alliance - or "who is afraid of the JVP?''
Near consternation and delirium greeted the accord between the JVP
and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party signed last week at the BMICH. Colombo's
elite was gagging, but there was an emotional reaction from the
left and centrist forces that think they are but a short march away
the alliance must come to power, and if the people will it, it would.
For starters, it was difficult to realize why the business czars
had to panic the people. When the JVP was on the brink of usurping
power through an insurgency they still panicked, as I distinctly
remember, saying that the 'system'' is tottering on the brink. Why
they should then panic when the JVP is well within the system and
is becoming a stakeholder of the political establishment is funny
for exposing the confusion of the business elite and the other obese
buffoons and sundry props of the convenient establishment.
there will be a phase of uncertainty if there must be an election
today and the new alliance is propelled to power. But the catastrophe
that the elite predict, as if they have been mortified by a diurnal
apparition is nothing but a case of hysteria. They should consider
the medieval wag who opined "the worst of our fears are imagined."
thesis of total systemic collapse due to the JVP insinuating itself
into government is undercut by the fact that several of today's
rampaging economies are in fact theoretically and ideologically
socialist though in practice unabashedly free market! Count China
and Vietnam, and consider also that China is the fastest growing
economy on earth.
is anxiety about JVP economic policy which of course is based on
a theory of production as an antidote to market vagaries -- but,
clearly the JVP is not and cannot be socialist to the point of being
isolationist. For example, Malaysia has been cited by one of the
JVP's idealists as a copybook case for emulation by Sri Lanka's
future economic planners.
that's the case, Sri Lanka's stock markets should be rocking instead
of reversing, because Malaysia is one of the regions top Tiger economies,
approaching a quality of life that's close to Japan in the region.
But instead, the business leaders have got pneumonia and the political
theorists have respiratory failure even before the JVP has caught
signals and vibrations do matter in the world of investor confidence
and international goodwill, and the JVPs sudden entry into any position
of government will no doubt (this is all written in the hypothesizes
that it is only a possibility) engender some negative reaction.
But, if business plays its cards right, and does not cause a run
on the system by a self fulfilling panic scenario, then the SLFP-
JVP combine might have a chance to settle into the stark realities
could mean some good things, some bonuses too, even though an interruption
to the economy on the immediate term may create a certain number
of temporary hiccups. For instance, we would be fortunate to see
the back of Milinda Moragoda style of buccaneering robber baron
missionaries for globalisation who were determined to hand this
country kicking and screaming even, over to the Americans. But that's
only an incidental bonus.
will be a real bonus if a JVP-SLFP combine can deliver, but a caution
has to be sounded on that. Hitherto no Bandaranaike government has
been able to deliver on the economic front. But it does not mean
that sub-continental lessons will be entirely lost on a new combine.
For example, similar reactions of horror greeted the arrival of
the new Vajpayee government in India, especially on account of its
mosque burning Muslim baiting xenophobic Hinduthva partiality. But,
eight years down the road, the Vajpayee government has made an economic
powerhouse of India, and Vajpayee has now called for early elections
because he is so confident of winning.
story of an untried JVP coming to power may not have the same happy
ending as the story of an untried BJP coming to power in India,
but considering that JVP will be under the wing of a larger party
-- at least making the flank in a combine with the SLFP - there
is no need for any stock analyst to go into deep convulsions.
if a new combine works as it did in India, it can have other bonuses
also. Hopefully such a combine would offer some resistance to the
horrendous designs of the IMF World Bank twins who with the help
of American corporate capital want to privatize water resources
takeover virgin forestland and create an American protectorate of
sorts in this part of the Indian sub-continent. A special salute
can be raised to a new power combine also if it can make irrelevant
the national pestilence that goes by the name of the foreign funded
that notwithstanding, there is the issue of peace. Here, prevailing
indications are that a Chandrika government is not averse to a federal
solution and that the Interim Administration etc., are not total
anathema in the Kumaratunga book. Besides, the JVP says it will
talk to the LTTE, which makes for a bottom line assessment which
is that the new combine wants peace almost exactly the way the UNF
does, except that they want peace to dawn on their watch. Given
that long-term peace is difficult under anybody's watch, why should
business lose its shirt?
this is not to say that there isn't going to be a negative jolt
on the economy if there is an election now. There is going to be
a period of uncertainty if a new government is returned to power
and if by some chance that is a JVP/SLFP government. The country's
real problem is that both sides want to do more or less the same
thing in the end - but there is never any continuity in economic
policy or the policy on the conflict. But, all this column is doing
is facing the reality that an election seems to be coming - and
if one is coming - there is no reason to panic the people merely
because there is a possibility that the JVP might be in government.
asked what his economic policies are, Wimal Weerawansa said ''agriculture
and productivity'' and then he said ''those who are now selling
radios can get into agriculture'' and that most of our earnings
are spent on food. He said foreign investment is needed, almost
as if it was an afterthought. But incumbency will give this man
who seems to know absolutely zilch about how a Malaysian style economy
grows, a few hard knocks. As in India, there is a hope that an ''obscurantist''
dispensation will learn facts fast. But most of all the fact is
that the JVP seems amenable.
LTTE has announced already that it will not talk to the Sinhala
chauvinist ingathering of forces represented in the new combine.
This is bad news - but if there are signs that there will be a new
round of war, people will certainly not vote for a new alliance.
Already the obscurantism and the absurdity of the new combine on
the issue of the conflict is being thoroughly exposed.
the new combine is not anti foreign investment, and besides there
will be some big brother in the SLFP to supervise any swooning rustic
back to the land idealist. True, to put a temporary break on a growing
economy at this time is almost a crime. But, there can still be
continuity even in the eventuality there is change, only if the
business leaders don't pretend that it is the end of the world.