Elections, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War, Reconciliation, Vavuniya

Confusing reportage over comments by the President: Propaganda or fact?

Angry President tells jeering crowd to leave published in the Sunday Times today is a story based on reportage that first appeared on two sites on the web, Lanka Truth and Lanka News Web.

The version on Lanka Truth, published on 3 April, attributed contentious comments, outrageously derogatory towards the Tamil community, to the President in a rally held in Jaffna on 1st April. Two audio (MP3) files were embedded in this story. One in which the President says in Sinhala, translated to English on the site, “I am also a Sinhalese just like you, but I will speak only in Tamil, and if you cannot understand, then leave the venue”

I am also a Sinhalese just like you, but I will speak only in Tamil, and if you cannot understand, then leave the venue

and the other, again as translated on the site, where he says “since you have tried to interrupt me I will continue to speak in Tamil.”

since you have tried to interrupt me I will continue to speak in Tamil

The story on Lanka News Web was also published on 3 April. The original URL of the story on the site can also be accessed via a proxy in Sri Lanka, as it is blocked by many ISPs in Sri Lanka. This story attributes the comments of the President to a UPFA rally at the Duraiappa Stadium held on 1st April. The story links to a YouTube ‘video’, which is nothing more than a still image with a soundtrack basically the same as the two audio files embedded in the Lanka Truth website. The YouTube video can be accessed here and at the time of writing has been viewed around 8,250 times.

Groundviews first tweeted about this speech after we received an email pointing to the article on Lanka Truth. We flagged what was prima facie an outrageous example of racism and insensitivity by the Executive, and bizarrely so, given the context of the upcoming parliamentary elections, the ostensible location the speech was given in and the community to which the comments were directed towards. We also pointed out the harm these comments had towards post-war reconciliation especially in the North.

At the same time, we reached out via email to our regular readers and contributors to verify the story. Aacharya, a regular contributor to Groundviews, now based in Jaffna, noted that the story had received no mention at all, at the time, in the Tamil media. Two subscribers to our Twitter feed, @dumindaxsb and @naveenmadhawa also expressed their doubts over the veracity of the speech, to which we responded by noting that the Presidential Secretariat would be bound to respond to the story if it was untrue, and that silence could be interpreted as a tacit admission of veracity. In the meanwhile, given reports Groundviews received confirming that no local Tamil, Sinhala or English media had covered the story, we flagged that the content may be fabricated.

We then received feedback from international media present at the venues the President spoke at in Jaffna that their translators had not alerted them to contentious segments of the speech that matched the web reports. Upon subsequent checking after our request to validate the story went out, they noted that no such comments had been uttered by the President. We duly noted this in our Twitter feed, and responded to both @naveenmadhawa and @dumindaxsb by noting that it was madness to put these stories up in the first place. @naveenmadhawa in fact claimed he had the full DVD of the contentious speech which we encouraged him to release publicly in order to set the record straight.

In the meanwhile, we told @Binku, another follower of our Twitter feed who was given to believe the recordings, that blatant falsehoods don’t help in promoting reform and that one must be the change one wants to see.

It is in this context that the Sunday Times story is published. It attributes the same comments noted on the Lanka Truth and Lanka News Web sites to the President at a rally in Vavuniya, and suggests that supporters of UPFA candidate P. Sumathipala were involved in the jeering.

One assumes the Sunday Times published this story after checking facts, which in turn then gives credence to the web reports even though they got the location of the speech wrong. The Sunday Times notes that though it was a multi-ethnic crowd the President addressed, it was the Sinhalese who had jeered. This is not mentioned in either the Lanka Truth or Lanka News Web stories. The Lanka News Web article in fact states quite the opposite, mentioning that it was the Tamils in the audience who couldn’t comprehend what the President was saying, and thus started to jeer.

The concerns over, inter alia, racism and insensitivity are anchored to which community these comments were directed towards. If it was, as the Sunday Times notes, directed towards the Sinhalese in the audience, the President must actually be commended for his steadfastness to continue to speak, as best he can, in a language he is clearly still learning and symbolically, vital to be seen and heard speaking. If on the other hand these comments were directed towards the Tamils in the audience, and was instigated by their jeering, it does raise very serious questions over the President’s ability and willingness to be a symbol of reconciliation and statesmanship vital in post-war Sri Lanka.

