The New Year dawns as the Government of Good Governance marks two years in office. During these two years, we have achieved many milestones.

Yet undoubtedly, much needs to be done in our pursuit to be a fully fledged democracy that is also economically sound and socially empowered.

The abolition of the 18th Amendment which cast a shadow of dictatorship and suppressed democracy has been one of our greatest achievements during these two years. We have also been able to transform the perceptions the international community held with regard to Sri Lanka, enabling the country to build strategic relationships with other countries.

Dealing effectively with crimes against humanity, halting the wastage of public funds, minimizing corruption, establishing relevant commissions, finalizing the right to information act, ensuring freedom for all, easing the cost of living as loans overburden the economy, creating political stability while laying the foundation for economic development are among the achievements of the Government during these two years.

As economic activity increases under Good Governance towards making Sri Lanka a viable destination, the Government is focused on empowering the people while encouraging co-existence and harmony between all communities.

In the same vein, the Government seeks the co-operation of all Sri Lankans in defeating agendas that are aimed at disrupting Sri Lanka's course set for success.

Let this New Year be the one to usher in greater change, a greater vision and prosperity to all Sri Lankans.

Happy New Year!

Ranil Wickremesinghe
Prime Minister

The Ministry of Parliamentary Reform and Media has started a national program to identify rural peoples problems and provide solutions. The proposal was made by minister Gayantha Karunathilaka and the first round of discussion was held in his presence at the parliamentary complex. 
All the institutions such as Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, Independent Television Network, National Film Corporation, Department of Government Printing, State Printing Corporation, Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd, Salacine and Department of Government Information will get together to take the program islandwide.
This was discussed at the progress evaluation meeting of the institutions under the ministry which was attended by secretary NimalBopage and heads of all institutions.

Contradictory predictions appearing on social media and internet regarding President Maithripala Sirisena are totally false, emphasized Secretary to the Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Nimal Bopage.

Addressing media today at the ministry he said that, the people who are spreading such predictions through social media are attempting to mislead the public by creating a false public opinion regarding President Sirisena’s life.

Further, the Secretary while condemning the accuracy of the content of these predictions added that the public must be aware of such unethical programs conducted by some interested individuals.

President Maithripala Sirisena said that during the last few decades the political parties and the leaders became unpopular due to the corruption, frauds and malpractices and abuse of power by some of the elected members of local government institutions.

Addressing the ‘Swarna Purawara Awards’ Ceremony at the Nelum Pokuna yesterday, the President said that the chairpersons of local government bodies enjoy immense powers only next to the Executive President and they should always use that power for the benefit of the people.

President Sirisena pointed out that those elected members who use their power to serve the people become popular with the masses and the local government institutions should become the centers of good governance.

“It is the responsibility of the politicians and the government officers to look into the issues of the people and solve them. All politicians and government officers should be dedicated to show the excellence during their service using the limitless powers vested with the local government institutions in the development, administration, financial management and the social welfare”, the President said.

The ‘Swarna Purawara Award’ Ceremony is organized annually by the Ministry of Provincial Council and Local Government with the intention of commending the Local Government Institutions.

This initiative will pave the way to eliminate shortages and will assist to understand the challenges of the Local Government System, which consisted of 23 Municipal Councils, 41 Urban Councils, and 271 Pradeshiya Sabhas.

Ministers of Provincial Council and Local Government, Faizer Mustapha, State Minister, Priyankara Jayarathna, Governors, Provincial Council Ministers, Provincial Council Commissioner, Secretaries, and State Officials participated at this ceremony.

President Maithripala Srisena arrived at the Kualalumpur International Airport this afternoon (December 15) commencing his 3-day state visit to Malaysia.

He was received by the Malaysian Human Resource Development Minister Dato Sri Richard Riot Anak Jaem and senior officials. The staff members of the Sri Lanka High Commission and their family members were also present at the Airport to welcome President Sirisena.

The President was received with state honours that included a guard of honour at the Airport.

President Srisena also engaged in a cordial discussion with the Malaysian Human Resource Development Minister at the airport.

During his visit, the President will sign several bilateral Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Malaysia and will return to Colombo on December 17.

