19 August, 2017

Fashion Bug Attack: A Nation On The Edge, It Is A Moment Of Truth

By Malinda Seneviratne –

Malinda Seneviratne

The nation is on edge.  There is a sense of foreboding.  There are fears of a July 1983 repeat.  Indeed there are even those who are eagerly waiting for such an eventuality.  And there is no shortage of people and organizations that feed these fears, knowingly or unknowingly contributing to tensions.

In the aftermath of the violent incident in Pepiliyana where a Muslim-owned business, Fashion Bug, was attacked by mobs, the Bodu Bala Sena categorically denied involvement and condemned the attack. Indeed, the organization went as far as to state, a) that the Police should arrest all those responsible, even if they happened to be bikkhus, b) that the organization has neither called for a Buddhist boycott of Muslim shops nor threatened with physical harm those who patronized them.

This is a welcome move, especially since the rhetoric of the organization has not exactly championed co-existence and tolerance.  It appears that the rhetoric has given rise to forces that the organization cannot control and which, ironically, operate in the name of the Bodu Bala Sena, setting up Twitter, Facebook and other accounts in the domain of social media.  Bodu Bala Sena cannot claim innocence in the groundwork that has been laid for intolerance and violence to prosper.

On the other hand, vilifying the Bodu Bala Sena has led to a blanket dismissal and vilification of Buddhists.  This too does nothing to ease tensions.  The Bodu Bala Sena statement, in this context, must be applauded, but with a certain degree of caution. The organization could do more if it clearly stated that as per the teachings of the Buddha, it will support authorities responsible for law and order to ensure that Muslims and Muslim businesses and other properties are protected.

It is also heartening that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced that he is not the President of the Sinhalese and Buddhists but is the President of all communities and people of all religious faiths.  He has clearly signaled that the Government will not turn a blind eye to religious intolerance in whatever form.  It is a good sign that three persons have already been arrested over the incident, but peace requires swift and decisive action to prevent incidents as much as bringing to book those who violate the law.

If things get better from now on, much of the accolades should go to the Muslim community which has shown remarkable restraint and good sense.  This should not be reason for complacency or for assumption of ‘weakness’ or ‘impotence’, though.  All it takes is for one individual to lose control for an entire nation to be engulfed in flames we can very well do without.  The only way that the Bodu Bala Sena can stop this from happening is by actively reaching out to their Muslim brethren, to take whatever grievances they may have to the relevant authorities and these authorities dealing with issues as per constitutional provision.

Any attack on any Muslim individual (or any individual for that matter, regardless of religious persuasion) is not in keeping with Buddhism.  Indeed any attack is a blemish on the overall cultural ethos of Sri Lanka which undoubtedly has been wrought of Buddhism more than any other doctrine, religious or otherwise.  If a Muslim is attack, then, it is an affront to Buddhism and the attacker can at best claim to be Buddhist only by name.

Buddhists have not given any organization the authority to speak on their behalf. Only the bikkhus of their respective temples and the Mahanayakas of the three nikayas have that authority.  These authorities have not endorsed the Bodu Bala Sena.  Neither have they actively intervened to urge Buddhists to adhere to the teachings of the Buddha, especially those tenets pertaining to compassion and tolerance.  Clearly, a lot more needs to be done.

The Government has a responsibility.  Religious leaders too.  The general citizenry needs to be alert and exercise utmost caution and tolerance. Anyone taking the law into his/her hands is not affirming his/her faith but in fact denouncing it by that very act.

The nation is on the edge.  It is a moment of truth.  A political chasm beckons.  All the more reason to take a step back.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’, this is his last Sunday Editorial and the original title was  “The nation is on the edge”. His articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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    Malinda, Thank you for this.

    How do we get this message to the grass roots where the mobs who attached Fashion Bug reside? They surely don’t read CT.

    I think one of the reasons Muslims have reacted with patience is that the Muslims know that this this not the face of the real Sinhala Buddhist.

    Whilst the BBS is pursuing its agenda in the name of protecting Buddhism, as you pointed out the foremost authority in this country on Buddhism have not endorsed BBS. I am no person to comment on what is and is not Buddism, but as commented by many learned Buddhists, including Bhikkus, this is not Buddhism. Therefore, it implies that the BBS has hijacked Buddhism in pursuit of their own agenda. Who’s agenda is this, there have been clear links to the Norwegians, the mystery German who donated the BBS building in Galle some even point towards Israel. I think it is only the Sangha community who can put this right and restore the situation to how it was.

    Apart from a few islamaphobes who will defintely follow this article with racist comments; we muslims have and always will hold our Sinhala Buddhist brotheren with highest respect.