That Lanka News Web cannot be accessed via many ISPs in Sri Lanka can be traced back to contested reports against the Rajapaksa’s that were published on the site. Lanka Truth is also widely seen to be partial to the JVP, hardly friends of the Rajapaksa regime. On balance then, the version of the comments attributed to the President appearing on the Sunday Times is what we can best believe.

The story on this story is as interesting as the comments attributed to the President. On the one hand, it suggests that some websites will, shamefully, inaccurately source and spin content to run down the Rajapaksa administration, which is about as bad and myopic as the administration’s own spin and propaganda. On the other hand, it also suggests that spin and propaganda from any party is increasingly difficult to sustain and very quickly exposed, given, in addition to mainstream media’s investigative journalism, models of crowd-sourcing able to quickly check the validity of information new media initiatives such as Groundviews are anchored to and held in check by.

  • Your comment miss one important word. In the audio the words “Demala, pandithkam ” are very clear. Sunday Times has also omitted these words. The self censorship!

    These words show that even when Sinhalase shouted at MR he accused Tamils assuming it was Tamils who are shouting at him. It is very clear that SLFP candidate intervene and address in Tamil trying to calm them down. Why he didn’t address in Sinhala if they were Sinhalese? And it is clear MR is reading form a script, ( nothing wrong with that, we should comment him for his effort to speak in Tamil) that is why he speak in Sinhala towards Tamils…

    There is nothing special on MR’s knee jerk reaction, I remember even president CBK also play the same role play of majority when she had some disagreements with her finical adviser Rajan Asirivadam. He resigned form his post after that incident, if my recollection is correct.

    There is no dignified word in Sinhala to address a Tamil or a Muslim. Demala or a Marakkalaya are derogatory terms. It is completely different when you say Demala and Sinhalaya. We call our selves Sinhalaya. But Tamils don’t call themselves Demala! This is majority – minority dynamics we all are accustomed to.

    So it was our majority culture that MR become a victim of.

  • Lion

    Story by the Lanka Truth semms to be correct.

  • Sinhalaya

    If you listen to the tape closely, you will realise it’s a cut and paste job (just like the channel 4 video).

    Such false propaganda by pro-extremist tamil/anti-government groups do nothing to narrow the perceived ethnic divide.

    We must be wiser, and not let false propaganda destroy our ability to reason.

  • cyberviews

    The quote “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson and the old adage “Actions speak louder than words.” (whatever the language) succinctly reveal the duplicity and political farce behind these attempts at statesmanship. If language is a medium of conveying one’s thoughts and intentions to another, then pursuing a war to its brutish end with callous regard for tens of thousands of civilian lives and the subsequent incarceration of hundreds of thousands of displaced persons for months on end in makeshift camps surrounded by barbed wire fences and armed guards, have conveyed a message that a thousand palliative words in the native language cannot erase.

  • Pearl Thevanayagam

    I too do not believe it was the President intent on wooing Tamil votes who spoke in this manner. Even a person with minimal IQ would know better than to deride Tamils while trying to win their votes.

    The video is still.

    This is simply gutter journalism. Much as I disagree with his type of governance it does not augur well for trying to draw international attention towards changing media laws aimed at protecting journalists.

    This video alone could be cited as to why the government is clamping down on the media. We are playing into the hands of the government and surrendering even the minuscule media freedom we have.

  • justitia

    The comments by Dr.Brian Senewiratne in Lankatruth ( click the link in the first paragraph above ) are shocking and revealing – I beleive him.
    A leopard does not change his spots. The primitive ancestral behaviour and mindset are ingrained in some people, indelibly.

  • Irish

    I heard it and analysed it using computer tecnology and to me it is a cut and paste tape.If you amplyfy the voice and usa a voice synthesizer you can clearly hear the differences of tone and the other qualities of the tape.This job was done by an expert but still an expert can show it ia just a cut and paste one.

  • justitia

    Dear Sunanda Deshapriya,
    The correct word to refer to tamils in their language is ‘thamilar’. Neengal Thamilar means ‘you are all tamils’.
    The person who wrote the words on the teleprompter for the president to read, was obviously not knowledgeble or competent in tamil.
    If the president had got someone to translate his speech, rather than murder the tamil language, it would have been well appreciated by the tamils AND the sinhalese in the audience.
    ‘demala’ may improper but ‘parademala’ is downright derogatory.
    It was reported some time ago, that one of the president’s brothers addressed Arumugam Thondaman and his group of Upcountry MPs as ‘parademalas’. They resigned their portfolios soon after, but later returned to withdraw their resignations.

