Colombo, Media and Communications, Politics and Governance

Bell Pottinger and official communiqués of the Sri Lankan government

Statement issued by Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka

For security reasons the speech by His Excellency President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka at the Oxford Union, the home of free speech, has been cancelled. This is a decision that has been made unilaterally by the Oxford Union, reportedly as a result of pressure applied by pro-LTTE activists.

His Excellency said:

“I am very sorry this has had to be cancelled but I will continue to seek venues in the UK and elsewhere where I can talk about my future vision for Sri Lanka.“

His Excellency went on to say

“I will also continue in my efforts to unite all the people of our country whether they live in Sri Lanka or overseas.

As a united country we have a great future.

If we allow divisions to dominate we will not realise our true potential.

We have had thirty years of division and conflict. We must now secure peace and harmony for all Sri Lankans.“

Samia Yakub
Bell Pottinger Business & Brand
Direct Line: [Edited out]
Mobile: [Edited out]
Switchboard: [Edited out]
Part of the Bell Pottinger Group
A CarbonNeutral“ Company


Groundviews was forwarded this email a short while ago, which has been received by a number of persons including those in international human rights organisations and the UN system.

It is not so much the content that interests us, but the sender of the email – an employee of Bell Pottinger. We found it somewhat disturbing that an official communique of the Sri Lankan government was sent out in this manner – without any official letterhead, mistakes in punctuation, a terrible layout, featuring an email signature of a person with no links to the government and from a non-official account.

To make sure that this email was not one that was fabricated, Groundviews called up Samia who verified that this was in fact sent by her, on behalf of the Sri Lankan government who is their ‘client’.

In Bell Pottinger and Sri Lanka: Millions spent for what?, this site covered in detail the murky transactions of successive Sri Lankan governments with this infamous public relations firm.

This email – an official communique – sent in this manner, raises a number of questions. Is this the level of service we are paying for? Who authorised the transmission of this email from a non-official email account? Who approved the content of the transmission? Do Sri Lankans now have to rely on private email accounts of Bell Pottinger staff for vital updates related to their government? Are we the only country in the world that relies on staff of PR firms to send out official communiques? Does this not open to the door for flagrant abuse and hoaxes, that risk being taken seriously and indeed, embarrassing the government?

But perhaps the most vital question to ask is, what on earth is going on here?