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
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.
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
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
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.'"
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
And they all had a good laugh over Hudson's