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Parliament shouldn’t depend on foreign funding – Gevindu

USAID/CIA bugged Sri Lankan Parliament?

SLPP National List MP Gevindu Kumaratunga  told Parliament that the dignity of parliament and its MPs had been compromised by certain actions of the former Speaker who allowed the USAID to creep in with its own agendas to manipulate the process of parliament.

Raising a privilege issue in Parliament yesterday, MP Kumaratunga said: The orientation workshop held on 25th  and 26th August in the Parliamentary complex was very fruitful for the newly elected MPs. On behalf of newly elected MPs, I thank those who had organised and conducted the event.

However, I would like to mention three incidents that took place during the workshop.  At the commencement of the workshop each participant was given a bag containing the Constitution, books and documents including the Standing Orders, photographs of the old and new Parliament, and a notebook carrying the logo of the USAID.

On June 2, 2019, The Sunday Times reported that the US had been campaigning to get certain agreements including the ACSA detrimental to the national interests of Sri Lanka signed. The US ambassador in Sri Lanka was involved in that campaign. It was also reported that the then Foreign Secretary, Prasad Kariyawasam who had facilitated the process, later after his retirement joined this parliament as a foreign affairs consultant of the former Speaker.

“The same newspaper on June 09, 2019 reported that his salary had been paid by the USAID. The matter was raised in this House by the then opposition MP Dinesh Gunawardena and the then opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, too, condemned that appointment as something that was inimical to the dignity of this House.

The then Speaker thereafter instead of doing away with that post took actions to terminate the USAID paying the salary and thereafter the salaries for the foreign affairs advisor to the Speaker was paid from public funds. That was exposed by The Sunday Times of July 14, 2019.

At the orientation workshop the matter was raised, and MP Channa Jayasumana asked whether it was not detrimental to the country’s interests to obtain USAID gifts. Responding to that question, the Secretary General of Parliament said that the USAID had spent an enormous sum of money on developing the communications division of parliament This would raise a very strong suspicion that while developing the communication system, UASAID, widely suspect as a cronies of CIA must have installed communication spy bugs within the newly installed system to monitor, extract and manipulate the whole parliamentary affairs of Sri Lanka.

“It is our standpoint that this august assembly considered to be the supreme body of public representatives should be maintained without depending on funds from foreign forces. The same was reported by The Island senior journalist Shamindra Ferdinando on Aug 20, 2020, and questioned the propriety of using foreign funds to train parliamentary correspondents.

I also like to bring to your notice that one of the staff members of Parliament staring at the same workshop that a single meal meant for an MP costs more than Rs 3,000 too would attract public displeasure.

I ask the Speaker whether he was aware of the fact that parliament has obtained gifts from an international institution which worked against this country. Have those institutions obtained the permission of the Speaker for that purpose. At the same time, I would like to know whether the Speaker would take actions to remedy the situations that are antithetical to national interests caused by his predecessor.”

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that he would not let any force undermine the independence of Parliament or its members.

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