All of us are aware that on Easter Sunday events of April 21, 2019 when the suicide bombers caused havoc. We are also aware that intelligence information on the impending attacks were available and not acted upon and thus no action was taken to prevent the attacks. There have also been allegations that some politicians knew this but did not warn others.
In this context there was a publication in the front page of Daily Mirror on May 1, 2019 under political gossip which stated that I had planned to attend Easter Sunday Services at Zion Church Batticaloa and refrained from doing so since the leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa had warned me not to attend that service as he had intelligence information that this church is likely to come under bomb attack. This is an absolute lie and very dangerous in this circumstances and was citing a conversation I had with the leader of the Opposition at the Parliament canteen. On seeing this, I publicly stated that this was untrue and I had attended services at a Church in Colombo as usual and I had no plan to go to Batticaloa for Easter and also that Opposition leader had not given me any such warning prior to the bomb attack.
The next day May 2, 2019 Daily Mirror published yet another political gossip called a clarification which stated that the Opposition leader had in fact warned me on the 22nd April 2019 about a mob attack and that the previous day’s gossip was about this subsequent backlash as they called it and regretted the translation error. This is also false as the Opposition leader did not tell me anything about a mob attack or any backlash at any time. I am tabling copies of the said two publications for the record. The said publication has passed serious aspersions on my conduct as a member of Parliament misquoting conversations in Parliament canteen had violated by privileges as a member of Parliament. This is in addition to being very dangerous in the current circumstances leading people to believe that I had prior knowledge of the bomb attacks and also there are imaginary mob attacks and backlash etc.
I urge the speaker to take stern action against this newspaper’s rash and unethical conduct which had resulted in breach of my privileges and among many other dangerous circumstances. I wish to state that media has a very positive role to play in circumstance like this. This is not just my privilege as a Member of Parliament. This is a serious aspersion cast on various members of Parliament, rumours that MPs knew of the attack. This is about the privilege of the entire House. Media is out to be circumspect on what they publish. This can lead to serious consequences. Today people don’t believe in social media in a context such as this. My complaint is not about just false information. My complaint is that media had not taken on a responsibility that is theirs in a situation which the country is facing today.