Sri Lanka’s Consul General to Sydney and former Presidential Media Director Bandula Jayasekara on Saturday launched a Twitter invective against a Tamil journalist, threatening to call up his publisher and expose his LTTE links.
The indefatigable Jayasekera who revels in Twitter wars against all journalists and users holding dissenting views regularly calls rights activists and foreign journalists disparaging names, often linking them to the “LTTE Rump” and accusing them of being paid large sums of dollars to discredit the Sri Lankan state.
His latest Twitter tirade was launched against a journalist from Veerakesari, a widely read Tamil newspaper. Jayasekera accused the journalist of having a hidden agenda against Sri Lanka. Referring to the newspaper’s publisher, Jayasekera told the journalist on Twitter: “I will ask Kumar Nadesan about you if you are a member of LTTE terrorists and what your links are.”
Later Jayasekera threatened: “Your agenda and campaign is very clear and it is no secret. I will check with Mr Nadesan from now on. That is it. I will expose what you are up to.”
The journalist in question has since locked his Twitter account and privatised his Tweets, presumably following Jayasekera’s onslaught against him.
In the past Jayasekera has taken on the former BBC journalist and Author of Still Counting the Dead, Frances Harrison and No War Zone director and Channel 4 journalist Callum Macrae, in a widely publicised ‘war of words on Twitter. The diplomat vowed that he would personally ensure neither Harrison nor Macrae would be granted access into Sri Lanka to cover the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November 2013. Jayasekera’s tirade resulted in the Commonwealth Secretariat being compelled to put up a notice on its website clarifying that CHOGM media accreditation would go through the Secretariat after foreign journalists expressed fears about the Sri Lankan Government being able to screen out dissenting journalists from the summit.
However his latest attack on a Tamil journalist working and living in Sri Lanka and his threats to go to the journalist’s publisher poses dangers to both the life and the livelihood of the scribe, analysts say.
Ironically Jayasekera’s latest assault came the same day that the country’s Media Ministry Secretary Charitha Herath (Twitter Handle: @Charith9) tweeted: “Court rules against bureaucrat’s freedom to tweet – Government News: Government News and Issues”.
“Conflicts over the personal and official use of social media by public sector employees are again under the spotlight after a Federal Circuit Court Judge knocked-back an attempt by a Canberra public servant to obtain injunction on any move to have her sacked over tweets that were made in a non-official capacity……At the centre of the legal case is whether or not public servants have an “unfettered implied right (or freedom) of political expression/communication” under the Constitution as put forward by Ms Banerji. Judge Warwick Neville found that they do not. Accusations aside, there is little doubt that there are growing expectations for public servants across the board to keep their social media activities on the tame side, especially when it comes to partying and politics,” the news item posted by Secretary Herath read.
Many Twitter users felt the item was ironic in light of the Government’s tolerance for Jayasekera’s constant and relentless attacks on individuals and groups he forces LTTE labels upon, all the while blurring his “private Tweets” with his very public, highly sycophantic profile as a diplomat of the Rajapaksa regime.
A gloating Jayasekera said on Twitter yesterday: “It is a good feeling when some people stop and ask about the tweeter(sic) war wth those trying to discredit my Sri Lanka and encourage me 🙂 They told me this morning ‘Let us not allow Harrisons and Macraes to discredit Sri Lanka for them to earn $” That is MY SRI LANKANS”
Jayasekera’s Tweets have grown steadily more vicious and it is never made clear if he speaks for the Government or not, especially since many of his remarks appear to be made in his official capacity even when they are casual observations. Government bureaucrats, being called upon to implement the policies of the state do not have the luxury of private opinion, some analysts say, although the rules change in the case of politically appointed officials in Sri Lanka.