17th October 1999

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Boring test of skills

The President has once again called on Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, to come up with whatever proposals he might have, for solving the ethnic crisis. If this was a tournament of tennis, it would surely have been the most long winded and boring test of skills displayed in any kind of court.

The ball seems to be volleyed back and forth , over and across, but such a boring deadlock of exchanges never seems to have been witnessed ever since tennis metaphor was invented.

Perhaps, it will be a good idea, maybe for this newspaper, to assiduously go through the library archives for the last four years, to see exactly how many times these two leaders of the two major political parties have asked one another to make pronouncements or come up with proposals relating to the issue that has come to be known —mostly for want of better description — as the ethnic question.

This time, the President has lobbed the ball in the Opposition Leader's court. But, as sure as this ethnic crisis will continue, will be the fact that the Leader of the Opposition will put the ball back in the President's court one of these days, from where the same routine will be repeated with some variations. One thing seems to be certain — this match will never be over, until the players change, or the whole game becomes irrelevant when V. Prabhakaran, the tournament organiser defacto, decides he has had enough.

Copy cat crimes

Inured to violence and atrocity though we may be , the news that an eight year old boy was kidnapped and killed, and the body dumped in a sewerage pit, is stunning even in this war torn nation.

Such reports of monstrous savagery usually emanate from the less civilized parts of the world, or so we would have liked to think.

But, the contemporary Sri Lankan society is equal it appears, in its moral degeneration, to any Banana republic in any part of the world.

What's almost as incredible as the insensitivity of the kidnap - murder, is the fact that the perpetrators casually thought they could get away with the deed.

That's also an indication on the forms of life that we harbour in the suburbia, which seems to be an utterly strange breed that exist in some macabre make believe world of their own.

Social commentators who have reacted to the killing have been quick in their indictment of television for the new wave of crime that this country has hitherto not been familiar with. But, blaming the tube alone, seems to be an exercise in circumscribing a problem that seems to involve a much larger compass.

One malaise of suburbia at least seems to be the massive alienation of a segment of the younger folk from the essentially pacifist Sri Lankan ethos. Call it disillusionment, economic depravity or just plain generational antipathy, but, whatever the reasons, there seems to be a powerful tendency that seems to alienate the younger generation from the value systems that our society has been long identified with.

Alternately, these crimes can be called aberrations. But even aberrations seem to become dangerously familiar when there is a tendency for copy cat crimes, such as this one, which according to a confession by the perpetrators was modelled on the unsuccessful G C Wickremesinghe kidnapping which was carried out earlier in the year. Underlying reasons apart, these crimes seem to be so bizarre, especially when one considers the fact that they are modelled after previous crimes which failed.

Whatever the case maybe, all parents will be well advised to keep a much better watch over their children than they used to. It's eerie— but it's hard to tell what sort of predators are on the prowl in your neighborhood these days.

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