Civil Aviation Minister Priyankara Jayaratne was in a spot in Parliament today, when he claimed that the enlarged photograph of Minister Basil Rajapaksa was included in a full page newspaper advertisement as part of the Mattala International Airport’s publicity campaign.
Minister Jayaratne, in response to a question by JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake, said Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Limited had published an advertisement in a Sinhala newspaper at a cost of Rs. 225,000, to publicise and market the new airport on March 6, 2013.
He said a large cutout of Minister Basil Rajapaksa was included in it for attraction. However, Mr. Dissanayake confronted Minister Jayaratne saying the advertisement had only been published to congratulate Minister Basil Rajapaksa on his appointment as the National Organiser of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Upon request by Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, the JVP produced a copy of the advertisement to prove his point.
“Today, we know that images of actors and actresses are used in advertisements to market products such as soap and perfumes. Likewise, the image of Mr. Rajapaksa has been used to market the Mattala Airport. It is very interesting,” he said.
The Minister replied, “Mr. Rajapaksa rendered a great service towards the construction of this airport. Therefore we did it as a tribute to him.”
Meanwhile, the Speaker said he was very disappointed that his name was not included in the newspaper advertisement. Earlier, he had informed Parliament that it was he who laid the foundation stones for both the airport and port projects in Hambantota. (Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera )