Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Super Patriotic Daddy's Boy

It looks like super patriotic daddy's boy does not have the balls to call Gen.Sarath Fenseka by his name.May be daddy can not get the Harvard man-child out of a pickle if something goes wrong .
This piece (http://www.dailynews.lk/2009/12/22/fea02.asp)does not look like satire and using the term "superman" throughout the column does make any sense(Everybody knows that the highest journalistic standards of the Daily News is in the marriage proposal section but atleast somebody should have pointed out the obvious )

Dude ,are you talking about Vickramabhau,Wije Dias or Sirithuga Jayasooriya?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Deep thought of the day 2009-08-24

Never knew unicorns existed but why do they have to retire to grow a pair?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Deep thought of the day 2009-08-17

Glad to be the subject of the buddhist emperor who has all the time in the world to attend Thunmase Danes ,Fuenrals,weddings and kotahalu maguls but can not take his friend's phone call since he is in the "shrine toom" .

Monday, August 03, 2009

I'm gonna tell my daddy -Fifth grade intellectuals

Who is Malinda Seneviratne?
Ivap asks me who this Malinda Seneviratne guy is.The best answer is .this.
In this video Fareed Sakaria interviews a smooth talking Tehran university professor who quotes from "Lord of the rings".The guy is a conservative Ahmajinda supporter who claims to have faught in Iran-Irag war.Like Fareed points out he is not an anomaly .We have seen his counterparts in old Soviet Block,Iraq,China and other repressive regimes.Malinda joins this illustrous alumini without much effort.

I have read Malinda but due to severe time constraints I missed the recent food fight in The Island regarding 13 th amendment .It looks like Dayan called out Malinda for what he is.A coward.A giant brouhaha broke out brining in Carlo Fonseka,Nalin de Silva and Malinda's father Gamini .I'm sure if Mervyn De Silva was alive he would keep his mouth shut knowing that his grown up son can defend himself.I also belive that Mervyn and Dayan did more to Sri Lanka than Gamini and Malinda can dream of.
Background
Before throwing the C (oward) word , Let's see who came out of universities in Sri Lanka during 70's ,80's and 90's.
After the Sinhala Only act in 1956(later fare use of Tamil) and government takeover of schools (1961)and the formation of 2 univerities out of 2 "pirivenas"(Vidyodaya and Vidyalankara 1958) by early seventies, bilingual students were a rare breed.1971 mark the first purging of these new Sinhala only warriors.I think Dayan entered Peradeniya in late 70s with the family background he was a rare animal among his fellow students .Same goes for Malinda in mid 80's.

By 80s most of the bilingual students and teachers were a thing of past.To the general Sinhala /Tamil only public access to outside world (Even in 2009 ,English is used by only 5% of the country) was their own langauge filtered by half-baked translaters who did not know what the hell they were talking about .Only foreign literature access to them (to Sinhala readers )were Sinhala translation of Russian Novels ,Marx and Lenin .This was all hapenning when the Soviet empire was dying !There were no internet the TV was at it infancy (until late80s not many households had them).
So when Malinda entered university in 1985 (with family background of a civil servant father and a mother who taught at Royal college who probably spoke both Sinhala and English at home), he must have felt really lonely .There were not many people like him around .So he choose to pal around with the budding JVP insurgency masquerading as a opposition to 1987 indo-lanka treaty.I think he over did when trying to fit in.He condoned the heinous crimes commited by JVP/Jathika Chinthana guys at the time. Then ran away when things got too hot to save his ass. He came back when things cool down and joined the racists Champika/Nalin/Rathana Gang.

Political climate in Sri Lankan universities
In 1950 and 1960 the political dialog and violance (sometimes) were dominated by clashes with student group loyal to Communist party (Stalinist) and Samasmaja Party(trotskyist).Along came JVP in 1970 and has been dominating until now.The politics in Sri lankan universities in 80's and 90s could be summed up by one question.Are you with IUSF(Inter university student federaration--JVP backed)?The ascendancy of JVP violance can be traced back to 1983 when Daya Pathirana ,a left leaning anit-jvp union leader (and Dayan's friend) ,was murdered by JVP .
After the rebellion JVP sympathies remained intact but the politics were volatile in some universities where all others(SLFP,UNP,Jathika Chinthana) try to stop JVP from gaining power in student unions .They were sucessful in Ruhuna -Science faculty,Moratuwa-Engineering facully,Colombo -Science Faculty and Kelaniya- Science faculty.In all the other places (except medical faculties) JVP had a free run again.

The interesting thing about the Jathika Chinthana Group was that they whole heartedly supported the JVP during 1987-90 but after the crack down they split from JVP and started to become a counterweight to JVP in some cases.With Prof Nalin Silva's backing they banned Coca-Cola from university cafetarias and forced female students not to wear jeans.

Dayan somehow got back at people who killed or repressed his political friends .He never supported JR .Helped Premadasa to crackdown on JVP .Joined EPRLF for self -determination of Tamils .He was a minister in Varatharaja Perumals cabinet and then moved away before Varatharaja declared Ealam unilateraly.After Premadas he was with Chandirika initially and then Mahinda .Played a major role in defeating tigers who killed his allies.If you read him from 80's or,90's or now his core beliefs are the same. So when he calls Malinda who was arrested once in a temple during a meeting of Ratawesi peramuna ,a coward,in my opnion he is right.Please check the link below for the fundamenatl rights case filed .You can notice the racists currently calling the shots in colombo.Here are some .excerpts
(
For instance, there was Malinda Seneviratne, the petitioner
in SC Application 146/92. He had, according to paragraphs 2.1 4.3 of his
affidavit, read the "fundamental texts of Marxism" while he was at school, and
in his political thinking was "influenced to a large extent" by the political
views of his father who he says was "a Trotskyite as an undergraduate." He was
admitted to the Dumbara Campus in 1985 but proceeded to the United States in
1987 under an Exchange Program and later read Sociology at Harvard University
where he graduated in 1991. His undergraduate dissertation was "Students as
Agents of Revolution: The Case of the Sri Lanka Student Movement." In January
1992 he was employed by the Peradeniya University as an English Instructor of
the Medical Faculty. When Rathana put it to him, he thought that the formation
of the Ratawesi Peramuna as " a broad agitational front" was "a good idea" and
attended two of its meetings and met Rathana and others at the "open canteen" of
the University at Colombo at about 6 p.m. on 26th February 1992 and agreed to
meet at the Kawduduwa temple.

Malinda Seneviratne (146/92) in
paragraph 6.2 of his affidavit says that he was put into Rathana's cell "around
7.30". Rathana (149/92, 4.1) confirms this. Nandana Perera (151/92, 3.3) says
that dinner was served "around 10 p.m." and that "By this time Malinda had been
put in the same cell as Rev. Rathana." However, Daniel (147/92, 3.5) and
Dayananda (148/92, 4.4) state that Seneviratne was put into Rathana's cell after
dinner. All the petitioners, including Seneviratne and Rathana, agree that
dinner was served at 10 p.m.
Rathana (149/92, 4.1) says the OIC said: "Kawda
methenata dennek damme, Moo kawda? "He then took out Malinda and beat him." None
of the other things mentioned by Seneviratne are referred to by Rathana, his
cell mate.

The alleged second assault on Malinda Seneviratne is referred
to in an identically worded paragraph in the affidavits of Daniel (147/92, 3.6)
and Dayananda (148/92, 4.5). The first sentence of those two paragraphs are as
follows: "He next came up to Malinda again, kicked him saying. "Emarican karaya,
api dannava tho emericavata giye ay kiyala" and hit him with the stick that
Piyarathna was carrying."

nawake (154/92, 4.5) has a unique version. He
says "I heard him say: "thoda emaricaven aave?" and beating Malinda".)


You can notice names of Champika Ranawaka,Malika Wimalasooriya and Athuraliye Rathana in case notes.
Daddy jumps in
Hearing his son called a coward Malinda father try to attest to his character by saying how Malinda went to Harvard and what he brought back to his friends from US.
As for Malinda, Carlo has got it right; just how right he is I will confess
below in my fashion. He is my son, a fact of life that, as I suppose is the case
with most fathers & sons, neither of us is comfortable with. Yes, he
transferred to Harvard from Peradeniya. Actually that lot started off in Dumbara
lodging in village homes some distance away from any source of water. A few of
them found more comfortable lodgings – a matter on which I could expatiate. What
is of some relevance is that, overall, you couldn’t have got more rural than
that till universities were ‘established’ in Mihintale, Belihuloya, Eravur or
Wayamba.The cost of a College education in the USA at the time was about half of
what it is now; at Harvard it was around $ 25,000 a year. Over much of the time
required for submitting the documentation required, I was not here and I have no
recollection of the quantum of support that parents were required to provide.
The relevant documents surfaced a couple of years ago and I discovered that I
had offered to make an anthima-last-final contribution of $150. Evidently, for
the authorities at Harvard, it was ‘an offer they could not refuse’.Malinda used
his savings to come back - ‘home’ was not quite it – he dropped by on his way
from the airport to Peradeniya - through every summer vacation carrying books
and notes for his batchas at Peradeniya, no doubt ‘idiotically’. He left them
behind for the library. More support for Carlo’s assessment: Malinda later opted
for Rural Sociology at Cornell. He went further downhill when he chose to carry
out his field studies in kelegama and lodged for a year or so in a half-built
store-room between two elephant corridors off buduruvakande. His dissertation
had to do with a notion of ‘honour’ that determined the life and the day-to-day
choices made by the (altogether unmentionable) Sinhala villager in the
north-central dry zone.


Also Malinda tries to distance himself from his support for JVP by starting off with this in his reply to Dayan.

In September 1988, a group of student activists officially affiliated with
the Student Action Committee off the University of Peradeniya and therefore the
Inter University Student Federation (IUSF) and unofficially with the Janatha
Vimukthi Peramuna, went around the residence halls asking students to sign a
petition. The petition was a simple request for a blank cheque: ‘I hereby agree
to support unconditionally any decision taken by the Inter University Student
Federation in the interest of furthering the cause of the student movement of
Sri Lanka’. I didn’t sign and neither did some 15 of my friends in the second
year of the Arts Faculty who were at the time opposed to the JVP-led student
movement. I remember saying ‘If the IUSF decides that murdering my mother would
serve the interests of the student movement, I would have, if I signed,
sanctioned that act as well’. I remembered this because I have been reflecting
on blank cheques and how they are used and abused.