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      ahmad

      “there have been clear links to the Norwegians, the mystery German who donated the BBS building in Galle some even point towards Israel”

      Perhaps the revival of Aryan race.

      BBS lack their blond hair, blue eyes and ginger beard.

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        ADr. RL Spittel had traced the origins of Veddahs in SL to a tribe called Australoids. Native Veddas may be descendants of Uruwarige Thisahamy who is said to be not a Vedda but a southerner evading arrest.

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          The Professional

          There is no denying of ancestors of Aborigines visiting my ancestors on their long walk to East.

          You will do well to remember look East policy was not an Indian foreign policy innovation.

          Aborigine elders stayed with my ancestors before they left for the East. My ancestral land provided them with rest and recreation facilities.

          “Native Veddas may be descendants of Uruwarige Thisahamy who is said to be not a Vedda but a southerner evading arrest.”

          Mistaken identity, it could have been a member of the Rajabaksa Kurakan clan from down South. Please direct all your inquiries in the direction of the South, traditionally a home for thieves.

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            including the Dushta Gamini?

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        “Bodu Bala Sena cannot claim innocence in the groundwork that has been laid for intolerance and violence to prosper.” quite right! Malinda, and neither can your patron saints Mahinda and Gota Rajapassa claim innocence in the ground work that they laid for the Balu Sena and its acolytes who have been attacking not only Muslims, but Tamils, and Christians too..

        What half a banal and evil piece this really is – circulating blame to nameless saffron clad thugs – rather than naming the real thugs – the so-called president who you quote with such servility! They should all be tried in open court. The out of court settlement with the saffron thugs is a cowardly gesture from the Muslims who should not squeal the next time they are attacked.

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      I agree with what you have said. Unfortunately, the mentality of these thugs is of the uneducated, easily manipulated type. They believe in sweets are “charmed” and that the Sinhala girls are in danger of being converted in Muslims shops, so chances of this article being read by them as slim to none.

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      The answer to exactly who has orchestrated or helped with this campaign of hate, will be found in the funding, and training of this orchestrated attacks on Muslims. If we know where these despicable thugs went, got trained, or who the “consultants” who come into our country are, therein will lie answer to this mystery.
      I have seen such campaign before in other Western nations, and they are almost similar to those islamaphobic groups. It cannot be a coincidence.

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    Another load of patronizing garbage from a chief defender of the regime. Shameless!

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    Hilarious. The points that are made are- 1. The actual bodu bala sena is innocent and at worst its rhetoric may not foster togetherness! (what an euphemism!)
    2. Mahinda is an amazing leader for all communities (despite the north and the east voting overwhelmingly against him!)
    3 it is other parties that are flaming ethnic tensions (notwithstanding the governments open support for the bbs!)
    All cleverly veiled. This jackass must think himself very clever.

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      Sulaiman

      You are on the dot.
      This man Malinda is a MR sucker and wants to whitewash Rajapaksa Regime. Can he answer why Gotabhaya is in the forefront of BBS? Cannot MR stop one of his Secretaries behaving in such manner, irrespective of his greatness stated by the writer? BBS Secretary, whose way of addressing the public is quite unbecoming of a Buddhist priest and irritating, (compare with Ven Narada Thero or Madihe Pannaseeha Thero addressing people which we have seen though we are no Buddhists)has openly said that the Halal issue was closed because of GR, which shows what is in store with them. Can this be ignored by the writer?
      This is show of bogus piousness!

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      Sulaiman:
      The Jackass, Malinda, is one of the most reprehensible of his slimy kind and his ability to write grammatical English will soon be given public recognition [Edited out]
      Of such is Sri Lankan “civilization” made!

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    I wonder what some people read sometimes?? Or is it that they are just simple……to Malign this author as covering up etc is ridiculous to say the least. Perhaps this is why our Nation elects the leaders they deserve, we just dont have the intelligence to see beyond……. in fairness RW or SF were not alternatives, neither was the JVP

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    There can be no excuses or apologies for facist like BBS. In Australia a single arsonist can light a bush fire which will ravage thousands of acres and hundreds of homes. Can BBS be simply excused for the damage they have done? The Govt and especially the defence ministry is very silent on this type of violent activity. Are they silent or tolerate because the victims belong to a minority community?

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    The accused, including Buddhist priests were released because the management of Fashion Bug did not want to proceed with the case. They have the right not to claim compensation for the damage caused. Do they have a right to bring criminal proceedings to end. Why did they do this? There was wanton damage to property and injuries to persons and vehicles. It was a criminal breach of public peace. It was premeditated, organised and violent. It was also provocative and had communal hate mongering at its heart. It was a case that should have been pursued by the police. Who stopped them?

