Saturday, 1 June 2013

Malinga, Cricket and Sri Lankan Mentality

Malinga, Cricket and Sri Lankan Mentality

Few weeks ago, FB users introduced a new villain in Sri Lanka who supposed to be battered and humiliated by so called FB pandits and media. 

That is none other than Lasith Malinga. 

Once a glorious hero and even hair-style provider for Sri Lankan youths, Malinga needed few words to be dragged himself into the villains role. 

Many people were commenting that this cricketer with unprecedented talent, has forgotten his past and some people were even harsh in making utterly disgusting statements about Malinga's childhood. 

For many of his personal critics, it is because of the fans and the country that Malinga is where he is today. He first came to Colombo in a crowded bus and today he drives a millions worth BMW because of the country and it's people..!! 

There are many thousands that daily comes to Colombo by bus. Hundreds of them play cricket, tens of them may come to Colombo to play cricket.  

How many of them return by BMW? 

The country or the fans do not make Cricketers of Malinga's caliber. It is the person himself who could achieve such status. Then both the country (I mean the authorities of what ever subject area; in this case SLC) and fans come after the hero 'cause they have no other option. 

In many solo or paired-player games such as boxing, tennis, golf etc. players develop their name as professionals, independent of the country that they represent (or country of birth). 

Even in team games like football the player's club comes prior to the country that he represent. Many people think Lionel Messi belongs to Barcelona, not Argentina. 

Soon this player-prior culture will storm Cricket as well. With mass-scale corruption of Cricket boards, sidelining of good players due to personal favour, political interference and now with wrong public attitude, players will naturally be pushed towards pure professional cricket rather than national cricket. 

Actually players bypassing the country and becoming highly successful at club level is not new to Sri Lankan cricket. 

In the 80s Gehan Mendis from Moratuwa area who was never been selected to a national side became one of the best batsmen played for Sussex and Lancashire so far. 

His First-class match record is decorated with 21436 runs, 41 centuries and 108 half-centuries. I really wonder whether there are any Sri Lankan Cricketer even as of today has such brilliant English County record. 

However, now we are 3 decades forward. A new version of cricket has emerged and there are many tournaments where players are given handsome money for playing at club level. In other words Cricket has become a professional game. Thus, professional cricketers are emerging independent of country representation. 

There were few occasions where IPL success forced national selectors to consider players to be given places in the national sides; Ravindra Jadeja and Rahul Sharma. A dashing striker like Gehan Mendis would have been payed over million dollars at IPL whether he is in the national team or not if he were playing cricket today.

As a last note of this article, I would like to take you to the Sri Lankan music scene. There was a time that the sole rights of giving birth to a singer was vested on SLBC. 

Those who passed their youth-hood in the 50s to 70s know very well the dark grey picture behind the microphone that existed during this era. 

The nation never had a chance to hear many splendid voices which could have taken the music of the country forward,  due to the "black tapes" that stretched over the studios of SLBC during that time. 

In the 80s the situation started changing as the private sector entered into the music scene breaking the SLBC monopoly. The next breakthrough came in the last decade with TV based reality shows. Many hidden talents started pouring out. 

Today, I think more than 95% of the singers emerge beyond the peripherals of SLBC.  There were "bad singers", who were forced into the ring by businessmen, solely for commercial benefits  However, they could not survive long, while real talents like Santush-Bathiya duo and many others moved even into the international arena.

As per the experience of my life, the world, whatever the corner we see, will become beautiful and glorious when the red tapes and black tapes are taken away.

Making a White Elephant Black

සුදු අලියා කළු වනතුරු  


Responding to few colourful photos of the picturesque city of Putrajaya that I have posted in FB, Nancy Fernando, one of my good Malaysian friends commented that the city was regarded as a white elephant of Mr. Mahthir Mohamed, as it was built. What she implied was that the city has now become a major attraction in Malaysia which opened doors for the influx of dollar streams to the country, despite its initial status. 

In Sri Lanka, we have been breeding our own white jumbos for the last few years. Mihin Lanka, Hambanthota Port, Mattala Airport, Norochcholei Power Plant, Sooriyawewa and Pallekele cricket stadiums are to name a few. Will these white elephants turn black one day...? 


Malaysia could wait for 20 years for the change of colour, simply because the money was pumped in within their quarters. In Sri Lanka, we are borrowing at mammoth interest rates. With primary school mathematics one may show that even if we achieve those goals predicted at the beginning, the elephant is dead and gone even before it turns light gray. 

Mihin Lanka is not only sinking alone, it is carrying the national career also into the deep ends of dark side, as per the financial status revealed in the parliament. Amid, a huge financial crisis within their own budget and at a time that even once profitable regional airlines such as King Fisher and Sahara are struggling to survive, now the SL airlines are looking forward to investing borrowed money (at fairly high interest rates) for several more planes ...... 

Think if you can think...................where do we end up ...?

Mattala airport has added a menace into the already existing debacle. 

Just a look at the daily time table in Mattala airport (available online) shows the reality. There are couple of Sri Lankan or Mihin flights which go to or come from a nearby destination in the region, touch Mattala airport everyday just for the sake of showing that planes land there. 

Airport internal news confirms that most often none of the passengers go out of the airport or come into the airport from outside to be boarded into a plane. Once a plane arrives at Mattala airport, all passengers are asked to get off the plane, stay an hour or two in a passenger-hall and then get back into the plane. The reason cited is that the plane needs pumping of fuel (within 35 minutes since taking off from Colombo or reaching Colombo). This "getting off-getting in" only boosts the airport passenger statistics which reach the public who say "Hurrah". 

