Claiming that there is a limit to one’s patience in the face of mud-slinging against one through the state media, UNP MP Mangala Samaraweera yesterday demanded Rs 10 Billion from two newspapers of the state owned Lake House (ANCL) Group as damages for tarnishing his image.
The full statement of Mr. Samaraweera:
“In yet another desperate attempt to intimidate and silence me, the Rajapaksa regime through its journalistic pygmies in the state media has again embarked on a vicious campaign to tarnish and question my honesty and integrity, which I have valued above all else during my political career.
Having failed miserably in its attempt to turn a minor cat burglary into a witch hunt against my private life, they have now induced a small time racketeer to make a fantastic allegation against me for receiving a bribe in return for an approval for a 'Dry Port' while I was the Minister for Ports and Aviation between 2004 and 2007.
The proof of the pudding they say is in the eating. Logically, for such an enormous bribe to be given, the request for a dry port had to be granted. I can say categorically that all requests for dry port facilities made by several parties during my tenure as Minister were rejected outright on the basis that such a facility would be inimical to the interests of the SLPA. However, I understand that a dry port facility has been granted subsequently by the present Minister in charge of the subject and I challenge the government to make public all details pertaining to this dry port and to prove that I extended such a facility to anyone during my tenure.
There is a limit to ones patience in the face of this sustained smear campaign against my honesty and integrity. Therefore I have instructed my lawyers to proceed with legal action against the parties concerned. I do not seek an apology from the Editors of the two state run newspapers: I will be asking for Rs.5 Billion each from the newspapers. I will also be initiating legal proceedings against this small time wheeler - dealer who is making such fantastic allegations against me on behalf of the ' Destroy Mangala' mafia and I will present to court detailed information of his 'colourful' and dubious past.”