Still image captured from BBC video interview.

Excerpt from first conversation

FJ: Mr. Rajapaksa are you threatening me?

GR: Yes! I am threatening you! Write every single word I have told you if you want – you write a bloody f…..g word and we will see…

FJ: Mr. Rajapaksa I called you as a journalist to inform you of what was happening and get your version but all you have done is abuse me in raw filth…

Excerpt from second conversation

GR: Yes I threatened you. Your type of journalists are pigs who eat shit! Pigs who eat shit! Shit, Shit Shit journalists!!! Ninety percent of the people in this country hate you! They hate you!!! You come for a function where I am and I will tell people this is the Editor of The Sunday Leader and ninety percent there will show that they hate you.

GR: But I will put you in jail! You shit journalist trying to split this country – trying to show otherwise from true Sinhala Buddhists!! You are helped by the US Ambassador, NGOs and Paikiasothy – they pay you!!!

FJ: I wish.

GR: You pig that eats shit!!! You shit shit dirty f…..g journalist!!!

FJ: I hope you can hear yourself Mr. Rajapaksa.

GR: People will kill you!!!  People hate you!!! They will kill you!!!

FJ: On your directive?

GR: What?? No. Not mine. But they will kill you – you dirty f…..g shit journalist.

The above excerpts need no elucidation. They are from two telephone conversations between the Defence Secretary Gotahbaya Rajapaksha and the Editor of the Sunday Leader Frederica Jansz as reported in the Sunday Leader of 08 July 2012.

This columnist is mentioned in the second conversation. This is not however, the issue I want to highlight in this column.  The issue I want to highlight is the behaviour of the Defence Secretary, a senior government official at the apex of power and given the dynastic structure and the nature of power, arguably the most powerful individual in the country.  Over the last seven years in which he has held this position he has a record of abusive conduct in the media and against the media. This is not the first time he has threatened a newspaper editor – the last time was in 2007 and it involved another female editor.  He has gone ballistic on international media on more than one occasion and likewise, strayed beyond his ken to venture policy pronouncements and spew out disparaging and derogatory comment with impunity.

I have called for his resignation or sacking on three occasions- the first in 2007.  I do so yet again.  The Defence Secretary is reported as telling an editor of a newspaper in the foulest of language, that people hate her and will kill her. The quoted transcript is clear as to where his sympathies lie.  In effect, his remarks foster a climate of hate and hurt and harm against Ms Jansz. It is an egregious violation of even that much -sullied pretense at governance and reconciliation we as a country are treated to on a daily basis. Should we be paying a public official to threaten newspaper editors or indeed any of our fellow citizens?

There are those who maintain that this is nothing egregious but rather attitude, language and behavior that epitomizes the current dispensation. Others maintain that this should not be taken seriously – the Defence Secretary, war hero to boot, is hot–headed and we all have our bad days, limited and abusive vocabulary!

The latter category, are clearly apparatchik apologists or just plain terrified to think or say otherwise.  The former category may well be correct about the vulgar and abusive character of the dynastic project, but their cynical acceptance of this incident may well also mask fear and their unwillingness to take exception is probably the most frightening thing about this whole episode when judged from the perspective of democratic governance.  I had the opportunity, a year ago, to remind an audience of the words of Montesquieu – the tyranny of the oligarch is not so dangerous to the welfare of the public as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.  This is the challenge confronting all of us individually and collectively with regard to this incident, as well as many others that the media dare to report.

Is the Defence Secretary a power unto himself?  What will his president/our president, his minister, his brother do about his behavior, which, whether he can help or not, is just not acceptable in any decent, democratic society. Apart from anything else, this is so egregious a violation of the Mahinda Chintana first edition and of the subsequent Idiri Dekma version! Does this country owe Gotabhaya Rajapaksha so much for his role in defeating the LTTE that his horrendous and appalling behavior should be dismissed as inconsequential, condoned by silence and nourished by impunity?

There should be a groundswell of public opinion calling for his resignation or removal.  Those of us who do will be told that he will be in his position as long as his brother occupies the seat of power and that he probably will be a repeat offender and an even more powerful one at that.  No point therefore in making a point about him, now or ever.  He will live and die in power.

The temptation to quote Pastor Niemoeller and on an issue in any way connected to the Sunday Leader notwithstanding, is it not time that we as a society stood up against such atrocity at the very heart of the regime?  Across the water, the media would surely have decided to boycott official events presided over or attended by such an individual and if not, most definitely have raised a mighty chorus for his resignation or removal? Parents surely would have robustly expressed their disapproval were he to be invited to any official function involving their children?

Ms Jansz’s fellow editors have yet to rise to her support and in condemnation of this chilling exchange.  The same applies to our great and good, the denizens of our society in their guilds and fora and congresses. They are yet to bring to bear their not inconsiderable collective authority, secular, moral, temporal and spiritual, in even the mildest censure. Perhaps they will. In a while…

They must; we must. Even if we cannot transform the ugly and nasty in our midst, we must surely recognize it for such.  We will be further removed from even the pretense of civilization and decency if we accept and condone it as merely commonplace.

  • Decency

    The minimum requirements from a public official or even a political figure is to use decent, civilized form of speech when addressing a fellow human being.
    However this is not the case today in Sri Lanka. Our leaders set the tenor and tone for the ordinary people and riff raff of society to follow. So no wonder the rapes, abductions, extra judicial killings etc.
    Where are we heading? – a question every sensible Sei Lankan must ask ones self. Such behaviour seems to be accepted today by all our so called literate and highly educated alumni and leaders of society.

  • Velu Balendran

    Gota is slowly but surely revealing his innate evil nature. I am sure there is more of this ugly behaviour to come before he paves his way to the Hague as a war criminal.

  • If the quoted conversation did take place then it is clear that there is no place in a democratic leadership for this gentleman (sic).

