By Kusal Perera –
Before we get to our protagonist, lets talk about Ananda College in Paranavadiya, Maradana, Sri Lanka, which is without dispute, accepted as the most prestigious Sinhala Buddhist school in this island. With over 8,000 pupils in it, as one of the most sought after Sinhala Buddhist schools, it speaks of a grandiose history starting in November 1886 at No. 54, Prince Street, Pettah, established by the Buddhist Theosophical Society of then Ceylon, initiated and led by the American from New Jersey, Colonel Henry Steele Olcott. Over the years, it claims it has given the best of excellent products in all professional and academic disciplines to “Mother Lanka”.
To prove their point, Anandians of yesteryear have drawn up a list of very many names in many disciplines titled “Distinguished Old Anandians”. In this distinguished list which comprises different sectors, there are 04 Vice Chancellors of Universities in the good old days and 03 Governors of the SL Central Bank, all eminent people, before the whole status of the Governor’s position went politically rusty. The list has other very eminent persons who held very distinguished positions in this country, when those positions were in fact independent, prestigious positions, in the past. Among such “Anandians” is our protagonist, Rtd. Colonel Nandasena Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, felicitated as one who rose to be an “enlightenment” as other national heroes in the “battle for independence, till the re-unification of Sri Lanka, in year 2009.” He is thus listed right at the top of those Anandians, who “reached top ranks of the Sri Lanka Army” and for that matter, even above General Hamilton Wanasinghe.
Ananda College continued to retain its right to be the leading “Sinhala Buddhist” school in the island and it hesitated not, in projecting itself as such. “Ananda Viru Harasara” a special event was thus organised by the staff and pupils (of course these kids have no say in questioning the politics of their teachers) of Ananda College, on 03 July, 2009 to “felicitate galant Old Anandians in the armed forces”. It once again had Gotabhaya Rajapaksa among persons like Sarath Fonseka, Wasantha Karannagoda, Sarath Weerasekera and Jagath Dias, receiving a special “Anandian” memento from HE the President Rajapaksa, for his bravery in the war, that ended “LTTE terrorism”.
How a ministerial “administrative position” within a closed, heavily enclosed office building, could play a leading “military role” in war, is not within my “common sense” to understand. But Gotabhaya Rajapaksa achieved heroic accolades from most Sinhala Buddhists and from his “alma mater” too, as a war hero. This “great son” from Ananda, recognised as the most powerful person next to the elected President of the country, rarely publicly displays his true character and personality. Often his speeches are well written and well rehearsed, before delivery. As with every human being, the actual person is seen, only when the person has to react on his or her own and in impromptu mode.
On that assumption, the first query by Ms. Jansz as Editor of Sunday Leader news paper that led to the now controversial, huge urban middle class uproar had been a very plain, clarification on an information her news paper had received. Yet, there is an issue as to why Gotabhaya in the defence ministry was contacted for clarification, as the news in question is about changing flight carriers with a possible offloading of passengers. It is not about who brings a pup for whom. If there were any subsequent change of decisions on the carrier that would fly from Zurich over pressure brought from the Pilot’s Guild, it still does not have anything to do with the defence ministry, Gotabhaya and the pup. There is also no reason why a second call should go out to Gotabhaya to inform the news item would not be carried, as no editor is bound to tell any one about what would be carried in his or her news paper. It is far more childishly stupid to tell the news is not carried, but not because of his “threats”. Where professionalism is the key, dragging of Gotabhaya’s (and President’s) niece into the picture has no relevance to the news in question, other than to make the story “juicy”. That seems the editorial mindset, with the young “niece” turned into a cartoon depiction.
That made clear, there was also no reason, no justification, for a public officer to blow off the lid in an ordinary American’s filthy English slang. To save space and restrict this to a brief reminder as most by now have gone through the whole volcano explosion, some of the more printable stuff by Gotabhaya reads thus.
Nobody objected! If you write any bloody thing about this I will sue you! I am not afraid of the bloody courts! I have already sued you I will sue you again! That is my right!
“Yes! I am threatening you! Write every single word I have told you if you want – you write a bloody f…..g word and we will see…”
“You pig that eats shit!!! You shit shit dirty f…..g journalist!!!”
“People will kill you!!! People hate you!!! They will kill you!!!”
For sure, these are not words the old American Colonel, Olcott would have used. But I’ve counted Gota’s favourite “American” words used in this incredible verbal explosion. The four letter verb used in present tense had been lavishly doled out 08 times, while the word “pig” had been used 04 times and the word “shit”, 14 times. These words adding much venom to the tone of the language used (would love to see his facial emotions at that time if possible, even now), I only see his unrestricted arrogance and haughty anger that simply tells, “None has a right to question us. We do, what we do”.
That certainly is the issue. The arrogance of usurped power, backed by Sinhala Buddhist sentiments with an army that is still nurtured to use power. That seems reason why Gota comes to assume “People (He obviously means Sinhala Buddhists) will kill you!!! People hate you!!! They will kill you!!!” As most discuss today, there are no media organisations taking up this issue of an open threat to democracy. Neither the Editors’ Guild, nor the Free Media Movement and its collaborating organisations, that prefer to release media statements and leave everything at that. They have not been seriously involved in putting up a strong and a bold front against media suppression and curbing of democracy by this regime. No professional organisation seems to be taking this up as a serious threat to freedom of expression and life. There are no Fridays available for good men to have a forum on “How a public officer should behave”.
And as one said, there are enough and more “Old Anandians”, in most of those professions and organisations. They have their own organisations as well. They use them to organise felicitations and honour “distinguish citizens”. But they don’t seem to use them to at least say, “This is certainly No Anandian ….. Anandians don’t stoop that low. They are not taught ordinary American usage in school.” Apparently there is also no good Anandian lawyer somewhere to say, “No one can ridicule our Courts that way. This should amount to Contempt of Court…..He can not talk like a dumb Poramadulla boy.”
I am looking for such “Aadi Anandians” (Old boys of Ananda) who would distance themselves from these threatening and filthy “American” language, wholly unbecoming of an Anandian. Would condemn such abuse of power by an Anandian. Wonder what most reverend Kotagama Vaachissara Thero, a few decades ago the most respected teacher in Ananda would have told, if he was still among us.