House unites to fight against ‘web of lies’ | Sunday Observer

House unites to fight against ‘web of lies’

Calls to combat fake news and online disinformation by UNP Parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra, last week found support among a cross section of MPs on both sides of the House. In an angry and tearful outburst, Hirunika, whilst vehemently denying reports that claimed she had siphoned off almost Rs. 20 million from the ‘Maga Neguma’ account, lashed out against a section of the media for spreading false information, so as to slander her, and online media who portrayed her as a mere sex symbol. (see full interview on this page).

Hirunika received enthusiastic support from an unlikely source- TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran, who charged that he had also undergone the same trauma as a victim of disinformation by the Fourth Estate who ‘had gone on a rampage against him.’

“It is a very serious issue to misreport parliamentary proceedings. The Parliament does have the power to take action against those who publish or telecast fake news items so as to unfairly tarnish the image of parliamentarians. They can be summoned before the parliament Privileges Committee or before the whole Parliament,’ Sumanthiran said.

JVP Kalutara District Parliamentarian Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa called on the media to engage in news reporting without catering to the political agenda of ‘media bosses.’ ‘As we all know, the owners of the media institutions may have various agendas based on politics and other relationships’.

UNP Matale District MP, Rohini Kumari Wijeratne requested the media to engage in constructive and sensitive reporting especially on women parliamentarians without the objective of ruining their political careers.

‘Women representation in Sri Lankan politics is at a very low level when compared with other countries in the world. Therefore, steps should be taken to safeguard at least the existing women who are involved in politics,’ she said.

Hirunika and Rohini Kumari certainly have a point- according to statistics produced by the Inter Parliamentary Union in a September 2018 report, Srilanka ranks No 182 (5.8% females - only 13 out of 225 members of parliament), when it comes to female representation in Parliaments across the globe.Worldwide, only 3 countries, (Rwanda (61%), Cuba and Bolivia) have a majority of female members. We rank below Saudi Arabia (19.9%), while the land of the “Me Too” and other feminist movements, USA, has only 19.6%!

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