Why is Sri Lanka’s Media acting as a 5th column?


When 96% of world media is owned by 6 companies we do not need to go far to conclude the nature of biased coverage. The fact that media houses are owned by a handful has gone to show that we cannot trust the coverage being relayed. In Sri Lanka’s case all that we ask is why is Sri Lanka’s press not supportive of Sri Lanka’s gallant stand against the bullying western colonial countries at Geneva? That Sri Lanka’s media has never taken the stand against LTTE terror except to report on events as they have unfolded over the years makes any to wonder whether Sri Lanka’s media is functioning as a fifth column willing to be surrogates and of the West.

Biased Media – not just in Sri Lanka

MSNBC didn’t run a single negative story on Barack Obama during the final week of the presidential campaign. MSNBC didn’t run a single positive story on Mitt Romney during the final week of the presidential campaign.

In one of the most recent examples of media bias the Ukraine example shows media in connivance with imperial agenda. Media conveniently left out reference to US/NATO manufacturing protests, engineering coups, manipulating minorities, funding opposition groups and through them causing the mischief needed for them to intervene once the necessary ground work has been provided through their slave and partner in crime the press. How different can the scenario not be in Sri Lanka or anywhere else where regime change is being attempted? Media functions as an agent of that change. If wrong, can media prove so?

Hindu India – Buddhist Sri Lanka

In India with 1.2billion population and over 80% Hindus its media is controlled by non-Hindus and mostly by Christians. In fact the influence on Indians is such that Maria Mirth asks ‘why do so many educated Indians become agitated when India is referred to as a Hindu country?…..Why then is there this resistance by many Indians to acknowledge the Hindu roots of their country?” That is a good question that educated Sinhalese Buddhists need to ask themselves too. India was essentially a Hindu country just as Sri Lanka was Sinhalese Buddhist. That hasn’t changed but the perceptions are being changed using communication media. When Germany’s head asks Germany to ‘go back to Christian values’ if the same were to be said by an Indian or Sri Lankan leader, the media would immediately jump to complain the communities were being attacked.

Hindu India is certainly feeling the pinch – its Hindu culture is being denigrated, its traditional rituals are being demeaned, Hindu beliefs are being ridiculed and it has become a common practice to insult Hindus by a subservient local media ever ready and willing to act as surrogates of the West. Any Hindu or Sinhalese challenging status quo is quickly silenced by name calling with a barrage of writers promoted via media projecting themselves as giving majority opinion when in reality it is not so. Media purposely omits and blacks out the opinion of the majority.

If employees of India’s media houses are full of non-Hindus who have no love of heritage to feel proud of the Indian ancestry it means that these employees have no qualms about being subservient to their employers who are invariably working on behalf of alien forces. A content analysis of both Indian and Sri Lankan media will reveal the fact that despite Hindus being the majority in India and Buddhists being the majority in Sri Lanka, the media spends all its focus on tactics to ridicule the majority. The insinuations, the placement of articles and news, the inferences made and the sarcasms are obvious. While private media hardly offers space to the majority of either country, the state channels takes efforts to provide a balance leaves a virtual 2/3 opinion tilted towards the minorities contributing towards the overall feeling that the majority in both country’s are to blame for any trouble in the country. Politicians that lack any love for country, its heritage or the protection of that culture except to enjoy luxuries of power and privilege have worsened the situation by not drawing the lines to ensure that the historical heritage of the 2 country’s are not compromised. The damage politicians have done and are doing to the heritage of both nations is colossal and now historically heritage sites are being taken over under the ‘multicultural’ slogan. This damage must immediately stop.

If many Hindus are now coming out to say that an analysis of all programs across mainstream media in India are anti-Hindu, the same can be said of the scenario in Sri Lanka. http://www.vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=895

A ‘free’ press is not above the law. A free press cannot think that they can be allowed to do as they like, go where they like, write what they like and demand that everyone accept all they write and say given that the media runs as a business or is owned by politically motivated or religious entities.

