Wednesday, June 21, 2017

School Admissions in Sri Lanka - Especially to Grade ONE

It is the time all over again for entry into Grade 1 for January 1st 2018

The Government has published the (two full pages of details on how the marks are allocated and how students are chosen for particular schools of the parents choice)

However as the article today shows how completely and UTTERLY despicable the whole process is, and if you were a parent with even a little bit of self respect and ability to afford it you would NOT in a million years want to go through this trial to get your child into a school this way.

The link above shows an article that goes into detail about what actually happens, and why it is so unfair to the most qualified students especially those living literally NEXT door who cannot put their children to that school because of unfair and frankly illegal practices of the Politicians.

In fact I just saw in a a newspaper today, that a Principal of just one year in a Gampaha School has asked for a transfer immediately due to undue pressure from politicians.

This is simply untenable as the biggest headache principals face in Sri Lanka schools is the admission of students into Grade 1. There is a lot of bribery and money involved and parents are particularly bad on this as they somehow get a message accross that they are willing to pay so much to have their kid put in. So the bribe even if NOT solicited, is known prior to making the decision and so the Principal is faced with a huge dilemma, as they see these parents who are wealthy and they are absolutely penurious, and money TALKS! Its temptation staring at you.

How do you resolve this? I know it is for just 250 schools in the Country that this is a problem where the competition is fiercest. However there is NO REAL PLAN to resolve this crisis as parents are NOT willing to compromise when it come to which schools they will go to any lengths to put their children in!

Something to ponder, we are still trying to come up with the best solution for this NEVER ENDING problem.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Its time the MMDA is no longer part of the law of the land and should be replaced

with the same law for ALL citizens of Sri Lanka irrespective of their beliefs, and origins!

The BBC today is highlighting a frightening problem our Media in our own Country is reluctant to bring to the discussion table as one of the most serious practices of today, and which will have permanent harmful effects on our INNOCENTS! Namely the Muslim Marriages and Divorce Act. Shortened as MMDA for purposes of discussion.

Lets get a grip on what is and is NOT child abuse first. There are NO different definitions of that depending on your religious beliefs as Mormons in the US were also engaging in such Child Abuse and their practices were also subject to the law of the land and NOT Mormon Law.

Lets be clear, this is NOT an attack on Islam, as it was never the intention of Islam that children should be subject to torture. It is the interpretation of this by either pedophiles in their community or zealots who have NO place in religion and the rest of the Community, the 99% of Muslims who abide in the law of the Land to accept that it is time that we all adhere to one Law and not different ones just because of some past precedent.

I implore the sane to read the article in full, and realize that what we have at the end of this is a male dominated culture, that is against the precepts of Islam and their teachings and are being interpreted in order to belittle, subjugate and enslave half of the believers in Islam that that what their merciful God has ordered, which IS NOT THE CASE.

It is up to the elders of the Community to immediately make peace with their community first in doing what is right and just and then agree to abide by the law of the land in Sri Lanka above any other law so that they being rightful and full citizens of Sri Lanka behave that way and are NOT treated as a special case as it is done today.

Please go to any police station and ask any policeman. They say that it is very difficult to deal with the Muslim people when complaints of this nature are made as the strictures imposed on Muslim Kids by the Community are barbaric to border on torture of the worst kind in allowing them certain freedoms afforded Children and their rights, and after that once they are Adult afforded to all adults in this Country as rightful citizens within the law. 



It is universal after all!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Poson Season – Tradition and Modernity – Have we truly lost the plot?

Mercifully the Dansalas are in full swing at this time of the year, especially in the vicinity of the religious areas where this Festival is particularly important. So whether it is at Mihintalaya Temple and premises, where the Bo Sapling, Mihindu Maharahathanan introducing Buddhism to Sri Lanka is venerated, or Anudradhapura where the Sri Maha Bodhi is venerated orThanthirimale where Sangamitta Maharahathanan’s visit is remembered, these places are teeming with pilgrims at this time of year, and with it a carnival atmosphere.

