war against terror
The World Bank country director Peter Harrold was good enough to
grant us an interview last week. We do not want to lambaste him
for his magnanimity. But he has not been able to stand the heat.
In the face of mounting criticism on his thoughts shared with us,
he has gone scurrying to the media, both state and private, and
sought to challenge the newspaper as well as the Deputy Editor who
shifting stance on the issues speak for itself. He first says he
has been misquoted. But when we announced we would go to print,
with the full transcript of the interview, he backtracked to say
that that it is possible for a reasonable person to have misunderstood
the face of it, what Mr. Peter Harrold has said is probably true.
He says there is an un-official state under LTTE control. This is
true. So why is he backtracking now? He says the Sri Lanka Government
has warmed up to the LTTE, which is patent fact. He says that there
needs to be a mechanism to disburse funds in the LTTE held areas.
Too true, too. But yet, Peter Harrold is now in the awkward position
of having to say that he never meant to say any of this. He does
not fear a roasting at the hands of local nationalist forces, he
says, but clearly he is hyper anxious about the wrath of his superiors
in Washington for speaking out of turn.
the process of trying to rectify what is tantamount to a breach
of protocol and a breach of the World Bank’s code of conduct
for its senior officials, Mr. Harrold first tried to shoot his way
out of trouble. Then he tried to negotiate his way out of it, and
fell flat on his face trying to save face.
tries to claim he never said LTTE-controlled areas are 'an un-official
state'. If we grant that’s the case, hypothetically, what
has he to say regarding the rest of the contents of the interview?
He says the World Bank considers the LTTE a "legitimate stakeholder"
in aid flow to the north and east of the Republic of Sri Lanka,
and we wonder whether this is the official position of the Bank.
Apparently not, even though, of late the World Bank has been trying
to get a toe-hold in the country’s peace process, very much
like the UN.
LTTE may be a stakeholder, but that’s different from saying
that its stakeholder status is legitimate. Mr. Harrold, even in
his second press release, and his television interviews does not
deny having accorded the LTTE this amount of legitimacy. This newspaper
has no intention of splitting hair on the nuances of all this verbiage,
and the now admitted poor diction of the World Bank country director.
That’s despite the fact that he now admits to parse words,
and is in a fit of remorse about what he said.
we have to say is that there has been an increasing tendency for
foreign nationals such as he -- if we may say so -- to make "official
statements" on internal matters which they would dare not make
in most other countries.
inability on the part of Sri Lankan Governments to tell them a thing
or two about diplomatic niceties when serving in other sovereign
states, has allowed them to shoot their mouths off. The Government
is fair game for these nobodies who want to be somebodies. Once
assigned to Sri Lanka they see themselves as God’s gift to
our country, and therefore they cannot act with restraint. Their
ambitions get the better of them, and they are driven to burnish
their CV’s with a view to receiving kudos at headquarters
and better postings abroad. In the process, they fail to be sensitive
to the environment that they have to work in.
the case under review, ,clearly, Mr. Peter Harrold has referred
to the roasting he is getting from the National Patriotic Movement,
and will continue to get, for what he said in his interview with
The Sunday Times. In the process he has made the World Bank even
more unpopular with a sizeable section of Sri Lanka’s population
who believe he over-stepped the boundaries of protocol.
of these czars see it fashionable to deal with terrorists, but they
will do it only in Sri Lanka. Some of them do feel like czars too,
as if they were dispensing their own largesse, and they do feel
so because they would indeed find some fawning people massaging
must on the other hand, give credit to the LTTE for turning the
tsunami disaster into diplomatic and political advantage while the
Government in Colombo continues with its inability to rein in the
runaway bullies of the World Bank type. How many more years of Independence
do we need to get away from this colonial mind-set coupled with
a funk for neo-colonialists who continue to thrive on a Divide and
Rule policy in Sri Lanka?