28 November, 2020

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“What Independence For Whom?”

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

I expect that today, February 4th, when I write this, is as good a time as any to hark back to the year, 1948, when this first became a day of significance in the Sri Lankan calendar.

As a tyke as I subsequently identified as being in the development phase of a contrarian, strongly influenced by my two almost-adult Trotskyist siblings much older than myself, I tended to take the popular leftist slogans of the time as being close to some kind of political gospel proclamation.

As I recall, while there were not as many lion flags in evidence as there seem to be in a time of “Sinha-Le”, there were more of these symbols of newly-emerging national pride than were usually displayed up to then.

Perhaps, the lack of foofaraw on the first independence days was because, unlike our neighbours in the giant subcontinent to our north we had not really had to struggle for our new-found political independence or what passed for that status. Ours had been a relatively sedate series of steps behind what became India and Pakistan, with the occasional hiccup such as the first communal riots in the early years of the 20th century. Mind you, it is not by accident that I do not give the Anagarika Dharmapala’s agitation a place in any such “struggle” for political independence because it has proved, if proof be needed, that it simply laid the foundation for something more insidious by far: “Sinhala Buddhist” chauvinism and the attendant bigotry and violence.

Independence DayNo, the “struggle” for political independence was driven more by the need of the local English-educated bourgeoisie to attain what they thought was their rightful place in the scheme of local things, piggy-backing on the struggles of those fighting the British raj in the earlier-mentioned sub-continent, many of whom paid with their lives for having the temerity to stand up to the Empire on which “the sun never set.”

The title of this column dates back to a booklet authored by, I believe, that pioneer firebrand Trotskyist, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, in which, if memory serves me right, he proceeded to dissect the brainchild of Ivor Jennings in the matter of constitution-making, claiming that it was little but window-dressing for the continuing imperial control that Clement Attlee’s Labour Governnment in Whitehall chose to practice in the outer reaches of the British empire. That control was epitomized by the fact that something like 90%+ of our foreign exchange earnings came out of the tea auctions conducted entirely in Mincing Lane in, (surprise! surprise!) London, England. A little story attached to that fact is that, when that most brash of Sri Lankan Prime Ministers, Sir John Lionel Kotelawala, was on one of his jaunts to the country in which he ultimately spent his retirement years, he expressed loud surprise at how very little Ceylon was being paid for a pound of tea and how much the British consumer was being charged for a cup of that brew that contained, at best, a teaspoon of that very product! The next day there was a significant expression of the displeasure of the British business community at such temerity on the part of a “colonial:” the price of Ceylon tea at the auctions in Mincing Lane took a precipitous dive without precedent! Lesson delivered, lesson learnt it seemed when, after some backroom “clarifications” things returned to normal and brash Prime Ministers ceased to make brash statements about the conduct of their Imperial “superiors!”

Anyway, the question that Colvin R. de Silva asked almost 70 years ago is still “the elephant in the room.”

We have had a series of governments ranging from that led by the relatively-staid D. S. Senanayake through his thoroughly decent son who was given to trying to play a straight bat on a rugby field, through the intellectually clever but principally-challenged S. W.R.D. Bandaranaike who, briar clenched between teeth and pedigreed Greyhounds trailing him in the control of some dog-minder, pushed open the door to what has become the “Sinha-Le” culture of early 21st Century Sri Lanka. He was swiftly followed by a woman who displayed what used to be termed “peasant cunning” though her blood-lines didn’t justify the appellation, trying to put in place a weird and wonderful combination of mediaeval governance and socialist dogma.

And then came Yankee Dick, the ultimate in U.S. Imperialist proxies. J.R. Jayewardene I found revolting even in the days when he was in the uppermost reaches of the United National Party and people like me were putting their existences in jeopardy by supporting that political entity. He created a client state of the worst of reactionary U.S. policy. Mind you, the bumbling “intellectuals” of the left – the Colvin R. De Silvas, the N. M.Pereras, the S. A. Wickramasinghes and Pieter Keunemans of the Sri Lanka of the 70s – created the total economic and political mess that was tailor-made for J. R. J to gallop into on his (slightly-soiled) white steed of capitalism proclaiming “economic freedom” and, literally, entreating the robber barons of international and local capitalism to take control. An invitation that they did not refuse, helped by their local proxies!

The return of the Bandaranaikes, followed by the monstrosity of the Rajapaksa Regime, has left what vestiges of national self-respect we still had at the inception of our emergence from British rule truly in tatters.

Colvin’s rhetorical question,” What independence for whom?” is still hanging in the air, unanswered except for, probably, the most jaundiced of responses: “The freedom of the wild ass,” where the most violent, whether in saffron-robes or out of them, have taken centre stage without seeming let or hindrance from a government that, if nothing else, professed a political piety without previous parallel.

