During the election the Elections Commissioner ordered the police to take down political hoardings (billboards). In the most public display of (illegal) defiance, Mahinda Rajapaksa erected a 60 foot high image of himself at the end of Horton Place. This image was later stripped, leaving a Mahinda shaped skeleton. That too was stripped, leaving only a vertical spine. It was this structure that a lone protestor climbed today. He was literally trying to get into Mahinda’s head. The man has sat there all day, in hot sun and now darkness. He is wearing a motorcycle helmet which permanently obscures his face. He has no visible source of food or drink. He has no shade. He must be tired, hot and hungry, but still he remains. His only demand is to meet the Mahinda. What on earth does this mean? What is going on?
Archive for the 'out' Category
I occasionally get mails from foreign people doing research or programs on Sri Lanka the basket case. Foreign journos tromp through The Sunday Leader office like its some sort of media Mecca. Often they ask the same thing, which is how do Tamils feel, or what’s the Tamil perspective on X or Y. I think this is the wrong question. The racial view is only one way to analyze this nation, and I no longer think it gives the most information. Sometimes I think it’s the wrong information. Black, blue, LTTE or SLFP, UNP or JVP, if you support Mahinda Rajapaksa the man you’re on the right side of the law. Yellow, red, Tamil or Burgher, Muslim or Sinhala, if you oppose him you are not. That’s about all it is. I’m not saying its post racial, but it’s really not about race anymore. I’m not saying Tamils don’t get disproportionately shafted. I met a Tamil journalist today and that seems about as fun as wearing a kick-me sign on back and front. But it’s like, race is not really the way the cake is cut anymore.
As Ramadan ends at the Manhattan mosque controversy simmers, I thought it might be opportune to talk about the brown muslims. Contrary to popular western belief, most Muslims are not Arabs (contrary to Sri Lankan Muslim beliefs, most of them aren’t very Arab either). Contrary to some belief, Muslims are not terrorists or even sympathetic. There is sympathy and support for terrorism in states like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, but that is more to do with their political issues than Islam. As proof, if Islam were correlated with terrorism, one would expect the most populous Muslim countries (India and Indonesia) to be anti-American. They’re not. Muslims are, by now, billions of very diverse people and just cause Al Qaeda claims the mantle of Islam doesn’t make it so. They have their own Arab political issues. As much as the heart of Islam is in Arabia, its body is now spread all over the world.
Mahinda, having lobotomized and skull fucked the Constitution, was greeted by protests everywhere outside of Parliament, the only place it mattered. As such, these protestations were mere affectations, about as efficacious as herbs. Mahinda’s passage of the 18th amendment was foreshadowed for months if not a year. The UNP has been dropping MPs like they were hot since 2005. It was only a matter of time and the public protests are, like everything else, a mere symbolic display. It looks like democracy and smells like burning tires but it’s really not. It’s just part of the royal show.
Today is a day of many alarms and few surprises. There is no doubt that Mahinda will pass the 18th amendment, allowing him to run in and control elections (via the Elections and Police Commissions). Despite the protests (pro and con) in Colombo and the rump UNP marching on Parliament, the bill will be passed in Parliament. This whole thing has been like watching a car crash in slow motion. It’s not like Mahinda didn’t give the opposition time. This was run through two elections and interminable rounds of cross overs. Its only the final passage that has been too fast. Ranil could have stopped this at any time by stepping down, by giving opposition MPs some hope of one day getting out of opposition. He didn’t. His protest to Parliament is now empty. He should be walking alone.
Mahinda has got a two thirds majority in Parliament and is using it to extend his term. This is not because he was necessarily so powerful, it was more because the opposition was so weak. Mahinda told Ranil that he was going for an Executive Prime Ministership, invited Ranil to Temple Trees, gave him a new car, visited Ranil’s mother in hospital. Then he turned around and stole two Tamil MPs (got them to cross). Ranil was like ‘harumph’ and went back to meet Mahinda again. Then Mahinda patted him on the back and stole eight Muslim MPs, enough for the two thirds. Now he’s tabled a revocation of term limits for President and a President who also goes to Parliament. One could say this is all Ranil’s fault, but it’s also the fault of people like Sajith for not having the courage to wrench the opposition leadership away.
Ah, the mosquito. Bane of my existence. Like Twilight, they both drink blood and annoy. Only female mosquitos bite, and they are basically molesting us, using our blood to trigger their ovaries. Grossly, they need something called a blood meal in order to produce eggs. Males, by contrast, sip flowers and stuff and then buzz around in big orgy parties for the females to fly into and mate. The female mosquito can take in three times her weight in blood, as you may have noticed from slapping them and getting a handful of your own blood. The horrid creatures sense body heat, breathing and sweat, making it difficult to get away. More dangerously, mosquitoes also spread dengue, malaria and killer blood diseases which hit places like Sri Lanka basically every time it rains. I hate the mosquito, but it was still interesting to read this Slate article on their story. Unlike some others that recommend mosquito genocide, this one recommends a modified co-existence. I think I still prefer killing them all.
Sri Lanka is having its first Twitter Meetup today (the 26th) at Coco Veranda on Ward Place at 5 o’clock. Sri Lanka is full of firsts which are insipid (SPEED’s first bottled water ‘for kids’, for example) but this one is somewhat worthwhile. Twitter is a online short messaging service which I now use as my primary news source. I follow a few people that I consider interesting and they post interesting news links and ideas. This gives me a diversity and specificity of fodder, and I also share some. Twitter also has other uses, one of which is starting, promoting and executing a meetup.
I am part of a dwindling and slightly pathetic race called the English Speaking Elite, or the Esé. Despite filling out Sinhala Buddhist on every police report (they ask), I cannot really speak Sinhala. If I’m under arrest it somehow comes back to me, but for casual inquiries I can’t. The Esé were once the dominant group in Sri Lanka (or Ceylon) or, more properly, the head niggers in charge. We were the government, we were the cops, we were the businessmen, we were the Ministers and we were the Minister’s sons. Now we’re not. Despite being an Esé myself, I think this is most certainly a good thing.
TamilNet sort of lost it when the war ended. TamilNet, if you’re unaware, was the LTTE mouthpiece then an anti-KP mouthpiece and now a chewed off rump LTTE mouthpiece. Occasionally (coincidentally moreso) they do mete out some news, but lately I read them more for entertainment value. I especially enjoy their ‘Features’ which are meandering exhortations to separatism and denunciations of the usual suspects. My favorite feature of the features is that major opinions are cited to ‘Tamil circles’ or sometimes just Tamils. For example – “Do they think it is easier to drive the people into corporate slavery by retaining the present conditions, Tamils wonder.” Most Tamils I know are not possessed of such a Borg mind but what do I know.