26 September, 2020

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Paradise Lost

By Gamini Dullewe

I doubt the heading will have any appeal or meaning to the present generation, unless for those as myself who have seen both worlds. I was born in the ‘40s and the vestiges of the British rule and systems continued even till the mid ‘50s after the country have been granted Independence. Prior to the advent of the British where the whole country came under the British Monarch, only the coastal areas were under the Dutch and the Portuguese rule and there was no central administrative system as the British had established. It is the British, who established a form of Democratic governance, granting franchise to the masses. A system of revenue collection and an administrative body to function a central health department that manned the Hospitals throughout the country. A Police Department to maintain Law and Order. An Independent Judiciary to dispense Justice to the masses. A transport system of a Rail and Road network spanning the whole island. The above was administered through a system of Local Govt. Service directly under the British, before Independence and after Independence by the Locals who were qualified to replace the British.  An Education system by the Church body was run parallel to educate the locals to take over the Administration from the British. Although education by the Church body was for those who had converted to Christianity, latterly many a Buddhists were accommodated in the leading Christian Schools without having to convert. About the same time there were some schools with the assistance of foreign bodies that were established to cater for the Sinhalese Buddhists from the lower rungs of society, who could not afford to pay for education. When education was first made available to the locals by the Christian missionaries, there was reluctance from the Sinhalese to convert and also was not much enthused, but the Tamils not only became converts but many changed their names too to English names. It is for this reason that at the time of Independence that there were a larger number of Tamils occupying govt. Jobs in comparison to the number of Sinhalese, as they took a keen interest in Education more than the Sinhalese, which fact the Sinhalese today try to interpret as the British having favoured the Tamils. Not a single could have gained employment in the Govt. Service without qualification then, let alone being Tamil.

There were no Drug Barons and Shady Businessmen with underworld connections posing as the Rich today, who could not account for their wealth. |AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena

The social structure was fairly simple. The elitist class were Western educated that filled the professions of Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers who were the wealthy in society along with the Landed Proprietors. There were no Drug Barons and Shady Businessmen with underworld connections posing as the Rich today, who could not account for their wealth. The rest of the Western educated middle classes of all communities filled the Clerical posts of the Administrative system and quite a number took to teaching which was a very noble Profession then. The society was very Law abiding and all respected the Laws of the Land. The young respected the adults and any who violated was dealt with. Even the poor who constituted a majority were quality poor, not starving to eat off dustbins and lived in houses with a minimum two rooms to preserve family traditions. There were no poor without houses living on road sides nor had the country seen the birth of Shanties that has proliferated since. A land owner never hesitated to allow a poor family to put up a house in one’s land as it was an asset to have such family. However later with Laws being enacted allowing such households to claim ownership, this facility was denied to the poor and the country saw the birth of Shanties as a Major impediment in today’s context that has not only created a housing imbalance but a threat to the entire social fabric with it’s influence of a Shanty Culture, where the undesirables are hob knobbing with the Powerful in society or simply some of those powerful Politicians and Businessmen today, themselves hail from such background.

The country then was most peaceful and tranquil, not to mention that there was no effort or the need on the side of the govt. to foster or force Religion on society then, as Religion was left for the society to indulge, Religion being a personal matter. This by no means indicate, that the society then was less Religious, than today. Infact the people then were Religious not for Commercial purposes and competition as today, but for genuine purpose of faith. For that matter, crime rate was less and any who committed an offence was punished accordingly where even MPs of the govt. was sent to jail for Bribery. There was no case of saving any as today being considered as ‘apey miniha’ or escaping punishment stating the Laws are insufficient. What a Joke and a Mockery has been made of the Judicial System today? The Judiciary then had the cream of society unlike today, devoid of synthetic products. Not only the Judiciary had the cream, but even the Politicians then were of repute, who spent their own wealth, but not made money from Politics as happening today.  Therefore the myth, that the society had reached the present level of decadence due to the society not being Religious enough is completely untrue. It is more for the reason due to the prostitution of Religion by these Saviours overdosing the society with Religion, with the Politicians backing, is one reason for the present decadence and destruction.

