President Maithripala Sirisena said the Right to Information Act, which was passed in Parliament within a short period since the formation of the government to protect and strengthen the people’s rights to information, will be further empowered in the future with the addition of certain provisions to it. He stressed that the policy of the government is to facilitate the media and media personnel so as to strengthen media freedom.
The President made these remarks while addressing the 61st anniversary of the Sri Lanka Press Association at the BMICH on october 25th.
He further added that the government is duty bound to protect and safeguard media freedom and media personnel aiming to protect the right to information of the people.
“Protecting media freedom is among the government’s main policies,” President Sirisena said, addressing a large gathering of media personnel, including media representatives from the Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ).
He pointed out that the media should perform its duties in a responsible manner. “The media has to play a broad role in the country’s forward march to build a strong media culture. The media is duty bound to inculcate good and noble qualities in people such as patriotism, social responsibilities, social-harmony, personnel and social responsibilities rather than arousing hatred, communalism, racism etc. But, it can be seen that the headlines of certain news papers always carry news relating to hatred, conflict and other negative items,” the President said.
The President further said that he is being continuously attacked by the media. He said that he is happy about this as it symbolises that a vibrant media culture and media freedom thrives under this government.
“I kindly request the media which attack me to remember the situation that prevailed in the country before January 8, 2015 and prior to the formation of the good-governance government. It would have been far better, if these sections of the media which attack me today had the backbone to do the same before January 8, 2015.After January 8, 2015, the media has the freedom to attack even the President,” he said. The President added that no journalist is attacked now, no journalists is killed or no journalist flees and leaves the country due to death threats.
At the ceremony, 10 senior journalists were awarded “Lifetime Achievement Award – 2016” by the President.
Accordingly, senor journalist N.R.J.Aaron who served in many positions including the post of Associate Editor of the Daily News, Giwantha Arthasadh, Praba Ranathunga, Siri Thilakasiri, Wehelle Piyathilaka, A.Laksmi Rajadorei, A.S.Fernando, M.A.M. Nilam and Henry Priyashantha Mendis received the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the President.