By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
“…if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them”- Karl Popper
Ashu Resigns: Professor Ashu did what’s best he could do by resigning from his position as one of the President’s advisors.
‘Soft Logic’ – Presidents all over the world appoint persons whom they believe, from time to time, can add valuable input to the process of governance. Such appointments are standard. This does not at all imply that the appointer should be held responsible for any subsequent misdemeanours on the part of the appointee. Hirunika Premachandra who is Sajith Premadasa’s media advisor had been instructed to pick up some investigation by SJB men with a view to transform an alleged criminal incident associated with the individual Professor Anshu into a pot of fatal poison actually aimed at President Ranil Wickremasinghe and his government.
As stated in the previous paragraph, this approach has no logic at all. However, in the ball game of politics these are commonplace tactics although one would have expected the critic to be a little discrete and sparing in such a very personal, unestablished case.
Central Bank Case
The Central Bank fraud allegations, although dismissed in court, had similarly been initiated by a JVP guy-just in order to bring down Ranil on the mere fact that the then Prime Minister had appointed the governor, Mahendran. There, again, Rajendra had been excellent as far as his CV document went- a proven international banker. The appointment had been good prima facie. But how could Ranil be found fault for any misdemeanour that the governor may have indulged in? Proceedings in that case fizzled out and all accused were released. Ranil wasn’t an accused. The so-called “loss” had been a notional loss” and money obtained had been returned and frozen in the Treasury.
Hirunika Personifies Indiscretion
The reader should not make a mistake: This paper is not to attempt to justify any allegations levelled against Professor Anshu. He will suffer pain of mind as he must, since the whole episode does smell like spoilt -fish from St John’s Fish Market in the Pettah.
On the other hand, as I will show as we go on, Professor Ashu can fight Hirunika for libel and damages.
I am one who had been impressed with Hirunika-the young woman- when she fist appeared on the political platform. I thought she was leadership material for the future and I wrote to Colombo Telegraph about that. But her performance since that promise has been revoltingly crude and full of indiscretion. Her recent drama was when she tried to climb a security wire -fence, well attired in a yellow saree and looking young, attractive and angry. Hirunika was more rowdy unlike a resillient Afghan female leader fighting for the right to university education.
Someone had advised Hirunika to address President Ranil Wickremasinghe as “Ranil Rajapaksa.” That was in bad taste, and not decent. It jarrs! And the implied allegation does not correspond with the reality that her leader Sajith, himself in a surreal and febrile frenzy to grab power, had willingly supported Dulles-the Mahinda loyal- for Presidency against Ranil. Once again, Sajith wanted to go it alone but got cold feet-and off he went to Dulles who is still trying to oust Ranil.
Hirunika hit below the belt of decency when she referred to “Ranil’s balls.” That was like a flash! I saw the video and in it Sajith’s wife, seated next to her, appeared enjoying the quip with Sajith pretending to control her.
That was bad show! The basic position in poltical life is that the head of government should be respected. Criticise him by all means but know your limit. If you don’t know that, politics is not for you.
The Ashu Allegation
Hirunika blurts out in media (was it Sirasa?) that the professor is guilty of bestiality and sex acts with his puppy. She suggested that Ashu has been doing all kinds of non-specified sexual abuse. Although she cannot logically transfer the allegation to Ranil the fact is that Hirunika has caught a good catch. On the other hand, if the professor wants he has a good case for libel and probably huge damages.
As evidence, Hirunika brings one Aadarsha Karadena who claims to have been “living in” for two years with the Professor. No other witnesses. It is a valid presumption that Karadena represents a women bitten and in rage. Also, Hirunika produces for all to see what is alleged to be a photographic image of the professor doing something bad with a dog. To me, the image isn’t clear.
Admissibility as Evidence in Court
Herein lies the danger of Hirunika’s accusation. Can photographs like this be admissible evidence in court? This is not a film footage but a digital product and we all know digtal products can be manipulated in a multitude of ways in order to distort the reality. Digital Art is a new frontline art in contemporary times. The power of AI can be used to create anything you like. Digital art is sophisticated and it involves digital photography, digital installations ,algorithmic art, data moshing, digital collage and so on.
While it is possible for such a photography to be accepted in court the law genrally demands some independent documentation or other verification.
There is an interesting and authoritative article on this subject written by a famed forensic digital expert called Steven Staggs. The title is “The Admissibility of Digital Photography in court.”
I give just four excerpts from that article as follows:
1. “A photography by itself is not a reliable form of evidence unless it is attached with some form of government-issued documents.”
2. “A photograph is admissible in court provided a witness ( not necessarily but preferably the photograph- maker gives evidence of its accuracy”
3. “Photographs are admissible in court only if the photograph has been properly verified on oath by a person able to speak to its accuracy.”
4. “No photograph image can be accurately portray what the viewer would, could, or should have seen at the time of thr original”
Hirunika on Dangerous Ground
Thus, you see, Hirunika isn’t on safe ground. Nor is the SJB. It may be a historical battle to come.
The SJB has typically been involved in stunts. The problem is that that party or its leader has no policy plan framework to inspire the broad mass of people. Hence, the emphisis on stunts. Sajith is seen travelling in buses, driving buses, marching with market women and “shouting populist slogans.” Lacking in political vision the SJB must think of stunts. The problem is that the positive political impact of political stunts can transfer to other competing opposition bodies.
Democratic Societies and Tolerance
Democratic societies must necessarily tolerate stunts, attacks and counter attacks. Players in government, like Professor Ashu, should know to keep margins and appear to be good.
Governments must allow opposition outbursts and they must exercise tolerance and rectify themselves of any errors pointed out. A tolerant environment is very necessary.
On the other hand, the vilifying opposition elements must also know margins and not outstep the whole game. This is why democratic tolerance cannot mean unlimited tolerance. “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.” Karl Popper (The Logic of Scientific Discovery)
This means that attacks on individuals must be made with due regard to the individuals rights to defend and government’s right to sustain itself legitimately.
Defending such rights is the purpose of the laws of a land.