at World Press Freedom Day
Call to coexist, not co-perish
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday called on the nation
to work towards establishing a pluralistic society and move away from
the traditional system of confrontational politics.
was speaking at a ceremony held at the BMICH in Colombo to commemorate
World Press Freedom Day organised by the Editors' Guild of Sri Lanka
in collaboration with UNESCO. Mr. Wickremesinghe emphasized that
if we do not change towards a pluralistic society but continue with
confrontational politics, it will lead to a system where one party
will be governing and the others will be opposing.
'We have to
look for a change to make sure politics is not confrontational',
he said. He said that if we continue with confrontational politics
particularly at a time when we had to reach out to the people in
the North, the country will go nowhere.
The Prime Minister
said that since the government came to power it had been able to
take several steps towards ensuring media freedom. Among them was
the move towards repealing the criminal defamation law, abolishing
the Press Council and creating the conditions for the establishment
of the Press Complaints Commission.
He said steps would be soon taken to introduce a Freedom of Information
Act while steps are also being taken to introduce a Media - Military
relations charter and introduce amendments to the Official Secrets
He said that
another area they were looking into was the Public Performance Act
where its laws will be strengthened to prevent the publication of
obscene material. He said the government did not believe in a Public
Performances Board carrying out a pre-censorship. The Prime Minister
said that the media training institute was another area which the
government would be concentrating on.
He said the
situation in the State media institutions would be one of the other
major issues to be looked into and added there were plans to merge
the Rupavahini and Broadcasting Corporations. 'Our primary endeavour
will be to make sure they are profit making', he said.
address of the Prime Minister was followed by a presentation on
the Draft Provisions of the Freedom of Information Act by Mr. Rohan
Edrisinha of the Faculty of Law of the Colombo University. Earlier
the UNESCO Representative in Sri Lanka, Mahinda Abeywardene also
addressed the gathering. The Editor of the Divaina newspaper and
Secretary of the Guild Upali Tennakoon delivered the welcome speech.
sets flying example
Finance Minister K.N. Choksy will leave for Shanghai next week on
official business - the first time he will be having the State pay
for his air ticket. An eminent President's Counsel, Mr. Choksy has
never before in his Parliamentary career from 1989 onwards gone
overseas on State account. This included the period he was Minister
of Constitutional Affairs.
last week's The Sunday Time's news item about a host of Government
Ministers spending the traditional New Year holidays overseas -
which included his name in the list - Mr. Choksy said he only went
to Jordan - on a private visit. "I might mention that I have
been a Member of Parliament since 1989.
not travelled out of the country on any Parliamentary delegation
at Parliamentary expense, or expense of the Inter Parliamentary
Union, or Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, or any other organisation.
"I also did not make any official visit abroad when I last
held Cabinet Office. Nor have I travelled abroad at Government expense
since assuming office as Finance Minister.
not attend the Spring Meeting of the World Bank last month as it
was not essential since all arrangements for financial assistance
to Sri Lanka had been concluded with IMF Missions which visited
I have also
recently decided not to visit Switzerland for a meeting to which
I have been invited as it may not bring any tangible benefit to
Sri Lanka," he added. Mr. Choksy said he was "most particular"
not to incur State expenditure on foreign visits, and added that
his wife would accompany him to China next week, but on personal
gets police complaints
By Sunil Jayatillake
Civilians have begun lodging complaints with the LTTE about their
grievances in military controlled areas, thereby reducing the number
of complaints usually lodged with the area police station, reports
Most of the
complaints have been lodged in Vavuniya with the LTTE over the past
three weeks while in other districts similar complaints are being
lodged at the newly opened political offices. The complaints vary
from land disputes, thefts and disputes over money transactions
to family disputes.
The LTTE has
brought up the issue with the Police about receiving public complaints
and said it had no authority to investigate these complaints. The
matter was brought up at a discussion between the Deputy Inspector
General of Police W.H.H. Dharmaratne and LTTE Vavuniya political
leader, Melavan and his deputy, Elilan at talks in Vavuniya
The LTTE representatives said they hope to refer the complaints
they had received to the Police as they had no authority to investigate
told The Sunday Times the LTTE had informed him about the complaints
it was receiving. The Sunday Times learns that the number of complaints
received at police stations has dropped after the LTTE opened up
its political offices in six districts of the government-controlled
soldiers on goodwill mission
Disabled soldiers are to tour the north on a goodwill mission aimed
at strengthening links between the north and south and the peace
process. Asoka Dayaratna. President of the Association for Disabled
Soldiers told The Sunday Times that their first visit to the North
will be to meet the disabled LTTE cadres and not to meet the LTTE
"About 25 disabled soldiers will visit the North and present
wheel chairs. We feel that it is important to build some kind of
bond with them. Once this is done we may meet LTTE leaders,"
association of servicemen missing in action last week requested
an appointment with LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran to discuss
the fate of servicemen in LTTE custody.
Twelve defeated candidates of the United National Party are to be
appointed as advisors to ministries with a salary of Rs. 22,000
a month, a vehicle and a fuel allowance.
The political discards getting a comeback call are: Ediriweerra
Premaratne- Agriculture and Live Stock Development; Ali Zahir Moulana
and M. Wijayaratne - Policy Planning; R.M. Dharmadasa Banda and
Nihal Bakmeewewa - Home Affairs and Provincial Councils; R.M. Ratnayake
- Human Resources Development, Educational and Cultural Affairs;
Sarath Gunawardena - Health Nutrition and Social Welfare' Chandradasa
Galappatti - Water Management; Shantha Punchihewa - Transport, Highways
and Civil Aviation, Samson Silva - Tourism; Bandula Parakrama Gunawardena
- Western Province Development and Abdul Majeed - Youth Affairs
The appointments are due to take place within the next two weeks.
to prevent straying
In a bid to prevent a mass exodus by PA legislators once the right
to a conscience vote is introduced, several SLFP members are expected
to be given more responsibilities and recognition in the party,
authoritative SLFP sources said.
It is learned
that senior SLFPer Jeyaraj Fernandopulle is likely to be promoted
as a deputy whip, following former media minister Mangala Samaraweera's
offer to resign from his post as deputy whip to dedicate himself
to party rebuilding following the electoral defeat in 2001.
Fernandopulle several others like Dilan Perera and Jagath Pushpakumara
are to be given responsibilities to strengthen the party machinery.
At last week's special meeting with the group, President Kumaratunga
herself had stressed on the need to rebuild the party at grassroots
SLFP general secretary Maithreepala Sirisena denied that any moves
were afoot to change the office bearers of the party, but added
that some changes seem necessary considering the need to strengthen
the party at village level and train youngsters to accept additional
responsibilities in the party.