Media should help improve people's lives - PM
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake called upon the rapidly
expanding media industry to play a more serious and responsible role in
eliminating poverty and creating a better life for the people.
Premier Wickramanayake was the chief guest at the inaugural session
of the South Asia Free Media Association's sixth anniversary at the
Cinnamon Grand Hotel yesterday.
More than 250 delegates from the South Asian Countries participated
in the conference where the Bangladesh Nobel laureate Prof. Muhammad
Yunus was a distinguished participant. The Prime Minister in his keynote
address said that as any decent human being has a conscience and a
social consciousness, the media too, which after all is composed of
human beings must have a conscience and a social consciousness.
Here is the text of the Prime Minister's address:
"Your Association is not just a South Asia Media Association but a
South Asia Free Media Association. By this, one would understand that
you hold that some of the media in South Asia is not free. I assure you
that the media here in Sri Lanka is entirely free.
You could see that for yourselves if you care to read some of the
Sunday newspapers published in this country.
What is "free media"? The perception among thinking people is that
what calls itself "free media" here largely follow the dictates and
agendas of vested interests, often sectarian or anti-national interests.
I must hasten to add that I do not consider all media organs or
representatives in my country to be in that category. I must add also
that I consider the media important, very important. Because the media
disseminates information and knowledge. For any progress to be achieved
it is necessary to inform people, to make them knowledgeable, so as to
enlist their participation and support. The media plays a vital role in
The media could also be used to titillate, and to amuse. That would
be all right in the West. But here in Asia the media should play a more
serious, a more responsible role. The media should help, build and to
strengthen, to provide a better life for all our peoples.
Our duty as human beings is to wish for and work for the welfare of
all our peoples, in other words for the greater good of the greater
number. A media conscious of that would indeed be an asset to any
Sri Lanka is formulating its own Action Plan to meet its own needs
and in keeping with this Social Charter. Government Ministries and
departments and some non governmental institutions have contributed to
the formulation of this plan and it is being co-ordinated by the staff
of the Prime Minister's Office.
The principal goals of SAARC is to promote the welfare of the people
of South Asia, to improve their quality of life, to accelerate economic
growth, social progress and cultural development, as well as to provide
the opportunity to the people of South Asia to live in dignity and
realise their full potential.
The main focus of the Action Plan is poverty alleviation. The major
components of the National Plan of Action (targeted to be implemented
from 2008 to 2015) are as follows:
* Expansion of investment opportunities among the poor;
* Special attention for vulnerable groups among low income families;
* Improving the infrastructure in less developed backward areas;
* Promoting and facilitating houses for vulnerable groups;
* Reducing inter and intra regional disparities;
* Provision of safety nets to arrest further deterioration of the
living standards of the poor.
Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said:
"I strongly believe that media should be encouraged to highlight
social issues, to monitor progress and promote social justice,
democracy, pluralism, tolerance, non-violence and the rule of law.
"The Government is well aware of the role of media in political,
social and economic development. The system of Government we have chosen
for our nation is democracy with adequate checks and balances between
the Executive Presidency, the sovereign Parliament and the judiciary.
"We believe that the fourth pillar that holds the edifice is the
fourth estate or the media.
The role of media in nation re-building cannot be overemphasized. The
media is the ears and eyes for their communities. Media personnel are at
the frontline and it is through them that much of our world is
It is the media that fosters human development. Such a media culture
can be a vital tool in a society which is struggling to overcome the
challenge of poverty and establish a social justice and equal
opportunities to its masses."
The SAFMA's Sri Lankan Chairperson Lakshman Gunasekera was elected as
SAFMA's new regional Chairperson.