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General dies a political death -Part Three

“I believe in the ‘cause and effect’, therefore I try to do good at all times as I am sure good will return to me. After a very exhaustive and ugly campaign if SF knows in his heart that he is totally innocent of the allegations, which caused the tide to turn or the turning point in his defeat, of sexual misconduct, frauds in arms procurements, the satellite phone bills, secret agreements inimical to Mother Lanka then he would not lose a wink of sleep, not feel guilty at all!”

Written by Day
Read previous parts: Part One | Part Two

(January 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Look at those four instances; they gave rise to doubts as to what would be his line of thinking or psychology as the future CEO or President, whether he is a right thinking, balanced person with an open mind. The problem is that Sri Lanka military have ‘Spokespersons’ and ‘Media Units’.

Everyone can see the level of sycophancy of many of them, not the level of proficiency or professionalism, when they open their mouths in the media briefings or interviews and write in the media releases. Unfortunately Sri Lankan military do not have ‘Public Affairs Officers (PAO)’ and ‘Public Affairs Unit/Office (PAO)’. The PAOs in other countries have gone to college to learn and to be well versed in journalism. They know what they are talking about, good at it and save the skin of their Commanders day in, day out! They have a media packet, Story Board, prepared well in advance for any planned event or operation to put out the unique and same story or ‘official’ line to avoid so-and-so said this and so-and-so did such-and-such! Unlike in Sri Lanka, Combatant Commanders of other nations do not scramble to tabloids to tell their ‘war stories’ to gain personal glory, sing to gallery or earn a fast buck. First of all, they are silent professionals! The Fredrica J (the SL Editor) interview with SF, or SF committing his political suicide or a fatal public affairs disaster should be a case study, at least, for the third world militaries. A numerous lessons can be learnt from it. Like a doctor has to be accompanied by a female nurse when treating a female patient, SF should have been accompanied by a witness with a voice recorder when he granted the interview to the ‘burger’ lady on a ‘mission’ to trap him, allegedly paid by and at the behest of the MR camp.

It is chilling that Sri Lanka do not have school trained PAOs to advice military commanders to prevent issuing irrevocably, irreparably, and irretrievably damaging statements implicating national interests and national security of a nation. In the militaries of other nations Public affairs Officers anticipate the tricky questions put to unsuspecting soldiers and coach them accordingly. The PAO issues verbal and written guidance and cards with Dos and Don’ts to be used when interacting with the media on the battle field. I am baffled as to why SF with so much overseas experience and training did not nicely demur, dodge or parry those tricky, tripping and trapping media questions saying it was sub judice and prejudicial to comment on as there were ongoing ‘international’ inquiries, instead talked about sports (water polo and particularly about swimming in the Madampa river with his band of friends in Ambalngoda, in Indian Ocean and in St Joseph’s or Royal’s pool as Ananda did not have a swimming pool when he was schooling) and weather or his election manifesto, if he had one AT THAT TIME!

Serious repercussions for Sri Lanka are in the offing as certain individuals who were/are in power and authority and privy to sensitive information opened their ‘hole’ at in the wrong place at the wrong time to in a ‘pissing contest’ against each other. How many times I had warned about this situation in my other articles? Needless to say all those words of advice and caution fell on deaf ears! Maybe no one wanted to pay attention to my aphorism as I am an active duty soldier, as JVP says; soldiers have only passed the eighth grade rather are eighth graders! Sadly for them, they are ‘unemployed graduates’ who are ready to put torch to government property and pelt stones at government machinery on order by the IUSF but we are the only ones whose caskets are draped with the NATIONAL FLAG! One can see that this presidential election has already become a heck of Charlie Foxtrot (Cluster F**k) for the entire nation for a foreseeable future with a lot of grave implications, because of a few selfish individuals and their stalwarts. Sri Lanka will not be the same again in other nations’ hearts and minds for which naturalized citizens in other countries, the expatriate community and Sri Lankans will pay a heavy and dear price. Here are some-“US supports a UN probe on alleged HR abuses in Lanka”; “Sri Lanka faces trade deal suspension: EU”; “US Senate proposes freeze on all military aid to Sri Lanka”; “Sri Lanka's controversial defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is facing a travel embargo along with other officials”.