To me ,that is utter bullshit.These guys were hand in glove distrupting the country ,killing peole and marching innocent students (university as well as high school) to the gulletines.Now they are trying to do it again by opposing meaningfull long term solution to the ethnic problem.They are trying to do a 1987 again by ignoring India .These idiot renamed Masoor Dal ,Rathu Parippu mistaking Masoor for Maysore!.Also renamed Bombai onions ,Loku Loonu.I was not surpised when they named French Fries, Freedom fries in US congress cafetaria because idiots think alike whether they live in US or Sri Lanka.The sad thing is a lot of young people who belived this idiots did not make it out alive.When people like Malinga ,Wimal Weeransighe and the current JVP sing hosanas of the armed forces and give rhetorical blowjobs ,their comrades must be turning in their unmarked graves.

P.S.
it seems like Malinda's Sister is Ru Freeman.
update 1
It looks like Malinda himself has commented below.
Posting the links he mentions
http://transcurrents.com/tc/2009/08/lf_political_vacuum_continues.html
http://www.lakbimanews.lk/special/spe9.htm

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dayan J,The Wire and Arundhati

I do agree "The Wire" is the greatest TV show ever and Arundhati is really hot (I saw her speak at British Council ,colombo .Couldn't remember what she talked about but can still remember thinking about boinking her)
http://blacklightarrow.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/out-in-the-wilderness-dayan-jayatilleka-on-pleading-the-13th-being-a-hippy-and-getting-sacked-by-boggles/

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Somini Sengupta should learn from Judy Miller

Yesterday's NYT carried this article by Somini(http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/20/world/asia/20lanka.html?scp=4&sq=sri%20lanka&st=cse).It is apparent that some section of the Western Media is trying to make Mahinda Rajapakse a Robert Migabe or a Kayibanda.I'm not a fan of Mahinda Chinthana and have doubts about the post conflict agenda he has.Specially worried about the racist elements around him .To his credit, he has some great liberal non-racist people around him as well.Due to strange 1978 constitution and propotional representaion Mahinda has been walking a political tight rope since 2005.
The issue I have is trying to paint Mahinda and generally Sinhalese as backward looking feudalists.Take this paragraph.

The brothers, who come from upper-caste landed gentry, are not part of the
English-educated elite of Colombo, the capital. Snubbing pressure from the West
did not hurt them; it helped them consolidate their southern Sinhalese
nationalist base.


Any reader who does not have a background on Sri Lanka is going to assume
a)Caste is a important thing in Sri Lanka
b)Mahinda is from the upper caste
c)He is not English educated

Caste was an important factor in Sri Lanka but not any more.Even in it's hayday it was not an important factor like in India or even close to the situation among Sri Lankan(Ceylonese then) Tamils.R.Premadsa,the second executive president , was not from a upper caste.He won against Sirimawo Bandaranayake ,two time prime minister wife of prime minister and a upper caste lady.His successor ,D.B. Wijetunga was certainly Goyigama but did not belong to the "radala" or the upper hierarchy of the that caste.His successor Chandrika Kumaratunga is the wife of Vijaya Kumaratunga. Vijya is from Durawa caste .Durawa was the toddy tapping caste which did not feature high in caste hierarchy .
Of course Mahinda is Goyigama,radala and buddhist but he is married to a women of Cathalic goyigama background.His extended clan has inter married into Karawa and Durawa caste.One of them is married to a Tamil I think!
The bottom line is that caste does not play a important role among Sinhalese.It might have been important 100 years ago but not anymore.
Mahinda is not from Colombo English educated class .That statement is true.That does not mean that he is an uneducated fool.He went to primary school at Richmond(Galle) which taught in English at the tme and Nalanda and Thurstan(Colombo).Many Sri Lankans who can read and write English does not speak english well due to that fact that they do not speack it at home or day to day life.I think Mahinda belong to that category so do not judge him by mispronounciations or strange constructs of the language.After all we had to endure George Bush for 8 years.

Then this paragraph takes the cake....
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the defense secretary and a former computer systems
administrator in Los Angeles, accused international aid agencies working in
Tiger-held territory of helping the insurgents. Last fall, he ejected nearly all
of them from the area.


A Unix adminstrator conducting a war !Must be the dream job for a nerd!How fucking hypocritical of Somini to write this ?Who edited this paragrapgh?Gotabaya Rajapakse was Lt.Colonel of the Sri Lanka Army and a collegue of current army commander Sarath Fonseka.I do not know the details but it looks like after retiring (he had a illustarted carreer in the nothern war) in 1990's he got a US greencard and decided come to LA .He seems to have worked as a unix admin during that period.How many lt.col in US army can administrate a unix system?The reason for his leaving might be that during UNP and then the Chandrika period Rajapakses were delegated to back bench .He must have thought it was better to move on after serving his country.

Criticise them for their policies but do not try to paint them as megalomaniacs who are running a backward country and they do not know any shit about what they do.Does the name Judy Miller and WMD issues ring any bells?
P.S
BTW Army commander Sarath Fonseka ,he might be from Karawa Caste(looking at the name and Ambalangoda background).You know what? We do not fucking care!

