The Rajpal Abeynayake's Column
By Rajpal Abeynayake
6th January 2002
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Whining, dining and making peace

Ranil Wickre-mesinghe has not been self-conscious about asking the Norwegians to facilitate talks between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government. Nobody, not even the Mahanayake's have howled in protest. The first sound of alarm however comes from the JVP, which has announced tersely that the Norwegians are biased.

The peace lobby feels totally vindicated these days. The Sri Lanka First types are in seventh heaven. In the remembered past, the convenors of Sri Lanka First didn't know what they were talking about. Chances are that they still do not know what they are talking about.

At a public meeting at a Colombo club which one we shall not tell Sri Lanka First wined and dined the Sri Lanka press. Then, the top businessman whined aloud.

It was a sad day in which the Sri Lankan business elite showed their incapability of being self-effacing, of saying, simply, "we are in this because we have been hit where it hurts.'' Instead there was supercilious and rather transparent arrogance. " We are doing this for the country we folks who take pity on you the people, and didn't scoot off.'' There was one contention that the Sri Lankan economy is not suffering from the LTTE attacks, but was in regular trouble as a result of global market fluctuations! "So Sri Lanka First is all about the global economic crisis,'' asked a by now bemused newspaperman. No answer from the assembled galaxy of business brains.

One scribe invoked Churchill to say that when Britain was under attack, he didn't say "let's negotiate with Hitler.'' Churchill said " I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears and sweat, and then proceeded to launch a deathly offensive on the Nazis.'' Says one flower child businessperson gingerly transported from the grazing grounds of commercial advertising: "But this is a war between two groups of our own citizens.'' No mention that it is a war being aimed at the state, a war being aimed at a country and it's resources for a separate state! A journalist also brought up the example of the American civil war in which over 700 thousand lives were sacrificed in the cause of saving the union. "But you talked about Churchill,'' says the flower child. She also says "me and my family lost so much because of the LTTE, but we are not bitter.''

So this is it! It is the magnanimity and the benevolence of the flower children and the mushrooming ideologues of the business community that is driving them towards negotiations with the Tigers? It is not the fact that they have been held by their collars, and almost brought down to the ground by the ferocious assaults on economic targets by the LTTE? It is not the fact that the LTTE has almost destroyed the Sri Lankan economy by launching a sustained war which has almost emptied national coffers and virtually destroyed the country's growth potential? It is because well, we are not at all bitter!

It is difficult to understand why the business community finds it hard to say look, we are in this because we are hit we didn't think things will come to this pass, which is why we were sitting on our posteriors, comfortable in our little elite cocoons all these days. Instead of saying, "we are here because we are all hit, so please support us'', they choose to say " we are here because YOU are hit, so please worship us.''

With this kind of humbug it's better to keep the captains of business where they are minding their own business rather than minding the affairs of the state about which they are so out of depth, that one almost feels "god help our economy'' it's not going to last for long with the private sector being led by these lovely lords and ladies. 

The tie-up between business and Ranil Wickremesinghe in his peace effort is also well known and already, there have been the allegations, that the business lobby is being led by non-national alien interests. Whatever the merits of that are, it's best that Ranil Wickremesinghe assembles his own team of professional persons with political acumen, rather than make his peace efforts overtly dependant on the flowery-child innocence of big business and it's new fangled yuppie political elite. 

Negotiations are about the suffering people of the Wanni and the foot soldiers from Deberawewa. They are not about a moaning elite which discovered last year just about the time the airport was attacked that they can no longer go on lotus eating without being aware that there is a war going on in some part of the country.


The Special Report I
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