    What is the message? Does what the president said after this incident and had said many times before have any meaning?

    A political chasm has been already opened and it has already claimed some victims! Are more to come, because the law and order mechanisms have been neutered and criminals have left to go scot free.?

    It is indeed a moment of truth!

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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      Yes Mr. Rajasingham. Fashion Bug pardoned the criminals, but the case was withdrawn by the Police. just because Fashion Bug pardons, it is not necessary or correct for the Police to withdraw the case. Magistrate also agreed with the Police

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      DR.,,
      YOU ARE PERFECTLY CORRECT. FASHION BUG NOT DEMANDING COMPENSATION IS THEIR BUSINESS.
      THOSE WHO ATTACKED BURNT AND COMMITTED VIOLENCE HAVE VIOLATED THE LAWS OF THE COUNTRY.
      WHATEVER IT IS CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS SHOULD HAVE CONTINUED AGAINST THESE
      COMMON CRIMINALS.
      IT WAS NOT JUST TARGETING A BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENT, BUT AN “UNDECLARED WAR” AGAINST THE MUSLIMS BY NO LESS A PERSON,THAN THE DEFENCE SECRETARY.
      FIRST IT WAS NO HALAL,THEN WOMEN’S DRESS. NOW THEY TALK OF LIBERATING ELPITIYA.
      LATELY A MUSLIM WOMAN WENT TO A SINHALA GYNO’, WHO ASKED HER HOW MANY
      KIDS SHE HAD AND WHEN SHE SAID SIX, HE REFUSED TO ATTEND ON HER.
      MUSLIMS ARE UNABLE TO RENT OUT HOUSES.

      MUSLIMS ACTING WITH RESTRAINT SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS. WE ARE NOT SCARED . FOR MUSLIMS RELIGION COMES FIRST, AND GOD IS THERE FOR US.

      MAJORITY OF SINHALESE BUDDHISTS ARE VERY DECENT CIVILIZED PEOPLE WITH WHOM WE HAVE LIVED AND INTERACTED FOR CENTURIES. WE CAN SEE THIS FROM MANY OF THE POSTINGS AND COMMENTS.

      BUDDHISM HAS TO BE SAVED FROM THE BORU BALU SENA!!!!!!!!

      UNTIL AND UNLESS THE PRESIDENT DISBANDS THEM AND SEES THAT HIS
      BROTHER’S POWERS ARE REDUCED, WE ARE IN FOR A DARK PERIOD.

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      The Truth is the Fashion bug owner was taken to meet the president by some Muslim ministers & coerced to withdraw the complaint & never to release the CCTV footings.

      They feared pictures will reach the international Media where Govt will have to answer at a time Commonwealth meeting is in the balance.

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        The president is the real Chief Justice of Sri Lanka and the Temple Trees the new Supreme Court!

        Dr. RN

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    Malinda Seneviratne types:

    “On the other hand, vilifying the Bodu Bala Sena has led to a blanket dismissal and vilification of Buddhists.”

    No, vilifying the Bodu Bala Sena has led to a blanket dismissal and vilification of Sinhala/Buddhists,and rightly so.

    Malinda has to be educated.

    There is irreconcilable difference between Buddhism (Buddha’s teaching) and Sinhala/Buddhism in philosophy and practice. The sooner he learns the better for his Karmic circle.

    Sinhala/Buddhism is about Sunday Sil and Monday kill.

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    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/

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    poeple like Malinda are the ones who propagate ideologies that fuel the groups like BBS. The difference is BBS is more honest and do not know how to hide their racism under Malindian word play. this is not a great piece but another showcasing of the dishonesty of this paid servant of the regime. Malinda, Rathana, Champika are the real fathers of BBS. They lament the fact that their sons have gone wild. One day when our nation is totally destroyed by racism, these people will blame it on the West!! And of course they will make sure that their own kids peacefully migrated to the West.(I am not saying that Rev. Rathana also have kids)

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    Stating the obvious does not do any good. What is the solution?

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      Waraka asks:

      “Stating the obvious does not do any good. What is the solution?”

      Deport them back to Bodh Gaya which is in Bihar where Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.

      When they go they should take the entire Sri Lankan armed forces with them for their protection. Gota would lead the army.

      Subramanian Swamy will be there to greet them among the welcoming party of Hindians. Remember Swamy was categorical that Sinhalese were the descendants of Biharis.

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    Malinda,
    Could you give the reference of the following statement pls, It is also heartening that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced that he is not the President of the Sinhalese and Buddhists but is the President of all communities and people of all religious faiths.

