Daily Archives: February 15, 2007

UNP will not keep pulling Vitharana’s legs – Ravi

by Zacki Jabbar

The UNP said that unlike some in the government it would not keeping obstructing APRC Chairman and Science and Technology Minister Tissa Vitharana’s efforts to achieve a consensus on resolving the ethnic conflict.

Colombo District UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake said that the “UNP will not keep pulling Vitharana’s leg” even though it has exited the APRC in keeping with its decision to annul the MoU with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

Karunanayake, in an obvious reference to those in the government who after giving Vitharana a mandate to obtain a consensus on resolving the ethnic conflict are critical when a majority decision is reached, said that the UNP does not blow hot and cold with the future well being of the country and its people.

“We have no problem with what the APRC is trying to achieve. Our leader Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe has already assured Professor Vitharana of the UNP’s fullest support to find a lasting solution to all national issues.”

Karunanayake said that Vitharana has an uneviable task of achieving a consensus amidst various obstacles, but the UNP, which continues to remain in the APC even though it has pulled out of the APRC, will act responsibly in the national interest.

The shorted sighted actions of President Mahinda Rajapakse which resulted it the UNP being forced to cancel the MoU with the SLFP, will not preclude us from acting in the best interest of all Sri Lankans, he said.

Meanwhile, Vitharana said that he hopes to submit the APRC’s final report in about 50 days time.

“The UNP represented by Mr. K. N. Choksy made a useful contribution at the last sitting of the APRC and I am convinced that they will continue to support our endeavours to achieve a consensus on all outstanding issues.”

He, said that the APRC report once finalized would be placed before the APC for ratification. “Progress is possible despite the divergent views that have been expressed.”

A majority in the APC experts panel have recommended that maximum devolution be provided for the North and East. The two provinces they said should be merged for ten years at the end of which a referendum on the unit of devolution should be held.

Those dissenting have called for the drafting of a new Constitution. They have alleged that the majority view had been arrived at the behest of the pro LTTE lobby.

The SLFP’s General Secretary and Agriculture Development Minsister Maithripala Sirisena said that the SLFP will present a set of proposals to the APRC shortly.

“Any solution reached has to be within the concept of one Sri Lanka. We will not permit the division of the country”, he said. via … The Island

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Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict: What solutions?

By Dr. W. M. Karunadasa

Sri Lanka remains as one of the “Oldest Democracies” in the Developing World (Third World) which emerged as an independent “State Nation” at the end of the World War II. When she was granted independence in February 1948 by the British Raj, she inherited “Westminster Model” democratic political institutions and the legacy of colonial economy. After 59 years of independence, democratic political regimes in Sri Lanka have miserably failed in transforming its colonial economy and changing its social fabric by serving the best interests of the nation or the common people.

The resulting consequences began to manifest in Sri Lankan society particularly since early 1970s where the youths of Southern Sri Lanka revolted against the then government of Mrs. Bandaranaike by taking up arms. The “unrest” of the Sinhala youths in the south had been repeatedly demonstrated another armed uprising in late 1980s that went against the democratic government of Jayewardene. Meanwhile the youths mainly the Tamils in the Northern parts of Sri Lanka, apparently following the example first set by Southern groups of militants in early 1970s had chosen the option of using the “bullet” instead of “ballot” since the early 1980s.

The bagkground to such armed uprisings against democratic governments in Sri Lanka and clearly indicates that that the younger generation of the country irrespective of the language they spoke were airing their grievances mainly on economic and social underdevelopment . Although the armed uprising of Sinhala youths of Southern Sri Lanka had been suppressed for good, the “bullet” option sought by Northern Tamil youths, who are presently organized under one umbrella, the LTTE, could not be suppressd for nearly three decades. This is purely, not because of any weakness of the Sri Lankan armed forces, but because of the undue interest taken by certain countries . Their interests over the island’s internal affairs were mainly based on the assumption that Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka and they are being discriminated against by the majority Sinhalese.

Although the actual ground situation differs from this assumption no country outside Sri Lanka has attempted to understand the Sri Lankan issue in the correct perspective. Instead, certain countries, NGO’s, Human Right groups, sympathizers, well wishers and various lobbies all over the world began to extend their support to the Tamilian cause headed by the LTTE, which they identify as a liberation struggle. With the blessings of outside forces, LTTE began to tear apart the entire social fabric of Sri Lanka by eliminating all the Sinhala and Muslim minority communities living for centuries in the LTTE dominated areas.

