21 April, 2024


“…Then We Asked That Our Drinking Water Not Be Poisoned And We Were Shot.”

By Emil van der Poorten –

Emil van der Poorten

I make no apologies for the seemingly melodramatic title of this column because it is all that will fit from the fuller version which, in turn, is a paraphrasing of the very famous one by Pastor Niemoller in historically similar times and which should read in its entirety:

“First we asked that our EPF savings not be embezzled and we were shot; then we complained about the adverse impact of the increase in kerosene prices on our livelihoods as fishermen and we were shot; then we asked that our drinking water not be poisoned and we were shot. What other crimes are being created to justify our executions in the future?”

If confirmation be needed of the ruthlessness of this regime, the events at Weliveriya provided it in spades!  A turbulent but, by all descriptions, non-violent demonstration of local people – thousands – against contamination of their drinking water was met with what can only be described as a show of force not simply intended to “show who’s boss” but to instill terror.

When was the last time that you heard of a battle-hardened unit of the army being called in by the police, arriving in armoured personnel carriers, wearing bandannas across their faces?  One might be tempted to proffer the suggestion that white hoods, a la the Ku Klux Klan, would have been more appropriate given the conduct of those in uniform, but, one hardly needs to proffer advice about “improving” such

techniques to this lot.

These are forces completely and absolutely under the control of the President’s brother, Gotabhaya, and for yet another member of his family to be engaged in discussions with representatives of the protestors while the assault was being launched has a very simple message from these monarchs parading as saviours: to defy us and ours is to do so at peril of limb and, literally, life.

Insofar as pollution of drinking water sources is concerned, my neighbourhood has suffered for ten years because of an unauthorized and illegal garbage dump that the local Pradeshiya Sabhawa continues to use, depositing in it all the garbage generated within its jurisdiction, inclusive of hospital wastes.   The effluent from this environmental catastrophe empties into the headwaters of the Deduru Oya but is concealed from view in such a manner that those who consume this water downstream are unaware of what the water they use for EVERY domestic purpose contains.  A recent question in this regard in the national legislature resulted in a deliberate half-truth being placed on the record with the intention of concealing the reality of the prevailing situation.

Additionally, the icing on that morning’s (“Daily Mirror”) cake was that the same issue that carried an extensive report on this act of terrorism at Weliveriya had a paean of praise to J. R. “Yankee Dick” Jayewardene by a relation of his, a generation or so removed.  It ended with the statement that the late President would be looking on with unalloyed joy at what his successor, Mahinda Rajapaksa, was doing to carry forward his “vision” for Sri Lanka.  To quote his exact words,

“My take is that the course being charted by this present successor to the Presidency Mahinda Rajapaksa would meet with his approval – his vision and dream being carried forward for Sri Lanka to retake its place at the very top of all nations.”

While some might consider this a statement of simple bombast and unmitigated nonsense in the interests of adding to a past litany of sycophantic claptrap, I tend to agree with the sentiments expressed because “the Weliveriya incident” certainly does carry forward the (Fascist) agenda of J.R.J. and by the most appropriate of his successors, one who makes even the late R. Premadasa look like one of the Maggie Thatcher’s much-reviled “wets!”  I wonder, also, whether the author of that puff piece remembers a conversation he had with me in the lobby of the Mount Lavinia Hotel in, I believe, 1985 after he’d left a senior position to which he’d been appointed by the elder Jayewardene.  He told me at great length how disastrous things had become under the self-same President.  But then I suppose time lends luster to events that were not so lustrous at the time they occurred!

However, it is also one of Sri Lanka’s less well kept secrets that this particular family has not fared too badly under the Rajapaksa Regime with one of JR.’s grandsons serving as our head diplomat in Malaysia, a position to which he does not bring a wealth of qualification or experience.  There are also other members of that clan displaying their (well-rewarded) loyalty to the caricature of a “Democratic Socialist” government in Sri Lanka, reinforcing the message of their support to the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself.

