In the wake of several news websites highly critical of the Government of Sri Lanka giving sudden prominence to UNP Gampaha District Parliamentarian and Chairman of the UNP’s Leadership Council Karu Jayasuriya, Colombo Telegraph is compelled to question him on the nature of his relationship with those who operate these websites.
According to media reports this past week Karu Jayasuriya now appears to be the leading contender as the presidential candidate proposed by the opposition parties, other possible choices former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Leader of the UNP Ranil Wickremesinghe, and Ven Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera, the convener of the National Movement for Social Justice.
On October 23rd, Karu Jayasuriya telephoned the Colombo Telegraph editor and offered him a monthly payment of Rs 50,000/- ‘in appreciation of the work that Colombo Telegraph does’. Jayasuriya did not state for how long this payment was to be made. The issue did not arise because the editor politely declined the offer. The editor, furthermore, reminded Jayasuriya that it was he who interviewed him when he first came in to politics in 1995. At that time Jayasuriya had told the journalist that he hoped he would continue work towards the independence of the media. The Colombo Telegraph editor pointed out to Jayasuriya that he functions today as an independent media entity and said he did not need any money.
One week after the aforementioned phone call, Karu Jayasuriya has been given a lot of prominence in several news websites. Colombo Telegraph is therefore compelled to ask Karu Jayasuriya whether or not he had made a similar offer to those who run these websites ‘in appreciation of the work they do’ or for any other reason.
Colombo Telegraph feels it is Jayasuriya’s duty to disclose the nature of his relationship with the said websites, particularly in view of the fact that Jayasuriya was the very person who campaigned for the Right to Information and transparency.