An Echelon Media Company
Tuesday May 30th, 2023

Sri Lanka’s Media freedom will be threatened by proposed 20th Amendment – FMM

ECONOMYNEXT – The Free Media Movement (FMM) is expressing deep concern about the impending threat to the freedom of expression by the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution, a statement from the watchdog group said.

In a Press Release issued today, September 16, FMM said that the proposal “removes democratic features and structures introduced in the 19th Amendment.”

“The Independent Commissions have been placed in a position that they are no longer independent.”

This is because the members of these commissions are directly appointed by the President and “this is a challenge to freedom of expression and the freedom of the media since the appointments which are subject to the discretion of the President would be loyalists and not independent individuals.”

“The president has the power to appoint as well as remove them from office,” FMM pointed out.

FMM also raised the issue of whether an Election Commission appointed by the President would hold free and fair polls and whether “a non-independent commission will further enforce the media criteria issued regarding media behaviour during election periods and look into whether they will be implemented accordingly.”

“It also raises the question of whether there will be freedom for public opinion and whether media activism will be fair. If they do not act independently, public opinion will not be correctly expressed. The media will also be hampered from operating freely. If police chiefs are political appointments, obstacles to human rights such as the freedom of public opinion, freedom for meetings and transportation will be inevitable. The media will have to face obstacles in reporting” it added.

“Therefore, the Free Media Movement calls on the media community to pay attention to the serious threat to democracy, the right to the freedom of expression and the media freedom posed” by this amendment.

“ It also calls on all responsible stakeholders to reconsider the serious anti-democratic matters contained in the 20A which is supposed to safeguard democracy in a country.” (Colombo September 17, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka cabinet approves President’s proposal to resume Japanese LRT after soared ties 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe discuss resuming a Japan funded. Light Rail Transit (LRT) project cabinet spokesman said, as the island nation is in the process of mending ties with Tokyo.

However, any such deals are likely to take place after the debt restructuring and Sri Lanka starts to repay its foreign loans to come out of default, analysts say.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa unilaterally cancelled the 1.5 billion US dollar LRT and East Container Terminal (ECT) projects in 2021. Japan agreed to fund the LRT project while it was one of the tripartite members of the ECT project along with India and Sri Lanka.

The abrupt cancellation hit the diplomatic ties between the two countries and Sri Lankan government officials have said Japan had given the project to Sri Lanka at a very lower financing cost.

President Wickremesinghe returned from Japan late last week after having met top officials of the Japanese government including its prime minister.

“In recent history, due to the stopping of several agreements and proposals suddenly, President Wickremesinghe went to Japan after creating the background to clear some of the worries we have,” Cabinet Spokesman Bandula Gunawardena told the weekly media briefing.

“Before he went, he got the approval from the cabinet to resume the discussion on the light railway project. He got the approval from the cabinet to get parliament approval for bilateral agreements signed or any other investments project. Any change or cancellation of a project could be done only with the approval of the parliament.”

Japan has backed Sri Lanka under Wickremesinghe’s presidency after the island nation declared sovereign debt default. (Colombo/May 30/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka to tighten grip on television with broadcast law

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has formulated a broadcast authority law to regulate electronic media which will be made public soon, Cabinet spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

“The draft prepared by a cabinet subcommittee under Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa has discussed with various parties will be given to all media institutions and broadcast media,” Gunawardana said.

“We do not have to hide or force anyone. A legal framework that can be acceptable to all for all sectors.”

“In a week or two Minister Wijedasa will discuss with state and private stakeholders.”

At the moment Sri Lanka has issued frequencies without conforming to an “international procedures”, he said.

In Sri Lanka television frequencies are issued under a state television act.

Successive administrations in Sri Lanka has since around 1980 mis-used state television duopoly which including for conducting elections according to critics.

Private television as well a raio emerged around the 1990s and has since over shadowed state media.

There have been calls by ruling party politicians from time to time to control private media. There is now calls to control social media.

At a Committee on Public Accounts meeting of the Department of Government Information, ruling coalition legislators called for regulation of television content. (Colombo/May30/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka rupee at 296.75/297.25 to dollar at open, bond yields steady

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee opened at 297 /297.50 against the US dollar in the spot market on Monday, while bond yields were steady, dealers said.

The rupee closed at 296.75 /297.25 to the US dollar on Monday after opening around 296.50 /297.50 rupees.

A bond maturing on 01.09.2027 was quoted at 26.50/75 percent steady from Friday’s close at 26.50/65 percent.

Sri Lanka’s rupee is appreciating amid negative private credit which has reduced outflows after the central bank hiked rates and stopped printing money. (Colombo/ May 29/2023)

Continue Reading