Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Absolute freedom for media - President

There is no media suppression whatsoever in the country, President Mahinda Rajapaksa asserted yesterday.

Addressing a ceremony organised by the Land Reform Commission (LRC), to handover 'Ranbima Oppu' (Ranbima Land Deeds) to 1,200 recipients of the Ratnapura and Kegalle Districts at Temple Trees yesterday, President Rajapaksa re-affirmed his total commitment to media freedom, categorically stating that all allegations and accusations levelled against his Government pertaining to 'Media Suppression' was slanderous and unfounded.

"I am amazed and perturbed at the baseless allegations made with regard to 'Media Freedom' in the country. Any one could unmercifully target me and my Government in any manner, via the media, if they so wish.

If one would scan the weekend newspapers, he could testify for himself the freedom enjoyed by the media. "They have even depicted me in a very humiliating manner in some cartoons. This amply illustrates the extent of the 'Media Freedom' in this country," he remarked.

Vehemently pointing out that he has never and would never ever fall to the level depicted in some cartoons and other articles, President Rajapaksa opined that nonetheless, the media should refrain from being pawns in the hands of both local and international elements with vested interests, who strive to betray and destroy our Motherland.

He also claimed that he would not endeavour to protect any individual. The Police and the 'Rule of Law' mechanism was in place to carry out their functions independently, and mete out punishment, when and where necessary with the evidence available.

Referring to the fatal bomb-blast at Lotus Road recently, President Rajapaksa disclosed that on further investigation using advanced techniques, it had been revealed that the suicidal LTTE bomber responsible for the blast, had also been in the list of 'Abductions' of 'White-Van' fame.

"This clearly indicates the misleading and treacherous nature of these allegations," he added.

President Rajapaksa underscored the importance of handing over the 'Deeds' and consolidating their ownership of the lands to the 1200 lucky recipients, who from now onwards would be entitled to transfer the ownership to their offspring, or even obtain bank loans, if required.

He opined that his Government was highly concerned of the lands in the North and the East, which were transferred or written-off freely to the LTTE, by agreement or otherwise in the past.

"That is why we liberated the East and re-settled those displaced in their lands, sans any political or communal bias. We also held elections there. Now we are in the process of liberating the North as well very soon," he added.

The President was of the view that exporting candidates from Colombo to represent the people of Sabaragamuwa and the North Central, would prove futile as they had no understanding and a knowledge of the region, unlike those who were born and bred within it.

He said that as a leader who hailed from the village, he fully understood the problems encountered by villagers. It was with this knowledge that he adopted a strategy and a policy of reversing development programmes confined only to Colombo and its suburbs, to the village, which resulted in a resurgence of the village.

We are not only successfully battling with the LTTE. We have a definite '10 year' programme with specific targets, to confront the basic issues such as the rising costs of food and energy.

"With prudence and foresight, we have formulated elaborate plans to avert the energy crisis, by the construction of Norochcholai and Kerawalapitiya power projects, and become self-sufficient in food by our mega irrigation projects such as the Moragahakanda and Parakrama Samudraya. We have our plans.

We will not reverse or shift from them under any circumstances under the influence of anybody", he said. He noted that his Government was receiving the required aid from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, Japan, Iran, India and China as envisaged, and would not face any problems as indicated by certain parties who themselves may try to stifle the development.

President Rajapaksa added that funds were being allocated for the construction of all roads within the Provincial Council purview, in the country.

Ministers Rajitha Senarathna, Bandula Gunawardena, John Senevirathna, Pavithradevi Wanniarachchai and the Chairman of the LRC Nimal G. Punchihewa also addressed the ceremony.

Courtesy : Daily News

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