The Worst Weapon of Mass Destruction

Thinakural Editorial, Sept. 22, 2004

Translation by M. Thiru

A Summit among world leaders to discuss World Hunger took place at the UN Headquarters last Monday (20/09/04), the day before the commencement of the United Nation's 59th General Assembly session.  More than 100 nations participated in this summit, of which more than 50 nations were represented by their leaders.  Although George Bush was invited for the summit, he avoided attending it.

A resolution was passed at the Summit to fight the war against hunger, on a worldwide scale for which the organization has to raise $5,000 million a year in development funds.  The terrible sorrow is not the severity of poverty that prevails, rather it is the fact that - though we have ways and means to eradicate hunger - it still exists.  The resolution passed and was signed by the 110 countries at the Summit.

Sri Lankan refugees in India

A report proposing the collection of additional funds through various means was also prepared at the meeting.  All the countries in the world  were asked to take an interest in the proposals in the report.  Some of the proposed ways to raise additional funds stated in the report are: to levy taxes on the sale of heavy weapons, introduce worldwide tax on money transactions, and to levy a nominal tax for the purposes of hunger alleviation on those who make credit card transactions.

French President Jack Chirac has greatly praised this report on the world hunger, that was prepared by the Summit members.  This Summit was organised at the initiation of Louis Ignacio Lula de Silva the President of Brazil, who has been emphasizing the necessity focusing on world hunger ever since he came to power in 2003.

While the president of France was commending the report which proposes equitable, economic-based solutions, Anne Vernon, the Secretary of Agriculture who headed the US delegation, rejected the proposals.  Her views were that economic growth is the only long term solution to eradicate poverty and hunger and taxes world wide are implicitly against democracy.

Today there are more than 100 million people who are earning less than a dollar per day.  In the nations south of the Sahara there are 30 million people who are living in absolute poverty & famine.  Four years back, member countries of the UN promised to halve the number of people who are in absolute poverty in the world by the year 2015.  UN authorities are warning that the target cannot be achieved at the current rate of action, unless a fund of $5,000 million/year or more is raised to carry out meaningful action to alleviate poverty.

It was pointed out that the main impediment to the eradication of poverty is the inability to raise this amount of money.  UN secretary general Kofi Annan has pointed out that the world economic powers have not lifted a finger in trying to improve the living standards of the people who are suffering from absolute hunger and poverty worldwide.

All at one time 56 presidents, 25 Prime Ministers, and 86 Foreign Ministers are going to attend the UN's 59th General Assembly meeting in New York.  The message stated in the report by the participants of the Summit should be understood by all the world leaders, particularly those from the rich countries.

The French President Jack Chirac, who courageously voiced his concerns against the way in which world affairs are approached by America under the leadership of George Bush, has sent a timely warning at a conference organised by ILO( International Labour Organisation ) in New York on Monday.  The conference theme was " Social Dimensions of Globalisation. "  The warning was "there is no wealth without initiative and freedom; but neither should we forget that the price of selfishness is rebellion."

We would like to remind readers here of what Mahatma Gandhi has said: "There is sufficient wealth to satisfy the need of everyone in this world, but there is not enough wealth to satisfy the greed of everyone."

Comments by translator:

Did the President of SL and or FM Laxman Kadirgamar attend this summit?  Though CBK had studied in France and her political knowledge was shaped to a large extent by that, did she understand the French President's sentiments on equitable economic solutions that he was talking about at the Summit?

I doubt neither the SLFP leaders or the JVP leaders understand this kind of economical issues.  Even if they understand, they do not care.  Do they know where their country stands in the global economic ranking?  Or rather,  do they put their Country's interest (the people's interest) first or their party interest first?.

Sri Lankan refugees in India

If they read carefully, the quotation from Mahatma Gandhi reflects Buddha's thoughts on Greed & Power at the expense of their country, i.e. the people.

Sinhalese leaders must take responsibility for creating the environment conducive for the creation of poverty not only among Tamils, but also among the majority of the Sinhalese.  The UNP had a rally on the rising cost of living, but will they hold a rally on the ISGA to convince the Sinhalese majority?

Do Sinhalese leaders know where Ceylon was in the world ranking in 1953 ?

In 1953 I was only 6 years old.  There were pandals and decorations in many small towns between Palaly (Jaffna Airport ) and Kokuvil (at the border of Jaffna City).  These were for receiving Sir John Kotalawela, the then PM of Ceylon.  My father was one of the many who was involved with organising a grand reception for the PM.  I think it was at Kokuvil Kotalawela promised equal status for Tamils.  Unfortunately, when he returned to Colombo he had to face many problems. Subsequently stepped down and Dudley took over, I think.

I was told by my father then that Ceylon was one of the richest countries in Asia and her Foreign Reserves / Gross National Product was the best in Asia (I cannot remember the figures as I could not understand the terms at that time.  The only thing I understood was that Ceylon was one of the best countries in Asia.)  I was also told by my father the ideas Sir John Kotalawela had about how to treat the Clergymen who interfered in running the country.  Unfortunately Kotalawela could not continue as a PM.

Since 1948 who are the leaders governing SL? What development work has taken place in the NE?  Who lost Lands in the NE border areas?

All the leaders have been Sinhalese.  The ministry posts given to Tamils were just tokens.  Senator Thiruchelvam could not do anything.  The three major factories ( KKS Cement Factory, Paranthen Chemicals and Valachenai Paper Mills ) were put up in Tamil areas because of the availability of raw material in that area.  Yet for political reasons cement clinker was taken to another area for grinding.  Except a few Irrigation Tanks (Iranai Madu, Akkaraian, etc ) there have been no major developments in the NE.  Yes, on the borders of the NE there have been major Irrigation Schemes (Kal Oya, Padavia, Kantalai and so on ) carried out, but these Tamil lands were colonised by the Sinhalese from other areas.

What has been the total spending on the armed forces since 1983? How much money has been spent on the purchases of military equipment, weapons etc ?

What is the manpower cost for employing and maintaining the armed forces since 1983? What is the total cost of compensation for war deaths of armed forces?

What is total economic loss to the Tamils and SL because of the occupation of lands by the armed forces ?

Do they know the suffering of the NE people after the economic sanctions by CBK in the LTTE held areas and before the A9 was opened ?

What was the loss productivity in the NE ?

What is the expenditure they are incurring in keeping the armed forces since the CFA? What is global ranking of SL in economic terms ?

How much foreign aid has the SL government received since 1983 and how has it been spent? How much have they spent in the NE other than military expenditure?

Sri Lankan refugees in India

The Sinhalese leaders should know the ISGA will help not only the Tamils, but the Sinhalese also. By giving ISGA to Tamils, Sinhalese masses can put pressure on Sinhalese leaders to deliver good governance without blaming Tamils. This way both the NE and the rest of SL can progress both economically and socially and there will be better trust and understanding within 5 years to go for a permanent solution acceptable to both sides.

If Singhalese leaders are not convincing the Sinhalese masses on the need for ISGA, then our Tamil economists or other Tamils who have information as answers to the above questions can write and make Singhalese aware (where they stand economically now) on the economic benefits of the ISGA in a rapidly globalising world.

Otherwise, the unitary state they want to keep will be a subjugated one not to the Tamils but to foreigners.


Posted October 1, 2004