In presenting an article on Duncan White’s achievement at the World Olympic Games held in London in August 1948, I limited my focus to the 1940s. Sachi Sri Kantha in Japan has often entered comments on Thuppahi items and on this occasion ventured a point-scoring set of remarks on this item. At times these comments have proceeded tangentially to topics straddling the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Sachi is a tangential specialist. Such tangential leaps can be endless and amount to a license towards absurdity and slander. Sachi’s remarks on one occasion have already drawn a short riposte from one “Charlie K” (who is not a Sri Lankan).
On this occasion relating to the Duncan White achievement, writing from the political stance of a Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist (and conceivably that of an “Eelamist”), Sachi thumps the tale of Burgher outmigration from Ceylon and Lanka from the 1950s onwards. That set of events is a topic that has drawn a substantial literature over the years. It is, therefore, a huge topic – one which demands attention to the political processes in the island at the heart of governmental power struggles and including the anti-Tamil ‘riots’ of 1958, 1977 and 1983 which induced Burghers, Tamils, Sinhalese and other Sri Lankans to migrate – all intricate topics (which I, among others, have touched on at various moments).
The process of emigration from Ceylon and Lanka that commenced in the post-1956 period and gained increasing momentum – a momentum that is still in train now in 2022 – is an important topic, but one that my piece on Duncan White could not conceivably address without a major digression which would have distracted readers away from its main focus: namely, White’s magnificent race at the London Olympic Games in London in August 1948. Sachi’s attempt at point-scoring via tangential excursion is simply ridiculous.
Let me indulge in the same tangential trajectory by point-scoring against the Sachi Sri Kantha …. yes “the” Sachi Sri Kantha …. a form of ‘knighthood’ recognising his sniper-killing work.
We should not forget that emigration from the British colonial outpost in Ceylon commenced from the mid-19th century because of its location in the Indian Ocean and the pathways of ships plying across those seas – from Africa, Europe & Arabia to Malaysia, Australia and the Pacific Ocean. Thiru Arumugam, Earlson Forbes and the late Stanley Sparkes are among those of us in Australia who have documented the migration of pearl divers and labourers who moved to the northern territories of Australia from the late 19th century. Nor should we forget the movement of Sinhalese traders, usually Karava (for example the BP de Silva and Warnakulasuriya families) to strategic spots such as Zanzibar and Singapore besides Thursday Island off Australia.
To these trajectories one can add the force of Empire-loyalism and adventurism which motivated young men to enlist in the British armed forces engaged in fighting Germany in World War One. Let me stress that: motivated by a sense of adventure and by Empire-loyalism in World War I in 1914-18. Among such men were several personnel from Trinity – the school that educated Lakshman Kadirgamar and Duncan White.
This pattern of a few brave souls from the Ceylonese middle class joining and supporting the British war effort during World War I and II continued in the period 1946-55. This form of outmigration was also boosted by the females who married British, Kiwi, Australian and American servicemen who had been stationed in Ceylon in the 1940s and then migrated with their husbands. These ‘currents’ may have been little streams in numerical terms. BUT they indicate the impact of “Westernization.” That process was — and remains – a “cultural impact” as much as an “economic one”.
Located as I am now in Australia, I am motivated by this ‘excursion’ to seek information on the Ceylonese personnel who migrated to Australia or New Zealand in the period 1946 to 1956 – before the Sinhala Only campaign of the SLFP-MEP coalition swept to power (with all its implications for the advantages possessed by the English-proficient middle classes & upper classes). These migrants were altogether different from the servant class of the “Alice Nona” category who were brought to Australia by their well-to-do employers. I invite grounded biographical information on these early migrants to Australia and New Zealand. Their numbers may have been relatively miniscule in comparison with the flows in the 1957-72 period and that post 1973 or so – after the White Australia Policy was jettisoned – but that trickle is nevertheless of historical interest.
So: Sachi’s remark has embraced a large topic. My purpose here is to brand Sachi Sri Kantha as an assassin in the digital world, one who ‘haunts’ the columns of Thuppahi as well. It would be simple for me as Editor to debar his commentary. But, then, the readers of Thuppahi would remain unaware of the verbal assassins out there in the Big Bad World — inclusive of personnel like Satchi who have adopted a form of tactic in Velupillai Pirapaharan’s book: hit them verbally …. with tangential wordplay.
