20 October 2019

Which candidate will bell the Islamic Fundamentalist Cat?

Promises are cheap, plans expensive. Promises easy, plans take time to formulate and a certain basic level of intelligence to articulate. Promises don’t add up to vision, plans do. Some candidates promise, others plan. I need not elaborate. 

Let’s flag some issues.  

The economy. We have one of the worst growth rates in the region; only Afghanistan lags behind Sri Lanka. For all the talk of a debt inherited by the Yahapalana Government (of which Sajith Premadasa is a minister), the quantum of new debt had nothing to do with the past.

National security. Easter Sunday showed the mess we are in. It’s a product of an insane revenge-drive that constituted of a comprehensive witch hunt against intelligence and security officers assumed to be loyal to the previous regime and an equally insane misconception that ‘reconciliation’ is about dismantling the security apparatus. That’s Yahapalana thinking for you (and Sajith Premadasa is a minister in the Yahapalana Government). 

Reconciliation. That’s a term which in practice had a rider: ‘pseudo’. It was all about hurting one way or another the majority community. It was not about inclusive nationalism, as it ought to have been. That again is a Yahapalana thing and yes, Sajith Premadasa is a minister in the Yahapalana Government.  

There’s more, but let’s focus on issues related to religion, secularism and national integrity.  Now these have been constant themes of this regime and those who supported it. The focus of course has been the removal of the special status of Buddhism (Article 9), which has anyway been negated by Articles 10 and 14. However, for all talk of secularism, there’s been dead silence by the vociferous secularist lobby on customary laws pertaining to religion. The caveat ‘other than the marriages of Muslims’ in the Marriages (General) Ordinance No 19 of 1907 made more specific by the the Muslim Marriage  and Divorce Act No 13 of 1951 and the Marriages and Divorce (Kandyan) Act No 44 of 1952 have not caught attention. Strangely.  

If religion, as the likes of Mangala Samaraweera frequently claim, is a personal matter and not the business of the state, if the route to modernity involves a separation of state and religion and if a secular state is a non-negotiable when it comes to an integrated Sri Lanka that has reconciled community-based differences, then these things should be done away with. Surely?  

And yet, the entire debate in ‘civil society’ (can we call it a ‘Civil Society gaaya’ following Thenuwara’s pet peeve, the so-called ‘Ranaviru gaaya’?) has been about reforming and not repealing these archaic statues that stand in the way of everything they swear by (secularism, national integration and reconciliation). Why? 

Rev Athureliye Rathana Thero tabled three bills to repeal the aforementioned Acts. It hasn’t been taken up. It hasn’t generated any comment from the secularists. Child marriages, selective sanctioning of polygamy and so-called customary dress codes (Niqab and Burqa) are absolutely at odds with the kind of modernity that these ladies and gentlemen advocate for Sri Lanka.  

A dress is a dress in whatever form. Even nudity can be described as a dress-preference. We have norms which do not sanction nudity but we can’t have laws that sanction dress-form. We can have norms though and in certain cases even laws. If a masked man enters a bank, would not the employees feel uneasy? Do they have to ‘grin and bear’ because ‘that’s his/her dress-preference’? 

In an age that is marked by insecurity, in a country where the single most bloody act by adherents of a particular religion targeting non-believers was the Easter Sunday attacks, in a country that has seen 30 years of terrorism, we all have to pay a price for personal and community security. Vigilance. Laws that could be seen as infringements on personal freedom. For example. 

Banning the niqab and burqa are relatively minor infringements but most importantly warranted by particularly terrifying circumstances. Please note that even though these new ‘customs’ are a direct product of the spread of Waha’abism and even though it is this religious sect that has given rise to Islamic extremism, it is not the religious association that makes such a ban logical. It’s a national security issue.  

Of course, none of the terrorists involved in the Easter Sunday attacks wore niqab or burqa, but that’s not relevant here. The issue is concealment of identity.  If anyone wears anything that indicates ‘I can see you but you cannot see me,’ then that kind of attitude has no place in civilized society. It does not make for free and equal person-to-person interaction. It could work in a circle where everyone wears such garments, not elsewhere. 

Why should we have religious holidays in a secular state? If it’s a personal matter, then people can affirm their ‘personal religious preferences’ on their own time. Why should certain people be allowed time-off for prayers? Why should there be different leave-options for women of a particular religious community on account of childbirth or widowhood? That’s taking religion and custom way too far. Sure, they can take time off, but institutions need not be forced to pay for the religion-time of their employees. Perhaps we could consider 'religious leave' as a category similar to 'medical leave' or 'casual leave'. Every employee could be guaranteed a certain number of days which could even be broken into hours so that, for example, devout Muslims could go to Mosque for a certain period of time on a Friday.  