But and let me end with a “but” with positive overtones, “Yahapalanaya” can still achieve even a small bit of what it promised in the matter of national decency, a return of good governance and justice in the courts of law, not merely legal machinations by those flitting in and out of governments and cabinets seemingly at opposite ends of the spectrum of political principle. For even that dim promise to continue, the Maithripala/Ranil (MR2) regime has to get its political posterior in gear and start an internal cleansing process. The time is now and I do believe there are enough (even luke-warm) believers in the eternal verities in this hodge-podge of a ruling coalition to bring such a state of affairs to pass.

For our part, “the great unwashed” of this country – you and I – need to keep the pressure on what seem like invertebrates with a foot in every political camp to return this nation to the place it seemed destined for so many years ago. We can then provide the long-deceased Trotskyist with even a partially positive answer to the rhetorical question he put to this country almost three score and ten years ago!

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Latest comments

  • 4
    3

    Sinhale Independence is a political event. Even Though Maithripala Sirisena is good, his leash is in the hand of CBK who could not pass an exam in Sri lanka. On the other hand, Ranil Wickramsinghe was patriotic enough to say YES to Portuguese when they asked Sri Lanka to celebrate Portuguese invasion of Sinhale. Ranil Wickramnsinghe’s European suit shows what leadership he gives to Sri lanka as a leasing politician. Other are wearing at least indian suit in order to mislead sri lanka.

    Anyway, Sinhale did not earn the independence. Sinhala independence movement died by 1815. Tamils are partly responsible for that. By 1900s Britian was almost bankrupt, and India was too much for them to handle. So, when they were leaving British India, they did not want Sinhale as there was not much to suck from Sinhale. Anyway, after the Suez canal – conflict Britain went bankrupt.

    If Sri lanka celebrate Keppitipola birthday as the independent movement, that would be a true independence celebration. But, I don’t think Tamils and Christians would like that.

    As Sri lankan politicians are headless chicken looking always for food, they would never go that far too.

    • 0
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      “If Sri lanka celebrate Keppitipola birthday as the independent movement, that would be a true independence celebration. But, I don’t think Tamils and Christians would like that. “

      You should celebrate Ehelepola’s or Pilimathalawa’s birthdays. Even to remember the port city you can celebrate You can celebrate the birthday of Old King and Brother Prince’s birthdays too.

      Tamils like to celebrate Rajasingan, Sangilian, Kayilai Vanniyan SJV, Leader Pirapakaran…

  • 4
    6

    Mind you, it is not by accident that I do not give the Anagarika Dharmapala’s agitation a place in any such “struggle” for political independence because it has proved, if proof be needed, that it simply laid the foundation for something more insidious by far: “Sinhala Buddhist” chauvinism and the attendant bigotry and violence..

    Every Sunday I look forward to a piece by Poorten describing how Sinhala Buddhists are incredibly bad.

    If I keyed in the year 1948 to the DeLorean of “Back to the future” fame and ended up in 1948 what would the world look like? How would the minorities world wide being treated?

    – The Jew minority in Europe hunted into extinction
    – Apartheid and segregation in USA southern states and South Africa
    – Native people denied franchise in Australia
    – Tamils treating their own low castes like slaves
    – Muslim countries treating their women like slaves

    In Ceylon the minorities had suffered none of this by the Sinhala Buddhists. In fact the Tamils were a first class minority.

    I admit all was not right. The Tamil leaders were not happy. They were not happy being considered a minority.

    Not just the “Saffron Robes”, reps from the British Empire rejected Tamil claim.

    When Mahatma Ghandi prepared for the salt protest in Ahmedabad he knew very well the Indians will be beaten up by the British Raj. He planned to capitalise on fallout.

    So did the “Tamil Ghandi” when he went around disfiguring Sinhala script boards in 1958.

    The pre-meditation for violence therefore is in the hands of each Ghandi.

    The difference between the Mahatma and Tamil Ghandi Chelva is that Mahatma struggled for all Indians against a foreign oppressor.

    The Tamil Ghandi on the other hand tries to make Sinhala people a minority in their own country with a phony Tamil homeland historical claim. Far worse Chelva appeared to run amok soon after caste system was abolished with a special act by the govt.

    So every time a Tamil suffered violence there was a “Tamil Ghandi” lurking in the background knowing full well Tamils will suffer.

    As time passed the Tamil Ghandi idea was also adopted by Prabakrkan. The reason he bombed Kandy temple was so that Tamils get beaten up. Observe SJV/Velu did the same thing.

  • 1
    2

    Mr Poorten.

