Radhika complains to UN about comments on her “pottu”
Posted on April 28th, 2010

H. L. D. Mahindapala

Radhika Coomaraswamy’s irate and feisty attack on Rajiva Wijesinghe, former head of the Peace Secretariat, for scrutinizing the role of (1) International Center for Ethnic Studies (ICES), her primary political base, (2) Ms. Rama Mani, her handpicked minder to run her political base in her absence, and (3) herself (The Island “”…” April 26, 2010) showed another side of her personality which was not known to me in my brief encounters with her. I must confess that I don’t know her as well as, say, late Neelan Tiruchelvam, her suave guru and patron, with whom she has had close encounters in varying positions, having worked closely together to hide the political agenda of the ICES which, at one level, was a disguised front for the TNA.

Anyone who knows anything about Sri Lankan politics will agree that Neelan was wearing two hats “”…” first as the founding father of ICES and second as a card-carrying political fellow-traveller of the TNA. In fact, he was in parliament as a member representing the TNA which was the acknowledged front of the Tamil Tiger terrorists. When I accused him of wearing two incompatible hats he never denied it. How could he? As the head of an independent, non-aligned NGO, funded mainly by the Ford Foundation, he was supposed to be above partisan politics. It was unethical for him to play partisan Tamil politics when he was also the head of a so-called research centre focused on ethnic studies of all communities.

Despite the boastful claim of being a leading research center in South Asia ICES failed to fulfill its rightful mission of being an independent centre for objective research. The voluminous tomes of the ICES reveals a mass of partisan politics demonizing the Sinhala-Buddhists without ever daring to peep over the cadjan curtain to look into the explosive politics of mono-ethnic extremism bred and nurtured in Jaffna. I also asked Neelan why the ICES was focused exclusively on the south and not on the north. As usual the silence was deafening. This partisan role prompted me to dub it as the Incestuous Cabal for Eelamist Sycophants.

So much for the transparency and the accountability which are two cardinal principles recommended by ICES to all other institutions. Obviously Neelan and his pet protƒÆ’†’©gƒÆ’†’©, Radhika, have been experts in preaching principles to other public officials which they discard as not being relevant to their conduct in their own public affairs. For instance, she tells Rajiva: “He continues in his obsession with ICES and its internal matters- which is none of his business”¦” Really? Does this mean that the ICES was purpose built as a private dove cote for Neelan and Radhika to nestle undisturbed at the top end of Kynsey Road?

Even Bradman Weerakoon, her current house-keeper dusting the cobwebs in her absence, will concede that ICES is not the private property of Neelan or Radhika. It is a public institution and whether she likes it or not it should be open for public scrutiny. And Rajiva has all the right to comment on the shady goings-on at the ICES which was a public scandal, with insiders spilling the beans about corruption and wrongdoings of the management headed by Radhika. In fact, she should have resigned considering her questionable role in that scandal where she confessed that she signed cheques without knowing what she was signing for.

Besides, can anyone trust her when she says that she signed without knowing what she was signing? Was she a baby sucking the thumb of her free hand when she was signing the cheques with the other? With such irresponsible and immature conduct how competent will she be to protect children under her care at the UN? Her playing the role of Mrs. Pontius Pilate, washing her hands off of any responsibility, is unacceptable in any court of judgment. As a holder of a doctorate in law she should be the first to know that ignorance is no excuse for committing crimes. Instead of answering the charges facing her she carries on with impunity accusing others of meddling in her affairs.

Another incident that exposed her immature and questionable behaviour was when she extravagantly spent $250,000 of ICES funds to commemorate Neelan’s death anniversary at Galle Face Hotel. Was it worth it? What did it achieve for ICES or Neelan? Wouldn’t it have been better if that amount was deposited in an interest earning account to fund the innocent children who were victims of the futile Vadukoddai War justified in devious ways by the ICES pundits?

Radhika also talks effusively of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in her tirade against Rajiva. (More of this later). Before I deal with the broader issues of R2P can she tell the public first whose responsibility was it to protect the ICES from the irresponsible and corrupt practices exposed in the scandal that rocked ICES? Clearly she can’t protect her own little dove cote at Kynsey Road from crooked deals and yet she pompously proceeds to preach to the world how they should act according to the highest ideals. So how credible will her sermons on R2P be to the world at large? Shouldn’t honesty, like charity, begin at home?

What really shook me about venting her wrath against Rajiva was the line where she declaims that Rajiva will “never be forgiven” for criticizing her and not defending her pet, Ram Mani. In the same breath she says: “I am a strong proponent of this natural human impulse” of compassion. She even quotes Buddha. Is she genuine? How can a compassionate feminist (who is supposed to be more motherly than a combative male chauvinist) fail to forgive? Jane Austen, one of the brilliant novelists in the English language, wrote a sublime line in Mansfield Park which should have been in the New Testament: “Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.” Well, if Jane Austen, a pioneering icon of feminism, is agreeable to forgive shouldn’t the UN Mother of all forsaken children be ever willing to forgive her critics? Or is she unforgiving because Rajiva had hit her political base to which she hopes to return when her term expires at the UN?

So which Radhika are we supposed to trust: Radhika quoting Buddha or the vindictive Radhika spitting venom on her critics? Besides, is this expression of raw bitterness befitting the status of an Under Secretary General working in the inner Cabinet of the UN for children of the world? If she is this vindictive and unforgiving can she be trusted to play, with any degree of sincerity and commitment, the role of a Mother of Global Compassion caring for all victimized children? Or is she coming out in her true colours of Madame Defarge (with a “pottu”) out to decapitate the heads of those who criticize her?

