The Nation Sunday Print Edition - page 6

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Page 6 Sunday, November 16, 2014 The Nation
Arthur Wamanan
Following are excerpts of the interview:
Q
. The Supreme Court gave a de-
cision that President Mahinda
Rajapaksa can contest for a
third time. What impact would that
have on the people, especially those in
the North and East?
Well, he is the person who ended the war
and brought about peace in the country. To-
day, we have peace and an honorable peace
at that. No one is above anyone today and
the President has made sure that the peo-
ple enjoy freedom to its fullest.
I have worked with previous presidents
such as Ranasinghe Premadasa and Chan-
drika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. No oth-
er person or president has done so much
for the people in such a short span.
He has not only finished the war, but has
also made sure that the people affected by
the war do not feel left out.
He has ensured that the benefits of peace
and development reach the people of the
North. Therefore, the ruling of the Su-
preme Court that the President can contest
for a third time is not only a boon for the
Tamils, but for the entire country.
Q
. Would you support his candi-
dature as President?
Of course, I will.
Q
. But do you say that the prob-
lems faced by the minorities,
namely the Tamils have been
addressed?
I wouldn’t say that Tamils do not have
problems. We are yet to find a suitable
and durable solution for the problems that
we’ve been facing for decades. However,
there is a way in which the issue should be
approached.
Q
. What do you mean by saying
that it should be approached
in the appropriate way?
In the past, we, especially the Tamil poli-
ticians, have approached the problem the
wrong way, pulling the country into deep
trouble which lasted for over three decades.
Today, the situation is different. The war
has ended and the political parties such
as the TNA continue to stick to principles
that created utter chaos in the country.
Q
. Why do you think that they
continue to be rigid despite
the end of the war and change
in political environment?
It is very simple. It is only for their own
political benefits. They are being selfish.
They go around complaining of military
presence and land grab issues in the North.
But secretly, they want these issues and
problems remain. I have told this on previ-
ous occasions as well. They do not have a
political future without these issues.
Q
. How do you say that they
do not have a political future
without issues?
If you look at the TNA, it is a combination
of several political parties and individuals.
Before they joined to forge an alliance, they
had contested individually under their re-
spective political parties and lost elections.
The likes of Sampanthan, Suresh Prem-
achandran and Mavai Senathirajah were
highly unsuccessful as individual politi-
cians. The LTTE thought of a strategy to
bring its ideologies to the political arena
and picked them to form an alliance.
Today, there is no LTTE and they have to
depend on whatever issues that they could
find to keep them going.
Q
. What do you suggest to solve
these issues?
The TNA should realize the
reality and come to terms with it. They
should not encourage external factors in-
cluding the UN to interfere with Sri Lanka
and try to solve issues through discussions.
The Government has always been open for
discussions. They should use these oppor-
tunities to discuss and solve the issues.
There were several opportunities in the
past, including the Indo-Sri Lanka Pact,
which were turned down and ignored by
the Tamil leadership at the time. The irony
is that the very people who criticized the
pact want the 13th Amendment implement-
ed.
Q
. In your view, what is the most
suitable way of solving the is-
sue?
I stand by the stance of the Government.
The Government is firm on its stance that
the problemshould be addressed and solved
through the Parliamentary Select Commit-
tee (PSC). The TNA should take part in the
PSC, which has the representation of all
political parties.
Sudat Pasqual
As mentioned last week, after much
soul searching I had decided to request
Kosher (Jewish) meals on my flights
to Colombo from Calgary. Buddhism
and Judaism, it should be noted, count
heavily on the concept of guilt to keep
the flock in line. We all ARE guilty of
something or will be sometime in the
future. Buddhists also have to deal
with the theological premise that our
next life form will be dependent on our
actions in this life. That tautology really
depresses me because I know I will be
constantly running from predators in
my next life or will be a creepy crawly
that scares children.
Calgary to London portion of
my flight was on British Airways.
Midway through a forgettable movie
a stewardess came by and queried,”
Kosher?” I am like, what? “Did you
order Kosher meals?” Ah, “Oh, yes”.
Shalom. The first impression of
the meal was a little disconcerting.
