Sydney Morning Herald recycles opposition propaganda
Posted on February 20th, 2010

H. L. D. Mahindapala

Sydney Morning Herald has done it again. The Editor publishes editorials as if he is the last word on Sri Lankan politics but when errors are pointed out they black out the corrections. That’s Aussie rules for you. The following is an expanded version of the original letter sent to the Editor which, needless to say, was not published.

Sir,

Please permit me to comment on some points raised in your editorial on Sri Lanka.

 You mention that “there are credible reports” of election commissioner, Dayananda Dissanayake and his wife being held captive in the presidential election on election day. Scotching this rumour spruiked by the defeated JVP Marxists both the election commissioner and the other officers in the department have publicly vouched that he was in the office supervising the results coming in. Besides, an election petition has been filed by the opposition to declare their candidate, Gen,(retd) Sarath Fonseka the winner and nowhere in it has this “credible report” been cited. If it is that credible it should be provable in court and no more proof will be required to delegitimize the victory of President Mahinda Rajapakse.

 Second, you ask: where is he peace dividend? Obviously, you can’t see it by sitting at desk placed at the opposite end of the Indian Ocean. But the people of Sri Lanka, from north to south, feel that they can move around without the climate of fear that prevailed when the terrorists bombs were going off in street corners and when children who went to school in the morning did not know whether they would come back home in one piece.

 Third, you complain about the presidential election being held early. Well, that’s what the opposition wanted and “”…” my word! “”…” didn’t they get it from the people. So what’s your beef, Mr.Editor?

 Fourth, you mention that Gordon Weiss, the UN officer stationed in Colombo, had told ABC that there is much that Colombo would want to keep hidden. Media also mentioned that Weiss had jacked up his own figure of 7,000 war casualties, estimated when he was heading the UN mission in Colombo, to 40,000 after he left it. It should be noted the UN has officially distanced itself from the statements of Weiss after he left the post. The discrepancies in his statements whilst holding office and leaving it leave a credibility gap that cannot be reconciled.

 Fifth, you quote Jehan Perera as a “respected commentator” of the National Peace Council. What you didn’t mention is that it is a one-man band which has its roots in the most obscene four-letter word in the Sri Lankan political lexicon: “NGOs”. Perera is a noted for scare–mongering. He thrives on it. His foreign funding also depends on the quantum of fear he generates in his commentaries. So it is not surprising to see him talking of a “climate of fear” — an issue which he failed to raise against the life-threatening and “climate of fear” created by the one-man regime of Prabhakaran.

 Last but not the least, your editorial mentions “the descent into dictatorship (which) must be watched with alarm by the democratic world, especially fellow members of the Commonwealth.” Where’s your logic, Mr. Editor? Why hold an election at all if President Rajapakse wants to be a dictator? If he is descending into dictatorship isn’t it easy for him to just abolish parliament, lock up the opposition and impose his regime which has won a 58% approval from the people in a free and fair election?

 Your editorial is pathetically recycling the propaganda of the defeated opposition which consists of elements of Marxist terrorists who have been the sworn enemies of democracy. Their love democracy is only second to that of late Pol Pot. Above all, be rest assured that more than your editorial it is the people of Sri Lanka “”…” the oldest voting nation in Asia-Pacific “”…” who have been and will continue to be the guardians of democracy. The Sri Lankans have defeated the fascist terrorist of the south and the north to preserve their democratic institutions, despite all their defects. Before jumping the gun isn’t it prudent to wait for their verdict on April 8.?

 But if you fall for the propaganda of the opposition and believe that the Sri Lankans are going to lie down and roll over if “”…” and that’s a big “IF” — the jackboot comes down you got another think coming, Mr. Editor!.

 Yours sincerely

H. L. D. Mahindapala
Editor, The Sunday and Daily Observer, Sri Lanka (1990 1994)
53, Galahad Crescent
Glen Waverley,
Victoria 3150

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SMH editorial

War is often the justification for a temporary suspension of normal civil liberties under emergency powers. The test of an established democracy comes when a war ends, and those liberties are promptly returned to the population. This includes the right to stand and vote against the wartime leader in free and fair elections.

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his army defeated the Tamil Tigers last May. But where is the peace dividend for his terror-racked country? The early presidential election held on January 26 was a textbook case in abuse of incumbency against Rajapaksa’s rival, the former military chief General Sarath Fonseka.

Into the bargain, there are now credible reports that the election commissioner, Dayananda Dissanayake, and his wife were kept captive at the presidential compound on election day and the day after while counting was conducted and a result announced. Dissanayake now appears to have withdrawn the resignation he announced after this detention, again as a result of what appears to have been a threatening meeting at Rajapaksa’s office.

On Monday soldiers arrived at General Fonseka’s office and carried him off into the night amid blows and verbal abuse, after he told a foreign radio station he was willing to testify in any international human rights tribunal about alleged war crimes during the final stages of the war. As a former United Nations official on the scene, Gordon Weiss, said on ABC television this week, there is much that Colombo would want to keep hidden. Although he had resigned from the army before standing for the presidency, Fonseka is being held by the military, and seems destined for a closed court-martial on vague charges.

Meanwhile, organisations such as Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders note that disappearances and intimidation of journalists continue. The respected commentator Jehan Perera, of Sri Lanka’s National Peace Council, talks of a ”climate of fear”. In this vitiated atmosphere Rajapaksa has now dissolved parliament, in preparation for an early election at which his goal will be to achieve a two-thirds majority, sufficient to amend the constitution.

The descent into dictatorship must be watched with alarm by the democratic world, especially fellow members of the Commonwealth. It could easily spark new rebellion, this time among the Sinhalese majority on the lines of previous Marxist insurgencies. Until now Canberra has treated Rajapaksa gingerly, intent on getting co-operation in stopping the outflow of boat people refugees. Now it appears more and more that Rajapaksa is the cause, not the solution.

3 Responses to “Sydney Morning Herald recycles opposition propaganda”

  1. Chintha Says:

    Free media means free to LIE and MISINFORM as they wish , for loads of money. These journalist are nothing but CROOKS.

  2. Nihal Fernando Says:

    SMH – You are talking about media freedom and a lot more things in Sri Lanka but your media hullabaloo continued unabated. Publish true news or change the name to Sydney Morning Hullabaloo.

  3. aravinda Says:

    Australia is not having fixed parlimentary terms. The Prime ministers hold elections at a time which is most profitable to the ruling party. I have never seen SMH editorials critising early election decisons coming from Canberra.

    This is the first itme I have seen someone calling Jehan Perera as an respected journalist. In Sri Lanka he is regarded as a joker for hire.

    Commissioner of Elections, Mr.Dayananda Dissanayaka is dumbfoundad by opposition rumours that he was forcibly held up by the government. He says nothing like that ever happened to him. Who is feeding this bull shit to SMH?

    Dear SMH editor, Mr.Rajapaksa is the best leader Sri Lanka had since 1505 AD. He won the election by 1.8 million votes. He freed the country from 30 years of unabated terror financed from terrorist sympathisers in UK, Canada, Norway and few other so called western nations. People love Mahinda. His middle name is not Aladin. He does not posses a magic lamp to find instant solutions to problems created by British colonisation. He need time. Please stop Sri Lanka bashing. Even if you do, no one gives a damn.

    Well, well you advocate treating Mahinda Rajapaksa gingerly, do you? Do you remember how Miliband ( UK foreign minister) and Kochner ( French counterpart) were chased out of Sri Lanka. They ran home with tails between their legs. That is the ground reality. SMH editor is still living in the good old colonial era. It is not Ceylon, it is Sri Lanka now.

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