Friday, January 27, 2006

mahinda buffalo 1, bunkerholed pussy 0

game is not over however.

let's be clear about what happened.

tigers wanted and probably still wants a war. that is why they helped elect buffalo and that is why they started their campaign of provocations. they expected army to retaliate against them and against civilians, in order to justify a resumption of full scale war, some time during this year. army however except for one or two incidents showed unbelievable restraint even as soldiers kept on dying. buffalo had enough sense endorse that policy. he also dropped the silly and completely useless demand to hold talks in sri lanka.

tigers did not expect this. in desperation, they even started to play the army's expected part themselves by killing their own supporters and fellow travelers. nobody was fooled however, international community especially united states, kept on condemning the ltte violence.

result: tigers agreed to talks.

we should be extremely proud of our disciplined army and buffalo should be excused for patting himself on the back as he did yesterday at some function.

does that mean we are clear of war? no, imo.

talking to reuters, jehan perera of national peace council said 'overall, i would say the war has been canceled, if no agreement had been reached, what you would have likely seen is an increase or a continuation of the violence.' others seem to expect a reduction in violence too. stock market went up by over 7% yesterday, on top of increases in the past week.

i am not sure however. i expect ltte to continue with the provocations. may be as soon as next week, once balasingham is out of the country. they will continue to say that the attacks come from ordinary tamils in government controlled areas, as they have been doing.

while they will attend the talks, they will tax the government about the strict implementation of the ceasefire agreement which requires that government disarm paramilitary groups, and provide security to tigers in government controlled areas. they will also ask something similar to p-toms be implemented immediately. all this will be done in the expectation that buffalo will refuse because he is held hostage by jvp/jhu. and so again provide them with a justification for full scale war.

will buffalo act like the army and do the unexpected? will he instead of taking an inflexible stance as required by jvp/jhu, wrong foot the ltte again by advancing a federal solution? imo he should, if he wants serve out his full six year term. we might even avoid war as a result. of course that will be bad for jvp/jhu and tigers, but who cares.

only time will tell. i personally am less skeptical than formerly about whether buffalo will show enough leadership to do this, but i am still skeptical.

imo unp should not worry too much about the defections. for one, defections will lessen whatever crisis that is inside the party. second, they will increase problems inside pa. for instance in kalutara district pa already has too many senior candidates jockeying for the limited mp slots (so much so that present prime minister had to come in through the national list). now we have mahinda samarasinghe joining in. next election there will be fun. same goes to other defectors and districts. third, since government cannot get a two thirds majority by way of defections, in spite of some boasts, unp really does not have any thing to fear. in fact they should wait until jvp stops supporting the government, as they will eventually. unp should on no account topple the government as they did in 2001. let the jvp do it, that way jvp and pa will have to contest separately in the next election.

Monday, January 23, 2006

expecting too much from solheim?

sri lankans as a people are prone to expect too much from foreigners and nothing from themselves. this inability to accept blame and praise is one of the few truly 'national' characteristics here.
it is always them not us that is to blame and we can never get ourselves out of trouble (created by foreigners of course) no we need indians or americans or norwegians to do that.

if the tigers have got stronger it is due to white guys or before that indians mollycoddling them, never because of social injustice and lack understandings between ourselves. if economy goes down it is because of those dastardly multinationals, oil prices, worldbank, and imf, never because half the sri lankans are lazy loafers who more or less live on government subsides and worldbank aid. if we lose cricket matches it is because those evil australians' unsporty tactics or indian hora umpires not because of our lack of confidence or arjuna and interim board fucking up the whole thing.

same goes for the other side, we are supposedly not able to compete in global markets against chinese exports or multinationals, so need special concessions from eu or usa. india - sri lanka free trade agreement is bad because we are weak and indian products will flood us out. just one look at the sri lankan soft drinks market or last year's export figures to india and elsewhere show how wrong such attitudes are. we can and do, beat the very best in the world because we can match them head to head.

main problem is our inability to see reality and our self interest clearly. this is partly due in my opinion to sri lanka's prevailing buddhist culture. that culture, contrary to what most people believe and claims to the contrary, encourage fudge and unreality. it is not helped by the enervating marxism, unconscious or otherwise, of the most of the intelligentsia.

anyway that is for another post.

to come back to current situation everybody is expecting a lot from former villain white tiger turned prince of peace, erick solheim to bring peace this week. some hope! even the stock market went up sharply at the end of last week for two days in a row. well, it will come down and the war is inevitable, and the next bomb in colombo is only a matter of time imo.

