February 2008


The question of existence; life after death; solution to the economical and ethnic problems of the world, of Sri Lanka; the honesty and capability of the politicians, of the Sri Lankan President; the militaristic defeatism of the LTTE terrorists; …

We all have our own opinion.

Given vastly different opinions on the same subject, it is impossible for all of them to be correct at the same time- is it not?

Yet, most, stubbornly continue to cling on to their old opinions despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Many continued to believe that the Earth is flat (as well as being the center of the whole universe) for a very long time after it was conclusively proved otherwise.

Giving up an opinion, on any subject, held dearly for a long time is very painful.

For many, it is personal …

It would seem better to ignore the facts staring at your face rather than go through an intelligent inquiry and the possibility of a painful realization of the currently held fallacies.

If you grew up believing that Sinhalese people are monsters with fangs in their mouths and horns in their heads who delight in devouring Tamil children for dinner, then it would be painfully difficult to get you to sit together for a family dinner with me. I am Sinhalese myself and last time I checked I neither have horns nor fangs. Oh, and I haven’t eaten anybody. 🙂

If you believe that Sri Lanka is a failed state going further down the road of anarchy and economic strife with nobody capable of fixing it, and the best bet for you is to seek better pastures oversees, then no amount of visible evidence to the promising development going on in many sectors of the country would convince you otherwise.

It is all very, very, sad.
But of course, they say that every man is an island to themselves- you do have every right to withdraw in to a cocoon of denial and wither in a ball of pessimism.

But it is alright, ‘cause us optimists, believe that with or without you pessimists, slowly but surely, Sri Lanka is rising!

Mr. Sripathi Sooriyarachchi’s death exactly on the one year anniversary of the stripping of his ministerial portfolio by the ‘dictator president’ Mahinda Rajapakse is raising serious questions among the intelligent Colombo population.

This is the prevailing theory of what really happened.

Special undercover operatives of the ‘dictator president’ had attached a sophisticated hostile device to the ECU (Electronic Control Unit) of the vehicle in which the late Mr. Sripath Suriyaarachchi (MP) was traveling.

The device was set to disable the breaks and steer the vehicle exactly by 45 degrees when it went over 140km/h and was passing through a suitable stretch of road with an abundance of sturdy trees on the side of the road.

To make sure they hit a sturdy enough tree, they had used state of the art GPS tracking as an additional input to the sophisticated trigger mechanism.

The offending device was set to self destruct (Mission Impossible style) upon impact so that there is no incriminating evidence.

The execution of the assassination was so successful and innovative that it is rumored the CIA is looking for sub-contracting the Rajapakse government on their own top secret projects.

Note:
Motivation for this post came after reading the comments for this item in the Daily Mirror website, while the inspiration of the writing style came from the hilariously informative website TamilNet.tv

Save the women and children – said the sinking ship’s captain.
And the captain of terror said – go woman, kill the children.

Women and children?

Women and children are the future; they are the continuity of the race, the survival of the clan, the mother and the child of the next generation.

They are life.

We are genetically programmed to protect our women and children.

Hence the special sadness when we see the massacred school children with their innocent lives sucked out by the cruel hands of LTTE terrorists- the promise of a life yet to be fully lived, lost, for ever.

Is simple misunderstandings.
The root cause of the conflict in Sri Lanka is just that- one big misunderstanding.

You take something embarrassingly simple- co-existence of two races in harmony on shared land- and add layers upon layers of complexity that you no longer see the core issue.

I will be so bold (you may say naive) as to summarize the conflict in Sri Lanka in a few simple annotated statements/claims.
(s1) The minority Tamils in Sri Lanka were (claimed to have been) discriminated against by the majority Sinhalease.
After independence from the British, in addition to English, Tamil’s have had to learn the Sinhala language.
I hope this list can be more ably filled by some Tamil reader friends with first hand accounts of such discrimination …

(s2) There have been several violent Sinhala-Tamil riots which strengthened the separatist cause.
Most notably, the one in 1983, where over a thousand Tamil civilians were massacred by organized Sinhalease thugs.

