Monday, May 23, 2011

The Dilemma over the future undergraduate boot camp

This is a hot topic today, but as usual our complacent population by voting with their feet are permitting the government to do as they please without opposition. It appears that the opposition was caught flat footed yet again, and now scrambling to get this subject into open debate. There were 3000 young prospective entrants bussed in from some parts of the Island, at government expense so the President could give them a PEP talk. Looking at government tv this evening on this issue they carefully slected articulate students who endorsed this along with a parent or two who also approved of this to make a statement that there is no opposition to this.

Whilst I am in principle not opposed to some kind of pre university entrance orienteering course, which I believe should last at least 6months, where English and IT is also taught to all prospective undergrads, the surreptitious way in which the governemnt brought this procedure without debate in Parliament, so that the legality of this locally within our laws and any treaties which we are signitories to should all be looked at before implementation.

Technically it violates an International law, about forced military training. Now the govt. is saying this is not military training even going so far as saying this is leadership training.The Human Rights case is strong and why the govt does not stay a week to have some discussion does affect my belief that they wanted a surreptious start without allowing time for any oppisition to galvanize any support.

The climate of fear prevents students and parents opposing to speak for fear of retribution. The legal delays just shift the implementation focus a few weeks, but as the parent of the child who has been asked to come to training is apprehensive for fear their child will ot be permitted to enter his chosen field at university.

This creates a dilemma where as the really affected party the parents and kids who are hoping to go to Uni are reluctant to speak against this proposal. Unless those really affected and are truly opposed to this are permitted to voice their concerns the gov will maintain that it is the usual suspects complaining but the parents have been bought over.

To solve this problem the general public needs to be taught to evaluate the nuances of the issue and then make an inofrmed statement.

I am therefore primarily seeking comments of the readers to express thier side on this.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cricket selectors - Are you worried when the England 2ndXI show lack of depth of our bowlers?

The current match in Derby for the SL team to acclimate to the English conditions just ended its first day. The English second string has posted a total of 394 /4 with the last partnership still going after 232 runs. The struggle of our bowlers to make any in roads in the whole of the final two sessions of the day are very worrying, and in my opinion the class of the bowling in the absence of Lasith Malinga leaves much to be desired. Apparently Morgan's 150 not out will not help his cause in getting a test spot. Isnt that a further cause for concern for the SL side?

Despite the confidence gained in winning the first match against a weak Middlesex bowling side this is more of a test of things to come under English conditions. SL won the toss and chose to bowl, and rightly so as it is our bowling strength that currently looks very mediocre. What is it that we can do in the short term to prevent a total disaster in the 3 test series? This is a baptism of fire for the new Test Captain Dilshan.

There is no question that we will be depending on our batsman to save the day, and bat through these 5 day matches having got used to 20 over batting at the IPL games. Lets hope we are not sending our Lions to slaughter especially today as it is ironic that we are facing the English Lions!!!

So lets will our boys along, and not face the ignominy due to the SLC incompetence of only wanting to manage the money and not the game after the financial pay off for losing the World Cup. Don't come with an argument saying even this game in Derby was hijacked by the betting fraternity so that the odds for a Sri Lankan win at the Test matches increases.

Some food for thought!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Young bloggers don't you have an opinion on the local version of the Hitler Youth Corps? It was announced today

The Ruling Regime's "tharuneyata hetak" aims to attract the less educated youth subtlety to be part of the UPFA's Youth Corps, whilst the latest "Boot Camp" for A level students aims to enslave them into taking thinking out of their psyche and accept authority and orders without question, in much the same way an Army is disciplined.

In the words of the Minister of Higher Education today, he said this program is an essential requirement for University entry, so that this country can build future leaders and teach them something about discipline (aka taking orders from higher authority)

In reality this letter goes out to all those who have sat A levels and not just to entrants, as those who have received this letter do not as yet know what the marks are to enter university, nor do they know if they are even eligible for entry. In reality therefore it becomes compulsory for a far greater population than university entrants which will only account for 17,000 this year and the plan is to put 200.000 through this program. It is currently noted to be a in house 3 week course at an army camp and the actual program and plan has not been publicised in order that criticism is minimized. There is a list of stuff they have to bring to the camp, which if they did not already posses would cost about Rs20,000 to purchase. So far as I know they will only receive two free T shirts each and a certificate saying they have attended the course. Additionally based on the letters that have been received by the first batch who have been asked to report on Monday, the locations are as far away from home as possible. A Colombo student has been asked to attend a camp in Trincomalee, and a Kandy student has to go to Boosa in Galle.

It is not clear if the sexes will be mixed or together and bearing in mind they are between 17 and 20 many females are bound to be apprehensive not knowing the safety element.

Having stated the facts I have been able to glean, (if someone has more accurate information, especially the instruction schedule, please comment on this here.) I do not know what can be instilled in 3 weeks in a student other than a brainwashing session of sorts. How can you instill leadership qualities in this short period. So this captive audience can be taught whatever the Defence Secretary thinks fit. All I can think is that he wants them to stop thinking and "do as I say and don't ask questions!"

In Sri Lanka we have a severe problem with thinking, as we are not taught at school to think nor are students asked to enquire, hence the name of the blog, with a prime purpose of getting the reader to think. That is why I believe this insidious program is shrouded with ill intentions rather than the potential it can have of teaching students to be responsible people in society, something that is desperately needed for our youth.

