18 April, 2021

Blog

From Oprah’s One Shot To Weerawansa’s Backstabbing  

By Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

A lot more can be added to the two stories in the title as stories making news last week in Sri Lanka and around the world. The 2021 International Women’s Day (IWD) arrived on Monday, March 8. Even as Monday was dawning in much of the eastern hemisphere, Oprah Winfrey was upstaging The Crown while it was still Sunday evening in west coast Los Angeles. Netflix, the streaming giant and the producer so far of four seasons of the popular royal series – The Crown, could not have imagined what Ms. Winfrey pulled out of her “carrier bag” as a real-life story starring a real-life and eloquent prince (Harry) and his biracial and telegenic American wife, Megan Markle. Their dramatic recounting of the intersections of race, gender, royalty, and the English tabloids presaged the 2021 Women’s Day.

Hours later, female farmers from Punjab and Haryana stormed the ramparts of Delhi, continuing the months-long farmers’ siege on the Modi government and its agricultural laws. Black Sunday protests had already started in Sri Lanka over government’s pussyfooting around the 2019 Easter Sunday tragedies and the masterminds behind them. Later in the week Sri Lanka’s heavy-footed parliament began debating the Presidential Commission report on Easter Sunday, with the SJB and the TNA supporting Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s call for international investigation of Easter Sunday bombings. 

On Tuesday, March 9, the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a non-governmental organization in Washington, released a report prepared by 50 global experts in international law, genocide, and the China region, which claims that the Chinese government “bears state responsibility for an ongoing genocide against the Uyghur in breach of the (UN) Genocide Convention.” It is apparently the first time a non-governmental organization has undertaken an independent legal analysis of China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has pre-emptively dismissed the report and said that allegations of a genocide in Xinjiang “couldn’t be more preposterous.” 

However, the matter was reportedly raised by President Joe Biden at his virtual summit meeting, on Friday, March 12, with the other three leaders of the four Quad countries: Prime Ministers Narendra Modi (India), Scott Morrison (Australia), and Yoshihide Suga (Japan). Of the four Quad leaders, Prime Minister Modi is unlikely to be critical of China on the Uyghur question given his own government’s treatment of Indian Muslims.  

Thursday, March 11, was the first anniversary of Covid-19 being declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. It has been quite a year for everyone born during the last 100 years after the Spanish flu had come and gone. The global toll of Covid-19 is astounding: nearly 120 million infections and close to three million deaths. The impact on women has been patriarchally disproportionate. The global vaccine rollout is anything but proportionate. The UN theme for the 2021 Women’s Day could not have been more fitting: Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”

To mark the occasion, if not the theme, the world media carried the picture of Sister Ann Rose falling to her knees, pleading with Myanmar soldiers to shoot her and spare the children. The military junta is struggling to contain the escalating civilian protests against the suspension of democracy in Myanmar, even as the UN Security Council is running out of non-veto votes to roll back the junta’s auto-coup to shut down parliament and keep itself in power.   

The Pope and the Cardinal

The start of the crowded week also saw Pope Francis making his first international trip after Covid-19. Following his October encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” the Pope visited Iraq over four days travelling from modern Baghdad, to historic places in the old Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of human civilization: the ancient City of Ur where Abraham was born, Mosul on the west bank of Tigris, and Ninevah Plain on the east bank with its Christian towns. There have been mixed reactions to the Papal visit during the pandemic. But as Moises Saman told the National Geographic, Pope Francis brought a “spark of hope and validation” to a “country and its people … deeply scarred by conflict. … it felt like a turning point, for people of all faiths, to have a person of his stature come to Iraq—despite the pandemic, despite security concerns, despite all these obstacles.” The Pope met with the 90 year old Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf and called for an end to violence and extremism and for unity among the Muslims and the dwindling number of Christians in Iraq. 

In Sri Lanka, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith invoked the Pope’s visit to Iraq and called it as an inspiration for unity and peace among peoples of all religions in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. To his credit, the Cardinal is calling for justice without alienating the Muslims. His disenchantment is with the government for its half-hearted approach to act on the recommendations of the Presidential Commission. The approach is also censorial as the Attorney General is denied access to the full report apparently for security reasons. 

