27 October, 2020

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Why Does It Feel So Different?

By R.A.Ratwatte –

R.A.Ratwatte

For 7 seemingly unending years I struggled for survival under the Rajapaksa regime. Feeding my family with nourishing and uncontaminated food was a real problem. Paying the Electricity and water bills was well neigh impossible. The banks squeezed harder and harder and pawning jewellery became a real option.

All the time I had friends abroad who were praising this Government. They are people I respect for their intellect and they are no catchers’ of this regime. They kept saying that the roads were now fantastic, there were new Airports and Ports, the city of Colombo has never looked cleaner. When they arrived from abroad they would marvel at the number of brand new and expensive vehicles on the roads. They simply couldn’t understand what I was whinging about!

Now that I have lived and worked abroad for a while I UNDERSTAND how they feel. When your family is eating real meat and not processed sausages, when it doesn’t matter if you keep the air conditioner on or the computer is used to watch a movie or two. When you can afford to run your vehicle without feeling bad about excessive mileage. When you don’t have to watch Government catchers with absolutely no qualifications doing top jobs and decimating the organizations they work for. Basically driving state assets into the ground. The corruption, the robbery, mortgaging future generations with crippling loans that have to paid back forever!

When those things are out of the equation, you understand what these expatriates are talking about. They look at the external view. They may even be thinking of what this will be (from an external viewpoint) a few years down the track, when they are ready to retire with their hard currency pensions. Their children would have grown up strong and healthy and could choose if they wish to come back or live abroad. They would also have been educated under a properly structured system not the parody of an education system that exists in Sri Lanka.

As is natural of the human condition, those people are looking at things from their own perspectives. The extremely docile (for want of stronger words) behaviour of the general populace, be it due to the education system churning out people unable to think and act for themselves or the bogus standards of society that don’t allow people to confess their hardships and put on a “show” for the neighbours, may actually allow this regime to eliminate all dissention.

Look at the current situation in Syria. The allegations are that a ruler is allowed to gas his own people and the World body looks on. Do you seriously think that a few white van disappearances or allegations of huge numbers of civilian deaths at the conclusion of the war is going to bring forth any action?

The expatriate dream of an expensive paradise to retire to which they can call their OWN may actually be realised. After decades of living as second class citizens in “first world” Countries they can return! It will be horrendously expensive but it won’t matter to them, they have HARD currency. The middle class in Sri Lanka will be eliminated and the poor will be extremely poor living in the hinterland.

Rajapaksaland will be paradise on earth for the catchers who have ripped off billions of the Countries wealth that should go to the people, expatriates who will return not having undergone the mind numbing frustration of surviving the last decade or so and of course the ruling class.

It is up to YOU, the people of this Country to  “help your selves” and DO something about this situation. Hoping for Navi Pillays’, Pakyasothy Saravanamuttus’ or Jehan Pereras’ or indeed the Friday Forum to achieve anything concrete and make a difference is a vain hope to say the least!

Do something about this by a civil disobedience campaign, lose a few more innocent lives (for this lot shoot unarmed protestors’ remember) or give up remain silent and jump on the refugee boats if you can’t secure employment abroad!

The future is startlingly clear when you step outside the debacle of Asia. Do something now or perish, members of the middle class in Sri Lanka. Watch your beloved mother land being dragged whimpering, not even kicking and screaming, into becoming a colony of China, with a self appointed ruling family and a dictatorship that makes one a traitor if one does not condone it.

OR remember those who are old enough, Libya, Iraq, Egypt and even Afghanistan to a lesser extent? They too were peaceful, multi religious, democratic societies until the Dictators stepped in and did irreparable damage……and rest as they say is history!

You say I am being fanciful, you say I exaggerate. Think of the BBS in charge in Sri Lanka, think of the North being run as a separate state and the East under Muslim dominance……think of abject poverty, no water service no electricity ..think of Bhagdad today…THINK…please think O people of Sri Lanka !