This brings me to the complaint she has lodged with the UN Ethics Committee about one of my throwaway lines on her “pottu” in a previous article. Rajiva has revealed this in his reply to Radhika. I think (I can’t locate the exact reference) I said that she sports a “pottu” larger than the full moon which, from an aesthetic point of view, is rather loud and somewhat vulgar. It doesn’t enhance her looks at all because the oversized “pottu” has taken over her face. I wrote something like this to improve her cosmetics and not out of racist prejudices. But the ultra sensitive Miss. Touch-me-not has run to the UN Ethics Committee to complain about a Sinhala chauvinist like me targeting a liberated Tamil girl from the elitist Ladies’ College who is not afraid of talking about “fornication”, as she once told an audience in Melbourne which I attended, just to listen to what high-sounding principle she would throw up next. I hope she will not run again to the UN Ethics Committee claiming to misrepresent these incidental references as another racist attack. To all intents and purposes this seems to be her devious tactic to divert attention from her failures to uphold the high ideals that she preaches to others. Let me confess: I like “pottus”: they add to the natural beauty of faces but not when it is displayed as politicized symbol to promote partisan politics. On a personal note, may I add that my wife wears it as a symbol of her Tamil origins and I am proud of it.

“Pottus” are nice except when ethnics who wear it politicize it and misrepresent mischievously complaining that racists are attacking their sacred symbols. I was only poking fun at a fashion statement displayed so disproportionately on the forehead by Radhika. She, of course, has a right to wear it as a symbol of her identity. I have no problem with that. As a symbol of identity it should be given a place honour and respect. In fact, it speaks a lot for the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and pluralistic character of Sri Lanka which she and her NGO cohorts deny on the fictitious ground that Sri Lanka is an anti-minority state.

Since they propagate these anti-Sri Lankan myths “”…” and since she has complained about my stray remark on her “pottu” to the UN as a racist slur — it is fair to ask what action will she initiate at the UN about the blatantly anti-ethnic moves of the French government to ban Islamic face veils worn by Muslim women? “Not welcome in France,” says Nicolas Sarkozy. A bill has been presented in French Parliament to ban it. Will Radhika also run to the UN Ethics Committee et al and press them to take action against the majoritarian rule of the French government? Or is she politicizing this aside of mine to pursue her anti-Sri Lankan policies at the UN, vilifying the Sinhalese as racists who must be monitored and placed on good behaviour bonds by the morally superior Coomaraswamy’s at the Glass House by the East River?

(To be continued)

6 Responses to “Radhika complains to UN about comments on her “pottu””

  1. Sita Perera Says:

    Mahindapala is right – Tamil women have been using pottu as an example to obtain refugee status oversees. They have alleged Sinhalese rapists can easily identify as only Tamil women in Sri Lanka wear pottu

  2. cassandra Says:

    I cannot see that it is valid to compare the “pottu” with the Muslim veil that covers the face, in the way HLDM does. Let’s be sensible about this. What France proposes to do is not “blantly anti-ethnic. Unlike the veil that France seeks to ban, the “pottu” simply does not cover the face; it is merely and adornment to it. You cannot effectively communicate with anyone whose face is covered with a veil and there is also the aspect of a security risk to consider. In many places, for security reasons, people wearing helmets are required to remove their helmets when entering banks and other such institutions, so that the faces are not hidden. The same reasoning applies to face veils.

  3. Sita Perera Says:

    I mean the Tamils when them calim assylum say the Sinhalese rapists and other perpetrators/discriminators can identify them because Tamil women wear pottu.


    Tamils are a racist community. Their castes discriminate their own poor and uneducated. They are as a community of people culturally many years behind Sinhalese and miles from western cultures. They are also very self-centred or closed community in their thinking even today, no matter which part of the world they live. However, there are exceptions. If the writer is trying to high-light this behaviour of Tamils, particularly at international forums, I agree with the writer.

  5. M.S.MUdali Says:

    POTTU is a HINDU tradition and not anything with TAMIL Language. Sinhala criminals identify Tamil women with POTTU and harm them but it is also a truth.

    If the Muslim Arabic costume is tolerable for Sinhalese, they must learn how to respect HINDUS!

    Buddha statues in Thailand or in many other places are still with POTTU! Parangi Buddhism of Sri lanka now make more disrespect to Buddha also!

    If Mahindapala is so arrogant with POTTU, can others treat a BODHI tree as an ordinary peace of FIRE WOOD? But Hindus too respect the Bodhi Tree because Buddha is known as BODHI MADHAVA to Hindus. But Christians/muslims make stories on Pottu or Bodhi tree!

    Further Mahindapala shows his idiotic ideas on HINDU traditions. First he must learn the traditions of the minority Hindus.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Mr Mahindapala says that the Pottu is nice when worn in a sensible way. He takes exception to Radhika’s overly large Pottu,
    and her apparent disloyalty to Lanka when every GoSL has supported her career within Lanka & at the UN.
    Radhika is a lady who feels she has to do something at international levels to get bargaining leverage for the Tamil Diaspora to form Eelam. She wears an oversize Pottu to declare her Tamilness. She is of Vellalah heritage and finds this a barrier to being accepted into the various Caste divided Tamil population. The Vellalah Tamils are a small minority in Lanka. Its time for all the citizens of Lanka to become Sri Lankan and cease to be ethnically divided. Ethnic divisions will only lead to disharmony and strife. Every citizen of Lanka should DEVELOP in every way, spiritually, mentally & physically. Radhika should use her talents for the good of all Lanka’s citizens, and drop petty politics.

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