"If you tell the truth," said Mark Twain, "you don’t have to remember anything." Those who utter untruth, fibs, falsehoods, half-truths and lies, have to have a great deal of grey matter to remember them and repeat them consistently later on. The trouble is more serious when a collective of persons resorts to lying, for each and every member of the group has to be careful enough to avoid lapsus calami and lapsus linguae.
And there arise situations in life when people have to tell the truth even at the risk of contradicting themselves and having egg on their face. How the present government landed itself in the soup over the Muttur killings is a case in point.
When the LTTE captured a part of Muttur in a surprise raid in 2006, the government claimed the armed forces were in total control of that township. In the aftermath of the attack, Defence Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella dismissed reports that the LTTE was holding some parts of the area as baseless. But, when it was found later that 17 aid workers had been killed in cold blood in Muttur, during fighting, his knee-jerk reaction was to claim that at the time of the massacre that area had been under the LTTE! He not only cut a pathetic figure but also plunged the government into a crisis of epic proportions!
While the armed forces were engaged in ridding the Eastern Province of the LTTE, the UNP claimed the war was being fought according to a surreptitious pact between the government and the LTTE. That was why, the UNP claimed, the government was not attacking Kilinochchi or taking the war into the Wanni. Now that the air force, having accounted for Tamilchelvam, is pounding bunkers where Prabhakaran is believed to be hiding and the army is closing in on Kilinochchi, mum’s the word on the part of the UNP about that secret agreement.
Playing politics with crucial issues takes its toll on one’s credibility. The UNP boycotted the recent LG polls in the East claiming that the security situation was not conducive to an electoral exercise and that so long as the Pillaiyan group remained armed, elections wouldn’t be free and fair. But, today, the UNP has decided to contest the Eastern PC polls, though the situation remains the same and Pillaiyan continues to carry arms. Worse, UNP National Organiser S. B. Dissanayake recently told this newspaper that the UNP had blundered badly by boycotting that election! In so doing, he unwittingly contradicted his leader!
The SLFP had made a similar blunder, we pointed out in these columns the other day, by refraining from contesting the first ever PC polls in 1988 at the behest of the JVP. The SLFP condemned the Provincial Councils system as a stepping stone to dismembering the country. But, five years later in 1993, it took part in PC polls!
Never mind the SLFP:The JVP, which unleashed savage terrorism in a bid to sabotage the PC system, claiming that it was coterminous with dividing the country, has representation in PCs today! Why did it snuff out so many lives and destroy so much of public and private property?
Now, the Rathu Sahodarayas find themselves in a contradiction again. They refrained from contesting the recently concluded LGpolls, saying they would allow the people of the East to control their local government bodies. They pretended be very altruistic! But, today, they are contesting the PC polls. Is it that they don’t want the easterners to run the PC by themselves?
The coming together of the TMVP and the UPFA has disturbed the JVP, which is trying to remote-control the government. Returns that the government expects for the clearing of the East and the development thereof are votes. And the TMVP, which is a truly eastern party opposing northern domination, has the capability to facilitate the government’s political project. If the vast Eastern Province vote base could be effectively tapped, the UPFA will be able to do without the JVP’s block vote (about four per cent) at a future presidential election.
Therefore, the JVP’s call made by none other than its leader Somawansa Amarasinghe himself for disarming the TMVP smacks of an attempt to drive in the wedge between the UPFA and the TMVP. The JVP is apparently aiming at two birds with one demand—pitting Pillaiyan against the government and preparing the grounds for justifying an ignominious defeat at the PC polls in May.
Ironically, at a recent meeting of the Patriotic National Movement (PNM), JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa took up a different position on the TMVP. He said the outfit must not be disarmed immediately. To do so, he said, would be a heinous crime (sahasika aparadayak). Disarming the TMVP could wait until conditions improved in the East, Weerawansa opined.
So, the JVP is in a situation where Somawansa wants the TMVP disarmed immediately and Weerawansa opposes that! A ‘wansa’ problem, eh?
One has no difficulty in seeing eye to eye with the Opposition on its position that only the armed forces and the police must be allowed to carry arms in the East. But, the UNP issued arms to political parties in the South during elections in the late 1980s in view of the JVP terror and allowed armed groups to contest elections in the North, didn’t it?
The Opposition can always cite the government’s claim that the East is free from terrorism, in justification of its demand that the TMVP be disarmed and only the armed forces and the police be entrusted with protecting candidates. But, what about the other parts of the country, ‘under the control of the security forces and the police’? Shouldn’t the politicians in the southern parts, too, be stripped of their personal weapons as they are protected by the army, the police and the Ministerial Security Division (MSD)? Similarly, they must be debarred from using armed private security personnel. It was only a few moons ago that Mervyn the Terrible threatened to use his official revolver to remove anyone from his path.
The State must not be selective in disarming armed persons. All the armed groups, the LTTE, the TMVP, underworld gangs, private armies of politicians and politicians themselves must be disarmed immediately if the public are to be safe in this country. Only the police and the armed forces must be permitted to wield weapons.
On the question of disarming the TMVP, both the government and the Opposition—as well as human rights groups which turn a blind eye to the LTTE while calling for disarming the TMVP—stand exposed for their hypocrisy, bogus claims and blatant lies.