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* Sri Lanka opposition party lawmaker to take legal action against state media for smear campaign
Tue, Feb 4, 2014, 10:00 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 04, Colombo: A parliamentarian of Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) says he will take legal action against two state-run newspapers for carrying out a vicious smear campaign against him.

Communications head of the UNP and Matara district parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera said he will seek Rs.5 billion in damages each from the English newspapers 'Daily News' and 'Sunday Observer' for attempts to tarnish and question his honesty and integrity on behalf of the government.

"There is a limit to ones patience in the face of this sustained smear campaign against my honesty and integrity," he said in a statement to the media.

Samaraweera said therefore, he has instructed his lawyers to proceed with legal action against the parties concerned.

He added that he does not seek an apology from the editors of the two state run newspapers as those "morons who parade as journalists" will not understand "such a noble concept as an apology."

Samaraweera accused the President Rajapaksa's government of desperately attempting to intimidate and silence him through its "journalistic pygmies" in the state media.

The local media reported that the police had launched an investigation into a complaint lodged against the MP receiving huge bribe several years ago when he was the Minister of Ports and Aviation in the Rajapaksa government.

The charge has been made by a coordinating secretary of a former Deputy Minister who was also sacked by President Rajapaksa along with Samaraweera.

The complainant has charged that the MP had received a bribe exceeding Rs.200 million to grant approval to construct a 'Dry Port' pertaining to customs warehouse clearance outside of the harbor.

The Minister in a statement released to media explained that all requests for dry port facilities made by several parties during his tenure as Minister were rejected outright on the basis that such a facility would be inimical to the interests of the SLPA (Sri Lanka Port Aujtority).

He said that however a dry port facility has been granted subsequently by the present Minister in charge of the subject.

Samaraweera challenged the government to make public all details pertaining to this dry port and to prove that he extended such a facility to anyone during his tenure.

He said he will also take legal action against the "small time wheeler - dealer" who is making "such fantastic allegations" against him on behalf of the 'Destroy Mangala' mafia and will present to court detailed information of his "colorful and dubious past".

** Related Story :: Sri Lanka Police investigate bribery complaint against opposition lawmaker

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