In Memory of Lasantha Wickremetunge, incomparable. “Letter from Now”

In Memory of Lasantha Wickremetunge, incomparable. “Letter from Now”

In Memory of The Late Lasantha Wickremetunge. On his 15th Death Anniversary.

Letter From Now.
By Faraz Shauketaly

Darling Sinna,

Our Quest for Equity, Unity & Love

I thought of writing to you on the eve of the 15th death anniversary of our dear Lasantha Wickremetunge. I know we Sri Lankans are rather myopic and forever forgiving whilst forgetting. However, you do remember Lasantha do you not?

He was the Editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper. It is now no more after the grand plan for its demise was started back in the days of dear Mahinda. First, Lasantha was unlawfully killed in broad daylight not too far from a high security zone. There were missing books, missing pages, arrests, releases, threats to sue the owners, actual suits that didn’t quite get going and almost everything in-between. There was the wonderful (sad to say) posthumous editorial which went viral. There were posthumous awards too. What we have not had though is posthumous justice and accountability. You know what I am saying right Sinna?

I mean, just as much as we remember Lasantha – without justice for the 15th consecutive year – in which time we have seen Lassie’s kids traverse through life to adulthood without their dad, we also remember the mothers in the former conflict areas. We remember those who are continuing their protest even if over 2,000 plus consecutive days have gone by. I mean I am waiting for our effervescent Dhammika to tell us if that is a world record for the longest ever on-going protest. Will the Editors of the Guinness book of World Records venture into Colombo with its minimum rates at hotels, to check it all out? Will the trains be running towards Jaffna by then? Or will the Guinness crew have to turn to PickMe, Uber or Mallawarachchi to travel there? As importantly will they have eggs to go atop their toast? Or will masala dosai suffice? Will Fox have diesel to power the gensets? These and more are the challenges.

So Sinna, after 75 years of the greens the blues and the in between, we ended up in the bankruptcy bin, right? So shall we gamble with AKD & Co and give them a ‘go’!!

We can’t get much worse than this? The capital markets are down, there really is no real FDI, we will have to wait years before the port city gives us any benefit worth writing about and honestly to handle the 5 million tourists, first we will need readily available eggs for starters?

The tourist transport services will need upgrading etc. etc. and all the time we are talking of power cuts or potential thereof, which means uncertainty.

Really will Herr Wolfgang and his compatriots and the Mr. and Mrs. Browns of this world and even the Singhs and Patels and even the LGBTQI+ community – Will anybody contemplate visiting Sri Lanka in greater numbers when our businesses are facing such severe challenges. We need to fix corruption and the rule of law no matter whether they are dancing partners or classmates or associates of senior politicians. As our Barack Obama once told the OAU, ‘The Law is The Law Is The Law’. Dear Maxwell always pointed that out before we went on air.

Look how dysfunctional we are: our Supreme Court has given an order naming our acting Police Chief of having been involved in torture; custodial deaths appear more common than they are rare, and we believe that we have turned the corner? It depends which corner we have turned at. Those who walk the talk are rare. In Lasantha we lost a rarity. He was friends with Mahinda. He had a great relationship with Ranil. He was undoubtedly killed. What a shame, dear Sinna, for all of us living in this paradisian isle, that despite all the geeks and so on, we simply have not held anyone accountable. His brother Lal, his kids, his wife all wait.

Just as much as our frustrations led to the birth of Aragalaya, let our aspirations to be a nation where equity unity and love dominate our every day. Sinna, let it dominate our every waking moment.

Let us be – let us aspire to be – the must come to nation, not just for our sun, sand, leopards and lobster, and Coconut Hill too, but also for opportunity, for balance and as a country where the world’s better brands are proud to manufacture their products.

Sinna, thamby, malli, Bro, dude, mate – whoever you are wherever you are, even if you have been de-facto thrown out of Sri Lanka because Amma and Gopi can’t afford to buy eggs, onions, rice and even if Aviya can’t afford to put kerosene to go out to sea and net a few sprats, and even if Hashan struggles to collect more than double the amount the Foreign Employment website says, just so he can go to Romania and earn Rs 150,000 a month, even if you are cold, replenishing the shelves at Tesco, Lidl or Aldi or simply at the corner shop, sending Sterling, Euros or Biden’s Dollars, or the petro-dollars from the land made famous by Ahmad Zaki Yamani and made infamous by MBS and Khashoggi in Turkey, we are what we are, first and foremost: Sri Lankan.

Perhaps, as we remember Lasantha – after the two burials – and fifteen years, perhaps it’s time to make that teeny weeny change for the better? Like an honest Top Cop? Just for starters. Greater things could follow.

I will write again Sinna, soon as you Signal me your thoughts. Don’t SMS as Moneypenny will have the transcript before you finish reading this,

God bless you.

Faraz – the man with the Braces