27 October, 2020

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Re-Defining “Outlandish”

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

When last I looked in my rather moth-eaten dictionary the word “outlandish” had, beside it, “adj. looking or sounding very strange.”

While it is the word that comes to mind most readily when one views the goings-on in the Debacle of Asia, in the context of Sri Lankan “reality” is much of what we see on a day-to-day basis “strange?”  After all, as someone once said, “Everything is relative, though one sometimes wishes that one’s extended family wasn’t!”

Where in any nation wearing the garments of democracy would you have the daughter of a man riddled with bullets, gangland-style, expressing an interest in running under the banner of the party in which one of his alleged murderers continues to be a leading light, with patronage from the very top?  Of course, one has, again, to place this behaviour in the context of the widow of the murdered one (the young wannabe candidate’s mother) accepting a post of “Advisor” to the man who heads the party in which the alleged killer is a Minister.

Of course, another dictionary entry also presents itself as alternative terminology for this kind of behaviour: it is “bizarre,” the legend besides which reads “adj.odd, strange.”  “Outlandish” though seems to be the better alternative because it suggests “bizarre” carried to its extreme!

Adding to this little tidbit in the news is that of the ongoing saga of the Prime Minister who did/did not have responsibility/accountability in the matter of one of his major minions issuing a “release” of some sort that enabled a huge quantity of heroin to pass out of our (at least for now) primary port without hindrance of any sort.

That bit of “theatre of the absurd” if one is particularly given to black humour was somewhat enhanced by the shrinkage of the product of the poppy that was experienced very soon after it was taken into custody.  If memory serves me right, the material seized shrank by something like 100 Kgs.  I know Sri Lanka is sometimes referred to as the “Miracle of Asia” but isn’t this feat pushing the bounds of credulity somewhat, particularly when it is followed by a cockamamie “explanation” that some of the product was contaminated and, therefore, “removed” from the presumably “good” part of the shipment? I do not pretend to any particular expertise in the matter of narcotics, but short of some very sophisticated methods being applied, the existence of which no one I have spoken with is aware of, how was this “separation” accomplished And what happened to the 100 kilograms plus which was “separated?”

Then there is the recent furor in the department responsible for producing census and statistics in this country, where it has been alleged by a senior member of said entity that information has been “massaged.”  This (inevitably?) led to the standard denial of the allegation and the (inevitable?), premature end of the whistle-blower’s career.  Would anyone care to explore the hypocrisy of these people in their pillorying of the Excited States of Amnesia when it has persecuted those who’ve revealed the extent of US surveillance of nations friendly with it?  Butter wouldn’t have melted in those very mouths when they were broadcasting their disgust at the duplicity and undemocratic behaviour of the US and its allies in the matter of Assange et al.

A very interesting fact in the context of upward movement of growth statistics is the fact, exposed by Kusal Perera, a veteran journalist and an always perceptive commentator, that the simple manner in which this was accomplished was by “revising” the population figures downward from the year of comparison to the year being reported.  “Population down, growth rate up.”.  As our Sheerluck Holmes’ would have expressed it to their sidekicks, “Elementary my dear Whats-up!”  Even my abysmal arithmetical skills can grasp this kind of “massaging” which, in other democratic jurisdictions, would be described for what is was –  fabrication and fraud, not the more genteel “massaging!”  But then this kind of thing has become SOP, “Standard Operating Procedure,” in the “Shape” culture which seems to have permeated every element of existence in this land and where anything goes as long as it emerges from the correct quarter!

Just as I draw this contribution to a close a news item (replete with photo) appears in an English daily newspaper, of a UNP member of the Southern Provincial Council, Krishantha Pushpakumara,  receiving an SLFP membership certificate from the President of the country.  Nothing unusual in this you think?  Think again, this is the one office-holding UNP politician to be shot during the now famous/infamous skirmish in Matara between Ranil Wickremesinghe loyalists and those opposed to their “marching  in protest against Ranil”.  The one person recorded (on video) as firing a pistol during the melee was a gentleman called Herman Gunaratne who is a close friend of the President’s Defence Secretary brother and, in fact, presided over a re-launch of “Gota’s War” not so long ago.  Pushpakumara was supposedly a Ranil Wickremesinghe loyalist vehemently opposing the march of Mr. Gunaratne’s son, Maithri, and his buddies in an effort to pressure Ranil W. to resign.  He is shot and soon after recovering from his gunshot injuries leaves the UNP to join the SLFP.  This ranks up there with the story of a newspaper which shall remain nameless apologizing to the Defence Secretary for the fact that he had abused their erstwhile Editor!

Given the scale of the outlandish events described above I shall try to take readers through something akin to a journalistic decompression chamber before I leave them for another week.  The story which I hope will achieve your re-entry into the realm of sanity, if any such thing exists in this country, is that of a woman police constable, the wife of a more senior police officer, the officer-in-charge of a quite large police station, being taken into custody in connection with her alleged participation in a very large drug ring. I know that if one juxtaposes this story against the seizure of 300 kilograms of heroin (now reduced by a hundred kilograms) it is “very small potatoes,” indeed.  However, I am only trying to bring you down to earth, so to speak, with an incident that is run of the mill and not usually worthy of headlines in the media, a story that those of us in rural Sri Lanka can comprehend more easily given the scale of our own lives.  I hope I succeed because it seems the scale of corruption and the outlandish conduct that accompanies it seems beyond the comprehension of my rural neighbours.