The phrase "washing one's hands of" something, means declaring one’s unwillingness to take responsibility for the thing or share complicity in it. In the New Testament book of Matthew verse 27:24 gives an account of Pontious Pilate washing his hands of the decision to crucify Jesus: "When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, 'I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it'."

In Shakespear’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth begins to compulsively wash her hands in an attempt to cleanse an imagined stain, representing her guilty conscience regarding crimes she had committed and induced her husband to commit.

It has also been found that people, after having recalled or contemplated unethical acts, tend to wash hands more often than others, and tend to value hand washing equipment more.

6. The ‘al Jazeera Effect’ in propaganda, media and Information Operations.

a. In the first gulf war, in 1990, US military hoodwinked Saddam Hussein very effectively with the help of CNN. US military wanted to stall Iraqi army at Kuwait preventing its moving into Saudi Arabia. The US feared a protracted or higher direction of war that is to say the Republican Guards would march onto Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This had to be prevented at all cost, and the US could not deploy troops as rapidly as the ground situation developed. That was when CNN came in handy. It showed to a global audience and the Iraqi Intelligence Directorate that the US military transport planes were landing one after another. You would realize the power and effect of CNN when Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz was asked if he was familiar with a pronouncement by President Bush, he sarcastically answered that he also watched CNN. Dan Quayle boasted that if you want "to know how successful the air campaign is... watch CNN." But in reality it was the same plane landing taken from different angles.

That was when the US corporate media had the world monopoly in information and media operations. They lost their clout, supremacy and dominance in media operations when the satellite news network al- Jazeera entered the market. It was once voted the fifth most recognized brand in the world by brandchannel.com, ahead of the likes of CNN and BBC. In fact, it is so well respected, even in Israel, that Israel's leading cable operator once dropped CNN International in favour of al Jazeera English. Al Jazeera is available for friend and foe alike. Due to this, one country, party or an influential person is no longer able to lie to, fool or hoodwink the world. Al jazeera lets the other side to tell its story. This is the reason US has been unable to win in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel could not win in Lebannon in the recent engagement with Hassan Nasarallah and his followers and Lebanese Hezbollah. It carries news, propaganda videos, insurgent videos, interviews, and the audio and visual messages of terrorist leaders and Head of States, politicians, and academics alike, shows the victims and damages of conflicts in real time to a global audience causing a sway in their support and conscience. Al Jazeera provides a very powerful digital satellite platform in real time for the most deprived or crudest terrorist, freedom fighter, political candidate or activist to tell without spending a red cent his side of the story or to pass his message to a vast audience like never before!

b. The analogous situation; during previous elections government in power owned the media and had a monopoly or sole ownership in its propaganda with regard to electioneering. During those days all the print and audio visual media were the party in power’s mouthpiece. When it comes to the media nowadays there is no ‘underdog’ anymore. With Internet is widely used in Sri Lanka and websites for pro and against mushrooming by the day, with so many TV stations and radio channels available the candidates or the parties have means to charge and counter charge or run very effective smear campaigns against each other. This is what I call the media ‘balance of terror’ and these are virtual platforms freely available from which a Rajasinghe can allege a General’s alleged financial malfeasance through his son-in-law, and a Raja of SLRC fame canvass for a General, without physical violence encountered, without spending a heck of a lot of campaign contributions (almost free of charge) or without making any ‘gaffe’ or blunders!

c. The danger in here is once a false story is ‘strategically leaked’ or a lie spread by Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) or the parties with vested interest, who can manipulate press (print or electronic) it is almost impossible to counter with the true story or truth with hundred percent effectiveness. The persons who read the initial story would continue to believe it and would not see or be interested in a rebuttal.
Once the permanent damage is done it cannot be undone. And it is a fait accompli!

d. Here is a true example of how one of the two news items occurred in almost same or similar circumstances is suppressed to someone’s utter disadvantage and the other given so much prominence for another’s highest advantage:

