By Emil van der Poorten –
If the responses to my recent columns to Colombo Telegraph have accomplished nothing else, they have provoked responses that need to give at least a couple of of us lead to for even a small degree of optimism: there ARE people who perceive the deception and deceit that is being performed below cover of Yahapalanaya, covering the backsides of these who have done extremely nicely, thank you, below the Rajapaksa dispensation!
Even so, identifying the problem (not merely the symptom) as folks is not sufficient, in and of itself. We need (particularly us septuagenarians who may well be of match mind but somewhat feeble physique!) to rally the troops since the generations that have succeeded us are tech-savvy to an extent that handful of of us can aspire to. We require to maintain them rolling as they seem to have carried out during the final Presidential election where, I recognize, young people familiar with the use of neighborhood media such as Twitter and Facebook and fluent in the national languages of this country played no small portion in the demise of the leader of the most violent and corrupt government this nation has ever encountered. I hope that what I am about to relate strikes a chord with them and that they will expend their energies to expose easy monetary self-interest parading as some kind of “freedom of the press.”
The reality that Ranil Wickremesinghe seems driven to surround himself with a Praetorian Guard of old boys of his alma mater is one of the saddest spectacles confronting this country. Apart from the fact that it appears to provide proof of some fairly deep-seated insecurity not befitting somebody with ambitions of major Sri Lanka and whilst his team may well be a far more “civilized” bunch than the Rajapaksa Mafia, it is NOT all that is necessary to deliver the goods.
I will continue to espouse the “Feet to the fire” slogan relative to Mr. W’s bunch whose primary qualification appears to be to have entered that educational institution down Reid Avenue and/or belonged to the traditional Uncle Nephew Party clique of yore. As an aside to this, might I suggest that Ruwan Wijewardene finds an individual with at least minimal speech-writing abilities ahead of he next addresses such as the Kotelawela Defence Academy? There was little substance or style in what he delivered and undoubtedly a wonderful deal to be preferred in the matter of the “facts” that he sought to detail. Those of us who grew up in that time and had the benefit of Aubrey Collette’s cartoons and Tarzie Vittachchi’s biting prose have a far much better and a lot more correct image of John Lionel Kotelawala than Mr. Wijewardene who probably depended on the “official line” of those who constitute the energy behind the current throne – the Wijewardne newspaper dynasty of which he is a element – who In no way distinguished themselves as champions of democracy but merely defenders of their personal narrow class and business interests. One point that can be attributed to them, even so, is consistency in the matter of knowing on which side their bread was buttered, although they had typically, I am positive, to hold each slice by the edges since the dairy solution was so generously applied to each of the bigger surfaces!
A recent example of this was the two web page paean of praise to Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s private armed force, parading as a news item although, really certainly, an “advertorial.” I do not know to which of the three armed solutions it belongs seeing as how it possibly has connections to all of them, from the acquire of MiG jets to the use of assault rifles typically linked with the army and operating on the high seas! This ran in two of the English language newspapers to my knowledge and, while I do not recall in which it first appeared, it undoubtedly had a very prominent spread in the Sunday Times, with no advantage (to the public) of so much as a mention of the reality that it was an advertisement for a large and sophisticated private shore/sea-primarily based armed force with out a semblance of government oversight of any description entering into the equation.
That a newspaper owned and operated by the existing Prime Minister’s uncle and supposedly not the creature of the late-unlamented Rajapaksa regime need to descend to such depths seems to confirm what these allegedly on the “loony left” have had to say about the two principal political configurations of Sri Lanka: they are two peas in a pod, six of a single and half a dozen of an additional.
When I expressed my surprise at what the Wijeya Newspapers group had accomplished, my interlocutor at the time had a very basic explanation: “The marketing rupee supersedes all other considerations, definitely those of principle or journalistic ethics.”
Probably, this is so. Even so, I think it is up to those of us who nonetheless cling to the last vestiges of democratic practice and morality of even the most minimal sort to expose these firms pretending to act in the public interest for what they are: merely profit centres, devoid of anything resembling principle. When the Sunday Leader was at its shrill but, nevertheless, vibrant peak beneath the guidance of Lasantha Wickrematunge and Frederica Jansz, these same media power brokers manipulated the annual awards to the journalistic fraternity so that their workers won even when they had been not qualified to compete in the categories in which they walked away with the prizes. That such as the Sri Lanka Press Institute and The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka turned a Nelsonian eye on this kind of powerful-arm journalism just remains a matter of record. In fact, I would suggest that the initial blow, against what was the “Last Man Standing” among Sri Lanka’s independent newspapers, was struck then and what followed, culminating in a creature of the Rajapaksas taking more than comprehensive manage of the Sunday Leader was tiny more than a coda to that overall performance.
There have been some substantial stirrings amongst younger writers contributing to the electronic pages of Colombo Telegraph and other publications devoted to public affairs and I hope and trust that they will direct their interest to the hypocrisy and duplicity of these who have apparently succeeded in taking cover under the Yahapalanaya blanket right after making their contribution to the monstrosity that paraded as “governance” under the Rajapaksas. Each they and the income-grubbers who’ll sell their personal mothers for an advertising dollar require to be exposed and so exposed that they will feel twice prior to they indulge their duplicitous abilities in help of fascism, dictatorship and private armies, no matter in what disguise.