has provisions to check Tiger dominance
By D. B. S. Jeyaraj
Some readers (Dayan Jayatilleke for
one) at least may recall that this column was one of the earliest to
be critical of efforts to forge a joint mechanism between the
roar - against each other
goes to town with SLPA funds
is rotten in the state of Sri Lanka
wants 'true freedom'
monks hijacking Buddhism
stations at President's House
rise and fall of a Sandanaya
victims' wrath over JVP's antics
search for peace and a race for arms in the sub continent (.....World
has provisions to check Tiger dominance
Pirapaharan and President Chandrika Kumaratunga
By D. B. S. Jeyaraj
Some readers (Dayan Jayatilleke for
one) at least may recall that this column was one of the earliest to
be critical of efforts to forge a joint mechanism between the
government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to cater
to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the tsunami affected
regions of the North-Eastern Province. This column was concerned
about the powers to be given to the LTTE through the proposed joint
While not objecting to the principle of
sharing power with the LTTE in this respect, this column objected to
the Tigers being given authority in areas outside their sphere of
control and wanted the LTTE to be restricted only to their areas of
control. It was also urged that the international community remain
firm this time and insist through Colombo that the LTTE accept
universal standards of human rights, pluralism and democracy in
their administrative sphere.
These views were expressed as far back
as January 30th in an article headed "Tigers play for high
post-tsunami stakes." It must be stated that very little of the
form or content of the proposed mechanism was known at the time the
article was written. Much of what was stated then is relevant in the
current context where the envisaged joint mechanism now known as
Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS) has become
the eye of a political storm. Substantial excerpts from that article
are given below:
"A remarkable change, almost a sea
change seems to have come over in the LTTE approach towards current
issues. The LTTE is now very flexible on the question of setting up
a post-tsunami structure for the north-east. While wanting to head
the envisaged authority, the Tigers are prepared to accept three
joint chief coordinators representing the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala
communities. It is also ready to set up a coordinating council
representing the affected six north-eastern districts with all three
It is premature to outline the final
framework of this envisaged set up. It will not be applicable to the
entire north-east but only to six affected districts. It will also
have specific powers restricted to limited relief related functions.
The state machinery in the form of government agents and deputies
will also be part of the structure. Whatever the 'minimal' powers
given there is no doubt that the LTTE will use it as a stepping
stone to enlarge their power. It will be easy because the
bureaucracy in those areas is a puppet, the population throttled and
elected MPs slave to the LTTE. When the ceasefire came into effect
the LTTE was only permitted to send unarmed political workers to
government areas. Three years later Tigers virtually rule the roost
in most Tamil areas of the north-east.
Theflexibility displayed by the Tigers
seems truly remarkable. It was only last December that the LTTE was
planning to announce quitting the ceasefire after Thai Pongal this
year. Now the same LTTE was ready to join the government in setting
up a joint mechanism. The peace process was stymied by the
insistence that an Interim Self-Governing Authority (ISGA) be set up
under sole LTTE control for the north-east. The LTTE was not
prepared to compromise or even accommodate power-sharing options on
the ISGA. The LTTE had been strongly opposed to accommodating the
Muslims as an equal third party in the talks. Now the Tigers were
ready to be more than generous to Muslim interests. Moreover the
LTTE is seemingly prepared to put the ISGA or nothing demand in cold
storage and opt for a task force type structure with limited and
The LTTE 'change' is all the more
interesting because of the visible 'U' turn even in the post-tsunami
phase. The LTTE and its propagandists overseas unleashed vicious
criticism of the government after the tsunami accusing it of blatant
discrimination. The LTTE and affiliated organisations wanted
international aid to bypass Colombo and be channelled directly to
them. Working together with the government seemed out of the
question. Now the LTTE is prepared to work with the same government
it vilified constantly.
The government for its part played
cheap politics by preventing UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan from
visiting LTTE controlled areas. The Italian envoy in Colombo too was
chastised for daring to visit Kilinochchi. All this was to prevent
the LTTE defacto administration gaining 'legitimacy' it was argued.
Earlier the same UPFA had criticised the ISGA proposal on somewhat
similar lines. Now the same regime wants to set up a joint mechanism
with the LTTE. If this will not confer respectability, power and
legitimacy to the LTTE what will? Certainly not the Kofi Annan
visit! Only the JVP seems consistent in opposing LTTE involvement.
After all it was the Tiger card that was used by Kumaratunga to
topple the UNP government and seek new elections.
As stated in these columns earlier
neither the government nor the LTTE are in a position to go to war
in the aftermath of the tsunami. Except for the lunatic fringe on
either side of the ethnic divide, no one would accept or approve
resumption of armed conflict in the wake of this monumentally
calamitous tragedy. Public opinion will not forgive those who start
war again. There will be international opprobrium against the
If fear of national and international
political repercussions is the stick preventing a return to war
there are carrots acting as incentives against war too. Chief among
them all is what makes the world go round - money! The international
donor community is prepared to dole out massive sums of cash for
tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction. These agencies and
nations want both parties to work together as part of a joint
The tsunami disaster has provided a
worthy and very deserving cause. The immediate rehabilitation and
resettlement of tsunami refugees and reconstruction of affected
areas. If both sides played ball and reluctantly collaborated on
post-tsunami renaissance, then around $ 2 billion at least will be
doled out. The donors feel now that a collaborative venture between
both sides will strengthen the peace process and pave the way for
direct talks. In the meantime govt-LTTE interaction on the
rehabilitation issue will be positively advantageous it is felt.
The LTTE too wants money. Nowadays it
has become a financial conglomerate trying to eke, shake, make or
take money. The Tigers and affiliates like the Tamil Rehabilitation
Organisation have raised massive sums of money after the tsunami.
Yet these are not enough to effectively reconstruct the affected
areas and galvanise economic activity on a large scale. So
international funds are very necessary. It is not as if the LTTE is
driven solely by concerns for the Tamil people but it knows that
money can be raised only in their name. Mirror image of the Colombo
regime. When this aid is obtained and projects get going the LTTE
will directly and indirectly make money.
So for this some compromise is needed.
The LTTE has also learnt the hard way that it cannot lay hands on
the big bucks unless and until it enters into a strategic
partnership with Colombo. Tamilselvan wholed a Tiger delegation to
Europe seeking separate funds for the N-E returned empty-handed. A
dejected Tiger political chief lamented in an interview that the
international countries were not prepared to give the LTTE money
directly. "They will give money only if we and the government
seek it together," he said. Yet after the tsunami the Tigers
did try and strike out again. They failed and now wisdom has dawned.
The LTTE now knows that it has to 'bond' together with the
government to gain funds.
All what seems necessary now is for the
LTTE to forge some joint mechanism with the government for tsunami
relief and rehabilitation and make it workable. The government keeps
its so called sovereignty as funds will not be given to the LTTE
directly but channelled through Colombo. Tiger affiliates like the
TRO could get funds with the approval of Colombo.
The government may have legal authority
over the country but its writ does not run fully in the north-east.
The LTTE can sabotage any project there. So the LTTE is needed to
execute projects in the N-E. Like the story about the blind man
carrying the lame man on his shoulders to pluck fruit from a tall
tree, both the government and LTTE are ready to join forces and
share the booty.
When the LTTE wants something it is
prepared to adopt any posture that will succeed. The Tigers know
that the major opposition to the LTTE being given control of the
north-eastern structure will come from the Muslim and Sinhala
communities. So it is bending backward to accommodate them. The LTTE
is more than generous in allocating representation and sharing power
with the other communities because it does not want them to obstruct
the Tigers gaining overall control.
Sharing power nominally does not matter
to the LTTE as it has absolute control over the predominantly
north-eastern bureaucracy. The Tigers have the unofficial power but
not the legitimacy which is needed to get funds legitimately and
officially implement projects.
Apart from access to more funds this
nationally and internationally sanctioned legitimacy is also needed
to establish and expand its control among the Batticaloa-Amparai
Tamil people. The Tiger base is badly eroded in the east after the
Karuna revolt. The power to rehabilitate tsunami victims will be
beneficial greatly. It will also use this opportunity to coax,
cajole and coerce new recruits. The LTTE will also develop its
income generating capacity further by utilising the rehabilitation
process. Tiger nominees given fat contracts will pay their dues to
the Tigers. The people will be forced to do shramadana while being
on the payroll which will of course go direct to Tiger coffers.
Tiger taxation will increase.
Internationally the LTTE will gain more
prestige and 'legitimise' its fund raising. Security agencies abroad
will not be able to check donations given to a legitimate
rehabilitation authority in the north-east. It can also gain more
clout with the Muslim community. It will also strengthen its
position vis a vis the armed forces. Conscription will be made easy.
What is frightening in this scenario is
that giving legitimate recognition to the LTTE in this respect will
give Tigers carte blanche to do what they want in the north-east.
Already the LTTE is accused of diverting, hoarding and
misappropriating relief aid. People planning to go abroad on account
of being affected by the tsunami are being deprived of official
documents. They have to pay the Tigers to get them. There are
charges of conscription from refugee camps too. Against this
backdrop the potential for greater abuse and misuse of power is very
What is perplexing is the move to give
control of all affected N-E districts to the LTTE. The LTTE
controlled Mullaithivu and Kilinochchi Districts and parts of Jaffna,
Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Amparai. One can understand the 'Hobsons
choice' involved in areas under Tiger control but extending LTTE
'writ' to areas outside their control is incredibly absurd. An LTTE
affiliate like the TRO could be one among several players operating
in government controlled areas if it is visible and accountable but
creating an overall N-E authority is an invitation for trouble. It
can only result in more people of the north-east coming under Tiger
The LTTE is seemingly flexible only to
gain control of a north-eastern post-tsunami structure. The
international donor community and the liberal intelligentsia in the
south must realise that the LTTE must be made to genuinely adhere to
concepts of pluralism, democracy and human rights in the Tamil areas
in order to gain further legitimacy. It must also be transparent and
accountable in executing funds. In this high stakes game for tsunami
relief funds, the LTTE may seem to be playing a cool hand but is
actually desperate for legitimacy and funds. It could be pressured
to accept international humanitarian law and universal standards of
upholding human rights, democracy and pluralism. The donor community
must raise the ante and call the Tiger bluff through Colombo."
Against this backdrop where this column
evinced concern about the LTTE being given carte blanche through
this exercise five months ago, re-evaluating the situation becomes
necessary. From what information has been made available about the
proposed structure it appears that the government, despite intense
pressure has not surrendered to the LTTE. The government team in
protracted negotiations has remained firm on a number of things. An
intricate system of checks and balances has been put in place to
prevent Tiger dominance.
In the first place the sphere of
authority is restricted geographically. It will extend only two
kilometers inwards from the shoreline in all six tsunami affected
districts. There is no north -compromise is needed-east linked
structure. Each district remains autonmous in function. The term of
the authority will be for one year only. Thereafter extensions are
possible depending on the progress of reconstruction projects. So
the Tigers will not be able to extend authority officially to all
districts of the N-E.
The mechanism is a three tiered
structure. At the primary level is the district committee that will
both formulate projects and implement them. At the secondary level
is the regional committee which will approve, allocate, monitoror
reject projects. At the tertiary level is the high level committee
that will allocate funding and monitor such disbursements.
The district committee will be headed
(depending on districts) by the GA or a minister from the district.
The district committee will have government officials, elected
representatives, NGO and INGO representatives, LTTE and even
security force representatives. The committees will formulate
projects in a way that would reflect the population ratios of each
The regional committee will have 10
members. The LTTE will nominate five, Muslim parties three and the
government two. There will be some NGO and INGO observers too. The
committee will be chaired by a LTTE nominee. A minority safeguard
provision has been made for two representatives being able to block
a project approval or rejection decision. If the issue is brought up
again a seven member vote is required to get it passed.
Likewise the high level committee will
have three members representing the Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim
communities. This will be responsible for funds. Here too a decision
can be blocked by a single person. Since consensus is a requirement
a cooling off period called 'suspension of cooperation' will come in
if a decision is split. If consensus is not reached even after that
the funds involved will revert back to the Treasury.
The suspension period of the high level
committee will not affect the working of the other two committees.
Two representatives from a multi-lateral donor and bilateral donor
will sit in as observers on the high level committee. This committee
will authourise the necessary funding for each approved project. All
money coming in will go to the Treasury and not the joint mechanism.
The Treasury will transfer funds as when necessary according to the
high level committee recommendation.
