18 November, 2019

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The Blanket Of The Dark

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“From now on, people and monks will govern this country from the streets” ~ Aturaliye Ratana Thero  (Lankadeepa – 28.5.2019)

A man in a suit defending the imposition of a saree-only regimen on women – it would have been amusing, had the scene been part of a teledrama. But this was the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration arguing with the members of the Parliamentary Select Committee about the suitability of a Sinhala-Buddhist dress-code for women in the public service. The senior bureaucrat went head to head with the politicians, refusing to see the injustice, the unsuitability, the sheer ridiculousness of a circular mandating that every woman who works or visits a public institution be clad in some kind of a saree. 

Had this initiative come from a politician, it wouldn’t have been surprising. Politicians have a habit of embracing things the rest of us wouldn’t touch with a barge pole. But the authors and the defenders of this racist dress code are the country’s senior bureaucrats. The President and the PM have ordered that the circular be suspended, but the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration, JJ Ratnasiri, has refused to do so. He has agreed to amend it, nothing more. The saga will probably end with the black-suited gentleman getting a well deserved rap across the knuckles from the judiciary. But already he is a hero to his kind, the Sinhala-Buddhist supremacists. Both the initiative and the obduracy with Mr. Ratnasiri defended the indefensible would have stemmed from the knowledge he is flowing with the prevailing current towards a Sinhala-Buddhist paradise.  

Take this bureaucrats’ baby together with the new battle cry of Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa – ‘A War of Wombs’ (gharbasha uddaya). The diminutive political arsonist, who shows signs of becoming Sri Lanka’s Alfred Rosenberg, visited the Kurunegala Hispital, the Ground Zero of the ‘sterilisation wars’. From there, he addressed the media, accusing Dr. Shafi of committing ‘ethnic-extermination’ by waging a war on the wombs of Sinhala mothers (Lanka C news – 2.6.2019). 

The senior bureaucrat and the incendiary politician are both generals in the battle to change Sri Lanka from a (deeply flawed) pluralist democracy into a Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist autocracy. 

Extremism begets extremism. The Easter Sunday Massacre by a group of Islamic terrorists has given Sinhala-Buddhist extremism a new lease of virulent life. The majoritarian supremacists are on the march, feeling vindicated, legitimised and empowered by the carnage of April 21st. A new phase in the weaponisation of Sinhala-Buddhism has begun, and with it, a new vicious cycle that will strengthen fanatics of every religion. .A former Muslim deputy minister claimed that Muslim mothers were sterilised in the Lady Ridgeway hospital. Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara should thank Zahran Hashim for his presidential pardon. 

In his ‘A Brief History of Time’, Stephen Hawking talks about how his interest in the origin and fate of the universe was rekindled. In 1981, he had attended a Jesuit-organised conference on Cosmology in the Vatican. After the conference, Pope John Paul II met with the participants and informed them “that it was all right to study the evolution of universe after the big bang but we should not inquire into the big bang itself that was the moment of Creation and therefore the work of God.” The moment reminded Prof. Hawking of Galileo, forced to abjure his ideas about a heliocentric system to avoid the fate of Giodarno Bruno. That story is a reminder to the world of the need for barriers between religious and secular.  

The burqa is a relic of nomadic existences in sandstorm-prone deserts; it should have no place in modern life. But allowing governments to dictate what citizens should or should not wear is a dangerous business which will end up by undermining both democracy and individualism in the name of some nebulous collective good. The connection between the burqa ban and the saree-only circular is clear. If this trend is allowed to continue, Sri Lanka will become a mini-Saudi Arabia or Iran with monks, politicians and culturally recidivist bureaucrats taking it upon themselves to interfere in the personal lives of the rest of us. If non-Muslims think that the problem is limited to Muslims, they should cogitate on the fate of Shakthika Sathkumara. The Sinhala-Buddhist novelist was arrested due to a complaint by a monk. Accused of insulting the monkhood, he has been behind bars for the last two and a half months. 

Welcome to Sinhala-Buddhistan. .  

The changing enemy, from Tamils to Muslims, via Christians

First the Tamils tried to take Sri Lanka from her rightful owners, the Sinhala-Buddhists. Now the Muslims are trying to do the same. 

But after Tamils, and before Muslims, the role of the enemy was accorded to Christians, including Sinhala-Christians. The ongoing sterilisation drama had its predecessor in the HIV-AIDS drama, when Christians were accused of conspiring to infect monks with HIV. “I got information that fundamentalists at a meeting in Kurunegala had decided to eliminate Buddhism from this country,” Ellawala Medhananda, monk, parliamentarian and leader of the JHU claimed. “Part of their plan is to infect the monks with the HIV virus.” They’ve already “made videos showing young men dressed in yellow robes of a Buddhist monk in intimacy with women,” he added (The Sunday Times – 19.8.2007). “A fundamentalist group of doctors (are) planning to infect monks using HIV infected blood,” he further explained (BBC – 20.7.2007).

