Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s niece and senior staffer at Temple Trees Ishini Wickremesinghe aggressively promoted propaganda videos to celebrate Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s nomination as SLPP presidential hopeful, Colombo Telegraph can now reveal.
A few hours after Colombo Telegraph revealed clandestine negotiations between Temple Trees and Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s aides about forming a national Government after the presidential elections, Colombo Telegraph readers perused Ishini Wickremesinghe’s Facebook page. Readers left several bemused comments regarding the content shared on her profile on August 11, soon after the SLPP held its convention and nominated Gotabaya Rajapaksa as presidential candidate.
Colombo Telegraph did its own perusal of Ishini Wickremesinghe’s Facebook page after being alerted by readers. Our investigations revealed that the Prime Minister’s niece had actively shared a 51 second propaganda film featuring about a decade worth of footage of the former Defence Secretary’s key moments in public life. Further perusal showed that the video had been shared under the “public” privacy setting meaning it was available for viewing by anyone on the internet, both on and off the Facebook platform. Ishini Wickremesinghe had also shared the video five times on her Facebook wall at regular intervals.
At 4.13 AM on August 12, she shared a post by Eliya – the civil society movement mobilising support for Rajapaksa, congratulating him on the nomination.
At 4.34 AM, she shared the propaganda film for the first time.
Thereafter, the video was shared 5.22AM, 9.07AM, 9.51AM, 11.25AM and 2.29PM. (See the posts by Ishini Wickremesinghe below).
Social media experts told Colombo Telegraph that this type of content sharing at regular intervals on social media is referred to as “aggressive promotion”. It is designed to get maximum reach for content a user wishes as many of his or her followers and friends on Facebook to see.
Colombo Telegraph also learns that TNL TV the channel owned by Ishini Wickremesinghe’s father Shan, who is also brother to the Prime Minister aired significant footage of the SLPP convention and Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s nomination.
In her open letter to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe earlier this week Ahimsa Wickrematunge the daughter of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge who was murdered in 2009 referred to Ishini Wickremesinghe’s blatant promotion of the SLPP candidate.
“Because it is election season, you are publicly attacking him as a killer. But even as you do so, your Chief of Staff Sagala Ratnayaka and other ministers are visiting him and spending hours at his residence, your government is allegedly issuing him irregular identity cards and passports and your senior aide and niece is openly promoting Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s campaign propaganda on social media.
Ishini Wickremesinghe is a close associate of media moghul Dilith Jayaweera, who stands accused of stock market manipulation during the tenure of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency. Together the pair are the masterminds behind the negotiations between the Prime Minister and the Gotabaya Rajapaksa camp.
Ishini Wickremesinghe currently serves on the Prime Minister’s staff. Formerly a member of Mangala Samaraweera’s staff before the Finance and then Media Minister realised she was a Rajapaksa mole, Ishini Wickremesinghe was instrumental in securing Jayaweera’s advertising firm TRIAD the UNP publicity campaign for the February 2018 local government election. The ad campaign cost a whopping Rs 200 million in exchange for the most lacklustre and inane taglines and advertisements “api UNP”. During the October 2018 coup, in the presence of several UNPers including Samaraweera and others Ishini Wickremesinghe declared that if the UNP did not nominate Ranil Wickremesinghe as presidential candidate, the Wickremesinghe family would throw its weight behind Gotabaya Rajapaksa. (By TB Bambaradeniya)