Sri Lankan opposition politician hit by fake quote on currency crisis

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

The Facebook posts claim to share a quote from the leader of an opposition Sri Lankan party apparently telling a YouTuber that the cash-strapped island would have to produce box office hits like “Spider-Man” to do in the face of its currency crisis. The assertion is false; the politician made no such comment in an interview with an online talk show host, while his party said the quote was a “complete fabrication.”

The alleged quote was shared on January 3, 2022 on a Facebook page with more than 68,000 followers that pledges to support Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Facebook post shows Anura Kumara Dissanayake, leader of the Sri Lankan opposition People’s Liberation Front – known locally as the JVP – and Sudaththa Thilaksiri, YouTuber and host of the online show “Talk with Sudaththa”.

“Sudaththa, if you had studied international cinema you would have noticed that the movie” Spider-Man “which premiered on December 17th generated $ 2 billion in sales in its first two weeks! Our country’s foreign exchange reserves are only $ 3 billion. Why can’t we do this? The leaders who organized night races should be ashamed of themselves, “the Sinhala text reads .

“Leaders who organized night races” is an apparent reference to two drag racing events held in the capital Colombo under the chairmanship of current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“From the first year in a government that we lead, one of the main actions we will implement will be the production of two films of the same caliber as“ Spider-Man. ”The country’s dollar crisis will be resolved immediately! are simple things and quick fixes to the economic crisis. It’s very simple, “the post continued.

The text at the bottom of the purported quote reads: “Anura Kumara Dissanayake on Talk with Sudaththa program”.

Screenshot of the Facebook post captured on January 5, 2022

Similar claims have been made on Facebook as seen here and here.

Sri Lanka’s tourism-dependent economy has been hit by the pandemic and its depleted foreign exchange reserves have resulted in food rationing in supermarkets and shortages of essentials.

The island’s foreign exchange reserves fell to $ 1.58 billion at the end of November 2021, from $ 7.5 billion when Rajapaksa’s government took power in 2019.

The central bank has appealed for foreign currencies – even small change people may have after returning from trips abroad – as the government desperately searches for dollars.

However, the claim is false; the quote attributed to Dissanayake is fabricated.

Dissanayake’s interview with Sudaththa was broadcast live on YouTuber on January 2, 2022.

AFP analyzed the two-hour show and found that the politician had not spoken the quote on producing box office hits to address the currency crisis.

A JVP spokesperson told AFP on January 5 that the claim was “a complete fabrication”.

The JVP has been the target of multiple false claims on social media, including here and here.

January 10, 2022 Fixed typo in the first paragraph