4 December, 2020

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Maithri’s Promise Of Media Freedom And Our expectations

By Kshama Ranawana

Kshama  Ranawana

Kshama Ranawana

State media in Sri Lanka received a scathing reprimand by Maithripala Sirisena, during his acceptance speech, soon after he was sworn in as President.

Never before, he said, had state media gone to the extent it did, as in this election, adding that state media has abandoned every vestige of professional decency.

Indeed his rebuke was most telling. State media was in overdrive the last several weeks, looking for cheap theatrics to attack Sirisena and his coalition of opposition parties.

Since the take over of the Lake House group during Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s government, and state control of media was introduced, successive governments have utilized the media to promote themselves.  However, it was under the Rajapaksa regime that the media, including many private sector groups fell to its worst depths. Shamelessly!  Many so-called editors both in print and electronic media behaved more like attack dogs.

The new regime promises change. President Sirisena campaigned on a platform for change, and promises in his manifesto, “I will create the background necessary for providing a balanced service to the country by immediately stopping the State media being used as a propaganda weapon of the ruling party. I will consolidate to the maximum mass media freedom and the right of information.”

Newspapers at a stall in Colombo show headlines about Sri Lanka's new president Maithripala SirisenaRajith Senaratne is on record promising to implement the changes and reform media behavior.

But here is the catch. If this regime goes on to make political appointments to staff any media outlets, their plans of reform will fly through the door.

If the media is to be truly free, state control must be replaced with a regulatory committee that would oversee appointments and content. Appointments to executive positions, such as Chairmen and Directors General should be through a parliamentary select committee. Key positions must be held by professionals who are capable of withstanding political interference and bringing balanced information to the public, not by those who are rewarded for supporting a political party or for being “close to” any politician. Will this new regime be willing to forgo its hold of the Lake House group, and turn it into a crown corporation or privatize it.?

None of the private broadcasters have the ability to reach all Sri Lankans in the manner State control media has. Therefore, a large section of the country hears and reads only what the government wants it to know. As has been observed during this past election, members of the opposing coalition were denied time to air their views on national channels. That is a flagrant violation of the rules governing the media during an election. Believing in the immortality of the regime, government minions went on to distort facts and sling mud at opponents. That was not curtailed to the election alone. Shaming and labeling individuals has been practiced by previous governments too, but it was the Mahinda Rajapksa’s regime that took that dastardly behavior to its lowest depths resulting in security issues and even murder of those who fell out of the governments favour.

Had social media not played its part, many Sri Lankans would have been in the dark even about the oppositions’ manifesto. Yet, the reach of social media in Sri Lanka is limited. Voting patterns in this past election is clear. Where internet is freely available, for the most part, voters supported President Sirisena.

Our expectations of this new ruler is high. Let’s hope his promise of media freedom and by extension the restoration of democracy will be upheld with appointments of professionals and not derailed by political opportunists.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    1

    A great analysis indeed. Let s hope the best.

    On his return to Medamulana, people gathered there gave him a Bienvenue as if Northkorean leader faces it even today. How come people should still behave so – if local (state)media has been fair at least to some extent. All states run by authoritarian men, folks in those countries regardless of their literacy values behave so. Media s role could lead any place so wird as experiend today. Had we a powerful opposition, powerful average people there, levels would have been much lower. People should be trained to raise the question why they believe in everything coming from state media. Even PVT media perhaps except Sirasa did NOT publish facts and firgures of the ground situation.
    If not all the mentioned caused people to become sthat stupid and submissive, what were the other reasons them tostay that passive even if their lovely ones were not blessed with any kind justice and fairness.

    • 3
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      Ms. Kshama Ranawana –

      RE: Maithri’s Promise Of Media Freedom And Our expectations

      Thanks Madame for summarizing.

      1. “Never before, he said, had state media gone to the extent it did, as in this election, adding that state media has abandoned every vestige of professional decency”

      Even Jim Softy, Lorenzo, Fatima Fuskushima and Kiribanda A Sumernasekara were more decent than that.

      2. “However, it was under the Rajapaksa regime that the media, including many private sector groups fell to its worst depths. Shamelessly! Many so-called editors both in print and electronic media behaved more like attack dogs.”