A comment about political terminology might seem appropriate in closing.  If “Yankee Dick” could use language such as “Democratic Socialist” in a constitutional construct that, at the time it was promulgated, was adversely compared to that which Charles de Gaulle visited upon France, there is certainly nothing wrong with the present incumbent of the President’s throne in Sri Lanka characterizing what he practices as “democratic socialism.”  And, speaking of “socialism,” didn’t Herr Schickelgruber aka Adolf Hitler call his party “National Socialist,” too?

Is further comment about the “Sri Lankan condition” necessary in these circumstances?

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Latest comments

  • 0

    “While some might consider this a statement of simple bombast and unmitigated nonsense”

    I think this article qualifies for this description . melodramatic nonsense . even in sevela ranils rule this is the very same thing that would have happenned . and this is not the first time in this country or anywhere else in the world this would happen .

    • 0

      You say “I make no apologies for the seemingly melodramatic title of this column because …”

      You do not have to apologies being melodramatic, Emil … What else you write?
      If you really want to change something in the sentence, just drop the word ‘seemingly’ ….

    • 0

      They were shot because they were blocking a public highway for over two hours and when ordered to leave attacked the Army.

  • 0

    There must be at least a few JRJ clan and or relos on Hayleys Share Register.

    Your Keseiwatta mate’s clan are perhaps not that groovy to dabble in the CSX.

    Perhaps Poorten’s mates too.

    Was this Dipped Goods Factory opened after 2005?.

    Do our NGOs go around the country testing well water for PH in our remote coastal areas?.

    Talking about peaceful demos,what were those lanky youth doing weilding long sticks and throwing stones?.

    Were they instructed to add some spice to the “turbulence?.

    • 0

      hey servant boy sumansekera how is life in ur planet man?

  • 0

    Mr van der Poorten, you could be sailing close to the wind with this one. Still, I suppose, you tell it as you see it, and you are one who will never hold back from calling a spade a blooming shovel.
    All what you write makes for depressing reading. The Sri Lankan condition for some time to come will be governed by the cornerstone of this President and his government, which is founded on:
    1 Nip every ‘uprising’ however small in the bud, regardless of whether it is Tamil, Sinhala or Muslim related and especially if it is suspected of having the support of any political faction.
    2 Ensure that the guardian angels of Sri Lanka, now wearing yellow and carrying nightsticks instead of begging bowls, are kept onside. Never forget, the war against terrorism was, first and foremost, won by a Sinhala-Buddhist army to safeguard a Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony that is now destined to rise. (Take a close look at the multicoloured Buddhist flag fluttering in the Nandikadal zephyr).
    3 Keep your friends, especially your political friends, close; keep your enemies closer. Keep the police, the judiciary and the armed forces in your pockets.
    4 Practice the old eastern adage ‘when you hold the spoon, serve yourself well’. And what harm is there of spreading largesse amongst your nearest and dearest too? Helping Hambantota is also a good wheeze; a harbour and an airport, a master stroke, both suitable for a quick getaway, if all else fails.
    Message to the common man; If you are not willing to rise up yet, keep your mouth shut, your head down, your lankat tight and your powder dry. If you cannot do this, leave. Join the growing Diaspora of Sri Lankans toiling away in foreign climes and remitting back the money for those little extras for our young people like night races and international rugby sevens etc.
    But let the poor suffering folk never forget that as surely as the poya moon rises, so will the day come when the downtrodden of this land and his wife will throw off the kurakkan satakaya and free themselves from the grip of the thugs and incompetent fools who are making our lives hell. The common man of Sri Lanka knows more than anyone else that all things are impermanent.
    God bless Sri Lanka.

  • 0

    MR does not directly involve in all these gory incidents. He has his siblings who have their gola balayas to do the dirty work. When the shit hits the fan MR’s media men clean it up and MR’s gola balayas in parliment and the yellow robed mafia spring into action. MR appoints a commission to investigate.

    Finally MR plays the role of the benevolent patriotic father of the born again Sri Lanka and calls all parties to the table and makes his just and dharmishta ruling which is accepted by all. They then proceed to live happily ever after.

  • 0

    The fact that “Bruno Ambato,” “K. A. Sumanasekera” and “Abhaya” ALL chose to respond, in typical fashion, to this piece, says it all, inclusive of the attempt at drive-by smears which don’t quite succeed because they lack a real target!

