Sunday, June 29, 2014

Freedom and liberty

The denizens of the land that is referred to as Sri Lanka are supposed to be "free". The British ruled the territory until 1948 but since then it has been self governing and it's inhabitants, supposedly free.

Are we really free? Free to think? Free to write? Allowed to go about our affairs unmolested, secure in the knowledge that we cannot be falsely accused of wrong doing, of being questioned or detained without reason?

In the event of being detained, being assured of due process, the right to a fair hearing, the right to basic justice, not subjected to victimisation at the hands of the police, politician or indeed the Government in general?

Do we have real freedom of association, to meet and talk to people we want to? Do we have the freedom to practise our own beliefs, or non-beliefs as the case may be, unhindered, as long as we cause no nuisance to others?

Are we allowed conduct our business affairs in peace, to carry on lives in our own way, free from obstruction or interference?

The people who lived here before 1948 or before the rot set in, somewhere in the 1960's will probably tell you that they enjoyed these freedoms and liberties. Do we enjoy them today? Are we really free?

Our leaders are thought to be modeling the country's development on Singapore, witness the sprucing up of the city, the streets, the pavements and the park. These words, from Singapore's first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew are prophetic; will our leaders continue to drive us down the path to ruin?

Ceylon was Britain's model Commonwealth country. It had been carefully prepared for independence. After the war, it was a good middle-size country with fewer than 10 million people. It had a relatively good standard of education, with 2 universities of high quality in Colombo and Kandy teaching in English, a civil service largely of locals, and experience in representative government starting with city council elections in the 1930s.

When Ceylon gained independence in 1948, it was the classic model of gradual evolution to independence. Alas it did not work out. During my visits over the years, I watched a promising country go to waste....

….....It is sad that the country whose ancient name Serendip has given the English language the word "serendipity" is now the epitome of conflict, pain, sorrow and hopelessness.

(From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, p414, 418)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A question on the arts

Has anyone noticed the unevenness in the geographic distribution of great art in Europe?

For example the Dutch can claim some of the greatest painters but have produced almost no musicians of note?

The central Germanic-Austro Hungarian region has many great musicians but no serious painters or even writers ?(Goethe and Schiller excepted). The reverse is true of Britain, plenty of great painters and writers but only a handful of musicians.

In sculpture, Italy reigns supreme, all the great ones seem to be confined to that country, I have not heard of any major figure outside Italy.

The question is why is this so? Could one reason for the peculiar distribution of skills be economic?

In society, the arts require a minimum amount of leisure. Societies living on the margins of existence will rarely produce anything-people will be spending their time searching for food and the basics of existence, there is no time to spend on abstract thinking or creation.

With increasing wealth a society can support craftsmen and artisans who are not directly engaged the production of food or other necessities of life.

Could the different ways in which countries or regions developed have affected the way in which the arts developed?

The early civilisations of Greece and Rome set the philosophical and aesthetic  foundation for Western art. Emperors, Kings and the Church were early patrons whose dictates may have shaped the development of the arts before economies developed to the point where merchants and the general public could become supporters.

Perhaps they way training took place - the way the necessary skills were learned and transferred have played a part?

These are just questions that occurred to me. Does anyone have any thoughts? 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The BBS is run by the CIA!

This is what the Daily News has to day:

The sequence of events that led to the formation of the BBS (from around mid-2011 to late 2012) shows that the covert neocon teams operating from Colombo embassies found some “useful idiots” (in their own nomenclature), ripe for exploitation.
The “opportunity” for the neocons came in the form of Dilanthe Withanage, a graduate in Computing (1984) from the little-known Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi, Georgia, and the yellow-robed extremist Galabodaaththe Gnansissara…..

……..Withanage’s work history filled with a diverse range of short-term “careers”, pointing to a confused, overseas qualified local failing to get traction and Gnanissara’s own troubled past would have lit up the eyes of the neocons. Georgia where Withanage graduated, probably through sheer coincidence, happens to be the country where the CIA conspiracy of “Colour Revolutions” was first launched in 2003, installing the now-soured American puppet government of Mikheil Saakashvili through the so-called “Rose” revolution.
What a revelation.

The article closes with this:

It is time that the people of Sri Lanka, and the government, tell the BBS where to go. Dilantha Withanage and Galabodaaththe Gnanissara do not seem to need much help to get there!    

Now the Daily News clearly holds the BBS responsible for the problem. This is exactly what all independent analysts and observers have been saying all along.

