Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hysterical Hudson?

The Story

Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) News Director Raja Katugampola is in hospital. He says Chairman of the SLBC Hudson Samarasinghe and two security personnel assualted him.

The Background

Raja Katugampola is the same News Director who got into trouble over the SLBC report about LTTE leader Prabhakaran's death in the Tsunami. The SLBC ran the story on an anonymous tip, without waiting for any confirmation. It turned out to be a very big mistake. He was fired for that and replaced but he managed to save his ass, and get his job back, because he was in Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse's good books.

A few days ago there was a story online that said the Chairman of the SLBC, Hudson Samarasinghe was again firing News Director Katugampola. Apparently Samarasinghe was not happy with the way SLBC News was being handled. As had been expected, since the Presidential elections were announced, the political players inside all the state media had been manipulating thier news to make it favourable to the UPFA candidate Mahinda Rajapakse.

News Director Katugampola is a known Mahinda supporter and had been seen as following a openly pro-Mahinda and anti-Ranil agenda in his work in the past month or so. LankaPage reported Samarasinghe as having said 'I don’t need pro-Mahinda director here at SLBC'. It seemed Samarasinghe was no longer willing to toe the UPFA line and make a heavy pull for Mahinda in their newscasts.

But people at SLBC stated that this story was completely wrong, and that though Samarasinghe had warned Katugampola about his conduct, but had not removed him from his post or threatened to do so.

A few days ago SLBC News ran a story about a fight between UNP candidate Ranil Wickramasinghe and Ceylon Workers Congress leader Thondaman. The SLBC was criticized because the story had no substance and no backing and was seen simply as an attempt to discredit the UNP CWC alliance.

When Chairman Samarasinghe questioned Katugampola about why he ran this story, Katugampola refused to take the Chairman's calls and avoided him in the SLBC building. Sources within SLBC also alledge that Katugampola had been missing a lot of his work and neglecting his duties for reasons unknown, and that Samarasinghe had been quite annoyed about how things were being run in general.

The Fight

All we know for sure is that there was a SLBC Directors meeting this morning. Chairman Samarasinghe called this meeting to discuss a letter sent to him from the Commissioner of Elections regarding 38 specific occasions in which the SLBC had behaved in violation of election regulations during their broadcasts. Someone who was present at the meeting states that Samarasinghe was not happy about this, and wanted to question Katugampola. The News Director was the only person who was absent at the meeting.

Samarasinghe then discovered that Katugampola was in the building and sent a peon to search for him, and to get him to attend the meeting. Sources at SLBC say that when the peon found Katugampola the News Director asked the peon to inform Samarasinghe that he was not in the building. After the meeting Samarasinghe personally went to the News Division to look for Katugampola, who had made himself scarce by then.

Later in the day Katugampola had finally gone into the Chairman's office. He just couldn't dodge the Chairman anymore.

This is where things get interesting, and murky. We have 4 versions.

Katugampola's Story:
The News Director says that when he went into the Chairman's office Samarasinghe began shouting at him without any explanation. Responding to allegations of neglect the News Director then defended himself saying his wife was ill and that his father was in hospital, and yet he had not neglected his duties. Katugampola says that then the Chairman stood up and assualted him, and called for the security personnel outside to also assault him. According to a interview given to Sirasa TV the News Director says the security personnell held him from behind and he was not sure who assaulted him as his spectacles were smashed and his vision was blurred. He also claims one of the security personnel picked him up and threw him against the wall twice.

Hudson's Story:
The Chairman says that he was displeased with the way the News Director had been acting with regard to the upcoming Presidential elections. He says he had sent several messages to the News Director asking him to explain himself, and that Katugampola had just avoided them without reply. Samarasinghe says that today when Katugampola came into his office there were heated words exchanged, and that Katugampola got into a fight with his security personnel upon exiting the Chairman's office. He says he did not witness the incident. But has taken action to suspend the duties of the security personnel.

SLBC Source 1's Story:
When Katugampola did not arrive for the morning meeting and dodged the Chairman during the day Samarasinghe gave orders to have the News Director removed from his post and from the premises of the SLBC. The source says Samarasinghe is known to say things like 'Get this guy out of the building' (Dapan Okawa Eliyata). He generally expects his orders to be followed. According to the source Katugampola came into Hudson's office to find out why he was being thrown out and then he kicked one of the security personnel. At this point the two security personnel assaulted him.

SLBC Source 2's Story:
Inside the Chairman's office Samarasinghe criticized Katugampola both for his political agenda being reflected in their newscasts and for his neglection of duties. When Katugampola said that his wife was ill Samarasinghe had said that Katugampola's problems with his wife were of no concern to the SLBC. At this point Katugampola has stated that his wife is important to him while Samarasinghe has many women, and is not concerned about his wife. The source says that at this point the Chairman assaulted Katugampola.

So, those are four of the stories that I have heard so far, including the two official statements made by Samarasinghe and Katugampola. The News Director (ex?) is now in the Colombo General Hospital, but the doctors say he was never in any danger and was not seriously hurt at all.

We don't how political or personal this fight was, but it's just ugly.

Oct 20, Colombo: The coordinating office for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's presidential campaign has accused state radio chairman Hudson Samarasinghe of crippling the ruling party media's campaign.

Sources from the coordinating office added that the SLBC chairman has a “hidden agenda” to defeat Premier Rajapaksa at the next presidential election.

“He has given instructions to SLBC staff not to give publicity for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa,” sources told ColomboPage.

Hudson Samarasinghe, a close associate of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, has reportedly told SLBC news staff not to highlight the Premier’s manifesto.

