Politicians’ biographies with their sexual escapades could become best-sellers

by Pearl Thevanayagam

(March 01, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Biographies and autobiographies of leaders come in handy when they are ready to face elections or when they go into oblivion following their botched tenure. Biographies are commissioned with tax-payers’ money and never from the leaders’ own pockets.

And there are enough starving writers and journalists in Sri Lanka to be enticed into imparting their writing skills to prop up their commissioners’ as we have seen in the likes of Sugeeswara Senadhira (who is currently information minister at the Sri Lankan High Commission in Delhi and who has been a non-career diplomat in Norway and France) who wrote the biographies of both JRJ and Mahinda Rajapakse, Dayan Jayetilleke who used Sri Lanka Guardian, Transcurrents and Groundviews to exhort Mahinda’s governance and almost genuflected before the President. His grovelling paid off and he finally succeeded in becoming the ambassador to France.

It comes as no surprise that his uncle Neville de Silva managed to manipulate presidents to give him some portfolio while he pawned his journalistic skills to pander to their egos. His trump card is Sinhala nationalism which Dayan covertly endorses. Ergo the public mistrust in journalists as a whole and the reason why they come in for much criticism.

While intrepid and brave journalists such as Richard De Soysa, Lasantha Wickrematunga, Sivaram alias Taraki, BBC stringer Nimalarajan, Thinamurasu editor Atputharajah, Veerakesari correspondent in Batticaloa Aiyathurai Nadesan and several more paid with their lives for their integrity Sri Lanka is replete with shameless hacks who prostitute themselves before the powers that be to earn a few kudos. Cartoonist Prageeth Ekneliyagoda’s fate remains uncertain and there is serious concern that he may not be alive.

It is indeed difficult for journalists to come together as one and demand media freedom when writers and journalists are divided into these two categories. Lake House journalists’ main function is to propagate the agenda of ruling powers; no more no less or else they are out on their asses.

However, during CBK’s time we saw a degree of media freedom. No journalist ever got killed by the government. Granted we were made to go before the competent authority at the department of Information with our war reporting and any sentence relating to the LTTE was crudely deleted. This meant an incomprehensible copy but we were glad to affix `censored’ in the blanks showing how important our pieces were until the four morons comprising a military man and three unidentified officials from upstairs drew their pens across the reports.

CBK comes out as arrogant when you first meet her but underneath that hard exterior there existse a degree of brutal honesty, a trait also found in Premadasa.

Rajpal Abeynaike asks the question why CBK did not get her biography written. He already knows the answer. She has far better dignity and integrity to forfeit them to mere hacks who as Mangala Samaraweera once rightly said could be bought for a bottle of whiskey.

That is not to say CBK was an exemplary president. Far from it. But compared to the current president, JRJ, and DBW she certainly stands out as a leader with courage and conviction. Her downfall was her blind trust in her cousin Anuruddha Ratwatte and later on in Mahinda who virtually stole the thunder while appearing subservient as Chandrika once told a colleague of mine who worked for BBC World Service for more than three decades.

Buddhist philosophy ascribes to right association and this is where CBK failed. She surrounded herself with maverick and disingenuous politicians such as that intellectual G.L.Peiris who spared no time in switching allegiance, silver screen idol Sanath Gunatilleke as her media spokesman and Lucien Rajakarunanayake, the well-known NGO funds hustler as Lake House chairman.

Gossip at the time when Gunatilleke was made CBK’s media spokesman was that CBK wanted to avenge Sabitha for dilly-dallying with her late husband Vijaya Kumaratunga. Sabitha apparently was Vijaya’s bit on the side. Move aside Hollywood and Bill Clinton. No journalist can touch our politicians whether they are bathed by vestal virgins in milk or make a list of concubines as long as a roo’s tail at guest houses. Clinton’s, ‘ I did not have sex with Ms Lewinsky’ statement seems like a child’s prayer compared to our politicians’ utterances on platforms against infidelity.

JRJ was not averse to female company; he parachuted a Tamil schoolteacher to the position of director at Rupavahini and general manager of Ceylon Petroleum Corporation. Ronnie de Mel gave sanctions to a well known international school principal to set it up. Premadasa had a bit on the side with a popular singer. And the late Ranjan Wijeratne was on his way to meet his lover when he died at the hands of a suicide bomber in 1990 at Thunmulla Junction. Who would dare to include these in their biographies?

Douglas Devananda and Karuna; the less said the better. Their proclivity towards female company is legendary.

Biographies written without any fluff on our politicians be they gay, bi or hetero would make it straight to the top slot in Playboy magazine.

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