Will this Bill also end up in the bin?
Daily Mirror Editorial
May 9, 2012
Last year, the ‘Right to Information Bill,’ never became a law when the powerful majority in the government thought it would be too much of a luxury for the public to know what is going on behind the curtains of power. The Bill has come to the limelight again, with the media reporting that the UNP deputy leader will soon table it for parliamentary approval.
On the previous occasion, when the Bill was defeated in the House, it was a clear sign as to how democracy was being let down by the very people who were sworn to safeguard it. Even more discouraging was the fact that there was no public outcry when this vital Bill was defeated neither did anyone demand prompt amendments or a similar law in place of the one that was thrown out.
The Bill, if passed would have let the citizens know how their tax money was being used by the government. This would have given people the authority to monitor the progress of the so-called development projects and a voice to oppose, when malpractice takes place. In fact, it is their right to know how the country’s wealth is invested as it is the money earned by the people through hard labour that goes into these projects -- not a cent out of the private pockets of the socalled people’s representatives.
The truth is that, ours is a nominal democracy, in which the politicians become conveniently shortsighted to look beyond their personal welfare, the moment their pockets are filled with public money. The people on the other hand, let them bathe in the pool of multicoloured billets by maintaining a silence which is both dangerous and unnecessary.
Soon after the crucial Bill was thrown into the bin, the government spokesman at a news briefing said, discussions were underway to bring a fresh Right to Information Bill in the ‘near’ future, which has long become a remote past. On one hand, people may wonder what took an eternity for the government to introduce a Bill with amendments to the one that was discarded. However, on the other hand, given the government’s history of introducing legislative provisions such as the ominous 18th Amendment and the Private Sector Pension Bill, it is indeed a relief that, the Bill in question never saw the light of the day.
It is against this backdrop that the UNP has prepared another Bill, which will if passed, assure accountability and transparency in the country. This should not be a numbers game in which the government can boast the strength of its crowd, nor should this be about defeating the opposition. It is imperative that, their bubblegumegos do not overshadow the needs and aspirations of the nation.
After all, democracy cannot afford to die another tragic death, nor should the Right to Information Bill be a still born baby.
Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka