ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s media minister Keheliya Rambukwella on Tuesday (13) dismissed an opposition allegation of an attempt to cancel a private TV network’s transmission licence, though he did not deny that lawyers had been consulted.
Rambukwella told reporters at the weekly cabinet press briefing that that, as media minister, he will not hesitate to take legal action against any media organisation that attempts to disturb the peace or create disharmony among communities.
The minister was responding to an allegation levelled by opposition leader Sajith Premadasa last week that a top level group in the government had gathered a team of lawyers to explore the possibility of cancelling the privately owned Sirasa TV network’s transmission license.
“I request [Minister Bandula Gunawardena who was speaking before Premadasa in parliament at the time] to make a statement on behalf of the government that Sirasa will not be touched, that claymore mines will not be thrown again and transmission license will not be cancelled,” Premadasa told parliament last Wednesday (07).
Minister Rambukwella dismissed Premadasa’s question as a fabrication.
“If a ministry has brought in underworld members to discussion solutions to an issue, then that must be investigated and the people must be informed of it. But if lawyers are brought into discuss something, it is because we abide the law and work within the framework of the law,” said Rambukwella, adding that it is anybody’s right to seek legal opinion in the event of an issue.
“Is this a conspiracy? Is it a national crime? I really don’t understand,” he said, expressing regret over Premadasa’s remarks.
The minister went on to say that the airwaves are owned by the public and is not anyone’s private property.
“If this public property is used to disrupt peace in the country or to create disharmony among communities, or to promote [the defeated separatist Tamil Tigers during Sri Lanka’s civil war], as long as I’m media minister I will not hesitate to act within the framework of the law and act accordingly in line with the constitution,” he said.
“I’m responsible for 22 million people of this country just as I am for the media,” he added. (Colombo/July13/2021)