Editorial

Sampanthan bowls a Doosra

Are the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran and his proxies in parliament now attempting-in cricketing terms — a political doosra to bamboozle the government and other political parties.

On Monday in parliament Mr, R.Sampanthan the most articulate of those to bowl LTTE doosras bowled one very cleverly which will have many playing it, quite gullibly, only to have their stumps rattled behind.

Said Mr.Sampanthan: ‘ My good friends, why don’t you see that the LTTE is being reasonable? Come up with your own proposals. Let us make the ISGA real. But then added :The LTTE leader in his Heroes’ Day speech made clear his stand: Once the ISGA is set up, a permanent solution could be discussed.

Doesn’t that sound all very peaceful and reasonable? But, hold it Mr.Sampanthan! We say, hold it!. What does: ‘Once the ISGA is set up, mean? To those who have gone through the ISGA proposals, it simply means: Once the Interim Self-Governing Authority; under the full control of the LTTE which have sweeping powers over administrative, police and legal matters in the entire Northern and Eastern provinces is set up!

The LTTE is to have an absolute majority over the nominees of the government and Muslims in the eastern province and the Chief Executive of this organisation will have sweeping powers over all government officials. The Sinhalese and Muslims who comprise more than half the population in the Eastern Province will have no say in affairs that will affect them.

In other words once the ISGA is Game, Set and Match for Eelam.

Well done Mr. Sampanthan. Nalla Thamby, Prabakaran. Mr. Gajendra Ponnambalam an up and coming pleader for the LTTE, scion of a distinguished family of lawyers, too presented a very bad case, rather convincingly, before parliament like his ancestors used to do. He claimed that only the JVP was opposed to the ISGA proposals and even President Kumaratunga was for it.

And called for parliament to vote on it. We have yet to hear President Kumaratunga making such a statement of support but Mr. Ponnambalam says so. Some TULF members earlier claimed that President Kumaratunga had said so at an earlier discussion with them.

There does appear to be some hanky-panky going on about negotiations and the ISGA. Firstly, has the LTTE changed its earlier position from: Negotiations only on the ISGA proposals to include government proposals too? Or has the government agreed to negotiate on ISGA Proposals Only?

All this beating about the bush gives room for suspicion that some kind of foul play is afoot. Before going on to negotiate with the LTTE on the ISGA proposals, any government will have to give thought to some very basic issues. The LTTE through sheer blackmail compelled the UNP government not only to lift the proscription of a terrorist organisation but made it be recognised as the sole representative of the Tamils. This government too appears to have endorsed that position. When any government agrees to negotiate with the LTTE on the basis of the ISGA what happens to the rest of the Tamil community-the EPDP of Cabinet Minister Douglas Devananda and the genuine democratic TULF of Anandasangari, the LTTE rebels and the great majorityof Tamils suffering in silence? And as negotiations proceed, the LTTE demands are that the ISGA should be institutionalised. Which means that all current expenditure of the government and the massive development coming from abroad will have to be channelled through the LTTE.

Is what is being proposed , an interim government or a separate government. Little wonder Balasingham this week in London had claimed that, ‘We already have our state.

Precocious Gajendra Ponnambalam is confident that with the UNP saying that they will support the ISGA and President Kumaratunga seemingly wavering, even a three fourth majority in parliament is possible. This was the kind of thinking in 1987 too on the Indo-Lanka Agreement. The UNP government had three-fourths’ majority, the superpowers, the regional power and every conceivable power were backing it. When The Island and its sister paper the Divaina opposed it, President Jayewardne sent the redoubtable Sarath Amunugama, then his media chief and Censorto sit on the Board of Directors and censor The Island. But the people opposed it. And what happened is history.

Politics is the art of the possible. What the LTTE and its fellow travellers are attempting is the art of the impossible-giving the people the choice-ISGA or war. JVP frontliner Nandana Gunatilleke brought in a sense of realism into the ISGA debate when he said: The youth of the South will take to arms if the ISGA is given.

 

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