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Lifetime Achievement Awards at Journalism Awards for Excellence 2019 & 2020

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The 19th and 20th Editions of the Journalism Awards for Excellence programme will culminate with the presentation of Awards on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at the ‘Blue’, Colombo Hilton Hotel.

The annual Awards Night for the years 2020 and 2021 had to be postponed due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. Over fifty awards and merit certificates will be given out for the two years at next week’s presentations under restricted conditions and health protocols. An independent panel of judges comprising media practitioners and academics picked the recipients from a total of 18 dailies and 18 weeklies in the three language streams – Sinhala, Tamil and English.

The event which was launched in 1999 by The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka (TEGOSL) is now organized by The Guild in partnership with the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI). This year’s event is held under the auspices of the SLPI’s Press Club with the Colombo Hilton as the host hotel.

The aim of the programme is to recognize professionalism in the print media and reward excellence over a particular year. In recent years, awards are also given for web journalists from recognized websites. The Guild also presents awards for Lifetime Achievements and those defending press freedom.

The five recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Awards for 2019 & 2020 are:

1. Mr. Upali Fonseka

2. Mr. D. P. Wickramasinghe

3. Mrs. Pushpa Rowel

4. Mr. V. Thevaraj

5. Mr. S. C. Weerasinghe

NOTE TO EDITORS:

Please see attached the profiles of the five recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award:

Upali Fonseka

Upali Fonseka is senior photographer with the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon (Lake House). He started his career with Lake House in 1973 as a freelance photographer on the Central News Bureau. In 1977, he was confirmed and worked for the Tharunee and later on the Sarasaviya newspaper. He was promoted as Deputy Pictures Editor in 1995 and rose to be Associate Editor (Pictures) in 2000. He retired in 2010. He is an old boy of St. Lucia’s School, Kotahena.

**

D. P. Wickramasinghe

D. P. Wickramasinghe, serves at the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon (Lake House). Known to his colleagues as ‘Wicky’, he joined Independent Newspapers Ltd., as a translator and worked on the Sun newspaper in the late 1960’s.Following its closure in 1974, he joined the UNP Publications Unit and it was there that he came into contact with Mr. Esmond Wickremesinghe, former Managing Director at Lake House. He did some translations for Mr. Wickremesinghe and after the August 1977 General Elections, he joined the Daily News as a translator. He has worked under 14 Editors starting with Mr. E. D. Wettasinghe. He was promoted Assistant News Editor in 2000 and later Deputy Provincial News Editor until his retirement in 2007. He studied at Richmond College, Galle and entered the University as an External Student before graduating with a BCom. He is a Justice of the Peace.

**

Pushpa Rowel

Pushpa Rowel has 42-years’ service with the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (Lake House). She started her career in journalism in 1977 at the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited in the Central News Bureau. In 1979, she joined the Dinamina as a Sub Editor. She rose to the post of Deputy Chief Sub Editor, Chief Sub Editor, Associate Editor and finally in 2015 she was appointed Editor of Dinamina. She retired on December 31, 2019. She studied at Presbyterian Girls’ School in Colombo and completed her studies at Stafford Ladies College, Colombo. She passed out from Kelaniya University with a BA in 1972. She was the recipient of the Lifetime Award given by the Catholic Writers’ Association in 2018.

**

Vadivel Thevaraj

Vadivel Thevaraj, Director/Editor-in-Chief of Voice of World Media Network (Pvt) Ltd since 2019 and Chairman, Human Voice International since 2015, was Editor of Virakesari Weekly from 2005 to 2012. Prior to becoming Editor he served as Associate Editor on several publications of Express Newspapers. He started his journalistic career in 1987 in Virakesari and left in 2015 after 28-years. His early education was at Saraswathy M. V., Badulla from where he moved to Kandegedera M. V., Kandegedera and completed his secondary education at the Tamil Mixed School, Narangalla. He has attended several local and international workshops and seminars as a participant and as a resource person presenting papers. He has also written extensively on the Upcountry Tamils, Indian Tamils, Trade Unions, Tea Estates and the Caste system. He is also Guest Lecturer of the University of Jaffna and the Eastern University in Mass Communication. He has a MA from Mysore University, Karnataka, India, a Post Graduate Diploma in International Affairs from BCIS, and a BA in Modern History from the University of Jaffna.

**

S. C. Weerasinghe (Posthumous)

Saman Chandranath Weerasinghe is a veteran journalist who passed away recently leaving an indelible imprint in journalism. He was a hugely respected journalist whose work ranged from news and feature writing to the art of writing lyrics that he went on to specialize in. He was a remarkably talented and a versatile journalist who possessed a vast knowledge on many subjects and built his own identity in the field. As a lyricist he has composed more than 1500 songs. He started his career as a journalist with the Lankadeepa. Later, he held a number of positions in the Dinamina. He was the Consultant Editor of Dinamina at the time of his retirement. The late Weerasinghe is the son of late Lankadeepa Editor Wimal Weerasinghe and the brother of journalist and creative writer Bharathi Weerasinghe.



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Weerawansa’s wife sentenced to RI

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Lawyers appearing for Shashi Weerawansa, MP Wimal Weerawansa’s wife, yesterday (27) appealed against a Colombo Magistrate’s Court decision to sentence their client to two years rigorous imprisonment.Colombo Chief Magistrate, Buddhika Sri Ragala found her guilty of submitting forged documents to obtain a diplomatic passport circa 2010. The Colombo Magistrate’s Court also imposed a fine of Rs. 100,000 on Mrs. Weerawansa. If the fine is not paid she will have to serve an extra six months.

