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Political cover-ups and crooked politicians

Most politicians, particularly some of the so called favourite ministers of the ruling hierarchy have begun to consider themselves the undisputed saviours and defenders of democracy and good governance. With a view to shielding their own errors of commission and omission and also their crooked manipulations and corrupt dealings they would hasten at the drop of a hat, to denounce in the vilest terms the elected opposition as the sole perpetrators of villainy and violence in this country.

There is no doubt that some of the big wigs of the past regimes did resort to deceptive and villainous tactics to achieve their own ends and consequently suffered dire retribution, but that is history.  Only a weak, vacillating and ineffective ruling outfit would keep on harping on the misdeeds of the previous rulers to cover up their own sins. Apparently history is repeating itself in greater measure in the present context.

The present holders of political power had promised on oath to wipe out thuggery and mayhem and foster peace, goodwill and prosperity for the good of all people. But are they doing it?

They seem to have failed miserably and are now resorting to the same methods of suppression and oppression to a greater degree to stay in power.  Their pious proclamations claiming good governance and morality in public affairs are one sided, twisted and hollow. 

Some of the politicos apparently drunk with political power display arrogant and utterly crude attitudes and seem to think that the people they address are gullible fools who cannot discern truth from falsehood, or sift the grain from the chaff.  Politicians expect the people to believe what they utter as gospel truth.

It is alleged that having directed pre-planned attacks through their hirelings on those who protest against oppression and suppression, the aggressors themselves pose as the victims, and the actual victims are accused of being the aggressors on most occasions!

The aggressors can be seen trying their level best to show themselves as good natured beings of lily-white character and blameless behaviour.  This is nothing short of a mockery of democracy.

Peace loving people have had to go through all manner of suffering, agony and deprivation. Their earnest prayer and wish is for the dawn of a new era where good governance and justice will prevail and where political ruffians who plan and perpetrate villainy and misdeeds would be hoisted with their own petard.

Peace loving people have suffered terribly during the recent past and continue to suffer heavily in the present situation too.  It is no wonder that well meaning observers of the current political scene of turmoil have begun to decry and condemn outright, that politics in this country is the worst ever experienced.

R.M.A.B. Dassanayake


New Year inventions

Well, I believe that you have to try something at least once before you categorise it as not doable. So rather unfortunately, I decided to make the traditional New Year sweetmeats at home, since I was sending some to my in-laws overseas. I wanted to make them extra special yummy! Glancing through my trusty Daily News Cookery Book, it looked oh, so simple. Well, my friends, looks are deceptive!

The first thing I thought I'd do was the konde kavums, since my ma-in-law loves them. Well, a veritable river of treacle and several bundles of jaggery went into the mixture. Mmmm, yummeeee! Then, (alas) I had a brainwave! I always thought these oil cakes were too heavy and stodgy, and applying the doughnut theory, I thought, why not add some yeast and they will turn out light and springy. Stands to reason, doesn't it?

Well, I thought that was a perfectly rational conclusion. My cook though, didn't seem to think this was such a good idea and shook her head rather dubiously. "Better not add the yeast," she said. What did she know, I thought to myself. So, there I was, raring to go. When the oil was smoking, I dropped in the first spoonful. It immediately exploded into smithereens like an atom bomb!

Batter too runny

We had a mini conference, and decided may be the batter was too runny and so we added more flour to it. No luck, the next one disintegrated in a similar fashion. Determined not to accept defeat, I then proceeded to add eggs to the batter. It stubbornly refused to oblige the cohesion principle and fragmented into little bits. That was it! I decided to now change my recipe and reinvent it as kalu dodol.

So we added coconut milk and some nuts and spices to it, and then I sweatily stirred and stirred and stirred! At one point I thought my arm was coming out of its socket!

Finally all the spectators and commentators (a crowd had gathered up to watch the fun, as light entertainment for the evening) agreed that it was quite ready to be taken off the fire and poured out to set. It would definitely set, they said.

 Stubborn mixture

I don't know why some people just don't stick to topics they are familiar with ( the pot calling the kettle black, you think?). Several long hours later, it sat in a threatening, louring, gooey mass which couldn't possibly be cut into pieces.

