15 December, 2017

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People In Glass Houses Do Throw Stones

By Lal Wickrematunge

Lal Wickrematunge

Lal Wickrematunge

Varying shades of opinion were expressed leading up to CHOGM being held in Sri Lanka. Many  countries  voiced their opinions through the media and independent media outlets raised the question of the propriety of Sri Lanka hosting this event given the accusations of human rights abuses, suppression of media freedom, torture in custody and lack of reconciliation during the last five years.

The final consensus amongst the Commonwealth partners was to hold this event in Sri Lanka but to raise concerns over the issues mentioned above.  In a recent BBC ‘Impact’ interview with Mishal Husain, I agreed with this sentiment.

Remember that Australia  passed the baton  to Sri Lanka to host this event and defended that decision strongly. Australia had her own reasons to support Sri Lanka, beyond the above widely mentioned accusations. Their primary concern was  the influx of Sri Lankan refugees numbering in the thousands into Australia, as they had laws which accepted people who were subject to victimisation under the enhanced umbrella of human rights abuses. It is pertinent to note that Australian law allows a long drawn out and costly legal process to decide on each individual entry. It did not take long for the Australians to unravel the ethnic mix of the exodus from Sri Lanka. Contrary to belief they uncovered that the majority of such ‘boat people’ were not from the north and east of Sri Lanka. Australia spent a considerable amount of her tax payer’s money to stop this trend which was gathering momentum. It is public knowledge that the government of Australia was working with the Sri Lanka government and financing the island nation to patrol her maritime borders more effectively as a solution.

Australia not objecting to Sri Lanka as hosts of this forum had nothing to do with the UN resolution or the other accusations against our island. The CHOGM summit has to be held once in two years and some nation has to pick up the bill.

The government of Mahinda Rajapaksa certainly knows how to lay out the red carpet without concern for the tax payer’s money. The infrastructure of Hambantota in recent times despite the long gestation period is one. CHOGM may be another. Remember the Commonwealth has no authority to enter into binding agreements between countries and is more of a business forum. Was the timing right for Sri Lanka or was it right for President Rajapakse and his political ambitions, is a question his people need to answer.

Prince Charles deputising for Her Majesty the Queen is not an issue.  Twenty seven heads of state out of 52 arriving in Sri Lanka should also be a non issue as this is the average representation at other CHOGM meetings. The focus of the delegations that arrived in Sri Lanka was not collectively in line with the thought process of the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. They accepted that this event should be held in Sri Lanka. Yet they were going to use it to raise the  issues of Commonwealth values that Sri Lanka had fallen short on.

British Prime Minister David Cameron with his no nonsense attitude set the tone from the outset. He bypassed the traditional welcome ceremony and did not even touch the golden book which all Heads of State were expected to sign. More of that later.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa knows how to market to his masses. Whilst that may be good, he forgets that his marketing strategy alienates the international community. Sadly, the majority of the people of Sri Lanka do not know this. May not even comprehend or be concerned.

Four forums took place in Colombo during this summit –  The Youth Forum , Business Forum, People’s Forum and Heads of Government Spouse’s Forum. The People’s Forum had an open book for delegates to sign up for ‘learning journeys’ to Jaffna, Hambantota, Galle and Badulla. This was to take place between 10 – 14th November. Forty three signed up to visit Jaffna. Zero to Hambantota, zero to Galle, zero to Badulla.  Need one say more!

President Mahinda Rajapaksa being the master strategist that he is, would expect the success of CHOGM to clear and get him on safe ground before March 2014 when the UN will review Sri Lanka’s record.  This would be of little concern to the rest of the Commonwealth delegates.

Sri Lanka’s ambassador to UK Dr. Chris Nonis, a career diplomat, defended a tough brief when asked about Sri Lanka’s right to hold CHOGM and the probing questions regarding Human Rights abuses etc.  President Rajapaksa should even at this late stage take note that a trained diplomat will serve Sri Lanka and her people well vis-a -vis the political appointees now holding ambassadorial positions around the world. A professional foreign service is a sine qua non to any nation and President Rajapaksa would have gained much if such career diplomats were at hand to advise him in the country during CHOGM.