The anti-Christian hysteria reached its zenith in the 2002-2004 period. At Soma thero’s funeral, several monks called for a holy war. Two months later, at a gathering of the Jathika Sangha Sammelanaya, Omalpe Sobhita thero identified Tiger terrorism and missionary terrorism as the two main and coeval challenges facing Sri Lanka. He also claimed that the LTTE was a Christian movement. Soon after, Lakshman Kadirgamar felt compelled to issue a public statement denying a rumour that he was a Jehovah’s Witness, a grim warning about the degree to which the germs of religious hysteria and intolerance had permeated the country. 

The Christian enemy did not vanish until February 2013. As late as in December 2009, Christian fundamentalists were accused of murdering a monk who was endeavouring to stop a wave of Christianisation in Anuradhapura. A video claiming that Ratmalane Seelavansa Thero, the head of Soma Himi Chinthana Padanama (Soma Thero Thinking Foundation), was murdered by the modern day crusaders is still available on the internet. The Videos is titled, This is how Christian fundamentalists kill Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka.

This is not ancient history, but vignettes from the very recent past. Just 12 years ago, Christian fundamentalist doctors were accused of planning to infect monks with HIV. Christians were accused of murdering monks just a decade ago. These accusations might seem laughable now, but then it was no laughing matter. The accusations weren’t backed by even an iota of evidence, but that lack didn’t bother the true believers. They were willing to believe anything about Christians then, just as they are willing to believe anything about the Muslims now. When the primordial is in ascendance, reason, logic and even good old common sense perish, unmourned and unremembered. 

The marriage between religion and politics is a union made in hell. The IS would not have come into being had George W Bush not committed the cardinal error of invading Iraq. One of the factors that pushed him into that most disastrous of wars was the Land Letter – a letter written on October 3rd, 2002 by a group of American Evangelical pastors giving seven reasons why an invasion of Iraq would be a ‘Just War’. When Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) asked President Bush if he consulted his (far more intelligent) father before invading Iraq, the younger Bush replied, “He is the wrong father to appeal to for advice… There is a higher father I appeal to”. Had Mr. Bush ignored religious advice and consulted his biological father, the world and the Middle East would have been spared of so much horror, including the IS. 

SWRD Bandaranaike’s rise and fall was another morality tale warning against using religion in politics. Mr. Bandaranaike weaponized Sinhala-Buddhism, deliberately, systematically, to win an election, to be elected prime minister. Pancha Maha Balavegaya was not act of empowerment of the downtrodden as its author claimed. It was a cynical ploy to turn monks into an organised political force and use them as a battering ram to open the doors of power. Political parties had their monk-supporters before that, but these monks did not claim to be the sole-representatives of Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. 

Perhaps Mr. Bandaranaike planned to send his army of monks to the temples once he won the electoral battle. Unfortunately, armies are often like genies; they are hard to re-bottle once they’ve been summoned and let loose. The man who weaponized the Sangha soon found himself at odd with the weapon of his own creation. Having won the election as an extremist, he tried to govern as a moderate, and realised the impossibility of it too late. That lesson is more apposite today than ever before. 

Ever backward to a Sinhala-Buddhist country

Antonio Gramsci defined commonsense as “traditional popular conception of the world”. Until 1987 our common sense permitted, excused and justified naked, unbridled Sinhala chauvinism at every level of society including the official. Indian intervention caused a seismic shock to the Sinhala psyche and paved the way for a tectonic shift of this common sense. Racism became less and less comme il faut and the notion of Sri Lanka, as a pluralist rather than a Sinhala Buddhist country, began to gain ground. By mid-1990’s both the UNP and the SLFP had accepted the pluralist nature of Sri Lanka. 

In 1996, a key progenitor of modern political Buddhism, Walpola Rahula Thero made a revealing remark. “I got angry with Mr. Premadasa (the former Sri Lankan president) because he chose to call Sri Lanka a multi-national, multi-religious state. No. It is a Sinhala-Buddhist state.” (The Sunday Times – 5.9.1996). Walpola Rahula Thero was the initiator of the Vidyalankara declaration of Feb. 1946, which was a response to the statement made by Prime Minister DS Senanayake that monks shouldn’t interfere in politics. Unlike the Gnanasaras and the Ratanas, he was a true Sinhala-Buddhist colossus, Still he couldn’t bend either the UNP or the SLFP to his will. 

