End Of A Bad Joke, aka Voet-Lights
This year’s Voet Lights dinner, our worn-out legal fraternity’s annual Bacchanalian homage to a famous Dutch (Burgher!) Jurist, can be considered the show that brought down the house.
It was so boring, the organisation lacklustre and the speeches so mediocre that no self respecting person, leave alone a professional, would hereafter part with good money for a repeat performance.
Year after year we lawyers gather at the Voet Lights awaiting the promised land of wit and repartee the legal eagles are reputed to possess, only to be served rather crude and sloppy jokes at the expense of a few lawyers and judges. This is all fine in a normal professional organisation. But the inner workings of the local Voet Lights Society are shrouded in mystery.
Since it was revived in the mid 1980s Voet Lights has been a monopoly of Ranil Wickremesinghe’s UNP faction. Of course now persons like Upul Jayasuriya and Serasinghe, despite repeated and abject veneration, have been evicted from the temple by god Ranil. But the rest, Ratnatunga, Ronald Perera, Lakshman Perera, Haradasa, Weeraratne, Samararatne, Meddagoda, the core Voet Light inner cabinet, are devoted worshippers of Ranil Wickremesinghe.
This year’s show proved to us that this lot are as intellectually bankrupt and are of very ordinary skills as their leader. The Voet Light show must either change, particularly by opening it up to the much larger profession or close for good.
A Response: On Patriotism And The Oxford Reception To MR
In your edition of last Sunday, a regular columnist has this to say about me:
“Even Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke who pretends to a degree of urbanity despite the company he keeps and those whose cause he is constantly espousing, aka Douglas Devananda among others, has been provoked into dropping his guard and endorsing the crass efforts to accuse any having the temerity to question Mahinda Rajapaksa’s infallibility. He invokes the now-familiar accusation that those who do not rally to the Presidential cause are traitors to the nation.” (‘The Hysteria Continues’).
If anyone is hysterical, it seems to be your columnist. I leave the reader to judge the accuracy of his accusation by reproducing my original remarks which seem to have occasioned his quite blatant distortion. If this is somehow not the passage that roused his ire, I urge him to reproduce the text that did. Writing in the wake of the London episode, I wrote:
“I don’t know about you but what struck me most about the recent drama in London was the ubiquity of the Tiger flag, with its 32 bullets and crossed rifles… This was a protest by Tiger supporters, waving the Tiger flag… It also tells me that if you applaud or rejoice in the reception accorded to Mahinda Rajapaksa in London you are lining up wittingly or unwittingly, with the Tigers, because those were the only two sides visible and present in the field. Sometimes the game is zero-sum: when push comes to shove, those are the only choices available, and each of us has to make ours.” (‘London’s Lessons Learnt’, The Island Dec 5th)
Your columnist seems to have imbibed a little too much of the season’s cheer when he read — and grossly misunderstood — what I had written.
He simply must learn to refute an argument instead of misrepresenting it.
Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka