Daily Archives: July 14, 2006
JR turned a blind eye and a deaf ear when some of his ministers made millions. That set the trend; we never had such accusations during the times of DS, Dudley or Sir John; the muck got washed up with the so-called open economic policies of the post ‘77 government.
As Moragoda states the supporters expect value based politics from the UNP. What are those values that have been lost? He identifies them as "the values of our founding fathers namely honour, public service, humility, honesty and personal leadership."
He further states that he "believed in a party that represented all communities, all religions, and all other groups in our society. "For me their vision and personal example meant everything". Milinda Moragoda appears to yearn for a renaissance.
A news report in The Island has referred to a confidential letter written by Milinda Moragoda personally to his leader Ranil Wickremasinghe expressing concern over certain happenings in their party. The leak itself tells its own story of the pathetic state of affairs in the UNP, which was at one time referred to as the Grand Old Party of Sri Lanka. It appears that the party is reeking with intrigue and its leaders are indulging in all forms of machinations which would make the leaders of the past such as DS and Dudley literally ‘turn in their graves’.
The fact that an internal crisis of grave proportions exists in the UNP has been confirmed by S. B. Dissanayake, who has called for the revamping of the Party. Restructuring, it is stated, might be at the expense of the present leadership! Does this mean a coup and the ousting of Ranil and his gang? Perhaps by the ‘new comers’?
Moragoda states that he joined the party "because it reflected the values of our founding fathers namely honour, public service, humility, honesty and personal leadership". He further states that he "believed in a party that represented all communities, all religions, and all other groups in our society. "For me their vision and personal example meant everything". We need to commend him for reminding us of what the Party stood for and what it should be standing for. What an indictment of the party; it must be stated that these words echo the sentiments of many who have in recent years seen the UNP in particularly slide, moving away from value based politics of the 40s, 50s and the 60s and wallowing in the cesspit of politics.
This could not be what the supporters of the UNP expected from their party. In recent years the party has been seething with corrupt politicians who have come into politics solely to make money using the power which they acquired through the party being elected to office. JR turned a blind eye and a deaf ear when some of his ministers made millions. That set the trend; we never had such accusations during the times of DS, Dudley or Sir John; the muck got washed up with the so-called open economic policies of the post ‘77 government.
The PA was no better and the UNP that returned pledging clean politics did no better than the PA and even embraced politicians who had indulged in corrupt practice under the previous regime. The UNP of today is certainly not the UNP of old.
To whom and where should the people who support the UNP turn, to restore the values which Moragoda bemoans is absent in his party and in politics today? The JVP claims to be a value based, principled, political party but their past actions and their Marxist economic policies will only take the country back to the 19th Century.
The SLFP appears also to have dug themselves into a huge pit and are said to be wallowing in mud themselves. The people have been left stranded, abandoned and orphaned.
As Moragoda states the supporters expect value based politics from the UNP. What are these values that have been lost? He identifies them as "the values of our founding fathers namely honour, public service, humility, honesty and personal leadership". He further states that he "believed in a party that represented all communities, all religions, and all other groups in our society. "For me their vision and personal example meant everything". Milinda Moragoda appears to yearn for a renaissance.
How could old values be restored and enthroned not only in the UNP but in the country at large? How can we end corruption which has eaten into the fabric of our society? How have Singapore and Malaysia lifted themselves from the pit they were in a mere three decades ago? One of the answers was that they had strong governments and strong political leadership of impeccable integrity. Is the UNP incapable of providing this to the people?
Immediately after this Parliament was elected, we were treated to some extremely rowdy scenes therein, we were left wondering why some MPs go to such absurd lengths to prove that they are the last persons we should have sent to such a hallowed place as a Parliament. Sadly, the House lost much of its dignity in the first two days of this Parliament.
The pith and substance of politics is no doubt the acquisition and exercise of power, but those who wield power and those who aspire to power must understand that there are written and unwritten rules and common decency that must attend them at all times.
Sri Lankan Democracy has acquired a form all its own after 1956. It is deformed. For many years our politicians confused Majoritarianism with Democracy, even today most politicians understand Democracy to mean the vulgar business of majority rule; a situation where the Opposition has no role whatsoever in the governance of the country. This simplistic and vulgar understanding of Democracy prevails seventy years after universal suffrage was introduced and fifty eight years after Parliamentary democracy was established in the country.
