who’s afraid of Bala Anna?
Myeee what a big mouth he has! No,no not the big bad wolf in Red
Riding Hood, that tale we used to study as kids in the dim past.
This is no wolf. A hyena perhaps. Certainly a tiger with a bad indigestion.
There he was, this time in Geneva spouting at the mouth, threatening
to walk out of the talks which he had no real intention of doing.
the world of bluff, Anton Balasingham's threat is known as a double
de-con. If Bala Anna, as he is known to the Tiger fraternity but
is called less felicitous and certainly more insulting names by
other Tamil groups accustomed to his antics and foul vituperations,
had intended to break camp and leave the Chateau de Bossey, he might
well have been clobbered on the head by his bete noire Thamilselvan.
Thamil S has been raring to break out of the wilds of the Wanni
since the Tigers pulled out of the peace talks some two years ago
and brought to a halt free rides the Tiger leaders got on the back
of the so-called negotiations.
November at the LTTE Heroes’ Day commemoration in London,
Bala Anna had some nasty things to say about some of the other Tiger
delegates that accompanied him to peace talks in Thailand. While
extolling his own virtues and his closeness to VP (that is Velupillai
Prabhakaran not Dick Cheney, another trigger happy chap) during
the years of the Tiger struggle, Bala Anna said how naughty the
others in the peace team were, running after women in sleazy Bangkok.
While he might have intended to point his finger at Karuna who was
also on the delegation but now in relegation, it seemed to include
Smiley, also known to the world as Thamilselvan. According to Bala
Anna the rest of the Tigers were on the loose in search of women
who were equally loose.
S had not taken to these remarks kindly when this was reported to
him, though some newspapers reported a slanging match between them
on the telephone as though the chappie who wrote this had a wire
tap going and often does much self-advertising as if to say he fought
the entire Tiger community in the UK single-handed.
that is by the way. Bala's froth and frolic did not go down well
with the audience either according to some who were present at the
meeting. It did not take long for anti-LTTE Tamils in Britain and
other countries of Europe to mount a campaign against Bala suggesting
that he be excluded from the Tiger negotiating team. If that could
not be done, Bala who some call Dr Balasingham and others a rate
veda, should be kept as far away from the bottle as he was from
Nimal Siripala de Silva when they first shook hands at the chateau.
critics really went for him saying that Erik Solheim or some other
passing guardian angel settled Balasingham's liquor bills during
the Tokyo Round. Whatever Bala Anna's personal shortcomings, VP
cannot exclude him from the team, as the Indians have done to Saurav
Ganguly, for the reason that Balasingham, in the moment of desperation
or exasperation, blurted out a complaint to the Norwegians.
to the presence of a substantial government contingent taking turns
to make statements or hurl accusations in the English language,
Balasingham confessed that he was the only one on his side that
spoke the same language. Now I am not sure whether there was a simultaneous
Tamil translation of what was transpiring at the talks. If there
was not it must have been quite a strain on Thamil S and his police
chief Nadesan (who IGP Fernando identified as a constable who had
served under him) to keep gazing into empty space since they do
not make eye contact with the Sinhala chauvinists on the opposite
side of the table.
when Bala threw down the gauntlet at the early stages it was not
because he realised what he was up against and wanted to take his
colleagues for a crash course in the English language. Bala was
doing exactly what any delegation would have done knowing only too
well how desperate everybody including the Rajapaksa government
was to see the talks get off the ground. But it was bluff, not only
because Tamil S and his policeman colleague wanted to enjoy a bit
of the salubrious early spring air of Switzerland but for a very
LTTE itself needed to be seen as being accommodating and committed
to renewing peace efforts. Let’s not forget why the Tigers
insisted on talks in Oslo and then seemingly reluctantly settled
for Geneva. After last September's European Union sanctions against
the Tigers including restrictions on travel to EU capitals, the
LTTE has been desperate to return to the European theatre they know
so well and where a substantial section of the Tamil diaspora resides.
is from these expatriate Tamils that the LTTE has been collecting
funds, voluntarily or otherwise as some Tamils in Europe confess.
If there is one thing the LTTE has in abundance it is funds. But
the Tigers still need more money.
better way then to extract donations from the Tamil diaspora than
by showing the flag in some part of Europe, if not everywhere they
used to roam before.
the LTTE leaders cannot roam around freely in Europe, there is nothing
to stop LTTE financiers and fund raisers from coming to Geneva or
Oslo to make contact and hand over the money bags.
is still another reason why for all Bala's threats the LTTE must
stick on to Europe. They must be seen to co-operate in the search
for peace. If the LTTE fails this time and walks out in a huff and
resumes a shooting war, it will have adverse effects internationally.
The EU could still ban the LTTE in the continent as well as in the
UK and Ireland, if the LTTE pulls out once more and stalls the peace
even the Norwegians would be hard put to come up with tangible reasons
to stop EU action. Geneva and Oslo might not be what the LTTE prefer.
But the Tigers have gained a foothold and they will not let go for
all Bala's threats. If Mahinda Rajapaksa did indeed ask his delegates
to call the LTTE's bluff, as some reports indicated, it is because
he has realised that both sides must be in the ring, that both sides
need the game to go on.