 Now comes the revelation that not only is the BBS the cause, they are funded and run as a covert operation by the CIA with the intention of destabilising the Government. If this is correct then the interests of the Government and the BBS are on a collision course.

If this is the case, and given the outcry about the activities of the BBS why does the Government not follow the advice of the Daily News (and the call of it's own minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara) and arrest the leaders of this subversive group?
This is not the first time that the BBS has broken the law. On countless occasions, sometimes in full view of the police, they have been filmed damaging property, trespassing or unlawfully entering private property.

Yet, in the land that fearlessly defeated terrorism, they roam free and unpunished. Indeed the very architect of that fearful war chose to grace the occassion of the opening of a new building by the BBS.

Even if the Government was sleeping, why did the Daily News not rush to the forefront, to expose the subversive activity in Aluthgama and Beruwala while it was going on? They could have caught the CIA operatives red-handed. What better way to expose them? The Aluthgama attacks should have been headline news in the national press. Why wait for days in numbed silence before reporting on it?

It simply does not add up. The only logical explanation that fits the claims of the Daily News is that the Government, the BBS and the CIA are all in cahoots, all working to destabilise the country and ruin the peace.

Now that is something I can believe.

ps. *News Flash* Watareka Vijitha Thero, the moderate monk, (who previously was supposed to have attacked himself) has now been arrested!!!

Someone is supposed to have quipped that the situation is now worse than a parody, which just about sums it up. Welcome to Bananaland.

The sequence of events that led to the formation of the BBS (from around mid-2011 to late 2012) shows that the covert neocon teams operating from Colombo embassies found some “useful idiots” (in their own nomenclature), ripe for exploitation.
The “opportunity” for the neocons came in the form of Dilanthe Withanage, a graduate in Computing (1984) from the little-known Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi, Georgia, and the yellow-robed extremist Galabodaaththe Gnansissara.
- See more at:
The sequence of events that led to the formation of the BBS (from around mid-2011 to late 2012) shows that the covert neocon teams operating from Colombo embassies found some “useful idiots” (in their own nomenclature), ripe for exploitation.
The “opportunity” for the neocons came in the form of Dilanthe Withanage, a graduate in Computing (1984) from the little-known Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi, Georgia, and the yellow-robed extremist Galabodaaththe Gnansissara.
- See more at:
The sequence of events that led to the formation of the BBS (from around mid-2011 to late 2012) shows that the covert neocon teams operating from Colombo embassies found some “useful idiots” (in their own nomenclature), ripe for exploitation.
The “opportunity” for the neocons came in the form of Dilanthe Withanage, a graduate in Computing (1984) from the little-known Georgian Technical University, Tbilisi, Georgia, and the yellow-robed extremist Galabodaaththe Gnansissara.
- See more at:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

"No Limit" outlet in Panadura Petrol bombed

Update from Twitter 10:40pm 21st June

Tense situation has been reported in Panadura as reports emerge of people stoning houses. Police and STF have been deployed

Panic situ in Thottawatte and Sarikamulla STF and Police have been deployed in the area


Some unidentified persons who had arrived in Thotawatte Panadura has attacked 2 house n dissapared on being confronted by residents#lka

Updates from Twitter- 11am, 21st June

The Muslim-owned "No Limit" stores' outlet in Panadura was attacked in the early hours of this morning, possibly with petrol bombs. Fortunately nobody appears to have been hurt but the store is in flames. Four fire brigade trucks are currently attempting to douse the fire.

The Daily Mirror has reported that the fire may have been caused by an electrical fault. However employees, who were sleeping in the staff quarters, and neighbours have both apparently said they heard 10 explosions from the store.

Recent updates from Twitter reproduced verbatim below, images & tweets from Rifas M Kaleel, Dinouk Colombage and Navamani:

This motorcycle was burnt outside the store, GM of store asks how could internal electrical fire cause this.

STF keeping agitated crowd yelling police 2 arrest those responsible over burning of No Limit store

Crowd building outside burn No Limit store. Police trying to clear them away

 STF using armored vehicle to clear crowd that is becoming agitated with police

Employees, who were sleeping in the staff quarters, and neighbours have both said they heard 10 explosions from the store

General Manager of the store says 4 employees were sleeping in staff quarters at the time of the fire. No injuries reported.

Police believe petrol bombs may have been used to start the fire. 

CcTV cameras outside are undamaged, however, police believe main tapes inside are destroyed.

Retired policeman, who lives next to the store, claims several explosions took place beginning at 2.30am.

