By Malinda Seneviratne –
Meanwhile in a parallel universe called ‘humility’
I came, no one can say I did not. I saw. I mean, I saw some stuff, didn’t see a lot of stuff and pretended not to see some of what I did see. I pretended to be conqueror. I can’t say I talked tough or talked down, honestly, because I was at the receiving end of a lot of ‘tough’ and was left looking up a lot of times.
I spoke about media freedom but didn’t talk about the Leveson Inquiry which all of Britain knows is a judicial public probe into the culture, practices and ethics of our press following the News International phone-hacking scandal. When I tough-talked with my friend Mahinda, that tough-talk was tossed at me. I had to opt for thumb-twiddling.
I spoke about human rights and I was asked about the Chilcot Report and about Bloody Sunday, the former about an illegal invasion 10 years ago and the latter about crimes against humanity perpetrated 40 years ago. The Chicot Report, if you really want to know, is being edited to clear our friends (should I say ‘our masters’?) across the Atlantic of any guilt. I got a lesson in arithmetic, since the LLRC Report came out just a couple of years after May 2009. The LLRC Report was not ‘edited’. So when I gave a March 2014 deadline and had to say ‘please give me six months to get the sanitized version of the Chilcot Repoirt out, I was made to look like a first grader who was finding it tough to add one to one and get ‘two’. More thumb-twiddling.
There was other stuff that I had to listen to. It was altogether uncomfortable and disconcerting. But then again, I had a script in hand and I played my part. I had to say certain things to Mahinda so that I could come out and tell my journo-buddies (who alone were allowed to shoot questions at me, ‘freebies’ or ‘full-tosses’ I think they are called) ‘I said this and that’ in my ‘free-and-frank’ monologue. No one asked what was said to me, because I didn’t allow intelligent journalists who subscribed to media ethics to query me.
The flight home was long. I had time to think. I know for a fact that we allow, in the name of ‘freedom of expression’, LTTE operatives to demonstrate in London. We did that even when Prabhakaran was alive. Then, as now, the Tiger flag is waved. We would never allow an Al Qaeda flag to flutter anywhere in our fair land, folks. No Al Qaeda slogans either.
And then there’s this other funny thing. It’s also about numbers, but those numbers were not shot at me when I met Mahinda. My government never listens to unions or union members who are more numerous than all the brown folk who take to the streets in London.
I also thought how important the Commonwealth is to us. As a client state of the USA we have nothing to brag about except past glory. We need the monarchy because that’s the only thing that gives us ‘leadership’ in the CHOGM. Truth be told, if we became a republic, India might take over the Commonwealth. That’s what happened to the ICC.
I closed my eyes and the words of a Yaka floated into my dreams. Loud and clear. Ox-bridge accent and all to make sure I got the lines right. Here’s what I heard:
“They have always used the early technique of ‘transference’…
they hit us on the head to get rid of their headaches…
it clears the synapses apparently…
the angst about debt…”
It was nice to get back to London.
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com