During the second term of the Rajapaksa Presidency when the nation witnessed racial violence erupt on the streets and the call arose from many quarters demanding the then government to ban Facebook forthwith, President Mahinda Rajapaksa nonchalantly shrugged it off and bluntly refused to do so. He had a good reason. In a move that [...]


Hi, long time no see on Facebook and why no hear on WhatsApp?


During the second term of the Rajapaksa Presidency when the nation witnessed racial violence erupt on the streets and the call arose from many quarters demanding the then government to ban Facebook forthwith, President Mahinda Rajapaksa nonchalantly shrugged it off and bluntly refused to do so. He had a good reason.

In a move that won him applause and covered him with a thousand lotus petals from thankful Facebook fans who had dreaded the prospect of their daily Facebook fix being denied them by official presidential fiat, President Rajapaksa then declared the reason why he would not decree a Facebook ban.

He calmed the nerves of those who feared the shakes of withdrawal symptoms visiting their faces with an involuntary twitch and a Parkinson tremble appearing on their hands, when he said: : Not to worry, I dare not ban Facebook. My sons will be up in arms against me if I did so. I will not be able to even stay at home in peace if I did so.”

What a pity that Daham Sirisena did not wield the same clout over his father Maithripala as Rajapaksa’s three musketeer sons — Namal, Yoshitha and Rohitha — exerted over their ‘appachchi’. Being the only son, perhaps he didn’t have the strength in numbers to coerce, cajole and convince his presidential sire that maybe using Facebook as a scapegoat upon which to pile all Lanka’s sins was really not the answer to douse all Lanka’s burning issues.

The questioned asked is: Was it an overblown reaction? The overkill?
True, what happened two weeks ago in the Kandy district was serious stuff; and no way could any responsible government have remained impotent and complacent or look askance to the unfolding drama that took place on the streets of Teldeniya and Digana and other areas of the Kandy district.

But was Facebook to blame? Or was it a lame duck excuse made by the Government to lay its own lapses upon Facebook’s social platform?
Let’s consider the Government’s stance on this matter.

FACEBOOK FIASCO: Social media platforms blamed for Govt's failures

The Government admits there was no spontaneous mass racist uprising waged against the Muslims but an organised, pre-planned, pre-meditated attack by some radical group to further the agenda of a still unidentified force.

Mercenary forces do not need Facebook hate speeches to do their worst. It is a case where money talks louder than hate venom. They march to the single drum of their paymasters and are not led or influenced by anything contained on Facebook.

As Amila Thera of the Purawasi Front said at a press conference last week, the vast majority of Sinhalese Buddhist shun violence and, like the Tamils, the Muslims and others are a peace loving lot. No Government need tell them to stay calm, to stay quiet, to remain in their homes, and not to indulge in violence and attack Muslims. That is true.

Does anyone think that merely because some warped mind posts a hate speech on his or her Facebook page, the rest of the Sinhalese would rush to draw their swords and go out to attack the first Muslim he finds? To think so would be an insult to the intelligence of the Sinhala people of this country who have elected this present president and government.

First how many have smart phones, how many are on Facebook and how many have swords tucked away in the closets to draw at a moment’s notice and wage war against the Muslims merely because of some hate speech posted on Facebook by some crank?
Is that the way the Government views the intelligence of the Sinhala masses? Or was Facebook used as just a facade to hide the shame of its own incompetence to anticipate the advent of violence well in advance — its own pathetic failure to rise at a time of a crisis and act to clamp down on it with all the resources at its command?

Its failure to use the armed forces at its command to quell the violence unleashed by a small-organised mob; and to pass the blame on to Facebook as the devil responsible for last week’s Kandy mayhem is, to all eyes, ears and senses, nothing but an indictment on the Government, not on Facebook: A cheap and shabby attempt to hide the nakedness of its revealed impotence behind a Facebook cloak. Cracking down on the social media, which is fast becoming the main forum to hear the voice of the people, be it right or be it wrong, has also set a very very dangerous precedent that can be used to threaten civil liberties and the right to free speech in the future.

Any future government can use this precedent to ban Facebook on the pretext of national security and national interest. The fact that the Government lifted the blockade on Thursday, with the Presidential Secretariat condescendingly announcing from its high horse that the president who was then in Japan, had given orders to the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka to immediately restore Facebook was not a gift bestowed to the people but the restoration of a fundamental right that had been violated on spurious grounds.

Facebook comments, after all, are nothing more than those made by folks standing on a soapbox at Hyde Park in London, where the freedom of speech belongs to the wild ass. Perhaps it’s because the powers that be tend to downgrade the Sinhala people’s intelligence and think that they can be led up the garden path even as the present leaders successfully led them at the last presidential and general elections to place faith in the promises made and vote for them, that has given them that crazy notion.

As Minister Lakshman Kiriella admitted last week, there had been a serious failure in the intelligence services to warn the Government of the sinister forces creeping beneath decaying leaves. If so, the people ask, who is responsible for the pathetic lapse of the intelligence apparatus?

Is it not the Government, the President, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet who must take collective responsibility for such failure if the intelligence apparatus under their sole command should fail to deliver the goods?

True, there is a whole lot of muck found in Facebook. But Facebook’s existence has given the common man and woman the platform to express his or her opinion for the world to read, discuss and debate. It’s the right of free speech the information technological revolution has brought in its wake and no government can stop it.

Even as a match can be used to light the stove to cook the family dinner, a match can also be use to set ablaze neighbouring homes. But that’s no reason to ban matches, is it?

In the run-up to the 2015 elections, Ranil Wickremesinghe declared that the coalition government, if elected, would never ban Facebook. He said that merely because certain things appear on its social platform, that is no reason to ban it.

He said: If we are elected, we shall never ban Facebook. It’s foolish to do so, For instance, if a boy and girl breaks up and the girl sends a letter to the boyfriend through the post saying the affair is over and that she is going to commit suicide and indeed goes and commits suicide, are we going to kill the postman, burn down the post office?”

Funny, isn’t it, that the Government went ahead and did something very akin to it last week?

One foot in Lanka, the other in Japan
Gnanasara Thera’s true patriotism revealed
The greatest living self proclaimed Sinhalese Buddhist patriotic monk, who has repeatedly sworn to lay down his life for the motherland vowing to fight to the death, if need be, to protect the Sinhala race from Muslim assault, the burly black boss of the Bodu Bala Sena outfit, Gnanasara Thera apparently has one foot in the land of the setting sun Lanka and the other foot planted in the land of the rising sun Japan.
And that is official.The secret only came to light when he was photographed at a function in Japan which the Lanka president was attending on his visit to Japan this week and the blush that it caused to be seen in such company, moved the Bodu Bala Sena acolytes to reveal the real hidden purpose of Gnanasara’s presence in Japan.


On Friday, the Chief Executive Officer Dilanthe Withanage of the Bodu Bala Sena company told the Daily Mirror Venerable Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera’s recent visit to Japan was not pre-planned or not aimed to coincide with the official visit of President Maithripala Sirisena.
It does not matter the least bit whether he was there in person to meet the Japanese Emperor or to hobnob with Sirisena at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo on Tuesday. More significant and more to the point is when the BBS Chief Executive Officer Dilanthe Withanage revealed the real purpose of the monk’s visit to Japan.

To renew his permanent resident visa in the land of the cherry blossom. Withanage said: “Ven. Gnanasara Thera planned to visit Japan for the renewal of his Resident Visa before the expiry of the due date.”

“Before he left for Japan he got permission from several courts where cases are pending to be heard and somehow the Thera had forgotten to get permission for a case that was to be heard on Thursday the 15th,”he said.

That was of course in reference to a judge issuing a warrant for his arrest for failure to turn up in court this Wednesday.
But neither did the judge know nor did the public know that the greatest living self proclaimed Sinhalese Buddhist patriotic monk, was in Japan to reconfirm his intention to be a permanent resident of Japan as required before one graduates to obtaining citizenship.

Well, good for him.
No wonder he sets ablaze this country with his anti-Muslim rhetoric for he has nothing to lose or fear. He has also ready planned his exit should things hot up.