Neither of these scenarios is what we want for the land that our ancestors nurtured for so many generations. It is our watch that is finally going to oversee the total annihilation of a 2000 year old civilization.

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Latest comments

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    While Tamils in the North East were subject to immense suffering of all sorts during the 30 year war “years” – notably insufficient food supplies, lack of power, lack of social services – there was little protest from the Sinhala South on behalf of the Tamils – save the rare social activists and some NGOs who raised their ineffective voices. Men like PM Jayaratne laughingly dismissed the tearful pleas of women whose husbands were kidnapped and missing taunting “they have gone abroad and are having a time with their mistresses.” There was one senior civil servant – who also went to latger hold a diplomatic position; from a minority country who; went to publica with the call for the deliberate creation of shortage of food supplies to the Tamils as a means to punish them to stop the war. The audacious man still writes on public matters counselling what should be done in respect of the various issues in society.

    It was so with serious HR abuses – including killings, kidnappings, the destruction of homes and so on in the Tamil areas. There were a few social scientists who predicted unless the situation was changed the Sinhala South is the next to suffer. And so it is. Mr Ratwatte complains of the shortage of food, fuel, electricity and the like in the South now. Our sympathies are with him and other decent citizens who were once part of the middle and upper middle class elite. Today it is “development and progress” for those high up in the State and their running dogs. It is not an exaggeration to say in many parts of the South serious robberies, killings, murder are daily occurences that are also related to the collapse of the economy and loss of opportunities that were earlier available. Today except for Vegetables,
    whose prices are in excess of 30-50% of prices obtaining five years ago everything needed to the kitchen daily has gone over 100-200% For instance Mutton that was around Rs.500 then is over Rs.1500/kg now.
    Chicken that was around Rs.250 then is around Rs.600/kg now. Salaries remain virtually the same. While the ordinary people – like in Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities suffer in hunger and silence the ruling elite provide entertainment to their dear children closing main thoroughfares for sports car thrills. It is almost like answering the poor who complain of unbearable transport costs “if you cannot afford to go by bus/trains why don’t you switch on to Lambroghinis. Ha! Ha!”

    Do not those different governments that form the Commonwealth have sources of information within their system to educate them that the people of this country can scarcely afford the Thamasha they are scheduled to “enjoy” this November. It is the best of times for the Rajapakses and their many cronies and relative. It is the worst of times for everyone else – Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burgher and others.

    Varathan

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      The commonwealth is comng here not to praise Sri Lanka but to bury.
      Unfortunately they have committed and its too late to pull out this is the last waltz with Sri Lanka.

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        RajahsH – David Cameron, confirming his proposed visit, used words
        similar to yours. Let’s see if Cameron stays by his words and take
        the Rajapakses on – where necessary, as he pledged. Visiting UNCHR
        boldly did her part. Looking at MRs scared face these days one gets the impression he knows what the coming colours are. So far, what the Govt here failed to do in the interest of the people, the UN and the international community did. Will we have more of this as the months drag by. It is time the Sri Lankans are protected from this bunch of fascist thieves.

        Backlash

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    Mr Ratwatte,

    The Sinhala masses have lost their ability to see what is happening around them and realise how heavily the country has been mortgaged to the Chinese. The Rajapaksa brothers have seen to that. Brutality, fear of death, white van rides, open threats and disappearances have become the tools by which the Rajapaksa brothers are hoping to stay in power. The only choice for the people is to facilitate a violent overthrow of the dictator and the elimination of his family. A dedicated small group of people is all what is needed. It is too late for civil disobedience and other non violent acts.

