aka Sachi Sri Kantha
September 20, 2022
Prof. Michael Roberts (b. 1938), a Sri Lankan historian cum anthropologist with some name recognition, currently residing in Australia, and is a contributor to the scholarship on V. Prabhakaran, LTTE and Tamil militant movement in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, he has chosen to specialize in negative portrayal of Prabhakaran and LTTE. Lack of proficiency in Tamil language has been one of the drawbacks of his research career. As such, what he adopts as his modus operandi for his analysis has been to heavily rely on the coverage of LTTE by Tamil journalists such as D.B.S. Jeyaraj, Muralidhar Reddy (of the House of Hindu group) who have projected a jaundiced eye view on LTTE and Prabhakaran.
Recently, Prof. Roberts have honored me with an appellation ‘Tangential Tamil Sniper [https://thuppahis.com/2022/09/13/exposing-sachi-sri-kantha-a-tangential-tamil-sniper/]. In the final paragraph of his commentary, Prof. Roberts had written “My purpose here is to brand Sachi Sri Kantha as an assassin in the digital world, one who ‘haunts’ the columns of Thuppahi as well. It would be simple for me as Editor to debar his commentary. But, then, the readers of Thuppahi would remain unaware of the verbal assassins out there in the Big Bad World — inclusive of personnel like Satchi who have adopted a form of tactic in Velupillai Pirapaharan’s book: hit them verbally …. with tangential wordplay.” Wow! What a dubious honor to be branded as ‘an assassin in the digital world’. Please check the dirty metaphors spilled by Prof. Roberts here. In my view, this is the patented Sri Lankan method of tackling an opponent. If one doesn’t agree with another’s expressed point of view that attempts to correct the bias in text, simply employ the method of ‘name-calling’ as a threat card to muffle criticism. It is so unfortunate that even reputed scholars like Michael Roberts have been trained to use it. This is the same kind of logical reasoning used by Lakshman Kadirgamar (1932-2005) and his acolytes at the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2004, to tag me as a ‘terrorist’ to restrict my travels.
What I found amusing was, though the commentary was about me, rather than using my photo for visual illustration, Prof. Roberts had opted to use a photo of Prabhakaran pointing a gun at the camera (i.e., photographer)! The last time I literally touched a gun (a long shot gun, owned by my maternal grandfather Arumugam Thiyagarajah [1910-1972], for hunting purposes) was when I was 6, at Thachchadampan, Mullaitivu in 1959. Since 1974, after I developed a taste in expressing pungent views as a Tamil in writing, unlike Prabhakaran, pen (figuratively) has been my weapon of choice rather than gun to ‘fight’ my battles. I’m pleased that my writing does unsettle some folks, even those of the caliber of Prof. Michael Roberts.
For the benefit of my fans and readers of Sangam site, I provide below two items [courtesy: Prof. Michael Roberts’s Tuppahi’s Blog]
Item 1: the complete text of Prof. Roberts’s commentary,
Item 2: my correspondence on this commentary, with an elderly Sinhalese gentleman named N. Goonewardena.
Item 1: Prof. Roberts’ original commentary [Sept. 13, 2022]
In presenting an article on Duncan White’s achievement at the World Olympic Games held in London in August 1948, I limited my focus to the 1940s. Sachi Sri Kantha in Japan has often entered comments on Thuppahi items and on this occasion ventured a point-scoring set of remarks on this item. At times these comments have proceeded tangentially to topics straddling the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Sachi’s remarks on one occasion have already drawn a short riposte from one “Charlie K” (who is not a Sri Lankan).
On this occasion relating to the Duncan White achievement, writing from the political stance of a Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist (and conceivably that of an “Eelamist”), Sachi thumps the tale of Burgher outmigration from Ceylon and Lanka from the 1950s onwards. That set of events is a topic that has drawn a substantial literature over the years. It is, therefore, a huge topic – one which demands attention to the political processes in the island at the heart of governmental power struggles and including the anti-Tamil ‘riots’ of 1958, 1977 and 1983 which induced Burghers, Tamils, Sinhalese and other Sri Lankans to migrate – all intricate topics (which I, among others, have touched on at various moments).
The process of emigration from Ceylon and Lanka that commenced in the post-1956 period and gained increasing momentum – a momentum that is still in train now in 2022 – is an important topic, but one that my piece on Duncan White could not conceivably address without a major digression which would have distracted readers away from its main focus: namely, White’s magnificent race at the London Olympic Games in London in August 1948. Sachi’s attempt at point-scoring via tangential excursion is simply ridiculous.
