Dare to be different

Ajith P. Perera, Chief Organiser, Bandaragama, UNP – අධිනීතිඥ අජිත් පී. පෙරේරා, ප්‍රධාන සංවිධායක, බණ්ඩාරගම, එක්සත් ජාතික පක්ෂය

Posts Tagged ‘Ravaya’

Tissainayagam case: Sinhala Bloggers Show Solidarity

Posted by Ajith on September 6, 2009

Tissa 1

While Sinhala print and electronic media, with the rare exception of the Sinhala weekly Ravaya, showing either indifference or the endorsement of the twenty year rigorous imprisonment sentence given to journalist J. S. Tissainayagam for two articles he has written and purely based on his ‘confession’, some of the Sinhala bloggers have taken a hundred and eighty degree approach by expressing their solidarity and in some cases censure.

Beyond Frame, arguably the most popular Sinhala blogger, in his own way expresses the anguish – in verse. “Tissa, why didn’t you swim downstream (like everyone else)?” asks Beyond Frame. “Why you swam upstream? Then why you had to be a Tissainayagam, not a Tissanayake?” The two are slightly different Tamils and Sinhala versions of the same name.

Tissa 3

W3Lanka, the first Sinhala blogger to discuss the issue, obviously taking a certain amount of risk gets an interesting comment. “In 1989, Tissainayagam translated some documents on the human rights violations of then regime for (now President) Mahinda Rajapakse, a key human rights activist of the day, to be taken to Geneva. He was a hero then, but now a villain. Is this because then he was fighting for rights of the Sinhalese and now for Tamil rights?” Asks the commentator Pathum.

Two more popular Sinhala bloggers ‘Taboo Subjects’ and ‘Makabass’ innovatively use published Sinhala verses and songs in place of their comments. Taboo Subjects use a verse by poet Dayasena Gunasinghe, while Makabaas gets the best use of Nanda Malini’s popular ‘Nidahas Bailava’ – with its catchy line “This is the great country with the freedom to write, speak and reprimand” as his title. Their reluctance to comment further is understandable as not everyone is certain about the legal implications.

Tissa 2

Ramachandra, a keen political analyst blogger goes a step ahead by questioning if Tissainayagam were to be imprisoned for twenty years what should be the punishment for Gunadasa Amarasekera, who had made worse racist remarks about the Tamils, for not voting for Rajapakse regime. Ramachandra asks why Amarasekera were not punished for equating Tamils to cows in an article to a racist Sinhala weekly.

Meanwhile some pro-Rajapakse and pro-Sinhala extremist bloggers have posted approving the judgment.

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Edwin Ariyadasa: A naive victim or a willing accomplice in ‘Sakwithi Ranasinghe’ scam?

Posted by Ajith on September 28, 2008

I am sad to pen this post.

Edwin Ariyadasa, as an intellect and a writer once made a profound impact on my life. Our generation, unlike the youngsters today, had no Internet or even TV. It was all books, radio and newspapers. Ariyadasa’s realm was the last two.

He was an excellent presenter. Precise and concise in facts, he knew exactly what the readers looked for.

What made Ariyadasa unforgettable were the contributions to ‘Navayugaya’ and ‘Silumina’. I still remember him explaining in mid 1970s how future generations would start their days by reading newspapers electronically delivered to homes. Then it was unthinkable – I wouldn’t have then believed it to happen even in the west – let alone here. Strangely that is what we do today. May not be at home, but most of us read online versions of news early morning. Suffice to describe the visionary he once was.

Unlike most writers of the time he never tried pushing a political ideology. A true unbiased ‘walking encyclopedia’ – no more, no less. I cannot be the only one who then saw the future in his eyes.

So how would the news of his ‘partner’ (or employer – as Ariyadasa emphasizes, saying he was paid Rs. 100,000 per month for the services) running away with billions of hard earned rupees sound to his once fans like myself?