P.S. II
I do not have time to spell check . Grammer might be bad ,too.I'm not writing for NYT.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tell me this does not break your heart


I saw the photos at http://www.opusa.org/ .

Sri Lankans have seen a lot of in past 60 years.One war ,two rebelllions, several riots and a Tsunami.Looking at the picture ,tell me it does not break your heart.As a brother or a sister it could have been you .As a mother or a father it could have been your kids.It could have been your neighbor's kids.

Tamil diaspora(most of them ) is not sending any money to help them at government run IDP camps but what about you Sinhala , Muslim and Burger expatriates?Specially Sinhala expatriates.This is a second tsunami .If you think the world should leave us alone to take care of our problem ,then take are of the problem for god sake(Aren't you your brother's keeper?).You know how the JVP was crushed ,don't you?Don't try to pretend that everything is honky dory in government run camps.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Why Jathika Chinthana Pravahaya rocks!

I have been obsessed with Jathika Chinthana Pravahaya for a while.
They are doing something even Tom Tomorrow couldn't do.

I'm still baffled though.Knowing the history and back ground of these people ,it could be the real deal!Of course there are obvious post that stand out as parody(amuda stuff etc...) but there is a handful that walks the fine line so professionally it is a treat to read.
:)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Dayan

This was in 3/2007.Accidently bumped into the article.

He always had the balls to say and fight for what he believed in.

