2 December, 2020

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Some Street-Wise Sore Truths From Sunil: I Don’t Know Why!

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies”-Noam Chomsky

Sri Lanka needs a broad consensus for its direction in social and political transformation. A realistic and healthy consensus would depend on the right collective perceptions and perspectives. Our academics and intelligentsia have a lead responsibility in creating such perspectives among our people. Except for the movement for good governance initiated in the lead up to the last change of government, our academics have generally been disengaged with what has been going on in our country. A culture of self-centredness reigns among the learned in our island polity. The consequence is that politicians have had the field for themselves alone.

In fact, many of our artistes join existing political configurations in order to eke out something for themselves from the ongoing power struggle. The supreme goals of the blessed land is left behind. This is Sri Lanka today. Malaysia and Singapore, once behind us, are forging ahead leaving behind the island torn with dissension and lacking in direction. Governments are like fire fighters- dousing fires as and when they occur.

Among the intelligentsia, artistes can play an effective role for many reasons. Not only because they have captured the public imagination. “Through their expressive talents, artistes can challenge cultural narratives, shift imagery and inspire emotions in a way that traditional political methods alone rarely do.” In a 2013 essay entitled ”Change the Culture, Change the World,” artiste  Favianna Rodriguez puts it this way: “You may attend a rally or vote, but you also read books, listen to music, engage with visual art, turn on the radio and create your identity through culture. Artists are central, not peripheral, to social change. To have the movements that make the wave, you need cultural workers.”

Sunil Perera | Photo courtesy Gypsies Facebook page

Sri Lanka, unfortunately, have had few cultural workers taking the lead in a desperately needed transformation of social and political milieu. Some of these guys have also joined the bandwagon of the growing numbers of birds who feather their own nests. We had one prominent and talented man who once announced that the former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, hails from the same pedigree line as Sakyamuni Buddha! Other artistes are seen on reactionary political stages clowning on behalf of reactionary reversal. This has been historically true of other societies, too. Some artists, like Van Gogh or Pollock, have been true to their own aesthetic vision; others, like Picasso and Warhol; not. One critic, observing how Picasso mass produced some of his work (50 versions of the same line) asked,“Did Picasso mass produce art out of greed?” Greediness is human-unfortunately. To empathise with the ‘dishonest,’ among us we have to realise that our kind of artiste do not make mega bucks like those in the West. Our art is still in its infancy as regards market maturation.

Onto the happier side, came Nanda Malani who once sang against social injustice. She has since retired into her own world. I know, at one stage she was threatened. Artistes are free spirits unchained by status quo who, by that token, have often invited the wrath of authoritarian rulers. On the other hand, Gypsies leader, Sunil Perera, stands his own ground-unafraid and unbowed today- rather a lone star- that beckons change. He has been doing it for decades now. As a performing artiste, Sunil still attracts big crowds. He sings and acts with his inimitable hat on. He mimics and parodies beautifully with his own original lyrics and music. A most amiable  man. His satire  in word  and voice is utterly telling and impactful. What is also important is that Sunil transcends the current political  configurations and positions himself above the conflict.  He declined overtures from President Premadasa to sing at Gam Udawa. He never got onto a Rajapaksa stage. In Australia, Sunil Perera has attracted crowds in full capacity halls at a gate of $100 and over. What he sings relate to our thoughts.

Sunil Perera’s modus operandi is to compose songs that will not merely be entertaining; but also cognitively transformative. His singing acquires depth on that score. After listening to his song, “I Don’t Know Why,” who amongst us can avoid laughing at the comic hypocrisy of our political leaders; sensing the outrage of our dysfunctional political system. Sunil’s is a subversive voice that audiences enjoy. Subversion of the prevailing order is a precondition for its demolition. Here is a translated excerpt of this famous song:

“Having won….

How come they put on layers of fat, akin to a shark?

Upon defeat, how do they become thin like the geckos?

The gecko becoming a shark

The  shark becoming a fat swine?

Why?

MPs and Ministers

Will  tell you that.”

