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“Pandora’s box” of the evils of journalists has now been opened.

By Noor Nizam

The Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka's words have come true about bad journalists.

THE PANDORA BOX.

The news item that appeared in the (Lanka-e-News, Dec.19, 2008, 12.00 PM

“Lanka-e-News' learns that well known NGO activist Sunanda Deshapriya who acted as the chief of the media section of the CPA as well as the spokesman of the Free Media Movement, has been sacked by Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA) following a probe regarding a financial fraud”

opens the "Pandora's box" of evils of journalists.

Journalist Deshapriya who acted as the chief of the media section of the CPA as well as the spokesman of the Free Media Movement, is also alleged to have been found guilty for swindling Rs. 200,000 and probes are underway regarding frauds amounting millions of rupees. Deshapriya, an ex-JVPer, drifted from jail into the NGO world and was joined by the late Mr. Charles' Abeysekera (a former officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, and later a Chairman of the Steel Corporation and a former Chairman of the Official Languages Commission) to form the 'Movement for Inter-Racial Justice and Equality (MIRJE) an NGO, much engaged in HR activities and racial harmony received much funding by International Funding Agencies and INGO’s. Mr. Deshapriya joined MIRJE to edit the Sinhala weekly tabloid Yukthiya (Justice) which became defunct later. The late Mr. Charles' Abeysekera who subsequently went into the lucrative NGO business with Journalist Mr. Sunanda Deshapriya now accused of large scale NGO fund misappropriations at the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), was also under the microscope for questionable accountability and transparency issues, during his tenure as the Chairman of the Steel Corporation and later the chairman of the Official languages Commission. These misappropriations have still not been answered.

What then did the honest, patriotic and outspoken Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka say to the Sunday Observer published on 20th July 2008, and Sinhala Language weekly Lakbima, when he stressed the fact that:

"We know that journalists are being bribed, given 'drinks', treated in restaurants and they have their own vested interests. We know very well about those media people who take bribes, write and voice their opinion for some personal gains.

These so called media guys are not responsible to the people and they are not entitled to such media freedom.

So, especially the media people should behave well and set an example to others. To me, those who stage protests with unshaven beards, long hairs and wearing costumes like in fancy dress competitions are not scribes who are clamoring for media freedom but a gang of thugs".

What the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka stated then to the press (Sunday Observer published on 20th July 2008, and Sinhala Language weekly Lakbima (which is quoted above) is the truth and nothing but the truth.

As a respected freelance journalist, I expressed publicly my opinion supporting the Army Commander's views and the manner in which the Army Commander expressed such opinions, which was published in the Lankaweb.com Internet Newspaper and other electronic publications in July 2008. The Nation and the International Community at large, including the so-called media freedom advocacy NGO's have to respectfully and gracefully concede to what the General told the press about these “bad journalist”. One cannot but sincerely acknowledge the fact that they were the opinions and statements of TRUTH concerning the “bad journalists” made by a distinguished "Son of Sri Lanka".

The "bad journalist" have tried to use their journalistic skills to disgrace the Army Commander and to create unwarranted "media slogans" trying to generate "communication metaphors" that could induce a negative opinion about the Army Commander, both Nationally and Internationally. In recent weeks, I have noticed with great sadness, as a Canadian Sri Lankan, though domiciled abroad, the un-respectful manner in which "bad journalists" and “bad media” have tried to harm the personal image of the Army Commander. I am not the least interested in the battle debacles of the General in the Wanni conflicts, but only in all aspects of the Generals personality and dedication to his duties as a government official.

THE ARMY COMMANDER TALKING SENSE.

The Army Commander is not immature nor is he talking “out of turn”, but General Sarath Fonseka is outspoken as a Commander. The General was outspoken about the "Tamil Nadu Jokers". Those Tamil Nadu politicians who “barked like dogs, (at least the General called them jokers), so loud, have still not resigned from their seats in the provincial government or the federal government. There seems to be some of the same human species of politicians in Sri Lanka too, but they do not bark, they just howl like wolves. All they want is to use situations to deceive the general masses and to use deception to hopefully try and fatten their electoral vote banks at any forth coming elections and not be proactive or pragmatic towards finding a peaceful resolution to the ethnic conflict that is plaguing the nation for nearly 3 decades and the sacrifice of thousands of Tamil, Sinhalese and hundreds of Muslim lives, specially that of our youth to terrorism and violence. They are only flaming the conflict more and more towards war and pursuing hard to thrive and live from the pittance of selfish benefits they can gain as politicians and NGO activists. The ultimate results, the publicity made by their groups internationally of nearly 70,000 Sri Lankans, Tamils, Sinhales and a few hundred odd Muslims being killed in this violent human drama and the agony and trauma created to families of all the victims of violence and the families of the LTTE cadres and the members of the security forces over the last 3 decades.

