Civil society activist Oshala Herath yesterday (2) said that the UK Government had responded to his query regarding Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Naltional List MP Diana Gamage being a British passport holder.
Herath said that he had received a response from the UK Visas and Emigration Section on Dec 1 as regards his Nov 25 query although Election Commission (EC) and other relevant authorities were yet to take up the matter.
Herath, who served in former President Maithripala Sirisena’s media unit, in different capacities, alleged that those responsible for inquiring into the matter were silent on the presence of a British passport holder in Parliament. Herath said the CID was yet to initiate an inquiry.
Having switched her allegiance to the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) recently, MP Gamage voted for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution. In terms of the 20th Amendment approved with an overwhelming 2/3 majority, dual citizens are permitted to contest general election or enter Parliament through NL.
Herath made available a copy of the response he received from the UK Visas and Emigration Section to The Island.
Responding to another query, Herath said that he was informed that though the release of information relating to Diana Gamage was restricted in terms of Data Protection Act of 2018, his complaint would be investigated by the relevant unit.
A person, named G. Bunker, who has signed the document on behalf of ‘Central Operations’ has said the e-mail received from Herath was sent to the appropriate department. Bunker has advised Herath that he shouldn’t expect to receive information pertaining to the result of his complaint as release of such material could jeopardise their investigations. Herath said the British would have simply dismissed his complaint if it had been baseless.
MP Gamage, taking part in Hiru ‘Salakuna’ programme, strongly denied being a British passport holder. She is on record as having said via social media that she renounced her British citizenship in 2015 to launch her political career here.
Herath said he was confident that the five-member EC appointed in terms of the 20th Amendment would conduct a proper inquiry into his complaint. Attorney-at-law Nimal G. Punchihewa heads the EC. Other members are M. M. Mohamed, Gunapala Wickramage, Jeevan Thyagaraja and K. P. P. Pathirana. The previous EC consisted of Mahinda Deshapriya, Nalin Abeysekera, PC and Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole.
The defeated Colombo District UNP candidate at the last general election in early August alleged that the previous EC, instead of conducting a proper inquiry, had thrown its weight behind Diana Gamage. Herath made available his correspondence with the then EC Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya to The Island in respect of MP Diana Gamage’s matter and the re-registering of ‘Ape Jathika Peramuna’ as SJB in the run-up to the last general election.
Herath alleged that the SJB had accommodated Diana Gamage on its NL as she as the General Secretary of Ape Jathika Peramuna had played a significant role in enabling Sajith Premadasa-led rebel UNP group to contest the general election.
In the run-up to the general election, the Supreme Court dismissed Herath’s petition against the registration of the SJB.
Herath said that he would soon write to the new EC Chairman as well as the newly formed five-member Parliamentary Council (PC) regarding the previous EC’s failure to probe the matter. The PC couldn’t turn a blind eye to the EC’s failure though in terms of the 20th Amendment the President was the appointing authority, he said.
Herath said that he had brought MP Gamage’s citizenship issue to the notice of the Secretary to the President, the Speaker and the Attorney General.
Source : Island