When the president answered a question from a British journalist on what he would say to Prince Charles when he shakes hands with him, given Sri Lanka’s recent track record, his answer should have been more circumspect. It is customary for Sri Lankans to clasp their hands in a form of greeting. But when the President said that he would greet a King, Queen, Head of State or Beggar in the same fashion, it may have been interpreted as an insult to Prince Charles, though I am certain that the President did not intend it to be so. The point here being a local master is not also necessarily an expert at international relations. Being sharp cannot be at the expense of decorum.

British Prime Minister David Cameron in an interview in India set the tone for his government when he said that Britain agreed with Canada’s stand on Sri Lanka and accepted their position in not attending CHOGM 2013.

Sri Lankans may not agree. But consider, the LLRC recommendations have not been fully implemented. Deaths during the last stages of the war, university student killings, the tardy nature in investigating the murder of Action Against Hunger (ACF) employees, similar lethargy in the prosecution against local politicians involved in the killing of a British tourist in  the south, the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge, murder and repeated attacks on employees of the Udayan newspaper in Jaffna and the disappearance of Pradeep Ekneligoda amongst hordes of other crimes, cannot be wished away by hosting a summit of this nature.

For a majority of Sri Lankans these may not be important. The international community expects the Sri Lankan state to honour the treaties and protocols they have entered into, irrespective of majority political concerns of the people at a given time.

There are 53 countries within the Commonwealth. If they all host CHOGM for one term they will need to do that only once in 106 years.

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Latest comments

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    the commonwealth has forever shamed itself for attending this.
    Canada and India have shown their dignity in their choice to boycott.
    After everything that has happened in sri lanka it is shocking that these people would want to attend a summit in a land of blood and sin

  • 0
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    Dr Chris Nonis is a physician qualified in UK,and is NOT a career diplomat.
    The next high commisioner may be an army general or a journalist.

    • 0
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      Thats what I thought too. The writer is creating “news” or misinformation!

    • 0
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      Or journalist turncoat like Neville de Silva?

  • 0
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    But Nonis is better than our tongue tied career diplomats!

    • 0
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      More like tongue tied godayas.

  • 0
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    The opening ceremony was conducted more like a tv reality show than an international conference of heads of state. The pitch was more regarding the tourist and investment attractions of Sri Lanka than the values and principles of the Commonwealth. I dont think the heads of govt were impressed.

  • 0
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    What can a reader make out of opinions coming from a man like Lal Wickramatunga.

    [Edited out]

  • 0
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    ha ha , Dr Nonis is not a career Diplomat. Hes a political appointment. Hes a medical doctor by profession…
    where do you get these people

    • 0
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      He has been far more effective than any of the recent High Commissioners who could not make effective responses to questions put to them by ‘journalists’. Some appeared pathetic.

  • 0
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    Lal is Lasantha’s brother who against all odds founded Sunday Leader and he was let down by those he relied upon. And is paying for this naivete. But Lal is one who believed in his firebrand younger brother who would have turned Sri Lanka’s journalism on its head and said to hell with pandering to the powers that be.

    Lal is uder-estimated but knowing him so well during my times at the Sunday Leader, he is not one to cow down to powers that be.

    He stood up for the common masses and media freedom.

    For his stance on treating all Sri Lankans across the ethnic divide he suffered.

    I could not have had a better boss.

    Lasantha was brutally murdered but Lal will carry on his legacy. And thanks to Lasantha’s death in the hands of those who thought he was a thorn in their hands Lal I hope would carry the torch of freedom of expresasion his departed brother envisaged.

    Pearl Thevanayagam

  • 0
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    “British prime minister David Cameron with his no nonsense attitude set the tone for the outset”.
    Now what?This David dude is in big trouble back home.Now playing big cop.We do not take this guy seriously.A few years back we had another such big cop in the form of David Milliband.We being gracious hosts let him get some fresh air at Embilipitiya!Very soon “this”David will join the “other”David”in the political orphanage.The last laugh,eh!

    • 0
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      Max you Animal,
      By your own admission you have confiremd the following.
      1) You belong to the Animal Kingdom ( History has taught us this )
      2) You have sex with your willing partner and then kill her.
      Both the above admissions are on record.
      I have already asked you the following questions and told you that before you answer them you are not fit to post any Comments.
      1) When did you last have sex
      2) Was that with a willing partner ( or may be an Animal).
      3) Have you killed her or have you passed on to another Animal
      ANSWER IT MAN

  • 0
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    Canada & India has shown their dignity? My foot…

    Diaspora rumpus have held them to ransom with their vote.
    Anyone is aware of Canada’s Human Rights record?

