UPDATE, 1600hrs, Colombo: Despite the acting editor of Lakbima noting via Twitter the following,


as of 1600hrs, the cartoon is no longer displayed on the newspaper’s website. Where the cartoon was, there is now a large white space. See the link below for the original image and page.

Also, Women and Media Collective, one of Sri Lanka’s leading women’s rights groups, has protested against and condemned the cartoon, noting inter alia that,

The cartoon violates all ethical principles of journalism and media expression not only in Sri Lanka but globally. There is an accepted form of visual journalism in commenting on current social, economic, cultural and political issues within and between countries. In this cartoon, however, the newspaper has allowed for gross sexism and crudity to override any form of civility in journalistic communication. WMC urges the Lakbima newspaper, especially its editor to apologize for the publication of this extreme and totally unacceptable cartoon which is derogatory to women and women politicians.

UPDATED: 21.15hrs, Colombo: Updated article with new tweets on the issue.

UPDATED: 0645hrs, 11 September, Colombo: The newspaper’s acting editor has written into Groundviews with this justification for the publication of the cartoon, which he stands by.

Updated, 16 September, 6.30pm: It was brought to the attention of Groundviews some hours ago that despite what Mr. Jayasuriya notes below (coupled with the fact that as we flag at the end of this article, the cartoon had been deleted less than a day after it was published from the online version of the newspaper), the newspaper ran this apology in today’s edition,

Click here for online version.


On Sunday, for some unfathomable reason, Lakbima – a newspaper with high circulation – decided to run this cartoon. Lakbima currently has no Editor. Whether it’s acting editor, a senior journalist, saw and approved this cartoon before publication is not known. What is a matter of public record is the response to this cartoon after it was discovered by The Hindu’s foreign correspondent, R.K.Radhakrishnan (@RKKrishnan),


Very quickly, the Sri Lankan President’s spokesman, Bandula Jayasekara (@bundeljayse), was involved in the discussion and asked for an official response. Given that the publication in a broadsheet of a cartoon that depicts the Indian Prime Minister underneath an uplifted sari of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and looking up isn’t exactly something that’s defensible, even for committed apologists, the response was unequivocal,


It is unclear however whether ‘we’ in this tweet actually refers to anyone else, since Jayasekara does not speak on behalf of, or represent, Sri Lanka’s MEA, and when that tweet was posted, it wasn’t made explicitly clear whether it was after consultations with the President, or his cabal. In the conversation with Radhakrishnan, reproduced below as an image, Jayasekara also makes pains to demonstrate that though the paper is owned by a businessman very close to the incumbent regime, it is actually a private paper over which the government has no control. The tweet does not endorse the cartoon, but stops short of an apology over its hugely offensive nature.

In the meanwhile, Groundviews got in touch with a highly respected columnist for the newspaper, informing the paper of the furore over the cartoon and the rapid escalation of condemnation and discontent on Twitter (indeed, over and against Sri Lanka as a whole). Ranga Jayasuriya, who is Lakbima’s Acting Editor (@RangaJayasuriya), tweeted,


and went on to note,


Jayasuriya was Lakbima’s International Editor and Defence Correspondent. Note that these are respectively Jayasuriya’s 3rd and 4th tweets, and he is followed by a grand total of, at the time of writing, 3 people. The two tweets are Jayasuriya’s first after 234 days. The first tweet is incorrectly tagged (bizarrely, with #The instead of #lka and/or #srilanka) and does not address any of the paper’s key interlocutors at the time on Twitter, via the platform’s @ syntax. The second tweet attempts to create a hashtag for the discussion, but fails in this respect, because no one picks up on it, strengthening the point that no one really knows about Ranga’s account to begin with.

The newspaper’s owners and it’s acting Editor may not be fully aware of the cartoon’s fallout.

As Ranga was busy posting his two tweets (the only ones up until the time of this article), the conversation was tagged with the official Twitter handle of Dr. Manmohan Singh (@PMOIndia), the Prime Minister of India, guaranteeing that the Indian government – which monitors social media content very carefully for any “inflammatory content” – was, if not already aware of the cartoon, certainly pointed in its direction.


Vijay Sappani, a well known (Indian) voice on Twitter tweeting from Canada (@vijaysappani), then asked Radhakrishnan whether CM Jayalalitha’s party had any official response to the cartoon. Radhakrishnan’s answer was ominous and revealing,


Noting that he was sure the cartoon would get noticed, Sappani tweeted the official and home telephone numbers of Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister (which are already in the public domain) and noted he had emailed the Chief Minister’s Secretary over the matter. In the meanwhile, Groundviews and others based in Sri Lanka were discussing how the cartoon and the paper could be brought to account under the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). @teearuna, a Sri Lankan, had however the suggestion we agreed with the most,


In the middle of this conversation, well-known poet and writer Meena Kandasamy (who recently made an impassioned plea for a boycott of Sri Lanka in India’s Tehelka website) retweeted a tweet originally published by @banlankacricket.


@banlankacricket is followed by 47. @meenakandasamy is followed by 12,401. Groundviews hasn’t done a network analysis of her followers, but it would not be wrong to assume that her voice hits a chord with some of the most influential accounts in India, esp. in South India, and South Indians in the larger Indian diaspora.

Picking up from Kandasamy’s tweet was Jan Jananayagam (@jan_jananayagam), an influential voice from London,


[Editors note: Apologise for the reproduction of the cartoon in question above, which is linked to the way the Twitter embed code chooses to display any associated media linked to in the original tweet, and beyond our control to block or blur].

By this time, the commentary had moved on from the specific condemnation of an outrageous cartoon to the outright condemnation of Sri Lanka, by very influential voices on Twitter from sections of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora as well as India. A selection of the anti-Sri Lankan sentiment this one cartoon alone has contributed to, at a time when Indo-Sri Lankan relations are already test, is captured in the screenshot below (search term Lakbima, taken at 0800hrs SL time).

While it is the nature of social media to peak quickly over an issue or event and then as quickly forget and move on, the fact remains that Lakbima’s tasteless cartoon has given unnecessary fodder to voices, from the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora as well as from India. It’s interesting that this degree of outrage has not been seen since early 2009. It suggests the growth of Twitter in the past three years, but also clearly flags that content originally meant for domestic readership/consumption can and will be used internationally to support or challenge other agendas.

