22 April, 2019

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Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ‘Bright Ideas’

By Kath Noble

Kath Noble

Mahinda Rajapaksa has had another bright idea. A few weeks ago, he got one of his hangers-on in the ‘public service’ to float a draft code of ethics for journalists, which he no doubt expected to prove useful in strengthening formal mechanisms of control of the Fourth Estate. Unfortunately for him, the document was so flawed that even his hangers-on in the media could find nothing positive to say about it. Indeed, the condemnation that it elicited was virtually universal, forcing the President to step in and promise that such efforts would be left to journalists themselves.-

That initiative forestalled, Mahinda Rajapaksa is now busying himself with an alternative – the dissemination of ideas for self-censorship.-

At last week’s regular meeting with newspaper editors, he made a particularly curious suggestion. He requested them not to cover the anti-Muslim activities of extremist organisations, saying, ‘If they don’t get publicity, they will just fade away.’

One cannot help but wonder if he is aware of the context in which such arguments are usually made.

I immediately thought of what is often said in the West in the aftermath of a terrorist attack – don’t give them what they want. Terrorism requires the participation of the media if it is to be effective. As everybody knows, in an average year, as many Americans die in school shootings – thanks to their quite baffling determination to maintain easy access to weapons – as at the hands of Al Qaeda. Every year, far more are shot by adults. Yet fear of terrorism in America is much greater. It is completely illogical.

But Al Qaeda is happy, and it tries to facilitate this outcome by making its attacks ‘spectacular’, such as by flying planes into the World Trade Center.

The American government is also quite keen for people to overestimate the importance of Al Qaeda, so that they accept its ‘War on Terror’. How else can they persuade a nation so committed to freedom that it is necessary for the security apparatus to read their emails and listen to their telephone calls – as the recent disclosures by Edward Snowden have reminded them – not to mention the vast array of morally outrageous tactics they employ with such tremendous energy overseas? How else can they get the American public to agree to go to fight in countries that they have never heard of?

Nobody argues that people shouldn’t be told about Al Qaeda. The point is that it should be done in such a way as to give them an accurate picture of the threat.

One suspects that this choice of language doesn’t imply that Mahinda Rajapaksa considers the Bodu Bala Sena, Sinhala Ravaya and Ravana Balaya to be terrorist organisations.

If he did, there would be a much simpler way of limiting coverage of their activities.

Consider the recent march from Kataragama to Colombo in support of a ban on cattle slaughter. Given the number of Buddhists who very happily eat beef, I wouldn’t bother to mention it if it had been conducted peacefully – let monks convince people to change their diets if they like. But that is clearly not their objective. They are not targeting Buddhists. Their message is for Muslims. They want to put a stop to their involvement in the beef trade.

That is why they set fire to a Muslim shop in Tangalle, as reported by DBS Jeyaraj. And that is why their supporters beat up a Muslim who was taking photographs of them.

The purpose is to demonstrate to Muslims that they are at the mercy of Buddhists in this country.

To encourage us not to talk about these things, the Government has an extremely effective tool at its disposal. It is called the Police. Instead of the Police standing back and letting these things happen – as we know by now, when it provides security for such events, it considers only the security of the participants, not that of the people the participants attack – it could intervene. We have seen enough videos of the Police calmly looking on while members of extremist organisations run amok. If it simply did its job, we wouldn’t feel such a compulsion to discuss these problems.

This is of course the key difference with America. In America, people can be very sure that the Police is working hard to catch terrorists. At least it doesn’t stand by while bombs are being set off.

Here, the Government took on the LTTE and won, for which most of the country is deeply grateful. The LTTE presented a huge challenge to the State. And it was a terrible burden for the people of Sri Lanka – even those on whose behalf it claimed to be fighting.

If the State doesn’t curb the activities of extremist organisations, it is because it doesn’t want to.

And what happens when extremists are left to their own devices? Do they just fade away, as the President has suggested?

The LTTE didn’t. It had to be stopped.

If the Sri Lankan media had ignored it, it would have continued with its efforts to establish a separate state, and maybe it would have been successful.

Should we ignore the fact that there are still people running around in other countries waving the Tiger flag?

Likewise, it is not by avoiding discussion of the anti-Muslim activities of the Bodu Bala Sena, Sinhala Ravaya and Ravana Balaya that they can be defeated. Unchecked, they will be able to go on poisoning minds throughout the country. Maybe they will even be able to initiate a full scale confrontation, if they work hard enough. At the very least, they will be able to prevent Muslims from living as they wish – they have already succeeded in getting rid of halal certification, which was of absolutely no concern to the vast majority of Buddhists in Sri Lanka until the extremists started their campaign. And they will move on to the next absurdity so long as they are not challenged.

The only respite the country has had in the last few months came in the aftermath of highly critical press coverage, which also contributed to a number of protests by concerned citizens in Colombo.