Earlier, Minister Mangala Samaraweera, also the spokesperson for Premier Rajapaksa, had accused the SLBC chairman for taking advice and guidelines from UNP MP Rajitha Senarathna. Minister Samaraweera had blasted Mr. Samarasinghe at the media heads’ meeting, which was held last week at the Temple Trees, and urged fair coverage for the ruling party candidate.
Thuggery & Buggery in Sri Lanka

Wow - what an example to set to other bosses.

1. If I ask any of my staff to do something for me & they don't over & over again - I'd sack them. Simple. The situation is not complicated. You get human resources involved - NOT ex Sri Lankan army guys & you fire the guy.

2. So - it would appear that Hudson Sama has learnt all sorts of tricks from Chandrika who is definitely determined to sink her pesky Premier. Shes apparently even having fireside chats about "peace" with Ranil! So Hudson reckons he can go around bashing anyone up.

3. If your wife is sick & you daddy too - you take a bit of time off & you let everyone know. As for Hudson having a few ladies on the go - well what with sex with 13 year olds almost becoming law, whats a bit of nookie on the side! It's hardly statutory rape in 99% of the worlds civilized societies now is it. I say let the bugger have his fun. His testosterone levels are obviously way up there - an easy way to check - has he lost his hair?

4. Now - why didn't Chandi &/or the UNP get upto one of their old tricks. ie. have the guy with the sick wife "assasinated" by the LTTE? Surely the whole world would have believed this. I can see the headlines now ...

Sri Lanka's most honoured media head killed for speaking out against LTTE leader blah blah blah...

5. Two rights do not make a wrong. We've got a long, long journey ahead of us. If we turn the corner in November we, the people, will have to be very, very vigilent about what old monster might be lurking in the dark...
By the way - Morquendi - that was a great article. I found it really funny but of course very sad at the same time. Seems to be how I feel about everything in SL. Then my saddness turns to anger at how little respect people in positions of power have for everything.

With respect to the article about the Tsunami killing VP - there is a twist, the story would have been true if he had been done away at the time & of course the Tsunami blammed. It appears that someone was very, very confident that they had got him. You will also recall that inspite of this rummour spreading like wildfire and the LTTE denying it the facist press continued to run it.

Lets go back a few steps - with such blatant disregard for the truth from ALL concerned, why does anyone still believe that the LTTE killed Lux Kadi.

Notice how Chandi was able to go to Europe with all the evidence in the world & proove her point.

Strategically - I have to say, this is a masterstroke & banning the LTTE from Europe the result. But did Chandi do this - she who is an inept bumbling ugly sari wearing drunk - I don't think it was her that managed this. I think someone else did - Ranil's camp perhaps?

Morq - wouldn't you say that the UNP has a whole decades worth of army operatives that helped subdue the JVP & given half a bloody chance they will reassert themselves?

What say thou "Oh I'm never speaking to Ashanthi again because she said that I look like my donkey & have a big nose" Mr Elf ; - >

Errr ps ... I didn't actually see your movie - just bits of it, i was only joking about the donkey & the nose :-(( can we be friends again now ... snif ....
Oct 27, Colombo: Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) chairman Hudson Samarasinghe has ordered his engineers to switch off transmissions in strategically important areas to block the publicity campaign of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, SLBC engineers have said.

The chairman has been accused by various sections of the SLBC of crippling Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s propaganda campaign through the government media. The engineers say the SLBC channels are not clear in rural areas after the chairman’s decision to switch off the transmissions and relay stations.

“In some relay stations, the antennas are not in correct directions,” an engineer told ColomboPage on condition of anonymity. He added that if the transmission and antennas in the rural areas are not in correct mode, the outstation’s entire broadcasting exercise would be a waste.

“The chairman’s objective is to block the few pro-government political programmes. At the moment, our rural listeners can not listen to SLBC any more,” an engineer added.

Trade unions are angry with chairman Samarasinghe for paralyzing Sri Lanka’s largest electronic media network and warned him with trade union action if he does not correct radio transmissions immediately.

Earlier, the SLBC news director also lodged a complaint against chairman Samarasinghe for assaulting him physically.
So your freedom of speech, your right to listen to the corrupt politician of your choice is being denied & you're being treated like bovine four-legged slaughter house fodder...

yeah - it stinks - I agree but what dost the good Lord say ... do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You guys have goofed.

So - we're back to the UNP. I wander who they'll come around looking for first...
Ahem Morq - How about some election coverage please? Are you distracted ...:-)
Yes too righ Ivap - how on Earth does he think we're going to find out what is really happening.

I've got a few days left to finalise my Peace Blog, Ranil's chart & have I had one iota of input from his lordship.

Not a damn thing. I suppose he's expecting us to tune into state owned bullshit about what's going to happen on the ground.

C'mon Morq, do the right thing, we need info & lot's of it.

I have to say, in my opinion this election would have to be the most critical.
have you ppl seen this-
a pre-election opinion poll by social indicator, research unit of the centre for policy alternatives(it's a pdf 1.5mb).
some analysis of numbers there seems to confirm that ranil will win.

btw ashathi what do you mean by 'to tune into state owned bullshit'. from where you do get the bullshit there?
nothing over here via radio or tv, no "tuning in" per se - I meant on the internet

we might get something via CNN, BBC, Sky - but I'm not sure.

You'll be able to keep us updated too though, I forgot.

Either way, I'm not going to believe the state owned stuff.

I reckon it's going to be a very precarious time. One of the other things i'm worried about, is a decisive victory for Ranil. He's been a goose trying to conquer all bases & sometimes this means people think you stand for anything & nothing in particular.

We needed a strong unwavering message on Peace. On ensuring that the Tsunami funds will be accountable for & distributed as required.

Instead it appears that not much of what he wanted to say has been reported. Anyway it appears there has been more thuggery of journalists - does it ever end?
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