New Year’s Day Violation of Election Law by ‘Subharathi’ Program - Sri Lanka Guardian

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Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year’s Day Violation of Election Law by ‘Subharathi’ Program

“The election commissioner and the election monitoring organizations and the opposition political parties should intervene to stop this blatant abuse of election law.”

(January 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The 7 a.m. ‘Subharathi’ program for January 1st was an interview with Prime Minister Ranthasiri Wickremenayake by Indika Jayarathna. It was announced as a discussion with the Prime Minister on New Year’s Day. However, the discussion was crude election propaganda with carefully arranged telephone interviews directly attacking one of the opposition candidates, General Sarath Fonseka.

The Prime Minister, using most undimplomatic language, referred to the common opposition candidate as meheyepu eka, referring to the commander of the army as the chap who led the campaign, now assisting an international conspiracy against Sri Lanka about what happened during the war. The usual government propaganda line against the opposition candidate was repeated over and over again in an attempt to create an impression of an alleged conspiracy which is terribly and unimaginably dangerous to the country.

The Prime Minister also tried to answer the opposition against the demand for abolition for the Executive Presidential system. He spoke of the Executive Presidential system as essential for making decisions by a single person and this as a necessary condition for stability. He described the demand for the abolition of the Executive Presidency as a demand by the opposition to destabilize the country simply because the opposition can no longer use the Executive Presidency for their own benefit.

While it is the right of the Prime Minister or anybody in the government to engage in propaganda on behalf of his political party, it is an obligation under the election law to provide equal opportunity to those who are holding other political views to express their position during the same programs when utilizing state media.

The mean use of the state media by the government for its own propaganda without providing any opportunities for those who are being criticized to answer to those charges is abuse of the public media. State media is not private property of any political party. The election commissioner has given the instruction to the government and all political parties repeatedly over this issue.

Last week there was an announcement of an appointment of a competent authority to look into the allegations of abuse of state media and to monitor that the election law is being respected. However, SLBC continues to blatantly violate the election law in this regard.

Everyday morning, the program ‘Subharathi’ which runs from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. is habitually used to violate election law to the advantage of the government. The election commissioner and the election monitoring organizations and the opposition political parties should intervene to stop this blatant abuse of election law.

- SLBC Watch

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