Added to this the Watadage in Medirigiriya, a historic and archeological site of note, has its ONLY annual religious festival in these premises over Poson Poya. Even the annual Dansala by the Parakrama Samudraya in Polonnaruwa is performed in a big way feeding thousands of pilgrims without any charge for two to three consecutive days, becoming part of our tradition. Not to be outdone, the Annual Poson Maha Bath Dansala in Melsiripura feeds over 200,000 people during the season, as is a permanent fixture from morning to late at night NON STOP and they collect funds for this all year round, with just the bank balance being in the region of Rs75M to ensure each year all steps are taken to ensure they go smoothly in a disciplined manner.

While I know there is reference to the Dansalas being a unique aspect our Sri Lankan Buddhist Culture, the extent to which we go about it is still not appreciated Internationally, or with foreign visitors to this Country.  The Poson ones are famous in the North Central Province and Vesak Dansala held throughout the Country. Even on Esala Poya, people organize Dansalas in small villages as part of a community effort to be selfless or with ulterior motives.

Of course there is no end to the type of Dansala that one does, with Bath Dansalas being the traditional ones to feed the weary traveller/pilgrim on their journey to these religious sites and temples, they have spread into Fried Rice Dansalas, Ice Cream Dansalas, Sow, Beli Mal, Iced Coffee, Orange Juice, Soup, Noodles to name just a few variations.

Those who arrange these each year, collect funds from businesses and wealthy individuals who are asked to contribute, but with NO accounting, we don’t know if many actually make money on the side by organizing them and pocketing some of the proceeds as their share for their effort, negating the very concept. It is almost impossible to regulate the donations with how the funds are spent, and so many a confidence trickster is at work in some instances.

Usually those performed in the main areas of religious worship and pilgrim’s rests are more regulated to prevent any major embezzlement.
It must be remembered that due to this tradition, it is now open season, where people don’t even cook on Poson Days and make it a point to go to Dansalas to satiate their appetites for all the meals and liquid refreshments available. Some people get together into a tractor trailer and go from one to the other, eat and drink not as pilgrims but merely to take advantage of the generosity of others. These are NOT necessarily people in need or want, but do this out of a sense of camaraderie and social interactions which one remembers years later, of the exploits of Dansal Trips. In some cases people ask for packets to take with them, usually frowned upon, but often successful, so they can take it home for another meal, taken for a sick relative, but in reality, just being greedy.

The social changes in 30 years have seen people rarely wearing white anymore, even fewer observing Sil on Poson, and with the proliferation of motorbikes, large numbers travel from one place to another on a bike which is easier than using a bus with pilgrims as in the past, that restricts their freedoms, and entails hanging around and walking long distances to where the buses are parked.

One inevitable consequence of families and couples traveling by Motorbike is that the women also now wear pants NOT dress/lama sari or white saris. A whole new style of dressing bordering on what one wears for carnivals has taken over the solemnity of the Poson at the Temple.

Worse, the loud speaker system has taken over where the blaring of the sound at high volume seems to be the order of the day, with popular songs which have nothing to do with religion playing in the temple premises. Heaven and Earth will split open at these sights, and I ask how can anyone go to any of the aforementioned temples to pray or observe Sil on Poson if it is a carnival without any other explanation for it.

The commercialization of Poson where any place where people are gathered becomes simply a place full of temporary shops selling almost anything your care to want is now part and parcel of Poson. Some vendors make so much money from sales that Temples such as Mihitale Raja Maha Vihare has got wind of that and opened up the whole temple premises to shops charging high fees, to help with the Temple financial needs of the year. This further restricts the picnic space for pilgrims to rest their weary legs under a tree on a mat, making the whole exercise more of penance than of privilege and purity!

If personal opinion is sought, I don’t like the current trend of it being a loud marketplace, with the religious site a hostage to people’s needs and greed rather for religious observation. Even the traditional flower shops for offerings are no where to be seen and flowers so overpriced when they are found that it is also an opportunity for huge financial gain from a captive, docile, public.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Saudi Arabian Footballers in Australia – Should be banished from international competition for life – UNLESS

They did it as an act of defiance against their own Federation and the Saudi Govt. as a means of showing their displeasure about the policies and practices of their Government. That means they are showing signs of the “Freedom of expression” though it is a warped method of doing so!