The British, when they handed over power had not perhaps held classes on how they work the system – and why the Opposition is referred to as ‘Her Majesty’s Opposition’ and the alternative government. These and other concepts and Conventions that govern Parliamentary Government and the fact that governance is a cooperative effort, seem unknown to our Legislators and more so to those card carrying members of political parties. They do not understand that the art of politics is compromise, though it is conceded, as stated before, that the pith and substance of politics is the acquisition and exercise of power.
Though our political parties describe themselves as Democratic, they do not practise intra-party democracy. In the UNP, for instance power is concentrated in the leader, he nominates the highest bodies of the Party and they elect the leader! Hooray for Democratic practice!
As for our political parties, two things – hate and absolute hate, divide them. The opposition is the ‘enemy’ and if possible should be eliminated. That seems to be the underlying thinking (I should not dignify this crude, vulgar form of politics by saying that hate and consequent violence is their ‘Philosophy’).
President Premadasa, a practitioner of the politics of a street fighter, matured and came around in his last years to realising that Politics was all about consultation, consensus, and compromise. That lesson does not seem to be understood by our politicians today.
Confrontational politics is the name of the game in this country. From the day that, for instance Chandrika came into office, she, as the President did not allow the UNP to forget what she termed were their misdeeds over eighteen years – even after ten years in office we heard the same refrain. She attacked them and their leader even when she wanted them to co-operate with her; strange logic-and even stranger behaviour.
There seems to be a difference between what is piously stated by politicians and actual action. This can only be explained in terms of our sick political culture. The fact that we claim to be a civilised people is certainly not evident from our behaviour; we have adopted ‘slum culture’ and lost our traditional values. Politics in this country seems to be devoid of decency.
Politics in this country is today a blood sport governed by the rules of the slum – where the criminal underworld rules and where the scum of our society predominate. Politicians were for some years the patrons of the scum but the wheel appears to have turned and the scum from the slums, with their values, have begun to lord it over the politicians.
Quite a number have become politicians themselves. The form of politics that is found in the West – and which we have had in this country in the 1950s and even into the 60s appears to have gone out of the window, but I hope not forever. Political parties in this country represent organised hatred. The blood sport could result in a blood bath at the next elections unless we do something about it.
Incidentally, it is rumoured that some ‘new UNPers’ had been planning a coup in Parliament to topple the government and that is said to be the reason for the President having enticed UNP members to join his government; quite plausible.
Milinda Moragoda has ‘privately and confidentially’ drawn attention to a situation which his leader appears to have chosen to make public, we thank him for doing so for we now know of the back-biting and intrigue that is being practised.
We the people can only express our exasperation for we expect our political parties to consider the trust placed in them as being sacred and to enthrone the values Moragoda has mentioned, we also wish our political parties to co-operate fully at a time when the country is facing great peril. Though bipartisan politics is unknown in this country it is the need of the hour, if we are to head off the LTTE and the establishment of a separate state in the North and the East putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Tamils living in the south in jeopardy.
More than half the politicians living today would either have retired from politics or gone to the nether world in the next decade. Since the clock is ticking for them, they should at least at this late hour put aside their differences and unite to save the country and ensure peace and prosperity for all our people. -Island by A Special Correspondent
Even if Prabhakaran were to ask for medical assistance, we believe, he should be brought for treatment. Perhaps, Angoda or Mulleriyawa will be the best place for him.
LTTE spokesman Daya Master was rushed to Colombo on Wednesday, for treatment following a severe cardiac arrest, with the help of the security forces. The government was right in having positively responded to a request from the LTTE to escort him and facilitate his hospitalisation. In a civilised society, the sick must be looked after, irrespective of who or what they are. While seeking the government help to remove its spokesman, the LTTE, true to form, carried on its killing spree. Two policemen were killed in a mine blast in Jaffna.
How can the LTTE, which is not at least capable of looking after a senior cadre with a heart condition claim to run a de facto separate state? In a terrain devoid of basic healthcare facilities, what will be the situation of the ordinary civilians if war breaks out?
The LTTE is said to be ruthless but we consider it more shameless than anything else. Otherwise, how could it ask for an escort within weeks of the assassination of Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunga in Colombo and within months of the brutal killing of SSP Charles Wijewardena in Jaffna, let alone other assassinations like that of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and the attempt on the Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s life.
What the Sri Lankan governments have been doing is in stark contrast to the way the so-called five star democracies are dealing with their terrorists. When the US invaded Iraq, it unleashed hell on that country; even the chemicals used for water purification were banned and as a result thousands of children have died of dysentery and allied infections. Would Washington have ever allowed an Al Queada leader to be escorted by the US troops for treatment in Iraq or Afghanistan? Would Britain have escorted a terrorist involved in 7/7 attacks to a London hospital for treatment? We pose these questions to those who pontificate to this country on human rights.