Let me indulge in the same tangential trajectory by point-scoring against the Sachi Sri Kantha …. yes “the” Sachi Sri Kantha …. a form of ‘knighthood’ recognising his sniper-killing work.
We should not forget that emigration from the British colonial outpost in Ceylon commenced from the mid-19th century because of its location in the Indian Ocean and the pathways of ships plying across those seas – from Africa, Europe & Arabia to Malaysia, Australia and the Pacific Ocean. Thiru Arumugam, Earlson Forbes and the late Stanley Sparkes are among those of us in Australia who have documented the migration of pearl divers and labourers who moved to the northern territories of Australia from the late 19th century. Nor should we forget the movement of Sinhalese traders, usually Karava (for example the BP de Silva and Warnakulasuriya families) to strategic spots such as Zanzibar and Singapore besides Thursday Island off Australia.
To these trajectories one can add the force of Empire-loyalism and adventurism which motivated young men to enlist in the British armed forces engaged in fighting Germany in World War One. Let me stress that: motivated by a sense of adventure and by Empire-loyalism in World War I in 1914-18. Among such men were several personnel from Trinity – the school that educated Lakshman Kadirgamar and Duncan White.
This pattern of a few brave souls from the Ceylonese middle class joining and supporting the British war effort during World War I and II continued in the period 1946-55. This form of outmigration was also boosted by the females who married British, Kiwi, Australian and American servicemen who had been stationed in Ceylon in the 1940s and then migrated with their husbands. These ‘currents’ may have been little streams in numerical terms. BUT they indicate the impact of “Westernization.” That process was — and remains – a “cultural impact” as much as an “economic one”.
Located as I am now in Australia, I am motivated by this ‘excursion’ to seek information on the Ceylonese personnel who migrated to Australia or New Zealand in the period 1946 to 1956 – before the Sinhala Only campaign of the SLFP-MEP coalition swept to power (with all its implications for the advantages possessed by the English-proficient middle classes & upper classes). These migrants were altogether different from the servant class of the “Alice Nona” category who were brought to Australia by their well-to-do employers. I invite grounded biographical information on these early migrants to Australia and New Zealand. Their numbers may have been relatively miniscule in comparison with the flows in the 1957-72 period and that post 1973 or so – after the White Australia Policy was jettisoned – but that trickle is nevertheless of historical interest.
So: Sachi’s remark has embraced a large topic. My purpose here is to brand Sachi Sri Kantha as an assassin in the digital world, one who ‘haunts’ the columns of Thuppahi as well. It would be simple for me as Editor to debar his commentary. But, then, the readers of Thuppahi would remain unaware of the verbal assassins out there in the Big Bad World — inclusive of personnel like Satchi who have adopted a form of tactic in Velupillai Pirapaharan’s book: hit them verbally …. with tangential wordplay.
Thiru Arumugam: “The Devonshire reaches Queensland in 1882,” 18 November 2019, https://thuppahis.com/2019/11/18/the-devonshire-reaches-queensland-with-500-cingalese-coolies-in-1882/
Richard Boyle: BP de Silva: The Royal Jeweller of South-east Asia, Singapore, B. P. de Silva Investments, 1989.
Barbara Crossette: “The Burgher Exodus from Sri Lanka: A Reading in 1988,” 19 November 2020, https://thuppahis.com/2020/11/19/the-burgher-exodus-from-sri-lanka-a-reading-in-1988/ … orig. in New York Times
Earlson Forbes: “The White Australia Policy Ceylonese Burghers and Alice Nona,” 5 September 2012, https://thuppahis.com/2012/09/05/the-white-australia-policy-ceylonese-burghers-and-alice-nona/ & The Ceylankan, vol. 59/3 August 2012.
Earlson Forbes: “Entering Australia from Ceylon: Burghers and Amahs first to penetrate White Australia,” 30 November 2021, https://thuppahis.com/2021/11/30/entering-australia-from-ceylon-burghers-and-amahs-first-to-penetrate-white-australia/
Michael Roberts: “Celebrating Duncan White in Pictures and Words,” 23 August 2022, https://thuppahis.com/2022/08/23/celebrating-duncan-white-in-pictures-and-words/
Stanley J. Sparkes: Sri Lankan Migrants in Queensland in the Nineteenth Century, Brisbane 1988.
Stanley Sparkes & Anna Shnukal: “The Sri Lankan Settlers of Thursday Island,” Elanka Admin, 3 April 2020, https://www.elanka.com.au/the-sri-lankan-settlers-of-thursday-island-by-stanley-j-sparkes-and-anna-shnukal/
- Swan: “Sinhalese Emigration to Queensland in the Nineteenth Century: A Note,” Journal of the Royal Australian historical society, vol67/1, pp 55-63.