Armed soldiers are now joining the STF to "maintain the peace" in Panadura.

Witnesses say several men were seen fleeing from the direction of the store shortly before the fire. Police say they have no suspects.

Armored STF being dispatched around the town of Panadura to ensure no further issues arise.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Anti Muslim violence

Update 17th June:

Given the media blackout on the events, the main source of information is Twitter. Search for and follow updates from #Aluthgama. For those without Twitter accounts check Groundviews, for some updates. There is also a new report from DBS Jeyaraj.

The latest round of violence is the inevitable  result of a campaign that started about a year and a half ago. I put up a number of posts on the subject, which I have now tagged under one label for easy access. 

There is still a dearth of information but columnist DBS Jeyaraj has put up a summary of the latest events and incidents that  on his blog and the Daily FT also carries a report.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Anti - Muslim violence breaks out

Reports are emerging on Twitter of what appears to be a wave of anti-muslim violence that has broken out in Aluthgama, Beruwala and other parts of the Western coast. The trigger appears to have been the BBS rally held in Aluthgama this afternoon.

Pictures from The Virakesari Twitter feed:

Pictures of unrest also available on the BBC Sinhala FB page.

Summary of tweets below (updated to 10pm, 15th June 2014):

Under "indefinite" police curfew: Aluthgama (clashes Thurs & 2day) & now Beruwala (one of oldest settlements in ).

Rpts: Muslim shops burnt, Buddhist rally stoned, police teargas; seq of events unclear. Muslim homes/mosque later stoned: witnesses
Police blanket being imposed on media. Many being stopped from entering Aluthgama now
Police refusing to comment, phone of spokesperson now switched off
Reports from the ground in #Aluthgama: crowds gathering again on Masjijd Road, Hospital Road, Simon Silva road. 
The tense situation in is worsening, got a call from Aluthgama. All land line cut. Where is the media? Government? 

400 STF deployed in . Situation calmer in Dhargatown now. Some reports of violence in New Town area. DT mosque has called for calm
At least 10 shops were under fire in Aluthgama according to Lankadeepa, Police spokesman says situation normalised now 
Reports of houses being torched in Meeri Penna, Sapula Kanda Road, Aluthgama. 

Police curfew announced in Beruwela, as attacks reported from many areas, Police to provide security for all mosque around Sri Lanka.

video journalist attacked in aluthgama tenese situation.he's camara also break by mobs.

Tense situ reported from Kotiyakubura, Group led by Buddhist monks protesting against a new school constructed with Kuwait embassy funds

Muslim Council of welcomes Police curfew and urges Govt. and Police to protect Muslims and their estalishments

"I don't know who attacked first but once clash started it was like a war " BBC reporter in Aluthgama who escaped unhurt

Houses torched in Kotapitiya, Mathugama. Mosque attacked in Panadura: reports.

Attack on Muslims n business premises by BBS mob brought from outside area was planned attempt to provoke Muslims to retialiate n clash  

Police curfew announced in Aluthgama after clashes between Sinhala & Muslim groups, at least 2 TV journalist attacked
The above are reproduced verbatim from Twitter. I have no independent information to cross-check the above but readers are invited to provide any further information available. 

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

A response to Dayan Jayatilleka's Post Election 2015 Scenario

Dayan Jayatilleka has written something about a possible post election scenario.

Well I must say Mr Jayatilleka seems to have awoken from a deep slumber to find that the stuff his nightmares have come to life.

He claims "an entirely predictable response to perceptions of external and ethnic siege from afar and the ‘near abroad’. We have the Gang of Four of David Cameron, Samantha Power, Jayalalitha and Navi Pillay to thank for the prospective radicalization"

What utter nonsense. 

For those of us who were wide awake while Mr Jayatilleka was speaking up and standing up for the regime, these trends were apparent from the very start of 2005, from the time the family descended en-masse from all corners of the globe.

I first looked at the issue in 2008 and more recently a couple of months ago.

He goes on to say "The North will get the Gaza treatment. In the South the Weliweriya Doctrine will be more in evidence than not. There will be “two, three, many” Rathupaswelas. "

The Weliveriya doctrine, as Mr Jayatilleka terms it is only the logical result of the culture of impunity that prevailed in the military that enabled the war victory. It follows incidents in Chilaw (fisherman killed), Katunayake (worker killed, factories smashed by Government goons) and a couple of others. The war victory was a result of a no-holds barred, assault. Whether these tactics went against the rules of war we cannot tell, but there is a lot of very uncomfortable material that is surfacing.

