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The Arrogance of Power

A Friday Forum Press Release

 

The Arrogance of Power

The story of a plane, a pilot and a puppy would not ordinarily interest the average Sunday newspaper reader.  Add to this an account of an angry and vicious outburst by a powerful public official and you have an explosion which raises issues that should concern all citizens of this country.

The reported response of the Secretary of Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a telephone conversation with the editor of the Sunday Leader, Frederica Jansz, is, we believe, unprecedented.

Frederica Jansz had her story, and maybe she did not have to make a second call. However, the tirade of abuse that follows was utterly deplorable, coming from a senior public servant.

No other senior public servant has to our knowledge used such vituperative threatening and obscene language in interaction with a member of the public or a journalist.  Public servants are governed by an Establishments Code which contains the norms and standards of conduct set by the Public Service Commission. They are required by an oath of office to conform and abide by the Constitution of this country.

A violation of these norms and standards of behaviour calls for explanations, disciplinary procedures, interdiction, resignation or termination.  Legitimising such violations by excuses such as “provocation” and “harassment” by media personnel, only reinforces the idea that public servants exercising significant powers are not accountable under the law of the land for their conduct, and that the public have no right to question abuse of authority and intimidating behaviour by those who hold high office.

We are all aware that there has been an incremental decline in the standards of public life, including the standards of conduct of some public servants.  Many politicians are increasingly ignoring the law, and encouraging public servants to violate laws and regulations through questionable politicised decision making.  We now have a senior public servant who is a close kinsman of the President, behaving with a politician’s arrogance and disrespect for the norms and standards that should be followed in public service and in administrative decision making.  This is setting a dangerous new trend that can culminate in another level of abuse of authority, also encouraging the public to break the law.

It is ironical that Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa in an interview given to another newspaper last Sunday seeks to justify the use of obscenities and expletives in anger, by saying that these words are used “Commonly in American (USA) in normal usage”. (Lakbima News ; July 15 2012 P.05).  His Excellency the President and persons in public life have frequently exhorted us all to reject Western values, and be guided by our “traditional” and “home grown” cultural values.  If the language used by Mr. Rajapaksa was used by a public servant in a Sinhala or Tamil translation, there would be a reaction of shock, anger and disgust.

Statements made in the interview with Ms Jansz that have received publicity, indicating disrespect for law and the Courts of Law, and ignorance of the constitutional norms on freedom of expression and information, present a frightening scenario of the capacity of a person in high office in Sri Lanka to exercise unlimited power.  The threatening language used is a chilling reminder that death and violence await anyone who dares to question the exercise of these unlimited powers.  Sri Lanka is due to present its report at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council in a few months.  The government’s poor record on media freedom and protection has been already challenged in many national regional and international fora.  Mr Rajapaksa’s angry outburst only reinforces allegations of the growing culture of violence against the media, and the suppression of media freedom, and the almost entrenched culture of impunity for this violence.

If the government is serious in its recent claims that it will not tolerate impunity for violence and abuse of power, it must now “walk the talk”.

The public has a right to ask whether it is acceptable for His Excellency the President to continue to keep in high office a person who demonstrates an incapacity to control his temper, and responds violently when he is angry and under pressure.   Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s role in ending a thirty year brutal armed conflict cannot be taken to mean that he can hold office as a public servant and not conform to the norms and standards that regulate the conduct of public servants.  Legitimising erosion of values in public administration by condoning such conduct is certainly not good governance in the public interest.

(signed)

Jayantha Dhanapala                                                        Professor Savitri Goonesekere

On behalf of Friday Forum, the Group of Concerned Citizens

Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Professor Savitri Goonesekere, Rt. Reverend Duleep de Chickera, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Mr. Ahilan Kadirgamar, Mr. Lanka Nesiah,  Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, Dr. A. C. Visvalingam,        Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne,  Dr. Camena Guneratne,  Dr. Deepika Udagama,  Ms. Anne Abeysekera Ms. Sithie Tiruchelvam,  Ms, Dhamaris Wickremesekera, Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Professor. Ranjini Obeyesekere, Tissa Jayatilaka, Dr. Devanesan Nesiah, Dr. G Usvatte-Aratchi, Professor. Gananath Obeyesekere, Mr. Ranjit Fernando, Mr. Daneshan Casiechetty,  Mr. Mahen Dayananda, Rev Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Ms. Suriya Wickramasinghe, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne.

