27 May, 2022


Demand To Remove Gotabaya Is Justified

By Laksiri Fernando –

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

Now the Secretary of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has given his side of the story to Lakbima. He claims that he only ‘threatened to sue her’ and ‘not to kill her’ to mean The Sunday Leader Editor, Frederica Jansz. But there can be many personal threats in between the two, for the particular female journalist. The threatening is not denied. There is no denial of the whole story reported verbatim and only ‘provocation’ was attributed as the defence or the reason. Here we are not talking about an ordinary person, but a high government official with immense responsibility and power behind him in the defence establishment. He is also the brother of the ‘Executive’ President of the country.

The language that the Secretary used is of course deplorably abusive or ‘third class’ but more than that there was some measured force and threat in the whole language that he used. This is not the first time that he has behaved in this manner or used such language. In the background of white van abductions, disappearances and recent raids on the media institutions, the personal threat to Ms Frederica Jansz should not be taken lightly. It is barely three years that her predecessor Editor of the Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunga, was killed in broad day light in a military fashion. The police under the Ministry of Defence have so far not been able to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice.

I am not completely sure whether there would be a ‘groundswell’ of protest against the behaviour of the Secretary of Defence on this occasion, as predicted by some, given that the democratic opposition against this government is still incipient and unfortunately divided and the Man in question is still maintaining a certain profile given his actual and partly ‘hijacked role’ in the struggle against terrorism in the country. But there are so many reasons why he should resign or be removed from this important position of the Secretary of Defence.

Abuse of Power

The whole ‘puppy story’ is about the abuse of power, influence and family connections. Can an ordinary citizen of the country, who can of course bear the cost of the cargo, bring a puppy from Zurich to his wife and request the Sri Lanka Airlines to assign a friend as the pilot to do the job?

When the question was asked, the arrogant answer was: “So what is wrong with that?” It was further justified with details and told that even a dog was brought before perhaps in the same fashion and even he can bring an elephant! This is not merely a question or an element of ‘extravagance,’ as some have tried to underestimate. It was also revealed that he has friends who will do him favours and “what is wrong with that?” Given the threats that he has levelled against the particular journalist, one could wonder what other kind of favours his friends could execute for him on his request?

When the objection of the Pilots Guild to the change of the aircraft to ‘bring his cargo’ was mentioned, he was naturally angry. Then was the threat of suing the journalist if the story was published but also adding that “I am not afraid of the bloody courts!” There was no particular reason to mention the courts here other than the question of legal process of suing, but why then “the bloody courts” except for his assumed power above everything in the country, including the courts? It is because of this ‘attitude of power,’ among other reasons that he should be removed from the position of the Secretary of the Ministry that he holds.

It should also be noted that his final threat as reported by Frederica Jansz is not merely about suing, although that is how he has defended himself later with Lakbima newspaper. When he was asked “Mr Rajapaksa are you threatening me?” the answer was “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..” It is about “we will see..” without specifying what and not about ‘suing.” This is where the danger is for the particular journalist that everyone should take into serious account.

Foul Language

Many have written about the foul language that Gotabaya Rajapaksa has used particularly in the second interview. It was mildly criticised as something that was ‘out of line.’ He has called names. He has called the ‘pilots fighting among themselves’ as “f…g idiots.” The most axiomatic is the following outburst whether provoked or not.

Your type of journalists are pigs who eat shit! Pigs who eat shit! Shit, Shit Shit journalists!!! Ninety percent of the people in this country hate you! They hate you!!! You come for a function where I am and I will tell people this is the Editor of The Sunday Leader and ninety percent there will show that they hate you.”

It may be the case that the particular kind of journalism that the Sunday Leader is used to, very much similar to the Hard Talk of BBC is anathema for many of the politicians in Sri Lanka when they are particularly in the government. Even some leading journalists seem to be apprehensive about the style. But a Secretary of a Ministry should be different whatever the style of the journalist. That is where the whole mix up is at present.

If Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigns and get into politics directly perhaps people could understand him in the caliber of, for example, Mervyn Silva and then it is a matter for the voters to elect him or not. But as a public servant and a ministry secretary, his language and behavior towards the people and particularly the journalist in this case should have been different. If he cannot behave in that dignified fashion, then the honorable thing for him is to resign.

