The Sunday Times Editorial

7th April 1996

47, W. A. D. Ramanayake Mawatha Colombo 2. P.O. Box: 1136, Colombo 2.
Telex: 21266 LAKEXPO CE
EDITORIAL OFFICE Tel: 326247,328889, 433272-3 Fax: 423258, 423922
ADVERTISING OFFICE Tel: 328074, 438037
10, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2. Tel 435454, 548322

Old days are back?

Are we returning to the Beeshanaya era? In the bad old days when D.E.M. O'cracy died and the independent presses were sealed we had the Attanagalle doctrine. Now we have the Anamaduwa doctrine.

One by one the principles of the edifice on which the People's Alliance launched it's successful campaign in 1994 to oust a party too long in power, are now falling apart.

In the past 20 months, the performance of the PA has driven people who cherish democratic freedoms into a dilemma of wondering where and to whom they would turn for just and fair leadership.

The promise to abolish the Executive Presidency has been swept under a lot of excuses which really are respectable lies. The free media which played an important role in helping the PA to come to office is being kicked around with the one-time "darling of the free media" now refusing to even look at some of those newspapers.

The economy is in dire straits with uncertainty looming not only because of the war but also due to lack of direction and dynamism. The economy is as stagnant as the Beira Lake adjoining the Presidential Secretariat and the Treasury.

On the all important ethnic conflict, we have at best a no-go situation. The devolution package has come under so much fire that a two-thirds majority for it or approval at a referundum appears to be highly improbable if not impossible.

Amidst all these, now we have the terrible incidents at Anamaduwa this week - blocked roads, burning tyres, physical attacks, death threats and a reign of terror. There was so much shooting all over that Anamaduwa looked like one of those bust up areas in a wild West movie. Well, that was the North- West of Sri Lanka!

Indeed these were ominous signs for the local government elections in the coming months. Anamaduwa provided all the ingredients for violent electioneering, that we could expect in the months ahead. When the people of the 'South' will be shooting each other, knifing each other and bombing each other the LTTE will also be wanting to do the same in the 'South'.

For the UNP we must say that the party is getting a taste of it's own medicine. But we all thought this country voted for a change - a change for the better. That the bad old days of not so long ago have been relegated to the dustbin of history. Not a chapter in Current Affairs. They promised openness and transparency. They promised decency and democratic rights. But what have we got? Only more of the same.

Winds of change

About ten years ago, Indian and specially Tamil Nadu politics was so blatantly pro-LTTE that a local newspaper asked whether New Delhi was ready to sacrifice thousands of lives for 39 seats in the state. Today the wheel has turned full circle.

As reported in our page 1 story today, the ruling AIADMK of Jayalalitha Jeyaram and the main opposition DMK have avoided any reference to Eelam or the LTTE though mentioning the Sri Lanka Tamil cause in their election manifestos. This is a good sign for Sri Lanka and for bilateral relations.

But there is another danger signal from the possibility of a hung parliament where the extreme right- wing BJP-Shivsena alliance might have as many seats as the Congress I. The bankrupt LTTE, scraping the bottom in India is known to have approached the right-wing Hindu fundamentalists. How horrible it would be for the most ruthless terrorist movement in the world to get support on a religious basis. We hope that the people of India, whatever problems or provocations they may face, will eventually stand for hallowed Gandhian precepts and Panchaseela principles that have earned India a place of honour in the world.

Go to the Political Column

Return to the Editorial/Opinion contents page

Go to the Editorial Archive