It appears therefore that adequate
safeguards have been built to prevent the LTTE from dominating the
structure or laying hands directly on the money involved. In fact
the minority safeguards may even have a contrary effect. It is
theoretically possible for Sinhala and Muslim representatives to
gang up together and block much of the proposals mooted by LTTE
nominees. On the other hand a spirit of compromise and consensus may
permeate the entire set up.
The structure however is woefully
lacking in the case of human rights. Jayantha Dhanapala has gone on
record that clauses regarding human rights were not possible due to
LTTE opposition. This is a serious problem. Practically a human
rights clause won't be effective if the LTTE wants to violate those
rights. If the LTTE does embark on a campaign of violence and
intimidation to pressure the bureaucrats and local NGO
representatives there seems very little anyone can do about it. This
is a serious drawback.
Still this does not mean that the joint
mechanism project be jettisoned and the LTTE sidelined. Ground
realities prevent it. What should be of paramount importance here is
the welfare of the tsunami affected people languishing for months
now. For their sake the joint mechanism should start functioning.
Those worried about the LTTE should keep vigil and see that the
checks and balances system in the scheme be utilised adequately to
monitor and prevent LTTE excesses. The JVP that has two MPs in
Trincomalee and Amparai would do well to participate in the
committee and act as a countervailing factor to the LTTE rather than
The proposed structure is not perfect
or foolproof. Working with the LTTE on an enterprise like this has
its dangers and pitfalls. The LTTE could subvert the mechanism
through selective terror. Yet that cannot be used as an excuse to
exclude the LTTE from playing a role in north-east rehabilitation.
If the Tigers do engage in corruption, abuse and misuse of powers
then it will only help further alienate them from the Tamil people.
In any case it is up to the international community and other non-LTTE
elements of the N-E to keep tabs on the Tigers.
If however Sinhalahardline opposition
becomes powerful enough as in the past to derail the mechanism on
the grounds that it strengthens and legitimises the LTTE further,
the consequences could be drastic. The humanitarian needs of the
north-eastern tsunami victims cannot be relegated to the backburner
simply because the Sinhala chauvinists have gone berserk.
The international community will have
no option but to fund LTTE backed agencies directly for
rehabilitation. Colombo will have no control. If that happens the
Tigers will gain greater legitimacy. The Sinhala hawks as usual
would have done the Tigers a great favour then. Including the LTTE
in a joint mechanism certainly has its share of danger. Excluding it
could turn out to be worse.
roar - against each other
Jayawardena and Ashroff Razack
By Frederica Jansz
A right royal stink has been raised
among the Lions since our expose was published on how donor funds
for an anti malaria campaign were misused. Top Lions have since
begun trading charges against each other, accusing one another of
fiddling donor coffers.
Our story was based on documentary
evidence, one of which was a detailed document carrying findings of
a committee of inquiry headed by Past Council Chairman, Dayantha
Fernando and assisted by Past District Governors, Daya Wickramatunge
and Lincoln Fernando.
Two of the accused in this case, Ranjan
Jayawardena and Ashroff Razack have since responded to The Sunday
Leader, vehemently denying the contents of the article while
insisting they remain innocent of misappropriating donor funds to
the tune of Rs. 2 million.
But both Jayawardena and Razack
continue to be countered by the committee of inquiry who insist the
project funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and
Malaria (GFATM) resulted in monies being misappropriated.
And in this backdrop both Razack and
Jayawardena have begun throwing stones at other Lions insisting that
misappropriation of donor funds among the Lions is nothing new and
that there have been many other cases, which have all been hushed
Razack claims, "There are so many
other cases where past governors have single handedly taken cash and
no one knows what happened. Past District Governor, Abey Silva is
one such case. No one to date knows what he did with monies donated
to help equip the Eye Hospital in Hambantota. These have never been
queried but just gone underground."
Abey Silva countered with this
response. "I was the project administrator. The total project
value was US$ 87,000. I called for an advance from Lions
International that was US$ 66,331. This, I called on April 28, 1994.
I completed the project within that advance and I saved Lions
International US$ 20,669 due to my prudence. At the end of the
project I had a balance of Rs. 431,596.72 and this money is up to
date in the account of Seylan Bank First City Office - A/C No:
0011-00011815-001. I have approval from Lions International to
utilise this money that is in the account for the same project and
should there be any monies left over to be then sent to
international," Silva said.
Ranjan Jayawardena meantime charges
that if there ever was a misuse of GFATM funds it was at the GFATM
launch. He says tickets were priced and printed at Rs. 1,400 each
but sold at Rs. 1000 "at the request of incumbent governors led
by Lion Marcella Silva."
Marcella Silva said, "The banquet
that is in question was held during the past year where another
chairman was in office. However, as a responsible council member
that year I can vouch for the fact that the multiple council did not
approve many of the expenditure of the above project."
Jayawardena however insists the dinner
subsidy alone was Rs. 250,000 while liquor costs were more than Rs.
100,000. "Only two committee members, Dr. Adrian Senadhira and
myself objected to this expenditure. However, the big shots of
Lionism got their way," he said.
He adds the mud slinging campaign
against him continued "upto the last vice district governor
election day where Marcella Silva along with her spouse (Abey Silva)
acted quite contrary to the decisions taken at the meeting held a
few days earlier on how the election will be conducted."
Abey Silva hit back saying, "This
is all rubbish. I was never even present at any of those meetings.
The meeting was to show how re-districting was to take place. This
had nothing to do with me. I have nothing to do with the Multiple
Council. Jayawardena is lying."
His wife, Marcella Silva responded,
"A meeting was called by the chairman of the Multiple Elections
Committee and was held to discuss the logistics and the methodology
employed by each district to conduct its own elections. It is
important to note that while the committee chairman conducted these
meetings I sat in as the multiple council chairperson. The Multiple
Council was present to conduct it in a fair and equitable manner. It
is also pertinent to mention that at this meeting my husband was not
present. It is interesting to note how connections of the past are
sought to cover up for the many allegations that are now
But Jayawardena says this mud slinging
campaign against him began "when I caught a lion rigging votes
in favour of a certain candidate at the 2002 District 306A
Past Council Chairman, Dayantha
Fernando maintains that Jayawardena should not make such statements
at this time. He should have done so at the 2002 District 306A
election, he says.
The allegations and counter charges are
being made after we published details of how a project implemented
by the Lions to fight the malaria mosquito had hit ground.
This project was commenced in March
2003. An agreement was signed between Multiple District 306 and
Sarvodaya. The Lions were appointed to implement the project.
The grant it was pledged would be used
to intensify malaria control and intervention among marginalised
populations in districts of the north and east. The total cost of
the project is Rs. 590 million.
Former District Governor for Lions Club
District 306A, Lion Ashroff Razack and Lions Aslam Kiyabdeen and
Ranjan Jayawardena were the three key players in managing and
implementing the initial phase of this project.
Subsequently a committee of inquiry
found all three Lions to have accepted a salary to do humanitarian
work while also claiming huge sums from the project funds towards
Huge amounts of the project funds were
also paid to printers and advertisers without calling for
Ranjan Jayawardena in his response to
us insists that this was not the case. He maintains he has not
benefited a cent from this undertaking. That although he was paid a
sum of Rs. 325,000 as a monthly allowance he "donated it in its
entirety to Lionism."
He claims only a sum of Rs. 56,350 was
reimbursed to him on account of expenses duly and properly incurred
in the course of functioning as 'project coordinator.' He adds that
the said committee of inquiry was unlawful and its findings
Dayantha Fernando who headed the
committee responds by saying that while the committee did not
specifically name Jayawardena, Razack or Kiyabdeen as being found
guilty, "We did however highlight the fact that Ranjan
Jayawardena did take a salary."
Fernando pointed out that if indeed
Jayawardena donated the monies back, he should have done so to the
GFATM project. However, he maintains that a statement of accounts
from his club does not indicate these monies were diverted to GFATM.
"So obviously they were used for some other purpose," he
Responding to Jayawardena's charge that
the committee of inquiry was unlawful and it findings untenable,
Fernando asserted this committee was appointed by the previous
multiple council of governors. "If Jayawardena believed it to
be unlawful he should have protested then. But his conclusion to
this effect is being made only now after the findings of the report
became known. When people find they have been faulted then it is
easy to try and say something is unlawful," Fernando said.
The committee of inquiry in fact also
faulted Jayawardena for having spent Rs. 1.4 million for a telefilm
to be telecast for 60 minutes on three days. The committee report
points out that the objective of this film was never known as if
those affected could afford a television set to watch a film on the
malaria mosquito they could well afford to buy a mosquito net and
would not require a donation of the latter.
Jayawardena adds that he has not been
removed from his post by the council. "I remain the project
coordinator without financial remuneration, which I am willing and
able to do, because I am a person of adequate means," he says.
The Sunday Leader is in no position to
dispute Jayawardena's financial status in life. However, the fact
remains if Jayawardena says he continues as project coordinator
without financial remuneration, well and good. But all this could
have been avoided then had he done the same with the earlier GFATM
Aroff Razack meanwhile similarly to
Ranjan Jayawardena also categorically and emphatically denies any
misappropriation of funds from the GFATM project account stressing,
"that a reputed firm of auditors - BDO Burah Hathy, audited the
We can only reiterate what we have
already stated in our previous expose. If such is the case how is it
that Ashroff Razack kept in his possession a sum of Rs. 400,000
instead of depositing it in the GFATM Current Account?
The controversial launch banquet was
held on December 17, 2003 and the money was deposited by Ashroff
Razack, GFATM Current Account on March 17, 2005 after a period of 14
months. He is responsible for the funds, which were deposited only
when the Multiple Council demanded the money from him warning, that
if the funds are not deposited that they would be compelled to hand
over the matter to the Criminal Investigations Department. If Razack
denies misappropriating money what did he do with these funds for 14
Referring to having used donor funds to
hold a tamasha at the Colombo Plaza where Razack has been faulted
for subsidising even the sale of dinner tickets while also paying Rs.
103,200 for liquor, wines and champagne, he says, "this was not
my intention but of the current Multiple Council Chairperson,
Marcella Silva and the council members during that period. He adds,
"I was vehemently opposed to any subsidising of dinner tickets
for the banquet. However, the governors in office pleaded and begged
that the dinner tickets be priced at Rs. 1000 when the hotel had
quoted Rs. 1,500 per person."
"They also wanted the best of
wines, champagnes and liquors to be served at this banquet,"
The fact is the current Multiple
Council Chairperson, Marcella Silva was not the council chairperson
at that time. It was a different council chairperson with whom
Razack organised this banquet.
Razack in similar vein to Ranjan
Jayawardena had bitterly criticised the appointment of Past Council
Chairman, Dayantha Fernando who headed the committee of inquiry.
He says Fernando "had complained of irregularities with
regard to the banquet and the handling of the GFATM project by its
chairman. Ironically, the Multiple Council appointed this same
person to head the inquiring committee. This act is in violation of
the rules of natural justice," he says, pointing out the
complainant cannot be appointed as investigator.
Why Razack and Jayawardena never
protested about the appointment of PCC Dayantha Fernando as the
chairman of the inquiry committee right at the outset instead of
waiting till the report was completed and handed over is not clear.
Razack also denies having taken a
salary saying, "However, I was approved a reimbursement of a
sum of Rs. 15,000 for expenses on my travels, lodging, food and
telephone bills on this project. This paltry sum was a pittance to
what my expenses were when I had to travel to remote villages in the
districts of Ampara, Batticaloa, Mannar, Jaffna, Trincomalee and
The committee of inquiry categorically
states that Razack indeed took a salary or allowance of Rs. 15,000
monthly. There were no records placed before the committee of any
reimbursement claimed on travel to remote villages.
Additional claims submitted by Razack
were for reimbursement of upto 50% of his private mobile phone
bills, even making claims when the cell phone was used on roaming
Razack further maintains that a massive
Rs. 1.5 million spent to transport nets to the north and east
included door to door deliveries as well as logical constraints all
of which had to be borne by the transporter which resulted in this
If this is the case how is it that
transport of nets was done in 2005 at a total cost of only Rs. 8,000
which is approximately Rs. 13.50 per net, where as Razack's
committee has spent approximately Rs. 30.00 per net?
"It is incorrect to say I was
hiding monies for 14 months since the monies received from
sponsorships and ticket sales came in long after the launch and a
new chairman was appointed in May that year," Razack said.