  • James Chance

    Bravo for an honest and courageous critique of the ruling brother. Most important, though, is the call on others with some public standing – monks, priests, professional associations, editors, professors, business leaders – to speak up too. The slow grinding down and making docile of Lanka’s previously rambunctious and politically outspoken civil society – even during years of war and terror – is perhaps the Rajapaksas, and especially Gota’s, most destructive legacy. It’s still not too late to stem the tide and for civil society in its broadest definition to re-emerge and place some limits on the abuse of power. It may be overly optimistic to think Mahinda will ever fire Gotabaya, but is it too much to ask at least a few other influential Lankans to say enough is enough?

    • brad

      “highly appreciate your present day courage, bravery and determination”

      ha ha

      im not talking about GR. but its wrong if news papers create false stories and publish and then become heros because of news p[aper editors get counter threat.

  • Sumudu Perera

    Oh my dear Dr. Saravanamuttu

    We highly appreciate your present day courage, bravery and determination to be bluntly critical of Gotabhaya against his foul language and other vituperative statements. Of course it is no secret that bold you have been critical of Rajapaksha brothers particularly with foreign dignitaries specially prospective donors. You are sometimes brave enough to use almost the same foul language referring to Rajapaksha’s specially Gota.

    While we appreciate you today openly criticizing powers that be I wish that you had the same courage in the good old days (1988/89)and even today when it comes to attacking Ranil Wickramasinghe for being brutal and as of recently blatantly making disparaging comments to journalists.

    Of course, in the same spirit I am looking for any columns or remarks by you against the brutality of Prabakaran or Pottu Amman who have taken away thousands of lives of decent Sri Lankans including some of your close friends.

    Please be grateful to the brothers whom you hate for creating this environment of freedom of expression at least when you meet them personally.

    • Burning_Issue

      When that come for you, surely you will know and you cannot do anything about it! How do you know that the author did not criticise both RW and VP?

    • Nithyananthan

      It appears as a sarcastic appeal to put Praba & Poddu on same level – same balance with the ruling cabal of a country to evaluate their performance as public figures! Those two had earned by hard-work and been awarded long ago as IRT (Internationally Reconvicted Terrorist & their activities as Terrorism). Asking to put them on the same balance and initial the verdict with/on the same keyboard illustrate them as equal in status and matching partners – one is no smatter than other. Since one had already earned the lucrative ‘IRT’ title and the other is invigorating with zeal and envy to earn ST (State Terrorists/m). Their objectives and methods do not merit comparison.
      With sincere appreciation, we thank you, Dr. Sara, for your tireless service. Nithy!

    • Lanka Liar

      Thanks for writing in Sri Lankan. LTTE always to be blame that is the first rule, second is same as the first. Learn to address the facts not the author. Well you may lose your citizenship and heritage if you do that. Good luck

    • Saro

      Many journalists have disappeared for being bold and brave to report the news as they saw. The Sunday Leader is the only English newspaper that reports news that happen in the north and east. This is the gateway for the news of atrocities that the mono-ethnic military inflict on the voiceless Tamils who live in the north and east. Now Gota is trying to finish its journalists by threats and the newspaper itself by court actions for huge financial claims for supposed ‘defamation’. Some judges are his supreme brother’s appointees.

    • Walter

      Sumudu Perera, I feel sorry you are wearing blinkers and cannot recognize the issue. Attacking a person for highlighting the truth will never solve the problem our people are facing. You obviously are a person who is benefiting from the current regime. No decent civilization will ever tolerate the kind of behaviour we see in our politicians. You obviously are not civilized enough to know the difference.

    • randy mathew

      Sumudu, please remember that two wrongs do not make a right. If you think that there is an environment of peace & harmony in SL, then you are living on another planet or you are sucking up to some wicked people.

      • Bipiri

        It’s such a shame that Rajapaksha’s and other politicians use the word “Sinhalese buddhists” when they do trash talks and criminal acts. We are sinhalese buddhists and we do not appreciate killing people no matter what nor we do not appreciate threatning people, that the public will kill them, when Rajapaksha’s point out this is so and so. The truth is that the politician’s thugs do that part including the July 83 riots, not us. Infact we hate it when you use the term “the sinhalese buddhists” to cover up your shameful acts. Get a life dirty politicians and please leave us alone.

  • Congratualtions, Pakiasothy Saravannamuttu for having the guts to stand up for decency and civlised behaviour. The last time the dregs of society took control of a country in Europe was when the Nazis came to power ~ and that precipitated the Second World War. Sadly, our Singhala Buddhist [edited out] seem to have a problem with their jeans [edited out] and their genes (no back bone) so they collude with such ‘go-day’ behaviour. And the tribal chauvinists reign.

    Where have all the civilised people gone, long time no see.

    The Dunning-Kruger Effect reigns! That is the tragedy of this country.

    • kadphises

      I salute Dr. Saravanamuttu for his bravery. It says much about Sri Lankans that such a man as caveman Gotabhaya is accepted or even tolerated by our countrymen. I am thinking of all the lackeys and the pandam karayas who are shamelessly attracted to such people for the few crumbs that fall off their table.

    • EF

      This (Gotabaya) is a man who has displayed his vulgar, uncivilized behavior, time and again. [Edited out]. People of Sri Lanka must rise up and throw [edited out] like these out of power. They are a menace to civilized society. And the clowns who support them are no better and they must be held accountable too.

  • No sensible person would condone not only Gotabaya’s latest but even his earlier outbursts of this nature. They are all indicative of his inherent quality. It is a fact that he holds the position of Secretary to the Ministry of Defence not because he is qualified or is eligible to hold it but only and only because he happens to be the brother of the President. He had found him to be the best person he could trust to deal with the Departments under the Defence Ministry whose personnel were already reputed violators of human rights and humanitarian laws, who act in total disregard for rules, regulations and laws of the land. No other Secretary would have allowed such a situation to continue. In fact he has famously uttered during his out bursts statements like “I will hang him” , “I will send you to jail” , “I do not care about the courts” etc., as if he personally possessed all the powers relating to these matters. There is no doubt that the activities alleged to be at the hands of personnel under his command have dragged the country’s reputation almost to the point of going very close to the first among the list of failed States in the World.
    After Gotabaya took his oath of office as Secretary Defence he became a public officer who is obliged to act according to the rules and regulations applicable to all public officers. Perhaps he appears to have forgotten that the post of Secretary to any Ministry, including that of the Defence Ministry, is a designated post of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service (earlier known as the Ceylon Civil Service) Many eminent SLAS Officers who held this post earlier had discharged their functions with dignity and had earned the respects of all concerned. He may hardly know the kind of training Civil Servants had to undergo during those days that equipped them with the knowledge and skills needed for such persons to effectively carry on their duties. Even the present Secretary to the President who hails from that service, has earned the respect of all those concerned by being very discreet in his words and deeds, because of the training he has undergone after getting into the service.

