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THE DANCE OF CRABS

By Shyamon Jayasinghe, Melbourne writer

We have read of the dance of crabs in the Loweda Sangarawa written a few hundred years ago. Today, we see it enacted by leaders of our land. The motions of crabs are typically crooked; so are the ways of our leaders. The crabs dance in a pot put to boil oblivious of the tragic fate that awaits them. Our leaders, likewise, dance in a series of acts that would be seen as hilarious if not for the tragedy that gathers around them and the land.

The dance is so unmindful of realities that one wonders whether Sri Lanka is in crisis at all. Who said there is a bloody war in Lanka that has already killed over sixty thousand persons and maimed so many of others? Who said there is a serious problem of kids been dragged away forcefully from the breasts of their mothers and taught to hate and to kill? And who said the island is threatened with dismemberment? What one sees is not a nation in defence against death but a nation impatient to entertain the world with the comic antics of its leaders.

Today’s Daily Mirror carries an image that is symbolic of the break down of basic delivery services in Lanka. It is a picture showing how private bus drivers are directing traffic in many places, the police having abnegated their responsibilities for that task. If the police cannot police the private bus drivers, let the latter police themselves! Perhaps less school kids will die like dogs on the highways.

Speaking of dogs, the island’s bastion of freedom-the judiciary- is now being charged with giving “balu theenduwas”. Suspicions were raised when SBD, the Opposition’s able campaigner had been sent to jail with hard labour for two years and thereafter to be disfranchised for another seven years thus disabling the latter’s campaigning ability. The Supreme Court had given him the conviction for contempt of court; but the Opposition reads more into it. The President’s own charge that the Judiciary and police are corrupt does not help to liquidate the “balu image”, although in her case she cannot be convicted by virtue of her immunity. Therefore, at a huge Opposition rally, dogs were paraded, as though the judiciary were paraded. Doing things like this, Lanka’s leaders are really helping to dismantle the image of the judiciary, which amounts to national suicide. But why bother? The dance must go on.

The Chief Justice also hits headlines in all sorts of controversies unheard of anywhere in the world in respect of persons of such eminence.

Early into the innings of this government, we saw parliamentarians in the highest assembly of the land surrounding a Buddhist monk MP and trying to mutilate his genitals. The principal accused in that offence now goes around the country gloating at his newly won doctorate. Nowhere are doctorates cheaper than in Sri Lanka where a private self-styled university awards them in gay abandon. By the way, a good foreign revenue source for Lanka? The recipient now claims to be a descendent of our classical hero, Dutugemunu. He certainly has enough brawns for a doctorate though we are not sure that degrees of that genre are given for that kind of endowment. One fails to understand how a private institution can call itself a ‘university’ and award degrees which is the legal prerogative only of a ‘university’ set up under the University’s Act.

The British thought they could establish British justice and the common law in lands with wholly different traditions by exporting wigs and robes and maces. See what has happened to the Speaker’s mace in parliament. MPs have a go at the mace whenever they disagree with the happenings in the assembly. The JVP took it away once, the UNP next and the TNA took it away last. Only CBK has to do it next.

While the leader of the UNFPA government, the President, is trying hard to negotiate peace with the Tigers, her government’s principal coalition partner, the JVP, openly opposes the idea and has in fact told Norway, the facilitator, to quit Lanka, as “our government does not want you”. Thus, what the President and one part of the government assert, the other part negates. Not only that, the JVP leader called the President a “bibikkama”!

The Sangha party in parliament, the JHU, one fine day discovered that one of its members had been kidnapped before the election of the Speaker! The JHU, which came to parliament in order to save Buddhism and to set up a Dharma Rajyaya have apparently found its task a little tough. Thus, they divert their energies with trifling matters like having a go at the Indian concert of mega stars. Some monks had been set to fast unto death over this serious issue; but withdrew with relief when they were forced to do so. People had been asked by the JHU to go to temples and meditate on Soma Hamuduruwo instead of going to the concert. However, these sinful and ignorant multitudes opted for the concert and the party of monks abandoned their plans to upset the party.

Not stopping at the divisions already created within us one cannot understand what all this priority about the assertion of Buddhist rights are. The emotion released by this campaign has already resulted in the destruction of about a hundred churches. A few days ago, a church in Katuwana had been torched. This kind of action makes madness. True, the Tamils, too, are not without serious divisions- Hindus Vs Christians, Vellala Vs “low castes”, and Batticaloa Vs Vanni etc. However, the Tamil militants are smart enough to hide these divisions and concentrate on the principal target. Nevertheless, Sinhalese people can’t see danger or smell danger. Parochialism is what matters in their camp. Thomas Hobbes used to talk about a “war of all against all”. Here are the Sinhalese engaged in a war of all against all.

In the dance of our crabs, passions are provoked and reason is taken prisoner, like SBD. Take note everyone! Nations are rarely destroyed from the outside. The Romans had destroyed themselves from within years before the fall of Rome. The Weimer Republic effectively self-destructed itself well before Hitler. Closer home, the Kandyans destroyed themselves well before the signing of the Convention of 1818. Today, Sinhalese are seen self-destructing themselves well before the coming fall to the LTTE


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