JVP phallus in front of Odel’s
In the Pentagon’s New Map, the author defines the main conflict of this age as being connectivity versus disconnectedness. Countries that connect to global communications, economic and cultural networks tend to have better lives and those that do not connect spiral into ignorance and poverty. The Esquire article is worth reading. What general miscreants like Bin Laden and Kim Il Jong preach is not so much religion or idealogy as withdrawal from general humanity. In Sri Lanka we have the same insecure drive towards disconnectedness espoused by the LTTE, JVP, JHU and body politic in general. Most obviously, it takes the form of a systematic and self-destructive attack on the Westernized elements of the country.
This SLFP government – while completely naffing the common living and military dying situation – has tossed out symbolic cake for the corrupt (not all) monks and politicos to eat. Specifically, this means beating up on the social life of the English speaking elite in Colombo while ignoring whether this actually benefits the country. I read the papers intermittently, so this are only the wtf tidbits I’ve managed to catch.
Banning CBNSat: CBNSat is a satellite TV service watched by a lot of people. Basically for no goddam reason and without due process the government shut off service entirely, right before the World Cup. Rumor is that the President’s relation wanted to get into the satellite business, but I dunno. The first reason given was that CBNSat didn’t have a license, but then no other Satellite TV companies have licenses either, I don’t think the relevant licensing scheme even exists. Regardless, shutting down service is a cruel and unusual way to deal with that issue and World Cup is an odd time to do it. Now the Government has given another reason, that CBNSat shows Fashion TV and the bandwidth could be used for LTTE transmission. The first is plain censorship and the latter pure speculation, and a shut-down is still an innappropriate and malicious way to deal with the issue. The shifting rationale hints that this isn’t policy as much as a vindictive attack. Satellite TV is a conduit into the greater world and the government is asserting control over it. But onto a subpoint,
Fashion TV: is basically 24-hours of half naked women interspersed with the incoherent mumblings of Italian designers. Sometimes the women are literally half naked, I’ve seen a few nipples. I don’t watch it cause I feel guilty, but it’s often on at clubs and it’s certainly popular enough. Anyways, the government is now using this as a rationale to cut off satellite TV to thousands of people despite no legal backing. It’s like you mention nudity and suddenly rule of law becomes irrelevant.
International Programming: The goverment now taxes the hell out of any imported programming and international advertising (LBO.lk The point is to encourage purchase of local programming, but I don’t get what the shit the government has to do with what deciding what people should watch. The government already spends our tax rupees on State Television where they can be as ‘Sri Lankan’ as they want. Private media should be just that, private and able to respond to the demands of the Sri Lankan market which just may want to watch Friends. It’s simple meddling, and it lowers quality and revenue for everyone. Not to mention cutting Sri Lanka off even more from the rest of the world.
Press Censorship: The government has decided to reinstate the Press Council to ‘evaluate’ what is printed in the country. With the corrupt and arbitary decisions of the Mahinda government in Satellite TV I doubt that the Press Council’s contributions are going to be very enlightened.
Advertising: The government has banned advertising of alcohol and, weirdly enough, powdered milk (also, LBO). The former is stupid as it cuts down everyone’s revenue (state and media) without addressing the real problem of illicit kasippu drinkers (who outnumber liquor drinkers 20 to 1). The latter just makes no fk sense. The reason given is to promote sales of fresh milk, but what the shit. I don’t have a cow in the backyard, and what’s wrong with rural people being able to mix some milk for their tea without going to the store every time. Again, disconnecting Sri Lanka from the rest of the world, this time via milk of all things.
Alcohol: For one thing, bars now pay to serve alcohol after 11. Again, this is punitive. It gives no thought to the public coffers which are losing money to decreased alcohol sales. Alcohol is also taxed more. Plus, hotels could not serve alcohol for all of the Buddhist holiday Vesak (a new development I think). All these regulations ignore the fact that the vast majority of Sri Lankans drink illicit moonshine outside of traditional bars and clubs. This kasippu is unregulated, untaxed and rampant (for better or worse), yet the government can look moral by punishing the drinking style of 5% of the population. Incidentally, the worldly 5%.
Casinos: I once went to Bally’s hoping for exotic luxury behind the ‘Foriegners Only’ sign, but it’s really a bunch of East Asian women gambling their husband’s money away. It’s also insanely well lit. Despite this steady income and the fact that Sri Lankans can’t even go there to get corrupted, the 2006 Budget has casinos being phased out in 3 years. Foriegners come. They give you money. They leave. Must be banned.
The list goes on. I try not to read the papers cause I’m scared my head will explode, but every now and then something is so stupid that everyone talks about it. Lately those moments are like every week. All of these actions are illogical in an economic and moral sense because they a) lose tax revenue for the goverment and b) affect such a small population that they don’t really address national problems. Their logic lies, I think, in the broad xenophobic movement to disconnect from the rest of the world. Not out of pride, out of insecurity and cowardice. These policies ranging from alcohol to TV are simply punitive measures against anything Western. They can say it is for ‘Sri Lanka’, but the Sri Lanka I know isn’t so weak that it needs the goverment to tell it what to watch and how to drink its milk. It’s extremely cynical to think that Sri Lankan culture can’t hold its own in the midst of globalization. A truly confident culture can connect without the rest of world without losing itself. Furthermore, seeing as we’re fighting a fucking war, I don’t get why the government spends all this time regulating milk powder and boobies. Tell you what, you keep our military commanders alive and I’ll buy a cow and make it wear a nightgown. Deal?