Are you a parasite or an oasis in a desert? Ask not what your country can do for you; ask instead what you can do for your country. Yes, it is a famous quote. US President, John F. Kennedy made this famous statement on citizens’ responsibility during his inauguration speech in 1961. It was not quite as original as a lot of people made it out to be though.The line ...

The NPC Resolution is both a threat and an opportunity Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Wigneswaran has a lot of opinions. To him, Velupillai Prabhakaran is a hero. He is entitled to that view – after all some people swear by god and some by the devil. C.V. Wigneswaran is not thanking anyone for the fact that he can actually issue statements from Jaffna without getting them vetted by a hooligan. That’s ok ...

It was brought to my notice many months after this was written (first published in April 2010) that an organization referred to in the article below had interpreted it as a 'fatwa'. Representatives of the outfit ranted and raved in certain socialist/left circles but tellingly did not include a reference to the article. Someone once said that 99 percent of ...

Guard your honour. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards. - Lois McMaster Bujold, authorElections are tense events, more so for those seeking political office than for those who elect them. First of all there are the anxieties suffered by individual political parties, especially those that are not frontrunners and indeed face the real threat of ...

A Constituent Assembly made solely of Parliamentarians is democratically speaking misshapen, for the simple reason that the parliament is democratically deformed. What was pledged way back in 2004 has now materialised. Only, it is not the UPFA that's done it. Back then it was referred to as the Constituent Assembly. Now it is called 'Constitutional Assembly'. The envisaged task is ...

Maithri-Ranil and the coherence deficit Season for LampooningThe defeat of the United National Front at the April 2004 Parliamentary Election can be attributed to the fact that the then President, Chandrika Kumaratunga pulling the political rug from under its feet by taking over three key ministries. Supporters of that Government have lamented this fact. Indeed, Ranil Wickremesinghe inherited in 2001 an economy that was in ...

Prison stories Cinnamon Gardens Police StationA schoolboy prank landed me in a cell once (read the full story, 'There will always be a bell to save you'). It happened in the year 1984. I had offered my opponent, Ishan Weerakoon, a draw even though I had a clear advantage in one of the rounds of the Sri Lanka Chess Nationals in order ...

Love and demonology Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel laureate for literature, is one author who knows love. His "Love in the time of cholera" is a timeless novel simply because he seems to have captured an incredibly wide range of the nuances contained in that word. Moreover, he has painted its inevitable intricacies, treasured secrets and the vacillation between unutterable sorrow and utter ...

Being snug, dumb and numb in a Kakistocracy The Headquarters of Sri Lanka's Kakistocracy: Nice from far, but far from niceWhen Mahinda Rajapaksa defeated Sarath Fonseka in 2010, a senior member of the United National Party, responding to claims by a set of feller UNPers that Fonseka was robbed said, ‘It’s ok to claim anything because rhetoric is part and parcel of politics, but there’s something wrong when ...

Looking for Sekera and finding ourselves A few weeks ago, HarithGunawardena sent me a link to a song by the late Clarence Wijewardena. According to K.G. Jinasena, an ardent collector of anything written about or by Mahagama Sekera, the lyricist was Chitranganie Rajapaksha, from Kandy. සීත පවන් හමා ඇදී අඳුර ගලන සැන්දෑවක රැහැයි ගීත නද අතරින් අඩ සඳ බැස යන මොහොතක ඔබ කළ ඇරයුම සිහිවී දුක් ...

The lifelong friend we rarely acknowledge "Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything." - PlatoWhere does the wind start, where does the wind end? A little girl asked me and herself this question some years ago. We don’t know but that doesn’t stop us from imagining origins. It’s less unclear with music. Music comes ...

Six years ago, Sri Lanka was about to elect a new Parliament. The campaign threw up its regular quota of howlers. I did mention a couple of them in this article published in the Daily News on April 3, 2010, but there were more important issues to address, most of them still very much 'out of the news'. History, for ...

Prasad Gunawardena left behind some memorable lines There were many personalities resident in the man known as Prasad Gunawardena. There were times when he was at war with someone and it appeared as though he had declared war on the entire world. But there were times when he was one with the universe. He was a child, a little boy, a naughty young man and a wise ...

The real ‘Chavakachcheri bomb’ is in Colombo There’s nothing funny about explosives and explosions. Nothing to salivate about. And yet, we are hearing guffaws and seeing people licking their lips. All this because some explosives were found buried in Chavakachcheri. Lots of suicide kits and explosives in this building!The derision obviously comes from the Opposition or rather those affiliated with what is now called the ‘Joint Opposition’. ...

The ‘Ikka Affair’ and the troubled UNP-SLFP marriage The proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement between Sri Lanka and India has earned an amusing but appropriate tag in Sinhala, based on the acronym ETCA and how it is pronounced (‘Ikka Givisuma’ or the ‘Hiccup Agreement’). Ikka has generated some interesting debates. Those who oppose do so on a variety of ground, 'national interest' among them. Some of those ...

Things don't change easily, do they? This was published on November 9, 2009. Then, as before, and as now, the tendency is to point finger and if a 'comrade' is wrong, to go silent, to look the other way. Have you ever paused to think how much we human beings insult the Ostrich, ladies and gentlemen? We laugh at the ...

English: as enemy and friend There are two stories that I tell young people about learning English. The first is about Ananda Thilak Bandara, a batchmate of mine at Peradeniya University.Thilak was from Madadombe, Galgamuwa. When he entered the university all he knew of English was its alphabet. Half way through our first year, I moved into a ‘chummery’ in Gunnepana, about one and a ...

'Work-to-rule' is a rule that can work Sometime in October 2009, unions attached to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPA) launched a work-to-rule campaign, demanding a salary hike. I made passing reference to the union action around that time, in an article titled 'Work-to-rule is not a bad thing': "It didn't exactly cripple the national economy, but the union action greatly inconvenienced a lot of people. The 'grievances' ...

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