 Now what? Eureka! Out came my large cake tins. The stubborn mixture was forced into these and popped into the oven. Finally, it decided to comply and set into a solid that could be cut. I hereby name this dish kavol as I can claim to be its inventor, and it does taste delicious!

I was very confident with the next dish, straight forward milk toffee. Ah, nothing could go wrong with this one! Lots of dried fruit and nuts were added to make it taste good. The smell of it cooking was enticing! More sweltering and stirring. Double, double, toil and trouble! Then it looked most gooey and toffee-like and passed the test to show it would set. Dash it!

Double Trouble

The test is not foolproof, folks! This one didn't set too! Before I even asked her to, the cook had taken out the trusty cake tins. I grumpily helped her to squish the stuff in and put it in the oven. Okay, all's well that end's well! That was satisfactorily cut up too. This dish I shall name Double Trouble.

I was by now rather dubious about this whole exercise, but I had bought this new kokis mould, surely that was simple enough? I added some spice and chilli powder to the mixture. My goodness, I lost patience after the first few. I would melt down to a puddle if I continued!

"Hallooo cookie!" I called out. "I don't think I can do this much more. Use this mixture and make some pancakes for dinner. I'm going to buy the rest of the things from the shops." "Good idea!" she vigorously nodded in agreement. The savoury, spicy pancakes went down quite well that night. And since I invented this recipe as well, I shall name them kocakes. Or do you think pankis sounds more appetising? Hm! Shall ponder on that one.

Well, I didn't waste a single ingredient. All the balance ingredients will be used in an inventive and creative manner and incorporated into the daily fare. Waste not, want not.

-Honky Tonk Woman

Double talk of the West

The displaying of the LTTE flag by LTTE supporters in the diaspora in the heart of the capitals of the countries where it is a proscribed organisation, leaves room for soul searching and question the commitment of these governments to rid the world of terrorism.

How one wonders the LTTE supporters managed to carry out protest rallies in the heart of Westminster when those who support al Qaeda or the Taliban would have been promptly arrested if they did the same.

Foreign Secretary David Milliband has much soul searching to do and justify his open support for terrorism in a democratic country like Sri Lanka. It brings to question his own maturity and the need to be mindful of the actions of his government and his interventions.

He has said, he is deeply worried about the civilians trapped by the LTTE in the safe-zone and calls for a ceasefire and has voiced his concern at the LTTE using innocent civilians as human shields and called on both the LTTE and the government forces to show restraint.

His sudden concern at a time when the armed forces are finally ridding the country of the scourge of terrorism from its shores leaves much to be desired not to mention his commitment to rid the world of terrorism. He calls for a humanitarian ceasefire saying, "It is vital that the civilians are able to move away from danger to safety." He goes on to say, "both the government and the LTTE must abide by the obligations under international humanitarian law."

Since when has the LTTE shown any regard for humanitarian law? Where was the international community when the LTTE violated the ceasefire agreement brokered by Norway and strengthened itself? Records show LTTE violated the agreement thousands of times as against the 162 of the government troops.

The LTTE had recruited 7763 new cadres within the first year of signing the Ceasefire Agreement. In 2002 the SLMM reported that the LTTE violated the truce 502 times (90%) over that of the government troops. One cannot forget how in 2006 the LTTE after having travelled to Oslo refused to sit down for talks citing various excuses.

On June 15, 2006 it carried out attacks on a civilian bus carrying 150 persons leaving 64Sinhalese dead including 12 children and 75 injured. Two months later it carried out massive attacks in the north and east. The duplicity of the international community in what they perceive to be their concern for the plight of the civilians trapped by the LTTE is questionable, when it gives the impression that the LTTE's past should be forgotten.

David Milliband claims, "nothing excuses the reported use of civilians by the LTTE as human shields, nor does the LTTE's behaviour excuse any failings by the Sri Lankan government."

Such concerted efforts of his government to legitimise the terrorists and put them on par with a democratically elected government has contributed to the growth of terrorism in the developing world. These are governments which never brokered peace with organisations that threatened their world, nor have they countenanced a ceasefire agreement with an outfit such as the Taliban.

