Monday, November 7, 2011

The Ten Commandments of Mahinda Rajapakse

His Eminence Malcolm Rajasloana

(This was inspired by the article, Thou shalt not oppose the ruling family: New First commandment for Sri Lanka, by Tisaranee Gunasekara which appeared in Transcurrents, 5 November, 2011)

"I am the LORD your President who brought you out of the war with the LTTE. You shall have no other gods in My presence..."

"Do not make an image or any likeness of what is in the heavens above unless it makes ME look good."

"Do not swear falsely by the name of the LORD unless you happen to be Mervyn Silva"

"Remember the Sabbath day and keep it quiet without disturbance so that I can rest."

"Honor your father and your mother, but not above MYSELF, my brothers, sons uncles, nephews and wife."

"Do not murder. That is MY job!"

"Do not commit adultery unless you are Duminda Silva."

"Do not steal, unless you give ME ten percent."

"Do not bear false witness against your neighbor unless he is an opponent of MY regime."

"Do not covet your neighbor's wife, unless you are Malaka Silva."

Let's see, who's on the Winner's Podium today?

by Stewart Kudupakse

(November 03, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)

Well folks, up until this morning it was a very close race.

Yessir, very close indeed. As the most annoyingly amusing person in Sri Lanka Mervyn the Vermin was winning by a length, having rounded the last bend he was heading for home at a comfortable pace. Having fraudulently obtained money with a bad cheque, threatened staff of the Canadian Embassy at gunpoint and tying a government official to a tree, you would think that nothing could surpass him.

Wrong! Think again.

From out of the pack gallops Duminda and he closes in on Mervyn in leaps and bounds passing him comfortably yards before the finishing post. How did he accomplish this amazing feat you might ask?

This humble individual has been accused of rape and molesting his girlfriend, the delectable Anarkali Arakasha. This hit the headlines but as is customary in Sri Lanka the matter just died a death and nothing happened. Then of course there is the small matter of his insurance fraud of nothing less than Rs. 17 million. How did this come about? Back in August He crashed his car and then six days later took out an insurance policy on it. Two days after the policy was in hand he made a claim with the insurance company for the total loss of his vehicle as it had hit a telephone pole. (Judging by the condition of the vehicle he must have hit the entire telephone company). Investigations by the insurance company revealed the truth and a report was made to the police who admittedly openly that while they thought there was sufficient evident to act against Duminda they did not due to enormous political pressure. "We would have been in deep trouble if we raised any issue then," said one high ranking officer, who, with a penchant for self preservation declined to be named.

And so folks it's Duminda by a head, taking the lead as Sri Lanka's most deplorable example of what any person can do if you have the patronage of the Troika.

Stewart Kudupakse is an author and satirist who also has a penchant for self preservation.

Monday, September 19, 2011

PAKISTAN: Devastating floods and the criminal negligence of the authorities What plans are underway to deal with the aftermath of this year's flood?

An Article by the Asian Human Rights Commission

Baseer Naveed with Stewart Sloan

This article may be seen at:

Ongoing flooding due to monsoon rains has inundated the entirety of the Sindh province causing billions of Rupees in damage and the loss of crops alone is estimated to be Rs. 5.6 billion. The people in many areas, particularly those of Khaipur district in the northern part of the province, Sanghar, Tharparker, Umerkot and Mipur Khas districts in the central part and the entire Badin district and its surrounding areas in the south have been badly affected. The floods have also been felt in and around Karachi, the capital of the province. Those most affected are members of the farming community and many families have had to leave their homes and farms with as much as they can carry. Having lost their crops they have only their livestock left and the cows and bullocks are being dragged along after them. It is estimated that five million people are displaced and a further two million are directly affected, over four million acres of land are flooded and unusable.

Altogether a total of 22 out of the 23 districts of the province have been directly or indirectly affected and living in a large city offers no protection from the flood waters. Indeed, even the cities have been inundated due to the poor drainage facilities. Facilities which the citizens have been complaining about for several years and which the provincial government has been promising to improve for even longer. Enormous amounts of funds donated by international donors have been lost due to wastage and corruption as may be seen by the World Bank Funded Left Bank Outfall Drain which is one of the main causes of the flooding.

In fact, after the catastrophe of last year it was predicted that this year's monsoon would be extraordinary. The government was made fully aware of this and offers of international aid were arrogantly turned down with the explanation that the government was fully in control of the situation. This mindset is the result of the centuries-old bureaucracy which dictates that catastrophes such as this are merely an opportunity of misusing the aid meant for the people. This is particularly visible in the Badin area which was one of the worst hit, there is hardly a square foot of dry land and yet, despite receiving international aid almost immediately no assistance has been seen. This situation is now seen in many areas and it is difficult even to find a dry spot to erect a tent.

The Irrigation Secretary informed the government that the flooding on this occasion was reportedly caused by "..... an unusual and unexpected wave of flood and monsoon rains had increased the amount and pressure of water." However, the truth of the matter is that despite the flooding of last year which caused the single most devastating natural catastrophe in the history of the country, little, if anything has been done to prepare the country for a repetition; a repetition which is now in full swing. The government paid lip service to the potential for further catastrophes by setting up Disaster Management Authorities in each province which have proved to be largely if not totally ineffective.

It is only now that the government is examining the conditions of the bunds and embankments which are only just, if at all, holding the flood waters at bay. In the meantime hundreds of thousands of people are trapped due to the flooding of the roads and it is the women and children who are suffering the most due to the lack of safe drinking water, milk and food. As was seen in the last catastrophe the response from the government was very slow due to the lack of a proper relief system and resources. While the refugees are slowly making their way towards the ever decreasing drier regions of the province there is little in the way of facilities to accommodate them. Those fortunate enough to have reached the comparative safety of a camp are lucky if they have one meal a day. Safe drinking water is totally unavailable in most areas.

It has been reported that the Government has established 1400 camps across the flood-affected areas. However, these camps alone cannot assist more than 20 percent of the affected people.

The army and navy have been mobilised and have started airlifting dry food packs, medicines for the treatment of diarrhoea, gastro-enteritis and other diseases. This also includes anti snake bite serum. Tents and other temporary accommodation are being provided but very slowly and the condition of some of the refugees remains perilous. However, this is seen as a public relations effort on the part of the armed forces to show that they are indeed doing something.

What is sad about this is the fact that if they put as much effort into actually doing something instead of just being seen to do something the situation of the affected people would be much improved. It may be said that the armed forces are simply following the lead of the government and provincial authorities as the president and prime minister are out of the country and have not seen fit to return despite the enormity of the catastrophe. There has been little or no sign of the local administration. Similar to last year's floods the Chief Minister of the province, Qaim Ali Shah, has visited affected areas and made the usual promises none of which have come to fruition.

The local NGOs, political parties, the government and international aid agencies are appealing for donations but it is feared that much of what is donated will once again be lost to misuse and corruption. Indeed, it has already reported that donated relief items are available for sale in the open street markets.

The scope of the humanitarian disaster has yet to be realised. The worst situation will be seen when the flood waters finally recede. It is then that the carcasses of the farm animals and domestic pets that died in the flooding will be seen rotting in the open air and in what used to be drinking wells. Disease will spread faster than the medical aid can be distributed and it is then that the world will see the totality of the disaster. It is then the government will hold their hands to the international aid agencies. Around 500 people including children are already dead and this figure is likely to rise due to the spread of disease.

What is very frightening about this is the fact that it is unlikely that any lessons will be learned from this year's flooding. Taken into consideration with last year's disaster it can be safely predicted that this is going to happen again. The poor and vulnerable will bear the brunt of the criminal negligence of the people who are supposed to be protecting them. The question is: will the government be ready this time. The unfortunate answer must be, "No".

