By R. K. Radhakrishnan
The Hindu: Dismissing speculation in a section of the media about his health, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Monday these were floated by desperate people.
In a free-wheeling interaction with a few members of the Indian press stationed in Colombo on the sidelines of a ceremony to unveil the logo for Hambantota’s bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Rajapaksa said speculating about his health had become an obsession for some.
“The other day I was on the treadmill when a friend of mine called to ask if I was keeping well. I asked him why he had called up so early and he replied that someone had told him that I have had a heart attack,” said Rajapaksa, visibly amused over the enquiry.
“I have been told that the LTTE had spread a rumour that I had testicular cancer,” he said, laughing. “Let them spread any rumour they want,” he added.
When it was pointed out that his sudden, recent private visit to the United States was the reason behind some of the rumours, he retorted: “Which politician has not gone on a private visit? Why does my visit alone raise so much interest?”
Asked if it would not have been better for him to keep the people of his country informed of his private visits, he pointed to the recent London incident. “Whenever the pro-LTTE people hear I am on a visit, they arrive there and try to create some trouble or embarrassment. If I keep people here informed, it would amount to my giving these elements prior notice.”
The President said he was concerned about the attacks on the media and dismissed as “nonsense” the assertion by some organisations and individuals that the government was behind them. “Why would I.
These people have been writing forever against the government…It’s unfair to blame us,” he said.
When it was pointed out that the assertion of some organisations gained ground because there have been no arrests so far in any of the attacks, he said this was because no one had volunteered information. Hence, the police were not able to make much headway in the investigations.