An Anniversary, a Proverb and a Hypocrite
24 August 2005
The other day I received
appreciative e-mail from one Tamil reader of my essays and commentaries.
Here is a relevant excerpt:
“…Almost every international writer or human rights
worker (such as a doctor) supporting the Tamils of Sri Lanka is placed
on a travel restriction list by the international airlines. I am aware
that Mr.Sri Kantha and many of our friends were subjected to
cancellation of travel or vigorous search during their air travel. Sri
Lankan government keeps a list of our activists and urges the Western
Governments to bar their travel. Striking down our democratic activists
is their goal, while complaining about the lack of ‘pluralism’ in the
North East regions of Sri Lanka…”
This is a topic which has occupied my thoughts seriously for
the past year. On August 24,
2004, I suffered harassment and humiliation from this travel restriction
list [aka ‘No Fly List’] at the Leonardo Da Vinci airport, Rome, on my
way to attend an international science conference held in Turin. I had a
narrow shave from detention and imprisonment, and was saved by the
quick-thinking, common-sense endowed, police chief of Rome airport who was
on duty that day. I’d ever be thankful for that Officer, whose name I don’t
know. I also believe that I was saved by the roaming spirit of Da Vinci,
which protected me from the malady caused by bureaucratic vermins.
I have been a law abiding citizen in the three countries
[Sri Lanka, USA and Japan] I have lived and not a single criminal record of
any sort has been filed against me in any of the countries in this world.
Thus, I’ll never forget that quite a number of bureaucratic weasels in more
than one country, whistling the banal tune of ‘democracy and terror
fighting’, trampled on my human rights. I also know for certain, who was the
mastermind who thought and who activated this ‘travel restriction’ edict
first, for Eelam Tamils like me. He traveled in Sri Lankan diplomatic garb;
he was by far Sri Lanka’s best political clone of Joseph Goebbels
(1897-1945); and he pouted ‘democracy’ in air-conditioned podiums. He was
hailed as a ‘hero’ and ‘visionary’ by the beneficiaries of his servile
deeds. Just think about it; he received a ‘one-way no-return visa’ to the
Kingdom of Gods and Demons on August 12th, within an year of my suffering.
Tamils, especially the god-fearing types, have been taught to gain solace
from the wisdom of a proverb, ‘Arasan anru aruppan; Theivam ninru arukkum’
[The King decides instantly; the God decides eventually].
Let others – the likes of D.B.S.Jeyaraj and K.T.Rajasingham
- say many good things about the guy who passed away on August 12th. Even
Joseph Goebbels had admirers in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1945. I don’t
But, I learnt something about the wisdom of this wonderful
Tamil proverb. The guy who restricted the freedom of international travel
for me and hundreds of other Tamils by his nasty edict, while he was
enjoying such a free ride on Sri Lankan tax payer’s expense, had to answer
the summons from the Hand of Fate, despite heavy protection from designated
mortals tagged as ‘security personnel’.
What a hefty protection this Sri Lankan clone of Goebbels
has had, under the phony garb of ‘fighting Tamil terrorism’? If one believes
the numbers provided by reporter Frederica Jansz [Sunday Leader, Colombo,
August 21, 2005], 12 million Sri Lankan rupees per annum was spent.
“There were an estimated 96 security personnel guarding
Kadirgamar at any given time. Forty, from Sri Lanka's Light Infantry on
a monthly basic salary of Rs. 10,000 each which would mean Rs. 400,000 a
month. In addition, there were 42 army commandos who were on a
payroll of Rs. 15,000 each every month. This is apart from 'Commando
Allowances' also to which these men are entitled whereby their salaries
each month can range from between Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000. This
indicates the State paid a minimum of Rs. 630,000 for this security
contingent guarding the foreign minister.
Separately another Rs. 20,000 basic salary, a month was
paid to Captain Manatunge who was in charge of the 42 army commandos.
Ten thousand rupees a month was paid also for each of the 12 personnel
from the Ministerial Security Division requiring a total of Rs. 120,000
every month for these men.
So in total the government was paying a minimum of Rs.
1.2 million to security personnel every month to guard Kadirgamar. This
is also apart from monies allocated for three drivers for three of the
security back-up vehicles that accompanied Kadirgamar almost everywhere
together with three motorcycles. There was no fuel limitation for these
vehicles. Certainly one cannot discount that all these men were
necessary in view of the fact that Kadirgamar was indeed a top target
for the Tigers.
The issue however is this. None of these men, all
supposedly trained to guard a high security target were able to prevent
the assassination of Lakshman Kadirgamar from a vantage point that
clearly was a risk….”
The elegists may lament and wail that it was the LTTE who
took the life of Sri Lanka’s clone of Joseph Goebbels. It was a security
lapse, and what not. Baa Humbug. If God has willed otherwise, the
LTTE’s alleged gun slingers can’t overreach that will. Having been a direct
victim of one of Mr.K’s nasty bureaucratic edicts an year ago, I wish all
success for his endeavors in the Other Land. I have still some time to spend
and deeds to finish in this Land.
One thing which rankled me most was the penchant shown by
Kadirgamar, since 1994, for ‘democracy’, whatever he meant by that word. His
own political record speak for itself. He preached ‘democracy’ unctuously.
First, did he practise democracy? Three general elections
(2000, 2001 and 2004) were held in Sri Lanka, during which Kadirgamar – as a
high profile public figure and politician - could have tested his own
democratic standing by being a contestant representing the SLFP. Did he try?
The hypocrite couldn’t bother to contest. This indicated that his love for
democracy was only for public posturing.
Secondly, Mr.K exuded punditry in political and historical
affairs. If his punditry was flawless, he would have learnt that
freedom-fighters and revolutionaries [Mahatma Gandhi and Mao Ze Dong are two
big names in this category] didn’t bother about democracy. They didn’t
contest any elections, like run of the mill politicians, to ascend as
leaders. If Mr.K has learnt this fact, but ignored it for convenience in his
propaganda against LTTE, this is another defect in his scholarship.
Thirdly, in his extensive begging trips to Asian countries
(especially China and Pakistan, on behalf of his political patron), has
Mr.K. indulged in his penchant for democracy to the current political
leaders of these two nominally non-democratic countries? I haven’t seen any
evidence for this. If not, then why was Mr.K indulging in propaganda
against LTTE that Tamil Tigers are anti-democratic? Apart from China and
Pakistan, even Singapore during the past four decades of its viable
existence, cannot be labeled as a bastion of democracy. The less said about
dysfunctional democracy [the most appropriate term should be nepocracy]
prevailing in Sri Lanka, the better. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party into which
Mr.K had crept in 1994 to chase his rainbow hasn’t seen any other leader
other than a Bandaranaike at the helm for the past 54 years.