Reaction on Sangakkara critique

As expected, our previous column that criticised Kumar Sangakkara’s “personal” life attracted more criticism than appreciation.

We extract here what was sent by a Professor in Paediatric Disabilities, as the scathing reaction here covers many of the aspects raised by our critics:

“The article published by you is very spiteful and derogatory about Kumar whom we all respect as a legend. It is not for the public to criticise his private life and his enterprises. It shows how you go to cheap extents to find readership for your articles. If we are to criticise him we should do so for the area he is sharing with the public that is his performance in cricket through his role that he has dedicated to the public. I am a Professor in Paediatric Disabilities and I would like you to add to that article how he came forward to build a 55,000 square-feet centre for children with disabilities through advocating to private donors with just a single request from our university.

You try to tarnish his image by articles like these and when such backfires there is a possibility even such donors might retract quoting you and many people and children who will benefit from the good things he does will ultimately suffer and low quality journalists like you will not come to serve such disadvantaged people. I think it would be much better if you stop mud-slinging on legendary personalities like these and try to see how you could use your energy in a more meaningful manner to bring about a change in people who will need help. If Kumar decides to come on TV commercials or serve overseas it is because he needs to have a living and there are millions of people who do so. He is also quite open about it and he does not try to hide what he does. We should appreciate the fact he is not only doing that but he also works day and night to help people of this country. I think Kumar deserves public apology by you.”

The above line of argument creates some problems:

  • If a highly respected personality like Kumar is appearing in ads, promoting Coke and “artificial” food, doesn’t that make an issue to society (particularly, to the health experts the above doctor too may represent).
  • If a person has a very decent public life but still has a contradictory and harmful private life, is it not the responsibility of journalists to shed light on those cloudy areas, despite how socially important that person is?
  • Where can we draw the line that demarcates a person’s private life and public or social life?
  • Some responses said Sanga was appearing in too many ads and by doing so, he shows too much greed.
  • Recently, the Police found out a high-profile cricketer being involved in an illegal “gold coin” deal. The former top-notch cricketer has tried to buy unlawfully some counterfeit coins that were said to be taken out from an ancient cache, but later found out that he has been fooled by the phony dealer. This MAY NOT have anything to do with Sanga, but this goes on to show that serene “public” figures too can get into bizarre “private” muddles!
  • The area of “social criticism” like what we saw in yesteryear, mainly in the 80s in both Sinhala and English print media, is a fading trend today, as journalism too may have succumbed to commercialism, like all other trades, as one response we received stressed.
  • In Down South villages like Moratuwa and Kalutara, we see wayside crab vendors who catch their “sales” during the day and then enter the road to sell them to the passers-by. We see the same crab vendors accompanying their families to the nearby temple to worship Lord Buddha in the evening!

Photo pradeep dambarage