Monday, January 18, 2010

No Island Is An Island

"Pity the poor Sri Lankan voter" began Chris Patten in his Op Ed in the New York Times.

And, before he'd even typed that final r in "voter" a band of people could be heard shouting from their platforms. They weren't just any platforms either, they were platforms on rooftops. They were shouting about the enemy West not supporting Sri Lanka, how it oh so hates Sri Lanka, of Chris Patten's "awful, patronizing and counter productive piece" and sounding like a "colonial dick".

From where I view things, yes I know, a million miles away from Sri Lanka, never having actually lived there and about as Lankan as George Dubya B wearing his cowboy boots and cowboy hat, at least that's what some think, the picture is vastly different.

"We have a real choice at this election and it's already delivering results" Indi says.

I say you're faced with a choice that really comes down to which moustache you prefer. The fact is that your next Prez will have a moustache, all well and good if you're a facial hair fan but not so rosy if you want a clean shaven chap.

Some of those results are the emptying of the IDP camps, the release of Tissainayagam and of course the building of the new flyover at Dehiwala junction. It's pretty much indisputable that they're good things. It's just the motivation behind them, the what might happen next after the election and the incredible coincidence that these things have only happened since the election was announced that many question.

Tissa's out on bail, the IDP's are no longer the grave potential threat they were to national security they were a few weeks ago and the flyover's only got two lanes anyhow. Putting innocent people in captivity then releasing them is good is it? Or is it fundamentally wrong that they were held in the first place?

"How dare the West criticise when the Americans and British went and invaded Iraq under false pretences and they're not being held accountable for that?" I've been asked.

"A million people protested against the Iraqi invasion in the UK and you still went ahead" I've also been told.

It has more or less been proved that Saddam didn't have WMDs and therefore we, the British public, were misled or misinformed. But to me the most salient point is that a million, or however many people, were allowed to voice their opposition. I didn't, I think I had a band practice that night, but I could have protested without thinking realistically that I might get shot or put in prison for the rest of my life as a consequence. I quite like that.

On top of that, I wasn't personally responsible for the Iraq situation, nor for Afghanistan, so telling me that I've no right to criticise things in Lanka because of the actions of the West is akin to telling me that I shouldn't talk about the dangers of driving at speed because a friend of mine got done for speeding once, which is to say, irrelevant.

Indi, and I'm sorry to focus on him so much but his is one of the most widely read blogs and his opinion is weighty at times, goes on to say

"The JVP and people like Gotabaya Rajapakse are trying to spread this idea of an international conspiracy against Sri Lanka and Patten plays right into their hands."

I think it's actually people with opinions like Indi's one who are playing into the aforementioned hands. The first line of defence, that of the international conspiracy, is becoming cliched and tiresome, it's a way of avoiding the very real issues, like a child sticking its fingers in its ears and saying "I'm not listening, I can't hear you."

"You don't live here, you don't know what it's really like" is another thing many say to many people. As a fellow who falls firmly in the you don't live here category I can only concur. But I don't necessarily agree that it's a bad thing.

The views of the diaspora and of any individual from afar are going to be different, they'll perhaps be more detached and less influenced by some of the nitty gritty and very local issues. That, however, doesn't make those views wrong or bad, just different. Perhaps, just perhaps, there's something to be gained from listening to the Chris Pattens of this world.

We the diaspora sit here in our ivory sugar coated towers and preach at you, the poor Sri Lankans who have to deal with things on a day to day basis. Well yes, in a way that's true, but another way to view things is that the perspectives of people at ground level and those at other levels can be used together to build up an overall picture upon which ideas and solutions can be based.

Let's stick two fingers up at the West, let's tell them where to put their money, their GSP Plus concessions, we don't need it, we'll manage without, some also say. Sri Lanka, like most other countries, depends heavily on international trade. There's tourism, garments and a plethora of other trading that goes on between Serendib and other countries.

It's all well and good to make a big gesture and say that we'll do fine on our own, we don't need your aid, but it's not about aid alone. There's also international relations, diplomatic relationships and strategic alliances to be considered.

I for one don't want my motherland to become the Chinese Republic of Sri Lanka. I want the chinese restaurants in Sri Lanka to be called chinese restaurants, not just restaurants.

For what it's worth I think Sri Lanka, the entity we all love with that weird passion we can't explain, needs to stop acting like the petulant kid. Disagree with the West? Sure, feel free. But stop telling others that they don't have the right to an opinion because their shoes are the wrong colour or because they once did something wrong.


sittingnut said...

above post condemning sri lankan democracy and empathizing with fake pity of a corrupt ngo idiot is a post by a member of a frustrated and bitter fringe harboring absurd prejudices and suffering from selective amnesia.

some facts that these cocooned fringe forget at their convenience.