29 Comments for “The Arrogance of Power”

  1. tomsamusa

    Well written statement with high profile signatories.
    Now will this call for justice and fair play for Tamil speaking people and the journalists?
    Only an Arab style mass uprising from majority Sinhala( not the meat eating ,saffron clad skin heads) will bring about justice and fairness to ALL>

    • randy mathew

      VERY TRUE SIR

    • suren soysa

      After eliminating the thirty year killing spree of the Tamil Terrorists, what the so called intellectuals, the opposition, UNP, Fonseka & you need is, an uprising of the Sinhalese to Chase Mahinda & grab power?(unmistakably this is the western goal too) Gotabaya too is a human being & can react in any way regardless of his position if the opportunity is provided! The Leader is a Paper from Lasantha’s time, splashing speculative criticism of people & events. The words Gota used will be very handy in the future to keep the west at bay & to survive as one Country!

    • Bella

      Well said, thank you.

  2. Preethi Kollonne

    Mr. Gotabhaya’s assertion that the words that he used are quite common in America is utter nonsense. Even, people who works at 24/7 enterprises does not use this kind of language. Mr. Gotabhaya knows that very well himself. If a person of his stature in the US govt used those deplorable words to address another person, in their official capacity, that official is minced meat in no time. Be honest Mr. Goatabhaya Rajapakse, you made a mistake, admit it, learn from it and move on.

    • Silva de Mervin

      Perhaps he would have used it in 7-11 store where he worked.

      • hansan

        No as a practice even the 7/11

        • hansan

          Even the 7/11 employees has a code of conduct, No work place speak this words during work or at any one , It’s the law you cannot abuse any one in Public in United States, Ask from any one who had worked or working there, Not even driving in a trafic Jam. I can not emagine where This man had woked if he say it is normal Laugage. May be some Swearage worker speak this during there luch time.

    • D.A.R. K Ho

      Hey Preethi, do not try to hoodwink the readers with your newly found culture which does exist only to attack guys like Gota. F…and S…, S, M. are some of the most prevelant words in every board room in powerful organizations (Business and others) in North America. You do not pretend to be you are holier than Pope.

      • Patriot

        Which gutter board room meetings do you attend that use vile language. You probably belong to the same tribe of uncouth ,vulgar nincompoops like this Gota, to defend this type of behaviour by an official of high standing.. Once a Medamulana Yakko , alaways an uncultured yako.

      • Ebenezer Thurairajah

        D.A.R.K Ho – Yes indeed!!.. all you need tgo do is read a rag like Lanka E News to see what language is being used there !

  3. vintage voter

    WELL IT IS A VERY CLEAR STATEMENT BY, HIGH PROFILE,RESPECTED CITIZENS. JUST STATEMENTS ALONE WILL NOT DO. WE NEED ACTION.
    THE PRESIDENT IS “POWERLESS” SINCE ALL THE POWER IS WITH THE TWO BROTHERS.
    NEVER IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNTRY HAVE WE WITNESSED THIS TYPE OF ARROGANCE AND CORRUPTION.
    ELECTIONS ARE USELESS AS THEY ARE MANIPULATED. IT HAS TO BE MASS UPRISING TO BRING DOWN THIS DICTATORIAL REGIME.. GREATER DICTATORS ARE NO MORE AND NOW PART OF HISTORY

    • Shamalie

      You are absolutely right Vintage Voter, but you may not be totally correct in your assumption that the Pres. is ‘powerless’. He is the Commander in Chief. He can reign in his brothers in no time, if he so wishes.

  4. Silva de Mervin

    Allowing siblings and off springs in politics brought disasters not only for them but the whole country.

    Iraq, Libiya, North Korea and many more in Africa seen it. Syria is going through it and Sri Lanka is following suit.

    Poor Lanka!

  5. Rabid Lokkah

    Dirty Dogs.. Shows the callibre and breed,,,A person in such a high position should be respectful and command authority by his decent behaviour..Not by uttter gutter language….excuse about this is acceptable language in the US???wonder what petrol station this fellow worked in…??

