Vast strides have been made in the sphere of media transforming Sri Lanka's media culture under the newly formed unity government, Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka said.

He made these observations making the keynote address at an awareness seminar on ‘Right to Information’ held for Galle district provincial media persons.

Karunathille said unlike in the past, under the government which is committed to uphold the norms of good governance, media persons could write freely and criticize the shortcomings of the government without fear.

“Media personnel had been killed, maimed, tortured and made to disappear and investigative journalists left the country in fear of their lives during the previous regime for exposing massive scale corruption taken place during the period. Today they are free and safe in exposing corruption and crimes of whatever nature even if committed by the politicians in upper echelons," he said.

Referring to ‘Right to Information Act' Minister Karunathilaka said according to international surveys ‘ Right to Information’ Act of Sri Lanka had been rated as the second most democratic Right to Information Bill drafted in South Asia.

In the formulation of the Right to Information Bill, numerous professionals, experts, intellectuals on relevant subjects, civil society representatives and media organisations had been consulted and their opinions had been considered. Several rounds of discussions with the parliamentarians had been conducted to reach a consensus, Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka said.

Right to Information Bill could immensely benefit both the public and the media persons once this was fully implemented. In accordance with the Right to Information, every citizen was entitled to obtain authentic information relevant to every sphere from state institutions and no information could be withheld.

If the state institutions failed to provide relevant information, people could resort to litigation, he stressed. Referring to the welfare programmes for the benefit of the provincial media persons, he said attention had been drawn in providing lands and houses for those media persons not having their own houses. Under this programme a state-owned land had already been identified at Akmeemena electorate in the Galle district for a housing scheme for the media persons, Minister Karunathilaka said.

Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media, Department of Government Information, and the Sri Lanka Press Council organized the seminar. Deputy Minister Karunarathne Paranawithana, secretary to ministry of parliamentary reforms and mass media Mr. Nimal Bopage and the Chairman of the SLPC Koggala Wellala Bandula were also present.