If we are to accept what Razack says as
correct, in receiving his sponsorship and the tickets monies, the
question still arises why he did not deposit in the account as and
when he received the monies. Since sponsorship monies were deposited
in March 2004, why could not the Rs. 400,000 also have been
"After submitting my audited
accounts, I waited for more than three months for Dayantha Fernando
to confirm that the audited accounts were in order. It is only after
this that I could deposit monies into the GFATM account,"
Razack apparently had his own company
auditors Bura Hathy & Co to audit the accounts. The Council
decided that it should be an independent auditor recommended by
current council treasurer and this nomination received the
concurrence of Sarvodaya. The auditor is Jayasuriya & Co.
As stated by Razack there was no
necessity to wait for three months, because Dayantha Fernando was
not going to give him any confirmation on these accounts, other than
submit the report of the committee.
goes to town with SLPA funds
By Frederica Jansz
Millions of rupees are to be diverted
from Ports Authority coffers to fund projects
initiatedbyMinisterMangala Samaraweera which have little or no
connection to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.
The SLPA is to pay Rs. 10 million for a
walkway to be built from the Galle Fort along the water front up to
Another Rs. 30 million is to be spent
to build a 'Marina,' a specially designed harbour with moorings for
pleasure yachts in the Galle harbour, which Minister Mangala
Samaraweera has insisted is necessary to promote tourism.
Separately monies from the SLPA are to
be allocated for the construction of a community centre at Matara
which will cost Rs. 20 million and another in Badulla for Rs. 15
million. The latter has
received approval as a result of the Deputy Ports Minister, Dilan
Perera hailing from Badulla. The
design for this centre is already complete, while the design for the
Matara community centre is still being done.
The SLPA is to also spend Rs. 20
million on constructing a beach park at Matara - the electorate and
stronghold of Mangala Samaraweera.
Another Rs. 5 million has been set
aside to renovate the Galle Aker Staff Bungalow.
The renowned architect Ashley de Vos has been contracted for
this purpose. Work commenced in November 2004, and is expected to be
completed later this month.
Similarly, the new circuit bungalow at
Trincomalee and Orr's Hill Bungalow also in Trincomalee are to be
Three new luxury Audi cars are also to
be purchased out of SLPA funds.
Rs. 18 million is to be taken out of SLPA coffers for this
The projects received the green light
at a meeting held on February 7 this year which was chaired by
Samaraweera and attended by his Deputy Dilan Perera as well as SLPA
Chairman, Dileepa Wijesundera and other directors.
According to documentary proof in our
possession, at this meeting it was also decided to initiate the
second phase of the Beira Lake development project.
Work in this regard it was decided must begin immediately.
It has also been decided that the
resettlement of squatters around Beira Lake should be done by the
SLPA with the Urban Development Authority (UDA) only assisting it.
According to a document prepared by
REEL, an arm of the UDA, the SLPA is expected to fork out a massive
Rs. 1 billion to construct buildings at a land allocated at
Dematagoda, to relocate those currently living around the lake.
In addition to the government forking
out US $ 100 million for an oil tank farm in Hambantota, an
additional Rs. 100 million is to now to be spent by the SLPA to
conduct a feasibility study for the development of a sea port at
The issue here is that even the US $
100 million for the oil tank farm at Hambantota is US$ 67 million
more than that estimated in a feasibility study which stated that
only US$ 33 million would be required.
The reason for the massive increase has never been explained
by the Minister.
Separately, a children's park is to be
constructed at Wennappuwa while five road bridges are to be built in
Deniyaya and another five in Badulla.
The cost for the building of the 10 bridges is estimated at
Rs. 30 million.
Additionally an estimated Rs. 80
million is to be spent out of SLPA funds to refurbish office space
at the Ports Authority to house Samaraweera.
The Minister has this time around
surpassed his last effort when he took over as minister of urban
development and spent
Rs. 25 million out of UDA funds to install designer style
wash-basins, paintings and a host of other luxury items in order to
ensure his work surroundings are luxurious.
Nela de Soysa, architect and interior
designer has been chosen by the Minister this time to refurbish and
equip his office at the SLPA.
Already an estimated Rs. 5 million has
been spent while inside sources revealed that a claim by Ms. De
Soysa to the tune of Rs. 40 million cannot be met as the SLPA can
only pass upto Rs. 25 million at a time.
Another Rs. 55 million is to be spent
to purchase radio equipment for the Hanskawa dredger which does
maintenance dredging inside the Colombo harbour.
This is despite having received other quotations for only Rs.
25 million for the equipment. The
purchase of the equipment is to be made from Access who are the
monks hijacking Buddhism
By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
The proposal to create a joint
mechanism between the government and the Liberation Tigers to handle
tsunami relief has triggered off an emotional response throughout
the country with the Maha Sangha themselves leading the protest
campaigns against such a mechanism.
As the astrologically recommended days
for the signing of the agreement drew near, the tempo of these
protests also increased with at least two prominent monks holding
fasts unto death, which received considerable public support.
What is significant about the monk
protests are, that though polarised in political views - the saffron
robed are treated with unparalleled respect by Sri Lankan society.
It is an advantage, the Buddhist monks have put to very good use
time and again.
The views of bhikkus have always been
respectfully received here. They have acted as counsel to ancient
rulers and much of state policy has been remodelled according to
However, there has been an erosion of
the role played by them with the advent of representative democracy.
But their significance has certainly not dulled as they continue to
influence the thinking of the people.
As far as the proposed joint mechanism
goes, the sangha community stands divided. While there are
distinctly different political parties like the JVP and the JHU who
oppose the mechanism and show their protest
holding fasts unto death, there are monks who actively
support the formation of some link between the state and the LTTE.
The first of the protesting bhikkus,
Ven. Dr. Omalpe Sobitha Thero has fasted on previous occasions
regarding issues close to his heart, like the time when the JHU
demanded the introduction of an anti conversion bill in parliament
to prevent 'unethical' conversions.
The issues, this time around as far as
the JHU is concerned are simple. They demand, first and foremost
that the joint mechanism draft policy be submitted to a referendum.
The JHU's argument is that Article 157
of the Constitution debars the state from entering into any
agreement with a separatist movement, and hence President Chandrika
Kumaratunga is not empowered to enter into an agreement with the
LTTE for the setting up of a joint mechanism.
According to Vice President, JHU, Ven.
Dr Sobitha Thero, the truce between the UNF government and the LTTE
has created a disadvantageous situation for Sri Lanka.
"While there is a case filed
against the signing of the truce, the joint mechanism is a far worse
step that seeks to legitimise a terrorist organization," claims
Ven. Dr. Sobitha Thero.
The JHU further argues that
parliamentary sanction is not sufficient for a far reaching
political decision, and insists on the holding of a referendum to
receive the public's stamp of approval.
In the meantime, the JHU Vice President
is of the firm view that there is no need for the JVP to quit the
alliance on account of a joint mechanism and insists that the JHU is
not concerned about breaking and making governments. They claim
their singular concern is the prevention of the establishment of
the Post Tsunami Operations Management Structure (P-TOMS).
The JHU monk's fast unto death however
drew less attention to the issues affecting the joint mechanism as
the protests themselves stole
The sight of Ven. Sobitha's
fasting triggered off a highly emotional response among the
Buddhists who largely responded by signing a million signature
petition against the joint mechanism.
Spokesman for the
JHU, Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero however said that people
did not place their signatures on the petition simply because they
were moved by the sight of the eminent monk lying in the Mahamaluwa
area. " That's what they believed in," he said.
With the JHU fast gathering momentum,
the JVP-associated monks led by Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thero of the
Jathika Bhikku Front (JBF) too quickly galvanised into action and
launched their own fast to show their protest.
For the Marxists, the joint mechanism
is an emotional issue as much as it is a political one.
One striking difference between the two
protests was that the JHU protest was more on religious lines with
the element of sacrifice being emphasised. Also, many Buddhist
rituals were held in the Buddhist city of Kandy while the monk
In contrast, Ven. Dr. Dambara Amila
Thero's fast in front of the Fort Railway Station had only political
connotations. There were no rituals associated with it, but lusty
speeches by others, distribution of posters and strangely, a poster
of the fasting monk which most people could have mistaken for the
JHU's Ven. Dr. Sobitha Thero's face.
According to the JVP, no compromises
are possible and a simple undertaking by the President to the
Mahanayakes that they would be heard before a final draft is
prepared remains unacceptable.
The JVP insists on the dropping of the
entire idea and warn that the nation's security is facing great
peril. The assurances, according to the JVP are completely
insufficient and not strong enough for them to stay on in the
They also oppose holding discussions
with the chief prelates as an unnecessary move to win favour.
" Why should there be discussions
on the joint mechanism at all? The fact that Kumaratunga is
initiating a dialogue with the Maha Sangha and others only prove
that it is very much a set up that is about to be set up," said
a protesting monk of the JVP-affiliated National Bhikku Front (NBF).
But the fact that President Kumaratunga
is at least officially
willing to initiate a dialogue on the joint mechanism does not make
the JVP happy.
They rejected outright an assurance
from the Malwatte Chief Priest, Thibbotuwawe Sri Sumangala Thero who
requested Ven. Amila Thero to discontinue his fast saying there
would be a consultation process before a final decision is taken.
" It is a move to legitimise a
terrorist group", says JVP Propaganda Secretary, Wimal
Weerawansa while an angry President Kumaratunga seeks to pin the
blame on her former Marxists allies for any eventuality that
may occur following their decision to make the UPFA a minority
government in parliament creating political instability.
With the two key protests coming to an
end, it is as if monks are out to compete with each other through
their protest actions opposing the joint mechanism.
The discontinuation of the two protests
has in no way dulled both parties' desire to hold more fasts until
the joint mechanism idea is dropped.
The JVP being the highly active
political organisation it is, has introduced a fast by 10 more monks
the very moment Ven. Dambara Amila was taken away for
medical attention last Wednesday. (15)
However, the protests come much to the
dismay of the Buddhist population with monks who have donned the
robe renouncing everything, are now seen not only protesting on the
road, but claiming their right to territory.
Whether this is in accordance with the
Vinaya rules is another matter. "Their renunciation obviously
has serious limitations, often etched with political thinking,"
a pavement seller in the Colombo Fort area said, disgusted seeing
saffron robes these days only at protest venues.
In the mˆl‚e, the entire concept of
"sacrifice" too appears to have acquired new meaning. With
supporters of these protests quoting the 'Sasa Jathaka' in which the
Bodhisatva, born as a hare sacrificed his life to feed a starving
man. This today is equated to the death fasts performed by Buddhsit
And the respect this country extended
to the Buddhist clergy is certainly on the wane given how
politically motivated the saffron clad are. And it is not applicable
only to those who have the obvious links.
There were sighs of relief on Wednesday
afternoon when Ven. Dr. Dambara Amila was removed by policemen in
plainclothes from the protest venue. The situation was so serious
that IGP Chandra Fernando obtained a court order to have the monk
The monk at that time was unconscious
and was declared to be in a critical condition.
Spokesman, NBF, Ven. Wathumulle Uditha
Thero said that assurances on paper are not acceptable to the JVP.
" We want a serious commitment
that a joint mechanism will not
be created. If the fasting priest was warded, there are
others who are ready to undertake the fast," he said.
And true to his word, 10 other monks
commenced a similar fast, the moment Amila Thero was removed. Both
parties vow to continue the action.
As most onlookers commented, in the
recent past, 'protests' have become the monks' domain. Yet it is a
role the monks fiercely defend and claim that since the advent of
Buddhism, monks have played a decisive political role and defended
the country zealously, sometimes even joining the war.
Meanwhile, President Kumara- tunga,
though determined to go ahead with the joint mechanism, like all
other leaders before her will try to win the favour of the saffron
clad-if only to sell her wares to the public. And if history has
taught anything, it is that Sri Lanka has often backtracked at
politically significant moments and put decisions on the reverse
gear perpetuating problems.
As tension mounts, it is the monks who
are holding sway with their protests. And the country sits on a
volcano. And more protests by the saffron clad could lead only
commotion, at a time when the nation requires persons of the stature
of 'statesmen' to look up to.
to the fore
Ven. Dr. Dambara Amila thero is a true
manifestation of a hard-core
JVP member. He was in no way ready to compromise or to give up
While he lay unconscious, delirious and
thoroughly dehydrated, the painclothed cops removed him to
Ward 50 of the National Hospital, Colombo where he is still
The doctors attending on him claim that
the monk, when he regained consciousness repeatedly expressed
"his wish to die for
a worthy cause."
A medical officer of Ward No. 50 told
The Sunday Leader that the monk, forced to abandon his five
and a half day long fast was eager to recommence his protest
when discharged from hospital.
