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3rd October 1999
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Guest Column

Towards another reign of terror!

By Victor Ivan
It is not difficult to see what is going to happen in the future. The intention 
of the government is to win the two up coming elections by whatever means necessary. The government will inevitably repress the person and the 
institution that might be an obstacle to that victory. The final result of 
such action would be to deprive the people of their liberty, the collapse 
of the rule of law, the breakdown of the system of democratic political institutions, the country's descent again to a situation where fear 
of death reigns and the entrenchment of mass corruption and terror.

The leaders of the People's Alliance have a firm intention to stay in power for at least one more term, whatever the people might think of it. People's consent and democratic principles are laughable matters to them. They have a feeling that if the UNP stayed in power for 17 years, they have the right to remain in power for a minimum of one more term.

According to Machiavelli, for the purpose of staying in power, the rulers must have either the people's support or the ability to intimidate the people into submission. The leaders of the PA have not tried to win the affection of the people though it is too late for such a project. The only option left to them now is to resort to a programme of intimidating the people. That is the direction the government is gradually taking.

The People's Alliance came to power not because of any activity of its constituent parties but as a by-product of the activity of forces outside party politics who were interested in democracy. At that time the PA had a set of promises which were capable of attracting these non political forces. However the leaders of the PA do not seem to have had any intention to implement their democratic agenda.

Quite apart from abolishing the Executive Presidency, the PA did not even make an attempt to reform it. It did not fulfil any of the promises given to establish media freedom. The PA had promised to take action without delay to give the Commissioner of Elections all the powers necessary to make the electoral process a fair and just one. The government has not even considered the subject, to say nothing of fulfilling that promise.

Even in such minor matters as elections to co-operatives, the PA has followed a policy of permitting violence and rascality. It has honoured its members who have perpetrated election malpractices instead of punishing them. 

The rehearsals that are going on at every level are a prelude to what the government is going to do at the two major up coming elections as a necessary condition to win them.

The Wayamba election was the one in which all these illegal and anti-democratic activities were practised to the utmost. When it became an open fraud, the mass media rose against it. The Commissioner of Elections too took a fearless stand in the crisis that had arisen. It's next consequence was that the Commissioner of Elections, as well as the mass media, faced the government's displeasure.

Before the Provincial Elections held after the Wayamba election, a citizen went before the Supreme Court and requested it to ensure that there would not be a repetition of Wayamba at future elections. Although the subsequent elections were not clean elections in the full sense of the term, the Supreme Court had seen to it that the Police was able to act in an upright manner and violent and rascality were minimized.

Clearly the government considers that, in order to win the upcoming Presidential Election and the Parliamentary Election it is necessary to keep three factors under its control.

They are the mass media, the Supreme Court and the Commissioner of Elections. It was thus that the government resorted to buying over media persons and to relentlessly attack those who could not be bought over. 

It is not difficult to see what is going to happen in the future. The intention of the government is to win the two upcoming elections by whatever means necessary. 

The government will inevitably repress the person and the institution that might be an obstacle to that victory. The final result of such action would be to deprive the people of their liberty, the collapse of the rule of law, the break down of the system of democratic political institutions, the country's descent again to a situation where fear of death reigns and the entrenchment of mass corruption and terror.

The revolutionary organizations like the JVP too are groping in the dark. Civil society organizations like human rights organizations and trade union organizations are in deep slumber.

It was the judiciary which was the fundamental institution which protected all kinds of fundamental rights. Although there were various divisions in the country based on political parties and ethnic groups and there were also various conflicts arising from those divisions, all the people living in the midst of all other conflicts had faith in the judiciary. Even the political movements functioning inside the framework of democracy went before the judiciary to secure their rights. 

The judiciary did not appear to the people as a puppet that could be entirely manipulated by the ruling party. 

If the government succeeds in attaining its objective and all the political parties and mass organisations maintained their silence in this regard, it will certainly have to pay a great price for their failure to do their duty.


Doing good and good thoughts

By Ven. Soma
The person who practices 'maithri', loving kindness should discipline his organs such as eyes, ears, nose, tongue and work towards gaining a serene mind. By practising the five precepts a lay person can gain that serenity of mind.

This is shown as "santhindriyo" in the Karaniya Metta sutta. The next quality to develop is the 'nipaka' state. 'Nipaka' means acute intelligence or the ability to chase away desire, hatred and ignorance. The person who practicses loving kindness should not be a rough person, nor a person who does not listen to advice given by parents and elders. He also should not be revengeful. Such a person is known as 'pabagga'; a person who does not possess this quality is 'apphagabba'.

Similarly ones affiliations with friends, relatives and neighbours should be neutral. The depth of association if it exceeds this, could pose obstacles to the goodwill between persons. If a person through goodwill goes to another's house at an awkward hour, that would be an intrusion of the privacy of those householders and it could cause bad feeling. 

'Kulesu ananu gijjo' is a person who is not trapped by the rigidity of the caste system. If one recognizes these qualities and develops them one would be able to develop 'maithri', or loving kindness.

What is meant by developing these qualities is the necessity to develop 'maithri', because while developing these qualities one must also develop maithri. "Nacha kuddan sama chare", similarly one must not indulge in however small a wrong act, that could bring blame upon oneself. The moment such a sin is committed one must do good deeds.