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Monday, September 5, 2011

King George the Fifth -- before and beyond

Stewart Sloan

(This was published in Family and Friends from Shanghai and Hong Kong an open group on Facebook)

I started my secondary school education at St. Joseph’s College in Kennedy Road. St. Joseph’s is a Catholic school and most of the teachers were Brothers. In those days corporal punishment was still permitted and unlike KGV, where only the headmaster was allowed to wack the students, in St. Joseph’s any of the brothers could punish the students they deemed to have been naughty. The punishment itself was not severe and the sting of the teacher’s ruler on the palm of the hand soon faded; what hurt me more was the fact that we were never told the reason for our punishment. Every Friday morning the form teacher would call out a list of names and we would step out to the front and await our turn with the ruler. One of the brothers was particularly sadistic and it came as no surprise when, one day one of his student victims placed a hypodermic syringe under the cushion of his chair. I will leave his reaction to the reader’s imagination. Needless to say he didn’t get much sympathy and the only reason no one laughed was because of the threat of future punishment.

St. Joseph’s was then, and is today, a school with an enviable scholastic record and they didn’t have the time to commit to slower students. After a trying year my parents transferred me to King George the Fifth and then the fun started.

I was initially placed in Form 2E until the school realised that they didn’t have enough students to justify an additional class and we amalgamated with 2D, my first promotion!

I was not a very good student. It seemed that as soon as I started making progress in any one class or subject they would transfer the teacher. The next two years were a series of failures to which my parents became accustomed to.

Then I started writing and everything changed. I found that there was something I could do in life better than anyone else.

At the end of every school year the teacher would stand up at the head of the class and read out the class positions. In a class of an average of 22 students I usually came 22nd and then suddenly it was the end of Form 4. The teacher, a kind lady whose name I don’t recall now stood up at the head of the class and started announcing the positions. It was customary to start at the last place and work towards the first. Accustomed as I was to being number 22 I was surprised when my name wasn’t called. We progressed to 10th and then 5th and then 2nd and lo and behold to everyone’s amazement (including my own), my name was called. I remember that the teacher asked me how I felt. I recall that I just sat there opening and closing my mouth for a few moments before muttering something like, “OK”.

The Headmaster in those days was E.W.D Gore, known affectionately to his students as ‘Egore’. Egore was so impressed that he wrote a personal letter to my mother congratulating me on my progress and saying that I shouldn’t put off my small setbacks. In this case the small setback was getting 2 out of 200 for my maths test. They gave me one mark for turning up and another for getting my name correct.

For what it’s worth I finally got an O Level equivalency in maths when I was 44 years of age.

Corporal punishment to be banned in Sri Lanka

(Children are the future of every family, culture and country. They must be protected from persons who believe themselves to be in position of impunity. They must be nurtured, encouraged and given every opportunity of fulfilling the potential that every human being has).
by Stewart Sloan

(September 02, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) A recent article in the Sri Lankan press announced that corporal punishment in schools, children's homes and prisons is to be made a punishable offense. (No corporal punishment, Daily Mirror, 2nd September 2011 by Sandun A. Jayasekara). This is incredibly good news for the thousands of innocents who are affected by corporal punishment every year in the country.

Frequent reports are received about school children, sometimes not yet in their teens, being severely beaten by their teachers and principals. The physical damage, which sometimes amounts to severe injuries such as partial loss of hearing, contusions and sprains, is only one part of the problem. The worst part is the anguish the child undergoes knowing that the physical punishment he has received is in no way justified by his alleged 'crime'.

Often the usual scenario is that the parents of the child find out about the incident and either go to the school themselves or the nearest police station to file a complaint. The educational authorities arrange for a reconciliation meeting between the teacher involved and the parents knowing full well in advance that they will support the version of the teacher. The child is considered biased; a trouble maker and someone who is simply trying to bring the school into disrepute. At the school the parents are given the teacher's version of the event. There is no fairness involved; the child was rude, obstructive and/or stole something from either the school or another student. The parents are forced to either accept the school's version of the incident or, if they feel that this version doesn't jell with that of their child they have the option of making a complaint to the educational authorities or the police.

What happens next is almost laughable in its commonality with all similar cases. What happens is absolutely nothing!

The situation is similar when the parents go to the police. The officers will take a statement from the child and the parents and then perhaps, if they are feeling diligent, take the child for a medical examination. Then, similar to the educational authorities they call the teacher in for a 'talk'. They listen to the teacher, weigh up the version of the child and without fail, support the version of the school. The end result of this is that the child, having suffered physical trauma, is then subjected to the embarrassment of being called a liar. Invariably, the child is either expelled from the school or simply refuses to go back for fear of ridicule by the teachers and other students. Many children are so traumatised that the incident brings their education to an abrupt end.

The Women Empowerment and Child Welfare Ministry is behind the move to introduce this law and are to be congratulated for its forward thinking. However, once such a law is introduced it is vital, absolutely vital that the government of Sri Lanka ensures that complaints made under this legislation are investigated thoroughly and with impartiality. Sadly, the speed with which Sri Lankan police officers are corrupted means that, as in the past, they will likely side with the school and teachers for a 'consideration'. This will simply make a mockery out of a law designed to protect children from persons in a much higher and more powerful position. If this happens it will be yet another example of legislation designed to protect the innocent being wasted.

Children are the future of every family, culture and country. They must be protected from persons who believe themselves to be in position of impunity. They must be nurtured, encouraged and given every opportunity of fulfilling the potential that every human being has.

(The author is a father of two, one son born to his first wife and the second one was adopted. He has worked as an English teacher with children as young as two and a half years).

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Grease Yakas -- an international conspiracy to embarrass Sri Lanka!

by Stewart Greasywalla

(August 22, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Sri Lankan people will be pleased to know that investigations carried out by a freelance foreign journalist has discovered that the 'Grease Yaka' incidents are just another plot to discredit the government. Working under cover, and at considerable risk to himself, the journalist was able to interview three of the Grease Yakas that the government claim does not exist!

The report by the journalist:

Acting on a tip off I went to Siyabalanduwa, an area which, for those readers who are not family with Sri Lanka, is situated in the South East a short distance from the city of Badulla. The information provided indicated that three such Yakas would be on the prowl for victims on a certain evening of the week. I therefore arrived at Siyabalanduwa in the late afternoon and had an early dinner so that I could position himself on the street, a likely victim for an attack.

The town quieted down quite early and apparently I was not the only one who had received information of a possible attack, the townsfolk wanted to get off the streets while it was still light. It was necessary to walk as quietly as possible while at the same time making myself obvious so that I was not suspected of being a Grease Yaka and lynched by a frightened mob. It was while I was standing in the cover of a faulty lamppost that I was set upon by 'something'.

The first thing I noticed was the pungent smell of grease as the Yaka enveloped me is his arms. I would have struggled but, quite frankly, was overcome by fear -- and the smell. I must have passed out because sometime later (it was half an hour, as it turned out) I awoke to find myself lying on the floor of an abandoned house. There was light from a paraffin lantern which sat on a rickety table in the centre of the room and I raised myself into a sitting position as quietly as possible. Then one of the Grease Yakas stood in front of me.

I confess that my heart was pounding in my heart. I had no idea what this creature intended to do with me or whether I would ever see the light of day. Then I heard a voice from behind me and turning my head, to my horror saw two more Yakas standing there. One of them was drinking from a bottle of Lion Larger.

"Bloody Hell", the one holding the bottle said. "It's a bloody foreigner".

"Oh bugger," said the one in front. "That's going to muck things up a bit".

Slowly, my heart slowed down to the point where it was only thumping in my breast. At least it was still pumping I thought to myself. Whoever these people were, they were not demons from Sri Lankan mythology that was for sure.

"Wha, wha, what are you people?" I stammered.

"At least he speaks English," said one of them.

I was totally confused. The three, men, as I now realised they were, came to stand in front of me. By the light of the paraffin lamp I was able to tell that they were tall, slim and wearing clothes that they, or someone, had liberally covered in foul smelling grease. My journalistic blood was up and I knew that I had a story; all I had to do was get it, and get out alive. I decided to try the tough guy approach.

Gathering my wits I put on my most authoritative voice. "I'll have you know that I am here at the personal invitation of a very, very high ranking member of the government. He is indeed even a close relative of the President himself!"