solheim cannot work miracles. he has to work with what he is given. btw it really does not matter where the talks are held (a question that seems occupy whole lot of people even though it has zero effect on anything). what matters is what the government is willing to offer to tigers, which should be a federal solution that will work. not just because such a thing will have to be established eventually before we get peace, but also because international community should be left with no doubt as to who is driving the country to war at present.

that way, as i have said before elsewhere we will be in a better position than tigers when the war comes and we can contain them and force them to the table again. already army's highly commendable and commended restraint has thrown the tigers into desperate acts such as killing their own prominent supporters in a fruitless effort to blame the government for something. we should not be provoked and if war is averted or if more likely when war comes tigers get a through bashing from every quarter it will be because we held our nerve and were not provoked, not because of well meaning solheim. we and the army should be proud of that. solheim is just a messenger, nothing more. so do not expect anything we ourselves cannot achieve.

ps last weekend's story about tamilchelvam being attacked and killed, and the way this unconfirmed and extremely sketchy story was reported in newspapers here as fact, just shows how uncomprehending even editors can be of the situation, whether or not story was a truth or not. imo story has some basis (take a look at tamilnet today and it's strange complete silence about it), but that does not excuse any paper that wish to call itself a national newspaper from publishing the whole thing as a fact with non existent details. journalists should be more skeptical.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

sri lankan holidays

last weekend was five days long for most sri lankans. we had three religious holidays, id-ul-alha or hadji festival on wednesday, duruthu poya on friday, and thai pongal on saturday. in addition we had a typical sri lankan holiday called 'the holiday on account of thai pongal falling in saturday' on thursday.

holidays here supposedly depend on what one do. public servants have one set of holidays, bank employees have another set, mercantile holiday set is the smallest, while full moon poya days are not included in any of the sets in official calenders but are holidays none the less. however, one is lucky if one can do anything worthwhile on any holiday with the part of workforce that is supposedly working. as a result every holiday is a holiday for everyone, whether they like it or not. so for instance the stock market decided to close down for all five days, even though it was neither a bank or a government agency and two of the holidays were only for banks and government employees.

altogether there are at least 26 holidays a year, which means sri lanka probably has the highest number of holidays in the world. people have been speaking out against this as long as i know, but nothing has changed. should it?

standard argument against holidays is that they reduce productivity and thus economic potential of the country. this is not quite true. if the people on holiday increase their consumption of goods and services, that contributes to the gdp. afterall consumption is the other side of production. most western economies will be much smaller if not for the christmas holiday season. this is a fact some other governments, chinese notably, have realized and they have tried to encourage consumption on holidays and number of holiday themselves, for the express purpose of increasing demand, using various methods. some countries shift and attach holidays falling on middle of the week to the weekend, aware that long weekends results in spike in consumption. though it is debatable how much this kind of government intervention will succeed, the fact remains that holidays can help countries grow.

so is it a good thing we have so much holiday in sri lanka? no, because of the type of holidays we have. the reason we have such high number of holidays is because we have twelve or thirteen poyadays. without them we have the same number as any other country. poyadays except vesak and poson, are doubly bad because most people stay at home and do not engage in any kind of activity. only a minority of buddhists go to temple even. as a result there is no increase in consumption. even shops and entertainment venues such as cinemas, normally open on other holidays close down on poyadays. in fact, it is as if those days do not exit in sri lanka economy wise.

so will government abolish the nine or ten completely useless poya holidays? i won't bet on it. though it's about time we start relaxing our own mental holidays that seems to constrain our activity on those days, which may encourage people to stay open in spite of probably unenforceable government regulations.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


i was busy, very very busy, for the last few days . even though i missed out as a result on some probably more important personal matters, fact remains i love what i become during such periods.

when i live through a time like that, all my energies and abilities become focused on a very specific gaol goal that is only available to me and to me only, and in some cases even visible only to me. there is nothing quite like the feeling one achieves in the midst of that kind and level of concentration. i literally go without sleep and food, not because i do not have time for sleep or food, rather i lose my ability to sleep and all appetite. in fact i sometimes throw up what i force myself to eat (though this is rare and did not happen last time), and it is clear my body do need the sleep, after i finished it yesterday i slept for almost twelve hours straight in my working cloths.

