One of the biggest English newspapers in Sri Lanka has come under the influence from the Rajapaksa regime and their Chinese backers sources told Colombo Telegraph. Journalists and executives at the institution are alarmed by the infiltration.
These ‘agents’ are working as a unit inside the newspaper to stop over the top criticism of Chinese projects and the Embassy activities in Sri Lanka and promote Chinese interests. They also make sure the Rajapaksa regime and especially the first family gets significant coverage throughout the publication platforms.
One female member of the staff recently promoted has drawn the attention of sections of the newspaper management and staff because she maintains close links to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and family including his two elder sons.
Colombo Telegraph learns that an email was widely circulated at the institution shortly before the promoted journalist joined the newspaper warning about her links to the ruling family and Beijing linked agencies in Colombo. However management decided to recruit the journalist and since her entry staffers say she has been given a broadly free hand with editorial content.
Her sudden rise within the newspaper has had the blessing of the First Family.
The journalist and social media accounts make her affiliations to the Rajapaksa family and at least one official in the Sports Minister’s inner circle noticeably clear. Her proximity with the powerful ruling family and the Chinese Government has helped the journalist to use that proximity to advance her career, Colombo Telegraph learns.
It is learnt that the journalist has managed to get favours from the Rajapaksas and has in return promoted them on the website of the publication. Her presence at the newspaper, together with a group of similarly Chinese-aligned reporters at the institution have been useful to curtail extremely critical articles about Chinese involvement in Sri Lanka. The journalist often backs Chinese Embassy positions on social media. Many reporters at the newspaper also travel to China a few times every year fully sponsored by the Chinese Embassy including spending money for souvenirs and gifts.
The senior journalist’s trysts with the Rajapaksa family include visits to Temple Trees on several occasions. Several times meetings have also been held at a hotel in Galle Face in Colombo with a senior officer. The official concerned has confided in some staff at Temple Trees about, what has since turned into “a close personal” relationship with the journalist, Colombo Telegraph learned from political sources.
The female journalist, who was recently promoted, has been accused by staff at the leading publication of using her close connection with the Rajapaksa Family and the Chinese to influence the management.
For many years the same newspaper online operations have also shown clear bias towards the Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Minister Namal Rajapaksa. The online operation is run by the sibling of a highly political artist and songwriter who engages in propaganda on behalf of the SLPP and the government.
Editor of the publication is well known for constantly giving in to requests to remove material from the newspaper website at the slightest requests of the Rajapaksa regime and regime loyalists. (Amila Karunaratne)