15 November, 2018

Blog

Are The Chickens Coming Home To Roost…?

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

To complete the title of this piece appropriately please complete it by adding “…or is this simply an aberration?”

The editor of the Sunday Island has displayed the kind of integrity that many who’ve known him over the years have attributed to that veteran journalist by carrying on the front page of his paper of April 25th the unequivocal apology tendered by one of Sri Lanka’s most reprehensible writers who has long paraded his skills in support of the most violent and corrupt government in the history of this land, supping very heartily at its trough.

I speak here of Malinda Seneviratne and the fact that he has tendered an unequivocal apology to a much-respected retired civil servant whom he accused, without an atom of supporting evidence by his own admission, of settling “estate Tamils” in areas subsequently deemed to be part of Eelam by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

For starters, I would suggest that Colombo Telegraph stops publishing the poorly disguised excuses for a Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka that this man keeps producing from a mind that I would far rather not choose to describe. It was not so long ago that CT black-listed Vickramabahu Karunaratne for far less reprehensible conduct.

The old dictum applied to those plying the journalists’ profession used to be “Facts are sacred, comment is free.” I trust that CT has not consigned that cornerstone of journalism to the garbage heap of history thanks to the influence of the Malinda Seneviratnes of this world.

I expect that a side-bar at this point would not be out of place. Malinda Seneviratne’s father who, I understand served in the Civil Service at approximately the same time as did Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, has been only too ready to rush to his son’s defence on several previous occasions. Perhaps, he would care to comment on the conduct of this seed of his loins subsequent to the admission of deliberate falsehood published as news and/or comment? One can but wait with bated breath to see whether it is or is not true that the fruit does not fall far from the tree?

Malinda Seneviratne, sometimes in tandem with that other monumental disgrace to the profession of journalism, particularly in the days that they played Heckle and Jeckle in the now-thankfully-deceased Lakbima News was a veritable fount of viciousness and malice. That tandem that I once described as providing a journalistic puzzle in the matter of which was the organ grinder and which the monkey, bestrode Rajapaksaland, with nothing to impede their reign of journalistic terror while their Monarch reigned. I trust readers will permit a small mea culpa here: I was wrong in trying to differentiate the roles of these two abominations to journalism because they were both monkeys and the organ grinder was Mahinda Rajapaksa.

One can but hope that those days are over because if they aren’t Sri Lanka could well be in line for more of the same and no nation on earth deserves such a fate.

In case readers of this piece do not have access to the Sunday Island which carried the report, here is what it said under a headline reading “Malinda apologizes to Nesiah over 2011 article:”

“..I wish to submit an apology to Dr. Devanesan Nesiah. The article alleged that Dr. Devanesan Nesiah “ attempted and to a large extent succeeded in colonizing with ‘Estate Tamils’ who at the time did not have citizenship in this country” The allegation was in respect of the action attributed by me to Dr. Devanesan Nesiah when he functioned as the Government Agent of Mannar in the 1960’s.

The said allegation is unfounded and false.[1] I understand and accept that my said allegation could have caused only grave humiliation, embarrassment and pain of mind to Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, but also adversely affect the reputation and respect he enjoyed as a public servant with an unblemished record. Therefore, I hereby withdraw unconditionally the said allegation contained in the article published in the Sunday Island of 6th March 2011 and apologise to Dr. Devanesan Nesiah for the humiliation, embarrassment and pain of mind caused to him by the said publication.”

A couple of editorial comments, in passing, would not be inappropriate at this point. I) I am sure that the prospect of significant damages overshadowing all of this and the fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa could no longer issue orders to the judiciary of this country had nothing to do with Malinda’s admission of guilt and 2) What steps are the media now going to take, The Island and Sunday Island obviously included, to ensure that this kind of calumny does not continue to be published? Apologies such as Malinda Seneviratne’s come far too late to undo the damage they do people’s reputations because justice delayed is certainly justice denied.