    I thought this was just Pass on the Baton ceremony.

    BTW were there any Sinhala Buddhists sitting on Dais with the Royal Poms.

  • 7
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    Sixty eight bloody years, and what do we have to show for it? A bloody fools paradise, where neither man nor beast is safe.

    Live in hope, die in despair. The story of my life.

  • 4
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    “What Independence For Whom?” For the dumb SINHALEI who are free! Isn’t that what “free-dumb” means. Also what I mean by ‘free’ is what we mean in Sinhala as being “Helluven” (Naked).

  • 5
    3

    “our neighbours in the giant subcontinent to our north…”

    Dear writer,

    If you look at a world map carefully, you will find that the giant landmass to our north is in fact the Indian “continent”, with Europe jutting out from it like a little malformed male reproductive organ.

    It was the British and other European colonisers of India who reversed this true picture by making Europe the continent and India the “sub” continent. This was part of their revision of world history and geography to rob us.

    At least at your age of incurable “incontinence”, you should stop spreading these myths as your way of legitimising colonisers and their crimes.

    Boo to you.

    • 3
      6

      “What Independence for Whom?”

      May I ask what a frucking question that is?

      Do you mean to say the dirty Portuguese, Dutch and British Jewour chasing them out of our territory of 3000 years.

      What are you? A smelly remnant of those invaders?
      Get real you colonial agent.

      • 0
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        [Edited out]

    • 3
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      Ptolemy:
      To begin with what a monumental misnomer of a pseudonym in the matter of wisdom!
      May I suggest that you take another look at a map of the world. You MIGHT find that thee is a great deal of real estate between what is now India/Pakistan and Europe. Or does your map of the world hark back to pre-Ptolemaic times?
      As for “incontinence,” you have obviously NOT learned that verbal diarrhea does not qualify as some kind of “wisdom,” pre- or post-Ptolemaic.

  • 0
    5

    Does not Mr.Vadepooten echo the same sentiments of the bourgeoisie who he refers to as those who ‘struggled’ to achieve what they thought as their rightful place? Is it not a fact that the remnants of that category of people continue to connive with the foreign elements to interfere with our independence and sovereignty?

  • 4
    0

    Emil.

    Colvins rhetorical extravagance….

    What Independence for whom?
    Or
    Why Independence for what?
    was answered very eloquently in the subsequent years commencing 1956.
    It was Tailor-made,slim fit for the Saffron-robes!

    Cheers!

  • 1
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 7
    0

    Our Independence was independence for the thug politico to freely steal, especially after 1956. Since then hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans – Burgers, Sinhalese, Tamils, and even Muslims- have fled to white man ruled countries (bye-bye ”independence” from the White Man’s Rule). We have fled legally or illegally (as refugees or asylum seekers) to England, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA, and Western Europe, the illegals risking their lives and drowning at sea to get the hell out of “Independence” and crawl back to the White Man. We don’t emigrate to other brown or black ruled countries (example: India, Bangladesh, Uganda, or Burundi) but to pure White Man ruled countries. We are willing to die for that privilege. So much for theory and so much for reality. Anyone who is living in White Man ruled countries and denies they want to live in White Man ruled countries is either being totally hypocritical or is in a state of pathological denial.

    • 0
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      @Kevin

      I really HAVE to ask because your vehemence is such.

      What about those who fled to “White Man Ruled Countries” and subsequently returned, either to Rule or Be Ruled ?

      What’s your take on that ?

      • 0
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        Malukiris

      • 3
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        The majority of the ‘ruled’ come back after retirement, leaving their off spring to carry on in White Man Lands. The retirees come to live relatively cheaply on their pensions earned in White-Man-lands. For those who come back ‘to rule’ (and steal) there is no place like the motherland. As for the young, just drive around Colombo and look up. It is pathetic to see all the bill boards (in Colombo and even in rural areas) advertising foreign education courses where the blurb about getting that visa to a White Man’s country is shown in bigger letters than the education course itself. Obviously there is a huge demand and a huge market in that visa business. The educational aspect is only a front to get that visa. Other than Syrians and sub-Saharan Africans there are very few nations in the world where large numbers of the citizenry are willing to risk dying by horrid drowning at sea to go as boat people/illegal immigrants to a White Man Ruled country. Sri Lanka is one such country, and Australia is the goal, or New Zealand. We don’t stop en route to settle down or seek asylum in any brown skin ruled country along the way. No, we sail past those countries and head straight for Australia, that very definitely White Man Ruled country where the poor aborigines have no say. And for sure, Sri Lankans would not want to go to that land if it were ruled by aborigines instead of White Men. Unpleasant to talk of? Sure. Truthful? Sure again.

