By Colombo Telegraph –
Talking exclusively to Colombo Telegraph Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said that he is writing to Lord Christopher Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust regarding the misconduct of its journalists.
Two of its journalists, BBC World Service producer Chandana Keerthi Bandara and the Colombo Reporter Elmo Fernando, applied Rs. 1,200,000/-each by way of interest free loans from the state banks to purchase cars or vans, where the interest will be paid by the Treasury using tax payer money. This is part of a Government scheme but the move has been criticised by media rights organisations and the opposition as an attempt to purchase loyalty.
“The BBC must investigate its journalists for this and it is clearly a violation of its principles, I ‘m writing this to Lord Christopher Patten and also table the letter in Parliament,” the leader of the opposition said.
The Opposition and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday that some media personnel who had received laptops and obtained vehicle loans, had defamed him in their publications the very next day.
“Last Sunday BBC Sinhala Service Colombo Reporter filed a distorted report on the Opposition Leader’s press conference and attacked him” a senior opposition legislator told Colombo Telegraph, asking for anonymity because he didn’t want to be targeted by the ‘laptop andinterest free loan’ media. 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.
Listen to BBC Sinhala reporting on Ranil Wickremesinghe here at minutes 7.37 – 11.20.
Addressing new IT recruits at Sirikotha, Wickremesinghe said that the gifting of laptops andinterest free loan to journalists and cartoonists, which coincided with the budget was no mere coincidence. It had been calculated to prevent the media from highlighting the burdens placed by the budget on the poor suffering masses.