Personally, I am disappointed. Not because I think Ariyadasa was a part of anything that happened, but no denial that he endorsed a dubious character. An irresponsible act – to say the least. What does Ariyadasa now say about his name appearing in full page advertisements in Lankadeepa inviting depositors? Can he claim unawareness? What about the claims by depositors that Ariyadasa encouraged them to deposit? Does he deny that?

Those who sleep with dogs will get up with lice. (Ballan samaga nidagath vita mekkan samaga negiteemata siduve) A wonderful saying attributed to a famous Sinhala journalist. Sad that Edwin Ariyadasa had to learn it the hard way.

Ariyadasa is not alone. This episode also brings the story of a certain Computer professor into our minds. No need for a name as he is no more. Just like Ariyadasa he too had a credibility built up for a lifetime which he risked for seemingly minor benefits.

After his retirement from the University this Computer Professor had a comfortable life ahead him with no worries. He had no financial issues because both his sons were then employed by two international IT firms. Still his sheer unwillingness to give up power once yielded made him accepting a chair at a government organization for a compensation of Rs. 100,000 per month – exactly the same thirty pieces of silver Ariyadasa received.

This power, of course came with a price tag. His political masters wanted him to manipulate a tender of USD 15 million so that a firm represented by a close relative of a VVIP wins it. This was no easy task, as the other party offer was both technically and financially superior. The offer of VVIP’s close relative was USD 1 million more and not represented by a local partner – a mandatory condition in tender. Still this stupid old man did the honurs and awarded the tender to the wrong party – whose offer should have not even been short listed in the first place.

What got him was the media. Revelations by ‘Sunday Leader’ and ‘Ravaya’ perhaps added to his guilty consciousness. That guilty feeling finally took his life. A stupid man, who could have lived for another ten years easily, lost his life being a pawn of a much bigger political game.

Thanhaya jaayati soko – greed generates sorrow. This is something both Ariyadasa and the said Computer Professor should have known. Latter is now dead, buried and conveniently forgotten even by his closest disciples – but we hope Ariyadasa is still not too late.

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Will sacking Anuruddha Polgampola make JVP super clean? My foot!!

Posted by Ajith on September 7, 2008

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has sacked Anuruddha Polgampola, their parliamentarian from Kegalle district for alleged job smuggling. Polgampola has apparently taken money from another for taking him to Japan illegally guising the latter as his personal-assistant. This led to the embarrassing situation of them having detected at the airport and the ‘personal assistant’ not allowed entering the country.

While state media has done its best to credit this to JVP’s account, some sections of private media jumped to safeguard JVP saying the other political parties should take an example from JVP!

‘The Island’ in an editorial titled ‘Well done JVP!’ has gone to the length reminding us that this is not the first case, even Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga was involved with similar attempts earlier sending party henchmen illegally to Alaska. (One does not have to be Nimal Welgama to know Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga’s affiliations were more with the former regime than this one!)

Does this incident prove JVP a super clean political party?

Perhaps the gullible journalists of print media buy it but for better informed public, job smuggling is nothing more than part and parcel of JVP’s financial strategy.

All political parties need money for their survival. For smaller parties like Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) which has little chance of coming into power finds it extremely difficult to meet ends meet. At least JHU gets their share of ‘dollars’ from the Buddhist temples abroad but JVP has no such luck. Their foreign money supply line from Japan looks dried off after Saman Piyasiri Fernando alias ‘Japan Saman’ has pulled off.

So whether it likes or not JVP has to get involved in various dubious deals to find money. It is an open secret JVP takes contracts to paste posters for private sector. Recently ‘Ravaya’ alleged them for pasting posters promoting sanitary napkins.

JVP trade union leaders also take money from private sector for not taking union action. Little does the party grassroots know about these deals that happen at the top level.

So if is extremely difficult to think Anuruddha Polgampola sahodaraya did this on his own. It could more be a collective work, but when things went out of control JVP washed its hands sacking the comrade. Talk of sacrificial goats!

Interestingly Polgampola was never sacked from the party. So does this mean super clean JVP further tolerates corrupted inside its ranks?

Journalists who jump to whitewash JVP have still lot to learn!

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