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
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