The Katie Couric interview on 23 Sep 2009 with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on CBS. Couric tried to challenge Ahmadinejad on the issues in a dramatic fashion, for example, she brandished a photo of the dead Iranian girl Neda, shot through the heart by a Basij thug, to try and evoke a reaction, but Ahmadinejad was prepared and had a photo of his own:

Couric: During and after the presidential election, Mr. President, thousands of opposition supporters and journalists were arrested, badly beaten and tortured. Arrested, badly beaten and tortured. One woman - 27 year old Neda as you know, was shot to death while protesting. Her death was captured on a cell phone camera. Here is a shot of that cell phone picture which I'm sure you've seen.

Admadinejad: Correct.

Couric: What would you say to her family?

Ahmadinejad: We are very sorry that one of our fellow citizens has been killed. As a victim of an agitation of circumstance. An agitation that was carried out with the support of some American politicians, the voice of America, and the BBC.

Couric: Do you really think so little of your citizens that they can be manipulated and brainwashed by Americans and the UK?

Ahmadinejad: No. That is not what I'm saying. But I do say that some agitations from outside were there. I mean, there are plenty of documents pointing to that. Regrettably, one of our citizens lost her life—

The president then produced a photograph of an Egyptian woman - Marwa el-Sherbini - who was brutally murdered inside a German courtroom while taking part in a trial over the right to wear a hijab - or headscarf. He suggested that the western media - who turned Neda into a martyr - ignored Marwa's story.

Ahmadinejad: American politicians do not want American people to see what goes on around the world.

e. Another benefit from the Internet for the underdog is it makes way for two way communication in no time. This is not possible with print media. This true for TV or radio, unless you are allowed to phone in while a program in session.

Take the case of much vaunted and flaunted LTTE ship that was brought to Colombo for public display. The government in power tried to score a publicity and propaganda coup. But thanks to websites and comments by the readers see how the propaganda value was watered down (Please also note the technical or subject matter comments from the readers):

“Where is the crew of the Seized LTTE ship? How were the transfer documents executed? or is this a ship discarded for scrap?” (Lanka-e-News, Dec.22, 2009, 7.30PM)
Comments posted by The ship has been built in 1981m so it is a very old ship. No shipping company afford to run a ship like this,merely because of high running cost and lack of business for this type of vessels. These type of vessels are sold for scraps worldwide. Even the cost of bringing a vessel of this type to Colombo surpass the value of the vessel. So it is worthwhile to verify the transaction throughly.

[ Non edited: Posted By: namal s de silva
any ship will hv an IMO no , and from this no the owners hip can b verified, also for a ship to pass ownership from one to another a bill of sale will hv to be given, it will hv to b deleted from her previous registry which is panama. in order to do this the owning company who is the seller has do make the application. furthermore if th vessel was arrested then the courts hv to pass the jurisdiction as for the transfer of ownership. i belive there is a cloud of mistry involved here
posted By: s de silva
This is another asbanduma to fool Sri Lankan voter.
Posted By: tishan wickramasuriya
Good question indeed.Where is the crew of this vessel.
Posted By: harry]

Here is the intelligence; the ‘one’ of the naval officers who went to bring the ship was implicated in illegally selling diesel from his patrol boat to ‘fishermen’ when he was a Lieutenant. There was a reason for that. And he is innocent, in a way, as he was compelled to do that as his wife was ‘‘extravagant’ and ‘flirting’ type-Cherchez la femme! I can give much more hints such as his hometown, father’s job, last assignment etc. But I do not want to go there! I see in the media that he. Too, has become ‘blue’ politico in AWD (Action Working Dress-Blue navy day to day uniform), an Apparatchik-in-AWD!

f. Streaming video, blogs, Social networking through the Internet based MySpace and Facebook, twittering and texting using cell phones are great means available for a political candidate on a shoe-string budget to send his mission and vision and messages and signals to voters. How did Dr. Ron Paul do his campaigning and raising money in his bid to be the US President in the last election? He was the most successful, pound for pound!

