17 October, 2017

The Deliberate Deceit Of The Self-Proclaimed “Independent” English Language Media In Sri Lanka

By Emil van der Poorten –

Emil van der Poorten

Another contributor to Colombo Telegraph, Kusal Perera, and I have differed on what we consider to be the “self-censorship” practiced by the Sri Lankan media.  I subscribe to the belief that those elements of the media not owned by or absolutely controlled by the government are self-censoring to the point of irrelevance and Kusal interprets the term “self-censorship” differently.

However, I don’t expect that either he or any writer to the media who is not, literally, bought and paid for by the forces that are running this country with the authority of an iron heel coupled with a mailed fist, will (or CAN) dispute what I am about to document and the fact that it is DELIBERATELY misleading journalism, the motive for which should be obvious to anyone of even limited intelligence.

The web edition of the Daily Mirror of Saturday, September 28th has an article titled “UNHR Council divided over SL” which I can only assume appeared in its print edition as well.  The link is here for anyone wishing to verify what I have to say in what follows.

That item, running in excess of 1300 words, deliberately sets out to deceive any reader who does not check the basic information provided, particularly those who do not believe that a newspaper owned and controlled by the family of the Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe, would engage in reporting of a nature so deceitful that it might, arguably, put the government’s own Daily News to shame!

In my last column I referred to the fact that the most recent Columnist of the Year, as selected by The Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Press Institute had sought asylum, permanent or temporary asylum _-depending on your source of information – “somewhere in North America.”  Canada’s most watched TV network, CTV, reported this on the 19th of September and I don’t know whether even the paper for which Mandana now writes by email, The Sunday Leader, has reported what one might consider news of some importance, up to now.

I suggested in last week’s piece that the pious souls who awarded Mandana the accolade this year could, appropriately, make a special award to one of their number for this particular display of intestinal fortitude, which might legitimately be billed as “The Silence of the (Judas) Goats!”

I would now like to suggest that those same two august bodies, controlled by the Press Barons of Sri Lanka, set up yet another award for deliberately misleading reporting and that it be awarded to the Daily Mirror, the owners of which, I remember, once carried off the premier award at the self-same annual celebration some years ago with an entry that did not even qualify for entry in the category concerned!  If that could be arranged, then surely it should be a breeze to arrange for the two awards I suggest not only to be provided but appropriately awarded!  An added bonus would be that the newspaper chain concerned would garner some appropriate Brownie Points from our current embodiment of democracy, aka the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, for loyalty beyond the call of duty!

To return to the article concerned, however, it lists 20 members of what it claims is the current Human Rights Council as being strongly supportive of the Sri Lankan government and goes on to mention the specific actions of the Sri Lankan government, post-Nanthikadal, that every single one of them consider deserving of high praise.

Given the fact that the total membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council is 47, twenty of that number expressing what can only be described as fulsome praise for Sri Lanka at this point of time, before sittings that could have major implications for Sri Lanka in the matter of accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity and in the teeth of the broad condemnation of the government by Navi Pillay, any sane reader would arrive at one conclusion and one conclusion only: those twenty would be voting in support of Sri Lanka and, given the timing of their clearly expressed support, the odds of Sri Lanka winning at least four other nations to its cause would appear prohibitively high in the circumstances. This would, obviously, result in “game, set and match” to Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cronies.

However, there is one fairly significant fly in this particular ointment: only eight of the twenty countries listed –Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand and Venezuela – are members of the United Nations Human Rights Council during its current term, ending on December 31st 2013!  It would seem that the rest of the twenty – twelve in number for the arithmetically-challenged – would not be able to put their votes where theire mouths have only recently been, unless, of course, such voting is carried out in the manner preferred in Sri Lanka!

One hardly needs a Sherlock Holmes to unravel a mystery that isn’t, while the motivation for this kind of deliberate deception hardly needs nervous-breakdown-inducing concentration to deduce.

