The Sunday Times Editorial

27th October 1996

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Roses and Ransom

The crisis between President Chandrika B. Kumaratunga and Minister M. H. M. Ashraff - over matters relating to the proposed Oluvil Port and the controversial deal with P&O on the Queen Elizabeth Quay - has been patched after the theatrics of the SLMC earlier this week with the President sending Mr. Ashraff a bouquet of roses and carnations for his 48th birthday last Wednesday.

Well and good. If Mr. Ashraff's Sri Lanka Muslim Congress had pulled out of the PA government, the President would have been forced to depend more on some Tamil parties which often make self- centered demands. But Mr. Ashraff also must remember that he is a Minister of the Central Government, not of the Eastern Province, Oluvil or Kalmunai. As Minister S. Thondaman often does, Mr. Ashraff should not hold to ransom governments that are clinging on to wafer thin majorities in Parliament.

President Kumaratunga is right to question Mr. Ashraff's blatantly communal attitude in running the administration. If he is permitted to work only for "his people" and Mr. Thondaman for "his people" for whom must the Sinhalese Ministers work? National interests must take priority over any party, communal or personal interests. We hope Mr. Ashraff has not won the day after all.

Tuition for MPs

Recently some UNP, PA and JVP Members of Parliament were taken on a jaunt to Switzerland and Ireland. Even a Cabinet Minister went with them.

In Switzerland we are told that our honourable MPs including the Cabinet Minister had to listen to the pontifications on how to solve Sri Lanka's problems. Those seminars were like tuition classes for our legislators.

Our political parties must be more careful before offering our MPs to these bleeding heart lobbies which say they are the doves who want peace but don't know exactly how to achieve it - nor are willing to stop the flow of funds for the LTTE to buy more arms for its war machine.

What are we doing

Europe's paedophiles, now notorious all over the world, appear to have spread their tentacles to Sri Lanka. Poverty has forced innocent Sri Lankan children to the three-star beds of these international cads.

In the news/comment section of this newspaper today, 'The Sunday Times' investigators expose the horrible child sex racket in the hallowed Dambulla-Sigiriya area, where orphans have allegedly been taken to a three-star hotel to pander to the perverted sexual pleasures of decadent tourists.

It is shameful to read what a recent UNICEF report said. It revealed that 40 per cent of German tourists going to Sri Lanka are sex tourists. The figure sounds high, but then UNICEF must have reason to say so.

From all accounts, government investigations are slow and laws are archaic. In some countries where child sex abuse is rampant, tourists found in the company of children are liable for prosecution. The fear of a drop in tourism apparently makes the government here fearful or reluctant to crack down on the foreign paedophiles.

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