Mud-slinging and defamatory articles on websites:
Mangala eats humble pie as Sajith takes him head on
United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the United National Party (UNP)
will soon decide on their chief ministerial candidates for the upcoming
elections to North Central, Sabaragamuwa and the Eastern Provincial
Both the parties are now in the process of selecting their
prospective candidates. A large number of youth, social and political
leaders have shown a keen interest in contesting under the UPFA which is
carefully scrutinising such requests.
UPFA will mainly focus on youth while allocating an equal share for
seasoned provincial politicians. The SLFP, the main constituent in the
ruling UPFA, has already decided not to entertain family members of its
parliamentarians while focusing on youth and women, along with key
provincial level social leaders.
While the main political parties are going ahead with initial
groundwork for the Provincial Council polls, the Commissioner of
Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya said last week that he would not hesitate
to annul results if malpractices occur at polling centres during the
elections. Deshapriya said he will take whatever measures necessary to
Voters who do not possess a valid document as proof of their identity
will not be allowed to vote. The Commissioner has given strict
instructions to implement this rule. National ID, a valid passport,
driving licence, public service pensioners' ID, elderly citizens' ID, an
ID issued for the clergy or a temporary ID issued by the Elections
Department or Registration of Persons Department for polls held in 2010
and 2011 is a must for voters to cast their vote at the polls.
The number of voters in all three provinces has increased by a total
of 188,395 in comparison to PC polls held in 2008. In the Eastern
Province there is an increase of 51,028 voters. It has risen from
982,721 (2008) to 1,033,749 this year. In the North Central Province,
the voters have increased by 54,399 from 846,473 in 2008 to 900,872 this
year. In Sabaragamuwa Province, the increase of voters is 82,968 from
1,318,826 in 2008 to 1,401,794 this year. The nominations for the
elections will close on July 19 and the Commissioner will announce the
date for polls thereafter. It is most likely to be held in mid
Mangala apologises from Sajith
Parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera, better known for his own media
creations and tarnishing image of his political opponents in a sinister
manner, had to eat humble pie last week as UNP Deputy Leader Sajith
Premadasa took him head on at the UNP Working Committee meeting held at
Speaking at the very beginning of the WC meeting, Premadasa said that
website Sri Lanka XNews, operated under the patronage of Samaraweera had
been carrying defamatory articles. He said that UNP parliamentarian Ravi
Karunanayake, giving an interview to the website, has criticised him and
his family members in an unbecoming and disgraceful manner.
"For one and a half months, they have been slinging mud at me in a
highly disgraceful manner. I asked them to remove that defamatory
article in which MP Ravi Karunanayake is attempting to tarnish my
character. All what he has said there are wholesale lies. What action
are you going to take against this?," an angry Premadasa queried at the
Knowing that the going is not well and that he going to face an acid
test, Samaraweera had immediately stood up to tender an unconditional
apology. "I am extremely sorry. I have made a big blunder," said
Samaraweera, repeatedly begging his pardon from the Deputy Leader of the
Premadasa then launched a fresh attack and questioned General
Secretary of the UNP Tissa Attanayake that what action the party would
take against Karunanayake for giving such a defamatory and malicious
interview against him. Attanayake told the WC that the party has already
sent a letter to Karunanayake seeking a clarification on that
interview.Smelling that the developments are not favourable for his
confidante and that Premadasa was in an aggressive mood, UNP Leader
Ranil Wickremesinghe then decided to end the WC meeting, saying that he
had to attend a bana on the same night.
Meanwhile, Kurunagala district UNP parliamentarian Dayasiri
Jayasekera declared that the party must take a firm decision on news
articles on websites targeting popular personalities and politicians.
Making a statement at the UNP parliamentary group meeting recently,
Jayasekera said they should not hesitate to take stern action against
the culprits and even should go to destinations from which these
mud-slinging websites are being operated to make necessary
He said over the past period, many malicious and defamatory material
had come on several websites targeting him in a disgraceful manner.
He said it has been difficult to take legal action against such as
those notorious websites are not registered in Sri Lanka. He said the
websites which often character-assassinate popular personalities do not
provide the victims their right of reply and the UNP should take maximum
possible against the operators of these websites.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Information and Mass Media plans to bring
all websites operated from Sri Lanka under the purview of the Sri Lanka
Press Council. Speaking at last week's news conference at the Ministry
auditorium, Minister of Information and Mass Media, Keheliya Rambukwella
said that since there is no authority to regulate websites, they were
compelled to take this decision, considering numerous complaints that
have been received against websites.
"It is an exception since those monitoring regulations don't cover
websites. Considering these issues, the government decided that laws
with regard to the media will be amended making registration of news
websites compulsory by law," he said. The Sri Lanka Press Council is a
statutory institution established under the Sri Lankan Press Council Act
No. 05 of 1973, which comes under the purview of the Mass Media and
A code of ethics for journalists has been introduced as rules by the
Gazette Extraordinary No. 162/5 A of October 14, 1981. The Press Council
performs its duty with a vision to protect press freedom in Sri Lanka
and to popularize press freedom as a cultural element for national
The Minister further said the Press Council Act will be amended
introducing new regulations, etiquette and guidelines aimed at
streamlining websites. It has been revealed that certain websites carry
out mud slinging campaigns against politicians, artistes and other
As per Sections 25 and 26 of the Sri Lanka Press Council Act, all
newspapers, magazines, periodicals published in the island should be
registered with the Sri Lanka Press Council.
Since websites are an exception, the Media and Information Ministry
requested all websites to register with the Information Department.
