14 November, 2018

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The Bra, The Bar & The Brigadier

By Grusha Andrews

If you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you – you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.” 
~ C.S. Lewis. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Facebook meme after Sirisena’s intervention

The quasi Mahinda era has begun. The ban on social media and communication features on mobile phones has been imposed and The Mahinda himself, like The Donald on a post school shooting day has spoken. In an ironic statement to the media and a laugh inducing ‘write up’ to Colombo Telegraph, written in language and tone that is suspiciously refined and erudite to the point of using terms such as ‘demographic reality’, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the de facto leader of the Pohottuwa has been quick to wash off his political blood stains from his bigotry tainted, talisman squeezing palms.

Rajapaksa (or his able ghost writer) with displaced nostalgia laced with romanticization of the past where Muslims and Sinhala leaders supposedly lived in harmony, places the blame on the Yahapalana government for its failure to establish law and order. He distances himself and his infamous brothers from the fostering and systematic institutionalizing of islamophobia and racism during his rule. He conveniently palms off the blame, stating “what was started by conspirators who are now in the Yahapalana government, for the purpose of dislodging my government, now appears to have taken on a life of its own and mistrust between the communities is growing by the day”.

The reality is that the ongoing violence is only a representation of the resurgence of militant Buddhist groups that first emerged in 2012 to 2014 during the Rajapakse reign. Compounded by the open political patronage of the Rajapakses, particularly that by Gotabhaya Rajapakse during the second term of government, attacks on Muslims began again over a six-week period in April and May 2017 and for two days in November 2017, where militants were supplied with political oxygen and political parenteral nutrition. This phenomenon was hallmarked by the consistent ‘failure’ of the Rajapaksa regime to prosecute those responsible for violence and hate speech. Galagoda-Atte Gnanasara, infamous monk leading the Bodu Bala Sena (loosely translated as Buddhist Power Army) became an emblem of misplaced Sinhala ‘nationalism’, fed by media, nourished by the government, in short, a political python in the making. That government, also membered by the current President Maithripala Sirisena was fundamentally a failure at establishing racial harmony or national cohesion.

The nonsensical continuum

The Yahapalana government which demonstrated little will to address the collective grievances of the very electorate that voted them in spent three years of political existence that can be summarized in one word: nonsensical. Although some positive achievements were made especially with regard to superficial sense of media freedom and general wellbeing of democracy, the President, the Prime Minister and the unity government demonstrated an abysmal failure at discharging justice in the spheres of corruption, establishing law and order, breaking the vicious cycle of racism that is an insidious issue and addressing the economic issues of the poor, farmers and the private sector. Crumbling in transparency and accountability within and without the government and the administrative machinery, the Yahapalana government is truly a headless chicken. There were three telling instances where the Yahapalana government showed early symptoms of a racially complicated, violence spiced, disunited, convoluted political mess. The axis around which the President and the Prime Minister make their decisions appears to be Mahinda Rajapaksa. The fact that Rajapakse is still the man who calls shots is obvious to any rational citizen. He remains the de facto leader not only of the Pohottuwa, but of the Republic. How did we become this sick democracy?

The symptoms, however, were telling. Those with even slight glimpses in to reality, political history and quite plainly any common sense or a twisted sense of humor knew that the inevitable bungled baby of Yahapalana failure was round the corner. The unholy trinity constituted three Bs. The bra, the bar and the brigadier. The first gravid symptom was the bra. Yes. That bra.

The bra – misplaced priorities

This nation is grappled with economic challenges, racial disunity, mistrust, rural poverty, unemployment, gender inequity, corruption, hurdles in consensus building and political instability. Just nine months in to his rule, the nation’s leader chose a bra thrown at a celebrity singer by a young woman in her fan-frenzy as a central talking point. The nation should have taken note and fair warning: not of the bra. But of its leader. Such stark immaturity, pettiness and unrefined world view should have warned the nation of the inability of a mind to capture the dynamic nature of culture, the randomness of human behaviour and the childish inability to let things go. The sheer lack of statesmanship and the misplaced prioritization of issues in the mind of a person entrusted with the decision of declaring war or peace on behalf of a nation was disturbing to the rational citizens. Thus the bra denoted an important hallmark of a rule that would reveal more of the same.