"Hmm", said one of them. "You see that's rather strange Old Chap. Because you see, we're here on the same instructions. In fact, our instructions came from the very person you claim to be representing."

"Go...Go....Gota.... ." I stammered.

"Now, now". He said. "It wouldn't do to give away secrets now would it?"

There was a loud commotion outside the house and without warning the door burst open and half a dozen heavily armed police officers entered.

The three "Yakas" were arrested and handcuffed. One of them quickly pointed out that I was not one of them and should be released at once. The Officer-in-Charge looked me up and down and said in perfect English, "I'm sure we can think of something to charge him with".

"Suggest you let him go, Old Boy, wouldn't want him giving the game away would we," said the same one.

I couldn't resist and despite any danger I might have been in asked the question. "What exactly is the game?"

"We've been running around dressed like this for days now, waiting to get arrested by the Sri Lankan police who will announce to the local public and the world at large that the whole Yaka story was just another plot by the west to embarrass the country. When they announce in the press that the Yakas are, in fact, foreigners dressed up to look and act like devils one of the ministries will announce that we were employed by a TV channel, I'm sure you can guess which one, I'm not going to tell you but it comes after 3 and before 5."

The three 'Yakas' were taken outside and loaded into a police van. I couldn't help but notice it was white and the registration plate seemed to have fallen off. The Officer-in-Charge took one last look at me and shrugged his shoulders before walking out.

I was left alone in the abandoned house with my thoughts my still hammering heart and what remained of my wits. I didn't want to leave the comparative safety of the house so waited for the morning. It took forever to come.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The US enters Sri Lankan airspace

Did they or didn't they and what if they did?

It is this same arrogance that allows the Americans to violate Sri Lanka's or any other country's airspace with impunity.
by Stewart Sloan

(August 10, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) Recent reports in the Sri Lankan press have revealed that American airplanes entered the territorial airspace of Sri Lanka. Interestingly this has been both denied and confirmed by the government who are very good at first denying things and latter admitting to them. This comes in light of the fact that this same government is now admitting that civilians were killed in the final stages of the war against the LTTE. However, the intrusion into Sri Lankan airspace has been empathically denied by the US navy.

I don't know who I feel sorry for the most in this instance; the sovereignty of Sri Lanka has possibly been violated by the arrogance of a mightier nation. Let's face it: there is more destructive fire power in the USS Ronald Reagan, the aircraft carrier thought to be involved, than the entire Sri Lankan military apparatus. So, the fact remains, if the US did violate Sri Lankan airspace, what exactly is Sri Lanka going to do about it?

If the Americans are known for anything it is their pure, unadulterated arrogance. They come and go as they please which is blatantly evident by their actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Three years ago in Hong Kong a plain clothed American tried to leave the territory with a loaded ammunition clip in his possession. The carrying of any weaponry, including self defense items such as pepper spray is strictly controlled, and therefore this man was arrested and held. He was, he announced, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI is known to be a domestic institution with no jurisdiction outside the continental USA, so by what right or authority was this fellow carrying a loaded clip. The immigration officers handed him over the police who held him while communications flew back and forth to the American Consulate General. They, with incredible arrogance announced that he was, in fact, an FBI agent and that they should release him IMMEDIATELY! No apology or explanation was received regarding the incident.

It is this same arrogance that allows the Americans to violate Sri Lanka's or any other country's airspace with impunity.

Whether they did or not one more thing is interesting. The Americans are displaying the very same arrogance shown by Mahinda Rajapakse and his brother, who, two years ago denied that any civilians were killed during the final stages of the war and then recently, very calmly announced that, perhaps, some might have been killed but that this amounted to nothing more collateral damage. No apology or explanation for this sudden turnabout was offered; they just offered it up and demanded that the people of Sri Lanka and the international community accept it. Interestingly, collateral damage is of course something else that the Americans know all about as in the first Gulf war more British servicemen were killed by American friendly fire than by the Iraqis themselves.

So on the arrogance front, it's one point to the Rajapakses' and one hundred and one to the Americans!

After all, who is going to argue with the USS Ronald Reagan?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Foxes, lions, tigers and elephants -- Sri Lanka exports anacondas

Stewart Elephanpakse

(NB: This was eventually published in the Sri Lanka Guardian on 27th July, 2011)

(Unpublished) There is a strange combination of animal affairs in the Sri Lankan press today (July 11) but I suppose this is only natural in a country that imports camels. (Caligula and Rajapakse -- Horses and Camels by Stewart Rajapakse -- Sri Lanka Guardian January 26, 2011)
First we have the story that Liam Fox paid a visit to Mahinda Rajapakse, Sri Lanka's self-styled lion. Fox almost certainly didn't say what Mahinda wanted to hear when he called for freedom of expression, accountability and positive attitudes. Only one of these would have been really welcomed by Mahinda, the call for positive attitudes, because we can all be certain that if Mahinda is positive about anything it's the speed with which he plans to consolidate his hold over the people he is supposed to be protecting. Then of course Fox really put his paw in his mouth when he said that he was looking forward to the publication of the LLRC report in November this year. Sadly this doesn't say much for Liam because anyone believing in the credibility of the LLRC report has obviously been outfoxed by Mahinda and his brothers.

Then we have the article about how Sri Lanka is going to trade anacondas for tigers (the furry kind, not the terrorist type). One might think that there is something ironic about a country that exports anacondas. But then, if we consider that the country is exporting a disgraced Inspector General of Police as the Ambassador to Brazil and has already exported a military officer suspected of war crimes to the United Nations, perhaps this is not so strange.

Then there is the news that Sri Lanka will have to import tuskers ('elephants', for those that are unfamiliar with the term) from India for the Perheras. Sri Lanka used to have more elephants than you could shake a stick at; unfortunately it was decided that they were not as important as everyone thought they were and now when one of them dies it is the people that mourn them, not the government. The thought springs to mind that they should have looked after the ones they had a bit better. Apparently however, there are plenty of them available because the government, in the form of the Wildlife Conservation Department Director General Dr Chandrawansa Pathiraja, has emphasised that no elephants in the South will be relocated due to the construction of an airport runway or for the proposed Games City in Hambantota. Hmmm, whenever a representative of the Rajapakse government categorically announces that something is not going to happen I always think it's time to start worrying. If I was an elephant I'd start packing my trunk. And that reminds me of an old story; what is gray, has four legs, a head, a tail and a trunk?

Why, a mouse going on holiday of course!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pigs can fly, the earth is flat and there are no secrets in Sri Lanka

Stewart Sloan

(July 07, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) Once again President Mahinda Rajapakse stretches our credibility by announcing boldly in public that there are no secrets in Sri Lanka. In a meeting with a group of media persons and editors Rajapakse said that any attempt to pass a bill protecting the peoples' right to information was unnecessary as he could personally ensure access to information. All we have to do is ask him.

The next thing you know he'll be telling us that pigs can fly and the earth is flat. I'm reminded of a line from George Orwell's Animal Farm: If Comrade Napoleon said it, it must be true! So, therefore, ergo and to wit (to coin a phrase) if we want to know something all we have to do is ask Comrade, er, President Mahinda.

A barrage of questions spring to mind and as he stated in public that: "..... he could ensure access to information excluding what was covered by the Official Secrecy Act and national security," here we go.

Please President Rajapakse, tell us the whereabouts of Prageeth Eknaligoda, who actually killed Lasantha Wickrematunge and on whose orders, why are all the key governmental posts filled with your brothers and relatives, did your son actually pass his law exam or did you fix it for him, who killed the 17aid workers of Action Contre la Faim, who was responsible for the deaths of the five students killed in Trincomalee and, perhaps most importantly, as you are now so willing to reveal the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, did you win the last presidential election fair and square?

So many questions, so little time!

Please President Rajapakse, fulfill as least one promise you have made in public. Make us believe in flying pigs

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Real History of the Dragon Boat Festival

Stewart Sloan

It was a dark and stormy night and the lights in the Counsellor's office flickered with the electricity in the air. Mr. M. Lee was startled by the shrilling of his phone and paused to get his heart back to normal before picking it up.

