Category Archives: language policies

A Joust between a Tamil Nationalist and a Thuppahi Mongrel

Michael Roberts, in Sri Lanka Guardian, 12 September 2011
 Early in September [2011] I circulated an item describing efforts mounted by private enterprise in cooperation with the Sri Lankan state (military as well as government agents) to alleviate the life world of Tamil people being re-settled in the northern Vanni – a continuation of efforts in the IDP camps at Menik Farm in 2009 – through the establishment of psycho-social units working on the mental health of children in particular. Clearly, this note and its documents were part of the empirical terrain relevant to the propaganda war raging since early 2009.
My focus was on the ideologies permeating the thinking of Sinhala-speaking people over the centuries. It is my speculation that similar deep structures permeate the thinking of Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka and India; and for that matter, mutatis mutandis, most of the people in India. It will call for a brave Tamil scholar to investigate and disclose this phenomenon today.

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Charting Anagarika Dharmapala’s Many Pursuits

Nandasiri Jasentuliyana, reviewing  Bhadrajee S. Hewage’s book A NAME FOR EVERY CHAPTER: Anagarika Dharmapala and Ceylonese Buddhist Revivalism”

‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ – Socrates.

Rarely has so much been written both in the West and in the East about the work of a ‘revivalist,’ that one would conclude there is nothing left to be revealed of the man or his work. That is until you read Bhadrajee Hewage’s “Anagarika Dharmapala and Ceylonese Buddhist Revivalism.”

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Chandrahasan defends the Provincial Council System

Nirmala Chandrahasan, in The Island, 28 December 2020, where the title reads “In defence of Provincial Councils”

The Provincial Councils, like the windmills in Cervante’s Don Quixote, are having brickbats thrown at, and cantankerous knights tilting at them. In this piece I would like to answer some of the criticisms made against the Provincial Councils. But before I do so I note that the Prime Minister has announced that the Provincial Council elections will be held once the ground situation is ready for it. This welcome statement puts paid to all the critics, it being generally acknowledged that the Prime Minister as an experienced and consummate politician would know the political climate in the country and act accordingly.

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A Refreshing New Study of the Anagarika Dharmapala’s Endeavours

The unexamined life is not worth living.’ – Socrates.

Rarely has so much been written both in the West and in the East about the work of a ‘revivalist,’ that one would conclude there is nothing left to be revealed of the man or his work. That is until you read Bhadrajee Hewage’sAnagarika Dharmapala and Ceylonese Buddhist Revivalism.”

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Outdated Colonial Political Demarcations are No Foundation for Governance

Gerald H. Peiris, in The Island, 16 & 17 December 2020, where the title runs thus: “Province-based Devolution in Sri Lanka: a Critique”  …. https://island.lk/province-based-devolution-in-sri-lanka-a-critique-2/

  1. Preamble:  This article is prompted by the recent announcement that the Cabinet will soon consider a proposal to conduct Provincial Council (PC) elections without delay. The article is intended to urge that the PC system should be abolished and replaced by constitutional devices to ensure: (a) genuine sharing of political power among all primordial, áscriptive and associational groups that constitute the nation of Sri Lanka; and (b) the statutory protection of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity which the PC system, as long as it is permitted to last, will remain in dire peril. The article is also intended to stimulate the memory of those who appear to have forgotten the circumstances that culminated in the enactment of legislation in 1987 to establish PCs. There appears to prevail a measure of complacency among some of our present political stalwarts based on the notion that, with their two-thirds majority in parliament, and with the 20th Amendment in place, they ought to let the status quo remain intact. This, I think, is quite silly. Apart from the fact that landslide electoral victories tend often to be  brittle, those who were in the forefront of empowering the present regime are already reacting with dismay to the decision to re-establish the PCs.

John D’Oyly negotiating with Kandyan chiefs

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Tilly’s Beach Hotel at Mount: Burnt-Out in July 1983

Ajay Kamalakaran, from Bombay on 26 February 2016, in http://ajayinbombay.blogspot.com/2016/02/the-gutted-building-near-mount-lavinia.html …. with this title “The gutted building near the Mount Lavinia beach”  …. see Note by Michael Roberts at the end

A gutted building that is near the beach on Mount Lavinia has been an eyesore for the last 33 years. It was once the Tilly’s Beach Hotel, which was owned by a Tamil businessman. The hotel was a favourite among residents of Colombo as well as German and Russian tourists. Colomboites would enjoy the Sunday Lunch Table Buffet, while many tourists had a mad crush on the handsome head chef, a culinary genius who understood Russian and German besides his native Tamil, Sinhalese and English.

