Imagining the immediate (im)possibilities

Preamble

My last reflection on the immediate possibilities of state power sharing had an unusual over 25,000 readers generating 77 comments amounting to a staggering 24,500 word count. Luckily for the most part, a very healthy debate was building particularly amongst writers such as SomewhatDisgusted, Disgusted and Undergroundview. Such intense and articulated engagement is rare. I am pleased if my writings had in anyway become a basis for such debate. That was the intention. Because there is no democracy without debate and similarly there is no debate without democracy. Commendable as the writers managed to save the decency of democratic debate, avoiding the so common vixenish narcissism. I wish I knew them personally so that some day we could have some tea and chat.  While leaving space for their intra/nano debate on conceptual interpretation of Minority Rights Vs Majority Responsibilities, I try to contour the meso level debate on the issue of Political Power sharing in SL.

Sharing State Powers: Imagining the immediate (im)possibilities

Recently the media reported some politically significant developments for students of SL affairs. 1. The escape of 20,000 (mostly suspected former LTTE) detainees. 2. The joint demand by the key ‘’Thamil Speaking’’ political parties. 3. President’s visit to Anuradhapura Maha Meuvna Uyana to inspect a suitable site for the proposed “Victory’’ Dágeba. Since Dr Saravanamuththu has reflected on the cadre turned detainees-now escapees, I will try to learn from the latter two.

Donating Dágebas-Present of the Past

President was accompanied by CM Bertie Premalal whom I know as a pragmatic politician and singer turned Governor Karunarathna Divulgane, who like his music is a soft/ethical man. Both these boomiputhras of Rajarata in the company of the learned Atamasthana Viharaadipathi means the president is making a bold public promise to implement this project, even while it unavoidably falls into the electioneering docu-dramas. Dágeba donating is a key Theravada tradition. Popularly believed to have pioneered by Emperor Asoka. Asoka’s attempts to Saasanasodhana and the 3rd Council (in effect the Fourth Council- Frauwallner 1952a) of Buddhism at Asokarama at Pataliputta around 250 BCE, was followed by a very generous state sponsored Dágeba donation for the advancement of Buddhism (Mendis 1946:1-24, Perera 1977, Bechert 1970 & 1978) Our Vamsa literature, especially the narratives of Mahavamsa extrapolates this as an act of legitimizing ‘’Theravada’’ polities of power balancing between the State and the Sásana. Almost all the kings of Lanka donated Dágebas (and Viharas) so as to have the reassurance of the Sangha for their rule (and to advance Buddhism). The creation of Mahavihára and two other competing Jethavana and Abeyagiri Viharas in the early Anuradhapura era were all part of this complex interdependence of Sangha and the State in SL. (Mv:1832 xxxiii: pg 137-9) Scholars of Theravada Buddhist polities claim that while the Sangha had used their cultural position as the strongest leverage to shape the nature of the government/kingship, the state power in return used the Sangha to legitimize their rule particularly when the rule is threatened by internal forces (Tambiah 1976, Gomrich 1988)  For this reason the ideology historicized in Sri Lanka is contrary to the multi religious Buddhist society intended by Asokan traditions. (Mahavamsa Chap. XV –XVII). In the near history, King Kirti Sri Rajasimha of Thamil/Náyakkar origin in Kandy did historical contributions by restoring the Upasampadda (ordination of Sangha) tradition with the help of Siam monks. The Mallwatte temple and the modern form of Äsala Perehara were his projects. As de Silva (1981:241-276) argues Rájasimha struggled to prove his Buddhist-ness to the Sangha and the society as he was facing a major rebellion.

However, the contemporary political act of Dágeba donation differs from the recorded Indian and even Mahavamsic historical practice. While, the ‘’annihilation’’ of tiger terrorism (note not the state terrorism) is the claimed reason for such Damma gesture or Kusalakamma,  the project clearly resurrect a strong sense of Sinhalanization of the entire state as Dágebas and Viharas are essentially the strong part of pots-Buddhist Sinhala tradition. As we see in the history Dágebas and Viharas are not mere building projects but imposing the fundamentals of Theravada Buddhism into a new area because such projects are naturally followed by the new settlement of Sangha and the dáyakayas.  The actual benefit to the entire country from the proposed project during an abysmal financial crisis aside, The Anuradhapura ‘’Victory’’ Dágeba is supposedly the first one of the nine in all nine provinces. Thus the attempts of induction of history goes beyond mere act of stabilization the Sinhalaness of the state but also a state sponsored project to assimilate the rest of non-Buddhist identities into the “Maha” culture.

President MR was recently credited for his seemingly postmodern political thoughts when he declared that SL does not have any ‘’Sulu Jaathin’’ (minorities). This pronouncement was impregnable empirically as much as theoretically. He carefully avoided to say that in the absence of the minorities, all will be “Sama Jaathin’’ (equal citizens), because the political implication of that will means there is no “Maha Jaathin” (majority) either. A position even SWRD could not afford to utter after his years of learning in local governments and sub state governmentality at a modern political school. The closest SWRD came was to sign the B-C pact, which eventually robbed his life by none other than few influential members of the Sangha Samája. The post independent SL, as in her history, clearly remains as an ethno-centric state that tries to solidify itself against the “other’’ who is often a non-Sinhala non-Buddhist. The self identity of the modern state has derived from what it is ‘’not’’. Anagárika’s revival was largely modeled on the evangelical missionary moments of the 20th century which Obesekara termed as ‘’Protestant Buddhism’’ (See Dr Sarath Amunugama’s thesis on his)

Erecting Dágebas in all nine provinces, even without any popular request from the citizens of those provinces amounts to a state centric Sinhala-Buddhisiation. Then the socio-political implication of this would mean that defeating the LTTE was not merely to rid the country and its citizens from a protracted terror polity and usher democratic stability but to impose a majoritarian hegemony through an internal colonization masked as a religious thanks giving.

Surely democracy does not grow by repression or state centric assimilation. Even more, Buddhism cannot be advanced by constructing Dágebas. History is full of such evidence. After all those dharmishta efforts by Asoka, Buddhism did not survive in India because the fundamental of Theravada Buddhism solely rests in the manner in which the Sangha practice the Patimokkah Seela and guide the laity in the Vinaya and  Panchaseela. President will benefit and provide moral leadership should he invite the Mahanayakas to initiate a statewide Damma Sajjayana to call the Buddhists (and the willing non-Buddhists) to return to the path of Damma from the present culture of corruption, murder and power hunger even while some 300,000 are lamenting for basic life and the majority of (Buddhists) citizen are struggling to survive in a perishing socio-political habitat. Perhaps then the Theravada teaching will produce some timely and eternal results. Contrarily, erecting Dágebas will remain as hollow symbols of cultural colonization in a deeply divided state.

