The phrase ‘Cough up a Port’ held the essence of the New York Times story. It compacted the global perception of the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port and its progression to date, into the finite space of the simple phrase – Sri Lanka coughed up a port to China.
The ‘cough’ metaphor made Mahinda Rajapaksa acolytes puke an unbelievable quantity of vitriol and venom at two Sri Lankan journalists who professionally assisted the NYT journalist to carry out her assignment in the form of logistical support and background material.
Reasonable minds are baffled by the incendiary indignation and obsessional opprobrium manufactured and vented out by the former President and his substantial support base.
The Rajapaksa corporate megalith has no patience with a vibrant Free Press. Brother Gotabaya demonstrated how the press can be tamed. He took The Sunday Leader to court. The litigation dragged on until the publisher was forced to sell the outfit that was being sued for billions in damages. The buyer, of Wickrematunge’s staunchly anti-Government newspaper was a close associate of the former ruling family. Following a telephone altercation with the former Defence Secretary over the air transport of a puppy, the editor of the same newspaper at the time, was forced into exile.
The reader should remember that in those days, the law was applied either swiftly or slowly. It depended on which side of the Rajapaksa corporate megalith you stood.