(s3) LTTE terrorists (supported by donations from expatriate Sri Lankan Tamils) are fighting a bloody terrorist war against the government- at terrible cost to both Sinhala and Tamil civilians- with the end-goal of carving out a separate ethnically pure Tamil state.
The LTTE started small as a group of organized Tamil thugs, but now is the “self-proclaimed sole representative of the Tamil people” by virtue of killing most of the moderate Tamil leaders.
The LTTE have killed more Tamils than, the total number who died during the 1983 Black July and since.

(s4) Expatriate Tamils, who support the LTTE, believe that in a unitary Sri Lanka, sans LTTE terrorists (as a balancing factor), Tamil civilians will continue to be discriminated against.
But Sri Lanka of today is not the Sri Lanka of 1983.

(s5) The party politics of Sri Lanka, where the concept of national solidarity is alien to the opposition, has created a favorable situation for the separatist cause.
Terrorists can “bora diye malu banna”, or “fish in murky waters”- this is the saddest part of all.

Above 5 statements/claims summarize the layers of complexity surrounding the core issue.
But the main problem that need to be solved is:
If possible, to establish the political, administrative, and judicial structure so that the “peaceful co-existence of Sinhala and Tamil races on shared land” is possible.

Contrary to what the international community believes and what some expatriate Tamils believe, IT IS POSSIBLE.

Proof: Colombo.

If there are any doubters come down to Colombo and talk to ordinary Tamil and Sinhala civilians.
Observe how Sinhalease and Tamils interact in work-places, in Schools and Universities.
Observe Sinhalease and Tamils who are neighbors.
Observe Sinhalease worshipping shared deities- God Kandasamy, God Visunu, God Shiva, God Ganesh…
Observer life as it is.

Because the root of enlightenment is true understanding.

News is a story, it is all in how you tell it. News First tells it so that the government is the villain while the most ruthless terrorist organization in the whole wide world is …, … well the hero!

Here is a recipe for proving this: (requires some volunteers with a considerable amount of time and effort)

Step 1)
For at least two weeks, listen to/view the main News First program.
Record the news items related to the LTTE terrorists problem; note the exact wording used, visuals displayed, time assigned to each news item.

Step 2)
During the same period, in a similar fashion, record the news items of:

The primary state controlled media channel (to get the official government version of each news item)
– Rupavahini (because it is somewhat more moderate than ITN)

The three other leading news channels (to act as a base in reviewing News First)
– Swarnavahini
– ITN
– Derana

Step 3)
Compare the reporting.
For the same news item, compare how each channel has presented the story.
These are the parameters:
Dedicated airtime, statements made on the story.
Write down the subjective observations on the tone of the presentation and implicit political angle of the reporting.

Get answers to the following:

  • What news items are not reported in News First but are reported in other channels?
  • Is their anything special about those stories?
  • In the same news item, are their parts that News First doesn’t cover?
  • Is their a pattern in this selective coverage and omission of reporting?
  • Is their a pattern in the nature of news items getting more airtime versus items that don’t?
  • How does News First refer to the LTTE terrorists?
    – Do they ever use the word ‘terrorists’ against the LTTE at all?
  • Compare their use of titles and honorifics to the President and Ministers (or the lack of it) versus LTTE terrorists (or the abundance of it).

Step 4)
Compile the findings in to a short report.
This would be a statistically and factually valid report verifiable against the actual physical recordings of the news programs.

If the report indicated that News First is definitely not pro-terrorist but a truly neutral entity, then good for them and a huge apology would be in order from all the foolish conspiracy theorists.

On the other hand if it indicated that Sirasa News First might, just might be inclined towards furthering the course of the world’s most ruthless terrorist outfit, then action needs to be taken.

Not violent (and ultimately counter productive) action but peaceful and democratic action.

Legal action against them wouldn’t work because they are not doing anything illegal.
Since LTTE is not currently a banned organization in Sri Lanka, because of the outside hope of them returning to peace talks, News First does not have to call those terrorists, ‘terrorists’. And they do not have to make a distinction between Mr. Nadesan and Mr. Rajapakse at all. And unlike the other private channels, they do not have to “not prominently feature the terrorist leaders’ heroes’ day speech in their program”.
It is all just un-patriotic, but none of that is a crime.

