By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
“…when an established media outlet like the Divaina newspaper seeks to make hay over the privacy of another and create a juicy story of it regardless of the pain inflicted on the victim of its media misbehaviour it all becomes a tragic moment in our civilsation.”
You and I have our personal lives, aside from our public appearances. Most of us would like to be protected and secure over our private opinions, preferences and doings. So long as what we say and do doesn’t raise issues with regard to public safety or public interest we are generally free-at least in democracies- to hold onto our behavioural options. That is part of civilisation. Even for an esteemed and very popular artiste like Victor Ratnayake this observation is valid. One cannot help private gossip tongues wagging over others’ private doings. On the other hand, when an established media outlet like the Divaina newspaper seeks to make hay over the privacy of another and create a juicy story of it regardless of the pain inflicted on the victim of its media misbehaviour it all becomes a tragic moment in our civilisation.
This isn’t Divaina’s first such adventure. I remember the story it generated about the so-called fertility violation of a Kurunegala Muslim doctor. Of course Divaina had the blessings of Athureliye Rathana who went to town on the fake news. But that is Athureliye and that is Divaina.
The subject I want to take up here in the public interest is the Divaina report (31/01/21) of an interview by Manoj Abeydeera with Daya Wijesekera, an alleged longstanding pal and confiderate of Victor Ratnayake. It is claimed that Daya had been witness to the second marriage of Victor to a young woman called Hashini.
That marriage also raised considerable slander and controversy for the simple reason that the woman had been half the artiste’s age. I thought it was mostly jealousy, then. What is anybody’s business if Victor tied the knot in the way he did? We all have good reasons for the choices we make but we don’t have an obligation to defend them in public. This is a basic tenet in civilised lives. Western Artists and movie stars are also involved in heaps of episodes like these but we rarely observe the media deriding them. We smile and put the magazine away.
This time, the episode has been over Buddhist Victor Ratnayake’s conviction that God had saved him from sure death over a serious illness in his throat and brain.Victor had been apparently hospitalised for many months and doctors had given up on him.
It is natural for parties facing such near-death situations to clutch onto any straw that claims to be able to cure them. Why did thousands of Sri Lankans including ministers run behind the syrup man called Dhammika? Why do Presidents and Prime Ministers run to that Kovil in South India? I know of many Buddhists who go to churches and divine men to find solutions they believe cannot be sorted out in natural terms?
What’s weird, then, when Victor Ratnayake had been persuaded to seek the help of a Born Again minister? If Hashini had actively promoted that?
I am not sure whether this was all a resurgence of the initial Hashini hate referred to above. Now Hashini is the devil, according to Abeydeera’s interview with Daya. She is the one behind all this conversion! When Victor says “I believe that God cured me,” Daya Wijesekera isn’t one bit surprised about Hashini having “ruined,” the life of Victor. “Victor has cut himself with his own sword,” says a poet. The poet needs such imagery.
So goes the narrative in the interview. Hashini was an “unsuitable choice” and beloved Victor is doomed. The latter is soon to restart singing-this time with the voice of the divine!
More positive charges are being made in this Divaina interview: Hashini has got Victor to remove the Buddhist icons that decorated his home and replace them with Christian stuff.
My question is hasn’t an individual a right to change his religious or other beliefs and persuasions? Why should Daya and Abeydeera worry about that? Like all beliefs, those pertaining to religion do play in an overall competitive world of ideas, and individuals are free to operate in such a changing world changing one belief for another. The Buddha himself, never a proselytiser, encouraged his followers to test others’ views. In the Kalam Sutta the Buddha initiated the world’s first charter of scientific reasoning and intellectual freedom. On the other hand, Daya Wijesekera is worried about the future of Buddhism in Sri Lanka after persons like Victor Ratnayake have got converted to Born Again.
My own views on religion have been well publicised and I am a confirmed atheist. I repudiate the idea of a divine being and divine intervention. Even Victor Ratnayake’s cure can be medically explained without crossing the border to Born Again.
The Divaina interview is disgusting slander to say the least. Manoj did not do one basic thing and that is to check on Daya’s claims with Victor and Hashini. One never knows, there would have been surprises. Did Manoj avoid that path deliberately? Or through ignorance? If deliberately, Manoj is a slanderer paid by his master. If through ignorance, Manoj should give up as a writer or journalist.
RizMoh / February 2, 2021
Thanks for the commentary as usual. And as usual I rebut the assertion that God does not exist. My latest recommendation is to research on youtube Dr. Ed Faser. His interview with Ben Shapiro is a good summary of his invaluable research and output. The video featuring him titled the “Immateriality of the intellect” is highly technical, but still deeply relevant to all those trying to understand human life. Perhaps you may find such material interesting or even enjoyable. Anyway, have a good day.
MyView / February 2, 2021
Both you and Shyamon are entitled to your personal belief and respectfully accepted.