      Example:

      https://twitter.com/dineshw2000

      Dinesh Weerawansa still a Shill and White-washer for the Medamulana Mahinda Rajapaksa?
      His Facebook is not working.

      Can Dinesh Weerawansa climb coconut tress. There is a great demand for coconut pluckers. Besides, good exercise too. Good alternate career for Mahinda Shills.

      https://twitter.com/dineshw2000

    • 2
      0

      Ms. Kshama Ranawana –

      “Had social media not played its part, many Sri Lankans would have been in the dark even about the oppositions’ manifesto. Yet, the reach of social media in Sri Lanka is limited. Voting patterns in this past election is clear. Where internet is freely available, for the most part, voters supported President Sirisena.”

      Thanks.

      Amarasiri was well aware of the inability to reach the masses with the true state of affairs in the country, as the media was muffled. Amarasiri was pushing for a Common Sense Pamphlet Sri Lanka 2014 with factual information and things to ponder to be Printed in Sinhala, Tamil and English and widely distributed. Even if printed, it will be banned, and it would have been more popular. Unfortunately, no Sri Lanka Writer came forward unlike the Common (Sense) Candidate, Mr. Maitriupala Sirisena, and his Common (Sense) Candidate Manifesto.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Sense_%28pamphlet%29

      That is the reason why the MaRa regime was trying to ban the social media. Let’s thank the American Inventors, Innovators and Entrepreneurs for saving Democracy in far away Sri Lanka. Thank you, Yankee Innovation.

      However, another American Innovator, Thomas Paine, in 1776 wrote the Common Sense pamphlet that had an impact on the American Revolution.

      In Sri Lanka the Closet that came to a Phamplet, is the Maitripala Sirisena Election <manifesto, but it was a political manifesto, by exposing the corruption, still a political Manifesto.

      We all are indebted to the Common Opposition and to all those who supported this Democratic transformation from the MaRa Dictatorship and corruption considerable risk. Thank you.

      Thank you voters. You did your duty as citizens. You participated in the democratic process , 81.5% of you. Democracies in the World and Sri Lanka are proud of you.

      In 90 days, if another election is held with the truth known, the Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa will lose to Mr. Maitripala Sirisena 80% to 20%.

      Jayawewa! Jayawewa! Jayawewa!

      Maithripala Sirisena Official Theme Song

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uvm_Cxt0g9M

  • 2
    2

    Somarathne disanayake appointed to chairmanship of rupawahini, so much so for good governance !!

    • 1
      0

      Herath Dammike

      What is wrong in Mr. SOMARATNE being appointed ? ?

      • 0
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        The sheer idea its a political appointment, for a corporation. I can enumerate several but here we go, how can we expect any meaningful media freedom from a person who happened to be a political acrobat? There are things called ethics, and this person does not have either ethics or principles. Just see his past record in media. learn something

  • 0
    0

    Many like me truly believe that people should be made aware from the basic structures on if the authorities intend to restore YAHAPALANYA – A CIVILIZED CLUTRED making them aware to learn/grasph the good and bad from the Kindergarten level. Latter is only achievable, if the top leadership would finally realize to be an example. I dont see any wrong nature of My3 COMPARED to MR alone the way he expresses himself be it being won or prior to that -he has all noble qualities- like taking things very simple, not being swollen the way MR had been in public stages. MY3 s set of words used on the stage outreached many regardless of being where they are.And RW has never been impolite on the public stages. He has not used filthy sinhala terms when pointing out the need of the change.Though Sujeeva serasinghe and few others were sharp in their critics against MR regime, many of them did not behave like Dayasiri or Wimal weerawanshe. All the clearly strenghted the final message – which people to make their decision at voting last time. Since people in general are emotional – i thought the victory would just remain to a dream – but the results showed that people DO change their mindsets- as had NEVER been before. May be the younger generation added to voters this time (0,9million) all voted for MS and change.

  • 0
    0

    “I will create the background necessary for providing a balanced service to the country by immediately stopping the State media being used as a propaganda weapon of the ruling party. I will consolidate to the maximum mass media freedom and the right of information.”