Education from the school level through the Universities was in the English medium. Hence all citizens irrespective of ethnicity or religion were under the same umbrella and the best entered the Universities and the rest fitted in to various other positions in the Govt. and the Private sector. Everyone did their job with pride and was committed to the job. The chances of coercing Officials with bribes were not heard of.  The Police Department was filled with the decent in society and not from the Slums and one could have turned to any and need not have known someone for Justice to be met. This all changed with the country’s education switched to the Vernacular. Similar mindsets as today in the Education sector, who have found the highest scorers in Maths and Science in the A/L from the Weerakatiya Rajapaksa Maha Vidyalaya, turned the Gampaha District then, in to the Education hub of the country over the students of the popular Private schools in the more Urban areas. Subsequently it was these products from the Gampaha Education Hub that were churned out from the Universities and the Maha Vidyalayas that replaced the Local Govt. services as GAs and AGAs and the entire Govt Clerical Staff including the Teaching Profession in the country and most importantly the Election Commissioners Dept. I am not trying to run down but if some had seen the quality of staff of Govt. Service who was replaced by this Swabasha type will agree with me that the majority were not fit to be engaged as Peons in the Govt. service, let alone being appointed as Officers. It is no wonder that the quality of Govt. Servants were so poor that no Govt. was able to deliver with such a workforce. Here started the rot of this country and the vicious attitude towards everyone else in this country who were Law abiding respectable educated citizens. This Swabasha type soon found to their dismay that the Tamils too were entering the Universities by the number. The obvious was that the Sinhalese could not check the Tamil answer scripts and they believed the Tamils were favouring their own as the Sinhalese Swabasha type were doing to their own kith and kin, which of course  never got highlighted. The result was the govt. of the day implementing a scheme of standardisation preventing the Tamils who were earlier qualified to enter University. This is where Tamil Militancy gave birth to the LTTE. When the medium of education was in English earlier there were no hiccups as these, as any person could have checked the answer scripts and neither the Sinhalese nor the Tamils could have cheated. So is it surprising that we have created a Nation of CHEATS thanks to the Swabasha Education? So folks do not be surprised of the level of Corruption prevalent today with the Swabasha quality of Politicians in our midst. This country will never ever get out of the mess unless the majority of us forgetting trivialities trust someone who has proved himself to be Honest, Gentlemanly, and who would be fair to all, to make this country a Home for all of us to all ethnicities and all Religions, is to have such Leader as Ranil Wickremasinghe.  He is like, the last of the Mohicans.

Considering the life we enjoyed then to the suffering we endure today with selective Law and Order meted to a society where the majority have no say, but simply sit and watch. The question is how long? It is not only us who suffer but all those who are responsible for the decadence and the Lawlessness, who have contributed in no small measure for this transition.

I would like to conclude with an addition to Martin Niemoller’s, ‘Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me’.

‘I welcome thee to come for me and save me the suffering I endure under thy Tyranny’.

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Latest comments

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    Gamini,
    The Paradise is here, for only some selected people.
    One has to be in the right race,religion and political party.
    The photo shows it all – the chief exterminater of the citizens who fought against injustice,being garlanded by his sycophant who also exterminated his political opponent in a shootout.

    • 0
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      This picture reminds me the saying – Birds of a feather flock together.

      At least now, it is HIGH time masses to grasp the reality of the march.

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    A very well written article where the popular myths about colonialism are challenged. It is often alleged that the British took more than they gave back. This point is used to rubbish the fact that they did indeed unite and build the country up from what it was when they arrived to what they left it in. It is a false argument since a colony only exists because the owners intend to make a profit. It is how they go about making that profit that is important to note. This country was truly a paradise to live in. Even though I was not born way back then I come from a family from south and I can remember the old stories about life back then that are alien to the society we live in today.

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      I agree 100% with this article and with Mark’s comment. This Paradise was lost only because it was handed over lock, stock and barrel by our votes to the people in power today. Paradise as our parents and grandparents knew it will never be regained.

  • 0
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    I think the current regime will find it’s waterloo by interfnational community in March UNHR session.

    The above picture tells how cheap, low instinct, Low level, Low moral and low inferior complex attitude of a person the President is.

    The moment I saw it what immediately came to my mind was those Kavadi dancers in Kandy Perehera.
    President could have made some money if he stood by Galle Face green with this Garland on…….while smoking a Gan…..a suruttuwa.