SO what is all this about? Simply that at an international Soccer competition, against the Australian side at the Adelaide Oval, at some point in the match a minute of silence was observed as a ‘mark of respect’ for those who perished at the London Bridge bombing where two young Australian Females lost their lives by being butchered by one or all of three Religious Fanatics in the name of THEIR GOD.

Firstly, even if you do not subscribe to the mark of respect, in order to be respectful of the OCCASION, you simply stand and do nothing for 60 goddam seconds. Instead BAR 1 decent guy, the others ignored this and began playing the ball, while the other Saudi spectators ALSO ignored this gesture by actively moving about and shouting as if to show DISPLEASURE at the gesture.

Taking all this into consideration, I have given them the benefit of the doubt, as their Federation itself apologized to the Australians for their actions which implied it is NOT official policy to behave that way which is why I assumed it to be their act of defiance against their AUTHORITY showing their displeasure. Of course I accept that I can be wrong.

There were some who said that they behaved like that as a show of disgust, as they believe in an Islam which says that the killing of non-believers is actually to be commended in their religion. Who will say that?  If that is what the religion does indeed preach, we have a serious problem with religious tolerance as far as our Islam adherents are concerned. I trust it is ONLY ISIS who do that, and these players were NOT sympathetic to them. I wish someone to elaborate.

Of course there is a lot of surmising here, as I simply cannot logically explain this action by these players who SHOULD respect international norms, as that is what it is. After all the FA had rejected other shows of solidarity such as armbands as contrary to IFA rules so is this moment of silence also contrary to such? I don’t know the answer to that and maybe someone will enlighten me on that.

So to conclude, if upon investigation it is found that this behavior was sanctioned, then I pray that Saudi Arabia is forever banned from International Sport with immediate effect, with as much publicity given in their Country for why this action has been taken. It is time that we do not allow people to export their form of disrespect, to other traditions, other religions, women and Asians who they think are below their stinking selves, that we show that it is time they return to the desert where they came from and return to herding camels, to save their sorry arses from starvation.

It is almost certain that most of the troubles and terrorism we face this millennium is due to Saudi Arabia and its influence on the thought process of Islam adherents to believe a particular and peculiar form of Islam that is arguably literal and against modern day practice, and possibly not what was meant by Mohammed the Prophet. Using his good name to commit dastardly deeds is surely NOT giving them any place near their prophet, but a sure permanent purgatory, where they will live in hell!

Instead of the Saudi action against the Qataris that now look like sour grapes as they refuse to play ball, by having an outspoken Media channel directed at Arab speaking people, a first that is so widely available, they should look to their inner selves NOT to insult the holy places that they have seized as theirs to guard.

It is time to stop being politically correct in the face of violations of decency to begin with which falls into behavior not sanctioned by religion. It is adopted by a nation as an affront to humanity. Worse we have permitted the Country even a place in the UNHRC due to its financial clout and NOT for anything else, as the world still works for a few privileged and not for true justice, no matter how it is cloaked at the UN. While I agree that the UN is not the Angel they are trying to be, they are at least in a position to impose world norms on the human race, and Saudi Arabia MUST take heed without arrogance.

In fact this episode will merely fade away as no one wants to upset the apple cart as it could affect the world order! Whatever that means and however it is measured. However, it is time we drew a line in the Desert Sands of Saudi Arabia to read the riot act to their rulers, that time is running out for their survival and it is better sooner rather than later to conform to Arab norms at least, and affect the needed changes in their own Country, to play a role in the world as humane and decent people to all, and NOT just their kind.

Most of the Saudis suffer deeply with the lack of jobs and a future other than being dependent on the state and so unable to express an independent opinion on anything for fear of their gravy train being suddenly frozen. Either way it is only time when this train is wrecked at some point. Let it not happen suddenly but gradually in the interests of peace and stability in the Middle East.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Has the era of Political Correctness ended?

There is a huge pressure on Govt to stop politically correct behavior and go for the jugular in trying to nip terrorism in the bud. Is that good or bad? First question is whether being politically correct has left us in too secure a situation where we don’t worry about people’s skin color or religion, and WE SHOULD.

