Mahinda raps Ranil for setting bad example

Saturday, 30 January 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Ex-Prez says PM should have known better than to name scribes in Parliament

By darisha bastian

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed disappointment about Prime Minister Ranil Wickreme-singhe’s scathing remarks about the media in Parliament on Thursday, saying such statements could set a “poor example” to young MPs.

Speaking to reporters outside the Presidential Commission to Investigate Large Scale Fraud and Corruption, the Kurunegala District MP said the Prime Minister had sung a different tune during election season.

The former President, whose tenure has gone down in Sri Lankan political history as one of the worst for press freedom, with several journalists killed and abducted and dozens forced into exile, said Wickremesinghe, as one who knows Parliamentary tradition, should not have mentioned the names of scribes.

“These remarks are regrettable. Because the new MPs may think that this is Yahapalanaya. That this is press freedom and democracy,” Rajapaksa said. 

Joint opposition slams Ranil for taking on the press

The Rajapaksa faction led joint opposition movement yesterday slammed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for his statements about the media in Parliament on Thursday.

Addressing a news conference yesterday, UPFA MP Dulles Alahapperuma said the Premier had been outraged about the reporting on the incidents outside the Homagama court house.

“He turned to the press gallery and asked questions with a lot of anger,” Alahapperuma said.

The UPFA MP said the Prime Minister had no right to tell newspapers what to write in their editorials.

Alahapperuma also demanded to know what the President’s position was, and the SLFP position was on the Prime Minister’s remarks. (DB)

Ranil denies threatening scribes

Under fire from the pro-Rajapaksa opposition group for remarks in Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe defended his statement and said he had not threatened journalists.

“We have a right to name journalists. Any newspaper in the country can publish the names of politicians, so why can’t Parliamentarians name journalists? Isn’t that our right?” the Prime Minister queried.

He said the media wanted Right to Information legislation that permit them to name anyone. “But they don’t want to be named?” he charged.

The Prime Minister said that he had only expressed sentiments emerging from within the media itself.

“The problem is that these journalists are in one elitist clan. That is a clan that was created by the ‘maha brahmaya’ himself,” Wickremesinghe said, taking a swipe at former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“This clan hunted with the great king, ate and drank with him and now we have no use for them,” he charged. “This clan has now become a group of untouchables within the media industry,” he added.

The Premier said that there were sections within the media that had genuinely fought for press freedom. “Isn’t it their voices we should hear now?” he said.