World Affairs







 This is Paradise


So that was the news

The news reader stopped in mid-sentence. He looked puzzled. He pressed the earpiece firmly into his ear and listened intently. Then he looked agitated. Obviously he did not like what he heard. Then he spoke.

"This is the Dooshana Vahini Corporation. We interrupt this news programme to say there will be no more news tonight. We have just been instructed to stop the newscast. Don't ask me why, ask the chairman or whoever. Good night."

The news reader faded into the sunset or wherever he usually fades to. As he disappeared from the screen, the station broke into martial music. The strains of Wagnerian music were decidedly appropriate in these martial days when we are engaged in a war of words with everybody from the head of UNESCO to the Emir of Dubai and the departing Dominic Chilcott.

New experience

But whoever heard of a news channel suddenly ending its programme in mid-sentence on the orders of some one whose name the viewers were not even told and for reasons they did not know either.

Hardly had the newscast ended abruptly last Thursday when Dooshana Vahini's telephone exchange was clogged with incoming calls from irate viewers whose choice of language had better be kept out of this family newspaper, except to say that most of it must have been picked up at Mariakade or what has now come to be called Mervynitis. In the evolution of language, Mariakade would be to Mervynities what Chaucerian English would be to the Daily Noise.

To say that the huge number of calls that blocked the station's telephone lines shocked Dooshana Vahini's administrators would be an understatement of unprecedented proportions.

Unprecedented audience

Never in the recent history of Dooshana had so many of our citizens appear to have been tuned on to its news channel. As anybody who has taken the trouble to tune into Dooshana Vahini or has even done so accidentally, know only too well that it has never been the public's favourite though politicians who see their mugs on the screen think they are either Brad Pitt or John Travolta.

The trouble is there is no news in its newscasts. In the bad old days of the Soviet Union when dictators from Joe Stalin to Leonid Brezhnev ran that gulag that extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans there used to be a joke about the print media in Moscow. They used to say that Pravda ("the truth") had no truth and Izvestia ("news") had no news.

Sadly Dooshana Vahini had neither or, to be charitable, should we say a bit of both.  

So when for the first time in its recent existence the station telecast in actual time a demonstration of sheer anger and disgust by employees of the very same TV station, some spoil sport from high up in the political totem called the honchos who run the place and told them to stop the telecast.

Media geeks

No wonder these chaps who think they are the bright sparks in our political firmament cannot get their publicity act together. If we are having a bad press around the world it is because the so-called media geeks who advice their political masters don't know the first thing about getting a couple of column inches in the print media and a few minutes in the electronic.

Here was an absolute scoop for Dooshana Vahini, an incident on its own doorstep, in a manner of speaking. It is said by those around that a political loose mouth and his thugs were corralled by angry employees after one of the political minions tried to manhandle or actually did, a person holding a responsible position in the TV station.

Those who fielded some of the hundreds of telephone calls that poured into the station that night said an angry public asked some very pertinent questions. Those who are afraid to ask similar questions in public because of the climate of fear that envelops the country used the occasion to do so by telephone.

Same treatment

One question that kept repeating itself like an old record stuck in a groove was why a persistent political thug was not treated in the only manner he truly understands.

Another question was why the live telecast of the happening was abruptly cut when a public starved of entertainment was enjoying every moment, seeing a man who has been throwing his weight and fists around getting his just desserts.

In fact had the live telecasts continued a little longer it was more likely that there would have been a greater appreciation of what Mahinda Rajapakse is trying to do to other thugs who are trying to terrorise the people of this country.

The fact that the country, or most of it that had the fortune to see it on TV, rejoiced at the embarrassment dealt out to a self proclaimed descendent of Dutugemunu does not do much good to the image of King Dutugemunu.

Now, in the corridors of Dooshana Vahini where artistes rub shoulders each day they have already written a lyric that starts "Guti kewunu Dutugemunu.."                                                 

To admit the truth I have not heard it sung but from what I hear it is set to a lively baila beat that should be as popular as those I Don't Know Why songs that ridiculed the political peccadilloes of our politicians in very recent times.

Another song

Apparently another song is in the making or should we say in the words of the mechanical geniuses that brought many things into this world, the prototype is ready.

According to our spies at Dooshana Vahini, the lyrics which have just been set to music goes like this: "Mala keliyak wu ney aney/ Boru dostharayata dunna vadey."

Those in the know say this would not be the end of this disgraceful episode. Those who know the criminal world of thugs and thuggery believe that some of the employees of the TV station who were caught up in the melee had better keep looking over their shoulders for the next few weeks or months.

Who knows, they say, from where these denizens of the nether world will descend on the innocent and the non- belligerent.

But one thing is certain. If those who rule this country do not leash their neanderthals within their ranks very, very soon, when they need public support in the future, it might not be forthcoming.

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