Suffer one more Govt. office, and I’ll…

By Rajpal Abeynayake
When there is a perception, rightly or wrongly that people’s buying power is on the decrease, many other factors that have a bearing on people’s quality of life, get forgotten.
The quality of life on the road seems to be ever diminishing. People spend unproductive and ennui filled hours in traffic.
But when the economy never really takes off or sputters on take off as it happens in Sri Lanka all the time, people’s quality-of-life deteriorates in somewhat sad ways that sometimes cannot be quantified, or even properly conveyed.
Take the ‘quality of life’ of people who brave the rigors of what is called the ‘government office’ to get things done.
In semi-privatized entities, at least, these office spaces are livable spaces, and people generally get things done, get new telephone connections or whatever, without really feeling that they have wasted a day, or spiraled into a state of comatose depression.
It’s not the case in most state run departments, from you name it — the Labour Secretariat, or the various Divisional Secretariats, to state run offices for commerce and trade, required for the most mundane of exchanges between state and citizen, all necessary for basic existence. From obtaining passport forms to National Identity Card verifications, ordinary folk are compelled to call over at the the Divisional Secretariats for better, or worse …
Most of these offices have come a long way from what state run facilities used to be a couple of decades back – slum lands basically, with broken concrete floors, and cat feces strewn around the dustbins.
That era may be over. Most state-run departments are now equipped with usable toilets, and almost all are complete with tiled floor and walls and the basic amenities, generally in working condition.
But the offices themselves are nothing better than sweatshops for hassled bureaucrats and even more hassled citizens, who approach these dinghy ill-lit office spaces, because they have to.
There is no sign that things are improving. In some key departments such as Immigration and Emigration for instance, the outside of the office looks swanky, but the insides are anything but. The walls and the partitioning have not seen a coat of paint for eons. The seating areas are reminiscent of cattle sheds at worst, and the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage at best.
There are no signs that things are improving. State banks have the money, and semi-privatized institutions manage because of various reasons that are too complicated to go in to here. But the average government office looks positively unhealthy for office workers, and are generally anathema to those who visit them for unavoidable reasons, because the latter are less used to such uninhabitable surroundings.
The basic facts of economics tell us that things are not going to get better any time soon, no matter who wields power, because the basic workings of a modern economy guarantees this kind of atrophy, when economies don’t grow at a healthy pace.
What could be done? Here is a bucket list of ideas that might be considered but are unlikely to be considered, if you know what I mean!
• Consider semi privatizing some of these organizations, at the risk of incurring the wrath of the working masses. But who is interested in running a Passport Office with an infusion of private sector funds? No, that option won’t do then. But at the very least, there could be a few offices that could benefit from a healthy dosage of private sector model dynamism. Who knows? A risk taken is better than chronic atrophy?
• Ask for a public shramadana by do gooders to clean up Govt offices, for their own good. Volunteer organizations could take the lead.
• Introduce mandatory standards for State run offices. If there are no airy spaces, air conditioning to be made mandatory. Yes, air condition technology has developed and with the Inverter type machines, cooling offices is not the nightmare it used to be years ago.
• Make it mandatory for all offices to regularly update their web pages, especially in social media spaces, so that the top Management feels embarrassed if their offices resemble slums, recently made into tenements for pukka sahibs.
• Usher in the Revolution ASAP.

