3 April, 2020

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Get The RTI Right

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

The new Government has hit the ground running when it comes to ‘show’. Allegations are a dime a dozen so to speak, these days. There’s a lot of ‘show’ but little to see, strangely. Sure, the law doesn’t move as fast as the vengeful or the righteous want it to. There is thing called ‘due process’ after all. This does not sanction the kind of vigilantism that thrills the likes of Ranjan Ramanayake, however. A lot of the ‘showing’ can be ignored and even forgiven, but that is only if the Government demonstrated the same kind of energy when it comes to other pledges. It has not.

It is way behind schedule in enacting policy reforms pledged to the people. There is talk of repealing the 19th Amendment and this is good. However, the National Executive Council appears to be sleeping when it comes to electoral reform. Instead we have both major parties talking ‘elections’ at every turn. Elections without reform only guarantees further democratic deformity. But then again, how could one expect miracles from a body that has named itself using the word ‘Executive’ without any ‘by-your-leave’ from the public, eh?

It looks like the architects of the promise-list were either deliberately hoodwinking the public or were ignorant about practicalities. Whatever the reason, ‘there’s a lot to do that we didn’t anticipate’ seems to have become a pretty common excuse. What is disturbing is that this ‘lot to do’ excuse is shelved when it comes to ‘holding elections on promised schedule’. If they need time for reform then they can take time over elections too, the public will not mind if it took them, say, 101 days or even 135 or 214.

In this context one must applaud the Media Ministry for acknowledging practical difficulties but asserting that irrevocable steps will be taken to get the Right to Information (RTI) Bill tabled and passed in Parliament. The Secretary of the Ministry, Karunaratne Paranavithana told the media that the Right to Information will become a fundamental right, an eventuality which will force the enactment of the Bill. The Bill was not tabled on February 20, as scheduled, but it will see the light of day within the much talked of ‘100 Days’ he promised.

As is true of other promised reforms, including electoral reform, much of the spade work has already been done by various interest groups. Tweaking is no big deal in the year 2015 when templates are just a click away. Those responsible for turning the RTI need of the people into a reality by scripting it into the Constitution have enough working drafts. UNP stalwart Karu Jayasuriya in fact came up with one in the capacity of a ‘Private Member of Parliament’. The challenge is to get it right the first time, even if it takes time.

The drafts that are floating around these days are too good to be rejected. However, they remain incomplete. Rights advocates have pointed out that the Right to Information must cover all relevant institutions, not just those of the state. The RTI Acts of Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia and South Africa give citizen the right to demand information not just from state institutions but from private sector and non-government organizations, essentially including any and every body obtaining money directly from the Government, foreign governments or international organizations.

The political will to get the RTI ‘done’ is certainly greater than the will to enact electoral reforms. If that’s all that this Yahapaalana adventure is going to yield, then so be it. But, let us reiterate, it should be comprehensive. The 17th Amendment had holes. We don’t need the RTI to have any.

The Nation supports this Bill. We will suffer delays that are unavoidable. We will not, however, go along with a half-baked document that allows some outfits to do the hanky-panky and get away with it. It is good to make sure state institutions are held answerable to the people, but if you also make sure you offer immunity from scrutiny to NGOs, for example, you are cheating the citizen.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 16
    5

    This is all good constructive criticism.
    But where were you during 9 years of MR regime. You never had the guts to pen a word against MR. Take the challenge and post one article that you wrote criticizing MR or Gota.

    • 8
      4

      Not saying what he did the past 9 years is right but he raises very valid questions.
      Does he have to remain silent just because he was the past 9 years?

      • 5
        7

        Very true. The anti-Rajapakse and separatists try to distract people when genuine criticisms or warnings are sounded. Most of their comments are of a kind that makes one want to puke.

        • 6
          3

          What ? “The anti-Rajapakse and separatists” ???. Unless you have short-term memory loss, as far as this country is concerned, Rajapakse has lost it and he is a looser just like you. Yes, keep puking as this is the only thing you could do right now. The people have given a verdict to Rajapakse & people like you, period !!! “good riddance of bad rubbish”.