I think there are other implications to all of this as well.

The Committee responsible for awarding the Gratiaen Prize chose to disregard this man’s public record as one of the most active mouthpieces for the Rajapaksa regime, spouting malice and calumny, to award him Sri Lanka’s foremost prize for writing in English. I suppose that panel could well trot out that very well-worn cliché that a person’s behavior in the public realm, no matter how abominable, should not influence the recognition of his ability to write fiction or poetry in the English language. I suppose it might be a bit of a stretch to suggest that, by the same token, Adolf Schickelgruber’s water colours should have been hung in the Louvre with the added reality that the city in which that wonderful gallery is located was, for a considerable period, under the heel of Herr Schickelgruber! I suggest that such deliberate equivocation is precisely what has got this country into the pickle it is currently trying to get out of.

Will the Gratiaen Committee withdraw the prize awarded to this man as a gesture of acknowledgement that it takes more than some facility at a keyboard to receive such?

There is an added irony here in that I distinctly remember Noel Gratiaen, the very distinguished brother of Doris Gratiaen, Michael Ondaatje’s mother, as arguably the finest jurist that this country ever produced and a man of impeccable integrity. That Malinda Seneviratne should have been given an accolade carrying the Gratiaen name simply defies description in the circumstances. And please don’t tell me that those who made that judgement weren’t aware of Mr. Seneviratne’s conduct as a columnist and regular contributor to the media in other ways, not to mention the fact that he was deemed the “right” person to take the position that was “vacated” by Keith Noyahr[2] at the Nation, a paper that no less a person than Mahinda Rajapaksa proclaimed as being “ours” at the time that Noyahr was very nearly dispatched to the other world by, presumably, Martians not connected to the goon squads run by the regime that Malinda so assiduously supported (and continues to support).

The conduct of the Committee that made the award to Malinda is, unfortunately, symptomatic of what prevailed in this country for far too long: convenient myopia on the part of those equipped with binoculars if there was the slightest risk of offending “those who mattered” or their underlings. I have more often than I care to remember made reference to the culpability of those who looked away while this country was being reduced to a paradise for feral canines. There is an opportunity even at this late stage for those who can do something to affect at least a partial recovery of respectability.

Come on Gratiaen Committee and Colombo Telegraph, what is your response to the questions I have raised?


[1] My “bolding.”

[2] In the event that readers are unaware of the facts, Mr. Noyahr was an editor at the Nation at the time that a British resident bearing the name Rajapaksa bought it, was beaten very nearly to death and went to Britain where he has remained incommunicado since, presumably in fear of his life.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 3
    3

    Emil van der Poorten

    RE:Are The Chickens Coming Home To Roost…?

    “I speak here of Malinda Seneviratne and the fact that he has tendered an unequivocal apology to a much-respected retired civil servant whom he accused, without an atom of supporting evidence by his own admission, of settling “estate Tamils” in areas subsequently deemed to be part of Eelam by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.”

    “For starters, I would suggest that Colombo Telegraph stops publishing the poorly disguised excuses for a Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka that this man keeps producing from a mind that I would far rather not choose to describe. It was not so long ago that CT black-listed Vickramabahu Karunaratne for far less reprehensible conduct”

    Amarasiri suspects that [Edited out]

    Emil, Amarasiri Almost Always Addressed Malinda Seneviratna as the Shill and White-Washer of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

    This was no surprise for Amarasiri and those with Common Sense.

    Only the Modayas, Mootals and Fools were deceived. The Group has an average IQ of 65.

    • 3
      1

      In my comments to Malinda articles, most of the time I referred to him as the guy employed by MaRa to [Edited out]

  • 4
    2

    Emil, I have also been amazed at the transformation of Malinda’s views (as I have commented on CT before) since the departure of his erstwhile hero MR and his family of ripoff-artists (not to mention Gota’s murderous reputation). The question is, which ‘Malinda’ is among us now? Is this a chameleon who changes his colors to suit the prevailing environment, or is this some delayed burst of conscience flooding his psyche? I always took him to be diehard Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinist parading as a dedicated journalist, but who was actually inebriated by the power that he assumed was his by virtue of being a mouthpiece of the Rajapakses.

