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
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
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.