Unfortunately both parties have forgotten that past. Maithripala Sirisena giving a presidential pardon to Galagoda-atte Gnanasara is the clearest possible indication that he intends to use religion to gain a second term. The government’s weak-kneed response to Aturaliye Ratana Thero’s blackmailing-fast demonstrates that Ranil Wickremesinghe has no intention of standing up to extremism of any stripe. Sajith Premadasa’s pledge to build 40 new chaithyas in each district signals that religion will play a major role in his effort to win the UNP candidacy. 

Perhaps it is time for the UNP to recall the following remarks by President Ranasinghe Premadasa: “Part of our cultural heritage is a pluralist society. Sri Lanka has always had many ethnic groups, many religions, and many social traditions. Our country, and its integrity as a country, does not depend on uniformity. The history, and the future of Sri Lanka does not belong to any group. Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers have equal places in our society. Buddhism,, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity are all religions of Sri Lanka. Any government that is committed to a free and united Sri Lanka must be committed to these concepts.” (Speech on 12.11.1990 – The Premadasa Philosophy). 

The SLPP’s presidential candidate is bound to present himself as the saviour of Sinhala-Buddhism, a modern day Dutugemunu. Still the UNP, the SLFP and the JVP can act responsibly even in this late hour, if not in national interest, at least in enlightened self-interest. At the upcoming elections, race/religion card will help only one party, the SLPP. For the other parties, especially the UNP, touting race and religion will not be a vote-getter but a vote-loser. 

If the non-SLPP parties make a conscious decision to avoid wallowing in the Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist mire, Sri Lanka’s descent into madness can be slowed down, perhaps even halted for now. But if all major parties try to outdo each other, pandering to monks and other religious extremists, by the time the election season is over, this long-suffering island would be smothered, again, by the blanket of the dark (the phrase is from the Macbeth; it is also the title of a historical novel by John Buchan).

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Latest comments

  • 4
    19

    Ms. Gunasekara is anti religion. That much is clear. She is also probably atheist.

    Yet both sides of the aisle, atheism and religious extremism, have claim to blood.

    For was it not the numerous atheist dictators of the 20th century, namely Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and so on, the ones responsible for between 70 to 120 million deaths?

    A good book is “The Myth if Religous Violence” by Cavanaugh, which places responsibility where it is due.

    In the mean time let us stop harping on religion as a main cause for problems. It is a pointless endeavor and one that cannot be remedied anyway.

    • 11
      4

      Rizwan,
      Religion as it is in the Buddhist teachings or Hindu Vethas, Christ Bible or Allah’s Kuraan may be main cause for problems in Srilanka but most of the Buddhist political and religious leadership and Islamist political and religious leadership is the major factor that caused problems in this country. When the people elect those who mis interpret the religions they also have become a major cause of the problems in this country. You cannot separate out religion and problems.

      • 1
        8

        Thisaranee, all this gender and ethno-religious identity politics stuff about women’s dress is being drummed up at this time by US moles in clown Sirisena and Muslim and Tamil politicians offices.
        Why do you think Alina Teplitz visists buddhist monks? to weaponize Buddhism and violates the separation between church and state in the US constitution .
        Also EU and US advisors who give instructions to the intellectually bankrupt and corrupt Sri Lanka politicians who think that the sun shines out of the white man’s ass are playing up the Buddhist-Muslim conflict!
        This gender and ethno-gender, LGBTQ etc identity politics is to distract from those behind the Easter Sunday disaster and the plan to set up the US military base and US puppet Bondscam Ranil to sign SOFA. This is the real issue and all these gender and saree protests are a media circus to DIVIDE, DISTRACT and RULE by Trumpland which wants Lanka as an Indian Ocean base to fight China and sink the rise of Asia.

        • 4
          2

          ….
          Bureaucrats like Ratnasiri are a product of the current education system. They are from childhood steeped in Sinhala Buddhist majoritarianism. They blindly worship what they think is the world’s greatest culture as taught by equally ignorant teachers. They have no inkling of what happens in the outside world , and what little they know is seen through the prism of the idiotic local media.
          When an idiot like ” Professor” Channa Jayasumana is taken seriously , it is time to restore so- called elitist education at least partially. It should start with the so-called journalists, who are dragging the country to lower and lower levels with their puerile mixture of sensationalism , gossip , astrology , rumoured arahats and unscientific mumbo- jumbo.

          • 3
            2

            Old codger

            I share your pain.
            Recently I have had a long chat with a Sinhala speaking Buddhist and found it stimulating. He is of the opinion even the Gods couldn’t help.

