A letter to labour MP‏
Posted on May 1st, 2011

H. L. D. Mahindapala


Laurie Ferguson is from the left-wing of the Australian Labour Party. He leans heavily towards the Tamil lobby. The following letter sent by H. L. D. Mahindapala after meeting him in Canberra is self-explanatory..

Dear Laurie,

Thank you for the time you spent with us listening and arguing which was very helpful for us to gauge the opinion of a Labour MP most concerned with Sri Lankan affairs.

As I told you I was pleased to learn from you that there has been a 75% improvement in the Sri Lankan situation since the end of the futile war on May 18, 2009.  I believe (and I told this to you too) our task is to improve the balance 25%.  You will no doubt agree that 75% improvement within the short span (from May 18, 2009 to March 4, 2011) is a remarkable achievement by any standards.  If we are genuinely concerned about improving the welfare of all communities our actions should be directed at healing and not exacerbating by scratching old wounds.
However, I must mention that I was taken aback by the rating you gave Sri Lanka.  You said that Sri Lanka ranks below Bangladesh.  In addition to being the Editor of the Observer “”…” the oldest English newspaper in South Asia “”…” I was also the Secretary-General of South Asia Media Association and I had the chance of traveling quite a bit in the region.  No analyst that I know would rate Sri Lanka below that of Bangladesh.
Please consider the following facts:

  • Sri Lanka is the oldest democracy in the Asia-Pacific rim.  If you consider the fact that universal franchise came to Australia in 1967 (after the Aborigines were given the right to vote) then it is fair to say that Sri Lanka was in the democratic circle exercising universal franchise from 1931.
  • Sri Lanka faced right-wing military coups, two uprisings “”…” one in the south from the  JVP, the lumpen Marxists, and the longest running war in Asia initiated by the Jaffna Tamils when they officially passed the Vadukoddai Resolution seeking a military solution “”…” and yet did not go under a military dictatorship.
  • Other developing countries in the Afro-Asian region have been taken over by military dictators rising out pressures far less than that in Sri Lanka.
  • Bangladesh has been under military dictatorship from time to time as you know.  Sri Lanka always maintained its democratic institutions “”…” however flawed they may have been.
  • Sri Lanka is smaller than Tasmania with the entire population of Australia packed into it.  Without the abundant resources of Australia Sri Lanka runs a free education system from kinder to uni, free health services, subsidized transport, food, medicine etc.  to all communities. Please ask the Tamil doctors, lawyers, academics who come crying about “discrimination” whether they did not enjoy the same facilities of the other communities who benefited from free education, free health, and other social benefits distributed without any discrimination.
  • To quote you, we don’t live in a perfect world.  But Sri Lankans, despite all infirmities, have a free press, free elections, free institutions like any other democracy.
  • Bangladesh, being a Muslim country, is noted for the persecution of minorities “”…” particularly Christians.  Sri Lanka’s tolerance of other religions is legendary.  At the time when France and the West are banning the head gear for Muslims Sri Lanka is offering free textile for the Muslims to wear it freely.
  • The poverty level of Bangladesh is below that of Sri Lanka.
  • Bangladesh is a quasi-religious state whereas Sri Lanka is essentially secular.
  • The Sri Lankan flag carries two stripes “”…” one for the Tamils and the other for the Muslim “”…” as a means of granting the highest respect and status to the minorities.  How much space is given to the minorities in the Bangladesh flag or for that matter the minorities in the so-called modeled democracies of the West?  Incidentally, there are over 70 million Tamils in the world including the 60 million in Tamil Nadu.  The only flag that respects the identity of Tamils among the 192 flags flying at the UN is that of the Sri Lankan flag.  Is this discrimination?  The Tamil language is also given the highest place by being inscribed in currencies, stamps and all official documents.
  • The space open for all communities to be treated equally is exemplified by the presence of Murali in the cricket team.  If he was with the Tamil separatists he would have been throwing hand grenades instead of his fascinating “dooshra” and in the process even lost his flexible arm.