We learn from news reports that the Attorney General has met with the Cardinal, but we have not seen any report about his meetings with the Minister of Justice or any Minister of consequence. The breaking news is that the government has finally decided to turn over the entire COI report to the Attorney General. Reversals are becoming habitual for this government and there are calls for the whole to be made public. What is there to hide?  

Weerawansa Backstabbing

And the Cardinal might be the government’s lesser worry now, with National Freedom Front (NFF) leader and Industries Minister Wimal Weerawansa stirring the pot again by alleging that there are “clandestine links between a section of the government and All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen, allegedly involved with those responsible for 2019 Easter Sunday carnage.” This is the lead story in The Island on Friday (March 12), which goes on to say that SLPP parliamentarians are “furious” with Mr. Weerawansa’s latest outburst and that they think he has “stabbed the government in the back.” 

Wimal Weerawansa has been a leading champion of ‘Saubhagya Dakma’. In August 2020, he was spearheading coordinated plans for reviving national industries to achieve the President’s saubhagya objectives. Now he is turning sour on the pohottuwa presidency in the name of defending the President. His latest outburst is less remarkable for the accusation it carries and more significant for the reaction it has provoked among SLPPers. And those supporting the government from outside are becoming openly disenchanted. 

The term Saubhagya is gradually becoming a term of derision and ridicule just as the term Yahapalanaya before it. There is also a curious difference from the circus of the yahapalanaya government. The chief clown then was also the Head of State, given to periodical outbursts against his Prime Minister in public. Nothing powerful or politically purposeful went on between the two men (Sirisena and Wickremesinghe) in private. Now the carping clowns are everywhere in government, but the Head of State has gone quiet in Colombo. 

The current President keeps his counsel for sharing only with captive audiences in the villages. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is becoming the nation’s Reader in Chief, touring villages and reading selected passages from a Presidential Commission report. An apparent breather for the President and ancillary benefit to the country from the 20th Amendment. But others in the government might be breathless with anxiety about the upcoming UNHRC vote on Sri Lanka. There would be no need to hold anyone’s breath if the government were to heed Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s advice and clean up the country’s criminal justice system, without outside assistance if possible, and with it if necessary. 

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Latest comments

  • 9
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    Another story that is very important and shakes the foundation of Mahinda Rajapaksa family is the announcement of Basil Rajapaksa candidacy for 2024 Presidency and Gotabaya Rajapaksa for primer post. Vasudeva’s and Wimal Weerawansa’s announcement to hand over the SLPP to Gota clearly tells “Good bye” to Mahinda Kingdom hopes.
    Mahinda Rajapaksa introduced UNHRC to Sri Lanka in 1990 but now Gotabaya brought UNHRC inside the Centre of Sri Lanka permanently.

    • 1
      9

      Ajith,
      Mahinda Rajapakshe introduced UNHRC to Sri Lanka in 1990. Now UNHRC want to settle down in Sri Lanka because the descendants of Demalu brought to Yapanaya as coolies by Portuguese and Dutch launched a terrorist campaign to grab a part of the Land of Sinhalayo to create a separate State based on a bogus claim ‘Traditional Homeland’.
      Sri Lanka get harassed by UNHRC because of the blunder made by Sinhalayo to give asylum to a bunch of ungrateful ‘Para’ people.

      “Mahinda Rajapaksa introduced UNHRC to Sri Lanka in 1990 but now Gotabaya brought UNHRC inside the Centre of Sri Lanka permanently.”

  • 8
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    I have not gone thru a News Bulletin so precise and yet so comprehensive!

  • 1
    9

    “Prime Minister Modi is unlikely to be critical of China on the Uyghur question given his own government’s treatment of Indian Muslims.”

    Indian Muslims who live in India are not his ‘Brothers and Sisters’ but Demalu in Sri Lanka are his ‘Brothers and Sisters’ and worried about their equality, justice, peace and dignity. Shedding crocodile tears!

  • 6
    8

    The author is citing a report by Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a non-governmental organization in Washington.
    Is he sure that the NGO concerned is impartial or apolitical?
    Not just the NISP and HRW, even the NED which funds election campaigns is reportedly an NGO.
    *
    One should always check who the paymaster of any NGO piper is.
    It is unwise to endorse any charge without even bothering to find out what the “accused” has to say and assess if it sounds credible.

