‘National security’ and ‘public safety’ are two different phrases, yet, having one and the same meaning. This Government waxes eloquent about ‘national security,’ one of the key pillars which pivoted it to power two years ago in November 2019, but if life, limb and property are unsafe or are being threatened due to a plethora of LPG (cooking gas) related accidents that have taken place during the past few days, in the backdrop where this selfsame Government is taking little or no action to avert further such accidents, phrases like ‘national security’ and/or ‘public safety,’ ring hollow.
Terrorism is not restricted to two-legged terrorism only, but is also linked to threats caused to life, limb and property even by LPG related accidents, like what is taking place today and particularly so, when taken together, where there is an elected Government which is not taking immediate remedial action to mitigate the ordinary public against such threats.
These have to be looked at in the context that at least 17 LPG related accidents having had been reported islandwide, causing one death, three injuries and damages to houses, hotels, restaurants and similar properties in the 27 days to 12 Noon yesterday. Opposition and SJB MP Nalin Bandara Jayamaha speaking in Parliament on Monday said that tests carried out by the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) in relation to these accidents showed that they were due to the change in composition of the LPG.
Jayamaha therefore requested the Government to make the contents of this CPC report public. Energy Minister Udaya Gammanpila under whose purview the CPC comes, in reply, however said that such a report cannot be made public as the report had been compiled at the behest of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA). Complementing these developments, Cabinet spokesman Dullas Alahapperuma yesterday said that there is a report on recent LP gas accidents out and that its contents, together with other reports such as that which is being compiled by Moratuwa University will be made public, tomorrow.
He however didn’t say who the author of this particular report, currently out is, nor the reasons for the delay in releasing its contents to the public immediately and when this report was originally out. State Consumer Protection Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna told Parliament yesterday that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa ‘has decided to appoint a committee, probably by Friday, to resolve the prevailing issues surrounding domestic LP gas cylinders and gas leak explosions.’
Amidst these developments, the question this newspaper likes to ask the Government and its agents such as Alahapperuma and Gammanpila, is why cannot the contents of the CPC report and the ‘other report,’ i.e. the report referred to by Alahapperuma, presuming it’s different to the aforesaid CPC report and which is/are already out, be made available immediately for public consumption? Is the reason for delaying in making these reports public till tomorrow due to it being a threat to national security/public safety, if made earlier, or rather at least ‘as late as’ two days ago by Monday, i.e. the day Jayamaha made public, at least part of the CPC report in question, in Parliament? Further, is the CAA functioning with taxpayers’ money, or is it a private company and thereby not being a State owned institution, the reason why the contents of the CPC report cannot be made known immediately to the public, without at least first having had to be channelled to the CAA, presuming that CAA is not a Government institution and hence not beholden to the public, as indicated by Gammanpila’s and even Alahapperuma’s actions? Or, do the Government and Ministers Gamanpilla and Alahapperuma specifically, consider the LPG accidents reported up to now minor enough, despite a total of as much as 11 such accidents having had been reported islandwide in the 36 hours ended up to 12 Noon yesterday alone, causing damages to private houses and restaurants, coinciding with the prior day Monday when 10 of those 11 accidents took place and where Opposition MP Jayamaha made these revelations in Parliament, that Gammanpila feels that it’s not necessary to make the contents of CPC’s finding public, but instead directing the report to the CAA, an institution, maintained with taxpayers’ money? By not making the contents of the CPC report public, immediately, it may also be inferred that the Government and Gammanpila have something to hide.
It may further be interpreted that despite the threat to life and property that these LPG accidents may cause, the Government and Gammanpila, for reasons best known to them, do not want to make the contents of the CPC report immediately made public, even though, if immediately public, the public would then possibly be able to take prompt, remedial action to prevent possible future LPG related accidents.