    If anyone says or believes that he is the one who successfully conducted the war to defeat the LTTE, and deserves a special place, such person needs to be told that a Secretary to a Ministry is one who provides the administrative and logistical support that is needed by the various departments under his Ministry to perform their respective tasks effectively. What we see now is that the Secretary Defence has assumed all the powers and functions of the Heads of Departments under the Ministry and the respective Heads of the Departments such as the Army Commander, the Inspector General of Police, the Navy and Air Force Commanders have all now become mere dummies !

    Can anyone say that a Secretary of any other Ministry in the country could consider Gotabaya to be a role model and act as he does ? Can any other Secretary to a Ministry issue political statements, threaten the media, challenge Ambassadors of other countries or even speak on matters clearly falling under the purview of other Ministeries and continue to survive in the post ?

    And as Mr. Saravanamuttu has rightly stated “Even if we cannot transform the ugly and nasty in our midst, we must surely recognize it for such. We will be further removed from even the pretense of civilization and decency if we accept and condone it as merely commonplace” . This statement needs to be given serious consideration.

    It is hoped that every right thinking person will join in and condemn roundly the actions of this outcast of a Secretary and see that the king pin of impunity in the country is thrown into the dustbin of history

    • randy mathew

      An excellent & factual article, Mr Saravanamuttu. I do admire your courage when most journalists are cowering under their beds. Please do take good care of yourself as there are people who have a lot to hide and would not hesitate to harm you. These people do come from a low pedigree and are an insult to Buddhism.

  • Lanka Muslim, UK

    Even if the DS behaves worse than this and become a real threat to the freedom of the people in the country the President will not remove him as the President, for his existence, depends on the DS more than any others. The state of affairs in the country in all aspects is worsening and the President is not unaware that there could be a sudden change of mood of the people which would threaten his power, and the only person who can save him is the DS.

    • Saro

      It is based on wrong presumption. The president employ his brothers in key positions is because of his total disregard to the people and love of his family. The war was won with the support of US, EU, India and of course the communist block such as China and Eastern European countries. The part played by ex-army general Sareth Fonseka is totally ignored in avenging him for challenging. The brothers have outlived their usefulness to the country. Before the people throw them out with humiliation they must voluntarily make an honourable exit. The electors made a mistake in re-electing these war mongers. They must have followed the British who voted out Winston Churchill in 1947 just after his government master minded the defeat of the Nazis.

  • alex f

    In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve (and certainly voted for).

    • I am surprised to see that there are persons who still think that there is democracy in Sri Lanka. Besides, can anyone tell when we last had fair elections that reflected the will of the people ?
      It is no secret that most of the democratic values are no longer in available in Sri Lanka and with the Elections Commissioner becoming a person chosen at the discretion of the President and holds office at his pleasure – there just cannot be any election in the future that would faithfully reflect the will of the people.

    • truth

      The present govt. is noted “voted in”, but “rigged in” by various unlawful means!!!

    • ray

      He was not voted

    • randy mathew

      Alex, you are right there but I am also thinking of the fact of how the tigers were bribed by certain people in 2005 to prevent the north & east voters from voting. The rest is a sad history of violence , corruption , economic mismanagement etc.

      • Alex F

        Pretty pathetic that we have to hark back to events of 2005 to explain Sri Lanka’s crippled state today. Perhaps we should start with 1956 or even British colonialism?

        Frankly its time for Sri Lankans to take responsibility for the path they have chosen, democratically from independence on wards.

        People, really do get the leaders the deserve.

  • Vani

    No doubt Sri Lanka is turning into next Burma! Rajapaksa family think that they control the whole island, people, media and no freedom to Tamils at all, now Sinhalese too. Good bye to Democracy in Sri Lanka!

    • veedhur

      Please do not denigrate Burma by saying such things!

  • Navin

    GR has lot of respect among the Southern people. However, this behavior of his is very much unbecoming of a public officer and totally unwarranted. Its is very disappointing for those with hopes that he will make much progress in areas (e.g. UDA) where many inefficient corrupt ministers of all colors have failed in the past. If he is to be of any use to this country and her people, he needs to act wisely and this doesn’t point in that direction.

    Irrespective of her political affiliations FJ does not deserve to be treated in this manner. She is well within her rights to question GR on his conduct. I find him bringing a puppy from Europe ridiculous to say the least.

  • Hettiararachi N

    The argument that we got Gota to destroy the LTTE is like putting the cart before the horse.

    We got the LTTE because we created the LTTE through Sinhala only in 1958 and the rising Sinhala buddhist fascism since 1958…

    We must accept instead that the only ones who can continue this Sinhala buddhist fascism is Gota and Rajapakse now with an important difference..

    Now that the Tigers have essentially been turned into pussy cats..and the Tamils into second class slaves who live on handouts from the brothers and the paramilitary Karuna, douglas, pillayan trio..

    we need new victims… Maybe the Muslim alqueda in the east… or the Sinhala Karawa in the south who did not profit from the war…as much.

    So that tamil struggle helped bring Sinhala fascism to a heightened level and Gota is the pinnacle of this… MR is the gentle doctor who oversees and ensured all this and lined thier pockets in the process.

    • randy mathew

      I agree with your balanced view on the ethnic problem. There is no doubt that these Rajapaksas have turned out to be as wicked as the tiger terrorists. It is only a change of government which can bring genuine peace & economic development. UNP , please wake up & do your duty.

