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Sunday, 31 January 2016





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PM takes media to task

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday in Parliament launched a scathing attack on the media accusing it of promoting racism and called upon media personnel to decide themselves where they stand. The Premier's remarks focused on the conduct of the print and electronic media and added that journalists don't talk big as their hands are not clean.

The Premier who joined in the Adjournment Debate on the recent incidents at Embiliptiya and issues involving the police, questioned both the print and electronic media as to what they were doing with regard to racism? The Premier who looked at the Parliament press gallery on several occasions, asked the journalists as to what they had to say about the recent incident at the Homagama Magistrate's Court? He called upon the journalists to write an editorial on the Homagama incident. The Premier said there are two groups of journalists and pointed out that there is also a group that genuinely fought for media freedom. He said that if those who had gone on which hunting attempt to portray themselves as clean journalist, he had information to expose them.

No violation of law

He told the journalists if there is any violation of law, they could go to the courts and file a fundamental rights case and he too would come. He urged them not to engage in witch-hunting as it is not ethical.

Premier Wickremesinghe drew the attention of the House to the fact that there were some journalists who went on witch-hunting and they even told him to go home in the past and said that the situation has since changed, and it is time for them to go home.

The Embilipitiya incident is only one of the many incidents which took place while the other was with regard to the conduct of the officers at the Kotadeniyaya police station. The Embilipitiya incident is now before the court and the court would give the final decision. He assured the house if the police has done anything wrong the government has no intention of covering their wrongdoings. He however, said that what is being witnessed today is a witch hunt against the police and accused that the media is engaged in it.

However, the Opposition condemned Premier Wickremesinghe's speech as a veiled threat to the media. UPFA Gampaha District MP Sisira Jayakody condemned the PM's speech. The MP also condemned the Premier's attempt of using the names of animals to describe the journalists and said the latter's speech is an indirect threat to the media.

MP Jayakody said that the Prime Minister is asking the media to toe the government line or face the consequences. Is this democracy, he asked. The MP condemned the government's attempt at misusing the FCID and the CID to witch hunt their political opponents.

On the following day, the Premier making a statement in Parliament alleged that a certain English daily had descended to a level giving prominence to MP Sisira Jayakody who had said that the PM threatened the media. He told the House that he did not threaten the media and he only presented some facts that he received from the media itself.

Highest number of complaints

The Premier who said that he named several journalists queried as to why he cannot do so if the newspapers could name them? He said prior to his speech several MPs had said that he threatened the media, which he denied. I only mentioned the names of several journalists who were actually behind certain issues, he said.

JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake who moved the Adjournment Motion on the Embilipitiya incident and issues involving the police was highly critical of the conduct of the police. The majority of the complaints received by the Human Rights Commission in 2013 were against the police. The highest number of complaints has been made against the institution which enforces law and order in the country.

The Police Department is becoming unpopular so that it is no surprise the people would take the law into their hands. The police officers have been compelled to earn money in a fraudulent manner as they are not paid a sufficient salary. There is a dire need to provide a solution to the salary anomaly of the Police Department, Dissanayake said.

UPFA Colombo District parliamentarian Dinesh Gunawardena on Friday told Parliament that the government was trying to bypass the proper procedure in appointing an Attorney General.

If this situation continues the people will lose trust in Parliament. Parliament is equipped with the powers to make suitable appointments to high posts with the Speaker as the Chair of Constitutional Council.

However, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya told the House that so far nobody has been nominated for the post of Attorney General by President Maithripala Sirisena.


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