The Sunday Times reports that Dharmashri Bandara Ekanayaka, Senior Director of the Presidential Media Unit, has sent a missive to media institutions saying that the President has requested him to inform media personnel to refrain from carrying out recordings in front of his residence.
The Sunday Times News strory fellows:
The media crowding outside homes and offices of newsmakers is common in all parts of the world.
So much so in developed countries, like for example the United States, a whole media corps is accommodated in the offices at the White House, the official residence of the US President.
Often, reporters and photojournalists throng outside the door of No 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British Prime Minister whenever there are newsworthy engagements. After all, keeping the public including the world at large informed of such important developments is their job.
Dharmashri Bandara Ekanayaka, Senior Director of the Presidential Media Unit, has sent a different missive to media institutions. This is what he says:
“During the past few days it has been observed that the media have assembled outside the residence of President Maithripala Sirisena at Paget Road in Colombo 07 to obtain photographs or interviews from Members of Parliament who have been visiting the President.
“This has caused problems for the security personnel providing security to the President and the privacy of the President.
“Former Presidents had strengthened security opposite their official residences by closing the roads, but this President who follows a simple life style has not made any changes so that the public can continue to use the roads in the area.
“The President who highly respects media freedom requests me to inform media personnel to refrain from carrying out recordings in front of his residence.”
While in no way interfering with President Sirisena’s simple lifestyle, which the media would respect at all time, it would be incumbent on the security personnel to ensure Sri Lanka’s Head of State is not deprived of communicating his messages to the people of the country. That is by making the mistake of shutting out the media altogether.
The best way, like in other countries, is for the Presidential staff to formulate ground rules which will allow the media access without impinging on security or what is described as lifestyles or the privacy of the President and his neighbours. That is the answer.