This question is like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. If there are 5 million muslims in the UK and there are 150 dedicated terrorists lurking about planning their next move, should all 5 million suffer, be suspects, have people look at them differently, have all their mosques bugged and the such like to possibly, YES POSSIBLY detect one or two incidents before they happen.

Then how do you stop it. Like in Sri Lanka just defeat terrorism totally. Sri Lanka was lucky we killed the terrorist leader, the cause of the trouble so that few could carry the cudgels and back someone else. I understand that the Government also killed the family, so that no one can rise up, unlike Osama Bin Laden’s son (one of his many sons) who has decided to take up where his father left off and continue the radical path to glory!

The authorities are caught between a rock and hard place in order to make this decision, as the majority of Britons could clamour for more policing more checking on Muslims and keeping tabs on them, and Muslim British in return will feel like foreigners in their own Country, MORE SO than they feel today, as some probably feel that, to turn into fanatics as they have some grudge against the host country. This is a sociological problem of when cultures DON’T mix, as they have a distinct culture. Many blacks have a black identity they wish to keep and ghettoize themselves creating a self perpetuating Gang and Drug Culture that has never been properly resolved. It is the middle class blacks who live in mixed neighborhoods in places like Atlanta GA that have been able to get out of this prophecy by climbing up the social ladder and trying to integrate some with difficulty with Whites but effectively giving up any trappings of black identity and culture.

In the Sri Lankan sense you get the same. You get the Tamil suburbs of Scarboro where you have streets of Tamils hardly mingling with any other Canadians of any European descent! They may integrate with intermarriage but it may be a slow process.

The issue with Islam is that the religion encompasses a way of life built around the mosque and call to prayer 5 times a day, and the need to go to Muslim schools and with the strict dietary habits can only obtain Halal food in only certain places and therefore they congregate OUT OF CHOICE to live with other MUSLIMS only to the chagrin of the host community who would like them to integrate and don’t see why they don’t, not understanding their particular religious beliefs.

Actually the Amish also behave like these Muslims but as they are so small in number and they live isolated lives that ensure they don’t even mix, do not cause a lot of problems outside their own community. I don’t know about young Amish boys and girls who give up their ties and move to the mainstream, they may do it for a short time or forever, but it rarely ends in bloodshed.

We must also be proportionate in understanding and taking action, as terrorism is such a small event, in terms of the number of other mishaps one faces in a day, but it gets more publicity out of all proportion to its numerical worth due to the world we live in and the people therefore are open to being scared and press their government for more action.

I don’t know how much resources the Security Forces are putting into this area, but I am sure a lot is being spent to find this needle in a haystack crime. Therefore if one looks at it in an objective way the spend in trying to second guess where the nest terror strikes may cost at the rate of 1Billion Pounds per death from terrorism a very high price to pay for finding this needle!

It is therefore important that we keep a sense of proportion, in a Country that does NOT have unlimited resources to fight a scourge. The fact we allowed this state of affairs to get to this stage is the problem. If one then goes to the base of this it could be the formation of the State of Israel as far as Musilim terrorism is concerned. Then the US interventions over the years in places like Libya and Iraq merely destabilized them, causing the problem and NOT solving it. So it seems dictators are necessary evil in keeping those countries stable and not falling into anarchy as Democracy just does not seem to part and parcel of their psyche, being better served by a dictator. One could then point to the MR regime too as one that had some stability despite the crimes committed by the state in the name of law and order and stability.

This is a constant argument that does not go away, and especially at Election time, the parties are playing further games of make believe in order to hold onto power or gain power adding another dimension!

We can therefore safely conclude that whatever action we take may not be the best in hindsight, even though at the time it was made it seemed the best. In that sense those in government dictator or democrat has the lives of millions and the worry of billions under their power. If they use it unwisely many people suffer. To me after Trump, I cannot see any improvement in democracy from fascism!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Radicalization – how does it happen and why?

Can you believe it Kings College, London has an International Center for the Study of Radicalization! They study how it happens to perfectly ordinary people, and that is at the heart of the problem of identifying who is firstly most likely to be radicalized and then to detect those who in fact have been radicalized.

