Written by Staff Writer
23 Mar, 2019 | 9:16 pm
Colombo (News 1st): The debate on the second reading of the budget for 2019 took place in parliament today (March 23). The heads of expenditure of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons and Co-operative Development and the Non-Cabinet Ministry of Mass Media were debated today.
Speaking in Parliament Deputy Minister Karunarathna Paranawithana noted that they must determine whether media is optimized in Sri Lanka and the only way to determine this fact, is by agreeing to a media regulating system. He noted that when the government discussed matters in this regard, many misinterpret this view, claiming that this is an initiative to control and silence the media industry.
He proposed that they all agree to a media regulating mechanism, that would be democratic and prepared with the consent of every stakeholder, and not just the government. The deputy minister went onto note that the initial draft documents have already been prepared. He said print and electronic media in Sri Lanka requires a democratic regulation mechanism. He stressed that social media at present requires a law to prevent hate speech.
Responding to this UPFA MP Dullas Alahapperuma noted that looking at the fate of state media during the recent past, he will not point fingers at anyone. He noted that Minister Ruwan Wjewardena hails from a reputed family who owns print media institutions and his father, Ranjith Wijewardene was a media organization owner, who was highly respected in Sri Lanka. He said he sometimes wonders whether this is a parcel bomb that was given to Ruwan Wijewardena, who has a bright future ahead as a young leader.
Commenting on the statement made regarding social media, he noted that it cannot be controlled. He questioned whether they can face the crisis by controlling and shutting down social media. MP Alahapperuman noted that when wrongdoings were highlighted in Dharga town, social media was progressive, however, when such wrongdoings are highlighted continuously, social media is unfavorable.
JVP MP Anura Dissanayake commenting in this regard noted that the Lake House organization comes under the purview of the Public Trustee Department, therefore, the board of directors of Lake House must be appointed by the Public Trustee Department. However, he noted that on March 5th, 2019, a letter was submitted requesting the appointment of Ranjith Hulugalle as a director of the Lake House.
He noted that the biodata that was submitted hid the fact that Ranjith Hulugalle was previously a director at Perpetual Treasuries and his passport was impounded by courts. He questioned as to how Ranjith Hulugalle was appointed to this position when there are serious allegations against the present government over the Central Bank bond scam.
MP Dissanayake noted that there are several factors proving the prime ministers intervention to protect those involved in the bond scam. He said it can be clearly stated that the COPE committee was to be held in the evening, but the members of the COPE representing the UNP were summoned to Temple Trees for a meeting that morning.
The leader of the JVP MP Dissanayake went onto note;
“Who headed this meeting? The Prime Minister. Who participated in the meeting? Arjuna Mahendran. These are the questions that will be raised in the COPE meeting. This is how they should be answered. The MPs were given instructions by Arjuna Mehendran. Is it a lie? What can we determine by this? The Prime Minister intervened to cover up this matter. Against such a backdrop, do you have no fear to appoint a former director of Perpetual Treasuries as the finance director of Lake House? Or does that mean you are afraid of Perpetual Treasuries? Or does it mean that the present government and the Prime Minister are in the custody of Perpetual Treasuries and Arjuna Mahendran? The government is afraid that Arjuna Mahendran will reveal the true picture.”
Non-Cabinet Minister of Mass Media Ruwan Wijewardene noted that he agrees that he submitted a letter requesting the appointment of Ranjith Hulugalle to Lake House. He noted that he was aware that he (Ranjith Hulugalle) was previously a director at Perpetual Treasuries, however, this matter has no connection with the Central Bank bond scam.
He noted that on the other hand, H. A. J. Hulugalle was a my grandfather’s friend, who supported him to build the company, therefore, Ranjith Hulugalle was appointed to Lake House, as a tribute to his grandfather, H. A. J. Hulugalle.
UPFA MP Kanchana Wijesekera noted that in the recent past, the president had participated in an event conducted by the bribery commission and they learned of an incident, regarding an advertisement of the Rupavahinini Corporation.
He said Rupavahini submitted an estimate of Rs. 4.6 million for an advertisement and it was stated that a cost of Rs. 1.7 million would be incurred to produce this advertisement by a company named Selacine, however, this was given to a private institution named Story Book instead.
MP Wikesekara said that there is a difference of Rs. 1 million when compared with the estimate. He noted that when they looked into this matter, the production activities for the advertisement were awarded to Subash Pinnapola, who is the son-in-law of Gamini Wiyangoda. He said all these documents and information will be included in the Hansard.
On this note, Deputy Minister Buddika Pathirana spoke of the tax imposed on foreign dramas. He noted that their objective through this is to utilize the tax income generated in this regard to support the local teledrama industry. He said they wanted to financially support the actors when they fall ill and to provide compensation when they passed away, however, at present none of these things happen.
Adding to this UPFA MP Lasantha Alagiyawanna said that there is a mafia involved with the rating system. He pointed out that the rating is decided on the viewership of a limited amount of people.
Therefore, he states that this rating system is not something that the general public can agree upon. He further reiterates that unless the government intervenes certain media networks would use these rating to their advantage.
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