Let us build upon the conclusions made by the Press Commission report of 1964. When Dr. K N Jayatilake Prof. of Philosophy, University of Ceylon giving evidence in 1964 before the Press Commission stated that an impression had been created in the English reading public that the ‘communal and religious minorities must get together and oppose the Sinhalese Buddhist majority if they are to get any rights at all’. This appears very close to the truth in the present context of how the English media of Sri Lanka functions.

When Dr. Jayatilake went on to say that foreign news relevant to Buddhists were never given print space by non-Buddhist editors is this not relevant to the situation prevalent today as well.

The 1964 Press Commission as a whole concluded that Sri Lanka’s Press had not conformed to general principles of journalism. If the Press was accused in 1964 of providing news that was ‘slanted, distorted, fabricated and journalists were conducting themselves in a manner hostile to the interests of the nation and Buddhism in particular which was the religion of the vast majority of the permanent population’ (page 12 of report). The situation is no different in 2014.

At a time when Sri Lanka is in need of patriotism in the newspapers the 1964 Report says thus”

If these English language newspapers were sufficiently patriotic they could have made a very useful contribution to bringing about unity among the various communities after the country achieved its independence.They should have advised the minority groups to adapt themselves to the changing circumstances and exhorted the majority to be generous towards the former. They failed to do that. What they consistently did was to poison the minds of the minority groups and encourage them to fight to retain the unjust privileges they had received during the era of foreign domination.  (PCR para 112, page 56)

” The journalists manning the Sinhala language newspapers knew fully well that this policy was wrong and unpatriotic but they themselves were compelled to follow, though unwittingly, the same policy due to pressure exerted on them by the management” (PCR para 113, page 56)

On the conduct of the Tamil Press i.e. Virakesari the Press Commission Report quotes V A Kandiah and G Kumaralingam members of the Ceylon Journalists Association saying

‘ It is carrying on a continuous communal propaganda in issue after ‘issue. Virakesari is owned and run by Indian nationals, and as such their purpose is to spread the idea of Indian domination of this country and condition the people ‘

Mr. Kumaralingam said that the Thinakaran and Virakesari were

infecting the Tamil population with communalism, thus disrupting the unity of the Sinhalese and Tamil people. These papers should be properly controlled to enable us to play up national unity.’ (PRC para 47, page 26)

The Press Commission Report mentions ‘Ceylon Daily Mirror’, ‘Ceylon Observer’ and ‘Times of Ceylon’ being newspapers largely responsible for spreading communal disharmony on the lines that the minorities were being denied due rights and treated as second class citizens bringing non-existent parallels to the racial discrimination suffered by blacks in South Africa.

The subject of mischievous propaganda was highlighted by none other than Sir Nicholas Attygalle, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ceylon who said that the source of false news to England and USA was from Sri Lanka’s own leading newspapers (PRC para 49, page 27). Should we then be surprised when the foreign press is hostile towards Sri Lanka when the meat is being provided by our own press! If the press acting anti-national in the 1960s has the scenario changed in 2014?

