The office of the President finds itself floundering in confusion over a music video about Maithripala Sirisena.
The video, titled ‘President’s Official Song for 2016 – Numba Ape Minihek (You are one of us)’, was aired on national television on the 8th of January, the first anniversary of Sirisena’s election. The lyrics and visuals were immediately and severely criticized for being inconsistent with Sirisena’s election rhetoric and for being plainly ridiculous. The song was taken off the air and removed from YouTube, but copies are still being circulated and parodied.
The President’s office issued a statement claiming that it had nothing to do with the production and airing of the song. The question however is not whether it is the official song or not, but whether or not the President himself listened to the song and whether or not he approved its telecast.
Status updates on Facebook by the producer clearly shows that the President was aware of the production and had approved the final cut to be telecast.
When Colombo Telegraph contacted the President’s Media Director, Dharmasri Bandara Ekanayake for clarification on the matter, he claimed ignorance. However, he agreed to inquire from the President himself. Colombo Telegraph awaits a response from the President or any of his spokespersons to these simple questions, either affirming or denying involvement.
Siritunga Rajakaruna an activist who supported Sirisena’s campaign to establish “Good Governance” told Colombo Telegraph that it is a good sign that the video was removed, which indicates acknowledgment that it was a serious error in judgement. However, he said that the idea of good governance is founded on giving value to truth and humility.
“There’s nothing wrong in making a mistake. What we expect from people who espouse good governance is to admit mistakes made.
“If President Sirisena did not commission the production and did not approve its airing, then someone has been extremely mischievous. In fact it’s more than mischief because the television had been fooled into believing that the video was made on a Presidential directive. The producer works under the President himself. Dr. Arosha Fernando is a senior consultant at Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, which is an institution that comes directly under the President and appears to have operated as though he was representing the President.
“If indeed the President was involved, as the footage and the producer’s Facebook update indicates, then he has to come out and say that he made a mistake. That’s the practice that the current reconciliation initiative advocates. It is essentially about acknowledging wrongs done and expressing regret. It’s not about punishment.”
The producer has gone silent since the video was removed from YouTube and the television station stopped airing it.