The bar – gender discrimination

The Finance Ministry, in mid-January 2018 announced that it would lift a decades-old ban on women buying alcohol and serving liquor in bars and restaurants. Within days of the announcement to lift the ban, President Maithripala Sirisena declared he wanted no part of the move and re-imposed the ban. The cabinet spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health participated in a press conference expressing views that can only be explained in terms of misogyny and imbecility. He explained that “the freedom of women is not the freedom of Colombo women. Rural women want no such freedoms”. A new low, even for Senaratne. While the merits and demerits of alcohol consumption is a separate conversation, the fundamental failure of the government to view women as equal citizens is telling. This misogynous take also manifested in the form of resistance shown for efforts to legalize abortion, impose a minimum age of marriage for Muslim girl feature the failure of the government to incorporate women in to its genuine agenda.

Nearly fifty two percent of the Sri Lankan population constitute of women. Although not often highlighted, Sri Lanka’s political history is largely a tale of a bungling efforts at governance by male politicians or the widows of the same. Sri Lanka is a country attempting to propel on low quality testosterone, oppressing and leaving behind half of its population- the women. Little do the men who are hopelessly attempting to govern the nation understand that the mathematics (and common sense) stand against them.You cannot disempower half of your human wealth and achieve economic or social growth.

The brigadier- feeding racists

On the 4th of February 2018, Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, the defense attaché of the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK made a throat slit gesture to a group of pro-Eelamist protestors. He was promptly recalled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a decision which in turn was promptly reversed by an angry President. The brigadier was only a symbol of misplaced nationalism and the emotional instability of a nation limited by racism and mutual distrust. Feeding his brand of racism for short term political benefit is one of the central failures of the government manifested today with a burning Kandy. The bungling brigadier only emblemized the easy inflammability of a nation that ascended his brand of deplorable immaturity to national heroism. The government’s un-stately reaction to his unacceptable conduct further forged the entry of the Sri Lankan society in to a choleric age via state sponsored validation of stupidity.

The Yahapalana government’s default mode for most of its existence has been the damage control mode. Its main objective appears to be pussy footing around Mahinda Rajapaksa, the actual ruler of the country. Guessing what Rajapaksa will do next and concocting ways to protect the Rajapksas appear to occupy the largest space in the minds of both the President and the Prime Minister. Bungling in to pits and climbing out of them depending on the wisdom, maturity and the intervention of few good men (as there are no women in this government) it its natural state. The folly of the choleric age can be distilled in to misplaced priorities, gender inequity and its inability to establish a meaningful racial harmony represented by the bra, the bar and the brigadier. Till this nation frees itself from these Bs, it will remain in a Lewisian place where “you feel as if nothing was ever going to happen”.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 10
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    Dear Grusha Andrews,

    Comments: Part 1 of 3

    This excellent third article of yours is one which ought to provoke lots of useful discussion. I’ve just now looked for, and discovered, your two earlier articles.

    Yes, I agree that President Maithri is slipping up. I think that you will agree that his fourth slip was just this week, when he failed to appoint Sarath Fonseka, Minister of Law and Order. It is very true that the slips by this man, in whom we reposed so much hope, probably spells chaos for us. I desperately hope that I am wrong, and that the Ranjith Madduma Bandara appointment works, but I’m getting pessimistic.

    Instead fo Maithri, whom could we have elected? Probably nobody.

    Grusha, your writing in this article (I have only glanced at the others) makes me feel that a person like you will have the knowledge and the breadth of vision to lead the country, but would you ever get elected? The problem is that My3 is the best that could have been elected, and his limitations are understandable. The chronological order in which you have listed the bungling is rational also in being in ascending order of gravity.

    I have already listed the most alarming blunder. We are teetering on the brink of another pogrom, this time directed at the Second Minority, and we find My3’s response utterly inadequate. I hope that some reader will come up with the really seminal insight, but meanwhile let me set the ball rolling, hoping that it will inspire somebody to come up with more incisive thinking. How do we get Sarath Fonseka appointed without it being the result of a descent in to Armageddon so abysmal that recovery becomes impossible.

    • 3
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      Dear sir, I have read your valuable comments in three parts. I will think about them all. Thank you for your detailed analysis. Kind regards. Grusha Andrews.

