In a totally botched strategy, President Chandrika Kumaratunga on
Friday tabled in Parliament --and thus communicated to the country
-- the provisions of the MoU on the Post-Tsunami Operational Management
Structure (with the awkward acronym P-TOMS). Hatched in darkness
and incubated in secrecy, the document finally made public on Friday
shows good reason why it was kept a secret even from the second
largest coalition partner of the Government.
last of the 8-page document contains the following words;"
....The District Committees, already established, and well-functioning,
shall continue their work". It begs the question, then - why
on earth did this MoU have to be laboured with?
reason why this newspaper refrained from undue criticism of the
provisions of the MoU (apart from critical comment on the justifiable
complaint by the JVP that as a senior partner of the coalition government
they were not being consulted), was not only because the MoU's details
were not made known, but because the argument trotted out by the
Government's spokespersons, including the President herself, was
that the MoU was the beginning of a new dawn when the LTTE would
be prepared to work with Colombo. They argued that this was the
beginning of rapprochement -- and the end to war.
MoU has nothing on this subject. The MoU has nothing on many other
issues as well. Nothing about the monitoring of these funds save
a vague reference to monitoring the functions of the P-TOMS.
there is no explanation as to why the Regional Committee which will
handle the bulk of the workload and the funds in the north and east
should be located in Kilinochchi, the headquarters of the LTTE.
And no explanation as to why, for heaven’s sake, the people
of Ampara district need to be governed by a Regional Committee which
will be chaired by the LTTE from Kilinochchi. Are you driving them
to take up arms as well?
questions arise about what is called the 'High Level Committee'.
Even the wording is blatantly transparent -- the three different
levels are District, Regional and High? The High-Level Committee
is a euphemism for a National Committee.
MoU seems to deliberately omit the fact that this National Committee
refers to the six districts of the north and east. In the absence
thereof, it implies that this National Committeee therefore refers
to tsunami relief work all-island, including in Galle, Matara and
Hambantota and as the chair of this committee is supposed to rotate,
the LTTE will get its chance to chair this National Committee as
the UNP devalued the position of a sovereign state by making the
GoSL (Government of Sri Lanka) a co-chair in the SIHRN (Sub-committee
on Immediate Humanitarian and Rehabilitation Needs of the north
and east) programme, President Kumaratunga has gone still further
by making the GoSL subservient to the LTTE by agreeing to be a Deputy
Chairman of the Regional Committee – which will be chaired
by the LTTE -- and then compounded it by placing a sovereign Govt.,
on equal status with the representative of the Muslim community
in this committee.
implication what it has done is yield to the very propaganda of
the LTTE that the GOSL represents the Sinhalese, and therefore,
the GOSL is in fact, a Sinhalese Government!
are some significantly dangerous provisions introduced – for
instance, the power to build jetties in the north and east (sea
bases for the LTTE?), and the fact that the tsunami-hit areas need
not be confined to a 2 km ' ribbon' along the coast, as is the argument
of its proponents, but include land areas "affected by the
re-settlement of persons as a result of tsunami", which can
be anywhere inland as well.
entire exercise seems to be a case of confusion worse confounded.
Instead of closing a war in the ‘east’, the President
has opened one in the ‘south’. Whether this is going
to help end the war in the north and east is very much in doubt,
given that the LTTE, even now, gives no credit to the President
for pushing through the P-TOMS. They say, and the TNA echoes their
sentiments, that the President cannot be trusted.
This is what the UNP says. And the JVP says. And the JHU also says.
A President whom nobody trusts.
the provisions of the MoU have a bearing on the larger peace process.
They will be taken as precedents by the LTTE in their future dealings.
And it is all going to be detrimental to the GOSL and the people
of Sri Lanka when they eventually (if at all) negotiate with the
LTTE on the final solution to this two-decade-old conflict.
as we commemorate six-months since the country’s worst disaster
hit its people, leaving almost 40,000 dead, the P-TOMS and its laboured
birth has sapped the energies of the nation’s leadership,
so much so that the ringing theme of those who survived that trauma,
and are living in hell today, is that those who died were the lucky