  • Carli

    Exactly! Pearl Thevanayagam.

  • Suriya

    “There is no dignified word in Sinhala to address a Tamil or a Muslim. Demala or a Marakkalaya are derogatory terms. It is completely different when you say Demala and Sinhalaya. We call our selves Sinhalaya. But Tamils don’t call themselves Demala!”

    Are they really derogatory though? A lot of things in Sinhala are made derogatory by intonation. Demala is the Sinhala version of the Pali word Damila. Damila is often used in Sinhala as a more formal term. Demala is what the Sinhala language uses to refer to the Tamil language and those of Tamil ethnicity. As far as I can see, there is no majority-minority dynamics there. For example, the French refer to the English not as “English” but as ‘Anglais’, they don’t refer to the Germans as Deutsch (as the Germans themselves do) but rather Allemand. In similar fashion, in the Sinhala language the word Demela refers to Tamil.

  • Channa

    LNW is controlled by Mangala.
    LT is controlled by JVP.

    Both are Anti-Rajapakse for good & bad reasons.

    It’s ironic to hear the tapes very closely. You will hear a break and a voice cut of another person. Clearly the vituperative remarks as to appear against tamils is dubbed.

    The actual happened in Vavuniya. But the said 2 websites say Jaffna.

    Shame on you – LNW & LT. You are a disgrace to independent free media.

  • Ajith Kumara

    RP himself is not racialist. He wanted to talk in Tamil himself without translator always in Tamil people. I saw it in the past too. Otherwise he could have used other language either English or Sinhala. This is the core value of his qualities not the words he used like”Demala” or “Sinhalaya” . People have to respect the president of the country when he talks it does not matter people in the crowd Sinhalese or Tamil. He’s the president of the country whether he is right or wrong. This has to be stopped no matter where it happens in Kandy, Gall, Jaffna or Vauniya.

    Ajith Kumara
    USA

  • 2nd Southerner

    Good analysis Groundviews.

    When I first saw this on Lanka News Web I knew it had to be fake. If it were true, a real media outlet would have picked it first and not the other way around. Then I read DBS’s twitter blog about this, and finally read this blog analysis to see how many times this has been spun.

    I can’t believe we all actually believed a “tabloid” for a split sec. 😐

  • Dudley L

    As Pearl Thevanayagam ( a reader in this coulmn) said above, this looks pretty much like a case of gutter and vilgar journalism. And it was reported in a web site who are linked to JVP, a party with a dubious track record. The ST article read ” The President reading from a teleprompter was addressing the crowd in Tamil when a section of the Sinhala crowd jeered. “I am also a Sinhalese just like you, but I will speak only in Tamil, and if you cannot understand, then leave the venue,” the President told those who were continuing to jeer and hoot.”. If this is true, then President MR should be commended for making this brave statement. He was visibly very angry when he made these ungarded comments. It clealy shows his intent and determination to put behind the ethnic problem which has plagued this beautiful country over several decades.Long gone are the days a party like JVP could pull wool over voters eyes.

  • reply to
    sunanda deshapriya and justitia

    MR never said “DEMELA” he said “AHAgana innava DEMALATH”

    YOU should listen carfully
    http://www.lankadeepa.lk/ has the full video

    ps

    Nto only politicos ,the media too in sri lanka has gone to the dogs
    “jana madiyath ballata gihilla”

  • chula

    Please listen to the President’s comments very carefully.

    He says ” Ovu, Api Sinhala, Mamath Sinhala, Eka hinda ahagena innawa DEMALATH” not “demala”. This is obviously addressed to what Mahinda knew as a Sinhala crowd who were jeering him for speaking in Tamil. In English it means
    ” Yes, we are Sinhalese, I am also Sinhalese, therefore listen to Tamil also.”
    This statement does not make any sense if it was addressed to a Tamil crowd.
    People like Sunanda Deshapriya( the history of this discredited journalist is well-known) and Brian Seneviratna (a known LTTE apologist) hear what they want to hear.