Here is Sam’s Gratiaen sambol story

by Rajpal Abeynayake
(Picture — Gratiaen nominees and judges, 2015.)
They have done it again, but this time most spectacularly, even for the Gratiaen.
The Gratiaen award judging process almost always has been totally quixotic and quirky, and that is putting it by way of massive understatement. Most often the judges show bias towards people who they favour in the incestuous world of Sri Lankan creative writing in English. However this time around their bias is so glaring that the person heading the panel of judges Elmo Jayewardene could justifiably call himself Sam. Not Uncle Sam, but just Sam, as in Sam’s story. He wrote that book, Sam’s story. It is about a simpleton, forced into sophisticated circumstances. Sort of, a language retard suddenly asked to pick the winners for a literary prize, you think? Just kidding. But you know the sort. A Prize Idiot.
One feels a little bit of empathy for the book’s protagonist Sam however. Not so much for Elmo Jayewardene, the Sam in the Gratiaen scheme of things.
This Sam is either completely naive to the point of being moronic, or is plain naive, but is also a bit of a plotting character, who is more than a tad devious.
But it is the Gratiaen Award patrons, or the grand wizards who bestow the prize who are to blame for the total asininity and transparent bumptiousness with which they go about this business of giving away the award.
This time they made Sam the Head judge, and then made a woman by the name of Tracy Holsinger one of his co-judges or helpmates in the judging panel.
This made the whole process a case of Sam plus Simpleton plus, that it would have been better if these people had picked some pineapple and gram eating kids from Sam’s poetry competition for adolescents, and called them the Gratiaen judges, ( … also known as the Blue Sky Candle Panel of Pixies, or something like that.)
Pity there were no children’s books entered this time. If there were it is guaranteed — guaranteed with money-back — that the Gratiaen would have been awarded for the second time to a children’s book. (Yes, once they did that, giving away the award to a kids’ book called Mythil’s Secret!)
Sam is Sam. He thinks books are better if they can be read by simpletons such as himself. Just take a look at the Gratiaen shortlist this year. There is a kid in there whose poetry is full of swear words, f—- etc, that one would think she’d just left the kindergarten with that word stuck in her memory from some day she had a case of indigestion eating kiri topee and kadala in her Montessori class.
But this kid’s work is what Sam and the other kid in the Gratiaen judging panel Holsingher chooses for the shortlist.
But then no simpleton, even one such as Sam, could get away from the incest that has to figure each year in the Gratiaen scheme of things. Things got so incestuous this year between the cosy club of Colombo literati, that it became positively hilarious.
Sam recently organized some kind of literary to-do where he made half of Colombo’s roads bathe for a day with water poured from a kadala gotta. Just kidding. But, yes, Sam invited half of his Gratiaen judges and half of the Gratiaen nominees for the year 2015 for his to-do, and this was even before the Gratien prize 2015 had been awarded!
Tracy Holsinger started her panel skit at Sam’s event, by saying she doesn’t watch Talking Heads because they talk a whole lot of rubbish. Apparently she was watching herself in a mirror when she said that.
