After months of conspicuous silence over his position on the blockage of Colombo Telegraph, former diplomat and rights advocate Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala has decided to step down from his position as member of the Director Board of Dialog Axiata PLC., one of several internet service providers that has blocked the said website.
Although the site had been blocked by other prominent internet service providers, Dr. Dhanapala received criticism for remaining on the Board even as he advocated freedom of speech and democratic values in other forums.
The former diplomat’s contradictory position was first brought to light by Colombo Telegraph, which repeatedly sought clarification from him on the matter to no avail. The Nation too reported Dhanapala’s silence on the issue in light of his stature in the public sphere as a rights advocate.
However, Dialog in a stock market disclosure to the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) on May 9 (Friday) stated that Dr Dhanapala would retire from his position as Independent Non-Executive Director of Dialog due to personal reasons. The disclosure also said that he would retire after the conclusion of the next Annual General Meeting of the company scheduled to be held on June 10.
Colombo Telegraph rubbishes Palpita’s claims
Meanwhile, Editor of Colombo Teleraph, Uvindu Kurukulasuriya rubbished claims made by Chairman, Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), Anusha Palpita that if websites relating to media are registered with the Ministry of Mass Media and Information they would not be blocked.
“There is no law in Sri Lanka to register websites, it is only a circular which was challenged by many in the Supreme Court,” Kurukulasuriya said.
Palpita earlier told The Nation that websites were blocked based on complaints received by the TRCSL. In addition, he also stated that TRCSL also monitors websites and blocks them if the content was not suitable for the public.
He however stated that websites registered with the Ministry of Mass Media and Information need not be blocked as they are approved by the Ministry itself.
However, Kurukulasuriya refuted Palpita’s claim, pointing out that despite complaints, other sites remained unblocked. He also asked whether other news websites based abroad were registered with the Ministry for them to be accessed in Sri Lanka? “Is BBC or Guardian or New York Times registered with Sri Lanka’s Media Ministry? BBC has a separate website called BBC Sinhala – is it registered?” he questioned.
Finally Kurukulasuriya alleged that Palpita appears to be the principal actor behind this blocking: ‘He has not denied TRCSL involvement in the blocking although he could have said, for example, that the question should be answered by Dialog. He is therefore implying complicity or even acknowledging directive responsibility.’
Mr Palpita was not available for comment while Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Media and Information Charitha Herath did not respond to repeated calls and text messages.
Courtesy Arthur Wamanan/The Nation