      • 1
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        Dear Grusha,

        I did put a lot of effort in to that response, and I’m grateful to have you appreciating the fact.

        If you have the time, may I suggest that you look at this article:

        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/national-heroes-should-be-worthy-of-emulation/

        From there, I have provided a link to yet another article about the Brigadier, in which I have actually given somebody my personal e-mail address. I know that this is a rather round-about way of doing things. I’m sorry if that’s burdensome for you.

        Having said that, I’ve checked. If you actually ferret, you will be able to know all that anybody possibly would want to know about the non-entity that goes as SM.

        You’ve been quite original in naming yourself Grusha Andrews! Anything to do with Fielding’s novel, Joseph Andrews? There can be a good and justifiable reason for never divulging to the public your real identity. It depends on what is written.

        Your writing is brilliant, witty, AND it is OBJECTIVE. There’s no ad hominem in it, so anonymity doesn’t matter. It may not have been read by enough people since there have been a spate of articles recently. Even if you do contact me, I shall respect the reasons for your operating only under a pseudonym.

  • 7
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    Part 2 of 3

    We’ve got to think only of the possible. Grusha, I noticed that in some earlier comment a reader had shrewdly pointed out that YOU are incapable of tackling the “average Sri Lankan” – if such a person exists.

    I’m going to suggest that in all the three cases that you have with dark humour stitched together, the Limitations of Maithripala are the limitations of our people – and that must be taken in to account by us all. I fear that we have to understand Maithripala and work with him, or else see him ditched for a much worse Head of State.

    Yes, this Brigadier business was the worst, before the Field Marshall centred blunder. See how an old Professor fared when he tried to get our people to consider the ramifications of the Brigadier’s mis-conduct.

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/brigadier-priyanka-fernando-a-suggested-wider-context/

    “My intention was abstract and generalised.
    I am sorry that, as I feared, the discussion descends to the personal and the particular.”

    That was what the author himself ruefully commented after many negative things had been said. I, myself, “Sinhala_Man”, have quoted him, and then said:

    “He simplified the language because he is a good man trying desperately to communicate a message which I immediately understood (the first comment is by me) , but many readers (all Sinhalese like me!) have chosen to deliberately, and maliciously, distort all that Prof. Sarvan has said.”

    So, there. Our people will not accept a man who is absolutely non-chauvinistic.

  • 7
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    Part 3 of 3

    Our PEOPLE are misogynistic. The shining exception – now that was a pleasant surprise:

    “Minister of Regional Development Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka says that despite the endless criticism of certain policy decision of the government, he does not see anything wrong with them.” He says, “If men can do it, so can women”.
    Listen to his interview:

    http://www.adaderana.lk/news.php?nid=45442

    As for the Enrico Iglesias concert, I don’t think that conduct of that sort would be tolerated at THAT LEVEL in any country. In a Eurpoean country, this would just have been just a Pop Concert. In Sri Lanka it became a HIGH SOCIETY, almost NATIONAL, event. See what is said in Wikipedia about what one of the greatest of all living singers did:

    “She [i.e. Kiri te Kanawa] cancelled after learning that his fans sometimes threw their underwear on stage, which he would then proudly display.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiri_Te_Kanawa

    So, it’s not a question of My3 being a Swabasha speaker alone. No establishment figure in any country could have allowed such a high profile event to go by without commenting. You will misunderstand me, as well, if you don’t take in to account what a National Event this concert got promoted to be.

    I would personally not have reacted the way My3 did, but then, I wouldn’t have got the 6,217,162 votes that he did. What would I have got? Quite recently, I met a guy with my FIRST name, but the surname Wijesiriwardena, who had got 4,277 votes from the entire country:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_presidential_election,_2015

    I’m sorry. I, too, feel the future is bleak.

