Better Late than Never

by editorial, June 26, 2005

Exactly after six months of the tragedy of Tsunami its Thamil victims, who constitute the overwhelming majority, can look forward to rebuilding what little remains of their life.  The agreement now signed between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government puts in place an administrative mechanism for a three-tiered structure for the distribution of relief for those affected in the six districts.  It is not an instrument of any political advancement for the Thamil people in their struggle for self-determination and national liberation.  Tamils, undoubtedly will not lose sight of this.  Nevertheless it an extension of the peace process set in motion in 2002.  It also gives a relatively easy sailing for President Kumaratunga until the end of her tenure of office, unfettered by the extreme rightists the National Liberation Front (JVP) and other chauvinistic factions.

Cynics among the Sinhala chauvinists have pointed out that the victims were better off now than before the tsunami, as they are now being assured three meals a day.

When the two billion US dollars begin to circulate, there is bound to be an impact on economic development.

Pressured by the international community, Kumaratunga had to recognise the stark reality of acknowledging the Thamil leadership of the LTTE.  Readers would recall that this journal, fifteen months ago, warned of the dangers of Kumaratunga coalescing with the JVP in an editorial captioned "Strange Bedfellows."  Unfortunately, in the eyes of the international community, the actions of the JVP and other Sinhala extremists, especially during recent months, have brought irreparable shame on the Sinhala people, who have always prided themselves in having been the preservers of Buddhism in its pristine form.  It is indeed an irony that Kumaratunga had to give a few lessons on the teachings of the great Buddha - compassion and peace - to devout Buddhists, including the Buddhist clergy, before getting the document blessed by them.  She has put to shame the saffron-robed men strutting about in Parliament and has marginalised them.

In addition to lessons on the precepts of Buddhism, the bulk of the Sinhala masses can do with a few more lessons on the true concepts of sovereignty and its preservation vis--vis federalism.

We have been critical of President Kumaratunga, but we now applaud her for her bold resoluteness in trying to help the Thamil Tsunami victims and for her efforts to forge relative peace in the country in the midst of rabid racist opposition.  Given the circumstances and the environment within which she acted, it must be said that she is the only Sinhalese leader who could have done it.  She can do more if she wants.  Little did she realise how strong she is.  The JVP do not know how weak they are.  Unlike the former leaders of her party and like her late husband, the President should reach out to the true Thamil leadership and create a meaningful dialogue between the Thamils and the Sinhala people in working out a fair political solution in the interests of permanent peace and justice.

Neither nation on the island should think that their prosperity and preservation are dependant on the adversity and the impoverishment of the other.  Each nation should complement the other.  It is only then that the sovereignty Sri Lanka can be preserved.  We hope the day when the need for a separate State is thrust on the Thamil people by the actions of Sinhalese extremists will never come.


Posted June 28, 2005