Master-student and the trouble in the East
By Our Political Editor
The Sri Lankan Government's
Chief peace negotiator Professor G. L. Peiris's guru (mentor) and
student are both members of the LTTE professional legal team that
are evolving a set of proposals in reply to the government's Interim
Administration proposals of last month.
It is a thoroughly
professional job that the LTTE hopes to do - - and with the student
and the guru both in the team -- there is no way that the Sri Lankan
government's evaluators of the proposals can dismiss them without
giving them total absolute and earnest scrutiny. (The guru by the
way is Dr Sonrajah, of the Singapore University, and the student
is V. T. Thamilmaran, who is a Senior lecturer attached to the Law
Faculty Colombo University Sri Lanka - a man who has evinced substantial
interest in Tamil political affairs in recent times, contributing
heavily to the discourse on the conflict resolution process.)
There was no
news from Paris however from those who are huddled there now for
a seven day pow-wow. But, in the meanwhile, there was plenty of
drama and angst in this part of the world. The on-the-ground minutiae
of the developing situation in the Eastern province is reported
elsewhere in the op-ed pages of this newspaper, and there is also
an Editorial comment.
But the political
scenarios that emerge from the situation in the East, and how these
should be analysed is entirely another matter. There are several
political scenarios that any political analyst or commentator should
consider -- and at least some of them can be set out here.
One is that there is definitely a great deal of pressure on Minister
Rauff Hakeem. This is a definite point of fact. For example, when
the Prime Minister made his appearance at Professor G. L. Peiris's
considerably attended birthday party (that's another story) this
Monday at Visumpaya, he was more than a little late at the party
proper because he was in urgent consultation with Minister Hakeem
of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress on matters concerning the rapidly
deteriorating situation in the East of the country.
Now, in examining
the possible scenarios, one question that can be asked is "who
will benefit from de-stabilising Hakeem?''. Obviously there are
many parties and entities (including, some say, the PA and the EPDP)
that possibly can gain from destabilising Hakeem's position by undermining
Muslim support for him in his core constituency of the Eastern province.
If the Muslims in the East prevail upon him to take drastic steps
with regard to the murder of Muslims in various pockets in the East,
then Hakeem would even have to consider leaving the UNF coalition.
The other possible
scenario is the spoiler element. Destabilising Hakeem is also part
of the spoiler element, but there are other actors who may or may
not be spoilers for various reasons. Though it cannot be discussed
here in detail, there can be various spoiler elements with some
interest in possibly spoiling the scenario for the UNF government,
which now is in a determined engagement with the LTTE to evolve
an Interim Administrative apparatus in the North and the East of
It is useful in discussing the spoiler element, to hark back to
the Akkaraipattu scenario which was familiar to all political analysts
a couple of months back.
A hartal was called on October 21 2002 in the Southeastern town
of Akkaraipattu by supporters of the local Sri Lanka Muslim Congress
MP, A. L. M Athaullah who claimed the Liberation Tigers had abducted
the Muslim youth, Abdul Wajid on October 15.
was the brother of the paramilitary group cadre S. M Azmeer. Police
sources in Akkaraipattu said that a group of paramilitary cadres
had arrived in the town the weekend before and had conferred with
the supporters of Mr. Athaullah the night before the abduction of
Wajid. The following are some of the excerpts from what our sister
paper the Daily Mirror had to say at that time of the Wajid kidnap
"In a strange twist of events the Akkaraipattu police on Saturday
arrested the abductee following evidence that he had staged the
whole abduction drama together with his friend to obtain ransom
money to escape to the Middle East, police said yesterday.
conducting the investigations told the Daily Mirror that following
investigations conducted by the CID it was proven that the abductee
and his friend had staged the whole abduction drama in order to
obtain money to go to the Middle East.
two youths were to go for a Middle East job and wanted to collect
money and decided to stage this incident; and the boy said to be
the abductee’s brother was with the EPDP and so he believed
that through his brother he could get the money," investigator
Clement De Silva said.''
Mirror story reveals details of a possible EPDP spoiler connection
-- and in any event, there was some spoiler element in that whole
Akkaraipattu abduction scenario.
to events say that there could be such a spoiler scenario in the
recent killings of Muslim men that led to the deteriorating situation
in the East, which led to Muslim led unrest which resulted in a
clamping down of curfew amid increasing tension between the Muslims
column can neither confirm nor deny that such a scenario does exist,
all that can be said is that such a spoiler scenario is distinctly
possible. According to sources who indicate to such a spoiler scenario,
the murders of two Muslim farmers which led to the violence has
taken place in Muttur in a certain pathway leading to a paddy field
that has been used by LTTE functionaries previously.
