( December 8, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) Below is my email response to Dr. Abeyratne’s email to me – published under the heading ‘Let us put things in perspective ‘ by Sri Lanka Guardian.
Thank you Dr. Abeyratne. To me, the ‘tone’ of your response is similar to that of Professor Damien Kingsbury. Hence I have included Damien in the addressees. Your wrote in your Sri Lanka Guardian article – “A Centenary Sky – 100 Years of Aviation in Sri Lanka. In its back cover, I wrote the following:‘ Given that it is the book of Capt Elmo Jayawardene, I have included him also in this list.
You state ‘ My article and comment on the wisdom of the President of Sri Lanka in the context of the importance of foreign direct investment and building partnerships in Sri Lanka has absolutely nothing to do with his alleged interference with the judiciary.’
My response: Time and Place are important influences on how your message is interpreted. In the Sri Lankan context – your credits for the President which would have been largely hearsay for the President who is not an Aviation expert – to me is the parallel of the Sri Lankan Army celebrating victory on the streets of Wellawatte when most Tamils were in mourning. Back then – any celebration should have been limited to their barracks and not demonstrated at our funerals. In this instance the Judiciary are fighting and you as a lawyer owe them your loyalty. That is the way of family. At their time of need – when they feel threatened of their very existence as an independent body – you are adding your professional status to that of the Executive. At a time like this you ought to be discouraging ‘foreign’ investments of any kind that would add to the credit of the President at the cost of inside ownership through the Judiciary. You were talking business when their home was being attacked. You thus reduced your own ownership powers as a lawyer
2. You state ‘Please, Ms. Paramasivam, are you telling me not to acknowledge the practicality and wisdom of that truth merely because of some totally unrelated issue? ‘
The Judicial issue is an ongoing program through which minds come together. Your statements about the President encouraging foreign investments is a project – with a visible start and a finish – to be assessed on objective outcomes delivered. It must stand on its own merits especially when you show that example to Air Lanka / Sri Lankan airlines. I worked within the Commercial division of Air Lanka. You may have worked within the legal section. Hence the different paths. In terms of issues – the utmost priority now is Equal Opportunity for the Judiciary to Govern as per its culture. More money without such would help cover up breaches of our fundamental values. The two are NOT of equal importance to me. If they were – I would have been the Financial Controller at least of the Medical Faculty at the University of New South Wales – instead of becoming a Pariah and being sent to prison for upholding the values of Equal Opportunity in multicultural Australia. I am entitled to my path as you are to yours. Some readers would follow you and others would identify with my struggles.
3. You state ‘I know you like to talk about yourself in your writings and pontificate to the reader about your own befuddled sense of truth and philosophy, your religion and your dreams and visions, but my article had nothing to do with Sinhala and Tamil politics, visions and dreams, religion and philosophy. ‘
You confess to have written on the back-cover of Capt Elmo’s book. Capt Elmo’s motto at this stage of his life is ‘Peace begins with me’. Today I wrote to Captain Elmo in response to his response ‘As per my intuition I started building a cottage there – to know for myself ‘Oneness / Equal Opportunity’ begins with me – along the lines of your motto ‘Peace begins with me’.
Are you saying that Capt Elmo is right but I am wrong in using ourselves as the examples? Why? – because he is Capt and I am just Mrs.? With due respects to Capt Elmo – would you /he be able to state that there would have been no subjective influence in Capt Elmo becoming a Capt and me remaining just a Mrs.? Would you be able to rule out that some of that subjective influence would have been due to biological connections and not necessarily on merit basis alone? Your ‘two doctorates and master’s degree‘ are likely to have taken involved Research. If they were truly done by you and you alone – for the doctorates – you would appreciate the deeper you go the more subjective the reasons become – until the only reasons that matter are the ones you discover. Hence if I am ‘right’ for Capt Elmo of your culture – then I must be right for you. If I am wrong for you then I take it that I am wrong for Capt Elmo also. As Professor Dowton said to me ‘we can’t have it both ways’. It is amusing that you would ridicule ‘philosophy’ by a lay person but at the same time take pride and status through your own work to get the title Doctor of Philosophy !!!!! Philosophy confirms that one is operating close to Truth rather than trade in others’ facts. The leader’s belief is philosophy. I know very little about Sinhala politics. That is your responsibility and not mine. Given that the Sinhala politician is the President – his statement in this regard – is about how Sinhala politics (vote based positioning) is being used to ‘influence’. The PhD in you had the responsibility to reject such political statements.