For those critical of the shenanigans that pass for governance in this country and thought that there was at least one newspaper chain which, even though it was no “Horatius at the Bridge” of democratic principle, would not deliberately lie and obfuscate, what can I say……?  Would the old chestnut, “Who needs enemies when you have friends like these,” be considered appropriate (substituting “enemas” for “enemies” for obvious reasons) in this case?

Of course, if one is given to a level of ultra-saintly generosity (or unbelievable naivety or simple deceit), you could trot out the old excuse that the entire 1327 word essay simply constituted a “mistake” or that I have been grossly prejudiced in my description of the tone, content and intent of this particular piece of journalism. Take your choice, my friends!  And if you are, by some chance, one of those who will continue to accord any credibility to what Wijeya Newspapers puts on the pages of its publications from now on, I might have a position for you in sales.  How does a free plane ticket to Anchorage, Alaska and an overland journey to a location North of the Arctic Circle sound?  The grand prize?  An opportunity to sell refrigerators to the inhabitants of points north of wherever your overland journey ended in the USA’s largest state!

In any event, would you be interested in making a donation towards the two prizes I have suggested in this and my previous column: one for “Journalistic Silence While a Premier Journalist Flees the Country” and another for “Deliberate Deceit in Reporting Simple Facts?”

Post-Script

Shortly after I’d completed this article, my attention was drawn to an almost identical article in Ceylon Today.  Curiously, both it and that in the Daily Mirror have no indication of who might have authored them – either a journalist or a news agency.  One can perhaps be forgiven for wondering whether both pieces are releases from the Sri Lanka government’s Media Centre for National Security, known among the cognoscenti as “The Ministry of Truth,” a term first coined by George Orwell in circumstances that Sri Lankans can now readily relate to!

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    I no longer read the Leader. I read the Daily Mirror online for breaking news and CT to find out what really is happening in the country. And I never miss reading the articles of NGO Da Yarn and Malinda SeneviRotten for their entertainment value.
    It’s a sad fact indeed that in this day and age people in this country still believe what is said on Rupavahini, ITN, SLBC and the Lake House newspapers. Tissaranee and a few others including you Emil are letting a section of the local population and the world know what exactly is happening in Sri RajaPakistan. But the need of the hour is to convince the rest of the south about how the media is fooling them and shaping their minds. People in the North have brains and need no convincing as the recent election results showed.
    Waking up the kavun/kiribath eating Sinhala yakos from their Mahavamsa myths and war slumber is the main challenge of independent journalists and websites who are not bought and paid for like the SeneviRottens and AbeyKnickers.
    If this can be done, defeating the RajaPassas’ locally at elections will not be that big a problem. Internationally they will always be distrusted as long as they lie through their teeth like MR did recently with Al Jazeera.
    You people have a big task ahead of you. All the best.

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      Emil yes, Thanks for pointing this out to the gullible Sinhalaya Modayas!

      Indeed the Rajapassa regime are past masters at SPIN, and the Daily Mirror and Ceylon today are Trash, Good to wipe Rajapassa’s Ass..
      Island is Racist crap.. so not a lot to chose from..
      Hope CT stays balanced and stops tacitly supporting Ranil Wickramasinghe who should be as pilloried as the Rajapassa dictaroship.

      I don’t buy any Sri Lanka newspapers since they are mostly rubbish and read selectively on the internet..

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        Yo Dude,

        Spot on!

        The printed papers, English and Sinhala are only fit for wrapping freshly boiled kadala. Our press barons are a canny lot and they have a business to run and their social status to maintain. Their current guiding motto is ‘discretion is the better part of valour’ and to hell with leading political campaigns. So,they are happy to let the brave (foolhardy?) journalists loose but will not have any compunction pulling the trigger when the invisible line is crossed. When I breezily aired these thoughts to a patrician owner his dulcet tones confirmed my thinking: ‘live to fight another day, my boy, survival is the name of the game’.

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    Emil:

    where is this land of yours where every thing is reported perfectly ?

    Should be in the DUTCH-land ?

    First why don’t you talk about how corrupt the UNHCR is and what way it has been made into a corrupt organization which work only for certain interests.