            A useful research paper by
            Prof W A Wiswa Warnapala
            Authoritarianism in Sri Lanka
            in
            Sri Lanka Government and Politics
            Published in 2000
            Edited By Verinder Grover
            Deep & Deep Publications Ltd

            Prof Warnapala is tracing the origin of Authoritarianism in Sri Lanka.

      • 2
        2

        A correction
        Religion as it is in the Buddhist teachings or Hindu Vethas, Christ Bible or Allah’s Kuraan may be main cause for problems in Srilanka
        The above should read as
        Religion as it is in the Buddhist teachings or Hindu Vethas, Christ Bible or Allah’s Kuraan may not be main cause for problems in Srilanka

    • 12
      1

      Rizwan; there is nothing Wrong in a Professed Buddhist, being Anti Religion and an Atheist!
      The Buddha would have approved of someone who was not dependent on Gods to save them from the Results of of their Own Karma!

      • 1
        5

        I have not said there is anything wrong in it. But I do suggest her background colours her thinking.

        My beef with this article is that it almost EXCLUSIVELY blames problems on religion. This is a pointless endeavor and a succumbing to mass media programming.

        I do acknowledge that extremist religious practice is a problem, but it is miniscule compared to the problems caused by the IRRELIGIOUS.

        Because no right thinking Muslim will ever say the 21/4 bombings were acts of religion, for no objective reading of the Quran will yield anything but a peaceful message.

        Nor will any Buddhist of wisdom and understanding sanction the terrorist attacks of Aluthgama, Kandy, Digana, Minuwangoda, Negombo etc.

        These attacks were by the irreligious, not the religious!

        And so are the behavior of politicians. Extremely irreligious. Succumbing to every evil temptation and vice they are.

        Ms. Gunasekara knows all this, and usually I am a fan of her articles, but blaming religion as she has done is utterly boring and uninteresting.

        • 3
          2

          Rizwan:-
          Religion is The belief In, and Worship Of a Superhuman controlling Power, especially a Personal God or Gods.

          All Wars start because ‘Religious’ People Believe in Their Own Version of God or Gods, and refuse to acknowledge the Beliefs of Others!

        • 1
          0

          Hey Riz, I think you’ve got your arse over tit mate……. while belief in a supernatural being may be considered abhorrent to some, there is also nothing wrong in subscribing to a religion STRICTLY PRIVATELY for the sake of following its disciplines and as “insurance” for what happens after death.

          The vexing problem (nay curse) with religion is that we humans (mostly in robes, some in kurakkan coloured shawls) have, by using religion, exploited the frailties of our species to turn against each other in order to derive institutional and political power and great wealth for themselves.

          In Sri Lanka, it doesn’t help that we as a people are intellectually unable to decipher moral and ethical correctness from herd instinct and bestiality. Did you know that the mean IQ among us is a paltry 79? Did you know that individuals with IQ between 50 and 70 are classified as being mildly mentally retarded (hopefully you are not one of those)?

          Perhaps you could delve into it a little and inform yourself?

        • 2
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          R.
          T G’s article is objective, scholarly, and a very good read
          Mixing religion with politics is dangerous and explosive.
          It is not a question of blaming religion!

    • 13
      3

      We are entering a period of Nazi-style Sinhalese-Buddhist fascism:

      Remember the Nazis made Germans to boycott businesses run by Jews; Several years later it ended with the extermination of 6 million Jews.

      Sinhalese Buddhist Bhikkus are persuading the Sinhalese to boycott Muslim Businesses.

      They committed genocide of about 150, 000 Tamils at the end of the war with LTTE.

      God only knows where Sinhalese-Buddhist fascism will end.

      • 2
        3

        Well my friend you speak of only Sinhala/ Buddhist Nazism how about massacre of Sinhala and Muslim villagers, office workers by the Tamil / Hindu Nazism of LTTE. You have conveniently forgotten or omitted that part. I think by being one sided is not going to solve anything it will only fuel extremism further.

      • 3
        2

        Well my friend you speak of only Sinhala/ Buddhist Nazism how about massacre of Sinhala and Muslim villagers, office workers by the Tamil / Hindu Nazism of LTTE, conveniently forgotten or omitted that part. I think by being one sided is not going to solve anything it will only fuel extremism further.

      • 2
        0

        Pour some more petrol on the flames Thiru, that’s what we expect.

        • 4
          0

          Taraki

          somass is already at it.
          Contact him if you need some assistance.