"Mr. Lee, get out of there now, Tung's goon squad is coming to pick you up".

The caller hung up without identifying himself but he didn't have to. Lee knew the man was correct. In the last Legco meeting the Chief Executive had looked in his direction and bellowed, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest, er, I mean lawyer?"

Lee didn't even bother to collect his brief case; he opened the door of his office, saw that the coast was clear and ran for the lift. Changing his mind he decided to use the fire exit and ran down the stairs.

As he went he wondered how he was to get to safety in his hide-away in the New Territories. The MTR was closed; the Star Ferry had long since stopped running. They would be watching the cross harbour tunnel buses; his only hope was to go to Queen's Pier and see if he could get a water taxi.

He was panting with exhaustion and fear when he arrived and his exhaustion turned to despair when he realised that there were no more water taxis. The Walla-wallas had been put out of business by the tunnel buses years ago. He sat down on the steps and put his head in his hands. He could only wait for daylight and hope that he could get to the Star Ferry without being spotted.

Then he heard a commotion in the water and stared in amazement as a green dragon raised its majestic head out of the water. Apart from the San Miguel tin that had got caught in one of its horns it was a magnificent animal, as dragons go.

Lee sat there dumbfounded, not exactly worried but then this was his first experience with a dragon and he had no idea what to expect.

Then, to his amazement the dragon spoke, "Quickly", it said, "Climb on my back and I will take you to safety".

"But, but, but" stammered Lee, "You're green".

"You try swimming around in this shit for a thousand years and see what it does to your complexion. Hurry now!"

Without further ado, M. Lee climbed on the dragon's back and was taken to safety in the red-light district of Tsim Sha Tsui. (Who would think of looking for a Legco member in a topless nightclub?)

M. Lee was taken to safety and from that day on all the freedom loving people of Hong Kong show their respect to the dragon that saved him by celebrating Dragon Boat Day.

At least I think that's the real version.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crocodile parks -- eco-tourism and garbage disposal

by Stewart Crocoloanian

(June 22, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The government of Mahinda Rajapakse has outdone itself once again by combining eco-tourism and garbage disposal all in one fell swoop.

The soon-to-be-opened Crocodile Park just south of Negombo will be, ostensibly, to promote eco-tourism but the wily intelligentsia at Templetrees has another aim in mind for the denizens of the park -- garbage disposal! And what better way of getting rid of unwanted dissidents than to feed them to a dozen or so hungry crocodiles.

About fifteen years ago a zoo located in Shenzhen, Guangdong province in the south of the Peoples' Republic of China came up with a great idea to bring in customers. When it was time to feed the tigers they sold live chickens to the tourists who came to visit. The resulting carnage ended up in a huge profit for the zoo and a huge down turn in the international community's opinion of the PRC.

Will, we must ask, Rajapakse sell off unwanted dissidents to the tourists, local or international to increase sales? We await, as I am sure the crocs do too, with baited breath!

In the meantime, another interesting point is as to where these crocodiles will come from. An article published in the Sri Lankan press states that they will be captured from the Gin and Nilwala rivers and 'released' into the park. Only a mind like that of Mahinda Rajapakse could come up with the concept of taking an animal out of its natural habitat and 'releasing' it into the controlled environment of a park.

Well done Templetrees! Thank you for the endless entertainment you provide.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Last year Airyn was one of several writers and poets asked to draft a suitable letter and poem which would be forwarded to President Obama. Airyn duly submitted the draft and poem and did not hear anything else. Yesterday she discovered that her work had been used and published in the Women Thrive Worldwide website after being forwarded to President Obama, the First Lady, Vice President Biden, Secretary Hillary Clinton and others.

The website may be seen at:

I am reproducing the letter and poem here for your information.

Thank you,


On November 29, 2010 Airyn Lentija of the Philippines submitted the following letter to the Obama administration in support of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).
Dear President Obama, First Lady, Vice President Biden, Secretary Hillary Clinton and the members of US Government:

I am honored to be given this rare opportunity to take over the platform and speak with you about the pains behind the tears I have and felt of the abused young girls, teenage girls and women. With the approach of the IVAWA vote, I am asking you to sign this legislation for the women of the world.

Everyday countless women suffered from Domestic Violence. While it is usually physical violence many people forget that mental abuse can be equally traumatic and far more long lasting. In addition to this every year, women in some parts of the world become victims of acid attacks and while a brilliant reconstructive surgeon might restore their damage skin tissue they will never be free from the horror of what they have suffered, of the pain and anguish they have experienced and the deep underlying knowledge that they will never, ever, be the same woman.

There are teenage girls, forced to marry at a very young age. Some are exploited, sold to be used as sex slaves, farmer labourers and worst they will be killed slowly by the harvesting of their organs. There are women also will suffer and die from the after effects of female genital mutilation, stoning and other forms of brutal, barbaric acts.

As a Domestic Worker, I have seen and reported on stories that happen around the world to my fellow women; victims of illegal recruiters, abused, raped and killed and disappeared....conveniently forgotten.

The worst is the fast rising number of women, teenage girls and young girls as young as five who are trafficked and exploited. Sex tourism is one of the major problems of my country, the Philippines and of the world were women form the greater percentage of victims.

Young girls were usually the target of child pornography. I have read The Diary of a Sex Slave where You Mi described the life she had gone through as flesh seller. How she coordinated with US Goverment and testify to shut some of the brothels in the US. How many You Mi's still exist and live and work like animals?


While the world is busy

Rotating madly on its axis

They were stacked in a half-dozen high,

Concrete cages,
Waiting for their turn

To be exploited,




Innocent girls as young as five

Trapped on the blockade of no-more dreams
Where their blood-curdling screams

Were persecuted inside them


Of being heard...

Behind those walls are painful cries

Pleas (for education),
Fears (for self worth),
Traumas (for AIDS...for Alienation)

Have you seen/heard/felt them?

They were there...


God knows what they feel...
The trembling of their knees

The first time the lining of their dreams

Were sliced evilly...


The nipples of their hopes

Brutally clawed by the beast

Of different races

In less than ten hours

They were there...


Penning their blues in the wind

The words behind their silent weeping

In every excruciating night
Nights and days of drowning

In the language of the sex trade

And not a ghost of a chance

The eons of light invade

Their infant lamenting souls

God knows what they feel

They were there...


Now I am asking for your kind heart to please sign the I-VAWA. Women deserves to be loved and respected. Please endorse and sign I-VAWA and help free the abused women from injustice.

Thank you,

Airyn Rano Lentija

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sri Lanka's latest Leadership Training Programme

Stewart Sloan

(June 07, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) You have to hand it to the Sri Lankan government; it is always on the lookout for different ways and means to make the young people of the country more versatile and competitive in the world around them. In this latest scheme young Sri Lankan girls at a government sponsored training camp were made to watch nude and semi nude cabaret artists in order to overcome their own fear and embarrassment of nudity.

What was not mentioned in the article was what the author has learned from a reliable source: that the passing out parade, which will be held in front of the proud parents, the media and representatives of the government, will be a topless affair.

Yes, Dear Readers that is correct. The forty young ladies currently attending the Leadership Training programme, some of Sri Lanka's brightest, and most well-endowed young women, will let their puppies* out for their country.

If I wore a hat I would be taking it off to President Rajapakse right now. No other leader in the history of the world has ever come up with such a diversity of training schemes. It speaks volumes about the level of his commitment to ensuring that the international community keeps their eyes on the country (and off its human rights problems) which has produced its fair share of beauty queens such as Piyumie Shanika, Aruni Rajapakse, Jacqueline Fernandez and the one and only Rosy Senanayake. And of course, even if they don't do well enough in the programme to pass the final exam, I am sure that Mr. Rajapakse, being the fair minded person that he is, will offer the ladies an air conditioned room with internet access in which to sit their papers. It is the least he can do. After all, he did it for his son.

*American slang for breasts

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stewart Sloan -- Editorial Assistant

Why am I proud of my work as an editor for the Asian Human Rights Commission? That is because I turned this:

All social securities program really good, timely and epoch-making initiative which is taken by the government. Already formatted a full committee under the Economic minister (others members of the committee taken different minister from deferens ministry) and formatted advisory committee. Formatted others committee as like district committee, sub-district committee and union level committee. Union committee’s job is allowance holder scrutinize. Here conducting corruption when allowance holder scrutinized by the union council chairman and members.

Into this:

All social security programmes that are worthwhile, timely and epoch-making that are taken by the government require the establishment of a full committee under the Economic Minister (others members of the committee may be taken from deferent ministries). This committee, like district committees, sub-district committees and union level committee should scrutinize any incidents or allegations of corruption.

Why do I feel at times that my little remaining hair is turning grey? That is because of this:

Before the shooting incident, members of the TNI make issue that Kiemen Basik's naked body was in the shower with mud and headed to his home (this tradition was believed by local people as an action to learn black magic), then also there is the issue that Kiemen would attack military post.

Little White Lies

I wrote this poem after a near confrontation with the HK Immigration Department. Airyn's visa was running out and she went to the ImmDept for an extension. The officer, too bone idle to handle the matter himself told her to go to Macau for the day and that she would be given an extension upon her return. Fortunately I accompanied her as when we got back to HK we were told that the ImmDept were under no obligation to grant another visa. I was just about to gird my loins for battle when the lady officer relented and granted the visa.

Stewart Sloan

Do you remember a time when
As a child we automatically believed and respected
Anything told to us by an adult, or
A person in uniform?

Adults didn't lie, did they?
Policemen and firemen, the Gods of my youth
NEVER lied, did they?
Of course not!

It was just, well,
They didn't always tell the whole truth.
Sometimes it was just easier to tell a little white lie,
Or a fib.

No real harm done;
No one would be hurt, would they?
And everyone could just get on
With what they were doing.

Naivety dictates that I believe anyone in authority.
If a policeman tells me it is safe to cross the road,
Or a fireman tells me it is safe to re-enter the building,
Or a person from immigration tells me to do something......

....I believe them, wouldn't you?

Because people in authority wouldn't intentionally hurt us.
But under the uniforms they are just people.
People who are tired and want to go home to their families and
A little while lie helps them to get there sooner rather than later.

So, yes they do tell little while lies
And yes, it does cause harm
Perhaps not insurmountable harm but
Harm nonetheless.

And we have to put our trust in these people.........

How the mighty are fallen -- Officers of the Philippines National Police face a courageous young man

Stewart Sloan

(The Sunday Examiner 1 May 2011) One Saturday evening a few months ago a young man, not yet an adult, from a poor farming community in Mindanao went to meet his friend at a bar in the nearby town. Lenny was looking forward to the evening. Not a great drinker, he had no intention of becoming inebriated, not that he could afford to anyway; it was the fellowship of his friends and peers that he was excited about. But as he approached the bar he saw that there was trouble brewing.

A fight that had obviously started within the bar premises had spilled out into the street. Blows were being exchanged, there was a lot of shouting and some of the ladies were doing to their best to separate the combatants but, actually just adding to the general noise and melee.

It was at that point that Lenny saw the police arriving and, deciding discretion the better part of valour realised that he did not want to become involved. He therefore secreted himself behind some bushes and watched the event unfold. He was so engrossed in what was happening that he did not notice the police officers that were approaching him from behind. Without warning they hauled him to his feet and pulled him into the clearing in front of the bar, cuffing him about the head as they did so.

Roughly they asked him what he was doing hiding in the bushes and Lenny tried to explain that he simply wanted to avoid the trouble that even then, was still going on. Some police officers were trying to extricate the fighters and not having much success but the officers holding Lenny were more intent on roughing him up. The officers, members of the local Special Weapons and Tactics team, did not believe Lenny's explanation and told him that they were arresting him on suspicion of Causing Public Scandal and manhandled him towards a police vehicle. As they pushed him along they struck him repeatedly with their hand guns about the chest. Their arrogance and belief in their own invincibility was such that they carried out this cruelty in full view of the assembled crowd. At least, thought Lenny, when he got to the police station he could explain himself more clearly. However, that was not to be.

Instead of taking Lenny to the station they took him to a building used as a club house for off-duty officers. There they took turns punching Lenny about the head and chest. This torture went on for some time before they made him to clean the toilet which, from its appearance had not been cleaned for some time. They took great delight in taunting Lenny, telling him that they could do anything they wanted to him because there were no witnesses, and anyway, no one would believe him.

After some hours they finally took Lenny to the nearby police station where, due to his age (at the time of the incident Lenny was only 17-years-old) they handed him over the policewoman in charge of the Women and Children's Desk. They completed the paperwork and Lenny was officially charged with violating curfew.

What should have happened was that Lenny should have been placed in a cell while his parents were informed of his arrest. However, that did not happen. In full view of the policewoman, who did nothing to intervene, the two arresting officers continued to torture Lenny. Once again, their arrogance was such that they were unconcerned about the presence of other civilians in the report room area.

Finally the policewoman took Lenny away from the officers. However, she did not make any record of the torture or even listen to his complaint of what he had undergone. Neither did she contact the victim's parents as is legally required for arrested minors. When Lenny asked that he be taken to a hospital to be examined and treated his request was ignored.

Not surprisingly Lenny was severely traumatised by this incident. He dropped out of school and it was almost three months later that he told his parents what had happened to him. Lenny's father made a report to the police but, not surprisingly, no action was taken and no investigation was carried out. It was then that human rights workers became involved and they helped Lenny's father to lodge complaints with the Human Rights Commission and Public Attorney's Office.

This is when the situation went from the sublime to the ridiculous.

When the SWAT officers finally realised that they were in trouble they attempted to make amends. Not by admitting to what they had done and facing their just punishment, but by offering Lenny and his father gifts and bribes in order to get them to retract their complaints.

What is sad about this is that an innocent boy was brutally tortured by the very people that are being paid to protect him and this torture continued in the presence of another officer whose duty was specifically to protect young people.

The case is ongoing and no doubt, with the ability of the Philippine National Police to delay things when it comes to protecting their own will continue for some months now. Hopefully Lenny and his family will remain strong in the presence of the bribes that the officers will continue to offer him and the threats that are sure to follow when they realise that this family want redress for the injustice that happened to their son.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

UFOs -- Yet another attempt to discredit Sri Lanka

by Stewart Mulder Sloan
(The opinions are those of the author)

(March 03, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) The truth, it is said, is out there. Chickens, for example, cross the road. How many chickens do you have to see crossing the road before you accept the fact that chickens cross the road? And speaking of roads, how many pots do you have to find in Sri Lankan roads before you realise that the minister responsible for roads is not doing his job. And who, exactly, is responsible for roads in Sri Lanka; let's see, (quick check on Sri Lankan Ministers website) oops, it is none other than His Excellency the President, Mahinda Rajapakse who is also the Minister for Defence, Finance & Planning and Ports and Aviation. Of course it could be argued that with all that on his plate it is no wonder he doesn't have time to look after the roads.

Almost daily now there are reports on the conditions of the roads in Sri Lanka, even in Colombo and one must question as to whether there might be link between the recent UFO sightings reported in the British press (The Express, March 3) and the abundance of pot holes in the roads. The British gentleman who made the sighting passed on the information to the relevant office in the UK but received the reply that they only had responsibility for sightings in Britain. "Defence of Sri Lankan airspace is clearly a matter for the Sri Lankan Government and you may wish to pursue your enquiries with them." Whether he did or not is not known.

Current and historic science fiction tells us that UFO's are synonymous with the disappearance and mutilation of cattle and even the temporary disappearance of people. This would appear to indicate that the UFO pilots are infinitely more compassionate than Sri Lankan authorities because when they disappear a person that person stays disappeared.