There is more to his language. His use of abusive words has been counted by others. His particular use of the word ‘Kill or killing’ is undoubtedly problematic. It is also dangerous. His second interview ended perhaps with the wish “people will kill you, people will hate you, they will kill you.” This reminded me of the occasion when I detected this trait first in him when he exploded giving an interview to Stephen Sucker of the BBC Hard Talk in June 2010 saying “We will Hang Him” to mean the former General Sarath Fonseka with extreme anger. The whole interview was embryonic of the present.

For a long time I had difficulties in understanding Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s language, expressions and behavior until I came across a study by Drs. Neil J Fernando and Ruwan M Jayatunga on “Combat Related PSTD” to mean post-traumatic stress disorder (Colombo Telegraph, 11 July 2012). While the study has mainly been on the recent soldiers and officers who had come across or suffered from this syndrome during the war before May 2009, in my opinion, it is also possible that who have had this experience previously or who were closely commanding the war events also could suffer from the same syndrome/s. While the PTSD might be the key to understanding what can be identified as atrocities or war crimes during the last stages of the war, among other things, the study says that the “PTSD is a multifaceted disorder with a number of associated features, including guilt, anger, depression, substance abuse and other anxiety based conditions.”

Whatever the reason for the present behavior and the language of the Secretary of Defense, it is obvious that he should not be kept in that position by any criteria of civility or good governance. Either he should graciously resign or he should be removed.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Sri Gota will be staying in Temple Trees for many years to come. Showing his selfless love for the Lankan people, and realizing the war is far from over, Sri Gota eschews a life of leisure here in California so he can continue leading the lions in their noble fight to protect the people from tiger tyranny. Now having survived suicide bombers sent by Prabhakaran and backstabbing by the traitor Fonseka, he now must defend against the Black propaganda campaign orchestrated by mortal enemies like the Mirror and Channel 4. The various media outlets controlled by the dispora will stop at nothing to discredit the REAL hero of Eelam War IV, and puppy story is yet another pretext used to provoke him into a reaction. This improves ratings and pleases the patrons in Toronto.

    • 0

      Real American.

      You also can Claim some Salary Increment from P S.
      Or M O D.
      We are not Konde Badepu Cheennu,[ Hair Knotted Chinese.]

      REAL HERO “” MY MOON “””.




      I WILL REMOVE my cloth.

  • 0

    Did Gota order the killing of surrendering tigers Shavendra?
    No comment.

  • 0

    Please don’t dignify Gota’s behavior with the excuse of PTSD. Gota last saw combat about 20 years ago and he waged the war against the Tigers from the safe and air conditioned confines of Colombo.

    His problems are many. For one, because he resigned his Army commission and left for the USA, he remains a Lt. Col. while he has to interact with Generals and personnel who outrank him. This must be galling and cause a severe inferiority complex. What if he had remained in the Army (instead of stacking 711 shelves in the USA), could he have risen to Army Commander?

    The inferiority complex gets worse when he has to speak in English, a language he did not master despite a lengthy stay in the USA. So, each time he is interviewed in English, he has a limited vocabulary, mostly foul terms, to respond with. (In the interview with The New Yorker magazine, he also resorts to silly giggles.) Unable to express his thinking fully, he gets angry and the limited vocabulary spurts out. Remember the “We shall hang him” in the Hard Talk interview with the BBC?

    He should also rein in his wife, who appears to have a massive ego. This woman keeps sharks for pets (in a massive salt water tank) and now wants a puppy from Europe. Local puppies, the type that her neighbors have, aren’t good enough for her.

  • 0

    Quite right Laksiri! In the context of all murder of Lasantha and the white van activities of Gota the goon Fredrika has to fear for her life. But she also has a clear cut case to sue Gota the white van goon – for incitement to hatred and hate speech and hold him accountable for his violent SPEECH ACTS. Sociologists speak of speech Acts; because speaking is symbolic action and saying that people will kill Fredrica is in fact an invitation to and an incitement of hatred and violence against her by an officer of the Sri Lankan State run by Rajapaske. A case should be filed a case against the goon in the California courts.
    Also, Lanka needs a Bill on the prevention of the incitement to religious, ethnic and other forms of hatred similar to the British Bill as recommended in the Lessons Learned and Reconcilliation Commission report to hold accountable those who indulge in HATE SPEECH. Please educate yourself before pratting about things that you do not know!

