One of the most repulsive dimensions of Sri Lankan society is its propensity to manufacture lies and half-truths demeaning individuals and families. This type of malicious story-telling occurred in administrative and bureaucratic circles from early British times, being encouraged by the institutionalisation of the petition. While petitions could be formal signed documents, unsigned canards and slanders were often deployed by individuals seeking jobs with the target being potential competitors. Such practices must surely have been fostered by the propensity of decision-makers to take note of such machinations — so much so that kusu-kusufying became an item of Ceylonese English.
Slanders are not uncommon. Political struggles and elections generate a veritable avalanche of such activity. My experience of this phenomenon was at Peradeniya Campus in the late 50s when the term “canard” was widely used because it prevailed widely –often referring to tall slander tales which were presented as slander and laughed away or laughed about. the jocular usage camouflaged –up to a point –the fact of its existence as serious social undercurrent.
The ongoing Presidential election campaign has now seen Kumar Sangakkara deployed by some elements to place Mahinda Rajapaksa in bad odour — we will never know the source though there is one prominent muckraking politician in the Maithri camp who does come to mind. I received the tale from two sources (A) one entitled “RARE TRINITIAN!” from a Burgher friend in Australia who had received it as email from a Sri Lanlkan lady relative; and (B) a regular chain mail sender whose collective includes some staunch opponents of the Rajapkasa camp amidst others pro-Rajapaksa.
Kumar Sangakkara is an ecumenical Sri Lankan devoted to its multi-cultural and multi-ethnic diversity. He is committed to reconciliation. He has revealed this in his superlative and much-praised MCC speech in 2011 as well as the initiative taken by him and his wife in visiting St Patrick’s College Jaffna just after the World Cup was held in Lanka. The latter was an act of reconciliation of the utmost importance. Sri Lanka Cricket (with its Rajapaksa appointees) has — to my knowledge –being consolidating the use of cricket to build bridges in many ways — with Ravindra Pushpakumara as coach for the northern Province and the more recent innovation of turf wickets at select locations. Sangakkara and other cricketers have also been active and enthusiastic participants in the outreach reconciliation and bridge-building work of the FOUNDATION OF GOODNESS.
This includes the cricket matches known as the Murali Cup, which inturn led to the organisation of a multi-ethnic Under 19 team that went to play matches in Singapore for the Unity Cup and then toured the UK in summer 2014 under the emblem “Unity Team.” Sangakkara should not be demeaned in the manner attempted by the cunning politico-in-the-making who conceived this tale and purveyed it among willing listeners. While the kusu-kusu always has a devious spinner or a set of slanderers, its POWER derives in part from gullible ears.
ONE: Sangakkara’s Facebook rejection — from The Island, 25 Decmeber 2014, entitled “President never asked for my support, never offered me money – Sangakkara”
Renowned Sri Lanka cricketer and former national captain Kumar Sangakkara rejected certain social media reports saying that he was offered financial incentive by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to support him in his election campaign.
Sangakkara, in his personal Facebook page, said on Thursday that he was surprised as well as disappointed to hear such a story being circulated. His personal web post reaction on the said social media reports follows:
“I was very surprised and disappointed to hear of a story being circulated regarding His Excellency the President offering me money to support his election campaign. I would like to categorically confirm that at no time whatsoever have I been asked by the President in any manner to be a part of his political campaign. The allegation being circulated on social media claiming that I have been offered a financial incentive to support his election campaign is also completely untrue. These are just false stories concocted with malicious intent that are trying to use and abuse my name and I would like to request everyone to ignore them. Thanks, Sanga.”
TWO: “Rare TrinItian”
Kumar Sangakkara ,a cricketer of the rare breed of heroes and a gentleman to the finger tips proved what he is worth when he forthrightly and to the face of the Presidential candidate Mahinda Rajapakse said , he cannot support latter’s election campaign .What is most striking and significant to note is, Sangakkara had boldly and openly told this without any hesitation to Mahinda Rajapakse at Temple Trees , and had been able to walk out unharmed.
Sangakkara prior to his tour overseas was invited by Mahinda to Temple Trees who requested Sangakkara to extend his support to him at the upcoming elections. Sangakkara had however politely rejected the request. Mahinda had then requested Sangakkara to appear at least for an advertisement for him, which too he had declined. Mahinda had thereafter told him, as much as Rs. 2 to 3 billion! or any amount demanded can be paid to him in that regard, when Sangakkara had made it abundantly clear in no uncertain terms to Mahinda , he is playing cricket for the sake of the country, and not for political or monetary gains. So saying he has walked out of Temple Trees.
Honest honorable people do not survive only on food. They exist by inhaling the fragrant air of other qualities of honesty, integrity , humane qualities, self dignity and self honor. What Sangakkara proved is this truth, not before cameras, himself alone fearlessly and forthrightly, right before the so called omni-potentates at close quarters in their own palatial headquarters. It is that aforementioned fragrance Sangakkara spread to the entire country from his own lungs by his rectitude.
Indeed Sangakkara is a true hero par excellence. It is no easy task to become such a truly great hero. He has by his honorable conduct become a national icon instantly.
“Fans of different races, castes, ethnicities and religions who together celebrate their diversity by uniting for a common national cause. They are my foundation, they are my family. I will play my cricket for them. Their spirit is the true spirit of cricket. With me are all my people. I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am today, and always, proudly Sri Lankan” ….Kumar Sangakkara’s concluding sentences at his 2011 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture, 4 July 2011…. for which see http://www.scribd.com/doc/59318468/2011-MCC-Spirit-of-Cricket-Cowdrey-Lecture
ALSO REFER TO
* “Sanga’s ecumenical homily draws a revealing exchange between two Ordinary Blokes,” 5 March 2014, http://thuppahis.com/2014/05/06/%EF%BB%BFsangas-ecumenical-homily-draws-a-revealing-exchange-between-two-ordinary-blokes%EF%BB%BF/
* Andrew Fernando: “Sanga and Cricket spearhead paths of ecumenical Sri Lankan-ness in the north,” 4 November 2013. http://thuppahis.com/2013/11/04/sanga-and-cricket-spearhead-paths-of-ecumenical-sri-lankan-ness-in-the-north/
* “Sangakkaras visit St. Patrick’s College,” 12 April 20111, Jaffna http://thuppahis.com/2011/04/12/sangakkaras-visit-st-patricks-college-jaffna/
ALSO ON OTHER PATHS
* Roberts: “Mixed Messages and Dangerous Oversimplification in President Rajapaksa’s Independence Day Speech,” 13 February 2013, http://thuppahis.com/2013/02/13/mixed-messages-and-dangerous-oversimplification-in-president-rajapaksas-independence-day-speech/
* Roberts: “Roadblocks in the Path of Reconciliation in Lanka: Ideological Cancers within the Sinhala Universe,” 13 May 2014, http://thuppahis.com/2014/05/13/roadblocks-in-the-path-of-reconciliation-in-lanka-ideological-cancers-within-the-sinhala-universe/