But how can UFOs be blamed for the condition of the roads? Well, obviously the aliens are acting in collaboration with the Tamil Diaspora and perhaps even Western interests to further discredit the Sri Lankan government by digging up samples to take back to their home planet for examination. Perhaps they want to know how to avoid potholes?

Stewart Mulder Sloan resides in Hong Kong where he is employed as an editorial assistant. He has studied the occult and supernatural for more than 40 years and written books on the subject. Comments and suggestions on this article may be forwarded to

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I'm in the Wrong Business!

(March 02, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) I have been involved in human rights work for almost six years now and face the age-old problem that many persons confront who make a commitment to this field of work -- my salary just barely meets my requirements.

My problem is not so acute. At my age and with my training I consider myself fortunate to be doing a job that I find satisfying and which allows me to at least feel that I am making a difference to the world. I have colleagues who could be making a medium to large fortune who are content to work in the same field, attempting and willing to make a difference to those around them. These people are lawyers and professionals who willingly accept salaries that are sometime a quarter of what they could be earning. These are the people I admire and am inspired by.

Then there are the people who head up non-profit INGOs that rely on donations from all and sundry to make ends meet. The donations go to the day to day operations of these NGOs, they pay the staff, probably along the same rates as my own, the rent and utilities and whopping great salaries of £ 132,490 to their chiefs!

The question that begs an answer is: do they tell their donors, the corporations, schools and individuals that their hierarchy is getting these salaries?

What I find incredibly hypocritical in all this is that the 'chief' concerned had a personal mandate to alleviate poverty. She certainly did not concern herself with the poverty prevalent in the third world, starvation deaths in India and other such matters when she happily pocketed not only her salary but also a £ 500,000 golden handshake which the NGO attempted to conceal from their supporters.

I have openly criticised the hypocrisy of the Sri Lankan President and his ministers who live in luxury while the poorest people of their land receive a pittance and virtually no help whatsoever from their social welfare systems, but I am not sure, in this instance, which is worse. At least Mahinda Rajapakse's hypocrisy is made public for all to see.

I am definitely in the wrong business.

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian on 4:55:00 AM. Filed under Business, feature, Stewart Sloan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. comments may also be made to the author at

Monday, February 21, 2011

Little White Lies

By Stewart Sloan (Written after a fun afternoon with the Hong Kong Immigration Department)

Do you remember a time when
As a child we automatically believed and respected
Anything told to us by an adult, or
A person in uniform?

Adults didn't lie, did they?
Policemen and firemen, the Gods of my youth
NEVER lied, did they?
Of course not!

It was just, well,
They didn't always tell the whole truth.
Sometimes it was just easier to tell a little white lie,
Or a fib.

No real harm done;
No one would be hurt, would they?
And everyone could just get on
With what they were doing.

Naivety dictates that I believe anyone in authority.
If a policeman tells me it is safe to cross the road,
Or a fireman tells me it is safe to re-enter the building,
Or a person from immigration tells me to do something......

....I believe them, wouldn't you?

Because people in authority wouldn't intentionally hurt us.
But under the uniforms they are just people.
People who are tired and want to go home to their families and
A little while lie helps them to get there sooner rather than later.

So, yes they do tell little while lies
And yes, it does cause harm
Perhaps not insurmountable harm but
Harm nonetheless.

And we have to put our trust in these people.........

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Justification: Sri Lanka's Excellence in Disaster Management

by Stewart Sloan

(February 10, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) I have been accused on occasion of being sarcastic and even vitriolic towards the Sri Lankan government and the Rajapakse regime. In the aforementioned article I accused the government of turning a blind eye to the suffering of the people while paying more attention to the wellbeing of its MPs.

.....To-date there is no clear indication of just how much the government has allocated for disaster relief but it is known to be less than Rs. one billion. This is significant as the same government, just a few months ago, allocated 1.5 billion for the import permits for the vehicles purchased by the newly elected MPs......

Interestingly, on the day that my article was published there was also another article announcing that the government had set aside Rs. 850 Million towards relief work. Upon seeing this I felt somewhat justified in my approach and 'sarcasm'. Today however, I was completely vindicated by the announcement in The Island (Economist wants govt. plans reviewed following Rs. 50 bn flood damage -- February 8, 2011 by Shamindra Fernando).

I have admitted openly in these pages in the past that I failed O-Level maths while at school and did not receive an equivalency until I was 44-years-of-age, however, even I do not need to bring out my slide rule or calculator to work out that Rs. 850 Million is a bit short of the estimated sum of Rs. 50 Billion caused in damages.

Back to you my beloved detractors.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sri Lanka's Excellence in Disaster Management

Reuters Pictures :

People stand at where a dam wall used to be, before it was destroyed by flood waters in Anuradhapura district, 206km (128 miles) north of Colombo, February 7, 2011. Heavy rain triggered flooding in Sri Lanka that killed at least eleven people and is threatening up to 90 percent of the island nation's staple rice crop,. heightening concerns over supply shocks and higher inflation,. according to officials.

by Stewart Sloan

(February 08, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) Let's face it, if there is one thing that they can do properly in Sri Lanka it's manage a good disaster. Does that sound sarcastic? It is not meant to be. Believe me, there is nothing in the very least bit amusing about 42,000 people losing their lives in a tsunami, or thousands of persons being made homeless and destitute by flooding. There is also nothing amusing about millions of dollars meant for relief and reconstruction going missing.

What does, however, raise a smirk is the endless cant by the government that relief operations are in full swing.

In the most recent tragedy six districts have been inundated by as much rain in six days as would normally have fallen in six months. There was initial flooding and before any real relief or humanitarian efforts could be made another flood hit the same areas. As a result thousands of acres of paddy have been destroyed along with vegetable cultivation. This is the most damage caused to Sri Lankan crop cultivation in history. The cost of green chili, a staple, has risen from Rs.150 to Rs. 1000 per kilogram overnight along with other vegetables. In addition 400 head of cattle died and there is no way of knowing what effect the floods have had on the wildlife. It is, however, known that at least four wild elephants, animals revered and appreciated by all Sri Lankans, have died.

The flooding was followed by landslides in many areas and evacuations have been carried out after tests by government geological engineers. Many schools including 48 in the Central Province have been closed. The inmates of Anuradhapura prison were transferred to other locations. However, given the overcrowded conditions in Sri Lankan prisons this may be more of a boon that a curse.

When asked about the relief being provided by the government a Sri Lankan expat merely laughed.

A government circular provided on relief efforts limits the amount that state officers can hand out to not more than Rs. 230/= (US$ 2) per week per person. This circular was suspended but not withdrawn by the president on his return from the US (while it was a private visit the cost involved in this ten day jaunt could have gone a very long way to relieve the suffering of the affected people of his country).

To-date there is no clear indication of just how much the government has allocated for disaster relief but it is known to be less than Rs. one billion. This is significant as the same government, just a few months ago, allocated 1.5 billion for the import permits for the vehicles purchased by the newly elected MPs. Apparently, keeping 225 MPs happy is more an issue that relieving the suffering of thousands of people.

Six years after the 2004 tsunami there are still questions as to how the millions of dollars donated by countries and organisations has been spent, or misappropriated. It is interesting to note that these countries and organisations have not been so quick to jump in with relief as they were in 2004. Perhaps a final accounting of what happened to the tsunami relief funds and exactly what the government is doing to relieve the suffering caused by the present catastrophe might change this.

Stewart Sloan is the author of three novels and a collection of anecdotes about the Royal Hong Kong Police Force whom he served as a civilian from 1987 to 1997. He works as an editorial assistant for a regional human rights NGO in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Toothless dogs and laughing hyenas

by Stewart Sloan

(February 01, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) It is a sad reflection on the commitment of the United Nations to human rights that they have not acknowledged the petition, asking for assistance for Prageeth Eknaligoda and when asked for their opinion of the arson attack on Lanka e News had not even heard of the incident. In a hurriedly prepared statement Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, Martin Nesirky, said that, "Freedom of the media is vital and journalists should be able to carry out their work without fear of attack or being harassed to do the work that they need to do." What he did not say was that there was very little point in relying on the UN to ensure such freedom.