Joint Demand by the Thamil Speaking Parties

SL’s ethnic calcification is purposefully ambiguous. It has no basis of any know ethnomethodology. It was a crafty act of the British colonialist now exploited by the state. For instance,

Sinhala

A racial-linguistic identity because there are no other Sinhalas on planet earth except for those scattered Diaspora for educational and economic benefits. (If one is to claim that Sinhalas leave SL for safety, then they readily justify the separatist claim)

Ceylon Thamil

An ethnic-linguistic id, separating them from the rest of the 100 million global Thamils

Indian (Malayaha) Thamils

A geographical id, strongly connecting them to Thamil Nadu than to SL

Muslims

A religious id, which in turn pushes them to seek affiliation to an international order than to localize. Even the use of ‘’Moor’’ is largely to show their Arab/Indian origin than to confirm a SL ownership

Malays

An ancestry and country of origin id, while most them are Muslims

Burgher

An id based on the descendents, while most of the modern Burgers are Catholic/Christians and often speaks Sinhala and/or Thamil as their social language.

Here one could observe that non-Sinhalas are subdivided on number of regular inconsistencies. While the Sinhala id is kept under a broad umbrella even while such id is comprised of visible sub-divisions at least as Buddhist Sinhalas or Catholic/Christian Sinhalas on religious ground and Udarata, Phatharata Sinhalas on cultural grounds. (There are more sub divisions amongst the Sinhalas. For detail see research work of (Ganananath Obeysekara, and M.D. Raghavan 1948, 1951a, 1951b, 1957, 1962, 1967) in defining the cultural anthropology of the Sinhalas.

For the last three decades, thank to the extreme form of ethnonationalist politic of LTTE, (Balasingham 2005) the Muslims and the Malayaha Thamils were not provided an equal space as  collective minorities in  the struggle to bargain state power. Except for the Thimphu Demands where the Sri Lanka citizenship was claimed for all those who were born in SL, the political philosophy of the LTTE rapidly constructed a monoethnic id, finally creating internal separatism , the apparent reason for Colonel Karuna Amman to defect the group (and assimilate into majoritarian politics?)

It is in this complex back drop in a post-Prapa political context that the key ‘’Thamil speaking’’ parties have come together. While their immediate attention is focused on the inhuman conditions of the detainees, it promises some new possibilities for democracy in SL. If CWC, UCPF and other (unarmed) Thamil, Muslim Malay and Burgher groups could see the common cause and modalities to articulate a common agenda, then the possibility of bargaining a Lijphart (1984, 1999) model Consociational Democracy in the form of Senghass’s Participatory Democratic Ownership (2002) could be imagined, especially in the light of the operational deficiency and the organized disorder of the UNP. On surface it appears to be a grand coalition of the Non-Sinhalas for political benefits, but an alliance of such nature with an electoral ‘’veto’’ in hand could eventually lead the wider democratization of the major parties in the south and their governmentality as no government in SL was formed without the support of the parties of the minorities after 1977.  The interlocking, self defeating “Majoritarian Mindset of the Minorities’’ against the “Minority Mindset of the Majority’’ needs to be dismantled to unchain the imaginative political energies to search new possibility for ethnic harmony, democratic recoveries and economic development.

Imagining (im)possibilities?

The effort of such collective non-majoritarian politics should surely go beyond the immediate concerns of the Thamil speakers. They need to envisage a society where primary forces of democracy will govern and rule the state. They ought to think and act not just for the Non-Sinhalas but for the rights of Sinhalas as well. It is only then a cross fertilizing ethno political democracy is possible. Imagine the implications, if the LTTE had a Sinhala Buddhist as their deputy leader commanding a Sinhala brigade or the JHU has a Muslim as their alternative leader? Then these Thamil Eelam and Hela Uruma(i) will not be the thick signifier of the ‘’other’’ but different forces perhaps working for a common causes.

In the effort of joining forces and imagining alternatives, I urge the non-majoritarian (i.e. Thamil Speaking) parties to consider the following demands as their conditions for support for any future government.

  1. Change the constitution and create two Vice Presidencies for Thamils and Muslims
  2. Change the election law as to no person could contest for presidency as an individual but as team of three. In this team there will be a leader and two deputies all three representing the three ids. E.g. If MR is contesting he needs to find two vice presidents from the other communities. And similarly if Hakeem is contesting for the post of presidency he will be accompanied by Thamil and Sinhala deputies. And voter will vote for the said team not and individual. This, like in Belgium and Lebanon (and future Iraq) may defuse the explosive mono-ethnic competition and force the voters to consider the presidency for policies, programs and person’s moral/ethics beyond their given ethnicity.
  3. Change the constitution to create the PM post as a rotating post of two years alternatively for the most popular Sinhala, Thamil and Muslim parliamentarian of the ruling party. After all this is now largely an administrative function within the parliament.
  4. Under write to have a free/fair referendum for the abolition of the national parliament and instead create nine strong Provincial Councils. Because as long as there is a dominant Centre, no genuine periphery could grow. Each province depending on their population strength (one for every 500,000?) will nominate ministers to the National Cabinet.  For sure we will not have more than 40 but representing the province at national level irrespective of the ruling party of the province. Then in such culture the JVP, if they manage to win a province could legitimately share the power of National Politics without being a frustrated spoiler or an underdog cheaply seduced by of ministerial perks.
  5. The president will be in charge of the National Defense and Central Bank (as it has happened in reality since JRJ) while the board of ministers bear all other largely devolved responsibilities.

Now I could visualize some blue jeans neo-nationalists and Maha sammatha boomiputhras wielding their traditional Hela Jaathika sword against such imagination. Unfortunately that would only reflect their pathological inability to imagine, because one cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it. We need fresh political imaginations to move from this stagnated swamp of decaying majoritarian democracy. Our collective potentials are far and wide as the ocean out there.

  • niranjan

    Suren Raghavan,

    Interesting article. As you rightly pointed out the problem is that we have a majoritarian political mindset. I will not use the word democracy because as far as I am concerned we are not a democracy in the true sense of the word. But we have elections and elections can change governments.

    You urge the non-majoritarian Tamil political parties to make demands as their conditions to support a future government. The demands you suggest are interesting but when are they going to happen ? The Sinhala majoritarian viewpoint has always been strong and has got stronger after the war was won by the security forces. The Government has just got two third majority in the South PC election.
    This Government is not interested in minority concerns or minority political parties therefore even if such demands are put forward by minority parties they will be brushed aside.

  • Nimesh

    Personally – and this is just me – I think there are far bigger problems that stand in the way of peace and minority rights in Sri Lanka than the construction of a dagaba. Most of this article is about how horrendous the building of a dagaba in Anuradhapura is…for real? Perhaps issues like constitutional change and devolution of powers have lost their importance? Or am I missing something.