Good Politics is about belief and therefore subjective influence. The President of Sri Lanka was trying to influence subjectively. Since you seem to believe in him (for you used him as an example) it is natural that you would not give your vote to the Judiciary at this time – when you seem to want the Presidential status to add status to your claims by reducing the current Management of Sri Lankan Airlines. If anything – they are entitled to use the President’s status more than you – now that you have joined the so called international community. They have no choice but to show acceptance of the President. This is why THEY are entitled to use his status subjectively – just as I say I am Australian – for better or for worse.
4. You state ‘I am not a politician nor am I a self-proclaimed philosopher espousing the cause of an ethnic group. ‘
No one has called me a politician. Many have said that I am a good manager of Public resources. Some academics did say that I was being philosophical. To me that was a compliment coming from senior academics. But that did not go down well with political minded academics driven by their personal preferences. Some Tamils – including at least one professor call me Dr. Gajalakshmi. Given that they are of my ethnicity – I conclude that this is the reason why Tamil leaders seek devolution of powers. You have yet again confirmed this need for Tamils in Sri Lanka
5. You state ‘I based myself – when supporting the importance of foreign direct investment in aviation in Sri Lanka – on my latest book Administering the Skies – Facing the Challenges of Market Economics which was released last week. I also had a whole chapter on this subject in my book Aeronomics and Law – Fixing Anomalies published earlier this year. I hasten to assure you Ms. Paramasivam, that I was writing about what I do in my job at the International Civil Aviation Organization and I have reason to believe that I know what I am talking about.‘
Are you saying that in your everyday work at the International Civil Aviation Organization you use the judgments of Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse? or even that of the Hon Stephen Harper? I don’t. In aviation issues – I use my aviation mentors – Mr. Colin Martinus, Mr. Kulesegaram and Mr. Noor Shirazee. In my current work I use my spiritual guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba who was the only One to endorse me to myself when I was hurting at the University of New South Wales. If you had said something that your religious leader said – I am more likely to have identified with that – however diverse our cultures might have been. Mr. Rajapakse is a political leader. He is not a an expert in the business of Commercial Aviation nor in Public Administration
6. You state ‘ If you wish to vilify or criticise the President of Sri Lanka on all his comments and utterances no matter what the subject is, purely because you believe he is interfering with the judiciary, that is entirely your business. However, I would strongly advise you to stick to the point and not to talk of things you might not know of. ‘
I do not know Mr. Rajapakse the person. As for the position he holds – I am very interested in it as a Sri Lankan as well as a global citizen contributing strongly to global values. I was not talking about the President but yourself and how you were using that position to promote yourself and reduce the status of current Sri Lankan Airlines managers. As for you ‘telling me’ (under the guise of advice) not to talk about things I do not know of – as per our respective positions at Sri Lankan Airlines and the People we have shown as carrying as our mentors – I conclude that I do know much more about the commercial angle of Airlines – than you do. Applying your advice to yourself – ( on return to sender basis) – I conclude that you ought be sticking to your legal side and not talk publicly about commercial aspects of aviation. THAT is why Judiciary is separated from the Executive. The latter is about the business of politics.
7. You state ‘And how does your application to become the Secretary General of the United Nations or investment by Tamils in global aviation got to do with my article, which was purely on national aviation? Are you telling Tamil investors not to invest in Sri Lankan Airlines because the President is interfering with the judiciary?‘
I believe I am the best manager of Public Resources known to myself. Given that I am a Tamil and yet did not have the avenue to present myself for that global position, I used my wisdom about myself to help my community not feel that they did not have enough credits for such a job. It is healthy for the world. As for investment by Tamils in global aviation through their Sri Lankan / Ceylonese status – I learnt that Capt Elmo was advised by Mr. Thiru Arumugam whose grandfather also was part of the leadership that made Jaffna Plane a global reality. It is about honoring those who do not have Equal Opportunity to access global resources – for whatever reason. You had Capt Elmo and Mr. Thiru Arumugam had me and my emails empowered by our common faith as Tamils. Hence when Thiru had the credit it felt as if I had the credit. Didn’t feel like that with your work – especially in regards to your statements favoring Mr. Rajapakse above the current Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines
More than anything else, once you write in a public forum such as Sri Lanka Guardian, you have already forgone your right to criticize at levels below that. To criticize privately – you do not have such a status institutionally or through your Truth. The only avenue available to you is to not write publicly if you cannot take the bricks that come flying in your direction..
