Invigorated perhaps by the Alpine air, the Sri Lankan External Minister G. L. Peiris this week came out of his endangered corner in Geneva talking tough with both hands pistol packed and, firing at will, rejected outright the entire damning Pillay report as being ‘fundamentally flawed’ and ‘baseless’. In a bravura performance that must have [...]



GL’s come or go Geneva speech ups the ante


Invigorated perhaps by the Alpine air, the Sri Lankan External Minister G. L. Peiris this week came out of his endangered corner in Geneva talking tough with both hands pistol packed and, firing at will, rejected outright the entire damning Pillay report as being ‘fundamentally flawed’ and ‘baseless’.

In a bravura performance that must have sent shudders through the Geneva conference hall and raised the air conditioned chill, Minister Peiris uncloaked his sheep clothing to reveal the long embedded frustrations of his Government and, with his back to the wall, turned from the grovelling figure he had so often been forced to be, to gain the giant stature of the lowly mouse that roared on the imposing podium of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council.

First, without attempting to answer any of the issues raised in the 18-page Pillay report, Minister Peiris lambasted Ms. Pillay as having exceeded her mandates as given by the relevant UN Resolution, accusing her of trespassing upon extraneous issues and of adopting an arbitrary, intrusive, and political stance and demonstrating her bias against Lanka by asking, unasked, for an international inquiry into Lanka’s human rights track record.

Secondly, after spelling out the need of the Human Rights Council to maintain credibility and to arbiter independently, he put the entire Council on notice by warning it that the High Commissioner and her office must be transparent and objective and if her report was to be the basis on which Lanka was to be judged it would be a travesty of justice.

Thirdly he indirectly chided the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for having praised the Pillay report since the report has been based on ‘questionable and baseless material’ and accusing those who sought to exalt its virtues as only seeking “to inflict harm on the reconciliation process by bringing about a polarisation of the Sri Lankan society.”

Minister Perris has taken the high ground that Lanka has no case to answer. No reason to make reply and adorn with credibility or trace with a sprinkling of validity allegations not based on concrete evidence but hurled solely from the arched bow of political prejudice by a High Commissioner possessing dubious motives. That is the answer he has given to both friends and foes. Whilst Lanka’s enemies will no doubt reject his stance as being preposterous, will Lanka’s few remaining friends accept it as being justified and reasonable?

But given the sorry pass to which Lanka has come in her international relations, her shoddy handling of foreign affairs, her under utilisation of professional diplomats to man her diplomatic corp; her inability to convey her cogent message to the powers that be in the governments that matter as disclosed by the President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunge who said the LTTE, by hiring the top notch US lobbying firm Podestal, was privy to the White House ear and was well placed to influence the Oval Office, Lanka had no other choice but to rage defiant at this 25th Session of the UNCHR. No bag loads of excuses about the sensitivity of the issues involved nor strings of appeals for more time to implement recommendations made by her own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission would have cut any ice with western nations, some influenced by the Tamil Diaspora, impatient to see the Lankan Government crucified in the dock.

Now that Lanka has said her piece, where does she go from here?

On the home front, last Sunday Mannar’s Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, echoing the demand made by Navi Pillay in her report, issued from his pulpit another call to the UNCHR to appoint an international inquiry into war crimes. In a 10-point petition signed by 200 Catholic priests and nuns in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, he reiterated the need for such a probe and urged such a body to move beyond ‘ credible allegations’ already established and to seek newer ones.

Earlier in January the Tamil National Alliance-dominated Northern Provincial Council unanimously passed a resolution calling for an international probe. On Wednesday the TNA, having replaced the LTTE as the sole voice of Lanka’s Tamils, announced its plans to appeal to India “not to dilute the proposed US-led resolution against Sri Lanka over accountability issues as well as post-war developments which it considered inimical to the interests of Tamils” and according to reports is now busy exploring ways to further strengthen the resolution against Lanka. Not even the sane voice of Northern Province Chief Minister Wigneswaran can be distinctly heard and his light as the star of northern hopes seems to be on the wane. Nothing it appears to augur well for the Lankan Government at this moment in time.

In the high sovereign stakes poker game currently played out in Geneva, GL Peiris ‘s speech has upped the ante, with Lanka sans a Royal Flush daring to call the US bluff. Whether America will calmly place her Full House face down on the table for the moment and take up her more demanding Crimean pack maybe the only forlorn hope left for Lanka’s wishful thinkers with the faith driven prayer ‘let the Americans do their worst, the Chinese will do their best’ remaining the only salvation.


Sell your child to Sasana and retire early

Like the Livestock Ministry making plans to import 20,000 cows from Australia to fill the dwindling herd of milk cattle in Lanka, the Buddha Sassana Ministry Secretary this week announced plans to buy children from parents to fill the growing number of vacancies existing in the Sasana.

The enticement offered by the Secretary is to pay parents who give their children to the monastic order a monthly income for the rest of their lives or if they think a one off deal will be more advantageous, to give them a block of land in exchange for their progeny.

However noble the purpose is, however pure the motives that contributed to its creation may be such a daft idea which actually entertains the sale of children to a religious, celibate institution more strict in its disciplines than those found and enforced in the armed forces, reaches beyond the realm of all reason sense and must rank as one of the nuttiest ever to see the light of day.

Upon attaining enlightenment the Buddha paused to reflect whether the people existing during that period would be able to fathom it. Even the sheer force of his own vibrant living personality and the clear exposition of it by the Buddha himself may not have made the people of his time understand and appreciate it and he wondered whether it would be futile to expound the truths he had discovered. Far better to remain silent than encumber the world with a philosophy no one could comprehend he thought and it was only at the urgings of the gods did he decide to reveal it, to set in motion the Wheel of the Dhamma.

In the same way, if the sublimity of the Buddha’s message strikes no chord in the Lankans breast today and if, in time to come, it does not compel at least some of them to seek refuge in the Noble Triple Gem and join the Order of Monks and thus propagate it providing mankind the opportunity to realise it, then the purpose of its existence, being not to be a mere hollow meaningless ornament for the nation to flaunt as a religion on its mantelpiece, ceases to exist; and even as the Buddha foresaw and held true even for his own philosophy, it must decay and die, paving the way for the advent of another Buddha in time to come. That is the impermanence of all things.. That is a fact of life: the reality of dukka. And no artificial insemination can create it anew; can spark the flame long gone out.
So what on earth made the officials at the Buddha Sasana Ministry take leave of their senses? Did they consult the Prime Minister, the Minister in charge, or, through force of habit, did they leave him in the dark before they took this dippy decision that will invite attacks from the international community on the government which decried Tamil Tigers for having forcibly, through the spread of threats and terror, recruited children as child soldiers to wage war in the name of Eelam, now itself recruiting through the irresistible spread of cash or land, children as monks to staff the sangha?

Did the officials flip when they came up with their scatter brained notion to enable parents to offload their parental duties on the public purse and retire early and which will only succeed in breeding more misfits in robes and spawning more Bodu Balas in the future? How on earth did they hit upon this ludicrous idea?

Wonder whether some of the narcotic substances the Buddha Sasana Ministry issued a letter to the Ports Authority to clear recently have found their way in to the ministry confines and are giving its officials bouts of hallucinations only found in the never-never land of the stoned?


5-star retreat for super prisoners

Prison walls are normally built to contain the people within from getting out but the walls of a new state of the art prison complex to be built shortly by the Government in Hambantota will have to be further fortified to keep people clamoring on the outside from getting in.

Unveiling the grandiose plans for a five-star retreat for prisoners of all categories, the Commissioner of Prison (Operations) Gamini Kulatunge said on Monday that the new prison will be constructed on a sprawling 150 acre land in Angunukolapalasse in the Hambantota district and will house a thousand inmates.

Furthermore, it will have a modern gymnasium, sports facilities, and a swimming pool. Presently talks are underway, Mr. Kulatunga said, between the Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Ministry and Sri Lanka Telecom to set up phone facilities for the lucky inmates to communicate with their families and friends.

No mention was, however, made by the Prisons Commissioner as to how much it will cost the public to keep prisoners happy and gay in five-star comfort and facilities. But who’s counting, especially when all credit must be given to the ministry officials for having the foresight to establish such a complex that will meet the nation’s future needs? The establishment of a Shangri-la Prison in the south will ease the present congestion. And no doubt further facilities, including Skype, wi fi, Facebook, My Space, and Twitter to tweet will be provided for the Very Important Prisoners to keep in touch with colleagues both in Lanka and in exile.

For, sooner or later when the day of judgment dawns and corrupt politicians, officials, murderers, rapists, drug dealers, the nation’s scum presently free from the long arm of the law and justice are called upon to pay their inevitable dues to the society they ravaged, what better way to receive their punishment than to spend their enforced days of leisure in idyllic comfort in a prior planned and designer built cosy retreat in Asia’s emerging wonder hub Hambantota with a security detail comprising over hundreds of armed guards provided by the Government, paid for by the public, protecting them round the clock.

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