India, too, expresses humanitarian concerns whenever clashes erupt here. But how did it treat its terrorist, Veerappan, who was partially blind and seriously ill at the time he was finally trapped? He was done to a cruel death. Given his condition, any decent person would have expected India to rush him to hospital. India, it should be recalled, refused Anton Balasingham passage in 2002, despite his plea that he was seriously ill, as the LTTE had killed former Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi. Here, the LTTE has killed an incumbent President (Ranasinghe Premadasa) and almost succeeded in assassinating another President (Chandrika Kumaratunga). But, Sri Lanka helps the LTTE leaders receive treatment in Colombo, which they have bombed many times. Apart from escorts, we have had a Defence Secretary-Austin Fernando is his name-visiting a senior LTTE combatant in a Colombo hospital with a basket of apples!
The survival of the LTTE has been possible due to the humaneness of the much maligned state. It is dependent on the very state it is hell bent on destroying. While living off the food and medical supplies the state sends to the areas under its control, the LTTE has to concentrate only on procuring arms, abducting children, extorting money from the war affected, manufacturing bombs and assassinations. The outfit won’t have a cat in hell’s chance without supplies from the state. Terrorism thrives, as we have pointed out in these columns, in a democracy. It fizzles out when it meets its match in an equally ruthless political regime. The well established Italian Mafia ceased to exist under Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship. That’s why sympathizers of terror groups become ardent champions of democracy to prevent states from resorting to ruthless counter terror. Let it be immediately added that we don’t advocate either sanctions or counter terror, lest our comments should be misconstrued.
James P. Grant, the visionary Executive Director of UNICEF, who declared war on ‘global silent emergency’ (read deaths of millions of children from preventable diseases) considered Sri Lanka’s conflict a ‘civilised one’ in that the state feeds the LTTE and wounded LTTE cadres receive treatment in state-run hospitals. The Tigers have been biting the hand that feeds them.
Being humane and democratic is not without problems. But a civilised society has no alternative. The government has come under heavy fire from some quarters for its magnanimous gesture. While the consternation of anti terror activists could be understood, it should be realised that a democratically elected government of a legitimate state cannot act like a terrorist outfit and deny medical or surgical care to the sick. Even if Prabhakaran were to ask for medical assistance, we believe, he should be brought for treatment. Perhaps, Angoda or Mulleriyawa will be the best place for him.
The ‘ Health card of Prabhakaran is not so rosy as it ought to be’ was probably the most read article in recent times. This article appeared on the 3rd July web edition of the Asian Tribune, giving a detailed description of Prabhakaran’s health condition , which is said to have become a matter of serious concern among the inner circle of the LTTE.
The article also describes Prabhakaran’s eating habits like how much ‘pittu’, parripu and murunga he eats and his daily routine including how much time he spends on watching videos etc.
His ailments are said to be originating from his diabetes and bouts of depression. The report goes on to say that some of the adverse points in the health reports are not brought to his attention, due to fear that such reports might affect his health further. And that most of his workload is taken off his shoulders and delegated to trusted cadres.
Although such information does not reach with sufficient veracity, it is no doubt bad news for pro LTTE Tamils and good news for the Government and Sinhalese. Even if the information is not true, it tends to relieve many quarters that believe Prabhakaran is the only cause for the conflict in Sri Lanka.
The article appears to be particularly important to the sectors that are trying to assess the fate of the LTTE when Prabhakaran is no more. Some analysts strongly believe that the LTTE will collapse when Prabhakaran leaves the organization. One way or the other. Tigers heavy dependence on Prabhakaran is cited for this view.
Experts argue that this whole organization is built on just one supremo and that is Prabhakaran who is the only pillar that holds the entire LTTE empire. For LTTE cadres, pro LTTE Tamils as well as a good part of Tamil expatriates and diaspora, Prabhakaran is a living god, who is expected to open up the door for a Tamil homeland.
The rebel JVP, not the democratic JVP of today, disappeared minutes after Rohana Wijeweera was caught and killed. The the JVP had been heavily dependent on their leader, who believed that the country has to be taken over by militaristic means. This is one factor, among others that make many observers believe that the LTTE will equally disappear, with the demise of its leader Prabhakaran..
