3 August, 2021

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Varuni Amunugama Unmasked: Media Tycoon Launches Campaign Of Slander Against Parody-Maker

Media and advertising tycoons Varuni Amunugama and Dilith Jayaweera have turned their guns on cartoonist and musician Shanika Somatilake, a vociferous critic of Rajapaksa regime on the social media platform Twitter.

Both Jayaweera and Amunugama are members of President Nandasena Rajapaksa’s innermost circle and played a monumental role in building the politician’s brand as a clinical administrator with their branding prowess that has made the Triad Ad agency the most successful in the country.

Somatilake mercilessly mocked Varuni Amunugama’s disastrous interview with host Alanki in February 2021. Somatilake, who lives in New Zealand, uploaded videos parodying Amunugama’s 1950s views on women and their manipulative wiles, and her outrageous claims that most challenges women faced in the workplace were “in their heads”. Amunugama also debunked gender based obstacles as a “Western construct” and claimed that Sri Lankans were a nation of “grumblers” who refused to view things in a positive light.

Varuni Amunugama styles herself as a self-made woman entrepreneur and advocate for professional, entrepreneurial women.

But in a bizarre set of remarks in the context of sexual harassment, Varuni Amunugama claimed in her interview with Alanki that women had been gifted with the “64 wiles” (64 මායම්) – which should be “benevolently” manipulated to “get ahead”. Traditionally the 64 wiles of a woman in Sri Lankan history and folklore are associated with the female arts of manipulation and seduction. In two short videos she posted on Twitter, Somatilake mocked the remarks:

The Varuni Amunugama interview which went viral on social media, was initially shared by corrupt businessman of Krrish fame, Nimal Perera as an early morning lesson in “positivity”. The reception to the interview was exceptional outrage, particularly from Sri Lankan women, who were astounded by Amunugama’s regressive and patriarchal attitudes towards women’s issues and rights. The angry reaction forced Amunugama to return to Twitter after a long hiatus, to refer to her critics as “Twitter maggots” suffering from “patriotic paralysis”.

Somatilake, an electrical engineer by profession, revealed on Twitter that the media tycoon had messaged her privately, praising her talent, and expressing regret that the young performing artist had chosen to mock her interview. Publicly however, Amunugama railed against Somatilake on social media. The feud has escalated since.

Amunugama’s latest media venture, a Sinhala weekly tabloid called “Dharanee” published two huge feature articles this week (July 14). Page 3 of the tabloid featured a caricature of Somatilake in the costume she used in her video parodies, with the headline: “Those who criticise popular people for attention have personality disorders”.

Image Courtesy: Dharanee Newspaper – July 14, 2021

A second article on Page 12 of the same tabloid published by Amunugama and Jayaweera, features a full page image of Somatilake in a two piece swimsuit, attached to an article authored by Professor Athula Sumathipala a psychiatrist attached to the Keele University of UK. The headline reads: Posting Half-Naked Images on Social Media sign of Mental Disorder. Professor Sumathipala remains on the faculty of Keele University and is an editorial member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists official publication. Somatilake has confirmed that her consent was not obtained prior to publication of the photograph, and therefore Colombo Telegraph has made a decision to refrain from publishing the page of the tabloid in full. However, the following is a partial copy of Page 12 of the Dharanee newspaper:

Users on Twitter have already commenced making official complaints to the Keele University and the Royal College of Psychiatrists regarding Professor Sumathipala’s contribution to Amunugama’s hit-piece against Shanika Somatilake, and his role in a major breach of privacy and ethics in the unauthorized use of a woman’s social media pictures.

Furthermore Somatilake has reported consistent bullying and slander from Derana Media aligned Facebook groups and pages since she openly criticized Amunugama’s interview, including some that refer to her as a woman who went to New Zealand to “clean toilets”.

The attacks against the cartoonist by the Derana media powerhouse comes in the same week that Amunugama’s cheerleader Nimal Perera bullied two young women into issuing apologies to him on Twitter. Perera and his proxies telephoned their parents and employers in order to force them to delete posts referencing his alleged involvement in the Airbus corruption scandal.

Nimal Perera

In February 2020, police told the Fort Magistrate that a sum of US dollars 800,000 was transferred from a Singapore bank account belonging to Priyanka Neomali Wijenayake to Don Nimal Hemasiri Perera in Sri Lanka. Wijenayake and her husband former Chief Executive of SriLankan Airlines Kapila Chandrasena are accused of money-laundering centred on an alleged bribe paid to them by Airbus for SriLankan to purchase passenger aircraft from the France-based company. The alleged corruption was revealed in a global investigation of corrupt practices by Airbus carried out by UK authorities.