But more recently
LTTE functionaries had ceased to use this pathway, and were using
the main road. But those who wanted to pin the whole issue on the
LTTE had said that the murders were clear LTTE jobs, as the bodies
were found on a pathway that used to be frequented by the LTTE.
The LTTE however had refused this time to rise to the bait unlike
in Akkaraipattu, and though there were murder accusations on them
and Muslim reaction to it, the LTTE did not to whip up the Tamil
populace to counter-react thus causing a snowballing scenario.
Of course the
other possible scenario is that the LTTE itself really caused these
assassinations, which is the story by which most people seemed to
be going, particularly after the media coverage that associated
LTTE with the killings. Without confirmation there is no way this
column can speculate on who really killed -- but at least it can
be said that several independent scenarios were being considered
at the time of going to press.
In the Presidential front, though there was unrest and dissatisfaction,
especially over the impending arrest of PA MP Janaka Bandara Tennakoon,
the fact was that there were -- depending on the way one sees it
-- signs of accommodation and adjustment, as well as signs of dissent.
For example, even though the President has said that she even wants
to take the drastic step of de-merging the North and the East, and
launching a real resistance to the governments' peace moves aimed
at a federal solution, the PA last week hosted a former Finnish
President who is an expert on federalism and other matters and had
been associated with conflicts in Namibia and Kosovo etc.,
Lakshman Kadirgamar he will be involved in a discussion at the old
Parliamentary Complex probably early next week. As for the President's
talk of de-merging the North East, it all started when the President's
own spin doctor (Ari Fletcher, he takes after) made an announcement
earlier in the week that the President is considering the de-merger.
Leave alone de-merger, the Sudaroli is speculating that the LTTE
is now going for a confederal Quebecois type of solution, and that
such a momentum will be difficult to arrest.
in response to the President's de-merger claim has plainly deadpanned
"she is daydreaming.'' Daydreams or dreams, how the reality
will pan out it is still too early to tell anyhow, even though it
must be said that a North East de-merger now seems to be the remotest
Minister G. L. Peiris's birthday bash on Monday was a 200
invitee affair, which saw the Visumpaya (former Ackland house)
lawn expanse almost packed to capacity with Ministers and
Members of Parliament, state officials, media-persons and
almost everybody who was somebody in today's political whirl.
Minister G. L. Peiris himself was heard to be complaining
that there was some problem about the lighting -- there was
a lack of light in the lawn (an eventuality that nobody had
really thought of) resulting in the fact that some of the
invitees couldn't quite recognise each other.
But even in the coolness of the dark but silent night, some
banter regarding affairs of state was exchanged, and there
was a considerable amount of gossip no doubt that was let
down the grapevine, to the accompaniment of some good wine
What was exciting to some was the fact that there were people
of various colourations -- old friends, new bedfellows, bedfellows
now estranged, and so on and so forth. For example, there
was Charitha Ratwatte, the Treasury Secretary now embroiled
in a running controversy involving Treasury policy with some
key Ministers - - and so was S. B. Dissanayake the catalyst
in that controversy, who was dressed in bright red gear to
boot, which could have been spotted in any kind of bad light.
Ratwatte and Dissanayake were not seen speaking at any time,
there were others such as Tyronne Fernando who light-heartedly
chided Ratwatte about Treasury matters, and his big pruning
knife which he hoped "would not keep the funds coming
for the Foreign Ministry.''
Others such as Milinda Moragoda, Victor Ivan and Ambassador
to the United Kingdom Mr Faiz Musthapha were some o f those
present from various fields of endeavour, and Moragoda for
instance, was talkative on everything except things that really
mattered. When asked whether he is taking a back seat in the
negotiation process as rumoured, he said ''no comment.''
whether he was happy with the process and the way it was going
he said "no comment.'' It was only when asked about Indian
involvement and his trip to India recently to meet some Indian
political dignitaries that he said something of relevance
allowing "I will try to be helpful at least in some way.''
Incidentally, there was another birthday celebration, this
one on Thursday when Ferial Ashraff the MP and wife of the
late SLMC leader M.H.M. Ahraff celebrated by distributing
cake in the parliamentary complex MPs lounge. Later, a birthday
tribute was made in parliament by one of the MPs, UNF Minister
So let there be light. Minister Milinda Moragoda had occasion
to defend himself, at the pre-Cabinet meeting, with regard
to the Moragoda Foundation which according to Minister Ravi
Karunanayake (who raised the issue at the last pre-Cabinet
meeting) was receiving funds direct form foreign sources hence
contravening principles on foreign aid.
Minister Moragoda said that landmines were being removed in
the Eastern province though funds that were received as grants
for the Foundation, and that this was quite in order as the
anti. landmine drive was vital and was a service to the people
of the area and was part and parcel of war rehabilitation.