      • Alex F

        Not sure the UNP are any better, based on their party’s contribution to the island. Frankly, neither party have covered themselves in glory since independence, both going for the right-wing extremist vote.

    • Sam Alexander

      Well said.

    • Sam Alexander

      I have a strong feeling that Gota is untouchable in Sri Lanka by anyone including MR. It is true for couple of reasons.

      1. The civilized society can cry all the foul if they want but for the Sri Lankan true power center, the sinhalese supremists, Gota is a god given gift. No other person in Sri Lanka killed so many Tamils or taken over Tamil properties under the disguise of national security and sihalanizing the North and East like Gota.

      2. If MR gives the slightest doubt that he is not happy with Gota, then that would be the end of MR. Gota will stage a military coup and take over MR. Can you ever imagine MR being tough with Gota?

  • Piranha

    This [edited out] Gota is not even elected by the people. The temerity of this man to abuse a senior female journalist is mind boggling. This is the kind of arrogance of power that permeates the whole government structure in Rajapaksa regime. The impunity with which this unelected government official has spoken and acted gives a lie to the claim that Sri Lanka is a democratic country.It is not just Gota but the whole putrid regime has to be evicted from power.

  • Anurasiri

    I think Gota has all the rights to be totally mad. It’s the idiots in Air Lanka have f**** the situation. You should highlight the full conversation. Not pick and choose few bad words.

    • Just because you support the current government, you life doesn’t depend on defending every single thing it does. If something is bad, it’s bad.

  • Orion

    I see an image of the Buddha in the background of the picture above. May be he does not see it. May be Gota could place a statue of the Buddha on his table in front of him. As a person who was and is in the Line of Command and accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Gota may be traumatised. May be his brother could help him to receive treatment for trauma while on extended sick leave. That is the least he could do for his heroic brother.

  • Sanjayan

    I agree completely dr. saravanamuttu. he should have gone a long time ago.

  • Dinu

    This will not happen if his brother is not the President. He is so much goes wild and filthy just because his brother’s power. In other words abuse of power, What ever it is a civil servant should not show their emotions, temper in this manner, instead he should act more Gentleman manner. You spoil whole drama.

  • rashan

    GR was wrong, more than 90% of people hate FJ.

    • We’re interested in your polling data and statistical model.

    • richardson

      Dear Mr. Pakiasothy, over 90% Sri Lankans hate Frdrica Janz
      with a passion. She is a [edited out] ,who put Gen, Fonseka
      in jail..

      You are my hero today,You have the guts and the courage.
      Please do not involve FJ,in your campaign.You will fail.
      No sri Lankan Like What this women did to Gen. Sarath Fonseka.

  • Prem

    Not surprised at all, this animal would have definitely ordered the butchery of innocent lives during the final phase of the war. The very expression of “true Sinhala Buddhist ” expresses his racist side, as if the rest are all untouchables. Hope the judgement day is not too far.

    • RENU

      Only one who has a very low pedigree will use such foul language on a woman journalist.

      • randy mathew

        Cant agree with you more, Renu

      • Sam Alexander

        Well said Renu.

        This man is not fit for any decent office.

        This arrogant man does not have any good qualities to direct the military while respecting or protecting civil liberties at all.

        That is why he was picked up by his elder brother for the job, to commit [edited out] agianst Tamils and to get rid off the LTTE as the rebels are always like fish swimming in the water (amongst the civilians). You drain / evaporate the water so you can kill the fish.

        His heart and mind is full of [edited out] have to spil over, and it did, this time on a woman journalist.

  • Upali A

    GR is not qualified to be even the secretary of the ministry of [edited out] Inherant trait in the family, pathetic Rajapakshas bringing the country down. Never seen this low before.

  • Leave Gotha alone!
    He is the best at what he is supposed to be!!
    No matter what anyone says, this pattern will continue!!!
    He is “symblematic” of a larger much problem — a disgraced state!!!!

  • Mr. Rajapakse’s language is crude, vulgar and totally unacceptable.

    No bullying allowed!

  • ordinary lankan

    There is courage here – but it is misguided.

    We Sri Lankans are quick to shoot from the hip, shoot from the lip, quick to judge and condemn but slow to understand…..

    Gotabhaya is just a distraction – may be a big one but nevertheless a distraction from one of the basic truths about our society.


    This is so at family level – among relations and then it spills over into wider society. We like to swim around in this cesspit of hatred and point our fingers at the bigger fish and say – “oh how bad is that?” We forget that we are one society – one boat – on the highway to hell. There is not a single person – sorry Dr Pakiasothy – not even you and certainly not Mrs Frederica who can place themselves out of the boat and point a finger at it.

    Even if all the Rajapakse’s vanish tomorrow we will not be on a better wicket…. Dr. Pakiasothy’s brave critique has not added one inch to his moral stature. It is conventional and correct – but hopelessly trapped within the dualism of right and wrong – unable to go beyond.

    Recently in India a porn star called Sunny Leone was the issue of a debate – she is an Indian who acted in porn films in America and came back to India and was in their version of big brother or some kind of reality show. When someone objected to her a society leader spoke in her defence saying – THERE IS NO SINNER WITHOUT A FUTURE JUST AS THERE IS NO SAINT WITHOUT A PAST.

    This is the wisdom we hunger for so badly in this country. If we are limited to the conventional courage and wisdom of Lasantha Wicks, Frederica Jansz and Dr P —- I am afraid we are doomed.

    The writing is on the wall.

    • idiot

      This is a typical Ordinary Lankan’s way of simply writing something silly to make everybody else look silly.

  • Decency

    Before we speak about metta it is better to learn to talk and behave in civilized manner, something we were hopefully taught when we were five years old. It seems that we are ready to fish for rather complex excuses for the worse type of behaviour and criminal acts, never mind the victims.

    The broader issues here is the law of the country and establishment code for the conduct of public officials. If a minion or even a director in any public organisation spoke like this he would be sent home the next day. Even a schoolboy woulld have been sacked from school. Here we have a responsible official behaving like this.