    He looks alike the Butch….r in our meat market.

    If not for USA banning LTTE as a terrorist organisation and jail it’s funders and arms procruitors, giving training to our security forces, kept our trade contracts and GSP going during the hight of war, selling modern equipments throug Israel, kept international sea lanes guarded and giving moral support to Govt. etc,etc…and if these incentives were not given to all the Sri Lanka rulers including Rajapakses during war…..do you think MR would have ever won the war.

    Same with India who gave all the support to us during the LTTE war.

    But after war ended Rajapakses tried to play their Hambantota magic Puppet show games with both International community and India by not fulfilling their obligations agreed to them after completion of the war.

    Rajapakses wanted to get the full credit for winning the war while Gen.Fonseka who won the war was Jailed……when war criminal and Karuna Amman and KP who gave millions to him was kept in his bossom.

    Similarly he Fired Chief Justice to dictate the whole Judiciary under him while his pal criminal Mervin Silva was left free.

    This is the reason what happened to Pres. Rajapakse when he went twice to England. On both occasions MR got feared of rotten tomato trash and came back home half way.

    Similarly MR got scared to go to Malaysia for world Muslim trade association fearing another rotten tomato attcak, where the people already warned him prior to his tour……and subsequently he cancelled it.

    Similarly he may get another treat when he go to India on this Friday where already planning to protest………and the following trips to Europe Canada, USA or Australia.

    MR may talk big in Sri Lanka……but hiding when goes abroad.

    These would not have happened if he followed the International Law and norms and behaved as a Gentleman and not as Hambantota cool maqgic Mademulana Comedy Trick Puppet showman.

    YOU CAN FOOL SOME PEOPLE SOMETIMES……BUT YOU CAN’T FOOL ALL THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIMES.

  • 0
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    SRI LANKA IS NOT A PARADISE FOR ANY BODY ONLY FOR SLECTED RICH.YOU CAN CALL SRILANKA PARAYA-DIAS FOR REST.

  • 0
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    Is Ranil wickramasinghe the solution or is he very much a part of the problem ?

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    An air brushed version of our recent history. For a person who said to have been born in 40s to oversimplify our history this way , and hope that future can be charted, or rather regained as the heading refers to a “Paradise” that had been “Lost” doesn’t look like he has been reading any history or current affairs, or is it the feudalistic mentality?

    For me this is the real gem: “Education from the school level through the Universities was in the English medium. Hence all citizens irrespective of ethnicity or religion were under the same umbrella and the best entered the Universities….and pl. read this part in which he casually mentions,
    “… and the rest fitted in to various other positions in the Govt. and the Private sector.”

    Mr. Dullewa, the rest you ever so casually refer to was not ready to “fit in” at any point of time and now in the 21st century, while the successive regimes still try, we, the rest are not ready to “fit in to various positions” according to Bandaranayakes, Rajapakses, Sampanthans, Hakeems, Fonsekas, Wickremasinghes, or anyone else.

    This country never fitted into an old walauwa type mentality and will never be as your name suggests that you are affected with.

    • 0
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      anaperera,
      Those who failed university entry,sat for examinations held to recruit persons for many other government posts – Apothecaries Entrance,General Clerical,Postal Clerical,Railway Clerical,Hospital Clerical Services,Technicians for Ceylon Electricity Board,Irrigation Department,Department of Public Works,Medical Laboratory Technologists,
      Radiographers,Banks clerical service,Nursing and for many other posts.
      After 1970,Sirimavo cancelled all these examinations.
      Each Member of Parliament was given a quota to recruit & they did,from among their supporters.
      Thus,the best were not recruited.
      Sirimavo also cancelled London University O & A level exams held by the Examinations Department,which enabled bright students going abroad for higher studies – but she sent her children abroad for studies.
      The ROT set in,in Paradise.