7. Conflict of interest: It is not a stretch to say that there was an appearance of conflict of interests. SF himself has said that his son-in-law, innocuously, allowed his Royal College friend to use his US address in registering a business, dealing with lethal or warlike materials. SF may or may not be innocent of alleged frauds, malpractices, undue influence in procurement etc. He should have known better to ‘slip away’, as we call it in the airborne forces community or steer away from military procurement process or ‘recused’ himself in an official way. He simply could have written a Memorandum for the Record (MFR) and filed it with the MOD, in case, as a future reference.

Look at how many of his close relatives are serving in the military or police. It easily gives rise to the suspicion of a family coterie or cabal involvement in wheeler dealing or shady deals even if a distant relative or a friend was involved in arms procurement during his tenure or office as the Army Commander or CDS. It is very difficult to counter, unless one has a very robust Information Operations unit in place, once an iota of suspicion is planted in the minds of Sri Lankans or voters, given especially the very effective smear campaign by the Sri Lankan Dr. Goebbels though they being predominantly Buddhist and are shamelessly and remorselessly breaching the 4th Buddhist precept-refrain from lying.

Here is what every government official should know in any country by the virtue of being a public servant, or SF should have known too;

a. Actual Conflict. Military personnel are bound to refrain from private business or professional activity or from having any direct or indirect financial interest which would place them in a position where there is a conflict between their private interests and public interests of the country, particularly those related to their duties and responsibilities as military personnel. The test for determining whether the actions of an individual involve a particular matter in which he has a financial interest is whether he might reasonably anticipate that his actions will have direct and predictable effect upon a financial interest of oneself, his spouse, minor child, partner, or organization with which he is connected or seeking employment.

b. Appearance of conflict. Even though a technical conflict as set forth in the statutes does not exist, military personnel must avoid the appearance of such a conflict from a public confidence point of view. Disqualification is required even in the case of an appearance of conflict of interest. Military personnel do not want to give even the slightest hint of a conflict of interest that might undermine the public’s confidence in Ministry of Defence procurement procedures.

8. Failure to Plan Properly to Prevent P*ss Poor Performance (6Ps).

a. When one read his Letter of Resignation, his statements or initially listened to his interviews there was none to show his plan for future of Sri Lanka once he assumed the mantle of Chief Executive Officer. It was he came up with sort of a manifesto late in the game, but one is yet to see his vision written in black and white and a possible indication or get a glimpse of men in his shadow cabinet or the names of his Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer etc. What one has been seeing and hearing is a torrent of complains about the risk to his life and limb, no official abode to live, the media bias, giving very controversial interviews that had to retract immediately due to national security implications, lack of funds to conduct a robust election campaign, statements to suit the mood, occasion, place, or the crowd, and promising dismantling HSZ and signing confidential agreements etc.

Most of the time, run up to the election, voters heard only his sob stories. No point in time voters saw that he was able to overcome the adversity. Like in tennis, harder they hit the faster he should have come back. Case in point, he filed a FR case on the media bias; did he any time think of a creative way to overcome it and score a huge political capital? Why couldn’t he pay Dialog or Mobitel or any other cellular company to ‘Top Load’ short text message with his political messages? His opponents and their supporters may not have like it and call it ‘unsolicited SPAM’ (only thing they have to do is delete it if they do not like it, after all haven’t we been ‘passive smokers’ in all our lives?) His maiden text could have read like this “I m Sarath Fonseka, a soldier, sorry 2 address u this way, as the government media have blocked and blacked me out I reach my dear VOTERS this way. Please expect more texts from me in future! Thank you 4 your time!” Who does not agree with me when I say it would have been an instant hit and gone viral? Short text messages or Tweets with 140 characters or less would have sent SF, a war winning, sui generis general from a ‘Homeless Shelter’ to the ‘Presidential Palace’!

Where was his manifesto all this time, I mean, till 7th January 2010? A vast majority of Sri Lankans got carried away with emotion and treated him in sort of veneration because after nearly three decades of misery and mayhem due to the Tiger terrorism and JVP insurgencies his and his team, political and military were able at a very high human and material cost to deliver the much yearned peace to Sri Lankans of every hue and color and ethnic background.

Every organization with goodwill has to have a mission statement, and it is its vision statement, laid out elaborately in black and white. It is no different a President or a CEO, and it is very important for a credible organization or person to have one. In politics, it tells the voters, the talk the talk and walks the walk one is going to do. If a candidate promises things, those should not be broken on flimsy grounds. It is his word and offer to and his binding agreement with the unsuspecting voters of Sri Lanka, in return of their vote. It is quid pro quo. SF did not have to harp on his contribution to and leadership in winning the war against the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world till 18 May 2009. Sri Lankans did know about it and that was why they wanted to promote him to be the Chief Executive Officer of future Sri Lanka. They thought he was fit, proper and squeaky clean to be the CEO of future Sri Lanka.
SF bungled that opportunity terribly and dashed the hopes of the many. So much water had flown under the ‘Benthota’ bridge when he at last came up with a manifesto. Sri Lankans did not hear Loud and Clear about his ways and means or plans to rid Sri Lank of corruption, who were his representatives or appointees to spearhead those efforts, what viable solutions he had for all communities to live in concord, what solutions he had up in his sleeves for the genuine concerns of minority community, how he was going to revamp the education and health sectors to produce ‘productive’, smart and practical, skilled and knowledgeable Sri Lankans, and fit and healthy people, how to gain a political, diplomatic or economic standing in the world, his foreign policy to win economic, military, and political support from other nations, how he was getting set about getting preferably grants, if not loans, to develop the country, how he was regaining the foreign military training and hardware support that has been frozen, how he was going to generate FOREX, how he was ridding the country of underworld, drugs and criminals, what he was going do in order to bringing down the cost of living, how he was going to maintain judicial and media independence, how he was going to handle labor flexibility in a free market economy, what solution he had for the traffic jams that cost Sri Lanka’s GDP very dearly. I can go on and on and on and on………….

Who were the fit, proper and clean Subject Matter Experts he was planning to appoint to the Essential Services of Sri Lanka, what are their backgrounds, how did he vet, screen and select? Those are the questions asked by a nation waiting to have governance without corruption, a government without fraud, waste and abuse, if he were elected president!

b. When Power and Energy Minister WDJ Senevirathne, another vice president of the SLFP said that the opposition candidate is politically ignorant and just parroting what others wanted him to tell and this won’t bring any good either for him or to the country, sorry to say SF failed, the same way Lech Wałęsa of Poland did. When SF’s opponents slighted him for not having a political background or knowledge he could have effectively made up for it with his extensive military and administrative backgrounds, and management competency.

Here is the analogous situation; Wałęsa lost the 1995 presidential election, collecting 48.72% of the votes in the run-off election against Aleksander Kwaśniewski. This was by less than 3.5%, a margin which many people considered would have been comfortably overturned if the revelation had come earlier that his opponent had falsely claimed to have a university degree - and used Wałęsa's lack of higher education as a political weapon.

c. When General Sarath Fonseka, in his first public appearance, sort of on lecture circuit, to speak on ‘Winning Military Strategies-Lessons for Managers,’ on 21 August 2009, at ‘Counter Point,’ organized by the Postgraduate Institute of Management of University of Sri Jayawardenepura Alumni, spoke of the Sri Lanka Army’s strategy of acting like a guerrilla organization, the restructuring of the Army, ending corruption, increasing its strength, firepower and a direct chain of command that went from the top to grass root levels etc. The intelligentsia, Sri Lanka watchers, and sundry persons like me thought ’Oh, boy, he is well prepared, has done his homework!’ I cannot simply understand how and why a person who could give such a keynote address to the educated, intellectuals could not plan or map out his political vision & strategy properly before and after hanging his military boots!

d. It was conspicuous and glaring when torrents or barrage after barrage of allegations of various kinds and types landing on SF, he was totally caught unawares, thoroughly taken aback. Though he had an ‘ura’ (remember, he called others pig in a pot calling kettle black episode) and a dress designer (remember a famous dress designer, Versace, could not save himself from a gigolo) as spokesmen. It was so apparent both were not capable of, equipped to or geared towards, at least, ‘reacting’ effectively to negate and give an edge to the ‘common opposition candidate’. We in the military call that sort of reacting to ‘sudden and unexpected situations; ‘putting out fires and drinking from a fire hose! Sadly, SF or his stalwarts did not possess the fire fighting skills!