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      Piranha:
      I share your frustration and anger. However, Is the violent overthrow of any government, even one as corrupt and violent as Sri Lanka is afflicted with now, a choice? In any event, is it realistic to talk about overthrowing a government that has at its command one of the largest armed forces IN THE WORLD? I’m afraid that there is little choice but to devise means of protest that moves towards (relatively?) peaceful regime change. The seeds of their own destruction are being sown by this violent lot and the indifference of such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government in putting its single most disgraceful member – Sri Lanka – as its head for 2 years speaks for that organization and what it stands for. At least, that is one illusion less for us to deal with!
      In the meantime, we need the eloquence of the R. A. Ratwatte’s and the voices of every one who believes that the restoration of democracy is a NECESSITY FOR SURVIVAL IN THIS COUNTRY to be heard.
      To begin with we must, at least, speak out in every available forum – particularly the print media in all three languages – against what is happening in this country.
      AT THE VERY LEAST, MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD, SRI LANKANS!

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      @ Piranha
      You hit the nail on the head. Most people including educated people think that this family dictatorship can be defeated through an election. Well those people are just dreaming. The only way is through a revolution by the people.

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      Piranha, Percy Jilmart…..Listen to Emil. Listen to the voice of reason. Violent overthrow will only play into the hands of the present regime and lead to an almighty bloodbath that will put us back another 50 years. We need more people like Charitha and his ilk to stand up and make their voices heard; in Sinhala, Tamil and English. The present regime will sooner rather later implode and the people will look for an alternative. The present parliamentary opposition is woefully disorganised and is still carrying too many hangers on. They need to smarten up their act to present the electorate with a credible option. More of the younger generation must step forward. The electorate needs to be educated on the growing predicament and it cannot be done on the internet and in English only. We need to mobilise the 4million who do not vote (the turnout at the last Presidential election was only 70%.)

      Charitha writes about the food scarcity and the relentless rise in the cost of living. I can vouch, first hand, for the incompetence of those in government in food, agriculture, transport. Growing and harvesting practices are antediluvian, and post harvest storage and distribution are positively medieval. Unacceptable levels of harvest are lost and contribute to the increasing cost of food and the demotivation of those producing that food. It is a little known fact that suicide rates among farmers are some of the highest. Since 2009, the rapid rise in tourism has created a large increase in demand for food to feed the voracious appetites of the tourist; look in on any hotel and note the groaning buffet tables and the sumptuous repasts that are prepared. There is similarly a growing demand from the export markets we supply, ie the Maldives and the Middle East. These contribute to much of the increase in food costs. The sight of people buying A tomato, A potato, A carrot is quite depressing (and reminisecnt of those long dawn bread queues during Mathini’s seventies). SLanka needs to wake up to global prices……and salaries to match. The decrease in value of the rupee has contributed 20% (imported luxury ehicles do not come cheap.) Don’t ask Cabraal, he’s clueless!

      I could go on, but enough for now.

      Just to ask: how long must decent, erudite, competent, hard-working folk go on allowing themselves to be ruled by shysters and crooks and their hangers-on? When will we all have the balls to stand up together and be counted? To raise a crescendo of ‘enough is enough’. To stop accepting that our families have to live hand to mouth existences while the present regime swan about in 4×4’s and educate their chilren outside the unfit-for-purpose education system, treat themselves outside the unfit-for-purpose health system etc the broken sytems that have to suffice for the common man of this blessed isle.

      We need everyman and woman to put their shoulder to the wheel.

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    The aspiration of all citizens of the country is to look for a better tomorrow for one’s self and the country. I know of some who supported MR Chimthanaya and a few who yet support or keep quiet, living in darkness. Their houses have one or two lights burning inside and the house appears in total darkness from outside. Why? Today everyone feels the pinch of increased utility bills, other than those who live on easy govt funds, rendering most of the electrical gadgetry invested with hard earned money to make life easy, to become mere show pieces. Majority wage earners have been forced to cut corners to survive and there is nothing more left of corners to cut. The Development the MR govt boasts off reflect very poorly vis a vis the hardships the majority endure in silence. It is so much so that even the Hoax of a War Victory foisted on MR by America and India, betraying VP and the LTTE has waned it’s appeal to the masses, other than silencing the LTTE bombs, for some to comment that life was easy with the War on, than the life at present after the War. The Sinhalese have tasted the bitter truth of Jack Boot Democracy of the MR regime, at Weliweriya, where as the Majority Sinhalese enjoyed and jubiliated when the Tamils in the country were at the receiving end before. Today when the majority are silent and remorse, the MR Chintanites interpret the masses are tacitly supporting the MR regime. O Tempora! O Mores!

