, the media says has been fixed for a two day debate in parliament on 10 and 11 January, 2013.
This being a law that under Section 9 (1) makes any person who fails to declare assets and liabilities without reasonable cause, makes false statement or contravenes any provision of this law, shall be guilty of an offence and shall, on conviction after trial before a Magistrate be liable to a fine, imprisonment of either description or both such fine and imprisonment, I wish to stress, citizens of this country have the right to ask you, as to who in your party has violated this Act and then, you are politically obliged to answer that question without restrictions.
On that political and legal understanding, I believe you would answer my questions below.
- Have all MPs elected from your political party to parliament, handed over their assets and liabilities declarations years up to 2011 March 31 and 2012 March 31 and if not, can you please provide the names of those who have not ?
- If some have not, why have you not taken any disciplinary action against them for such violation of law ?
- Have your party as one registered under the Elections Commissioner’s (EC) Department, submitted assets and liabilities declarations of all office bearers to the election commissioner as per Section 2(da) of the said Act and if so, can you please make them available to the public, without further delay ?
Shall expect an early and a complete answer, from you.
Thanking you in advance,
Yours most sincerely