Saturday, April 29, 2006

War, Peace and all the bullshit

Colombo is pretty much charged with a ‘lets-nuke-em’ mentality more than ever before, and who can blame them? The average blissfully apathetic Colombian has now had a taste whatever that was going on in that far eastern province. It’s not so much the number killed, it’s not so much the person targeted but it’s the way that it was carried out. The method, the location, the aftermath brings back memories long desired to be forgotten and forgiven. Many people at this point in time see the issue in black and white; they identify a clear enemy - a fascist terrorist outfit and call for its destruction based largely on the incident a few days ago coupled with the build up of activities to that day and after.

To me the problem must be considered in a larger sense, what led to these circumstances? Whose fault was it? Obviously one party at fault is the LTTE but certainly there are others, fault must be found in the leaders of this country past and present, and of course the people who brought them into power by either voting for, or not voting against those leaders. Ultimately we are all at fault, either by action or inaction to the sorry state of this nation.

It must be realized however, that the Sri Lankan government is not the white sheep it pretends to be, it merely is the lesser-evil, by a long way in immediate comparison but evil nevertheless. Evil because of its inability to find and propose a practical solution to the ethnic conflict, evil because of its inability of clear, unambiguous and decisive action resorting instead to selling off the conflict in the political stage for petty reward of power and political mileage.

It is very much apparent when looking at short history of this peace effort, the parties concerned have failed, despite the rhetoric, to ‘go the extra mile’ for peace. Initially when the ISGA proposals were put out during the latter part of 2003 there was a desire for both parties to start on with the stalled dialogue, but the then Prime Minister refused to hold talks without holding the control of the Ministry of Defense at which point in time Her Excellency has taken under her tender care. After some time the Prime Ministers and the governments changed, and in time, when the next chance for peace was offered the Red Comrades, then in government refused to support the effort on the basis of an ISGA proposal and hence that chance was lost. The pattern continued from that to the Join Mechanism and beyond. It would have happened to Geneva if not for the urgency with which the talks were required, midst the claymore mines.

The road to peace if ever there was one is bumpy, there will continue to be crisis. Some small, some uncompressible and seemingly unforgivable but how we negotiate them will measure the true strength and spirit of our leadership, our people and our nation. It is a mistake to think there is an easy solution out there, and that one sudden spectacular moment or action can bring an end to all ills of this country. You won’t wake up one fine morning and find peace at your door step. You got to work for it. You got to give it every chance, every inch, all the time.
And as some of us now call to fuck for virginity. We got to ask our selves, have we given it all?

Deane J.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Mahinda, The Great

Last week’s LC polls results signifies an important twist in the pathetic tale of Sri Lankan politics, now it seems that the all powerful president has received a commanding mandate to carry forward his ‘Mahinda Chintanaya’ and all that without the firepower of Wimal and his red clowns. At this point in time, Mahinda Rajapakse seems tall, towering and mighty. He seems to have beaten the odds, done the impossible and now seems to be in-tune with the will of the masses. My mind goes back to the time not so long ago when the name ‘Rajapakse’ meant little to the very people he now seems to command.

The year was 2003; one Ranil Wickramasinghe was in the Temple Trees, I and a cousin of mine was asked to deliver a package of fish on behalf of my uncle who happens to be the chief organizer for SLFP in one pro-UNP district. I recall browsing around the streets of the much envied part of Colombo, asking directions for a ‘Mahinda Rajapakse’ residence, some people hardly knew the name, let alone the residence. Yet after barely two years after the incident, Mahinda have gone from the leader of the opposition back then, to the prime minister, and then to the all-mighty president. His escalation from a political nobody to THE political everybody is truly extraordinary and for that fact alone he should be respected.

However, the title of this post is misleading; the man himself has a long way to go before begin called ‘great’. If he wishes to get there, then he must subscribe to some other sort of philosophy, because ‘Mahinda Chintanya’ is not designed to get him there. ‘Mahinda Chintana’ and other type of these rata-perata-type supposedly pro-poor ideologies are in essence – fake. When put into practice these so-called pro-poor chintanayas or ideologies are nothing but a set of block policies of no-privatization, fertilizer subsidies and other goodie bags to please the masses, all the while trying desperately (at least by some) to follow a sort of a free-market economy. The mahinda chintanaya as a philosophy too is fundamentally flawed; it tries to instill great national pride by calming to promote local industries and enterprises by restricting foreign imports, but what it really says is that Sri Lankans and its entrepreneurs cannot face the global challenges and we must run away from those challenges instead of facing them head on. So the mahinda chintana can be appropriately named as ‘ponna-chintana’ without damaging the underlying philosophy.

Unfortunately though, the leader of the grand green party or his merry men fail to use these in their campaigns, the United National Party has become an entity which has no brand, or anything at all that is sellable to the masses. It is a sad plight, to a party and its leader who at least in my opinion led the most successful government of free Sri Lanka. It must be accepted however that the UNP faces a tough challenge. It’s hard to argue a case against a program that aims to give a glass of milk to poor school kids, or a program that promises jobs for unemployed youth or indeed to make a case for a Cease Fire Agreement, when it’s been brutally violated time and time again.

But the challenge should be taken up; it should be taken up because it’s the right thing to do so, and because if these populist policies are stopped and lasting peace achieved, there is no telling where this country can go. Therefore the UNP must focus on its strengths rather than trying to minimize its weaknesses. If the multi-ethnic vote base is the strength then go for it, come up with slogans, logic and find people to carry the message. Focus on strengths, and then perhaps one day the giant can be tackled. It is an eventuality it’s just ‘when’ that remains to be seen.