    • 0

      Dear Emil sir;

      Still The Rajapassa Governance not understood ,
      that the first wealth of the country is that it’s people.
      mainly the young.

      and these moronic, inferiority complexes suffering,
      impotent Rajapassa Siblings are inspired by the Chinese Military Rules, which is not applicable to Sri lanka.

      Those Boru Ammbattayos, K A S Leelawthie, Ahambayas are paid to write some rubbish form their handlers.

      And we should not obstruct for their getting the daily stipend, as they have families to feed.

      But once I wrote to them, It is Fine and respectable for them to BEG in front of Fort Railway Station,
      Than selling their self respect for a bunch of thugs , rapists, killers, Kudu dealers, and pimps .
      it is better, we ignore them.

      They have forgotten that,
      Those who sleep with mad Dogs with scabies and fleas,
      will get up with Scabies and Fleas, Scratching with much pleasures.

      Boru Ammbattayos, K A S Leelawthie, Ahambayas, better you enjoy with Scabies and Fleas.

      May be The Uniform Clads will visit your locality, like earlier times and Ask for a SUDDA WITH A WHITE BEARD.

  • 0


    I heard a white van was seen going in circles around your immediate neighborhood. Abhaya aka Sumanasekera was seen inside the van pointing fingers towards your house. These are dangerous days Emil – you are sailing far too close to the wind.

  • 0

    Dont be an [Edited out] Emil. First all of us – including you – cheered them on to kill the Tamils. Let us face it we actually encouraged the governments – not just one government – but several, to kill Tamils not just Tigers but Tamils. Most of the Tamils killed were not Tigers but ordinary civilians. How many articles did you write about the government killing Tamils? Tamils in your world were koolikarayo right?

    So since we are all so supportive of these killer governments then whats wrong if they kill sinhalese too? I think that this government has tio be encouraged for being even handed in its killing unlike others and it has to kill a lot more sinhalese to maintain a balance. Then it can turn to the others too like the burghers and the Malays. It has already turned on the muslims and christians. So take it easy and relax. Your tun will come and then you can go down in style all dressed up for dinner.

    • 0

      You babble, “So since we are all so supportive of these killer governments…” For starters, I am no part of any “we” that includes you for reasons that would be obvious to any sane, decent human being.

      Tamils in YOUR world (and that of your handlers) were and are just “koolikarayo.” In mine they were always and will continue to be human beings entitled to live in this and any other land in peace and dignity. Hard to take for a reborn racist like you who only recently was on the Halal bandwagon? Tough. Them’s the breaks, buddy!

      You better ask your friends/handlers to tutor you overtime before you try to play with people with adult cranial capacity, because all your rubbish achieves is prove what a cretin you are.

      • 0

        No one is paying me to do investigative reporting or research on where you were these past 50 years or so and what you were doing. Where was all your high blown chatter when the Tamils were being killed? I guess Tamils do not count for much in your beautiful civilized world.

        Who are these ‘sane decent human beings’ you speak of? I have not seen any of them around. The ones who think they are sane and decent are the most insane and indecent when looked at from outside their own self opinions. You are a good case in point. All that highfalutin hogwash and then a gentle poke sends the whole literary edifice down in a mess of growls, snarls, grunts and barks.

        Its nice to be called a racist by you. It means something I said hit home. And yes ‘Coolies’ was what your bunch called them folks who spoke Tamil and who worked on your estates and whose daughters worked in your homes and with whom your teenage boy brats played you know what and all that.

        I know you are proud of your brains and your civilization which fortunately I owe nothing to.

        The bit about cretinism does make me laugh: a person afflicted with cretinism: a mentally retarded dwarf with wide-set eyes, a broad flat nose, and protruding tongue. Sure if ever there was one. We can add a lousy temper and a foul vocabulary maybe???

        As for the Halal bandwagon do you have any clue as to the issues? Muslims are welcome to have their halal food and Jews their kosher moshers. But do not expect anyone else to pay for their kosher and halal licenses. And as for the minority issue I do not know any state where the majority allowed the minority to call the shots. Do you?