    Has India come to terms with Kashmir issues since the 50’s.

    These Heads of States are held to ransom by their own citizens. Does not it soud hilarious???
    Sri Lanka are no saints. They have much to correct itself.
    here again, where in the world one gets a country govern the way the West has been demanding of Sri Lanka???

    This whole scenario is described one sentence is most apporpriate.
    ” A PROXY PROPAGANDA WAR AT CHOGM”
    with Western wires waiting with their loaded cylinders enhance their circulation and in the midsts those representing them making a quick buck. WHY WAS NOT CH4 DENIED ENTRY TO INDIA??
    AND
    “EXPECT BETTER IMPROVED RIGHTS TOMORROW ….

    • 0
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      Remember that two wrongs don’t make a right. if you believe that there is true democracy, media freedom & no human rights abuses in SL, you are only deluding yourself and living in la la land.

  • 0
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    we can throw stones and china will provide the unbreakable glass.

    China will veto anything thrown at srilanka.Has assad been toppled?

    • 0
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      Shankar you Racist Sinkalam,

      The last time you porked your knows you had lost all your Organs except the Kidney and you had your last BANANA for your last supper. You also revealed some your dark characters and they were you are a Homosexual and a Paedopihile.

      As for your rubbish about China providing the unbreakable glass and Assad not being toppled go back and read the old news. Despite Russia the Super Power threatening to send Warships to protect your friend he has been stripped of all his Chemical Arsenal and Israel is humiliating Assad.
      Russia has already told your master MR to work with India and India is the only Countrty that can dictate and Enforce Policy in Sinhala Lanka. China is working for the main Contractor India and work has been Sub Contarcated to China because of cheap Labour. So stop this Cheenavedi and get real.

      Man March 2014 the count down starts and Tamil Nadu Army ( TNA ) is scheduled to arrive and MR will be taken to the HAGUE in his Glass House and you can go with him.

      By the way have you bought MR a new toothpaste because you advised him not to pick his nose as these modern cameras can pick everything from a distance.
      When you do reply ask him as to why he cancelled the Press Conference. Was he taken ill?

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        “The last time you porked your knows”

        should be poked your nose.

        “he has been stripped of all his Chemical Arsenal”

        has he been toppled?nearly 2 years they are trying.

        “Man March 2014 the count down starts and Tamil Nadu Army ( TNA ) is scheduled to arrive”

        did you see your shrink.Why did they not come to save LTTE in 2009?maybe it is because tamilnadu does not have an army.

        “By the way have you bought MR a new toothpaste because you advised him not to pick his nose’

        toothpaste kali is to clean the teeth.Stop using it in future to clean your nose.Thats why maybe you are going mad.

        • 0
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          Shankar you Sinkalam,

          Idiot accept deafeat man. Can you see you are just reapting what you wrote and nothing else to write is there.

          But we have al lot of Stories to tell.

          1) Did you see man the Picture of the British PM standing with Eelam CM on the Balcony. It was great and something we have been waiting for 64 years.Man did you enjoy it.
          2) Your boss MR was humiliated. Man less than half the Heads of State turned up and some did even bother to tell MR.
          3) The only question he was asked was about his part in the War Crime. Nothing about Commonwealth Values and nothing else.
          4) Did you notice Criminla Sharma was missing.
          5) Gotha was missing.

          After March 2014 ( In fact it might be earlier than March 2014)
          he will be missing because The Tamil Nadu Army( TNA) are scheduled to arrive. But then you dont have the Brain to work it out as you have only your Kidney Left and the Last Banana for your supper.

          HOW SAD. Some people are born Sad and some people achieve SADDISM. You are blessed with both with a Tooth Paste.

    • 0
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      shankar,

      Do you know how much China contributed to latest Philippine Hurricane victims…….only 100,000 Dollars.

      Only after severe criticism it was raised up to one million when Britain, US, Canada, Australia etc, each contributed over 30 Million Dollars.

