The humourist

The itinerant LTTE spokesman, Anton Balasingham, with his Norwegian kidney and Australian wife, amuses us very much. Despite his grave concern about his kidney, Balasingham roams the globe - Colombo, Wanni, Bangkok, London, Oslo, Berlin and other undisclosed destinations. Right now he is in the Wanni and yesterday he was reported to have declared open a Kangaroo court complex of the ‘Tamil Eelam judiciary’ at Kilinochchi. He had said that he wanted to ‘convince the world particularly the Sinhala people’ of the LTTE’s commitment to peace.

We would have considered Balasingham a queer joker if not for the ghastly crimes he has been responsible for, such as sending 700 policemen, who surrendered to the LTTE, to their deaths. He may be under the impression that ceremonially opening a manifestly illegal ‘courts complex’ is the way of demonstrating his and his organisation’s commitment to the ‘Peace Process’.

Even more humorous is his statement that the sinking of LTTE’s rogue ship by the Navy would not harden the LTTE stand at the next round of peace talks because in the very next sentence he is taking a contrary position:

‘We have taken serious exception to this attack and consider this an extremely serious matter that will have far reaching implications in the peace process’. This is an excellent illustration of Balasingham double-speak .

What most Sri Lankans and foreigners will not recognise is the googly the LTTE spin doctor is trying to bowl: The LTTE rogue ship carrying arms is not admitted or denied. It is not even referred to and forgotten. Only in answer to a question he says, it will not affect the peace process. This will have the ‘international community’ and Colombo’s peace brigades in whoops of joy, despite the veiled threat that followed. Experience tells us that the threat will be considered justifiably by those western nations fond of the LTTE and be soon forgotten.

What Balasingham the joker wants the people to forget is that the LTTE was caught with its pants down. The rogue ship was sunk along with its crew of ‘sea tigers’. And this was not only a gross violation of international laws, but the peace process as well! What he is attempting do is to place the Sri Lanka government in the dock with the LTTE as prosecutor!

And there is a namby-pamby Norwegian peace monitor saying that if the LTTE brought arms in the ship, it was in violation of the spirit of the Ceasefire Agreement; and if the Navy used excessive force on the ship, that, too, is against the spirit of the agreement! What did he want the Navy to do? Halt the Sea Tigers with catapults?

Next comes an all time classic of Balasingham: ‘The Ceasefire Agreement says that the Sri Lanka Navy can maintain its territorial integrity without fighting the LTTE’.

We leave it to constitutional pundits, including Prof. G. L. Peiris, to explain that Balasingham humour.

Inglorious certainties or glorious uncertainties of cricket?

On some afternoons and evenings, in recent times, there has been an eerie silence in Colombo’s cacophonous streets. Hardly a vehicle was seen. It was so quiet that one could even hear a wicket fall at the six-way Maradana junction. The World Cup matches were on, and Sri Lanka was playing and winning. The nation was glued to TVs and radios. Who cared about war, peace or pirate ships?

The nation was on the upbeat. Little Lanka was on the move - New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh had been grist to our mills. Lanka’s heroes were becoming demi-gods. Lahore, where Arjuna Ranatunga and his boys whipped the Aussies were being recalled. Songs and even a cricketing anthem was being composed.

Then came the defeats by Kenya, Australia and India. The heroes were turning out to be fools and even villains. The demi-gods were now being discovered to possess feets of clay. That was typically Sri Lankan, particularly of the generations that came to know cricket from TV. To the older generations who knew Bradman, Miller, Weekes , Worrel, Walcott, Hutton etc., these ups and downs in cricket are explained on the ‘glorious uncertainties of cricket’

But the newer generations will have none of that. The say: ‘We Sri Lankans have been always that - win at first and lose in the end. When Jayasuriya gets out everyone goes’. To them, what is happening is an example of the inglorious certainties of Sri Lanka cricket.


The Island goes along with the older generation and recalls the poem learnt at school half a century ago.

For when the One Great Scorer comes

To write against your name

He marks - not that you won or lost

But how you played the game.


Today, at the 124th Royal-Thomian encounter, the oldest such schoolboy cricketing encounter in the world, we do hope that this spirit will pervade the air as the boys of both schools will sing: Hurrah or the Royal/Thomian boys who do not care a damn.

And the Old Boys of the two schools in their exclusive enclosures will be living up to the tradition :

Win or lose we booze!

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