    If Malinda has really undergone the type of transformation that Paul experienced on the road to Damascus, maybe he should do another piece on explaining this metamorphosis and the reasons for it.

    So will the ‘real’ Malinda please stand up?

  • 1
    3

    Emil van der Poorten.

    “To complete the title of this piece appropriately please complete it by adding “…or is this simply an aberration?”

    Here is Mahinda rajapaksha his Madamulana Home, Jan 9, 2015.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw4PGHIb1j0

    Was Malinda Seneviratbna, the Shill and White-Washer There?

  • 1
    3

    Emil van der Poorten

    ” I was wrong in trying to differentiate the roles of these two abominations to journalism because they were both monkeys and the organ grinder was Mahinda Rajapaksa.”

    Amarasiri recognized this Shill and White-Washer early on and now he plies his trade as gigurawa, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Girawa or Parrot.

  • 4
    5

    Poorty must be really pissed off this time, to even have a go at Our CT mates.

    May be Milinda made a boo boo. And he has apologized in public ,

    Forgive and Forget seems to have taken a back seat under Yahapalanaya.

    All unelected Ministers and their equally unelected PM are all doing the same thing like Poorten.

    That is going after the people who made a big difference to the lives of the great majority of the inhabitant population.

    These gentlemen and gentle women are nothing but jealous individuals who are driven by desire for revenge and destroy every one associated with previous regime.

    Where are they going to stop?.

    May be after the unelected PM delivers Rajapaksa to Cameron, and Kerry. to be tried in front of Poorten’s buddues in the Diaspora who financed the Ranil, Maithri, Vellala and Wahabi Alliance put together by our Whisky Madam..

    Talking about Estate Tamils, recently I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Pussllawaay in a nice Tea Estate.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see how good the children of our Estate Workers looked, on their way to School in the morning.

    A few even could greet me in English,

    Talking to a couple of lady teachers, I was surprised to hear that they attend a school in the Estate where they can do the A levela,

    And a few even get to Uni every year. .

    Did these kids have Yahapalanaya?.

  • 4
    1

    A few years ago, Malinda Seneviratne wrote a daily column to the Daily News and bragged about the record-breaking output he created as a hard-working journalist.
    I was a contemporary of his father at the University of Ceylon. Immediately after graduation, I worked as a journalist with the Daily News for five years before I left Sri Lanka for good.

    In one of his columns, Malinda wrote glowingly about another contemporary of mine at Peradeniya, Gamini G…, who became a top-notch cop in Sri Lanka. During Gamini’s sojourn as a graduate student at Harvard, he had hosted Malinda who recalled those good old days.

    At that time, I was developing the concept of the Buddhist approach to what is now called mindful journalism (see the book titled “Mindful Journalism” released by Routledge last month).

    I first introduced the concept of Buddhist journalism at a seminar I gave at the University of Queensland in March 2006. Somewhere around that time, I wrote Malinda recounting our connections and urging him to elicit public reactions to this new genre of journalism through his Daily News column.

    I also wrote to the venerable chief editor of the Sunday Island, Manik de S., whom I knew as an Observer reporter seeking his cooperation to test mindful journalism through his newspaper. However, in Sri Lanka, journalists seem to forget the truth of ti-lakkhana–anicca, anatta and dukkha–once they reach senior status. They wallow in the delusion of self-importance so much so that they don’t respond to requests from their erstwhile friends or colleagues.

    Neither of the journalists paid any attention to my requests.

    I believe that if the journalists follow the sila principles of the Middle Path, journalists like Malinda could have avoided the embarrassments they now face. One doesn’t have to convert to Buddhism to do so.