Each passenger is counted twice; one arrived at the airport and one departed from the airport

Some times 50-60 kg of fruits are loaded into the planes and in the news next day it says that the airport has now become a cargo hub. This is not to defame some "good work" of the government, as some people view; unless we understand the reality and take necessary steps to address the chaos, soon everything will end up in utter disaster. 

The government no longer boasts about the number of ships that comes to Hambanthota port. Before the Port was inaugurated several ministers started chirping that everyday over 200 ships pass the harbour within a touching distance. After two and a half years since the inauguration only 30+ ships have entered the harbour; that is also at the expense of the ships that were already used to load/unload at Colombo Port. 

The mega investment at the neighbourhood of Hambanthota port, about which pro-government news sites highlights once in a while, also seems simple illusions. After many months since the so called "inking of agreements", not a single brick has been laid for those projects. If you have close contacts with any of these investors, you may have great fun-time listening to many comedies that they  may share with you.

As I see, the best way of having a free Sri Lankan tour with VIP treatment is to write the right person in GoSL that you are interested in investing at a project in Hambanthota or Mattala. After a week of wonderful Sri Lankan hospitality, you have to sign the guestbook at the premises amid few busy cameramen. Next day you are in the big news with the heading; "Signing an agreement to invest few hundred million USD in a mega project in Sri Lanka"......

I think I have conveyed the message to those who are not yet anesthetized by the government doses. Anyone who is still not bored in reading all the stuff, may move into the next part. 

Some people try to compare the Mahaweli Project of JR with Mega projects of MR. 

I can still remember the time that the accelerated Mahaweli project was planed and inaugurated. I think that I was at Grade 6, just entered Royal College. Sajith Premadasa was at our parallel classes, more specifically at 6S1 where as I was at 6S7. We had the sons of two Ministers of the government, in my class; Krishantha, son of late Neville Fernando from Panadura and Umedh, son of P M B Cyril from Thissamaharama. There were many future defense commanders in our classes who sacrificed their lives for the country two decades later. 

We had to learn four languages for 3 years; from grade 6 to 8; Sinhala, English, Tamil were the compulsory languages and the fourth language was an elective. I selected Japanese. 

For the Japanese Language class I had to go to 6S1, Sajith's class. I think he followed German or French for which he has to move to another class during that period.  I was fascinated by Sajith's school bag; actually it was a briefcase (not known to me at that time) which could be opened by selecting a certain set of numbers. I always used to sit on Sajith's seat so that I could play with the numbers of his briefcase. 

One day when I set a certain sequence of numbers the bag was suddenly opened. I was thrilled by this finding. After the class I stayed few minutes until Sajith returns. I boasted him that I know how to open his bag. This lead to a small-scale brawl which ended up each calling the other by names. Finally other students took us apart and his colleagues of 6S1 chased me away from their class. 

Umedh and I were fighting cocks. For very simple reasons, we used to wrestle with each other, dirtying the white clothes. About three decades after the goodbye to our Alma mater, Umedh and I met in the Facebook few months ago. We were 1000s of km apart and away from our motherland; Umedh is now settled in Canada and I am in Malaysia. Still we share a big laughter chatting about those fighting times.

Krishantha, was a soft spoken over-sized kid. We used to call him by various names referring to his body shape. Other than a grinning return phrase there were no consequences or hard feelings among us.

Ohh, the nostalgic past took me way away from the main topic.  Anyway, what I needed to emphasize was, TODAY at any school in Sri Lanka, what if the son of a small-time businessman....

get into a verbal brawl with the son of the Prime-minister...?

get into a wild street fight with the son of a Minister.....?

or call the son of a Minister..."Thadi Bada"....?

OK let's come back to JR's Mahaweli and MR's mega projects.

As Grade 6 students we had to learn the capacity of each reservoir, the output of each power station, the country that made major contribution to each part of the project, the names of  agricultural sectors (still remember Mahaweli H-kalapaya) and what is the planned cultivation in each sector etc. 

We were made to memorize these facts and figures about 6-7 months prior to the starting of the project. In parallel with the inaugural ceremony there was a quiz completion among kids. 

Even at the beginning, the whole country knew what they were going to get at the completion of the project. Despite many corruptions, underhand jobs, siphoning of funds etc. etc. finally the people got what they were promised. 

After 35 years, under MR regime, an international port was built up in Hambanthota. Even 6 months after the port was opened for service, Ministers of the government swore that there is no sea-bed rock hindering the movement of ships. Finally a rock was removed at a cost of "mere" 48 million USD, as per the statement of the Chairman, Ports Authority. 

No one knows, even today,  how many ships will reach the harbour next year, despite ministers were boasting in the volumes of 200 ships per day before the opening ceremony. 

No one could anticipate the ragged conditions of the turbines at Norochcholei power station which caused the plant to be closed down almost 30 times since the initiation of operations, a couple of years ago. 

No one could (or dared to) tell the public that there could be staggering losses for the next 10 years when Mihin Lanka was inaugurated few years ago.

There were no details of how many planes that will reach Mattala during the first 3 months, firs year, first five years etc. by the time the airport was opened. 

...and the list goes on....

Mahwelli project was carried out with donations and long-term soft loans. Most of the MR projects are done with rapidly approved, medium-term loans at quite high interest rates with short grace-periods. They are categorized as commercial loans, of which the payback is expected from the income generated from the project. 

I really doubt whether the GoSL will be dare enough to do a simple calculation and tell the public; how much income that we need to generate in paying back these loans without borrowing more money at an even higher interest rates in doing so.

Even if the GoSL reveals these statistics, I wonder whether the people in the country have the guts to digest such facts......!!!!

Ignoring is better than understanding 
in a country with anesthetized public.