Lakbima’s cartoon emphatically does not speak for all Sri Lankans. It may not even resonate with Lakbima’s own readership. The decision to publish is deeply regrettable, and shows a marked lack of strategic foresight, contextual awareness and just good taste. Sadly, other leading mainstream media in Sri Lanka have in the past week published inflammatory images, purportedly of the bus carrying Sri Lankan pilgrims that was attacked recently in Tamil Nadu, but actually of a bus that was bombed by the LTTE in Dambulla, Sri Lanka, way back in 2008.




Lost in an inflammatory melee fuelled by careless journalism are voices calling for more moderate, principled responses to a situation that can, for purely parochial and domestic reasons be used by many on both countries to more deeply harm and hurt physically as well as diplomatically. An example of the kind of voice drowned out is India’s Leena Manimekalai writing recently to Tehelka. For example, she notes that,

Ms Kandasamy praises Jayalalithaa as a self-respecting leader, packing up a school football team. Are those school children, an emissary of Rajapaksa? Or how brave is it to target them? As a democratically elected government Jayalalitha, if respectful of “Tamil sentiments”, would not have murdered six Dalit protesters at Paramakudi by establishing a police state or haunt every possible measures of the previous regime such as the uniform system of school education, new assembly building, Anna library and impose Section 144 in Koodankulam. All her statements and resolutions on the Lankan Tamil issue are not lesser political stunts than that of Karunanidhi’s, who championed the TESO conference. It is a paradox that her close ally BJP has invited Rajapaksa to lay the foundation for a Buddhist university at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh. I wonder what will be her resistance show for that event when it happens.

Just as India is much more than Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister, Sri Lanka cannot and should not be reduced to a file image incorrectly used in a leading newspaper, or a tasteless cartoon. Condemnation of specific comments, content and actions is to be welcomed. Blanket condemnations of entire countries and their people sadly only help the extremists, within and outside its borders, grow louder and stronger.

Since archival of vital content is so hard with Twitter, last evening’s conversation that involved Groundviews over the Lakbima cartoon is reproduced in full below.












































  • thivya

    A slap on the face of every Tamil around the globe. If they can degrade a Tamil woman who is a chief minister like this, imagine what must have happened to the hapless Tamil women at the hands of the mono ethnic Sinhala army in Vanni.

    • Suchiththa


      Don’t make this a racial issue. It’s not a racial issue and should not be treated as such. They didn’t do this to her because of her race, they did this to her because of her policy and the way her followers behaved.

      Now i’m certainly not justifying the cartoon, I agree it is wrong, but do NOT make it an issue of race.

      Btw, I’m certain there were issues of the Sri Lankan army mistreating women in the Vanni, but you are mistaken about one thing. It wasn’t mono-ethnic, and the severity of mistreatment has been vastly exaggerated several times.

      • thivya


        In Sri Lanka, when it comes to Tamils, everything is a racial issue. Do you really think if it was a Pakistan Chief minister this Sinhala cartoonist would have dared to draw something like that? Even another CM of a non Tamil state wouldn’t have been depicted as vulgarly as this cartoon.

        Can you give us the percentage of Tamils in the Sri Lankan army? Ask any Tamil in the North – East, they will tell you that the Sri Lankan army is a mono ethnic Sinhala army.

        How did you come to the conclusion that the rapes and killing of Tamil women during the war, and in the concentration camps, were vastly exaggerated? Did the government of Sri Lanka allow any independent international investigation to find out what really happened?

      • Don’t worry Suchiththa. This is the same guy who thinks Anuruddha Ratwatte and his sons got acquitted because they were Sinhalese.

  • Freedom of expression has its limits. Vulgarism can’t be accepted as freedom of expression.


  • Kshama

    Pretty obvious Ranga Jayasuriya has no idea of what is meant by freedom of expression. This is vulgarity He and his cartoonist have no respect for women or their readership. And would he dare portray MR in a similar manner?

    Certainly, this is Sri Lankan journalism at its lowest!

  • MV

    I am sure no body will openly defend the cartoon much like the Dambulla mosque attack; and the whole issue will be lost under ‘freedom of expression’ rhetoric just as the latter did under ‘extremism’.

  • Kasinathan

    More than Jayalalitha and Tamils its a slap in any self respecting Indian’s face. The well educated hon. prime minister of India is under Jayalalitha’s legs looking up. The cartoon is made by a [edited out – for the record, we agree with the sentiment, but encourage you to post in line with the site guidelines, so that the comments reflect a better taste than, for example, said cartoon] who had put all civilized Sri Lankans to shame!

    • Sadun

      Talking about Indian Slaps, we suffered for 30 years because of your Indian created and sponsored terrorist. Remember?

      So a little, not the cartoon, some slapping by us is in order. we deserve it to ourselves.


  • Jayalalitha is a [edited out], who use racism to win votes. She pretty much deserves this. It’s mostly harmless anyway.

    To Jan Jananayagam who said “If Lakbima can degrade a woman like this, speaks tonnes abt ..SriLanka”. Whatever it says about Sri Lanka, it is much better than what attacking Sri Lankan pilgrims in Tamil Nadu says about Jayalalitha, and wanting to go fishing in our waters tell about Jayalalitha.

    • thivya


      Did you ever protest when the Sinhala navy killed the innocent Indian fishermen in the mid sea where they have been fishing from time immemorial? The Sinhalese are the new comers between the Seas of the Tamils between both sides of the Palk Strait. More than 500 innocent Tamil fishermen were brutally killed in the mid sea by the Sinhala navy and they are still being harassed almost every day, but the Sinhalese have been enjoying the safety and hospitality of Tamil Nadu forever. Some frustrated Tamils decided to show their anger against the Sinhalese. Now the Sinhalese are crying foul.

      • Thivya, you don’t seem to have a grasp of logic. So if I did not protest when the navy killed “innocent”(not in my mind. They violated pretty much all the laws pertaining to international boarders) Indian fishermen in the mid sea, meaning that I’m biased, how does that logically invalidate my claim that Jayalalitha is a racist [something-that-will-be-edited-out-if-I-write-it] to let Tamil mobs to attack Sri Lankan pilgrims simply because they were from Sri Lanka and not-Tamil? She didn’t just let it happen, she’s a major cause for why it happened. The [something-that-will-be-edited-out-if-I-write-it] is using racist sentiments for political gains.

