23 October, 2019

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An Open Letter To The Chairman, Human Rights Commission, Dr. Deepika Udagama: On The New Government Uniform

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

J.J. Ratnasiri, Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration and Disaster Management has issued the following Circular dated 29 May 2019:

These are times when madmen filled with hate set off explosives blowing themselves up and taking the lives of many innocent persons. The issuance of this circular is yet another act of hate-filled madness, even mad jingoist expansion  imposing this crazy view of culture on the rest of us. Indeed the heading with the word security is hardly addressed in the body of the circular.

This insane circular prohibits the decent skirt and blouse that many women of good backgrounds wear to office, exposing perhaps their neck, bare arms and lower-legs. It scoffs at the sensibilities of many decent women – importantly Islamic women following their scriptural advice – who do not want their body shape to be shown to voyeurs. Our society is so degraded that my wife and daughters do not like to ride a bus, and indeed even trishaws after the driver in separate incidents exhibited his private parts. Only rich women with chauffeur driven cars are safe – such as the wife and daughters of Permanent Secretaries. Many of the common folk get their husbands to take them to work on motorbike pillions. How in a sari now? Perhaps the men at Public Administration want more opportunities to pinch buttocks and touch the bodies of women in buses by forcing them off their husbands’ pillions? Or they want to see women’s midriff and navel in sexily draped saris? Is it to prevent hiding a bomb under a skirt-blouse dress? Now that he has prohibited decent clothing for women, will Mr. Rathnasiri in his sartorial vanity and fantasy even specify the length of the blouse and how low it may be cut at the top?

For men, the circular calls for  a trouser but not the pair in which trousers are worn. Does it mean that we have to cut off one leg of our trousers to fit the new uniform? The uniform allows a shirt but not a business suit. I would truly like to see Mr. Rathnasiri in trousers with one leg cut off and no coat or tie at cabinet meetings.

These are times when in a decent democracy the call is to uphold the rights of everyone so that extremism will be blunted. Instead the Sri Lankan state seems determined to expand its stale mono-cultural view of itself, destroying anything that fails to fit their view of Sri Lankan culture, wanting to walk over every deviation from its mono-cultural worldview, the juggernaut of Public Administration crushing to death all different expressions of culture that do not fit their view of Sri Lanka should be. The new discussions on whether ours is a Sinhalese-Budhiist country are a part of this sickness.

I reliably know from sources in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat that this insane circular did not come from the Prime Minister or the cabinet. That leaves only one other authority with the clout to order the Secretary for Public Administration and Disaster Management to issue this vicious circular which surely he would have known (that is if he had any sense) exposes him to ridicule as a pompous fuddy duddy,  a man with no sense of the balm of kindness required now to heal the nation, especially our relationship with innocent Muslims who are being hounded at every turn using the Easter Day calamity. It is the same authority that pardoned and released the mad monk, as if to say “Go beat up some more Muslims.” And that monk says he is ready to go!

I write this as an individual citizen although I am a member of the Election Commission. As an individual I do not think our beautiful Hindu receptionist who greets visitors to the Commission with her characteristically friendly smile in a decent flowery frock reaching well below her knees would relish switching overnight to exposing her breasts and midriff the way Mr. Rathnasiri seems to want. We have a lady Muslim Assistant Commissioner who is very decently dressed without showing a single contour of her body. Indeed even Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya will be out of line because the handsome and colorful tunics he wears are North Indian and not count as a part of our national dress.

I know that Mr. Deshapriya is sympathetic to the views I express here. He has already told some ladies who expressed discomfiture over the new dress code not to change anything until we can decide as a Commission which will be on 4 June, 2019. In any case, as an independent Commission we are not bound by Mr. Rathnasiri’s fantasizing circular about clothing.

In the meantime, Madam Chairman, Dr. Deepika Udagama, it would help if you gave us a ruling so that the independent Election Commission can confidently assert its role as the upholder of the people’s rights. In fact I expect your full support because I have seen you in many a forum in Salwar Kameez, the choice dress today of many decent professional women but unfortunately not a part of Mr. Rathnasiri’s vision of a decently and securely dressed Sri Lanka.

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Latest comments

  • 13
    4

    The once beautiful and peaceful Sri Lanka the Pearl of the Indian Ocean was ruined by Communalism and a 30 year war in which many lives were lost and a country destroyed.
    Once again Blood Thirsty Criminals and Racist and some persons in Saffron Robes are misleading the unemployed, uneducated Sinhala youth to becoming Mobsters, Looters, Arsonists and Murderers.
    They are the cause for a handful of misled Mad men living amongst minorities to join in cults and the ISIS and blowing themselves up.
    Sadly Armed forces harass the innocent and Mad Men working for the Government add fuel to fire.

  • 7
    6

    A dress code at workplace should also take into consideration the culture of the person as well, if the country seriously want to build a pluralistic society in which there is mutual respect for each other.

    Targeting and punishing innocent Muslim women and violating their fundamental right to choose their attire is a travesty to say the least. It does ABSOLUTELY nothing to resolve the issue at hand. The only thing such an ill advised move achieves is making the ultra racists happy and allows the government to cover up their abject failure to have stopped this attack despite having received plenty of warnings well ahead of time.

    Those who are infuriated or have some suspicion in their heart towards a dress code or seem threatened by it certainly are going against their own values aping a western dress code. Open your hearts a bit more Sri Lankans you are better than this. A dress code should not threaten you.

  • 9
    3

    SInghalese ladies should come up against this nudity and some males like to see nakedness of ladies. Now, Sri Lankan will come up with law to give freedom to go naked in public. Shame on Sri Lankan politics..

  • 0
    5

    Assassinated Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May ’91 what did the wear

  • 4
    3

    That order looks ok to me as long as its not white clashing with Mrs Udagama’s saree colour..
    Or else, the public would be confused as Dr. Deepika Udagama appears in White Saree too.
    Now… now…… Allen, you are going off in a tangent.
    Its so nice to be easy. Ratnasiri is assisting Muslims women to cover their heads using the Saree Pota.

  • 1
    1

    Ancient Sinhala dress – of men and women – was quite different

    https://www.google.ca/search?q=ancient+sinhala+dresses&tbm=isch&source=hp&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjI9_HDlcjiAhXwlOAKHazXAc8Q7Al6BAgFEBE&biw=1280&bih=607&dpr=1.5

    Some men had ‘kondes’ – knot of hair – on top of the head, with a curved comb embedded in it. This was on top of a coat worn on top of a sarong.

    • 3
      0

      The dresses shown in your link, although old, were influenced by Indian, Malay, Portuguese and British dresses. The true indigenous dress, prior to colonization, are ones worn by Veddhas. Both, men and women in Sri Lanka went topless before they were ruled by Indian King, from Vijaya to Vikrama Rajasinha, and western powers. Even our national dress is not truly national: Top from Portugal and the sarong from Malay.

      • 2
        1

        The way we dress changes over time. The Government is not interested in which form of dress is Sri Lankan. It is considering security not fashion.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 3
    6

    Clearly J.J. Ratnasiri, Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration and Disaster must be a man with time on his hands in order to indulge in this vacuous exercise. If I were him I would be working hard at his main job – disaster management – and not straying into matters he obviously knows very little about.

    For far too long, our women have been ‘advised’ by men on what to dress, how to dress, how to stand, where to stand, and how much flesh to hide, or show, how late they can stay out, who they can talk to, much they can spend – ad nauseum.

    It is about time we set our women free.

  • 3
    2

    This is Nothing but political opportunism…this has nothing to do with security.they are trying to force a monolithic culture down everybody’s throats. If you don’t dress the way they want…u won’t be able to find a job or perhaps enter a public office.
    Btw, a perverted man at the top is dictating how women should where..so where are the feminists?

  • 3
    0

    Oh once again Dukka deepa had done it as expected. The circular on dress code withdrawn. Ha..what a bunch of amateurs. Is this a government?. By the way this is time for us to think of a really Tropical Friendly Dress code. I suggested pair of shorts and loose T-shirt for males and females. Muslim women can include head scarf. Women must have their legs shaved and well lotioned. Government may provide body lotion allowance for females. Bra for women is optional. At least soon Dukka Deepa will transform into a happy Kakul Deepa and this may calm our over drive driven clergy from protesting and fasting unnecessarily along road sides. Now they can hang around road sides and admire our kellas’ shapely kakkuls, well shaved and well oiled. Instead of lotions, even pol thel, thala thel would do and longer lasting shine.

  • 7
    3

    Hoole started his usual rubbish and bickering. Human Rights Watch, AI, UNHCR, UN, NGOs and other Organisations connected with Human Rights destroyed the security of Sri Lanka and that in turn allowed Islam terrorism to destroy more 300 lives and 500 seriously injured on 21st April 2019.

    If we listen to Human Right rhetoric by the above organisations, we are still suffering from scourge or terrorism by terrorism as biggest Human Right is giving the right to live and that is done by our heroic Armed Forces.

    Similarly, authorities shall brush aside those so called human rights concerns and start annihilating islamic terrorism to give right to the people of Sri Lanka with National Security as the top priority.

  • 0
    1

    The dress code also applies to those who visit public offices on business. This means that that everyone of us would have to wear a sari or osariya every time we needed to enter a public office for any number of reasons. (see 03 of the memo)
    As well, what’s wrong with wearing a pair of pants/trousers and a blouse?

    Obviously the Secretary has forgotten that Sri Lanka is home to diverse group of people and not only those who wear a sari or osariya. Our Constitution does not restrict our freedom of dress.

  • 0
    1

    the circular is totally an ill considered one coming from foolish and inexperienced bureucrarats from SL. we cannot expect more than this from MY 3s officials.
    -Dayal

  • 1
    3

    Sad to say the peaceful harmony among Sinhalese and Muslims began to take a drastic change from the time the Muslim men returned after employment in Saudi Arabia. They made their women wear the burka and nikab a dress prompted by terrorist extremists spreading hate and violence with wahabism and sharia law. The MR government should have nipped this evil plant at the bud but because of Muslim vote bank and Dollars from Saudis turned a blind eye. Today we paid with over 200 lives for allowing these extremists a foot hold in this country. Let us all dress as we used to before this stupid nonsense was introduced and without being singled out and looked at suspiciously it is time for the moderate Muslim community to encourage their families to change their extreme habits and mix with the society and live in harmony with the majority.

    • 1
      0

      Suzy Wong
      I assume you wear saree or Osari for office!!!!!!

    • 2
      0

      Suzy Wonga

      You sound like someone who supports Tianamen Square.Massacre . Do you

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