Penalty shootout with no goal posts
My dear Mahinda Aiya, Peace be with you.
Ayubowan, vanakkam, asalamu alaikkum and best wishes as you also probably would join the world in getting a massive kick out of world cup soccer while Sri Lanka gets kicked around in a home and home clash without clear goal posts but lots of penalty shootouts.
While more than three billion people – half the world’s population – reportedly were all eyes on the feet, battered Sri Lanka got an indirect kick out of its extraordinary five–zero thrashing of England in the one-day international series – the most disastrous showing in England’s one-day cricket history. Horribly, the thrashing in cricket came at the same time that England’s world cup soccer dreams were shattered in a penalty shootout with Portugal, with glamour boy captain David Beckham quitting the top spot.
While new captain Mahela Jayawardene carried Sri Lanka to somewhere near the world cup heights in one-day cricket, the administration here appears to be embroiled in achcharu politics. While your hard line and ambitious Minister Sripathy Sooriaarachchi is seeking the top spot in Sri Lanka cricket you are reported to be backing Nawaloka tycoon Jayantha Dharmadasa in a strange turn of events because Mr. Dharmadasa has often been associated with UNP politics.
In the more serious and important scene of the ethnic conflict and national politics, many wonder whether you were biting off more than you could chew when you decided to bake former President Chandrika Kumaratunga for her birthday cake. At least two top Ministers and once your ardent supporters – Mangala Samaraweera and Jeyaraj Fernandopulle have strongly protested against the manner in which a furious Ms. Kumaratunga was removed from the SLFP leadership after her family held it for 54 of the party’s 55 years. If things go well for you, the Bandaranaike family – perhaps the most powerful political dynasty in Sri Lanka – might virtually be buried in the Horagolla Samadhi. But Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is known to be a fighter and though she does not have the power to do what she did to the Ranil Wickremesinghe-government in 2004, she is likely to strike soon if the political and socio economic situation continues to crumble in confusion and chaos.
The confusion within confusion and the contradictions within contradictions appear to be continuing with latest reports indicating deals between your government and the main opposition UNP in at least two areas with perhaps more to come. According to reports, the JVP is blazing and breathing fire over the Ceylon Electricity Board Reforms Bill charging that it is largely a rewiring of the earlier UNP Bill to gradually privatize this vital state institution. JVP front liner and union leader K.D. Lal Kantha warned that the party would go into full battle to block the bill while the JVP-backed CEB trade union gave a more shocking warning that even if the Bill is passed the union members would pull the wires out and force a blackout.
Amid these cross currents, Power and Energy Minister John Seneviratne said the government expected the support of the UNP to get the CEB Reform Bill through and the main opposition party was likely to respond favourably.
In another major agreement, the government and the UNP have reached a compromise on the 18th Amendment for the setting up of circuit Courts of Appeal in the provinces, with the number of judges being increased from 11 to 21. The compromise was on who would have the power to decide where the circuit courts should function and other important matters. The original draft gave this power to the Chief Justice but the UNP wanted the power to be given to the President of the Court of Appeal and the government had reportedly agreed to make this significant amendment to the 18th Amendment.
With the JVP threatening to break connection with the governmenton the CEB issue while the UNP offers a hand of cooperation on at least two vital issues, the big question in the coming weeks would be whether we would see a major change in strategic alliances. But the lack of a clear vision and the achcharu politics of agendas within agendas, groups within groups and strategies within strategies create a Tower of Babel situation which very few analysts could figure out because of the different languages and interpretations.
The key question however would be the possibility of cooperation, if not a deal, between your government and the UNP on the ethnic conflict and the resumption of peace talks. According to reports you were keen on having a dialogue with UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe whose controversial if not explosive ceasefire agreement is still the only factor preventing a blood-bath and a division of the country despite the loopholes and drawbacks in the agreement. But Mr. Wickremesinghe was apparently not keen on the meeting because he probably does not trust you in view of what you have done or failed to do after taking over the powerful executive presidency. Instead Mr. Wickremesinghe flew away to Germany for another long tour only weeks after he returned from the United States where he had an extended vacation. With Mr. Wickremesinghe out you met UNP front- liner Milinda Moragoda, but he is better known for his smooth talk or slick operations and how far he could influence a PA-UNP link is another big question.
On Thursday the LTTE reportedly responded to the message you sent through the Uthayan newspaper editor and publisher, offering to hold direct talks with the LTTE bypassing the Norwegian facilitation. The LTTE has reportedly put forward five conditions to prevent what it calls an imminent war. The Tigers have also insisted on continued facilitation by Norway. Among the five conditions of the LTTE are the disarming of the Karuna faction, stopping of attacks on Tamil civilians and the lifting of an economic embargo on the north. Though you wanted to bypass Norway, the LTTE is insisting on the facilitator, and weekend reports said Oslo was proposing that monitors from Switzerland and New Zealand be brought in to replace those from European Union countries.
On Monday the LTTE compromised and agreed to Norway’s request that the deadline for EU monitors to leave would be extended till September 1
So as we enter July, 23 years after the 1983 holocaust, it seems that to hope against hope is our only hope and that someone somewhere would kick start the peace process in world cup style.