        By the way, I don’t care much for your historic motherland, and now this historic mother-waters arguments. Native Americans, Aborigines, Maori people can talk about their historic motherlands for all they want but they’ll never get anything. If Jayalalitha wants to violate international treaties, violate our territorial integrity, and fish in our waters, and screw with our legal system when they get caught, well, she can and she will. Just don’t expect us to do nothing about it.

        P.S. I hope the GoSL takes a firm stand on this. We shall not be bullied.

      • Burning Issue

        Dear Sharanga,

        “They violated pretty much all the laws pertaining to international boarders) Indian fishermen in the mid sea, meaning that I’m biased, how does that logically invalidate my claim that Jayalalitha is a racist”

        If the Indian Fishermen had in fact violated the international maritime laws, they needed to be apprehended and dealt with accordingly and how can anyone justifying killing them?

        I also agree that Jayalalitha is a cheap politician and uses the Sri Lankan Tamil issue for her political expediency. It is well within her political cloud to put pressure on the Indian Centre to lean on Sri Lanka in finding a political solution for the SL Tamils; it is totally unethical to whip up unnecessary hatred towards Sri Lanka by sending back a football team! That said; how is Mahinda Rajapaksa different from Jayalalitha? Isn’t it obvious to you that MR is the same; he uses racial politics to stay in power? Why haven’t you objected to MR’s antics and you are quick to make accusations against Jayalalitha?

      • Burning,

        If the Indian Fishermen had in fact violated the international maritime laws, they needed to be apprehended and dealt with accordingly and how can anyone justifying killing them?

        I’m not justifying killing them. I’m simply refusing to condemn the soldiers who did it, in this thread, because this is not the place to do it as the cartoon was about a Indian racist [something-that-will-be-edited-out] who manipulate racist sentiments of South Indians for political gain.

        Thivya said those fishermen were innocent. Well, you pretty much lose your innocence in the eyes of law when you violate it.

      • Burning,

        Totally missed the MR part. There is no relevance. Even if Mahinda is just like Jayalalitha (who promised 1kg of gold to every bride), that doesn’t change the fact that Jayalalitha is a racist [something-that-will-be-edited-out] who manipulates the racist sentiments of Indians for political gains. So if you try to use this as an argument, that’s just idiotic.

        On the other hand, if you are simply curious what I think about MR, I couldn’t care less if an Indian newspaper published a vulgar cartoon about Mahinda. I’m a libertarian, so Mahinda is hardly the ideal guy to vote for.

      • thivya

        I don’t know much about Sinhala tradition and culture, but the replies to this cartoon shows there is big a difference between Tamil and Sinhala culture. Satirizing a woman in this vulgarizing way might be acceptable in the Sinhala culture, and many Sinhalese in this forum think it is an ‘artistic expression’, but the Tamil culture will find that highly offensive. In the height of the war, even after the Navali church bombing which killed hundreds of Tamil children, if any Tamil magazine had published a vulgarizing cartoon of Chandrika, like this one, the Tamil’s reaction would have been the same.

        If the Sinhalese are calling someone a racist it is a serious accusation. The Sinhalese enjoyed safety and free access to Tamil Nadu even during the war while the Tamils were harassed by Tamil Nadu police and often refused visa. Jayallitha ensured no Sinhalese harmed in her previous two terms as a cheap minister but the Tamils were not so welcomed. So she was not a racist back then?

        This time she passed a resolution in Tamil Nadu legislature asking the centre to impose an economic embargo against the Sri Lankan government until the GOSL agrees to have an investigation against war crimes. But the central government did not pay heed to the Tamil Nadu resolution. Therefore she wanted to show her displeasure to the central government and acted within her jurisdiction in her state. That’s why she prevented the Sinhala children from playing in Tamil Nadu and sent them back. Calling her a racist, and that coming from the Sinhalese will make anyone laugh for sure. 🙂

        The inaction by the government of Indian for the killing of Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy prompted some frustrated Tamils to attack the Sri Lankan pilgrims to show their anger. This is hilarious, the Sinhalese who had so many racial riots, killings, bus burning, raping and lootings of Tamils from the days of independence are calling Jayalalitha, a racist. They even killed an Indian pilgrim who visited Kathirkamam by slashing his throat.

        Every mean spirited racist act against the Tamils by the Sinhala regimes have been collectively endorsed and cheered by the Sinhala masses The war crimes, mass graves, detention camps, white vans, emergency rule, disappearance, extortion, colonization, rapes, even the destruction of the temples and cemeteries did not raise any objection from the Sinhala people. They welcomed and justified all that in many forums like this one. If Jayalalitha is a racist, I think collectively entire Sinhala race is mean-spirited racists.

        // Anuruddha Ratwatte and his sons were acquitted because they were Sinhalese.//

        Not only Anuruddha Ratwatte but the Sinhala culprits of every rape and massacre of Tamils were eventually freed by the Sinhala justice system, except Krishnathy, the Tamil school girl, and her family’s rape and murder case because that case got international attention and condemnation.

        The Sinhalese calling this cartoon an ‘artistic expression’ reminds me of the article I read in the Asian Human Rights Commission website a few years ago.



        The attitude towards the wrong in the Sinhalese is to take precaution not to be a victim of a wrong rather than any strong determination to eliminate serious wrong doing. Even the attitude towards things such as murder does not raise a very strong opposition to it. People try to rather to shield themselves personally from being victims of wrong doing rather than trying to overcome such wrongs by common action.
        It may appear that desire for revenge is a very common Sinhala habit and that may be seen as an opposite to the habit of resistance to wrongs. Revenge is the means of retaliating to something that has personally hurt the person victimized and the solution to such hurt is to hurt the person who caused the hurt directly by way of personal retaliation. In fact the desire for revenge, meaning personal revenge through gods or other means is a result of not having any trust in the social habits of resistance to wrongs. What goes often as tolerance is the lack of resistance to wrongs. As much as the Sinhalese fear strong habits of truth telling they also fear any strong resistance to wrongs. THERE SEEMS TO BE A VERY DEEP APPREHENSION THAT STRONG RESISTANCE TO WRONG MAY HAVE BAD CONSEQUENCES.”

        The article here:


      • thivya

        ‘Cheap’ – Oops.. Chief minister. She is also a cheap politician like many others in Sri Lanka but not a racist. 🙂

      • thivya

        //If Jayalalitha wants to violate international treaties, violate our territorial integrity, and fish in our waters, and screw with our legal system when they get caught, well, she can and she will. Just don’t expect us to do nothing about it.//


        Killing the unarmed fishermen from the neighboring state in the mid sea for crossing the international boundary is a crime under international maritime laws. Even Pakistan does not kill the Indian fishermen; they arrest them and hand them over to the police to prosecute in the court of law. But the Sinhala navy killed more than 500 Tamil Nadu fishermen. All of them are illiterate fishermen who have been fishing in the same waters for generations without any quarrel, until the Sinhala fishermen flocked to the North to steal the livelihood of Tamil fishermen after the war. If these fishermen were non Tamils, the Sinhala navy may not have killed them.

        So are you saying that you will kill the Tamil fishermen who enter Sri Lankan waters in mid sea but the Tamil Nadu Tamils don’t even have the right to protest against the Sri Lankan pilgrims and send the Sinhala children safely back home? 🙂

      • If Jayalalitha is a racist, I think collectively entire Sinhala race is mean-spirited racists.

        That’s as racist as racist can be. I really don’t feel like getting involved in a long debate with a racist idiot (Anuruddha Ratwatte was acquitted because he was Sinhalese) who has no idea about logic whether Jayalalitha is a racist [something-that-will-be-edited-out] or not, and whether she deserved to be vulgarized in a cartoon.

        The bottom line is, Jayalalitha was directly responsible for the attack on ordinary Sri Lankans, organized by a political party of Tamil extremists that Congress needs to retain power in Delhi. Therefore she is a racist [something-that-will-be-edited-out].

        We will not let Jayalalitha eat our fish either. It’s our fish, and we love our fish.

  • Sadun

    Cartoon is wrong. And it is also wrong to put the Hon PM of India, the guy is pretty innocent in the Indian political lineup.

    A more suitable one in place of the Hon. PM would have been Karunanidhi , not looking upwards instead looking straight, so as to remove the vulgarism but to put across the message that Karunanidhi has some more work to do to catch up with Jayalalitha. The lifted sari I suppose means the thuggery of Jayalalitha.

    It is also interesting to note that Ground Views kept silent all these days while Jayalalitha and her terrorist supporters bashed mentally and evicted physically the school children football teams and the Tamil pilgrims (put as Tamil pilgrims as a gesture of goodwill to allow the terrorist sympathizers to contradict with some percentage values)from Tamil Nadu and brought up this cartoon drawn by a hardly heard or never taken seriously of cartoonist to bash SL. Nice going keep it up.


    • Sadun,

      The position of Groundviews has been repeatedly published on Twitter and Facebook, including in what we choose to retweet, highlight, comment on and flag. Ergo, it is a matter of public record. Blithely parading ignorance arguably is the new black but we urge you to be different.

      • Sadun

        This is your home page, so I wondered why there has been no article from you. Thats all. I you are happy then I am happy.


  • Happy Heathen

    I think GV is being snobbish here (no surprise there though)
    who are we to say what is tasteless and what tasteful?
    What is the definition of such aesthetic definitions?
    Is GV insinuating that the masses are aesthetically illiterate so that it is GVs prerogative to point out what is tasteful and what is not?
    Are you against pornography? Blasphemy? are you against holocaust-deniers? Do you condone the murder of Theo Van Gogh?
    There should be no limit to freedom of expression.

  • The point is proxy-speak, proxy-attacks and proxy-campaigns are a way of life for Sri Lanka’s ruling establishment and it spares nobody. And these are as vicious as physical attacks. Their language is rabid, nasty and sometimes outrightly vulgar as in the case of the Jaya-Manomohan cartoon.

    The cartoon against two top leaders of India, which strives to side with Sri Lanka against the sentiments of Tamil Nadu and the international community, should be a strong wake up call for India on the way it deals with its island-neighbour.

    The government of India is one of the top aid donors for the reconstruction of the post-war Sri Lanka, and goes out of its way to indirectly protect the latter’s regime from international action including from the UNHRC.

    Sri Lanka might justify that it is a democracy, it believes in free speech and it cannot silence a free media although evidence as described here points to the control it can exercise. But as it has proved in the past, it can take action when it so desires.

    Jayalalithaa and the politicians of Tamil Nadu should certainly intensify their demand to the union government to be tough with Sri Lanka, even if the PMO doesn’t feel ashamed of the way Manmohan Singh has been ridiculed in the cartoon.

    It’s time they demanded that Sri Lanka came clean and stop its silly double-speak with us.

    Via Via http://www.firstpost.com/world/another-insult-by-sri-lanka-its-time-india-took-a-stand-449840.html

    • Sadun

      I think, if not all, at least I myself, would really appreciate if Ground Views could obtain a statement from the Cartoonist, not to implicate him in any vulgarism nor to hand him over to Tamil Nadu for some trial like the British trying to do to Assange, but just for us to know what his motive are in drawing this cartoon since the first post posting suggests that he the cartoonist has drawn the cartoon on behalf of GOSL to malign India and its two top leaders, good old Dr. Singh and the pretty Chief Minister the former highly popular actress, two whom it says have taken the SL Side by voting against SL in that Human Rights Forum and sending two School Children’s football team back to SL to protect them.

      And considering that American Paper’s article about the Indian PM and this First Post comment about the Cartoonist is acting on behalf of GOSL, I may not be wrong from their point of view if I conclude that there could be an agreement between the USA and GOSL sharing a common view of the giant neighbor of ours.

      I hope the Ground Views would seriously consider obtaining a statement from the Cartoonist to protect our country from some forthcoming seriously tough actions that India could take.


      PS: In my earlier reply to Ground View’s post the sentence, “I you are happy then I am happy.” should be read as ” If you are happy then I am happy.” Thanks.

  • Kala acharya

    This is the typical method used by our people to take revenge on anyone. They go straight to the point. Insulting your mother is the most common. Sick sense of humour.

    Some sort of sadistic sexist culture to look up womens skirts and portray the Indian PM indulging in the same. No doubt the cartoonist will be awarded the kalavibushana for patriotic arts.

    Dont take it seriously, happens all the time here. Rapes, murders are the order of the day. We are a five star democracy. Freedom to do anything. Some people get away with blue murder.

  • So GV is advocating censorship and dismissal of journalists who say (or draw) things that are uncomfortable? Whatever’s next — white vanning cartoonists? Get a grip, folks. Cartoonists exist to publicly lampoon that which polite society cannot. It’s unbelievable that people (including the editor of this site) are advocating firing this cartoonist. Whether it is in good taste or not is none of yours — or anyone else’s — business. Is this the vaunted media freedom and freedom of expression you people regularly get your knickers in a knot over?

    • David, the choice of underwear is perhaps yours, as is the idea that we somehow advocate censorship. One must never generalise from personal experience, however limited or limiting.

      • Whatever my experiences with underwear notwithstanding, my point was based on what GV has said in black and white:

        “On Sunday, for some unfathomable reason, Lakbima – a newspaper with high circulation – decided to run this cartoon.” — suggests Lakbima had no fathomable reason to run this cartoon, ie it should have censored itself.

        “Given that the publication in a broadsheet of a cartoon that depicts the Indian Prime Minister underneath an uplifted sari of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and looking up isn’t exactly something that’s defensible” — suggests that there is no defensible reason for publishing this cartoon, and that it should have been censored.

        “Note that these are respectively Jayasuriya’s 3rd and 4th tweets, and he is followed by a grand total of, at the time of writing, 3 people.” — unable to actually engage with or oppose the editor’s comment, GV attacks the man himself, for his lack of fame and “tweetiness”.

        “In the meanwhile, Groundviews and others based in Sri Lanka were discussing how the cartoon and the paper could be brought to account under the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).” — an attempt to muzzle the newspaper and bully it into complying with your viewpoint.

        “@teearuna, a Sri Lankan, had however the suggestion we agreed with the most,” and the suggestion is: “More prudent would be snap dismissal of whomever sanctioned this.GV agrees that the responsible journalist should be fired.

        “the fact remains that Lakbima’s tasteless cartoon has given unnecessary fodder to voices, from the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora as well as from India.” — attempts to decide on matters of taste.

        “The decision to publish is deeply regrettable, and shows a marked lack of strategic foresight, contextual awareness and just good taste.” — once more suggests that Lakbima should practice self-censorship.

        “It can be argued that said cartoon offended under #1 of code” — suggests in a tweet that the cartoon is illegal.

        So I think it’s clear, GV, that you have called for censorship and agreed that the journalist should be fired. Any more denials?

        • David,

          An unfathomable reason for us is no submission for censorship – what we cannot understand, and for us (and Women and Media Collective) sexist and in very poor taste, is no imposition of our taste, or what we feel is permissible, on others. This is our opinion. Ranga, the acting editor, has also expressed his. More on this later.

          Ergo, there could very be some defensible reason, even though it is not obvious to us, that goes beyond the facile use of the freedom of expression argument to strengthen what we feel is a gross failure in communication, even with the intent to insult and incense for the right reasons. We just haven’t heard it yet. Perhaps you can take a crack at it.

          The references to the Editors tweets were meant to showcase the new media illiteracy of the journalist, and despite this, his use of new media to address what was and still is a serious issue. If you do something, do it right, else use the platforms and media more familiar to you. Experimentation with the unfamiliar during times of crisis has its own pitfalls.

          Looking at the relevant section of the PCC and the Code of Ethics by the SLPI, of which Lakbima is a part of and by extension, fully subscribed to, is no attempt to muzzle anyone. It is however an attempt to remind the paper of what it has conveniently forgotten.

          Agreeing with @teearuna was also on the basis of his next tweet, but on this score, you have a solid point and we were wrong, in haste, to agree to a snap dismissal. We have now tweeted this.

          The decision to publish is in fact regrettable, and the article flags just why. The same editor who said yesterday the cartoon was fine, is today silent when the cartoon’s taken off the site. So there’s confusion at Lakbima too as to whether to offend, or not to offend.

          Looking at the relevant codes and noting where it could have transgressed them is precisely that – us holding up the response to the cartoon against a code the paper has agreed to, and in light of public response to the content from within Sri Lanka and across in India. We have no power to adjudicate that the cartoon was ‘illegal’, which in any case, the codes do not have any power to define. The codes are on ethics, not legality, but you’d know this if you had read them?

      • Come, come, GV, we’ve all heard the calls by the GoSL for the media to be more “responsible”, less tasteless, and more in line with the “good of the nation”, when they are at the receiving end. What you’re calling for is no different. Who’s typing your tweets — the GoSL media centre? There are many things I find tasteless — some on this very site — but that doesn’t give me the right to demand they be stopped. The same should be applied to those of you who supposedly champion media freedoms and expressions. If you don’t like it, counter it; don’t try to stifle it.

        • Dear David,

          There are many things we too find tasteless, aspects of you and your writing included, but we would be bereft of entertainment and the occasional insights if you were to be forcibly shut out. Not that on the web, this is in any case possible, with you, with Lakbima, or with anything that we or anyone else finds objectionable. Flagging rules Lakbima itself has subscribed to however is no call for censorship – it is simply a call to be in fact, what one has agreed to do in principle.

      • Really, you believe that my being (IYO) tasteless, excuses your own actions? If you believe my blogging is tasteless, you are quite welcome to say so, if you can manage to articulate yourself on the subject. I didn’t accuse you of trying to shut me up, so why muddy the waters? The point is that you called for the sacking of a journalist because you disagree with his opinion. I’m happy to see that you have seen the error of this call, and reversed it. Why not leave it at that? Unless you believe this exchange is necessary to salvage something of your ego, that you believe lost. This is not a personal issue, and maturity should have made that plain to you already.

        • David,

          Newsflash: This post and discussion isn’t about you, or my powers of articulation. You said “There are many things I find tasteless — some on this very site…” The response was that you can also be tasteless, but on occasion, spot on. The maturity you call for was in acknowledging, on balance and after our exchange, our error in public – a tweet agreeing with another’s submission post-haste. And on Twitter, this discussion with @teearuna, whose suggestion we initially agreed with, has progressed quite a bit just today. Twitter is free, and a new account takes seconds to create. We urge you to create one and follow the discussions, just as you religiously follow the comments on this forum, however distasteful.

          If as with your previous comment here and commenting history on web fora, the proclivity is, for whatever reason, to dish out comments replete with thinly veiled references to the male member, underwear, and all manner of personal attacks, you are most welcome to do so on your own blog.

      • Groundviews is hardly being inconsistent as long as they don’t want the government to do the sacking. There’s nothing wrong with asking the newspaper to sack a cartoonist. There should be some way to counter unethical journalism.

        When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut, there was so much outrage that he finally had to half-heatedly apologize for it. Nobody called for the government to do anything to Limbaugh. Groundviews is doing the same, just showing their outrage.

    • Sadun

      By analysing the cartoon more seriously and unbiasedly, I think some may have misinterpreted the cartoon as one that Hon PM of India is looking up under the skirt of the CM of TN.

      Rather if you look at it unbiasedly it may look like the CM of TN is abusing SL and while shouting she has lifted her cloth (something thugs usually do when they are trying to bully someone) thus exposing the hidden person, the Hon. PM of India, inside her cloths who is allowing her the freedom to do what she wants with another sovereign State.

      This view in my opinion is also supported from the bewildered face of SL who finds itself surprised by seeing the Hon PM of India, whom it had thought is an understanding Person and not a party to the CM’s actions, under the cloths of the CM of TN and actually may be concurring what the CM does or even manipulating her.

      Generally placing a person inside another’s cloths is used to depict controlling by Cartoonists. Many Cartoonists had used this interpretation world over and in SL specially against the poor leader of the opposition of SL who had been drawn with a tiger or a tiger tail protruding from his cloths many a times, especially during elections, to portray that he is dancing to the tunes of the terrorists.

      I am just trying to give an alternative interpretation of the cartoon assuming the cartoonist is innocent until proven guilty of Ground View and other Aggrieved Parties guidelines posted here.

      Therefore, I don’t think the cartoonist has been intentionally vulgar though his cartoon at first glance would seems like that to the biased eye.

      This is obviously written in defense of the poor Sri Lankan journalist.


  • I for one see the humour of the situation. Both the countries are as guilty as one another. The state of Tamil Nadu dictate to India as they aspire for a seperate country, so India has to play ball.
    The cartoon does really depict that adequately well.
    As for any other connotations everyone’s screaming about, it’s just a cartoon for god sake, well executed too!
    Look at the American presidential election folks and how the two contenders heap mud on each other.
    Life sometimes imitates art.
    This is just another example.

    For all the outraged Indians, hoi, play fair, we all know you turn a blind eye to what Tamil Nadu dictates.

    We don’t BURN AND STONE our cricketers homes when they fail.

    Jai Shri Krishna!

    • veedhur


      I haven’t been following the US Presidential election campaign. Can you point me to anything that is as vulgar as this cartoon?

  • veedhur

    May be Hasantha is a clumsy cartoonist – he was in the last minute left with not time to get MMS to gaze forward.

    Or he intended it to be the way it is and the way it has come out

    Only he will know.

    Either way what was the editor doing – sleeping at the wheels?

  • Dev

    I would be very surprised if this happened without the knowledge of someone very high up !

    The Sri Lankan givernment operates with the principle

    “Rock the cradle while pinching the baby”
    (a rough translation of a Tamil proverb ) Trying to appease the Indian government and getting their stooges to do something like this at the same time.

    In reality it is still furious with India for voting for the UN resolution and while it can whip up some anger using that its limited.
    The short sited actions of Jayalaitha is playing right into the hands of the government.

    David Blacker talking about media freedom?

  • walter

    Vulgar or not is one matter, but I thought there was a Code of conduct etc. for the Newspapers, so let somebody go to the “Press Complaints Commission”
    But the more important factor is hidden.
    This is certainly a position of the Sri Lankan Political mentality.
    This is highly debatable, however this is the core feeling in the average Sri Lankan.
    They want the world to accept Sri Lanka as the best “destination” for anything and everything. They want the World not to talk of abductions, political killings, fraud and deceit at the highest level.
    This Newspaper took the courage to publish this as they were sure that the Sri Lankan’s on the whole would not oppose this publication.
    Sri Lanka has this mentality, example
    When Rajiv Ghandhi an invitee of the G O S L was attacked by a rating, he was cosmetically punished. This man was released by Ranasinghe Premadasa.
    Any Country with sober ethic’s would have never stooped so low.
    This is Sri Lanka, rhetorically a paradise.
    A Country which has embraced a revered philosophy by Lord Buddha, pretending to follow all its precepts up to the letter.
    If Lord Buddha ever returns to this paradise now, He would be the sadest man on earth.

  • kadphises

    “…lakbima cartoon is a matter of artistic expression and therefore of freedom of expression” ……The same freedom of expression enjoyed by Pregeeth Ekneligoda?

  • kadphises

    The deliberate baiting and provoking of India by the regime and its supporters is reminiscent of a similar episode 30 years ago where Premadasa and the Jayawardene Govt. baited Indira Gandhi at every turnh with various jibes (like the Gona & Wassa jibe), embolden by the new friendship with the US. We know how all that ended ended in tears.

    Now 30 years later the mistakes are being repeated. This time with a Sri Lankan govt embolden by an aliance with China.

    A prudent govt. will work to diffuse tensions with other nations. Especially with a large and powerful one miles away from our shores. But apparently not for this govt. Its foreign relations and diplomacy makes sense only to its leaders and supporters.

  • Ratnayake w Jayathilake

    Normally this was a small matter which was done by the third party.My personal opinion is to handle this type of incident very wisely and strategically.
    politically the government is handling it nicely. Why the media can not act as same?
    Indian Prime Minister most respectful Late Hon. Rajiv Ghandhi attached by our Navy Personnel.
    India do not take as serious! or problematically. Hence as responsible citizens we also act as same and allow Govt. to take necessary actions.
    Certain isolated groups most of them are Sri Lank-ans threatened our innocent people.
    But Indian Government with the natural Justice. Therefor please refrain to create unnecessary problems. It is my Appeal.

  • Agree with David Blacker whole heartedly.

    Veedhur, if you don’t follow current events it’s not my problem my friend.

    GV editor, mate it’s all about freedom of speech we advocate isn’t it? Your point of sexism and bad taste is moot. Bad taste or not, the cartoon has actually illustrated a current event extremely well. I believe the Lakbima must thank you for your input in making this cartoon go completely viral and noticed by many!

    • thivya

      If the government of Sri Lanka and the Sinhalese value the freedom of expression so much like this, what happened to the Sinhala cartoonist Prageeth Eknaligoda. Where is he? His wife and children are searching for him.

      • Thivya, so is your solution is to kidnap Ranga Jayasuriya just for the sake of consistency?

        You may say no, but that’s pretty much what you want. You want the government to censor these kinds of things. When someone raises concerns about freedom of expression, you will say, well, the government already kidnaps and murder anti-government journalists, so it wouldn’t be too low for them to censor these kinds of things.

        Yeah, that’s sounds like a great political philosophy to me, created by the same mind Anuruddha Ratwatte and his sons were acquitted because they were Sinhalese.

    • Dear Dhammika, good to hear from you after a hiatus of close upon two years on this site? You noted in 2010 that “eyes and ears remain closed“. One lives in hope they will open, and soon.

      In the interim, interesting if all the rather priapic voices supporting this cartoon, almost exclusively male, could debate the issue directly with Women and Media Collective, and their demand for an apology on the grounds they have requested it.

      Defending outright sexism is easy when one is a closest chauvinist.

    • veedhur


      When you throw in something like that in an argument that burden of proof is on you, my friend.

  • Ouch that hurt mate.

    But you are agreeing with me re: my article that you have kindly linked to.

    Are we arguing the context of freedom of speech or outright sexism as you call it?






    It’s a cartoon. It says that Jayalalitha has the Indian Gov at her mercy. Is it the best effort in depicting it visually? Damn right.

    As my last two submissions to your website were not published due to weaknesses in my writing, I was discouraged in submitting any further. I will take your comment as encouragement and shall resume submission.

    And to be very honest mate, nothing really of interest has come up in your website for the last few years that warranted my comment. Biased media from any side of the coin can become rather boring.

    For the record, yes I would be more than willing to debate the issue of sexism with any collective you may see fit, in fact give me one months notice, I will specially fly down to Colombo for same at my expense.

    For your information:
    Starting with my mother, who always kept her maiden name after marriage;
    I have 3 elder sisters who are all educated to the highest level and have jobs any human, man or women will aspire for.
    My wife works for an investment bank and she manages all our family finances, and is the key decision maker.
    My niece has a doctorate, and my daughter is one of the most brilliant human beings on Earth and I have never given her reason for her sex to prevent what se wants to achieve in life.
    This is the same for all the females in my immediate family and extended.

    So yes, I would be very happy to take part in this debate if you so organise it. In fact I would love to.

    The cartoon I maintain mate is just a cartoon, and as most cartoons are, extremely funny as well as being appropriate as a current global event.

    The truth liberates mate, I don’t have to hide in any closet, maybe you should examine your priorities better and check your own closets.


    Dhammika Dharmawardhane
    [email protected]

    • “Mate”, good to hear about mother, wife, daughters et al. One hopes you are not found under their saris too often, looking up.

    • jaffnaboy


      mate you are full of it aren’t you? It is very sad that you are not probably as educated as them then….lol

  • This cartoon is vulger alright and the question of censorship arises.What it shows is the climate is hostile among the Srilankans to Jayalalitha like the naval rating hitting Rajive Gandhi with the rifle butt on parade inspection.

  • Have none of these ‘great scholars?” seen a cartoon which partrays Obama and Hilary making sex in their last election? Why this triavila thing so discussed without discussing the lunatic attacked by Terrorist Tamils to innocent prayers and Indian government which permits [edited out] to do as she wishes?

    • Myrna

      YOu have all missed the message the cartoon cries about and watching a sketch and dreaming what would be next if it was ‘real’ showbiz. she herself was a heroine for decades. I am sure she won’t take it too seriously as she was part of the gossip world for yens while she was a heroine and a gyrating dancer!!!

  • The cartoon is disgusting and in poor taste for sure and ‘freedom of expression’ is too thin a cloth to cover it. Lakbima News is a lot more than this cartoon, though.

    There is a reference to Bandula Jayasekera saying ‘This is disgusting’ and perplexity about him ‘stop(ping) short of apology’. I don’t understand why the President is called upon to apologize here. I am pretty sure that Manmohan Singh doesn’t dish out apologies to all the obnoxious things that appear in the public domain in India. Heck, Singh has not apologized for effigy burning and what not in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere and no one is demanding that he does.

    • Hi Malinda,

      To reproduce the para in full,

      It is unclear however whether ‘we’ in this tweet actually refers to anyone else, since Jayasekara does not speak on behalf of, or represent, Sri Lanka’s MEA, and when that tweet was posted, it wasn’t made explicitly clear whether it was after consultations with the President, or his cabal. In the conversation with Radhakrishnan, reproduced below as an image, Jayasekara also makes pains to demonstrate that though the paper is owned by a businessman very close to the incumbent regime, it is actually a private paper over which the government has no control. The tweet does not endorse the cartoon, but stops short of an apology over its hugely offensive nature.

      There is no call for the President to apologise. One question is who the ‘we’ in Bandula’s tweet are? It ain’t me, it ain’t you. Bandula explicitly says ‘We DO NOT endorse it.’ So who is he speaking on behalf of? Two, the context is imp. A tweet not included in the article above comes from The Hindu correspondent,

      Note this was before Bandula’s response, and addressed to the official accounts of the PM of India, the Indian MEA spokesperson and Bandula himself. The Indian Twitter accounts referenced alone go to upwards of 200,000 people. If any one of those 200,000 retweeted it – and I suspect there must have been dozens if not hundreds who did so – you are very quickly looking at a figure close to or over a million, on Twitter alone, who on Sunday evening were demanding to know what Sri Lanka’s President and Government’s view on the cartoon was.

      If Bandula J thought it fit to explicitly say the cartoon was ‘disgusting’, and that ‘we’ (whoever that plural embraced) did not endorse it, he was speaking in his official capacity, through an official account, responding to a public query, that referenced the highest ranking govt Twitter account in India and other influential voices.

      Question then is, if it was disgusting, and given the possibility of the diplomatic fallout, why didn’t he apologise for it at the time? The argument I agree can be that a cartoon can be disgusting and yet defended on principle, yet there was no defence at all from Bandula J’s account.

      Surreal, is it not? So what do you have today. No apology for the publication of the cartoon even though it was officially disgusting to the spokesman of the SL Govt, no defence of the cartoon found disgusting on the principle of FOE, an official response from Sri Lanka noting that it was not endorsed (by whom it is still unclear), the subsequent deletion of the cartoon, an Editor who doesn’t know this and is actually actively defending content in his paper that no longer exists in the public domain.

      No apology from Mahinda needed really. One can’t blame him for calling up the Indian PM and laughing about the sheer madness of it all.

  • Evano

    Oh oh..! When this ( http://tinyurl.com/dy7u3cn ) and so many hundred other evidences of crimes against humanity committed by the Srilankan (Sinhalese) state surfaced GV didn’t give a rat’s arse. And now, GV can’t stand a cartoon. A cartoon doesn’t torture, rape and murder anyone but the Srilankan troops did all of that to thousands of innocent Tamil civilians (source: UN’s Darusman’s report, US congress report, videos released by channel 4 UK, reports from ICRC, Amnesty International, etc)!

    Then GV goes on to worry that this cartoon “has given unnecessary fodder to voices” from the Tamil diaspora. Oh poor GV! The Tamils should never get their voices heard or else the world will end!

    As far was the cartoon is concerned, there is nothing wrong about it. It is indeed an artistic expression. It honestly reflects the Sinhalese post-war triumphalist chauvinist mindset. In spite of all its political and diplomatic fallout, if the second leading daily of a country dares to publish such a cartoon on such a powerful woman, one imagines the fate met by those hundreds of thousands of hapless Tamil women either captured or surrendered in the war at the hand of Sinhalese troops (yes the Sri Lankan army is 100% mono-ethnic Sinhalese army)! 🙁

    • “Oh oh..! When this ( http://tinyurl.com/dy7u3cn ) and so many hundred other evidences of crimes against humanity committed by the Srilankan (Sinhalese) state surfaced GV didn’t give a rat’s arse. And now, GV can’t stand a cartoon. ”

      It’s a good day when GV’s condemned by both pro-Gov and pro-LTTE voices.

    • kadphises

      Perhaps the cartoon can be modified slightly to make acceptable to a wider audience. The perplexed looking figure in the shape of Lanka could be redrawn to show it standing on a pile of corpses with blood pouring out of the holes in their heads.

      • Nithyananthan

        A good thoughtful remedial suggestion to contain and pacify many – yet it’s inadequate and will never be acceptable to the mixed majority since it offends the ideals of the junta too and their hardcore lackeys as well. Thanks, Nithy!

    • kadphises

      A good cartoonist makes fun of a politician’s personal traits such as vanity, greed, incompetance, lecherousess, venality, inflated self opinion etc. To make fun of a woman with a genital inference is not just vulgar but shows the lack of creativity of the cartoonist, for any woman can be derided with such a genital reference including his own mother and his wife. Very very unsophisticated. 0/10 for this.

  • No Media Freedom

    Good depiction of reality.

    Too bad no media freedom.

    “Tasteless”? Manmohan Singh may disagree!

  • PR

    Referring to the possible boycott of Deepa Mehta’s “Midnights Children” by Indian film distributors, a local film critic says “[In India] we are very wary of any film that even is political, let alone politically sensitive. Any resemblance to a politician . . . could be a problem. In a robust democracy, all of this should be possible.”

    Another describes Mrs Gandhi’s portrayal in the film as a “Voldemort-like politician with dark grey clouds hanging over her head”.

  • Talking of censorship, I note that all of yesterday’s comments have been deleted. The comments section says “44 comments”, but I count only 6. Where are all the comments criticizing this site for its attempt to censure (and censor) the media?

    • Reassured you can count up to 6. The vast deletion of critical comments you claim was nothing more than a temporary backend glitch, the result perhaps of the high traffic experienced at present on the site, to this post alone. It’s already sorted out.

      • Disappointed that both the chips on your little shoulders are still firmly in place. But reassured that you actually managed to grow a pair and retract your silly call for the cartoonist to be fired. Hopefully, like them two chips, this pair will stay firmly in place too.

        • Was there a substantive point to that comment or was it a temporary victory for testosterone? If you can’t keep to site guidelines and address the central issue(s) of the post, desist from commenting or please do so on your own blog(s).

  • Dinga

    Being an Indian, I don’t find anything objectionable in the Cartoon.

    Our silent PM got bored of his long silence [edited out].

    I sincerely feel a straight and confused looking Mr. Singh would have been more relevant and less controvercial.

    Even when the Cong(i) won the last general election and formed the goverment in India, there was an animated image with Mr. singh holding scantily clad Ms Sonia Gandhi and dancing with the caption ‘ Singh is king’, was doing the rounds of net and mobiles. There was no protest or uproar in India.

    Many Tamil tabloids in tamilnadu have laphooned Ms. Jayalalita much worser than this.

    Do not make this a big episode

  • Lanka Liar

    Every country has the freedom to practice its culture. Sri Lanka is practsing its culture so what. Is there anything different now. It is the same old story, Lie rape kidnap vulgar. May the triple gems bless Sri Lanka Lie [edited out].

  • Bakamoona

    Ladies & Gentlemen!

    The cartoon is a bit offensive-true!

    Here’s my “analysis” of it! 🙂

    Tamil Naadu CM’s CAN CAN dances are well depicted there! And so is Dr Singh’s embarrassment at it! Only problem is his “postioning” in the cartoon!

  • walter



    This is not about Jayalalitha or Manmohan but about the cultural values of this ‘miracle of Asia’
    We have lost our directions, we are on the cross road, we are making ourselves believe that we are moving, the Politicians and dud economists like Cabraal and Jayasundara are saying that we are moving rapidly “forward”


    Thank God, we still have men of caliber in our midst, and if ever in the distant future, we have a change in Governance, we can hope to be in safe hands.

  • sach

    it is funny when so called champions of media freedom ask to sack a cartoonist because the cartoon is not to their liking..:)