  • President Bean

    Suren you say,
    Change the constitution and create two Vice Presidencies for Thamils and Muslims.
    …shouldn’t we include the ‘Christians’ as well? Don’t forget that there are about 7% Christians in Sri Lanka!
    And shouldn’t “Change the constitution to create the PM post as a rotating post of two years alternatively,” include not only the “most popular Sinhala, Thamil and Muslim parliamentarian of the ruling party”…but also a ‘ Popular Christian parliamentarian as well?’
    Why not also include a clause which says, ‘The President shall not include any of his family members through the national list or appoint them to key posts in government! In other words…NO NEPOTISM!

    And lastly…why not include, ‘CHANGE THE LION FLAG’ so that it does not give pride of place to any race or religious group?’ Takeing the American flag as an example.

    Sadly Suren…none of this will take place in our lifetime…but who knows…it might be possible in another 100 or a 150 years time. Nothing is permanent. Not even the sun and not even the ‘Sinahala Buddhist’ majority. Until then…lets keep our fingers crossed, and meet up for a beer and a chat. (i’m not that partial to tea)

    ps: We had some good times at Grant’s no? mail me at [email protected] (then you can know who I really am)

    have a nice day. CHEERS!

  • Susantha

    Tamils in Sri lanka do not have a right for any devolution…its the duty of the government to close every avenue of tamil self determination been achieved if they want to remain in power

  • undergroundview

    I’m sure we’d have a most interesting chat over tea (even better if we could have a good coffee or three). But for now the interwebs will have to do…

    I’m not sure there is much meaning in speaking of a community’s right to a form of government (and Susantha may be addressing the wrong question). Maybe it would make more sense to ask what form of government can best deliver lasting peace, respect the rights of individuals of all religious and ethnic communities, recognise the rich historical cultural traditions which share the Island, and provide good, effective, and maybe even honest government for the benefit of people not actually in the Cabinet.

    I know Sri Lanka has the world’s largest cabinet – but that’s hardly a great defence of government by and for the cabinet, is it? Some changes are clearly in order…

  • niranjan

    Constitutional change in any way, the full implementation of the 13 amendment and the 17 amendment to the constitution, minority rights is not on the agenda of the Government. What is on the agenda of the Government was the winning of the war and the elections. For that it has to seek the support of the majority community. The minorities do not count. As long as this Government remains in power minority issues will not be addresed.

    Political analyst Dayan Jayathilleke in an article titled ” Southern Province polls and the postwar crisis” in today’s Island has said that he believes that Sri Lanka is possibly heading for a one party dominant state after the Parliamentary and Presidential elections are held next year. This he says is due to the lack of a proper opposition. Therefore, it looks like this Government will be in power for a considerable period of time.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Suren Ragahavan,

    This is what I stated in my comment on that thread

    Quote
    The discussion on this thread is one of the best I have seen on groundviews so far. I wish that such discussions will overwhelm the slang matches that usually take place on most threads.

    Smoulderingjin, somewhatdisgusted and undergroundview please keep it up. I hope that Dr. Pradeep Jeganathan will continue to provide his perspective on what is being discussed. However Suren Raghavan is very conspicuous by his absence in a thread started by himself.

    I have noticed that with the exception of Dr Devanasan Nesiah, Dayan Jayatilleka and probably a few others the majority of writers shy away from discussing their own articles. This brings to question the motive behind what they write.

    Unquote

    I should have included Basil Fernando as well

    I hope that in the future, you will respond to critiques generated by your own writings.

    A writer who avoids discussion and fails to take responsibility for what he/she writes would not be any better than a Troll or a Rabble Rouser that unfortunately infests the web discussions.

  • doomed to repeat it

    Interesting article, thanks for writing it.

    Personally, I’m not sure that mandating a representative from each “community” (how does one decide what a community is and who belongs to it? It is such a fluid concept) as one third of each important position will work. Belgium and Lebanon were cited as examples, and there are several others including Bosnia. The problem is that these systems don’t work.

    In Belgium the Flemish and Wallons generally can’t stand each other. Go into Flanders; you will see the black and orange flag of Flemish nationalism all over the place. Many people believe that the only reason the country hasn’t split is that both sides want Brussels, which is French speaking but entirely surrounded by Flemish lands. The central government is barely functional, as the year before lasts’ political crisis shows. I have friends, both Flemish and Wallon, who say the country won’t last more than another decade or two; eventually each will decide to go it’s separate way.

    Lebanon does almost exactly what you describe, as prescribed in its post-independence constitution (and tweaked at various times since), but this arrangement has done nothing to stop a series of civil wars and foreign invasions and domination. Hezbollah and other militias, Muslim, Druze and Christian, control vast swaths of the country as virtually independent entities, confident because the central government dare not upset the delicate political balance their constitution mandates. As a result the central government has little real control outside of Beirut and bits of central and northern Lebanon. The officials of this three-way government like it that way, as their communities are functionally independent. Those that believe in Lebanon as a single entity are frustrated.

    In Bosnia, the Serbian Republic of Srpska and the Muslim/Croat Federation, each of which control half the country, are still at each others throats, with the Serbs, even those in the central government, openly supporting a complete split and independence for the Serbs.

    The point is that such quota system arrangements in which you guarantee a representative of each community a certain proportion of positions (or 1/3 of each) hasn’t worked in the past. Historically such situations have resulted, at best, in paralyzed government (for example, Belgium) or outright civil war (Lebanon).

    On paper it’s a marvelous, fair idea. In reality such arrangements only seem to encourage divisions, not heal them. The inevitable result seems to be devolution of the state, if not outright dissolution. Folks like Susantha would STRONGLY disapprove.

    The problem for me is that I can’t think of a viable solution to the current situation. Federalism? A completely unitary state? Independence for each community? One party dictatorship? I just don’t know.

  • doomed to repeat it

    Hi Nimesh. I think you may have missed something.

    If I understand the article correctly, the dagaba in-and-of-itself isn’t the issue. The author is pointing out that its construction in these times and under these circumstances is highly representative of the mindset of the current government and its attitudes about Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism, minorities, etc. and can be used to predict its future actions with regards to these issues, including constitutional change and devolution of powers.

    At least that’s how I read it.

  • Suren Raghavan

    Dear Off the Cuff,

    Thank you for your comments.
    I am not sure why commentators like Dr Dayan Jayathilake jumps to defend their own writing so often, so quickly, hegemonicing the debate parading thier latest qualifications/academic achievements and LSE faculty affiliation. I will not do that, not because I don’t have the qualifications or experience. But that type of self serving dismisses the claimed academic refinement.

    I am most happy if my writings are a catalyst that generates a civic discussion towards re (dis)covering democracy, as happend with the previous one. Of course you would notice my writings take two different paths:

    1. (mild) Conceptual Analysis – because this is a web based journal for non-academic purposes.
    2. Commentary on Current Affairs, where I try to inject the theoretical aspect with some empirical context. So, there should not be any “conspicuous” feelings or question the “motive” behind what they write.”

    Democracy is a collective effort built not just by university dons (then it will not be Democracy) but by engaging citizens like yourself.

    looking forwards to read your contibutions
    best

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Suren Ragahavan,

    In the past the ‘’Thamil Speaking” mantra was used to play a numbers game.