So what action is available?

Simple, just copy the strategy from News First’s own “Action TV news segment” (This actually is excellent- News First is good in every way except being possibly pro-terrorist)
Bring the facts to the open- by doing so, embarrass/force the responsible parties to remedy the situation.

The responsible parties are:
1) News First director.
2) Government media minister
3) Defense secretary
4) President’s secretary

The content of the report (described above) and results of further investigations arising out of the interest created by that first report, can be: published online and in news papers, spread across the blogsphere, and used as material by anti-terrorist lobbyists such as the National Movement Against Anti-terrorism, JVP, and the JHU.

If this is done properly, the best case scenario is:
News First gradually reducing their pro-terrorist inclination (They would never admit to being ever pro-terrorist).

I hope that there are at least some result oriented patriots out their willing to join this fight against “media support for terrorism”.
And please remember that this fight of words and ideas is every bit as important as the fight done with guns and motors.

Read part 1 of this post

At least one political party and many people have alleged or expressed suspicion that the popular news program “Sirasa News First” supports the LTTE terrorists.

Is there any truth in this?

An allegation as serious as this must be based on fact, not on mere suspicion.

There are several ways of investigating this ‘suspicion’.

One, very unwise way of investigation would be to question the News First editing team and the people they take orders from.
This approach is very unwise because this would be interpreted as a serious violation of media freedom.

There is a simpler and more effective approach, which does not violate media freedom yet would get the job done. I will describe this approach in part 2 of this topic, hopefully, tomorrow. But first, let me try to describe the context of this issue.

Sirasa TV is arguably the most popular TV channel in Sri Lanka.
And they, as a media channel, is, very good.
Good in the sense that they are very talented in what they do- not in the sense of moral goodness.

They are pioneers in the field and hence the most copied; they have an excellent team, and their brand marketing is superb.
They have captured the ladies with the likes of “Maha Gedara” and “Praveena”. They have captured the youth with programs such as “Sirasa Super Star”. To top it off they have a strong line-up of many other very popular programs, in Sinhala, English, and Tamil.

They are an indispensable part of the Sri Lankan people’s “infotainment mindscape”.
Without them Sri Lankan media would be very different.

Enter Sirasa News First.

Definitely a phenomenon to behold!
The news casters are excellent, presentation great, and the script like a finely edited drama.

And they do not lie, period.

In fact they are more truthful than the news programs of state controlled media.
Over the years, they have built a good reputation as an excellent news program.

What then is the problem?

The problem is that although they do not lie, unfortunately they do not tell the whole truth either.

News is a story, it is all in how you tell it.

They tell it well, in such a way that it aligns with some as yet undisclosed agenda of their own.
It is done so subtly and so artfully that without realizing it, the viewers’ thinking is gradually adjusted to whatever shape they want it to take.

This might look like speculation.
It is.
I will discuss how this speculation can be verified or negated in part 2 of this topic.

Of course the state media is and has been feeding the general population with what the government of the day wants them to see and hear.
But everybody already knows this and they always take the reporting of state media with a grain of salt.

But Sirasa TV is not state controlled. It is supposed to be independent.

If it does in fact, have a sinister pro-terrorist agenda- who is holding the strings?

If the President Mahinda Rajapakse holds the strings of Rupahavini and ITN, who is holding the strings of Sirasa News First?

I do not know about you, but I am seriously worried.

Read part 2 of this post

Vision: achievement of Ealam
Immediate goal: survival for another couple of months
Strategy: terrorizing the civilians, make the battles in Wanni unpopular

How to (in two easy steps):
Step 1) Blow up some civilians, preferably women and children
Step 2) Broadcast the carnage, shots of weeping relatives over the media

Assignment of responsibilities:
For step 1) need brainwashed, female black tigers who wants a one-way ticket to salvation- expensive to train but Vellu is good at inspiring his subjects to commit suicide.
For step 2) need at least one very popular private media channel that puts news first but with its own subtly disguised, yet obviously sinister, anti patriotic agenda- dirt cheap, already there.

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