A super colossal joke

The ground clearing work on the Rs 4,100 million Presidential Palace complex is now threatening to flood Sri Lanka’s picturesque parliament that cost even more to build, it has been reported. Already Rs 799 million have been spent on ground preparations in the nine-acre complex, and unless this ground clearing work is completed, the soil on this site will be washed into the Diyawanna Oya Lake raising water levels of the lake, flooding the parliamentary complex as well as residential houses in the vicinity. Another Rs 350 million are required for this flood prevention work.

All this is reported in the state-controlled Daily News, whose scribes, loyal to President Kumaratunga when she held sway, said nary a word on this Presidential Palace complex while the private media such as The Island screamed against it. Now it reports about Rs 799 million going down the drain in bold headlines.

The building of this Presidential Palace complex sounds indeed a super colossal joke because while public opinion throughout the country railed against it, President Kumaratunga with her characteristic indifference to public protests went ahead with the project. But work on the project was stopped in its tracks when President Kumaratunga lost her parliamentary majority and the JVP agreed to prop up her government and put it on ‘probation’ - one condition being that the Rs 4,100 million project be halted.

Now the UNF government is in a dilemma: Spend Rs 350 million more for completing the groundwork or be flooded out of parliament!

All this may sound a ‘believe it or not’ story from the pages of Ripley. A radical socialist comes to power on a mandate of eradicating wastage and corruption, engages in construction of massive billion rupee residential projects for herself and the Speaker, while the economy crumbles and a so-called war rages on. She then stops the projects for political survival and finds that in defeat, even her favourite lapdogs in the media are barking furiously at her.

Meanwhile, billions of rupees have gone down the Diyawanna Oya and are we to continue to row merrily down this stream? We simply cannot afford to do that.

Prime Minister Wickremasinghe has two options left. He can spend the least amount to complete the groundwork to stop flooding of the parliament and await better times to complete construction and make use of the building for more productive purposes than the residence of the president.

Better still, he should keep up with the current trend and privatise the property. Sell it for the use of a private hospital, the location being ideal for it.

The UNP it is claimed has a good reputation for business and management. So far, this government has yet to live up to that reputation.

Tigers in sheep clothing

The LTTE front offices, under various innocuous sounding names, are carrying out propaganda inWestern countries despite the stiff resolutions adopted by the UN against global terrorism and several western nations proscribing it as a terrorist organisation.

A front page report says that the well known LTTE front organisation, the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee, is organising a march on the 25th of this month on the United Nations in Geneva for self-determination and the establishment of a separate state, while calling upon the Sri Lankan government to recognise the LTTE as the sole representative of the Sri Lankan Tamils

Switzerland has not banned this organisation, but its government and other European nations cannot be oblivious of the fact that the LTTE has been categorised as a terrorist organisation by the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia, and the LTTE does come under the ambit of the UN resolutions on terrorism.

These nations that do profess a concern for peace and democracy in Sri Lanka should realise that such laxity towards proxy organisations of the LTTE is one way of sustaining terrorism in Sri Lanka.

The Tiger is certainly attempting to hide its stripes as is evident by the prompt denial of the LTTE spokesman of the allegations made by the US government that the ceasefire agreement is being violated.

The Sri Lankan government, too, appears to be mollycoddling the LTTE and looking away from the crimes they are committing. The country is waiting for the government to bring to the notice of the Norwegian monitors the violations of the ceasefire agreement and what proposed action the Norwegians contemplate.

Meanwhile, it is reported that Anton Balasingham , the LTTE spokesman, who should be charged for the mass slaughter of about 700 policemen in the Eastern Province, is to pass through Colombo to the Wanni in connection with talks on the ceasefire. Let Mr. Ranil Wikcremasinghe refresh his mind. There are citizens of this country who want Balasingham tried as a war criminal for the mass murder of the 700 policemen.

Your comments to the Editor