Forget Singh
Posted on March 9th, 2011


To the Editor, the Island

 I must say that the recent writings about a possible Sri Lankan ‘Obama’ are nonsensical. Not only do your writers twist facts, they also insult the intelligence of the Sri Lankan people in general, and the Sinhalese Buddhists in particular.

 In the case of both America and India, the minority-based leaders of these countries came to power through participation in secular, mainstream parties. They did not campaign on a platform of baseless grievances, false histories, or anti-majority racism. Obama and Singh have shown to the majority of their respective peoples, that they would stand for the interests of this majority and their nation, and not be subservient to vested interests.

 Furthermore, I would submit that India and America cannot even be compared. America though a new nation has a large majority group and a small population of minorities. In this respect it is similar to Sri Lanka. India on the other hand is made up of many former warring states which were stuck together by the British for the purposes of economic exploitation and administrative ease. Sri Lanka has been a contiguous, Sinhalese Buddhist-ruled nation for millennia prior to colonial occupation, a contiguous nation during occupation, and contiguous after independence. Therefore, independence for a ‘Kalistan’ or Tamil Nadu are acceptable, while independence for certain regions of Sri Lanka have no grounding in historical facts, and is unacceptable.

 In America, Obama belongs to both communities as his mother was an Anglo-American, he speaks the language of the majority, is Christian like the majority of its population, shares their culture and traditions, and does not advocate race-based privileges for the African-American minority. A Sri Lankan equivalent would therefore need to be half-Sinhalese, a practising Buddhist, and Sinhala-speaking. Focussing on Obama’s one single difference from the majority of Americans (his mixed-race background) and directly transferring that to Sri Lanka is disingenuous and misleading. If Obama had been a member of a black racist movement, and of another religion and culture, he would certainly not have been elected to the presidency.

 Even ignoring the gaping holes in the case of Singh in India, he himself is not, and has not, had any affiliations with Sikh terrorists or independence seekers, something which cannot be said for the majority of Tamil political leaders. With regards to the comments about Sonia Gandhi, her position is similar to that of Sirimavo Bandaranayake “”…” the wife of a popular leader. I would go further to state that Indians would vote even for a donkey if it was named Gandhi, so crazy are they for that name. The fact that she did not take up her rightful position as prime minister of India “”…” being head of the Congress party as she is “”…” instead handing it to a pliable minority personality, clearly shows how ‘mature’ the Indian voter is! The reason this happened is precisely what your contributor wrote: because she is a “white Italian Roman Catholic woman, not an Indian born Hindu.”

 More than anything else, the Brigadier’s comments strike me for his blatant longing to be under imperial servitude, hankering for the ‘good old days’ of 1936, when even the politicians we could vote for were foreigners. Poisonous propaganda, and distortions of simple facts from the likes of your contributor is exactly what has caused the many problems we face, and nationalism is the answer.

 Maturity of the populace is not proven by the ability to see beyond simple difference such as ‘black’ and ‘white’, or ‘Sinhalese’ and ‘Tamil’. Rather maturity is when people ignore political gimmicks and elect those who are credible and nationalistic “”…” something Sri Lankans and Americans do at every election. Why does the Brigadier focus on Sikhs in India, when the elephant in the room is that country’s 70 million Tamils. The appropriate question is: Would India ever accept a Tamil prime minister, rather than the parade of north Indians who have held the position so far?

 Given that Mr Singh is now shrouded in controversy over corruption in the party and the nation, I would not rush to sing his praises so soon (no pun intended). In conclusion, I would not judge the maturity of any nation’s populace until there is more evidence than merely a single, one-off election result.


One Response to “Forget Singh”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Talking of Presidencies, here is an interesting breakdown of salaries of Presidents in this world.

    Singapore President’s Basic Salary wil be S$3,140,000 (US$2,107,368). Singapore’s current President, Nathan, was a member of the dreaded Japanese Kampeti (uniform, sword and all) during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.

    • Singapore Prime Minister’s Salary $US2.47 million, or about six times more than the U.S. President, who currently takes home US$400,000.
    • The monthly pay for a Singapore Member of Parliament (who does virtually nothing) is S$12,000 (US$8,600 ) per month or S$144,000 (US$103,200 ) per year tax free. Note: At age 55, Singapore Ministers collect both a salary and their full pension.

    United States:
President Barak Obama: US$400,000, with US$50,000 expenses
Vice President Joe Biden: US$202,900
Cabinet Secretaries: US$157,000 – $186,600
Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton) – $186,600
    United Kingdom: Prime Minister: $US279,000
    Australia: Prime Minister: $US229,000
    Hong Kong: Prime Minister: $US516,000
    Japan: Prime Minister: $US243,000
    Canada: Prime Minister: $US246,000
    Germany: Prime Minister: $US303,000
    France: Prime Minister: $US318,000
    In addition to their inflated salaries,
the Singapore elite gets extra pay as appointed company directors!

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