http://www.dailynews.lk/2007/03/26/fea03.asp





The revolutionary turned public intellectual
A second-generation of the Sri Lankan intelligentsia, very little is known about Political Analyst and Colombo University Senior Lecturer, Dayan Jayatilleka. Back in Sri Lanka having just completed his PhD at Griffith University, Australia, the revolutionary turned public intellectual spoke to Naomi Gunasekara about his childhood, failed relationships, political activism and attraction to Cuban President Fidel Castro
Dayan Jayatilleka Picture by Naomi Gunasekara
Q: You are a prolific analyst on Sri Lankan affairs. Yet little is known about Dayan Jayatilleka the individual. Tell me about your origin, family and childhood.
A: My father was Mervyn de Silva, the journalist in whose name the pinnacle award of Sri Lankan journalism, the Mervyn de Silva Award for Excellence in Journalism, has been instituted. My mother, Lakshmi Sylvia Fernando, taught at St Bridget's Convent.
My parents were both modern and rebelled against their environment. My father was modern and liberal, my mother modern and conservative. My father was a Buddhist but not a practicing one. He described himself as an agnostic and I don't know anybody who remembers him at religious observances after his childhood.
My mother grew up a Buddhist. Her father, my Seeya from Panadura, was a staunch Buddhist lay preacher. But my mother, who was the eldest daughter, rebelled and became a Catholic. She was also one of the first of that generation of women in Sri Lanka to cut her hair short. And she used to drive. These were very modern sensibilities,
My parents belonged to the post-war independent generation of Sri Lankans who were urbanised, Westernised but also nationalistic in their own way. Nationalistic not in a parochial, cultural sense, but in the sense of modern Third World assertiveness.
I was an only child and I think that also goes a long way in having shaped my personality. Being an only child born to two strong personalities; now there are several ways to go when you are in the middle of strong parents.
You can either have your own individuality squashed or you uncritically line up with one or the other parent. Or you can run away. I did none of these things. I went the fourth way, which I think the only viable way to go, which is to develop one's own individuality and distinctive personality.
My father used to say if you have the right combination of both of us, that is Amma and himself, then you will be fine. But if you get the wrong combination, heaven help you. I still don't know which combination I have.
But as I said they were at the cutting-edge of Sri Lankan modernity, which I am afraid was a phenomenon that was not wide spread. So many of the things I took for granted while growing up, I find don't come that easy to society in general.
Q: To what extent do you think you were influenced by the work done by your father? After all, you did function as the editor of The Lanka Guardian for some time.
A: The Lanka Guardian has very little to do with the degree to which I was influenced by my father. My father treated me as part-friend, part-colleague and part-son. My mother used to complain that he was treating me as an equal.
So did the rest his family. But he was a very rational man. He drew me in from a very early age into his own interests and pursuits, which were international affairs and politics.
One of the earliest photographs of me, which appeared many decades later in the Sunday Times, shows the two of us at the Non-Aligned Conference in Cairo in 1964 seated at the poolside of our hotel reading. I would have been seven at the time.
My father never really tried to influence my ideas. He didn't believe in heavy-handed parenting. He set an example but I had to find my own way. I do think though that I would not have been who I am and what I am if not for my father.
He went very far in understanding the world from a Third-World perspective. He was an admirer of figures such as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.
I read my first article on Che Guevara in the pages of the Daily Observer and it was a full-page article written by my father on Che's Bolivian diaries, which had been published. What I did unwittingly, unconsciously, was to try to take it further.
He wrote about revolutions and rebellious youths and radical personalities. He bought Frantz Fanon's books in Europe in 1968 when I was traveling with him. I suppose, what I did was try to walk the talk; I tried to make the revolution not just write about it. And he understood.
Though he did not talk about it expressly, he was sympathetic and empathetic, even a little supportive of my dangerous adventures. He understood that in a way my mother could not. He understood that because he had read Maroe and Silone, and he could see it happening all over the world.
He understood that his son was taking that path and it was something shaped by world history.
Q: Where did you see yourself heading professionally in the years prior to establishing yourself as an academic?
A: When I was growing up I used to ask my parents not to bother building houses for me because I expected to make the revolution. In my teens and twenties, I saw myself as a revolutionary. The watchword at that time for my generation was "be like Che." So Che Guevara was our role model.
In my thirties, I saw a role not as a politician, but as a participant in the politics of transformation - progressive mainstream politics. But right throughout there was a track-two running. Track-two was as an intellectual. I always spent time reading, thinking and scribbling my own ideas.
As a child one of my most pleasant memories was being sent to Peradeniya University on holiday to the home of my aunt, Lalita Fernando, who I believe was principal at Mahamaya College, and my uncle, Prof. Fernando, who was to become the Vice Chancellor of Peradeniya University.
Peradeniya in the 1960s and 1970s was a beautiful place. I liked the life they had. So I did have this dream of being an academic. But it was part of a larger notion of myself as an intellectual. While I was an activist and then later a policy advisor, I never let go of that other identity of reflection, of serious thought, of writing.
That manifested itself later in serious political commentaries in the media. But I think it has become the mainstream of my life as an academic and author. My book on the political thought of Fidel Castro is to be published in London this fall.
In a sense, I think I have come home to what I was meant to do - serious political thinking and writing. My academic supervisors and friends see me as a public intellectual. That, I suppose, sums it up.
Q: You were a Fulbright Scholar at the State University of New York. Yet you abandoned your studies to get involved in Sri Lankan politics. Why was this important?
A: It's a bit of a story. I got a First Class Honours Degree in Political Science and won the C. L. Wickremesinghe Memorial Prize for Best Results in Political Science. My results were supposed to be the best in decades.
I should have been recruited to the staff of Peradeniya but a hard-line right-wing group of UNPers prevented me from being recruited to the staff. They suppressed the post, which had been advertised, for which I had applied and for which I was by far the best qualified.
Now the Commonwealth Scholarships came only through the government at that time. Had I been on the staff of Peradeniya University, I would have been a natural for a Commonwealth Scholarship. I already had a place at the University of Manchester and a supervisor had already been appointed for me.
But I didn't have the money to go because Margaret Thatcher had just doubled the fees for foreign students at postgraduate level. And the Commonwealth scholarship was not available.