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    @ malinda
    1. It is true BBS condemned the attack and asked to arrest the ones who did it. Any one can say anything malinda.
    – The anti muslim hysteria among the general public was created by BBS fellows. They were the ones who started it. But now there are many offshoots more vicious and damaging than BBS itself. But the environment for that was created by BBS. So BBS has to be responsible for that.they cant simply say we didnt do that.
    – Whether BBS is not related to fashiopn bug incident can be disputed. there are many reports of monks from Pepiliyana temple attending it.
    – before this incident fashion bug was under severe criticism by Gnasara at Kandy.
    – The accused was freed after a so called amicable settlement. If BBS is honest in what they said they should pressurise the gov into punishing the culptrits according to the law.
    – The FB pages is maintained by ppl connected to the BBS. Anyone can understand that. I personally know ppl who are active in those sites and are supportive of BBS. So u cant simply seperate the two.
    – Another thing is there are parallels between what BBS say and what is in FB sites.
    – BBS monks had asked the public to boycott muslim owned shops several times by these monks and they cannot reject it.

    This is simply a diplomatic (unsuccessful)move by BBS fellows.

    And u malinda is simply trying to wash the BBS fellows coming with the wording “they say, according to BBS”. As a newspaper editor in this country dont u think u should condemn these facist elements.

    It was amply apparant that BBS was creating an anti muslim atmosphere in the country. You didnt condemn it then. As a responsible newspaper editor u should have written against them much earlier and in a tougher stance.

    It is a shame this country doesn’t have sensible, wise and responsible journalists, newspaper editors in a time we want them most.

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    “It is also heartening that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced that he is not the President of the Sinhalese and Buddhists but is the President of all communities and people of all religious faiths. He has clearly signaled that the Government will not turn a blind eye to religious intolerance in whatever form. It is a good sign that three persons have already been arrested over the incident, but peace requires swift and decisive action to prevent incidents as much as bringing to book those who violate the law.”

    PLEASE PLEASE – SPARE US THIS RUBBISH – IF YOU MUST WRITE – GO AHEAD – BUT SPARE US OF THIS GARBAGE

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    First of all, The Buddha never appointed the Sanga to take care of Buddhists affairs. They were supposed to beg for food and work towards enlightenment. They appointed themselves (as Sanga) and by doing so have helped re-brand Buddhism as religion of intolerance and hatred.

    The maintenance of a massive military machine and opportunities for repression of opposition only arises with some form of threat. Since there is now none, perhaps it is time to manufacture one.

    “Islamic Terrorists” would be best candidates for this. Because of our belief that this way we can get the Yanks to support us. Of course they are dumb and they will come to our immediate rescue when we are under attack by “Islamic Terrorist”. BBS is all out to manufacture them.

    Smart of the Muslims of the Island to avoid this plot. Best not be provoked and fall into the trap that the Tamils fell into. Choosing the best of the morons to deal with the morosity of others only to be consumed by the morosity of their own making.

    That plight now awaits another community.

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    PLEASE WATCH THIS SPEECH OF AMILA HAMADURU…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ogdKnJh278

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    There will be no july 83 against the muslims as Malinda claims.That is because unlike the tamils,the muslims have the oil and srilanka will go bankrupt without oil.So you won’t have the likes of Cyril mathew and others going around instigating the mobs.The government will quickly clamp down on any violence unlike in july 83 where they fanned it.

    The main purpose of talking about july 83 is to scare the muslims into submission and turn them into a meek community of sheep.Just like the south koreans and the US are calling the bluff of the north koreans,The muslims of srilanka also should call the bluff of the sinhala bhuddhist extremists and just tell that they are not scared of a july 83 and if that happens srilanka can try to run it vehicles on coconut oil.

    Fashion bug made a mistake when they withdrew their complaint and pardoned these scumbags.Now the bhuddhist extremists would think that the muslims are scared of a july 83 and they will plan the next steps of their campaign accordingly.The muslims should have just drawn the line and said you crossed it,now you pay for it.They missed their chance and this bullying will continue.The racist bhuddhist extremist spokesmen such as malinda will continue to write away about possible july 83 to keep the muslims in fear,but the idiot is underestimating the courage of the muslims who will never be intimidated by such threats because they are not a people who are cowards like the majority of sinhalese.I remember a sinhalese telling that when the koti has come rumour took place in july 83,this sinhalese man jumped into a disused well and hid.After some time in came a cop with his weapon and uniform in his hand wearing just the banian and also hid.

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    This anti-Muslim sentiment is not something new. This has been simmering for over two decades. It is just another card being played by the regime to prolong their already expired shelf life !

