Thursday, November 29, 2007

Oh Lanka

Sinhala, Tamil, resident or diasporic, we're all linked by Sri Lanka, by that strange way she calls and pulls us in. I'm sure other countries can attract people but there's something special about Sri Lanka, its people and its beauty, its diversity and its serenity, its chaos and its madness.

Growing up in the seventies and eighties in London meant that I was used to and familiar with the far too frequent newsflashes of bombs going off, of people being killed and of those of us who weren't directly affected trying to steam on with their everyday lives. As a young salesperson in central London I was often indirectly, luckily never directly, affected by terrorism.

Then July '83 came. I was in Sri Lanka at the time and I saw and experienced things that so many have documented and so many also witnessed. Since then my passion, my feelings and my pull towards Sri Lanka have multiplied and increased and I'm fascinated and captivated by everything Lankan.

I've watched Presidents come and go, I've seen politicians assasinated, civilians killed, soldiers killed and terrorists killed. I've watched people prosper from this "war" and I've watched others suffer, I've seen leaders get fatter, richer, uglier and greedier and I've seen the man in the street get thinner, poorer, more hungry and less hungry.

Every time I hear, from the luxury of my desk or home in London, of a bomb or an incident, I go through the thing so many of us are used to, that emailing, texting, calling and surfing to find out exactly what's happened and whether all our "known" people are ok. The sad truth is that the man in the street doesn't matter to most of us unless he's a man we know. That's war I guess.

So we're not patriotic if we don't support the government? So to be Tamil means you're a terrorist? To be a Sinhalese means you hate the Tamils? To be overseas means you're a coward? To be an NGO means you're evil? To be white means you've got no rhythm? Ok, one of those is true.

Yet I'm one of the lucky ones. I knew a peaceful Sri Lanka, I can remember peace, a peace that lasted for more than a couple of tense years.

Yesterday I felt and noticed something that seemed new and different. As news of the two bomb blasts started to filter out and the flurry of activity began, it felt to me as if everyone, me included, had an air of apathy.

This post by DDM recently struck a big chord with me recently. Today it's my cousin, my relative, tomorrow it's your's. It matters not.

Peace is a choice, war just kills.


Anonymous said...

Let the tamils and sinhalese part ways like Singapore and Malaysia

Anonymous said...

Yes we can if we can go for a clean break. Look at Singapore and Malaysia. It split based on racial differences. There was massive riots and loss of lives. Today both countries are doing well.

The sinhalese like the Malays have a greivance that they were discriminated during the British rule and so the chinese prospered.

Resourceless Singapore like the north east in Sri Lanka prospered. Now why Malaysia cannot do better than Singapore. Simple, they are blinded by race and religion.

Malaysia use to export 1/3 of the rubber and tin to the world. In many ways Sri Lanka and Malaysia are similar.

Malaysia has the estate/plantation tamils who are marginalised by the respective majority. The chinese and Jaffna tamils are discriminated by language and religion. Ironically Malaysian Chinese tend to be Buddisht.

Singapore has found meritocracy as the solution. From Dec 1st 2007, Tharman Shanmugretnam will be the Finance minister of Singapore. He is a Jaffna Tamil.

In Malaysia and Sri Lanka the Malays or Sinhalese have never virtually ruled. Mahathir for example was a Malabar Muslim with having a Malay Mother. In Sri Lanka JRW and Ranil are tamil chetty. MR, CBK and SWRD are Malayalees.

In Singapore the Malays are more well off then their Malaysian counterparts even when education etc are free for the Malays in Malaysia.

The first prime minister of Malaysia, a prince from Kedah Province(might be the same place Chandrbhanu was from)decided to get Singapore split off after the 1964 riots.

Lee Kwan Yew, later look at Sri Lanka and commented that this was a wise decision. If the tamils and sinhalese cannot live together unfortunately due to the opportunistic politicians, then there should be a split.

After all the tamils are asking for the less arid land. The question is whether the sinhala politicians just like in Malaysia will have now nobody to blame to escape. After all this problem exploded to the LTTE only after JRW screwed up the economy by going for an open market system.