Written by Staff Writer
22 Oct, 2019 | 9:43 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st) – Presidential Candidate of the New Democratic Front, Sajith Premadasa said that he will ensure that media freedom is protected. He was speaking at a conference held in Colombo today (October 22).
The conference which was held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute got underway under the theme “Let us protect our freedom and oppose dictatorship.”
This conference was organized by the Journalists for Democracy Organisation and many journalists, representatives from Civil Society Organizations and many public representatives attended the conference.
Jano Kichilan, Representative of the Regional Journalists’ Forum noted that it has been 71 years since independence and he has not heard nor seen a government that has looked into the issues of journalists.
He added that instead, journalists were treated with bullets and stated that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government murdered journalists or looted public property, but they also stole the body parts of Lasantha Wickrematunga. He further added that he heard over the past few days that several body parts of Wickrematunga were missing.
He finally added that they should remember that the current government has given the freedom for both social media and the general media to express their thoughts independently therefore it was their duty to protect the freedom they won.
Wasantha Moragoda, Veteran Film Director:
“I don’t have a problem if Gotabaya Rajapaksa wins the election. Neither do I have a problem with Sajith Premadasa winning the election. But an environment should be created for us to practice our art freely. I believe that Sajith Premadasa is capable of doing what needs to be done in terms of that. Therefore at this time, I will work for Sajith Premadasa.”
Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health:
“Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed every newspaper to report everyone else apart from his family as rogues. There was a time where the President called the editor in the morning if there was an article written against them.
We first gave the people their right to live. Then the freedom to live. Democracy of the people. The journalists who took a beating from the Government before 2015 are beating us up today. The freedom we gave has gone out of control.”
UNP MP Patali Champika Ranawaka:
“There were only 6000 officials in the intelligence units at the time of the war. When we approached the Presidential Election in 2014, it was at 12,000.
How can a massive increase like that take place at a time where the country was at peace? That should be looked in to. Are we ready to once again to be slaves of the Rajapaksas? Are we ready to yet again face an era where journalists are controlled by death threats and extradition?”
“I would like to tell you that with the positive outlook I have on media freedom I will work to strengthen the freedom of media after the conclusion of the election.
I have so far worked in my political career with the stance of protecting media freedom by taking criticism with a positive outlook. After the 16th I am hoping to further strengthen your media freedom.
I am hoping to establish an international level media resources training centre. Through this media resource centre, we hope to allow the local journalists to interact with foreign journalists and to build professional relations among them.
This will increase the experience in them in the field of media. I have already launched a program to construct media villages. Amidst many challenges, this program will be conducted successfully and as the president of the country, I will address the housing and land issues faced by media personnel.
This is a good time for you to assess the attitude of Sajith Premadasa towards the media as a politician since 1994 until now. You are free to decide on the pros and cons. Today if not Sajith Premadasa what is the alternative? When you think of that, you might remember Eknaligoda, you might remember Upali Thennakoon, you might be reminded of the fate that befell veteran journalist Lasantha Wickremetunga, the fate of Keith Noyahr.
We do not need to be reminded of the incidents involving journalist in the country including Poddala Jayantha. Does the country want a rule of Idi Ameen, Robert Mugabe, or Hitler? Or does the country want fully-fledged democracy with the highest level of media freedom? The decision is in your hands.”
Meanwhile, the national convention of the Rathu Tharu Jana Balaya was held today (October 22) under the auspices of Presidential Candidate Sajith Premadasa.
Minister Sajith Premadasa:
“I will never follow a neo-liberal policy. If a country is to go forward, it must have resources. We must follow a program that will reduce the income inequality between the rich and poor, and promote equality among society.
Nearly 55% of national income is benefited by the richest 20%. Comparatively, the poorest 20% only benefit approximately 5 per cent of national income. Regardless of whether economic growth is 6% or 7%, growth distribution among all sectors does not take place equally.
This is unfair, and direct government intervention is required to solve this issue. Therefore, I believe the country must follow a strategy that preserves democracy, which will generate income, and that will ensure income and assets are distributed among all sectors of society equally.
All sectors of society, the rich, the poor, the middle-income earners, everyone must benefit from the country’s economic progress. In the recent past, you must have heard about various agreements. Trade agreements, security agreements, political agreements, they were all subject to public scrutiny.
When an agreement is signed and when reaching a consensus, and when I rethink as to whether I will sign the agreement or not, there is only one question in my mind. And that is, will this agreement fulfil our national requirements? There is no issue in signing an agreement that will add value to our country. Sajith Premadasa will never bow down to a foreign nation.
People-centric governance, governance that will work towards the prosperity of the general public as well as a transparent governance system can be expected through our victory.”
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