September 10, 2019/Media Statement.
The Free Media Movement vehemently condemns the takeover of Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation to be placed under the Ministry of Defense using presidential powers. The takeover is even more worrying and critical since we are in a context where there are preparations for an election.
The Free Media Movement is extremely concerned regarding this development under a president who came into power under good governance mandate with a pledge of not misusing constitutional presidential powers.
The Free Media Movement considers that this decision, which appears to have been exercised using the President’s right to take over any subject constitutionally, must be reviewed in the current political context.
In the upcoming context of a presidential election, there is a firm belief that a key role of the Commissioner of Elections is to ensure that the media operates within a socially responsible framework.
It is a legal dilemma therefore, whether a subject under the President can be subjected to such a regulatory framework.
Meanwhile, the Elections Commission has been informed that a Presidential candidate will be fielded from the political party chaired by the President.
Even under those circumstances, the placement of the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation under the Defense Ministry is debatable where the President is also the head of the Defense Ministry.
The Free Media Movement recognizes that any election will become a free and fair election, in particular with regard to the National Executive and the Legislature, when information is available through an unbiased, impartial media system to voters to make an independent decision.
This decision taken by the President is a violation of that right. Therefore, the Free Media Movement calls upon the President and the government to immediately revoke the Gazette notification placing the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation under the Ministry of Defense and to guarantee a free and fair elections.
Lasantha De Silva