Opposition lawmakers cry foul over Parliament twitter handle

Opposition lawmakers cry foul over Parliament twitter handle

Opposition lawmakers cry foul over Parliament twitter handle

Written by Staff Writer

10 Dec, 2020 | 9:58 pm

COLOMBO (News1st): Opposition lawmakers raised concerns over the parliament’s official Twitter account citing that it had posted a “false” tweet claiming to be findings of a parliamentary committee.

On Tuesday, the parliament tweeted what it said was a revelation made by the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) on Google Loon, an internet access project, implemented under the previous government.

“COPE revealed that Rs 1.8 mn have been spent to release Google Loon equipment from the customs and Rs 6.4 million have been spent for project promotions,” the tweet read.

However, Harin Fernando, a former digital infrastructure minister, questioned the grounds under which the tweet had been published, citing that the COPE has not published its findings yet.

“The Auditor General has said that Rs 6.4 million had not been spent for the Google Loon project,” Fernando added.

He pointed out that COPE chairman Charitha Herath had been tagged in the tweet, based on which two media channels had filed news reports.

“The speaker and the secretary-general (of parliament) must be aware of other Twitter users tagged in its tweets,” Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa insisted.

But Herath said he may have been tagged in the tweet due to his position as COPE Chairman, and added that media channels draw excerpts from sittings at their discretion.

“…how did the tweet on the parliament’s account tally with the media reports?” Manusha Nanayakkara, a Samagi Jana Balawegaya parliamentarian queried.

Minister Johnston Fernando blamed the opposition for starting the practice of allowing the media to cover two parliamentary committee sessions when it was in power.

“…some media outlets fabricate stories. I expressed objection towards opening the meetings of the COPE and the committee on public accounts to the media,” Fernando recalled.

However, opposition leader Sajith Premadasa insisted that the opposition was not calling for a ban on the media to cover the sessions of parliament or its committees.

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