COPE Controversy: Speaker Says No Outsider Allowed at Parliamentary Committee Meetings Without Prior Approval

November 20, 2023

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced today a stringent restriction on outsider attendance at Parliamentary Committee meetings, requiring prior written approval. This decision comes in the wake of controversy surrounding the attendance of Kanishka Bandara, son of COPE chairman Ranjith Bandara, at committee sessions.

The controversy unfolded during the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) session investigating matters related to Sri Lanka Cricket. Opposition MPs, notably led by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, raised concerns over the presence of Kanishka Bandara in committee meetings, highlighting the potential conflicts of interest and the need for transparent protocols.

In response to the mounting criticism, Speaker Abeywardena addressed the issue today, asserting that henceforth, no outsider would be allowed to attend any Parliamentary Committee meeting without obtaining prior written approval from his office. This move is aimed at ensuring a more stringent control over who has access to the crucial proceedings within these committees.

The controversy began when it was revealed that COPE chairman Ranjith Bandara had permitted his son, Kanishka Bandara, to attend committee sessions. This raised eyebrows among opposition members who argued that such allowances could compromise the impartiality and integrity of the committee's investigations.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, upon learning of Kanishka Bandara's attendance, promptly raised the matter with Speaker Abeywardena, urging a review of the protocols to prevent any potential misuse of the committee system.