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    ‘When the going gets tough the the tough get going.’ This can be interpreted in different ways.

    1. In context, “the going” means “the situation,” “gets tough” means “becomes difficult,” “the tough” means “people who are strong or enduring,” and “get going” means “become fully engaged.” Taken together, the meaning of the phrase is “When the situation becomes difficult, the strong will work harder to meet the challenge.” – No takers in Sri Lanka. Quite impossible unless you are a Rajapakse or Rajapakse Sychophant who plunder the peoples money.

    2. Another interpretation could mean, “Those who act tough and proud will vacate a situation when it becomes difficult lest they be proven not as tough as they appear to be.” – Flood of people migrating abroad and on boats.

    3. Yet another interpretation could mean, “When the situation becomes almost impossible, those who are truly strong are wise enough to pull out, rather than being totally decimated.” – Majority of the population decide to suffer in silence. Dawn of the Bathala Maniokka era. Strong become debilated and impoverished.

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    R.A.Ratwatte,

    I find those who make such requests like you have but yet do not have the guts to live in Sri lanka and help make that change are nothing but a bunch of cowards. That’s right -cowards.

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      To call someone a coward under the cover of internet anonymity….what does that make you ?

      Wait, I know, an ideal candidate for a Government job and a fat salary, maybe you already have one ?

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    So ! after some seven years after suffering at the hands of the Rajapaksha regime, ‘ one flew over the Cuckoo’s nest ‘ !
    I expected at least a moral fight by a ‘Ratwatte ‘ instead of those domiciled abroad and taking freedom of speech for granted. wish you well.

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    While I share the pain of common sinhalese suffering, I ask a question. Ask your conscience,did you atleast sympathise with them when Tamils in north were suffering similar issues? Is n’t your unsympathetic attitude attitude made even an elected person like JRJ to tell that “If we deprive the livelihood of Tamils, then they will be eliminated” . You reap what you sow.

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      You have got on your THAMIL high horse again. Just read “The Jaffna Cantonement” published on this site before you accuse people !

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    The Ratwatte’s had more than there fair share of nepotism and privilege. It feels different cuz ya’ll have been downgraded. Now you know what it is like to fly coach.

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      Crawl back to you BED under the ROCK Barney !

      Read the article for the substance it contains (if any) and leave your prejudices and “chips on the shoulder” out of it.

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        ok

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    Creep back to you BED under the ROCK , Barney !

    Read the article for it’s substance (if any) and leave your inferiority complex and other assorted “chips on your shoulders” out of it.

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    Mr Ratwatta,

    Your impassioned plea has stirred some hearts judging by the replies above. However you will not bring any passion out of me.

    Talk of exaggeration – people are now talking corruption money in the billions of dollars. The fact is there is corruption. There was corruption even when your folks were running the show. Even former prime ministers of advanced and rich countries such as Japan (TANAKA) and Germany (WILLY BRANDT) all took money. Corruption is a fact of life all over the world. When the humans are extinct, that will be the day corruption on earth will cease.

    But there is a difference now in Sri Lanka compared to corruption during the era of your forebears. At least the infrastructure construction is going on at break neck speed. No one can deny this.

    Secondly you expect miracles to happen. Just take a moment and think – we have just emerged from 4 decades of sectarian violence that sent our economy to the bottom of the pit. There are a whole heap of things that needs resolving. Economies of a country do not pick up where it was left off 40 years before. The plantation sector needs to re-establish itself. A lot of plantations have gone to weed. The manufacturing sector has to build the necessary network of supplies and sales. Give some time and change will occur. On top of that we need to bring about reconciliation among the divided people. Not an easy task. Yes there is thuggery and intimidation at the highest levels and the police seems ineffective. But these are remnants of systems that thrived during the lawless days of war. Such individuals are still hanging on to their power bases but in time even they will start unravelling.

