President Maithripala Sirisena has taken steps to block the news website www.lankaenews.com. Another news website, www.srilankamirror.com, has claimed that the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) has issued a directive to all internet service providers operating in Sri Lanka to block lankaenews following a court order.
President Sirisena, speaking at events to mark the 2nd death anniversary of Ven Madoluwawe Sobitha Thero, referred to “crooks responsible for the Central Bank bond scam” using certain websites operated out of the country to sling mud at him.
In the meantime, Minister Rajitha Senaratne, speaking at the Cabinet Press Briefing also referred to an unnamed website ‘operated out of the country’ attacking the President in a distasteful manner.
“I have told the President that if we caught a few such people and locked them up then media ethics would improve,” Senaratne said. (By Renuka Jayasinghe)
The reporting website, www.srilankamirror.com, claims that the Presidential Secretariat had directives to entities advertising in lankaenews to stop their ads forthwith.
Lankaenews, in a post on their Facebook page, has acknowledged that the website has indeed been blocked by the TRC last afternoon.
Lankaenews said: “Subsequent to lankaenews breaking a story about the President and the Maharajah Organization working in cahoots to strike a deal with respect to a Russian ship, the Presidential Secretariat has directed our advertisers to stop advertising with us. Not only did they stop advertising, they refused to pay for advertisements already published.
“It was by moving to stop advertisements that the previous regime began its suppression of lankaenews. Next, the CID stormed into our office, apprehended personnel and interrogated them. This happened 9-10 times a year. Finally, the office and library were set on fire.”
Interestingly, Rajitha Senaratne was a minister of the very same Rajapaksa Government that attacked lankaenews in this manner. Immediately after Maithripala Sirisena became President, restrictions on access to lankaenews and other such websites were lifted. Incidentally, the offices of lankaenews was set on fire the day the website carried a cartoon depicting then president Mahinda Rajapaksa as suffering from a sexually transmitted disease. It is this very website with whom relations have soured of late that was propped by the Yahapalana Government via advertisements.
Lankaenews was receiving ads worth approximately Rs 600,000 per month from Lotteries Board and Sri Lanka Telecom.
President Sirisena claimed that there were some individuals in the government violating good governance protocols. He specifically mentioned the Central Bank bond scam and claimed that the attack on him by the unnamed website was orchestrated by the culprits. While many in the government are implicated in the bond scam, Ravi Karunanayake is the only individual who has had to take a hit — he was pressurized to resign. The Lotteries Board was one institution directly under him. As such it is reasonable to put together the pieces of the puzzle that Sirisena and Senaratne have disclosed; the unnamed hidden hand is none other than Ravi Karunanayake and the unnamed website is lankaenews.