    • suren soysa

      Lokkah, you are “Rabid” alright & the caliber & breed is amply exposed! It was your petrol station man who was instrumental at the top, in eradicating Tamil terrorism of 32 years in Sri lanka which USA & the white west said repeatedly “Can not be overcome militarily”. You better find the pumping station & worship it morning & evening!!

      • suren,
        According to you, USA and white west said “cannot be overcome militarily”
        That is why your petrol station man aligned with Totalitarian regimes in China, Russia, Iran, Libya and others, to defeat LTTE. For his luck even India (having an agenda) joined in and because of India {so called largest democracy (?)} USA and the “whote west” too helped in the war.
        All of them ignored killing of innocents in the process.
        .

        • Ebenezer Thurairajah

          Justin..

          Yes, my heart is sad.. Even the LTTE joined in and created the conditions and fulfilled the preconditions to “destroy the innocents”

          I’m guessing you support that

      • tomsamusa

        Tamils claiming for their rights as citizens of the sinking lanka is NOT to called designated as terrorism except in the stinking lanka’s polotical circle purely to hood wink the then not interested civilised west.
        Fortunately, thanks to Channel 4 and other NGOs,satellite photos etc, world knows who the terrorists are!!!

        • Ebenezer Thurairajah

          tomsamusa… but anyone blowing up banks, hotels, twin-towers, airports etc ARE called “terrorists” and must be dealt with firmly
          Don’t you agree ? Being in the USA, you can see how they are dealing with terrorists on a daily basis

  6. randy mathew

    cant dress up a pig & bring it to the table—it will go back to the pigsty where it belongs. So it is with the notorious Rajapakses who do not belong to civil society but to thuggery, corruption & uncouth behaviour.

  7. gundappa

    By the same token let us arm our goondas with AK 47′s and send them on a rampage, shooting down those who oppose the views of the R’s

    Its doe on the streets of the USA

  8. Desilva

    WHY NOT ORGANISE A MASS UPRISING IN SRILANKA TO BRING THESE LUNATICS IN THE GOVERNMENT BACK TO SANITY?.

  9. D.A.R. K Ho

    Well, these very same guys and gals have promoted, blessed and have benefitted from the “Arrogance of Power” that exists in Sri Lanka in the past and tiday. These guys and gals, some drinking wine and others cheap arrack in their closeted lives are a bunch of real loosers. Tommorrow if MR or Gota invites them for a Tamasha or advisor post they will beat each other and dash to these so called powerful elites with their tails between the legs. shame shame and shame.

  10. Bruz

    These guys are too much. What we need is a courageous person to take some
    definitive action to stop this atrocious , unacceptable actions of one single adamant
    idiot. Some body with guts can do it. Wish we had any one with that kind of courage
    who can sacrifice something for the betterment of the nation. Elections are just useless
    Actions are only needed. Wish they were still here ! That’s the only remedy, if not,just
    go suffer for ever….!

  11. VICTOR

    SURPRISINGLY SOME PEOPLE STILL HAVE GUTTS COLLECTIVELY. MOST OF THEM LISTED ARE PRO.GOVERNMENT , AND NOT LTTE SYMPATHISERS. FRUITS OF JR’S CONSTITUTION FOR THOSE IN POWER. .

  12. Mahes

    Whatever criticism expressed about Gotabaya Rajapaksha’s behaviour or the present regime is like ” rain water falling on a bufflalo “.
    Reason is he is suppose to be a hero of the Singalese who with the support and blessing of his brother the president have brought down the uprising of tamils by massacaring the surrendered LTTE persons holding white flags and murdering many thousand innocent tamil civilians. His foul language is immaterial for the singala population. Rajapakshas are good buddhists. Murdering tamils is the main stay of this buddhist. They will not rest until whole of Sri Lanka is occupied by singala buddhist. Foul language is the sermon of buddhist Gotapaya the hero.

  13. Vis8

    Little do you frogs living in a well know that these same things happen in the USA also. If the president of the USA wants anything for his family, Airforce One or a F-16 fighter plane would be sent around the world to get what he wants.

  14. Sri

    Its time we all got used to this rule typical of Sri Lanka /American language.

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