- Jaffna Mayoress Calls For Ban On Tamil Newspaper
By Nirmala Kannangara
The Jaffna Municipal Council (JMC) has issued a circular banning all government institutions and libraries operated by local government institutions from subscribing to the Uthayan newspaper.
Following the Uthayan newspaper’s expose in its March 22, 23 and 24 editions of an irregular tender by the JMC, Jaffna Mayoress, Yogeswari Patkunarajah had instructed all government institutions to not subscribe to this newspaper nor invite any journalists from it to cover state events, interact with the journalists, provide any information or send press releases to the paper, according to its Chief Editor, M.V. Kanamylenathan.
“In the true spirit of investigative journalism we exposed how the JMC advertised a tender calling for bidders to build a five storeyed shopping complex in Jaffna town.
On October 27 last year Patkunarajah had presented a proposal to the council to build a five storeyed shopping complex. Generally such proposals should come from the members and not from the Mayoress. However in this instance the proposal came from her and she was able to get the necessary approvals from the council. Meanwhile, Patkunarajah ignoring the local Tamil newspapers in Jaffna, advertised the tender notification in two Colombo publications — the Daily News and Thinakaran which has a small circulation in Jaffna, Mullaithivu, Kilinochchi, Wanni, Vavuniya and Mannar,” Kanamylenathan said.
Further, recounting the incident he said as a result there was only one application and this bidder is allegedly a friend of Minister Douglas Devananda. “Although there are no provisions for any local body to offer a tender unless there is more than one bidder, Patkunarajah offered the tender to Minister Devananda’s friend without advertising for a second time,” Kanamylenathan said.
According to him, following the exposé the JMC was in turmoil and the opposition members on April 5 had urged the Mayoress to cancel the tender and to advertise once more in the four local Tamil newspapers to which the ruling party however had objected.
“Although the opposition members created mayhem in the council requesting her cancel the tender the ruling party decided to go for a vote. Since many opposition members were absent it was passed by one vote the same day. The very next day we once again exposed the heated arguments that had taken place,” Kanamylenathan said.
According to Kanamylenathan, it was on that day (April 6) Patkunarajah had issued a circular to all government institutions and libraries that come under the local authorities not to subscribe to the Uthayan newspaper.
Our attempts to contact Patkunarajah for a response failed.