29 October 2013

The saddest politician in South Asia and other stories

[VIEW FROM RITIGALA DURING THE THIRD WEEK OF OCTOBER 2013]
 
HR Language of AI and HRW
 
HTT (Holier-Than-Thou) BBC reports on US military strikes in the following manner: 'CIA drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen are responsible for unlawful killings, some of which could amount to war crimes, human rights groups say'.
 
The human rights groups, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, don't mention Afghanistan, strangely.  But the key word here is 'COULD' i.e. 'COULD AMOUNT TO WAR CRIMES'.  AI and HRW are basing their 'at-best' suspicion on verifiable claims with no questions about reliability of witnesses/sources. 
 
Now in the case of Sri Lanka, AI and HRW don't use such cute language. It is not 'could amount to', but 'have violated'. 
 
There's no surprise about BBC going with terminology-vagueness.  It is after all a pick-and-choose, selectively blind operation which does not subscribe to the most basic ethics in reporting and commentary. 
 
So BBC, AI and HRW have to bend over backwards and force their tongues to utter their vague concerns.  They can't point index finger at the USA, but they will lift the middle finger when it comes to Sri Lanka. 
 
A lovely, lovely game!
 
 
When you French-kiss the USA...
 
French President Francois Hollande has expressed "deep disapproval" over claims the US National Security Agency secretly tapped phone calls in France, the BBC reports.
In a phone conversation with US President Barack Obama, Hollande has said this was unacceptable between friends and allies, demanding an explanation.
When did Hollande sleep and when did Hollande wake up?  Didn't France know anything about the USA? 
For several years now, France has been the cheerleader in Europe for US Foreign Policy.  Obama could count on that country to beat war-drums.  For its part France happily believed that it was recovering lost glory, Lingua Franca and all that. 
At the end of the day France has got some nasty matter on its collective face.  No prizes for guessing what it has been kissing!


The global gallery
 
Senior Indian Congress Parliamentarian from Tamil Nadu M Krishnaswamy has said that certain regional and caste oriented parties in Tamil Nadu are playing to the gallery on the issues related to the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils.  But hey, isn't this what ALL politicians do, in Tamil Nadu and in other parts of India, in India as well as in Sri Lanka?  Where on earth has Krishnaswamy been all these years and wherever he is, hasn't he ever opened his eyes? 
 
The saddest politician in Asia
 
Nasheed from the Maldives, were you thinking?  No.  It's Dr. Manmohan Singh.  At the tail end of his political career, this World Bank yes-man has worked his way down, being Sonia's valet and now Jayalalitha's pawn.  Pau Singh!   

 
 
 
Seasonality of protest
 
Time was when injustice or perceived injustice prompted immediate objection in the form of petitions, demonstrations, marches, boycotts and strikes.  Not any more.  In the 21st Century, objectors, aggrieved and disgruntled have discovered a thing called 'auspicious time'.  They wait until the world is ready, i.e. when the UN Human Rights Council meets, or when there's an event such as SAARC or CHOGM.  FUTA is upset these days.  The u'grads are threatening 'action'.  All because in November they can bare their bottoms or whatever in front of an international audience.  The underlying logic is simple: we can't do it on our own, so please help us.  Did someone say that when deliverance is bartered, you get short-changed? 
 
Is the post-election party over?
 
It is a given.  After each election or rather after each electoral defeat, there's a rumpus at Sirikotha. Old slogans and placards are brought out. 'Ranil Out' becomes the word in the street.  Ranil, for his part, promises reform.  The agitated go indoors.  Status quo is restored.  King Ranil continues to reign. 
 
 
Parliament or Cabinet?
 
'Cabinet reshuffle' in general amounts to people changing addresses or rather exchanging addresses, the Minister of This becoming Minister of That, the Minister of That becoming Minister of Something Else, and so on. In Sri Lanka, thanks to the one-way crossover facility designed by Sarath N Silva and the imperative of getting Parliamentary Arithmetic right, we don't re-shuffles and we get new appointments.  The rate of defection and the need to give some 'something' to each province, district, ethnic group, religious community, caste, constituent party etc., parliament is no longer parliament but cabinet. 
 
If in days gone by people called each other 'manthreethumani' or 'manthreethumiyani', today they have 'amathithuma' and 'amathithumiya'.  
 
Illustrations by Asanga Indunil
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