Unfortunately SF got mad and aggravated the situation. He lost cool and started acting capriciously threatening the mud-slinging army officers with court-martials and jail terms on 27th. How to win against a smear campaign is by being calm and collected. When one gets angry and mad at the person who casts aspersions, the onlookers, spectators or the open-minded people get swayed thinking why he was he getting mad if he was innocent!

Moreover he should not have let the cat out of bag or what is in store for the Dr. Goebbels. Hints should not be given before being elected. What was the guarantee that he would win, prior the last ballot was counted? What if one does not win? On defeat, not being elected the tide turns against the person who made the threats and unnecessary political violence would be unleashed mercilessly on him and his supporters. He then asked for this trouble, not only for him but for his supporters as well.

He lost relevance as a unique and strong candidate who would deliver the goods. It turned out, supposedly, a SUI GENERIS GENERAL in ceremonial dress to be nothing but an alleged ‘prima donna’! What was the politically fatal outcome? Sri Lankan, unbelievably, did not get ‘Believable Change’ they were dying for!

In retrospect, SF may be thinking now that he should have shown a little bit of humbleness and a willingness to be a ‘prime minister in the MR administration, a little patience until time was ripe and mended fence with the powers that be once frustrated, disappointed and disgruntled, without fleeing to the open and waiting arms of failed and rascal politicos, who were praying for manna from heaven, a savior out of blue, a hero with an image and the goodwill. The opposition bear hugged him, and thought he was the bugbear they needed to overawe, browbeat and face down the corrupt to the core and extravagant UPFA administration, or the corrupt and rotten dynasty-to-be or the family tree from Medamulana.

Here is the analogous situation from history as to what happened to American military hero, Benedict Arnold. Benedict Arnold was a successful general from Connecticut during the American Revolutionary War -- until he switched sides and was caught trying to help the British in 1780. Arnold grew up in a well-to-do family that had hit hard times by the time he became an adult. He apprenticed at an apothecary shop as a young man and fought in the French and Indian War. Considered a hero at battles in Saratoga, New York and Quebec, Arnold nonetheless had a hard time getting along with other commanders and was continually feeling slighted by the upper brass, despite personal encouragement from General George Washington. By 1780 his dissatisfaction led him to contact the British and offer his services. He and British Major John Andre conspired to help the British seize control of West Point, an American fort on the Hudson River, but Andre was caught and the plan was revealed. Arnold escaped to the British side and Andre was hanged as a spy. For the remainder of the war Arnold led British forces against American colonists, and then settled in London as an officer. The British didn't exactly welcome him as a hero, and the rest of his military career was forgettable.
I can fairly say even if SF did win, the persons, groups or institutions with vested interests would be waiting or itching to put a spanner or two in the works of his governance by way of bringing on frivolous law suits for the alleged human rights violations in the last phase of humanitarian operations, on alleged sexual misconduct, misuse of government property, resources and corruption. His undivided attention, personal time and commitment needed to tackle the burning problems or ‘hot button’ issues of the day; corruption, sky-rocketing cost of living, IDPs, lawlessness etc would have to be diverted for defending himself for his survival in office.

In my whole life I have sacrificed so much on principle; spoke truth to power in the face for which I was impugned, victimized, ridiculed, shunned and threatened; I showed by action for my batchmates what moral and physical courage means and is, against ragging in the university and the service academy for which I was isolated, laughed at, sneaked to my Intake Officer and threatened with physical violence forcing me to be one man Army; my family and I have helped Sri Lankans, in numerous ways, in Sri Lanka, in the war zone of Iraq, in the Middle East and in other countries, without expecting anything other than their saying ‘hello’ if or when they saw me or us again. I have been used, misused, abused and kicked to the curb. In other words almost all Sri Lankans live or get by practicing ‘Condom Theory’; use it or him once and throw it or kick him away. This ungrateful quality or behavior is very typical or manifest of very vast majority of Sri Lankans.