    Mr Ratwatta please don’t advocate taking up any kind of militant activity to topple the government. At the moment there is no viable alternative to replace the present government and secondly people have had enough of bloodshed. Thank you.

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      You obviously can’t read or understand English….being a BBS representative what else can we expect ?

      Please don’t try to analyze something you don’t understand….just stick to invective and abuse which you can do with impunity seeing that you don’t want to admit who you are !

      There is no talk of violence here and it is well known in economics that a war is good for GDP. The tea plantations have been ruined by privatization done by people with Harvard degrees but no understanding of the plantations.

      Just because I have a name that belongs to people who have misruled this Country how dare you assume that I was ever involved in governance.

      Basically you have lived up to what we expect of BBS – Bullocks, Balderdash and bull Shit !

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        R.A.R , you just blew your cover . Abusing a person for expressing an opinion politely , puts you in the same category as the people you are complaining about . I think you are a total sham with a hidden agenda .

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          Samson, where has R A Ratwatte abused the person who claimed to be the BBS Rep? He has only designated what BBS stands for. Bullocks, Balderdash and Bull Shit. I am afraid you do not know the meaning of the word Abuse, which is far from what RAR has resorted to, when the BBS Rep accuses RAR saying that, ‘There was corruption even when your folks were running the show’. How dare this BBS Rep malign RAR merely because he has the Ratwatte name? Which is very unfair? This BBS Rep claims that there is Corruption the world over and asks for time for the Country to be put in order considering the speed of development taking place in the country today. I’ll refrain from detailing the sordid work carried out in the name of development as the majority is aware of what is going on in the country today under the guise of Development. Why this condoning of Corruption today, claiming Corruption the world over? When you Buggers were crying for a change in ’94 citing Corruption in the UNP. We all eschew Corruption, there is no dispute as we never tried to cover the Corruption in the UNP. However it is strange that those very Corrupt UNPers are holding Ministries under the Tsunami Embezzler and you have the audacity to tell us to have patience that the Country will be delivered. Sam Son, you can be any mother’s son, but do not take us for granted to be naive as you are being the Dhoby (Radhava) for MR regime.

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          Samson, There are Ratwattes and Ratwattes, just like Bandaranayakes and Bandaranayakes, or Rajapaksas and Rajapaksas. Just because you are Samson, you are not a Jew are you?

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        R.A.R

        My apologies for my asumptions. I agree with gamini also, in that I was unfair in maligning your name.

        However, gamini then goes on to malign samson and me. Now this is generally the problem with Sri Lankans – a pot calling a kettle black.

        I do read and I do understand English RAR. Now who is assuming what?

        I do not agree that Plantations were ruined by privatisation. It was the nationalisation of plantations that led to its ruins. If I am not mistaken it started from around 1973. However I must qualify my statement; I am no apologist to the “Plantations Raj” or the “Brown Sahibs” who subsequently took over running of the plantations. There were many Ratwattas in the latter category (no insult intended to you RAR)

        Invective is needed as that is the only language the Sri Lankans at the moment understand. This is the language of impatience and RAR you yourself is not immune from using similar language, going by what you write in CT. In time let us all hope people in Sri Lanka will learn how to address each other decently, and this goes for gamini as well. The word “Bugger” is a derogatory word and is offensive when used to address another.

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    Corruption in the UNP? Let alone corruption what about impeaching Mrs B with retrospective legislation, scrapping a General Election, appointing subservient judges, letting loose the JSS goons? MR has just taken it all to a higher level. UNP/SLFP/JVP they are all scoundrels. The last democratic Prime Minister we had was the UNP’s Dudley Senanayake.

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