Does Sri Lankan Media Aggravate The Present Crisis?

July 8, 2022

Many people complain about the behaviour of the Sri Lankan media. Some psychological analysts, too, base their complaints on the Sri Lankan media regarding the present economic and political crises. Their criticism comes from violent pictures displayed on television. Newspapers on television in the morning also follow what daily papers report, displaying the same news through their channels. The critics focus on the protestors who undermine the law enforcement authorities in the country.

Psychoanalysts, Mohan Palliaguru and Dr. Saman Weerawansa believe protests and agitations are acceptable in any democratic society. But they are against rudimentary hooliganism. May 9 2020, was a typical example of looting and arson becoming the night’s order. That became what Sri Lanka had not seen since the rioting in 1983. May 9th night gave another vision and a reminder of the burning of houses and looting akin to 1983.

Most peoples’ consensus is that some political parties were behind the illegal rioting on May 9 for their political advantage and to make the incumbent Government more vulnerable. Various Members of Parliament, too, highlighted this unfortunate incident during Parliamentary Sessions. Apart from destroying two lives including a Member of Parliament, and his bodyguard,  their bodies were dragged like two ‘dead dogs’ and left the bodies on the streets put on display.

However, on the 9th morning, hundreds of Government supporters arrived at Temple Trees. They were supposed to bid farewell to the outgoing Prime Minister. Nevertheless, they approached the Galle Face Green and attacked the peacefully protesting youths with batons and iron rods. No one can condone their ‘thuggery’ behaviour.

That indeed it was erroneous and a total mistake. Yet, it does not give an open warrant for another set of hooligans and looters to take the law into their hands and destroy houses, plunder and ransack homes. After the incident, many perpetrators of the horrific act, over one thousand criminals, were taken into custody and a few released on bail.

Journalists’ Version

Journalists may claim ‘that what they report is that is currently happening in the country.‘They question whether it is wrong to highlight the present situation?’ Meanwhile, agitators argue their problem surrounds the country’s last two years of governance that affected the public due to scarcity of dollars.’ But let’s face reality. No Government or Administrator, for the last seventy-four years, managed to pull up their socks in formulating and implementing a single policy. Due to the lack of such policy, ‘new administrations’ developed their policies according to their own choice! How could any country progress under such circumstances? Therefore, there is no point in crying over spilt milk.

Journalists deem that what they comprehend seems to be fair on the surface. However, little do they realise how harmful their reports could influence the public. Mohan Palliaguru elaborated on this issue: ‘A TV journalist likes to hold the microphone and would like to know the current situation of the country. The old village farmer would like to show his face on television. So, he bashes whatever is in his hand on the ground and speaks to the TV crew.’ The man on the street is obvious about the current situation of the country.

Moreover, the introduction of carbonic manure overnight, which the advice was given to the President by his so-called ‘advisers’, was a mistake. The President apologised to the farmers in a televised speech about his decision some time ago. It was a sporadic incident that the Head of a Government became so humble and accepted his wrong decisions in the past.

Psychoanalysts’ version

Psychoanalyst Mohan Palliyaguru sighted a remarkable example of a ship caught in a storm: ‘Instead of inmates of the ship shouting and weeping what they should do, they need to work out on a plan to take the ship to the nearest harbour! Crying and weeping inside the ship during a storm will not help the situation, but it only aggravates the obstacle.’ His viewpoint was that everyone should work in harmony during this vulnerable situation in the country by each one giving moral support as true patriots.


As the Fourth Column, journalism, can change positivity to negativity, or vice-versa. The Media is responsible for turning negative minds into positive trends. ‘If Media could show on TV ‘A’ level or ‘O’ level students scored higher marks, then other schools will follow suit.

In boosting the tourism industry, Palliyaguru’ s advice on the development of the tourism sector is directly proportional to its employees. Due to a curtailment of tourist arrivals in the country, many hoteliers are not in a financial situation to release full salaries to their employees. If the employees do not understand this and start demanding the management and agitate, stage ‘work-to-rule’ or organise worker strikes, the tourism industry will soon sink. Therefore, he emphasised how the hotel staff react to such situations. He quoted a personal experience of a (German tourist friend) who loved a specific Sri Lankan dish. Still, it was not available on the menu right at that moment. Knowing this situation, the waiter ran up to the kitchen and got the dish prepared by the chef and served to the German tourist. The German tourist was overwhelmed. In turn, so many of his German friends and colleagues visited Sri Lanka annually.

Dr. Saman Weerawansa discussed on TV the attitude of the Government Servants, who should not become tools of politicians and thereby be self-centred. His advice was on how to think they should help the public, the Government, and the country’s progress. They should work for the salaries paid at the end of each month, only giving meaningful service to the nation. Both psychoanalysts emphasised that a politician’s life is a maximum of five years. Still, the government servant works during his lifetime until his retirement.

A transfer to another area is the worst that can happen to a Government Servant. According to the terms of the contract, they should be prepared to work in any part of the country.

Saman Weerawansa explained on TV how Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, spread false rumours that became factual after a time. Mohan Palliaguru’s idea was that the Media is wholly responsible for public behavioural patterns. Media can either make or break a society.

His idea was to think positively to build a positive world. He sighted Japan as a living example of how, after the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion, every Japanese, with devotion and patriotism managed to build the country into one of the leading countries in the world.

So, the psychoanalyst’s last message was not to excessively show the strikes and agitations, but to show the public on TV (some channels) about the new adventures, less strikes and fevers and, the TV should concentrate on creations by new inventors and give the public hope than engaging all the time in negativity!

Picture Credit:n Daily News


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