I shall stop at this as I do not want to appear as a Bangladeshi-basher.  But, before I end I wish to raise another point with you.  You were quite sympathetic to the “imperfections” of the others except Sri Lanka.  I gathered from our discussion that you were demanding perfection from Sri Lanka while dismissing the “imperfections” of others as a part of the unavoidable world order.  Could this be a case of Biblical proportions where one prefers to see the mote in the eyes of Sri Lanka and not the beam in the eyes of one’s fellow-travelers?
Example: An independent inquiry into the way Sri Lanka ended the 33-year-old war is demanded by you and your fellow-travelers.  By the same yardstick which human rights activist has ever initiated inquiries into the way the Americans ended the World War II by dropping atom bombs in Hiroshima (140,000 civilians dead) and Nagasaki (80,000 dead)?  Or on Churchill for his calculated plan to bring the boys back home early by bombing the hell out of Dresden (300,000 dead)?  If you think it’s far away, why not ask for an inquiry on the ethnic cleansing of Diego Garcia by the British to clear the place for the American to build a base in the Indian Ocean?  The thousands of Chargosssians evicted by force by the British from their only homeland only recently are wandering like nomads.  They are without jobs, without homes and without a future . How come Sri Lanka is on the radar of concerned Australians and not the Chargossians?
Isn’t there something rotten in the state of morality dispensed by the human rights activists who cry from roof tops only for the agents of the Tamils Tigers?
If you happen to be in Melbourne I would be delighted to have dinner or lunch to carry on the dialogue.  Please be in touch.



H. L. D. Mahindapala
Editor, Observer (1990- 1994)
President, Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association (1991- 1993)
General Secretary, South Asia Media Association (1993 – 1994)

PS: By the way, when we told the Foreign Office that Labour MPs have to get their resolutions tabled in Parliament vetted by the censors at DFAT they denied it totally. They said that they do not influence MPs in any way on the text of the resolution.

4 Responses to “A letter to labour MP‏”

  1. Wickrama Says:

    Dear Mahindapala, you should get down some thosai and masala vadai for lunch with Laurie !

  2. Jan Chandra Says:

    Thank you ever so much for your factual letter. I am amazed at the duplicity of this world. We need to remind the MP of innocent souls lost in Iraq and Afghanistan as well.

  3. ranjit Says:

    Actually you are not a bangaladeshi basher but explaining the truth to a blind white soul. Great if you happened to meet her just give her a picture album of innocent people who was killed indiscriminately by L.T.T.E murderers for thirty years. Explained to her how the coward Prabakaran kept thousands of his own people as human shield and killed point blank when some try to escape his open prison. Poor woman she may have eaten Masala Thosai.

  4. Sri Rohana Says:

    Mr Mahindapala!
    Good that you reminded him some of the crimes done by Australia’s cousins, U.S.A and U.K.
    Please ask him why Australia voted against “United Nations Declaration on right of Indigenous Peoples”, with U.S.A, Canada and New Zealand. That means Laurie Ferguson’s country is against to give basic rights to original Australians (Aboriginals). I heard that original Australian’s (aboriginals) living conditions are way poor and they live like sub human levels. Is it true that early European invaders had competitions to hunt original Australians? Those who killed most were the “man of the evening” in that hunting clubs?
    Some reports say that original Australians are very badly discriminated by European migrants. Living standards, Social standards, Health facilities and Education facilities are very much poor for original Australians. It is high time him to solve his country’s problem first than entertain tamil refugees in Australia.

    He should explain that on what means and meaning and on what rights have Australia to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Even at this time there are 130,000 NATO and Australian forces are in Afghanistan. In 2003 Iraq invasion there were 300,000 U.S, U.K, Australian and European forces involved. In Iraq invasion there are more than one million civilians killed by U.S, U.K and Australia led foreign forces and more than 700,000 IDP’s and nearly a million left Iraq and living as refugees in neighboring countries.
    In 1950 Korea invaded by U.S, U.K, Australia and Europeans that killed 20 million Koreans. In Vietnam War 30 million Vietnams killed by U.S, Australia, New Zealand and South Vietnam forces. Since 1950 to 2011 can he identify that Australia’s cruelty against other nation has changed or any improvement in it?
    Also please ask him why Australia worried the independency of East Timor. Isn’t it off shore petroleum resources?
    At the end of the day we realized that Australia also none second to her cousins U.S.A, U.K and Canada.

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