We don't do that kind of thing, do we? That would be religious intolerance right? No, wrong. You can't have the cake and eat you. You can't ride two horses with one backside. Either go with the 'One Country, One Law Thesis' or quit griping about religion and its relationship with the state. 

It is for these reasons that the Bills that Rev Rathana Thero has tabled are very important pieces in resolving the conundrum of integrity and reconciliation. 

Right now, in the thick of presidential campaigns, in the war of promises bettering the promises of others, the clear front-runner Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the optimistic hopeful Sajith Premadasa, the more-pale-pink-than-red candidate Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the choice of the less-political-but-indignant Mahesh Senanayake and the destined-to-be also-rans have maintained a dead silence on these issues.  

They are playing cheap politics with a serious national issue. Sweeping these under the carpet of expedience may help win the day but they are creating conditions for the entire nation to trip on them sooner or later. 

At what price, ‘The Muslim Vote’? That’s the question that remains unanswered. My personal view is that Muslims have traditionally voted for the UNP.  Sajith Premadasa taking a principled stand on this issue will not cause any dents.  Those Muslims who have supported the Rajapaksas tend to be the more liberal elements of that community. They are not for a ‘One Sri Lanka with Ethnic/Religious Enclaves’. Gotabaya Rajapaksa taking a principled stand will not irk them. 

Regardless of the impact on votes, it is good when candidates are principled rather than populist. Does Sajith have the what-nots? Does Gota? How about the others? Let us see.

17 October 2019

ටොයියෙක්ද බයියෙක්ද? රියල්ද ෆේක්ද?

ටොයි සමාජයේ ගැවසුනාට සාමාජිකත්වය ලැබෙන්නේ නැත්තම්
ටොයියෙක් නෙවෙයි ෆේක් ටොයියෙක් 

බයියෝ සහ ටෝයියෝමට හිතෙන විදිහට මේ රටේ පුළුල් වශයෙන් ඉන්නේ බයියෝ සහ ටොයියෝ  නෙවෙයි නම් දෙක දේශපාලන භාවිතයට ආවේ 2015 මැතිවරණ සමයේ වුනත් ඒවාට අදාළ සංකල්ප සහ පිරිස් වලට දිග ඉතියාසයක් තියෙනවා කියන්නේ මහින්දවාදීන් සහ මහින්ද විරෝධීන්ම නෙවෙයිබයි-ටොයි කතාව ඊට වඩා සංකීර්ණයි

'සමහරු හිතාගෙන ඉන්නේ නිදහස කියන්නේ මේ රටේ මිනිස්සු දිනාගත්ත දෙයක් නෙවෙයි අයගේ උත්සාහයෙන් පමණක් රටට ලබාගත්ත දෙයක් කියලා නිසාම නිදහස කියන්නේ එයාලගේ පුද්ගලික දේපලක් කියල එයාලා හිතනවානිදහසේ සියලු වරප්‍රසාද භුක්ති විඳින්න ඕන ප්‍රධාන වශයෙන් එයාලමයි කියලත් හිතනවා. 'ඇස්.ඩබ්.ආර්.ඩීබණ්ඩාරනායක මෙහෙම කිව්වේ ශ්‍රී ලංකා නිදහස් පක්ෂය ආරම්භ කරපු දවසේ.  බයියෝ ටොයියෝ ගැන කතාකරන්න මේ කතාව හොඳ ප්‍රවේශයක් සපයනවා

ඉන්නේ ටොයියෝ සහ බයියෝ විතරක් නෙවෙයිෆේක් ටොයියොත් ඉන්නවාෆේක් බයියොත් ඉන්නවා.  අමතර කණ්ඩායම් නැතුව නෙවෙයිඒත් මේක බයි-ටොයි සාකච්ඡාවකට සීමා කරමු

ටොයියෝපොදුවේ එජාපයේ නැත්තම් එජාප ප්‍රමුඛ සන්ධාන වල ඉන්න අය (මෛත්‍රිපාල ඇතුළුවහඳුන්වන්න පාවිච්චි කරන නමක්ඒත් ටොයියෝ කියන්නේ බණ්ඩාරනායක විස්තර කරපු සැට් එකඑයාලගෙන් පැවතෙන් අයරට පාලනය කිරීම සහ වරප්‍රසාද භුක්ති විඳීම ජන්ම අයිතියක් කියල හිතන අයමූලික වශයෙන් ඉංග්‍රීසි භාෂාව හසුරුවන සහ එම භාෂාව ඉගෙන ගැනීමේ වරප්‍රශාදය දිනාගන්න ගැතිකම් කලආගම දහම පවා වෙනස් කරපු කණ්ඩායමක්බණ්ඩා එක්ක එයාල මේ තරම් තරහ  'ජන්ම අයිතියඋදුරාගත්තේ බණ්ඩා කියල විශ්වාස කරන නිසාරාජ්‍ය භාෂාව සිංහල කිරීම මේ රටේ සියලු ප්‍රශ්ණ වලට මුලයි කියල එයාල කියන්නේ  නිසාසිංහල කතා කරපු අය සමූලඝාතනය කරන්න උත්සාහ කරපු එක ගැන එයාලා කතා කරන්නේ නැහැඑයාලට අනුව එහෙමෙ සිංහල බෞද්ධයින් මැරුවේ නැහැපන්සල් විනාශ කෙරුවේ නැහැපොත පත ගිනි තිබ්බේ නැහැනැහැ වගේ තමයි කටයුතු කරන්නේනැහැ වගේ තමයි දේශපාලන ටෝක් ඉෂු කරන්නේ. 'ඉංග්‍රීසි පමණක්කියල ප්‍රතිපත්තියක් ක්‍රියාත්මක වුන බව එයාල කියන්නේ නැහැ

