UNP Leadership Council Chairman Karu Jayasuriya yesterday hit back at the Tiran Alles owned Mawbima newspaper group that has engaged in a spree of attacks against him and his family recently, calling them agents of vested interests and agendas who attempt to hold politicians hostage.
Speaking in Parliament yesterday, during the debate on the Media Ministry Budget Jayasuriya said the Mawbima and Ceylon Today newspapers were engaged in vicious attacks against those who do not do their bidding, hounding them with distorted reporting they are not afraid to publish.
Jayasuriya noted that it was ironic that the same UNP and its members including Mangala Samaraweera that had stood with the newspaper group and its owner when the newspaper was first sealed in 2007 and Alles’ home had been attacked were now at the receiving end of the editorial attacks.
“Mawbima newspaper has only short friendships. When friendships go sour, its editors know how to turn on you in a trice,” Jayasuriya said.
He said the newspaper’s reporting on certain events and facts were completely at odds with the ethics of media reporting.
“Unfortunately, some media in this country, instead of fulfilling this duty are engaged in attacking in a demeaning manner, individuals who are having opposite views, destroying their credibility and honour. Under the circumstances the real issued such as threats to democracy, good governance, decline of rule of law, cost of living etc., are being neglected. The media should expose the mistakes of the government and the opposition. At present, some newspapers instead of exposing these mistakes, sling mud at individuals earmarked by them. This is a very deplorable situation,” Jayasuriya told the House.
Tabling several Mawbima and Ceylon Today reports in Parliament yesterday, the UNP Leadership Council Chairman said the newspaper’s conduct was “shameless.”
We are seeing headlines in the Mawbima newspaper lately that this country has never seen. These are newspapers that little children and impressionable young people read. What is the message going out to young minds when a newspaper says lightning has struck a senior politician in the country, as if to curse him?” he said.
“Looking at it from whatever angle, it is totally against the media ethics. Having seen this headline many persons from the government and opposition spoke to me. They all asked me “Is this the media freedom you are fighting for?”, Jayasuriya said.
Jayasuriya said that instead of informing the people, Mawbima and Ceylon Today were engaged in spreading hatred. “We accept that a newspaper has the right to work according to its political agenda. But it is unethical and wrong to distort facts in order to maliciously defame those who hold dissenting views,” Jayasuriya said.
“Higher officials and the ownership of the paper have a desire to keep politicians as prisoners through the paper. Those who oppose it are being hounded and attacked by distorting facts. By this behavior the media as a whole is being ridiculed. Media organizations have a social responsibility in distributing the paper when something is written about an individual. The newspaper report is not the same as a malicious letter written to a person. It cannot be a bag full of lies. Every piece of news print must be used responsibly,” he said.
“There was a time “Mawbima” praised us highly. To some of the writers of the papers there was no other character other than me. I respectfully request from these gentlemen to read once again what they wrote praising us. When you write contradictory things the readers will laugh at you. I table some of those reports,” Jayasuriya observed.
“Venerable Buddhist priests and other religious dignitaries ask very often why I keep quiet when this paper attacks me in this manner. Being a Buddhist it does not permit me to develop any hatred towards them,” he said.
Jayasuriya said he was not afraid to expose the media terrorism carried out by the likes of Mawbima and Ceylon Today.