Last year Dilith Jayaweera threatened to sue a young woman for defamation for her remarks about him on social media.

See Varuni Amunugama’s disastrous Interview in Full Here:

 

 

 

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Latest comments

  • 42
    3

    I only have a comment on Psychiatrist Athula Sumathipala. If true then he should have the guts to write the same in journals and news papers ,where he is currently residing and employed.(I will like to give the benefit of his words not being taken out of context). If posting on social media is a sign of Mental Disorder , then posing in any other media, movies , modeling are considered as what ?? Which diagnostic criteria manual is he quoting ?? ICD or DSM or his own Lankan/Buddhist/political manual ??? In that case what about men who pose bear body (in his words half naked) ,model and act are they exempted from such diagnosis ?? Are there gender base diagnostic manual which none of the Psychiatrist are aware of ??? As in Padeniya’s diagnostic test ??? Poor Professor could not identify all those anti socials, Histrionics, Borderline,Narcissistic, passive aggressive, Paranoid who are parading as politicians and supporters in our daily life but somehow figured out people who pose in two pieces have mental health issues.This not only gives an idea of this so called Prof’s mindset but the standards of Keele University and R.C of Psychiatry. I just cant imagine with this mind set how the professor will be addressing his own patients ??? I am curious to know the opinion of his wife/daughter and other female family members of his ??

    • 38
      5

      Chiv,
      The guy is a perfect example of what I call Sinhala Buddhist syndrome. These are people who, while being highly qualified, still manage to hang on to their outmoded and regressive attitudes in private. Rather like the Buddhist monk who was arrested for exploiting a minor the other day. He must have been pretty popular for his sermons. Hypocrisy is the name of the game.
      Thankfully, the offspring of these creatures manage to become decent human beings in their countries of domicile.

      • 6
        0

        Not always, many of them even if they were born in these western land and have been exposed to liberal western democratic ideas from a young age, are still influenced by their racist parents and spit out racism . We saw one person here from London, who as now mysteriously become quiet. I personally knew of a young female, in Melbourne, who was deliberately misinforming her fellow Australian students, that the Sri Lankan Tamils are all descended from estate coolies, who were imported by the British during the last century and as such cannot demand equal rights with the native Sinhalese. Something very similar to many commenting the same here, especially one from Melbourne. When I confronted her as to why she was deliberately spreading lies and shame on her, she did not have anything to say but most probably still stating the same lie.

  • 21
    4

    I am also interested in knowing the opinion of retired surgeon Janapriya.

  • 9
    5

    “Social media and sound bites”

    Native,

    There were 2 guys I never really liked …… Carl Sagan and William Buckley Jr. …….with the pompous accents and manners and all …… Norm Chomsky said he used to go to dinners at Harvard where some profs would walk around in tweed jackets (did SJ walk around in a Mao jacket at Peradeniya? :)) ) talking in upper-crust British accents who had never stepped outside of the US. ………. Native and SM are beyond redemption …… OC, hope those schools back home didn’t “elocution-ed” you into a bad pseudo Brit accent!

    Well, you’re into Block Theory and all that ye might be a fan of the man. I suppose, he was accurate sometimes and not always full of BS.

    Carl Sagan in 1995 ultimately predicted a number of pitfalls and challenges we would be facing 25 years later when he published his last book just months before his death in 1996.

    • 10
      4

      continued

      “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”

      He also expressed concern about America’s future generations being “dumbed down.”

      Sagan continued, “The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”

      • 9
        1

        Nimal,
        “lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience “
        Yes, the totally mis-named History Channel is a good example.
        “but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”
        I am always gobsmacked at the way so many Americans believe that Afghanistan , Iran, or Cuba are existential threats. Come back, Radio Moscow, all is forgiven!

        • 11
          1

          old codger

          “I am always gobsmacked at the way so many Americans believe that Afghanistan , Iran, or Cuba are existential threats. “

          Now we know the reason as to why Americans elected Trump and tolerated him for 4 years.
          Yet only 81,268,924 electors voted for Biden and 74,216,154 popular votes went to Trump. This is why SJ prefers the dictatorship of the Mao’s proletariat.