    • 5
      0

      I take the first paragraph from Tisaranee Gunasekera’s piece :

      “A man in a suit defending the imposition of a saree-only regimen on women – it would have been amusing, had the scene been part of a teledrama. But this was the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration arguing with the members of the Parliamentary Select Committee about the suitability of a Sinhala-Buddhist dress-code for women in the public service. The senior bureaucrat went head to head with the politicians, refusing to see the injustice, the unsuitability, the sheer ridiculousness of a circular mandating that every woman who works or visits a public institution be clad in some kind of a saree”

      I was eagerly listening to the whole episode on the questioning directed at the above “gentleman”, the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration at the PSC and was anxiously awaiting for the obvious question. But Alas! was disappointed because it never came from anyone of the PSC members on the pane. They either missed the point completely or are not intelligent enough to think so deeply

      They should have questioned him on his attire, the trouser, shirt, necktie and jacket. If he was in national dress it would have been acceptable but wearing a WESTERN LOUNGE SUIT and trying to justify what dress women in Sri Lanka should be wearing to government offices, whether they are employees or visitors arriving on official business is the HEIGHT OF STUPIDITY.

      None of the PSC members thought about this because I was waiting to see as to how he would wriggle out of such a line of questioning. . .

      • 1
        0

        AshyD you hit the nail on the head!
        If there was a lady member in the PSC, she would have asked that question. The men didn’t want to venture into that area, as they were all clothed in western attire themselves!

    • 1
      0

      Rizwan. Mrs Gunasekara did not blame the religion, but blame the bogus soldiers of the religions, the safron wearing monks, the loguwa wearing priests etc.I do not know what you call the muslim priests, some of them too have contributed to this mess.

      On the other hand, the Cardinal said something of interest. He alluded that there were/ was an unknown hand behind the Easter fiasco. That is an interesting comment which I do hope that people with the facilities will probe.

      Mr.Rizwan unless this changes, best is to take our children and get out, even if you are drowned in the sea

  • 8
    1

    “From now on, people and monks will govern this country from the streets” ~ Aturaliye Ratana Thero  (Lankadeepa – 28.5.2019)

    This single statement articulates admirably well the the political objective of a large number of inhabitants of this island.

    It can be restated as “to instigate a mass uprising and overthrow the government in order to abandon constitutional governance through the rule of law based on the doctrine of human rights, humanitarian law and all international treaties and conventions that collectively constitute the currently global civilization of the species Homo sapiens, and to reject this global civilization in favor of an exclusive ethno ideological homogenization of the population in alliance with other states that practice such a policy of ethno ideological homogenization of their populations through the oppressive imposition of a dominant ethno ideological identity with marginalization and genocidal violence aimed at subjugation of all other ethnic and religious minorities and the abduction extortion rape torture murder and disappearance of all opponents and dissidents and establish a nepotistic autocracy legitimized by the apparatus of ideology and based on an economy of self sufficiency, national development and national security with an isolationist and xenophobic foreign policy”.

    This will lead to the emergence of a context with similarities to the context currently obtaining in North Korea.

    The most serious consequence of such a development will be the denial to the global civilization and global economy, of the functional capacity of an entrepôt and transshipment point that this island has the potential to offer. Within the context where resources required for the species Homo sapiens for its survival and evolutionary development are unevenly distributed across the face of the planet the prevention of the realization of this potential may have far reaching consequences. The outcome remains to be seen.

  • 10
    0

    There is nothing wrong with atheism or disbelief in religion as long as one does not try to persecute others for their beliefs. Stalin and Pol Pot did not become monsters because they had renounced their faith. They became that in order to cling on to power eleiminating all potential rivals. They had absolutely no interest in weaning people away from religion. That mission was not even in their radar. All secular people can do is to encourage people to use their own faculties and rationale to see through superstition and religious dogma. But of course not everyone is capable of that.

  • 9
    1

    that Muslims of Sri Lanka changed their attires and even their ways after the thableegi Jamaath movement started.This led to the youth being sent on religious workshops(jamaath) and they come after being indoctrinated with the wahabbist ideology and did not continue their friendships as they did earlier they seem to have changed.Once they were all enjoying fun it seemed that they shunned all kinds of socialization.
    Yjey no longer were logical.It went to the extreme that they condemned the celebration of birthdays eating b’day cakes etc.. etc.. They were now preaching a form of Islam from the early times.Then the change in attires etc etc.. But we have evidence that the Terrorists were not wearing jubba but were wearing levi Jeans and gucci Tshirts??? So it is not the attire.Then some of them were highly educated and graduates.This tells us a different story.So we have a difficult task.It is only our Community which has to come forward and inform the security forces about any abnormal activity by our muslims..I am happy that even the parents are turning in their children cuz it is a nuisance and a threat to them and Society as a whole.So the majority of our community will cooperate with the Authorities.This way we can eliminate this nuisance for once and for all.This measure of support was not evident during the earlier LTTE crisis.Keep it up muslim community and do your futy to inform the Security Forces.They will protect you.

