President Sirisena killed our democratic aspirations - Sharmini Serasinghe

President Sirisena killed our democratic aspirations - Sharmini Serasinghe

30 December 2018 07:22 am

Do you wish to get in to active politics? NO, NO and NO!

1) Most of the Sri Lankans recognized you as a media expert. Can you tell us more about your media career

35 years’ experience in Journalism, Communications & Professional Writing, including 20 years in Radio & Television (English) as a News Reader, Interviewer, Programme Presenter, Commentator, Moderator, Producer, Director, Script Writer & News Editor

· I also have extensive experience as a Trainer in Public Speaking, Contributor of articles to magazines and newspapers both local and foreign, Sub-Editor, Compere, Communications including Corporate Communications, as a Ghostwriter for public speakers and as an Ambassador for Journalism & Public Relations

· As an Interviewer for television, I have had the privilege of interviewing Heads of State including President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of the Maldives, Academics, Scientists, Artistes, Business Tycoons etc. (for the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation)

· As a Programme Presenter, Commentator & Moderator I have participated in innumerable programmes for the State Television including live national events such as all three SAARC Summits hosted by Sri Lanka, Independence Day celebrations and other National events, TV Feature and Magazine programmes, CNN World Report (for the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation & Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation)

· As a Producer& Director I have produced innumerable feature and magazine programmes including the pioneer business programme on Sri Lankan TV- ‘Business Matters’ and the travel programme ‘Discover Sri Lanka’ (for the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation), Corporate & Company profiles and the CNN World report

· As a Script Writer I have scripted the programmes I have produced and directed for radio and TV, including Corporate & Company profiles, as well as the CNN World report (as Sharmini Ratnatunga)

· As a Writer my articles and letters have been published in both local and foreign newspapers, websites and the magazine Frontline.

· As a Compere I have participated in innumerable National, Private and Corporate events

· In Communications both in the private and public sectors as Manager Corporate Communications (Virtusa) and Director Communications (SCOPP) I gained invaluable experience in Public & Media Relations locally and internationally

· As a Ghostwriter for public speakers I have written speeches for politicians and other high profile figures

· As an Ambassador for Journalism & Public Relations I have travelled extensively, especially in Europe

2) What made this dramatic transformation ; being a media expert to a political activist?

It was during my tenure as Director Communications of the Government Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace process (SCOPP) which came directly under the purview of the Executive President of Sri Lanka. I joined SCOPP when the former UN Secretary General for Disarmament Jayantha Dhanapala was the SCOPP Secretary General in 2004. In 2005, the Rajapaksa regime took over ad appointed one of their lackeys, Palitha Kohona as Secretary General. Thereafter, SCOPP was invaded by more Rajapaksa lackeys.

Being privy to the inner workings of the Rajapaksa regime, which the general public nor the independent media were unaware of, i.e. propagation of racism, bigotry, blatantly squandering the tax payers money on anything and everything that took their fancy and the branding of the 'Sinhala-Buddhist' label as a superior race to intimidate our fellow Sri Lankans of the minority ethnic groups, made me sick to the core of my stomach. As a Sri Lankan of Sinhalese ethnicity and an ardent follower of the Dhamma, the misuse of this ethnoreligious 'Sinhala-Buddhist' label was an insult to sincere Buddhists of Sri Lanka like myself.

You will find more details on the above, in the Foreword written by Daleena Samara in my book, 'Sri Lanka - The Elusive Miracle of Asia'.

3) Your recent statement on the president's breech of trust made a huge impact. Why did you make such a statement in public ? What ignited it ?

I am a person who interacts very closely with the less fortunate fellow Sri Lankans not just in Colombo but all parts of Sri Lanka. Especially down South. These people include three wheeler and cab drivers and since I travel outstation only by train, I also get a chance to speak with my fellow passengers very often.

As a person who always sympathized with the voiceless and faceless fellow Sri Lankans their frustrations with every government in power which promises them the sun, moon and the stars on campaign platforms and forgotten soon after an election is over, really affected and got to me. I felt hopeless and useless. That is what ignited me into making that speech.

3 a ; In what way did the President kill democratic aspirations of the public?

That's very obvious, isn't it?

4) In your speech you sounded very disappointed in him . Did you support Mr M Sirisena when he contested against MR ?

Yes. In fact I would have voted even for a donkey had one been nominated instead of Sirisena, simply to get rid of the megalomaniacal Rajapaksas. Sirisena was a political non entity as far as all those of us 6.25 million who voted for him were concerned. Yet, we voted for him anyway, simply to be rid of the Rajapaksa tyranny.

5) What do you think of the current political situation in Sri Lanka ?

It is definitely a relief compared to the drama we all had to endure after the 26th of October. But those of us who screamed ourselves hoarse for Democracy to be restored feel utterly let down by Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe. Assigning his ancient stooges and crooks to prominent Cabinet portfolios instead of to the younger, honest and decent MPs of the UNP, was a slap in the face for all of us. Ranil Wickramasinghe has broken the trust the few of us had in him, and that is going to be his downfall.

If a third political force doesn’t emerge in the near future, Ranil Wickramasinghe will be handing the country back on a platter to the megalomaniacal Rajapaksas at the next election.

6) What should be done to promote democracy and human rights in Sr Lanka ?

Educate the masses about their Rights in a Democracy and ensure they make use of those Rights. And that is precisely why I have joined hands with Nagananda Kodituwakku to do. We are not interested in joining or starting a new political party. That's NOT our goal and mission. We are those who have risen to stand up on behalf of the faceless and voiceless Sri Lankan masses of ALL ethnic groups and religions.

7) Do you wish to get in to active politics ?

NO, NO and NO!

8) What are your future plans to fight against corruption and abuse of power in SL?

You will find out soon enough.
As far as the voters of Sri Lanka are concerned, the 'apala kaley' that has been hanging over Sri Lanka over the past 70 years is now over. But, it has only just begun for Politicians of ALL existing political parties.

- Interviewed by Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge