17 December, 2017

Blog

And Then What?

By Emil van der Poorten –

Emil van der Poorten

This is a piece that I wrote for the December 15th, 2007 – January 15th, 2008 issue of the now-defunct Montage Magazine. I’m leaving it with no effort at editing or updating for readers to decide what, if anything, has changed in Sri Lanka in very nearly six years.

And Then What?

With the Sri Lankan armed forces’ juggernaut seemingly on an unstoppable march and the prospect of the LTTE being vanquished (read Tamils of the North and East being reduced to abject fear and misery), what is in store for the country as a whole?

There have already been ominous signals of the emergence of robber gangs armed with sophisticated light arms running loose, it has been suggested, with the connivance of the local security personnel.  In fact, in one small town in the North Western Province, there was a symbolic shop closure and protest by local merchants who had seen about two dozen break and enter thefts of their premises within a very short period of time.  Their contention was that there was no way that this could have happened without the local constabulary, at the very least, turning a blind eye.  What emerged from this attempt to obtain redress is anybody’s guess, because the climate of fear prevailing in the area has prevented the discussion of the issue any further, a general consensus appearing to be that to exceed the one symbolic gesture would be tempting the fates in a country where the law of the jungle enforced by white-van-driving Sri Lankan Ton Ton Macoutes prevails.

If the prospect of armed gangs running rampant wasn’t enough, the lack of discipline of elements of the security forces should give us pause.  The better-than-a-hundred troops sent back from the UN Peace Keeping Force in Haiti for what one paper called “being naughty” should make us sit up and pay attention.  The alleged sexual misconduct, inclusive of sexual assault of minors by members of an army that the President very recently proclaimed as being the most disciplined armed force in the world hardly merits additional comment.

A recent newspaper defined Sri Lanka’s response to anything resembling question, criticism or censure from sources outside the country as simply, “Deny” and “Defy.”  Whether within the triumphalism that will be reinforced in spades after the subjugation of the LTTE (read Tamil people) even this response would be felt necessary, is anybody’s guess.  After all, once you have established absolute power, it would hardly be necessary to fall back on Richard M. Nixon’s exhortation to his troops when the chickens came home to roost: “Deny, deny, deny.” In such a situation the ability of external forces to influence events in Sri Lanka is not something to wager on.

Apropos of the post-conflict prospect of people trained and exhorted to kill at every turn being cut loose on the land, there might be a few people even in this country, who are aware of the situation that prevailed in Guatemala when, after decades of terrible conflict, there was a cessation of hostilities.  The guerrillas and soldiers who were demobilized were left with very limited choices.  The obvious route for many of them was to go back to doing what they were trained to do and well practiced in doing – visit rape and pillage upon the countryside.

And what about the elites of this country, primarily those who live in Colombo?  They will continue to live in the style to which they have grown accustomed with the crumbs from the table, so to speak, from the ruling kleptocracy.  If they have to tolerate the occasional inconvenience of road blocks and traffic checks and “security sweeps,” so be it.  That’s a small enough price to pay for being permitted to live above the commonweal!  Their meals (on corporate expense accounts) in five star hotels and their annual sojourns overseas will be compensation enough for the occasional inconvenience of having to dig out an identity card demanded by an armed member of the security services.  That this privileged lifestyle may be ephemeral in the larger scheme of things will be of little consequence.  After all, sufficient to the day is the need thereof!

What of the fate of the great unwashed, particularly those living outside the capital city and anywhere outside where the security blanket provided for minions of the government might otherwise have provided them with shelter?  A simple phrase might well describe their predicament: “Tough, buddy, them’s the breaks!”

The poor, particularly the rural poor will continue to eke out an existence, but just.  Their more fortunate neighbours who aspire to something akin to a middle-class existence will be at substantially greater risk.  Remember not only is the one-eyed man king in the land of the blind, his middle class cousin will be the natural target of the truly deprived living around them.  And the self same middle class will be at greater risk because they often subscribe or aspire to an acceptance of “bourgeois, thuppahi” rules and regulations and a quixotic belief in human rights and the rule of law.  Talk about living in a fool’s paradise (and, potentially, paying the price for it!)

If this seems like an apocalyptic vision for the immediate future of Sri Lanka, so be it.  This writer thinks it is a logical and simple, rather than simplistic, vision of what lies ahead.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Pooty when I left the country in 1990 we were scared to take a bus to go to town, now we can all travel anywhere we like any way we like. Today I’m doing a tour of sri Lanka in public transport with no fear . for all the armed robber gangs you try to scare people about take a tour of the city of Detroit where I live.. You will see real armed gangs real violence . you sit here in your little well talking like panditaya. Get out of dodge a little, it won’t kill you!

    • 0
      0

      Abhaya:
      You certainly provide distraction of a particularly stupid kind!
      If you have chosen to live in Detroit, that is neither here nor there. Incidentally, you missed a beat there when you failed to refer to the fact that your “home city” is now bankrupt the first US city of that size to go completely in the red!
      You and the rest of the “they did it first” brigade never cease to amaze me with your comparisons and contrasts. However, you failed to tell us how many journalists have fled Detroit or been picked up by white vans. Has the Detroit Free Press been taken over by some acolyte of Obama, by the way?
      If you’ve been living in Detroit for such a long – time – 23 years and counting by the sounds of it – how do you claim to have personal day-to-day familiarity with Sri Lanka during the same period of time? Did your handlers place a “Dandumonara-yantharay” at your disposal to make daily trips back and forth?
      Incidentally, it seems like you and the rest of your time-warped friends are continuing to live in Dodge in spirit if not in the flesh, quite appropriately it seems!

      • 0
        0

        This man is amazing. He writes crap and gets annoyed when someone points that out.

        He accuses other writers being government agents paid to undermine his brand of ‘brilliant journlism’.

        Old age, a new wife and life back on invaded and illegally possessed land in Galigamuwa has made him paranoid clinging to conspiracy theories, like the ones he is involved in.

        He is an arrogant fool, ignore him.

        • 0
          0

          Poo ten:
          Assuming you are not the same person as Abhaya, you need some tuition in Sri Lankan geography which seems necessitated by living some slum in Michigan or goodness knows where else.
          While you are about it, why don’t you and your buddy get some English tuition as well. You might be able to swing a “two for one” deal, if your handlers are not prepared to pay the full shot!
          You might then be able to deal with the issues on the table rather than indulge in attempts at personal vilification which has little to recommend it except that it confirms how far down in the gutter you operate.

    • 0
      0

      Goth-abhaya,

      You Gotha are talking rubbish mate. You as a Sinhalese and as an ex defence minister with all the Priviledges might feel safe.
      For us Tamils life has been the same for the last 64 years which for the last 4 years has been hell.
      With a barabaric occuying army, with up to now Racist Chandrasri dictating policies a knock on the door any time of the day is a common occurence. Fear for yourself for the family is the order of the Day. I am sure you have heard of the dreaded Grease men thanks to your coolies the Douglas Brigade.
      But now with the election of the Nothern Assembley and a CM in place and India flexing its muscles and when the 13th Ammendement is imppemented in full I also look forward to taking a bus ride and a walk witout fear in Eelam. But you have got to your promised land before me but I am not too far behind.
      See what has happened to you Gotha for all your sins you have been banished except writing a few comments courtesy of CT. Thank your lucky stars.

    • 0
      0

      OH man:
      {HO Tham Abhaya};
      You again
      Michigan Jack Ass;

      remember they declared the Grate Lakes Area Bankruptcy.
      So YOU Rats Jumped the Ship, When it is sinking??????.

      There is no deferences of you and our M O D shit eating pig and his clan.
      because all of you are US passport Holders, calling yourselves are great Patriots.
      but self claimed Pussos. who drinks water from the river and praise the sea,
      What patriotism you have done to Sri lanka.
      You are a BIG LIAR saying that you use Public transport After coming to sri lanka after bloody 24 years in USA.

      So We have to Reduce tare weight of your Bosting talks.
      Have ever hared of Dogiya the jackal of North.
      Pilliya the Kaali of east.
      All are blood hounds of you ilk’s.

      do you have ANY relations to Ang bassodor Jalliya Wik????????.
      Here, in Sri lanka,
      we do not care of your type of kicked out from bankrupt city for The DOg shit.
      By the way, Don;
      As I am from the East of sri lanka, and was Closely worked with SL armed forces.[ no offence to real soldiers of our kind].
      I can tell you some Cowboy stories.
      If you are willing to listen, silently.

  • 0
    0

    It will take me too much time to explain about Detroit or any innter city in the us.but my point is all this nonsense you are crying about is not really that bad . my dandu monara yane has magical powers homey..lol and would you prefer in the free press was taken over by Rupert Murdoch instead of Obama.

    • 0
      0

      No, it wouldn’t take long to explain Detroit; a failed, bankrupt city full of failed hopeless citizenry. Most suitable for the likes of Abhaya. People like him get his kicks by coming back here to lord it over the yakkos for a few weeks before going back to resume his brown-trouser existence as a second/third class citizen in a basket-case city. I say grobr Abhaya!

    • 0
      0

      Abhaya:

      It really is terrible when people start dropping names like “Murdoch” and since when did Obama OWN the Detroit Free Press, which you, claiming to be some kind of Michigander, don’t seem to know is the NAME of a newspaper not an expression of media freedom!

      Better to keep one’s mouth shut and have people believe you to be an idiot than to open it and confirm the fact! But since you insist in running off at the mouth, who am I to stop you from performing your own brand of hara kiri.

      P. S.
      Given your level of comprehension, I suppose I should tell you that “hara kiri” is NOT a kind of milk.

    • 0
      0

      Goth-abhaya,

      The above shows your level of intelligence and then again you never had any and that is why you retirned to Sinhala Lanka from USA as a failed Businessman. But from the loot you managed to build the White House in the heart of Colombo.

  • 0
    0

    Emil, one did not need to be psychic or read a crystal ball to have predicted what was to come. At the time you wrote this article SL was already well advanced to being a carbon copy of the classic failed South American state. The seeds were sown over half a century; several race riots, JVP uprisings and the pestilential thirty year war nurtured private militia, impunity and a growing acceptance that might is right. This has manifested itself on the roads, in political disputes, vendettas and even when neighbours disagree. Invariable a gun or knife is pulled – problem solved. Then everything is ‘shaped’. Just like the end to the war. Shaped! People like Abhaya talk a lot of shit. Yes, most males can travel on a bus without hassle but can a woman get on bus in Sri Lanka without running the risk of being fondled or getting rubbed against. Let’s see people like Abhaya criticize a neighbor who takes liberties.Currently, I am aware, first hand, of a simple dispute; the immediate neighbour of a friend of mine has opened a spray painting business in an outhouse of his residence and the noise and fumes affect the neighbourhood from early morning till very late at night. When my friend complained he was told ‘to move’ if he didn’t like it and, to underline the advice, the message was delivered with a menacing dose of filth questioning his parentage. A few days later the spray-painter entertained, several young men in fatigues to drinks and ‘taste’ and afterwards there was communal urinating against my friend’s fence. My friend has no option now but to abandon his home and move away. That is the Sri Lanka of today: If you’re lucky, cherish your neighbours, if not keep your mouth shut and put up or move out. This is the miracle of Asia.

    • 0
      0

      Spring Chicken,

      You have become a refined charcter. I never thought you would change and will be chastising Goth- abhaya. See how things change and you have been at the receiving end through your friend and feel the warmth of being fondled which we have had to endure for the last 64 years.

  • 0
    0

    Emil says-
    “There have already been ominous signals of the emergence of robber gangs armed with sophisticated light arms running loose”
    Do not exaggerate. Please give a few instances of this happening during the last three months to prove your point.
    Please maintain the credibility of your interesting and popular column.

    • 0
      0

      Vichara:
      The note that accompanied the re-publication of this piece in Colombo Telegraph said, very clearly, “This is a piece that I wrote for the December 15th, 2007 – January 15th, 2008 issue of the now-defunct Montage Magazine. I’m leaving it with no effort at editing or updating for readers to decide what, if anything, has changed in Sri Lanka in very nearly six years.”
      I trust this explains matters more clearly.

      • 0
        0

        In the meantime you might try and find a brain free of paranoia.
        We here there are white van brigade soldiers under the beds at the “bed and b’fast” on invaded land at Galagedera.

        • 0
          0

          Poo Ten:
          Same pseudonym but different person from a different email address!
          You guys slip up despite being modelled on the US’s “Black Watch,” best-known for its (mis-)adventures in Iraq. The local model, replete with ex-Sri Lanka Telecom head honchos and retired army officers, seems to spend an inordinate amount of time digging for personal “dirt” about me! Why don’t you guys just ask for the stuff that’s not in the public domain? I’ll give it to you. But that wouldn’t be as much fun as playing (third-rate)Sheer-luck Holmes, I suppose! However, I regret I will not be able to confirm your blatant fabrications as fact. That shouldn’t put you off anyway, because this is not a simple exercise in looking for fact but simply a smear job at the behest of your “handlers,” right?

    • 0
      0

      Hurry,
      Just wake up and
      wash your Face and hind quarters.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.