Rather than easing up on these efforts, they need to be intensified.

This is why the President should not get involved in formulating guidelines for the media. Rather than thinking about what is good for the country, politicians think about what is good for them and their future. Sadly for the people, these are not equivalent. With this and many other interventions in recent months, Mahinda Rajapaksa has made this abundantly clear.

*Kath Noble may be contacted at kathnoble99@gmail.com.

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Latest comments

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    politicians and journalists are just like lawyers . they should all be exterminated …

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      Come on man! Why say something that harsh and utterly ignorant? Really, I am certain that you have far more intelligent views to articulate other than this.

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        You think so? Why do you think BBS, Sihala Ravaya, Ravana Balaya etc are thriving? There are enough Abhayas to fuel them.

      • 0
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        Kath, good stuff as always – keep it coming!

        What is need MOST in Lanka today is a Code of Ethics and Conduct for the corrupt and criminal Rajapassa brothers and sons and their Cabinet of corrupt clowns based on Buddhist precepts of Right thought, speech, action and LIVELIHOOD.
        But they have made a joke of Sinhala Buddhism, by looting the public wealth and murdering and providing protection to murderers while wrapped in the Sinhala Buddhist flag!

        It is the responsibility of Lankan Civil society to draft a Code of Ethics and Conduct for Politicians and political parties to educate the corrupt politicians and for VOTER EDUCATION. There also needs to be a CODE of Conduct for political PARTIES which are petty fiefdoms without democracy today in Lanka.

        Per capita the highest number and most vile crimes are committed by Politicians and the political parties which are headed by geriatrics and shameless losers like Ranil Wickramasinghe are dictatorships. The rot starts at the top – in the Rajpassa family military dictatorship, their GIGANTIC CABINET OF UNEDUCATED MORONIC AND CORRUPT CLOWNS and trickles down to the provincial councils and politicians.
        A code of Ethics and conduct for ALL politicians is the NEED OF THE HOUR and should be the basis of a massive VOTER EDUCATION CAMPAIGN so that people do not vote for the corrupt neopotistic clowns like Mahinda Rajapassa who are and protect criminals!

      • 0
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        To which catagory you are belongs to ?.

        Politiikkas, Jurnos or Black coats.

  • 0
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    I thought it was only Thondaman, Rauff Hakim and all those MPs’ who crossed over to the Government from UNP did the “thoppi peralilla”. Now the President too has joined the club.

    • 0
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      Thondaman, Rauff Hakim and all…? How about Basil, who was in UNP for some time? All top guys, leaving the Kurakkan Boys Samagama, in the current Government are from UNP.

  • 0
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    The recent murder of a soldier in the UK triggered a similar response where a Mosque in Wallsall and a Muslim boarding school in chileshurst Surrey were set on fire .What would you say to this Miss Noble ???

    • 0
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      Sarojini:
      There were in fact 150 incidents reported acted upon.
      Battle of the crusaders and the foxy westerners rescuing Bosnia! Aha ha!

    • 0
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      But here in SL, no soldier has been murdered by Muslims, so why do the Buddhists hate the Muslims?

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        That is an agenda which is being set by Gotabaya not seeing the impact of the issue.

        There is a no halal issue – but they are trying to make an issue out of halal – just ignoring other grave issues.

        Buddhists in general have nothing against to Muslims, but some segments seen as buddhist monks abuse the naivity of people.

        Records have shown that our people are easily manipulative. Those who sign to affidavits would also sign any others based on totally contradictory views – ours are a folks that are not far from NORTH KOREANS… average north koreans were trained to mourn at the time their leader died.

      • 0
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        you are a Military expert yourself??.[they say like that].

        ARE you asking from us???.

        why are you do beating arround the bush.

        still your friends, rajapaassas want to purchase military heardware,
        it taste very nice for them, doesnt it.

      • 0
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        Good Buddhists don’t hate Muslims-it’s only the extremist Buddhists who hate them.

  • 0
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    Obviously Lankan Lover, Cathy hasn’t read Shenali’ Waduge’s awesome piece on our English Media.

    Isn’t Cathy wasting her talent preaching to the converted here, when her compatriots are making big bucks on juicy stories.

    Like Banga Banga Belussconi’s fettish.

    Allegations of Cath’s own ex PM having a .bit on the side with a big nob’s missus.

    Or if she is really serious about our Srilankan inhabitants, Cathy can do a piece on the first and the only Westerner to train Girl Child soldiers.

    • 0
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      K.A Sumanasekera

      “Obviously Lankan Lover, Cathy hasn’t read Shenali’ Waduge’s awesome piece on our English Media.”

      Obviously as a Clan Lover, you haven’t read Charitha Ratwatte’s explosive piece “20% Of Lankan Population Malnourished” on the health of the nation.

