Sirisena’s Media Masters and The Island’s Alternate Reality

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Sri Lanka’s English language newspaper “The Island” gained a following for its strong anti-terrorist position during the war years. However, its recent obsession with Maithripala Sirisena is cause for serious concern regarding the objectivity and democratic credentials of its editorial board.

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Koombiyo

A sharp, realistic depiction of life in Sri Lanka, Koombiyo shows us the side of society that we’d rather not look at. Through a level-up in directing, production, writing, and acting, Koombiyo has become a 21st Century masterpiece that could resonate in almost any country.

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Priyantha and Jehan. Scene from Koombiyo, from ITN Sri Lanka (video here).

N.B. The following contains some spoilers.

Koombiyo is a gritty depiction of the dark underbelly of Sri Lankan society. Although it is about the travails of a con-man and his newfound sidekick, Koombiyo shines an equally harsh light on the hypocrisy of the Colombo 7 class, the socialists, journalists, politicians, and do-gooder non-governmental charity organizations, as it does on the working class, the slum-dwellers, the gangsters and drug addicts we first encounter. It spares no quarter in pointing out the corruption and two- faced perfidy of all segments of society.

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Keep Socialism away from Sri Lanka

Marxism doesn’t work. Socialism doesn’t work. Sri Lanka’s patriotic politicians must realize this, and its patriotic majority must reject Socialism in all its manifestations.

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Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and Gramsci. The founding fathers of 20th Century human suffering.

 

Socialists claim that they can help people by making sure the production, distribution, and exchange of all goods is controlled by everyone as a community. But in fully Socialist countries, the free individual becomes subordinate to the state, which then ends up being ruled by an iron-fisted tyrant. Ultimately, the Socialists who say they want to help the masses always end up killing their fellow citizens.

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The Ranil Delusion – a Squatter in Temple Trees

Ranil enjoys a cult-like devotion from a small but noisy group of fanatical supporters. With their backing, he has turned the formerly grand, patriotic UNP into a one-man circus.

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The transition from D.S. Senanayake (image from article here) to Ranil (stills from video here).

From his childhood Ranil has been told that he was born to rule. Through his various statements, speeches, and media encounters, it can be seen that he believes that he is superior to everyone else, and has unique abilities in leadership and governance which means that it is he and only he who should rule the country. He thinks he is the greatest and the best. In short, he is self-obsessed.

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The racist anti-Sinhala journalists — past and present

Officially, Sri Lanka got its Independence in 1948. However, it was not until 1956 that the masses were truly freed.

In the years from 1948-1956, the “British Raj” style of government continued in Sri Lanka. The ruling politicians were all of the kalu-suddha variety. Minorities ruled the country because they were the ones with the education and training, and contacts, required to obtain all the plum positions.

As with any apartheid society, Sri Lanka from 1948-1956 was actually a minority dominated society. The Sinhalese Buddhist majority did not have any real rights. They had no real hope of entering the civil service, law, medicine, journalism, accountancy, engineering, or business. Only a very few extremely talented and hard-working Sinhalese were able to access these fields.

In 1956, the people’s disgust and dissatisfaction of this oppression boiled over. They rejected the apartheid society, and brought SWRD Bandaranaike’s party to power with an overwhelming election victory.

The ruling class at the time were terrified that their privileged positions would now be lost. And so they dismissed the grassroots Bandaranaike-led emancipation of the Sinhalese majority as being based on “racism.” They reduced the huge democratic movement which was based on multiple grievances to simply the “Sinhala Only” policy.

The “Sinhala Only” policy, with later inclusion of Tamil language, was designed to allow the village masses, including Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims, who did not have the ability to study English, a chance to enter the universities. It was actually a very progressive step, but sadly it was poorly implemented. There is also the argument that it would have been better to enhance access to English education for all first, as a more effective way of bringing about equality.

Nonetheless, it is only right and proper that the language of the majority of a country, which was also the language of the only race that actually settled on, built, and developed a civilization in the country, should be recognized and given its rightful place in that country. There is no other organically formed country in the world, where minority citizens do not have to learn the language of that country.

In Germany, everyone must speak German; in Japan, all must speak Japanese; and in Britain, all must speak English. It is not an accident that these countries are also all rich and developed.

Given the SLPP victory at the recent local government elections, it is important to remember and compare how the anti-Sinhalese mob of the past responded to the similar victory of Bandaranaike 60 years ago.

Just as then, today’s Sri Lankan media (though thankfully confined to the English-language sphere of Sri Lanka’s press), persist in depicting the pro-Mahinda movement as simply “racism.” But the resounding victory of the SLPP is actually a re-affirmation of Sinhalese civilization, and a total rejection of the failed regime of Ranil-Sirisena. It is a longing for the Mahinda-era, where the country was actually heading somewhere, and where everything actually worked.

So it is really interesting to see that back in those days, a prominent foreigner living in Sri Lanka, an artist called Aubrey Collette, decided to draw cartoons such as the ones below:

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And this:

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Aubrey Collette, original image here.