  • Kautilya

    It is good if FJ can make an official complain to the Public Service Commission against (GOTA)a public official for his unruly verbatim, with copies to Media, just see the response which can lead to a precedent.

  • Rathnayake

    These words are too soft while dealing jurnilist like FJ, She is really doing the contract of US & EU because of money, please do not say this is jurnalisam?

    • Burning_Issue

      “please do not say this is journalism”

      If she had written praising GR, it will be good journalism!

  • Wonder if you’d still pontificate if it was your wife or daughter that

    was at the receiving end of Mr.Rajapakse’s barrage?

  • RENU

    He is only a Government servant. FJ should take it up with the Public Service Commission , if she has proof of the Telephone conversation. People need to take action soon if this is the treatment a journalist gets from a puppy regarding another puppy ( It is certainly a poor pedigree problem)

  • ordinary lankan

    Dear citizens (since friends are no more)

    Personalities are not important. and principles do not change because the affected may be related or unrelated to me. Public servants of this country have been at the receiving end of filth from politicians for a long time. Civility has been dying a slow death. These are facts.

    While there is no excuse for the Defence Secretary’s behaviour (I have not given one) none of us is exempt from asking the deeper questions from ourselves. Rajapakse’s are a manifestation – not the source of the problem.

    We need to seriously ask where the blaming culture is going to get us? In this country we will have to learn to live with a lot of criminals – the sooner get over this holier than thou disease the better……

    • Sarath Fernando

      As another ordinary Sri Lankan may I, with all due respect, suggest that “What is critical is not where we are now, but rather in which direction we are headed?”

      Justifying the current events as mere continuation of the past, and thus condoning that to whatever degree, only consolidates, if not accelerates, that direction. Wiser counsel should instead suggest the increasing need for intensifying countering measures of any unhealthy trend rather than resigning to succumb to that trend as you suggest.




  • ordinary lankan

    How do you judge when there are no standards left?

    You must look at yourself – and re-create the standards

    No one else can do it for you

    Please snap out of this make believe democracy – this self deception all you judges indulge in – this is no more a British democracy

    welcome to the world of haramanis – the watti amma’s and malu karaya’s

    get real – your illusions cannot protect you…

    this aint no extra-ordinary event in a normal “decent” society

    this is a normal event in an abnormal society

  • Walter


  • K.Pillai

    Gotabhaya is feeling very very insecure and a very lonely. Aung San Suu Kyi in her speech “Freedom from Fear” said: “It is not power that corrupts, but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it”. She also believes fear spurs many world leaders to lose sight of their purpose. “Government leaders are amazing”, she once said. “So often it seems they are the last to know what the people want”. He needs a puppy to pour his heart out off and on. Swiss pups are renowned for keeping their mouth shut. So let him have it.

  • Tissa Wije

    I am surprised how this journalist was respected with an opportunity to speak to a personofGotabhaya’ stature. Is he so accessible. No editor of a newspaper any Western country would not get a chance to speak over the phone to on in the rank of Permanent Secretary of ministryofdefence in US, UK, France, or Israel. Sri Lanka seemsto be the most open country.

  • ordinary lankan


    you must not use capitals like this – so difficult to read.

    I agree that these matters will be decided on the streets – not today or tomorrow – but very soon.

    Be patient – the French rev is on its way

  • veer

    It looks to me that FJ was trying to blackmail GR.

  • Ashwin

    The subject of this article is no doubt an aberration. However, it is a supreme irony that the author of this article is not above reproach. He blames the “dynastic project”, but is very close to another dynastic family for political and other reasons! He manipulates the socio-political scene, especially through the international community, just as much as the subject of this article does domestically. He raises concerns about parents inviting the subject of this article to functions where their children are involved, but he is known for [edited out] behavior at functions!

    • P.Saravanamuttu

      Ashwin, You clearly do not know what you are talking about ? Do you really believe that anyone making public comment on public affairs is merely being “manipulative?” Were this to be the case, you in a functioning democracy would be a fish out of water! The adverb has been edited out, but I must confess to a tinge of curiosity as to what sort of behavior I am “known for” at functions!

      • Ashwin

        My Dear PS, I have done my part for democracy, good governance and the rule of law in this country without trumpeting about it. I continue to do so! I did not refer to your “public comment on public affairs” as being “manipulative,” but your actions through the IC. The subject of this article has, unfortunately, gained a certain degree of credibility among the public (a process especially set in motion by the excesses of 2002 CFA, civil society ineptitude etc etc etc). I am also of the opinion that he is an aberration. But the likes of you, my dear fellow, have no credibility or bearing to have a positive impact on public affairs (I don’t disagree that it is your democratic right to sincerely attempt). You too, in that sense, could be described as an aberration; an example of the sorry state of Sri Lanka’s civil society as much as its governance. That brings the country’s public affairs to a sad impasse, affected by the selfish interests of those who claim to serve the public! Your behaviour (at functions, forums etc), if I may clarify, is something for me to know and you to find out yourself through a bit of introspection, perhaps when you are sober! Democracy could be better advanced if there is more discipline, good manners, objectivity, credibility and humility in its advocates and activists; perhaps you could begin by buttoning-up your shirt, being more sober, sincere, decent and less pedantic! Remember, there could be children around!

      • P.Saravanamuttu

        Ashwin, there isn’t much to respond to in your comment which I consider rather silly. I am tempted however to
        quote Churchill’s response to you when he was accused by a fellow MP in the Commons of being drunk, but compassion intrudes!

      • Ashwin

        Your response, to begin with, shows how embarrassed you are by the truth. Oh, how futile to hide behind Churchill here in Sri Lanka! Perhaps you have no words of your own! Since you have done so, I will finally leave you with a more appropriate quote of Churchill’s: “criticism is easy; achievement is difficult.” R.I.P.

  • sabbe laban

    Superb, Ashwin!

    • P.Saravanamuttu

      Ashiwin, your quotation from Churchill convinces me that compassion is in order and intrusion into private grief taboo in this case!