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      Jim Softy:
      While I hate to respond to the moronically mentally deficient, there will be exceptions, from time to time, I suppose.

      For a beginning, why don’t you simply check your facts before publishing arrant nonsense about the “UNHCR” (sic) which happens to be the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and which I don’t recall having anything to do with Sri Lanka recently.

      To expect you and your tribe to differentiate between deliberately misleading propaganda and a simple error in reporting is, very obviously, unrealistic, particularly when your paymasters don’t compensate you for that kind of intelligence, just for attempted insult, abuse and threat!

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        Dear Emil Sir;

        There are few Rotten eggs calling themselves in names like JIM SOTHTHY, K A SUMANAWATHY, Lal, and so on
        Appointed by / with Rjaapassa and clan to Comment on these blogs;
        better be neglect them,as nobody cares what they say.
        And they are sitting on their brains.
        Poor souls are selling their souls and they are trying to find their daily bread for families too.
        Those habits are coming from their genetics,
        From generation to generations, from fathers,mothers with Incurable degenerated mentality.

        Many times I wrote in C T Comments to
        Advise to them.
        ” It is more Respectable them to Beg in front of Fort Railway station than Massaging hindquarters of JRapassas.

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      Jim Sooty resident of Mile End in East London,

      Let me correct on a few things.

      1) You lot have a habit of quoting others to justify your bloody mistakes. Stop saying if the others kill why cant we kill. You kill for a liviing.

      2) UNHCR is corrupt because of you lot. You Bribed Viay Nambiar to the tune of 1.2 million and he is in hiding. You bribed a lot of others and your Boss MR put aside 100 million to hide the Genocide so stop this rubbish.

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      Jim Sooty,

      I should have added even Banki Bloody Moon( Head of UNHCR) the Buddhist Monk was on MRs payroll. That is how corrupt UNHCR is from top to bottom except a few in the middle.

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    Insult they say, is the defense of liars!!!

    Emil the sad irony is most of the factually accurate writing will not be read or understood in its context by the populace at large. The ‘buth’ packet brand of politics is still alive and well in Sri Lanka.

    When you have an inept opposition not worthy the perks they enjoy, the known devil in the Rajapakse’s is the poor voter’s Hobson’s choice.

    Please, let no Swadeshiya educated gentlemans ask me who the hell is Hobson?

    Ignorance is the happiness of fools and we have chosen to be uninformed.

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      @ Upul
      Is this Hobson you are talking about Jim Softy’s father, the British soldier who was on a two day R&R leave in Ceylon during world war 2? The soldier who forgot to wear a condom and contracted a veneral disease after he slept with Jim’s mum to be? :-D

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        Oh I say, Percy, this is below the belt.
        Try to stick to the Queensbury rules dear boy.

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        See ,
        now the real story unfolding with COLONIAL MASTER HATERS.
        What a Shame, Better to commit suicide at temple trees.
        JIN SOTHTHY HOOOOOOOOOOOO.

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    The refusal of newspapers to publish crap coming from people with agendas like you is not self-censorship.

    The word is “decency”. Spend your time on getting hold of the concept without writing crap like this.

    By the way, the Daily Mirror is not owned by “Ranil Wickremesinghe’s family”.

    It is owned by Mr Ranjit Wijewardena who is an uncle of his from his mother’s side. Ranil has no control of Ranjit’s media.

    You bile-filled moron who opens his mouth with his eyes closed.

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      Galagedera appu:
      It might have helped if you dealt with what was in my column rather than launching into a “Koheda Yanney, Malley Pol” diatribe!
      I am not going to argue about the “family connections” of Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Wijewardene’s with someone who, obviously, has quite intimate connections with one, the other or both. However, pray tell what you mean when you say, “It is owned by Mr Ranjit Wijewardena who is an uncle of his from his mother’s side?”
      May I suggest that you check your facts before you uttering an untruth like, “The refusal of newspapers to publish crap coming from people with agendas like you is not self-censorship.” Why? Because the newspaper group, to which I suspect you are connected by blood, were the first in Sri Lanka to publish a column I used to pen!
      As for your “Galagedera appu” pseudonym, I hope it is only in jest and not reflective of where you live because I couldn’t bear to hear any more wails of “Oh, my God, there goes the neighbourhood!” from people in this area.