- Sunil and K. Ratnayake: “Unanswered questions about Sri Lankan foreign minister’s assassination,” World Socialistweb site https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2005/08/sril-a26.html) for more
Wickrema Weerasooria: Links Between Sri Lanka and Australia,
 “Charlie K” deemed Sachi’s remarks to be a form of “twisted debate and focusing on Sachi’s theories about the Kadirgamar assassination indicated that “Kadirgamar was an intelligent person who had every right to make his own choices in life which could never justify his assassination. There are no shades of grey to assassinations” …. [in https://thuppahis.com/2022/08/23/celebrating-duncan-white-in-pictures-and-words/%5D.
 The attacks on Tamils in the Sinhala-majority areas of the island were such that I followed Newton Gunasinghe, Charles Abeysekera and others in deeming the events a “pogrom”. I was slapped on the knuckles by Professor KM de Silva for doing so. I a have continued to stand by my position. See Roberts, “Agony”, in Nethra, 2003.
 As most people are aware, at the 1956 General Elections the MEP coalition led by SWRD Bandaranaike and his SLFP swept to power on a “Sinhala Only” campaign – one that was founded on a groundswell of support from the lower middle classes as well as elements among the working-class Sinhalese. The political rhetoric included fervent criticism of the Western-educated and the “trouser johnnies as well as the advantages accruing to those versed in English. The spurt in Burgher migration could be said to have commenced then (although the migration to Australia was restricted by that country’s strict “White Australia” policy).
 See the items listed in the Bibliography attached to this article.
 During his fieldwork research in Galle during the 1970s Bruce Kapferer and his research aide Chandra Vitharana unearthed details re these families’ entrepreneurial ‘investments’ in Zanzibar, Singapore and Australia. My research work on elite formation among the Karava also garnered some data on these connections.
 See Earlson Forbes 2012.
 “By 1966, the Sri Lankan community in Victoria had risen to 3,126, most of them Burghers. The end of the White Australia Policy in 1973 saw increasing numbers of Sinhalese and Tamil settlers in Victoria. By 1976, 9,061 Victorians were of Sri Lankan birth” https://origins.museumsvictoria.com.au/countries/sri-lanka/
Item 2: My correspondence on this commentary, with an elderly Sinhalese gentleman named N. Goonewardena.
9 responses to “Exposing Sachi Sri Kantha: A Tangential Tamil Sniper”
Sachi Sri Kantha, September 13, 2022
Michael, Thanks a lot for the so-called ‘Exposure’, and ‘branding’ me as an ‘assassin in the digital world’. I hardly expected it.
I like your tag ‘Tangential Tamil sniper’. Yes, I’m a Tamil. I cannot do anything about this. I’m also thankful that you allow me to be ‘heard’ in the digital world.
Prior to you, journalist Mervyn de Silva, did allow me some space in the ‘Lanka Guardian’ during 1990s, in the ‘Letter to the Editor’ column to express me ‘Tamil point of view’. I’m simply presenting my ‘Tamil point of view’ in your blog. Nothing more. My sole purpose in writing to your blog is to reduce the prevailing bias factor, in your coverage of recent Sri Lankan history. Tell me frankly, what is your fluency in Tamil language? – reading, writing and speaking.
It would have pleased me more, if you had used my photo, instead of V. Prabhakaran, pointing a gun. I’m sure, that you would have heard the proverb ‘Pen is mightier than the sword.’
Goonewardena, September 13, 2022
I have pointed out Sachi Sri Kantha’s aberrations quite some time ago. But, then, I was accused of slandering him by no less a person than the editor of this blog himself.
Sometimes, history repeats itself!
Goonewardena, September 13, 2022
I wish to point out my views on the Burgher community in Sri Lanka, although very few of them are left in the island now. I will be very brief.
I have found Burghers to be able to integrate fully and happily in to our country’s social fabric. I have always found them to be simple, and willing to enjoy life when they could. Yet, they were never morose when the tide was against them, or they were in financial difficulties. They took it as it came.
I have never heard a Burgher utter any comments about racial frictions in the country, or be found to be fanatically following religions.
On a very personal note, I must say, that I admired very much the beauty of the Burgher lasses during our young days. They were the ones we really wanted to dance with at parties, though, often unsuccessful because of the great competition to partner them.
Duncan White did not win a silver medal for the Burghers. He won it for Ceylon, and I am sure that is the way he would have looked at it then also.
