By Amrit Muttukumaru –
Mr. Ranjit Wijewardene
Wijeya Newspapers Limited
Dear Mr. Wijewardene,
Downplaying of Appointment of Ranjan Hulugalle as Lake House Finance Director
The imprudent appointment of Ranjan Hulugalle as Finance Director of state-controlled print media publishing company ‘Lake House’ by your son Ruwan Wijewardene, Minister of Mass Media was severely criticized in Parliament last week by JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. He alleged that in the context of Ranjan Hulugalle (i) being a former director of Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) the Primary Dealer at the centre of the egregious Treasury Bond Scam (ii) his Passport being “impounded by courts over the bond scam investigation” he should never have been appointed to this position. Dissanayake also alleged that Hulugalle suppressing in his Bio Data the fact that he was a director of PTL raises questions on a possible hidden agenda leading to his appointment.
The JVP leader also raised the issue of ‘conflict of interest’ in your son’s appointment as Minister of Mass Media since Wijeya Newspapers Limited owned by his family led by you which is the dominant print media entity in the country will have access to information from competing media entities which include state controlled ‘Lake House’.
Your son’s justification in Parliament for Hulugalle’s appointment is both facile and laughable. It is also unbecoming of a person of his position. He inter alia stated that although he was aware that Hulugalle was a director of PTL, he went ahead with the appointment as a mark of gratitude to H.A.J. Hulugalle (his grandfather) who was a close friend and colleague of Ruwan’s grandfather D.R. Wijewardene during the early days of ‘Lake House’.
Conflict of Interest
The reason why I am writing to you on this issue is because due to an apparent ‘conflict of interest’ your ‘Daily Mirror’ has evidently ‘downplayed’ the reporting of this ill advised appointment. For example, the ‘Daily Mirror’ of 25 March has positioned its report of this appointment inconspicuously on Page 6. This is the same ‘Daily Mirror’ that on 21 March 2019 gave Page 1 coverage to a story titled ‘HE BIT AN SI TO GET AWAY BUT LEFT SANS HIS PANTS’!
This is not all. The report of the appointment of Hulugalle is mysteriously missing in the online edition of ‘Daily Mirror’. I brought this to the attention of your editor Kesara Abeywardena yesterday itself. Here again the ‘Daily Mirror’ online edition is still carrying the (nationally crucial news item!) ‘Deceased mother had partaken of fried fish on alms giving day’!
You are the immediate Past Chairman of the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) and Press Complaints Commission of Sri Lanka (PCCSL). I dare say both the SLPI and PCCSL is dominated by your DOMINANT media company Wijeya Newspapers Limited of which you are Chairman. To top it all your son Ruwan Wijewardene is Minister of Mass Media in a government where his first cousin Ranil Wickremesinghe is Prime Minister.
It is indeed strange there has been no outrage to your son’s appointment as Minister of Mass Media from the COMPETITIVE media. Are they overawed by you and your dominant media company? Sri Lanka is indeed ‘A land like no other’!
I know nothing will come of this letter and it will be business as usual similar to your directive in writing to ‘Daily Mirror’ Editor, Kesara Abeywardene:
1) Not to give me a ‘Right of Reply’ to a prominent Op-Ed article per se defamatory of me.
2) “Simply Stop Muttu After That” after which none of my articles are published in the ‘Daily Mirror’ and ‘Daily FT’.
Please note articles are written by me pro bono in the public interest.
(Public Interest Activist)