The hierarchy in the Sri Lankan government must be laughing through their teeth at the lackadaisical attitude of the UN. What happened to Ban Ki Moon's stance on investigating possible war crimes in Sri Lanka? There was the first grandiose announcement of the formation of his committee followed by the statement that they would visit the island nation and then the abrupt about face when the Sri Lankan government announced that they would not be given visas. Well, it was not absolutely necessary for them to visit anyway. You could almost hear the gales of laughter coming from Templetrees.

Eknaligoda's disappearance occurred over a year ago and has been one of the most widely reported cases involving journalists in South Asia. Just one week ago journalists and internationally acclaimed writers boycotted the Galle Literary Festival in support of the beleaguered journalists of Sri Lanka, it was at that festival that Sandya Eknaligoda, Prageeth's wife and their son held placards decrying his disappearance and asked the UN to take note. Is Ban Ki Moon so unwilling to rock the boat that he not only did not see this cry for help but went so far as to ignore it?

Perhaps the United Nations cannot be held solely responsible for the debacle of human rights in Sri Lanka when the rest of the world is more interested in lending money and selling military equipment to the Rajapakse regime. However, Ban has no right to hide behind anyone else's hypocrisy. Ban and the UN are the toothless dogs to Rajapakse's laughing hyenas.

Stewart Sloan is the author of three novels and a collection of anecdotes about the Royal Hong Kong Police Force whom he served as a civilian from 1987 to 1997. He works as an editorial assistant for a regional human rights NGO in Hong Kong.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Caligula and Rajapakse -- Horses and Camels

by 3D -- Stewart Rajapakse

(January 26, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) In one of its latest white elephant schemes the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse is planning to import 5,000 buffaloes and ten camels from Pakistan within the next three years. The ostensible idea behind this scheme is that the livestock will be delivered to various state farms where they will be bred and the offspring given (given? Has the Rajapakse regime ever 'given' anything away?) to livestock farms around the country. What they plan to do with the camels defies even the author's imagination.

I am, however, reminded of the Emperor Caligula who ruled in Rome from 37 -- 41 AD largely because the two of them were, and are, hopelessly paranoid. Caligula did not trust the senate because he was convinced, rightly so, that they were out to assassinate him. He dismissed many of them, had some killed and had others serve him by running alongside his chariot. He was insanely cruel and on one occasion ordered his guards to throw a section of the crowd into the arena to be eaten by wild animals as they had run out of criminals. Then, of course, one of his most famous exploits came when he tried to make his horse, Incitatus, a member of the senate. In that, we see a distinct similarity to Mahinda who introduced his own son, Namal, into parliament as the Member for Hambantota. Now I am not suggesting for one moment that he resembles a horse, at least in physical appearance, a camel though is another matter. While Rajapakse has not actually killed any of his parliamentarians he has on the other hand filled the Sri Lankan parliament with his cronies in order to ensure that anyone intelligent enough to think for himself will be shouted down, or tied to a tree.

Going back to the buffaloes and camels -- the importation of the buffaloes can perhaps be justified, meat, milk and hide, but no explanation has been given as to why Rajapakse is prepared to spend Rs. 400,000/= of the tax payers money for a camel or Rs. 4,000,000/= for ten of them.

Perhaps he is going to hold them in reserve in case the parliamentarians turn against him. What Caligua tried to do with one horse, perhaps Rajapakse is going to attempt with his camels.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sri Lankan transparency -- akin to flying in zero visibility

People going through their daily lives in Sri Lanka have to be able to see where they are going. Airline pilots are trained to fly in zero visibility but only at great and terrible risk to themselves and their passengers. The citizens of Sri Lanka have a right to question the actions of their government, the government has a duty to address these concerns, and they have no right to put up a smokescreen that forces people to fly in zero visibility.

Stewart Sloan

(January 24, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) A recent report in the Sri Lankan press about the favouritism shown to Namal Rajapakse speaks volumes on the arrogance of the ruling regime and the fawning kowtowing of the Law College authorities. As a member of Sri Lanka's first family it was incumbent on Namal to show Sri Lanka and the world at large that he was prepared to 'play the game'; to get through his daily and personal life without any advantages being granted to him due to his being the son of the President. Instead, he accepted a private room in which so sit his exam, he was allowed to retain his mobile phone and he even had internet access. Will it come as a surprise to anyone if he passes with honours?

The excuse given by the authorities of the Law College was that the examination hall was full and this in turn raised several questions. Why did they allow the hall to be overbooked in the first place? They are ultimate authority when it comes to the examinations, how could they provide fewer seats than were needed? Do they not have a list of all the students taking the exam? I cannot believe this to be the case so, how could they justify putting Namal in a private room? Surely he was not the only student to be inconvenienced by the overcrowding? And to maintain at least an air of transparency, why was he not accompanied by an invigilator to ensure that he did not cheat?

Cheat? That is a terrible word and one that casts aspersions on the young man himself. However, Namal Rajapakse, the authorities of the Law College and President Rajapakse have all conspired to cast aspersions on the young man. With the current degree of transparency shown by the government in general and the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in particular, whose commissioners have never explained the newspaper reports that ordinary people were chased away from testifying by police officers stationed outside the hall where the hearings were taking place, did the President honestly think that no questions would be raised concerning Namal's exam.

More recently questions have been raised about the President granting single tender contracts to the Chinese and as usual no explanations have been forthcoming.

It is indeed simply arrogance that allows the Rajapakse regime to ignore the doubts and concerns raised by the citizens of Sri Lanka and the international community. Might makes right, it ensures sycophantic followers who are only concerned with lining their own pockets and it also ensures that anyone that dares to raise his or her doubts in public are ostracized and intimidated to the point where they have to go into hiding, like the young student who raised the issue of the examination papers being revealed days before the exam was to be held. Instead of acting sensibly on the accusation all that happened was the student was threatened to withdraw his complaint and shut up.

People going through their daily lives in Sri Lanka have to be able to see where they are going. Airline pilots are trained to fly in zero visibility but only at great and terrible risk to themselves and their passengers. The citizens of Sri Lanka have a right to question the actions of their government, the government has a duty to address these concerns, and they have no right to put up a smokescreen that forces people to fly in zero visibility.

Stewart Sloan is the author of three novels and a collection of anecdotes about the Royal Hong Kong Police Force whom he served as a civilian from 1987 to 1997. He works as an editorial assistant for a regional human rights NGO in Hong Kong.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Love Poems for Airyn

tewart Sloan
Stewart Sloan

I wish I could tell You that we live
in a farie tale world.
I wish I could tell you that we will
be happy ever after.
I wish so many things for you, but
we must both realise that we live
in an imperfect world.

We live in a world where
women and children are raped
and sold into slavery.
We live in a world where men
are tortured and murdered but the very governments
they elected.
We live in a world where
unspeakable things happen to
the best of us. But,
seemingly, never to the worst.

But we, you and I, live and love.
Yes, we will have arguments over stupid things,
petty things. Arguments over important things.
In any human relationship this
cannot be avoided. It will happen!

But we must NEVER let the sun go down on our anger!

Stewart Sloan

When I was in pain
My love came to me.
Not from a great distance in miles
But on a great journey of commitment

Tired from a day's work
At a time when she should
Have been resting and eating her food
She came to me.

My Love came to me
To sooth my pain
With gentle, warm hands
Soft words and strong balms

She came to me
To sooth away my fever
To comfort me at a time
When I needed Her love.

My Love came to me.........
For only moments
With a care and love
That will echo for years.

Stewart Sloan
Read by our Hong Kong Correspondent

Hong Kong Sunday, 16 January 2011

Typhoons struck Hong Kong yesterday!
Two, in fact,
Fortunately the brunt of the
Storms were concentrated
On the area known as Sloansville.

The first arrived early in
The morning and struck the kitchen,
A disaster area at the best of times;
A potential health hazard.
The typhoon left nothing by
Gleaming dishes and shinning pots
In her wake.