      • Ashwin

        Dear P.S, I am rather surprised at your inability to refrain from responding. Perhaps the embarrassment is too great to bear. The likes of you could do much for the younger generation if you lead by example and maintain moral character, decorum and credibility as responsible members of civil society. That includes responsible public pronouncements, decent behaviour, objectivity, intellectual integrity, professionalism, humility and honest dealings with the international community. Else, this country will continue to be caught between the devil and the deep blue see; bad governance and equally bad opposition and civil society. There is no point in being part of the problem; one must strive to be part of the solution. Perhaps it is too late for introspection on your part! Yes, the decent thing to do is to be compassionate towards you and to leave you to your sorry plight. It is too late for you to see reason and achieve something beyond verbose and hypocritical criticism! Unfortunately, it makes bad governance (the subject of your article) and civil society, as personified by you, evil twins who actually collude for their own existence! The public does not matter, does it? Your stylish references to “Churchill” and “the Commons” cannot extricate you, as you find it so difficult to make an earthly point without calling great philosophers and great men to your aid. That’s futile pedantry and intellectual bankruptcy!

      • Ranjit

        Ashwin you have hit the nail on the head. Criticism by people like him will not help for reasons you quite rightly point out. They are well known for their excesses and hypocrisy. It is high time they are exposed as much as the regime. A more credible alternative civil society with more genuine nationalist credentials (not xenophobic extremists like the regime supporters)could help change the situation. Sadly, the breakdown of national institutions and degradation of standards have left a void. That void is filled by these self-declared moral champions who are only a mirror image of those in power.

      • Eran Wickramasinghe

        Agree 100% with Ashwin. But there is no point in wasting our time and energy on P. Saravanamuttu. Challenge is to get more genuine people involved in bringing about positive change.

      • Danesh

        Crishantha – I agree with you. There are still such respectable and responsible people around. I don’t believe decomposed institutions in this country could produce such professionals anymore. But I have come across some people with skills and potential. Such people with experience and professional grooming are certainly above most of the riffraff we see in politics and civil society these days. The difference is that they have a sense of duty, discipline and understanding of national interests. Some Colombo-centric civil society activists just survive by putting on a fancy accent, speaking flashy English, writing dissenting articles and extracting funds for their pet projects and extravagant lifestyles. God knows how they will survive if there is no bad governance!!!!! You ask them to govern or reform, they will bring the whole country down in a flash. You have made a very important point. If one day these abusers of power are out of the way, we need a more professional and responsible civil society to rebuild this country and its institutions. Reform should extend to civil society too.

  • P.Saravanamuttu

    Ashwin – I did you the courtesy of responding even when there wasn’t anything substantive to respond to. That remains the case and I will not be doing so after this. Best wishes though for all your work for civil society and governance in Sri Lanka !

  • Walter

    Dear P Saravananamuttu and Ashwin

    Both of you have shifted the Goal Posts, by your anxiety to defend your characters. please do not move away from the real issue we are discussing in the process.
    Debate this issue get more people involved by your abilities, do not dissipate your valuable resources.
    Sri Lanka is in its crossroad, The governing Authorities have lost direction, their movement now is omni directional.
    I am aware that with all the struggle of about 10% of us we will not be able to turn this ship around.

    • P.Saravanamuttu

      Walter, agree, whilst I retain the right to point out unsubstantiated and baseless allegations against me.

  • Crishantha

    Dear Mr. Saravanamuttu,

    Are you familiar with the old saying “those who live in glass houses should be wary of throwing stones at others”? Those who do are not courageous nor are they principled, only blinded by narcissism. Like some commentators have pointed out, it is better for you to first gain some higher moral ground by before passing judgment on others. Then people might start taking you a bit more seriously. I meant people from SL not foreigners!!!!!! Remember rights and responsibilities go together.

  • rajivmw

    I think Dr. Saravanamuttu made a mistake by going to Geneva. Whatever the merits, it was perceived as a betrayal of the country by a significant section of the public that would otherwise be supportive of his causes and grateful for his courage.

    Having said that, I think it’s totally ludicrous to compare Dr. Saravanamuttu with Mr. Rajapakse. The latter simply has infinitely more capacity to impose his will on any and all citizens of this country. Surely we must be far more concerned about what the defence secretary does with the powers of his office than anything Dr. Sara may say or do at a cocktail party.

    • Ranjit

      I agree with you that the Defence Secretary has greater power and influence over state machinery, and that he is thus capable of doing certain things!!! Nevertheless, P. Sara’s arrogance, egotism and desire for power and influence is not second to that of the DS! Cocktail party escapades apart, sometimes a charlatan who subverts a country without actually wielding state power could be as reprehensible as one who abuses power in office. We as citizens should not be hoodwinked by those who claim a monopoly over civil society as saviours of democracy or those who claim a monopoly over patriotism as saviours of the country. It is time people think and act more intelligently without simply falling prey to the selfish designs of those who attempt to impose themselves in the public domain with state resources or foreign resources.

  • I makes me sad to note that many of the comments under this article tantamount to shooting the messenger and ignoring the message. I wish the learned gentlemen/ladies who are taking part in the discussions on the issues raised or highlighted in this article would enlighten the readers with their comments either for or against the views expressed rather than entering into a mudslinging campaign against the writer, for whom I hold no brief.

    • Ranjit

      Concerned citizen, I think the messenger’s message will be better received if the messenger is respected and trusted. Why should people blindly follow the message of a self-declared civil society prophet in whom the public has very little trust. I think concerned citizens like you should write more on public affairs rather than leaving it to charlatans.

  • Crishantha

    Dear Concerned Citizen,

    We deserve more respectable opinion makers in this country. There used to be eminent former public servants, professionals and academics who used to comment on public affairs with considerable insight, experience and responsibility. They are also known for their exemplary behaviour and conduct. Although they are fewer in number today for obvious reasons, we could benefit more from such individuals if citizens could get them more involved. Mr. Saravanamuttu is certainly not of that calibre and his motives are not sincere.

  • P.Saravanamuttu

    Some commentators on this article have made critical and adverse comment on my character and about public trust and confidence in my integrity. They have expressed opinion which is their right and a right, I for one, would defend. They are entitled to their opinion and even though I would like to engage them on this, in particular the factual basis on which their opinion is founded, this is not the place for it. This article is about the behavior of a very senior and powerful public servant and an exchange between him and an editor that has yet to be denied or refuted.

    There are others who claim to have evidence about my behavior at public functions, improprieties and betrayal of the country- this presumably is in the realm of fact and not opinion on the assumption that indeed these charges are based on fact. Unfortunately they are unwilling to come forward with these facts which leads me to believe that this is just shoddy and beneath contempt. In the ultimate analysis my convictions and principles are such that I will defend their right to voice opinion and bias parading as fact – too much suppression of the freedom of expression and opinion has been around with regard to Sri Lanka.

    The rhetoric and politics of hate and harm and hurt abounds in respect of Sri Lanka. That it will continue to do so will only corrode the prospects of governance and reconciliation.

    In conclusion let me just say to those who are convinced that the Sri Lanka public are against me for going to Geneva and for writing this article – no one has a monopoly on public opinion – those who accuse me of aspiring to it are guilty of such a presumption it if they think that the Sri Lankan public per se are against me – please remember that the Sri Lanka public is plural and diverse, regardless of what the conventional orthodoxy of the day is. It is in this pluralism and diversity that lies the hope for the country. Not in the shoddy parading as the platitudinous patriotism of the concerned.

  • Following the pathetic attitudes I’ve been reading here in regard personal comments on PS, when in fact the article is about virtual death threats to a journalist by a senior member of the government whose claim to power and the fame that goes with it, is mere and blatant nepotism, seems to sadly confirm the Dunning-Kruger Effect ~ which is the scientific study showing your average voter is delusional. Yes, not just ignorant, actually delusional. Sad but true.

    My contribution is to say that I fully support the stance of PS ~ I am not so delusional that I think you have to be a saint to stand up to the murderous, whether in the government or in the overworld (how is it the UNDERworld when it operates with the blessing of the government?)

    May I also say that I have no truck with the superstition of nationalism and what Deepak Chopra refers to the hijacking of personal identity by nationalism. I believe truth is important and nationalism (‘nation’ being an 18th century EUROPEAN invention) a foreign notion that keeps us “Third World”. So truth always gets my allegiance over the sentimentality and stupidity fostered by ‘patriotism’.

    So glad you went to Geneva, Dr PS, and stood up, instead of following the majority of your compatriots who wallow on their knees ~ sucking up to the mismanagement and economic ignorance in power today.

    The future of this country, if it is to have one, depends on there being more people like you ~ (whether or not you have a drink at parties is 100% irrelevant. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!!). Yes, we need more people like you and fewer who are delusional or mere toadies.

    And for the bigots among us, my father, when he lived, was a Singhala buddhist. I don’t use that nomenclature myself, since they are such drivel. So many of those who believe they are Singhala are ethnically Tamil, just like our illustrious Banadaranaike family ~ or should I say the Nayaka-Pandaram?

    • Ranjit


      Your comments show that you are in fact “delusional.” Some commentators have blindly come in support of the government, but some have raised genuine concerns about PS and his activities as much as they have about the government’s. IT IS THEIR RIGHT. One need not be a saint to defend democracy and to criticize abuse of power as you say, but one must certainly be honest in what one is doing, if one is to gain some credibility and respect. Drinking at parties, especially diplomatic functions, is a none issue as long as you don’t get drunk and start abusing and accusing certain people. The man is also known for intimidation of a different kind. His course of action over the LLRC commission shows what a hypocrite and opportunist he is. First he denounced it and never went before it. When the international community commended it for some of its positive recommendations, he started calling for its implementation. And we don’t need this article of his to inform us of what the regime is like and what it ought to be. We know better than him about abuse of power and position both in government and in civil society! By the way, I am a secularist by choice and do not belong to any group of “Sinhala Buddhist Patriots”.

  • Crishantha


    Plurality of Lankan society is something I accept and stand by. Your freedom of expression is also something I accept and stand by. Yet the credibility gap between words and deeds is too great! You are only displaying your ego by claiming to know everything that is wrong with this country, its society, its governance etc. Perhaps you have all the answers too!!!

    Of course, you have your loyal supporting clique of scheming compatriots and socialites in this “plural” society just as much as the chauvinists in the majority community, the separatists in the minority community etc have. That’s part of pluralism, isn’t it? But it is not only political power that corrupts (as attributed to the Defence Secretary), there are other forms of power and influence that leads to corruption too! I think the latter is what you are charged with. You must understand that those who find your behavior somewhat atrocious are not those who have the luxury of responding to your every word or action through various media. Unlike yours, it is not their full-time occupation. At the end of the day, the people in this country will decide what’s best for the country, not you. And I very much hope that those people will have the good fortune to be guided by more genuine and balanced leaders, opinion-makers and civil society representatives. If that day does not dawn, then it is nothing but our great misfortune!

  • yapa

    “Frederica admits meeting President thrice but denies seeking favours”

    “Gotabhaya prevented Frederica from obtaining diplomatic post”

    This is the sort of journalists we treat as sacred and fight to defend their every right.

    It is true that we should protect freedom of expression, however, journalism also should try to be qualified for that. I don’t think journalism is way to earn fame and privileges while engaged in every damn thing.


    • Danesh

      Difficult to believe that Fredrica J lobbied for a diplomatic post with her background. Difficult to believe everything that appears in that paper, and most papers for that matter! Lot of unprincipled people have accepted positions in return for favours, but Fredrica, although a [edited out] journalist herself, will find it difficult to strike such a deal after all what she has done. Few people in fact realize the mess we are in. A corrupt regime; a politicized public service, diplomatic corps, police and military; a dangerously nepotistic and militarized society; a ineffective and divided opposition and a civil society with little credibility. Some of the criticism of Saravanamuttu, from what I have seen and heard from reliable non-government sources, sadly appears to be true. A trustworthy/responsible civil society actor should have some balance in his relations and associations. That is not the case with him. He is too close to certain figures in the TNA, the Bandaranayake family (despite him complaining about dynastic politics of the Rajapaksas)and of course political officers of certain foreign missions. Although it is his right to be associated with all those, in his station it is not not even-handed at all. That demonstrates his bias, inability to see the big picture and act in the public interest. One commentator’s reference to his actions in relation to the LLRC is a good example of that mindset steeped in inertia.