          Do we know why 6.9 Million voted for Gota?
          Does Gota know why 6.9 millions voted for him?

          Where is Lester?
          I miss his jokes.

          • 7
            1

            My dear NV,

            we were able to convince LESTER not allowing him fool the readers. Poor guy became speechless. Next headache is Ms. SCP.
            :
            Their fates will be similar to that of WIMAL SANGILI WEERAWANSE whose whereabouts are not known to anyone today. Surely he is hiding under the bed of Maha Raja.

            • 8
              2

              leelagemalli

              Actually what is the dispute that Sangili Weerawana is hiding from?
              Is he not in Gota’s good books?
              Or is he he organising a palace coup?

              Silence itself is a voice” – Wimal Weerawansa says to the media.
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdMSRuxE63w

              He didn’t bother to question Gota when his dual citizenship issue was raised during and after 2019 presidential elections.

              • 0
                0

                Native,
                I hear poor Lester has been terminated by Varuni for below-par performance. You can get caught making howlers only so many times. But then, being a Rajapaksa slave is not consistent with intelligence.

        • 10
          0

          OC,

          “celebration of ignorance.”

          For me that hits it on the head ……… this is what the “SLFP side of politics” has done starting with SWRD. The ignorance is confined to their lower ranks. They have made it their business to constantly sell “ignorance” to their “followers.”

          It’s some sort of a perceived grievance/grudge against “something” ………. which I can’t actually pin down …….. a grudge against a successful element of society or something ….

          Keeping people “backward” is the game.


          People are people all over the world ……. Trump plays the same game ….. Whites because the color of their skin expect a privileged place in society without doing much to gain it – like the Sinhala-Buddhists expect a privileged place simply because they are the majority. If you watched the footage of the Capitol riots, those idiots haven’t done (or couldn’t do even if they wanted to) one iota to “make America great” but just want to grab the fruits of America’s success because of the privileged position they have because of the color of their skin. Trump has gone bankrupt six times! Those idiots can’t win a standing pissing contest with Aunt Jemima let alone make America great.

    • 9
      1

      nimal fernando

      “There were 2 guys I never really liked …… Carl Sagan and William Buckley Jr.”

      I have watched Carl Sagan’s documentary but never heard of William Buckley Jr. until you mentioned it above. Thanks anyway.
      Noam Chomsky is one of my favourite intellectually honest person unlike our professors in this island. Then Amartya Sen, Edward Said, Gananath Obeyesekere,
      H L Seniviratne, R A L H Gunawardana, Kenneth Galbraith, …………..

      One sad thing is that the above public intellectuals are not match for our other intellectuals, Shenali Waduge, Chana Jayasumana, Gamanpilla, Mervyn Silva PhD, Nalin, Wimal Sangili Karuppan Weerawansa, ……. Shavendra, Kamal Gunaratne, ………… ….

      • 3
        0

        Native,

        William Buckley Jr. represented “conservative” side of politics back then. I will mimic the same manners and the accent when I give the toast at OC’s and Ramona’s forthcoming wedding. SM will be jumping for joy …… finally all his teaching has borne fruit!

        James Baldwin vs William F Buckley
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFeoS41xe7w
        William F. Buckley Jr., Noam Chomsky
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DvmLMUfGss

        • 1
          0

          Nimal,
          “when I give the toast at OC’s and Ramona’s forthcoming wedding”
          You know,I always had the impression that Ramona is YOUR wife. You know, both being Fernandos…..
          😂😂😂😂😂

          • 0
            0

            Nimal,
            What is Mr.Spock doing behind Buckley at the Cambridge Union?

  • 6
    4

    GambadaIskoleMahaththaya has listened to all 28 minutes of Varuni’s interview with Kishani Alanki, but there are many other links that I must explore.
    .
    However, if I try to do all that this comment may never get written. And it may not be necessary because Sarath Amunujgama was a man I used to admire greatly; however, please see this CT article about him:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/major-diplomatic-snub-illegal-foreign-minister-sarath-amunugama-humiliated-in-maldives/comment-page-1/#comments
    .
    116 responses to that article, and many by me. I myself have given you links to show how Professor Jeevan Hoole got involved in all this.
    .
    Just four days after that, yet another article about the same people:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/fake-foreign-minister-amunugamas-daughters-desperate-damage-control-attempt-further-exposes-diplomatic-snub-in-maldives/
    .
    More to be followed there before we make up our minds about these people, political dynasties, and villagers like me.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 48 3111 444V) aka “Sinhala_Man”

  • 3
    1

    I find Athula Sumathipala as the doctor of Wijeweera.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNLV56E-YZE&t=311s&ab_channel=TalkwithChatura

  • 8
    9

    People have bigger problems than these distractions.