    It was a ploy to include the sizable Muslim population into the Tamil demands. That this was just a ploy was underscored when Muslims were massacred, pillaged and chased away from the North and parts of the East in the ONLY ethnic cleansing on record in Sri Lanka in recent times (please correct me if I am wrong here). That not a SINGLE Tamil who had any influence with the criminal Prabhakaran and his criminal gang was able to reverse this gross HR violation and bring about even a minuscule of justice to the “Thamil Speaking Muslims” speaks volumes of this duplicitous mantra.

    I was amazed at what you say

    Quote
    Burgher
    An id based on the descendents, while most of the modern Burgers are Catholic/Christians and often speaks Sinhala and/or Thamil as their social language.
    Unquote

    Since when did the Eurasian Burghers generally start to use Sinhala/Tamil as their social language (another name for mother tongue?)? Do they not use English as their mother tongue? I know that some can speak Tamil as well as Sinhala and fluently too. So is our President MR. Quite a number of Sinhalese speak Tamil and Tamils speak Sinhalese. Every Sinhalese Plantation Superintendent and their deputies can speak fluent Tamil.

    Quote
    Here one could observe that non-Sinhalas are subdivided on number of regular inconsistencies. While the Sinhala id is kept under a broad umbrella even while such id is comprised of visible sub-divisions at least as Buddhist Sinhalas or Catholic/Christian Sinhalas on religious ground and Udarata, Phatharata Sinhalas on cultural grounds. (There are more sub divisions amongst the Sinhalas …..).
    Unquote

    Attempting to separate the Sri Lankan Polity into two groups, Sinhala and non Sinhala? What is your intent? Bridge building and reconciliation or perpetuation of strife?

    How about Buddhist Tamils, Catholic Tamils, Hindu Tamils, Jaffna Tamils, Colombo Tamils, Eastern Tamils etc As you say there are more subdivisions amongst the Sinhalese (and obvious reference to cast) but why don’t you discuss the Tamil subdivisions? I have not touched upon cast though you referred to it obliquely.

    There are no Untouchables amongst the Sinhalese today but I am unsure whether that group is extinct amongst the Tamils of today. In the past the Supreme Court had to intervene and fine a very prominent Tamil politician in order to obtain the right to worship at a Hindu Kovil to a sizable section of the Tamil polity who were deprived of Religious Freedom by Tamils themselves. Many of these Tamils became Buddhists.

    You attempt to convey that SL Tamils are unique and have no ID empathy with Tamils in Tamil Nadu. But there are many Tamils in Tamil Nadu that identify with SL Tamils to the extent of driving themselves to self immolation. Why are you trying to show that there is no such ID empathy?

    I feel that your article is cunningly crafted to drive more wedges than remove them. The need of the hour is reconciliation, nothing else. Allow healing without rubbing salt into old wounds and creating new ones.

    Just watch the responses that this article will generate. It will inflame feelings rather than sooth them. Unless the saner voices of those who turned your previous post (Smoulderingjin, somewhatdisgusted, undergroundview and Dr. Pradeep Jeganathan) into what it became later prevail, this thread will turn out to be a slang match oozing hatred.

    Yes Dr Saravanamuththu has reflected on the cadre turned detainees-now escapees, but he has not answered any query addressed to him on that thread.

    There are approximately 250,000 IDPs in the camps (UN figures as at 15 Sept 2009…there are more in hospitals and schools…but I have excluded them from the calculation). Many has escaped with the help of corrupt officials, NGOs and INGOs which resulted in restrictions being placed on vehicles from outside being used within the camps (other than those transporting essentials as per Dr P Jeganathan’s blog)

    They belong to approximately 62,500 families (taking an average family unit of 4 persons). Prabahkaran required that EVERY family contribute one person to his fighting cadres. As NO ONE could disobey him and hope to live another day there are approximately 62,500 Trained Terrorists amongst the genuine civilian IDPs.

    The LTTE carefully buried arms, munitions and explosives within the territory that they controlled for use at a later date. Many of these have been located from information elicited from the cadres who have been identified or surrendered.

    The Govt is faced with an unpalatable choice,
    1. Release the IDPs what ever the consequences to the 20,000,000 SL population (Tamils. Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers, Malays, Kafirs etc) and pray that explosions, suicide attacks and massacres do not take place
    2. Meticulously screen the IDPs for the over 60,000 Terror Cadres and minimize the risk to life of the multi ethnic 20,000,000 population

    It is really a Hobson’s choice and the responsible choice is obvious.

    What is required is to provide ALL the basic comforts to the IDPs in the interim and humane treatment, rehabilitation and transparent prosecutions of the terror cadres that are identified.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Suren Ragahavan,

    This refers to your post at http://www.groundviews.org/2009/10/12/imagining-the-immediate-impossibilities/#comment-9884

    You miss the point, literally by a mile.

    I as a reader is not worried about the “TONE” of the response from the writer as long as the Author responds to a Readers comment and takes responsibility to what he/she writes.

    That is what is expected by a reader who addresses a comment directly to the Author of an article in question. Hence Dayan Jayatilake’s “TONE” is irrelevant to the complaint raised by me.

    I also do not understand why you chose Dayan Jayatilake as an example when the first name that I mentioned in my post is Dr Devanasan Nesiah.

    If you care to observe how a healthy discussion progresses when an author responds positively to a Reader’s query, you can do so at http://www.groundviews.org/2009/09/17/the-internment-–-a-collective-punishment

    You may even wish to join us in the discussion on that thread.

    looking forwards to read your answers to queries raised by readers

    Best wishes

    Off the Cuff

  • Suren Raghavan

    Dear off-the -Cuff,
    Thank you for self revealing. So this was your intention in complaining that I don’t respond to ”questions” posed to me, you say…

    ”Just watch the responses that this article will generate. It will inflame feelings rather than sooth them. Unless the saner voices of those who turned your previous post (Smoulderingjin, somewhatdisgusted, undergroundview and Dr. Pradeep Jeganathan) into what it became later prevail, this thread will turn out to be a slang match oozing hatred.”

    You have decided what the future responses should be? I am sorry to disappoint you, you may name it anything, but I am not going to answer your questions (even while they are theoretically and empirically so flawed) because it appears what you are interested in is a Mervin Silva type debate that often happens on state TV channels. I surely have other/ better things. Rather I would invite you to compile your thoughts as a research paper and try get published then perhaps you will hear answers you seek.

    Also why do you write under a name to hide, though it gives you away so plainly, while Sara, Pradeep, Nesiah, and myself, and so many others write under our own names even while seeing the danger that this endeavour has for us ? Would you call it Southern Democracy or Sinhala Politics?

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Suren Ragahavan,

    If you read through my posts carefully you will note that I refrain from personal attacks but attack the behavior of contributors on Groundviews that ignore reader queries. This is tantamount to a dereliction of duty towards the reader and the abdication of responsibility to what one writes. In the absence of such responsibility anyone can write any rubbish and get away with it, as some do.

