Colombo, Human Rights, Human Security, IDPs and Refugees, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke, 1795

As I sit on the steps leading down to the garden from the verandah, its night in Pelawatte. Darkness in the tropics descends fast and lies very like a thick blanket. The heat and humidity making it feel more so. The night is still and black.  Intermittent houses and lack of streetlights add to the feeling of absolute darkness. The house lights are low to extenuate the earthy feeling from the dark yellow coloured cement floor, the terracotta tiles on the verandah, antique furniture all add to the stillness of the night. Behind me I hear the murmur of the people at the party. Green sleeves plays softly on the old Pioneer stereo with 60HPM speakers I owned since childhood. I am bored but politeness is a must with the eclectic mix of people at the party. All from United Nations agencies, different races and religions, all in one topic of conversation, various versions and adaptations. The end of the battle for Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) and the country’s future. It’s a close-knit community; but thoughts and true feelings are not expressed openly. I am finding it hard to keep my big mouth shut; a little drunk from what is now my fourth large Jameson on the rocks. I venture out to sit on the steps in the verandah both for cool relief to my bottom from the terracotta tiles and a much need smoke break. As popularly believed a smoke immediately brings down the level of drunkenness. Or believed to.

Despite the heat, the sweat down my neck and the clammy feeling all over my body, I am feeling almost euphoric. Purely brought on by the fact that I am visiting the motherland, amongst good company, good booze and I know the food will be fantastic as I liaised with the caterers and organised the menu. Freewheeling in my standard when on holiday colourful Barefoot sarong I adjust my bits and sit down. The white Gap t-shirt clings to my back. I fish out a smoke, light up and inhale gratefully. I hear silent footsteps behind me as one of the UN agency Scandinavian girls plops down beside me with the question ‘mind if I join you?’ She then proceeds to bum a smoke off me and leans in to light up. A whiff of perfume, showered skin and mild soap. Her loose linen blouse and Abercrombie shorts with the showered scent makes one know that this is seasoned tropics person. Prior to Sri Lanka, she served in Afghanistan and Cambodia. She is actually someone who believes in the goodness of people, so I am polite. The two dobes slink out from the subdued garden lighting to us, I request her to be cool and the dobes pissed as they are non-participants at the party, flop down beside within convenient distance of my hand in case I want to pet them with no threat to her.

It’s a beautiful clear night and we see the moon silhouetted in the night sky. The girl and I chat, as usual about the war. Suddenly I want to speak, really talk about what’s on my mind. My thoughts are with the 100,000 Sri Lankan IDP’s in the north of my Paradise Isle. They did not want this war, it was forced on them. Most do not wear footwear nor have even seen a hundred-rupee note, let alone a thousand or two thousand. This is not their war; this is the war of the politicians, the war of the Diasporas scattered through out the western world that were attacked and fled the country in 1983 or those who conveniently used the war as an excuse to seek asylum and sanctuary in the west. The war of the warmongers, the war of those who made riches in arms deals, weapons procurement in liberated USSR countries, the war of those who fly in east European prostitutes to Colombo’s five star hotels, Hilton residencies and the local residents. The war of the casino owners, the war of the Rajapakse sanctioned underworld. The war of the Rajapakse’s, their immediate and extended family and their most trusted friends. The war that brought the poor families in rural Sri Lanka money to build a house, but at the cost of a father, son or daughter who gave their lives to serve in the armed forces. Who gave their lives for their families to have a better life, and all of us. YES, US.

The UN agency girls face grows dark despite the white skin, the eyes grow frightened. I am mentioning the unmentionable. She knows the drill, if one bums a smoke, one must hang around until it’s finished. I talk about the fact that the few times I have been in a position to overhear bad men and women conspiring to do evil deeds, they had been pretty much idiots. Those who choose to live criminal lives are not the brightest amongst us. My level of intelligence I profess not to be of the highest standards, but I have many times to my detriment believe in standing by what I believe and what I little I know. But I know that evil geniuses are rare. But why do so many bad people get away with so many crimes against their fellow citizens and, WHEN THEY BECOME LEADERS OF NATIONS, AGAINST HUMANITY?

