This last week has seen two very white, very important politicians having to slide down the pallang, certainly not to obscurity but to real shame and huge setbacks. Yes, they are the yellow haired charlatan reprobates who think they know it all from the US of America and the UK.
Ex-President Donald Trump has been forced to face 37 charges relating to retention of classified documents including highly sensitive reports on nuclear warfare, etc. They were secreted away when he left the White House and kept in his Mar-a-Largo palatial residence in Palm Beach, Florida. He has termed his indictment baseless and a political hit job. He continues his rant on it all being a witch hunt and of course engineered by Biden and the Democrats. However, he continues campaigning for the presidency in 2024, sending shivers of horror along millions of adult American spines.
A past Prime Minister of Britain – Boris Johnson – resigned his seat in Parliament just before Partygate investigations closed in on him finding him guilty of lying about breaking Covid rules at No 10 Downing Street during the lockdown in Britain. He claims he is the victim of Partygate and Brexit witch hunts. (Britain left the EU in 2016 with Boris J a strong voice for exiting from the European Union). He too is not going to quit politics just like his twin Yellow Top across the Atlantic. He has made it clear he is ‘out of Parliament for now’ and will definitely make a comeback. Judging the ways of the two nations, it could safely be said that the British voter is much more sensible and choosier and uses his head when voting. So Boris’ future as a successful politician is definitely in jeopardy. We hope the same fate descends on Trump.
Polls are very much in the language of our country. Most clamour for elections to be held. Ranil W and his men are stubbornly averse to facing the polls. One obvious-to-all happening is the emergence of Namal Rajapaska, at least on TV news. He makes speeches here, there and everywhere, endorsed heavily, we believe, by his doting father. We wonder what the opinion of Uncle Basil is. No one, least of the family, we suppose, now takes into consideration what Ex Prez Gotabaya thinks or opines. He wangled a change of residence offered on a silver platter, courtesy of obligations to ex Prez-s and spouses, from one palatial house to another because he was bothered by noise in the former. Bothersome noise as against ruination of the entire agriculture of the land.
Cruelty to Elephants
In his lead article on Monday June 12, The Editor of The Island directed the reading public’s mind to suffering elephants who are gifted to temples in this country and to governments or zoos overseas. He mentioned the very sick elephant in a temple down south and the one gifted from Thailand which is direly ill. Thai mahouts came to Sri Lanka to care for him, but his condition is not improving so he is to be airlifted back home. Why on earth are elephants and even other animals used as tokens of goodwill exchanged between countries and leaders, or to pay back for favours received?
Cass immediately recollected on reading the editorial the case of four suffering elephants in 2009. Two babes were pinched from their mothers by order of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and gifted to temples in Kandy on August 5 that year. It was whispered along the grapevine that he was fulfilling a vow made on his behalf – for his political success or physical wellbeing or to overcome a sickness. It was in the broader sense another act of gloating and hogging the honours for defeating the Tamil Tigers and seeing the end of Prabhakaran.
The two elephant mothers grieved severely over the loss of their calves as they were still lactating and of course the little ones turned obstreperous and damaged a car and even themselves by rampaging in baby rage. They were restrained mercilessly, it was said. You who read this will certainly ask “Why did the authorities permit this?” The Pinnawela authorities and Wildlife authorities just kowtowed to the all powerful Prez and did as bid. No mercy in their hearts; no steel in their backbones; no strength to stand for the right; no brains in their heads.
Temples, including the Dalada Maligawa that holds annual peraheras seem to believe they need more and more caparisoned elephants parading the streets. This is in reality torture to the animals. Just a few elephants, if they must be paraded, is enough. During Maitripala Sirisena’s tenure as Prez we had an excellent Director General of Wildlife Conservation. He resigned his post refusing to allow elephants from the Uda Walawe orphanage to be conscripted for perahera parading as they were being rehabilitated to go back to their lives in the jungle. The President sided with the temple chieftains and wanted elephants released from the two orphanages. Future votes against maitri to animals.
We do hope the two elephants mentioned by the Editor – the gift to Sri Lanka from Thailand and the one in a temple down south – will soon return to good health.
Caste legislated on in California
It was with surprise that Cass read a BBC June 9 article titled The Divisive Debate over California’s Anti-Caste Bill that reported a political bill had been introduced in the Californian State Assembly to make caste discrimination illegal, to be discussed and determined later in the week.
In March this year, Senator Aisha Wahab, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party, authored and introduced the SB-403 Bill that seeks to add caste as a protected category in the state’s anti-discrimination laws alongside gender, race, religion and disability, The bill was passed by the state’s senate in May. If it goes through the state assembly, California will become the first US state to ban caste discrimination. In February, Seattle became the first city in the US to outlaw caste discrimination.
Why was this necessary? Because Dalits working in California have been discriminated against and faced casteist insults from South Asian colleagues. Dalit rights activists say scores of caste–oppressed Californians face housing, educational, professional and social discrimination. The article mentioned that “nurses from upper castes pass slurs about chamars (a pejorative term for Dalits) being dirty and polluting.”
We cannot but cast the snide remark that Indians will be Indians wherever they are! Thankfully in Sri Lanka caste is not an issue, except perhaps when a marriage is being arranged. We have given up that bad habit of enquiring what a person’s caste is. Most of the present day sophisticated urban youth may very well ask the question ‘what is caste?’ A positive improvement in our collective psyche.
However, in contrast to the former social improvement of not being caste conscious, we suffer the great negative of malaise, lethargy, care less attitude. It looks like it is a national trait to be laid back. Go to any government office and you will get a taste of it.
A Sri Lankan now settled in Sydney came on holiday recently and had personal business to attend to. She complained heavily on how much time she had to spend on a minor matter because officials were so slow and lethargic in the attention they gave the matter in hand.
A young professional travels to Bangladesh and India on official matters. She wailed recently on how laid back our officials are compared to their counterparts in the two countries mentioned. The progress of India and Bangladesh, particularly in the economic arena, as against the suicidal decline of our land is a direct result of this work ethic and manner of carrying on work and business.
We were not this way all through our recent history. Remember that when we gained independence from British rule we were a prosperous nation, sharply in contrast to poverty ridden, over-populated India and newly created Bangladesh battling against exponential population increase and devastating nature raining storms and flooding. Look where we are now. Saved by India which is now sought after by nations that lorded it over the subcontinent. Consider the balance between Bangladesh we pitied and now turn to with our begging bowl. Evil politics ridden with corruption is one reason for our national downfall. The other two nations too suffered rife corruption but punishments were meted out. Ours is a nation that tolerates huge corruption and only punishes the puny thief.
Another reason to Cassandra is that they love and are truly loyal to their Mother Country while we lack such devotion and genuine nationalism. A third factor is our lethargy and being nationally laid back. Will we ever improve? Let us have hope that with system change that the original Aragalaya Braves called for, and dedicated young people holding more of the reins of government in the future, Sri Lanka will once again be an island of success and glorious serendipity.