    Distract the people while the fiddling goes on and Rome burns to the ground.

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    Perhaps the BBS must take to advocating a return to a parliamentary system of government with less executive powers to the prime minister who would be leader of the government, elected by cabinet, for the post.(as promised by successive national political leaders)

    Victimising minorities will eventually alienate them enough to start responding in kind. The first such act will inflame an unstoppable wave of attack and counter-attack, and all except the powerful, will become victims.

    I wonder how the people in Sri Lanka will respond if a Muslim clergy organisation were to conduct public meetings with the same kind of rhetoric used by the BBS (ie: insert the word “Sinhala” where “Muslim” is used, and vice versa.)

    When you next watch the BBS YouTube video-clips, just do it. It would seem ugly, don’t you think?

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    Native Vedda says: ‘Sinhala/Buddhism is about Sunday Sil and Monday kill.’

    How that kind of blanket classification makes things better, I really can’t imagine!

    @Amila: keep griping! [in the meantime, I continue to write….. :) ]

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      Malinda Seneviratne

      “How that kind of blanket classification makes things better, I really can’t imagine!”

      No, I assure you it won’t make things better.

      However it makes one feel good about oneself.

      That is the whole point.

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      Malinda:
      Yes to continue to write (in defence of an indefensible regime) knowing very well what you are ACTIVELY supporting. But then, as long as you do, you will be more than adequately compensated by your “handlers,” so there is a certain rationale to all of this!

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    Native Budha got it wrong. It should have been:

    “Sunday Sil, Monday Kil, Tuesday Deny”

    Malinda , pls do us a favour, pls post on Tuesdays Only.

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      Kiri Yakka

      “Sunday Sil, Monday Kil, Tuesday Deny”

      How about denying on the previous Saturday.

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    The Muslims have shown remarkable restraint in the face of repeated provocations and they have tried to be accommodating, as they have done on the Halal certificate issue The BBS and groups like it should not, however, push their luck too far. As Edmund Burke observed, there is a point beyond which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. So, you cannot expect to keep goading them and provoking them and not expect them to respond. As Lasantha Pethiyagoda has noted, “victimising minorities will eventually alienate them enough to start responding in kind”. And that is something no sane Sri Lankan would wish to happen, something that no-one who truly believes in the welfare of the country, would want to occur. The island has only recently emerged from a thirty year nightmare. Who but the mischievous and foolish would want to plunge the country again into sectarian violence?

    The BBS and other like -minded people should, if nothing else, also appreciate that you cannot afford to alienate the Muslim community for you would in doing so also alienate the countries in the Middle East. Like it or not, it is earnings by SL workers in countries in that region that is bringing in the foreign exchange that the country so sorely needs. Those countries, in a sense, to an appreciable degree, provide the island’s ‘bread and butter’. And you’d have to be foolish in the extreme to upset them.

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    There is a moment of truth alright. 1. Malinda is now backtracking because he finds he is out of synch with the people. He has lost credibility. 2.Mahinda Rajapaksa’s statements are now not believed. He is recognised as a compulsive or pathological liar. 3. The Government has lost the Muslim support and their vote. They have already lost the Tamil vote and now some Sinhala votes too. 4. True Buddhists have realized that temples and Buddhist priests are not the repositories of knowledge and loving kindness and they need not support temples nor worship priests.5. The good people of all religions and races are slowly getting together.6. Elections are out of the question. Some excuse will have to be found for suspending all elections.7. The Muslim Ministers in the Government will not be re-elected.8. Minister Aswer lost his self respect and his religion.

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    Native Veddha

    I had suggested “Sunday Sil, Monday Kil, Tuesday Deny”

    You suggest > How about denying on the previous Saturday. Ok, good suggestion. so I add :

    “Sat Deny, Sunday Sil, Monday Kil, Tues Justify, Wed pay day.

    I have changed Malinda’s role to Tue Justification. He works with the denial committee and requires two days to prepare his justification based on what is coming – because he is a Buddhist – and he gets paid on Wed.

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      Kiri Yakka

      “because he is a Buddhist”

      I would not have problem with Buddhists, remember the last Buddhist was Buddha.

      However Malinda is Sinhala/Buddhist, there in lies the problem.

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    Long before education was introduced to this country by the British we had balanced view people in posts of Administration, though not qualified as intellectuals as seen, the likes of this writer. Then we had a system of education introduced and produced honest, disciplined individuals who were an asset to society. Then came the slush who had the tag, but willing to do the dirty by the rulers to prop them for personal benefit with no scruples whatsoever. There are many such like this, holding High Office prostituting their credentials for personal gain. What is alarming is they are shameless as well and are thick skinned.

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