13 May 2015

Gota and ‘virality’

'I had nothing to do with this,' Gota says.  Went viral, nevertheless.  
There was a photo of former Secretary, Defence Ministry, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa with a caption that heavily borrows from the late Singaporean leader Lee Kwan Yew.   

‘I have no regrets. I have spent my life, so much of it, building up the capital of this country.  There’s nothing more that I need to do.  At the end of the day, what have I got?  A beautiful Colombo.  A safe Sri Lanka.  What have I given up?  My life.’

The picture with the quote is reported to have gone viral over social media.  Some who shared obviously adores the man, and some who did and did so with comment hates him.  Both types of ‘sharers’ have reason to be embarrassed.  Gotabhaya has said that it’s not his doing. 

This is the issue with social media.  You can morph, splice, photoshop, mis-quote, tag, put words in the mouths of those you adore and those you hate and do all kinds of things without any sense of responsibility.  Gota’s denial takes the air out of the airbags but no doubt they will come back with something else soon.  Gota, to his credit, has remained unfazed and even made a wry comment that in the very least shows that he has his wits about him even in these trying times of arrest-talk and preempt-arrest efforts.  He said, ‘If people can quote Lord Buddha, why can’t people quote Lee Kwan Yew?’

In other words quoting is ok, but misquoting though it’s not ok is not something you can do much about.  Gota has used the opportunity to rubbish talk of him joining the Bodu Bala Sena: ‘See, that is also a lie that someone has told. We hear about thieves everywhere and likewise we hear lies from everywhere (Horu horu horu wage boru boru boru).

Whether everything that is said about Gota is a lie and whether charges of corruption or any kind of wrongdoing are unfounded, we do not know.  We cannot judge before judgment is passed, however; we can’t do that and at the same time brag that we are in ‘yahapaalana mode’.  If things are to be different then you can’t hang a man before he is subjected to a fair trial.  That’s basic. 

To get back to the Lee Kwan Yew quote, Gota can make a similar claim if he wants to.  He did a lot to make Sri Lanka safe.  He also made Colombo beautiful.  Sure, a manifest reality of constitutional feudalism helped, but the fact remains that he got stuff done that others couldn’t even dream of doing. 

That does not let him off the hook.  Ninety nine kind acts do not earn anyone the right to do be unkind just once.  The law doesn’t work that way.  The spirit of justice does not sit well with such thinking.   However, antics in social media and action that smacks of witch hunting and political revenge, does not help the judges.  These as well as selectivity in the business of punishing wrongdoers can very well compromise the process of delivering justice.   

In the end, happily or unhappily, we are reduced to asking for good sense, responsibility and non-interference (directly or indirectly) in these processes.  If this is ‘transition period’, there will be teething problems, but there’s only so much toothache that’s ‘natural’.   Go overboard and it’s not just an image with a mis-quote that can go viral.  Confusion and anarchy can very well come up through the cracks.  Asking for democracy and justice is easy.  Ensuring these things requires everyone to be responsible.  Things don’t look too good right now though.   We have a mischief-maker sending things viral.  There are other mischief-makers making mischief or readying to do so.  Posts such as ‘this is a hoax’ supported by solid evidence on the other hand get footnoted. 


Gota has come out on top.  We don’t know if these moves in social media helped or detracted.  They are unnecessary unless they come with a disclaimer such as ‘this is purely for fun, folks…just laugh’.  That much we can conclude.  
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4 comments:

Shantha Bandara said...

Unfortunately while I too salute Gota for his positive contributions , the writer of this article fails to note how Gota has behaved during the time he had unbridled power with courts at the disposal of the powers that be - how people like SF were treated - How he ruthlessly laughed off even the mention of Lasantha Wickrematunga , how he threatened journalists -
Perhaps the writer , rather than treating with kid gloves the nationalist faction as he always does , he should highlight the fact at least under Yahapalanaya , the Courts seem to be free of interference as evinced by recent spate of judgments including one regarding Gota.

I'm sure the writer would take a moment to reflect on this as his paper was NOT anyway owned through proxies by VVIPs of the previous regime , nor does he stands to gain if those VVIP s return to power :)

Malinda Seneviratne said...

you are correct for the most part shantha. this post however is but a short comment on a specific matter. i am not too sure of 'non-interference'. right now what is apparent is selectivity. that indicates tweaking from the top. papers always have owners. have not gained anything undeserved, ever. was offered lake house editorships many times. refused. the same offer was made by this regime too. refused.

Malinda Seneviratne said...

you are correct for the most part shantha. this post however is but a short comment on a specific matter. i am not too sure of 'non-interference'. right now what is apparent is selectivity. that indicates tweaking from the top. papers always have owners. have not gained anything undeserved, ever. was offered lake house editorships many times. refused. the same offer was made by this regime too. refused.

Anonymous said...

Shantha Bandara,

You should also ask why the Yaha Palanaya regime did not investigate Lasantha's murder. Could it be because right after the murder happened, UNP had accused SF (who wasn't their champion at the time) for it and now know enough to not dig something that would not be in their favour? If Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the suspect, why didn't they investigate?

As for how SF was treated, you should also ask questions about how SF was making official requests to give evidence to US homeland security about the Sri Lankan war, AFTER he had unofficially given damaging statements and evidence about the last few days of combat where he wasn't commanding - which, many believe is the root cause for the West being able to push Sri Lanka hard with an aim to get what they want.