Learning lessons at Oxford

By Gomin Dayasri

Lessons Learnt and Reconcile. It's not the commission sitting at Horton Place rather a lesson of a lifetime learnt at Oxford. Pilgrimage to Oxford is a trek to a colonial bygone; paying homage to an educational enclave for kittens of fat cats with stuffed purses mostly of mid-eastern breeds that attracts more gravitation than heavy academic magnets.

A President that showed the world the art of defeating terrorism and is attempting to make friends with them on the wings of a triumph need not travel that distance to get a message across with an entourage, to warm seats to trumpet achievements. His mere presence is sufficient to attract numbers at Oxford to hear and on hearing barrage questions that make an 'evening with Mahinda' intellectually stimulating.

S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike or Lakshman Kadirgamar may have graced the portals of the debating society for a billing of a stylish nature. Mahinda of Richmond and later Nalanda, has achieved much more to relay a hot theme on current affairs in traditional country vein, deserving a hearing more than any other Sri Lankan before him at Oxford Union. But it was not to be. It need not have been; if not for our asinine values of overrating Oxford and desire to be a synthetic part of it, however remote. Why crave for an insignificant site in a world where more is on offer to a Sri Lankan who created history?

A section of the Oxford University during winter

Are we on the westward-ho drive with a Right turn on budget day to attract investors from abroad? Are we deviating from those glory days, in wrestling westerners to ground, in the same swashbuckling style of the wild-west, where the President and his brother Gotabaya sent David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner packing home, never to return? We were the envy of Asia during the tug o' war of war time by showing true grit; need we devalue by wanting to worship at the holy shrines of the Brits?

Have the company of the new found cronies from the corporate sector with its inherent meek mannerism of worshipping Ye Olde England become infectious? They unbalanced the UNP to keep it permanently in the opposition. These phony scouts could render the same service to the government. On the political barometer having them close sends the mercury line on a downward route.

Instead the LTTE scored its first goal since the death of Prabhakaran while the President sulked on the sidelines at Dorchester. It was a goal scored against the run of play or did we net our own goal by selecting a poor venue knowing of hooligans in that blood sport.

LTTE is compelled- like one of our good neighbors - to play all their fixtures away from home. They play to their strength and Britain was a friendly turf where there are over 300,000 of their countrymen, many eligible to vote, though not all cheer for them. David Miliband on WikiLeak articulated, their leaning to the LTTE, was based on a vote thirst. We did not walk into a trap instead went blindly and got trapped. Naturally, with a Ministry of External Affairs more at departure gates at the airport than in their seats in office?

This will give strength to their counterparts in well populated capitals to stage more road shows to display a revival. The LTTE and western governments are on the same wavelength -- punish us for winning the war after failing to prevent us from winning. Neither wanted to defeat the LTTE, it's a continuation of the same policy for the same reason -- the vote.

Britain is the head of the Commonwealth -- supposedly a friendly nation to its former colony. It is not so -- whether Conservative or Labour, they (there are no differences in the varying shades of the left/right struggle in the lust for votes) are forever friendlier to the LTTE, purely for the votes they deliver, where election are close.

Pragmatically, in Britain. winning votes to form a government takes precedence over being fair to an insignificant island in the Indian Ocean without any sentimental attachments, where much of its local literate consider, worthwhile British legacies left behind are in cricket and the English language after democracy stands devalued.

Britain's foreign policy on Sri Lanka is wedded to the domestic policy of garnering votes from the Tamil community. The varnishing with democracy, rule of law and human rights is pure crap. We are grappling with these mock idealistic issues without exposing the Miliband doctrine wherein the concern of the British government lies in the vote. To place Britain on the defensive -- the truth must be bared with a stiff upper lip.

What is required is a quiet diplomatic hard talk with the High Commissioner at a time when the External Affairs Minister, happens to be in Sri Lanka. Sure, it would be understood better delivered in Oxford prose at which the Minister excels. If we could take the diplomatic corps on familiarization visits to the North during the height of the war, when they were trying to whip us, the British constabulary can provide security in a peaceful rural rustic university town for head of state to deliver a talk? Are we stupid to intake the rot in the excuses trotted!

If it happened to Obama, it would have been equated to fairy tales to be retold to the Marines? We take it silently in servility as if Britain still rules the waves. Instead, sent another Minister to exhibit at the High Commission gates, hysterics in vaudeville style?

We have a classic Opposition that continues to endanger itself by hinging itself to the words of the hostile forces and never endears itself to the people. They lost the opportunity of blaming the British for shaming Sri Lanka and censure the government for meekly waiting. Now they face treacherous crossfire of siding with the enemy.

We learnt a lesson the hard way. Let's reconcile and tell those westerners their homilies on democracy, law and order and human rights are pure bluff to cover their greed for the Diaspora vote. Let's be on the offensive and extend the lesson learnt.

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Column By Gomin Dayasri
Learning lessons at Oxford


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