At least Sam should not have put half of the Gratiaen Prize nominees and judges for the year 2015 in his literary panels, you’d think? No, but, this simpleton has no scruples or nicety. Where is the appearance of propriety, because, as the wise men said, justice not only must be done, it must appear to be done as well, right?
Fat hope. This is Sam. He gives an entire panel at his to-do to a guy who he says makes people laugh, and who was one of the Gratiaen 2015 nominees. Yes, that guy does make people laugh, not with what he writes, though. He merely has to stand there, and look pompous as he always does, to have everybody splitting their sides …
But this is Sam. A simpleton who cannot get beyond the concept that books have to be Montessori primers such as his Sam’s Story, if they are to be read and enjoyed, and that he has to keep everything simple, meaning that he has to dumb everything down to his level. He likes them dumb, especially books written by people as cutely mediocre and leprechaun-like, such as himself, who in their naivety are of the view that if they write, they become literati by simple virtue of the fact.
So you get that buff-muscled living caricature Ashok Ferrey shortlisted. How could they forget the token impresario who they parade at all their literary to-do’s, the way they paraded him this year at Sam’s gram-scramble affair, during which Sam bathed Colombo with a kadala gotta? If Sam thinks that a book must be a Montessori picture book for it to be readable, Tracy Holsinger does even better, and this is in the tradition of Gratiaen award judging panels.
She knows nothing about books or literature at all. She dabbles in drama. Mary Poppins type. That’s it. Beyond that there is no evidence that she has read anything. Nothing whatsoever. It shows, when she says things like ‘even the LTTE came for his plays’, to celebrate a Tamil playwright she had just discovered, the way kids discover Christmas lights and Santa Claus. That’s right, ‘even the LTTE came for his plays.’ Whoa, even Satan appeared at his Bar-Mitzvah, what?
This time’s shortlist has a token everything. Such as, as stated, Ferrey, who can never win, in the manner of the player who can never get the ball over the line, even though he’s regularly passed it on a platter. The token f-word spewing kid. The token Tamil perhaps, except that they made him win this time. Writes prolix prose, which Tracy Holsinger reads in her faker than fake accent with such pompous gravitas, that you’d have been excused if you puked right there. Then there is the token activist book, of the kiddo who says he is autistic. There is the token gesture, the nod made to Shehan Karunatilleke, how could they have ignored him, eh what? Just kidding. That was probably the only worthy pick in 2015.
And so it goes, the same cavalcade, the same incest, promoted by people such as Sam as in Sam the pilot Elmo Jayewardene. People who are in it mostly to promote themselves, as the nice poor-man’s impresario types, who think they decide what is culture and what is not. Even that would have been ok, in a country which is by no means a meritocracy, if at least the man knew a little literature beyond the literature of the village idiot. Sam, what a sham — what a garden-variety snake oil salesman, really? And you think you could’ve fooled me, man?