The researchers believe that it is NOT social media but strong social networks that are a decisive factor in moving people from being extremist in terms of their thoughts and beliefs to becoming terrorists.

A preacher offering a sense of Community, belonging and camaraderie within a circle of peers brings strong interpersonal bonds based on what they call “in group love” The internet is rarely able to give this potency and charm of a real world recruiter.

It is these people with this charm offensive that have to be closely monitored. After all even evangelical Christians have been drawn to preachers and been under a spell that spelled disaster for them like the Jim Jones tragedy in 1978 which consumed poison and killed themselves.

It is clear that the British Extremist Anjem Choudary and Palestinian American Ahamed Musa Jibril are past masters at indoctrination and it may take years for their efforts to bear fruit and it is also likely that mere words they use cannot be construed as violent, but the net effect of what they wish to see can only be done with violence and so the authorities and the law must be fully aware of the potential for crime, due to the actions of these seemingly innocuous preachers.

It is therefore best to have a good system of espionage that keeps track of these extreme preachers in Buddhism, Christianity and Islam as the mainstream of these religion will also wish to wash their hands of these people and would prefer if the authorities had a handle on these people who use mind games to change people’s thinking that can result in radicalized extremists resorting to violence to achieve their end. When religion is mixed in this as a top-up that allows them heavenly grace for their actions you have a cocktail that is LETHAL.

In the interests of the security of the state and the peace of Nation, it is important that law enforcement agencies have a tool to be on top of all these potential troublemakers before they make trouble and nip any foreign influence in the bud before mayhem reigns. I hope the powers are at least listening to this.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

RADICALIZATION – How to prevent the worst outcome, there from!

Wikipedia Defines it: Radicalization is a process by which an individual, or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo or undermine contemporary ideas and expressions of freedom of choice.

The outcomes of radicalization are shaped by the ideas of the society at large, for example, radicalization can originate from a broad social consensus against progressive change in society or from a broad desire for change in society. Radicalization can be both violent and non-violent, although most academic literature focuses on radicalization into violent extremism.

Radicalization that occurs across multiple reinforcing pathways greatly increases a group’s resilience and lethality.

De radicalization refers to preventive counterterrorism measures that aim to have those with extreme and violent religious or political ideologies, to adopt more moderate and non-violent views.

Let’s face it, we are now ONLY concerned with violent form of radicalization, why it happens and what can we do to counter it, or effectively stop it happening in its tracks as speedily and practically as possible.

While the world is currently concentrating on Islamic Fundamentalists who have been radicalized to the extent of committing violence against the society they are living in, and putting a huge amount of resources to counter it, we must not be blind to its possibilities from other disaffected communities who can just as easily be radicalized in its violent form.


If Sri Lankan history is any indicator, the JVP uprising was the forebear of violent extremism, due to a political ideology which believed that change could ONLY happen with violence. The natural base for them were the disaffected youth, educated, but unable to find a satisfactory economic independence, from this educational freedom, and saw the establishment as its culprit, and wanted to replace the status quo with THEIR IDEOLOGY!

With so much experience therefore, we have failed to grasp, that lurking in the wings is a new religious ideology in opposing camps, that appeals to disgruntled youth, which opportunists are busy, behind the scenes, in manipulating their minds to this extremism, that WILL RESULT in violence as the only means of achieving their objectives. WE MUST STOP ITS PROGRESS and hopefully reverse this, but by providing a more palatable alternative.

SO what are the two opposing camps?

We have extreme Sinhala Buddhism that appeals to “LAZY” youth – the ‘rasthiyadu karayas’ who want to ride around in a bike, litter the junctions in three wheelers and blame all the problems they have on someone else, who are UNWILLING to take control of their lives and be goal oriented in a world full of opportunity, for which hard-work (brainwork too) is the only means. Young Bhikkus who see the material world take over their lives are also easily attracted to this cause, as they see MAMMON in the form of successful Muslims, traders from birth, rule their surroundings with every type of temptation for sale at a price and profit, quite the opposite of their beliefs of trying to remove desire!

