Darshani Ratnawalli, whose title was “Ranil chews a Deutsch man” ….. ….. the reference being to the German journalist representing DEUTSCHE WELLE ++
All the people writing සිංහල හෑලි (rants in Sinhala) about Ranil’s meltdown with the Deutsch journalist…………….have you tried transcribing the shouting parts, in order to find out critically what really made the prez blow his top? What were the inanities, stupidities and the tired old cliche questions which signalled to Ranil that it was ok to give the “lackey treatment” to the Deutsch man – that cutting of the presidential eyes to the side as if looking at an imaginary chief of staff to ask “කවුද මේ මිනිහට වලව්වට එන්න දුන්නෙ?”. Ranil is equal: he treats Dilka of Derana, the Archaeological Commissioner and a Deutsch man in the same supercilious way; as though they were his lackeys. When he can give the perceived lackeys the same courtesy as he gives July Chung, he will have learnt etiquette, the etiquette which would have come naturally to him if he was of the best bred stock.
Only, etiquette is made by the players in a particular arena and the current etiquette governing dealings between statesmen and journalists does not put too much emphasis towards courtesy and respect towards journalists. Watching India’s Jaishankar, Russia’s Putin and other smooth state players dealing with foreign correspondents, one realises that being dismissive, supercilious and patronising towards journalists, treating them like incompetents who haven’t done their homework, acting bored and disgusted with their lack of brains and insights, ridiculing them, showing belligerence towards them constitute a form of diplomatic tool that states use in advancing their point of view and brand name in the world stage. For example, in one related video youtube throws up in companionship to Ranil’s Deutschman chewing video, India’s Jaishankar interrupts a Pakistani journalist in a pre-question spiel about what Hina Rabbani Khar (Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs minister) said and curtly tells him to please cut to the question. And it seems to be a matter of national pride for India that Jaishankar is belligerent, confrontational and scathing towards foreign journos who ask probing questions about India’s involvement in the killing of those Sikhs in Canada. Putin too seems widely admired for his tough word play with foreign journalists.
Here’s my point; the authors of Sinhala rants expressing shocked indignation and sanctimonious disapproval about Ranil’s treatment of the Deutsch journalist may be naive and lack savvy in international relations. Moreover, here is a surprising thing; some of these folk now affecting wellbred distaste at the verbal disrespect to the Deutsch journalist was approving and admiring of Ranil when he chewed the Archaeological Commissioner, which points to an unlovely awe of a Western journalist. In this interesting backdrop, I thought of analysing the interviewer’s questions and evaluating Ranil’s responses.Could he have done better? Did he use the full scope of the interview to achieve a diplomatic triumph for Sri Lanka? Let us see.
AND NOTE that a Burgher gentleman in Australia communicating under the pseudonym “Equinox1949” (an erudite cover don’t you think?) had this to say about the interview-in-duel: “loved every minute of it. A smart arse journalist put in his place.”
The German journalist in this episode was/is Martin Gak