Jayantha Somasundaram, courtesy of THE CEYLANKAN, November 2019
Sri Lanka’s maritime areas were ceded to the British in 1796 and for the next one and a half centuries there was a British military presence on the Island. As a consequence the Ceylon Army which was established seventy years ago in October 1949 was heavily influenced by this British legacy.
In the early British years under a Lieutenant General, Britain stationed four regiments of infantry, two Ceylon Rifle Regiments, a regiment of the Royal Artillery, a regiment of the Royal Engineers and a troop of cavalry on the island. But after the rebellion in the former Kandyan Kingdom was put down in 1848 and for much of the next century of British rule, there was a more limited British military presence on the island. So by the turn of the twentieth century the British Army in Ceylon, now under the command of Brig Gen R.C.B. Lawrence, consisted of a battalion of infantry, a company of the Royal Artillery, a company of Ceylon and Mauritius Royal Artillery and details of the Royal Engineers and Royal Army Medical Corps. (Wright: 857) Continue reading
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The recent political debate on SOFA, MCC etc (see Roberts 2019) highlights the place of KOGGALA in the Western imperial map of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The British airfields at Katunayake Trinco and Koggala were part of the imperial defence system – a geo-political ensemble that became even more significant after the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in WW Two marked vulnerabilities not envisaged till then.
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I recently circulated a whole set of articles by some Muslim scholars (located in the Eastern Province and abroad) as well as a few others in Western universities — mostly written in the 2011-19 period. I am beginning to go through them slowly when I can carve out time for this set of tasks. A few have focused on the incidence of crime and communal violence in the post 2009 period.
What strikes me on reading these ventures is the limited degree of reading of past works that has been pursued and the appalling gaps in their background – lapses which also impinge on their comments on the death toll in the last stages of Eelam War IV.
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Kieren Shafritz De Zoysa’s Essay “Sri Lanka: My Cultural Connections” … submitted for the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition … written just before he was among those killed by a Muslim bomber at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on Easter Sunday 21/4/2019**
The tropical sun burns bright. On my way to school, red and black buses full of office workers, tuk-tuks of all colours, Porsches, Land Rovers, and BMWs crowd the roads. There are few road rules. I pass a speeding blur of white colonial buildings, ancient banyan trees, old elegant homes behind high walls, short ladies pushing trash carts, small kadeys selling cream crackers and sodas, and road-side hawkers offering freshly plucked red rambutans, golden yellow mangoes, young orange coconuts. Steel and glass office towers stand high over small houses. Cranes rise above expensive new apartment buildings. Occasionally I see a Buddhist monk in orange robes. Lonely, stray dogs roam the streets and sidewalks scavenging for food, near tourists who turn bright lobster red taking selfies in front of thousand-year-old temples.
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