Sri Lanka PM declares war on Derana over cat insult
ECONOMYNEXT – Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Saturday slammed the private Derana television network for allegedly insulting opera singer Kishani Jayasinghe by likening her to a "female cat deserving a stoning."
Wickremesinghe said he would summon owners of the Derana station to explain remarks by anchor Sanka Amarajith who suggested that singer Kishani Jayasinghe should be stoned for "distorting" the popular devotional song "Danno Buddhunge."
Amarajith, who reads newspaper headlines on his television channel, tried to inject life into his mundane program by playing Jayasinghe’s rendition for a full minute in a contrived attempt at drama to declare it "caterwauling by a female cat."
He used the Sinhala word "baelali" (cat) which many heard as "balli| (bitch). Whether he meant cat or bitch, the insult was the same. It was coupled with a suggestion that she was deliberately singing in the operatic style to have bricks thrown at her.
"It is inauspicious to hear a ‘baelali screaming’ and in our villages people usually throw a brick (to chase it away).," he said accusing her of distorting the "original song of local singing great Amaradeva.
For Derana’s Amarajith, Jayasinghe’s rendition was an affront to his Sinhala Buddhist culture and asked his viewers why the authorities had allowed his beloved song to be mauled.
Derana’s Amarajith may not have known that the song had been composed even before Amaradeva was born. There are reports that the song was composed in 1903 for the Sirisangabo play by John de Silva.
De Silva himself had been inspired by the music of Wilhelm Richard Wagner, a German composer. Many Christian schools in Sri Lanka had adopted the same music for their anthems before Amaradeva’s rendition.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s tiff with Derana goes back to the station’s alleged racist line which was criticised recently in parliament.
However, spokesman for the station said Sanka Amarajith has been suspended, and his statements did not reflect company policy.
The station also issued an apology to Jayasinghe and distanced itself from the theatrics of an ignoramus.
Wickremesinghe told a public meeting in Badulla on Saturday that electronic media could not use the airwaves to insult women who form 52 percent of the country’s population.
‘We can’t give a licence to a station that calls women balli (bitch)." he said. "They could have done this during the Rajapaksa regime, not anymore. We won’t allow dogs to get TV licences and do "balu weda" (things that dogs do.)"
(COLOMBO, Feb 13, 2016)