At the time of being admitted, the
thero was unconscious and was suffering from severe
dehydration. His kidneys were malfunctioning and are currently
being investigated for kidney damage.
" He is a sturdy young priest and
when he regained consciousness, he was angry that he has been
moved to the hospital. He said that he wanted to die for a
cause," the medical officer confirmed.
Ven. Amila thero, he said has high
cholesterol and he has developed high blood pressure as a
consequence of his fasting. " He should at least rest for two weeks
before stepping out," the medical officer said.
wants 'true freedom'
peace but life goes on as usual in Tiger-land
By Easwaran Rutnam In Kilinochchi
Daytime breaks in the rebel stronghold
of Kilinochchi. Instead of
the usual Sri Lankan national anthem you hear in the morning
on local radio in most parts of the country the radios in this town
as well as loud speakers on the streets are playing a song that
speaks of the freedom struggle of the LTTE.
As the day progresses with the usual
hustle and bustle of the town, which was at one time the site of
exploding bombs and gunfire, it would seem everything is normal.
But in reality that is not the case.
While the benefits of peace has seen
Killinochchi develop with the construction of a new road network,
electricity and more recently a massive water tank funded by the
World Bank, the beneficiaries say it is only a 'concession' to their
real need -
Tamils in the area say they are willing
to forego all what they are enjoying for the sake of 'true freedom'.
The LTTE says the Kilinochchi township
will not be satisfied with the chance they could walk on the streets
fearless of an aerial bomb falling on their heads and indeed the
Tamils at large in Sri Lanka are treated equally by deed and not
just by word.
With strong opposition to the joint
mechanism by extremists in the south gathering momentum the Tamil
community in Kilinochchi fear they may be pushed back to what was
three years ago -
a life not worth living.
LTTE Political Head S. P. Tamilselvan
speaking to The Sunday Leader said "Tamils will not be cheated
by the repairing of roads,
uninterrupted electricity and water supply or other material
things. For us to live a normal life so many factors need to be
So what are these so-called 'factors'?
One of the most sticking issues is the high security zone in the
north where the military continues to occupy civilian homes.
Protests against the occupation were
held last weekend in Jaffna with civilians and members of the Tamil
National Alliance saying in order for there to be normalcy the
military must pull out.
However the military says the high
security zones will have to remain with the interest of national
security at stake.
Military spokesman Brigadier Daya
Ratnayake told The Sunday Leader that the army is in fact paying
rent to all the private houses it is occupying in the north and
"We could have vacated these homes
if the LTTE had not acted in a manner that did not build confidence
towards the military during the three year period since the CFA was
signed," Ratnayake said.
The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM)
says although the military occupation of private houses does not go
against the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) vacating them will contribute
immensely to normalising life for the Jaffna community.
"The CFA says the military must
vacate places of worship, schools and public buildings. There has
never been a ruling on the occupation of private property although
civilians have complained to us and we have investigated them,"
SLMM Spokeswoman Helen Olatsdofftir said.
The SLMM spokeswoman however said that
the high security zone has been reshaped in some areas by the army
to provide easy access to places of worship and schools.
One other factor that concerns the
Tamils in rebel territory is the fact that every time a solution to
their problems is arrived at, extremists in the south prevent it
from being implemented.
The failure to fully implement the CFA
due to the change of government in 2002 and now the agitation
campaigns launched by extremist groups in the south including
Buddhist monks has irked the Tamils in the north with the LTTE
saying the Tamils need to be vigilant and be prepared to face the
In the meantime there are several Sri
Lankan Tamils languishing in refugee camps in India willing to
return to their homeland with peace seemingly secured despite the
isolated incidents that prove otherwise.
While there are those who can afford to
make the trip back home by air from India, many others use illegal
means like sneaking in shipping boats, although most of them fail to
make it all the way.
One young Sri Lankan who returned from
India after four years was happy to see his homeland but was worried
of what the future holds with the crisis in the south.
"The place looks much better than
what it was four years ago," he said
looking at the developed infrastructure in the north.
The fact that a lot has to be done to
create confidence among the Tamils for them to really enjoy a normal
life was evident when The Sunday Leader returned to Colombo from
Kilinochchi in a cab driven by a Tamil civilian from the town.
The driver was visibly scared as he
entered Colombo and saw the strong military presence in the town.
His fear of being apprehended by the
military simply because he is a Tamil from the north was so strong
that he refused to proceed the full distance of the hire.
"These soldiers might take me into
custody because I'm from Kilinochchi so I will rather avoid
them," he said.
Meanwhile the LTTE in a move to
strengthen its image is doing their best to make visitors to the
rebel town comfortable by giving them easy access to areas they wish
to visit to get a first hand view of life in rebel territory.
Among the sites now being used as a
tourist stopover is Elephant Pass, where an intense battle took
place between the army and the LTTE in 2000.
While passing through the site The
Sunday Leader came across several armed LTTE cadres in uniform
posing for a foreigner in front of a wrecked army vehicle, proud of
the damage they had caused.
Tamilselvan told The Sunday Leader that
in his view Tamils are willing to work together with the Sinhalese
three years after the war halted but are forced to do otherwise
because of extremist elements.
"There has to be at least
humanitarian considerations towards the Tamils to ensure they enjoy
some kind of normalcy or else their point of tolerance will break
apart," he warned.
With more new infrastructure coming up
in the town the question many are asking, taking into account the
situation in the south and the incidents in the east, is for how
long will these new structures remain standing and will real peace
ever be experienced?
The answer it seems will be, not
in the near future!
the stumbling block, says Tamilselvan
Political Wing Head, S. P Tamilselvan says the Janatha
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) just cannot accept the urgent needs of
the Tamils even after years of struggle.
"They are the reason for
instability and economic crisis in the country. They only want
to work with extremists who think and operate the way they
do," he told The Sunday Leader.
Thamilselvan says the JVP wants to run
the country in a
dictatorial way using extremist views and that
President Chandrika Kumaratunga is suffering the consequences
of forming an alliance with a group she knew was going to be
"The President knew the JVP was a
poisonous snake but she still placed it in her pocket. Now she
is complaining that it is biting her," he emphasised.
If because of opposition the government
decides not to implement the joint mechanism then the Tamils
will never have faith in the state.
search for peace and a race for arms in the sub continent
THE half century old
acerbic rhetoric across the Himalayan border has of late
pleasantly mellowed to cricketing metaphors following Indo-Pak
cricketing encounters and President Pervez Mushraff's visit to New
Delhi in mid- April.
A Pakistani commentator Seyed Talat
Hussain, writing about General Musharaff's
towards New Delhi states: "Pakistan's policy towards
India has fundamentally departed from the past pattern: it no longer
aims for a diplomatic score as exciting as Shahid Afridi's 45 ball
hundred in Kanpur; it is tuned to
play a long test series, even if the matches keep ending in
frustrating draws on Kashmir."
The cricketing metaphors are less
numerous on the India side probably because Saurav Ganguly's team
did not perform up to expectations. The recent furore caused by the
Bharathiya Janata Party's ( BJP ) Lal Advani's visit to
he paid generous
Pakistan's founder Mohamed Ali Jinnah
could , we venture, to describe in cricketing terms, as
Advani getting out hit wicket but being asked to bat again by
Advani, the current Indian leader of
the opposition who led a march of militant
Hindu's to destroy the Babri Masjid Mosque at Ayodhya and
caused widespread Hindu- Moslem riots, now praising Jinnah who is
still loathed by Indian Hindus for his role in the partition of
India, is indicative of this growing
Indo- Pakistan comaraderie. But how long it will last is
anybody's guess. India and Pakistan leaders have met before,
embraced each other resulting in much hope and euphoria but only to
return to the status quo ante, soon after.
To outsiders President Musharaff, the
Pakistan army commander who seized power from an elected Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif, evoking a world wide outcry,
seems to be now doing pretty well. The Kargill incident in
the Himalayas that threatened an Indo-Pak war again, the nuclear
explosions in addition to the violence and terrorism prevailing in
his country, left Musharaff in a precarious position but Osama bin
Laden with his bombing of New York's Twin Towers on 9/11,
unwittingly saved Musharaff. Having extended the fullest co-
operation to the United States in its fight against the Taliban
which Pakistan had earlier helped to create and support,
it did a volte - face
and became an ally of
the US and other Western powers such as Britain that has
previously wanted Pakistan expelled from the Commonwealth. Musharaff
is now regarded by the west as a bulwark against terrorism and he is
enhancing his image as a key and responsible South Asian leader by
promoting the dialogue with India in a genuine effort to resolve the
intractable Kashmir problem.
While the world applauds Musharaff for
his rapprochement with India, it appears to be a far less a popular
move in his
home country. The opposition parties, particularly the hardcore
religious groups, have called the Delhi Summit a 'national
humiliation.' They claim that India has not given any vital
commitment on Kashmir such as on the scaling down of troops in
Kashmir whereas Musharaff's moves appear to
be that Pakistan is
giving into India's agenda on Kashmir. In Pakistan itself
relations with the US and his crackdown on
al Qaeda elements is reported to be extremely unpopular and
reports indicate that a great majority of Pakistanis support the al
Qaeda and oppose close ties with the US.
Musharaff is indeed living very dangerously.
Yet, there are others who see the
Pakistani President's moves as having very far reaching objectives
in bringing about a rapprochement with India, particularly on
Kashmir. An Indian commentator Siddarth Varadarajan, deputy editor
of The Hindu, in a post Delhi summit commentary says' ... "no
Pakistani or Indian analyst should make a mistake of believing the
results of the recent
summit between the General and the Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh, were anything less than momentous. For the first
time in recent years, the two sides managed to establish something
resembling a relationship of trust with each other. If the General
agreed to stay the course and continue to rein in armed extremists
who are out to scuttle the peace process, Manmohan assured his guest
that India would not shy away from discusssions about a final
settlement of the Kashmir issue."
Among the notable features of the joint
statement issued after the visit were: Stressing of the
the peace process under way; the joint
by the two leaders not to
permit terrorism to undermine the peace process; the
inclusion of the term 'final settlement' to Kashmir which India has
been attempting to avoid after agreeing to it at the Simla Summit
way back in 1972 and other confidence building measures such as the
opening up of the road through the Line of Control (LoC) demarcating
Pakistan and Indian controlled regions of Kashmir.
Indeed even though both sides are not
playing up the consensus that is building on the idea of ' soft
could be the key that could result in the much wanted breakthrough
on the intractable Kashmir issue. The LoC was drawn up soon after
the partition of the subcontinent, dividing
under the control of Pakistan and
Kashmir under the control of Indian troops. While the
Kashmiris rejected the partition of their country on this line and
Pakistan too refused to recognise it officially,
the Indian proposal
was that the LoC should materialise as the international
two countries. The soft border implies that the LoC cannot be
a permanent border. It means that a permanent border must be made
irrelevant and boundaries cannot be altered.
The soft border proposal is an
administrative arrangement which would
permit India and Pakistan to maintain their de facto and de
jure sovereignties in Kashmir while not coming in the way of the
people of the divided state enjoying the fruits of a unified
territory. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been
advocating 'soft borders' 'from day one' and General Musharaff has
been its active supporter.
does seem a way out of the problem which has defied a solution for
the past 55 years.
Commentators on both sides of the LoC
as well as politicians are not putting it into focus as yet but it
does seem to be a way out.
Indian Prime Minister, the Cambridge
and Oxford educated Sikh is not an elected prime minister being a
nominee of Sonia Gandhi of the Congress. He no doubt is about the
best premier India could have right now having boosted the Indian
economy that was tottering in 1992 to become the vibrant economy it
is today having switched over to a free market economy. However his
freedom of action is limited, his government being a 'rag bag' of 16
coalition parties dictated by two Communist parties from outside the
coalition government whose parliamentary support is required to
carry on the government. Whether he will be in hot water as Lal
Advani found himself in, if he strays too far on Kashmir is another
matter for speculation. But with the only Superpower more or less
playing the role of godfather to both nations, stability does seem
to be real.
The irony of it all is that
with all these
positive developments between the two arch foes, the dream of
men of peace and idealists,
of the dawn of peace resulting in swords converted
into ploughshares or guns and bombs being made into rice and
a far cry for the
poverty stricken billion of South Asia.
While the 'Nuclear Armageddon' in the
Indian sub continent that was drummed up by the West which did not
want the lesser nations to join their exclusive nuclear club is no
more, right now
stupendous arms build up in the two countries has commenced.