  • 0

    Gotabaya Rajapakasa is great man who save our country from terrorism of LTTE and USA UA and EU.People must respected to him.

    • 0

      … and send their wives and daughters to him as well, like in the ‘King – Queen’ era?

  • 0

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  • 0

    It looks like the American citizen, our DS Mr . Gotabhaya Rajapakse can’t polish up his American filth . I would like to see a situation where a Defense secretary of US had called a journalist directly on the phone as a “F…..g shit eating Pig” as our DS did and got away .

    This is what DS Gota had said in an interview to clear his despicable act .

    “ So this is very common usage, in USA for instance, and they use these words in normal talk — but these people are trying to make a big issue out of it to get at me, because they hate me about the war. In any case I used certain words with reference to the incident; I did not use foul language to abuse her.”

    So let us ask him what language he was talking about now after saying the Americans always use it ?
    One doesn’t have to be a genius to understand that he is lying and doesn’t have the courage to accept it .
    This shows the level of the education of our DS has unfortunately .The University of Colombo had given him an honorary Doctorate after the war . The ranking of University of Colombo will further decline if he opens his mouth in the future .

    The defense secretary’s megalomania is further elaborated with the following statement .

    Quote :
    “I have done tremendous service to the country by destroying the LTTE and I think the vast majority of people acknowledge that, and are with me due to that. …..And this incident; I said what I said (to her) with a reason – for a reason. I did not say those things without reason. So who are these people who have done nothing for the country, to ask to remove me?”

    So he is acknowledging again that he said some thing inappropriate because he had to say that due to his own reasons he is elaborating now .

    Let us respect his argument that becoming the defense secretary of Sri Lanka he had been a major contributor to the successful defeat of LTTE .
    At the same token let us ask him, what he had done to the former commander of the Army four star General Sarath Fonseka who had dedicated his entire life defending the integrity of this country, and also had been the major strategist who successfully led our Soldiers to defeat LTTE Terrorism. There is absolutely no argument about Gen Fonseka’s role in defeating LTTE Terrorism . DS Gota had already accepted the fact that in one of his speeches that Gen Fonseka is one of the greatest Generals of the contemporary world .

    Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse assumes that people are behind him but never had a fair pole to find out that if people of Sri Lanka are behind him as he claims .Again his position as DS is as government servant and not as a politician to make political statements that people are behind him .

    This DS says that there are certain elements coming after him for war crimes and he doesn’t care .
    “But these others attacking me on this issue — these are the same people who are trying to take us to war crimes tribunals and all that — because they hate us for destroying the LTTE. But we do not care!”

    What does it mean he doesn’t care war crime allegations when accountability is part of good governance ?

    The more he talks more disgrace he brings to Sri Lanka .It is high time that he resigns .

  • 0

    It occurs to me as why white-van vitims cannot occasionlly be fed to home-grown sharks now that it is mentioned that they are kept as pets
    by a DSs wife??? A rude thought!

    • 0

      No – no.. those sharks get specially packed froom from South Africa. Someone flies the planes for his sweetheart and her Maami!

  • 0

    Who is this idot,insluting other persons of Rohan,?
    Rohan is unculture and uneducated rascal in Colombo Telagraph.
    You should not allow this type of Lumpans to write comments CT.
    Gotabaya Rajapakasa is great man,who bring back democracy to our Island.That is histrocial fact. His name will be our history book in as hero of nation; 99% percent of majority community of Islandres of 2600 years of Sri Lankan civilization will give due place in future history.

  • 0

    This episode and the responses to it by our leading intellects and brains demonstrate the absence of a culture in our society.

    Dr. Laksiri and I are engaged in a debate on human rights and one of my points was the need for alternative non judgemental approaches – especially if we want to build peace with justice.

    In this article about 13 paragraphs are devoted to judging – and only one paragraph to understanding. If the words attributed to the Defence Secretary were uttered by him there cannot be any doubt that he has fallen below the standards expected from a high public official. Public opinion can be expressed as to what the next steps should be and this is left to those responsible. I am not seeking to add to all those voices.