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Dissecting the Federal Option for SL Tamils in 2005 — An Important Appraisal

  Gerald Peiris, whose original refereed essay in 2005 in Faultlines, Volume 17, Journal of the Institute for Conflict Management, New Delhi …. is entitled “Federalism and the ‘Federal Option’ for Sri Lanka” ….. Its Table of Contents is reproduced at the end of this presentation.

On Federalism as a Modality of Conflict Resolution

“The successful operation of federal systems requires a particular kind of political environment, one that is conducive to popular government and has the requisite traditions of political cooperation and self-restraint.  Beyond this, federal systems operate best in societies with sufficient homogeneity of fundamental interests to allow a great deal of latitude to local government and permit reliance upon voluntary collaboration.  The use of force to maintain domestic order is even more inimical to the successful maintenance of federal patterns of government than to other forms of popular government.  Federal systems are most successful in societies that have the human resources to fill many public offices competently and the material resources to afford a measure of economic waste as part of the price of liberty”.

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The ROHP in Ceylon, 1966-70: Interviews and Select Transcriptions

Michael Roberts

The Roberts Oral History Project involved many stages and a range of tasks. The interviewing process has been clarified in two items –embracing personnel in Britain and thereafter in “Ceylon” (yet to become “Sri Lanka”): https://thuppahis.com/2020/12/04/the-roberts-oral-history-project-in-the-1960s-origins-outcomes/#more-47446 AND https://thuppahis.com/2020/12/06/adelaide-university-initiatives-a-michael-roberts-oral-history-project-1965-68/#more-47494.

While this work was in progress a partial consolidation was pursued by transcribing the spoken word into written typescript. The ‘engine’ for this process was my wife Shona Roberts. Looking at some dates I find that some of this work began at Bath Place Oxford itself. The bulk of the work, however, was undertaken in Sri Lanka when we were living in an annexe at Siebel Place off Peradeniya Road in Kandy.  I could not type then, so the task was wholly Shona’s — a difficult job managing the spools and demanding rewinds often. I chipped in by listening and correcting the typed scripts [which then had to be re-typed]. All this was seen to in the period April 1966 to mid-1970 – a stage that saw the birth of our second child Maya Samantha in February 1967 and also involved child-minding and housekeeping tasks.

It would not be amiss to cast Shona as the “Heroine of Siebel Place.” The Adelaide University records indicate that there are a total of 1720 pages of transcripts!

Shona with Kim and Maya

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The Samaraweera-Yahapālana Induction of Tony Blair in support of their “Reconciliation Programme” in August 2015

Michael Roberts

A chance finding during my sojourn with Moninna and Ranjit Goonewardena in Galle Fort in July/August 2015 introduced me to the visit of Tony Blair’s family to Sri Lanka in August 2015 ….. See https://thuppahis.com/2020/11/22/tony-blair-and-family-in-galle-mid-august-2015/ As we all know, in 2015 the Yahapālana govt indulged in an about/turn (with US backing) and joined the HR lobbies by saying ‘mea culpa’ at the UNHRC Sessions in Geneva in March/April that year. This programme overturned the presentations pursued earlier by Dayan Jayatilleke and Tamara Kunanayakam under the Mahinda Rajapakse dispensation. Kunanayakam’s competent representations in 2011 earned the undiluted ire of Eileen Donahue (the American ambassador at the UNHCR) who even threatened Kunanayakam verbally on the phone: “we will get you!”.[1] Internal machinations within the Rajapaksa camp, apparently involving Sajjin Vaas Gunawardena and a Ministry staffer Kshenuka Seneviratne, led to Kunanayakam’s displacement a little later.

Donahoe  Samaraweera at UNHCR sessions in 2015

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The Burgher Exodus from Sri Lanka: A Reading in 1988

Barbara Crossette, in New York Times way back in 1988 …. where the title runs thus “Colombo Journal; A Proud People, Scattered and Forgotten by Time”

In Sri Lanka, a country torn by violence, the holiday season is perhaps most poignant for a small minority that has not been part of the ethnic strife at all.  They call themselves the Dutch Burghers, but the name, most generously defined, can cover a rich ethnic mix of Portuguese, Dutch, British and other Europeans who settled here over several centuries.

The Burghers, who are Christians, also number among themselves the Eurasian descendants of Europeans and high-born Sinhalese or, less often, Tamils. Ethnic Sinhalese account for about 74 percent of the Sri Lankan population of about 16 million; Tamils, 18 percent. Continue reading

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