Did you know what ‘contextomy’ meant?
I must confess I did not. At least not until last week, when I dug
into the idea of what I thought was ‘quoting out of context’. This has
now become a favourite pastime of many among us in our country, where
only headlines and highlights are read and only bits and pieces of what
is said here and there, is heard.
Not bothering to understand or hear out concepts and ideas in full,
these ‘readers’ and ‘listeners’ arrive at or rather ‘jump’ to
conclusions, about what they imagine has been said or have been heard.
Often than not, these selected ‘quotes’ are far from what the writer or
the speaker, had intended to present or portray. Often than not, the
opinions formed also represent ‘party lines’ and/or prejudices, embedded
in the minds of those that form them.
I had to search for what to call this ‘disease’, having read a
comment in an Internet Blog referring to an interview I had given and an
article I had written a few months ago. Interestingly, I learnt that the
terminology used to describe the phenomenon is ‘Contextomy’.
An integrated resort
The intent of what I said and wrote about, was to suggest to decision
makers for Sri Lanka Tourism, to use the concept of an ‘Integrated
Gaming Resort’ in a specific area (a limited portion of the over 4,000
acres of land, it had acquired at Kalpitiya).
My contention is that some of this land can be spared for such
activity, without touching other areas of it there and elsewhere, which
are in a relative sense, ecologically, culturally and socially more
plan is required to attract more tourists. File photo
The fact is that most land in these areas is threatened by the impact
of rising sea levels as a result of ongoing global warming. This is
because the location contours of most of Kalpitiya peninsula and the
adjacent islets are similar to that of the Maldives and may have a span
of about 50 to 60 years for its productive utilisation, before it will
begin to feel the heat of inundation by rising sea levels.
The other was the proximity of the area to the International Airport
at Katunayake. Access to Kalpitiya by sea (including fast-ferries), rail
and road is easy and the time spent in rapid transportation is
reasonable. It also offers routes that do not take gaming custom all
over the country but specifically from the airport to the resort area
and back, upon entry and exit.
The idea was to suggest a pragmatic and rational model for Sri Lanka
Tourism to achieve its stated objective of having several millions of
tourists and earn foreign exchange rapidly, which in turn can be used
for the country’s development and for conservation of the country’s
sensitive and valuable resource base.
It was to ensure that any denudation of resources will be contained
within a presently barren designated area, without imposing negative
impacts on all our other rich cultural, natural and heritage resources.
It was to prevent millions of tourists roaming all over our beautiful
country threatening the thresholds and carrying capacities at existing
and other new sites and the resources therein.
My intent was to present a practical option to what Sri Lanka was
seeking in earning much needed forex through tourism development,
focussing on a market segment of tourists who are avid gamers or
casino-goers that mainly consist of the affluent East, Southeast Asian
and Indian tourists. My experience observing operations in areas like
Genting Islands in Malaysia, Sands Resort in Singapore, City of Dreams
in Macau or at Hotels in Kathmandu, Nepal is that it is possible to
contain several millions of gamers in limited areas and within buildings
where artificial environments are created for them specifically for that
activity. It was not to be the models of Vegas or Reno in the USA, or at
reservations where native inhabitants of that land, were providing
concessions to operate gaming resorts.
The Blogger referred to earlier, had picked on my thoughts at random
in bits and pieces or without reading it in full and had excelled in the
practise of ‘contextomy’. He or she had presented it to justify what he
or she wanted to achieve, in passing judgement on what was to be a
pragmatic solution on how to handle millions of visitors to Sri Lanka,
while ensuring that we are otherwise able conduct an upmarket, high
yielding and quality tourism operation.
The position taken was that my proposition would lead to the
destruction of an ecologically sensitive area, without understanding the
rationale behind it, ignoring that it indeed is an attempt at preserving
and better managing our resources. In ‘contextomy’ terms, it was an
attempt to discredit its real intent and to serve as justification of a
‘position’ the Blogger wishes to hold; i.e. that the government’s recent
legislation to regulate gaming activities was undesirable.
Drawing room gaming
In my article and at several other forums where this proposition was
discussed, I touched on what hypocrites we can be as a nation, when it
comes to dealing with such issues. While, huffing and puffing on the
ills of regulated and contained integrated casino resorts for tourism,
most among us, sit together each night in front of our television
screens, often with children by our side, taking on the gaming pursuit
we know as the lottery.
Coming in all forms, names and colours, with sponsors and
advertisers’ messages supporting the events, the spinning of numbered
ping-pong balls by bilingual presenters, make both the ‘sweep’ ticket
purchaser and the dealer win hundreds of thousands and even millions
worth hefty cash prizes. The sellers of these game sweep tickets are all
over public places and often come door to door. In effect, it had become
a national past time, as much as the ‘Turf Accountants’ outfits and
‘Bookies’, that enable locals punters day in day out, to seek fast
riches by betting on horses that run races in other countries.
End the trap
What was proposed by me was to limit gaming at exclusive Integrated
Resorts to visitors and not to nationals and to have them, contained in
an area where there are no schools, places of worship and other local
community activities, where our children get exposed to them. The
incomes we generate from these activities can support Sri Lanka end the
trap we are in, where most of our hundreds of thousands of our mothers
and sisters in low income groups are taking on employment as house-maids
and in other menial jobs in the Middle-East and other countries at huge
social and personal cost to themselves, their families and the nation.
Please do not get me wrong, I am not suggesting that they all be
employed in the gaming resorts. What I suggesting is that incomes
generated therein, be utilised for providing alternative opportunities
for them, so they do not need to leave our shores for these pursuits.
In my opinion, it is time that we in Sri Lanka take on this new phase
of our development shunning prejudices, taking on ‘party lines’ in
evaluating and understanding options before us. But do it with deep
study, avoiding ‘contextomy’ and think and act rationally and
pragmatically to build a nation that we all can be proud of, where we
can seek true reconciliation and lasting peace.