    I also challenge articles that I consider are biased, inflammatory or false

    It looks like I have caught you with your pants down and now you are trying to cover your nudity by vainly trying to elevate yourself intellectually, above your detractor. University Don vs Ordinary Citizen?

    You state.
    “Democracy is a collective effort built not just by university dons (then it will not be Democracy) but by engaging citizens like yourself.”

    I wrote
    “……..…. However Suren Raghavan is very conspicuous by his absence in a thread started by himself.
    I have noticed that with the exception of Dr Devanasan Nesiah, Dayan Jayatilleka and probably a few others the majority of writers shy away from discussing their own articles. This brings to question the motive behind what they write.”

    Your reply to the above was an uncalled for attack on Dayan J. Looks like a green eyed jealousy has blinded you from understanding my meaning. That you selected Dayan a Sinhalese, skipping over the first named in the list, Dr Nesiah, a Tamil, underpins racist undertones in your character. This partly explains the slant of your posts.

    You say
    “Dr Dayan Jayathilake jumps to defend their own writing so often, so quickly, hegemonicing the debate parading thier latest qualifications/academic achievements and LSE faculty affiliation. I will not do that, not because I don’t have the qualifications or experience.”

    That is a totally irrelevant debasing attack and I consider it degrades you instead of him. It is so vile that it puts Mervyn Silva to shame. I am sure an unbiased reader would think the same.

    You accuse Dayan of beating his own drum but you could not resist sneaking in your own qualifications either, could you? It looks to me that Dayan is a much more honest human being, who means what he says, than the hypocrisy you display in your low and totally uncalled for attack on him.

    Those names were just names of people who respond to readers questions and were used in that context. You are the one who is “self revealing”

    Being a University Don you should have realized that I did not “decide” what the future responses would be but I “deduced” what they “could” be based on the inflammatory and twisted nature of the contents of your post.

    You are just groping in the dark and clutching at straws to avoid answering the questions I posed. How can you justify Eurasians jettisoning English and using Tamil / Sinhala as their mother tongue? That was just a minor question. If you are stymied by that simple question, I can understand your predicament in answering the rest

    Now you are putting on your University Cloak and making hoity-toity pronouncements “theoretically and empirically flawed” but mere statements without proof would not be acceptable even in a primary school let alone a University. You know that very well don’t you? Such remarks display your bankruptcy and inability to meet arguments. As I mentioned in my post of October 14, 2009 @ 1:09 am the subject article is cunningly crafted to drive more wedges deeper into the Ethnic divide than remove them.

    Since I am not vying with you for educational achievements I have no interest in writing research papers. If you are able to, just answer the questions posed but from what I see, you are incapable of doing that without getting deeper into the quagmire that you created for yourself.

    Finally lets look at the last para of your latest post

    Quote
    Also why do you write under a name to hide, though it gives you away so plainly, while Sara, Pradeep, Nesiah, and myself, and so many others write under our own names even while seeing the danger that this endeavour has for us ? Would you call it Southern Democracy or Sinhala Politics?
    Unquote

    I did not expect you to have such a juvenile mind set as displayed by the above paragraph. I use an assumed name that conveys to EVERYONE that it is an assumed name. I did not choose a name that will misrepresent my ethnicity. The need for secrecy is the ability of the LTTE to assassinate anyone with dissenting views. They erased Tamils who dissented, remember?

    Nobody could have stopped me had I chose to use “Mahendran Ragahavan” or even “Surendran Ragahavan” as my name. You could not have challenged me that it was not my REAL name. On the web Tamils use Sinhala names “Mawatha Silva” is an example. Look around, you will find Chinese and many European names used by Tamils. For all I know even the name you use may be assumed. Get the picture?

    BTW don’t put yourself on a par with Dr Devanasan Nesiah and Dr Pradeep Jeganathan, they stand by what they write and they have earned the respect that they deserve on public forums, which includes mine and I am a Sinhalese.

    Hope you are man enough to meet the challenges posed.

    Yours sincerely,
    Off the Cuff

  • Nimesh

    “The author is pointing out that its construction in these times and under these circumstances is highly representative of the mindset of the current government and its attitudes about Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism, minorities, etc. and can be used to predict its future actions with regards to these issues, including constitutional change and devolution of powers.”

    So the government putting money into rebuilding Hindu kovils, and sponsoring the Madhu Church Festival and setting up SL Muslim pilgrim hostels in Saudia Arabia can also be used to predict its future actions?

  • Suren Raghavan

    It is a fact that no one can help those who are ideologically committed to analyse the reverse of every argument. I think the continued global discourse on democracy and the new political validity of ethnic id and rights based issues are still alien in our land. Constructing arguments detached from the historical development is a consciousness that is submerged in the felt comfort of one’s given/taken ethnic id. The deconstructive process needs an analytical weighting to the empirical data. When one cannot adhere to that discipline, it only amounts to mere ethicizing of every moderate argument.

  • Heshan

    “President MR was recently credited for his seemingly postmodern political thoughts when he declared that SL does not have any ‘’Sulu Jaathin” (minorities). ”

    It is true he said this a while back, but does any else perceive the blatant racism lying underneath the surface? If we add some context, the remark was the culmination of a sustained brutal assault on the lives and property of a single class of people, e.g. Northern Tamils. First their homes were destroyed.. then they themselves were incarcerated indefinitely.. finally their identity was written away in a single phrase… this is not postmodern politics at all, this is the hallmark of fascism. There is a historical precedent that can be drawn: the Jews who were confined to ghettos in the heart of Nazi Berlin, surrounded by barbed wire… we know what happened to them. Their demise was termed the “Final Solution”, just as the campaign to subjugate the Tamils was termed a “humanitarian operation.”

    In any case, Rajapakse’s comment negates the possibility of any democracy… the modern democracy does not stress inclusiveness by denying “otherness”… but acknowledging “otherness”, often giving “otherness” priority over “oneness.” On the other hand, Rajapakse’s regime has embraced “oneness” exclusively… this “oneness” typifies the extremist mindset that permeates the rural South (the only significant voter for the ruling coalition). By oneness is meant is no meaningful devolution of any power to any of the minorities, in which case the authority of the Sinhalese to subjugate the entire island is never challenged. On the other hand, besides the political connotations, I am not sure what, if any economic connotations *oneness* has for the same group of people. The per capita income of these people is less than $300 USD per yr.. other than a few dam building projects begun eons ago, I am not sure of any significant economic development projects initiated (in the South) by any Sri Lankan Government.

