| A saddened Jaffna Centralite
(February 09, Jaffna , Sri Lanka Guardian) While speaking at the occasion of opening the newly constructed swimming pool in the Jaffna Central College, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa said ‘Minister Douglas Devananda is an old boy of this college and is one of the senior ministers in my Cabinet’ and that ‘this college should come forward to produce several leaders like Minister Douglas Devananda in the future’.
Douglas Devananda on the wheel
What a cheap, insensitive and hurtful statement it is! Anyone with basic modicum of intelligence will know who Douglas Devananda is. Having reduced the Tamil society of Jaffna to a submissive status with the militaristic mindset, the President went on with his hypocritical ranting, thus bringing insults and abuse to the Jaffna Centralites and the Tamil community at large.
Over 165 years history of Jaffna Central College, has produced many talents and persons excelling in many fields world over. It is not denied that Minister Douglas Devananda is a Centralite, but citing him as an example for the young students to become senior Ministers in the cabinet is an absolute insult to the very foundation of the pioneering school and the intelligence of the Tamil people.
Douglas Devananda did not pass even the basic Ordinary Level exams. During school days, he had other interests than attending classes. He and his clique were school gangsters, who brought lots of bad name for the college. Instead of attending classes, he will be seated in the cheap gallery seats of the Tamil cinema theatres or will be roaming around the roads. He was a well known school gangster leader and very seldom students argued with him or his men in fear.
The college that celebrated its 165th anniversary last year, published a souvenir and named some of those students historically excelling from the pioneering institution, but the Minister’s name has not been referenced anywhere even casually.
Douglas Devananda has earned many qualifications outside the school curriculum and these are the basic criteria’s that promoted him to hold ministerial positions since President Premadasa’s time- not what he learnt or guided by our Jaffna Central College.
The so- called Minister’s hands are soaked in the blood of his own people and he is being accused of involvement in the murder of a Tamil citizen of India in the Indian soil.
Blackmail, threats, rapes, intimidations, bootlicking, running a brothel in Jaffna, ballot rigging, spying his own people for the government military agencies, introducing the culture of white van abduction in the country, illicit business dealings, nonpayment of tax on unregistered illegal businesses, illegally raping the sea-sand for the building trade, unduly interfering in the administration of the Jaffna Secretariat etc., are his qualifications that the budding aspirants of Jaffna Central College must avoid to learn or ignore.
The so-called thuggish minister has been rejected by the international community too. Officially, he is a persona non grata is many countries. Unless he joins the President’s bandwagon to India, he will not enjoy the welcome status even with holding a diplomatic passport.
Even the President appointed Lesson Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in its report has given a fair CV of this paramilitary leader’s conduct, which the President has decided to ignore and decorate him as a hero of our esteemed Jaffna Central College. This shows the lack of regard the President is showing to his own commission report. The goon Minister Douglas Devananda as publicly claimed, has still not filed a case in the court to challenge the charges against him in the LLRC report.
Finally, I humbly appeal to the President to show mature sense of leadership that is fast eroding in the island nation. I wanted to reflect my feelings much vigorously, but my reading of the editorial in the Daily Mirror overshadowed and mellowed my thinking. I thought of reproducing the editorial below for the President’s reading, and whether it will provoke his senses is anyone’s guess.
When we know the truth, the truth shall set us free
Daily Mirror Editorial
Amid the euphoria after the Independence Day parades and pageantry, pomp and pious pronouncements, we need to reflect deeply on the truth of truths — that only the Truth can set us really free. This will prompt the question, what is Truth?
According to the core teachings and essence of all religions, true freedom must begin with the gradual inner liberation from selfishness and self-centredness. Possibly due to some genetic factor, we are born with a selfish nature that makes us want to be the centre of attention.
As an infant and in childhood we cry or howl for this attention. As we grow into adulthood we continue to do this though we use sophisticated, subtle and sometimes deceptive ways to be the centre of attention to obtain personal gain or glory, power, prestige or popularity.
When we are enslaved to selfishness or self-centredness we put on an act and pretend to have care and concern for the needs and wishes of others but deep within we are seeking to achieve our desires or wishes and we often use or abuse others for this purpose.
When Shakespeare said that the world’s a stage and we are actors or actresses, he was not referring only to Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet, but to all the people. We are acting in the great drama of life. Others know we are acting, we know they are acting and the acting or hypocrisy and deception go on.
Political leaders especially need to come to a realization that only the Truth can set them free to sincerely, selflessly and sacrificially serve the people who have elected them to be good and just stewards. Tragically most political leaders – still enslaved to selfishness and seeking power, prestige, popularity and wealth – are not serving the people but have become lords or masters who plunder and pillage the people’s wealth and resources.
The deception and hypocrisy have been going on for too long and must stop now before it is too late and there is an implosion or a popular uprising by the people as we saw in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and are seeing in Syria now.
Political leaders especially and other leaders also need to realise the main teaching of all religions and the great lesson of history that selfishness will never make them happy and will never work. Instead it will make them unhappy and miserable. Worse still the people also will be unhappy and miserable and all might end up in a hell of a mess.
Stirring military parades, Jayamangalagathas and other external events give some temporary inspiration. But true and lasting freedom is much deeper and we hope our political leaders will be ready and willing to experience inner spiritual liberation from slavery to selfishness, so that they and the country will be really and truly free to march towards the vision of social justice and unity in diversity, and we will have a nation of Good Samaritans who serve the people and help even their enemies instead of acting like sanctimonious humbugs.
For this to happen, the leaders of all religions – Mahanayake Theras, the Cardinal and leaders of the Hindu and Islamic faiths need to come together to guide the destiny of this nation and advise the political leaders on how to bring about sincere reconciliation, lasting peace and justice.
Source: Daily Mirror – Sri Lanka