The front page of the Daily Mirror was very interesting today, with a sequence of articles on statements and press conferences by various senior government figures. By our count, we’re looking at six different people communicating in five different ways about six different topics!
With a controversy over the Volkswagen but not-Volkswagen factory opening, one would expect some form of response by the government. This could have even been by dismissing the issue as a relatively minor miscommunication and focusing on the fact that a factory was being build that would provide manufacturing jobs.
However, what we had instead was a barrage of communication from multiple sources. Overnight, the Harsha de Silva who was initially most closely associated with the project, wrote a lengthy Facebook post outlining the sequence of events and explaining the current nature of the project.
Meanwhile, at a press conference, Minister Akila Kariyawasam also fielded questions on this and additionally, there is an article in the Daily Mirror quoting the Prime Minister in response to this issue. A considerable amount of content was also published on the UNP Facebook and Twitter accounts regarding this matter.
This was not the end of the communications about economic issues from the Government. There appears to have been a major press conference by Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama and Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, which addressed accusations by the Joint Opposition faction and clarified aspects of the Hambantota Port Deal.
Meanwhile, at the opening of a factory, the Prime Minister made a statement that copies of agreements on the Hambantota Port and the industry zone will be presented to Parliament. The fact that this had not being done was a major criticism by the Joint Opposition of these agreements.
There is also an article about the postponing of parliamentary debates on proposed constitutional reforms.
Commenting on this, our Director and Lead Consultant Rajit said,
The issue here is not the actual content of the communication, but the volume of it and the number of sources. There were multiple MPs and Ministers speaking on both related and unrelated topics over a variety of mediums. This means while there was a lot of communication, the actual objective of communicating to the public (e.g. conveying information) was disjointed and confusing.
An even harsher criticism of the communication failure was tweeted by journalist Namini Wijedasa:
This is playschool governance. Don’t expect journalists to participate.
— Namini Wijedasa (@Nimilamalee) January 6, 2017