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Most Sri Lankans have been brought up in the shadow of civic-minded parents who have taught them the importance of respect, social order and hierarchy.  The most striking aspect of Sri Lankan life is that the majority of its people have not lost their cultural identity as a result of more than 400 years of colonisation.

The big brouhaha, or more precisely the bra-ha-ha, over the Enrique Iglesias concert appears to have enraged President MaithripalaSirisena to wish severe punishment on the organisers.  Apparently the culture shock  of local women fans throwing their bras at the pop icon and storming the stage to kiss him has been all been too much to swallow for Sri Lanka’s ultra-conservative Chief Executive.

So much so in fact, that he suggested that the show’s promoters should be  “whipped with toxic stingray tails.” History records that the punishment of stingray tail lashing had been administered on hard-core criminals in medieval Sri Lanka. Indeed, it has become a common expression for severe penalty among the local populace.

“I don’t advocate that these uncivilized women who removed their brassieres should be beaten with poisonous stingray tails, but those who organized such an event should be,” the shaken traditionalist Sirisena had said according to wire service reports.

The resident suggested that the government would be stricter about allowing pop stars who stir up female fans to perform in his country in the future. “I want to stress that these indecent concerts should never receive authorization again in Sri Lanka,” he said.  Sirisena also complained about the high cost of tickets, which were said to range from Rs. 5,000, to Rs. 35,000 and Rs. 50,000.

The show started on a sour note with a long unacceptable delay for which no adequate explanation had been forthcoming.  The fiasco became worse confounded when a total lapse in security arrangements was unable to prevent VIP enclosures being stormed by cheaper priced ticket holders.

Most Sri Lankans have been brought up in the shadow of civic-minded parents who have taught them the importance of respect, social order and hierarchy.  The most striking aspect of Sri Lankan life is that the majority of its people have not lost their cultural identity as a result of more than 400 years of colonisation.

Besides, our intrinsic social values are fairly unique as far as most Asian cultures go. But the country’s socio-cultural framework, influenced largely by Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, is seen by many as one of the strongest ties to retaining strong family relationships.

This is undoubtedly because of the ancient religious traditions, where people’s lives centred mainly round the temple, the kovil, the community and the family. But sadly, many believe these qualities are wearing away, largely because the younger generation chooses to identify with Western concepts.

No one in his right mind would go as far as to say that all Western values are decadent. But stuck with the open economy and in the rush towards financial success, people are forgetting the importance of all those attributes that are admirable and decent.

President Sirisena, may have grown up and been nurtured in a charming countrified environment and imbued with the best in traditionally cultural values. But on the flip side he has also been in the national political cesspit for some four decades or so. As such, it would seem logical that he should have been aware that such ‘uncivilized ’ gigs were the order of the day as far as new-wave entertainment is concerned.

Everyone who is someone who has kept up with the latest trends in pop culture entertainment would have realised the hysteria pop stars such as Iglesias can generate. Given the new wave alcohol and drugs-induced ambiance at events such as these concerts, did not the arbiters of our morals envisage what such a show would excite among impressionable fans?

Clearly, the Iglesias performance dubbed ‘Sex and Love’ tour was a predictable phenomenon judging by the pop icon’s previous presentations. Analysts suspect that when a punch-drunk government is against the ropes any inconsequential scapegoat is a welcome diversion to play to the public gallery. And so it was with the rock concert where Sirisena, with the cracks clearly appearing in his hybrid administration, jumps on an insignificant issue to vent his spleen with seemingly righteous indignation.

Surely there are so many burning national issues to be addressed rather than creating a ludicrous moralistic subterfuge in the hope of taking the minds of the populace off the fact that the country is in a sorry mess both politically and economically. The new hard times are much more in evidence than ever before, affecting the lives of millions of ordinary people. There have been no measures aimed at cushioning the impact of inflation on the hard-pressed public who have suffered increasingly intolerable financial burdens either.

From a personal point of view nothing would have induced me to be part of the controversial rock concert audience. But then again I found it all hilariously entertaining.  For instance I am still wondering whether those liberated women who flung their bras at the man sprinting across the stage  in a banian may have possibly be attempting to trip him up. After all who could ever deny they were genuine booby traps.

The hysteric females seemed so uninhibited in their excitement to get things off their chest as if they were bursting at the seams. Whatever one may say about their larking around they made sure that they were within the bounds of the law.  After all, indecent exposure cannot be stretched to include wearing no underwear.

That could be obviously why the cops did not have the legal authority to make a bust!  Perhaps the Sirisena administration would in Taliban style decree that the well-endowed topless Sigiriya lasses cover up for the sake of retaining our national culture.  But from the viewpoint of those brash, bosom buddies who divested themselves of their firm foundations and had a great fling they did in no way breach the law. Unless of course our moralist law-makers go as far as to have more undercover agents recruited.
From a political perspective it was a welcome diversion to brew a storm in a D-Cup.
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