Sri Lanka media watchdog slams president over unruly minister

Dec 31, 2007 (LBO) – A Sri Lankan media rights group Monday slammed President Mahinda Rajapakse for not taking action against a junior minister who allegedly rampaged through a state television station and assaulted its news director. It also urged the government to free the state print media from its control and to “re-establish state broadcasting institutions as truly public service broadcasters.” The Free Media Movement said in a statement it was appalled by Rajapakse’s attitude in trying to take revenge against employees of the TV station who revolted against the ministerial assault, in stark contrast to public revulsion over the latter’s behaviour.

There has been widespread public anger against, and ridicule of, the manner in which labour minister Mervyn Silva went into the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) TV station with bodyguards and assaulted its news director T M G Chandrasekera on December 27.

Enraged TV station employees, in a spontaneous uprising, held Silva hostage, forced him to apologise in public and then assaulted him as he was rescued by soldiers and police.

The entire incident was broadcast live on television islandwide, both on state and private TV.

Courts have already rapped police on a