In 1989 the US refused to hand over 28
F-16 fighter planes for which Pakistan had paid 1.4 billion dollars
because of its nuclear programme. Now all sanctions against Pakistan
are off and the USA has offered the sale of F- 16 once again to
Pakistan at a cost of one billion dollars and at the same time the
US offered sales of F-16 fighter planes and even more advanced F -18
super hornet planes to India. Both poverty stricken countries are
diverting colossal amounts for defence in the next five years - it
being estimated that India's defence expenditure will total Rs
65,000 crore while Pakistan will spend Rs 10,000 crore. India will
not depend solely on US military sales but will attempt to diversify
its armament purchases
from other countries as has been its practice.
Explaining the sale of F-16 sales to
Pakistan, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has said that
Afghanistan and Central Asian states are important to American
interests in the future. "Here is an entire area very important
to American interests in the future." Commenting on the deal
with India she is reported to have said that the US administration
wanted to project itself as a reliable supplier of high quality
A defence analyst pointing out to these
arms sales states: Given the fall in the real value of US arms
exports during the last two years, the benefits of the F- 16 sales
to the US are axiomatic. Pakistan's order alone saved Lockheed
Martin production line for F-16 aircraft from closure. Bush's
decision to sell F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan has therefore been
warmly greeted in Forth Worth as it has been in Pakistan's power
corridors. By offering arms to India and Pakistan, the US also
expects to gain a certain amount of leverage with both countries.And
why do both these countries with the majority of their people below
the poverty line seek military power?
India wants to have great power status
- to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Such status
does not come easily to countries preaching
Ahimsa and possessing ramshackle armies. As for Pakistan,
their motto has been: 'Anything you can do I can do better!'
rise and fall of a Sandanaya
Supremo Somawansa Amarasinghe, A massive crowd of JVP protesters
gather at Liption Circus, K.D. Lalkantha and Handunhetti
By Amantha Perera
The clock at Liptons Circus was
striking 4 p.m. last Tuesday. The throng that had gathered around it
waited in anticipation. Sweat beads appeared on the tired faces as
some leaned on to the railing. Some of them
had travelled from far off to join hands in a show of raw
power. There was determination written on their faces, they had once
again heeded their party leaders' calls and poured into the streets.
Some of them had faced water cannons
and police riot squads the day before. But this was to be the big
final growl before the party carried out its ultimatum. They hardly
paid any notice to the anxious office workers walking hurriedly
through them, to get away from the very thing, they waited for.
Faced with a President unwilling to
budge under pressure, the JVP had reverted to its time tested
manoeuvre, raw cadre power. Thousands were marching to the Lipton
Circus, denouncing the Joint Mechanism and warning President
Chandrika Kumaratunga that she had little over 24 hours to fold it
and dump it, or else she will lose her parliamentary majority.
Deadline for Sandanaya
"We gave the President a final
date. If she does not let go of the Joint Mechanism by tomorrow
midnight (15th), there will be no Sandanaya by 16th morning,"
General Secretary Tilvin Silva holding the fort in the absence of
party leader, Somawansa Amarasinghe reiterated the threat.
The 10,000-strong crowd cheered, waving
red flags and massive banners. Silva gave them more. Twenty four
hours before Kumaratunga had received conditional support to the
mechanism from the UNP when she met Opposition Leader, Ranil
Wickremesinghe. The UNP's 67 seats in parliament gave a clear escape
route to the beleaguered President, at least on the short term. Her
daring had been further boosted by an endorsement by the donor
community. The JVP wanted to show that there was more trouble ahead.
"If the mechanism is pursued we
will do everything democratically possible to stop it," Silva
said. The threat of massive public protests paralysing Colombo was
one part of the move. The other was a subtle indication that the
presidential insistence on the JM could splinter her own beloved
SLFP. The hint was that there were SLFPers and PA members willing to
break ranks and join the JVP-led protests.
Lipton Circus drama
Silva told the party supporters that
the JVP had been right in front of the battering-ram that had kicked
out the Wickremesinghe administration in 2004.
Then as now, protesters at Lipton Circus were a common sight.
It was the ceasefire agreement and the ISGA proposals that were
galvanising the party then. Silva saw no difference now. It was one
more street fight and the JVP had the supporters to do it.
The JVP was telling Kumaratunga in no
uncertain terms that it was either the JM or the JVP. Ten thousand
voices were there to send the message, much to the chagrin of office
workers who had to trudge from Town Hall to Borella to catch the bus
The final call made, the JVP dispersed
and waited. The next day saw a barrage of letters appearing at its
party office. SLFP General Secretary, Maithripala Sirisena wrote to
Silva asking him to reconsider the move to quit. Susil Premjayanth
followed more or less saying the same thing.
Late Wednesday evening, the JVP
received a lengthy missive from Kumaratunga herself, giving
her arguments to issues raised by the JVP against the JM. She
ended her letter by telling her Marxist allies that they would have
to be responsible for the chaos created by their action.
Throughout the day, JVPers were saying that they were holding
on to the door latch. Sunil Handunhetti was among the seniors who
said that they were getting ready to quit and that the ministers
were already packing up.
When the midnight ultimatum arrived,
most of the country was asleep, when senior JVPers in the form of
Nandana Gunathillake and Vijitha Herath confirmed to the media that
the party had quit the alliance as Kumaratunga had remained unmoved.
"Even simple political arithmetic
seems not to have pierced the thick cloud of confusion,"
Amarasinghe told the press 10 hours after the deadline. The simple
arithmetic was that without the JVP the government could not
survive, not in parliament, not in the provincial councils.
Predicting future of
"The Sandanaya will vanish,"
he predicted when the political reality takes effect, that of
hamstrung administrations all over the country. "The situation
will be clear in the coming weeks." In effect the JVP was
playing true to its threat, no JVP, no UPFA despite the PA holding
69 seats in the coalition, two of them donated by the Marxists.
Silva reminded that some had predicted
that the JVP would be playing truant with the threat. "We take
political decisions and we stand by them."
The four JVP ministers submitted their
resignations later in the day and parliamentary group leader, Wimal
Weerawansa wrote to
the Secretary General of Parliament informing her that the
JVP would henceforth function as an independant group in the
opposition. One small hitch though, there will not be enough seats
on the opposition side to accommodate all 39 JVPers. Weerawansa had
realised this and said some of the JVPers would have to continue to
the government. "Don't judge this by where we sit," he
There are only five seats available on
the opposition side leaving 34 JVPers to sit on the government side.
Two JVPers, K. D. Lalkantha and his
deputy, Handunhetti made their journey to bid farewell to their
ministerial staff in the afternoon after the press conference. They
were making the statement loud and clear - they arrived at the
ministry in their official vehicles, but went back in a hired van
after handing over the vehicles. The officials' mobile phones too
were handed over immediately.
The party however remained tight-lipped
on its future course of action. "Let us wait and see what the
reaction is," Amarasinghe said. There were no indications that
public protests would continue as threatened two days before. Police
had tightened security in the city and riot squads were deployed
near President's House as a precaution.
The JVP was letting the sting of its
walkout seep deep and hard into its coalition partner, and it was
revelling in the power play. 'Wait and see' Amarasinghe kept
Not the last alliance
The JVP was careful not to shut the
door bolt tight on the PA. In the same breath Amarasinghe said that
this was not the first coalition between the SLFP and the JVP and it
most certainly would not be the last. "Let us wait and see for
the reaction from the other side." That came late the same
night from Kumaratunga and it was harsher than the previous day's
Amarasinghe was equally emphatic of the
UNP's future. "UNP will never come to power in the country
again. We will see that it will not come to power," he said.
The same tone came out dealing with the LTTE. Amarasinghe
said that the JM was a licence to kill for the LTTE and that the JVP
was for negotiations that dealt with a permanent solution.
"The international community and
others should influence the LTTE to join the democratic
framework," he said.
While Amarasinghe was toughening his
party's stance, Kumaratunga appeared equally adamant. She echoed the
JVP sentiments when she said on national TV that she hoped that the
JVP would realise its mistake and return to UPFA fold.
Kumaratunga was banking on the support of the other parties
in parliament except the JHU and the JVP for support. The
international community had already given her a boost two days
before the JVP pull out. The Co-chairs of the Sri Lanka Donor Group
came out with a statement supporting Kumaratunga's commitment to
pursue the JM.
However, even while Kumaratunga was
playing tough-girl with the JVP, others close to her were optimistic
that the JVP could be roped in. Here
again it was political arithmetic.
"The JVP is only against the JM,
we can get the JM through in parliament with the support of the TNA
and UNP. The JVP will support other policies," Deputy Minister
Dilan Perera who of late has been close to the President said.
He said that Kumaratunga had been
discussing the JM with the JVP since April 29, when the LTTE agreed
after nine weeks of consultations. Perera felt that despite the
JVP's expressed concerns on the JM - the Marxists claim that the JM
would allow a 'terrorist group' to enter into an agreement with a
legitimately elected government, the party's main grouse was that it
was left out of the discussions with the Tigers on the mechanism.
"The problem was that they wanted to be part of the process
with the LTTE. But first the government had to get the LTTE to agree
with the content and then move from there."
Not end of partnership
Perera's logic was that since the JVP
had said it was not on a quest to topple the government, there was
still the chance of raproachement. "The UNP and some sections
of the media would want to believe that the partnership is over.
This is not the end of SLFP-JVP cooperation. We have an ongoing
dialogue and we will be talking, and we will work together," he
The thinking going on in the
Kumaratunga camp appeared to be that with the support of the
international community and parties like the TNA and the UNP, the
minority government could survive long enough to either get the JVP
back on board, or to jump start the tsunami reconstruction effort.
Kumaratunga had shifted focus last week to bring the proposed
mechanism to parliament seeking ratification. If it goes through,
the JVP would have a tougher case to argue to those other than its
Amarasinghe was right on the money when
he said it was political arithmetic. Now it is a question of finding
out who had grossly overplayed their hand.
will be back, stronger - Amarasinghe
Below is the statement made by JVP
Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe after leaving the UPFA coalition:
A few days ago, as you know we gave
notice that if by 15th, the proposals for the joint mechanism
were not withdrawn we would leave the government.
Regrettably, our earnest request to
maintain the integrity of this country has fallen on deaf,
autocratic ears. Even simple political arithmetic seems not to
have pierced the thick cloud of confusion on real priorities.
That simple arithmetic indicates that once we leave the United
People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and sit in the opposition in
parliament and provincial councils, the hold of the other key
partner to the UPFA on the politics of this country will
vanish within weeks.
Our deadline for the withdrawal of the
joint mechanism passed last night. We now announce our
withdrawal from the UPFA. We leave with a sense of deep regret
of work not fully completed. We leave because we must save
this country. We leave so that we could serve better all our
people in their search for justice, democracy, and well-being.
We leave so that democracy and justice will come to the Tamil
people in those areas now under the iron heel of one of the
world's worst dictators. We leave with a mission to return
soon, stronger in purpose and greater in numbers. As we
depart, we bow before our masters, the people. We ask them to
keep their faith in this country and in democracy.
A so-called Joint Mechanism to dispense
aid to the tsunami-affected areas is being pushed without any
consultation. As if advertising an unpalatable commercial
product, its name is being continuously changed to make a
sceptical public accept it. The JVP has taken a consistent
stand that it will not accept any mechanism whatever its name
that would legitimise the hold of the racist, dictatorial and
The so called mechanism was hatched in
secret unknown to others, apart from the President, the LTTE
and the Norwegians. Its contents were not known to the Prime
Minister, the cabinet, Leader of the Opposition, members of
parliament, other constituents of the UPFA as well as the
public at large. A few days ago, the secret documents leaked
to the press and to some other political sections. The JVP has
not been given an official copy.
We entered the UPFA on the premise that
the sell-out done by Ranil Wickremesinghe should be halted.
Our Memorandum of Understanding between the SLFP and the JVP
point out in no uncertain terms that the erosion of
sovereignty and democracy by the LTTE should be stopped.
Instead, we have seen a continuous appeasement of the LTTE as
it increased its fire power as well as it's anti-democratic.
We came to the UPFA and our four
ministries with a sense of service to the country. Our
ministers and members of parliament led frugal lives and
donated their salaries to a common pool. That idealism was
seen in our voluntary cadres' work during tsunami. We are
especially proud of their hard work during the tsunami among
our Tamil and Muslim citizens, in the eastern province. In a
short time, our four ministries' dedication has shown results.
