IN FOCUS –LIFE ABROAD – Pt. 117 – FACTS ARE SACRED
Posted on February 20th, 2015

Dr. Tilak S. Fernando

The validity of an article published in a newspaper, magazine, web page or in the Internet is measured by the response it receives out of the number of feedbacks from readership after its publication. To evaluate its effect, newspapers usually devote a special column called ‘ Citizens’ Mail ‘ or  ‘ Letters to the Editor’ or ‘Opinion’ in some instances. Whatever the forms it takes to highlight the ‘after effects’ of the published article, the focus is generally concentrated on the theme or the substance of the article, more than on the author or his writing skills!

Simple causal reasoning about a feedback may be considered as being difficult because the first structure influences the second, and the second configuration effects the first leading to a circular dispute at the end. This type of reasoning can be frequently seen in the internet forums and ‘chain-emails’ when different individuals get involved seriously attempting to outdo the others’ point of view, which only put their adrenalin levels up; the worst being when such emails are sent to a whole list of contacts in their address book without using the ‘bcc’ format (blind copy) many, who are not even interested in the subject matter and completely unknown to such debates, get overloaded with unsolicited mail often causing a lot  of misunderstanding and irritation.

The above preamble takes to the last week’s Life Abroad column, part 116 under the caption ‘ Expatriate Contribution in London – 2007 in which a particular meeting, that took place in an outside London town called London Colney organised by a group of UK’s Labour Party Councillors, was focused on a relevant topic at that time – ‘Terrorism Prevalent in Sri Lanka’

The level of feedbacks on this particular article has been immense, both to the writer and to the President of the Sinhala Association mentioned in the article. Most of the opinions were positive and commendable while a trickle of negative judgments pointed a finger at the author for ‘being partisan’.

 Inadvertence and Pessimism

 The author wishes to extend an apology to those who misunderstood and harboured negative ideas, but would place on record that this particular article was purely focussed on a specific meeting organised by the Labour Party Councillors in the UK at a time when the LTTE had been quite successful in building inroads to the Labour Party; and by no means with the intention of patronising a single personality or isolating others.

In objective journalism one needs to give maximum credit to where it is due, and criticise wherever there are flaws, with the pen dipped in garlic so as to stink to high heaven! Objectivity throws out light on injustices. How are the rulers to be helped if this is not done? How do the ruled find hope if no one does it? In such a drop back the writer has picked up a few positive feed backs that hit his mailbox within a matter of hours of people reading the last week’s column as follows:

Hopefulness

One reader responded thus: Thank you for this article. Many people have now completely forgotten the recent past. It is heartening to note that there still are patriots who remember it and are brave enough to record it, thank you for your efforts.

An old Anandian was curious to find out whether the writer too was an old boy of Ananda College, Colombo: Were you with Douglas at our school?  I hope, at least, the new government would recognise the fearlessness, patriotism, wonderful debating skills and encyclopedic knowledge of LTTE attrocities of this London Lion and offer him an advisory post in the London High Commission”.

One ‘Asoka’ from Canada put it in a different format altogether: Take a bow Douglas”, he had written. Stretch your hand and touch the hand of Mother Lanka who has stretched her’s in Thanks”; who recognised you as an amazing son who had defended her when you felt that you had to take care of her. Do take of yourself and keep well”, one of your many admirers in Canada.

 

Mahinda Gunasekera chose to compliment Douglas Wickremaratne in the following manner:

 We greatly appreciate the tireless campaign carried out by you almost single handed to provide the correct position relating to issues that affected Sri Lanka.  This task was even more difficult as the diplomats representing Sri Lanka had allowed the bogus allegations to go unchallenged, leaving it to patriots of Douglas ilk to step up and take on the well funded Tamil separatist lies apart and expose them and undermine their fabricated tales.

 We in Canada salute the magnificent role played by Douglas in defending the motherland in every forum manipulated by the extremist Tamil separatist lobby with the intent of attacking Sri Lanka to advance their goal of a separate state to be established in the North and East of Sri Lanka through violent means, including suicide terrorism. We will always remember the services rendered by Douglas to safeguard the interests of our motherland”.

 

A former ambassador to Vietnam had this to say on Douglas Wickremaratna’s past performances:

 

On reminiscing of the years gone by and the inadequacies of Mission representations at crucial meetings, Westminster, the Universities and the media, it is regretful that the GOSL lacked capacity due to many reasons. There was vivid complacency and lack of diplomatic patronage in networking the Sri Lankan diaspora in the UK to negate the extremist racist Tamil misrepresentations about our history and the Sinhala psyche”.

 Douglas W virtually singlehandedly took the ‘raging racist Eelamist bull by the horns’ and fought valiantly. He was successful even with the now notorious Jon Snow and his C4 team. Sadly, yet again, State patronage and diplomatic assistance to Douglas W was non-existent! Had he been facilitated with some diplomatic assistance, he would have developed the much-needed Sri Lankan expat civil society base to negate the virulent LTTE activists and sympathisers in the UK and Europe. How sad one feels about the deficiencies of our own State apparatus in much needed Foreign Service over those crucial years! Hopefully a truly patriotic capable High Commissioner who will concentrate on Sri Lankan expat empowerment and civil society motivation and cohesion, will be appointed in future to carry on the good work Douglas has done”.

 I am glad to have been an invitee to the 1985 meeting of the Federation of Sri Lankan organisations held at the London Hilton, I remember, where the late Athulathmudali used the word “boys” to describe the then budding LTTE terrorist cadres, to which my strong concerns were conveyed immediately after the meeting. Sadly the very same “boys” later brutally assassinated him”.

Peter Wijesinghe, who has been attached to the Sri Lanka High Commission from 1948 and who has been a regular contributor to Life Abroad column many a time in the immediate past, did respond in this instance too. He qualifies in the main to recognise Douglas Wickremaratna’s past efforts having known him personally and associated with Douglas closely during his days in the UK (major part of his life was spent in London).

 

I was very happy to read your article about Mr. Wickremaratne, and agree with every word of what you have written about him. I knew him quiet well during those days and I have had dealings with him as well. In fact I attended many of his meetings too. Mr. Douglas Wickremaratne has done a yeoman service for Sri Lanka, especially at a particular time when there was no Sri Lankans with the guts to speak for this beautiful island, Sri Lanka. Despite all that, there were many elements who were willing to put him downakin to the popular Sinhala fable ‘when there is one Sinhalese struggling to climb out of the pit, there are ten waiting to pull him down by the legs”!

 Of course, while giving Mr. Wickremaratne all the credit due, I must not forget to mention that there were several others too, such as the late Donald Karunaratne, Chandra Illukpitiya, Dr.Chandra Iriyagolla, Dr. Ari Dissanayake and several others who stood up for this country against the “Tamil hate Sinhalese campaign” (whose names I can not recollect right now)”.

 If Douglas had stood up for any other country’s cause in the same manner he did for Sri Lanka, most probably he would have been decorated with honours, I am certain. I personally think Mr. Wickremaratne deserved more”.

 

A voluntary silence would be spiritual suicide, and would soundlessly undermine the foundation of the brotherhood we seek”.

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