22nd June 1997

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No way

Cooray foray

No way

The Norwegian government has given the Ethnic Affairs Ministry a largesse of Rs. 120 million to promote “power-sharing” and a “ devolution friendly administrative culture” in Sri Lanka.

Now many things arise from this. Firstly, should a foreign government give, and the Sri Lanka government accept, monies to promote a form of government that is the subject of debate amongst the peoples of a sovereign state?

The government is taking a partisan approach to a controversial issue. What it is doing is promoting its own concept of the devolution of power while certain aspects of these proposals are hotly contested issues.

Is it correct or appropriate for a foreign government to bank-roll an exercise that impinges on the very sovereignty of a free people about to celebrate their 50th year of Political Independence next year.

The new Ministry has been given a blank cheque as to how it is to spend the money. This can have sinister implications and be at the same time suspect.

We know of MPs for hire - the kind of sleaze that rocked the British House of Commons. In the US there is a debate about the Indonesians funding election campaigns.

We also know how Sri Lankan politicos from all parties have been taken on junkets abroad and indoctrinated.

It is reported that both the government and the opposition had very correctly taken a dim view of such goings-on.

But this is not enough. They must stop their politicos from taking off on these free outings.

The Norwegians in particular have a record of brokering the historic Israeli-Palestinian deal. Later events however such as the Arafat - Rabin summit at the White House-with the Norwegian Foreign Minister taking a side role - in September 1993 showed that the US was behind it all.

The Norwegians were simply front men.

Let us remember too that there is an LTTE lobby in Norway. So when there is a national debate in sovereign Sri Lanka on the national question and the government has put forward a set of proposals that is subject to debate, is it proper for foreign monies to be infused in this way? That question will no doubt be part of the national debate.

Cooray foray

Mr. Sirisena Cooray was by no means one of our fans and we were not his when he was the powerful right-hand man if not something else of Ranasinghe Premadasa. But Mr. Cooray’s solitary confinement now under mysterious circumstances and without formal charges is a blatant violation of human rights with overtones of dictatorship at a time when people in high places are talking about the soulless system in Seoul and the unjustified detention of Aung San Su Kyi by the Myanmar military junta.

Was the government acting in a knee-jerk reaction to the possible patching up of differences between rival factions in the UNP and that it could exploit the split between UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mr. Cooray?

Whatever the reason the government has unleashed a backhand drive and is now obviously trying to collate evidence to justify the solitary confinement.

In the meantime the government has propelled Mr. Cooray to the ranks of a Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela by saying that he was being detained to prevent any breach of the peace or any harm to the defence of the state. In a sense, Mr. Cooray could not have asked for more.

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