(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Chairman of the Election Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said the media should understand that the democracy is costly and the upcoming general election will cost about Rs. 10 billion.
“Newspaper’s help is needed to popularize election laws. Newspapers should publish what happens if election laws are violated. This election will cost Rs. 10 billion. It is the responsibility of the media to bring people to the polling booth. The public should be informed more about election laws than they are today. It is the responsibility of the media not to keep voters away from the polling booth. Democracy is expensive. But totalitarianism is cheap,” the Election Chief said.
Speaking at a discussion held at the Elections Secretariat in Rajagiriya Thursday with the editors of the print media, the Election Chief said at this election, newspapers have a more special duty than the television.
Among the newspapers, Lake House newspapers have a greater role to play, because Lake House is a government newspaper. Candidates from the government side expect more space from the government press. As such, the Lake House will be heavily influenced by the election.
The media has a huge role to play in this year’s election, according to the Election Commission Chairman. He said a discussion should be held to inform the public about election laws. Issues of election violence should be resolved. Newspaper help is needed to publicize election laws. Public should be made aware of consequences of violating election laws, Deshapriya added. A free media is also essentials as much as the voters, politicians and police.
The Election Chief pointed out that he does not have the freedom to express his views because of his position but the media can and the right to do so is given in the constitution.
“Young journalists can do a good job. You can write a variety of features about the election laws. It should be of interest. The election is only three weeks away. When making a bill, the law is contained within the bill. We all know the law. Everyone should be made aware of it. Lake House has the most impact. Young journalists should be interested in this.
Deshapriya said the public should be reminded that the Coronavirus pandemic is not yet over. “With election heating up, DIG Ajith Rohana is not on TV to talk about Corona. The Director General of Health Services, Commander of the Army no more talk about the pandemic. There is a lack of interest in the North and East elections. They should be encouraged. There are various views on holding elections. The media should take measures to propagate these issues without causing any problems. We must hold elections in accordance with quarantine laws.”
“We have no intention of obstructing media freedom. We must act in a manner that ensures democracy,” Deshapriya said adding that all candidates should get equal space,” Deshapriya said.
The Election Chief assured that the elections will be held under quarantine laws so voters need not be afraid to come to polling stations. They will be provided with hand sanitizers before entering the polling booths and when leaving.