The tray was wrapped like a fragile
painting and it took me forever to un-
wrap the blessed thing. I almost spilt
everything into my neighbor’s lap who
had been gulping down shots of Jack
Daniel from the time he boarded the
plane. If I spilt anything other than
alcohol on that man, it would have led
to an emergency landing.
The tray contained some fruit, a
yogurt, a doughy object that resembled
a bun, a rectangular object the color of
my skin that may have been edible in
a previous life and a gooey blob with
mixed vegetables. Oh boy. And there
was a cutesy little note from a Rabbi in
British Columbia assuring me that he
had personally overseen the preparation
of the food like substance onmy tray and
it met Kosher specifications. He has a
vivid imagination to certify this as food,
I thought. I ate the yogurt and the fruit.
Poked around the other stuff and kept
the round object impersonating a bun to
be used for taped ball cricket in Colombo.
Unfortunately I misplaced the note for I
wanted to write to the Rabbi urging him
to change the meal plan and to screen the
kitchen staff for food jihadists. I reached
London starved but knowing that I will
be able to get some decent food on the
next leg on SriLankan Air.
Well, I should have known better.
I diligently went through the in-flight
magazine (the one with the full page
advertisement for a Buddhist temple
in Colombo) and was ready to inform
the cabin crew my selections. I will
start with
kiribath
, then the buriyani,
then
malu paan
as a snack, followed
by fried noodles with devilled chicken.
Watalappan as dessert. Cabin crew
started taking orders but just as the
lovely lass in the peacock saree was
approaching my row the head of the
cabin crew beat her to it. “Mr. Pasqual,
you ordered Kosher?” Gag me with a
pitchfork!
I started to stutter; “Ye ye ye yes, but
I don’t absolutely need my meals to be
Kosher”. He was not having any of it.
He insisted that the meal will be served
forthwith. If I had a butter knife, I
would have slit my wrists.
Best laid plans of mice and men.
Blah, blah and blah.
When I saw the bubble wrapped tray,
I was ready to throw a temper tantrum.
The stewardess asked whether I would
like the food to be heated. Wanting to
delay the inevitable, I said yes. She was
gone a long time. When she reappeared,
she had a different tray and queried “Will
kiribath
be ok?” Of course, it would be. I
was not about to look a gift horse in the
mouth. After taking the kosher tray to be
heated, the stewardess probably realized
that she was not supposed to take off the
wrap because of possible religious cross
contamination and the food couldn’t be
heated without taking the wrap off. Or,
she heated it andmade a mess of the food
like substances. God bless that child.
The trip back was better because I
did convince the Sri Lankan crew that I
was at peace with breaking the Jewish
Dietary Law. There was a bit of amishap
on Air Canada because the cabin crew
tried to serve my meal to my white
skinned neighbor. When I said that was
for me, she passed the tray quickly as
if delaying the meal to the brownest
Jewish man she had seen would cause
an international incident. I don’t think
I met hers’ or Air Canada’s profile of
what a Jewish person should look like.
At least I didn’t have to be circumcised
in the airplane.
The moral of the story is; don’t try to
be a clever ass when you are travelling
long distances in airplanes for it
could come back and bite you in the
posterior.
PSC is the right
forum to address
Tamil issues
Jaffna District Parliamentarian and General Secretary of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party
(EPDP), Douglas Devananda, says that he welcomed the Supreme Court determination that
allowed President Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest the Presidential polls for the third time
since he was the only leader to provide a dignified peace to the country where all people are
treated equal.
In an interview with
The Nation
, he criticized the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for indulging
in selfish politics that deprived the Tamil people of their rights, and misleading them through
false claims. “The TNA should realize the reality and come to terms with it. They should not
encourage external factors including the UN to interfere with Sri Lanka and should try to solve
issues by discussions. The Government has always been open for discussions. They should use
these opportunities to discuss and solve the issues,” he said.
There was a bit of
a mishap on Air
Canada, because the
cabin crew tried to serve my
meal to my white-skinned
neighbor. When I said that
was for me, she passed the
tray quickly as if delaying
the meal to the brownest-
Jewish man she had
seen would cause
an international
incident
– The eating
osher, anyone?
Minister Douglas Devananda
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