  • The Knights Templer

    People like the JVP and Managal are even prepared to sell their mothers to have a punt at getting a leg into the parliament.

    This is a very sad day for free media – abuse of such powers by “respected” news papers is worst than white van abductions.

    We must keep our ears open, but not shut our minds.

    Envy and revenge, is a curse. What these low life poloticians (Mangala and JVP) are doing is destroying our country.

    These bankrupt politicians should be taught a lesson, wit the force of the ballot.

  • TMama

    The report in LankaTruth is interesting. MR deseves praise for making the effort to speak in Tamil. Few Sinhala guys, perhaps bilingual locals tried to upset him with interjections. If the their version is correct he confirmed that he is a Sinhalese called the Tamil person to keep quiet and requested him to leave the premises if he can’t listen.

    No doubt he is having a busy schedule and clearly these are not managed events with planted audiences. His courage and perseverance inan electorate he did not do well must ne admired; having said that Tamil population must make their own judgment as to whether they would prefer Mahinda, Ranil or Sarath FOnfeka. The latter two promise everything that LTTE fought for – a situation largely crated by Ranil’s uncle’s party from ’58 onwards.

  • Dishum

    Chula is absolutely right. MR said “demalath” not “demala”. You can hear clearly in the background, shouts of “sinhalen katha karanna” and he halts his Tamil speech to address the hecklers who are UPFA supporters brought in by Sumathipala. LT and LNW are spreading falsehoods. Please see the video link here.
    http://video.lankadeepa.lk/videos/245/prasident-vavuniya

  • Siva Thurairajan

    The news is correct. He was jeered in Vavuniya and he said what was recorded. However the voice cut is edited – two segments are from two different times during his speech.

    Its a known fact in Vavuniya. Please dont bring Jaffna to mix up the factual correct ness of this article

  • Atheist

    Pearl Thevanayagam,

    I take it that you comprehended Victor Ivan’s comments about “rasthiyadu” style (hooligan) journalists. Were you able to follow through the whole video?

    Now that I’ve got you altered to “gutter journalism”, I hope we will see less of journalists/activists like that certain young woman supposedly working and reporting from a convent in Jaffna.

  • Atheist

    Correction: It should read: Now that I’ve got you alerted (not altered).

    Sorry, Pearl, I was looking out the window for the Easter bunny while typing.

  • Nis

    Thanks Dishum,

    This is the clip with both VIDEO and audio. Everyone, including the people like Sunanda D and Brian S must watch the real clip. (I’m sure they will not like the original clip, but the will welcome the modified lankatruth/LNW clip.)

    http://video.lankadeepa.lk/videos/245/prasident-vavuniya

  • Heshan

    Why does Mahinda need to speak in Tamil if he believes there are no races, only patriots? He should stick to speaking in Sinhala, since that is the language of the so-called “patriots.”

  • Just received, as some of you may also have, an email from Sarath Fonseka’s media campaign that basically spreads wrong information on the President’s speech. It’s a rather disastrous approach, given that the location of the speech is verifiably not Jaffna, and the target audience is also, by the account published in the Sunday Times, not the Tamil community.

    See http://www.moomeo.com/p/Fwd-Remarks-in-Jaffna-EIF9Hfq7kZ.html for text of the email.

  • D

    I don’t believe MR would be racist when it’s crucial to have harmony among all Sri Lankans. I believe jeering, throwing stones at media stations and all the discourse which is happening right now is due to certain parties wanting to twist situations for their own gain!

  • ranjit de mel

    lanka truth is jvp.jvp is a national socialist paty.i cannot write any comment to lanka truth .iam blocked.lanka news web is a [edited out] online paper to many idiots in s.l. who say they are journalists.i beleive the sunday times because iam in a position to analyse. ranjit de mel berlin/COLOMBO

  • Niyaz

    It was not the Sunday Times but the Lakbimanews – reliable paper — that got it right.
    This was reported in the See Through column of Lakbmanews on Sunday. (March 4:)
    There is a U-tube video going around saying the president switched to Sinhala when he was speaking in Jaffna last week – and asked some heckling assembled Tamils to leave if they cannot listen. But no such thing happened we learn. Obviously the video was doctored.
    Who did it? The question is how come these things are allowed, notwithstanding that it was a brilliant fake.

