In a bid to control the growing crisis within the government and the negative publicity directed towards the administration, President Mahinda Rajapaksa last week decided to make several key changes to the Presidential Media Unit.
The first person the President turned to was former journalist turned politician Jaya Sri Ranga.
The President requested Sri Ranga to take over the President’s Media Unit. The letter of appointment for Sri Ranga was also prepared at the Presidential Secretariat last Wednesday (5).
Sri Ranga however is yet to accept the letter of appointment.
Meanwhile, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa summoned all state media institution heads along with Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella to his office room in parliament to officially inform them of Sri Ranga’s appointment.
Sri Ranga however decided to leave parliament before the meeting after hearing about it since he has not agreed to accept the post. Following Sri Ranga’s hesitation to accept such a post, the President had informed him that he would appoint a committee comprising Ministers Rambukwella, Dulles Alahapperuma and Wimal Weerawansa to oversee the state media institutions and the Presidential Media Unit.
The committee is to meet once a week to discuss the issues faced by the media as well as to ensure that the government’s targets for the week have been accomplished in relation to propaganda. The President also moved to appoint a Director General to oversee the President’s Media Unit and former Communications Director of the External Affairs Ministry, Bandula Jayasekera was appointed to the post.
Nevertheless, the President’s interest in Sri Ranga is based on the need for the government to possess a strong Tamil political leadership. Given the government’s move towards reconciliation following the end of the war, the need for a Tamil political leader to represent the administration locally and internationally is now felt by the President.
The current Tamil politicians with the government are either rejected by the international community for their alleged involvement in human rights violations or lack international appeal. Rajapaksa is now looking at Sri Ranga to fill the vacuum.
However, although Sri Ranga supported the 18th Amendment, he remains a member of the opposition UNP. Sri Ranga has so far rejected several posts and portfolios offered by the President. Rajapaksa’s attempt to hand him the Presidential Media Unit therefore is aimed at getting Sri Ranga to join his fold and become the Tamil political figure in the administration.
Source: The Sunday Leader 09 Jan 2011