Harrold there's a woolf at the door
Harrold, that was quite a contretemps you found yourself in, wasn't
it. It was quite a trick too, a kind of Houdini act. In our childhood
days there was this Indian magician named Gogia Pasha. Well we were
told he was Indian probably because our knowledge of geography hardly
cleared the shores of Sri Lanka, Ceylon as it was then.
does not really matter where he came from. After all as dear old
Harrold knows who cares about ethnicity as long as he and his colleagues
can eradicate poverty and probably the country as well.
this Gogia Pasha really made things appear and disappear and we
kids were thrilled to bits. Then at Peradeniya university there
was this chap called Ronald de Alwis who pulled so many tricks that
he ended up as president of the Sri Lanka Magic Circle. But he could
not do what one of his predecessors as president, did. Ranapala
Bodinagoda, when he was chairman of that publishing company popularly
known as Lake House, used to make editors disappear. As one who
believed in the impermanence of all things, I suppose, he saw nothing
intrinsically wrong in playing musical chairs with the editorial
none of them would have had that magical quality to make words disappear
and reappear in a different shape and form. After days of ho ha
and ha ho when more aggressive participants in our rather turbulent
politics were threatening to kick Harrold all the way to Washington
or wherever he came from, the world banker himself was yelling misquoted.
be outdone sections of the media derived a vicarious pleasure by
having a go at this newspaper. Naturally everybody was keen to see
how much more blood letting there would be.
it was with much anticipation (not to mention some trepidation)
that I waited for the next round. So Sunday came and there I was
reading transcripts of the Peter Harrold interview.
the more I read the more I was confused, I should confess. After
all Harrold himself had urged all and sundry to carefully review
what he had said. Since the only way one could do that was by studying
the transcript closely, there I was, my eyes glued to the printed
the more one examines it the more confusing it becomes. Here was
an interview that was presumably recorded by both the interviewer
and the interviewee. Then surely the transcripts should be the same,
unless of course, unknown to us here, some enterprising manufacturer
has produced recorders that change words-and possibly sentences
or even thoughts- as it goes along.
such recorders had been manufactured surely we would have heard
about them. For the first persons rushing to buy them would be politicians
who would now find it easier to change their words than be forced
to eat them.
there is a crucial difference between the Harrold remarks as carried
in the bank's website, excerpts of which were carried in the media,
and the recording of the same remarks reproduced in this newspaper
crucial words are these. The Sunday Times reproduction of the interview
recording, has Harrold referring to the LTTE-controlled areas of
the country as "an unofficial state" whereas the World
Bank recording (according to the published excerpts) has him saying
"that's an official statement."
two quotes differ widely. If so, both cannot, logically, be correct.
Not only do some of the words differ, there are also words in one
excerpt that are not in the other. One says "state" and
the other "statement."
this point it is pertinent to ask whether both recordings are clearly
audible, whether there are any "grey" areas that could
have led to the "misquotes" that Harrold claims were in
the original story in this newspaper.
there is nothing wrong with the recording made by the interviewer,
for Harrold himself now says that he is "sorry" he "did
not speak more clearly."
his belated mea culpa does not sound very convincing. It might be
recalled that when The Sunday Times story first appeared, Harrold's
reaction was one of umbrage. He not only claimed he was misquoted
but also said "a careful review of a recording of the interview
shows" what he claimed he actually said.
was at the beginning of the week. By the end of the week he was
saying he was sorry for not speaking very clearly and that any "reasonable
person could have misunderstood" him.
pointedly asked last Sunday why he was insisting on this "careful
review." Was he trying to say that this newspaper had not done
so or was this some sort of verbal device to vindicate himself.
now it's quite a climb down from the high ground he stood on right
at the start. Why, he now says that any "reasonable person"
could have misunderstood him. One would have thought that in his
line of work he would be dealing with reasonable people. I don't
know about his office, but at least out there in the wide world
there should be reasonable people who are not easily sold on the
World Bank's poverty reduction crap.
there was SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) and governments
saps for believing in them. Now these failed policies have been
magically turned into PRSPs (Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers)
so that developing countries themselves could be blamed for failures.
who have read of the protests and demonstrations that are crippling
Bolivia today, know that they have their genesis in World Bank policies
including the privatisation of public utilities such as water which
resulted in sharply rising prices, putting water out of reach of
failed land reform in Brazil to Argentina's financial crisis much
of the troubles could be traced to the World Bank and the IMF. Bolivia's
public protest is part of a turn to the political left in Latin
America angered by the free market policies imposed by the West
led by Washington's terrible twins.
there is danger that the World Bank would become even more free-market,
privatisation- oriented under the possible leadership of Paul Wolfowitz,
President Bush's nominee for the WB's top job. As one wolf -James
Wolfensohn- exits a dangerous new wolf is at the door.
no mistake Mr Harrold, he does not take kindly to those who try
to mollycoddle groups that the United States have outlawed as international
the other day the Bush administration said it will not provide aid
to those they perceive as terrorist groups. So perhaps Peter Harrold
should drop these references to unofficial states or official statements
or whatever the next verbal construction would be, as reasonable
persons like Paul Wolfowitz might well misunderstand his intentions.
loves to chew up those he dislikes. See what he did to Iraqis. This
wolf would love to do the same to tigers.