Writer says ‘wanted to find out how it is possible for a person to remain that popular even after electoral defeat’
If you want to look at the world of politics in a totally different perspective, Rajapaksa the Sinhala Selfie, and ‘83 Daruwo, will help you in your quest.
The launching of the book Rajapaksa: The Sinhala Selfie was held on September 12, at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) with the participation of key figures in journalism and former Chief Justice C.V Wigneswaran. Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council C.V. Wigneswaran was the Chief Guest.
Kusal Perera, a veteran journalist and columnist, who contributes to both the Sinhalese and English newspapers, explained how he was inspired to write the book, what he calls a ‘personal narrative’.
There is no space for critical thinking in today’s society, where emotion driven media decides what reality should be like -Krishan
The foremost amongst the reasons, according to Kusal, is the formidable Political will and character of the former President, who still remains a formidable personality with a considerable influence over the actions of the incumbent Government.
“I wanted to find out how it is possible for a person to remain that popular even after electoral defeat,” Kusal said.
He stated that he first started writing the book a month or two after the conclusion of the war. He resumed writing after the Presidential Election in 2010, stopped writing again, finally resolving to finish it in 2015 January, with the electoral results, because, to quote Kusal “This is a man that can bounce back!”
However, Kusal says that the book is not all or only about Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The book goes 40-50 years back in Sri Lankan political history, all the while trying to untangle hidden layers, which are intertwined.
Talking about the book, Justice Wigneswaran explained his understanding of the title of the book in his speech.
“A selfie is one’s own photograph. When Mahinda Rajapaksa takes one he sees not Rajapaksa but a representational Sinhala persona.”
He also reminisced about his experiences with the former President, and about requests he had made as the Chief Minister in his official capacity.
“I believe none of the ten requests made by me were fulfilled even though he studiously undertook to look into them favourably. Such is the Sinhala Selfie,” he said.
“It is a timely publication. Though the book is titled Mahinda the Sinhala Selfie, it is full of historical facts of the recent past, which traces the steps that led to the armed rebellion,” he said.
Krishan Siriwardhana, the Editor of the ‘83 Daruwo (Children of ’83), and a guest lecturer of the University of Colombo, in his speech about ‘83 Daruwo said that today’s society was a post-truth society, where the line between reality and fiction is blurred. “There is no space for critical thinking in today’s society, where emotion-driven media decides what reality should be like,” he stated.
Talking about the contents of the book, he explained that it contained a collection of stories covering a variety of socio-political topics.
“The book explains how, even though to the children born after 1983 the world has turned into a global village due to social media and internet, they are shareholders in spreading racism and separation,” he noted.
Talking about the role that social media plays in promoting discrimination in society he added:
“I recently saw a Facebook Page tilted Embilipitiye Api. Today’s social media, instead of breaking boundaries, creates more boundaries inside the ones that are already there, further dividing society into smaller and smaller groups.”
Today’s society was a post-truth society, where the line between reality and fiction is blurred
“By reading this book, you do not have to agree with everything that Kusal is saying. But in it, we are presented with the view of a man who does not discriminate against race or ethnicity,” Krishan said.