කොහොම වුනත්නිදහසෙන් පසුවත්රටේ 'සුපිරිපන්තිය වුනේ මෙයාලප්‍රජාතන්ත්‍රවාදය කියන 'කුණුහරුපයහේතුවෙන් බහුතර බලයක් හදාගන්න අමාරු වුනත්ඉත්තෙක් ගැත්තෙක් ඉදිරිපත් කරමින් රට පාලනය කරන්න හදන පිරිසක් මෙයාලආර්ථික වශයෙන්  සමාජීය වශයෙන්  'සුපිරිවුනාට එයාල සුළුතරයක්තමන් ටොයියෝ කියල හඳුන්වාගන්න අය මේ පන්තියට අයිති නැහැපන්තියේ සාමාජිකත්වය නෑලැබෙන්නෙත් නෑඒත් කවදා හරි ලැබෙයි කියන බලාපොරොත්තුව නිසා නැත්තම් ලැබුනා කියන මායාව වැළඳගත්ත නිසා තමන් 'ටොයියෝකියල හිතනවාකියාගන්නවා

ටොයියෝ වුනාට ඇත්තට 'ෆේක්නිසා ටොයි ගති පැවතුම් අනුකරණය කරනවාබයියෝ නෙවෙයි කියල ඔප්පු කරන්න බයියන්ට වෛර කරනවාඅපහාස කරනවාමේ යටත්විජිත මානසිකත්වයේ ප්‍රධාන ලක්ෂණයක්තමන්ට (නැත්තම් තමන්ගේ 'රියල්එකටවෛර කරනවාකොටින්ම තමන්ට 'තමන්වපෙන්නන්න බෑටොයිකම  ආදරේ කරන්නේටොයිකම සහ ටොයියෝ හොඳයි කියන්නේවර්ණනා කරන්නේ  නිසයි

බයියො ටිකක් වෙනස්ඒත් බයියන්ගේත් කොටස් දෙකක් තියෙනවාරියල් බයියෝ සහ ෆේක් බයියෝබයියෝ දන්නවා තමන්ට කවදාවත් ටොයියෙක් වෙන්න බැරි බවමට හිතෙන විදිහට ටොයියෙක් වෙන්න පුළුවන් කමක් තියෙනවා නම් බොහෝ බයියෝ 'එපාකියන්නේ නෑඒත් ටොයියෙක් වෙන්න ලේසි නැති නිසා ටොයියන්ට ටොයිකමට වෛර කරනවාඅපහාස කරනවාඑහෙම කරන්නේ බයියෝ නෙවෙයිෆේක් බයියෝ

රියල් බයියන්ට ඔය ප්‍රශ්නේ නැහැටොයිකම කියන්නේ පුස්සක් කියලත්ටොයියෝ කියන්නේ දීර්ග ගැති-ඉතිහාසයක් ඇති පිරිසක් කියලත්ෆේක් ටොයියන් ලොකු ඇරියස් ලෙඩකින් පෙළෙන බවත් රියල් බයියෝ දන්නවාෆේක් බයියන්ටත්  වගේ ඇරියස් ප්‍රශ්ණයක් තියෙන බවත් රියල් බයියෝ දන්නවාටොයි සමාජයේ  සාමාජිකත්වය දෙන්න හැදුවත් හිනා වෙලා 'එපා මචංකියන්නේ රියල් බයියෝ

'බටහිට සුපිරියි මචංකියල යෝජනා කරද්දීසුද්දා හිටියනම් හොඳය කියල කියද්දී 'හා මචංකියන්නේ රියල් බයියෝටොයියොත්ටොයි කමත් යතාර්ථයක් බව පිළිගන්න අතර ඒවායේ ඇති දෙයක් නැති බව දන්න අය තමයි බයියෝරියල් බයියෝ

ඔබ බයියෙක්ද ටොයියෙක්දෆේක්ද රියල්දඅකුදි කියනවා වගේ 'කල්පනා කරලා බලන්න!' 

'අරුණ' පුවත්පතට ලියූ වෙනත් ලිපි