Indo-Lanka Relations: reality and hallucination

Malinda Words
A lot is often made of alleged historical ties between India and Sri Lanka. Too much and too often, perhaps. ‘Historical Ties’ is an oft used sweetener to help one party force unpalatables down the throats of another party, typically by the stronger on the weaker. It is not for nothing that democracy has been described as the opportunity for ...

Foreign Policy and self-imposed non-negotiability

Malinda Words
Small nations typically do not have much by way of bargaining power vis-à-vis powerful nations; ‘small’ meaning economically and militarily weak rather than land size. Weak, however, does not mean helpless. Indeed there are very few if any relationships between the powerful and the weak that are not characterized by contestation and continuous negotiation of the terms of control. The ...

The story of Sri Lanka’s Mister Cheese

Malinda Words
If I was asked to suggest a name that would go with the word ‘cheese’ I would naturally go for the known brands, which by the way do not always mean quality. Quality does go with ‘known’ but ‘known’ can come from good advertising helped along by low brand/product-awareness. We know after all that anything can be sold to the ...

Reflections on things lost in the matter of winning and losing

Malinda Words
History is written by the winners, this is well known. In other words, chronicling is an exercise that is framed by power realities. Those who win and those who wield power frequently bend the story in ways that glorify them. It is the exceptional historian that would paint things in colours closest to the truth and resist embellishment as well ...

Let's listen to Wigneswaran!

Malinda Words
There’s talk of constitutional reform. A lot of talk. There’s talk of what should go in and what should be taken out. People were appointed to gather ‘public opinion’ and the gatherers, as always, represent a particular segment of the entire ideological spectrum. A tiny segment, let’s remember. But since it is ‘public opinion’ that is filtered by panels that ...

A short story of a stink-hole that the law is not interesting in plugging

Malinda Words
I hardly ever listen to the radio, but if ever I get the chance I try to catch a night programme on Siyatha FM called ‘Mama kemathi geetha dayaha’ (Ten songs I like). The programme features 10 songs selected by some celebrity of one kind or another with short introductions explaining why each song was selected. On one occasion the ...

Death by sugar: nothing sweet about it

Malinda Words
Invisible. It's a word I first encountered in an Enid Blyton book. One of the 'Five Find-outers' if I remember right. At the time I didn't know what 'visible' meant. In fact I think I encountered 'visible' much later. Back then, aged 10 or maybe less, I saw what could be seen. I might have read a little into what ...

It's still raining in Afghanistan (six years later)

Malinda Words
This article was first published in August 2010 in the 'Daily News'. It was titled "Have you seen the rain in Afghanistan?" It's still raining in Afghanistan. It's raining in other places too. Maybe it's raining so much and it has rained so much that some people just don't want to acknowledge it is raining. But some cannot escape the ...

The unbecoming undressing of 'Good Governance'

Malinda Words
What did the Joint Opposition achieve by marching from Kandy to Colombo? What does it say about the strength of the Joint Opposition? Does it say anything about the strength or otherwise of what is being called, tongue-in-cheek, the ‘Official SLFP (Sri Lanka Freedom Party)’? Has to solidified the alliance between the OSLFP and the United National Party (UNP)? Was ...

“You didn’t err, we did!”

Malinda Words
A senior editor of a well-known Sunday newspaper once told an interesting story about one of his former bosses. At the time, our editor had been a cub reporter. New to the job. Handicapped by lack of experience. He had made a mistake. The Editor-in-Chief had called him to his office. The young man, naturally, had been very nervous. He ...

Premakeerthi de Alwis and colours that remain unnamed

Malinda Words
My maternal grandmother died on what would have been the 50th birthday of her daughter, who had died at the age of 10. My father mentioned it in passing and observed softly that it can take a long time to get over someone’s death. This is true. People come into our lives without notice, without bugle call and press release. ...

Before Chilcot there was Nick Clegg and the Purple Fury Doctrine

Malinda Words
This article was published in the Daily Mirror on July 31, 2011, i.e around 5 years before the Chilcot Report was released. It was titled 'The fate of the Purple Fury Doctrine after Nick Clegg’s confessions'. And what do you call the insane fury that emerged in Iraq and elsewhere?A few days after the 9/11 attacks, Time magazine put out ...

Moragahakanda: where devolutionists will drown

Malinda Words
A mild and entertaining debate was sparked when President Maithripala Sirisena took part in a ceremony to enshrine treasures at the site of the Moragahakanda-Kalu Ganga Irrigation Development Project. The question was one of bragging rights. In short, the question was whether it Mahinda or Maithri who ‘owns’ the project. That’s politics in Sri Lanka, good for a bit of ...

Put hope on hold, democrats: blackmail's been scripted into 'good governance'

Malinda Words
President Maithripala did it. Quite unabashedly. The President, who is also the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) summoned those Members of Parliament who identify with the ‘Joint Opposition’ and outlined what was licit and what was illicit in his (Maithripala’s) book of ‘good governance’. He declared that ‘any member who continues to contravene party decisions and work ...

Ranil applies brakes on media freedom

Malinda Words
Ranil Wickremesinghe’s views on media freedom are two-faced. One, when in the opposition and one when in power. One sports a smile and the other a scowl. This two-facedness, if you will, is not Mr Wickremesinghe’s preserve. It’s part of the political culture. In general those in power mimic those they replaced and those who are replaced mimic those who ...

Angelo, Dinesh and others must do a Murali on the Aussies

Malinda Words
Steve Smith, the Australian cricket captain has heaped praised on Muttiah Muralitharan. Darren Lehmann too. They have reason to do so. The Australian cricket team is in Sri Lanka and although on paper they are clear favorites, the Aussies are not taking any chances. That’s being professional. Yes, they are not leaving anything to chance. Less than a month ago ...

Let's cut into the business of medicine and treatment

Malinda Words
This article was first published on July 24, 2010 in the Daily News under the title "Further cuts into the business of medicine and treatment". Things don't seem to have changed much. The language of resistance or contestation is typically appropriated by the resisted/contested for fairly pragmatic reasons. Word is weapon and therefore it makes perfect sense for oppressor to ...

Your shoes are more precious than you imagine

Malinda Words
DISCLAIMER: This is for kids. Adults be warned: you may rediscover a child within you. A little girl wanted a pair of canvas shoes. She’s not so little, actually. She’s almost 13. Anyway, she wanted ‘sneakers’. That’s what the school authorities had told her. Sneakers was an important part of the dress code for students who signed up for a ...

Good governance, 'good medicine' and relevant ethics

Malinda Words
This article was first published in the 'Daily Mirror six years ago (July 24, 2010), long before many yahapalanists heard of 'good governance' and long before its most ardent users robbed it of meaning. It was titled "Further cuts into the business of medicine and treatment." The language of resistance or contestation is typically appropriated by the resisted/contested for fairly ...

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Malinda Words
Contexts count. Hostage rescue operations are different from wars. Responding to military aggression is different from declaring war on a country on a pretext such as the possession of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. July ’83 is different from July ’16. Clashes between raggers and anti-raggers are different from the clash that took place a few days ago at the ...