        • 5
          3

          Lynx:
          Are you competing with Malinda for the title of “hypocrite of all time?”
          You buggers suddenly have become really concerned with decency etc. since your paymasters bit the dust!
          What a bunch of phonies!

    • 4
      2

      “This is all good constructive criticism. But where were you during 9 years of MR regime.”

      If this is “good constructive criticism”, it doesn’t matter where Malinda was during the last 9 years. I am thankful that he has survived the last 9 years. If he had criticised the former regime, he wouldn’t be making “good constructive criticism” today, and more importantly, tomorrow.

      The change that we expect from the current regime is that journos, including Malinda, Dayan, etc., etc., are free to criticise the regime. Of course they will have the freedom to praise Rajapakse to high heavens and make utter fools of themselves, and a fool of Rajapakse (again?) too. MR, or more importantly Namal, will never be compelled to reform and make amends for the mistakes they made – if intelligent commentators do not speak the truth.

      The day I get to read an impartial unbiased article about mistakes of the current regime as well as those of the past regime, I will be happy that the new President and the PM are delivering what they promised. I do not care who writes that article.

      I do hope that Dayan and Malinda have the courage to take up the challenge offered, may be temporarily, by the new and free environment. They both have the capability to be the best – meaning unbiased – political commentators of our time, a rare species in a country where talented journalists waste themselves by saying hosannas to false prophets.

      • 0
        2

        Yes,anybody should have the right to praise even Mahinda. That is true media freedom . State media has undergone a dramatic change nowadays. The other day ITN featured Gunadasa Amarasekera and Nalin de Silva on its news broadcast without insulting commentaries. I haven’t seen state media treating opposition figures impartially in years. People like Malinda hopefully will learn from this and not try to push their narrow agendas using this “glasnost”.

      • 5
        2

        If he didnt criticise MR and his band of crooks who robbed the country blind in order to save his life I could understand. But Malinda went much further. He went on to praise MR, claimed it was acceptable for an “adoring population to call him Maha Rajah”. Wrote panegyrics championing him as a flawless saviour of the nation and praised the 18th amendment.

        He went even further, attacking Mahinda’s openents calling them Tiger Supporters, Foreign Agents and traitors. He even claimed Prageeth Ekneligoda faked his death and was hiding in a foreign country leaving his wife and children to fend for themselves.

        So let of remind ourselves a bit about this man, his morals and values before reading his advice to the new government.

        Yes. We need all this. the 17th amendment and the RTI bill. But Malinda was very happy to live without any of this under MR. Him bleating on about it 2 months after a new govt was sworn in is a bit lame.

    • 3
      1

      Malinda Seneviratne,

      Did you know anything about this? Or, was it part of your shilling contract not to talk about it? Just Curious. You could have written a lot of stories about it, if you were ethical.

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/i-have-information-on-whitevanning-former-police-spokesman/

      Video: Former police spokesman wants to reveal ‘white van’ criminals

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XBWT8YEVrpk

  • 8
    5

    Oh Malinda Seneviratne, Mahinda Shill and White-Washer,

    “The new Government has hit the ground running when it comes to ‘show’. Allegations are a dime a dozen so to speak, these days. There’s a lot of ‘show’ but little to see, strangely. “

    Too many Shills, White washes have been paid/bribed using peoples
    It will take some time.

    Can you disclose some of these people, called Crooks, Robbers and Criminals, CRCs?

    Listen to people’s voice – Punish fraudsters, the corrupt and the thieves

    The JVP took to the streets today (26th) against the failure of the government to expedite legal action against all those who had been involved in frauds, corruption and thieving.

    The agitation held opposite Fort Railway Station was participated by a large crowd including the General Secretary of the JVP Tilvin Silva, its Information Secretary Vijitha Herath, the Member of the Political Bureau K.D. Lal Kantha.

    [Edited out]

  • 6
    2

    Of course it was all about hood-winking the people whose votes they were after. CBK said openly it was her plot to oust MR because of a private grudge. MS stood by MR all along voting for his governments decisions, only leaving after persuasion by CBK. People are just wasting their time and energy putting these power grabbing, greedy pigs in authority. Like, they care about anybody but themselves.

