Seeking help in Washington
The applause and the limelight can be dazzling, especially if it is in the precincts of the White House, the residence of the President of the world's most powerful nation. In terms of photo opportunity this is definitely Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe's diplomatic coup - - and it may even be his most glorious hour in terms of his stature as an internationally recognized statesman.

But it is a little too late in Sri Lanka for anyone to be dazzled by spit and polish, or pomp and circumstances. If the immediate tangible result of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe's visit to the US is to be assessed, it will appear that the US is fully supportive of the government's peace moves, and is also supportive of the government's drive for economic recovery. Certainly, there seems to be more support for Mr. Wickremesinghe than there was for Chandrika Kumaratunga, who reportedly sought a summit with two US Presidents but was turned down because the requests came late.

Leave aside US double standards, the long overdue US support is still being awaited in 'real terms'. It is time we talked about turkey rather than jelly beans. It is known that the support has been there in terms of increased placements in US military academies, regular training programmers for police in bomb disposal, VIP security, improvement of intelligence and even sale of equipment.

But what of other important matters like the acquisition and cross servicing agreement. Though India, the one nation that has the sole credit of nurturing a separatist insurgency in Sri Lanka, has held the ACSA "hostages," we, being what we are, have asked New Delhi to iron out their misgivings, if any, with Washington but alas, India, which says she is fully supportive of the Norwegian brokered peace process, is deafeningly silent.

It is now time for US to take the initiative to give meaning to its promise of full support. That of course has to include taking issue with New Delhi over ACSA and any other stumbling blocks that obscure Sri Lanka's national interests. That indeed is the genuine need.

Our society is oftentimes perplexed how we came to create Prabhakarans and Wijeweeras who are portrayed, rightly or wrongly in popular lore (and academic treatise alike.) in this country as monsters. These men may have earned their notoriety perhaps, the scale of the violence and suffering they had unleashed on society being mind numbing. Nothing of course justifies their violence.

But, popular lore also has it that Prabhakaran was witness to an incident in the race riots of 58 in which a relative of his was burnt alive by the mob. This tale may be apocryphal - but the fact is that there is often some early psychological trauma which is said to have offset extreme antisocial behaviour in certain types of individuals. Whether it is true of Prabhakaran is not the issue here. The issue is that we may be creating many more 'Prabhakarans' by unleashing state machinery on the innocents.

The rejoinder of the UDA and all public and elected officials who were responsible for ordering the bulldozing of houses built on state lands in Wattala a fortnight ago is of course that these people were squatters on state land. It is also said that these people were issued sufficient warning to quit and move elsewhere. But it is amazing that such explanations have not been exposed to the public for their hollow and crass insensitivity. These people could and should have been found alternative accommodation, before the police was ordered to demolish their homes before the eyes of their innocent and unknowing children who would have been subject to such trauma from which they may never quite psychologically recover. As we said, there can be only one reaction, which is that of outrage, even though the blase might turn the page and just as well say we got carried away on this one.

No. 8, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2. P.O. Box: 1136, Colombo.
Editor - steditor@wijeya.lk , News - stnews@wijeya.lk Features - stfeat@wijeya.lk
Business - btimes@wijeya.lk Subs - suntimes@wijeya.lk ,
Funday Times - funtimes@wijeya.lk  
EDITORIAL OFFICE Tel: 326247, 328889, 433272-3. Fax: 423922, 423258
ADVERTISING OFFICE Advertising - advt@wijeya.lk , Fax: 423921
CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT No. 10, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2.
Tel: 435454, 448322, 074 714252. Fax: 459725

Back to Top
 Back to Index  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.