"I could have protested without thinking realistically that I might get shot or put in prison for the rest of my life as a consequence."
this blogger implies that in contrast that is what happens in sl.
how many protests were held in sl ? lots . too much for convenience of ppl and businesses imo. but that is price of democracy .
how many ppl were killed while protesting in sl recently ? none.
how many were put in prison for the rest of life for protesting? none
how many were killed just bc of ethnicity in colombo ? none
does he give even one example? no .
how many unarmed prostrate ppl were killed for 'looking like an asian" by getting shot multiple times by london police ( who were not held accountable) ? at least one.
how long can terrorist suspects be held on suspicion ? months in both countries

prejudices and selective amnesia indeed

fact :
until recently we did get blown up by tamil tiger terrorists. we were prevented from voting by terrorists. basically we were subjected many atrocities by terrorists .

are we sri lankans, going to forget that sl reality? or how the change came about through military defeat of murderers ? no
slaves might forget; same ppl ( this blog among them ) who kept their mouths shut and/or protested efforts to defeat terrorists .(btw no one killed in those protests too. peacenik mervyn silva then actually marched hand in hand with peaceniks by their invitation. lol)

did these slaves ever support the effort to defeat terrorists ? no .
now these same cowards are expressing pity for us ? same ppl who were not even willing to open their mouth/blogs on behalf of lives and rights of fellow sri lankans?
lol prejudices and selective amnesia indeed


sittingnut said...


fact :
"west" did try to save terrorists by pressuring sl gov ( going so far to send several foreign ministers here post haste )to stop military operations against them. that is not an action of anybody friendly to sri lanka and sri lankans. we were fighting for our lives and our freedom, human rights, justice and democracy . we needed friends, but they were not found in west, we only found them in india , pakistan, and south east asia

as i said then, we are not going to forget that fact.
after all that, we have solid grounds to be suspicious of anything political that comes from west.

to servile individuals like this blogger, west may be friendly and accommodating , but to sri lanka they were/are not.
predictably such slaves find nothing wrong with west's past and present behavior to sl .

then corrupt ngo crowd were proclaiming peace at any cost. (cost being lives, human rights, freedom, democracy and justice, of sri lankans handed over to terrorist oppression and threats) .
now they find we are deserving of pity bc we don't have a never ending war and can freely choose ? lol
only the paid slaves and their friends believe and empathize with this fake pity .
look at this post and some others in kottu cocoon for good examples of that .

"emptying of the IDP camps" was promised long ago by sl government . check bailaman's blog for exact quotes and dates given by sl officials months before.

convicted ltte supporter tissainayagam is out on bail pending appeal as he has a right to be in fair system. it is only in the mind of ignorant that this has anything to do with election. a full pardon may be election gimmick, but so far that has not happened (thank god). justice must take its course . hopefully that would happen

'flyover' etc. may be an election gimmick, as in other democracies. but there were lot of other 'flyovers' before that too. .

in past elections we made free clear choices ( 'free' public education and heath or not. open economy or not, cfa or military defeat of ltte , etc etc ). as in other democracies .
there is a choice now. and millions of sri lankans will make it in 26th .

if there is not much contrast as claimed by some, that may be bc sri lanka seems to like what both main candidates represents ( or did before sf put his foot in mouth and got in bed with tna unp jvp etc )
if any other thing had a mass appeal, there would be have been a candidate to represent that .

if this blogger does not like both choices, he should have worked to get another choice to his liking in . after all there are 22 candidates.
(btw what's the choice of a blogger who refused to condemn ltte's racist supporters ?)

whaTever this blogger's preference, it is clearly at variance with that of millions of sri lankans who will take the trouble to vote( and we vote in higher percentages than in so called western democracies )

that is a fact

so he, a member of a frustrated and bitter fringe harboring absurd prejudices, condemn all of sri lanka , all of sri lankan democracy , and express fake pity for our lack of choice, revealing his selective amnesia in the process.

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Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Sittingnut - Thanks for your comments, we disagree, no big deal. I was joking with my references to the flyover by the way. I'm not condemning all of Sri Lanka by any means.

Anon - Erm thanks, you've managed to make Sittingut's comment look like nice clear English, no mean feat!

sittingnut said...

ppl who live in glass houses should not throw stones .
well worn but still true.

unlike some, i never even pretend to write 'nice clear english'. its my third language.

ppl understand me that is what is need.

among other more favorable signs, long history of hostile responses, usually in the form of evasion of points raised by me and concentration of tangent issues ( my english, etc ) from cocoon bloggers, from you to lefrog, to what i say makes it clear i succeed