    • 3
      0

      No one should be judgmental to decide which stream of religious practices are right and wrong, as long as they all believe in a Creator and His chosen Messenger who showed us the way to attain eternal paradise. By following the Thabligh Jama’ath movement, there was no disconnect with family and society, but rather a revival through training of core Islamic beliefs, essential to be proper and good Muslims. Many were reminders and encouragement to pray on time by responding to call for prayer, etc. It only brought about closeness to God. The experience also tries to emulate the life experiences of the Prophet and how he lived his life. Their prayers would always include the well being of the country and its people. In fact, the Masjids became full with worshipers where at one time it was almost empty with just a few elders in attendance. It brought about a positive change in religious understanding at a time when the unique Muslim identity and culture was getting mixed, diluted and obliterated to suit alien practices, influence from surrounding environment. This can be very well noticed in Bangladesh Muslims, who carry out some of their religious acts similar to Hindu cultural practices.

  • 12
    1

    Sajith Premadasa wants to build forty new chaithiyas in each district?
    I thought till now, that he will make a good president.
    Will another would-be candidate with means, offer to build a hundred in each district?

    • 9
      0

      Did Sajith Premadasa Really say that he would build 40 new Chaithyas in each District? His Father would not have approved!
      Where is he going to find 40 new Nayake Hamuduruwos of ‘Good Understanding’ to look after each of those Chaithyas?
      He will Only be able to find Crooks who would like the Easy Life of a ‘Hamuduruvo’ with Free Accommodation, no Power and Water Bills and free Food!!

    • 0
      0

      Justice – Whose money is he going to spend. Yours and mine.If he does that he should be charged to replace the tax payers funds.

  • 5
    0

    Crooks, murderers and deal kings meeting.

  • 1
    0

    a voice in the wilderness

  • 6
    0

    1) Mixing Politics and Religion is like mixing Alcohol and Drugs.

    2) We tend to blame mainly the politicians for all the ills of this country but there are other parties also that should bear much of the responsibility for the mess the country finds itself in. They are chiefly the Senior Bureaucrats, Senior Military personnel and the Buddhist clergy.

  • 2
    1

    The author contradicts herself. First she mentions a “Sinhala-Buddhist” dress-code for women in the public sector, then she says “The burqa is a relic of nomadic existences in sandstorm-prone deserts; it should have no place in modern life.” So the author agrees at least partially with the “Sinhala-Buddhist” dress-code which forbids civil servants from wearing a burqa. Does the author know, this “burqa ban” also exists in Western Europe? As another commentator notes, religion is not the issue in Sri Lanka. It is high unemployment and inflation. If people are desperate, they will protest. They will attack and loot shops, whether the shops belong to aliens, Muslims, or Tamils. If such conditions of desperation exist over a long period of time, then yes, people will adapt radical ideologies, not necessarily religious ones. Sri Lanka has not reached that point yet.

  • 6
    0

    Notwithstanding President Premadasa’s deceleration in November 1990, he more than any other leader is responsible for increasing the influence of Buddhist monks in our society and politics in recent times. He was the man responsible for introducing massive Buddha statues inside government offices. With the statues came the practice of Buddhist government officials observing their morning Pan Sil in the office during duty hours rather than at home before leaving for work. Take a look outside SLBC, SLRC, inside Ministry of Water to name a few. His son’s project of 40 Chaithyas is another hairbrained project. It is absolutely necessary to separate the State from the faith with the Constitution taking precedence over the Dhamma Pada, Bagawath Geetha, Bible, and the Quran.

  • 4
    0

    Thisaranee,
    This is exceptional except two minor errors; one factual and one conceptual. The factual error is about why Bush invaded Iraq. The reason is not that he listened to Evangelicals by foregoing his own father who was also an ex-president. As far I know, Bush decided to invade Iraq for two major reasons: 1. He & the whole America was deceived by his own vice president Cheney & the Defense Sec Donald Rumsfeld about the fabricated intelligence of WMD. 2. Overwhelming public support for the invasion. Only Barack Obama who was a freshman senator at the time voted against it. The public opinion at the time (right after 9/11) was not much different from what was seen among S/B in recent days in SL.
    The conceptual error is about Sajith pandering to Buddhist monks. I don’t think politicians can back away from pandering to religion(s) as long as voters maintain a bond with their religions. I think that it should be called pandering to religion; rather it is a pandering to public opinion. Politicians, even if they want, cannot walk away from such social realities; rather they have to walk through it in order to get their agenda done gradually until the society change. This lead to my final point which I raised in my second comment to the today’s (June 16) essay in CT by Kumar Davis.
    There I argued that, based on the experience in a regime under SLPP leadership from 2006 to 2015, there is no way to stop the country from being pushed into a Fascist system much worse than the previous one if the SLPP come to power again by riding on the current racist sentiment among S/B; and that the better way to weaken the power of racism incites by extremist Buddhist monks is to revisit the debate of democracy vs religion & science vs religion.

