Former Foreign Minister and UNP Member of Parliament Mangala Samaraweera yesterday revealed details of a plot to assassinate him during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Colombo next month.
Following a heated exchange, the Speaker of Parliament said that he would look into the MP’s issue and ensure equal security for all MPs.
On a collision course with the Speaker of Parliament, Chamal Rajapaksa, Samaraweera raised the issue of his security as a matter of parliamentary privilege and said his reference to the Presidential Security Division in a previous parliamentary speech had been subject to censorship.
Repeatedly interrupted by the Speaker when he was attempting to make the reference again, Samaraweera threatened to report his censorship to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association of which Sri Lanka holds the Chair.
“Report it anywhere you want, the Speaker shot back.”
“You are the custodian sir, of this assembly,” Samaraweera charged.
The Speaker repeatedly said the censorship was not a matter of parliamentary privilege. “It is your opinion that your life is in danger, You believe that – you are scared,” Speaker Rajapaksa said.
“You cannot shut our mouths,” Samaraweera shot back
“Open it then,” the Speaker said, as the House erupted.
Samaraweera charged: “This Parliament is being censored.”
The Following is Samaraweera’s full statement on the plot to assassinate him:
“I have reliable information about a plot to assassinate me in the run-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting ( CHOGM) to be held in Colombo from the 15th – 18th November.
According to intelligence reports prepared by the SIS ( State Intelligence Service) a well known contract killer called ‘Chaku’ and another underworld criminal called ‘ Kota Gamini’ have been assigned the task of carrying out my murder.
According to the warped criminal minds of those who want me killed, this is a propitious time to do so , as everyone will assume that the killing carried out just before so many heads of state are in attendance, is to
embarrass the government . The blame is to be squarely put on those who are waging a political and media mud slinging war against me since the recent incident in Matara. The conspirators hope ‘to kill two birds with one stone’ through this insidious act: on one hand a vociferous critic of the regime, both inside and outside Parliament will be silenced and on the other, they think they can further divide the opposition by putting the blame on sections of the UNP.
Mr. Speaker, the most important paragraph of my statement has been deleted and this proves beyond any doubt that the freedom of speech of even MPs is curtailed under this regime. When I met you in your chambers at 4pm last afternoon, you consented to the whole statement but later in the evening I received a censored version with the most important para censored. Is the Secretary General now the censor general of Parliament? On what grounds has the following para been censored?
However, I can, with responsibility state that the master mind behind this conspiracy is a senior Defence Official who has been behind many of the political killings, white van abductions and assault on journalists during the last several years.
Why has this been censored? Under what standing order? Who is the SG trying to protect? The SG must be looking after the interests of Parliamentarians and not senior officials in the defence sector.
The following has also been censored.
I have also been told that a very important VIP recently talked of the need ‘ to shut me up’ in front of several senior cabinet Ministers. The standing orders of this house prevent me from naming those concerned but I will be lodging a formal complaint tomorrow with the Police with all the details of this conspiracy.
This high handed act by the SG is a direct violation of the Commonwealth Charter and the Lattimer house principles.
V. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
We are committed to peaceful, open dialogue and the free flow of information…..and to enhancing democratic traditions and strengthening democratic processes.
VI. SEPARATION OF POWERS
We recognise the importance of maintaining the integrity of the roles of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary………
If you expunge the relevant para, I will make a formal complaint to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union.
The Parliament must protect the integrity of the legislature without pandering to the interest of the executive.
As the custodian of the safety and security of all the members of this house, Mr. Speaker, I request you to to urgently intervene in this matter with those concerned. I also request you to provide me with adequate security including the allocation of local police guard provided to the residences of MPs which I have been deprived of since the inception of the present Parliament.
Listen the debate here;