  • 7
    1

    So what are you saying Malinda?

    “Sure, the law doesn’t move as fast as the vengeful or the righteous want it to. There is thing called ‘due process’ after all”
    You want the government to bypass the due process like your bloody God Mahinda Rajapkase did to several cases. CJ Shirani with a parliamentary select committees run by jokers like Wimal. Hush-up Lasantha’s case or Thaujudeen’s murder. Yes it can be that fast if it was Mahinda. Ah by the way don’t talk of vengefulness because your God white vaned and shot people to death. At least the present regime is taking time to follow due process.

    The new Government has hit the ground running when it comes to ‘show’. Allegations are a dime a dozen so to speak, these days. There’s a lot of ‘show’ but little to see,
    Of course there is a lot to show because your God left us with so much dark entertainment for us to comprehend. I think you Dayan, Wimal, Usha Siriskadararaja from the Diaspora should all start what is called the “cry babies” club.

    Btw Malinda have you seen the latest 2015 Acer Laptop computer. It just fantastic. You might want to lay your hands on it but eh………….. ;)

  • 8
    3

    Malinda is undoubtedly a Mahinda whitewasher. They call themselves as great journalists but didn’t open their mouths until the previous regime was ousted. Now these people want to find holes in what the new government is trying to do.

    Malinda, Dayan Jayatileke, maheepala, etc behave as they did not exist during the last regime. There were so many types of corruption, mismanagement, etc against which they had no guts to even mildly criticise.

  • 4
    2

    Historic first ever Right To Information filing in Sri Lanka follows

    To: Malinda Seneviratna

    1. Please list the dealing with EPDP’s Douglas Devananda, when you contested Jaffna Municipal Council elections under military oppression in 2000 under your close associate Champika Ranawaka’s Sinhala Urumaya party

    2. Please list both overt and covert support by you to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidential election campaign in 2005. Please include all instances of monies being exchanged in large suitcases.

    3. Please state at exactly which point you ditched environmental protection campaigning to your current position of indifference to some of the major ecological disasters unveiling in the island.

    Genocide Watch

  • 3
    2

    An RTI request also goes out to Indian government handlers that Champika Ranawaka was pleading to be dominated by, in his recent visit with MY3, with a clear aim of accelerating Tamil genocide in the island, under the model as set out at http://righttoinformation.gov.in/

    1. What deals were stuck in New Delhi to propagate the US-India nuclear pact, especially regarding nuclear energy waste, to be dumped in to a Mix Oxide nuclear energy power station in the island?

    2. What covert operative instructions were given to Champika Ranawaka to deviate the masses from topics of real environmental protection mechanisms?
    Was Malinda Seneviratne recommended as a suitable media partner?

    3. What alliances were made and/or consolidated between the embodiment of Sinhala Buddhist Chauvanist mindset and the Hindutva project as led by Narendra Modi to take forward Tamil genocide in the island?

    Genocide Watch

  • 1
    4

    Malinda Seneviratne slowly coming to the right track.

  • 3
    3

    Vermin like Malinda Seneviratna should remain as silent as they were during the last ten years about the rape of Human Rights and the rape of the rule of law. That way the restoraion of human rights will be more speedily achieved.

    When they speak about human rights and this particular law RTI, it appears they are speaking for “their” rights, having criminally ridden rough shod over the rights of others.

    When they write they are projecting they are believers in human rights. This is a travesty: they do not believe in human rights; rights only for themselves.

    When Malinda opens his mouth, like when Dayan does, dishonesty oozing from every pore, the froth at their mouths emitting a foul odor. This hardens the resolve of those who voted for Maithripala Sirisena, to want to deprive them of what they deprived us. These vermin are so dishonest, repugnant, and repulsive. If they will shut up, and remain out of sight, it will help a speedier restoration of rights.

  • 2
    1

    The newspaper that MALINDA works for was bought from Dr.Yakdehige by the Rajapaksha clan using a “front’!!

    What more do you expect ?

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