I take solace in fully knowing what happened or how Sri Lankans treated the only two Sri Lankans in the Sri Lanka’s modern history, who foresaw the machinations of or had a premonition of what ‘Drealamists’ were up to. They were late Right Honourable D. S. Senananyake , aka the Jungle King, who pioneered the Gal Oya Project and President R Premadasa. Imagine what would have been the state of the Eastern Province If D.S. did not create colonies and tracts in Amapara, or RR did not develop the infrastructure in backward districts, like Kataragama!

When I hear from my friends nearly a hundred thousand people, every night were rejoicing, having musical shows, and enjoying themselves on the streets of Amapara for weeks, just after the LTTE was wiped out militarily, it shows how they have been under pressure for nearly three decades in their own country, how helpless and hapless they were and how free they feel now. If one remembers how people criticized President Premadasa when he was having the Village Reawakening tamashas or celebrations. If not for those, could one imagine the condition of infrastructure in a city like Kataragama and its environs would be today? The LTTE would have had a major base in Kataragama too.

President Premadasa was the ‘alarm clock’ for the Secretaries of his Ministries, they say, as he would wake a few of them up at 6 o’clock every morning to inquire about the ‘goods not being delivered’ in their Ministries. Do not get me wrong, he had his weaknesses but he was thoroughly dedicated (what about his consistency at least waking up at 4 o’clock every day?) and did not amass personal wealth. (Had Hema maintained the same low key or profile with low maintenance that of Elena Jayawardena (who was never in the focus while powerful JRJ was in power) I am very positive President Premadasa would have delivered so much more for Sri Lanka-Cherchez la femme!)

The Sri Lankans must be ever thankful to those two for making way for Sinhalese to go to ‘some' nook and corner, let alone every nook and corner, in Mother Lanka. But where are they both now in public memory, I mean, in the collective memory of the nation? Who talks of those two thankfully or in gratitude? Pathetic!
SF took a chance, a risk to contest the Presidential Election, with the probability of success of one-half, point five, or 50 percent to say in Statistics terms. With that he had to sacrifice his halcyon days, his life will not be the same anymore. That is the opportunity cost he had to pay dearly, to say in Economics terms. A SNAFU (Situation Normal All f**ked Up), to tell using military jargon. The saddest thing that would happen to General Sarath Fonseka in Sri Lanka is that he would be in the short or forgotten memory of the ungrateful Sri Lankans (vast majority of Sri Lankans!) though he was the most successful Sri Lankan military commander in modern history, who spearheaded the efforts on ground in vanquishing the two-legged tigers militarily. But his alleged racy and steamy side ‘sexed up’ in a smear campaign for the prurient curiosity of gullible voters in a series of worldwide web articles, known as ‘Corruption-Gate’ by an octogenarian journalist, KTR, who might not even be able to have an erection anymore, unless aided by the little blue pill, Viagra, Levitra, or Cialitis will be in vivid and permanent memory of Sri Lankans!

If one with vested interests, a hidden agenda or an ulterior motive brings up sexual allegations and misconduct against a person, and his alleged victims’ ‘names’ to public domain he had better be 100 percent right. The result of this sort of a scurrilous paper in racy and steamy nature timely and strategically released to the media to assassinate one’s character is that the totally innocent, the unintended are going to suffer for life. With the resultant social stigma and ostracizing by the society what I am really concerned and afraid most is for the difficulty caused to the innocent near and dear ones of the alleged ‘comfort women in army greens’ in SF’s alleged military harem (or the victims of an overbearing and lecherous General) as their daughters/moms/sisters/wives’ names are now in public domain. I would tell this also if in fact or indeed SF behaved like the tawdry teacher (the infamous Mary Kay) who had sex with a sixth grader (Vili Fualaau), a carnal Cardinal who molested or sodomized altar boys in parishes in the US, or the principle (Frank Bailey, 46, the former principal of a Christian school at Grafton in northern NSW) who had sex with a sixteen year old girl, that is sexual harassment at workplace, no two words about it, pure and simple, and guilty of an unpardonable crime. In a nutshell, if SF used his powerful position as the war time Army Commander to behave like a pervert and terrorize or force his innocent, powerless, defenseless charges, almost all of them joined the army not out of patriotism but for a monthly pay to provide for their families, maybe succumbed willingly as a way out for survival and saving their jobs, to be his sex slaves it is most unbecoming an officer, let alone a general! Then he was not a sui generis but a lecherous, treacherous general in my book!