Not once have these governments looked independently at the care provided to the civilians who flee the LTTE areas. Hiding behind their hidden agendas they have constantly downplayed the attempts made by the government to meet the immediate needs of the civilians. What contributions have these governments made to the Government of Sri Lanka to meet the needs of the displayed civilians?

These governments cannot deny the manner in which their countries continue to be the financial hub for the LTTE to collect funds despite it being a banned organisation. What moral right do these governments have to question the Government of Sri Lanka when their capitals are the operating hubs of the LTTE? And what justification can Norway give for Solheim's meeting with LTTE's KP who incidentally is wanted by Interpol?

C. Silva

Law College: Incompetence personified

The Sri Lanka Law College, a body formed by the Council of Legal Education, is the only competent authority in the country vested with the power to offer the qualification of Attorney-at-Law, to the few hundred students who are fortunate enough to pass the competitive entrance examination for which nearly 8,000 candidates sit each year.

For those who get in, well and good, but once you're inside, the system tends to be quite funny.

Also it is noteworthy to observe the step-motherly treatment you are subjected to, if you enter those Law College gates having obtained your LL.B degree from a foreign university, hence exempting you from the entrance examination: you are on first glance branded as stupid, someone 'who bought your degree for money.'

And this is only the beginning of the cycle of discrimination one is subjected to.

Another point that warrants serious concern is how rules change with the blink of an eye, and how voiceless the students really are. However, it should be stated that the Law College Union run by the students for the students does in fact resolve many an issue that may crop up.

But oftentimes, they are left helpless by the system: e.g. when the powers that be decided to, with one swish of their magical wand, to do away with the written exam/viva vocea for students who had failed one subject out of the seven that make up the year's subjects, thus resulting in students having to waste another period of time at Law College, thus delaying the taking of oaths.

However, this time around, some extra ketchup was added to the soup. one candidate who sat for the final examination which was recently concluded (October-December 2008) discovered that while he hadn't sat for one particular examination paper, he'd actually been given marks for that subject! Obviously he was rather flabbergasted.

And what of the nearly 75 students who had failed one particular subject in particular, namely Commercial Law 2, for which an appeal has already been forwarded in a bid to quietly quell the situation.

These irregularities and haphazard decisions made by those 'responsible,' impact on the future of innocent students who are left at the receiving end. Isn't it high time that the authorities take corrective action to rectify the situation before we all run out of time?

Disappointed Student

Great to see independent reporting

I was sent your article on the Kotelawalas by various people who know what happened to our family, no one else does in Sri Lanka. Those which do, don't know the entire story or have chosen to keep quiet to keep the status quo and justify their own financial gains.

Cyril E. S. Perera not only created many of Sri Lanka's larger companies, he was a Lankan not a Briton. He argued against the "Sinhala Only Act," he built many a church and very 'un-Sri Lanka' like he insisted his name never be allowed to be attached as reward for benevolent kindness. He believed in fundamental responsibility to his people all Ceylonese/Lankans and the constitution and rule of law he valued above anything else; I lived with him as a child.

I had to leave with my family when I was nine in 1971. Before leaving for several years I remember Justin and Lalith Kotelawala constantly in our house pestering my grandmother to relinquish control of Ceylon Insurance, helped by threats by Mrs. B.

Another pest was Upali Wijewardana who managed to wrench control off my father by very dubious political means; also with help from the above.

We had to leave. It's a shame. I resent having been forced out, but so many have been why should I? Rules were very strict - only 50 Pounds Sterling was allowed to be taken out, no black market for us with high governmental scrutiny and worse our citizenship was taken away.

Naturally my father didn't cope entirely well and passed away not long after. In contrast my mother was opening bottles of champagne when she heard and read your article. She still refers to the Kotelawalas and Upali Wijewardana and quite a few others as "snakes in the grass."

Sri Lanka needs more good people to stand up - when the snakes take over where does democracy go? Why don't us Lankans feel any need to look after one another - were the British that clever in dividing us or have we done it all by ourselves? I think the latter!

- Srian Perera









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