Thursday, November 29, 2007

Unintended comedy - Dayan on VoT attack and Rajiva on Karuna

yes Its not just our politicians but also our public officials and diplomats who continue to make unintelligent, incomprehensible statements on matters of vital importance to the Government. Consider these for instance:

Dayan Jayatilleke (our Permanent Rep to UN in Geneva) responding to Reporters Without Borders condemning the attack on Voice of Tigers as quoted in Today's (30 Nov) Island:

"The radio station concerned is neither an independent media organization nor located in an independent country. In short, it was neither legal nor legitimate. It was not, for instance Al Jazeera or the Serbian TV." (

Is it that the government will attack all 'non-independent media' organisations? There goes all our media organisations!! And not located in an independent country? Is he conceding that Killinochi is no more part of the independent country of Sri Lanka?

And this is our Prof Rajiva Wijesinghe. An extract from an interview that he gave to BBC Asia today. He himself has taken pride in what he has said in the interview that he has got it posted on the Peace Secretariat website.

Presenter: But it is rather unlikely that you have taken out one of their chief egotiators on the very same day we saw colonel Karuna arrested here in London and the charge that’s put is that it was the Sri Lankan government that enabled him to travel – to get him out of the way – on a diplomatic passport.

Dr.Rajiva Wijesinha: That charge I have certainly read and it is conceivable but when I first saw he was in London I thought that this was a wonderful British way of removing a problem and agreeing to have him...I think certainly the fact that Karuna is no longer in the East would help in reducing
some of the tension.

Prof Wijesinghe is known for his almost daily reports on the SCOPP webiste using the space to mud sling on a wide variety of people - Prof. Uyangoda (for calling the secretariat a war secretariat - I am full in agreement with the Professor), Bradman Weerakoon, Rohan Edrisinha, Dr. Saravanamuttu, Sunila Abeyesekera and others who resigned from the advisory committee to the Ministry of Human Rights, the International Commission of Jurists etc etc, and of course the UNP and its leader.

There used to be a time when our public officials though controlled by politicians were careful in showing themselves as apolitical. Nowadays this is not the case. And Dayan an Rajiva are of course political appointees and people who were involved in politics. Rajiva was President of the Liberal Party and Dayan's political credentials are very diverse to elaborate, including his short stint as Minister of Fisheries in the Varadaharaja Perumal North East Provincial Government.

Post Script - 02 December 2007

Todays Sunday Island in its editorail commends Dayan's remarks:

Ambassador Dayan Jayatillake in Geneva competently handled criticism by various organization, including the local Free Media Movement, of the bombing of the Voice of Tigers radio station in Kilinochchi shortly before Prabhakaran’s annual birthday speech by pointing out that VoT was neither an independent media organization nor located in an independent country. It was a propaganda organ of an armed separatist organization designated as terrorist by many countries. The employment of civilians in that facility, if indeed there were any, was a choice made by the LTTE. The target was a legitimate one.

So the message is: "If the LTTE employs civilians then we cant help it. Its unfortunate. LTTE should be blamed. We are helpless"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

To support or not to support Pakistan and our media

The Sri Lankan media's reporting on the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister's 'blunder' in supporting the decision to support Pakistan makes an interesting study. Today's Sunday Times, in the political editor's column has the following to say:

Pakistan has been our steadfast supporter during our battle with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for nearly twenty five years now. Through military dictators and democratic leaders, Pakistan has not wavered. Bogollagama has been at sea on these matters. He first issued a statement asking that Pakistan be given time to restore democracy in that country. Then, the CMAG (Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group) of which Sri Lanka is a member Bogollagama gave Sri Lanka's assent to suspend Pakistan. The Commonwealth 'whites' viz., Britain, Australia, Canada and the New Zealand Secretary General Don McKinnon had prevailed upon Bogollagama, or so it seemed. (

I am not sure why Bogallagoma made a change in stance wheras he speaking at an adjournment motion in Parliament on November 14th had stated,

I have just returned from London where I attended the extraordinary meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) convened by the Commonwealth Secretary General on Monday to primarily decide on “Developments in Pakistan”. Foreign Ministers from Lesotho, Malaysia, Malta, Sri Lanka and the UK and representatives of Canada, Papua New Guinea, St. Lucia and Tanzania participated in the session. I must say that Sri Lanka was able to play a pivotal role in ensuring that no precipitous action was taken with regard to Pakistan. (

(The ST reports that CMAG decidednot to ban Pakistan)

Now coming to the issue that i seek to highlight: While our media hastens to condemn action against the suppression of the freedom of expression in this country (sometimes selectively as it does) should it not express solidarity with its Pakistani counterparts when they are being silenced and subjugated? Our media in general private or govt are no different on ceratin matters. They are highly 'nationalistic' at the core and dont take moral and value based positions on ceratin matters. I havent seen a single newspaper that has had the guts to say that democarcay is important for Pakistani people and that Sri Lanka should take a firm stand on this against Pakistan. As evidenced by the Sunday Times reference to the support that the govt gets support for our 'war on terror', that is the only defining line based on which we will take decisions in this country. If its bad for the LTTE its good for us. If its good for the LTTE then its bad for us.

P.S. The implication that 'whites' are the only ones who are bothered about democarcy in Pakistan and that our leaders do not have the guts to stand up to them is 'cheap reporting'. Again evoking national sentiments; the whites reference shows how we still are affected by the 'negative colonial hangover'.