By Colombo Telegraph –
Chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecom and brother of the Transport Minister, Nimal Welgama’s news paper The Sunday Island ironically quotes a banned website to defend Secretary to the Ministry of Difence Gotabhaya Rajapaka. Lanka Enews is banned in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan government branded it as a malicious, defamatory and raw filth and stories defamatory to the characters of certain people. It is well known fact that since Frederica Jansz published famous ‘White Flag’ story Lanka Enews started to attacking her. Lanka Enews supported Srath Fonseka in the last presidential election. To describe Jansz as a liar, under the subheading “Lankaenews envies Frederica” in political column Sunday Island says; “True to form, there was an article in one of these websites called lankaenews (Sinhala web page) which said that this story that the defence secretary had shouted obscenities at Frederica Jansz was all nonsense and that what had actually happened was that Sunday Leader sales were declining because Frederica had helped the government to convict Sarath Fonseka in the white flag case and this was a set up job where the defence secretary had agreed to blackguard Jansz in raw filth so that she could make a big issue of it and boost the sales of the Sunday Leader! They say that the defence secretary had even provided protection to Jansz and that it was highly unlikely that he would actually blackguard the key witness who helped imprison Fonseka.”
Jansz in her editorial said; There is no difference or should be none between human beings. But, is that a reality in Sri Lanka? No. Certainly not. The most recent incident where Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Defense Secretary lost his temper and used foul language brought home some truths about human behaviour, at least from some sections of our people.
The language and tone of the delivery evoked a huge outcry from journalists across the civilized world. The international press and electronic media were aghast and responded immediately. Just like humans and even animals who help each other to face, for example, a harsh winter. But, the local media true to form remained mum. Why? We would leave that to you readers to come to your own judgment.
We reproduce below the relevant part of the Sunday Island political column.
Lankaenews envies Frederica
On Friday night, newspaper editors Victor Ivan, Prabath Sahabandu, Siri Ranasinghe and Sinha Ratnatunga were invited to dinner at Temple Trees. The sudden meeting, outside the regular meetings that the president had with newspaper editors was a fire fighting exercise to deal with the fallout from the blackguarding that defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had given Sunday Leader Editor Frederica Jansz. Jansz had published a transcript of the conversation that had taken place between her and the defence secretary last Sunday and that made quite a sensation. The defence secretary’s outbursts are well known, but what was new was his reference to ordure and the use of the f-word. He has never been known to use such words. Be that as it may, the defence secretary too had been present at the dinner given by the president on Friday, and his version of the story is that the Sunday Leader had not published all that he said and that the published conversation had only excerpts of the full conversation. Like everybody else Gotabhaya Rajapaksa too should have the right of reply.
I suppose it is now up to Frederica to provide her fellow editors with the recording of the whole conversation so that they can listen to it and arrive at their conclusions. It would be better still if she could publish a full transcript so that we too could read it. During the presidential elections, Frederica said in a headline story in the Sunday Leader that Sarath Fonseka had said that LTTE leaders trying to surrender with white flags had been shot by the armed forces. Later Sarath Fonseka denied he had told Frederica the story that was published. Frederica did not have a recording to prove that Fonseka had said it except for some handwritten notes. Fonseka could never have been convicted in the white flag case on Frederica’s testimony alone. What clinched the case however was that Fonseka had said much the same thing he had told Frederica at some propaganda rallies during the presidential elections and these had been caught on tape by some TV stations. Likewise, it will be important for the Editor’s Guild to listen to the tape and ascertain whether the newspaper report in the Sunday Leader was in fact a fair representation of what had been said.
Anyway, while we are waiting for that, it has to be said that if any reference was made to excreta and copulation in relation to journalists, that cannot be condoned by anybody. Not that there aren’t people in the media field who richly deserve to be described with such epithets. The operators of the overseas based websites that we spoke of last week being a case in point. Quite apart from politicians and public officials, even we journalists are not spared by these websites. True to form, there was an article in one of these websites called lankaenews (Sinhala web page) which said that this story that the defence secretary had shouted obscenities at Frederica Jansz was all nonsense and that what had actually happened was that Sunday Leader sales were declining because Frederica had helped the government to convict Sarath Fonseka in the white flag case and this was a set up job where the defence secretary had agreed to blackguard Jansz in raw filth so that she could make a big issue of it and boost the sales of the Sunday Leader! They say that the defence secretary had even provided protection to Jansz and that it was highly unlikely that he would actually blackguard the key witness who helped imprison Fonseka.
Lankaenews had in fact reproduced the statement issued by media trade unions against the defence secretary’s manner of speech while saying in the title of the article that journalists ‘had doubts’ about the whole episode. ( If that was actually so, then there was no need for the president and Gota to meet the newspaper editors last Friday to explain Gota’s side of the story.)