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      When you pick a pseudonym at least get the spelling right. APPU is a term used for the butler or head cook by British planters. APPO or APPE’ is the term used for children belonging to up country aristocrats.

      Your knowledge of the relationships of Ranil Wickaramasinghe leads me to believe a certain very close association with a certain professor who is I understand, in charge of you lot of sycophants who write anonymously to the internet and try to undermine the truth !

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        Don Quixote:
        I believe you are right on the money on that one! The deliberately poor English used to cover his predilection for an Oxbridge delivery doesn’t do the job in terms of attempted concealment under several pseudonyms!
        In this mire of deceit there are still some funny things happening!

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    Local media mostly publicises the Presidential view point. The policy of Goebbelism is followed ie to tell a lie so oftenly that it is finally believed to be the truth. Thus our people are made to believe that we are the Ascharya of Asia and the Hub of the Universe. We believe that our President is a godlike creature who has descended to save the race and religon.

    The President is not without his merits. He has achieved what no leader was able to achieve over the last 30 yrs. He hass taken decisions that other leaders could not take. At the same time he has many demerits mainly due to his weakness in protecting human rights, rule of law and good governance. He panders to various thugs and criminals who are part of the government. He has installed his kith and kin in various public positions etc etc. One can go on and on.

    The subservience of the media does not absolve the individual from exercising his freedom of expression and opposition to what is against the interests of the people, society and the country. Unfortunately such criticism or expression is often portrayed as against the interests of the country, damaging to its reputation and hence un-patriotic.

    Sri Lankans still seem to think that we should sweep the dirt under the carpet or hide skeletons in cupboards. Pandering to the whims of thugs, criminals and murderers is not an option any country or society can afford. That is, if we wish to live with dignity and self respect. It is up to the educated professionals and leaders of society to speak on behalf of those who cannot. Do they have the courage and strength of character to do so?

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      Safa, Agree with you. The problem with the Sri Lankan media is that they are lacking in self confidence and self respect. They do not use a moral platform to write, and will write anything regardless of the truth or otherwise of what is written. It is not only a lack of pride and self respect, the sycophancy rampant in the media displays sheer lack of character. To me they are the real traitors of this country.

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    Galgedera Appu is just that. He says Ranjith wijewardena is only an uncle of Ranil wickramasinghe and that Ranil has no control over the Daily mirror and sunday Times( I dont think Galagedera Appu has ever read these two papers. If he does he will know their absolute bias) Of course Ruwan Wijewardena who was just bumming around colombo has suddenly become an MP and chief youth organizer for UNP by sheer ability ! ( he is ranjith wijewardene’s only son). Ranjith’s other brother Shan is on a spiritual path by conducting buddhist discusions with Ex CJ Sarath Silva on TV and on the radio discussing the weather with highly intellectual Hudson Samarasinghe.Now uncle Ranjith Wijewardene does not owe anything to unp boss ranil because his son goes places in the UNP only because he is oozing with talant ! I think the present UNP deserve Ranil, ranjith and Ruwan combination.Ranjith is very unhappy that his servants at Sunday Times and Daily Mirror cannot bring Ranil back to power . No wonder because one of his Editors is for ever cadging free drinks at clubs he is not a member of ! Sri lankan journalism has fallen very low indeed. But dream on the three R’s.People are not so slavish now.

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      Oh I say! the legendary Don Richard must be restless in his grave.

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    pooty is getting his panties in a knot for nothing . the UNHCR is a power less organization in a white elephant called the UN . he should go and check what countries they have censured . which is pretty much every one . Nothing has happened to any of these countries .Nothing ever comes out of this useless organization anyways .

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      Abhaya Premawardena:

      After taking appropriate preparatory steps, I would suggest you check your own underwear before you embark on your next journey to confusion.