This is simply because Prabhakaran cannot be compared to any rebel leader in the world. When he revolted against the Government of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan President was J.RJ. He is now fighting the 5th President with no changes in the LTTE leadership. There were a combination of attributes that kept him alive and made him what he is today. It is unlikely that anyone else will represent the LTTE with similar characteristics for some time.
Since leaving Chidamparam school in Valvetiturai, Prabhakaran had one ambition and that is to lead a nation. It is true that he has chosen the path that is unacceptable to the existing socio-legal system. Prabhakaran never saw his ambitions being fulfilled under this system, unless he was prepared to lick the boots of the up scale and caste minded politicians. Instead, he believed in gaining power through the spread of fear psychosis.
The strategies that he adapted towards reaching his goal are to be wealthy on the one hand, and to be ruthless on the other. He has spelt out his goal throughout his campaign. His wealth seems to be well spent on his army which we notice on LTTE’s various passing out parades.
All LTTE cadres take their oath in the name of Prabhakaran. The commitment is undertaken in his name. Considering all these, some are of the view that the moral of the entire organization will be shattered when they do not have Prabhakaran anymore. To that extent, the argument that the LTTE will not survive without Prabhakaran could be rational.
Another set of observers put forward other arguments that counter the above version. One is the tendency for politics to submerge the reality. For instance , when I sat to do this piece, I was half watching the Dhamma discourse transmitted live on air, and if I heard it correctly, the monk said,
‘ The Sri Lanka Freedom party is the only party that did not go to an extreme in the political history in Sri Lanka’.
Sri Lanka has struggled with a conflict for over two decades and this is how a monk plays politics in an important dhamma discourse, which was aired live by two stations to the people of Sri Lanka.
This simple example shows us that the circumstances are very much in place for another Prabhakaran to emerge. or may be more Prabhakarans to emerge. In finding a political solution to the Tamil minority, the first step is to acknowledge that there were issues due to Sinhala extreme politics and the Tamils needed to be given a constitutional guarantee, that such discriminative repercussions will not occur again in this country. The other side of this fact was amply described by the outgoing US Ambassador recently. He said “A solution to Sri Lanka’s civil strife would require radical changes in the way the entire nation is governed. These changes must empower all the people of Sri Lanka: Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others, and give them a greater say in how they are governed in the areas where they live.”
He basically said ‘enough is enough’. I doubt if Sri Lanka has the courage to contest this and tell the Americans to mind their business. What did the American Ambassador observe during his three year tenure, petty politics, corruption, malpractices and more. This is the description of central governance in Sri Lanka through the eyes of a senior diplomat of an important country, which Sri Lanka heavily depends on.
Those who were responsible for economic development paid no attention to the income disparity. Sri Lanka still boasts about a free health system ( they say better than America !), while none of the politicians or their children spend a day in a general hospital. Our so-called free education produces thousands and thousands of unproductive and unemployable youth into the society.
Prabhakaran, under the present governing system, and with his JSC qualifications could have become a labourer in a municipality, peon in a Government ministry or gone abroad after bribing an agent, and parting with a large sum obtained from a house mortgage. But it is not the case for the children of the affluent who bust up hundreds of dollars in night clubs in Colombo.
Prabhakaran has killed thousands of people including civilians. And yet he has a large number of followers, including the suicide cadres, and the explanation for this would be that these followers have not seen a future in the country under the present system. For them, killing human beings and robbing money from the poor, would be an equal sin. Therefore, the loss of Prabhakaran would mean, several Prabhakarans’ emerging to carry the ball and run.
The second argument that counters the version that Prabhakaran is LTTE and vice versa is the system that he has built to run his organization. From the days where his cadres were wearing half sarongs and worn out rubber slippers, Prabhakaran has come a long way. He has built a huge international network from shops to ships. He has almost completed building a de facto state with judiciary, police, customs, hospitals etc.
It is impossible for one person to run a huge organization like the LTTE, if adequate management functions are not delegated. The commitment of the subordinates is generally assured when the leader himself is committed to the cause. It appears therefore that systems have been developed to run the LTTE without much decision making by the Prabhakaran himself. This would mean that LTTE system will function effectively, even with a board of management in the future.
Many writers have mentioned about Prabhakaran’s children, without sounding the slightest possibility of one of them taking over the reins. Unlike Prabhakaran, his son for instance, has no adverse record, he is not wanted by Interpol, he is educated, and he will be much recognized here and abroad. We do not know what Prabhakaran’s plans are for his children. If his son ever takes over the LTTE, it will be a different LTTE that the Sri Lankan Government will have to deal with in the future. -Daily Mirror By Thanuka