Oshala Herath, Fomer head of ‘New Media,’ an outfit set up by President Maithripala Sirisena to promote himself and the positions he takes, has alleged that the Presidential Media Division is engaged in a deliberate and vicious campaign to vilify former Navy Commander Travis Sinniah.
Oshala Herath, in a Facebook post, charged the Presidential Media Unit of slinging mud at the former Navy chief. He referred to a post in www.andaharaya.com titled “බුද්දි අංශ රහස් සින්නයියා එක්සත් ජාතීන්ට දෙයි ? සින්නයියා බලයට කේදර වී ඇමරිකාවේ බලු කුක්කෙක් වෙයිද?” (Has Sinniah slipped intelligence unit secrets to the United Nations? Is the hunger for power turning Sinniah into a lapdog of the United States of America?).
The vilification of Sinniah has not been limited to this website. Another website allegedly run by the Presidential Media Unit, www.apisirlankanbro.com also carried a similar story: ට්රැවිස් සින්නයියා නැවත නාවුක හමුදාපති දූරය ඉල්ලන්නේ ඇයි? (Why is Travis Sinniah asking for the Navy Commander’s post again?). A third website, www.colombotribune.com, published another anti-Sinniah story, “මාස දෙකෙන් ගෙදර ගිය නාවික හමුදාපති සින්නයියාගේ ඇත්ත කතාව…!” (The true story behind Navy Commander Travis Sinniah who ‘went home’ in two month).
A fourth website, www.mahajanathawa.com published a story along the same lines: “ට්රැවිස් සින්නයියා යනු කවරෙක්ද ? නාවුක හමුදාපති දූරය නැවත ඉල්ලන්නේ ඇයි?” (Who is Travis Sinniah? Why is he demanding the Navy Commander’s post once again?)
Herath alleges that all four websites and related Facebook pages are handled by the Presidential Media Unit and that they are run from the Standard Charted Bank building where the President’s New Media office is located.
Meanwhile Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that the reason for Sinniah not being given an extension is related to a multi billion rupee inter-governmental deal to purchase a warship on loan from Russia.
The deal has allegedly been manoeuvred by the owner and director of a TV station together with the son of the President Daham Sirisena and son in law Thilina Suranjith.
The ship ,which costs 165 million USD has been debunked by successive reports by the Navy which has said it was not fit for the purposes of the Navy. Three Admirals had given separate reports stating that the ship was not fit for purchase.
The only approval given by the Navy was from the former chief of the Navy and current Chief of Defense Staff Ravi Wijeygoonawardena, Colombo Telegraph learns.
Interestingly, the letter of approval given by the Former Navy Commander coincided with the date of his extension as Commander, on February 23.
Former Defense Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi had initially opposed the purchase of the ship. Despite being a close confidante of President Sirisena, Hettiarachchi was removed from his post and shifted up as ambassador. Hettiarachchi is reported to have singularly blamed his removal to the ship deal.
The vessel, a Gepard, is said to be a shell of a ship and unnecessary for the country’s force at such a cost at this time since the Sri Lanka Navy does not engage in warfare and is mainly on patrol duty. Colombo Telegraph learns that there aren’t any files in the Navy on the ship, except for the evaluation reports which were all negative. (By Renuka Jayasinghe)