Expressing regret over Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL)’s decision to seal the TNL transmission tower at Polgahawela, Minister of…… Mass Media, Mangala Samaraweera yesterday (8) said that it would be better if TRCSL came under the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure.
TRCSL came under fire for shutting down the TNL TV centre in Polgahawela, both from the Government and Opposition, during yesterday’s Parliamentary sittings. Joint Opposition (JO) Parliamentary Group Leader, Dinesh Gunawardena queried whether according to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and under Standing Order Number 27 (2), President Maithripala Sirisena had the power to make appointments to institutions other than the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Environment and Mahaweli Development, which come under his purview. He added that therefore, the appointment of TRCSL Director General by the President was in question.
He claimed that TNL had not been given notice of the shutting down of the transmission tower. This is a violation of the Telecommunications Act, Gunawardena noted. Minister Samaraweera replied, “I understand that you have a valid point.
This issue could be bureaucratic bungling rather than a political issue. We will discuss a way to resolve it.”
He further said that he was the Minister when the TRCSL Act was drafted in 1997. “According to the Act, TRCSL should be under the Telecommunications Ministry and its Secretary must be the TRCSL Head. However, it was former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who took the TRCSL under his purview. He used it as a political weapon. It would have been better if we had given it back to the Telecommunications Ministry,” he added. He also said that he could not contact TRCSL Chairman, Austin Fernando as he was not in the country at the moment. “After Fernando returns I will talk to him,” Samaraweera said.
Meanwhile, United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) MP Buddhika Pathirana vehemently criticized the Government over the incident.
“It is the TNL which provided a platform for many MPs who are here today to have their first public appearance. MP Gunawardena will agree with me. The transmission tower was sealed by the Police. Was the Minister of Law and Order informed about that raid? Besides, the Minister of Mass Media and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should have been informed and their consent should have been taken prior to blocking any Media institution. This has not happened in this case. We did not expect the Government to do this? Is this an era when the Police could be sent to raid media institutions? Certain websites have also been blocked. We did not come to power to behave in this manner. I regret this incident. This should not have happened,” Pathirana added