Reciprocate the courtesy of the NPC


Britain’s David Cameron, C. V. Vigneswaran and R. Sampanthan talk while looking out from the public library in Jaffna

It is a pleasure to highlight the exemplary conduct of the newly-elected NPC on the occasion of the visit of David Cameron to the North, as reported in the media. Cameron had built up a publicity blitz for the visit beginning with a conference with the Tamil Diaspora at home, followed by his declaration on the way in India, threatening to raise Cain about human rights violations in Sri Lanka. He upstaged his much-publicized visit to the North over the main objective of attending CHOGM, by leaving for Jaffna soon after the opening ceremony and bypassing the sessions that involved the widest common interests of the Commonwealth.

Here was an opportunity for the NPC to bask in the gratis publicity internationally generated and capitalize on the event by making a public show of their grievances they had been complaining about directly to the Government, with no seeming amends. In fact they had a better venue and more plausible material for a public exhibition of human rights violations than the activists at Sirikotha. I was personally nervous that the country would be exposed to ridicule by ugly scenes created up North for the edification of Cameron. But the NPC would have none of it.

The CM and his colleagues met Cameron in camera, taking care to shut out the press, thus sacrificing a rare opportunity for self-aggrandizement. It appears from reports published subsequently that the discussion with Cameron had been confined to what the NPC had been asking for openly from the Government in vain. In fact some belligerent, misguided supporters of the TNA who did not have the sensitivity and the vision of their leaders had been trying to create a scene that would have celebrated Cameron’s visit and thrilled the Diaspora. By their prim and proper conduct, the leadership of the TNA has willingly sacrificed a god sent chance to gain cheap publicity and curry favour with parties that are collecting rotten eggs to throw at Sri Lanka. It is admirable that the TNA leader, Mr Sambandan resisted such temptation and stood in the way of this mudslinging campaign, exposing himself to the catcalls of the mob.

It is evident that from its inception the NPC has shown a positive approach to national reconciliation. They have been acting with remarkable restraint and accommodation to create a productive relationship with the Centre, withstanding pressures from their own supporters hell-bent to create mayhem. Unfortunately, the Government has so far failed to clasp their outstretched hand, perhaps due to its preoccupation with the CHOGM.

Now that that ‘tamasha’ is over, let us hope that the President would acknowledge the positivism of the NPC with a symbolic gesture like granting the first item on the TNA’s list of requests. That is the appointment of a civilian Governor for the North, a symbolic move that would not tax the Government in any way. The present incumbent may be moved to an equal or higher post outside.

Somapala Gunadheera

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