Wherever they may be scattered in the world now, I salute the Burghers of Sri Lanka, and say without any reservation that Sri Lanka is poorer for their absence.
Sachi Sri Kantha, September 16, 2022
This is a straight comment to Mr. N. Goonewardena. In a previous criticism about my interest in Buddhism, you had shown pretense as if you own a patent on Buddhist scriptures. May I know, in which of the Buddhist scriptures, it is written that ‘admire the beauty of the Burgher lasses during young days’? Please clarify this. If you are not aware, my wife of 35 years is a practising Buddhist!
Goonewardena, September 16, 2022
ARE YOU GOING MAD, SACHI SRI KANTYHA? Where the hell have I ever referred to Buddhism in any one of my posts? Yes, you are definitely mad.
As for Buddhism and Burgher lasses, don’t try to show that you are knowledgeable on any of them. You don’t know a damn about Buddhism, and you don’t have a clue about the Burghers, either. As for Buddhism and Burgher lasses, I have sorted it out my way, and I do not need a Nosey Parker like yourself to interpret a matter that you need not, and should not, try to interpret, because I had mentioned that it was a “very personal” comment. Did you not know the meaning of “very personal”, Nosey Parker?
You should see a “shrinker” immediately. For that, our thoughts are with you, Nosey Parker.
Goonewardena, September 16, 2022
I forgot to tell you. How long you have been a practicing Buddhist, or practicing cricketer does not matter at all. These practices can vary from person to person, and situation to situation, and however much you “practice” you may still never be a good Buddhist or a good cricketer. It is the end result or outcome that matters. So, if you claim that your wife is a good Buddhist, the first person she should have resurrected is you, because you need every bit of help others can give. Since she has not been able to even make you a person with reason, and impartiality, I have to conclude that she has been practicing (for 35 years) nowhere near what is expected of a good Buddhist.
Practice does not make perfect, the saying goes, Sachi!.
Sachi Sri Kantha, September 17, 2022
Mr. Goonawardena, thank you very much for your wisdom, and medical advice. I refrain from prolonging this debate with a person who in his days of senility had forgotten what he had corresponded merely two months ago and scribbles nonsense for his defence.
As per your question, ‘Where the hell have I ever referred to Buddhism in any one of my posts?’, kindly refer to the exchanges we had to the feature ‘Go Home Ranil..Astute Pedlar Opportunism’ (July 16) and to my query to a comment made by Prof. Chandre Dharmawardena (July 17). I still wait to hear from Prof. Dharmawardena – for my original query on, what Lord Buddha ‘said’.
Goonewardena, September 18, 2022
Dear Mr. Sachi Sri Kantha,
This is the last time I will ever respond to you because by now everybody in this blog would have turned from what was for some time your entertaining comedy to outright indignation now of those “impartial” and “unbiased” “knowledge” you display by the continuous posts that you send to this blog.
You are dead right! I don’t have any patent to Buddhist scriptures. Scriptures? Sachi, did you say, “Buddhist scriptures”? Didn’t your wife who you claim has been a “practicing Buddhist” for 35 years ever tell you that unlike the Bible or the Koran, there are no Buddhist scriptures? If not, I am now beginning to doubt whether her practice for 35 years has been limited to offering flowers, lighting incense, and clasping her hands and mechanically saying a few stanzas in front of an image of the Buddha. Yes, Sachi, while I don’t have a patent right to anything in Buddhism, and I know only little of the Dhamma (a little I know very well and believe in fully, despite not even offering flowers and murmuring some stanzas every day in front of an image, or even sighting a temple, for god knows how long) I am knowledgeable enough to know that there are no Buddhist scriptures like in Christianity, and Islam. The closest to scriptures in Buddhism is the Tripitaka (please ask your wife what this is.
It certainly is not a camera tripod) which is only a COLLECTION OF WORKS, BUT NOT SCRIPTURES.
My parting farewell swansong to you Sachi Sri Kantha is this: While I don’t have a patent to anything related to Buddhism, I am now having a patent pending for the ability to identify stupid idiots!
Sachi Sri Kantha, September 18, 2022
- Mr. N. Goonewardena, I take your word positively, that you will stop writing about your wisdom on Buddhism, to me. Unlike you, I will be civil in my correspondence.
I provide excerpts below from chapter 14 (The Buddha teaches the Doctrine), Part 3, from Andre Ferdinand Herold’s book, ‘The Life of Buddha’, originally published in French, in 1922, and translated into English by Paul C. Blum, in 1927.