(Dr. W. M. Karunadasa, Professor of International Relations and Attorney-at-Law, University of Colombo)

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A snap election: Don’t even talk about it!

We are a nation of flibbertigibbets afflicted with logorrhoea. Look at the way most Sri Lankans keep whiling away their time. Prattle has become our favourite pastime and rumour mongers are going great guns. Gossip is the thing that gives most Sri Lankans the kick.

Political propagandists are thriving on this national trait. Like the legendary Hanuman, who once set Lanka ablaze by using his tail as a torch, the political monkeys give the public a daily dose of rumours and keep the flames of political uncertainty alive. They generate mass hysteria about a political leader’s raja yoga (sign of triumph and ascendancy in horoscopes) or maaraka (portent of death). The latest rumour being floated is about a snap election.

The internal strife of the government which erupted last week with three dissident ministers being sacked, we are told, will lead to an election. Rumours are usually not to be taken seriously but this particular one warrants discussion because it is being vigorously peddled by some key members of the Opposition.

Who needs an election at this juncture? That the government doesn’t need a premature election is clear from its desperate effort to strengthen itself in Parliament. If it is confident that an election is going to be a cakewalk, it won’t hesitate for a moment to dissolve Parliament and secure a comfortable majority. An election is a journey into the unknown. Remember that New Zealand politician who went by a pre-polls survey and promised to run naked in public, if he lost the election concerned. He lost! And he had to carry out the promise, which he did with a slight amendment though. He wore a G-string! That’s the way with elections. The UNF, which won handsomely in 2001 lost ignominiously in 2004! So, President Rajapakse, in spite of his battlefield successes and the debilitation of the UNP, may not want to take the gamble. Instead, he might engineer some more defections from the UNP. He has miles to go and many promises to keep before he is ready for an election.

In public, the UNP leaders may challenge the government to dissolve Parliament. But in private they shudder to think of a snap poll, having already been badly beaten at about 14 elections—we’ve lost count!

Eighteen of its prominent parliamentarians have defected to the government and some more are likely to follow suit. In short, it is in disarray as never before. Another electoral defeat will cause many heads to roll in the UNP, reforms or no reforms!

Utter the word ‘election’ and any JVP leader will run a mile. The JVP fears an election more than both the UNP and the SLFP. For, it is fully aware that its stellar performance at the 2004 election was a flash in the pan. It knows that a repeat performance at a future election is only will-o’-the-wisp. Had the JVP at least retained its ministries and completed its grandiose yet pro-people programmes like the tank rehabilitation project, it would have brought itself closer to the people. The JVP, to its credit, managed to make some difference in governance. But, some of its revolutionary pundits driven by the pre-diluvial shibboleth cooked their goose by turning down President Rajapakse’s offer to rejoin the government. That the number of JVP parliamentarians will plummet drastically, if it goes it alone at an election is a foregone conclusion. The JVP obviously doesn’t want to be branded as an outfit which has failed in both revolutions and democratic politics.

The JHU is the party that can least afford to face an election. It has apparently come to terms with the political reality. For, it doesn’t ask for an election and is trying to build its vote base as evident from its decision to accept a ministerial post. One of the first few things that the new Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka (JHU) has done is to lend an ear to the trishaw operators battling a government ban. There are 1.5 million people dependent on trishaws. A lot of votes to be tapped! The JHU seems to know which side of its political bread is buttered.

The TNA will also have its work cut out at an election. The LTTE has lost the East and in the North, too, it cannot deliver as many votes as it did in 2004 to them through large scale rigging. A sharp drop in the TNA numbers in Parliament as a result will mean a massive blow to the LTTE on the political front as well. So, whatever the TNA may say in public, it is doubtlessly wary of an election.

Thus, a snap election which is going to cost a great deal to the public purse is not something that any political party can afford to face. It is a frightening proposition for the public who has to pick up the tab. On the other hand, they know that an attempt to improve their lot through an election is like, as a saying goes, changing pillows to cure a headache. They have experimented with pillows of all colours and are fed up with them.

Rumours of a snap election serve no one’s purpose other than that of those who seek to create uncertainty in the minds of investors and confusion in the minds of the frontline troops. -The Island Editorial

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