Conduct a Content Analysis

  • Why has the media projected a one-sided version giving no voice to Buddhist perspective purposing omitting the wrongs done to Buddhists?
  • Why did Sri Lanka’s media have a virtual blackout on coverage of attacks on Buddhists and Buddhist places of worship in Bangladesh, Maldives, Burma and holiest place of Buddha Gaya without a single editorial written on these events?
  • Why has Sri Lanka’s media omitted to cover the Buddhist version in Burma?
  • Why have attacks on Buddhist sites not gained the same media coverage as claims of illegally constructed religious sites and video clippings? Why has media avoided mention of the illegal construction and illegal conversions that form the basis for the issues?
  • Why is Sri Lanka’s media one-sided in its inference on Buddhists being intolerant without giving opportunity for Buddhist sentiments to be heard as well?
  • Why have media throughout 30 years not championed the need to take the issue of terrorism globally accusing the LTTE of crimes instead of simply reporting a LTTE atrocity?
  • In a country were 7 out of 10 are Sinhalese Buddhists how much of Buddhist related news does the English print media provide and why is coverage never from a Buddhist perspective?
  • Why has the English media continue to stick to only a handful of darlings that belong to the English speaking coterie and include only their versions without giving any room for new opinion, counter opinion or even right of replies? The handful of daily English newspapers are guilty of weekly publicizing only their favorite writers who have a history of attempting to distort ideas/versions and functioning as agents of alien forces.
  • Why have media not supported the general public as victims of LTTE atrocities always preferring to add a prefix to LTTE crimes and describing them as ‘allegedly committed by LTTE”
  • Why has Sri Lanka’s media personnel being Sri Lankan citizens not felt the need to defend the armed forces and their country when accused of crimes they know to be untrue? Why have these media personnel given undue publicity to the negative publicity against Sri Lanka.?
  • Why has the media not stood together with the rest of the public to say Sri Lanka has not done wrong and emphasized on the humanitarian efforts and made room to be thankful to the armed forces for sacrificing their lives to save the nation? Why have they instead repeatedly given room over their mediums for the lies and distortions and functioned as agents for promoting these among the general public thus creating doubt among the citizens? What has it been difficult for the media of Sri Lanka to be proud of our armed forces, proud of our achievement in being the only nation to end terrorism?

Sri Lanka’s media takes umbrage whenever its wrongs are highlighted and to avoid responding to allegations Sri Lanka’s media has been quick to project itself as victim. In 1964, the Press report alleges that the Times of Ceylon was aware of the coup d’etat leading to a military coup by Christian military officers as a result of Catholic Action and was preparing the people to accept a new Government through their media. This is a repetition of how the Western media were preparing the people in US to accept military interventions by projecting foreign leaders as dictators.

If the government or even a private organization were to conduct a content analysis of how the Sri Lankan media function they would not be able to project themselves as victims and the present insinuations of intolerance by Buddhists and discriminations by Buddhists would be proved wrong statistically. It is no better a time for the Buddhist organizations to launch a content analysis of Sri Lanka’s media and present its findings so that the Sri Lankan media and the minorities can statistically challenge the data if it can be challenged.

How many Western journalists would ridicule their nations or their armed forces? In these countries soldiers are served free, when they enter restaurants they are warmly welcomed and cheered, they are treated with admiration. If the armed forces of the West, most of whom have been sent to invade and occupy nations are being treated as heroes, why have we not done the same to our armed forces who have not only saved our nation from terrorism but physically saved 300,000 Tamil civilians at the cost of their lives? Why has the media not felt the need to stand up for Sri Lanka’s armed forces when they know that these men are building homes, making roads and helping with the development of the North? Why has the media not felt it bizarre to demand a demilitarization of the North when it is fully aware of the presence of foreign intelligence, former LTTE cadres who continue to pose as civilians and the media is well aware of the dangers to the country unless the armed forces are present in the North to safeguard the security of the nation?

When the West are using every dirty trick in the book to bring international investigations against Sri Lanka, with the resources available to the media, should Sri Lanka’s press not champion the cause of Sri Lanka? Why has the media not demanded accountability for colonial crimes, why has media failed to raise the conflict of interest aspects of Navi Pillay, why have media not highlighted the need to investigate the entire history of the problem and that history goes back to the times of divide and rule where minorities were given special privileges above the majority and that was where the divide was created. Why has media not demanded reserve discrimination for the Sinhalese Buddhists that suffered ever since 1505 when even after independence media is well aware that the losses to the Sinhalese Buddhists were never restored?

Sri Lanka’s media may claim itself unbiased this can easily be negated by the simple exercise of a content analysis and prove that they have functioned and continue to function as a 5th column and agent for alien forces ignoring their duty to the nation.

Shenali D Waduge