  • 6
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    As for backstabbing, WW was coached to backstab the JVP when it was MR’s partner.
    The knife is testing its sharpness on the wooden block on which it was sharpened.
    WW will before long be a far bigger worry for GR than MR.
    With little on offer as a political alternative, many of us seem to wallow in idle gossip and pin hopes on plain speculation.

  • 4
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    Rajan Philips,

    Thanks for a comprehensive, yet precise weekly update, continue your good work.

  • 1
    6

    As per Meghan Sussex. Fame is not easy on some. The mind expands to such latitudes, and then has to contract to everyday life, even if in palaces (especially if in palaces, when after all the glorification, the mind has to come to terms with reality…..and all in the end is vapid). Coupled with pregnancies (where some seem to even have pre-natal depression on top of post-natal depression), one becomes extremely unstable. Looking at the interview at first, one is disgusted by the silliness of it. But one further consideration, she truly might need help and support. Of course, it might all be an act to keep Harry happy by acting like his mother (although poor darling Diana had not the love of her husband, and the sordid tale came out only a decade or so later). Or it might be a ruse to be free off Royal encumbrances and yet still live off the British tax-payer. Or it might be a Palace Plot to circumvent other Palace issues. Or it might be a Clinton-Obama- Gates-Oprah Democratic Plot to bring down the British Monarchy because it is felt that the British have too much of an identity with their Royal Family, and it goes against their no-borders policy, and has caused Brexit.

    • 2
      3

      And they sent forth Actress Meghan to do it.

    • 0
      0

      RTF

      I am surprised you wrote this stuff giving interpretation to such tragedy with Princess Diana and now Meghan in this way?

      • 0
        2

        Why? The stories are Prime Time. There are many movies and TV series about them.  Meghan herself gave comparison between herself and the hopelessness of Princess Diana. I see no comparison. Besides, Ranjan Phillips brought the issue up for discussion. He also spoke about the TV series The Crown. Have you watched it?  Do you feel that as they are of superior station, it is not your place, according to your caste, to speculate on them, or judge them?

        And I see no racism either.
        If the Royal Family were so racist, they would have worried about their offspring before giving marriage approval, and cut Harry off from his Princely allowance to stop it…..And they had a legitimate reason too as she was a divorced woman that the church would have forbade. Still they welcomed her with open arms knowing H&M’s offspring would have African genes too.

    • 0
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      “As per Meghan Sussex. Fame is not easy on some.”
      I am not sure if fame is Meghan’s problem. There is no fame being a Royal doormat.
      *
      But what is your problem, rtf? You are not even a fraction as famous.
      Stop insulting people if you would rather not be insulted.

      • 0
        1

        he, he he,….no, I am not famous. Gosh that that should have occurred to you….LoL! You do me no insults because what you say of me is irrelevant to the subject. Ok, ok….maybe a bit notorious on CT. But Nooo…not insulting others, but trying to comprehend the very strange situation.

        But Meghan is not a Royal doormat. She was well accepted into the family and we were all so proud that a Sri Lankan looking person was doing her duty towards the Commonwealth. But that one Royal person could have been pulling his ears and wondering if the African genes would give the Royal family a different look is nothing to shout racism about. It was just a wondering and trying to adjust himself/herself to a new reality.

  • 1
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    Excellent Rajan Sir.

    I could not avoid thinking should we now file all the cases with the UN/Foreign Governments wondering is it our government secret plan to rid of all the TNA running to make a living overseas at the foreign courts?? hopefully settle there too amongst their voter base for new causes overseas??

    In Jaffna if you were killed by one Lawyer all others barred from representing your family..a well known professional courtesy I noted even in other Asians countries by the same settled overseas…now this may become the new bar council “low” overseas too?

  • 1
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    I agree absolutely with those who say that these weekly bulletins from Rajan Philips are just about perfect, and so well written.
    .
    Too well, I feel. I’m sure that many read, but don’t make the occasional comment. One wonders how these engineer guys learnt how to write so well. Not only him: Kumar David, SJ, the Hoole Brothers.
    .
    Thanks.

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