COLOMBO (News 1st) – The New York Times article on the Former President receiving money from the China Harbor Company has created quite a stir on social media and in the Sri Lankan political arena.
The report says “at least $7.6 million was dispensed from China Harbor’s account at Standard Chartered Bank to affiliates of Rajapaksa’s campaign.” The report adds that with 10 days to go before polls opened, around $3.7 million was distributed in checks: $678,000 to print campaign T-shirts and other promotional material and $297,000 to buy supporters gifts, including women’s saris. Another $38,000 was paid to a popular Buddhist monk who was supporting Rajapaksa’s electoral bid, while two checks totaling $1.7 million were delivered by volunteers to Temple Trees.
The article published on the 25th of June 2018, by Maria Abi-Habib the South Asia correspondent at The New York Times, has been criticised by a certain group over concerns about the accuracy of the content.
The Journalist responded on Twitter:
The Chinese embassy too issued a release about the matter however, they have not directly denied that the Former President Obtained money from the said Chinese Company.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa threatened to take legal action against the New York Times charging that the allegations raised by the article written by them are false. He stated that he has taken steps to send a letter of demand and his political party will also be sending a letter of demand. Mahinda Rajapaksa has vehemently denied receiving money from a foreign nation for his election campaign.
Issuing a release on Tuesday (July 03) the New York Times said that ‘a group of Sri Lankan Parliamentarians allied with the former president held a news conference to publicly criticize two journalists who contributed logistical assistance’ to New York Times for the article.
The NYT says it is unacceptable for journalists to be intimidated in this way and that this action appears intended to silence critics, curb press freedoms and ultimately deprive Sri Lankans of information in the public interest. The New York Times says if Mr. Rajapaksa takes issue with Times reporting they encourage him to contact senior editors at the New York Times rather than intimidating Sri Lankan journalists.
The article has reached over half a million views on its website making it one of the most read articles.