But when you quote Dr. Ed Feser ( yes, Feser not Faser) the emphasis of the author on the bad journalism in this article can be lost if diverted to discussing existence or otherwise of God.
In fact Richard Dawkins FRS FRSL is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and author of “The God Delusion”, has contrary views to Ed Feser.
So it may be best if we keep this subject to private personal views, as otherwise it will be wasted time spent on an unending debate, quoting other authors’ views. Let one’s view of religion be one’s own.
Good day to you too.
old codger / February 2, 2021
This Divaina article exposes the cheap and unprofessional attitudes of the mainstream media in this country.
As Shyamon says, what business is it of the media to criticize any individual’s religious beliefs? The hypocrisy of these people is disgusting, because they will go to town about supposed Muslim repression. They pick easy targets like Victor R for entering into a perfectly legal marriage, while they dare not expose powerful Buddhist monks who have one or more concubines or abuse their boy novices.
leelagemalli / February 2, 2021
Yes Mr Jayasinghe, as if they dont have anything better to do:
This is unfortunately the culture in today s srilnaka. I really dont know media institutions focus only on their commerical gains, no matter what it is.
This is the reason why University dons stay away from coming to TV discussion even if their knowledge would in demand. Instead, Media Fraudsters, call GMOA monkeys in to their weekly sessions. I am not the only person to notice this. Printed media institutions in SL are becoming like parasites. They worked diehard to pave the way Rajaakshes criminals to get back. Now almost everything is made upside down and people are made speechless. Suppression is governing.
SarathP / February 3, 2021
The Divaina newspaper carried two articles by Manoj Abeydeera. One was an account of the “miracle” at the born again church which brought Victor’s singing voice back. This article provides some background information and Abeydeera’s personal opinion. Both articles were accompanied by photos.
The second article is an interview with Daya Wijesekera, carried verbatim. No opinions expressed by Abeydeera. Wijesekera, a media person who served in various ministries, has been a close friend of Victor’s for 50 years. He was also one of the witnesses at Victor’s wedding.
Victor’s suffered a debilitating stroke followed by a heart attack about 10 months ago. He is still taking treatment.
Wijesekera says that at Victor’s brother-in-law’s birthday party, Victor sang a few songs. The birthday party was held before the miracle at the born again church. So the “miracle” is a hoax staged to get publicity for born again activities in Sri Lanka.
Victor is a national treasure, one who not only sings but has also composed the music for most of his songs, and hundreds of songs of other musicians as well. He has done this for almost 60 years. Victor will be 79 in two weeks, and what he needs is a peaceful retirement away from stress. Let’s hope he gets it.
RBH59 / February 2, 2021
I remember the story it generated about the so-called fertility violation of a Kurunegala
What is coming from tough Diva ENA not what is happenings
Jack / February 2, 2021
Victor Rathnayaka is a public figure but unlike politicians he is not fed by the public and use public money for his living. His right to live his life according his wishes should not be problem to any news paper or untrustworthy friend. Religion is not a birthright , Anyone and choose a new religeon or discard any religion. Sinhalese does not mean he has to be a Buddhist for ever and also any Tamil and Muslim can take Buddhism given to the world by Great Indian man. This very newspaper slinging mud today at this great artist will sure to sell his name in the future to sell their paper when something real adverse happen to the artist.
Raj-UK / February 2, 2021
A person’s private life & faith is nobody’s business. Discussing & reporting a personal matter of another is below journalistic ethics, which shows how low the SL media has stooped to in recent times. It is expected from the gutter press & society rags to sensationalise private lives of celebrities & their scandalous affairs in order to increase circulation but even they stop short of reporting personal opinions, leaving to the reader to make the judgement.
I wish Victor Rathnayaka a happy life with his young wife & good health, with or without divine intervention. In fact, I am envious, & wish I would be so lucky if happen to be in that situation in my old age.
Ravin / February 2, 2021
Even Nandasena visits Gnanakka regularly for spiritual guidance, not too sure whether that’s against buddhist principles & beliefs.
Ad / February 2, 2021
Shyamon, Religion is for personal use to overcome sadness emanating from reality. The reality I have learned is that there is no afterlife. Gods second is millions of years and he has no time to attend to ones emotions. He is not bothered as well. One starts with a sperm, lives like a sperm and ends like a sperm. VR has his rights and exercised his wish and I honor it. Some crony warps their mind over this as usual.
soma / February 4, 2021
I feel infinitely sorry for VR.
My boundless gratitude to the life time of musical entertainment he provided.
Pundit / February 5, 2021
I wonder if this Hashini , and Hashini Amendra whose passport was impounded by the Tangalle Magistrate for allegedly misappropriating pawned jewelry from a state bank where she worked , are connected.
Sandy Dee / February 6, 2021
Its VR’s private business but I have to say these so called evangelists are disgusting blood suckers. Every religion has a lunatic fringe and these do-gooders with an agenda are Christianity’s lunatic fringe. The sooner they are all kicked out the better for all,