06 June 2012

So when will the Common Thief compensate?

[For two years, beginning in September 2009, I wrote a column for the Daily News.  It was called 'The Morning Inspection' and appeared in print 6 days of the week, except for the odd occasion when I was indisposed or didn't have access to a computer or the internet and during a few weeks long hiatus due to an unwarranted 'huff' on my part at the Editor not carrying a particular piece.  I wrote close to 400 articles for the Daily News before I joined 'The Nation' as its Editor.  Now, as The Nation readies to become a daily publication, I've 'revived' the Morning Inspection (in our trial runs) and hope to make it a regular feature once we launch the daily paper. Here's the first piece.] 

There’s a Commonwealth story that I often find reason to re-tell.  It’s a conversation that took place in the University of Peradeniya at a conference on Commonwealth Literature.

People were talking about Derek Walcott, who had just won the Nobel Prize for Literature and commonwealth literature in general.  A friend of mine, a Yaka if anything, whispered to me, ‘they’ll never understand that there never was a common wealth, that we only had a common thief, and talking about it won’t get us back the loot’.  I jotted this observation on a piece of paper and passed it to Dr. Arjuna Parakrama, who responded ‘it’s not all black and white’.  That observation was relayed to my Yaka friend, who said ‘some things are black and white and if we don’t recognize it, it would all be f****** grey!’
All this happened almost twenty years ago, and it could have been a conversation that had taken place 2 centuries ago and one which could be as fresh today.  The insults directed at the victims by the looters come in various forms but in predictable regularity, decades after the thugs were reduced to being yes-persons of whoever happens to live in that notorious white house in Washington DC. 

The President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, was due to deliver the keynote address at the morning sessions of the Commonwealth Economic Forum on Wednesday June 6, 2012.  The Commonwealth Business Council, which organized the event, is reported to have issued the following statement: ‘After careful consideration the morning sessions of the Forum on Wednesday 6th of June have been cancelled and will not take place. The event will therefore commence with lunch at 1300hrs followed by the originally planned afternoon sessions beginning at 1400hrs.’

As I write (Wednesday, 12.30 pm, Sri Lanka time), it is still not known whether the organizers have struck off the keynote address from the agenda as well. 
It is hard to imagine that the event was organized in a hurry, considering the profiles of those invited to participate.  It is speculated that the decision was made following protests by groups that heavily sided with the terrorist outfit called the LTTE.  It is no secret also that Britain, as per directions from Washington, was at the forefront of moves to censure Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council in Geneva last March.  Leaders of that country, it is apparent, are yet to come to terms with the fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to blink when Britain (as directed by the USA, clearly) pushed to halt the offensive against the LTTE.

So was this an accident of some sort?  Was it, for example, a decision prompted by the organizers being unable to find enough chairs?  Was some irreparable damage done to the sound system of the particular room where the event was to take place?  Have the people in that island on which the sun set a long, long, long time ago taken to and taken the streets from the corporate thugs who along with their minions in the Government impoverish them?  Did President Rajapaksa back off, citing a throat infection or after determining that there is absolutely no point wasting his breath on people who can only hear their corporate and political masters or themselves?  We don’t know.
What we do know is what we’ve learnt to recognize over 500 years of being treated as though we owe something to some European thieves who believed they were civilized and that they had discovered us: a snub.  The target may have been Mahinda Rajapaksa and that cannot have been on account of displeasure at his role in eliminating the threat of terrorism and the manner in which it was done, for I cannot imagine the same courtesy being accorded to Ranil Wickremesinghe whose culpability in the deliberate murder of unarmed citizens (not armed terrorists) is well known.  The target may have been Mahinda Rajapaksa, but the snub is for all Sri Lankans. 

Not too long ago, Isreal threatened to leave the UNHRC on account of repeated censure for known, proven crimes against humanity in Gaza.  Israel, some may argue, can afford to thumb its nose, since it has a blank cheque book from Washington DC.  Sri Lanka can’t afford to do anything of the kind, some may say.  But this is not the UN.  It is a thing called ‘Commonwealth’, presided over by a bunch of thugs.  This is also about economic issues, true, but it is not that we are talking about a common commonwealth currency or a Commonwealth Free Trade Agreement, keeping in mind that such agreements are wrought by arm-twist and designed to favour the powerful. 
The Commonwealth today it nothing but a tool for a has-been empire to feel good about the good old days of butchery and thieving.  It has the added advantage for war criminals to point fingers at those they’ve labeled ‘bad boys’.  It is a forum for holier-than-thou posturing by unrepentant violators of human rights about what wonderful things ‘human rights’ are. 

It is not a forum where Mahinda Rajapaksa or any other representative of any nation robbed by England can tell the thieves where to get off or when.  It’s a place, simply put, only worth visiting to say one thing, loud and clear: ‘COMPENSATE!’

[Also posted in 'Editor's Blog', www.nation.lk]



Anonymous said...

well said Malinda.

For a start we Sri Lankans must learn to say 'No Thank You' to the common thieves when they offer us cake crumbs.

Wasantha Ranagala said...

Interesting to note that the Morning inspection is back. I think I must have read all of
them and even sent you a couple of queries when it was not in the web due to some quarrel you had with the editor and discussed the amount of words written that easily passed millions.

I remember when JR was invited to the Charles Diana wedding there was a rumour doing the
rounds that Premadasa being the PM then, not invited. However he managed to arm twist JR and
got a belated invitation. At the church ceremony we saw JR, Premadasa both with their women
amongst all the paupers from Asia and Africa in their regalia paying homage to the crown which brought to our mind a scene like a flock of Wavullu (bats) hanging in a banyan tree.Utter disgrace they all brought to once proud nations.

Is MR different from that lot? He has proven not so. This is where you judge his principles, a bat who will hang from any tree that shows what a scoundrel he is . The so called war victory claim brings to our mind when we read the latest revelations in The Island.

Some people learn from others mistakes. Others learn from their own mistakes. Nincompoop never learns because its an empty shell he got on that torso of a pig.

Shaik Ahamath said...

I think you are a bit hard on England. It is true they best served their own self interests, but in the process, they left us a workable infrastructure i.e. railways, roads, civil service, legislature and most importantly, Christianity and an international language. We are fortunate, we did not remain colonised by the Portuguese or the Dutch, if Brazil, some countries in East Africa and the Far East are anything to go by. If they are prosperous today, it was by their own hard efforts.

Rory Winter said...

I agree with all your comments about the total hypocrisy of the so-called Commonwealth. But denouncing its common thieves in no way lessens the charge against Lanka's own common thieves, the Hambantota hora being chief amongst them :)

Ranil J said...

Yes, Compensate is the right word. It ought to be said loud and reminded of the atrocities against us and our culture.