By mobilising the people we have increased the production of
rice to its maximum ever. Our fisheries ministry was moving on
similar lines when the tsunami interrupted. Our work in
small-scale industries has strengthened the smaller
industrialists. Our work in the field of culture has reached
many distant corners. Quietly, but firmly our ministers were
slaving hard for their masters, the people of this country.
Again, we leave the UPFA because we
must save the country. We leave with the mission to return
soon, stronger in purpose and greater in numbers.
As we depart, we bow our masters, the
stations at President's House
At President's House, a series of
discussions were held last week with the President no less at the
helm. The most crucial of these she held with the eight deputy
ministers who have remained her staunch allies throughout her crises
with the JVP.
Minister Dilan Perera took the lead as always, spearheading
operations. The President was recommending that a massive propaganda
and public support campaign be organised immediately, in favour of
the joint mechanism.
She felt the best course of action
would be to conduct the publicity campaign the way the Sudu Nelum
project was managed and added the monies needed for this campaign
would come from the government coffers. The public awareness
campaign could be conducted on several fronts including rallies,
posters and leaflets.
President Kumaratunga also went so far
as to name all the SLFP ministers who are working against the
implementation of the joint mechanism, showing the deputy ministers
how the SLFPers were doing things because of their agreement with
the JVP's position.
The eight deputy ministers pleaded with
her to gather these dissenting SLFPers together and win them over to
her side, to which she responded the best option was to summon a
parliamentary group meeting where a unanimous decision could be
"The JVPers have created a fear in
our own ministers and MPs that the joint mechanism is another way of
giving the LTTE an interim administration that would in effect
divide the country. So what we need to do is to make sure they are
made aware of what this agreement is," said Perera to the
President Kumaratunga replied she had
already begun drafting a document that outlined the key aspects of
the agreement clearly, and summoned an officer to obtain eight
photocopies of the document she spoke of.
"This makes it clear what the
agreement is about. You people can go home and study this and
suggest any amendments, but please ensure this is kept
confidential," the President instructed, distributing the
President Kumaratunga also decided to
summon an emergency meeting of the SLFP parliamentary group and
decided to hand over a specific task to her favourite, UPFA National
List MP, Mervyn Silva.
The President instructed Silva to
invite the Maha Sangha to Viharamahadevi Park and hold an Adishtana
Poojawa at the venue. "We need to line up the Sangha in support
of the mechanism. There must be at least 5,000 monks at this
ceremony," she told him. "Not 5,000, if you say so, I will
get more," vowed Silva.
Only a few hours had passed since the
meeting when Ports Minister, Mangala Samaraweera heard about what
had transpired and that the President had distributed an English
document relevant to the joint mechanism to her eight loyal deputy
Samaraweera was keen to know the
contents of the document and calling up JVP Propaganda Secretary,
Wimal Weerawansa to inform him of this, went about conspiring with
the JVP on how to lay hands on the document.
The first task was to determine the
names of the eight who had been present at the President's House
meeting. Then, it was imperative to use a third party to obtain the
Accordingly, the third party was chosen
and allocated the task. By evening of the same day, he had performed
exceedingly well and managed to get a copy of the document to
Samaraweera and Weerawansa.
When this third party went to the
relevant MP to obtain the document, the parliamentarian received a
phone call. On the line was a deputy minister who appealed to the MP
to keep the document confidential and not release it under any
circumstances. He said the reason for this need for secrecy was
particularly the fact the President intended to remove certain
clauses in the document before distributing it to the rest of the
However, by the time the call came, it
was already too late. Weerawansa and Samaraweera already knew the
contents of the document, including the parts the President intended
As soon as they got their hands on the
document, Samaraweera and Weerawansa engaged in a lengthy phone
conversation during which the JVP MP told the Minister there was a
serious conflict with regard to the joint mechanism agreement. It
was then that Samaraweera enlightened Weerawansa, the President's
intention was to exclude the clause about money going to the north
and east via the Treasury when she made the document public.
"Keep this document with you and
make sure you get a copy of what is distributed at the President's
meeting with the SLFP MPs tomorrow as well. It will help all your
protest campaigns around the country and be evidence," advised
Samaraweera. The Minister also instructed Weerawansa to keep quiet
about the fact they had received copies of the documents distributed
to the deputy ministers that day.
asks Ranil for support
The meeting between President Chandrika
Kumaratunga and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was to take place at
3 p.m. on Monday, June 13. Having informed the President he had
another important meeting at 4 p.m. the same evening, Wickremesinghe
requested the meeting with the President be held on time for once.
He also requested the meeting be exclusively between the two of
As per the Opposition Leader's request,
Kumaratunga met him at 3 p.m. and at the meeting, they discussed at
length the joint mechanism and the problems the JVP had created over
the issue. She also asked the UNP Leader if, in the event the JVP
quits the government, the UNP would be willing to extend its support
Wickremesinghe emphasised throughout
the meeting that as Head of State, the President had to make a
decision about the mechanism, adding if she intended to sign the
agreement, it should be done as soon as possible. He said the longer
the signing is put off, the problems in the country would worsen.
Wickremesinghe went on to say once the
mechanism was made public, the UNP would release a statement about
it, adding if it contributed to the advancement of the peace process
and was in keeping with the Oslo communique and the Tokyo
Declaration, the UNP should have no problems with the agreement.
Wickremesinghe also informed the
President the UNP would not be party to using this opportunity to
topple the government and also that under these circumstances, the
UNP was not interested in taking over the reigns of government.
President Kumaratunga told the
Opposition Leader that if necessary she would consult with him again
at a later date.
into the night
President's meeting with the SLFP parliamentary group resulted in
the MPs being flustered about what was to come. With the President
reiterating she would sign the joint mechanism no matter what, the
MPs knew the JVP's June 15 deadline was going to prove more than
just an ultimatum and was going to become a reality.
Several MPs and ministers gathered at
Minister Mangala Samaraweera's residence to talk things over, very
much afraid that June 16 would signal the end of the alliance and by
extension, the government. They appealed to Samaraweera to intervene
and prevent the collapse of the UPFA.
One among those who appealed to him was
Minister Pavithra Wanniaarachchi. She told Samaraweera although the
President took a hardline stance at the meeting, she was in fact
worn down mentally.
Pricking up his ears at this,
Samaraweera shot back quickly - "Why Pavithra, what makes you
Said Wanniaarachchi, "After all of
you left, the President got very emotional. She spoke to me with a
lot of feeling and tears also came to her eyes. What she shows the
world is not the true picture. She is down in the dumps."
While Samaraweera dug out more details
about this exchange from Wanniaarachchi, another deputy minister
present said the President had called a parliamentary group meeting
for another reason.
"She was trying to get full
support for the joint mechanism by holding this meeting but the
meeting ended without her having got our vote of confidence,"
Samaraweera realised at once this was
probably true. He knew if this was defeat in a sense for the
President, then the JVP had an opportunity to come to a compromise
as a result of the circumstances. Calling up JVP Propaganda
Secretary, Wimal Weerawansa immediately, Samaraweera instructed him
to come over to his house the next day.
When Weerawansa arrived as scheduled,
they held discussions that lasted three hours and during the
meeting, Premier Mahinda Rajapakse also spoke to Samaraweera over
the telephone. They were trying to decide how this matter could be
Weerawansa maintained the JVP would
find it difficult to step back from its position, but added since
there was a growing opinion within both the JVP and the SLFP the
decision was too hasty, there was an opportunity to salvage the
Realising the need to strike while the
iron was hot, Samaraweera immediately scheduled a meeting with
Weerawansa and JVP Leader, Somawansa Amarasinghe at Temple Trees.
Weerawansa went back to Amarasinghe with news of the meeting
and they discussed the matter together.
The JVP Leader believed this was a
matter that needed to be discussed with the President and not the
Premier. "We can't come to a decision by talking to the Prime
Minister. This must be decided with the President," he said.
However, in the end it was decided that
JVP General Secretary, Tilvin Silva and UPFA Co-Convenor, Nandana
Gunatilleke would attend the meeting.
Also invited were NUA Leader, Ferial
Ashraff, Trade Minister, Jeyraj Fernandopulle, Minister Dinesh
Gunewardena and Samaraweera himself. The meeting, presided over by
the Premier went on till 2 a.m., with the various parties putting
forward various ideas.
Everyone present knew there was no way
the President was going to retract her position on the mechanism and
they discussed the fact that if she did so, she would be ruined
internationally and within the country as well.
At this point, Silva and Gunatilleke
put forward a theory that a group of Western countries including the
US were intent on getting the JVP out of the government. They said
from the day the government came to power, this conspiracy has been
continuing and finally it has succeeded.
Responding to this, Minister
Samaraweera said Western countries do not understand politics in Sri
Lanka and the Premier nodded, agreeing with this statement. Silva
meanwhile insisted this problem would not be resolved before June
Soon the discussion moved on to how the
government was to be sustained even if the JVP pulled out. Premier
Rajapakse asked the JVP representatives whether they would consider
supporting the government if the joint mechanism was brought to
parliament as a special regulation and ratified.
The JVPers responded, if it came to
parliament, their opposition to the structure would be minimal, but
added that under no circumstances could they remain within the
government. Rajapakse promised to meet the President and talk about
bringing the mechanism to parliament for approval.
last ditch effort
as the seconds ticked away to midnight on May 15 for the UPFA as it
did for Cinderella, a group of ministers including Jeyaraj
Fernandopulle and Deputy Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna were
following the President's instructions and engaging in a last ditch
effort to salvage the alliance and held talks with JVP Propaganda
Secretary Wimal Weerawansa.
Weerawansa said the idea to bring the
mechanism draft to parliament was a good one but added the President
had to bow to one condition - that the agreement is approved with
113 votes. However, this dismayed Fernandopulle. "The President
hopes to get it approved with a simple majority," he said.
Deciding to be stubborn, Weerawansa
said in that case the JVP could not support it. Fernandopulle then
asked whether the JVP could not remain within the government and
oppose the mechanism, but Weerawansa replied the time for that had
"If we continue to remain in the
government while fighting against its policies any longer, the
people will laugh at us. They'll say we are enjoying the privileges
and going against our policies. Let's continue these struggles
separately and then one day when the President's term ends, if there
is a possibility of getting together again, let's do that,"
Finally, Fernandopulle requested the
JVP MP to consider allowing the JVP Ministers to attend cabinet that
day and express their views about the joint mechanism, adding that
the draft of the mechanism would be brought to cabinet that evening.
"If the draft is being brought to
cabinet today, then consider that the last cabinet meeting is the
final one the JVP ministers attended. We will not come," said
Weerawansa in reply, and it ended there.
discussion was held at President's House on Tuesday with Premier
Rajapakse, Ministers Anura Bandaranaike, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, John
Seneviratne, Sarath Amunu-gama, Maithripala Sirisena and Deputy
Ministers Lasantha Alagiyawanna and Dilan Perera participating.
The Prime Minister told the President
what had transpired at the meeting with the two JVPers at Temple
Trees the previous evening. A long discussion was held about the
possibility of bringing the joint mechanism to parliament.
Fernandopulle made a recommendation at this point, which seemed a
way out of the conundrum to most of those who were present.
"If we bring this in as a sort of
a regulation in the tsunami bill, wouldn't that sort a few problems
out?" ventured Fernandopulle.
The President responded, "I have
already discussed the possibility of bringing this to parliament
with the Norwegians. The problem is the LTTE is standing firm on the
decision that no matter what happens in parliament, this agreement
has to be signed as two equal partners outside the
But Premier Rajapakse countered, if a
bill passed in parliament was signed by two parties outside the
House, it would cause some problems. Fernandopulle pointed out if
this were to happen, anybody could say officially there were two
governments in the country.
"If we can cancel the signing of
the agreement, that would be a huge victory. But the LTTE is not
willing to dance to your changing tunes and I can't be sending
messages back and forth either," snapped the President.
Finally, however, it was decided the
joint mechanism would come to parliament as part of the tsunami
bill. It was also decided to discuss the matter in parliament and
also check with Weerawansa whether an agreement would be possible at
The strangest thing happened at the end
of this meeting. For some time now, Minister Fernandopulle has
remained out of the Presidential limelight, having had some
disagreements with the President.
It was after some time that he was even
involving himself in the talks regarding the mechanism. Suddenly at
the end of the meeting, he turned to the President and said -
"Don't you think it would be a good idea to release SB?"
Shocked by the suddenness of the
question, the President said - "For what? I have stopped this
granting amnesty to prisoners. Anyway, it is not right for me to
change the sentences imposed by the courts."
