The journalists who were killed in the past were “third class” a government official was caught on camera saying, in response to probing questions by a reporter at a press briefing on Thursday (3) afternoon.
“Don’t be a third class journalist,” the official shouted.
De facto spokesman for the Ministry of Health Dr Hemantha Herath lashed out against a journalist who was asking probing questions about the Ministry of Health compelling people in the Kandy District to sign a form agreeing to receive only a single dose of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine. Health Ministry officials have been unable to respond to the question in past interactions with the media.
“A journalist is someone who has a very big responsibility and high standards. There are third class journalists too. I know that many of those journalists who were killed in the past were third class ones. I’m not saying that high ranking, respectable journalists in this country have not faced harm,” Dr Herath said.
“Don’t confuse the political authorities with bureaucrats,” Dr Herath added. “When you ask a question we provide a response in the first instance,” the Health Ministry spokesman said, implying he did not want to face continuous questions on the same subject. Those questions should be directed to the Minister of Health, he said. It was because of this kind of line of questioning that government officials did not want to face the media, he claimed.
Herath is a former MoH deputy director health services now retired. However, he claims he functions as the media spokesman for the Ministry at the special request of Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi.
Watch the MoH official’s remarks: