Colombo, Media and Communications, Peace and Conflict

Response to article in Colombo Telegraph

An article published in the Colombo Telegraph (see PDF here, the site itself continues to be illegally blocked in Sri Lanka by all ISPs) makes several allegations against me. This hasn’t been the first article on that site which has targeted me personally and Groundviews as a platform. It is however the most serious in a series I expect to continue into the future. While I do not intend to engage on Colombo Telegraph on its site – the comments section is a cesspool of bile by those hiding behind veils of anonymity – I would like to flag just two points around the article.

I find it curious that the article refers to the Media Unit coordinator, who isn’t named, as a male. The last time CPA’s Media Unit had a male coordinator was before 2004. Since 2004, the institution has had two female coordinators – one from 2004 to 2012, and the other from 2012 to date.

In 2009, a series of email exchanges with the then coordinator of the Media Unit, CPA’s Executive Director and the Editor of Colombo Telegraph, an erstwhile employee of CPA, also clearly alluded to allegations along the same lines as that which is now in public. Clearly then, given that these receipts and associated farrago of allegations made in the article seem to have resided with the Editor of Colombo Telegraph for over ten years, and have also in the past been alluded to in emails but never substantiated, it is curious as to why they only now appear in the public domain.

Let me also say this.

The article published today against me is yet another example why Colombo Telegraph‘s on-going and illegal block by all ISPs in Sri Lanka is so ill-advised. In blocking the site, the Government of Sri Lanka gives it an air of authority that ill fits the quality of discourse featured on it. And yet, if we cannot countenance the worst that is written of us, without any substantiation and for the most parochial of reasons on the principle that it has as much a right to be published as that which praises us, we aren’t really champions of media freedom. For this reason alone, I remain as committed to the unblocking of Colombo Telegraph as I am truly appalled by the content published and penned by its Editor.

  • Dev

    While some comments are articles are silly and uncalled for a vast majority of them are written by reputed journalists SH, you cannot disparage them all in one stroke.

    • It is the culture of commentary and discussion I find distressing, and the thrust of original content produced by the site. The majority of content published on CT, unlike Groundviews, is from other sources. Most of the authors write to other platforms incl. newspapers and online fora, from which their content is copied and published. CT’s reach as a phenomenal dashboard of political content on Sri Lanka – I know many who start and end their day by going to the site – appeals justifiably to some other writers who directly send in their content. It is the original content produced by the site (not generally what is sent in or republished) and the commentary to all the content published in general, that I find atrocious. CT can be so much more.

      • Fitzpatrick

        Could I suggest (if you have not done so already) to send this response article to CT?

        I am sure there is enough journalistic ethics in CT editors to allow your reply (right-of reply)?
        (or paste your article as a comment).

        After all, despite their ban in SL, people like Dayan and Rajiva, ardent regime supporters are also given space on CT. (In fact I can’t recall a article on GV by Rajiva and many more by Dayan on CT than GV). So I suggest you also post your side of the story on CT if possible.

      • Dev

        Thank you for your detailed reply.