11 February, 2010

Winning the Peace in Sri Lanka: It's not over till the Tamil lady sings

 >>> NEWSFLASH !! >>>

Colombo, 9 Feb 2010. Prime Minister Gordon Brown this morning arrested Opposition politician David Cameron for the alleged crime of being involved in politics.
Mr Cameron's whereabouts tonight are unknown. He was violently dragged from a tea party at Buckingham Palace and driven away at speed. This is consistent with a pattern of unexplained disappearances of journalists and anti-Brown dissidents over the past year or so as the country moves towards totalitarian status alongside rogue states such as Burma, Sudan or North Korea.
Mr Brown denied knowledge of any such abductions but claimed that the recent closure of the newspaper The Monday Leader was necessary "in the nation's security interest in order to prevent corruption and to suppress dangerously anti-Democratic minority groups such as the Whigs, Tories, and other terrorist militia". He later added: "We do not have Censorship here. What we do have is merely a limitation on what the Media can say".
Mr Brown (a.k.a."King Gordon I") is also said to have stated that he soon intends to abolish parliament altogether as it is "a bloody waste of oxygen", although this breaking news remains unconfirmed due to an apparent shortage of journalists.    CDN-FOX.
Confused?? Yeah, me too.
OK, fantasy over. Flip to the reality of post-war (pre-peace?) Sri Lanka...

Exactly following the model provided by the mega-wealthy middle-class Thaksin Shinawatra (formerly of Thailand), Mahinda Rajapakse achieves power by targeting the vote of the rural Sinhalese, sufficient in number to give him an electoral majority. As in Thailand, farmers are thought to be the easiest political prey who, due to their relatively limited formal education, are less capable of assessing propaganda bias when it is fed to them.  Simple. But there's more operating behind the scenes - and as usual it comes down to money, of course.

Many people are unaware of the massive impact China has had on the history of Srilanka over the past couple of years since Mahinda Rajapakse visited Beijing. That visit gave China the courage to no longer be wary of offending India. Just as China has bank-rolled the governments of Burma and Sudan (among others) in a quest for economic empire, Sri Lanka has received massive soft loans and military assistance. Without this help, the 25-year struggle against the Tamil Tigers could not possibly have ended so abruptly, and Rajapakse would not therefore have had so many electoral aces up his sleeve. China certainly has Tamil blood on its hands. Who do you think vetoed the UN resolution about investigating war crimes in the Tamil prison camps in the north? I suggest Chinese tourists be wary around Jaffna.

Rajapakse is fanning the flames of international competition too. Last week he popped up in Moscow for a photo-op with President Medvedev and to shore up deals with Russia to explore for oil [etc] off the coast of Sri Lanka. The USA is competing furiously to keep its interests alive in the face of Chinese investment. China is in a stronger financial situation by comparison with the USA following the 2009 meltdown of Capitalism. It is the financial  cat; the USA is its mouse. China has realised that the Wild West's "shoot-your-way-in" model of colonialism isn't going to work in today's world. Colonialism can now be done better - and more cheaply - by email and online transfers.

China's state-owned CHEC Corporation is bank-rolling a huge new expressway which will soon connect Sri Lanka to the huge new Chinese-funded seaport at the southern town of Hambantota. Surprise surprise, Hambantota district is Rajapakse's own constituency - much of the money was siphoned off for his massive election campaign). Explanation? As world oil supplies shrink, China desperately needs a chain of windows onto the Indian ocean and in particular onto the Arabian Gulf. (For this same reason it has inveigled its way financially into Burma and is building a seaport at Sitwe ...which explains why the Burmese military junta can afford to be so scornful of UN sanctions.)

To the Sri Lankan rural majority, Rajapakse's waltzing on the world's stage probably seems grandly impressive ...and progressive. In the short term, people's expectations of re-vitalized economic activity may be superficially fulfilled as they observe building projects sprouting everywhere, plus find some short-term labouring jobs. In the longer term, there will be a dawning disillusionment as people begin realizing that the People's Dictatorship of Sri Lanka has been set up principally to benefit the already-wealthy Singhalese middle-class of Colombo and the southern provinces ...not the rural majority.

Is this not a recipe for grass-roots Tamil unrest all over again? Is this not a sordid re-run of colonial history by another name? Could Sri Lanka be sleep-walking into selling its soul for a pittance? It's not too late - Rajapakse faces another election in April. Is there a new Opposition phoenix rising from the ashes to bell the cat? Fonseka, even though his platform was essentially not so different from that of Rajapakse, was correct in his objective of not concentrating too much power in the hands of one person. Parliament must at all costs be allowed to dissent and counter-balance. Even if I were a Rajapakse supporter, I would now consider voting elsewhere in order to reduce his huge majority by just one vote ...after all, History is the sum of individual actions. It would prove healthier for the country to have a half-decent Opposition.

I refer you to this Canadian CBC article for balanced background reading. There are also more of my comments about Tamil-Singhalese reconciliation in my recent previous post about the Galle Literary Festival. Alternatively, just scroll down past this natty collection of one-liners...
The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.
- Tommy Smothers

A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.
- Dr Laurence J. Peter

Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.
- Mark Twain

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.
- Noam Chomsky

Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.
- Former US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart

Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without it being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.
- Winston Churchill

Only the suppressed word is dangerous.
- Ludwig Bome


  1. I warned you, Mr Smart Alec funkypix2. My people know where you live. Pack yer %#*& toothbrush, jerk.
    PS you must address me as King Dutugemenu II

  2. I had one anonymous person submit a comment, but it was too rude to publish verbatim as it might cause search engines would block the blog.
    Nevertheless, I defend the person's right to express her/his opinion. The sentiment was along the lines of "The Tamil lady can s**k big fat c**k". The comment amply demonstrates, however, the lingering partisan feelings about which I write in the blog-post.