I believe in the ‘cause and effect’, therefore I try to do good at all times as I am sure good will return to me. After a very exhaustive and ugly campaign if SF knows in his heart that he is totally innocent of the allegations, which caused the tide to turn or the turning point in his defeat, of sexual misconduct, frauds in arms procurements, the satellite phone bills, secret agreements inimical to Mother Lanka then he would not lose a wink of sleep, not feel guilty at all!

SF can choose to do two things now; run again for presidency after six years or enjoy the retirement life in the United States of America, like another Sarath (Handapangoda), a commando, from the same parent regiment(Sinha Regiment), from the brother school (Nalanda College), with far fewer mosquitoes and very much less ungrateful people, human predators and parasites. In that way SF can take his grand kids to daycare, school, gym, and swimming pool as they grow up. He can be their swimming coach too, free of charge!

Am I daydreaming, making castles out of sand, or simply kidding when I say or think that if one of his grand kids could turn out to be an Alexander Popov( Russian Rocket), Michel Phelps (Gomer or MP), or Ian Thorpe (Thorpedo)? How proud he could and would be as a grandparent, who swam in the Madamapa River in Ambalangoda and captained a swim team in a school, which did not have its own swimming pool, of an Olympic swimmer. It is a possibility, maybe destiny, as life is so strange (I know a guy though he was not a paratrooper in late 80s in Sri Lankan military but used to fancy himself by wearing on his civilian clothes a set of Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) paratrooper wings he had bought for 90 rupees from the Army-Navy store in front of the Regal Cinema, Colombo 2, but destiny was such he was parachuting in 2006 with the elitist troops in the most secretive military unit in the free world, and he was part of them). Then he could make up for the regrets, of not being able to be a President, with the joys of one his grand kids being an Olympian. I wish him that for his ‘contribution’ in eliminating, militarily, the separatist threat in Sri Lanka for a foreseeable future.

The most difficult thing to do in life for a man or woman is not climbing the Mount Everest, diving to the bottom of Marianna Trench , with or without oxygen, or threading a moving needle but reconciling one’s self with his or her own heart or conscience. When one reconciles his or her ‘self’ with his or her ‘heart’ in front of a mirror, if she or he sees a smile in her or his face, instead of looking down at her or his toes in shame, then she or he might not have been elected President but she or he has conquered the whole Universe! Always try to find that true peace and happiness and be happy and content about it!

The two sad outcomes of this Presidential election are: 1. It was confirmed, without a vestige of doubt, to the wider world that Sri Lanka Army rather Sri Lankan military as a whole is not a values-based and professional organization committed to Army values, and this presidential election campaign reflected a total disregard for a continuous commitment to adhere to the highest standards of excellence while maintaining good order and discipline. 2. A Sri Lankan would sell his own mother for his personal gain.
If one is asked “Do you like, wish or want to be a President in Sri Lanka rather the President of Sri Lanka? If the answer is: Heck, No! F**k that! or F**k No!-It says a lot about Sri Lankans and their psychology collectively. It is very true but a sad indictment. With the character assassinations, bribed crossovers, political violence, misuse and abuse of power, corruption charges, alleged sexual misconduct and violations of all types-human rights, media, privacy, election laws in this presidential election it has etched permanently in the collective mind of outside world who Sri Lankans are, what they stand and are capable for, what and where their principles and values are-collectively, nothing but a dysfunctional nation full of selfish, ungrateful, shameless, disgraceful opportunists, and a laughing stock in the free world!

“Do you like to be the President of Sri Lanka? The answer is: F**K THAT!”


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