Shortly following, the second typhoon hit the fridge
And larder.
Where there had been left over food
And emptiness
She left in her wake a surfeit
Of largess

Then the two storms merged and
Struck the remainder of the house.
They attacked without mercy!
And where there had been loneliness and desolation
They left only cleanliness, love and happiness, and
The knowledge of a wonderful future to come.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

EGYPT/PAKISTAN: A vote for sanity in Egypt -- a lesson for Pakistan

I wrote the following article for the Pakistan desk of the Asian Human Rights Commission -- it was subsequently published as a AHRC Statement

EGYPT/PAKISTAN: A vote for sanity in Egypt -- a lesson for Pakistan
January 12, 2011

The act of solidarity by Egyptian Muslims towards Egyptian Copts is a glowing example for countries and communities around the world. And it must be particularly noted that Pakistan could be one of the main beneficiaries of this attitude.

As Egyptian Copts prepared to attend mass at churches across the country, thousands of Muslims, including relatives of the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, acted as human shields to protect the celebrating, and terrified Copts, from the terrorist attacks by extremists. The Muslims chanted the slogan: "We either live together, or we die together." The concept was inspired by the Egyptian artist and marathon runner, Mohamed El-Sawy.

The Copts are native Egyptian Christians, a major ethnic and religious group in Egypt. They constitute the largest Christian community in the Middle East

In the midst of sectarian violence the world over and the assassination and threats of assassination to anyone in Pakistan that strays from the demands of the fundamentalists, sanity has prevailed in Egypt. Following a devastating terrorist bombing at a Coptic church in Egypt which killed 21 people and injured 79 others religious tensions rose in the country. The bombing was carried out with the intention of causing rifts and rioting between the Egyptian community and the various religious groups that inhabit that land. There were indeed, riots as the Copts stormed the streets and vandalized a Mosque. It was an act of violence and it was exactly what the fundamentalists wanted. Then, on the event of the Coptic Christmas Eve sanity prevailed.

Following the assassination of the Provincial governor, Salman Taseer, rallies have been held in Karachi in which the speakers, fundamentalists and extremists, called for the death of anyone acting in support of amendments to the country's blasphemy laws. Salman Taseer's assassin Mumtaz Quadri, is being feted as a national hero and speakers declared that if the government of Pakistan proceeded with his prosecution "Thousands of 'Quadris' would emerge from their houses and avenge him".

Pakistanis across the land must take note of the selfless actions of the Egyptian Muslims and emulate their bravery. It is time for the liberals and moderates to stand up to the extremist fundamentalists and say: "This is not what Islam is all about. Islam is a religion of peace!"

And furthermore, the government of Pakistan, the ministers and the law makers must also rise up in support of the people and prove that they are well and truly in charge of the country. Anyone fermenting religious hatred and openly advocating violence against those opposing the fundamentalists must be charged under the relevant sections in the Pakistan Penal Code. It is against the law to incite people to violence and to threaten them if they refuse to comply. This is not a new law that has just come into being; it is an established ruling which the officials of the police and government ministers are conveniently turning a blind eye to in the guise of political expediency.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sri Lanka's first Formula 1 event ends in failure

Sarith Mahinda Sloan (F1 Correspondent)

(The F-One News -- March 15, 2016)

(A Formula One track is planned for the New Port City to be constructed in the vicinity of the Colombo Port. According to the Chairman, Ports Authority, Dr. Priyath Wickrama an eight lane F1 track will "definitely" be a part of the New Port City, he said. - A Sri Lankan Sunday publication January 10, 2011)


(January 14, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka's much feted entry into the Formula 1 racing scene ended in failure today when officers from the New Port City Police set up check points at several places around the 3.3 kilometer track stopping the drivers and arresting several of them for failing to have valid Sri Lankan driving licenses. At several other points around the track drivers were flagged over and ticketed for driving in excess of 70 kilometers per hour.

Schumacher Rajapakse, the Minister for Formula 1 Racing was unavailable for comment. However, the Deputy Minister for Ministerial Affairs and Everything Else, Mervynder Silva announced that he had already planned an attack on the television channels that reported the news and aired it internationally.

Additionally, a spokesman for the President, Mahinda Rajapakse, released a press release in which the President blamed pro-LTTE activists and members of the opposition for blowing the situation out of proportion in an attempt to further discredit the Rajapakse government.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mahinda bans trousers at Parliament!

by Stewart Mahinda Sloan

(January 05, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A source within the Rajapakse government that wishes to remain anonymous has informed the author that President Mahinda Rajapakse has instructed the Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resource Development, R. Mahinda Seneratne, to make the announcement that with immediate effect, ministers, Members of Parliament and visitors to Parliamentary debates will no longer be allowed to wear trousers but must instead were sarongs. Ladies will be required to wear saris. When asked as to why the Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resource Development should be tasked with such an important announcement Mahinda Seneratne replied that the Hon. K. Mahinda Rambukwella, Minister for Mass Media & Information had no information on the matter.

The source could not give any details as to why this sudden decision had been made but believed that it was in keeping with the government's plan to ban miniskirts.

"This is obviously the next step in Mahinda's plan to 'Sri Lankanise' Sri Lanka," said the source. Although he had no idea of the time table when the next step would be implemented the source also informed the author that tourists and business visitors to the island nation would be required to purchase and wear satakaya (Red Shawls) upon arrival at Mahinda Bandaranaike Airport.

The author attempted to contact the Hon. Mahinda Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister for Disaster Management for his views on the possible impact of the scheme on the tourist industry. The minister was unavailable but a member of his staff who would only identify himself as, Mahinda, suggested that we contact the Minister for Economic Development who is responsible for tourism and a hundred other things, the Hon B. Mahinda Rajapakse. This gentleman was, sadly, also unavailable.

So, apart from conjecture and hints there is no real proof of Mahinda Rajapakse's plan to Sri Lankanise Sri Lanka. Having said that, I happen to have the contact details of a tailor in Hong Kong that will manufacture satakayas at fire sale prices if anyone is interested.

The great Anthem debate: Mahinda to the Tamils and Muslims -- this is our country

Uploaded by admin culture, feature, Interview, NationalAntheminSri Lanka, Stewart Sloan 2:12:00 PM
by Stewart Sloan

(January 04, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the United Kingdom, back in the 1960s, when it was still a 'United Kingdom,' a group of comedian/musicians produced a long playing record entitled "Fool Britannia". It was nothing less than political satire that poked fun at the government and the Royal family. In parts it was not really that well done but it still managed to incur that wrath of those in power. It was eventually banned from public broadcast but not before it became very popular and embarrassed a lot of people including government ministers. The name of the LP was of course based on the song Rule Britannia which was, and still is proudly sung. It originated from the poem, "Rule Britannia" by James Thomson which was musically arranged in 1740 by Thomas Arne. Traditionally it is associated with the Royal Navy but was also taken up by the army. It must be remembered that in the 1700s Britain ruled a great deal of the world and the navy, in those days, had every right to be proud.

"How then will the Tamil population of Sri Lanka proudly stand up and sing the national anthem of the country whose president has promised reconciliation and unity when there is only one version of the anthem, the one in Sinhala?"

Britain's decline is well documented and need not be expanded upon here. No doubt many ardent Sinhalese nationalists and other former colonies will applaud Her decline, perhaps justly so, but the point is that Rule Britannia is still sung with pride and gusto by all Britons.

How then will the Tamil population of Sri Lanka proudly stand up and sing the national anthem of the country whose president has promised reconciliation and unity when there is only one version of the anthem, the one in Sinhala?

Mahinda Rajapakse has made several public statements about reconciliation, the fact that police officers are expected to speak Tamil so as to be able to deal with Tamils; he has wooed Muslim and Tamil politicians into his government, all in the guise of creating reconciliation. But all these actions are betrayed by the decision of making it necessary to sign the national anthem of Sri Lanka in Sinhala only. Consider the message that this decision is sending to the Muslims and Tamils: This is our country; you can stay here, live and work here as long as you want, but remember, it is our country!