24 May, 2019

Blog

Lasantha Lives On In The Annals Of Modern Journalism In Sri Lanka

By Pearl Thevanayagam

Pearl Thevanayagam

Pearl Thevanayagam

When this writer organised a demonstration outside Downing Street along with RSF (Reporters sans Frontieres) and handed a petition to the PM on  Lasantha Wickrematunge’s murder, the Tamils in UK asked why all this concern for one journalist when thousands of Tamils were perishing in Wanni.

How could I express my true feelings for Lasantha’s brave journalism defying the majority Sinhala opinion that every Tamil from the North and East was a terrorist at the time?

It was Lasantha’s brave stance that I visit North and East and bring back news. He also gave me carte blanche to go anywhere I like as long as I bring eye-witness accounts. That was Lasantha and his enthusiasm for hard stories kept me on a permanent high.

He used to confine me into a cubicle to write the story when I returned since he knew my weakness for telling what happened excitedly to my colleagues rather than write it down in time for Saturday publication of The Sunday Leader.

Lasantha Wickrematunge, the Editor-in-Chief of the Sunday Leader was killed 2009. Photo/REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Lasantha Wickrematunge, the Editor-in-Chief of the Sunday Leader was killed 2009. Photo/REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

I had returned from interviewing Muslim refugees in camps in the East who were hounded out by the LTTE and since I was very hungry I asked Santhanam, Lasantha’s faithful factotum and peon to bring me a buriyani packet from Buhari. Lasantha saw me digging into the meal and snorted, “Just look at Pearl. She will write about the starving refugees until the readers weep but she cannot stop gorging herself on buriyani.”

Much has been written about Lasantha but his success as editor at SL was the support he received from his family and the trust he had in his staff. SL was not just any old weekly; it was the product of a combination of hard work, passion and joy of writing which was not granted to colleagues elsewhere in the Colombo media.

There were times when Lal, Lasantha’s brother, would walk about with a frown on his face and chain-smoking Benson and Hedges since he could not find enough funds to pay us but pay us he did. SL was not funded by the government, huge advertising revenue or businesses. There were rumours that Gamini Dissanayake provided some grants but this writer is not privy to this except hearsay.

SL had to compete with Sunday Times and the latter was owned by the media moguls the Wijewardenes whereas Lal had to find ways and means to transfer his earnings from Multipak as director to the publishing house to the Sunday Leader. Lasantha was not bothered with the nitty-gritty of the financial aspect and he left the matter to his big brother. He simply went his merry way prying into the affairs of politicians both in power and the opposition, corruption in government and corporate bodies and other matters such as human rights violations earning their wrath most of the time.

The late Ports Authority Minister Ashraff once invited me for his birthday and I was about to attend this when Lasantha strictly told me not to go. It transpired later Lasantha had dug out some juicy details about how he employed 80 percent of Muslims at Ports Authority from the east. Asking me to write this piece he gave the headline, “Port of call or protocol”. He used to pull out headlines off the top of his head like daily cups of tea.

Sadly Ashraff lost his life in a helicopter accident a few weeks later.

It hurts so much to remember Lasantha and my days at the Sunday Leader which has now become a government mouthpiece bereft of hard stories and investigative reporting. I need to stop here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    1

    [Edited out]

  • 0
    4

    Good riddance to bad rubbish.

  • 5
    3

    Pearl

    You forget the topic is the infamous Lasantha and not the unknown writer called Pearl T. You make me wanna puke with your description of Lasantha and you mutually fawning over. Your slavish adulation of a questionable character like Lasantha and boasting about your ‘relationship’ with him like a teenage girl makes me sick. No wonder your comments elsewhere reek of jealousy over Sonali getting the man. Even in this day and age you gloat over silly details like having had a “peon” bringing you food (Yes, in Sri Lanka even servants have servants), Lasantha smoking Benson & Hedges, and minister inviting you for his birthday. Are you for real?

    But in a morbid way, it’s absolutely befitting a loser like you commemorating Lasantha.

    • 1
      4

      Oh my God……What happened Chinese pink Just ME
      If you don’t know a dumbass is you’re really a fucking dumbass.

    • 0
      3

      Just me:

      You puke me with your rubbish.

      Lasantha( Writer ) vs MR ( Criminal )

      We know whose side you are on. Jury will be out after March 2014 and we will have the Verdict and MR will be handcuffed and taken to his cell. Don’t worry mate.

  • 1
    4

    Just You,(not me)

    Why are you morbid when Pearl writes something she has experienced to commemorate Lasantha? Has she got to get permission from you? The truth is people like you can not be compared to a speck of dust under Lasantha’s feet even. You can be certain that there will not be any to commemorate you and you are jealous that there are many to eulogise Lasantha. Grow up man, Grow up!

