BY LAHIRU POTHMULLA
Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation Chairman Inoka Sathyangani Keerthinanda yesterday said had President Maithripala Sirisena not taken the SLRC under the Defence Ministry’s purview, its administration could have collapsed.
Addressing a news briefing held at the SLRC premises yesterday, Ms. Keerthinanda said people should focus on the reasons which led to the President’s decision to take over the SLRC. She said she was appointed to the post by then Media Cabinet Minister Mangala Samaraweera twice but he never asked her to resign when the Minister withdrew the Media portfolio. “However, several new appointments were made for chairmanship recently and they have not been accepted by a President - appointed committee. The latest chairman appointment was made last Friday and it was ITN Acting Director Kalum Palitha Mahirathna. None of us were informed about the appointment. I asked the President, through one of his officers, a member of the said committee and the Media Ministry Secretary about the appointment. None of them were aware of it. There was no legality to handover my duties to him since he didn’t have proper documents except for non-cabinet Media Minister Ruwan Wijewardene’s letter,” she said. She said Mr. Mahirathna had allegedly threatened SLRC employees to print a letter mentioning he assumed his duties and sent it to the media ministry. “Monday morning, there were outsiders including Mr. Mahirathna gathered around the SLRC and the security was tightened. Through an agent, I informed the President about the situation.
We were informed that Minister Ruwan Wijewardene was supposed to come. I said the minister is always welcome but not other outsiders. That afternoon, we got to know that the Rupavahini was taken under the defence ministry,” she said. She rejected the allegations that the Rupavahini’s standard and rank had gone down. “Non-Cabinet Media Minister Wijewardene said the Rupavahini rank was at 6. Yes! The rank increased to 6 from previous 8th place. He also said Rs.40 million from the Treasury is being pumped to Rupavahini monthly. We didn’t get this fund from January this year. We are working for the government and entitled to government funds like other corporations. But we didn’t get the fund since the non-cabinet minister was appointed. Our applications were rejected. We were now generating our income like a private company. We need Rs.67 million to pay salary and overall Rs.200 million to maintain the SLRC monthly. Without government funds, we are still surviving. We have paid salaries of all employees.
Therefore, the decision taken to take over the SLRC under defence ministry should be praised,” she said. She said there was no invisible hand behind her and said she was 100 % qualified to hold the post according to the SLRC Act.