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World Affairs







 This is Paradise


That killing instinct

Who in heaven's name does he think he is? Is he assuming the roles of judge, jury and executioner all rolled into one? Or is he trying to sing from the same song sheet as some in this administration now that he has found himself a government job?

These questions surely have occurred not just to persons in the media but also to those in the man's former political party and to the dispassionate public which are disgusted up to their gills with such political somersaulters.

If Hudson Samarasinghe, the new head of the Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation did say what he is reported to have said during a morning radio talk show on June 8 he should be ostracized by the media and treated like a media pariah.

Mariakade language

Having listened to him on his Sinhala talk show programme along with Shan Wickremesinghe, the boss of TNL, one begins to wonder at his use of language in attacking people and policies.

They used to refer to language that should and was never heard of in respectable company as "Mariakade language." It would appear that Samarasinghe could even sink lower than that and make comments on matters that he was not adequately acquainted with thus giving the media as a whole a bad name.

If this is the same Hudson Samarasinghe who was in the UNP and had been picked by President Premadasa to sing the praises of the party, he now finds himself in a strange political bed.

That is nothing new in Sri Lankan politics in the last 60 years. If ever they write epitaphs to our politicians many of them will end up with the slogan "Here today, gone tomorrow." Such is the political leapfrogging that the public has been accustomed to.

Samarasinghe however is a special case. He seems to have learned the art of doing propaganda for both sides, after all that is what the SLBC is expected to do by whichever government comes to power. He is a Goebbels for all seasons.

Singing for his supper

Even that might be excused if Samarasinghe is looking for more than just a job but some prestige to go along with it.

That however does not in any way excuse his radio show attack on Lake House journalist Poddala Jayantha who is also the general secretary of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association (SLWJA).

Let the media release by the Free Media Movement speak on this occasion because this was the talking point when the habitu‚s of Paradise Club met at our favourite watering hole one evening last week.

The FMM, to use the abbreviation for the organisation, said that Hudson Samarasinghe had "called for the death of senior journalist Poddala Jayantha. This outrageous incitement to murder and violence by Hudson Samarasinghe was made on June 8 during a breakfast radio talk show."

"Attacking an interview given by Poddala Jayantha on war reporting to a weekend newspaper, Hudson Samarasinghe is on public record as saying:

'Poddala Jayantha, what do you know about the media, you rascal? Do not sell the war for a living, you bastard. Will you provide for the children after bombs go off? Remember one thing. The people will do what is necessary. Do not be a traitor.'"

Third degree

Those are the words purportedly uttered by Hudson Samarasinghe, in translation. Whether it is an accurate translation or at least an approximate version of what he said I cannot know because I did not listen to that particular show.

But I have listened to others hosted by Samarasinghe and his language and his utterances were certainly not what I as a journalist for a newspaper would use in a medium that is available to the family as a whole.

The FMM went on to say that "this venomous blather continued for over 10 minutes. Speaking in the same manner, Hudson Samarasinghe also attacked the BBC Sinhala Service's Colombo reporter Elmo Fernando."

Samarasinghe reportedly said: "I tell BBC do not poke your fingers into our affairs. I am telling you decisively, remember this is the last warning, this is the last time I tell you."

Says the FMM: "Hudson Samarasinghe has for some time now used this programme to level vicious attacks to (sic!) journalists, civil society leaders and trade unionists.. In attempting to even suggest that Hudson Samarasinghe has a right to say what he wants to, the Rajapakse administration significantly aids the growth of hate speech and is directly culpable in violence directed against journalists."

Kosala "The Fixer" Kehelmala, that man about town with his fingers in several pies, set the ball rolling.

"Did you guys read about that loud mouth called Hudson Samarasinghe," asked he, sipping his usual whisky on the rocks.

Rock above the neck

"You mean that chap who thinks he is some kind of Rock Hudson," asked Dr. Ananda (Andy to the foreign NGOs) Ansabage.

"Well the only thing rock about him seems to be above the neck, no," interjected Wendy van Rinderpest, one time beauty but still a cutie, taking a gulp of her double distilled.

"I don't know about this Rock Hudson part, but he is becoming a real pain in the posterior," replied Kehelmala.

"Why what has he done this time?" asked Ravi Rateveddah, a former UNP MP for Nadagama. "He was one of the chief pandankarayas of Premadasa and later he lost whatever little political clout he had."

"But I thought that A.J. Ranasinghe was the joker in the pack. He was such a Premadasa acolyte he once said he would even make soup out of Premadasa's slippers and drink it. Heaven only knows whether he said it. But from that day he was known as Serappu Soup."

"Well as you know there is more than one joker in a pack," quipped the mild mannered Para Pathiam, the mathematician from Mannar.

"Actually, I read the FMM statement very carefully. As a journalist

Who is Hudson?

"I was intrigued by a couple of points in it which quotes some of Hudson's remarks. Firstly who the hell is this Samarasinghe to ask the other guy what he knows about the media? What the hell does this Samarasinghe fellow know except that he played the fool to Premadasa's king. Just because he appears on some state radio talk show that is an hour or so of abrasive criticism by a self-acclaimed know-all, the 'show' is hardly an intelligent analysis of events raised by the public but a hourly harangue."

"Pachoris is quite right. This Hudson fellow was hardly known in respected media circles. So how come he sets himself up as the leading 'pontificator' of the media? That is not all. If Hudson called the other journalist a bastard as reported then he must be privy to information that the public is not aware of. So why does not this loud mouth try to justify such a damaging statement publicly and face the consequences," argued Pandu Pusvedilla of the Notorious Peace Committee.

"You wouldn't expect him to do that, would you Pandu. In any case what has such a preposterous allegation have to do with Jayantha's capabilities as a journalist? Nothing and that is just the type of silly argument Samarasinghe uses in his radio show," added Ravi Ratevedda.

"Is it by using the same language as some in the administration, words like traitor, that he has got himself this new job?" asked Mabel Manasgathe.


"I suppose so. What does this fellow mean by saying the people will do what is necessary? Why the people, why not Samarasinghe himself. The fellow is such a coward that he is trying to pin on the people what he does not have the courage to do. It is not the people who attack and threaten journalists but bankrupt politicians like Mervyn Silva and his thugs," remarked Kandiah Vinasapathi, formerly of the Civil Service.

"Hudson even threatens the local BBC Sinhala Service reporter. Such vebal thuggery is to be expected from a media mediocrity. But what is galling is the sheer self importance of this man. 'I tell the BBC,' he says and then adds that 'this is the last time I tell you.' Who the hell does he think he is, some sort of demi-god?" I said.

"How funny all this would be, if it was not so serious! Hudson Samarasinghe warns the BBC not to poke its fingers into our affairs. But who runs to the BBC to be interviewed but our ministers and our Central Bank governor.

"The governor even complained when some interview tape was lost. If this government had any sense it will take Samarasinghe on a long flight and drop him in the Hudson River. The only problem is that there are laws against pollution," Kelly Kankendiri of the Californian think tank said with a laugh.

And they all had a good laugh over Hudson's loose (e)motions.  

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