Lost opportunities

By S. Thambyrajah

Many opportunities which offered an honourable settlement to the ethnic problem were lost due to the forces of destruction and extremism.

Two outstanding instances come to my mind. First the Bandaranaike- Chevanayagam (B-C) Pact which was signed exactly 50 years ago. A British researcher, Walter Schewarts, had this to say: “This is one of the few statesmanlike compromises between two extreme oppositions ever to be in Sri Lanka.” Circumstances under which this pact was torn up are well known and have been spotlighted in recent times.

The second one which strikes me is the very recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the SLFP-Alliance government and the UNP opposition. This was hailed throughout Sri Lanka as well as internationally. Immediately after it was signed, one of the invitees stated quite clearly the UNP should not seek any cabinet office if this pact is to succeed — prophetic words indeed. Soon thereafter a government minister made a statement which to say the least left a bad taste. He said, “The pact does not prevent cross-overs from the UNP to the government.” Subsequent events clearly showed the motive. The MOU was short lived and torn up by the chairman of the UNP .This was inevitable.

“And of all plagues with which mankind are cursed, Ecclesiastic tyranny is the worst.When kings the sword of justice first lay down,

There are no kings, though they possess the crown.

Titles are shadows, crowns are empty things,

The good of the subjects is the end of kings.” — Daniel Defoe.

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