deep down i know that the objective really does not matter (in the last case it was quite unimportant either financially or otherwise) and i have lived through the ultimate disappointment after all that effort without much grief (last case was however most such efforts :-) )

in fact i am feeling rather restless today after all that excitement and am finding it hard getting used to normal routine tasks or even to sit still. it is next to impossible to focus my mind at the moment, as a result this post is taking ages to write.

it is not like i do not enjoy lazy holidays and the like. last christmas i spent a week doing almost nothing and enjoying myself immensely but that was not really me. yesterday was me.

do other people feel like this ? am i pathetic ? or crazy ? or both together?

to tell you the truth i really do not care. though people i came in to contact would have very different ideas, i know what i was in last three days or any such period, was me at my best, at least to myself . i would not give up that for anything in this world, i love myself too much for that

Monday, January 02, 2006

strangers night or how to make enemies and offend people.

some people never learn.
new year's eve in colombo was marred by a so called cordon and search operation dubbed strangers night. nor was this the first one, several similar operations were conducted since the recent escalation of violence, both here in colombo and in northeast. after checking on large numbers of residents, police arrested around 1000 people and then released almost all of them. by this morning(2nd) only about dozen people remain in custody.

question is exactly what the authorities aim to accomplish by this mindless use of force.

officially this is an attempt at preventing an imminent attacks by the ltte and generally disrupting tigers' network here. mahinda buffalo himself has reportedly explained that only the 'criminals' have to fear this. that statement betrays not only that he lacks a coherent strategy to deal with the present crisis, but perhaps more importantly his inability to empathize with the minority mindset.

when police knocks on a house of a sinhala buddhist and proceeds to question him, he indeed does not have to fear anything, unless he is a criminal. he can more or less rely on the laws of the country to protect him. however, when police does the same to a tamil, the situation is completely different. long history of racial prejudice and constant equating of all tamils with tigers, means that most police officers almost unconsciously suspect every tamil. that some of them are ill educated and venal only exacerbate this. result is unnecessary humiliation, harassment, and then inevitable alienation, of not only all those tamils who are unfortunate enough to go through this, but almost all tamils.

we, sinhalese in general (not just buffalo) fail to grasp this difference . since most people get released eventually, we tend to dismiss the whole thing as just another wartime inconvenience (even duty) that everybody has to put up with. that is not so. searches and even roadblocks can be terrifying experiences for tamils, while we only suffer from occasional invasion of privacy.

kotakadeniya (recently appointed jhu adviser to defense secretary , whose idea this was probably) and his ilk, will argue that the search is justified since it will prevent attacks in colombo. this is highly doubtful. ltte teams (not just individual suicide bombers) were able to carry out and then hide without a trace, even when similar search operations were carried out earlier (even when kotakadeniya himself was deputy inspector general - colombo). next ltte attack in colombo, now almost certain to happen anyday imo, will prove how wrong these people are. (btw i do not believe that ltte will attack civilians targets this time around, to avoid international condemnation in this era of global war against t terrorism).

only way the government will be able to prevent attacks and disrupt the ltte's colombo agents (other than through pure luck) is through good human intelligence work, not through mass scale arrests. in fact, i am not sure that police can properly investigate all those arrested in an operation like this in any meaningful way, given the numbers involved. same untrained and venal police officers will probably let the real ltte people escape, if they were caught at all. problem is human intelligence takes ages to develop properly.

unofficial cause (partly at least) for this stupid search was, that buffalo and his herd were feeling completely helpless in the face of ltte's provocations. unwilling to admit in public( given all their empty 'patriotic' slogan shouting during th election campaign) that the best method to react is not to be provoked, they felt they must do something to show off they are not impotent. hence this operation.

well, nobody is going to be fooled for long. instead, tamils here will feel more sympathy for a state of their own that does not harass people, tigers will get encouraged to attempt ever more damaging provocations in order to get similar or worse responses from buffalo, and army will have to suffer ever more causalities as a result of bad planning and general playing to the gallery, that seem to be the developing hallmark of buffalo administration. they better wise up quickly and start working on a comprehensive plan on how to deal with the cowardly tigers when they are forced to go to war eventually, otherwise the whole country may collapse, as in 2001.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

year 2006

since i have already expressed what i think about 2005, and what i expect in 2006, i can only wish that sri lanka will fare better than i fear.

however, being pessimistic about the country in the short term, does not mean we have to be glum about our lives as well.

so i would like to wish everybody a highly satisfying year!