There is a video of a TV interview with Sunil Perera, travelling these days all over social media. Sunil conveys some street-wise home truths in this. He even undermines the sanctimonious humbug of nationalists. Who says our country is a divinely fortunate land (‘pinketha’), Sunil asks his interviewer. If that is so, why are so many of our young people risking their lives and going in boats as refugees? Hoards of Sri Lankans have left the land to live in foreign lands-UK, Europe, Australia etc. If we are a ‘pinketha,’ it should be the other way about: people in other countries  should come and live here in Sri Lanka. “See how very difficult the life of ordinary families are here,” Sunil says: “Take the example of trying to find a school for a child. You have to beg behind politicians and pay big bribes to get a school. Some parents have even come to me to ask me to intervene.”  Why should this happen at all? You go to Australia and you can have the option of five good schools for your child there. “ In my case,” adds Sunil, “I have made my money and I still do.But how about the multitude of others?”

Throughout history, artistes have helped promote social change in different countries. Both the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution had been presaged by an intellectual background largely formed by artists. Artistes do so not as blatant message-senders. It is not the purpose of a drama, a novel, a poem or a painting to give any message. On the other hand, what happens in a good artistic production is the dawning of a new realisation by way of a vicarious experience on the part of the audience. A good novel, for instance, gets the reader to “experience,” and “feel,” like the characters and situations in the novel. In this manner, some kind of mutation does occur inside the mind of the reader.John Lennon famously sang, “Imagination,” where he imagined a world without religion. His listeners come to share that imagined world with him.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    1

    I know there are few loyal members from Keselwatta , Kollonnawa, Bloemendhal , Akuressa and Nawalapitiya. .Badulla and even Kandy….But on the whole I thought UNP is the party of the Elite, Anglican and Vellala Intellectuals…. Sorry my elders tell me the Vellalas are deserting the UNP because Dr Ranil tells fibs ,plus they want a pure Vellala Party to run the North and the East under Dr Ranil’s Federal Constitution…..

  • 3
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    Small correction if I may. The title of the John Lennon song is “Imagine”.

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      Thanks. Yes, you are right.Chandima. I do not know how it became “imagination.’ Now, too late to correct

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    “Who says our country is a divinely fortunate land (‘pinketha’), Sunil asks his interviewer. If that is so, why are so many of our young people risking their lives and going in boats as refugees? Hoards of Sri Lankans have left the land to live in foreign lands-UK, Europe, Australia ” says Sunil Perera.
    This is the biggest myth that MUST be exploded, along with the myth of paternalistic (but actually patricidal ) Buddhist kings of the past and the bogus vision of a contented well-fed society sadly destroyed by the Cholas.
    The very people who promote these myths are prone to point out the lack of toilets in other countries.

    • 5
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      Old codger, what Sunil louds is the real truth. Over 90% of folks in the lost island are after sorcery and astrological predictions. No matter any deceitful men come up and ask the average to spice cowdung without twice questioning they would do so. They feel if former president is proved to leave home wearing over 40 or more talishments chanted by sorcery men, and the media men such as Dherana TV nalika are upto telecast them in a consecutive manner, so the grasseating majority average just stay fooled. That had been the style for the last few decades but becoming even more stupid going after Yantra Mantra speeed up after the brutal thuggish adminstration of Rajapakshe.
      The songs such as LOKEN UTHUM RATA LANKAWAI…. is being repeated every dawns, making them blind for ever, even if internet accessed folks would be on a rise, not much is being done to outreach the facts to the ground level people. If Dherana would say, what come out of anus of Rajapakshe – valueing them as gold, they the viewers would nodd and go ahead with that. That is the typcial nature of the average mind sets have turned out to be.
      This is very sad, but that truth. Some researchers from EU and other parts of developed world focus on lanken myths and as to why the country and folks stay stagnated even if their literacy rates are no second to that of Germany and Singapore.
      I have been a fan of that Yatharupa being telecasted by sltv for the last 1.5 years, the comments added to each of the program prove me, how stupid the average should be. Some believe yes they can heal genetically provable diseases by their Nakshatra and Yantra mantra. Even if there can invisible forces but to the levels that the average mind sets have been taken to… is beyond anyone s comprehension.
      Media should work even more closer to root out the social problem that the nation has been facing for the last decades, More info based discussions can guide them properly. Then the myths would have been burried as the sociologists predict.