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Latest comments

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    These happenings may be the reason why sri lanka is called the Miracle of Asia.
    About heroin – it appears to have lost its value.
    Some years ago,a woman was sentenced to life imprisonment for posession of a mere 30 mg of heroin – by High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya who was called the ‘fearless judge’ – the judge was later shot dead by the leader of the heroin mafia.
    The then president CBK visited the judge’s widow on the fifth day after the shooting,and awarded her a cheque for Rs.Five Million as ‘compensation’.

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    Mr Emil;
    To us, Sri Lankans, specially to We Sinhalese,
    these are Miner matters,
    Even Father or husband was killed by His own so called Friends, to us they are not enemies or killers,
    Because You can find Fathers and Husbands plenty, when you go out.
    That has become a Newly decorated KUDU culture called “CHINTHANAYA”.

    We are the Nation Of Buddhists, With a BUDDHIST President, When the Thousands of People of all ethnicities were Killed by the war,
    We, Who made MILK RICE, Enjoyed, and celebrated the SO Called VICTORY with Our Brethren religionists.
    We are the Only Proud Country, Who have Prime ministers, Ministers who help to Develop the country Turning to Heroin Delivery / dealing Hub of the World.
    We are the only Proud country Who have, Chameleon Politicos of Climate changes.
    IT IS KNOWN FACTS TO ALL that ,[ it is on the C T].

    Already Sri Lanka’s debt is at Rs. 5.63trillion,
    nearly Rs 21 billion have been transferred by the Treasury officials … The transfers reveal that that many of them have been for foreign travel, purchase of vehicles and other miscellaneous items of expenditure far removed from ‘Development Activities’”.

    So we are the First In the queue OF “Development Activities” Rulers.

  • 1
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    Miracle of Asia, debacle of Asia, Morally debased of Asia, Mafia state of Sri Lanka, Drug haven of Asia, Despotic rulers of Sri Lanka, Insane of Asia: You pick your choice. You won’t be far off.

    It’s indeed a miracle the society is still not falling apart in anarchy. It may be a matter of time.

  • 0
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    yes yes yes . it is a terrible place . everything is a lie .there are no tourists coming to the country no investments and there is no peace either .

    Things were so much better when the LTTE was running the place . they would have conferred a dukedom to Mr pooty . Well unfortunately they were outlandishly and Garishly foiled . How Bizarre !!

    • 0
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      Abhaya:
      But for your monumental incoherence, I might have been able to respond to whatever you are trying to say.

      • 0
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        lol okay :)

  • 0
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    It is no secret that MR have been outlandish towards the old SLFP guard as he felt they were faithful to the Bandaranayakes. So MR side tracked some and bumped off some. The side tracked are toothless and they pose no threat. So they sing hosannas to MR for the bones dropped of the table. The others like Sreepathi, Jeyraj, Mahinda Wijesekara and nearly Maithripala Sirisena were taken care off. Then there was Bahratha Lakshman and the Lansas from Negombo whom the Rajapaksas felt were a threat to them as they were capable of liquidating one or more Rajapaksas. So before that eventuality the Rajapaksas got rid of Bahratha Lakshman to send the message to others and the Rajapaksas had to bend over backwards to save their hitman Duminda.

  • 0
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    We should be punished for electing the corrupt lot. Tissa Vitharana said his PM is innocent anmd just helped one of his supporters. But he does not divulge the correct picture, how his son got wealth to distribute during the last election Central P C . Funny

  • 0
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    Emil – “Outlandish” is putting it mildly! A wordsmith will have to work overtime to come up with a suitable word to better describe such unbelievable and incomprehensible phenomena. But the question remains, where do we go from here?!!!

    • 0
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      Path to hell is already opened by the Jarapassa clan
      and welcome party is from Their goons and SELECTED Henchmen from security forces.

    • 0
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      I read this piece last night, nursing a most agreeable cold Lion stout, and as I finished, I had this strange vision of a nondescript brown-paper-bag-headed newspaper apologising to a vituperative porcine defence secretary (I couldn’t make out if it was Old Major, Napoleon or even Squealer – we could have done with you Aubrey at a time like this!). I then reached for my copy of Michael Meyler’s Concise Kuppathamby of Sri Lankan English but couldn’t find anything local to match the vocabulary used in the sharp vignettes drawn by Mr van der Poorten of our current crop of national specimens. Just then I saw PETER’s apt and succinct comment….where do we go from here?!!! I racked my brains, taking regular urgent nourishment from the thick dark nectar by my side when suddenly the strains of Mrs Koha’s cd produced the rasping voice of Bonnie declaring that ‘we need a hero’ …..’He’s gotta be sure and it’s gotta be soon and he’s gotta be larger than life’… That’s it! We’re holding out for a hero. All these many years I have started a New Year on a wing and a prayer and holding on for dear life to two erstwhile companions, FAITH and HOPE. I gave them to you all with my best wishes for 2014.

  • 0
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    If this is an example of the attack strategy of these supposed to be heavies of the Elite Intelligentsia to defeat the ruling coalition in the soon to be announced elections, Ii will be another 5 years of Rajapaksa rule for sure.

    GTF Suren and TGTE Rudrakumaran have already expressed their disapproval of any T & R models from South Africa for obvious reasons…

    Is Mr Poorten following their line?.

    Or Is he still on the Old Testament ?..

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      KAS – “Attack strategy”??? Can you ever be relevant??? Just stick to the subject under discussion and let’s have your views on that – if you have any.

    • 0
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      K.A. Sumanasekera:
      Are you, in fact, “Abhaya” or is incoherence highly contagious?

  • 1
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    Sri Lanka, the outlandish hub of Asia!

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