      China already started screwing Sri Lanka with catching endless Very Expensive Tuna in our ocean. Rajapakse started chopping valuable 78,000 Trees in our jungle and selling our Mineral sands to China at Dirt cheap rates to pay back loans.

      Rajapakse Dog will sell whole of Sri Lanka to China to stay in power and to get UN SC vote.

      China will screw Sri Lanka before that.

      Get ready to eat Punnakku and Grass.

      • 0
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        “Rajapakse Dog will sell whole of Sri Lanka to China to stay in power “

        Now that is the million dollar question,whether he can sell the country and still be in power.The country does not belong to him,it belongs to the people.So if he sells the country to china will the people still vote for him?The million dollar question.

        meantime the opposition is playing the goat and will not be ready when the opportunity arises and will miss the bus.

  • 0
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    Nonis is not a career diplomat

    • 0
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      There was a Nonis at our school.he was called No Penis.This penile sucker may actually benefit from that description.

  • 0
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    Lal,

    The CHOGM was a timely divine intefvention to finally bring MR to face realities and for the outside World to see that you cannot reason with him and the only thing he understands is force.
    After the drubbing he received from Mr.Cameron he was taken ill and duly cancelled his Press Conference last night and has ordered his troops to do what they can to protect him as he now fears the Worst.
    The olnly Nation that can Make or Break MR is India and I would advise you to watch the Election Tracker in India and you will see that we might have the Elections earlier than March 2014.
    MR cannot play the fool with Mr.Clean and the Iron Lady and he will be dragged along the floor just like SF was dragged along by the foot Soldiers under the Orders of Gotha

  • 0
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    A balanced, well modulated and articulate commentary, at which no one should take offence. Yes there may be a factual inaccuracy in Nonis’ credentials, but that does not detract from the overall sense he makes here. Nonis may be a physician but he is also lying through his teeth for his country. Having more of such lickspittles cannot do much to heal the cancer that we see has spread, and Nonis should know this. Lal is correct though that Lanka should cultivate a strong team of career diplomats who by virtue of their objectivity keep the government honest. What prevails today is an ’emperor has no clothes’ situation, where every government loyalist is a stooge and says only what the government likes or wishes to hear.

    Talking about diplomats, can any reader enlighten the rest of us who don’t know the specifics, as to how many of our head diplomats are from the forces please, how many are political appointees of other flavours, what their true academic and other credentials are, AND how many are true career diplomats?

    May make for an interesting little summary. A web link if available that provides this will be useful.

  • 0
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    BREAKING NEWS,

    The CHOGM meeting has just been concluded and the news from the arena is that MR has been humiliated. Out of the 53 head of states who were invited less than half turned up and except for the 3 Canada, India and Mauritious the others have not even bothered to tell King Mahintha that they wont be coming. Big Slap on the face for the CRIMINAL.

    My advice to King Mahintha is this.

    If you have a receipt for the amount of money you paid to the Criminal Sharma ask for a refund man for letting you down.
    This is what happens if you trust Indians.
    The other big question is how you are going to take revenge. Last time when you were booted out of UK on return you forced hundrends of Tamil Women ( some pregnant) to march in the rain.

    King Mahintha HAGUE beckons mate. Take the 20 million with you as otherwise they will miss you dearly.

  • 0
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    Sri Lanka is going to be much better place in future. But, it has so many enemies to conquer.Among them western imperialists, Imperilist media, LTTE supporters, Local traitors and Tamil Nadu meniacs are very serious. Most of these enemies use any slogan against Sri Lanka to intimidate and change its course for success. Western imperialist(UK,USA, Canada etc..) has more crimes under their names to answer but still pick trivial matters of Sri Lanka. Their media shops( CNN,C4 etc..)are obediently follow masters advice. LTTE supporters still dreaming the reality of Ealam by using every means they could. Their ambition is not justice for normal Tamil people in the country and their success. Their aim is to create Ealam however in Sri Lanka. This will supported by Tamil Nadu meniacs since they can not create seperate state in India by them self. So, they are happy to support mini Ealam in Sri Lanka as a trial. They also think many Tamil states around the world uplift their pride even though Tamils are consistently failed everywhere. So, they are ready to protest everywhere around the world accusing their poverty and failure as other nations crime. Local traitors( UNP, TNA etc..) are continuously protest for their success in politics by painting Sri Lanka government success as a failure. Unfortunately, none of them successful as Sri Lanka people understand truth of their real motives. They trust the genuine course of Sri Lanka government and president MR. All these enemies throws stone from their glass houses without knowing Sri Lanka has cannons fitted in it.