      If you are really serious about your Srilankan inhabitants, you can do a piece on how to stop making 20% commission and save the children.

      Will you do it for the sake of the 20%?

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        K.A Sumanasekera

        Kath Noble writes:

        “If the Sri Lankan media had ignored it, it would have continued with its efforts to establish a separate state, and maybe it would have been successful.”

        Could anyone tell us why it is wrong for the Sinhala/Buddhist to establish a separate Sinhala/Buddhist state of Sri Lanka?

        Could anyone tell us why it is right for the Tamils to establish a separate state?

      • 0
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        Native;

        it is an insult.
        PLS PLS DONOT DO THAT AGAIN.
        It is bad of you aney.

        they only asking for 10% from the whol sum.

        not 20%,
        if not like, they will appoint an agent from
        blessed M O D with white van

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          JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA

          20% is the going rate.

  • 0
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    Hello Kath,

    Noble indeed that you take an interest in all things Sri Lankan. It is better to have a view on what goes on inside Sri Lanka from the outside when those inside are reluctant to do so due to the perceived white van threats amongst other deterrents.

    Go on, disregard those that see you only as a white person, or a foreigner who does not understand the Sri Lankan ways of doing things, for they are either ignorant, or enmeshed in divisive politics or have a sinister agenda.

    MR Inc. has wasted four good years since finishing the LTTE. He continues to enjoy power that many a dictator would salivate at. He could have done many good deeds. Principally He could have gone on a crusade to bring about racial harmony, the root cause that devastated the country for four decades. Instead he has permitted the divided social fabric of Sri Lanka to be further ripped apart by permitting the likes of BBS to mount unimpeded attacks on the Muslims.

    To be fair on MR I must admit that when he could have assumed dictatorial powers he has indeed maintained a modicum of democratic rule.

    It is also true that during these four years some sorely needed infrastructure projects have been accomplished. Some recent socio economic indicators put out by some respected institutions also favour MR.

    However he needs to put time and effort in dealing with the main issue that shattered the nation, the issue of ethnic conflict, and the issue that cost the country so much in human life, wellbeing and wealth. He need to also reign in politicians and the police who act outside the law. He should also move away from nepotism and politics of favour and counter favour.

    Will he or can he do it, I wonder?

    In the meantime Kath Noble and the ilk should keep watch and try and steer Nero away from his fiddle when the country is burning.

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      Amin, I find though interesting to read about her articles, I have read somewhere that should be a part of her doctoral work. I am not sure – please forgive if these are out of facts ! There are few that would write about many of the alarming issues today in the country. Opposition of the parliament has failed to react adequately, has then been an advantage for rulers to continue for example with created lawlessness today.

      Yes, you are right saying that non-srilankens would realize it whether they are whilte or black, but I am not sure, even inside locals – majority of them would get the manner of MR regime moves on today. 4 years since the war is over, what have they achieved in terms of reconciliation which is the foundation for the tamil problem.

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      Amin Bakshish

      “It is better to have a view on what goes on inside Sri Lanka from the outside when …..”
      You are small minded not to know that Tisaranee Gunasekara is a far better writer and has what it takes to be bold. Then there is one of Australia’s great writers Gunasena of Melbourne University plus there are several Lankans on this site alone.
      You are in love with your former colonisers because your forefathers did not fight for independence like the Indians but hid in India that you do not know what the bloody hell the British Raj was and today’s cMoron etc. aren’t different.(just for a Rolls Royce)
      The Brits wanted all its former colonies and EU member states to have a national ID which cost £10 for renewal but the Brits would not want one for obvious reasons.
      Now the Americans have been caught spying the whole world including EU nationals and the English say it’s OK confirming that they are the special lap dogs of the Americans. However get into a discussion with some of the English and they would be talking ill about the Yankees- that’s the hypocrisy that led to the Irish terrorism and Sri Lanka.
      If you want to see sudu pukka look at a – original violet eyes high cheek bone Russian roulette who is the envy of every European. Learn to travel and observe that the English men and women are stiff like their pistola the tie.

  • 0
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    Media has to report objectively on the incidents in order to inform the public. If we are not informed then everything will be blissfull and perfect, as they say ‘ígnorance is bliss’.

    The intention of the president is probably to whitewash BBS / SR / RB so that they are able to carry out their unholy activities without coming into the spotlight. Then the country can be the ‘miracle of asia’. No doubt it is highly embarrassing for the president and the country when unruly monks are seen attacking meat stalls, business establishments and people.

    It is good for the public to know and be informed about such activities instead of allowing them to be hushed up as in the case Vaas Gunawardene. Just as Lasantha did a good job exposing the illegal activities of the powers that be, the press needs act as a whistle blower against the impunity and criminality of the regime.

