For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
The Mahnayake theras of all Nikayas have advised all political parties and their supporters to conduct themselves in a dignified and peaceful manner during the Presidential Election desisting from violence, mudslinging and insulting in public which are rampant in the present Presidential Election campaigns.
It is now abundantly clear that a situation has arisen in which the State-controlled media is acting with complete disregard for the principles of balance and impartiality inherent to any notion of responsible and professional journalism (which apply with even greater force in the case of media institutions that are publicly-owned and tax-payer funded), and in a manner that violates the guidelines issued by the Elections Commissioner under the power vested in him by Article 104B (5) (a) of the Constitution.
‘The scale on which state resources are being abused in the current presidential polls campaign by the ruling party coalition is quite enormous and the Elections Commissioner is in despair over the steady erosion of his power’, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives, Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu said.
The Elections Commissioner has sent over 100 directives and circulars to various government institutions advising them not to carry out election propaganda using state property. Most of the directives have been sent to the state media institutes but almost all of these directives have been ignored by the government.
By Asanga Welikala and Nirmala Kannangara
In a blatant display of despotism, President Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRC) to order mobile phone operators in the country to send a New Year Greeting on January 1st to a massive 13.5 million phone users free of charge on his behalf.