As a senior government official, the General was definitely and truly correct in telling what he felt about the NGO's and their activities in the North. The General was also fair enough to make the strong statements he had uttered about the “howling wolves” politicians in Sri Lanka . One cannot deny the fact that the General is the most competent person at this junction to express the truth of all realities in respect of the ongoing confrontational conflict in the Wanni. General Sarath Fonseka is a soldier, and that too a disciplined soldier with a great love to Mother Lanka and the cause to justice and peace of the nation. The General has been entrusted with a job to do and the General is trying his utmost to do it the best, without hurting the civilians in the conflict along with his band of soldiers.

REALITY OF REASONING.

If the LTTE high command and it’s hierarchy including Mr. Pottu Amman,

Colonel Soosai, the late head of the organization's Political Division, Brig S P Tamilselvan, Lt Col Anpumani (Alex), Major Mihuthan, Capt Nethagy, Lt Adchgivel, and Lt Vahaikumaran and the present Political wing leader Mr. P. Nadesan have done their best to do their job to appease their leader and the late "Former parliamentarian and a leading human rights activist Mr.Chandraneru who contributed in campaigns for human rights by International Tamil community at the UN and other human rights forums." Had and have the right to do all what they did, then there is no logic with the “bad journalist” or the “bad politicians” anyway to raise unwarranted issues about the security forces or the Army Commander at all.

NOT BAD JOURNALISTS - BUT ALSO BAD POLITICIANS.

One cannot see how, not only "bad journalists", but also "bad politicians'" from the deep South can make statements that are detrimental to the historic moments of Sri Lanka and to the sincerity of a dedicated soldier. General Sarath Fonseka may not have any political aptitude, but the politicians who point fingers at the General should not forget the manner in which they appeared to become the "so-called politicians" in the SLFP of the late Hon. Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike and have thus made themselves what they call themselves today. Was this not with the generosity of the late Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranike influenced my her late loving son, Hon. Anura Bandaranaike followed with the favours granted by her daughter President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge during her regime as the leader of the SLFP and then as PM and President later on?

Today these individuals even claim to be, what they call and represent themselves as a breakaway party group and leader of such a group. Such politicians who try to look down on the General Fonseka should be reminded that starting their entry into 65 Rosmead Place (Tintagel) in a pair of short pants, with earrings and sunglasses, seeking to represent the SLFP down south can be more pathetic and shameful, if the public will know all the details, cannot and should not try to throw stones of word at a man of discipline and character. The late Hon. Anura Bandaranaike, who introduced such politicians to the late Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, if alive, would have really taken to task Hon. Mangala Samaraweera for the unwarranted statements he had made about the General and the Salvation Army. Only a very few confidants of the late Hon. Sirimavo Bandaranaike know the details and the remarks she made to the late Hon. Anura Bandaranaike in private of this first introduction.

INGO”s AND NGO’s ARE THE CULPRITS OF THE CONFLICT.

There are many things that the soldier General sarath Fonseka has “out spoken’ that may become true in the near future too, especially that of the activities of the International NGO”s. But the fact remains that the undercurrents are so strong that the dreadful stories such as:

“Non governmental organizations received a staggering amount of nearly Rs 40.1 billion for Tsunami-related activities but it cannot be determined whether this money had been properly utilized, according to the parliamentary select committee investigating NGOs and their impact.

The select committee report was submitted to parliament last week. It states that Rs 40.1 billion had been received by 256 NGOs. “According to Central Bank reports, it was evident that even though these funds had been received within the year 2005, the service rendered had been minimal,” it elaborates.

The committee found that a huge monetary surplus of those NGOs had been carried forward from 1 January 2006 but no physical audit had been done to ensure that those cash balances had been utilized properly. Therefore, a conclusion regarding this issue could not be reached. “It was clear that the amount of money received by the non-governmental organizations within the year 2005-2006 was nearly 20150 million rupees while the expenditure was 1,800 million rupees,” the report states. (Courtesy - www.lakbimanews.lk)

Will be over and over again be swept under the carpet.

General Sarath Fonseka is not a man just to utter things even when it comes to INGO’s and local NGO’s. This is what he said about the INGO’s and NGO’s in a candid interview on December 10th., 2008 with Malinda Seneviratne(Courtesy – The official Government News Portal of Sri lanka” www.news.lk).