Whilst the rest of Lanka will perish in the flames bigoted monk Gnanasara has so successfully lit with his racial torch of his own, with nowhere else to go but remain trapped on Lankan soil with no other land to call home and say ‘sayonara’ when laid beneath the Lion Flag in the green green grass of home.

Why hell hath no fury like a woman horned
February 22nd night on a lonely Teldeniya road in the Kandy district. The time: 2 am. A 42-year-old man is driving his lorry when he is repeatedly tooted by a three wheeler to give way. He refuses. He sticks to his ground. He has the bigger vehicle. And can see no real reason why he should yield his superiority and give way to a sprat of a Bajaj.

PISTOL PACKIN MAMA: Gun-toting Tharaka

But pride goes before a fall and the fuel in his lorry tank is fast running out. He is compelled to stop at the nearest filling station. And while his lorry is being refueled, four men in the snubbed three wheeler arrive to spill their anger to the full and to give him the works.

Ten days later the lorry driver lies dead on his hospital bed. And racial violence breaks out in Teldeniya, Digana and spreads to surrounding areas in Kandy. The Government is compelled to declare a state of emergency and to call in the troops to control the situation. The rest is history and need not be retold. All know of it, though some seem not to have learnt of the message it gives.

Friday, March 9th in broad daylight in Thalangama, Battaramulla. A full option luxury car momentarily halts in the middle of the busy road to turn to Odels fashion boutique. A bus with passengers aboard is behind it and the driver blows his horn repeatedly. Irked by the tooting, the driver of the car sticks to his guns and refuses to turn. Another report says that the car was parked near the Thalangama hospital occupying the space reserved for busses and that the bus driver blew his horn to park his bus. But no matter. The result is the same.

After repeatedly blowing his horn, the bus driver alights from his bus and approaches the stubborn car. He taps on the window. But when the glass pane on the door is rolled down, it is no cool air-conditioned air that he receives but a hot blast of uncontrollable ire.

A young woman gets out of the car. The man gets out from his driving seat. And hauls the bus driver who had horned so irritatingly to the pavement and proceeds to give him the works. The woman quickly brandishes a pistol warning spectators to keep their distance and not interfere while due punishment is meted out to the man who had dared blow his horn against a representative of the southern people.

It turns out that the man is a Southern provincial councilor, Kasun, the son of M.K. Ranjith, who had been a close aide to Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was known to have been a major underground figure until he was shot dead in Fort outside a bank 17 years ago by a rival gang.

His son Kasun and wife Tharaka continue to assault and batter the bus driver whilst the crowd watches the show. The scene is recorded on a cell phone and goes viral. Luckily it does not lead to racial violence. All parties are Sinhalese. And the spectators cannot but help feel sorry for the man. Not for the bus driver but for Kasum. If his wife Tharaka could assault an unknown stranger in so vicious a manner as recorded on tape merely because he tooted his horn, what will be the fate of Kasun if he dared to let out a pip squeak at home to earn his wife’s wrath? For hell hath no fury like a woman scorned or even horned.

Investigation officer Thalangama Police OIC Arjun Mahimkanda said: “Mr. Kasun represents the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and is the son of late Southern PC member M. K. Ranjith, a.k.a. Chandi Malli, who was a close supporter of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Chandi Malli was shot dead in front of the Bank of Ceylon York Street branch on May 25, 2003. He added that the councilor had a record of violent behaviour.

Investigations had also revealed that the revolver used during the altercation was registered to Provincial Councilor M. K. Kasun but its licence had expired as it had not been renewed for the current year. Police said though the revolver was not fired five bullets were left in the cylinder when it was taken into police custody as it was a common practice to keep one chamber empty, as there is no safety catch in the revolver.

JOINT EFFORT: Husband and wife duo in action on the streets

Today the couple sleep on separate mattresses, in separate sections in remand prison, all because someone tooted his horn. Even as the 42-year-old lorry driver is resting in peace in his graveyard bed all because someone blew his horn and he refused to give way.
Going by the present line of deduction as to the cause of all this violence, perhaps its horns in vehicles the Government should ban, not Facebook.

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