      You obviously don’t even know that there is a difference between THE UNHCR and the UNHRC. You think they are both the same!

      Would suggest a new tutor before you embark on any further “erudite dissertations” on CT (or anyplace else), particularly if you are operating under the tutelage of the person Don Quixote refers to.

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        This fool picks on a simple typo to show his eruditeness . and does not address the issue I raised . Typical ata pass journalist .

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          Abhaya Premawardena:
          Thank you for giving of your “eruditeness.” (A new word in the AP dictionary of “English?”)
          Apropos of the toothlessness of UN Human Rights agencies and their being do-nothing organizations, have you heard of a guy called Ratko Mladic? How about Slobodan Milosevich? Or Charles Taylor? Or doesn’t your “eruditeness” extend into recent world history, those individuals, their fate and those who prosecuted them?
          Mind you, that’s a few, but it might provide you with a start on your, sadly deficient, elementary education in recent world history. If it doesn’t work, at least no one an accuse me of not trying, however unsuccessfully, to educate what seems like a total ignoramus.
          Incidentally, I hate to say this, but, while my journalistic skill might be “ata-pass” in your opinion, your level of “eruditeness” suggests that you are what used to be known as a “JP.UM” (“Junior passed, unable matriculate”), if even that.
          I am sure all readers of CT will look forward to your next attack of “eruditeness.”

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    Emil van der Poorten

    Your Article begins with the following:

    1)Another contributor to Colombo Telegraph, Kusal Perera, and I have differed on what we consider to be the “self-censorship” practiced by the Sri Lankan media. I subscribe to the belief that those elements of the media not owned by or absolutely controlled by the government are self-censoring to the point irrelevance.

    Self-censorship is the act of censoring or classifying one’s own work (blog, book(s), film(s), or other means of expression), out of fear of reprisals.

    In answer to no 1) I wish to offer a word of advice and both of you are barking up the wrong tree and the above definition might offer some clarification.

    a) Factual reporting dosnt have to be censored.
    b) The reason why independant media are practicing self censorship is because of fear for their lives just as happened to Lasantha.

    2)The web edition of the Daily Mirror of Saturday, September 28th has an article titled “UNHR Council divided over SL” which I can only assume appeared in its print edition as well. The link is here for anyone wishing to verify what I have to say in what follows.

    I read the above and Ididnt lose sleep over it as this pieece of information was put out by the paid masters for Local consumption.
    Just to claify I will say this. The Nations that GOSL referred to as friends in UNHR have no muscle and the the following confirms it.
    a) There is no country in the World that can challenge the USA when it decides and Russia found out to its cost First over Kosvo and recently over Syria.
    Over Kosovo Russia issued a threat that it would retaliate if Serbia was bombed. But USA ( NATO) did bomb Serbia.
    Over Syria First Russia threatened to send Warships and USA assembled an Armada and Russia buckled and forcd Assad to reveal and we are now seeing the results. Chemical arsenal is being dismanteld.
    b) If India sides with USA China is too weak to do anything to help Sinhala Lanka.

    3)In any event, would you be interested in making a donation towards the two prizes I have suggested in this and my previous column: one for “Journalistic Silence While a Premier Journalist Flees the Country” and another for “Deliberate Deceit in Reporting Simple Facts?”

    Emil you are testing my generosity to the breaking point and I wouldnt put a penny on either.

    But I would donate generously to the following.

    By March 2014 ( The begining of the end for MR) indictment proceedings for MR to be taken to the Hague will begin.

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      Lol idiot Russia twisted obummers hands and made him accept the deal about siriya you country bumpkin. You are no better than pooty

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    You ignorant Pumkin,

    Certainly you are an illiterate and an ingnorant idiot( cant write English) why not try writing in Sinkalam.
    So you admit that USA can twist Russias hands and for your information USA can twist a lot of other things which will scaare the hell out of you.
    India is twisting your arms now so relax and let it happen. Only a bully (Small bully MR) understands a Big Bully ( India ) and even a Bigger Bully USA.

    Spelt Obama not Obummers

    Spelt Syria not Siriya.

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