      • 4
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        Bunjappu /————————————————————————————-

        “Over 90% of folks in the lost island are after sorcery and astrological predictions.”——————————Years ago Abraham Kovoor busted these myths, but they have not gone away….. because ——–“so the grasseating majority average just stay fooled. That had been the style for the last few decades but becoming even more stupid going after Yantra Mantra speeed up after the brutal thuggish adminstration of Rajapakshe”————————————————————————————————————–” More info based discussions can guide them properly. Then the myths would have been burried as the sociologists predict.”——————————-but it will be much harder, because the average IQ is 79————-of the populace as well the politicians… —————————————————Just see what percentage of the grass eaters and grass hoppers believe that the Sun goes around the Earth, 4 odd centuries after Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler….

        • 3
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          Amarasiri@

          we keep on discussing the IQ levels. So how can we change the average attitudes in the lost island ?
          Why people stay as if they have been fed with clay even if their lovely ones would have been cheated by politicians, sorcery men, or others ?
          Even university educated graduates(medical docs, engineers, lawyers etc) to professors keep using any kind of GURUKAM if the publicity would have been given to it by most abusive press men. There are enough examples, that profs and highly educated would go after GALTHANNNE kovil or Asiriwanigaratnao or anyone that promote cowdung or Hakgediya cheating them with getting everyhting if would do…. so, what more to be done to change the wave of addiction to traditional suprestitions. ?

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            Bunjappu @ ———- “Why people stay as if they have been fed with clay even if their lovely ones would have been cheated by politicians, sorcery men, or others ?”———- the Answer is blowing in the IQ’s, Brainwashing and in the Wind—Did Buddhas want worshipping Tress and Statues, that was a Greek Tradition— and Made Buddha into a God. ———— See what තිලක් සේනාසිංහ, Tilak Senasinghe, is saying in Sinhala, about Rationalism——————————-

            https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/thilak-senasinghemay-8-2017/

  • 3
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    Sunil indeed is a great entertainer, along with a few others like Puswedilla & Co. who have bravely portrayed the laughable doings of our politicians with their satirical humor. It is hard to believe that some of the utterances & stupid behavior of this bunch of political yobs has been for real & not a stage act, which clearly demonstrate the level of education of our politicians. The sad fact is that even the few educated are not behaving any better, instead exploiting their position & intelligence for selfish personal gain. The only way we can get rid of this bunch of hypocrites is by mass protest against their perks, such as, duty free luxury vehicles, which is the magnet that is attracting the dirt. No parliamentarian is going to stand up & say no to the perks but real patriots like Mr Naganada Kodithuwakku can, collectively, put pressure, or at least, shame the leaders (Ranil take note) to strive for a fairer society by abolishing all unfair privileges.
    MR legalized the ‘printing of money’ for a privileged few by allowing them to sell their duty free vehicles for a massive profit. The same ‘incentive’ have corrupted Govt. doctors, the judiciary & high ranking officials & political cronies, the result is the dog eat dog world of SL that is today. So Sunil, it’s not god that is making the rich richer & the poor, poorer.

  • 2
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    Sri lanka does not have and did not have good leaders. Because of weak leaders, because of interferance from the west and mostly from India Sri lanka is not doing well. Sri lanka has learned extensive cheating to public, it is one step ahead of corruption.

    Becuse, politicians who are the executivs or legislators and as they have politicized everything and as they are using everything available including the buddhist monks who also human but not thinking probably on purpose, buddhist temples are used for political overtures.

    Mahinda Rajapakse is said to be a good person on face. but, looking at how he carried out things and how he did during his time, he can not be a good leader.

    It looks Maithripala Sirisena’s leadership is not strong enough because country is highly corrupt.

    On ther other hand, people should understand, Ranil Wickramsinghe is only and showing that he is not capable of doing it. He is running all over the world to see whether he can does it. But, only his achievements lieing to public and screw ups every where such as central bank robbery. Other than that, he has made politicians satisfied by increasing their salaries. Other than that, he is just a liar as other politicians are.

    One artists may be seen as unique because he is using political satire and criticism to make people happy. Other than that, he is also making money out of others mayhem. Anyway, at least some one is talking for people. On the otherhand, who is not talking to the govt. but, as usual they are cheaters.