Edmund Burke provided the answer in 1795: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

I believe that I am a good man, and therefore I finally come out of my closet. I may say many things in my posts, but all along I watch for hope, with hope I hope only for progress, and deep in my heart I know that there is no hope for my Paradise Isle, my motherland. It is silly of us to think that the sovereignty of Sri Lanka and battles won is the end of our war against terrorism. When did our country of peace loving people suddenly think that what is happening in the North of our country, to our own people is all right? When did all the politicians become so corrupt? Is our country so drained of principals that govern humanity that we all stand and watch this happen? When did our opposition become so weak? Why do we make excuses for a leadership as evil as this? Tamil, Sinhala, Muslim or of whatever race? So speak the truth I must. As soon as I post this my chances of return to my motherland may be lost, so be it, may the white vans come, but one good man has spoken.


For those of you who know the opposition political hierarchy, this is what you can do, now, today.

The election of Barrack Obama as the US President is a good example of how an educated, articulate man was propelled to one of the top positions in the world through a proper marcomms campaign. I just saw a news item yesterday of a campaign promoting the youth of India to vote. It was sponsored by brands; in Sri Lanka’s case it must be sponsored by the opposition and must seek all of Sri Lanka to vote. Come out of your air-conditioned offices, brave the hot or wet weather, the CTB, private buses, but all of Sri Lanka please exercise your right to vote. Any dissent is dissent, and the current SLGov must know that there are people who oppose their way of government. The best way to do this is vote and a proper campaign will bring the opposition some much-needed credibility.

Be humble in victory. The end of this battle will be celebrated. Let the opposition now remember every leader of any ethnicity, all the armed forces, innocent Sri Lankan’s who lost life or limb to the war. We can a win a battle, being human is remembering and respecting all those who were lost to the violence.

Bring together all leaders and people of every community and walk for peace on our streets. Invite the foreign media to Colombo. The United Nations. Let them see for their own. One man can be kidnapped from his home in white man, not thousands. Allow the media in Sri Lanka to rise again; they must know that there are those of us who support them.

These are but my few ideas, I am sure many of you will have many more, better ones.

I pour my fifth Jameson after releasing my now sweating and agitated companion. It’s the tropics, and I am in heaven. Tomorrow wake late, relieve hangover with loads of ice tea and a spicy Koluu late lunch at Barefoot, back home, shower again and off to Kataragama my favourite place on this earth. Front seat kicked back and sleeping as Bandu drives. Dinner at Lighthouse hotel and take over driving the night shift, as I just love the drive. Two full days in Kataragama doing my religious thing. Then onwards to Uda Walawe for Elephant watching, camera opportunities and the wild boar, venison and string hopper meals at the junction kade. Detour to jungle in Buttala and back to Colombo. Shower, get pretty and off to Sugar. One last wild night, Bandu drops me off at airport. Dozens of black coffee before boarding, sleep all the way to London. Arrive refreshed to face the 9 to 5.

I ponder my fate as many of you will say it’s easy for me to talk, I go back to England, I live in England. A few of you however will know how much I sacrifice, how much I love my motherland, my Paradise Isle, and how hard it will be for me to stay away from it. All I do now is pray. Pray for deliverance of Sri Lanka. Pray for the peace we all crave for.

An honest man has spoken. So must you.

  • Dhammika D

    ‘One man can be kidnapped from his home in white man, not thousands.’
    Sorry typo – white man should be white van. Tx.

  • the author of published post before in his own blog . i left some comment there, as did others . i don’t want to repost them here . but reader may find them interesting .
    here is the relevant post

  • Chinthana Mahinda

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
    ~ Thomas Jefferson, American Declaration of Independence ~

    “I am neither an Athenian, nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”
    ~ Socrates ~

    “I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death, you’re right to say it.”
    ~ Voltaire ~

    “Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervour, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.”
    ~ Julius Caesar ~

    In Sri Lanka the silent minority from Colombo Central, Colombo North, Colombo East, Colombo West and Borella who subscribe to first three quotes voted for the UNP.

