- Media owners want to run the country the way they want. I cannot allow that
- During the time when I was the Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development, I have carried out works that no one had ever done for environmental conservation
“Media freedom does not mean freedom of media owners. Certain media owners want to run the country the way they want. I cannot allow that to happen “, said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
President Rajapaksa also said that he has not exerted any influence on the media as the President, and he will not hesitate to take necessary legal action against such groups, if they attempt to push the country and the people backward, by abusing media freedom for the benefit of various groups and individuals.
The President is of the view that today a group of media persons who had worked against the country during the war has reappeared and through their media institutions are attacking nationalist ideology and programmes.
The President made these remarks participating in the 15th in the series of “Discussion with the Village” programme held yesterday (20) at the Yombuweltenna village in Walapane Divisional Secretariat Division of the Nuwara Eliya District.
The majority of voters elected me as the President to rebuild this nation. Only 16 months have passed out of the 60-month long mandate. There is still considerable time ahead. Some are worried about the next President. No one should worry in this regard as it is people’s choice. The President said that the remaining period of the tenure will be utilized to fulfill the aspirations of the people by working hard to uplift the national economy as well as the rural masses’ living standards. The responsibility of the officials is to support the people to maintain their livelihoods. People should never be oppressed. The President also stated that he did not expect any offensive act from the side of public officials that would disrupt the daily life of the people.
“I have never destroyed the environment. During the time when I was the Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development, I have carried out works that no one had ever done for environmental conservation. Even Independence Square was filled with garbage dump. That miserable situation was eliminated and the city of Colombo was transformed into a green garden. A Senior Minister in the previous government has gifted a 30 acre land in Hanthana Forest Reserve to his daughter. If they had protected the environment, they would not have had to come before the media and cry today”, the President said.
During the period 2015-2019, 77 acres of forestlands in the Kurunegala District, 258 acres in Puttalam, 100 acres in Moneragala, 224 acres in Anuradhapura and in many other areas including Millewa, Matale, Laggala, Rideegama and Welikanna have been destroyed. The President further said that it is ridiculous that such people are pointing fingers at the government today.
Poverty alleviation and economic upliftment in rural areas is a major policy of the government. 35% out of the 75% of the rural population are directly engaged in the agricultural sector. President Rajapaksa also said that he will fulfill his responsibility towards economically empowering the rural people while implementing all necessary measures for the development of the agricultural sector.