As for this:

"The hard-line will include neo-isolationism in foreign relations, a firmer positioning on an Islamabad–Beijing axis, and greater reliance on Israel.

Is this not already already very much in evidence? I agree though that this will get worse, so we will be keeping company with Zimbabwe and other rogue states.

As for the election, it is not the opposition candidate that will matter. I reckon that all that will matter is the quantum of resources the rulers will pour into the election (state, crony, and perhaps (shockingly) even some personal funds?) and how many they are prepared to kill.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Exposed: Rights Advocacy A Gateway To Lavish Lifestyles

This was the rather lurid headline for a story about alleged financial irregularities at the CPA.

There are questions of governance at hand but we need to understand what is of legitimate public interest and what is not. The private lives of individuals, however debauched, are of no interest to the public at large unless it happens to involve public property, funds or resources.

Let us try to understand the issues at hand. There is an allegation that there are incorrect or wrongful expense claims being made.

How do we define what is incorrect or wrongful? If this were a person holding public office it would be covered under the Financial Regulations and the Administrative Regulations.

As a privately funded institute it would be governed by whatever internal policies are applicable, which we do not have access to. The person making the allegations claims that it is against policy, but we have no way of knowing what the policy is and are therefore not in any position to judge.

Dinner at a restaurant sounds like good fun, but it may be legitimate if the people entertained were those falling within the applicable rules (if any) at CPA.

This brings me to the crux of the problem: there is an allegation of financial irregularity but since this institute takes no public money, is of no interest to the ordinary citizen; apart from perhaps providing some cheap and tawdry entertainment. This is a matter for the donors and staff of the institute to worry about. It is not that governance is unimportant, it is just that this matter is not of any public interest.

People may disagree with work of CPA, the causes they advocate or the message they give. These need to be judged on their own merits, although I admit that an organisation that acquires a reputation for being misgoverned may find its public legitimacy eroded.

If it were PUBLIC money, TAXPAYERS money, THEN there is legitimate public interest in ensuring that there is no abuse. Public servants and bodies are funded by taxpayers, which is why the rules they are governed by are public. It would be possible to determine what types of spending were permitted and the procedures to be followed in the case of a public body and therefore make some informed judgement about the basic case being made. If it is our money it is in our interest to find out how it is spent and if that spending is to our benefit.

This is why matters of misgovernance and corruption in public bodies by public officials must be pursued relentlessly. When it concerns private money and individuals it is only in the interest of those involved to investigate. It's not our money so who cares?

Instead of looking at the real issues, I'm afraid all that is happening here is some rather cheap thrills, people oohing and ahhing over size of the bill and the choice of courses.

I think there are some much bigger issues that we have to worry about.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Why is the President taking over the Buddha Sasana and Cultural Ministries?

A report in the Ceylon Today claims that the President will take over the ministries of Buddha Sasana and Cultural Affairs. These ministries were previously under the purview of the Prime Minister D.M Jayaratne, a senior SLFP figure.

Is this a move to sideline the Prime Minister or otherwise clip his wings? The rivalry between the First Family and the old party hands of the SLFP is well know and thought to be worsening. The reason cited for the takeover: "failure in providing an adequate response to various religious problems and conflicts" rings rather hollow - in the first place the problem is one of law and order, not religion; in the second place what about the new Religious Police Unit that was supposed to have been set up to deal with the problem?

Could this also represent another change in stance - to try and bring more religion into politics? Perhaps a change in strategy prompted by or inspired by the meeting with India's Prime Minister, Modi? Most likely a bit of both, I would guess, although readers are invited to suggest other, more sinister motives that may come to mind.

It is not that the President does not have enough responsibilities already, his official website lists no fewer than thirty two statutory institutions that come under his purview; from the Salaries and Cadre Commission to the Ceylon German Technical Training Institute. This is apart from the Ministry of Defence, The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Religious Affairs (and all the bodies that come under them) adding up to a grand total of seventy eight.

From an administrative perspective this is quite ridiculous, there is no way that any person can devote sufficient time to pay proper attention to the issues that can crop up under each of the bodies or even review their budgets or spending. I imagine that things must be running either completely independently under these bodies with no interference or that a lot of approvals are stuck in very long queue awaiting his Excellency's attention, with work being frozen until an appropriate decision is reached.

Any which way ones looks at it, its very strange and very silly. One hopes it is not a sinister step on the road to theocracy.