Renowned author, critic and novelist Prof. Somaratne Balasuriya has been removed as Chairman of the Public Performance Board.
A decision taken by Balasuriya regarding ‘Aksharaya’, a film by Asoka Handagama, prompted the move, Secretary to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs G.L.W. Amarasinghe said.
Attorney Ashoka Serasinghe, former Chairman of the State Film Corporation will be the new head of the PPB, according to Amarasinghe.
When contacted, Balasuriya told ‘Lanka Dissent’ that the Cultural Affairs Ministry had telephoned and informed him about his removal.
Despite a request to show reasons for the decision, a letter sent to him yesterday (Feb. 18th) only mentions that he had been removed from the PPB.
Balasuriya said that as a free thinking and liberal-minded person, he would treat this move indifferently.
Responding to a question as to whether he expected independence at the PPB when accepting the position, Balasuriya said that he had been promised a free hand.
He said that in the beginning, he was allowed to function independently, but things changed later on.
According to Balasuriya, he had been able to bring about a change in certain inflexible approaches of the PPB during his office to help several newcomers to make high-quality creative work.
The attitude of the Cultural Affairs Ministry to force upon its ideas on creative work is having an adverse impact on the local film industry, he added.
Recently, veteran film director Dharmasena Pathiraja was removed from the chair of the National Art Council, after his attempt to make the institution independent met with stiff opposition from the Cultural Ministry Secretary.
It appears that Balasuriya was also in the bad books of the Cultural Ministry Secretary.