Responding to this request, a great number of websites registered with
the Information Department while only two websites went before courts
against this decision.
However the court ordered those two websites opposed to the Media and
Information Ministry decision to follow suit and abide by the
regulations and guidelines issued by the ministry regarding registration
Responding to a question raised by a journalist Minister Rambukwella
said media freedom in Sri Lanka was not under threat. "Free media is not
under threat. All we want is to ensure the right of reply for people who
may be maliciously targeted by certain sections of the media. It is with
this in mind that we directed all news websites be registered," he said.
Celebrities welcome police action
Many celebrities, including some of the leading actresses, singers,
politicians and other public figures warmly welcomed the Police action
over the Lanka Mirror and XNews websites, apparently operated by Mangala
The former SLFP die-hard loyalist of former President Chandrika
Kumaratunga who later crossed over to the UNP is better known for his
media gimmicks when he was heading powerful ministries.
In a bit to get out of his political wilderness, Samaraweera has been
operating various websites which have been targeting their political
opponents, not only in the Government but within their same party - the
In a bid to resurrect the political image of Opposition leader Ranil
Wickremesinghe, it was alleged that Samaraweera was using these two
websites to sling mud on UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa, who was
threatening the UNP leadership, in a disgraceful manner. Hence, many UNP
seniors loyal to Premadasa openly commended the Government's move to
raid the office from which these two websites were operated.
The most relieved were some of the leading actresses, against whom
loads of concocted stories were uploaded to those websites on a regular
basis. Many such popular figures were seen commending the police action
through media and social networks such as facebook. The masses too
commended the move, saying that Samaraweera or any other person should
not be allowed to publish defamatory articles against public figures in
the name of democracy.
Smaller parties evade elections
Some of the parties in the Opposition seem to be showing undue scare
to face elections. Though a party in any democratic state would welcome
any type of elections, most Opposition parties in Sri Lanka seem to be
reluctant to go before the people.
As stated in this column last week, it was Sarath Fonseka's newly
formed Democratic Party which first announced that it would not contest
the forthcoming elections to North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Eastern
Procincial Councils. Days later, Social Equality Party, the second
breakaway group of the JVP, declared that they too would not field
candidates to at the Provincial Council elections.
Both these parties have been boasting about their strengths,
projecting an highly overrated picture than their true membership.
Hence, they seem to be reluctant to go before the masses so that their
true strengths would be exposed.
Fonseka, of course has a reason to keep his party away from
elections, probably after that bitter experience at the 2010
Presidential elections at which he highly overestimated himself and made
unrealistic assumptions. People had a respect for Fonseka as an Army
officer but he lost that by turning out to be a foul-mouthed politicians
after his retirement.
He thought that he could capitalise on the image he had as a soldier
to do a political somersault from an ordinary citizen to become the
First Citizen of the country.
That was where he was sadly mistaken. On the other hand, his
political immaturity would have made him to go by the number of people
attended at his political rallies during the last Presidential election.
He appeared to be carried away by bogus estimate of crowds given by
Mangala Samaraweera. At last, Fonseka has understood his true political
strength in keeping his party out of the Provincial Council elections.
Top Lankan diplomats in Diyatalawa
Sri Lanka spends a large volume of public funds to maintain its
diplomatic missions abroad. But only a few Ambassadors and High
Commissioners representing Sri Lanka are going that extra mile and do a
dedicated job to look after broader interests of the country.
At the same time, there are some non-career diplomats who are doing
an exemplary job, identifying their true needs of their work stations.
At the same time, there are a few career diplomats who too are working
tirelessly to take Sri Lanka's vision to the world.
Sri Lanka has paid attention of strengthening its diplomatic service
and also made special emphasis on establishing diplomatic ties with more
countries in the African region. With the intension of strengthening new
diplomatic relations across the world, the Government last week decided
to establish new foreign missions in 15 African countries. The Ministry
of External Affairs last week summoned all Sri Lanka ambassadors, High
Commissioners and heads of missions to Colombo. A special two-day
workshop to enlighten them on Sri Lanka's foreign policy, their roles in
keeping with new developments in the international arena and further
strengthening business, cultural and social relations with the countries
they are stationed.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa inaugurated the special sessions for Sri
Lankan diplomatic heads at Diyatalawa yesterday, stressing the need to
serving their Motherland with more courage, devotion and dedication.
President at two sports events
Earlier during last week, the President graced two important sports
events. He made his way to Nittawela rugby grounds on Saturday (30)
evening to catch the action at the second leg of the Bradby Shield
encounter between Trinity College and Royal College.
He presented the coveted Bradby Shield to the captain of the Trinity
team which beat Royal in a convincing manner. President has a passion
for rugby as all his three sons have been top rugby players since their
school days at S.Thomas and going on to play for the national team with
On the following day afternoon, the President arrived at Nawalapitiya
to declare open the newly constructed Jalatillake Sports Complex, built
at a cost of Rs. 300 million. It includes a swimming pool, indoor
stadium and an outdoor stadium with seating facilities. The happiest
among the VVIPs was none other than the Minister of Sports Mahindananda
Aluthgamage who has shown a keen interest to afford such facility to
people in his electorate.
But Minister Aluthgamage says he does not want to be a conventional
Sports Minister who only serves for his electorate.
The modern sports complex in Nawalapitiya is the first in a national
level program that would ensure similar top level stadia with swimming
pools in all nine provinces.
In addition, the Government in keeping with its policy to have a
healthy nation through sports will construct second level sports
complexes in each district so that rural youth could train at their