    • 0
      0

      If they did not flee, they would have joined the thousands and thousands who were bombed, raped, disappeared, abducted, burnt alive. The perpetrators are roaming as if they are saints!!There are some exceptions. They have been leaving the country to better their lives and some of them have come back when their kith and kin climbed the throne!!

  • 8
    2

    Sumaney and the rest of the “2500 Years of Buddhist Supremacist Civilization:
    Are you all the same idiot writing under different pseudonyms or does Sri Lanka have such a surplus of village idiots?

    • 9
      0

      Sri Lanka does have an oversupply of village idiots. And they come in all shapes and sizes. But they have a common trait that defines them – uncontrollable envy and an acute inferiority complex.

      These are the spawn of the SWRD’s “Sinhala Only” social revolution. Bandaranaike’s 1956 reforms provided ready access to higher education to many who previously didn’t have such privilege, and rightly so. They became doctors, engineers, and other professionals. But, in their eyes, there was still something missing. They failed to become “elitist”. They didn’t feel they had the “class”, a kind of westernised superiority they so crave. In short, with all the education, and perhaps wealth too, they failed to find that elusive status, which, ironically, they condemned as “thuppahi”.

      This is the new Sinhala-Buddhist middleclass, still struggling to rid themselves of their inherent lower middleclass mentality and prejudices.

      It is this frustration that fuels Sinhala supremacy, and the bigotry that comes along with it.

      Yes, there are many village idiots among them.

      • 0
        1

        @Ken Dharmapala

        What about the Christians ? Do they also form part of the Village Idiots Club ?

        Are they also struggling to rid themselves of their “lower-class, fisherfolk mentalities” ?

        Or did they automatically assume elitist position upon being converted by the Colonial Masters ?

    • 3
      0

      Emil, hahaha. Bloody good one mate. Sumasekeram is a jackass and a racist screw up. His parents threw him in a drain but the bugger survived. Tamil people picked him up but beat the crap out of him as he was so stupid. So he has this penchant hatred for Tamil people.

      • 0
        0

        Thamiza From Scarborough,

        That is why I live in my Condo next to Vellalas in Wellala Gardens and drink at the OZO and have Singapore Chilli Crabs for Dinner.

        Just like your mate Singapore Mahendran ,

        While you are waiting for the Dole, eating Idli and Sambar from those cheap Jaffna Joints behind the Shopping Centre.

    • 1
      0

      Emil

      You are wrong. Sri Lanka does not have a surplus of village idiots. They are all idiots,village or elsewhere.

  • 1
    0

    Malumiris

    Only MaRa’s siblings Gota and Basil are best qualified give a good reply to your question.

    • 0
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      @Uthungan

      I don’t think you are correct .

      The two Rajapakse siblings are not the only people to have left and returned.

  • 3
    0

    Independence given to some idiotic bigots,on a platter to gradually destroy the wonderful country….. just like giving a flower garland to monkeys…!

    Sir John Kotelawala warned SWRD idiot to keep those saffron robed rogues away from him and politics…he did not listen but used them for political gimmicks and got killed by them.

    Every Tom , Dick and all political patriots are doing the same, just to come to power, divide and rule. Who cares about economy or the well being of citizen ?

    All these ‘patriots are selfish rascals and the curse of the nation !
    We have no one to lead our country. All the able people are hiding and the thugs and criminal rascals are ruining the country with fake patriotic mask and unholy Buddhist face. These guys are making people kill each other, fight and do nothing useful for themselves or the country.

    What Independence anyone got from anybody ? !

  • 1
    0

    Very interesting “take” on all the politikkas who have contributed to the decline of our Country, from someone who has actually seen it all !

    Thanks for taking the time and effort and more strength to your pen.

  • 2
    0

    Brilliant observations Mr.Emil van der Poorten. This surplus of village idiots goes back to many years to the late 1950’s. I was a youngster then but I remember these fools’ stupid pride making my aunt go blind. There was a team of Swiss eye surgeons visiting Ceylon at that time and removing cataracts for the needy for free. Our idiots saw the potential loss of revenue and chased them away. My aunt’s eyes were only halfway through and I believe they refused to treat her as a punishment for going to a foreigner.

  • 0
    0

    Emil. you are right.Independance for whom – not for me.Over the past 40 or so years, my observation had been that only the politicians and the Buddhist priests enjoy freedom.- in addition to all insults heaped on the people as freedom, they also enjoy tax free finances, tax free housing, tax free food,have the right to insult the people, have the right to instigate sectionalism and racialism, enjoy free sex and many more.

    Over the past 40 years I am proud to say that I have not unfurled the so called national flag. I am happy that I can defy these jokers in my small way!!!

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