On a visit to
London some months ago, Minister Rajitha Senaratne had a go at Sri
Lankan expatriates who,while enjoying their foreign lifestyles,
were advocating the continuance of the war in Sri Lanka.
on the peace process, at a Buddhist Vihare in London, he ran into
heavy weather from some of the expatriates.
expatriates turned their heavy artillery on Dr Senaratne for drawing
false conclusions from inadequate facts.
that this experience has not in any way chastened the minister nor
tempered his sense of idiosyncratic logic which, to say the least,
is hardly based on a deductive or inductive process.
The other day
I ran into the minister quite casually at a wedding and before long
he had climbed his favourite hobby horse and was cantering away
as though chased by a thousand expatriates.
There he was
again accusing expatriates of warmongering and demanding that the
Sri Lanka Government continues its military action against the LTTE.
of higher mathematics or algebra on which he bases his conclusions,
it is one that is not known to mankind.
It is true
that there are those who believe that the only way to destroy the
LTTE is by military means, however long it takes to do so.
But to conclude
therefore that all Sri Lankan expatriates wherever they live are
advocating war is the kind of silly argument that some politicians
are capable of and might go down well in parliament but would be
laughed out at any sensible debate.
For the sake
of his patients, I hope it is not the kind of approach that he extends
to his dental practice. I mean one does not go about extracting
all the teeth because one tooth is decayed.
The good doctor
might disagree that this is the way to solve the problem of northern
terrorism or struggle for fundamental rights or whatever.
warmongers or not, they have a right to express their point of view
and it is for the advocates of the present approach to conflict
resolution such as Dr Senaratne to convince others of its validity.
That is not
all. The minister is being dismissive of the Sinhala expatriates
who he believes are one cohesive group and are raising the war cry.
Far from it.
If the minister spent any time meeting a cross section of the Sinhala
community in the UK, he would have found a variety of views, some
of which might have surprised the minister.
is not just sections of the Sinhala community that believes the
war against the LTTE should be conducted with expedition and vigour.
There are many
Tamils who believe that the LTTE should continue to fight not only
because it has the military strength to do so but also because many
of them had made sacrifices in the hope of attaining their dream
of a Tamil Eelam.
They fear that
those sacrifices, made by them and their families and friends would
be in vain if the LTTE leadership settles for anything less than
what they had been made to believe would be the final glory.
I know this
because I talk to Tamils of different hues, from different parts
of the north and east and from different castes. Not all of them
have the same aspirations, not all share the dream of an Eelam.
But they are all very interested in the future - their future as
well as those of their relatives who are still living in the war-affected
parts of the country.
It is because
I talk to them so regularly and listen to their points of view that
I realise it would be a tragic mistake to imagine that they are
all supporters of the LTTE or that they would be happy if the LTTE
dominates their lives if they were to return to their former homes.
Minister Senaratne is very free with his criticism of expatriates
and seems quite contented with making baseless generalisations.
But he forgets
that there are also those who believe that a military solution should
be pursued, living in this country. Not all the warmongers are abroad.
What about our own agents of death, the arms suppliers, the agents
of arms dealers and manufacturers who have been minting money because
the J.R.Jayewardene government prosecuted a war mainly against the
Does the dentist
minister think that these merchants of death are happy about a possible
peace or the fact that their weapons of destruction are lying idle
at the moment.
After all it
is not that these people who have been making more than a living
out of the dying are not known to the public. They have been close
to some politicians, to some parties in power and the top levels
of the political establishment.
have been the sons of prominent officials and wielders of power.
They have not faded away and would still like to see the sale of
arms conducted as though war was upon us.
Dr Senaratne might be better advised to try and convert such people
who are much closer home to his high sense of morality and political
rectitude than caterwaul against expatriate Sri Lankans who are
not entirely convinced that the government's present strategy of
subservience to the LTTE is the correct approach to problem solving.
another doctor - not medical but academic - popularly known as professori
and a Cabinet colleague of Dr. Senaratne, told a recent seminar
that before the peace agreement one could not walk about freely
at night and that Colombo lived in fear.
Peiris is correct.
But can he assure people who are currently concerned at the concessions
extended to the LTTE, that there will not be barriers somewhere
in the north and east - and who knows maybe in the hills too - that
will be far more permanent than the ones in Colombo?
assure the people of the north and east that they will be able to
walk around freely without fear from a militarily-dominant LTTE
that has now assumed political dominance?
Can Prof. Peiris
assure me that I can arrive at the Katunayake airport from abroad
and not declare anything to the Customs even if asked, and have
25 uninspected parcels loaded onto government helicopters and whisked
When you can
assure the people of this country that they have the same rights
as a group that was declared a terrorist group in this country and
still bears that imprimatur in other countries, then let Peiris
and Senaratne speak.
let the doctors go and heal themselves in whatever way they can.