  • Suriya

    Absolutely shocking journalism – if one can even call it ‘journalism’. Just goes to show that the media in Sri Lanka is far from ethical. Is there a press complaints commission or something? I don’t think people should get away with publishing such blatant falsehoods.

  • Observer

    This just goes to show the propaganda elements that are working behind the scenes. Adds more credence to what some of us believe the C4 video to be. Unlikely yet, I won’t be surprised if it’s the same elements that are behind the production of both these materials.

    • @Observer, it is the venue and the community to which the comments were addressed to that was the contentious point between the three reports, with the most accurate being provided by the Sunday Times. The comments were actually made by the President, and in addition to the publication of the excerpts in the Sunday Times, a video on Lankadeepa (http://video.lankadeepa.lk/videos/245/prasident-vavuniya) shows the President making them. The point made by Sunanda Deshapriya, and responded to by many others in the comments is whether the President used the term ‘demala’ or ‘demalath’.

  • Belle

    Call me cynical, but this is just political theatre. Who gains from this episode but MR? He’s the only one coming up smelling like roses, impressing people with an alleged loyalty to Tamils. Watching the video, I got the sense that he delivered the lines he came to deliver. As for the voice that says “I too am Sinhalese. I too am Sinhalese. But if you can’t bear to sit around and listen to Tamil, then you may leave”—I don’t think that is MR. The accent is too authentically Tamil. The words said here are quite different in accent from other Tamil words such as “Vendam” which MR can be seen to have said in the video.

  • Nis

    Clear version of the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PP8QWkeD7zQ

    Response from DBSJeyaraj: http://twitter.com/dbsjeyaraj

    A good analysis: http://dheshapaluwa.blogspot.com/2010/04/blog-post.html

    @groundviews, You have already given the publicity for the fake AUDIO clips by “kela paththara web sites”. Why don’t you give the same publicity for this correct version of the clip.

    • @ Nis, don’t be daft. Try to read and comprehend the article above, along with the first comment. To those who question the sound clips, it is the venue and the community to which the comments were addressed to that was the contentious point between the three reports, with the most accurate being provided by the Sunday Times. The comments were actually made by the President, and in addition to the publication of the excerpts in the Sunday Times, a video on Lankadeepa (http://video.lankadeepa.lk/videos/245/prasident-vavuniya) shows the President making them.

  • @Belle, are you questioning the authenticity of the video of the President’s speech? He maybe particularly flattered for the reason you question its authenticity over, but we haven’t heard anything from him or his office that suggests the comments or the video were entirely fabricated, or pieced together.

  • Atheist

    Groundviews,

    Sounds like you and Sunanda Deshapriya do not understand Sinhala. But for people like us, who have a good knowledge of Sinhala, we didn’t have to rack our brains trying to understand what the man angrily uttered and at whom. It is obvious he was shouting at a bunch of Sinhala hecklers. He shouts: “…we are Sinhala????? I’m also Sinhala. Listen to Tamil also”. In the meantime, someone was translating this to the Tamil audience. He continued to speak in Tamil defying the Sinhala hecklers.

    In perpetuating such diabolical lies, do you guys/gals really think that democracy is so fragile in Sri-Lanka? I still remember how the ’77 riots was fuelled. There was a fish monger named Piyadasa from down south who concocted a story about receiving fish containers (mallu petti) packed with the dismembered bodies of Sinhalese girls studying at the Jaffna University. Mind you, no Sinhala student, to my knowledge, was touched. Perhaps that Piyadasa – if he is still alive – could get a job as a journalist today. That horrible fish monger, having caused much mayhem, was allowed to roam freely. Isn’t it sad?

    If you people have a shred of decency, you will think twice before instigating communal disharmony. People have smartened up and are not going to confuse “channel four-ism” for journalism. So, is this the type of ‘freedom of expression’ you are fighting for? Hooliganism has nothing to do with journalism; however, if you happen to disagree with me here, please be prepared to share the limelight with Kelaniya Mervin Silva and the gang! It is one thing to have dissenting views, but quite another to manufacture lies.

    I presume Sunanda Deshapriya is an elderly man. If he has children, I wonder whether he teaches them to lie also. Who knows, perhaps Deshapriya is running his own channel -five as we speak. If he cannot distinguish “demala” and “demalath”, I am sorry, but the man has a serious hearing impediment. I am sure, Deshapriya, in his dream, wanted to hear “demala”; too bad, it is now shattered, no?