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        If you consider the conduct of affairs you admire so much – university exams and all other exams you list out here – would have maintained a paradise in this country, notwithstanding all the struggles against inequality, lack of opportunities of vast sections of our citizenry in the post Independence context alone – 53 Hartal, 60s youth uprisings ending up in 71 bloodshed, Northern discontent that started in 50s and drew Tamil youth in 60s that led to even bigger bloodshed later must have been by some idiots who didn’t want to live in our paradise isle and let you be in that paradise. I’m not holding a brief for SLFP or Sirima but, isn’t it a sad situation when recent history is seen in such oversimplified and unrealistic ways and you try to think of a future for this country based on those views you promote? Isn’t it the same thing this regime wants us to do, view the world and the country the way try to show to us?

      • 0
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        The worst thing Sirima Bandaranaike did was, she took over Sterling companies and nationalised tea companies and private ownership by limiting 50 acres to a family. I know many tea estate owners comitted suicide due to this act.

        http://radicalnotes.com/2007/06/07/the-sri-lankan-national-crisis-and-the-search-for-solutions-1/

        I think after SWRD, Sirima was the worst ever leader we had in our history where the second and third uprisings both by JVP and the LTTE started.

        For Sirima, to be the leader of Non align was more fun ……where it is now the poor man’s club…..than to serve people….and we had the longest ques in our history for bread and other essentials.

        Now we have the second Joker who is hell bent with CHINA SYNDROME …..CHINA FEVER HAMMERING COMMISSION AFTER COMMISSION WHERE THE CENTRAL GOLD RESERVE AND THE FOREIGN CURRENCY DISAPPEARING ON AN ALARMING RATE…….AFTER THE MUSEAM WAS POLISHED.

        WHAT IS NEXT……..

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      It is the mentality of the a “have not” when he is given something for nothing to grab it and pretend that he earned it. He then forgets from where he came, abuses his position given to him on a platter by harassing those that studied and earned their position. This is the story of the Ceylon Government service of which my father was one of the talented ones who earned his position and then had to suffer at the hands of the above mentioned. My father sat the City and Guilds exams which Sirimavo banned. He was too poor to study up to the university entrance and so joined at a lower rank the made his way up the ladder. He fitted in exactly as Mr Dulawe mentions.

  • 0
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    Paradise Lost ?

    Paradise Poisoned !

    Paradise Poisoned: Learning about Conflict, Terrorism and Development from Sri Lanka ‘s Civil Wars(2005), John Richardson:
    Paradise Poisoned is the principal product of a seventeen year project, devoted to understanding linkages between deadly conflict, terrorism and development, by viewing them through the lens of Sri Lanka’s post-independence history, from 1948 through 1988. ….. My vision is of a day when no citizens in today’s developing nations will have to ask ‘how did we come to this?’ Paradise Poisoned will have achieved its purpose when that day comes.”

  • 0
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    I agree fully with the article and wish to state that we are better off if we are still under British Rule.

  • 0
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    ….but the guy who IS “sitting and watching” as you say is RW !
    and we suffer as you say because we don’t have a effective opposition leader,one who is a leader ,always canvasses public opinion as against once a month media release.

    • 0
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      Today We have two megalomaniacs.

      One….. while ruling the country, does not allow any other party to step into his seat by any democratic means. He keeps plundering and destroying the country,it’s people and future just to hold onto power.

      The other in opposition while loosing constantly never allow anybody else to build the party.

      SO PATHETIC AND SO TRUE.

  • 0
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    Thanks to your Ranil baba,most Sri Lankans don’t know what it is like to have a political opposition.

  • 0
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    Ranil? huh! No thank you. The looser and the reason for all evil happening today in SL.

  • 0
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    I belong to the same generation that Gamini is writing about.
    I have seen the deterioration over this period. How this beautiful country can get back to those wonderful days I dont know

  • 0
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    Gamini. Your article would have been great if only you had not brought in the name of RW. I agree with all those negative sentiments expressed about RW.

  • 0
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    Maybe those days were wonderful just for us ? When we are gone the people who can live like this will call it their paradise and enjoy living in it.

    It may be time to die or immigrate ?

    After all we are no longer majority are we ? Sure we love our Country and want to recapture the good old days but is that reality ?

    • 0
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      Don Quixote

      “It may be time to die or immigrate ?”

      Please don’t die. No one is stopping you from migration. Some birds do. You can take your flock with you.

      We will have the land back.

      • 0
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        Thanks for the sanction NV, my suggestion was actually for all those whingers who may be living in the past !