Additional Magistrate Harshana Kekunawala announced that the appeal would be called for consideration on 30 May.The case against Mrs. Weerawansa was filed by the CID after a complaint was lodged on 23 January 2015 by Chaminda Perera, a resident of Battaramulla.

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Unions predict end of energy sovereignty

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A government decision to allow all privately-owned bunker fuel operators to import and distribute diesel and fuel oil to various industries was a rollback of the nationalisation of the country’s petroleum industry and another severe blow to energy sovereignty of the country, trade union activist of the SJB Ananda Palitha said yesterday.Earlier, Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera Tweeted that ‘approval was given to all the Private Bunker Fuel Operators to Import and provide Diesel and Fuel Oil requirements of Industries to function their Generators and Machinery. This will ease the burden on CPC and Fuel Stations provided in bulk’.Commenting on the decision, Palitha said that according to the existing law those companies only had the power to import, store and distribute fuel for ships. Those companies did not have the authority to distribute fuel inside the country, Palitha said.

“Only the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) and Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) can distribute fuel inside the country. There is a controversy about the licence given to the LIOC as well. If the government wants other companies to import fuel, it needs to change the laws. The Minister does not have the power to make these decisions. A few months ago the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration used to rush Bills that adversely affected the country through Parliament. Now, since they don’t have a majority in parliament, they are using the Cabinet to make decisions that are detrimental to the country’s interests.”

Palitha said that the controversial government move would further weaken the CPC, and that the ultimate aim of the Rajapaksa-Wickremesinghe government was to make the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) purchase fuel from private distributors. With a weakened CPC and a CEB under the mercy of private companies, the Sri Lankan state would have little control over the country’s energy sector, he warned.

“The CEB already can’t pay the CPC, and therefore how can it pay private companies? It will have to sell its assets. This is another step in the road to fully privatise the energy sector. When this happens no government will be able to control inflation or strategically drive production through fuel and energy tariffs. The people will be at the mercy of businessmen and the government will only be a bystander,” he said.

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Modi government moves to ‘solve’ Katchatheevu issue

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The Narendra Modi government is mulling restoring the traditional rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen in Katchatheevu, an uninhabited island of 285 acres, sandwiched between India and Sri Lanka in the Palk Bay, with the BJP hoping the move could lift its political fortunes in the southern state.The government will push Sri Lanka to implement “in letter and spirit” the 1974 agreement reached between Indira Gandhi and Sirimavo Bandaranaike, then prime ministers of India and Sri Lanka, on the island.This will have to be done by withdrawing the “Executive Instructions” issued in 1976 without questioning Sri Lanka’s “sovereignty” over Katchatheevu, sources aware of the internal discussions in the BJP told the Indian newspaper, Deccan Herald.

Sources added that the discussions were “ongoing” at “various levels” including reaching out to Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka. The recent visit of TN BJP chief K Annamalai to Sri Lanka is also part of the outreach. Many feel the instructions issued in 1976 “superseded the provisions of the legally valid” pact between India and Sri Lanka, thus making Katchatheevu a subject of dispute in the Palk Bay.While the 1974 agreement gave away Katchatheevu, which was part of the territory ruled by the Rajah of Ramanathapuram, to Sri Lanka, the 1976 pact drew the maritime boundary between India and Sri Lanka in the Gulf of Mannar and Bay of Bengal.

“We cannot disturb the agreement signed in 1974. We are now finding ways and means to implement the agreement in letter and spirit. All we plan is to ask Sri Lanka to invoke Article 6 of the Katchatheevu pact. If Sri Lanka agrees, the issue can be sorted through Exchange of Letters between foreign secretaries of both countries,” a source in the know said.Another source said the time is “ripe” to push forward on the issue. “With fast-changing geopolitical situation in the region, we believe Sri Lanka will slowly come around and accept the rights of our fishermen,” the source said.

“The opinion within the party is that time is ripe to push this cause, with Sri Lanka beginning to realise that India can always be relied upon, given PM Ranil (Wickremesinghe) is pro-India.”

Articles 5 and 6 of the 1974 agreement categorically assert the right to access of the Indian fishermen and pilgrims to Katchatheevu and state that the “vessels of Sri Lanka and India will enjoy in each other’s waters such rights as they have traditionally enjoyed therein”.

However, fishermen from India were prohibited from fishing in the Sri Lankan territorial waters around Katchatheevu in 1976 following the signing of an agreement on the maritime boundary. The battle for fish in the Palk Bay has often ended in Indian fishermen being attacked by Sri Lankan Navy for “transgressing” into their waters.The BJP, which is yet to make major inroads in Tamil Nadu, feels a “solution” to the long-standing issue will give the party the much-needed momentum ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and provide a chance to get into the Tamil psyche. Political analysts feel that it might also allow the BJP to needle the DMK and the Congress by pointing out that it has restored the rights “surrendered by them,” to Tamil fishermen

Senior journalist and Lanka expert R Bhagwan Singh said: “If BJP succeeds in its efforts, it will certainly help the saffron party in the coming elections.”

But a source said the move will “take time”. “We don’t want to rush and create an impression we are forcing Sri Lanka. We will take it slow. We will take every stakeholder into confidence and reach an amicable settlement with Sri Lanka. All we want to do is restore traditional rights of our fishermen,” the source said.CM Stalin also raised the issue at an event on Thursday, telling Modi that this is the “right time” to retrieve Katchatheevu.

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