PSC divided on threat to national security

By Skandha Gunasekara

The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the 21/4 attacks seemed to be divided on its position on whether the threat to national security was over.

The difference of opinion among the Committee members came to light during today’s (31) testimony of Army Commander Lt. General Mahesh Senanayake.

At the beginning of the Army Commanders testimony, PSC member MP Field Marshal Sarath Foneseka made a statement that he too agreed with the Army Commander’s earlier statement that the terrorist threat was still prevalent.

“When you testified before this committee last time, you said the threat was not completely over. This is true and we have to accept it. Since the day you made that statement there have been several arrests. So it is not over. Some politicians have interpreted in their own ways and claim that the problem is over. It is not so,” Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka remarked.

However, PSC Member MP M A Sumanthiran rebuked the Field Marshal and said that this was the latter’s personal opinion and not the entire Committee’s which ensued in an exchange of words between the two Committee members.

“This is the opinion of the Field Marshal. Not the opinion of this Committee,” MP Sumanthiran said.

Field Marshal Fonseka: It is my opinion and what is your opinion? Do you think the problem is over?

Sumanthiran: You cannot question me.  I am a member of the committee.

Field Marshal Fonseka: What is your opinion? When would our intelligence services warn us and save us from attacks similar to this?

Dr Wickremaratne: Each member of the committee is entitled to have his own opinion.

Thereafter, the Army Commander once again asserted that the terrorist threat was not over.

“We cannot assure that it is over. There have been some progress in investigations and intelligence gathering methods have been revamped. We are not in a position to say that we could see this problem over within six months or six years,” the Army Commander said.