Category Archives: nationalism
Sajitha Prematunge, in Island. 4 February 2019, with Pics by Jude Denzil Pathiraja and title reading “Swarnamali recounts reading solidarity message at first Independence commemoration”
The day was February 4, 1949, the first commemoration of Independence at the Torrington Square. With synchronised grace, four athletes – Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher – handed over scrolls of solidarity from the four corners of Ceylon to four charming and self-conscious young ladies. Swarnamali Amarasuriya, Sirimani Ramachandran, Ayesha Zally and Phyllis de Kretser read those messages in their respective languages and handed them over to Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake to be enshrined with the foundation stone.
Having been forced to accept an UNP government by a Supreme Court decision in December 2018 after he had attempted to ditch them in a coup from above in late October, President Maithripala Sirisena utilised the opportunity provided by the swearing in of a new UNP Cabinet under Ranil Wickremasinghe on 16th December 2018 to deliver a sermon to a captive audience of ‘enemies’ who were, ironically, about to enjoy the fruits of victory and destined to assume state power. Sirisena’s Address was delivered in Sinhala and is marked by pathos, recrimination and selective biographical tales from the past that illuminate aspects of Sri Lankan politics.
Introductory Note from Michael Roberts
The public event organised by Chatham House to discuss recent events in Sri Lanka on 17th January was chaired by a University Lecturer at University College London whose specialty is “human rights,” rather than any one of the Sri Lankan specialists teaching at British Universities (for e.g. Rajesh Venugopal, Asanga Welikala, Sujit Suvisundaram, Zoltan Beidermann and Alan Strathern). The combination of ignorance, distortion and prejudice that guided the organisation and direction of the debate was exposed in the opening lines of this Chairperson, one Kate Cronin-Furman. “[We are meeting today some ten years after the “final push” of the Sri Lankan Army in a war that ended in May 2009 – “a final phase where the UN estimates said that more than 40,000 civilians were killed by that military [action].”
Gideon Haigh, in The Weekend Australian, 19-20 January 2019, where the title is “Crisis of cricket and democracy in Sri Lanka”
In Shehan Karunatilaka’s kaleidoscopic novel of Sri Lanka and cricket, Chinaman, the narrator stops to consider whether the game is so nationally useful at all. “Does Sri Lanka need more schoolteachers, more soldiers or more wicketkeepers?’’ he asks. “A middle-order batsman or a bank manager? A specialist gully fieldsman or a civil engineer?’’ Needless to say, he resolves the conundrum favourably to the game. “Left-arm spinners cannot unclog your drains, teach your children or cure you of disease,” he concludes. “But once in a while, the very best of them will bowl a ball that will bring an entire nation to its feet. And while there may be no practical use in that, there is almost certainly value.”