        The operative word being MAY , I am truly not sure if we are under an illusion that the “good old days” are actually what the modern Sri Lanka and her majority need.

        • 0
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          Don Quixote

          We all live in the romantic past.

          There are good times and there are bad times. We think we lived in a peaceful and prosperous past.

          My humble reading of the history is that those who thrived in the past had never cared to look at the other people who did not.

          The situation still continues and we are led to believe that everything will and can be changed by changing the regime.

          Unless we care for the ordinary man/woman in the street things won’t change irrespective of who is in power.

    • 0
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      It’s the Paradox of Life: Today the Chinese say the meat doesn’t even taste what it used to before and we were poor but happy not stressed like today.

  • 0
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    Panabokke – Or Paradise plundered?

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    Are things so bad ?

    Please read :
    [Edited out]

    • 0
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      Why edit out the link ? It was simply a link to an interview given by the Australian opposition members after a visit to Sri Lanka. It says lots of very positive things !

      Of course it may be an attempt to send the refugees back but is there a policy about not putting links in ?

      If so my apologies ! Otherwise could you please put it back ?

  • 0
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    Ranil Wickramasinghe has sold the soul of democracy to the political devil, by his unimpacting actions and clandestine associations with the president.He is the best candidate of the regime.

  • 0
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    Before MR murderer R. Premadasa ruined the nation, he turned lanka into a killing field, for all the present day mess one has to blame the rogue UNPers who ruled and ruined the Island.

    • 0
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      batu

      I beg to differ.

      The impunity in the killing field started in 1915.

  • 0
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    Hi Friends, have we had any presidents since independence who has been celebrating his so cold successes with drug dealers cum murderers (Duminda Silva), multiple criminals (Juliampitiya Amare), Robbers of high grade (Kumara os someone today as Transport minister), Ciminal of all forms (Mervin Silva), over currupted other politicians like Wimal buruwanse, Kehelmal and and..

  • 0
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    CT readers must forgive Gamini Dullewe. Ensconced in a make believe world, a realm far removed from the hoi polloi there’s not much one can expect from the elitist Dullewes . However what I have heard and read about the political landscape of which he speaks so fondly is not very different from what we have in the present day.
    I want to touch on one aspect of his worldview, and he alludes to religious and racial harmony. The overt stirrings of racism can be traced back to Anagarika Dharmapala followed by the race riots against the Muslims in 1915 and the series of such events which led to the breakdown of law and order. Brandman Weerakoon’s autobiography gives us an insight into the trajectory of our politicians thinking at that time and how Sinhala Buddhist nationalism was used and exploited by politicians of all hues.
    Sri Lanka’s polity has not matured over the years. Who we elect and send as our representatives is reflective of this lack of maturity. It is said that our members of parliament are a microcosm of society at large. While we may not condone the racism, violence and corruption as epitomised by our leaders, our apathy alone is signal enough of tacit approval. How can we make our politicians see when we ourselves overlook these serious flaws in our society and therefore in our leadership?
    Not much has changed from Mr. Dullewa’s time. What has perhaps changed is that we are exposed to the fault lines more frequently and speedily as never before.
    Abdicating responsibility, the majority still remains a “silent majority”, and that perhaps is the biggest tragedy

  • 0
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    I am happy to see such article by a person from majority Sinhalese. The ethnic polarization, between the majority and minority of the island intensified over the years by successful governments since the so called independence. I agree with the author that we enjoyed more peace, freedom and opportunities in the late 40s when Brits left the island. The wedge and rivalry between the majority and minority is nothing other than the survival tactics of handful of people mainly politicians and military hierarchy. The issue here is Sinhalese who are the majority with minority complex and the Tamils who are the minority with majority complex. Sinhalese are afraid of Tamils and vise versa.
    What we should do to eliminate the fear among us?
    Create a society which provides equal opportunity to all. Peace, freedom, and justice will follow through.
    Who can do this?
    Every person who has the birth right to lives in his or her land. Don’t sit idle when you see injustice. Come to the street to fight. If people come to the street politicians will listen. We have lessons from History through MLK, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mao and many more leaders who were succeeded in their fight against injustice through mass revolution and achieved peace, freedom and justice to all.

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