Mangy to fill UNP National List slot? | Sunday Observer

Mangy to fill UNP National List slot?

27 December, 2020

Responding to concerns, Mass Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said his recent statement regarding the social media regulations has been portrayed in a “garbled manner” and the true meaning has not been conveyed.

Clarifying his statement, Minister Rambukwella said the Government’s intention is not to register social media users but to look into a mounting concern shared by Governments across the world that these digital multinational conglomerates are overwhelming and alienating local businesses by data colonisation and directly affecting medium scale companies.

“These predatory techniques lead to huge sums of money leaving the country through these digital platforms. Therefore, the Government has been considering registering foreign digital operators and not social media and digital platform users,” he said.

However, Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa has called upon the Media Minister not to gag the entire media including social media. He called upon the Government not to shut the people’s mouths and block their right to the freedom of expression.

Commenting on the recent statement by Minister Rambukwella that social media should be registered, Leader of the Opposition Premadasa said the Government was preparing for repression of social media under the guise of registering social media and that it was implied by the statements made by the Media Minister.

He said that whether the views of others are accepted or not, the right of others to express their views should be respected.

Meanwhile, at a meeting with representatives of the Sri Lanka Press Institute and several media organisations at the Media Ministry on Monday (December 21), Minister Rambukwella said he will have to intervene on behalf of the people if the media targets any individuals personally.

He said that he will never take unilateral decisions. “I take decisions following extensive discussions with all stakeholders,” he said.

The Minister said that the country should strive for the kind of media freedom that ensures the rights of each citizen and added that we should go for a mechanism that can be acceptable to all.

He said more attention should be paid to see that news items that create family disputes and deprive the education of children are not given publicity.

Only a few people whose right to privacy has been infringed due to a media report can seek redress from the courts. The Minister sought suggestions for remedial measures from the media fraternity.

Misleading news reports

SLFP General Secretary and State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara has said that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has not yet taken any decision to discontinue its relationship with the Government, although certain media sources have already published misleading news reports about that matter. He said, “However, it is obvious that “anti-SLFP” elements in the present political arena are attempting to dissolve the party, which is a main political partner of the present Government.”

Jayasekara said it has come to light that senior members of the SLFP have been demoted from national level to grassroots level and the issue has been reported to the top political authorities of the Government. “We hope that Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) National Organiser Basil Rajapaksa would look into this issue immediately,” the State Minister said.

Religious values

What Sri Lankans need is not a secular state but a society that lives by religious values, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told guests at the State Christmas Festival at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Kurunegala last week.

Premier Rajapaksa said, “Our responsibility and the duty is to foster religious values and develop places of worship. What we need is not a secular state. A memorable response was given to those who said no to religion in the past. What we need is a society that lives by religious values. We can establish such a society only by safeguarding religious values. As a Government, we will not hesitate to take action needed in this regard.”

He said the Catholic community continued to preserve the message of love during the most difficult of times. “In the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks, the Catholic community practised patience without aggravating the situation. I’m also glad the way the members of the Catholic community follow health guidelines to prevent Covid-19 spread. They are an intelligent community.”

PCoI: Term extended

The official term of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry appointed to probe the Easter Sunday terror attacks has been extended until January 31. A Gazette Extraordinary has been issued extending the term of the Presidential Commission, which was set to end on December 20. The Presidential Secretariat had issued the gazette extending the period e of Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the multiple terror attacks which occurred on April 21, 2019.

The Commission was set up under Section 2 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, on September 20, 2019 by a notification published in Gazette Extraordinary No. 2141/88 to investigate, inquire into and report on or take action in relation to the Easter Sunday attacks. In September, the term of the Commission was extended up to December 20.

SLFP opposes

ECT ‘sale’The SLFP has expressed its opposition to the sale of the Eastern Container Terminal of the Colombo Port (ECT) to a foreign power.

SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara told the media that the Eastern Container Terminal was an important national asset and his party would discuss this critical issue next week. He said, “if a foreign party wants to invest, they can invest in the Southern Terminal.”

He said that his party stands ready to take every possible measure to protect this terminal and they hope to hold a discussion with the President in this regard. However, there is media speculation that relations between the SLPP and its coalition partner SLFP have become strained in recent times with the SLFP members claiming they are given “step-motherly treatment” by the Government.

Mangy back in politics

Former Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who had kept away from active politics for some time, has agreed to come back to the platform via the United National Party (UNP) in response to a request by party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

As an initial step, a seminar titled “The New Beginning of a Fresh Hope” (Navum Apekshawe Aluth Erambuma) was held on December 20.

Samaraweera withdrew his candidacy at the 2020 General Election from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB). Samaraweera had neither accepted membership of the party, nor any other position.

Before the General Election, Samaraweera said he had decided to step down from active politics and urged voters not to cast their preference vote for him. However, it seems his move to refrain from active politics does not mean that he had abandoned the UNP, the oldest political party in the country either.

In the backdrop that the UNP is nailed down to the devil’s lair following its dramatic defeat in the 2020 polls, it is politically argued that only Samaraweera can save Wickremesinghe from exile, leading to speculation that one of these days Samaraweera might become the leader of the UNP as well. Will Wickremesinghe leave the party leadership, become the Senior Leader of the UNP and appoint Samaraweera as the party leader? There is a chance that the UNP National List parliamentary seat may be granted to Samaraweera as well, political analysts said.

Ready to support President

Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera nominated to enter Parliament from the Ape Jana Bala Pakshaya has said that he will assist the President in achieving his vision.

“I’m not serving the President but his plan of action,” the Ape Jana Bala Party National List MP told a recent news conference. He said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is lacking support to implement his policies. “Therefore, we are ready to give him the strength he needs,” Ven. Rathana Thera said.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Executive Committee has ratified the Party’s new Constitution. Addressing SJB supporters in Hali-Ela, Badulla, Chief Opposition Whip and SJB Parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella said the Party Leader is appointed by the Executive Committee according to its new Constitution, adding that it is a democratic decision made by the party.

Kiriella said, “Even though the United National Party (UNP) offered the Presidential candidacy to Sajith Premadasa, the party leadership was not given to him. The Party leadership was retained forcibly. There is no space for such arbitrary actions in the SJB Constitution,” he said.