In the U.S., democracy means ganging up on Bernie Sanders

By Rajpal Abeynayake
The primary season quickly degenerated into farce
What they are doing to Bernie Sanders in the USA is a disgrace. There is no other way of putting it. There is no argument about the fact that there has been election fraud and malpractice from the very beginning of the Primary season, and that much of this was at a cost to Bernie Sanders. Things became so Banana Republic like when it was revealed that close to a million people may have been disenfranchised in the New York primary alone.
But the mainstream media in the U.S. does not report on any of this. Instead, its mantra is the hackneyed lie that Democrats’ so-called front-runner Hillary Clinton is leading by so many hundreds of delegates, taking into account the super-delegates.Yes she does lead by a few hundreds in terms of delegates won in the primary contests, but this lead is depicted as being so strong counting in the super delegates, that it is deemed insurmountable.
It is a scandal that the only decent human being in the 2016 election campaign, Sanders, is being given this kind of unacceptable treatment by the mainstream media.
A recent survey revealed that more than half of Americans feel that they are being robbed of their franchise in the primary process. They do not think that the primaries are free and fair by any reasonable yardstick. In which case that fact should be a major scandal in any country that purports to be democratic. But in the United States the mainstream media is frustrated instead, that Hillary Clinton is not already being anointed the Democratic nominee.
In their fits of fury the U.S mainstream media vilifies the Senator from Vermont for continuing his campaign – and this despite the fact that in 2008 Hillary Clinton was determined to go to the convention despite her clear delegate deficit, and had to be cajoled into stopping the attacks on then front runner Obama with the promise of various plums of office, and the ‘party succession’, after various negotiations.All of this may essentially be trivia for those in the rest of the world who do not have much of an interest in the U.S. Presidential elections, for good reason.
However the senator from Vermont is a rare quantity and a beacon of real hope and change for Americans who do not have state funded healthcare, which most of the rest of the developed world takes for granted. He also plans to eliminate College costs for undergraduates who now run obscene debt routinely, to pay their way through College. The main argument against him in the establishment, is that he is a wooly headed socialist who makes promises that he cannot keep.
Award winning Australian journalist John Pilger recently wrote an article which can be read here, which states that a Clinton presidency will be much worse than Donald Trump Presidency, calming that Trump is at least the maverick, whereas Clinton is the epitome of the Establishment. Though Pilger deplores the fact that those such as Sanders too are sometimes know for their liberal voting record in the Senate, palpably promoting horrific causes and invasions of other countries, mostly Sanders is faulted for saying that Obama has done a great job. This is not an indictment considering that Sanders cannot possibly remotely think of winning the nomination if he does not say something good about Obama. But Pilger is clear. Clinton is anathema. She is worse than Trump. And that says much.
In states such as Wisconsin, Clinton has managed to acquire more delegates than Sanders, even though she lost badly to Sanders. This is democracy in the United States it seems, and people are increasingly aware of how the establishment makes a great show about democracy even as the system does not remotely do justice by the voter. Certainly Justice is not seen to be done either. This video here would be illuminating in that regard.
It’s not a more detail that Hilary Clinton has won more delegates, so called pledged delegates, than Bernie Sanders. But how that situation came about is another story. The establishment and the media has been blatant about it.
Yet, there is impunity for the Sanders-denying media and those actively engaged in rigging the system, because the people are taken to be sheep. Some of what is happening is so hilarious that it boggles the mind.
When Bernie Sanders is on a winning streak, the media narrative is that he is endangering Clinton’s chances at a General Election and should get out of the race. Yet if Clinton wins one state, viewers are advised ‘we told you so, her nomination is a sure thing.’
There is something fundamentally very wrong in a country that enacts such a farce, but pretends that democracy is in action.
What is even sadder is that that all this is being done to stomp on the individual that understands that ordinary people need healthcare, and education, and basics such as a livable wage, and is appreciated by such regular folk in conspicuous numbers because he takes up their cause. In simpler terms, the blatant move to stop Sanders at all costs and crown the palpably dishonest and shamefully expedient Clinton, is the ultimate show of arrogance of a corrupt system, whose handlers think the people can’t see through how idiotic they look trying to make the unconscionable look normal, and the unforgivable look super-attractive.

