Sri Lanka's President Makes More Inappropriate Remarks

Sri Lanka's President Makes More Inappropriate Remarks
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Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lanka's president, was already having a bad month. Nevertheless, according to The Daily Mirror, Mr. Sirisena is looking to make things even worse.

Evidently Mr. Sirisena believes that some Sri Lankans -- including the media and those working for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) -- should refrain from commenting on matters of national security.

Here's part of that Daily Mirror piece: "I have to say this clearly: some media behaved in an unacceptable manner abusing the media freedom that exists today. But, no matter how much they criticize, oppose or attack me, I will never lose confidence in the armed forces and will always be committed to do the utmost for the welfare, honor and dignity of the three armed forces and our heroic soldiers," President Sirisena said.

Complaints about people abusing the media freedom that exists today? Criticizing journalists and NGOs? Perhaps Mr. Sirisena is searching for his inner Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Quite recently, the head of Sri Lanka's Bribery Commission resigned after Mr. Sirisena criticized it and two other government investigatory bodies. (Widespread corruption was a major reason why Mr. Rajapaksa lost the presidency in January 2015.) Those comments, made earlier this month, caused a storm and Mr. Sirisena has been (rather unsuccessfully) trying to walk them back since that time.

So, we learned earlier this month that Mr. Sirisena seems to have a problem with independent bodies behaving independently. It now looks like he's not entirely comfortable with an independent media or the freedom of speech. The president hasn't exactly been solidifying his democratic bona fides; that certainly doesn't augur well for an expansive reform agenda that remains largely incomplete.

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