8. You state ‘Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University and a former professor at Harvard, states in his book, “Where shall Wisdom be Found”, that there are three criteria that impel him to go on reading and teaching: aesthetic splendor, intellectual power and wisdom.’
To me the above quoted three reasons are the ‘body, mind and soul’
9. You state ‘Of these, the last is perhaps the most useful for survival. Wisdom is the ability to distinguish between facts and issues and the dexterity to keep philosophy, prejudice and beliefs away from reality. Wisdom is the ability to make correct judgments and decisions, and remains an intangible quality gained through knowledge and experience. ‘
To me the first ‘aesthetic splendor’ is needed for survival. As indicated above – if I had written sweet words that the Administrators of the University of NSW wanted to read – I would have continued to climb up the position ladder and would have held on to the top position in Financial Management. Professor Bruce Dowton who endorsed my work by writing that his thinking and mine in Financial Management were alike – is now the Vice Chancellor of Macquarie University. Aesthetic splendor is about looking good to others. You have more of that than I do. In Governance – that is the parallel of votes – that Mr. Rajapakse does manage to get enough of. This is the emotional stage and judgments at this level are through likes and dislikes. When such likes and dislikes are linked to beliefs – political management through majority vote is easy and harmonious.
Next is intellectual power – which is about the supremacy of the brain over physical senses and the brain’s ability to discriminate on the basis of common principles and values. To the extent our brain uses our own Truth above external knowledge – our minds are steady. Hence we need the separation from those who rely on the body / aesthetic splendor/politicians.
Next is wisdom. This is the soul power that connects us naturally to all others who have wisdom in that subject. Soul / God / Wisdom is One. I do not identify with your statement ‘Wisdom is the ability to make correct judgments and decisions, and remains an intangible quality gained through knowledge and experience‘ . Once you start discriminating on the surface and make decisions that are correct for you – you are taking the political path. When you discriminate on the substance you are using the intellectual path which benefits all on the ‘right’ side and costs all on the ‘wrong’ side. This comes under ‘intellectual power’ – which is also knowledge power.
Knowledge becomes wisdom when knowledge is practiced. Sometimes direct experience without any prior knowledge also renders wisdom – as happened to civilians of Vanni in 2009. There is no right or wrong in pure wisdom. It helps identify with the Truth which may be right for some and wrong for others. In a balanced society the number of right persons would be at least equal to the number of wrong persons. Since LTTE are Terrorists to majority Sinhalese it is left to the Tamils to include LTTE’s ‘rights’ as theirs and lose some of their national level and international level ‘rights’ towards this. Hence you see me as ‘espousing the cause of an ethnic group’. Australian Government did not value the rights I had in Equal Opportunity values. So I have taken it to those who are in need of such credits
10. You state ‘Ms. Parsamasivam, I read all your articles published in the Sri Lanka Guardian. But one word of advice. Please do not write about things you do not know and please try to distinguish between apples and oranges when you write.
I will consider this correspondence closed, at least for my part. Any further emails addressed to me will be deleted on sight.’
Thank you for reading ALL my articles in the Sri Lanka Guardian. Thank you also for responding to my email. As for apples and oranges – I have taken them to the Common level of fruits. Likewise in relation to Aviation – the common level was governance. We Tamils do not have the aesthetic splendor that you Sinhalese have plenty of at Sri Lankan national level. Hence we can talk about diversity between apples and oranges only at the risk of getting defeated. Otherwise you would need to stick to aviation legal theory and leave business of aviation to my ancestors, colleagues and descendents at Air Lanka.
To me those who close the door after having had their say – are cowards. If you were a true academic – you would fight until you realise the Truth/wisdom in communication.
Even though your alma mater seems to have not taught you to be civil in concluding a communication, I will uphold mine – Holy Family Convent – JAFFNA and conclude by saying:
Gajalakshmi without official portfolio.