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Rotten eggs never get better

(A reply to Rajpal Abeynayake)

By Basil Fernando

(August 18, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Rajpal Abeynayake once had a perspective. Now, judging by his column "Rice-fed rascality?", his perspective now can be summed up thus: Rajapakshas are better than Kumaranatunga or Ranil Wickramasingha because their times have produced worse human rights abuses. What a way to describe good. My guy is not as bad as the other guy. To do this, Rajpal descends to a low attack on Kishali Pinto Jayawardene, whom he calls his colleague, by completely distorting what she has written. Trying to attack rascality, he descends to absurdity.

Who is worse? JR, Premadasa, Kumaranatunga or Rajpaksha? (By the way, Ranil Wickramesinghe was never a president, but he does still bear the responsibility for what was done by JR and Premadasa regimes). Rajpal Abeynayake misses the whole point in trying to distinguish the three. What has taken place in the country is that there is a continuity of tyranny beginning from JR Jayawardene's 1978 constitution up to now. As the time passes, the democratic space shrinks further and further and, as could be expected, things get worse with time. A rotten egg does not become better because it changes hands.

Rajpal, who says that he is Pinto Jayawardene's colleague, if he had read her columns which she has been writing for a very long time, would find that she was a consistent critic of all the recent regimes. She has also very clearly developed the theme that there is a decline of the rule of law in the country and a virtual collapse of the criminal justice system, which has taken place ever since the executive presidency was introduced.

It may be Rajpal Abeynayake's perspective to make it appear that things are better now than they were in the past. However, it has not been Pinto Jayawardene's perspective to present the past as better than now, but to present that even the limited spaces that were available in the past are now disappearing, as expected. To repeat, a rotten system never gets better 'til it is displaced. Mahinda Rajapaksha promised to displace this Executive Presidential system. Thus, Mahinda chinthanaya then was no different on this issue than Pinto Jayawardene's. While Pinto Jayawardene has consistently held onto her view, Mahinda chinthanaya has changed and learned to manipulate the executive presidency and to continue with tyranny.

Her reference to the legal profession now is in no way an attempt to state that there were no attacks on lawyers in the past. However, the same attacks have continued and become worse. What was done through criminal elements in the police or armed forces or their agents was then not acknowledged by the relevant governments as their actions. However, today attacks on lawyers appear in the official websites. There is no longer any fear of repercussion. Once again, it is a case of the system's cruelties becoming evermore blatant.

As regarding the 30,000 disappearances in the south, Kishali Pinto Jayawardene has written more consistently than Rajpal Abeynayake has ever done. She has also criticized all the Attorney Generals ever since for the failures to prosecute offenders, even when the names of a few hundred persons have been provided by the Commissions of Inquiry into Forced Disappearances.

It is not only the Attorney Generals who worked under Premadasa and Kumaranatunge regimes that are responsible for this, as even now if Mahinda Rajapaksha wanted to prosecute some of these offenders who hold high positions in the Rajapaksha regime itself he could do so. Unfortunately, the Attorney General's department exercising the prosecutor's role independently on politically sensitive matters has not been a reasonable possibility since the Executive Presidency was established. Thus, the issue of 30,000 disappearances is a matter that is still relevant, and will Rajpal Abeynayake write on this issue and ask the present regime to carry out its past promises on these prosecutions? If Rajpal Abeynayake wants a list of those against whom the inquiring commission said they had enough evidence to prosecute, this can easily be found.

The big issue that Rajpal Abeynayake tries to exploit is that fact that Pinto Jayawardene accepted an award from the American government as a "Woman of Courage", on the basis that the American government is involved in human rights abuses throughout the world. If this is the basis, then all awards should be shunned, including the Nobel Prize. It is well-known that the Alfred Nobel raised his fortune by the production and sale of dynamite. In Sri Lanka, if this principle is to be followed, anyone who has accepted any awards from the Sri Lankan government ever since JR Jayawardene should be condemned because all these persons have accepted awards from mass-murderers. However, even mass-murderers like JR Jayawardene and Premadasa represented the state, and these awards were given not for supporting mass murder but for particular contributions they have made in their specific fields. In judging an award, what should be measured is the contribution made by the recipient to the specific field for which an award has been given. Rajpal Abeynayake does not say that Kishali Pinto Jayawardene did not deserve this award because she has not shown any courage in her writings in the past. In fact, Rajpal Abeynayake has not even taken the trouble to look into the past writings of Kishali Pinto Jayawardene when he took it upon himself to engage in a cheap attack on her.

A lesson to be learned is that everything has a tendency to get corrupted. Even Rajpal Abeynayake, who used to write lucid columns reflecting some basic norms, standards and criteria, has lost it. I do not want to descend to his level by saying that this is because Rajpal Abeynayake gets paid for what he writes. That is, to make such allegations is to become as cheap as it can get, which unfortunately Rajpal Abeynayake has not shied away from.

I used to read Rajpal Abeynayake's column whenever I saw one. I now have doubts as to whether I should continue that, when the level of reasoning that he has descended to has become so ugly. Well, sometimes one can write absurdities when one is drunk. Perhaps I should not yet reject the possibility that he may write better things when he is sober.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

1 comment

Pearl Thevanayagam said...

Rajpal is an articulate journalist in that he is no different from Mahindapala. He was nurtured by Mahindapala in the Observer.

Somewhere along the line Rajpal's Sinhala chauvinism blinded him to facts and it is a sad day in history that talented journalists are giving up the tenets of just journalism to blind patriotism.

Hence Kishali's intellect and judgement are anathema to the ilk of Rajpal.

The media lost Lucien, Amal Jayasinghe adn the disinformation officers in SL diplomatic missions abroad for a few kudos.

RA never coveted material benefits but he is a down and out champion of Sinhal Buddism ergo others must take second place.

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