    I am glad to see this in maithri’s manifesto.

    Hope he does it quickly and perfectly like in the Scandinavian countries.That is the model we should adopt.The Scandinavian countries are all ranked within the first 10 where press freedom is concerned whereas srilanka is ranked 163rd.Here is the rankings below

    http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php

  • 0
    1

    The changes I expect to come soon is another election law.
    That is where DS started. As soon as the country got freedom, tThe first development he did for the country is, because GG had asked for 50/50, that never to happen, he modified Tamils’ franchise. After the DS, it continued in a weak manner. They adulterated the Seruwela, Amparai, Manalaru…. ethnic composition, regrouped the electorates, changed the constitution, standardized universities…. and continued as much as possible, hoping and looking for a smart Sinhala Intellectual come and rule as Majestically as DS, until JR come. Because of what Sirima did to SJV, Tamils got united and made Amirthaligam as the opposition leader. It was a GG’s 50/50, unexpectedly, against DS. Tamils said to the Sinhala Government, if you rule, we know to become at least as the opposition. When the stun hero sat on the EP chair, he did not simply recovered, he even compensated the slump time. The hero introduced surprising proportionate election system thinking that Tamils voice will be crushed permanently. He believed he had stopped the Tamils from intervening in Sinhala election. It did not happen. LTTE came into play. Whether it is true or false, at least the Sinhala Intellectuals thought, LTTE appointed the King as the EP. They wanted the King. They praised King’s services to them. But the pain in their heart was it was the LTTE appointed the King. (If you have lived with small kids, you might have seen the kids sometimes grumbling like: “Mommy fed akka too, so I do not want to eat from her hand, daddy has to feed me if have to eat”). So they worked on it relentlessly and thought this time it’s all over. They really felt they no longer need any minority’s help to come to power. Royals created BBS to attract only Sinhala Buddhist and corner and crush the other minorities (In their eyes they had done with Tamils in the War for Peace, the Humanitarian rescue mission…. The usual Sinhala Intellectual’s fancy English terms). TNA refused to go with Ranil. They insisted on CBK. But as it happens in Jaffa, the wedding went wrong. They showed nangi during the proposal time and gave out the akka on the wedding day. The defense minister who oversaw the famous white flag murder, Isaipiria’s murder, child Balachandran murder…. was the one filed the papers on the nomination date. CBK, on a point blank talk, told to TNA not support them in the election. TNA adamantly wanted to insert itself into the election. So, TNA, when MY3 was in Jaffna, wrote a false statement saying that MY3 had promised them the Army from north will be removed. MY3 immediately had to deny that in Colombo when he returned. But whatever the drama acted or played as election campaign, still the Tamils, without even fearing of the army that is stationed in for 5:1 with the population, got out and voted and defeated the Sinhala Majority decision. It was so expected, so astonishing and created many more unexpected domino effect things in Colombo. Even their great General Fonseka had predicted a lonely jail time for MY3. But as the astonishing continuation of the dominos fall, King wiped his back from Temple Tree and ran to Medamulana.
    So, the urgent action now, needed by the Sinhala Intellectuals is analyzing how their planning are still going wrong and have fixed the hole in the election law. Possible one is, any Tamil voting in the Sri Lanka election will deemed as an LTTE member, planning to overthrow the majority’s Democratic decision, exactly the same way Pirapaharan did it in 2005, so he/she has to be arrested under POTA.

  • 3
    0

    Freedom of the press is an essential imgredient to establish democracy in real ferms. We all kmow as to how the dessenting journalists were barrassed or destroyed. Further, a few journalists were bought over by the last regime to sing along with them. This was not journalism but a criminal act as they distort the rrue information.

    We as public expect the journalist to behave in a decent manner and report the truth without any fear or favour.

  • 0
    0

    TO COLOMBO TELEGRAPH

    Has the new Govt removed the ban on you? Can the people of Sri Lanka be able to read the articles you publish?
    Being an expat I have no problem accessing your website

  • 0
    0

    All web sites including CT and LEN have been unblocked by SLT

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