‘Fake news’ and real truths | Sunday Observer

‘Fake news’ and real truths

Trump may be the ‘yellow orangutan’ in the White House as has been said, and may exasperate people to kingdom come but Trumpisms have entered the English glossary of expressive terms and part of my title is one such coinage.

The Susie Affair

This cat’s first bit of fake news was gleaned from a daily on Monday, June 5. The headline read: “Reduced to penury, Susie plans to sell her Olympic medal” meaning her silver medal won by default, the gold medalist being deprived of her medal. The first falsity that this feline sees in the heading is that she is reduced to penury and is hard pressed to bring up her two children, as the article said later. She was given a brand new vehicle on her return to Sri Lanka with the bronze medal for her dash in the 200 metres in the Summer Olympic Games held in Sydney in 2000.

Then she was given a land free, of around 20 perch. I do not know whether it was a bare land or with a built house. So she is far from penury. Also, she once entered a hospital in a blaze of publicity motivated by her, as having been assaulted by her husband. The said husband told the media that she was up to her usual trick of courting publicity and seeking public sympathy. So she is known for this character trait of hers. The two children have a father or fathers who are bound to support them through divorce law or marriage vows, unless she forfeited one or both hubs by playing around and being the one who walked out of the first marriage. Yet, the father has to see to the expenses of his child. So Susie surely has only herself to look after.

TV I on June 4 Sunday night news gave replies from Sports Minister Jayasekera to Susie Girl’s allegation against the government in general and the Sports Minister in particular. He said, she was given Rs 65,000 as monthly payment, a vehicle and a room at the Sports Ministry (probably) to act as advisor, but she never came for work. She had received Rs 75,000 from the previous government which was reduced by Rs10,000. Now this cat definitely is inclined to believe the Minister’s word as it can be verified and not Susie’s moan of being poverty stricken and wanting to sell her silver medal, won by default.

Many a time when she enjoyed her heyday, we waited with bated breath to watch on TV our girl dashing and to hail her as the winner of either the 100 or 200 metres at athletic events around the world. And many are the times she withdrew from the sports event at the last moment. We felt she was lacking in sportsmanship because though winning is important, it should not be the be all and end all for a sports person. Who paid for her expensive training in foreign countries, in the US principally? The government of Sri Lanka. Who fully acknowledged her victory and welcomed her as a hero when she won the medal – the government of Sri Lanka led by the then Sports Minister, Ass Bee Diss. Even then she did the ungracious, unladylike biting of the hand that had fed her: she threw allegations of being chased and bothered by the said Minister. Not done, not done at all. Susie Girl.

One curious fact bugged this cat - how much would an Olympic silver medal fetch in rupees? Enough to buy three air tickets and to settle down abroad or even educate two children in Sri Lanka where education is free from Grade 1 to medical college final year? On Thursday (8) a newspaper reported that Susanthika had said she was offered 2 ½ million! My word, that’s a lot! Was it a Trumpish bid of news? Fake facts? One never knows with this ex-athlete. She had even said that she would give part of the millions earned from selling the medal to improve sports in Sri Lanka. That of course is too large a lump of fake news to swallow. The Sports Minister will make his move: forbid the selling of medals since these are part owned by the country as the country pays for training and journeying and staying over at the sports venue. Not at all cheap when it comes to an Olympic Village.

Other non temperamental athletes

Further fake news is that as she speaks she seems to say and believe she is the only Olympic medallist of Sri Lanka. Never forget Duncan White who had minimum training and none in a foreign land and yet won silver – genuine - coming second in the 400 metre hurdles at the 1948 Summer Olympic Games in London. He was such a simple person. After being the only Sri Lankan Olympic medalist until 2000; i.e. 52 years, he was in charge of sports at the Maharagama Training College - earning his living. There were/are others like Dharsha and K G Badra who used their sports background to train others and earn a living, with no complaints.

We had superb cricketers who did so much to bring honour to the country who had trouble with those managing cricket in the land. Did Sangakkara and Jayawardena belly ache aloud? No, they did not. There is, or should be, sportsmanship off the playing field too.

This cat is personally disappointed that the highest in the land stepped into this matter and said he will look to Susie’s welfare. That is what the previous Prez would have done. The present Head should have maintained his dignity, and his distance, and let the Sports Minister settle the matter. Surely the Sports Minister does not have a grudge against Susie Girl. This is Sri Lanka for us; a country like no other. Of course this getting a person to intervene on the orders of the President is according to Susie, so it could very well be the kind of news that Trump talks of!!

- Menika