    Over to you, Mr van der Poorten.

    • 2
      1

      K.A. Sumanasekera:
      At last I seem to have found something in what you say that is comprehensible. It goes,
      “May be Milinda made a boo boo. And he has apologized in public ,

      Forgive and Forget seems to have taken a back seat under Yahapalanaya.”

      Are you developing the final word in the matter of outright hypocrisy when you, one of the most steadfast of lackeys for the Rajapaksas, talks about forgiveness?
      Justice, fairness and the rule of law come first under any governance of decency but then why should anyone expect you or your ilk to understand such concepts given whom you served and continue to serve?
      Your Koheda Yanney, Malley Pol comments about Tamil children’s academic achievements seem intended to place the credit for that state of affairs in the achievements column of your Lord and Master, Mahinda. Did you ever hear of a man called C.W.W.Kannangara and another called Eddie Nugawela who held the education portfolios when there was REAL free education in this country. You might not because neither of those men amassed the kind of fortunes that your paymasters have and the latter died with something like Rs. 200 in his bank account. Yes, that’s right 200 not 200 MILLION (dollars), and counting, like your mentors have amassed.
      Incidentally, was the use of White Vans a part of the “forgiving and forgetting,” that your masters practiced? If so, maybe such a tactic could qualify you for some sort of Innovation Award to be awarded by the Hitler/Himmler Foundation.

      • 1
        1

        Mr Poorty,

        Why did Kannangara and Nugawela have to introduce free education to the Natives when your ancestors and their Pommy Cousins ruled from 1815 to 1948 and beyond with the help their obedient suck ass locals..

        Didn’t they practice those noble values Justice, Fairness and Rule of Law which you think have dawned upon us with the help of the UNP and the Diaspora?.

        And of course we can’t forget the untiring efforts of the Whisky Madam whom you guys seem to love so much nowadays.

        • 1
          1

          Sumaney:
          When all else fails in the matter of dealing with issues, back to the realm of incomprehensibility it seems!
          Could you please have someone translate your last response into basic English so might have SOME idea of what you are trying to say? Or is that a futile exercise because you really have NOTHING to say now that there is little financial reward to be collected by singing the praises of your Lord & Master?

    • 2
      1

      Village Green Guy:
      As you seem to be looking for a response from me with regard to your journalistic principles based on Buddhist philosophy, I believe I owe you the courtesy of a response.

      My experience of Mr. Manik de Silva, with whom I’ve had my differences on occasion, is that he doesn’t deserve your comment that “They wallow in the delusion of self-importance so much so that they don’t respond to requests from their erstwhile friends or colleagues.” May I suggest that requests are precisely that and to expect people to say “How high?” whenever you ask them to jump, is not exactly a display of modesty on the part of the person making the request.

      I have no pretensions to expertise in the matter of the application of Buddhist philosophy to the newspaper-writer’s trade (I am a little gun-shy about using the term “journalist” because it seems to carry a bit of baggage these days). What I do know is that there has been massive suppression of democratic rights in this country, enforced with the very real threat of death, and it has not been the Manik de Silva’s who were responsible for that reign of terror. I would be most interested to hear your take on that and what response you provided to what was being done to Sri Lanka and its people during the past ten years. I pose that question not simply to provoke but with a view to ascertaining what so many who have found their voices after January 9th were doing for the decade before.

  • 5
    3

    The barking dog(s) will come barking at you Mr. Emil van der Poorten for this piece. No worries they cannot bite now as they been muzzled after 8th Jan 2015.

    Great work!

  • 5
    2

    Malinda has effectively been a dead man writing; and for some time now his articles, when occasionally read, have been taken with a pinch of salt. As odious as they come, he may have fooled some, but not those long in the tooth who immediately cottoned-on to the fact that in Malinda we have a purveyor of the dark art of ‘don’t-let-the-facts-get-in-the-way-of-a-story’. The young man has been as execrable and wretched as some of the company he keeps. As for his ‘winning’ the Gratiaen Prize, we must not let that August name be sullied by the aberration of 2013.

  • 2
    0

    Mr. van der Poorten:

    I am truly grateful to you for your response to my comments.

    You asked me to comment on my thoughts on press freedom in Sri Lanka during the decade of the Rajapakse Rule. I believe that the Rajapakses were responsible for muzzling the press through extra-legal measures such as threats, thuggery, and even manslaughter. The press became the victim of the rampant corruption that vitiated the political and social climate of the country.

    Had the multi-lingual Sri Lankan press followed the techniques of “mindful” journalism, much of the dukkha that the Rajapakses caused would not have arisen. In short, what the Rajapakses did was to invoke Buddhism to entrench themselves in power by using tools that were abominable to Buddhist principles of sila (Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood) endorsed by all Abrahamic religions, as well as Hinduism, Daoism and Confucianism.

    The practice of mindful journalism would have circumvented the Rajapakses’ tactics of circumscribing the press, which mindlessly follow the traditional antagonistic journalism inherited from the West that
    emphasizes conflict, gossip and the unusual. There is no One Journalism in the digital era. Mindful journalism requires a revised set of news values. Those journalists who adhere to the secular principles associated with the Middle Path will be the progenitors of a genre of mindful journalism that will be in tune with the island’s socio-cultural environment.

    Those who write one-sided columns copiously in defense of the Rajapakses purporting to preserve the Sinhala-Buddhist culture of our motherland are merely deceiving themselves and the public.

    • 0
      1

      Village Green Guy:
      Perhaps you will do me the honour of responding to the central question I have posed to you: What did YOU do to resist/prevent what the Rajapaksa regime was visiting upon everyone (journalists being only a part of that mass) who dared to dissent?
      Details please, rather than statements of philosophy.

  • 1
    0

    Mr. van der Poorten:

    Your inquisition-style of questioning bothers me, but I understand where you come from and your proclivity to shoot from the hip in confrontational journalistic style that you seem to reify.

    I do not want to reveal the specifics of what I did “to resist/prevent what the Rajapaksa regime was visiting upon everyone” because I do not wish to reveal my identity at this stage.

    You would probably not appreciate my Winnie the Pooh approach to restore press freedom in Sri Lanka during the Rajapakse Rule. When Keheliye Rambukwewelle was ruling the roost, I wrote his Ministry about the folly of attempting to curtail freedom of expression through invoking emergency press laws, press councils and stricter written codes of ethics. I pointed out a more effective way to engender a mindful genre of journalism in the country–by propagating the voluntary adherence to the secular principles of the Noble Eightfold Path.

    When it became clear to me that the Rajapakses were abusing power, I pointed out the need to rule according to the dasa raja dharmma that our rulers adopted in the past rather than following the whims of King Kekille.
    The mainstream press rejected my columns. So did the upstart Colombo Telegraph, whose editor had no clue about my journalistic background and probably thought I was a Buddhist fanatic.

    So, there we are. Perhaps you would think that the Rabbit approach of Sharmini Samarasinghe who ridiculed
    the then defense secretary by calling him Gotabbles did more to restore press freedom than my Pooh approach.

    To solve the problem of press freedom, we have to change the culture of the western style of journalism that colonialism has imposed on us.

  • 0
    1

    Village Green Guy:
    When you say, “I do not want to reveal the specifics of what I did “to resist/prevent what the Rajapaksa regime was visiting upon everyone” because I do not wish to reveal my identity at this stage” I can do little but rest my case about those who, even now, do not wish to raise the ire of those with whom they claim to be in disagreement.
    As for my “inquisitorial” style of writing, I have one simple suggestion, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

    And I trust you will note that I don’t depend on a pseudonym when making these comments now as I did not even when Mahinda Rajapaksa was visiting all kinds of misery on those who criticized him I say this not as some “brave journalist” but as someone who simply believes that at some point of time you need to stand up to be counted.