  • 1
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    Trouble is, Buddhism has been contaminated with all other cultures since European colonization and that Hindu Tamil kingdom of Nayakas. Hence the natural culture, genetics and graceful demeanor of the people have been severely compromised and corrupted.

    For example, compare that with S. E. Asia. People there adjust according to circumstances. For example, their men do not shame their women-folk using any form of ideology, so as to stoke up their egos and libidos. When the circumstances call for it, all sexes are equal and work as a partnership with each other. There’s a lot more of loving and forgiving, and hence national success! These people have a better sense of egalitarianism Buddhism (even if many became Muslims).

    When visiting Disney World, one enters Africa land. Lovely food! Very much like Lankan food with the hot green chills and coconut milk. So tasty! However, if one doesn’t have the genetic disposition towards that kind of food, one’s brain neurons get inflamed. Top that with the extra hot chilies brought in from S. America by the Portuguese. Therefore, when one goes even on boats to Western lands, one somehow feels a greater sense of calmness, One’s senses after eating bland European food is tamed, although one doesn’t realize it, or admit to it (even if heavily meat based). Nasty Sri Lankan food burns the mouth and brain cells. Lankans in the end are so odd; infused, confused, infatuated, inflamed and irate with all kinds of pride, ego and jealousy. Even the sound of the language nowadays has become unusually harsh and accented (probably in retaliation to the unnatural food……..has anyone also seen the ego-maniacal forced quick sideways lifting of the eyes that is used in non-stop gloating to replace lack of actual worthiness of intellect?).

    It is therefore time to make Buddhism the official culture and religion. Then true, natural calming and peaceful nature of the people will gradually emerge.

  • 1
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    Dear Shyamon Jayasinghe. ——————————————————————————————
    —————————————————————————————————————————-
    RE: Some Street-Wise Sore Truths From Sunil: I Don’t Know Why!————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
    //“It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies”-Noam Chomsky//——————————————————————————————————————————
    “Sri Lanka needs a broad consensus for its direction in social and political transformation. A realistic and healthy consensus would depend on the right collective perceptions and perspectives. Our academics and intelligentsia have a lead responsibility in creating such perspectives among our people. Except for the movement for good governance initiated in the lead up to the last change of government, our academics have generally been disengaged with what has been going on in our country. A culture of self-centredness reigns among the learned in our island polity. The consequence is that politicians have had the field for themselves alone.”———————————–Thanks for the write up.————————————————————————————————In addition, there is a fundamental structural problem as well, the low average IQ of 79 of the populace, and the low average IQ of the intellectuals and academics, compared to their peers in the other countries also do not help. Wimal Modawanss says 2/2 =0, and most of the populace believes that, and he got over 300,000 preferential votes in the Colombo District!————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
    “We had one prominent and talented man who once announced that the former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, hails from the same pedigree line as Sakyamuni Buddha!”——- That “prominent and talented man” should have checked with Amarasiri, to check his bearings, so that he could have correctly announced that Mahinda Rajapaksa is a Para and that out of this 46 chromosomes, Chromosome No. 2, was formed by the fusion of two Primate (Ape) Chromosomes. ———————————————-Anyway, some of the grass eating populace must have taken this at face value…. ————————————————————————————————————————-Ken Miller on Human Evolution————————————————————————–Uploaded on Feb 14, 2007
    Dr. Ken Miller talks about the relationship between Homo sapiens and the other primates. He discusses a recent finding of the Human Genome Project which identifies the exact point of fusion of two primate chromosomes that resulted in human chromosome #2.—————————————— https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi8FfMBYCkk

  • 1
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    JIM SOFTY Don’t forget Ranil got GST Plus for our industrialists. That was a great achievement. 2/3 of our exports are to EU and this would mean that our manufacturers will in future have free tariff entry to EU countries

  • 1
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    I was born in 1950 and I can say that there is no need for hair splitting theories to say that this country took the wrong turn in 1977.

  • 0
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    Harishchandra ————————————————-“I was born in 1950 and I can say that there is no need for hair splitting theories to say that this country took the wrong turn in 1977.” ———————- In fact the country took the wrong turn in 1948 and in every elections since.

    • 0
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      I think it was on the 24th of May 1944 that this country took the wrong turn with JR bringing in a proposal to make Sinhalese the official language of Ceylon within a reasonable number of years.

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