So, I applied for a Fulbright Scholarship and chose not to go to Harvard or Yale but to a state university upstate New York because I wanted to study with renowned Marxist intellectuals like Emmanuel Wallace stein and James Petras.
Now, when I went there, I found that unlike the British system in which I had been trained at Peradeniya, you don't get to work on your thesis straight on. You have to put in a couple of years for coursework even though I was admitted as a doctoral student. And I was getting very restless because things were hotting-up in Sri Lanka and things were hotting-up in the world.
When I was in the United States I didn't spend that much time on my studies. But I did get very heavily involved in the solidarity movements in support of Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Movements, which successfully prevented overt US military intervention in Central America. I was spending most of my time off campus. But I had not dropped out of my doctoral studies when I returned to Sri Lanka in late 1982 to observe the presidential election campaign, which of course was won by President Jayawardene.
And I was about to go back to my studies in New York when he declared that there would not be a Parliamentary election (scheduled for early in the next year) and instead he would have a referendum. So I stayed behind for the anti-referendum campaign.
That referendum is now widely documented as having been coercive and fraudulent. I never went back to my studies; I got drawn into increasingly militant forms of political protest and then wound-up a revolutionary activist.
Q: What kind of training did you get as a member of the Vikalpa Kandayama and what kind of a political future did you foresee for yourself and the country through these activities?
A: The Vikalpa Kandayama hoped to bridge the widening ethnic divide that was ripping the country apart after July 1983. We hoped to build generational bridges with our counterpart in the North and the East.
And we thought that our relationship with the EPRLF would enable us to mount a joint struggle, which cut across ethnic division. This struggle was for a socialist transformation of the island as a whole.
Now, what really happened was something else altogether. The LTTE regarded the EPRLF and other Tamil organisations as traitors. It recognised that these were not organisations that were hardcore separatists and proceeded to physically eliminate the Tamil new left. Similarly, Southern extremists, chiefly the JVP, murdered those elements of the Southern Left who wanted to transcend ethno-national differences.
They killed Vijaya Kumaratunga, who was the leader of the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP); they killed Daya Pathirana, who was a radical student leader of the Colombo University (and who had earlier been affiliated with the Vikalpa Kandayama).
Our project was a joint Sinhala-Tamil struggle for a socialist revolution. My dream was that Sri Lanka would be the Cuba of South Asia. Of course, it was a na‹ve and utopian fantasy. But I believe it was a decent goal.
Q: What were your years in exile like?
A: In the three years I went underground, two were spent in Sri Lanka and one in India. The literature that has come out on revolutionary experiences throughout the world, such as the work of fiction by R‚gis Debray called Undesirable Alien, makes the point that the existence of the clandestine urban militant is psychologically far more gruelling than being a political prisoner or a rural guerrilla because you are alone and its only your self-discipline and commitment that prevents you from opening the door and walking out onto the street.
There are places in which you cant even flush a toilet because nobody is supposed to be home at that time. And there are places in which there simply are no toilets. I mean, I could write a book about that experience.
I don't look back upon it with any great regret. It was a testing experience. I have faced other tests too, but this one, I faced and I passed. Now, I remember during that period, J. R. Jayawardene's government hounded very vociferous nationals, such as Mr. Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne.
But they decided to turn up at a police station and turn themselves in. And there were others such as Mr. Indika Gunawardena, who belonged to a southern group affiliated with the PLOTE, who allowed himself to be arrested at home.
Now I didn't do any of those things because when it comes to the crunch, it all depends on whether you can leave everything behind; take that existentional plunge into the unknown because you don't know when you will surface.
If you are caught you can be killed because there will be no record of you. If you are caught in safe house, you can just disappear, tortured and disappear.
The funny thing is that when you are underground you leave your whole persona behind. You are no longer Dayan Jayatilleka. I had a succession of names. It doesn't matter where you are coming from; you left it all behind - father, mother, the movies you are accustomed to, your music - everything that constituted your life until then.
You are down to the essence, just you. Sometimes you just do nothing but count the squares in the ceiling, if there is a ceiling in the place you are hiding. I've done that.
There is an excellent book by a Cuban revolutionary called Enrique Oltuski who was the youngest member of Fidel Castro's government after the revolution. It's called La Vida Clandestina (Clandestine life).
It's a very good portrayal of what life is like for an underground revolutionary activist. As I said, it was a testing time. That's what separates real revolutionaries from fake ones. And I passed that test; I stayed underground. I was never caught.
Q: How did politics affect your personal life? I hear you've been married three times.
A: Yes, politics affected my personal life. I was first married to my high-school sweetheart, a Burgher girl called Margreet. The break-up of our relationship had something to do with the fact that I was getting increasingly serious about my radicalism when I came back from the United States in the middle of my PhD.
Now, had I opted to remain a parlour-radical like many in Colombo at the time, I think that the parting of ways may not have happened. But I distinctly remember this time; it was when J. R. Jayawardene decided on the referendum.
The old lifestyle we had maintained was no longer possible. We had been separated for personal reasons but perhaps one might have been able to get back together. But we were heading on two different paths.
One of the problems we had was, when one of her relatives invited Ranil Wickremesinghe and several UNP ministers over for a party and wanted the two of us to come. We were not married at the time and I really didn't want to go because this was months after the July 1980 strike.
We had been protesting in the streets about the sacking by the UNP of 60,000 strikers, dozens of who had committed suicide. I thought if one was serious about one's commitments one couldn't socialise with these people who were responsible for that dreadful situation.
But Margreet felt that because of family she had to go. So we had two different notions of I suppose what life was about.
My second marriage was to Pulsara Liyanage, who is a very wonderful woman. Fine mind, very courageous woman. But I suppose the fact that we had spent many years in the struggle together had changed us, and therefore the relationship.
If you take many couples that have been involved in revolution movements, liberation struggles, they all tend to come apart of the scenes - Nirmala Nithyananthan and her husband, Nelson Mandela and Winnie - so I think it was perhaps a mistake to have got married.
We got married after everything was over and that was more my mistake. I suppose it was that everything had changed and one felt the need to cling to something of that past we had just experienced. It was a survival thing; and it was a mistake.