Thiru Arumugam: “The Devonshire reaches Queensland in 1882,” 18 November 2019, https://thuppahis.com/2019/11/18/the-devonshire-reaches-queensland-with-500-cingalese-coolies-in-1882/
Richard Boyle: BP de Silva: The Royal Jeweller of South-east Asia, Singapore, B. P. de Silva Investments, 1989.
Barbara Crossette: “The Burgher Exodus from Sri Lanka: A Reading in 1988,” ………19 November 2020, https://thuppahis.com/2020/11/19/the-burgher-exodus-from-sri-lanka-a-reading-in-1988/ … orig. in New York Times
Earlson Forbes: “The White Australia Policy Ceylonese Burghers and Alice Nona,” 5 September 2012, https://thuppahis.com/2012/09/05/the-white-australia-policy-ceylonese-burghers-and-alice-nona/ & The Ceylankan, vol. 59/3 August 2012.
Earlson Forbes: “Entering Australia from Ceylon: Burghers and Amahs first to penetrate White Australia,” 30 November 2021, https://thuppahis.com/2021/11/30/entering-australia-from-ceylon-burghers-and-amahs-first-to-penetrate-white-australia/
Michael Roberts: “Celebrating Duncan White in Pictures and Words,” 23 August 2022, https://thuppahis.com/2022/08/23/celebrating-duncan-white-in-pictures-and-words/
Stanley J. Sparkes: Sri Lankan Migrants in Queensland in the Nineteenth Century, Brisbane 1988.
Stanley Sparkes & Anna Shnukal: “The Sri Lankan Settlers of Thursday Island,” Elanka Admin, 3 April 2020, https://www.elanka.com.au/the-sri-lankan-settlers-of-thursday-island-by-stanley-j-sparkes-and-anna-shnukal/
B. Swan: “Sinhalese Emigration to Queensland in the Nineteenth Century: A Note,” Journal of the Royal Australian historical society, vol67/1, pp 55-63.
A. Sunil and K. Ratnayake: “Unanswered questions about Sri Lankan foreign minister’s assassination,” World Socialist web site ……….………………………….. https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2005/08/sril-a26.html) for more
Wickrema Weerasooria: Links Between Sri Lanka and Australia,
 “Charlie K” deemed Sachi’s remarks to be a form of “twisted debate and focusing on Sachi’s theories about the Kadirgamar assassination indicated that “Kadirgamar was an intelligent person who had every right to make his own choices in life which could never justify his assassination. There are no shades of grey to assassinations” …. [in ………………………………………………………….. https://thuppahis.com/2022/08/23/celebrating-duncan-white-in-pictures-and-words/%5D.
 The attacks on Tamils in the Sinhala-majority areas of the island were such that I followed Newton Gunasinghe, Charles Abeysekera and others in deeming the events a “pogrom”. I was slapped on the knuckles by Professor KM de Silva for doing so. I a have continued to stand by my position. See Roberts, “Agony”, in Nethra, 2003.
 As most people are aware, at the 1956 General Elections the MEP coalition led by SWRD Bandaranaike and his SLFP swept to power on a “Sinhala Only” campaign – one that was founded on a groundswell of support from the lower middle classes as well as elements among the working-class Sinhalese. The political rhetoric included fervent criticism of the Western-educated and the “trouser johnnies as well as the advantages accruing to those versed in English. The spurt in Burgher migration could be said to have commenced then (although the migration to Australia was restricted by that country’s strict “White Australia” policy).
 See the items listed in the Bibliography attached to this article.
 During his fieldwork research in Galle during the 1970s Bruce Kapferer and his research aide Chandra Vitharana unearthed details re these families’ entrepreneurial ‘investments’ in Zanzibar, Singapore and Australia. My research work on elite formation among the Karava also garnered some data on these connections.
 See Earlson Forbes 2012.
 “By 1966, the Sri Lankan community in Victoria had risen to 3,126, most of them Burghers. The end of the White Australia Policy in 1973 saw increasing numbers of Sinhalese and Tamil settlers in Victoria. By 1976, 9,061 Victorians were of Sri Lankan birth” …………………………….…………………………………… https://origins.museumsvictoria.com.au/countries/sri-lanka/