  • 0
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    MR always think about our country..not only his future..see now we are developing day by day..after the war. there is no one here to guide our land like this.. expect MR.. sri lankan journalists are always talking lies about everything and about everyone,, they don’t wont to its a correct one or incorrect… they reported…its a habit of them

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      Sam@

      are you mentally retarded ? Or just cant get anything happening in the country today ?

      He is solely thinking about his own family telling you and me everyone an another thing.

      • 0
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        i think you have mentally problems not me..idiot, think your mind…IF MR thought his own family, how he can saved our country from the war,,,and our Tamil people in North also,,are You support for ranil or SF and how much you pay for that comment….

  • 0
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    Throwing the ball to the media court is a dummy. He will soon bring the bill before parliament and have it passed before you could say ‘Kath Noble’!

  • 0
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    My friend N Vedda tries to distract us by bringing up this Ratwatta invention of 20% malnourishement of Lankan Children,when our Lankan Lover Cathy is trying to convince her loyal followers that Free Media cures all ills.

    LKR 60 buys fresh Strigers and Sambar in my new home turf Wellawatta,And it is a solid Brekkie for two.

    I never had the luxury of a breakfast until I found a job to support myself.

    Now Mums take their Kiddies to Maccas and Colonal’s Fried Chicken after school, even in my old home turf in the South.

    Even in Jaffna, thousands of kiddies in their whites going to school didn’t seem to be wasted and stunted.

    Our Kids in Colombo suburbs in contrat seem to have more rounded shapes which is a good pointer to the Moderate vigilantes benefiting the most from our rapid growth in Per Capita Income.

    The vivid color photos of poor African kids who are just skin and bone , and covered with flies , which are splashed across the big ass LED screens in Western lounges in prime time slots is what Malnutrition is for the Western audiences.

    NGOs rake in big bucks by these ad campaigns.

    Not even 20% of the collection go to feed the poor kids.

    Ratwatta is in the same league when it comes to manupilating Western audiences.

    And also my mate Vedda.

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      K.A Sumanasekera

      How would you stop 20% private levy extracted from investors by clan and company?

    • 0
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      “NGOs rake in big bucks by these ad campaigns”

      Will you be providing us with any evidence that major NGOs and charities are engaging in fraud and not spending their money on needy persons? Or are you wanting a free-pass as a Rajapaksa supporter to say whatever nonsense comes into your head without the need to back it up?

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        K.A Sumanasekera, funny guy. He swapped his brain and balls, dont be surpriced what he writes…

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        “NGOs rake in big bucks by these ad campaigns” They swindle outright!

        Its folk who cannot get a job in the private sector who join the NGO’s and that should not be the case but it is so.

        UK has the maximum no of charities in the world and anyone can start one from the bedroom if he/she knows how to fill a 12 page form.

        NGO’s don’t come under the freedom of information act nor are they to submit tax returns. So most of Oxford Street is now rented out by NGOs

        The charity commissioner is a dummy in a rocking chair.
        Successive governments in the UK have given the NGO’s powers that even the ministers are unable to curtail them siphoning off.

        Before the Church was used now it’s the western NGO’s to start wars in other nations. If asked to shoot I would shoot them first.

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    our president always has bright ideas.since his ideas,now we live in freedom.Now Sri Lanka is converted to big development.In near future we can live developed country.we should thank him. As the sri lankan we should happy about our great president.

    • 0
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      An another dimwit – representing the majority.

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      “Now Sri Lanka is converted to big development.In near future we can live developed country.we should thank him”

      Will your children and grandchildren be thanking him when they are still paying off the high-interest chinese loans required to fund Mahinda Rajapaksa stadium and airport?

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        As Rajitha hinted lately, those loans from China has to have paid back to every cent, while no such deals have been met with indians when it goes with the loans taken from them. That is the difference.

        People know nothing about the Chinese. They the Chinese are in a need of a hub in indian ocezen, that naively provided by Rajapakshe, not thinking twice. Sure, we need development projects, but not letting external forces to grab the island for their motives.

        I guess, southern highway is a work of Koreans, no idea about the details about the reality of the loans, but I have no doubt, the current rulers have no concept at all, just when Kenda become kanda only they even notice it…

        Like the case with IGP Vaas Gunawardhana, he is not a candidate to have got promoted from his previous positions, when screening about the criminal history of the man. But the rulers did that .. for some reasons, and today, even the wife of the man, dare to threaten govt CID officials that she would reveal every bit about other murder cases too. That says everything about the VISION of the rulers

  • 0
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    idiots I dont care for the ravana balaya or BBS or any of this nonsense . for this woman to suggest that the govt should cotrol all the crazies is nonsense too because this the idiot media will claim there is no democratic freedom .

    Some people need to find a job .. I mean a real one ..

    • 0
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      what s wrong with what she says? i completely agree with her

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