While doing these good deeds one must also wish for the well being of other people, This is known as "sukhino va". By saying "khe mino honthu" one must wish that all these beings live without fear and trepidation and say "sabbe saththa bhavanthu sukhithaththa, sabbe saththa bhavanthu sukhithaththa". This is the way to develop ones mind and practice "maithri bhavana". While spreading 'maithri', or loving kindness, towards all animals it is not necessary to think of each and every animal and meditate on their safety -"suwapath vethwa".

The Buddha has categorised all beings as those who possess fear and those who do not.This is called "thassa, thabharana". 'Thassa' are those like humans who feel fear. 'Thabara' are those who have erased desire, hatred and ignorance and got rid of all ties-those like saints. These people are known as 'rahathan vahanse'. 

As long as the world goes on all beings will be categorised as 'diga', 'mahantha', 'majjima', 'rassa', 'anuka' and 'thula'. 'Diga' are animals such as pythons. 'Mahantha' are big animals such as elephants. 'Majjima', are medium sized animals such as humans. Tigers and bulls belong to the 'rassa' category, four legged animals and 'anuka' are small animals who are almost invisible. 'Thula' includes fat animals. This definition includes each and every living being in this world. This is one way to focus on all beings. "Ditta vaye va aditta", 'ditta' means that which is visible while 'aditta' is that which is invisible. All animals that are visible and those which are invisible are included in this definition. "Ditta vaye va aditta" is another way of focussing on all animals.

Australia struggles for place in Asia

CANBERRA, Oct 1 Saturday - Australia's political and military attempts to restore peace to ravaged East Timor could see the country's robust foreign policy branded by regional neighbours as an unwelcome face of Anglo-Saxon interference.

Canberra's firm leadership in assembling the multinational force ending the bloodbath in East Timor has attracted plaudits in the West, but Asian leaders have expressed fierce resentment at Australia's "aggressive" stance.

"Is it necessary to point guns at people who are obviously unarmed," asked Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in a swipe at the West's handling of the East Timor crisis.

Analysts say Mahathir's attack at "heavy handed" behaviour of Australian troops in East Timor is just the latest example of raised Asian hackles towards the West and of Asian leaders targeting Australia as a convenient scapegoat.

And the criticism has inflamed anti-Australian sentiment among Indonesians Australia's Jakarta embassy was attacked on Thursday by students throwing rocks and molotov cocktails.

Australia has long been Jakarta's closest Western ally, and was the only Western power to recognise Indonesian sovereignty of East Timor when Jakarta annexed the territory in 1976.

Mahathir's comments are symptomatic of the Asian unease at Australia throwing its political weight around in a region where it is a cultural black sheep and demographically dwarfed.

"What Mahathir Mohamad said probably sums up the feeling of the Asian people of the role of Canberra in this problem of East Timor," said Basoeki Koesasi, Asian studies expert at Monash University in Melbourne.

"The Indonesians are still traumatised by the white people's oppression of the past. They're very suspicious about any foreign ideologies. It's like the colonial governments in the past doing the same, exactly the same things to the natives."

Race has always been an uneasy part of Australia's relationship with Asia, analysts said, and has been used to criticise Australia over its role in the East Timor crisis.

Malaysia's opposition leader Lim Kit Siang has said Australia's stance reflects the fact it has not developed "the mind-set to be accepted as an Asian nation".

Malaysia also slammed Australia for interfering in Asian domestic affairs, saying it was "sitting in a white chair and supervising the coloured chairs," while an Indonesian defence academic has accused Australia of treating Indonesia "like a small, brown uncivilised neighbour".

The Howard administration has thus far chosen not to rise to the provocation, preferring to make soothing noises towards its Asian neighbours in a pragmatic damage control exercise.

"We don't have an aggressive policy in the Asia Pacific," Howard said recently, adding he did not believe Asian leaders really viewed Australia's actions as overly assertive.

But Australia's true motives are in some ways less important than the way its aims are perceived, and some Indonesians have seen domestic Australian political considerations at play.

"The perception of the intellectuals in Indonesia is that Howard is a little man trying to be a big man. He's trying to make sure people take notice that what he's doing is different from the Labor (opposition) party," Basoeki said.

Analysts also say the anti-Australian rhetoric may be intensified by domestic Asian agendas, such as Indonesia's November presidential election and manoeuvring ahead of Malaysia's next election, expected by mid-2000.

Having developed close political, military and geographical ties with Indonesia, Australia was the natural choice to spearhead political pressure on Indonesian President B.J. Habibie to end the killings in East Timor by pro-Jakarta militias.

However much Asian leaders rail at what they regard as Australian hubris, the fact remains that they cannot afford to lose Canberra's economic goodwill, any more than Australia can take the security risk of Asian disfavour.

Australia, a major trade force and commodity exporter in the region, emerged relatively unscathed from the economic storms that ravaged Asia two years ago. Its economy remains buoyant.

Canberra was also the main sponsor of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank programmes to resuscitate Indonesia's economy, which took a thrashing at the hands of the speculators.

In the end, Australia may be caught between the rock of its history of Western associations and the hard place of Asian resentment at Canberra's new assertiveness.
PROTEST:JAKARTA-Saturday An Indonesian shouts anti-America slogans during a protest in front of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta September 30. The protests, many protesting against U.N. backed intervention in East Timor, flared as U.S. Defence Secretary William Cohen held talks on the ravaged territory in Jakarta.

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