Why is the govt, not elaborating on the program, with a work flow.? We do not know if they are going to be taught to use guns or face a firing squad, that is how in the dark everyone is on this program. This has not even been discussed at length in Parliament, when it is a significant change to current practice even though the Minister maintains that no new laws or regulations are required to enact this program.

Let me conclude by saying that whilst I am not trying to prevent a pre university training of entrants in taking responsibility as the chosen few to receive a free education at a huge cost to the state, I am suspicious of this program as it lacks transparency, has not been debated and is shrouded in secrecy, and appears to include at least 10 times the final university entrants.

We have entered a very frightening period in this country's history where the ruling elite can do almost anything they wish and do not face any opposition due to the lack of time for debate because of the surreptitious speed with which most actions are introduced. Democracy is dead!!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fingers point to.... for making SL the laughing stock of international diplomacy

The furor over the 'Report' has shown how duplicitous the Govt. and its spokesman are and while we may be able to fool the majority that matter to the elected in Sri Lanka, in the court of international opinion we are just mush! zilch! Even if one reads the opinions given by both the Russian and Chinese (Indians have remained strangely silent!) they are just supporting the President implicitly through their Ambassadors locally, but not a word from Beijing and Moscow who are careful to sit on the fence.

Why is it that if we did not accept the commissioning of the panel, we secretly had negotiations and then later openly the Attorney General and Diplomats to the UN have discussions with the Panelists? Was it that we wanted to placate the international fora, while keeping the local stance? The contents of the report are not at all surprising, as this is merely a regurgitation of past accusations, now formalized albeit only to the UNSG.

I believe the least we should have done after participating would be without sending mixed messages as given by the foreign minister, asked for time to take each of the points and present the SL side, so that the Report and the Govt. official response been released at the same time. It could easily have been done, but the arrogance of power prevented such a balance.

I cannot understand that, as this war was a JUST war to eliminate arguably the most fearsome and inhuman terror group, the Govt. was unable to come out with the facts as the Govt. saw it and defended their actions. It is easier at the point of winning to explain collateral damage, and in view of all the satellite imagery now available to all, explain how hospitals were shelled and why. As it was not deliberate policy, it could have been a mixture of isolated deliberate instances in the heat of the battle when shells were falling on the forces as well as inaccuracy on the part of the coordinates fed into the guns or quality of the firepower used.

I distinctly remember the time when we were told that at most 70,000 were holed in with the terrorists, and that they were the Maaviru families of the fighters and so were ostensibly part of the greater fighting force. If the Govt. believed that, then everyone in the misnamed no fire zone was fair game. The Govt. made a colossal mistake calling it the no fire zones as that was a call to the Tigers to group there, as otherwise why would they use Human Shields in the fire zones as everyone in the fire zones will be eliminated and not shielded! It may have been even called that deliberately so everyone would go there to be fired on.

It is also now claimed that India was complicit in the whole operation at the time, knowing full well what was going on and also approved of it as even they wanted the LTTE totally annihilated anyway and SL were doing a perfect job of it. Whatever the merits of this argument, when 350,000 emerged fleeing the fighting it must have taken everyone by surprise, as by that time it was a no brainer that people who were holed up were mainly innocent civilians, forced to be there from the LTTE retreat of the past few months unable to flee until the SL troops cleared a safe passage.

When one looks at this number and the shelling that occurred, then it is no wonder that 10,000+ innocents may have perished in the conflict. It is too late for the UN to have post mortems now. It was paramount that the local UN staff give the UNSG at that time, the true gravity of the situation, and pass the responsibility of action to him at that time. In my opinion therefore it was at that time, prior to the time that civilians were escaping the clutches of the terrorists, for the UN to demand a free passage complete with UN cover for a max of 5 days for civilians to flee and so then only the LTTE would have perished en mass. UNSG failed miserably, partly due to the failure of the UN system to protect the true innocents, possibly due to some partiality to the LTTE also or for reasons that I am not privy to.

The soldiers were tired of the war, wanted to finish it off, saw that it was possible, like in all end stages, allow the Govt. to lie publicly about what they were doing and then indulge in heavy weapon shelling. If you were the commander there, would you risk the lives of your tired troops for hand to hand combat when you have weapons at your disposal to finish the job with less casualties on your side? The morale of the Army was high, but based on absolute hatred of the enemy and the destruction it had caused to the country over a protracted period, and many having lost close friends. It is unlikely that civilians were intentionally targeted.

Of course there was ( and this is pure conjecture based on 15 years of living in Southern California, where the Sinhala and Tamil diaspora were at diametrically opposing poles ) the desire of the Defense Secretary coming after a long stint in Southern California being exposed to total hatred, of wanting to teach the Tamil Diaspora, that he had them by the balls!! the wish to finish it off before some power forced a ceasefire and a return to stalemate. So when the word from the front came that they were close to finishing it off, its easy to say take no prisoners and save our boys from potential suicide cadres.

Now why is it we are too chicken to tell the truth? It is the Sinhala gathiya to tell the truth only when we are beaten into pulp by the police as is done to this day in Sri Lanka. So if our leaders are unable to be truthful, ( I guess they are politicians so they are inbred to lie) we all have to suffer.

I know of one way to get to the truth, we can then save this country from its banal leaders, and get our respect back, until then we in Sri Lanka will suffer for the sins of our leaders. So don't just follow your leaders and believe everything they say, it is really only for their self preservation that they act and not yours or the country's.