    Now we are in a position to add more context to the “no minorities” statement. It would never go down in a real democracy. The Speaker would be laughed out of office. On the other hand, emphasizing oneness in a place like Sri Lanka correlates well with the prevailing ideologies there, and similarly, with the economic reality. Totalitarian ideologies work well with uneducated, rural people. After all, they have no grounds to appeal. They are barely cognizant of alternatives. In the Sri Lankan case, there is a major language barrier. It is unlikely that the said group of people has ever come across the notion of federalism. It is not discussed widely in newspapers. It is not even mentioned explicitly, and if it is, only in reference to the great “foreign conspiracy.” Therefore, when all is said and done, Rajapakse’s “no minorities” sentiment is best taken in the context of a “fool’s paradise.”

  • Heshan

    *anyone else

    *significant voter base

  • Nimesh

    Suren you make it sound as if there is a conspiracy to divide the Tamil people into groups. May I ask, what are your opinions on the following comments made by Chandrasekeran of the Upcountry People’s Front?

    “When the problem of Sri Lanka is defined as the problem of the Tamils of North and East, the problems of 1.5 million Tamils of the plantations, which are different from those of Tamils of the North East, are completely concealed or hidden. They are denied their right to call themselves a national race. The Up-Country Peoples Front also urges that the attention should also be paid to the plantation workers who live out of the Hill Country,” he said.”

    Chandrasekeran had proposed that the estate Tamils be recognized as a national race of Sri Lanka and a power sharing unit be set up integrating the Central, Uva, and Sabaragamuwa Provinces where plantation workers live densely, (as the system carried out in Pondichery in India).

    http://www.island.lk/2009/10/16/news10.html

    Perhaps the Upcountry Tamils and the Muslims themselves want a separate identity from “Ceylon Tamils”?

  • AmusedHeathen

    Suren’s last reply is unfortunately reminiscent of a passage by Tarzie Vittachi in his delightful book, “The Brown Sahib, Revisited”. Here is an excerpt.

    “The international brown sahibs speak a language adapted to their new environment, an opaque, circular idiom which symbolizes the essential futility of the kind of thought it expresses. Actually, it is not an articulation of thought but a series of sounds which are substitutes for thought. It is a language of discommunication which all brown sahib conferenciers understand as easily as the ancient Germans understood the runic alphabet. The trick is to prefer fat words to lean, pompousness to simplicity, opacity to translucency and orotundity to directness.”

    Suren, I’m sorry to be harsh, but your reply is exactly in that vein and communicates nothing to the reader. I understand that it is common practice, especially in the soft-sciences, to indulge in this kind of miscommunication in the hope of adding weight to one’s argument. Remaining purposefully vague and thereby opening the argument itself to multiple interpretations ensures that one can always disclaim negative interpretations by falling back to an alternate meaning and it also ensures that any paper one writes is more likely to be accepted by an academic journal due to the sheer ambiguity and confusion surrounding the writing.

    When you’re in a public space however, avoid trying to impress “ordinary citizens” with one’s academic profundity, because they may end up seeing through the charade into the vacuousness of it all. We are here to discuss these issues frankly and therefore, some humility and directness would probably be more appreciated and admired and lend greater credence to any argument you wish to make.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Suren Ragahavan,

    “It is a fact that no one can help those who are ideologically committed to analyse the reverse of every argument” …… that by the way is the opening statement of your latest post.

    If it is meant as a blanket reply designed to answer the questions placed before you, then you have failed miserably.

    In the absence of a counter view an argument ceases to exist.

    In the absence of tolerance, intolerance will reign supreme.

    Both above traits are visible in your postings and your professed ethics ring hollow.

    “….Democracy is a collective effort built not just by university dons (then it will not be Democracy) but by engaging citizens like yourself.” ….that is what you said first.

    So where would Democracy be if objective discourse is denied?

    That the arguments constructed within the bounds of your comfort zone has not been deconstructed using the paradigm of “analytical weighting to the empirical data” was the reason that questions were asked of you. When the empirical data used for the construct, is itself faulty, the output is garbage.

    Just answer the core issues raised without uncalled for attacks on others and the use of “Gobbledygook” vocabulary

    This country has enough strife without adding religion to the boiling pot.

    Sincerely

    Off the Cuff
    (You can use “Mahendra” if that is more in line with your comfort zone. An “n” at the end would have changed it to Tamil)

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Suren, Undergroundview >>

    I’d be good for both tea or coffee but we’d probably have to down a pint to retain our sanity while discussing this knotted issue (although I myself am unable to stomach much apart from a little wine, an exception will have to be made).

    Since the time you’ve written this article, a further 4 posts have been added to that thread, making a total of 81 so far. I’ve also raised a few questions that I would like to see discussed further and hope the conversation will continue.

  • Disgusted

    Suren Raghavan,
    I agree with you about the need to move from majoritarian to a more progressive form of democracy. I also appreciate the emphasis you place on the imagination–only the imagining of new political forms and the new national social relations that these forms can enable between the different communities can begin to displace the current assumptions of majoritarian democracy.

    I would disagree with you though in applying the metaphor of a “swamp” to the prevalent majoritarian democracy mindset. A swamp just stays passively in place waiting to suck in those people who venture near it. In Sri Lanka, the majoritarian democracy mindset is very active, and reaches out to ‘convert’ other people to its mindset, and it actively seeks to demolish progressive viewpoints. You have correctly identified the need to deconstruct majoritarian ideologies, but we can also see how rapidly the majoritarian mindset steps in to deconstruct your imaginings. They co-opt postmodern critical tools such as the querying of perspectives to further ground their own essentialisms and chauvinisms. For eg, how does one claim that only Tamils have attempted ethnic cleansing when the facts of far earlier state-sanctioned pograms are known? By offering it as a ‘perspective’, apparently equal in value if not superior to yours. But we can differentiate between a ‘perspective’ and lies, can’t we? Again, look at the attempts to demolish you as a person, as an academic, while accusing you of being personal.

    I see it as not a swamp but a monster that cannibalises everything and converts it to its own use. Or perhaps as the Matrix, given the way it turns given meanings into their opposite, and offers an illusionary simulated reality?

    What does differentiate their deconstruction from yours is that they can never actually state the basis on which they argue without losing moral force. I would suggest that you engage them on their philosophy of democracy. Then the rest of us can have fun watching them avoid getting into that discussion.

    As for your suggestions of devolving power, perhaps the two VPs that you envisage should be selected on the basis of their representing minority constituences in general rather than any specific minority group. For eg, the 2 VPs may be at times Tamils, or Burghers, or Muslims, or Indian Tamils, though the two should be of different communities. I agree with President Bean that other communities should also be represented, but to have more than two VPs would be messy.

    I like your idea of selected MPs from the provincial councils forming the national parliament! This suggestion as well as that of the two VPs would offer a lot of balances to power.

    It’s good news that the Tamil parties are forming alliances. Should they also reach across to other minority groups? Women as a minority group (in terms of disempowerment but with huge numbers) could also be useful in breaking that ethnic-based majoritarianism.

  • doomed to repeat it

    Hi Nimesh. The answer to your question to me is, I think, “kind of/sort of, but not really.” I think that it’s the context of the building of the dagaba that is key here.

