TamilWeek Feb 26, 2006
Nandana-Rathana Vindana

by C. A. Saliya

I received a call from my friend Daya at 5 p.m. on February
23 and got a surprise invitation to join him to attend a
welcome ceremony for the delegation of Sri Lankan MPs at
Mt. Albert memorial hall, Auckland at 7 p.m.

Leaving all domestic affairs aside, I agreed to join him as he
indicated that MPs representing all major parties in
Parliament will grace the occasion, including the
Sandhanaya, UNP, JVP, Hela Urumaya and TNA. I was
shocked when I reached the venue to notice only seven
people waiting there even at 7 p.m. But my doubts were
cleared by one of the organisers who said that though we
are in New Zealand we are proud to be Sri Lankans,
especially on punctuality issues. By 7.10 Ven. Athuraliye
Rathana and Nandana Gunathilake arrived and I was more
humiliated than the organisers to be among the audience of
less than 15 people, including 4-6 members of the
organising committee.

Ven. Rathana and Comrade Nandana were seated in the
front row and waited. At about 7.30 the Mt. Albert hall had
about 30 people, and the chief organiser started the
meeting. He said they had invited all political parties;
unfortunately they had informed that they were not in a
position to attend. One of my friends said "they must surely
be in the night clubs in the city". Later I learned that the
scheduled programme was to take the MPs to SkyCity, a
landmark of Auckland. SkyCity also has New Zealand's
biggest casino as well, however, there is hardly anything
there to label the visit as "clubbing", as my friend perceived.

Nandana started his speech saying that they are very tired,
and continued saying almost the same old stories, which
created a very boring atmosphere and a few people left the
hall. Meanwhile, people were still coming, keeping the Sri
Lankan tradition of punctuality. He said, while accepting that
we, who are living in New Zealand, are not that far from Sri
Lanka as far as accessibility to news is concerned because
of advanced technology, he has no idea of what happened
in Geneva because he couldn't see the papers. I do not
believe people came to listen to Nandana to know what is
available in the newspapers. We wanted something new
about the stability, vision and action plan of the new
government. We think those policy issues are crucial factors
for economic development as well as to defeat terrorism. He
treated the audience as people who have never heard of
the unsuccessful sad-comedy (1971) and tragedy (1989) of
two insurrections and destruction of public properties
(1987). He got figures wrong as well. He said poverty is
more than that of the 1970s, I do not know on what basis.

His claim of increasing the vote base was thrown out on the
spot when Ven. Rathana said that Hela Urumaya got nine
seats within two months. However my memories went to the
role of the monk in films such as "Veera Puran Appu" and
"Son of Saradiel" on seeng Ven. Ratana. He said he had
travelled to so many countries and never seen a beautiful
country like Sri Lanka which I agreed with wholeheartedly.
However he got history wrong when he said renown writer
Anton Chekhov had stayed at the Colombo Hilton, which
was established about half a century after his visit. However
he asked a question: Do countries such as New Zealand,
Australia etc. treat immigrants as their own people? And he
got it wrong answering that they do not. Legally and
statutorily, countries like New Zealand, Australia, the USA,
France, Canada and the UK treat all people in the same
manner. It is a criminal issue to discriminate on the grounds
of race, religion, gender, colour or nationality. It doesn't
mean that New Zealand's authorities are working in the
Sinhalese language. It may be true that immigrant
professionals do not get the same treatment when it comes
to job recruitment, which has nothing to do with the
legislation of the country. To me what Ven. Rathana implied
was that all other races including Tamils should learn
Sinhala to live in Sri Lanka. Could anybody with common
sense imagine solving the prevailing problem (ethnic or
whatever) with this type of attitude?

What my friends and I, who left the hall during the
questioning session, felt was that these so-called leaders
always boast about history, the glorious ancient times, but
terribly lack the dynamism to place Sri Lanka in the
competitive world. Nandana still says that they always have
the party foremost on their mind; thinking that when one
repeats a lie 1001 times it will become a truth. Ven. Rathana
said that two thirds of the country had been given to Tamils
and he had sacrificed his life to safeguard the boundaries of
his "land", no mention about the people. If these are the
leaders who are going to take our country forward I have
serious doubts whether we are in correct hands. We need
more dynamic modern leaders, to understand the problems,
the crux of the problems and suggest innovative and
sustainable solutions to ensure a decent lifestyle to
everybody in Sri Lanka, rich or poor, Sinhala or Tamil,
urban or rural.

Sending MPs on such tours is good. But they should be
given a very strict schedule to learn what they are supposed
to learn and not to waste time, deviating from the
programme, uttering what they are always preaching, and
the same old version of nonsense. The sponsors of these
trips are also the poor masses of Sri Lanka. Please do
justice to that!

The writer is a member of

"The League for well being of Sri Lankans: A group of positive Sri
Lankans Living Overseas"
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