ECONOMYNEXT – Media Ministry Secretary Nimal Bopage has attempted to defuse political tensions triggered by President Maithripala Sirisena’s controversial comments, but his move may have raised more questions.
"A controversy has arisen following a speech by the President during an internal meeting discussing a subject within his defence ministry," Bopage said in a statement.
He did not say why the President’s media unit had given wide publicity to the event of it was indeed an internal discussions of the defence ministry which President Maithripala Sirisena heads.
The President made the highly controversial remarks at a ceremony held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute on Wednesday. The media had been invited to cover the event.
Bopage warned media institutions not to report the backlash to the President’s remarks in a manner that would "harm the image of the President or the Prime Minister."
He said "this sensitive incident" could decide the future of the country and hoped journalist would approach the story with "maturity and discipline."
He warned journalists "not to report a few words of the president without considering his speeches and actions since coming to power."
In his most hard-hitting speech since his election, President Maithripala Sirisena lambasted anti-graft bodies of the government saying they were working according to a political agenda.
The President said he was expressing his disgust at the hauling of three former navy admirals and ex-defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa before courts. The four men were among those accused of causing a 11,400 million rupee loss to the state when they were in power.
The President also said he had been silent for too long, but would not hesitate to take action and insisted that independent institutions should keep him informed when carrying out high profile arrests or prosecution.
Civil society activists who helped President Sirisena to win the January 2015 elections have expressed dismay at what they see as a complete U-turn by the President in tacking corruption under the former regime, of which he was also a member for nearly a decade.
(COLOMBO, Oct 15, 2016)