Now that I am out of that political tunnel, I see myself far more clearly. I don't view things as a by-product of my role as an activist. When you are in that mode, everything you do, including the relationships with women, are coloured by how they'd fit into the struggle.
So either they play a role because they fit into the struggle or they are pit stops from the struggle, just rest and recreation. That's the wrong way to go about it.
I think what really happened was that I got involved with people who were very fine but whom I should never have married. I mean I was only a teenager when I got involved with Margreet. I was sixteen-plus and she was there. She was good-looking and it was time I had a girlfriend.
But we really didn't talk too much and understand each other. You don't understand people when most of your energy is flowing towards understanding books, society and politics. Human things, you leave aside. But after my parents died, I found myself all alone. And then I understood myself much better.
Now I am married for the third and last time to somebody I had known on and off many years ago, Sanja de Silva, who is a UK-based Accountant. I really believe what a gypsy fortune-teller in Washington DC told us when we just walked into a market in Eleventh Street on Capitol Hill.
She said we are soul mates; we come from the same part of God. And the lady in Borella, Sri Lanka, who predicted the tsunami, said that Sanja and I had been married in a previous birth.
Now, I don't believe in rebirth and I wouldn't necessarily believe in astrology. But in this case, I believe what they both said; that this is the right one. And if not for my politics, this is the person I would have married, because our paths did cross in the 1980s.
But we were on different trajectories and then we met again in the late 1990s and after 2002, we fell in love. She was in London. She had her whole life of 20 years there but we broke all the barriers and got together. We got married last year in Brisbane, Australia.
Q: How did your transformation from revolutionary politics to mainstream politics happen? I mean you had a short stint at the North-East Provincial Council.
A: When I was underground I distinctly remember an event that took place on April 30, 1986. I read in the papers that the Tigers had rounded-up Tamil youth belonging to the TELO (Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation), a rival organisation and burnt them alive on the streets of Jaffna.
Later that year they were to follow it up by a murderous attack on the EPRLF. They killed 60 EPRLF activists who had been held captive in two rooms, including some young men that I knew.
There as a guy called Sinnabala, a Royal College student who was killed by an LTTE guy called Aruna, who came and sprayed the two rooms with a M-16. In December that year, the JVP abducted and slashed the throat of Daya Pathirana, a Colombo University student leader.
One of the things his abductors had asked him (and this is about the testimony of sole survival) was where I was. He didn't know.
So when I was underground I understood that there are formations, entities and phenomenons far worse than the state and even the Capitalist system. That there are in some countries anti-state entities, which are barbaric. And the state is in need of a bulwark against such barbarism.
That is what made me shift paradigmatically and politically back into the main stream. I completely changed my attitude towards the state. I suppose I returned to the fundamentals of my academic discipline, political science, and I began to understand the state and my role vis-…-vis the state very differently from what I had understood before.
Q: How would you describe your association with Vijaya Kumaratunga as Central Committee Member of the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party (SLMP)?
A: I joined the SLMP after Vijaya died, but on an invitation extended by Vijaya before he died. When Vijaya founded the SLMP in 1984, I wrote four cover stories for the Lanka Guardian profiling him.
He was something very new and very progressive on the Sri Lankan political scene. And let me tell you, in his consciousness and as a human being, he was light years ahead of his widow Chandrika.
Chandrika is a traditional, dynastic politician; Vijaya Kumaratunga was a combination of Bobby Kennedy and Barack Obama, as close to Sri Lanka would ever get to that kind of a politician. He was trying out a new social democracy. He was a brave man willing to go against established prejudices. Had he lived, Sri Lanka would have been a very different place.
I think that the kind of Sri Lanka that I would like to see would only have been possible if Vijaya had lived. I am not at all surprised that the JVP chose to kill him because Vijaya and the JVP represented two entirely different notions of what it is to be on the left just as Che Guevara and Bin Laden or Fidel Castro and Vellupillai Prabhakaran represent two completely different notions of what it is to be a liberation party.
So I am not surprised that the JVP not just killed Vijaya but that his assassin shot him in the face because that is the kind of hatred that fanaticism always has towards that which is tolerant and modern and rational and attractive.
Vijaya was not just a political phenomenon but also a cultural phenomenon. We were friends. When I was underground one of the places I stayed in was at Vijaya's sister's. Vijaya wanted to keep me at his mother's and I said no.
He was very close to his mother and that was the safest and best place he knew. He used to turn up at his sister's flat to see me and talk to me.
He first sent some wild-boar meat or deer meat wrapped in banana-leaf and a bottle of fine arrack.
Now I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I didn’t drink arrack. But he used to come and see me and we used to have these late-night discussions. That guy was the most charismatic human being I’ve met in Sri Lanka and Vijaya was one of the reasons why I shifted to the mainstream.
When he was alive, he and his wife Chandrika, hosted dinner for me at their flat in Rosemead Place and he wanted me to join his party. So too did two other people very close to Vijaya. They both invited me to their homes and urged me to join the SLMP in the mid-eighties.
One was Prof. Carlo Fonseka and other was Prof. Premadasa Udagama. But I am afraid I declined at that time because the SLMP was not just Vijaya and there were Sinhala chauvinist elements in that party and they later rebelled against Vijaya.
I told Vijaya that I would support him from outside. And the Vikalpa Kandayama thought of itself as running parallel with Vijaya and the SLMP. But looking back, I regret not having joined Vijaya’s party at that time.
Just before he died he announced to the political bureau of the party that my comrades and I were to join the SLMP, which is true. We had negotiated that arrangement. But he was killed before that could happen. So in fulfillment of that promise I joined the party.
Q: You changed direction a number of times as a political activist. You were associated with revolutionary politics, the SLMP, the Premadasa government and now you are linked to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. How do you think these changes of direction affect your credibility as a political analyst?
A: These are not really changes of direction. I mean, look at the Sri Lankan electorate. If the Sri Lankan electorate didn’t opt for one government and then the other, we would have had the same government throughout. This is the kind of change that happens in every democracy. I would say that my political line and my underlying political values have not changed.
You will find that I have remained a consistent critic and opponent of the Tigers. I have been an opponent of the JVP when they have been violent and a critic of JVP when they have been sectarian.