    Right now, rightly or wrongly, we are in a period of exuberant Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism. Thus the perception surrounding the dagabas’ construction becomes more powerful than, say, the festival at Madhu. I think this is especially true when you couple this with the plan to build one in each province, even those with (presumably) non-Sinhalese or non-Buddhist majorities. The symbolism, the perception, becomes loud and clear to everyone, including the Sinhalese Buddhist majority for whom the message is intended.

    On a rational level, I think “OK, so there are a couple of dagabas going up, out of thousands already standing. What’s a few more? No harm done.” In an entirely calm, normal situation this would be true.

    But then I remember that in such a heated and polarized situation as we find ourselves, perception is often more important and influential than fact. We all know how quickly wild rumors and theories spread, and how readily people believe them unquestioningly. That, I think, is the problem pointed out by the article.

    Personally, I’m all for dagabas, and churches and kovils and mosques. But is right now the most useful time for the government to be officially planting dagabas all around? At best it gives the appearance, whether it’s actually true or not, of gloating. I’m not sure it does anything to calm anyone’s emotions, or help our Tamil and Muslim brothers overcome their fears. In the same way that supporters of the government plead for time to get things on track, so too must we allow our brothers time to get their own bearings. A special series of dagabas in each province doesn’t help do this. Can’t we wait a bit?

    I just want tensions and suspicions to go away so that we can all get down to the business of improving ourselves and our country. If delaying this dagaba construction project were to help accomplish this, wouldn’t that be best for the longer term? Seems to me it would be worth it, if just to keep the peace.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Disgusted,

    I have posted this elsewhere on this site twice on two different threads. Perhaps you may have not seen it.

    As a person living in a state that has apparently successfully integrated a multitude of races into a cohesive problem free society could you enlighten us on the policies adopted in Singapore on..

    1) Land
    2) Housing, State & Private (with special reference to any govt funded schemes)
    3) Language
    4) Judicial review process
    5) Education (Govt as well as Private, free and fee levying)
    6) Equality
    7) Power sharing
    8.) Access to free Medical Care
    9) Media Freedom (please include the different media institutions and indicate which are govt controlled or has Govt representation and which are Independent. If possible please provide URL)

    Thank You

  • Disgusted

    Off the Cuff,
    I have spoken about the Singapore situation with regard to race relations and multiculturalism on a number of occasions, and at some length. Please do feel free to look up my posts.

    You must think I am your slave to demand answers to such a long list of questions. My time is quite expensive.

    Perhaps if you do a post telling us how the policies adopted in Sri Lanka in these following areas were not conducive to harmonious race relations, then I might follow suit with Singapore. These are the areas:

    1) Land
    2) Housing, State & Private (with special reference to any govt funded schemes)
    3) Language
    4) Judicial review process
    5) Education (Govt as well as Private, free and fee levying)
    6) Equality
    7) Power sharing
    8.) Access to free Medical Care
    9) Media Freedom (please include the different media institutions and indicate which are govt controlled or has Govt representation and which are Independent. If possible please provide URL)

    Thank you

  • Nimesh

    “Right now, rightly or wrongly, we are in a period of exuberant Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism. Thus the perception surrounding the dagabas’ construction becomes more powerful than, say, the festival at Madhu. I think this is especially true when you couple this with the plan to build one in each province, even those with (presumably) non-Sinhalese or non-Buddhist majorities. The symbolism, the perception, becomes loud and clear to everyone, including the Sinhalese Buddhist majority for whom the message is intended.”

    I don’t think it is ‘Sinhalese Buddhist’ nationalism anymore. It has become far less religious, and more ethnic and even that discription is a bit messy because there are plenty of Muslims who have been caught up with the new nationalism as well. The government has opened up Madhu, literally sponsored the Cathoic festival and just had a huge Catholic Mass to celebrate the aniversary of the Sri Lankan army. Remember too, the president’s wife is Catholic. Moves are underway to settle all the displaced Muslims in Mannar and Jaffna and build a new pilgrim’s rest in Saudia Arabia. I think that building the dagabas is the government’s way of reaching out to the Buddhist population. I don’t think it is justifiable to claim that dagabas shouldn’t be built in places where Buddhists or Sinhalese aren’t in the majority because there are plenty of kovils and mosques that have been built in areas where Hindus and Muslims aren’t in the majority. Many of the lands for these places of worship have been donated by the state. The Eastern Province is composed of around 30% Sinhalese. It’s only the Northern Province that has an overwhelming Tamil majority. The building of a dagaba there may thus signify a return of the multi-ethnic, multi-religious character that exists in the rest of the country.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Disgusted,

    Demand? Slave? Whatever gave you that idea?
    This was not in response to any of your posts but I knew you were from Singapore as you stated it in another thread.

    It was a request and nobody is another’ s slave on the web. My apologies if I conveyed anything like that though

    I am new to this site and I thought posters on this site are basically friendly and like to share knowledge (though I have seen tempers flaring when responding to each other).

    I do not know much about Singapore except that I heard that the state ensures housing projects to reflect the ethnic percentages in the country ie a high rise has a percentage allocation for each ethnicity and that the individual flats cannot be sold to or bought by a single race. Don’t know how true it is though.

    I was also told by a friend that during Lee Kuan Yew’s time they feared to criticize the state and it was run like a police state, again I do not know what the truth is.

    I was hoping that you being a Singaporean you would be able to add to the little I knew about Singapore. If you are unwilling, just forget that I asked

    I imagined that you knew quite a lot about Sri Lanka after reading your posts on http://www.groundviews.org/2009/09/17/delusions-of-power-devolution-searching-post%E2%80%93prapa-possibilities/ which by the way is the first time I came across your comments, hence your request perplexes me

  • Disgusted

    Off the Cuff,
    Why should you be “perplexed” that a foreigner wants to know more about the details of policies and practices in Sri Lanka? I know somewhat about SL given my heritage, but certainly I am not the expert you are. I’m sure I could learn a lot from your unique perspective on SL.

    I reckon we are a friendly and sharing bunch here. That’s why we don’t give others long lists of questions for them to answer. We respect the demands on others’ time. Certainly we don’t ask fact-based questions when the answers are easily available on the web. If what you wanted was my own personal take, there is lots of it on that thread you mentioned. I’m “perplexed” that you don’t engage with any of that. Asking such a long list of questions–others might think you were just trying to annoy me or, worse, discredit my contributions because, apparently, I come from a police state. Of course, I don’t believe that of you!

    But as to the topic, Singapore is not a police state. Minorities have never required passes to travel on the island. When we had the JI terrorism threat, we did not respond by placing our Malays behind barbed wire for the sake of security. And maybe we don’t have perfect media freedom, but our government doesn’t kill dissenting journalists. Nor does it jail them. Our civil society activists, NGO reps, are even given nominated MP positions so they can raise issues under protection of parliamentary privilege.