What are these cartoons showing? Aubrey Collette is comparing the Sinhalese to primitive apes. He is saying that speaking Sinhalese and learning Sinhalese is a de-evolutionary step back to monkey status.

This is ironic, because the Sinhalese language and civilization existed thousands of years before the English were even a race.

At the time when the Sinhalese language was already well-established, the people of northern France and Britain were Gaelic barbarians, who painted themselves in blue ink and wore only fig leaves to preserve their modesty. The race known as “English” formed much later.

The English language itself, with which Aubrey Collette vilifies and condemns the Sinhalese, did not start to exist until 1300-1400AD, while Sinhalese civilization had by this time already produced great literature, poetry, and linguistic masterpieces.

In the next cartoon, you see a 1950s example of #FakeNews:

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Here we have a Sinhalese “only” Lion, impaling a Christian missionary on the sword, while trampling a Tamil.

In reality, it was the swords of the Christian missionaries which impaled and beheaded Sinhalese Buddhist babies from the 1500s onwards. It was the Christian missionaries, and their convert Sinhalese Christians, and convert Tamil Christians, and Burghers who were trampling the Sinhalese Buddhists.

Aubrey Collette’s cartoons embody the racist, apartheid government which Sri Lanka suffered under from 1948 to 1956. His cartoons are filled with hatred of the Sinhalese Buddhists, and demands their continued oppression.

Thankfully, he ran away from Sri Lankan in 1960. He tried to set himself up in Singapore later, but was too scared of the government there to do anything provocative, and ended up drawing about Aborigines in Australia.

Today’s cartoonists are doing the same as Collette, spreading racism and FakeNews.

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Original tweet here.

Here Champika Ranawaka and Udaya Gammanpila are being depicted as both coming out of the cesspit of racism, but accusing each other of being a stinking racist.

The question is however, what has Gammanpila said that is racist? Has he ever said anything about harming non-Sinhalese? Or mistreating them? Or denying them rights? No.

What he does in every speech he gives is warn about the dangers facing the Sinhalese and he also stands up for the Sinhalese and the Sinhala Buddhist civilization which created Sri Lanka.

Just because you don’t like what Gammanpila is saying, does not mean that Gammanpila is a racist.

And one other example, after the election results of February 2018:

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Original tweet here.

This is actually a pretty weak cartoon. What is it saying?

It is saying the SLPP is actually a carnivorous plant: that tomorrow, Mahinda’s party will be a monster. But what is this based on? What has the SLPP said or done, which would warrant this sort of depiction?

Cartoons are supposed to be based on facts. But these cartoons have been drawn to deliberately spread fear-mongering and race-baiting.

Today’s cartoons are clearly continuing in the same vein of fake news and the spread of fear to the minorities which was the norm back in the 1950s.

All of this is anti-Sinhala racism, #FakeNews and #බොරුපුවත් which we must all fight against.

To the Editor, Nikkei Asian Review

Dear Editor,

In the modern era, Sri Lanka has had a connection with Japan since 1952, best embodied in the close relations between Japan and Sri Lanka’s former president J.R. Jayawardene, who gave the famous speech at the San Francisco Conference in 1951. Our ancient historical ties go back even further in time.

Over the last few months, a Sri Lankan journalist for the prestigious Nikkei Asian Review has been actively spreading lies, partisan talking points, and fake news on her Twitter. She has over 900 followers.

The most recent tweets which show her views breach journalistic ethics and norms are available below.

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The Enemies of the State now Love the Constitution!

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Ranil and Mahendran. Screenshot from Colombo Telegraph.

The coup plotters who mobilized in 2014 to remove Mahinda Rajapaksa from power through the spread of baseless allegations, stirring up of communalism and racism throughout the country, and a well-orchestrated campaign of #FakeNews, are in a complete state of denial about the earthquake that happened on February 10th 2018.

They are coming up with all kinds of contrived mathematics, theories and other nonsensical blabber about why the Ranil-Sirisena regime must continue.

The most ludicrous is Mangala “18 billion dollar” Samaraweera’s claim that Rajapaksa’s vote share has decreased. If we add the 45% Mahinda received with the 15% the SLFP received, which is what will happen if a general or presidential election were to take place, then the SLPP will obtain at least 60%! But what do you expect from Mangala, a failed “tailor” who doesn’t have a higher education.

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Anatomy of a #FakeNews Attack on Sri Lanka’s Democracy

Update after events of March 5th 2018 here.

As the dust was settling after the political earthquake on February 10th 2018, and even during the campaign, what was most conspicuous by its absence were the NGO-media.

In the run up to the 2015 presidential election which saw incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa toppled by an internal coup, and later in the 2015 general election which followed it, this NGO-media force worked extremely hard to shape the perceptions around Rajapaksa and his government.

Aided by the relatively insufficient, slow, and unsophisticated responses of the Rajapaksa government, the NGO-media were able to rapidly sow ethnic divisions, stoke racial tensions, and spread all kinds of unbelievable allegations of corruption and murder against the Rajapaksa government and even against his family members.

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