  • Atheist

    Belle:

    Too bad you can’t understand Sinhala. Ask Pearl Devanayagam to translate Victor Ivan’s talk with Vikalpa.

  • wijayapala

    Groundviews,

    What about the possibility that MR staged this entire thing?

  • Belle

    @Groundviews, No, I’m sure this is a real event that was recorded. But there is a voice over that says “I am Sinhalese. If you can’t bear to listen to Tamil, then you may leave.” I read elsewhere that this was said by the President, and of course, it makes him come across as Tamil-friendly. However, I very much doubt that it is his voice because the voice over has an authentic Tamil accent and intonation that is quite different from the Tamil words that the President can actually be seen to be saying here.

    But on another level, sure, the video records a real event, a real rally. But was that event (of people heckling against use of Tamil, and MR speaking back in defence of Tamil) itself staged to give MR the opportunity to wax lyrical about the need for inter-ethnic relations in SL? I find it fishy that the only one who gains from this episode is the President himself, that he comes across in a heroic light, whereas the opposition loses because it is being suspected of jeering (without any real evidence).

  • Pearl Thevanayagam

    Dear Atheist,
    I am not in Jaffna. Please do not confuse me with Marissa. Your Easter Bunny rantings muddled with Easter spirit should not convolute yoru mind and make a mockery of facts.

    I do not believe in distorting truth.

  • Atheist

    Hello Groundviews people (men and women)

    You said: “Reading and comprehension don’t seem to be your forte.”

    The next time you want to comment on my perceived lack of reading and comprehension, please be so kind as to refrain from stock phrases such as the above. I would like something witty and creative from you that will knock the socks off us readers (and perhaps those of your professors).

    Technically speaking, I agree with you that there was no vilification of the speaker in your article. In comparing this news item that appeared in the Sunday Times – a longstanding, reputed newspaper –along with the commentaries in two websites devoted to discrediting the Mahinda government, you seem to have made a highly incongruous move to me. Besides, I think one should advise the writers on one of the websites in question to brush up on their language skills.

    What puzzles me is you quoting Sunanda Deshapriya – giving prime importance to his inane “analysis” of: ‘demalath/demala’. Perhaps he is affiliated to Groudviews? If so, could it be that he is one of the editors?

    See, this is what happens when someone with a hearing impediment refuses to wear a hearing aide. Let that be a lesson to him!

    • @Atheist, you’re going from the banal to the idiotic. You ‘technically’ now agree with us, and yet find our comparison ‘incongruous’. You say we ‘quote Sunanda Deshapriya’, when his input was a comment to which others have responded to. Ironically, while you accuse others of incomprehension and bad expression, you embody the zenith of both. Kindly desist.

  • Atheist

    Groundviews people,

    Yes, technically speaking, you may not have overtly vilified Mahinda. Yippee! However, I don’t agree with your subtle endorsement of Sunanda Deshapriya, Lanka Truth and the like. Got it? Good.

    I think ‘witty’ and ‘creative’ are not your strong points. It now seems critical thinking skills are also not a prerequisite to become an editor at Groundviews. What a pity!

    First, if we want our own New York Times, addressing dissenting views without getting all riled up like little bad sports would be a major starting point.

    Second, never ask your opponent to “desist”. This only indicates that you’ve hit rocket bottom in the ‘ideas’ department.

    Remember the cardinal rule: bring your ideas to work, and leave your attitude at home!

    • @Atheist, don’t be moronic. Where did we endorse any of those you mention? We have addressed all your false accusations repeatedly. If you can’t engage constructively, then kindly go to the plethora of other fora on the web that tolerate ill-informed trolls like yourself or follow your own advice and just be at home.

  • Atheist

    Pearl Thevanayagam,

    The last thing I would do is mock Good Friday – the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the human being.

    Please exercise some of that Easter spirit and let me know what “the facts” are. You must be a very pious person, going to church and thanking the Good Lord that is looking after you.

    For me, I only have my conscience. Unlike you, I cannot find a short cut to absolve me of my misdemeanours. It is a lot of hard work for me, what about for you?