    • 0
      0

      The decision to invade Iraq followed the 9/11 attacks when Dubya promised himself that he WILL respond. After that it was a quest to ‘find a target and a reason’

    • 1
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      D P
      Bush was a joke; the fame of WMD -“weapons of mass destruction”. Period.

  • 4
    8

    Only Colombo Toiyas, some NGO and Civil Society junkies will get a kick out of Tisaranee’s writings. For the others, it is sheer BS!

    Did you write anything against Christian clergy who openly extended their support to Demala terrorists?

    Suddenly UNP politicians have become saviors of Buddhism. They are throwing money to temples and according to a monk, the Government is planning to give health insurance to monks. May be UNP politicians want to make sure that Monks are in good health to create Sinhala-Buddhistan. Are these the initiatives of Karu uncle or Keselwatte Kid? Is there an election in the near future?

    • 4
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      Eagle Eye,
      one of the most known racists against Tamils, Mahindapala the old racist would never see it right. You are not grown enough to read the good articles being written by Mr T Goonasekara.
      I wonder, not even decades away from your last breath, but yet to harbour the hatreds against the minorities got grown, just for your personal vendettas, seem to be still there. I think you the kind of men woul dnever change your attitudes learnt from your genetics.
      There I feel not just anti-semitists but you guys are the most uggliest RACISTS in planet EARTH.
      Eagle get well soon. YOu will never bring all these when you would say GOOD by to this world.
      Your blood should be so poisonous to be that hateful against Tamils and Muslim. I am asahmed of SINHALAYA … me being sinhalay a whenever I read anything coming from you:

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      These are the products of Post colonial education from Colombo and they mostly learned by Western Literature, Jesus (because it is a christian School), Soulbury constitution and the Westminster style governing etc., and they did not learn Asian culture, Asian philosophy or philosophers. Most Western philosophers were dumb, ones who were intelligent Praised buddhism and Buddha. That education is the same even today because the west says keep it like that and send those children to our country and we even give scholarships to intelligent ones.

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    Our Sri Lankan goose is slowly cooking.

    The Easter attacks have been a God-send for Gandasara. He is now going about and claiming that the early targeting of the Muslim community was ‘because he saw what was coming’. Now, he struts about claiming ‘see even the Cardinal supports us’ (after the enigmatic Cardinal’s ill-timed visit to console Athuraliya Ratharanee.

    The sooner we divorce clergy from political affairs, the better. Wannabee kingmakers should be sent packing, put back in their places where they administer to their flock.

    The present-day cloth-shifters (Gandasara, Ratharanee et al) who show no respect even to the Mahanayake’s, are a curse to the decent name of Buddhism. Letting them continue will only end with a hell on our earthly paradise.

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      Spring Koha: I remember you were mourning even for LTTE demise. The west policy is they help both sides and watch two sides kill each other and takes what ever they want. You must be a Vulture who lives on others dead carcasses

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    Dear Tissaranee
    You are right in almost everything you say.
    We have to realize that according to the Buddhist teaching ignorance is the main cause of suffering.
    None of us is ready to sit down and work on our reasoning ability, this leads to wisdom or reduction in ignorance, instead we choose to takeout our frustration on minorities.
    This temporarily gives us a sense of control I suppose.
    Most people are not happy with their lives, not happy because we support wrong notions, ideologies and policies. We support such because we choose to use emotions to decide on issues rather than rational thinking.
    When our faulty decisions start to manifest its bad reactions we let off our anger on some helpless fellow who is even more helpless than us.
    Then there is Karma. We can’t escape karma. Whatever is happening in Sri Lanka is not unusual. At the end of the day we will all get what we deserve.
    You will see. All these so called extremist monks will get what they deserve. Didn’t Banda get what he deserved, that too from a monk. Lets just watch, you will see what I mean.
    Karma is not just causality it is more, in the sense, it is also the result of reaction for laying back and doing nothing.
    We advocated for Sinhala only, the result, an average Sinhalese person is challenged when it comes to comprehending information in english, which happens to be the defacto language for spread of latest knowledge and information. The fastest way to overcome our ignorance.
    We choose that in a bid to slowdown tamil students. Now we have to live with it, we are the ones who are most effected.
    Similarly we have perverted the essence of Buddhism and are using it to harass others, the end result we loose touch with real buddhism, sorry but it is inevitable.

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    Gemini Cricket:- How right you are!
    You State….

