By Colombo Telegraph –
BBCs Chandana Keerthi Bandara is using BBC resources to defend himself the Colombo Telegraph can exclusively reveal today.
Bandara used BBC phone lines yesterday to call several well-known intellectuals urging them not to share Colombo Telegraph stories related to his misconduct as a BBC journalist on Facebook.
Sunday afternoon as soon as Bandara came to BBC he rang several intellectuals and political commentators around the world requesting that he needed to talk to them and urging them to wait until he finished the programme. (He is the Sunday Editor of the Sinhala Sandeshaya) The move came after after the Colombo Telegraph announced that the leader of the party he belongs to (Nava Sama Samaja Party) Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne’s submissions will not be published for reasons of intellectual dishonesty and political irresponsibility with regard to Karunaratne’s attempt to cover up Bandara’s misconduct.
Sunday afternoon he rang several university teachers and activists both in Sri Lanka and elsewhere and admitted he applied for the government interest-free loans of Rs. 1,200,000/- from state banks to purchase cars or vans, where the interest will be paid by the Treasury using tax payer money along with some thousand plus applicants. He told them that the government approved the applications of some five hundred journalists. He had raised the question; ‘why is Colombo Telegraph targeting only BBC journalists?’ He then said they are campaigning for Tamil rights and accused Colombo Telegraph’s journalists of working against them. Naming one journalist who openly associates with Colombo Telegraph he said the Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremasinghe and Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, the Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives and founder member of the Board of the Sri Lankan chapter of Transparency International are friends of this particular journalist. He further said that this is why both Ranil and Saravanamuttu urged BBC to investigate its misconduct related to applying for this particular loan by its journalist.
In November 18 the the former head of the BBC Sinhala Service Vasantha Raja said; “I see this interest-free motor vehicle loan as a sort of a ‘bribe’. I don’t think it’s appropriate at all for a BBC journalist to take this. Obviously it will damage their credibility.”
Colombo Telegraph would like to clarify that we have no hidden agenda against the BBC or its journalists or any other media institution. (Colombo Telegraph the only Sri Lankan media organisation which has participated, talked, suggested amendments to the draft and signed the London Statement: Demanding Strong UN Action To Stop The killings Of journalists, the BBC organised at its headquarters.) We see Sri Lankan government scheme as an attempt to purchase loyalty of journalists. In Sri Lanka there is ongoing censorship and media suppression. This includes securing of media institutions by regime loyalists. We also hold the view that media is largely corrupt. We were therefore shocked when we found that BBC journalists also applied for loans. These applicants are signatories to BBC contractual caveats pertaining to integrity, including acceptance of gifts which could compromise independence and objectivity in reporting.
The question raised by many commentators is that if BBCs journalists have not done anything wrong why did Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne phone the Leader of the Opposition and ask him not complain Lord Christopher Patten.
Meanwhile placing a comment under the article ‘No More Dr. Vickramabahu’s Columns’ A former professor of the University of Colombo, Dr Laksiri Fernando said; ‘If I remember correct, Keerthi Bandara is the person who once (January 2010) distorted my views on the presidential system (saying that I defended the system!) when he interviewed me from the BBC which in fact distorted my views. Then someone called ‘Citizen Somapala’ used it against me for a spicy story even challenging my teaching.’
Placing a comment under the same article Dr Karunaratne said; ‘thanks let the time resolve’ , he did not answer the questions Colombo Telegraph raised.
Asking for anonymity because he didn’t want to be targeted by the ‘laptop and interest free loan’ media November 23, a UNP front line leader said; “Last Sunday (18th Novemr) BBC Sinhala Service Colombo Reporter filed a distorted report on the Opposition Leader’s press conference and attacked him. The BBC didn’t report what the leader said in full and just criticised him for not answering BBC questions. The BBC even failed to report what the questions were.