    The Vocal Majority who subscribe to the fourth quote voted for ‘U know Hoo and his henchmen.’

    If we don’t devolve power to the minorities and continue to imagine that this is a ‘Sinhala Buddhist Country’ instead of a ‘Multi Cultural, multi ethnic country’ consisting of people who speak 3 languages adhering to four religions, these are the kind of headlines you might see in the newspapers, fifty years from now:

    2050 AD
    “President Namal Rajapaksa Vows To Defeat Terrorism By End Of Year”

    “Charles Anthony, Leader Of The LTTE Buys Nuclear Warheads From North Korea”

  • Observer

    Sure evil thrives when good men do nothing. Sure good men and women serve under the UN badge and other badges. Good for them and may long lives bless them.
    Then… there are angels that serve in various security apparatus that protect the larger community from the most sickening evil. They include the selfless that get rewarded with a bullet and an unmarked grave if they’re lucky. Braving waves of human bombs coming from the darkest of corners.
    Then there are the intellectuals who see beyond the generations and life times into the far future and shape the strategy for the security of the nation in the long term, eliminating potential threats to the existence of the Sri Lankan people. These I call patriots. Surprisingly some believe them to be good people too!
    Combined these people have met evil in the depths of hell and taken the “good” fight to the Satan’s den. At least better than the alternative opposition to the current administration who chose to burn a whole unit of patriots at Millenium city. For which I still dream about the death sentence being handed to the architects of that massacre.
    Depending on your perspective, good men/women are battling it out for the defeat of evil and the triumph of goodness. All I know is karma is bitch and it settles a lot of scores. May justice prevail!
    Walk for peace all around the country. Heck dance while you’re walking and let all that foreign media broadcast it live like a carnival. That’s fine! In the shadows, people with “responsibility” and “passion” to save the country for another day will keep dying uncelebrated deaths in their efforts.
    Just one thing though.. please don’t talk against white vans! I went to school every day in white vans. Fond memories. I unashamedly love them and support them all the way!

  • asanga

    the thing with Chinthana Mahinda’s comment is the undelying beleive that the people from his party and in the city limits are always more knowledgable and less scucceptibale for politcal gimmiks and they always know the best for the country…

    but unfortunately the great leveler is that both the city based intellectual and the rural fool both have only a single vote to cast…

    ” RW become the world oldest standing opposition leader at age 108 and promises reforms to hand over power to sajith premadas’s son”

  • Pearl Thevanayagam

    Whoever you are I empathise with you. I too like Barefoot and the finer things in life. But the buck stops here. When I think of my Tamil brethren I do not want another designer wear. I do not want another Barefoot kit.
    if I could save one Tamil in the war zone from starving I would not have lived in vain.
    But alas, your government is bent on annihilating us and the NGO foreigners who are mesmerised by romantic Buddhism are falling for its ‘Sri Lanka for Sinhala Buddhists’ rhetoric that Tamils have Tamilnadu and poor Sinhalese have only Sri Lanka ergo wipe out the Tamils or send them elsewhere.
    Do we sense a similarity with the clarion call of Hitler to exterminate Jews in the second world war. Pearl Thevanayagam

  • Ravana

    This is written by a member of the colombo elite society. I hasten to add that I am one too and I also consider myself a “good man”. The problem is that the rest of the voter base and they outnumber us 10:1 don’t care what we think or do, furthermore in a democracy such as this WE DON’T COUNT !

    The only encouraging fact is that in the recent Western Provincial elections the “Colombo elite” voted against the Rajapaksa regime and secured 5 seats for the opposition.

    All we can do is hang onto our beliefs and try to make a difference to our immediate sphere of influence. After all the Americans’ had to put up with a Clinton and two Bushes’ before Obama prevailed !

  • James

    The statement that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” is often attributed to Burke. Burke never said this but, in 1770, he wrote in Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents that “when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
    001.^ Daniel Ritchie (1 January 1990). Edmund Burke: appraisals and applications. ISBN 9780887383281.
    002.^ Edmund Burke (1770). Thoughts on the cause of the present discontents.