Developed nations can help end terrorism
The countdown for the Tigers is ticking away. Starting with proscription by India and in 1997 by the United States, the LTTE has been proscribed in Britain, Canada and on Friday by Australia. Velupillai Prabakaran and his cohorts in Tamil communities that have taken refuge in developed nations should now realise that the writing is on the wall. The world is not going to support terrorism the advancement of political causes by violent inhuman practices on innocent communities by those who consider themselves to be liberation fighters.
As an Island commentator from Australia, H. L. D. Mahindapala wrote recently, there can be no good terrorists and bad terrorists. All terrorists are bloody inhuman murderers. The world particularly the developed nations has taken quite a long time to realise it.
Osama bin Laden who flattened two of the greatest American edifices within minutes and wrecked a section of the headquarters of the mightiest military force the world has ever known, opened the eyes of the world to the fact that no nation is safe from demented fanatics even though they be hiding thousands of miles away in remote and isolated places such as the craggy peaks of Afghanistan.
The Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Friday banned 25 international terrorist organisations, including the LTTE and ordered freezing their assets under the recently passed UN resolutions on anti-terrorism measures. These resolutions called upon all member states to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorist acts.
Some nations, particularly the European nations, appear to be reluctant to comply with the UN resolutions of the global war on terrorism for reasons best known to them. This is particularly evident where the LTTE is concerned. Britain, despite proscribing the LTTE, is permitting various LTTE fronts to operate freely. The recent so-called heroes day of the terrorists, had the LTTE staging some shows in London where the theoretician of the banned organisation, Anton Balasingham spoke in the manner of a leader of a sovereign state.
The LTTE is now making desperate attempts to avoid being banned in countries from which it collects funds through extortion and contributions. Hence their attempts to pose off as peacemakers such as by declaring a unilateral cease-fire. Observers of 16 years of their variety of terrorism should realise that the organisation has gone through such peace demonstrations before not for the sake of peace but for its own military advantages. The recent pronouncements made by Prabakaran indicate that the intransigence of the LTTE remains and the basic demands are still the Thimpu demands which have been rejected outright by successive Sri Lankan governments. With that kind of intransigence on display, it will be a waste of time and energy to attempt to negotiate a peace settlement
If western and other developed nations desire peace to prevail in Sri Lanka, they should act in a manner that that would make the LTTE to move away from their intransigent demands such as the right to self determination and the north and east to be their traditional homeland despite at the recent election only 51 per cent of the Northern Province and 31 per cent of the Eastern Province voting for the TULF that had declared that they recognised the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamils.
The developed nations are capable of making the LTTE to change their ways and thinking by proscribing the organisation and freezing their assets. If the main source of income to carry on terrorism dries up then peace will surely return to Sri Lanka very soon. But if there is benign tolerance of the terrorists as it has been for 16 years, blood will continue to flow in this land.
Saving on Power
The new Minister of Power and Energy, Mr. Karu Jayasuriya has on assuming office, appealed to the public to save on power, in the context of the on going power crisis. This is an eminently sensible proposal but it has to be pointed out that public spiritedness has not been the strong point of this nation, particularly in recent years.
The knee-jerk reaction of the public to this proposal would be to claim that they are asked to make such sacrifices such as switching off even the few lights they usually use, while the rich and the powerful will have their palaces fully lit up and enjoy all the benefits of domestic electric gadgetry from air conditioners to washing machines.
What could be done is for government leaders themselves to set an example on power saving. Mr. Jayasuriya should ask the heads of ministries and other government establishments to cut down substantially on power consumption such as by reducing the numbers of air conditioners used. Even streetlights at non-strategic places could be switched off.
However, street illuminations in certain areas of Colombo such as the Town Hall area, raise the question whether this country is indeed in the midst of a power crisis. It may be that the amount of power consumed by such street lighting may be negligible but more important is that the people should be convinced that the government too is attempting to save on power.
It will be recalled that Sri Lankans were used to a far less ostentatious life about three decades ago before the advent of the market economy. Air-conditioning was a luxury in government offices and only the minister and his permanent secretary were entitled to enjoy such comfort. Air-conditioned vehicles were a rarity. Most of the modern domestic electrical gadgetry were not seen in middle class homes. But now the ambition of every Silva who wants to keep up with the Pereras is to have at least one to two bedrooms air-conditioned.
Perhaps the only way to end this kind of rat race is for luxuries and vulgar ostentation to be given up by the leaders and the public made aware of it .
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