  • 0
    2

    Many thanks for your kind critique Just ME.

  • 3
    0

    Hello Ponnammah!
    You are silent about the atrocities of LTTE and their killings/destruction of the Tamil journalists and papers. Lasantha was an “import” to boast UNP criminals.

    You are silent about your bank robber Catholic priests or the priests holding the photo of Prabhakaran in demonstrations.

    Petition writing or LTTE propaganda vomiting is not journalism!

  • 0
    2

    Sivananthan you Sinka-Nalam

    Remember the following:

    “never wanted to live in Canada but the slaves of the Brits in Jaffna chased me here”

    As usual you write something which has no relevance to the Article and write some Crap about your Criminal Boss MR.

    LTTE never killed any journalist and if you want proof as to who killed Tamil Journalists read the account of Chandraprema ” Author of Gothas War”

    This is what he said:

    LTTE cadres as ‘media persons’
    The Eelamurusu, Eelanatham, and Namathu Eelanadu were LTTE publications and run by LTTE activists or cadres and it is misleading to lump these newspapers with the Uthayan, Tinakuraal  and other such newspapers. But the media NGOs have classified not only these LTTE newspapers, but even the Voice of Tigers as a media organization! Thus, 22 of the 44 ‘media persons’ killed between 2004 and 2009 were terrorists directly involved with the LTTE. The list of ‘kotiyas’ includes my dear friend D.Sivaram, the editor of the LTTE website Tamilnet. LTTE activists carrying out propaganda for a terrorist organization cannot be considered media persons by any stretch of the imagination.
    If there is anything objectionable in the manner in which they met with their deaths, they should be classified as extrajudicial killings of terrorist suspects and taken up separately.

    So Sinka- Nalam don’t talk rubbish

    • 1
      0

      Brrrrrrrrrrr.. a big fart

    • 0
      0

      Hello donkey smuggler:
      EELAMURASU owned by Myl Amirthalingam and captured by LTTE criminals. later the LTTE morons killed Myl and his staff reporter I.Shanmugalingam in 1989.

      I worked at EELAMURASU. So, dont fart here donkey!

      You are a rotten case of low caste smugglers.

      • 0
        0

        So Sinka-Nalam:

        When you were the editor of Eelamurasu what language were you writing in was it ” Thusanam”.

        Another question why did the Slaves of the Brits Kick you out.
        You see the Medicine is Working. Make sure you finish the course.

      • 0
        0

        Sivananthan you Sinkalam aka Shankar:

        I have now done my research and worked out your life story.

        You are a born Sinkalam from Chilaw in Udappu. Worked as a Translator ( translating filth) and were sent to Colonise the North and found a menial job with Eelamurasu. Learned a bit of Tamil but chased out by Slaves of the Brits. Smuggled out to Canada and claimed asylum pretending to be a Tamil under the name of Sivananthan ( aka Shankar ). It is human nature and I now understand why you hate the Tamils so much.
        But you can only Bark but you cant bite any more. At least you can go back to your birth Place in Chilaw where there are no Tigers only Cats . Safe journey home.

        • 0
          0

          Donkey!
          You are a low caste karayan from VVT. That is why you heard about Udappu which is a 100% Tamil village of your caste. Some VVT people have married in Udappu.

          You are a dollar collector and a smuggler.

          EELAMURASU was my friend’s paper. LTTE criminals took away the paper. Now some of your karayan morons use the name and run a paper. Stolen properties is your property.

          You are an uneducated criminal and involved in crimes only.

          News Papers is not your subject. You go back and do fishing instead of smuggling!

  • 0
    0

    Sinka-Nalam:

    From your language it is obvious you are a Nalam ( Sinkala Nalam). The more you are ridiculed the more you vomit. When are you going back to Chilaw to translate and by the way who do you translate for is it Thugs& Criminals. There is no need to get upset.Even Criminals like you need to earn. It will be better than cleaning Toilets in Canada with Somalis.

    But keep away from the Slaves of the Brits they are very dangerous. Look after your body and Soul because the Sinhalese need it. People like you are a rare Commodity.

    • 0
      0

      I here shouting of a low caste smuggler criminal.

      We always vomit whenever we hear the word LTTE or VVT.

      VVT and LTTE are disgrace for all civilized tamils. You should tell about your family trade of smuggling and related crimes.

      Recently in a VVT wedding in Colombo, Mangala samaraweera was the guest of honour. Haaaaaaaaa.. Who is licking the feet of Sinhalese now moron?

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.