    I know you are NOT in Jaffna, but since you seem to know Marisa, I think I would like to share some light hearted thoughts about Marisa’s escapades. Now, if you have ever been to the Jaffna Holy Family Convent, you know very well that the water tank someone mentioned can be seen from the convent. Can’t it? So, why is Marisa silent about what is going on?

    Also, do you think either of the two convents – Holy Family and St. John Bosco – can house fifty odd girls? Maybe she is living in some other convent somewhere like in Achuveli? Well, from what she has been telling us – her kindness and ability to win over the hearts of Tamil people – she sure sounds like Mother Theresa. Hope she went to Periya Kovil on Good Friday with all the nuns.

    If I am mistaken in this matter, don’t worry, I have MY conscience to answer to!

  • Atheist

    Groundviews people,

    I may be many things, but I am yet to get any kind of “constructive criticism” out of the likes of you.

    As you have been calling me many names over the course of this exchange, I must say that, best of all, I don’t mind being called an “idiot”. My name tag can be: The Idiot. I know that none of you can beat The Idiot.

    Hey, fella, I see that you brought your attitude to work today. I say, what a disappointment!

    • @Idiot aka Atheist, we certainly share the disappointment. Goodbye.

  • The Idiot aka Atheist

    Thank you Dostoevsky, The Idiot put some people in touch with their humanity!

  • Anisha

    Mr. Haththottuwa, in immediately pouncing on the story and tweeting about the incident without verifying the accuracy of how it was reported in the first place was poor journalism. Not only that, it has dangerous consequences and a negative effect on the discourse at all levels that is today contributing to how race relations amongst Sinhalese and Tamils in and outside of Sri Lanka is evolving.

    Being the new media and citizen journalism poster boys and supposed experts (most probably rightly so) I’m sure the editorial staff at Groundviews would understand that for a vast majority of readers, their opinions are formed on a splash and dash intake of available news sources. These readers do not have the time to stop by regularly to follow up on stories with track backs, comments and regular discussion on the source site. So often the first or an isolated tweet/article would be read and would form the core of the views of such readers which is then taken via discussion to their friends, homes and workplaces.

    So, for many it doesn’t help that you tempered your initial jack in the box Tweet of the LankaTruth article with comments on facebook, tweets and then this arrogant self riteous article. They will form their views on the first story, the first tweet and spread the “truth”… or in this instance your supposed “ground view”. Here are the consequences of your lazy approach to your work: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/11/worldwide-boycott-sri-lanka (which I see you have noticed and jumped on the opportunity to pull in some extra hits to your site with a comment… and also promote some additional discussion… yes.)

    In this context, you, who have held yourself out continuously as adopting an independent, professional and responsible viewpoint on your site in terms of editorial policies and editorial content, should have exercise better journalistic skills and caution, especially in the context of tweets and articles based on falsehoods which have the potential to stoke hatred.

    And, for those who have already come to the conclusion, no, I’m not a Rajapaksa supporter. I’m just someone who is tired of seeing irresponsible and partial reporting in our media which contributes to, and sometimes sparks, snowballing suspicions and distrust between the communities who live in my own neighbourhood, town, city and country (i.e. My neighbours and I have to live with the shit that results at the end of it and my neighbours and I have to deal with the shit that results at the end of it. There’s a ground view for you.) Pull up your socks, be careful and responsible!

    • @Anisha, awfully kind of you to attribute the Guardian’s journalism to this site, but we take no credit. You say “… for a vast majority of readers, their opinions are formed on a splash and dash intake of available news sources.” We agree. And there’s the rub, because you cannot then say that websites alone spread false information and rumour. Again, we’ve covered this in our original article,

      The story on this story is as interesting as the comments attributed to the President. On the one hand, it suggests that some websites will, shamefully, inaccurately source and spin content to run down the Rajapaksa administration, which is about as bad and myopic as the administration’s own spin and propaganda. On the other hand, it also suggests that spin and propaganda from any party is increasingly difficult to sustain and very quickly exposed, given, in addition to mainstream media’s investigative journalism, models of crowd-sourcing able to quickly check the validity of information new media initiatives such as Groundviews are anchored to and held in check by.

  • Anisha

    You don’t need to take credit for it. But I hope you understand that, considering your readership and reach, you have contributed to people taking the position, or cementing their views, on what was expressed in the article I referred you to in relation to Rajapaksa’s comments in Vavuniya. My reference was an example of the process, not of the direct result of your own handiwork, although I wouldn’t discount it. You taking credit for it or not is not really relevant.

