By Saman Indrajith
NFF leader Wimal Weerawsansa yesterday asked in parliament whether the shutdown of the transmission tower of TNL, which is owned by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s sibling by Telecommunication Regulatory Commission under President Maithripala Sirisena was a result of political tug o war between the SLFP and the UNP?
MP Weerawansa said the transmission tower of TNL TV at Polgahawela had been sealed by the TRC yesterday. “We do not agree with the political line of the TNL. It is owned by the brother of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.
But we do not approve of such action against a media institution. It is undemocratic. “This is a government which came to power, promising media freedom. I hope the media minister will reveal why the TNL tower has been shut down.”
Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said that he came to know of the incident about one hour back and he was trying to obtain a report from the TRC. “Once I receive the report he would inform the House of what happened.”
MP Weerawansa: This is undemocratic. Is it because of a power struggle between the top leaders of this government?
Media Minister: I agree that shutting down media organisations by the government is undemocratic. There are many TV stations which sling mud at us, but we do not harbour any hate against them. I am a friend of the owners of those media stations. We should be able to keep our politics in one box and our friendships in another box as professional politicians. We should never mix them. As I could remember it was Voltaire who said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
National Policies and Economic Affairs State Minister Dr Harsha de Silva: We usually do not agree with MP Weerawansa. But today we agree with what he said. He is right in this regard. We cannot condone this act. This has been done by the TRC which is headed by the Secretary to the President. We came to power, promising to uphold democratic rights and improving media freedom in this country. The shutdown of a transmission tower of a TV station cannot be countenanced on any grounds.