“But the majority of INGOs and NGOs have not done anything constructive. They’ve mollycoddled the LTTE, have not acted in the national interest and the authorities should take serious note about all this. We are aware that some actually left equipment with the LTTE. The bottom line is this: if you can’t deliver, then leave!”

The frightening scenario of all these is the revelations made by the Secretary Defense Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa to journalist Shamindra Ferdinando of The Island dated November 2008 during a press interview. This is what the Secretary Defense had to tell about the INGO’s and especially the Norwegian NGO’s who had been operating in the deep in the North and the Wanni:

“Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday called for an audit of funds received by INGOs and NGOs for development work in areas under LTTE control at the time of the Norwegian brokered CFA came into operation in February 2002.

He said that both the Sri Lankan government and those who contributed millions of dollars to INGO and NGO kitties should investigate the recipients. A comprehensive investigation would reveal the true extent of the fraud that had been committed, he said.

Rajapaksa stressed that all INGOs including UN agencies should be probed with regard to funds and all other assets including vehicles brought into the country.

In an interview with The Sunday Island , the Defence Secretary said the army hadn’t come across even a minor scale development program undertaken by INGOs and NGOs in the liberated area west of the A9 road”

The Defense Secretary had further said:

He said that the INGOs and NGOs had received millions of dollars from the international community since February 2002 to implement development work, rehabilitate tsunami affected communities and improve living conditions of the people. (Courtesy: Sunday Island 23.11.2008).

THE DEFENSE ESTABLISHMENT IS CORRECT ABOUT THE NORWEGIANS.

Questions have to be raised as to Why Hon. Mangala Samaraweera rushed to Oslo on December the 17th., to meet with Hon. Erik Solhiem the Norwegian International Development Minister, Erik Solheim who led the Norwegian delegation tasked with handling the Sri Lankan peace process and Norwegian Special Envoy to Sri Lanka Peace Process Jon Hanssen Bauer. Was this to sweep under the carpet the financial atrocities done by the Norwegian NGO’s specially engaged in the North of Sri Lanka that may come to light as the General had stated to the press in one of his interviews which was supported by the Secretary of Defense and fully supported and reflected in an article by a journalist under the name – Rashikan published in the Tamil Guardian under heading International NGOs operating in Sri Lanka: Truth revealed! dated 8.12.04 (Courtesy: Tamil Canadian – December 8th., 2004).

Again, history reveals to us the malpractices of the Norwegian “god fathers of NGO funding” coming to lime light and the need for the LTTE also to “open it’s eyes and see reality” in it’s TRUTH.

A very good example has been a series of investigative reports/articles written in the Norwegian Newspaper "The Nationen" (The Nation ) from the 23rd of August 2002 to 14th., September 2002 of the misappropriation of 100 million Kroners received by a Sri Lankan registered Norwegian NGO called Worldview International Foundation, which has it's modern headquarters in somewhere Nugegoda. The question asked by the Special inquiring audit firm (Consultants) hired by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry of which then, Mr.Jan Petersen was then the Honorable Minister and Mr. Vidar Helgesen was the State Secretary. Both were leading Norwegian personalities in the facilitating and mediation process of the Peace Initiative. The much talked about Mr. Erik Solhiem has served in the Board of Directors of Worldview International Foundation, one of the articles says. Four leading Norwegian Journalists have done the investigative research on this scandal and the matter has come up in the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) for questioning in September 2002. Strange as it can be, none of the Newspapers in Sri Lanka have published even a line of journalistic report on this gigantic scandal.

To the horror of all Sri Lankan’s including the Tamils, the Sinhalese and the Muslims, some of those high flying Sri Lankan Government officials involved with World View International and the Cey-Nor Development Foundation are today holding cabinet portfolios in the HE. Mahinda Rajapaksa government and wielding great political power within the government and the cabinet. One of those officials who received perks for himself and his wife during the 1970’s as the Government Agent Jaffna, from the World View Foundation and Cey Nor Development Foundation was very recently appointed as an Ambassador to an important European capital.

Thus, the statements made by General Sarath Fonseka are not to be considered as “utterances” both by the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka and especially by the international community. It is not only a war of military wits that the General is fighting with the undeterred understanding and support of the people of Sri Lanka (the Sinhalese, Tamils and the Muslims), the Secretary of Defense and the Head of State, but the general is also at war with the “unseen enemies” of the Tamils who are the NGO’s, the International Media and the so-called INGO’s who are creating the misery of life to the Tamils and the Tamil speaking minorities in the North and East of Sri Lanka and the agony and trauma to the populations living in the South of Sri Lankan, including the Sri Lankan Diaspora community abroad. The General wants us to see and understand the reality as it is.

The Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka is a person of great honour and dignity and that too, an outspoken personality.






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