“The Master was growing old. When he was in Rajagriha, he called the monks together, and he spoke to them at great length:
‘Monks, do not forget the precepts I have given you. Observe them carefully. You will assemble twice a month, and you will confess your transgressions to one another. If you feel that you have done evil, and you keep it to yourself, you will be guilty of a lie. Admit your transgressions: the confession will bring you rest and peace. The four gravest sins a monk can commit are, as you know: to have intercourse with a woman; to steal anything whatsoever; to kill a human being or instigate a murder; and to pretend to possess a superhuman power that he knows he does not possess. A monk who has committed one of these four sins must be expelled from the community. Monks, do not bandy words with women, and do not corrupt them. Do not bear false witness against your brothers. Do not try to sow discord in the community. Do not strive to evade a reprimand. Never lie, and insult no one. Observe carefully. O monks, all the precepts I have given you.””
Mr. Goonewardena, will you notice the penultimate sentence by the Master, quoted above? ‘Never lie and insult no one.’ If you are a true Buddhist, you wouldn’t do this.
As for your twisted views on Buddhist scriptures, here is a link for you to study.
Finally, when you have that ‘stupid idiot’ patent registered in any country you reside, I’ll be pleased to have an authentic copy of it, for my reading.
I did send two emails to Prof. Roberts. The first one was on Sept. 13th. The text was as follows:
Greetings. I had responded briefly to your portrayal of me as ‘Tangential Tamil Sniper’, which you had promptly posted. Thank you very much.
As per your accusation, of my ‘tangential, irrelevant comments’, allow me to respond a little more. As much as possible, I manage to comment on the main article’s misses or errors. Though, few other correspondents needle me by calling ‘names’, I have resisted the temptation to retort in kind. I prefer to keep the discussion civil, unlike the ‘Reader’s Comment’ forum of ‘Colombo Telegraph‘ blogs.
As per your feature on Duncan White, my comment was particularly related to your addition of the assassination of Kadirgamar, by LTTE sniper. This bit, I considered irrelevant, because you had omitted two references, not written by LTTE fans – but by Sinhalese journalists and Kadirgamar’s daughter, in your citations.
My objective has been to provide the Tamil point of view. You may tag my contribution as ‘Tamil nationalist’ or ‘Eelamist’. I do recognize that quite a number of your postings on LTTE and Prabhakaran are biased, based on anti-LTTE scribes like that of D.B.S.Jeyaraj, and those from the ‘House of Hindu’. That’s why I asked your fluency in Tamil. If you cannot read, write or speak Tamil, Michael you are missing quite a lot of original material, and you depend only on second hand sources. This is the bias, your writing is sprinkled with.
For your info, I provide only one quotation from Bertrand Russell’s autobiography, on this vital issue of bias, to my defence. Russell had written,
“To my mind, a man without a bias cannot write interesting history – if, indeed, such a man exists. I regard it as mere humbug to pretend to lack of bias. Moreover, a book, like any other work, should be held together by its point of view. This is why a book made up of essays by various authors is apt to be less interesting as an entity than a book by one man. Since I do not admit that a person without bias exists, I think the best that can be done with a large-scale history is to admit one’s bias and for dissatisfied readers to look for other writers to express an opposite bias. Which bias is nearer to the truth must be left to posterity.” [Autobiography, Unwin Paperbacks, London, 1987 reprint, pp. 465-466].
Sachi Sri Kantha
P.S.: I don’t mind, if you opt to post this, as a rejoinder of my comment on ‘Tangential Tamil sniper’.”
The second email to Michael was sent on Sept. 18th. The text was as follows:
Greetings. Thanks again, for continuing to post my rebuttal to Mr. N. Goonewardena. I do appreciate it. In fact, as I had written in my last submission, I wish Prof. Chandre Dharmawardena will provide a response, to my query on what Buddha ‘said’.
Your thought provoking commentary on my writings – ‘Tangential Tamil Sniper’ did refresh my thinking, on ‘Why I write?’. Briefly, I had answered to you, because ‘I present the Tamil point of view’ and wish to reduce ‘bias’ in your postings.
There are some more, which you may not know. Previously, I had written two essays, on ‘Why I write?’, to the sangam site (NY). If you are interested to read, I provide the links to these essays. Here it is.
Why I write – Jan 24, 2011 https://sangam.org/2011/01/Why_Write.php?uid=4227
Why I write – a sequel. – June 2, 2017 https://sangam.org/write-sequel/
Best regards. Sachi”
As of now, I haven’t heard from him.
I can understand why you would be upset at being called an assassin. However, I think that it is important to consider that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I think that it is important to be able to take criticism constructively, and to try to see the other person’s point of view. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.