By M.S.Shah Jahan
War is like a fire- if you do not put it out , it will burn itself out “ – The Art of War.
While Mr. Geneva II is slipped into the Bay of Geneva from the boat ‘S.L.Northeast’, here the much talked about or criticized Hon. CFA, the Minister in charge of enforcing peace in the country, is admitted into the intensive care unit of ill- equipped Kilinochchi Hospital. Not surgery, but God only could save him. We pray.
The ‘New Reds’ and the ‘Holy Men’ say, his abrogation is the mandate MR received on the 17th November 2005. But the ruling alliance says it is not the mandate they received on the 30th March 2006. What is a mandate ? A mandate is an authorization given to act to a representative of the people.
Well, an election is fought on various core issues and all the parties give limitless promises, especially on the cost of living. Even bread at Rs.3.50 was jarring on the ears of some but nothing happened. Fortunately this is not Calcutta. Otherwise all the ladies would have come onto the middle of the road to ‘ghero’ the traffic.
Can you remember, the political party that promised to bring rice from the moon, but ultimately it only gave policemen the additional job of arresting the people for eating rice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. If bread and rice were covered by a mandate,wasn’t the failure to do so, against the ‘mandate’ ? What punishment should have been meted out ?
Electoral victories can never be taken as affirmatives for a single cause. Therefore there is no validity in the argument that the ‘Chinthanaya’ is for war. Further, the Chinthanaya never said that it would increase the price of consumer goods. So why do the prices go up ? But what else can you do when the petrol price goes above $70 a barrel ? From whose father’s house you can bring money to run the country ? His party has no experience in robbing with masked faces banks at gun point .
But, what is a plebiscite? A plebiscite is a vote by which the people of an entire country express an opinion for or against – an yes or no, on a single issue or proposal. For example,‘ Should we ban the consumption of liquor ?. ‘Can the life of parliament be extended without an election?’ People could decide in whichever way they want to. You can call it the will of people, and it should be executed. Unfortunately today the character of a plebiscite is wrongly used for a mandate. It is like the difference between a pony and a horse.
Besides, Norway is not a decision- making field umpire, not even a third umpire, but a marriage broker whose task is to tie two together in nuptials. Therefore, the middle man has to do many gimmicksto turn around one party with opposite views . But a section of our people want Norway to be divorced for excessive or illicit courtship with the Tigers. At an angle the accusation would look right, but the argument is wrong. Who wants peace, the government or militants? When a sinner enters a church, naturally he draws attention.
After dismissing this broker, what are we to do? Do we have any other or, are there any other suitors for our girl? No, no one is there in sight. She is not only the most beautiful in town, but also she is frequently accused of insincerity. It is not one country Norway that we deal with, but also a team of donors who stands behind invincibly. We have an unpalatable situation with them too, but must bear it, because if there is no Norway, then there is no way for us for peace.
Analysts feel it is the spoils of Geneva I that caused the present impasse. First and foremost, agreeing to the mission impossible of disarming paramilitaries has turned out to be Lanka’s Waterloo. Legal interpretations and counter interpretations, have drifted the two parties instead of bringing them closer.
Big people should be magnanimous in words and deeds, not petty in attitudes and comments, to say like, ‘only one speaks English’, ‘he is of a lower caste,that of cutting and dressing hair and shaving and trimming beards’. Had they happened to deal with Losif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili , would they have remarked that his father was a cobbler and mother did laundry and house cleaning for Jews? He being a mighty Soviet leader, would have reacted in a different way. Napoleon was not a born French but he became the first French Emperor. His one time commanders also happened to serve under his orders. It is one’s present position that is counted.
The North at one time, produced the largest number of English educated people. That is why they could serve beyond Sri Lanka in various capacities. Eminent professionals who shine today in the ‘New World’ and ‘Down Under’ should think, whether they could have reached such heights if they had been taught in their mother tongue? Who took away English ? Why ? Because the Tamils were more proficient than the rest, in the Queen’s language.
Peace today looks illusive even though Norway is in the middle.
The way the situation is deteriorating in the Northeast makes people think that war is at their door .If our leaders decide that a military solution, not a tiger hunt, is the only answer to this problem, let us go ahead for a war with the LTTE within a time frame of two years or so. Because it would mean an end to the suffering of Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim people, within our period, rather than passing it to the next generation. But war and love are easy to start, hard to stop. The world has seen wars, not at the drop of a hat, but as the last resort after every thing else failed.
A war brings untold misery. A country in war will have to make a number of sacrifices. What kind of sacrifices will the people of this country undertake, as they have no war experience ?. The price of consumer goods will go up. The energy cost will escalate further and reach $100 a barrel before 2010, once Condoleezza Rice gets into the ring in Tehran to wrestle with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The treasury will be crunched and everything will be rationed except sunlight and air. Some workers will lose their jobs, others will will have salary cuts and also worklonger hours. Will they do it? Will the Comrades be able to convince the brigade?
Let me put a straight question to you. While China has only five days off, Sri Lanka tops the world with the highest number of holidays. What right or eligibility, has a Third World country like ours, to have a 5 day week ? In 1972 the price of crude oil was about $3.00 per barrel at Rs.10 a US$ but by the end of 1974 the price of oil had quadrupled to over $12.00.The Saturday half working day was scrapped by Madam Sirimao’s government to cushion the blow of ‘Oil Shoku’. Today the oil price is 6 times more. We did not give 6 more half day holidays but went on swimming against the tide with the sharks, and survived.
Recently in Japan when the government wanted to scrap Saturday as a working day, the labour unions refused to accept the holiday. Here should not we give up this Saturday off and work more days of the week ? How many of us are prepared to campaign for Saturday work without extra stipend ? Does shouting before Hilton Hotel only express one’s patriotism ? May I, through this column, ask the President to declare Saturday a full working day ?.
Further who is going to fight the war, the poor lads from villages ? What contribution will the people who opt for war offer?. How many recruits can they provide from their sources ? What war service will these leaders perform?
When Lalith Athulathmudali called for one we could see youngsters standing for a mile on the Galle Face Centre Road. Is not the situation different now ?
How about the affluent guys living or studying in the West ?
More than everything, else why can’t the groups clamouring for war introduce immediately a legislation for compulsory national service for a year or so for youths of 18 years old ? Which leader will offer his children first?
Besides, the provincial councils were created to give greater power to the Northeast only. When they do not have them, can one ask in what way are the PCs necessary for the others? Is not it too much of polity and waste of public funds?
Finally, like the Iranian Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari was quoted by Russian news agencies “One way to avert war is to be prepared for any war,” Let us too prepare for war, and avert war, as common people of the South and Northeast detest war, but love peace. [Source: Daily Mirror]