17 November 2018
Tamils Pioneered Use of Chili Powder
New York Times reporters Dharisha Bastians and Jeffrey Gettleman have reported about the chaos in Sri Lankan Parliament under the heading:
‘The Newest Weapon in Sri Lankan Politics: Chili Powder in the Eyes’
It was however not new to us – Tamils. I recall keeping chilli powder ready during the 1958 riots. We were then living in Colombo and I was 8 years old. I still recall the fear we felt at that time. It happened due to the ‘Sinhala Only’ legislation implemented by Mr SWRD Bandaranaike.
Today we were informed by a Diaspora leader about another such ‘common experience’ . This is how it goes:
‘I remember a quip from Tarzie Vitachi’s book Emergency 58!
In 1956 when Bandaranaike won the election he had an open day at the Parliament.
Some stupid moron came running in and sat on the speaker’s chair.
Immediately the Sargent at arms jumped up and pulled the fellow away, saying that’s the speaker chair which is the neutral place in this house.
No one except the speaker is allowed to sit there.
For this, Bandaranaike intervened and said, no no this is “ape anduwa” & people can sit anywhere!
Vitachi says, that was the beginning of the end of respect for traditions and law and order.
You can see it well in this video clip!’
Each one of us would interpret the happenings of current government and its opposition as per our own experience. To the extent we are true to ourselves, such interpretations would naturally communicate themselves to others in need. To my mind, this is the real power of the media. If the People of a nation continue to be insensitive, then the media also has failed in its duty to invoke this natural power by being true to itself.
In Ape Aanduwa / Our Government – Truth becomes the law. If Mr Bandaranaike believed that he was capable of performing the speaker’s job – he could self-nominate. But that would then prevented him from being the Prime Minister. That is the way self-governance works. When we disregard the structures that brought us to power – we lose power. Time told us that Mr Bandaranaike was killed by a Buddhist monk. Suicide killings started then during our generation as Sri Lankans.
Dr. Upul Wijayawardhana shares with us as follows his experience in this regard, through his Island article ‘Of that unfolding drama’:
[Even Shakespeare, the greatest dramatist of all, would have found it extremely difficult to pen a political drama to match what is unfolding in the ‘Land like no other’. It was left to my very good friend and retired senior administrative service officer, Dharme Hewamadduma, to remind me of a prediction I had made after the last presidential election. I could sense the excitement in his voice when he rang me to inform that President Sirisena has appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister but his excitement was for a different reason."Upul, do you remember telling me that Sirisena will do the same to Ranil, what he did to Mahinda?" Frankly, I could not remember but am indebted to Dharme for having reminded me that I predicted MS would do a Brutus again.]
So, at least 54% of the Members of Parliament do not have confidence in Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa. An overwhelming majority news reports and sharing through social media have confirmed lack of confidence in President Sirisena and therefore his appointed Prime Minister – Mr Rajapaksa. If Mr Sirisena genuinely believed that he had the authority of the Constitution to terminate Mr Wicremesinghe as Prime Minister – and the Parliament accepts this – then Sri Lanka is limited to that interpretation. Those who suffer most would be the young who have invested in the Western system and its interpretation of the law. As per Tamil Guardian report ‘US, India, Australia and Japan discuss crisis in Sri Lanka’ :
‘Senior officials from the United States, India, Australia and Japan met in Singapore yesterday to discuss the Indo-Pacific region, with the political crisis in Sri Lanka firmly on the agenda.’
It would obviously be difficult for young ones when their government is ridiculed by nations they consider to be progressive and through whom they connect to wider world.
But until the voter without special status is ‘included’ by the media including social media – their beliefs would be different to the beliefs of young ones with access to international resources – which are often termed ‘Foreign powers’ by those who shout Ape Aanduwa / Our Government merely to hold positions of power. They are also bribes to the gullible voter who dreams that he is the Prime Minister’s mate. One of the tuck tuck drivers in Colombo who has many regular customers in Tamil area of Wellawatte - said to me that before Mr Rajapaksa came to power he actually visited his home in the village. But later when he sought some favour Mr Rajapaksa did not respond. The tuck-tuck guy then turned against Mr Rajapaksa – towards General Fonseka first and later towards Mr Sirisena. Wonder where he stands now???
True Confidence of the People will naturally elect reliable government. Likewise their representatives would naturally work the Parliament through belief in the people. The current chaos in Parliament confirms that there is serious lack of confidence in the People by the Parliamentarians. A Parliamentary election would not address this problem. Politicians need to remember that in Ape Aanduwa / Our Government each one needs to first stay within his / her circle of belief and be transparent about the processes followed in reaching the outcomes. The President failed in this regard by not informing Mr Wickremesinghe of the allegations against him and following due processes of Public Administration – starting with requiring Mr Wickremesinghe to ‘show cause’. Thereby Mr Sirisena lost the moral authority to find fault with any other Parliamentarian on the basis that that Parliamentarian failed to follow Due Processes including standing orders. One who believes would apply the rule to himself also. Our Natural Consolidated vote goes to Mr Karu Jayasuriya and the Officers in Uniform who defended and did not attack.