Members of Sri Lanka’s Working Journalists’ Association (SLWJA), which has become an obstacle to the Rajapaksa government in its move to suppress the media, has managed to defeat a conspiracy to make it yet another instrument of the Rajapaksas.
The AGM and elections for the office bearers for the next year was held on the 28th at the Public Library Auditorium. The committee for next years was unanimously elected. The accepting of nominations for office bearers ended on August 10th. A group of journalists affiliated to the Rajapaksas tried tirelessly until the last minute to capture power of the Association.
The operation was carried out with the knowledge of a key Rajapaksa member and it was operated by a journalist affiliated to Lankadeepa. Although this journalist is paid a salary by the Lankadeepa owners, it is common knowledge that he was no longer engaged in writing but acted as a spy for the head of state. He was aided by the head journalist of the Mawbima newspaper. Attempts made by him to include several journalists from his newspaper in the group representing the Rajapaksas to take power of the Association were a failure. These two media personnel were supported only by a journalist from the Divaina newspaper who is trying to create a fear psychosis about the LTTE.
After failing to put forward any nominations, this group tried to get the AGM postponed by presenting false allegations. They even attempted to mislead the newspaper commissioner to achieve their goal. However, this attempt failed after the newspaper commissioner understood the true situation. The commissioner after looking at the nominations endorsed that the committee has been elected unanimously since there were no other nominations. The certification was presented to the AGM and received the approval of the membership.
Following the failure to capture power of the SLWJA, the two journalists have switched off their mobile phones for the last few weeks. It is said that they have switched off the phones since they were unable to bear the barrage of angry words that were flowing from persons holding high offices.
The membership decided at the AGM to change the name of the Association to Sri Lanka Working Media Personnel’s Association. It would therefore grant opportunities for media personnel from other forms of media to join the Association.
It was also decided to actively intervene in safeguarding the rights of professional media personnel.
Another proposal that was endorsed was to make the Association that was formed in 1979 into an active trade union.
The newly elected committee:
President: Lasantha Ruhunage
Secretary: Ranga Jayasuriya
Treasurer: Duminda Sampath
National Organizer: Upali de Saram
Vice Presidents: Kanchana Marasinghe, Gnanasiri Koththigoda
Vice Secretaries: Bigun Menaka, Tito Kugan
Vice Treasurer: Thaha Musammil
Also, 24 committee members were also appointed. Shantha Wijesuriya from srilankaxnews was also appointed as a committee member.