    And yes, I agree, websites alone do not spread false information and rumour. It’s just unfortunate when they start the rumour or participate hurriedly in its dissemination. Especially in this particular instance, with so many alarm bells going off relating to the veracity of the alleged comment just on a piecemeal analysis of it (i.e. the source website and, more importantly, the tone and content of the alleged comment by Rajapaksa who was actively wooing Tamil voters at the time and has consistently over the past year launched a massive PR campaign to appear conciliatory and put up a unifying front on race relations.)

    I suggest you consider my comment as part of the checking process which you refer to without getting too defensive. Hopefully the response contained on this page and elsewhere online (and otherwise) to the manner in which this rumour took hold in our media, both traditional and otherwise, would serve as an effective check and produce more responsibility amongst journalists sans arrogance. After all, its a good thing, no.

    • @Anisha, it is only a person who hasn’t read, or poorly understood our article who can claim that it has contributed to the erroneous reportage of Lanka Truth or Lanka News Web. This is a point we have made ad nauseum, ad infinitum on this comment threat and others. We trust you do not fall into this category of readers who take issue with this site without really comprehending the content or discussions in it.

  • Anisha

    I am certainly not accusing you of contributing to erroneous reporting on either of those sites. Perhaps you should read my comments again and consider your understanding of them. Regardless, content and discussion on this site is commendable and required. So is responsibility and restraint in the pursuit of accuracy on your part.

    To make myself clearer, my comments refer to your tweet http://twitter.com/groundviews/status/11527842928. Consider its value in isolation; my contention being that, for many who don’t have the time or the patience, and for some who would exploit its patent error, this isolated manner is the manner in which they would, or they would prefer, to read it. A simple and heavily loaded line in isolation. The discussions you refer to, even this one right here, fall by the way side ignored.

    So, I say again, it is best that you understand and respond to your responsibility firstly, to those whose lives are affected directly by your reporting and then, to your readers, in articles, tweets and what ever new means of communication you use. For you, in what you hold yourself out to be, and in what you are, Its not good enough to reason and argue away a mistake after the fact. Good luck in your work.

  • Asad

    Look Groundviews, we can read and comprehend. Only you seem to think that people who don’t agree with you can’t read or comprehend. You jumped on the chance to vilify the president without checking the facts. You were probably quite gleeful as well. You exhibited poor journalism.and put your integrity at stake. Only when it was totally obvious it was all a hoax you started going into damage control. You spread false information as fact. Stop calling other people names and judging whether they can read or write or comprehend… be a man and own up to your mistake.

    • @Asad, actually you have demonstrated you can do neither. QED.

  • Belle

    If only the commentators here would show just as much spunk in decrying the ethics of media which mislead millions of readers regularly by running only state propaganda. Why this heckling of the alternative media for an occasional error without any interrogation of the mainstream media that put out false stories on a daily basis? People should get some perspective. Which media causes more damage to the people?

  • Belle

    Sorry, above post was mistakenly posted on this thread. I meant to post it on “A response to ‘News websites caught red-handed doctoring video to make president look racist'”.

  • Veedhur

    @ Anisha, I agree.

  • justitia

    It appears that the president cannot speak tamil correctly. In the sound clips, if those are his voice recordings, his pronunciation of tamil words ( probably transliterated into sinhalese or english ) on the teleprompter, is atrocious.
    It is regrettable that he has not learned to speak colloquial tamil during his presidency, though it became an official language decades ago.
    I studied and passed the Grade III Sinhala Proficiency written examination and the Sinhala Oral Departmental Examination, to continue in public service and became fluent enough in spoken sinhala to teach subordinate officers about subjects essential for their duties, sometimes assisted by one of them knowledgeable in english and sinhala. ( I also learned “kunuharappuwa” sinhala from sinhala colleagues !)
    The president should have had a person to translate his speech in tamil and this would have been far better.
    Now he will know the travails of tamils in trying to transact business with the state and trying to make complaints to the police and to sinhala only bureaucrats and trying to understand sinhala only communication from the government.
    There are Grade ! SLAS officers who cannot write grammatical english.Their circulars are full of errors.