Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Small Change

Oru editorial, January 20, 2006

What have you got in your hands to offer, Mr. President? You have precious little. You have only small change for a political solution.

Solheim meeting Pirabhakaran will mean nothing if he comes to Vanni with small change

So the dates are now set for the final drama. Eric Solheim, the tireless, much-abused, 'salmon-eating' emissary, now a Minister in the Norwegian government, arrives on the 23rd. He will have high-level discussions with the Mahinda Rajapakse government and will have to carry a proposal from the government that meets the aspirations of the LTTE and the Tamil people.

Meanwhile, Mr. Balasingham, due from London, will be associated with the Tamil national leader in evaluating whatever proposal Mr.Solheim brings. Mr. Thamilselvan has already warned Norwegian ambassador Hans Brattscar and Monitoring Mission chief Hagrup Haulkland, who met him in Kilinochchi on the 17th, that, if Mr. Solheim fails to deliver a “message of positive change” from the government, disaster will follow.

What kind of positive change can you expect from a fumbling President, completely out of depths in governance, who has to depend for his majority in parliament on his back-seat driving racist allies, the JVP, and for support from a cowardly Kotakadeniya gang that, unable to stomach the repeated losses of their armed soldiers and sailors, take their revenge on unarmed civilians, both in the northeast and in Colombo? What can you expect from a President who listens to rumours and uses rowdy language on the phone to a reputed editor? What can you expect from a President who tells the Hindus in a Pongal message that he would solve the “language problem” within a year!?

Man, the language problem is now 50-years old. It is old hat. It has never been solved and never will by Sinhalese governments. The problem today has gone far, far beyond a language problem. It is a survival problem for both the Sinhala and Tamil nations. Can’t you see that? What kind of a long-sleeping Rip Van Winkle are you? Wake up before the disaster that Thamilselvan spoke about overtakes you. Disaster is not something anyone likes, but, when there is a government in Colombo which itself is a total disaster, what can the international community expect from the LTTE and the Tamil people?

Now, what are the chances of your giving Solheim a “message of positive change”? You already have developed a dislike for Solheim’s face. But anyway you have to do with something when you have to hold discussions with him.

If there was anything that your miserable Indian trip told you, it is that you have to - in the first place - stop playing your old gramophone record of “maximum devolution through a unitary constitution.” Even the Indians got sick of it.

Next, you might try to offer a political framework based on the Indian model of devolution of power, hoping that India would back you to the hilt. That is not going to carry you far, because, although the Indian constitution is federal in name, governments of all constituent states are always subject to dissolution at the central government’s whim; as happened to the Karunanidhi government under Prime Minister Chandrasekera’s rule. Knowing your temperament, the first thing you would do is to dissolve the government in Kilinochchi and appoint a governor, possibly Kotakadeniya, to take over. That kind of thing is possible in India, but you cannot play the fool with an already existing LTTE government with its own army, navy, air force, police and an administration superior to yours. So, forget it.

Sit back and consider your position. Despite a hundred soldiers and sailors being killed, you are talking of “restraint.” The word “restraint” means only one thing. Under cover of that nice word you are virtually admitting you are unable to take on the Tigers. You have more deserters than recruits in your army. Your own Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sandagiri is under investigation for corruption.

What did the European Union tell you the other day? They said: “The international community can offer help in form of trade and aid, but cannot and should not seek to offer political solutions. Sri Lanka’s political future lies solely in the hands of Sri Lanka’s leaders themselves. They have to come from considering the legitimate aspirations of all communities…”

What have you got in your hands to offer, Mr. President? You have precious little. You have only small change for a political solution. Going back on fifty years of Sinhala racism at this deathbed hour would be beyond you. May Guruvayur Appan be with you!

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