    • 11
      2

      GATAM

      “People have bigger problems than these distractions.”

      True.
      Therefore you better deal with bigger problems and let us deal with smaller problems. It appears that every time we solve smaller problems you tend to create more problems. Don’t you think its time you quit.

      • 4
        0

        NV,
        Appreciate and relish the manner in which the delegation of duties have been effectively done. Good deal
        May god bless us all in this adventure of progress.

  • 7
    2

    GATAM

    “People have bigger problems than these distractions.”

    True.
    Therefore you better deal with bigger problems and let us deal with smaller problems. It appears that every time we solve smaller problems you tend to create more problems. Don’t you think its time you quit.

  • 9
    0

    As George Orwell would have put it, these “personalities” are attempting to turn reality on its head and force people to believe in incredible fantasies that are far removed from generally acknowledged reality. It is a dangerous trend where such women can impress on young girls and youth to use their “64 maryam” to counter oppressive and abusive male sexual overtures to their advantage rather than protest or revolt against them as is practiced in any fair and just society.

  • 2
    0

    OH Gotler’s holigans are enjoying the hard earned victory like nothing,
    Go on guys put all behind the bars, these 6.9 mills “Mahadana Muttas” deserve the royal treatment
    Show them who is boss, They deserved it, spice up the scene with cases like Lasantha and Prageeth
    They shouldn’t even think to voice up against our Great Rajapussies

  • 5
    0

    I have always been at a loss to figure out why Sarath Amunugama,[ Proposed to CBK at one time], a member of old elitist CCS, SOCIOLOGIST and a Kinsman of Mrs: B. has comfortably found himself in the MaRa camp!

    His daughter Varuni has thrown in her lot with that master manipulator of the Stock Market- Dilith Jayaweera!

    Range Bandara Ex: Cop is Gen:Sec: UNP!

    Strange but True……….

  • 8
    0

    In my opinion, Varuni has authority only to talk on one subject. That is to talk about how to steal money from the people and the government when in power and then switch party to be saved from the grip of the law. This is what her father did and this is how she became rich. Let’s not forget the past.

  • 0
    3

    I dont know or care for these women but a few words in the article caught my attention.
    There is nothing ‘bizarre’ at all about amunugamas remarks about women using manipulation to get ahead in life. Though to be fair a lot of men do it too.
    Joining freemasonry is the greatest example of this.

  • 3
    0

    Part 1

    Varuni has demonstrated to the whole world what an immature and ignorant little twerp she is. Such people only become bloody arrogant and resort to cheap bullying when someone makes valid criticism of their publicly expressed views on public issues. That means she’s not fit to be in the media profession, or for that matter any profession at all. She should resign and go home right away. In a more civilized country, public outrage would have forced her to quit by now. Her interview with Alanki was a disgrace to say the least. It’s simply mind boggling a woman could hold such feudal, patriarchal and sexist views on her fellow women in this day and age. Actually she comes off as a misogynist and a fascist. She doesn’t seem to have a clue how young women of today, and millennials in general – whether rural or urban, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, local or foreign – feel about themselves, their sexuality and gender, gender relations, and social equity and justice. Actually Varuni’s utterances are threats amounting to micro-aggression towards women, making them feel unsafe in any space with a TV on Derana Channel.

    [Contd. Below]

  • 3
    0

    Part 2

    Now Shanika is a brilliant satirist with an acerbic wit, and she is fully justified in using her talents in countering Varuni’s wanton humiliation and disparaging of women on national TV. No one defamed Varuni – she did it to herself by displaying in public her ignorance, primitive mind-set, and servility to the powers that be. How does Varuni react? She stoops to the low level of threatening Shanika, publishing her pictures without her consent, and calling her mentally ill with the highly questionable backing of someone supposed to be a professional psychiatrist. Now who is the defamer, the bully, the mad person. What Varuni has done is an appalling violation of all journalistic ethics, norms of professional conduct, and even basic human decency. She should publicly apologize at least to salvage what is left of her reputation. And the psychiatrist, I think, is going to have to answer some tough questions as he’s in the UK and it’s not like working for the Rajapaksas.

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