        • 0

          While engaging in any kind of discussion with the likes of people whose minds and thinking dwell in the gutter might seem unproductive, it serves at least one purpose: it exposes the thought processes of self-styled rationalists who pride themselves on their connections to the Hudson Samarasinghes, Carlo Fonsekas and Victor Ivans of this world.
          I suppose it was a foregone conclusion that your particular brand of “rationalism” didn’t permit of responding to simple questions except with a tissue of obfuscations, lies and abuse.
          It seems like your admission, not so long ago, that you were in the early stages of Alzheimer’s was an understatement. You are well into that particular malady, having reached the point of insensate hate and rage.

          • 0

            Yes, it certainly does as we have all seen. Alzheimers is a comfortable path to walk in the evening. It has no recourse to rage insensate or otherwise. That was a sharp character of your ancestors whose black boots blasting many a coolies backside drove them to the gutter. And the ‘tea bushes’ they planted still rise in many an orphaned rose with tingling Tamil name.

            Kovoor as you know chose to bite the bitter pill he fed his wife. Carlo is back in church like the choirboy he always was. I will not comment on Victor and Hudson. I never saw the point of reason and never will, this tool of treason and liar-birds song to which you perhaps pay homage.

            It seems you have been dumped in the rubbish by the fools who govern, betraying some trace of wisdom in their churlish minds. Enjoy your litte rages and may your winds polish your shiny ego as they break. Little wispy shadow of men who thought they once were great.

  • 0

    I liked Emil Vanderpoorten’s parody on Niemoller best.

    Also we must do something about the garbage dump which Emil has been complaining of, and about which all his schoolmates, and sons of school mates who are in parliament have not bothered to act on. I think we must get the help of people with power and influence, those who have the ear of Mahinda Rajapaksa. I am thinking of K.A.Sumanasekera (who writes like Mahindapala) and Jim Softly (who writes like Malinda) to do the honours. My thinking is that being very familiar with garbage, their disposal will be an expertise they possess. My only fear is whether they are better at spreading garbage than disposing of them. I say throw some garbage at them, they will be delighted.

    • 0

      What is Mr Poorten doing next to a garbage dump?.

      After the LTTE decamped, the wild boar supply from Wilpattu must have dried out too.

      Shouldn’t Mr Poorten be living in an Apt above the 4th in Crescat and enjoying the Night lights at least,in our new Harbor city?.

      • 0

        K.A Sumana sekera:
        1)For a guy with literary pretensions, you are a pretty sad excuse for a wit.
        2)Crescat and harbour cities are for those, like your handlers, who are pillaging this country.
        3) Being on the same page as you is the journalistic equivalent of being adjacent to a garbage dump, buddy, in case you haven’t noticed.
        4) And with regard to disposing of swine, maybe someone should pick you up (in a white abattoir truck) though I hardly think anyone or anything would consume the likes of you!

  • 0

    All that I read is personal attacks,bad language and off the point.
    Too bad that its hard to follow the thread.Kindly get back to the thread if you can’t get the hell out.!!

    You people go at each others throats.In the end its all shitty adn foul.Let us hear constructive arguments.

    Was it – Then we asked for drinking water and we were shot?
    Big mistake to ASK the government.You realised it too late.
    The Tamils asked by peacefull protests,satiyaygraha,fast unto death,etc.
    When they didn’t listen and fired,shot,raped and stole things.
    They met them with the same medication.Met them for sure without food,water and above all without a lavish pay check plus plush cars.

    They and others called it sacrifice for nationhood.sacrifice for FREEDOM.
    Now the south cries for freedom for the anarchist government- words from Singhala bros.

    No difference brothers.
    They wanted a life to live with Peace and Dignity.

    Did you see the pic- the march to Mannar to settle the singhala IDP’s
    Good Lord – I never heard of Singhalese Budhists being Internally displaced from the south in their loving and Blessed Sri Lanka.

    What happened here.

    They were transported in the Kalla- armored cars carrying bo saplings
    priests and Kavun.

    Blessed Be Sri Lanka.

    Muslims hounded out of Mannar get into boats and join the Al Queda.You can always return to Mother Lanka.at this time you can call yourselves Internaly Displaced People.IDP.
    Chase the land grabbers .

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