  • 1
    0

    The Last Hurrah!

    Thank you Mr. Poorten for letting me judge your intellectual depth through this brief conversation.

    I owe a debt to several Burgher journalists like Cecil Graham, the unassuming editor of the Daily News in the early ’60s; Neville de la Motte, Gordon Hazer [?] and Van den Driessen of the Daily News copy desk during the same period, all of whom contributed to my training as a Lake House journalist for more than five years.
    Because your name bear witness to your Burgher origins, although you now claim to be a Sri Lankan peasant,I presume that you had al least a nodding acquaintance with them

    have no idea whether you worked as a journalist during that golden era of Ceylonese journalism. You came to my attention first as a columnist for Lasantha’s Sunday Leader. You need not be a Sherlock Holmes to find out who I am with all the clues I have given.

    The reason I use the pseudonym Village Green Guy is not to hide from the Rajapakse Brothers. I told you the specific things I did (using my real name) to restore responsible press freedom in Sri Lanka. You have implicitly dismissed them as insufficient action because you think nothing short of conflictual/ confrontational action (like shooting from the hip as you do) matters.

    I urge you to re-think about the efficacy of your immature action. Perhaps the likes of you and Sharmini Serasinghe exacerbated the near-demise of press freedom in Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    0

    The Last Hurrah!

    Thank you Mr. Poorten for letting me judge your intellectual depth through this brief conversation.

    I owe a debt to several Burgher journalists like Cecil Graham, the unassuming editor of the Daily News in the early ’60s; Neville de la Motte, Gordon Hazer [?] and Van den Driessen of the Daily News copy desk during the same period, all of whom contributed to my training as a Lake House journalist for more than five years.
    Because your name bears witness to your Burgher origins, although you now claim to be a Sri Lankan peasant, I presume that you had at least a nodding acquaintance with them

    have no idea whether you worked as a journalist during that golden era of Ceylonese journalism. You came to my attention first as a columnist for Lasantha’s Sunday Leader. You need not be a Sherlock Holmes to find out who I am with all the clues I have given.

    The reason I use the pseudonym Village Green Guy is not to hide from the Rajapakse Brothers. I told you the specific things I did (using my real name) to restore responsible press freedom in Sri Lanka. You have implicitly dismissed them as insufficient action because you think nothing short of conflictual/ confrontational action (like shooting from the hip as you do) matters.

    I urge you to re-think about the efficacy of your immature action. Perhaps the likes of you and Sharmini Serasinghe exacerbated the near-demise of press freedom in Sri Lanka.

    • 0
      0

      “Because your name bear witness to your Burgher origins” is indicative enough of your thinking. And, for your information, neither I nor any member of my family bearing the same last name has (to my knowledge) ever classified themselves as “Burghers.” We are simply Eurasians the European part of whose heritage only goes back to the British period. And in case you still think that the name van der Poorten comes from Holland, suffice it to say that that guess is “close, but no cigar.” It doesn’t.
      I haven’t the time and certainly don’t have the inclination to play Sherlock Holmes with regard to your identity. Under all the bafflegab and pomposity, the central fact remains that you STILL have not answered my question. Are we going to have to rummage under the Christmas tree on December 25th to find that much sought-after prize?

      The accusation that Sharmini Serasinghe and I have “exacerbated the demise of press freedom” in Sri Lanka hardly deserves a response simply because it speaks volumes about the person making it and where he is coming from.

      Incidentally, I do not subscribe to this business of a “golden era” of Sri Lankan journalism. For the longest time there were simply two newspaper groups – the Times and Lake House – and I hardly think anyone who was around then has any delusions about who they were controlled by and the very narrow class interests they really served. There were some fine writers and cartoonists then, but to attribute the skills they displayed to the likes of the Wijewardenes is beyond ludicrous.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.