    “We advocated for ‘Sinhala only’, the result, an average Sinhalese person is challenged when it comes to comprehending information in English, which happens to be the defacto language for spread of latest knowledge and information. The fastest way to overcome our ignorance.
    We choose that in a bid to slowdown Tamil students.”

    We Sinhala Buddhists are now left in a World of 2,500 Years ago!
    Whereas the Tamils we drove away, are flourishing in Countries, where they Have access to the Latest in Knowledge and Education!

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    The cat jumps out of the bag at the end. All this hullabaloo is aimed at defeating SLPP supported candidate(s) by calling on UNP, SLFP and JVP unholy combine to establish yahapalana 2.0.

    It is the responsibility of SLPP and other progressive political forces including within UNP, SLFP and JVP to unite and provide the leadership to masses who have been battered by yahapalana 1.0 to defeat yahapalana 2.0 project which has the blessings of US Asia pivot strategy (that aims to put US boots on the ground).

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      Hela, I agree, I think many of these authors have political motivations.. They may even be receiving various forms of compensation for their work, although I cannot prove it. Look at the words which stand out in the first 7 paragraphs: (1) Sinhala-Buddhist, (2) Sinhala-Buddhist, (3) Sinhala mothers, (4) Sinhala-Buddhist, (5) Sinhala-Buddhist, (6) Sinhala-Buddhist, (7) Sinhala-Buddhist. This kind of language reminds me of Goebbelsian propaganda against the Jews. The authors are clearly afraid of Rajapakse coming back, so they have created this myth of an evil, “fascist” Sinhala-Buddhist. It is quite funny for those who are familiar with the island. A tourist would not even know Buddhism is practiced there until he saw a Buddha statue.

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    Sri lankan Should have a referendum to ask people to have both Presidential and General elections at once. to reverse the 15th amendment and cut down the parliament to just 50 MPs and 15 cabinet ministers.

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    ” Maithripala Sirisena giving a presidential pardon to Galagoda-atte Gnanasara is the clearest possible indication that he intends to use religion to gain a second term.”

    dear Thissaranee, using Gnanasara is not using religion, surely?

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    I continue to be amazed by the little Lankan ignoramuses who wallow in their internal strife and utter political mumbo jumbo while radical, Jihadi Islam has declared a full war on the country. The monks may have their own agendas, and so does everyone else but the need of the hour is to crush the Jihadi terror and de-radicalize and detoxify the Moslems who are now probably the most radical community in the world. They knew that their young are plotting the killing of Lankan Kaffir Buddhists, Christians and Hindus but never uttered a word, they knew that the exploitation of the Kaffir is the fatwa that they have to follow, and did so without a murmur. And they celebrated the first full scale feast of Allah on Easter Sunday, when the cannibalistic ritual of destruction of innocents took place.

    The author, well-known for her pathological hatred of Sinhalese and Buddhists, ignores all of these and talks about tired, old, non-relevant nonsense about radical monks. I hope the reader has the common sense to see that the only path forward for them is to elect someone who will deradicalize Lankan Moslems, incarcerate the vast majority of the Moslems and mandate that they follow a deradicalization process and if necessary permanently incarcerate the worst of the worst, which I think is well over 50% of the Moslems who cannot be changed, and who remain a fanatical, grave and present danger to humanity in Lanka.

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    Religion divides, wars have been fought because of religions, and many crimes have been committed in the name of some religion. It is because of the interference of clergy, and religious leaders, that nations are divided, minorities attacked and killed, and you will find discrimination against the weak. Nations with no religious interference, doctrines, and even those with atheists, are happier, and have no major issues to attack each other, like we do here.

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    You are right madam and your views are perfect. Religion is a curse to mankind. They are the cause for all human sufferings. Now it is institutionalised religion function like corporates bodies to hoodwink and manipulate the gullible. SL is a good example. These Buddhist extremists, if at all are anti Buddha. They prostitute religion for politics and naked racism. Islam is a virtual right off. It is in the hands of fanatics and beyond redemption. Sinhala Buddhism is not far from that. As it is, it appears irreversible disaster. No one has the guts to stop it’s rampage. Illiterate, ill informed theros will ruin the country. On the other hand there is deadly Islam and cunning Christianity further destroying our unity and co-existence. There is just religious extremism and hatred and there is no hope at all for SL. This Blind Eagle Or HLD are just part of the curse. I just cannot understand their mind set and what do they want. Distorting history and rewriting Buddhism. A curse for Lanka, a land cursed by Kuveni. ‘Tissarani is too good for some of these morons. What religion and why religion when religion could only deliver pain and sufferings to mankind and become a weapon in the hands of fanatics.

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