Elections, Media and Communications, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

Paying global media for local elections

It is probably not the incumbent President himself in charge of the massive re-election campaign which has no qualms about misusing State property and public finances or perverting telecoms regulations to deliver propaganda via SMS. Yet to date, there has been no official statement or clarification over these clear reports of gross misappropriation of public resources.

In yet another bizarre example of a campaign gone berserk, it appears that banner ads have been purchased on leading global media sites to promote the incumbent Executive. Examples of these generic banner ads are reported to be on the webpages of,

  • The Telegraph
  • The Independent
  • The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune
  • The Sydney Morning Herald
  • The Hindu
  • The Indian Express
  • The Hindustan Times
  • The Guardian
  • Facebook profile pages (in addition to the official page of the incumbent on the platform)
  • Gmail (on text links that appear next to emails)

Amongst a number of other questions, we wonder why the incumbent feels the need to secure prime banner ad spots on these international websites? Does the incumbent believe that the handful of Sri Lankan voters who visit these sites from Sri Lanka are worth the significant amount spent to secure these banner ad placements? How and why were these news media sites based in the UK, USA, India and Australia chosen? Will the incumbent disclose the sum of money spent on these ads if demanded by a voter? Where did this money come from? Leading bloggers in Sri Lanka have identified the incumbent’s campaign and the misuse of public funds as shameless.

Going by the examples below, it can be argued that it is outrageously senseless and wasteful to boot.

Update – 6th January 2009

Readers alerted us to banner ads running on the following sites as well,

  • Cricinfo
  • Daily Mail
  • The Times of India

Screenshots have been added to the gallery above.

Update – 8th January 2009

A regular reader on Groundviews using the epithet SomewhatDisgusted, demanded that we carry a clarification to this article in light of some of the comments below that expand on the issues flagged in this post. He / she also had the chutzpah to call the article “just plain ill-researched and off the mark”, markedly reminiscent in tone and substance to the Government’s initial and enduring response to a war crimes video which the UN has confirmed as authentic and requiring further investigation. Our response to SomewhatDisgusted can be read here.

We appreciated in our response SomewhatDisgusted’s avowed concern about our journalistic integrity and encouraged the individual to as robustly and openly apply the same high principles to the incumbent President, his government and what is essentially and indubitably a grotesque re-election campaign funded by our money.