Fernandopulle maintained if S.B.
Dissanayake were to be released, the President could gain important
But the President said, "What
politics for him now? Six months have passed already. Even if he
comes out, he will have to confine himself to the house. No more
politics for him."
Joining in the discussion, Premier
Rajapakse also argued if SB were put on the list of prisoners to be
released on Poson Poya, one headache would be over for her. But
Kumaratunga wouldn't hear of it. "I have put a stop to all
these releases," she said.
Fernandopulle, unwilling to rest his
case, said if Dissanayake was granted a Presidential pardon, he
would be able to engage in politics again. "How is that
possible?" asked the President.
"You can grant him pardon based on
his history. After that, we can win him over to our side," said
Even as the Minister spoke, President
Kumaratunga rose from her chair and began to walk down the stairs of
President's House. Stopping on her way down she looked up at the
crowd upstairs. "When that man condemned me in raw filth, not
even the Prime Minister who is speaking for him now said a word. The
Minister who is speaking for him now didn't defend me," she
said, raising her voice, so that everyone in the vicinity heard.
Hurt at her words Premier Rajapakse
immediately pointed his hand at her and said, "Here, don't get
me involved in these trashy issues." Miffed, the President
On Monday, June 13, just 72 hours to
D-day, an English daily carried a news item on its front page as an
'exclusive' that caused a stir at President's House - the document
the President had distributed among her deputy ministers the
previous day, asking them to keep it highly confidential, had been
reproduced in the newspaper.
President Kumaratunga was more than
stunned. As she lay pondering the ways in which the document could
have been leaked, a staff member walked up to her and said
journalist Bandula Padmakumara was on Swarnavahini at that moment,
highlighting the news item on his Mul Pituwa programme.
"Here is the joint mechanism
agreement neither the Premier nor the cabinet is aware of,"
Padmakumara had said as he presented the story.
Flustered at this news, Kumaratunga
called Premier Mahinda Rajapakse on the telephone immediately.
"Mahinda, a news item has appeared saying it is the joint
mechanism draft. This is just a document I drafted in connection
with the mechanism. Yesterday, I distributed it to eight people
asking them to study it and get back to me. This is not a final
draft. Anyway, I was planning to give you also one at the group
meeting we are having today," said the President in an attempt
at damage control.
Premier Rajapakse asked the President
whether this document was in fact authentic. Kumaratunga responded
that it was, although a few amendments had to be made here and
The most important thing for President
Kumaratunga at the time was to ensure that Rajapakse was not upset
by the document being leaked, since she had released it to eight of
her old faithfuls before showing him a copy. Since Rajapakse did not
appear to be too concerned, they discussed a few more matters as
well before ending the conversation.
victims' wrath over JVP's antics
Liyanage, Hettiarachchi Prematunga and W. Ariyaratna
By Jamila Najmuddin In Hikkaduwa
The tent communities in the south are
furious over the JVP's opposition to the joint mechanism claiming
the Marxists are using the mechanism to earn political mileage at
the cost of their suffering. While donors have pledged funds worth
US$ 3 billion for tsunami victims, the tent communities claim the
government should take immediate steps in signing the mechanism
without any further delay.
The JVP which initially only launched a
verbal protest against the joint mechanism, aggravated their
campaign following the fast unto death staged by the Jathika Hela
Urumaya (JHU) monks.
The tsunami victims who continue to
live without shelter now in the sixth month, claim that the
non-signing of the agreement would pave the way for discrimination
against Tamil victims in the north and east who have been affected
by the tsunami just as the victims in the south. Not seen or heard
the plight of the Tamil victims, the victims in the south remain
firm on their decision that a joint mechanism should be signed to
distribute aid fairly and equally to all sections of the island.
"We want aid to be distributed to all - Muslims, Sinhalese, and
Tamils. There should be no discrimination this time," the
However, the joint mechanism which has
been the subject of heated discussions over the past few months is
likely to receive the green light with President Chandrika
Kumaratunga agreeing to a mechanism between the government and the
LTTE for the distribution of aid before the end of the month.
Following the split in the government
last week with the JVP giving up its portfolios, the tent
communities are of the view that while political parties such as the
JVP voiced their likes and dislikes over the mechanism, it was time
the President stood firm and made her own decisions.
"Whoever wants to split from the
government can split. As the President of this nation, it is time
she made her own decisions and sticks to it," the tent
They claim while Colombo was in a state
of panic following the series of protests held by the JHU and JVP
MPs in the past few weeks, the tent communities in the south
remained disconcerted over the government's delay in the
distribution of aid. "The further the government delays signing
the mechanism, the further we get delayed in receiving funds which
have been pledged for us. We do not care who opposes or favours the
joint mechanism as long as we get what we deserve,"
Hettiarachchi Prematunga said.
Prematunga who earns a living from the
deep blue sea claims that although his fishing equipment was dragged
away by the tsunami waves, he has todate not received any aid.
While he continues to live in a tent
with his family within the 100 metre buffer zone, Prematunga says
his only hope now remains on the monies pledged by the donors.
"The country has been pledged US$3 billion due to the tsunami.
It is time the country realises that these monies have been pledged
for us. The mechanism will only distribute aid fairly and equally to
both sides of the country. Therefore, the JVP has no right opposing
the mechanism," he said.
While the tsunami mechanism involves
the distribution of aid to tsunami victims with the help of Tamil
rebels in the LTTE controlled areas in the north and east, this
Prematunga said is no cause for alarm as the affected victims only
depend on receiving the aid. "We do not care about politics and
we do not care who distributes the aid. We only care about receiving
the aid and the LTTE and the government have to reach a firm
agreement so that monies are released soon," he said.
Having lost their livelihoods and
houses to the tsunami, the tent communities in the south who
continue to live in miserable conditions even after six months claim
that while their sufferings are yet to ease, those affected in the
LTTE controlled areas suffer the same. "We are all humans. Our
plight is equal to the plight suffered by the victims in the north
and east. We cannot differentiate the Tamils from the Sinhalese
during these troubled times. If those affected by the tsunami are in
favour of the mechanism, then the JVP or the JHU have no right
opposing it as it is we who have elected them to power,"
The communities also maintain that
while the donors have pledged monies for all tsunami victims
islandwide without any discrimination, it is only right for the
government to distribute the aid with the help of the Tamil rebels.
"The donors have not shown any discrimination and the monies
have been pledged for the people of the north and east as well.
During these troubled times we should forget about our religious
backgrounds and ensure that the nation has a speedy recovery,"
Following former US President, Bill
Clinton's visit to the island recently, the tent community said
while the tsunami mechanism has received the support of
international leaders, it was an advantage to the country as this
way the mechanism would be closely monitored by these leaders after
During his recent visit to the island
the former US President mentioned that while he strongly supports
the functions of the mechanism between the government and the LTTE
for equitable sharing of aid in both sides of the country, the
mechanism would also have a positive impact on the peace process. He
added the mechanism would also dispel apprehensions of
discrimination and therefore he strongly supported it.
In response to Clinton's comment on the
peace process, the tent communities were of the view the mechanism
would indeed have a positive impact on the peace process as it would
ease tensions between the Tamil Tigers and the government. "The
mechanism will have positive signs on the peace process as both the
LTTE and the government will be in close contact with each other.
This is advantageous to the country," S. P. Liyanage said.
Liyanage, who lives a few metres away
from Prematunga, also maintains that while the JVP and JHU used the
mechanism to earn political mileage, it was only right for the
President to decide on what is best for her country. "People in
the north have also been affected by the tsunami so we cannot oppose
the intervention of the LTTE in the distribution of aid. The JVP
must stop 'barking like dogs' and concentrate on what's best for the
country," Liyanage said.
He added the series of protests staged
by JHU MPs also proved that the monks in this country were on par
with the JVP as both had ulterior motives in opposing the tsunami
Fasts unto death were launched by JHU
MP, Ven. Dr. Omalpe Sobitha Thero and Buddhist monk Ven. Dambara
Amila Thero, which concluded with both monks being admitted to
hospital due to their deteriorating condition. This, the victims in
the south claim was unnecessary and baseless, as both monks only
caused further unrest in the country. "I strongly believe that
monks should be in temples and not in politics. They are responsible
for teaching us what is right, but today it is they who have
forgotten the right from the wrong," Liyanage said.
Right and wrong
He added while it was the job of the
monks to preach and educate the public on discrimination, today it
was they who were discriminating the Tamils from the Sinhalese by
staging fasts to express their opposition to the mechanism.
"Just by remaining without food and water for days is baseless.
This is not how a monk should behave. If the monks in this country
want what's best for the people, then they will help the government
in releasing funds to the victims without any further delay. Staging
such meaningless protests only causes political unrest in the
country," Liyanage said.
The JVP, having initiated a project of
building 150 houses for tsunami victims in Hikkaduwa has also been
labelled as "liars" by the tent communities for building
these houses in haphazard conditions. "They have built the
floors using concrete. They say the cement which they received to
build these houses has been stolen. When we go to question them
further and complain that we are unable to sleep on concrete floors,
they physically push us," W. Ariyaratna said. He added while
these homes did not have electricity or basic facilities such as
toilets, it was evident that the JVP had built these homes just to
earn votes. "However, we are not fools. We voted for the JVP,
but now we regret casting our votes for these people who only want
to destroy the nation," Ariyaratna said.
He added while the tsunami money had
been pledged by the donors, the JVP or JHU had no right in making
any decisions involving the distribution of aid. "The JVP
cannot build us homes and now they voice their opinion on the
mechanism. They are in power only to oppose all what is best for the
country. The government is better off without them," he said.
Others in the tent communities were
also of the view that while political parties continued to debate
over the distribution of aid, the nation only had to watch silently
as they destroyed the nation over their political arguments.
"The parties who oppose the joint mechanism are unaware that
the victims in the north and east have suffered a great deal. It is
because of this that they are opposing foolishly. The Tamils are
humans just like us and they deserve the money just like we do - no
matter who distributes it, the LTTE or the government," J. H.
Wijedasa is joined by many when he says
that he will not accept the aid if it is not distributed equally to
the victims in the north and east as well. "We will not accept
funds or aid which is distributed to only parts of the country. The
country received a lot of funds soon after the tsunami, but a lot of
these funds 'disappeared.' We do not want these funds disappearing
as well as these monies belong to us," the tent communities
While the country continues to battle
over the joint mechanism - some parties to its favour while others
oppose - thousands of victims continue to suffer without shelter,
food or money, silently watching the political drama in the country.
But as they claim, those affected by the tsunami do not bother about
politics as long as they are given the freedom of a normal and
peaceful livelihood without further delay. "We have suffered
enough. It is time we are given our freedom," they said in
is rotten in the state of Sri Lanka
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark" was what the
Bard from Avon said centuries ago about the land of
"Hamlet" in his drama relating to the vacillating prince
of Denmark. Many of us in Sri Lanka or abroad have known that
something was rotting in the Island nation for many decades since
Independence from the British. Different people have had and will
continue to have different ideas about who was or is to blame.Many
interpretations have been given to the sequence of events troubling
the country in the past.
Needless to say a dominant school of thought among the Sinhala
people holds that the minority communities particularly the Tamils
are to be blamed for all the problems. The Tamil armed struggle
which often took on a "terrorist" hue has made it
easy for these proponents to push their line. The rise to power of
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam with its ruthless and often
unnecessary violence has really helped in this respect. There are
many who say that there is no ethnic or political problem in Sri
Lanka. The only problem is "tiger terrorism" they say.
The Thamil people on the other hand blame Sinhala Buddhist
majoritarian hegemonism as the root cause for all these types of
problems. The systematic discrimination , oppression and repression
pushed the Tamil people to a position where they had no choice other
than to take up arms is their stance. Even those Tamils who do not
agree with the policies or methods of the LTTE often subscribe to
this viewpoint. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has been one
Sinhala leader who has had the courage to admit this and say so
publicly on numerous occasions.
Recent developments however have demonstrated that there is a
powerful political strand within the majority community that is
still unwilling or unable to make any meaningful move towards ethnic
rapprochement or reconcliation. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and
Jathika Hela Urumaya with their numerous appendages are firmly
opposed to President Kumaratunga entering into a joint mechanism
with the LTTE for rehabilitating and reconstructing the tsunami
affected areas of the North - East. The JVP has even quit the
government on this issue. The saffron brigade has conducted so
called "death fasts" and is likely to do more in the
The anti - joint mechanism forces have launched an agitation and
unless nipped in the bud will enlarge their scope of action
tremendously in the future. From the time some saffron clad
political activists and politicians in white nationalist gard
intimidated Chandrikas father into tearing up the Bandaranaike -
Chelvanayagam pact this pattern of Sinhala - Buddhist
aggression against any meaningful agreement with the Tamils has
persisted. Only Junius Richard Jayewardene defied this type of
resistance. But then he had the Indians threatening him with a
greater danger. Sadly the Provincial Council brought in to devolve
power to the Tamils works in all parts of the Island except the
North - East.