But I have supported them when they have played a positive role. I also always stood for extensive devolution and regional autonomy as a solution to the Tamil issue.
Philosophically, I have been consistently opposed to the use of terrorism by liberation movements and I have always emphasised the distinction between the right and wrong way to deploy violence.
This has been consistent throughout, from my days as a revolutionary right through to today. I have drawn inspiration from Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and emphasised that there is a huge moral gulf between exemplary liberation fighters such as those two and fanatics and terrorists such as Bin Laden and Prabhakaran and Pol Pot and the JVP at one time. I have always been a modernist and stood for values of modernity.
I have always been an internationalist. While I had increasingly become a nationalist in the last few years that has not been at the expense of my internationalist ideas. So I would say that there is a strongly consistent core of ideas, which have acted as a compass throughout my years as activist and analyst.
I’d never do anything unless I had read about it and deliberated on it and I am satisfied that it is the right thing to do under the circumstances. I always give reasons as to why I support this or that government or project.
I had given my reasons for my support for Premadasa and I don’t regret it at all. And my support for Chandrika was when she was under attack from the Tigers.
But I criticised her on a number of issues. And again I made clear the reasons for my support of the present President, Mahinda Rajapaksa.
In any case, when the LTTE launches a war of aggression, as they repeatedly do, what choice does one have if you want to resist the Tigers than to support the Sri Lankan state and the elected government of the day? Now, that elected government obviously changes. And the elected leadership changes.
But what I had consistently supported over the last two-decades certainly is the democratic Sri Lankan state. So my loyalty to the Sri Lankan state has remained consistent over the last 20 years. Before that, of course, I wanted to replace this state with a socialist state. That’s another matter.
Q: You were also following doctoral studies at Griffith University, Australia. Did you complete your studies there?
A: In January I handed in my PhD thesis, it’s still with the examiners.
Q: What was your thesis on?
A: It was on the political thought of Fidel Castro.
Q: Why Fidel Castro?
A: I would say that Fidel is the single greatest figure to have been born in the 20th century. He is obviously not the greatest political figure of the 20th century, but is one of the greatest political figures of the 20th century. That’s reason enough.
But beyond that what attracted me to Fidel was his combination of militancy and ethics. There are those who are militant, radical, revolutionary and even courageous, but who deploy violence in an indiscriminate manner. They think simply because their cause is just everything they do is right.
Fidel is not like that. Fidel has never been like that. He has been consistent in observing a distinction between the innocent and the guilty. He has never indulged in or permitted the targeting of civilians.
He never even conducts military operations where there is even a chance of civilians being killed. Now we read about the human rights atrocities committed by the US and British armies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Cuban army fought at various times in Africa between 1963 and 1988.
In Angola alone over 200,000 Cuban soldiers served between 1976-1988. Two-hundred-thousand Cubans, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean for 12 years, not once has even the United States charged Cuba with a single atrocity committed during those years in Angola.
I interviewed the former South African minister of defence Roelof Meyer and asked him about the behaviour of the Cuban troops because the Cubans kicked the South Africans’ ass on the Angola-Namibia border. And Roelof said, the only problem that he could remember was to do with game reserves and that was to do with animals, not human beings.
There were no charges of human rights violations or atrocities. Now that’ the way to fight. And I found that deeply appealing.
So in Fidel, I find the epitome of the ethical rebel, the ethical revolutionary and leader. And it shows how you can combine violence in a just cause with the moral and ethical way of wielding violence.
Fidel always stayed on the moral high ground and that is something that most revolutionary movements have been unable to do and most governments cannot do.
But Fidel has been able to do that first as a revolutionary leader and then as a head of state. I think he has been a very important influence in my thinking and my values.
Q: Finally, how do you think Sri Lanka’s conflict would end? And what is, in your opinion, the best solution to the conflict?
A: There are those who would like to see it end with a victory for the Tigers or with a foreign intervention that prevents a Sri Lankan victory. I don’t think either of those two nightmares is going to come about.
The reason is simple; the anti-Tiger section of the population is the overwhelming majority of the citizens of this country.
The Sri Lankans have nowhere to go if they lose this war. The Americans can go back to the United States from Iraq, where they should not have been in the first place. But we have nowhere to retreat, only the sea. So I don’t see us giving up.
Sri Lanka is also a democracy and a democracy tends to put pressure on leaders while repressing leaders who do not fulfill their historic tasks. So there is always this democratic pressure on a leader to resist the Tigers.
Finally I have seen, both at a distance and close at hand, this special nature of President Rajapaksa, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Army Commander Sarath Fonseka and the other services chiefs, Wasantha Karannagoda and Roshan Gunatilleke.
In all my years as observer/participant in the Sri Lankan crisis, I am sure I have never seen a moment when there was such a cohesive team experienced and committed to end terrorism. President Rajapaksa speaks with genuine patriotic feeling. I listened to him yesterday.
He came across as very authentic. He is relatively young and inexperienced but he is very authentic. And the others are experienced in warfare. And I think that is like our cricket team during the World Cup we won in the nineties.
This is one of those times in history where the right combination of human resources is at the top. So those are the reasons - demography, democracy and the present leadership - that I think the Tigers are not going to prevail and that those who want a foreign intervention will not be able to ssustain such a policy.
I do think that perhaps for the first time the Sri Lankan side has got a grip on the game. I think that the Tigers can be beaten.
Now what would be the best solution for Sri Lanka? I have always been very clear about that. The best solution for Sri Lanka would be the combination of (a) a military defeat of the LTTE, (b) authentic regional autonomy, which provides the political and cultural state at the periphery for the Tamils in the north and east to manage their affairs to a considerable degree, (c) an economic model, which promotes rapid growth with equity, which promotes the narrowing of inequalities, (d) an ideology and consciousness of modernity, reason, pluralism and internationalism as opposed to parochial and even primitive currents that are eclipsed in society, (e) a foreign policy, which is non-aligned, patriotic but not isolated, one that integrates us into the world and positions itself with the social democratic centre-left currents on the globe.