Sri Lanka President says began career as reporter

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’ President Maithripala Sirisena, who is known to have been a village official before he took up full time politics, has disclosed that he began his career as a correspondent for Lake House newspapers.

At a ceremony releasing a stamp to commemorate journalist D. B. Dhanapala on Thursday, the President said he became a provincial reporter for Lake House when he was just 19 years old. So far, no official biography of President Sirisena has referred to his stint at as a reporter. 

Even at a younger age, he secured a position as a school reporter for the Lake House group’s children’s publication Mihira when he was about 14 years old, Sirisena said.

He worked as the Polonnaruwa correspondent for Lake House between 1970 and 1977 when he quit and joined the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) newspaper Dinakara.

While being a correspondent, he was also a grama sevaka (village official) till he quit in 1978 when the then United National Party (UNP) government refused his request for leave to attend a Community Party of Cuba meeting in Havana.

President Sirisena said journalist Dhanapala was an inspiration to young people.

"Journalists must always choose what is right, respect the truth and be fair in their writing," the President said. "I wish journalists the strength and courage to build a good country."

Both Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had begun their careers at Lake House. Wickremesinghe had just joined the family business of Lake House when the then SLFP government in 1973 nationalised Lake House.

If not for the then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Wickremesinghe would have ended up a journalist on the Daily News, the flagship of the Lake House group. (COLOMBO, October 20, 2017)





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