If the earlier opposition was to protest some political power being
given the Tamils the opposition at this juncture is indeed laughable
if the matter was not so serious. The protests now are against what
is essentially an administrative arrangement for providing tsunami
relief and rehabilitation. Interestingly the opponents of the Joint
mechanism say that they do not know the details of the
proposed structure. If so the opposition then is to the principle of
a joint mechanism with the LTTE.
"No truck with a terrorist organization" is the battle
cry. Fine! But then the Country - particularly the Sinhala
areas - has been enjoying peace and relative prosperity for
the past three and a half years only due to a ceasefire agreement
entered into with the same terrorist organization. The logical
conclusion of this argument can only result in a revocation of the
ceasefire and war erupting. That is what the warmongers and the arms
It must be frustrating indeed for the International community and
other proponents of the Post - Tsunami Operational Management
Structure to see the tragi - comic drama unfolding before their eyes
right now. Their brainchild conceived in the aftermath of the
tsunami disaster is on the verge of a forced abortion. The carefully
constructed mechanism aiming to contain the tigers in rehabilitation
and reconstruction may never see the light of day given the powerful
ultra - Sinhala opposition to it.
The international community that aided and abetted Colombo in
prosecuting a war with the LTTE realised by the turn of the
twenty - first century that the Sri Lankan forces were incapable of
achieving a military solution against the LTTE. The series of
defeats suffered in the Wanni during Operation Unceasing waves, the
successful military strikes in the peninsula including the fall of
Elephant Pass, the siege of Jaffna, the defeat of the States much
flaunted counter - offensive Operation Agnikheela etc demonstrated
that a military victory was beyond the reach of Colombo.
It was then that the Western nations and Japan began actively
promoting the peace process. Earlier it was lukewarm support on the
one hand for peace while bankrolling South Asias longest war on the
other. It was decided that the only way out was to promote a
political settlement during the course of which the tigers would be
"contained" in a state of non - combat. It was perceived
that the longer the tigers kept away from fighting the greater their
chances of dissipation, dissension and decay. It was correctly
surmised that internal revolts and defections will occur. These were
partly proved right in the form of Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan
alias "Col" Karuna.
Unfortunately for the "west" the xenophobic Sinhala
chauvinists were unable to realise that the peace process was being
mooted and promoted for their own good. The idea was not to split
Sri Lanka but to ensure the fractured Islands unity, sovereignty and
territorial integrity albeit in a federal system. The west was also
prepared to let the LTTE enjoy some "extra -
Constitutional" power in the process. The main idea was to keep
the tigers quiet and away from the battlefront. The West was ready
to tolerate many human rights violations including the killing of
political dissidents and conscription of minors by the tigers as
long as they did not start fighting with the Sri Lankan state. Of
course some token protests were raised but they were for the most
part - token.
Unfortunately the West never comprehended or anticipated the extent
of anti - Tamil feelings in the Sinhala supremacist psyche. They
miscalculated the inherent hegemonistic attitude of the Sinhala
majority (Mahajathiya) towards the minority (Sulujathiya)
communities. They rushed in like fools while angels who had burnt
their wings like India feared to tread. The end result was
continuous cries of opposition to the West's well - meaning efforts
by the Sinhala hawks. An active conspiracy theory was floated and
believed that Oslo was the catspaw of sinsister forces out to
dismember tiny Sri Lanka. The bitter irony for the west was that the
conspiracy theory if at all present in the peace process
was only aimed at weakening the tigers gradually and doing away with
the separatist threat . But the "Deshapremi pandithayas"
have other ideas.
Given the prevailing conditions and their own constraints in
discussing a federal solution the LTTE came out with its Internal -
Self Government Authority proposal. Even before it was discussed the
knives were out. The chief culprits in this were President Chandrika
Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and her trusted foreign minister Lakshman
Kadirgamar. They whipped up a campaign against the ISGA and used it
as a stratagem to condemn the Ranil wickremasinghe regime. The JVP .
Buddhist fronts etc joined the bandwagon. After shamelessly
exploiting the situation to her advantage Kumaratunga dissolved
Parliament and held elections. She joined forces with the Sinhala
"National Socialist " JVP. The bogeyman was Wickremasinghe
who was accused of selling out to the tigers.
They won but without an absolute majority. Worse still for
Kumaratunga she found herself a captive of the JVP that had got 39
seats, four ministerial and four deputy - ministerial posts. Despite
the reins of office being in her hands Kumaratunga found herself
completely shackled when it came to the ethnic crisis. The JVP was
against Norwegian involvement, against devolution and against having
anything to do with the tigers. If Kumaratunga thouht the lure and
spoils of office would have mellowed the JVP she found the national
socialists as firm as ever on the tigers. In a sense the JVP was
being honest to its policies, election manifesto and voters. This
resulted in a deadly stalemate on the ethnic front.
The tigers were losing patience fast. By December last year the LTTE
had decided on some firm action. It was decided to declare a
withdrawal from the ceasefire by Feb 23rd 2005. The announcement to
that effect was to be made on Jan 14th. There would be no immediate
recourse to war but the LTTE would be keenly watching the situation.
If that situation had come to pass a full - fledged war would have
been inevitable by April - May this year.
Then came the tsunami disaster. North - eastern coasts were
devastated as in the case of the South - west. Given the extent of
suffering caused a return to war by either party was out of the
question. On the other hand the natural calamity provided a
humanitarian opportunity for resumption of dialogue. There was no
need to talk of federalism or devolution or the ISGA proposal of the
LTTE. Instead both parties could talk about providing relief and
rehabilitation to the afflicted people. Moreover both sides could
forge a common mechanism to address those needs and concerns
speedily and effectively. If this did materialise then that could
pave the way for further talks on more substantive issues.
In order to encourage this move the international community pledged
a very generous aid package but with one big string attached. Both
Colombo and Kilinochchi should forge some joint mechanism for the
money to be delivered on time and as pledged. In fairness to her
Kumaratunga too recognized immediately the merits of this move.
Thereafter she actively promoted such a venture. The LTTE too
responded positively. Yet the pace of discussions on what was an
urgent humanitarian project was dismally slow. Despite the tardy
progress the project reached finality. And then the excreta
collided with the oscillator.
Many years ago former TULF Parliamentarian S. Kathiravetpillai
made an apt comment about the nature of things in Sri Lanka.
Comparing Sri Lanka to the apartheid South Africa state prevailing
at that time Kathiravetpliilai said" Racism in South
africa is skin deep; Racism in Sri Lanka is soul deep". Even
the West may have never bargained for the reaction to the so called
P- Toms or Joint mechanism. Of course the objection was to giving
powers to the terrorist LTTE but the underlying thoughts were
fundamentally racist. After decades of exercising hegemonistic
control over the Tamils the hard - liners were in no mood to
accomodate sharing power even in a tsunam relief project. The
Amarapura Mahanayake in an interview to the BBC used the word
"demallu" (Tamils) openly and inter- changeably when
rferring to the LTTE.
the Sinhala chauvinist supremacists have won the first battle. They
have succeeded in pressurising Kumaratunga to backtrack on the JM
for the present. She has promised that she will not sign the
document without consulting the Mahanayakes. She has also guaranteed
that the JM will not threaten the unity, sovereignity or territorial
integrity of the Country. This was no concession as the project
never did harm those in any way. In fact the JM strengthened those
The JVP threatened a pull - out from the Government on
June 16th if Kumaratunga did not pull back from the project by
June 15th. At midnight the JVP announced it had quit and scheduled a
press conference on June 16th to explain their position.
Kumaratunga however seems equally determined and has declared that
she would quit rather than go back on the Joint mechanism She
continues to delay signing the agreement perhaps due to astrological
considerations. There is talk about a bill being presented to
Parliament too. Defections are also in the air.Politics is the art
of the possible and many turns and twists are possible in the near
future.One silver lining has been the common position on joint
mechanism between Kumaratunga and Wickremasinghe.
Whatever the final outcome of this unholy struggle one fact has been
proved conclusively. The original sin in this garden of Eden was
Sinhala - Buddhist majoritarian racism. Sri Lankas slow path to
decline and destruction began with the Sinhala - Buddhist chauvinist
policies of the post - Independence era. The fundamental and major
problem standing in the way of a united , undivided Sri Lanka has
been majoritarian hegemonism and unwiilingness to recognize
the inherent rights of the other minorities or nationalities living
in the ISland. Other problems emanating from other communities are
minor or lesser in nature when compared to this.
From the time this peace proces began I have been interacting with
several western diplomats and journalists. They would continuously
harp on the LTTE factor and project it as the biggest stumbling
block to lasting peace. While agreeing that the LTTE does pose a
problem I would argue that the greater problem would be the Sinhala
chauvinists. The activities of the tigers would give them a pretext
but historically the majority mindset will not allow any tangible
rights to the Tamils I would say. I would also point out past
history and say that the power elites were either unwilling or
unable to withstand opposition on these issues and will be cowed
down by the chauvinist forces.The response on most counts would be
polite disbelief. The naked exhibition of aggressive Sinhala
Buddhist consciousness against the proposed joint mechanism may have
demonstrated what is rotten in the state of Sri Lanka.
Let there be no mistake about it. The rise of Sinhala - Buddhist
chauvinism is the bane of modern Sri Lanka. From the days of the
Buddhist Commission to the present times of a joint mechanism this
underlying current is visibly present. From Anagarika Dharmapala to
Omalpe Sobitha there are Buddhist champons ever ready to deprive
Tamils. There are excuses always and the jargon used appears to be
reasonable and just on the surface but the vicious communalism is
always there. Now the brutality and violence of the LTTE is depicted
as the reason justifying opposition to the joint mechanism. But then
these same forces attacked SJV Chelvanayagam and Appapillai
Amirthalingam as exyremists too.
The rise of the religious right is a dangerous phenomenon in South
asia. India is fortunate that there are vast numbers of
intellectuals, political leaders and opinion makers from the Hindu
community itself who are prepared to combat this Hindu
Chauvinsm openly and vigorously. In Sri Lanka there are very few
members of the Sinhala Buddhist ethnicity who are prepared to do so.
Unless and until a new breed emerges from the Sinhala - Buddhist
entity to challenge this hegemonistic school of thought effectively
utter ruin is unavoidable. Forget about Tamils or Muslims there is
no hope for the Sinhala people in the modern world if these arch -
reactionaries continue to flourish. Let us not forget that for four
and a half years (1966 - 70) we had our week - ends on Poya and pre
- poya day. Such was the depth of our folly in trying to appease
It has been said of the French Bourbons that they learnt nothing and
forgot nothing. The same could be said of the Sinhala - Buddhist
hegemonists too. If the International community does really want a
genuine, just, honourable and durable peace in Sri Lanka it must
address itself to this majoritarian mindset. The problem lies there.
It does not matter whether the LTTE is really prepared to abandon
Tamil Eelam or not at this juncture. What matters is that the
JVP and JHU are giving the tigers a very legitimate and valid
reason to decline direct talks on a lasting settlement. If the
Sinhala majority is not ready to share power on a limited enterprise
like the joint mechanism what chances are there then that a scheme
of devolution or federalism will be accepted? would be the tiger
argument. Against that backdrop the LTTE cannot be faulted if it
does not come to the negotiating table. One only hopes and prays
that the LTTE will not resort to war.
The recent demonstrations against the Joint mechanism and the JVP
stance are a firm wake - up call to the International
community.Something is rotten in the state of Sri Lanka. It is time
to take note of what is really wrong in Sri Lanka. The root cause of
the problem needs to be addressed. But then how long will that take?
Meanwhile The North - Eastern victims of the tsunami have waited too
long for relief and redress. They cannot be expected to languish in
refugee camps while the majoritarian chauvinists whip themselves
into a frenzy. How are these innocent victims of a natural disaster
going to receive the pledged international aid? We cannot wait for a
joint mechanism to be forged in a society that is soul deep in
racism. Desperate situations require desperate remedies. The
suffering people should get help as soon as possible. Time is of the