ENVY takes over, and unless the elders summon the extremists into believing it is as against Buddhist values as other teachings, and counter, by teaching the true principles of Buddhism, that have been forgotten, leading many to forsake their religion because of it, and thus deal with their frustrations internally, rather than take it out on others. That will preserve the purity of Buddhist values.

On the other hand in Islam we have fundamentalist teachers, many of whom come from Saudi Arabia with state patronage, extolling literal interpretation of the Quran. This widespread indoctrination has completely transformed Sri Lankan Muslims, from more liberal traits of Sufism, where there is a ‘live and let live’ philosophy respecting other beliefs and most especially the ‘freedom of choice’ to a very rigid dress code, and strict rules on what they eat, as well as how they live and pray associating only with likeminded, that has actually ghettoized and stifled a once thriving community of fun loving people intermingled with all races, which was evidenced in the 1980s and before.

The young people coming out of this culture, cannot and will not mix and have ideas of exclusion that limit their exposure to their OWN community only, which will only result in disdain for the host community that lives a very different life creating a schism that is NOW reflective of the tension.

They have also been indoctrinated that Holy War is acceptable in the literal sense and taking arms on behalf of their belief will reward them in heaven! This will justify any act of terrorism, no matter what the law of the land is, creating a similar problem that is faced in the Middle with ISIS, that can only be eliminated by force. This belief if untenable within Sri Lanka!

Most in the Muslim community have failed to come to terms with this as an aberration and have DONE NOTHING to restore the status quo amongst the community that existed and instead passively allowed this ideology to rule them. This is creating a powder keg that will only ignite in flames, unless both communities make an effort to be more reasonable. Just look at the difference between how Muslims behave in Kattankudy and Colombo and you will know what I mean. You may as well be in some small Saudi Town, where even liberal Dubai would be seen as Haram, in observing some East Coast Towns!  

With the increase in numbers, and the insistence of their religious elders in supporting Muslim Political Parties to get more political clout, and be king makers of any Government, due the power and leverage they have, creates angst within the host community, that is understandable. Something has got to give in order to re-establish a sense of Nation, Community and the long term well being of the Country which had harmonious relations with all communities in the past.

Multiple factions fighting in the Middle East, and Jihadi recruitment, further deified in Social Media, is why young people find outlets and reinforcement for their beliefs and rather than be passive in the face of aggression will resort to violence, knowing they have political clout to back them.

This threat referred to above has further exacerbated the Minority complex of the majority Sinhala population, who feel they have NO where to run, as they are restricted to Sri Lanka, and Sinhala Buddhism of a tiny minority of say 15 Million have to face a Muslim Behemoth of 2Billion people worldwide who ALL identify with each other due to the strong bond of religion that puts Islam above Nationalism and Nationhood. This lack of patriotism is a further thorn!

We must face it. Buddhism is MORE tolerant than Islam, and therein lies the root of this problem. Islam of today is more fundamentalist than Islam practiced in Sri Lanka for a thousand years. I know mixed marriages, where the husband is Buddhist and the wife remains Muslim and she is rejected by her community for marrying a Muslim. I also know situations where the Husband is Muslim and he insisted that the wife becomes a Muslim to marry, as it is NOT permitted in their religion. This kind of logic, of different rules, and the insistence of the Muslim Marriages Law that overrides the law of the land are all contentious issues that have created much disquiet amongst the Host Community.

I don’t believe it is a chicken and egg situation, where we are arguing which has taken precedence. It is simply that the Muslim community MUST be cognizant of the anxiety that is justified in the host community and must acknowledge a degree of justified concern about the turn of events, and stop playing into the hands of the fundamentalists for fear of being branded un Muslim.

I believe it is due to the passive acceptance of extreme doctrine WITHOUT contradicting its practice in order to keep the peace in the minority community that has created a SILENT MAJORITY of Muslims unwilling to act and hence this is the real problem that MUST BE solved as a priority IMMEDIATELY if religious tolerance it to prevail. It takes two to tango.

"HATE CRIMES AGAINST MUSLIM" is just an EXCUSE to avoid the CORE of the problem, namely the fundamentalism of the MANY and the bellicose comments within the Muslim Community that is creating the fear and knee-jerk reaction amongst a FEW.