Minister of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Gayantha Karunathilake december 03rd visited Dr. Edwin Ariyadasa to wish him for his 95th birthday. At the Lake House, he was a member of the Editorial Staff of most of the Lake House Publications. He was on the Editorial Staff of DivainaDaily NewsSunday ObserverSilumina, Janatha and was the Editor – in – Chief of "Navanugaya".
He initiated the study of Mass Communication at the Higher Education in Sri Lanka. He formulated the first syllabus to teach mass communications at the University of Kelaniya. Also, he was associated with the introduction of media studies at the Open University of Sri Lanka. He was highly influential in the inauguration of the Diploma of Mass Communications at the University of Colombo.
Edwin Ariyadasa is appraised for introducing new Sinhala terms for English terms such as Antarjalaya' (Internet), `Madya Rupa' (media images) and `Sajivikaranaya' 

Commenting on the progress the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd. (ANCL), known as ‘Lake House’, has achieved under the new management, Mass Media and Parliamentary Reforms Minister GayanthaKarunathilake said, the company had earned a profit of Rs. 150 million so far this year. 

He said the management hoped to increase profit to Rs. 200 million by the end of this year – with newspapers sales looking promising, showing a 10% increase, and debt having reduced from Rs. 800 million to Rs. 300 million.

The Minister made these observations while commenting on Lake House during the Committee Stage debate of ‘Budget 2017’.

“Lake House has earned a profit of Rs. 150 million so far, and the management hopes to increase this to Rs. 200 million by the end of this year. Sales have seen a 10 % increase,” the Minister said.

“Over the past years, there have been many court cases against the institution on defamation. A total of Rs. 1.5 billion has been sought as compensation by way of these cases. We are happy to say that not a single defamation case has been filed against this institution after we assumed duties.”

“The salaries of employees have been increased by Rs. 3, 050  so far and another Rs. 300 will be added to the basic salary from next year,” he added.

“All pages of the Dinamina, Daily News and Sunday Observer are now printed in colour and a new email system has also been established,” he noted.

He also said the ‘Sarasavi’ awards ceremony, which had not been held the last eight years, would be held on December 15.

A survey reveals significant improvement in press freedom in Sri Lanka last year as the journalists no longer fear reprisals for expressing their political views.The annual World Press Freedom Index for 2016 by Paris based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Sri Lanka 141 out of 180 countries. Sri Lanka’s rank improved 24 notches from 165th place it earned in 2015.

The Index ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists.

It is a snapshot of the media freedom based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country.

Finland for six years in succession ranks at the top of the index again this year, while The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and New Zealand rounded up the top five in that order.

In the South Asian region, Nepal was up 15 places at 105th due to a drop in violence by the security forces against journalists, especially at demonstrations. Bhutan improved 10 notches to 94th, Pakistan improved 12 notches to rank 147th, India133rd, Nepal 105th, Afghanistan 120th, Maldives 112th, and Bangladesh 144th. 

The opening ceremony of the 34th International Cinema Television and Sports Festival was held in Milan, Italy on November 16. FICTS International president Prof. Franco Ascani, Mass Media and Parliamentary Reforms Ministry Secretary Nimal Bopage (the special guest on behalf of the Sri Lankan government), National Sport and Media Development Foundation president Harsha B. Abeykoon, Olympic medal holders, senior officials of the International Olympic Committee and representatives from 116 countries participated.

President Maithripala Sirisena stressed that the media should act in a responsible and acceptable manner while following media ethics and norms, so as to cultivate a positive attitude among people.

“Even though it is regrettable to mention that Sri Lankan media has not clearly understood the bounding duty of them. Therefore, it can be observed that the media has not part and parcel with the forward march of the country,” he noted.

The President made these remarks while addressing an evaluation ceremony of experts in the science and technology fields at the Waters’ Edge Hotel yesterday.

President Sirisena added that the quality of the media is essential and is of paramount importance for the country’s forward march to become a developed country. It is notable that media is duty bound to help in the country’s development programme.

“The quality and responsible conduct of media are vital for the country to stand on its own feet as a developed country.

“Therefore, the media should clearly understand their role and responsibilities. Even though,it can be

observed that certain sections of the Sri Lankan media is interested in digging garbage and very keen to report negative news such as murders, rape cases,disputes, communal issues etc. Besides, such media organizations want to bring political parties, which they support to power. They want to topple the democratically elected government. Such media builds the image of corrupt politicians while destroying the image of others,” he said.

Such a media culture is not available or cannot be seen anywhere in the world, the President added.

“The media has to play a broad role in the country’s forward march by building 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.

“Accordingly, the first page of a newspaper is so powerful as it is strong enough to drive a country forward towards a strong goal,” he added.

He further added that the policy of the government is to facilitate the media and media personnel so as to strengthen media freedom. The government is duty bound to protect and safeguard media freedom and media personnel aiming to protect the right to information of the people. The President requested all experts in various fields, educated people,scientists etc to take responsibility to steer the country towards sustainable development.