ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 44
Financial Times  

Man enough to cry over present Sri Lankan crisis

Emotionally constipated leaders of business and civil society should be …

Are we in Sri Lanka continuing to ignore recent research which suggests that expressing emotions more freely results in improved well-being and that 'emotional intelligence' plays an integral role in our rational decision making?

In the UK, a recent study found British men were much more ready to openly shed a tear than their fathers and grandfathers. The survey of 2000 Brits by the Social Issues Research Centre, found 30 per cent of British males studied had cried in the past month, while only two per cent couldn't remember when they last cried. The study found 77 per cent of men considered crying in public increasingly acceptable. Almost half the British men surveyed shed a tear over a sad movie, book or TV programme. Self-pity started 17 per cent crying and nine per cent sobbed at weddings.

Why have we not seen our leaders of business and civil society shedding tears and expressing their emotions publicly at what is happening in our external environment? Chamber and business leaders as well as so called civil society leaders, are quick to respond over media that they are in private having many initiatives and lines of support to address the social issues, human rights violations, human security concerns. Very unfortunately none appears to be prepared to cry out publicly or even publicly condemn unacceptable conduct and contradict some misleading statements of leaders in power and authority. Is this merely due to fear of reprisal or are they in fact in secret, in tow with the leaders in promoting, clapping or looking with admiration at what is going on in our society?

Some of the more visible signs of such blindfolded acts of silence were in respect of the following instances;

•When an academic turned non career diplomat designate told an audience of directors at a breakfast meeting, that the following four types of violence against innocent civilians were acceptable incidents during acts of war against terrorists and are not human rights violations worthy of investigation and punishment -

1.Innocent civilians being impacted directly or indirectly, when directly attacking terrorists or terrorist targets including civilians in nearby villages

2.Innocent civilians being impacted directly or indirectly as a consequence accidental targeting of civilian areas believing them to be terrorist targets

3.Innocent civilians being impacted directly or indirectly by the forces believing them to be terrorists or supporters of acts of terrorism
-- And the only wrongdoing with a punishable offence is when-

4. Innocent civilians are directly attacked or impacted by the forces, whilst being fully aware that they are neither terrorists nor supporters of terrorism, and also upon the subsequent announcement that this individual will be empowered to defend the position of Sri Lanka before Geneva based International Human Rights Organizations

•When it is reported in media that 150,000 new IDP’s have joined the already existing pool, increasing the total numbers close to 500,000

•Remaining silent whilst International Organizations like Human Rights Watch and International Alert publish regular reports of human rights violations in Sri Lanka

•Remaining silent whilst the BBC reports that Sri Lanka is the country with the worst track record of human rights violations, even more than Sudan and Somalia

•Remaining silent being very well aware that the “Travel Advisories” issued by many nations are not as a response to the ongoing war/conflict but as a response to human rights violations

•Remaining silent whilst some bilateral donors are restricting aid and assistance to Sri Lanka on grounds of lack of equity in development and human rights violations and this will slow down much needed national infrastructure improvements

•Remaining silent whilst lack of transparency, accountability and perceived high level of corruption charges are reported and this results in Sri Lanka having bottom quartile representation in doing business and competitiveness indices and upper quartile representation in opacity indices

•Remaining silent whilst all these amber lights are being denied or laughed at by those in power and authority

•Remaining silent whilst the long arm of the law and those with authority are reported to be in direct tow with the mafia and gangsters, ransom seeking and drug pushing under world and professional killers

•Remaining silent whilst observing the reduced faith in Sri Lanka as a destination for foreign direct investment and travel

•Remaining silent whilst politicians publicly announce over the TV that any persons blocking or crossing their path will be dealt with in the same way as a tree or a stone (ie by felling down or blasting)

•Remaining silent whilst those who have been associated with failed business entities and charged with acts of moral turpitude are empowered to invest and manage public entities using public funds

•Remaining silent without civil society action stating that the civil society organization must have at least $ 5 million in the kitty as a fall back capital before taking on the government in public protests.

Wise Old Owl can only lament and say to fellow citizens – “Don’t Cry For Me Sri Lanka – The Truth is they have Left You” and they are “Emotionally Constipated.”

The writer could be contacted on

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.