How to, and how not to build an Opposition — in two steps



At a time this country does not have an Opposition, a real one, the absurdity of the former President having a love affair with the SLFP is laughable. It is belly-achingly, rollickingly comic.

Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa seems to be wedded to the idea of a political life in the SLFP, though he has been totally sidelined from the party, or one could say effectively ousted, tunic, saataka, mustache and all.
In that context, those who voted for the SLFP — or the UPFA coalition — are disenfranchised. They are faced with the vomit-inducing spectacle of those garden-scum political vermin such as Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Dilan Perera, Chandima Weerakkody and so many others propping up the ludicrous Ranil government whose policies they voted against, when they voted for the SLFP.
They are also facing the ignominy of those whom they effectively voted against, and defeated, such as Mahinda Samarasinghe and a myriad others whose names cannot be mentioned without the writer vomiting on the page, screen and keyboard and all, being elevated to Ministerial rank.
Nothing more needs to be said. Those who voted for the Opposition are completely and comprehensively lost, their votes reduced to nothing — to bits of paper as useless as burnt out parchment.
In this context, the person most people really voted for when they voted UPFA, Mahinda Rajapaksa insists on saying that he is part of the stolen SLFP.
This is so laughable it is time to say, Mahinda Rajapaksa, whatever your reasons, you have, to put it mildly, left your political supporters in the lurch, basically abandoning them in defeat, because of your silly notion that your life is tied to the SLFP.
It is unlikely that this silliness of Mahinda Rajapaksa would change. Perhaps the poor man is just too tired or just far too stressed, hounded and vilified as he is.
But if he cannot realize that people would not support him in the SLFP as that SLFP is now constituted, purloined and useless, then please leave Mahinda Rajapaksa to his fantasy love affair with his party.
He is now well-nigh useless, prattling on about how he would never be a part of another party.
Let the people leave the poor man to his fantasy.
Sri Lanka needs a real Opposition and it has to come from others and not MR, for the clear reason given above.
A new political agglomeration of forces would call the bluff on this forced National Government, or whatever ludicrous name it is called.
It would first and foremost, re-enfranchise those who have been humiliated by this putrid scheme of things where their vote to oppose Ranil Wickremesinghe has been purloined and transformed into a vote supporting Ranil Wickremesinghe.
This outrage by these petty tin pot dictators would stop, but it would not stop with the old dispensation in the Opposition.
The faith placed on MR is misplaced, and perhaps he may be excused, as he and his family is being unfairly hounded, to say the very least.
But the people cannot wait for a real and healthy Opposition, just because of that.
They need an effective Opposition and that has to be WITHOUT the effectively neutralized Mahinda Rajapaksa, so that the true extent of the treachery, subterfuge and illegitimacy of the Ranil Wickremesinghe UNP can be exposed.
The rump in Parliament that is now in the Opposition which does the real job of opposing are not in the SLFP.
They are mostly genuine articles such as Dinesh, Wimal and Vasudeva, who have tried to expose the government but failed, because they are without momentum for so many reasons, not the least of them being that the media is completely hijacked by the capitalist UNP.
This situation has left a void that spells unimaginable danger.
The sooner under these circumstances that the people realize MR is a dead letter, and that the firebrands mentioned above are unable to obtain traction, the better it is.
People have to look for real Opposition from more spontaneous sources, loosely put.
They are outraged and sickened by what passes off for a ‘government’ but they are also put out by the piss-poor Opposition that for one reason or the other can’t do the slightest thing to upset the blackguards who stole their vote against the Ranil UNP to prop up the same Ranil UNP.
In the first phase of transiting to a new Opposition, they must read the riot act to their former President, and say, we may have voted for you, but in a situation in which we are abandoned, you are useless, and we are moving on, peace be with you …
Once that Right of Passage is accomplished, it would be much easier for the real disenfranchised people of this country to put together the first building blocks for a real Opposition that is not just unafraid, but in fact, and in hard reality, counts.
Such an Opposition may not probably rely on Dinesh, Vasu and that rather hapless pack of notables either — bless them — as they are too tied to the Mahinda story too, in an emotional, or well, an elemental sense.
No gainsaying that there is a need for a clean break with all that, as the country cannot wait. The current Government is a joke, and who doesn’t know it?
But it’s a bad joke. So there is no need to restate the obvious.
The need to oppose by every means possible, known and unknown in the history of political agitation in this country, or indeed elsewhere, is such that it is an inevitable imperative.
The people have been betrayed, not just by their ‘King’ (or ex -King), but also by those who tied their bandwagons so tight to his, that unbeknown to them, they are rendered ineffective too, the poor souls.
The people have a dream that this collective national nightmare is over.
It will happen by their own troth however, beginning soon, and would have nothing to do with ex leaders, or their hopelessly ineffectual , rather tired and jaded caboodle, bless them …..

The unalloyed reality with regard to the Ven’s passing …


The utter hypocrisy with regard to the passing of Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha is such that it begs several questions. Why are the powers-that-be cynically exploiting the Ven’s death when it is known that the Ven. Sobitha himself was disgusted with the performance of this new government and also gave clear instructions that there be no needless tom-tom beating with regard to his passing.
But the political opportunism is nakedly self seeking.
The Ven. Sobitha in any event did not as far as is known, protest against what is now virtually a progrom against the men of the armed forces.
When there was prosecution and persecution of armed forces personnel, the Ven. Sobitha did nothing to ensure that these men who fought so that Sri Lankans could get about their daily business, were not needlessly hounded.
In other words, he reaped what he sowed i.e; he was instrumental in bringing to power a government that was quite transparently on a witch hunt of the armed forces, and when the persecution of soldiers became reality, he did not utter any words of regret.
It seems he either erred and was not repentant this regard, or was callous.
The undue climate of artificially created hysteria on his passing is therefore identified for what it is. It is politically motivated opportunism, cynical as it comes.


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