Editorial

Bili pooja: Anura as sacrificial lamb?

Minister of Tourism Anura Bandaranaike is said to be in hot water after his vivisection of the Indian High Commissioner. According to reports, the government is expected to call for his explanation. He has also incurred the wrath of the powers that be over his recent tirade against the SLFP General Secretary.

Let it be put bluntly at the very outset that Mr. Bandaranaike is not our cup of tea (as evident from, inter alia, our editorial of August 23, Brothers, Sisters and others), lest our comment should be misunderstood and misconstrued. Anura may be hauled over the coals and/or made to face inquiries on many things but he shouldn’t be subjected to harassment over his recent speech in Parliament, wherein he fired some shots across the Palk Straits.

Usually, there is a howl of protest from parliamentarians when an outsider replies to what they utter in Parliament. This newspaper once carried a well respected former civil servant’s reply to UNF Finance Minister K. N. Choksy, who was alleged to have got the former wrong in his budget speech, on the public sector reforms. In printing the news item in question, we knew the consequences but we were prepared to face them. As expected, we came under a fierce attack in the House—paradoxically the charge was led by PA MP Jeyaraj Fernandopulle then in the Opposition. We were to be summoned before the privileges committee. But before that committee could sit, Chandrika sacked the government. We would like to know from the privilege-conscious potentates, what their reaction to India’s response is. Will Mr. Fernandopulle, who took up cudgels so valiantly for Chandrika the other day, rise in defence of her brother Anura as well? What have those ‘patriotic’ Rathu Sahodarayas got to say about Anura’s home truth and the reaction of their erstwhile bete noire, (India)?

When Mr. Peter Harrold in March, 2005, in his official capacity as the World Bank Chief in Colombo, stated in a newspaper interview that the LTTE was running an unofficial state—"There is an officially recognised LTTE controlled area, a kind of unofficial state`85" (emphasis added)—there was nary a word of protest from either the government or the Opposition. In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, the Italian government had the audacity to flout not only protocol but the law of this land as well by sending truckloads of what was described as relief to the LTTE-held areas. Luckily, there were some courageous Foreign Ministry officials to tell the Italians where to get off. But the government didn’t care to launch an investigation. The Royal Navy took an LTTE leader to a British warship anchored off the Eastern coast during the same period. Nobody raised objections. The Norwegian Embassy prostituted its privileges to clear and send high tech radio equipment to the LTTE through the Colombo Port. Worst of all, the UNF government collaborated with the Norwegians in that sordid operation! As a result, the LTTE can now beam its programmes to Europe straight from Kilinochchi!

(It was only President Premadasa who had some courage to take action against a foreign envoy, albeit for the wrong reason. British High Commissioner David Gladstone, who had gone out of his way to report election malpractices in the South, during a private visit, was accused of ‘interference with the internal affairs’ of Sri Lanka and declared persona non grata!

Never mind foreigners, what about the Sri Lankans themselves? There is clear evidence that classified military information is being leaked to the LTTE, which is boasting of having hundreds of armed forces personnel including officers in its pay. When the LTTE made an attempt on the Army Commander’s life last April and the government started pounding Sampur, the LTTE had got prior information about air strikes. But there has been no investigation to find the LTTE moles out!

The Auditor General has blown the lid off the biggest ever tax racket amounting to Rs. 389 million. We would like to know from the government what action it has taken to bring the racketeers to book and recover the lost revenue, which, if raked in, will definitely give a turbo boost to the cash-strapped Mahinda Chinthanaya.

Most of all, what action has India, which reacted so quickly to a verbal attack on its envoy by a friendly parliamentarian, taken against those who killed over 1,500 Jawans, assassinated Rajiv and massacred thousands of pro-Indian Tamil militants of Sri Lanka, even on Indian soil? We don’t want to be told about the measures such as the ban on the LTTE and the trial, which are woefully inadequate, where the severity of the crimes is concerned. And what would India say to the reports that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to see a delegation of proxy Tigers, the TNA, advocating the division of Sri Lanka (which India says it is against!) and recognising the LTTE, the perpetrators of the aforesaid heinous crimes, as the sole representative of the Tamils?

The LTTE has kicked the EU nationals in the SLMM out of the country but there isn’t a whimper of protest from the EU. That, we believe, is far more serious than criticising a foreign envoy, in Parliament, for which the government is going to initiate an inquiry against Anura. What crime has he committed? And why is the government so worried?

We have some unsolicited advice for those who have volunteered to castrate others to appease foreign powers: Unless they put an end to their servility, the day may not be far off when they will be given the knife (by their foreign masters) and asked to perform self-castration. Then, they will rue the day they made sacrificial lamb (bili pooja) of their own men and women, who had the courage to speak out.

 

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