we're misusing state media, so be it. The entire private media is
against us. The former general secretary of the UNP was on the
Maharajah's director board, TNL is definitely tilted and
Swarnavahini is showing an acute bias towards the UNP. The less
said about The Sunday Leader the better - there has never been
such a rag sheet run by a half baked lunatic and it carried
undiluted bullshit! We wouldn't want state media to be independent
forever and allow The Sunday Leader and Sirasa to play hell. We're
doing it for the people who voted for this government and for the
President and I speak on her behalf when I say this."
- UPFA MP, Anura Bandaranaike, speaking at the
adjournment debate about independent media in parliament on
Monday, July 19.
coming into power, Minister Lalkantha said that they would give
public servants a Rs. 6500 salary hike. But with the problems the
people are having now, he will have to make that Rs. 12,500
instead. And I would like to ask the government to which quarry
exactly the UNP supplied stones from Sigiriya to? It is
interesting to note that it was during the tenure of President
Chandrika Kumaratunga's People's Alliance government that the
Sigiriya proposal was first drafted and the UNF in fact watered it
down and turned it into just a sound and light show instead.
Should I be going to each quarry to ask if they bought stones from
Sigiriya? This government has a real ratacaju management
UNF MP, Kabir Hashim speaking at the adjournment debate on the
government's economic policy in parliament on Wednesday, July 21.
the UNP is in power, 'duppathatama wei amaruwa' (It is the poor
who feel it the most). -
Finance Minister, Sarath Amunugama speaking at the adjournment
debate about the government's economic policy in parliament on
Wednesday, July 21.
the House met on July 20 after a long lapse, it was the media
personnel who were actually in for a rude shock. The public
galleries were closed on Tuesday, but the 'good conduct' of the
parliamentarians made Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara reverse the
order just the following day.
the public had their right restored, the media personnel had
theirs denied. They were dismayed to discover that the entrance to
the press galley was closed denying them much needed access to the
Hansard Department, press gallery telephone or to get about
easily. For everything, they are now compelled to take a long and
circuitous route and switch lifts to reach places within the
complex which impedes their professional work.
Premier and more prohibitions
media really were made to truly suffer last week. It was not just
the entrance to the press galley that was sealed off, but access
to the first floor was also limited by last Thursday.
sources confirm that Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse has objected
to media personnel hovering around the said floor. No, it had
noting to do with security concerns, according to the source, but
the Premier who had just returned after a successful tour of India
evoked such interest that he has been inundated with questions by
a group of media personnel on Wednesday as he was proceeding
towards the members' dining area to have lunch.
"Peoples' Premier" who has remained a friend of the
media for decades has been so irked by the hounding, he has
allegedly requested that scribes be allowed only limited access to
the first floor. Ironically, the Premier hosted the media among
others for a banquet the very same week. May be the prime
ministerial preference is to meet selected scribes in cushy
couple of years ago, the UNP government had the settees removed
from the same lobby. A popular meeting place and a venue where
much repartee and exchange of political news takes place, now the
area can be limitedly accessed, but hanging around the place is
main opposition UNP is still in disarray after its stinging
electoral defeat. While the government fumbles about, so does the
UNP with party committees headed by men of great ilk but of
there are too many hiccups during debates. There are times when
members listed to speak fail to turn up on time as there is hardly
anyone to co-ordinate such matters. One such was last Tuesday when
UNP's National Organiser, S. B. Dissanayake who was billed to
speak went missing. No amount of canvassing could get some of the
younger members to make an impromptu speech in his absence - that
too on the media, a subject all opposition members love to delve
incident nevertheless made some seniors to wistfully recall the
great services rendered by the ebullient former Parliamentary
Affairs Minister A. H. M. Azwer, who always stepped into save the
party in a moment of such crisis. He used to streamline things
efficiently, ensured the presence of those billed to speak and if
all failed would make the speech himself, they mused with regret!
Anura Bandaranaike is a man of living contradictions. He waxed
eloquent during an adjournment debate on the role of the media on
Tuesday and he had much to say about the private media
institutions and to declare that if the government uses the state
media for propagandist work, he was most comfortable with it and
defended the abusive practice without batting an eyelid.
certainly could not avoid his pet hate The Sunday Leader and its
editor as he claimed that the less said about the rag, the better.
Doing one better, he further declared the leading scribe of the
newspaper as "a half-baked maniac."
Bandaranaike wished to condemn, he didn't complete the task with
great aplomb. In common parlance, half-baked would mean
"incomplete" and thus if the man is supposed to be a
half maniac, at his maniacal best, he would still be half ok. And
that's according to the most eloquent Bandaranaike's own words!
And some amused legislators were heard saying that his heart must
be as big as his considerable bulk!
is not always that our legislators possess first hand experience
when they speak on subjects. But UPFA's first timer and Galle
District parliamentarian Gunaratne Weerakoon definitely knew what
he was talking about when he spoke about the dreaded Dengue that
has so far claimed over 60 lives and recorded some 9,000 patients
in the island.
recently suffered from dengue, he certainly had first hand
knowledge and knew what he was talking about as he laboriously
discussed not just the spreading epidemic, but of the appalling
conditions of the hospitals in paradise isle. Incidentally, it was
also the first time in Sri Lankan parliamentary history that a
debate was held on the spreading of an epidemic.
bill on unethical conversions
President, Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), Ven. Dr. Omalpe Sobitha
Thero presented a private member's bill seeking to ban unethical
conversions last Wednesday. The UPFA and the JHU at one point were
competing with each other, both parties having their own draft
bills seeking the same objective.
the government began to backtrack on the promise, the scholastic
monk who once went on a fast unto death demanding such preventive
legislation be enacted presented the draft bill in parliament in a
backdrop of several evangelists and individuals petitioning the