was just last week that we asked the question "is this country
having one, or two legal systems?'' The LTTE this week gave an affirmative
answer, while the government seems to remain silent on the issue.
The LTTE ceremonially
commissioned one more of their brand new police stations in Palugamam
in the East on Tuesday. That sort of thing may not be news anymore
in this land, but what was different during this ceremonial inauguration
was that the Government's Additional District Secretary was present
at this LTTE opening ceremony. If that was not unusual enough, the
Norwegian umpires from the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission also paid
a courtesy call shortly thereafter.
Ranil Wickremesinghe told many sanguine things to the Asia Society
in New York recently. He said:
there are risks in negotiations and we have to be aware of them.
Violations have to be monitored and verification is critical. Concessions
have to be fair and balanced, and this is what we are trying to
do, and in these efforts, international monitoring teams are active.
part, the Sri Lanka of my vision is a land which gives a fair deal
to all its people, a land where all communities can move around
in safety, a land in which violence is restricted, but opportunity
is unrestricted. These are, of course, broad generalities, but they
are the overall guidelines that must underwrite any national compact.
There will be no secret pacts, no under-the-table transactions,
and no hanky-panky.''
Coming so soon
after round two of the peace talks in Thailand, is this not "hanky
- panky" by the LTTE?
With our government's
negotiators globe-trotting (Milinda Moragoda in USA, G.L. Peiris
in Australia) drumming up support in a frenzy for this month's Oslo
meeting which seeks to reconstruct the war-ravaged north and east
- and the Government's Additional District Secretary going for the
opening of an LTTE police station, cannot one be excused for asking,
Quo Vadis, the unitary state of Sri Lanka?
and bear-for some
The citizenry were all told that the
economy is improving, but that they had to grin and bear a little
longer while the peace dividend accrues. Hours before the budget,
the prices of gas and bread were raised.
Grin and bear
would be palatable - if the leadership of the country took the lead.
While the public service of the country is streamlined to look leaner
and meaner, the Cabinet keeps expanding. MPs are given laissez-faire
to import duty-free vehicles. The number of overseas jaunts by Cabinet
Ministers are a gross wastage of public funds, and the Finance Minister
Mr. Choksy will himself testify to this.
There can be
no artificially induced tightening of belts. If the spirit of extravagance
pervades the political leadership, then there will be an inevitable
'trickle down' in the form of more useless spending by the public
sector as well.
the people are made to suffer during times of war as well as times
of peace, there will be a quick discontent with the promised peace
dividend. Even though it is acknowledged that the peace dividend
takes time to accrue, there does not seem to be a rationale for
adding to the substantial burden that is already being carried by
the people.- by wastage at the highest levels of leadership.