  • 1
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    The Bra throwers and the Bar Crawler Brigades in Colombo have been the top priority of Dr Ranil and his Yahapalane…
    Accordingly Dr Ranil put his loyal Boys, Mr Mallik , Dr Eran, Mr Akila, and of course Mr Manhi to look after their needs.
    Condom vending Machines, Vivid Instructions by our Colombo Models on how to wear them . Opening Bars to our Gamme Women , Enrolling them to good Jobs as Bar Tenders, Waitresses and Giving a free hand to the Srilanka loving NGOs to do what ever they like came in to operation before anything else.
    Although living among the Colombo Brigades, Sillysena still had to keep an eye on the poor inhabitants in the Village where he grew up.
    And try to keep them on board to help find those cushy MP jobs in Kotte. for his Kids.
    Now Sillysena has become the Public Enemy number One among the Bar throwers and Bar Crawlers.
    To make things even worse for Silly, our Gamme, Ammas, Thathas, Aiyyas and Mallis who have had enough of this Dr Ranil’s Yahapalane, also gave Silly the flick.
    Now Silly gets hammerd both from the front and back.
    This is nothing in comparison to what I read in LankeNews and even from that Rev Amile from the Yahapalana Nikaya.

  • 10
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    an excellent piece exposing the nonsense which is called Sri Lanka

  • 10
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    Mahinda visiting Kandy is like the criminal visiting the scene of his crime. He is now putting on this holier than thou image, at least to his credit, however slow, Ranil W. condemned the violence, and tried to curb the violence, preventing it from spreading further, which the Rajapaksa’s never did. Buddhist militants are on the rise, backed by unknown evil forces, and it does not bode well for minorities, nor the country. Reading many of the comments in some of these articles regarding the Muslims being attacked, losing property, and the disrespect shown towards their places of worship, you realize that these are an organized campaign, to attack, demonize, and blame the victims, for what occurred in Ampara and Kandy, based on flour balls and the other drunken road rage. But the van loads of thugs and haters were ready, to systematically attack innocent Muslims, who were not involved in anything, and they were led in scumbags, who dare to wear the saffron robes, and who represent Buddhism, and they seem to be supported by trolls here, who bring up the most ridiculous justifications, for these crimes, citing supposed history, why the Muslims deserve this, and how evil the religion is, ALL NOTHING TO DO WITH THE VICTIMS OF THIS VICIOUS ATTACK.

    Sri Lanka has become a nation of tension between all races, the Buddhist militants supported by unknown evil forces, that use them as tools, for their own devious agenda, which is certainly not with the good intentions for this country.
    Look at Myanmar and ask yourself, if we can withstand another ethnic conflict.

    Be warned Sri Lankans. Reject the sources, that set one Sri Lankan against another.

  • 11
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    Foolish politicians like MR, MS are not the threat, but the foolish people who vote them to power are.

  • 4
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    Well said Grusha. The President added insult to injury in his speech after the communal violence in Kandy using the phrase “… as a Buddhist country”. The cat is out of the bag.

    • 1
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      Sri Lanka is a Buddhist Country – there is no question about that.
      Sri Lanka is also the country of other minorities – all citizens are equal before the law. Never fail to recognise that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country – as much as Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country.

  • 4
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    Recent GoSLs have become high stake poker games. It used to be one-person game but this time there are several players and the stake is very very high.
    The present Muslim crisis started with ‘Wanda Pethi’ rumour. Everyone knows this to be canard. Yet none of the leaders have the courage to say so. Why? In poker players hold the cards close to the chest.
    The language/religion-divide table cloth still is used.

  • 2
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    Did Mahinda R ever block Facebook and phone communication apps? Of course not. He was supposed to have blocked CT, but I for one hand could access it during those so called blocked periods from Colombo and other locations. What this author must understand is there is a huge gap between the people who write and comment here and the other Sri Lankans. For example Akhma above does not understand that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist Country, just like UK is a Church of England country (QEII is the head of Church of England), US is a Christian country (“And this be our motto: In God We Trust” is in their National Anthem), most gulf states are Muslim countries. So Grusha Andrews what I suggest is, don’t despair, during this time when your Smart phone is just a bit of plastic take the time to be Smart yourself, think, think, think. Analyze.

  • 8
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    Excellent article, hits the nail on the head!

  • 0
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    Goo..sha! smells bad!!!!

  • 4
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    Thank you so much.well written article.I really loved reading it.Thanks again.

  • 1
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    There have been too many articles of late.

    That must be one reason why more have not read this excellent article.

    Another may be because nobody really knows who the writer is – although that doesn’t really matter if the article is read.

  • 0
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    Everybody knows that the writer is alter ego of that disgusting pro Premadasa apologist going by the name Tisaranaya!

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