  • randy mathew

    Why are some people trying to kill the messenger here ? There is no doubt that SL has the worst government since 1948. We have a dictatorship since 2005 and the country is only going from bad to worse. I salute Mr Saravanamuttu and m/s Frederica Jansz for their independent writing. They are a few of the remaining brave journalists who have the courage to take on the Medamulana thugs.

    • Ranjit

      I agree that it is the worst govt since 1948, mainly because of the scale in which things are done. You must also understand that the situation is worsened by an ineffective/selfish opposition and a civil society composed of some unscrupulous characters. Apart from some of the extremist commentators, who are supporting the govt here, others seem to have referred to corruption/abuse of power by the regime as well as the hypocrisy, double standards and questionable conduct of Saravanamuttu (mostly), and Fredrica. It is good to know both sides of the story for people to have a balanced understanding as to where the country stands. That is not “trying to kill the messenger”!!!!!!!

    • wijayapala

      Dear randy mathew

      There is no doubt that SL has the worst government since 1948.

      I thought that the worst govt was JRJ’s UNP regime from 1977-1988. How is this govt worse than that?

  • Wonder of Asia

    Apparently the damage control measures undertaken by the Govt are now fully exposed. Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive! – Sir Walter Scott.
    This does not seem to be a Govt with moral or ethical values from the top downwards. The tragicomedy continues much to the detriment of the Nation and its People. No doubt we deserve what we get for electing such nincompoops to the seats of power.
    Their competency to govern is equal to their moral standing. Garbage in Garbage out.

  • SriLankanAmerican

    As unacceptable as the DefSec’s outburst and his choice of words may seem, a lot of you appear to miss the point. The Rajapaksa’s are a rare breed of heros for the majority of the Sri Lankans, still. Some are starting to dislike them gradually, but that is purely based on adverse economics rather than any percieved infringement of their rights. Actually, the average sri Lankan’s rights are not affected by the behavior of any of the ruling mafia. And the average I refer to, amount to anywhere around 95 – 99% of the population.

    The people who have issues with them are the remaining minority, made mostly of an elitist group of rights conscious, stylishly politically correct individuals. The types who never faught in the fox holes to liberate this nation from the deadly menace of terrorism. Perhaps some of you are from that tribe. In representative governance, the Rajapakses know that that 1 – 5 percent’s opinion doesn’t count.Reality; it’s a bitch sometimes.

    But, do continue to write these columns. They are a venue to went your frustrations at these crude peasants and low life forms. At least some of us will find them entertaining. I personally could not care less for the Rajapakses. And I find the ire of the elitists now feeling dis-entitled hugely amusing.

    • sabbe laban


      Absolutely superb! Excellent thoughts! In fact, I too was sensing something like this, as the reason for the apparent popularity of Rajapakse’s with the masses, but couldn’t exactly pin-point the causes, like you do here!

      Exactly, to the people who belong to the average population, Rajapakses are a rare breed of leaders, who fulfilled the ancient prophecy(or the folk-lore)of the emergence of a “Diyasena” to liberate the country. Well, this(defeating the LTTE) could have been done by any of the previous leaders-if Rajapakse could do it! But, none of them could do it, why?

      Maybe their “elitism” and “stylishly politically correct” back-ground stood against them doing anything of that sort! Their international exposure coupled with ‘lack of motivation’ also played a role, as I see it.

      The fact that Rajapakses were crude peasants,(and “village idiots” according to some!) whom the Colombo’s social elites would like to laugh at, was their strength, and still it is, in spite of their numerous short-comings! They “may” pay the price for their “short-sighted crudeness” and “arrogance” at the hands of the international community, one day, but once again the masses will come for their rescue, because after all that itself is seen as a ‘rare form of heroism’! Furthermore, the deed is done! The masses won’t find fault with them, as long as they keep attacking their class-enemies, their tormentors and their hecklers!

      I too find it amusing to see the frustrations of this old-brigade(another example is that interview with Chandrika!)vented in public and in this blog as well!I see how wrong footed these are, and how frustrated these are! And how distant they are from the average Sri Lankan society!Not because they care for the country more; its simply becauce they have lost the grip!

      Get a life, dudes! Your write-ups won’t play any role in the affairs of that 95%!

      • Gamarala

        SriLankanAmerican, and Sabbe Laban,

        So what are we to conclude as the astute observation from the two of you? That all the intellectuals/elites/old brigade should flee the scene and lets the “crude peasants” and “village idiots” run the country?

    • sabbe laban


      Exactly! There’s nothing else they can do, until the ground situ changes in favour of them!(This might happen as the result of rotting set in by the ruling mafia’s own actions, as in the case of any such establishment!)

  • Lankan Californian Criminal Attorney

    An American national and a Californian resident, Gotta better learn the full implications of California Penal Code 422 PC – which has its basis on “intent to cause fear” before uttering self-incriminating statements. Provided what transpired can be proven, Ms. Janz has a solid case against this Californian in the California Superior court. Furthermore, a conviction under 422 PC counts as a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law – one of the harshest State laws in the United States.

    His attitude of invincibility and foolish assertion that he is “not afraid of the courts” will some day come to haunt him – be it in international, Sri Lankan or California courts – and then the whole world can see his ill-placed bravado.

    A bit of advice from an old friend (to Gotta): whenever you get the urge to purge trash-talk, remember the saying, “loose lips sink ships” before you dispense your words. At the rate you are barfing, the next ship will be the one christened, the “Rajapaksas”. Grow up and try to become a decent human being – you have become a disgrace to Sinhala-Buddhists, Sri Lanka and California. And you cannot hide behind diplomatic immunity forever.

  • magerata

    This is why i love you. Courage has no limits.