    As for the housing issue, you must go to that other thread.

    It’s not a matter of unfriendliness or not wanting to share, but of not wanting to digress from the topic here. At any rate, I don’t appear on your list of those who you felt contributed to productive discussion on the other thread, so I am “perplexed” that you would want to seek my contributions, and even import a posting from the other thread to this one. It seems somewhat distracting.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Disgusted

    Quote…. “At any rate, I don’t appear on your list of those who you felt contributed to productive discussion on the other thread,…..”

    Now I understand why you flew off the handle like you did.

    I know that I am the person that asked you first but not with an intention of engaging you in a debate but just to get information. I joined the other debate a little too late to get it then, where I made the initial request from you.

    I am “perplexed” that you ask me about SL as what you wrote about it displays a lot of in depth knowledge and if you did write those without such knowledge you would be a person not worth engaging with. I have not even pretended to know much about Singapore and have stated so.

    There is one important statement that you have made which needs a reply ….Quote….” When we had the JI terrorism threat, we did not respond by placing our Malays behind barbed wire for the sake of security……” Unquote

    SL has not placed the “Tamils” in internment. This is what many people try to make it to look like. Such statements are just propaganda as those people who make such comments are propagating a half truth not the whole truth and doing so deliberately.

    The majority of SL Tamils (52%) live in the South and the entirety of the Tamils of Indian origin live amongst the majority Sinhalese. None of them are interned. Those who have been interned are the people who lived under a terror megalomaniac’s domination. The people, who were used by this gang of murderers to feed the manpower demands of his terror machine, the people, who had undergone compulsory military training. The people, among whom, trained suicide cadres, explosive experts and callous murderers are in hiding. The group of people amongst whom the HIGHEST density of Tamil Terrorists indoctrinated with a hate doctrine is now living. The wolves in sheep’s clothing hiding amongst the sheep waiting for a chance to get out and restart the killing spree of 20,000,000 people (irrespective of race) living in SL. It just happens that a 100% of internees are Tamil but the internment is not far race reasons. I too don’t agree to internment of ANYONE without just cause. In this case, the choices available to the govt are just two. Both are bad choices. The govt has had to choose the lesser of the two evils. It has been a Hobson’s choice. The problem Singapore had with JI is insignificant to the problem SL has and hence is not a fair comparison.

    I join public discussions with a willingness to share my time with others, if that is not the case with you its ok by me.

    I am waiting for a response from Suren Ragahavan and for the time being would prefer not to be distracted from that discussion with him. Hence as requested before, please even forget that I have asked.

  • Heshan

    @Disgusted

    “But as to the topic, Singapore is not a police state. Minorities have never required passes to travel on the island. When we had the JI terrorism threat, we did not respond by placing our Malays behind barbed wire for the sake of security. And maybe we don’t have perfect media freedom, but our government doesn’t kill dissenting journalists. Nor does it jail them. Our civil society activists, NGO reps, are even given nominated MP positions so they can raise issues under protection of parliamentary privilege.

    As for the housing issue, you must go to that other thread.”

    The “patriots” will go to any length to justify their foreign conspiracy theory. This is not the first time I have seen them lean hard on Singapore, when in fact Singapore is a model success story for other Asian nations to follow. It just shows you how desperate the Southern extremists are. It’s beyond the point of constructive debate.. to label it stupidity is an understatement.

  • Heshan

    Lee Kuan Yew: It’s already diluted and we can see it in the difference between the generations. It’s inevitable. One of the things we did which we knew would call for a big price was to switch from our own languages into English. We had Chinese, Malay, Indian schools — separate language medium schools. The British ran a small English school sector to produce clerks, storekeepers, teachers for the British. Had we chosen Chinese, which was our majority language, we would have perished, economically and politically.

    Riots — we’ve seen Sri Lanka, when they switched from English to Sinhala and disenfranchised the Tamils and so strife ever after. We chose — we didn’t say it was our national language — we said it was our working language, that everybody learns English whatever language medium school you go to. Which means nobody needs interpretation to read English.

    So, our sources of culture, literature, ideas are now more from the English text than from the Chinese or the Malay or the Tamil.
    So, there’s a clear difference between the grandfathers and the grandchildren. Look, my grandchildren, never mind the grandfather, their Chinese is not equal to their parents’ Chinese.

    My children were educated in what were then Chinese schools and they learned English as a subject. But they made up when they went to English-language universities. So they didn’t lose out. They had a basic set of traditional Confucian values. Not my grandchildren.

    I’ve got one grandson gone to MIT. Another grandson had been in the American school here. Because he was dyslexic and we then didn’t have the teachers to teach him how to overcome or cope with his dyslexia, so he was given exemption to go to the American school. He speaks like an American. He’s going to Wharton. Between him and his father, there’s a clear breach in cultural continuity — never mind between him and me.

    But that’s the top 20 percent, right? For the majority in the heartlands, they don’t go to American schools or have that exposure. But from 20, it will become 30 percent going to tertiary institutions, universities. You asked me to predict what it will be in 50 years or even 20 years. I cannot, because we have left our moorings.

    http://sundaytimes.lk/070902/International/i516.html

    ———–

    All I can say, what a brilliant leader.

  • Ameera

    I’ m a great fan of Grounviews. I believe the GV/articles published here provides the space that we did not have before to share views, learn and go forward.

    when an author spends time and energy writing an article, I’m sure his/her expectations will be to generate a constructive discussion/debate taht will help the younger generation.

    It is sad to see people like ‘off the cuff’ making such nasty statements and presenting such characters. It is my humble view that such remarks should not even be published.
    ‘off the cuff’ -your comments are only a disgrace to you. you present a lot of good points, you shoud try writing some articles based on them than gettting in to destructive comments.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Ameera,

    Your post of November 7, 2009 @ 1:48 am
    http://www.groundviews.org/2009/10/12/imagining-the-immediate-impossibilities/#comment-10544

    You Said
    when an author spends time and energy writing an article, I’m sure his/her expectations will be to generate a constructive discussion/debate taht will help the younger generation.
    Unquote

    An Author has a responsibility to be fair and to Justify what he says when challenged. He has no license to Rabble Rouse and create division amongst the reading public. Some do this behind a facade of academic discourse.

    In the past most Nationalistic Tamil writers had a field day as their posts went unchallenged and that’s why they were able to demonize the Sinhalese and gain sympathy.

    Rabble Rousers are people who do not ANSWER queries raised by readers. They don’t do it because they can’t.

    If you need very good examples of balanced writing read Dr P. Jeganathan.

    I just came across your post in the midst of some research and decided that you needed to be replied.

    If I have stated anything but facts and if you or anyone else can prove to me that I am wrong I will most definitely change my views. I am not inflexible as some others are on GV. To some people who have dogmatic views truth is unpalatable. There is nothing that I can do about that.

    Thank you for your comment regarding “you present a lot of good points”.
    I hope I have given an appropriate response