    • 0
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      Edward Snowden

      “But, it has so many enemies to conquer.”

      The Sinhala/Buddhist state itself is Sri Lanka’s worse enemy.

      How did Sri Lanka manage to earn so many powerful enemies through out of the world? It is some achievement for a puny island.

      • 0
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        SriLanka Managed to earn the most powerful Friends Like China and Russia than those Lilliput enemies!!

        • 0
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          Hadi

          “SriLanka Managed to earn the most powerful Friends Like China and Russia than those Lilliput enemies!!”

          It is a marriage of convenience.

          There is life after regime change. Both countries know this and act accordingly. Libya and Iraq were close to Russia and China. It didn’t stop both countries were being destroyed by the west.

          In the case of Iraq and Libya, both have oil.

  • 0
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    Lal Wickrematunge has Lasantha’s writing talent

    • 0
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      [Edited out]

      • 0
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        Shankar you Sinkalam,

        Are you related to ela kolla ( Edited Out )

        • 0
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          hooooo kali,you are also related to ella kolla.

  • 0
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    All nations had to act to protect their interests. The primary concern for nations like England, India and Canada was to ensure they get the support of Tamils in their constituencies. Human rights was not a genuine issue as the violations were originated and continued by Tamil Tigers.

    • 0
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      Raja
      Let’s not be economical with our recall of history.
      The curse descended on this island the moment the last of the colonial masters took off. Our local politicians then realised that the route to power was to court the 73% Sinhala-Buddhist electorate. So much for democracy! After that is was downhill till Black July ’83. Our Tamil brethren took one hell of a beating (where were you?). Only THEN came the LTTE. And soon after our fellow-citizens started clogging up the cities of the west (and India) with unwashed refugees. No wonder the foreign governments got dragged into our business. Meanwhile the Brits (and others) gave the GOSL weapons and other help to put down the JVP (twice) and fight the Tigers. One unholy mess.

  • 0
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    I stand corrected that Dr. Chris Nonis is not a career diplomat. The point I was trying to make was that an independent professional of the likes of Dr. Chris Nonis would acquit himself more than adequately as a diplomat, as against political appointees, most of whom would want to appease the incumbent political master.

    • 0
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      Lal Wickrematunge,

      What I herd was in India, there are no Political appointees for top Diplomatic postings, and it can take up to 15 years Training and experience before a Diplomatic Post is given.

      What is happening in Sri Lanka today….. What does a Tea salesman know about Career Diplomat’s responsibility. Can he communicate with other world diplomats during a social gathering….or a function.

      Yes we had great Career diplomats, but now they are been replaced by Boot Lickers, Yes Sir dogs, and unqualified party and family goons.

      The Maharaja only loves and approve Yes Sir kind Tamed dogs and not the well educated and well qualified experienced career diplomats who have a balanced view.

      http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/38764-sl-diplomat-says-rights-criticism-a-proxy-propaganda-war.html

      Nobody wants to waste time and seek Proxy Propaganda war on a Third world country with 30% unemployment and boat people trying to leave illegally every day.

      Leopard cannot hide it’s spots every day. Hope you understand the difference.

      • 0
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        Mahela – in Sri Lanka, a wharf clerk (no offence to career wharf clerks), is a co-ordinating Secretary in the Mnistry of Foreign Affairs/Advisor to the President :)

  • 0
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    Mr Wickremetunga – You say those living in glass houses
    do throw stones. However, please bear in mind that
    people like you, who live in glass house with sheet glass
    as a roof, should not undress there.

  • 0
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    Lal is saying correct position. balanced. So why do people get angry? One side is blindly for rajapaksa and some others against. So comments are not for education. After CHOGM finished we now know that what Lal said is correct position. Please write more and educate. Let others worry about taking their clothes off anywhere

  • 0
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    Gamini P or Lal W (under a new name). Why Kamela said
    he should not undress in a glass house is only because
    too many of the female kind would recognise him. It
    is for Lal’s own safety.

  • 0
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    PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES, SHOULD NOT LIFT THEIR SARONGS.

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