    My interest is in that lone paragraph where a suggestion is made that the cause may be PTSD. I am not sure if the author is competent to make a diagnosis but I would let that be. It is that lone paragraph that indicates the journey we must all make. For this we need to think simply and ask a few simple questions. Before we go to university we must go to kindergarten.

    Mistakes are made by high public officials the world over. The only difference is that in SL they are not followed by an apology. Why is this?

    My suggestion is that in a society which values appearances over the truth those who make mistakes fear to admit their faults. They would rather deceive themselves and seek to deceive others. It is only in a normal society where mistakes are part of the acknowledged human consciousness and the negatives and the shadows have been integrated that people will not fear to say sorry – I made a mistake. This is the culture we have left behind – and our intellectuals must grapple with this problem without getting side tracked.

    Greed arrives when the stomach is full
    hatred arrives when the heart is empty
    blame arrives when emotions are negative
    responsibility arrives when blame is absent

    There is an old chinese saying that power is neither mental nor physical but a lack of blame. We are a powerless society hiding behind a lot of hot air and empty words – unable to face our own humanity. How pathetic is that?

    After 30 years of war and turmoil have we learned nothing?

  • 0

    I do appreciate Sanjeeva’s views, with some or major differences, or otherwise I would not have commented on his last piece on “Crisis in the Democratic Movement.” But I hardly have time for constant debates and at times feel weary of them because, they can drive people into just defensive or mistaken positions. Our natural instinct is to defend ourselves. The better policy may be for us to express our views and allow the world or time to decide. I am unfortunately not in Sri Lanka at present or for the foreseeable future or otherwise I could have met you for a chat.
    But to tell you frankly Sanjeeva, you appear to be too soft on perpetrators. I am more on the side of the victims and justice to them is my main concern at present. Punishments are necessary, proportionally, not as revenge but to relieve the victims and also as deterrent. Yes in the long run, more educative or spiritual approach could be employed but that is not a substitute to what we need to do now.
    Just consider yourself, whether you are indirectly defending the perpetrators or not? The violators of human rights should be punished. The punishments could be lenient if they frankly admit of the violations.

  • 0

    Laksiri yes – a chat would have been great.

    I argue for sanity and try to appeal to intelligence – an ability to see beyond the surface. The dichotomy between victims and perpetrators is not absolute but subject the dynamic flow of life. Perhaps I may be playing the devil’s advocate and taking some pleasure in refusing to follow the crowd. The necessity for this seems to be there in SL because our people keep moving from one extreme to another.

    many crimes – have also been committed in the name of justice. While coercion and violence is inevitable in governance – it is most often a concession to the ignorance of both the ruler and the ruled. It takes two to tango. When one moves up towards intelligence he can take the other with him – so that we move towards the divine qualities of mercy and forgiveness. I do not exclude any position on this spectrum from animal to divine – but try to keep pushing the argument up….

    my judgement on british criminal justice – is here http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.scribd.com%2Fdoc%2F58733571%2FJudging-British-Criminal-Justice&h=5AQGZirtx

    Violators must be held to account – there is no doubt there – and this may or may not require punishment — it is a situational judgement for me.

  • 0

    Disgrace the MR brothers brought to this country. When are you going to get rid of them? If you guys dont then they will be removed and be facing trial at INT Court Of Justice. Do you want foreign intervention in SL, in 2 years if these criminals remain in power we will be no more

  • 0

    I will put this – just in case laksiri or any other thoughtful soul passes by

    Being soft on perpetrators…. now that is quite an interesting point. We can be hard or we can be soft. We Sri lankans know enough about hardness I am sure – after 30 years of warring – and I must add 8 centuries where we have not known real peace for 50 years at any point of time – where has all this hardness got us?

    Being soft is good – it is a whole realm we need to explore …. being soft I would say is the way ….. we have exhausted the other ways – Sunday Leader of course will go its own way….

  • 0

    As a Tamil, I respect GOTHABHAYA for destroying the LTTE criminals who used the TAMIL for all world class crimes.

    His political remarks are sometime disturbing but can be forgotten. It is better than the remarks of Sambanthan or Sumanthiran who are still hanging at the tiger-tail!

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