The correct picture
The LTTE did all it could at the Oslo development forum to regain lost credibility. At least upto a point the organization was successful. It has been said by more than one international commentator that the Sri Lankan government has been the LTTE's most faithful ally in this attempt at shoring up its international image. Britain's Claire Short for instance, made no reference to the LTTE in her speech at the aid forum, and that was a pointed snub. By now it is known that Richard Armitage, the US government representative wanted an assurance from the LTTE that 'tactics of terror will be eschewed.'' That left only the Sri Lankan government as the LTTE's real ally, in its international legitimizing exercise.

But, was there any quid pro quo in it for the Sri Lankan government? Well, let us, lay aside our apprehensions for the moment, and await the outcome of the next round of talks.

But the LTTE's Oslo overture to the international community may have legitimized what could be LTTE's ongoing sleight of hand. The Oslo exercise itself leaves many questions unanswered in this regard. For example, how are funds from Oslo to be channelled for development in the North and the East? What's the government's assurance that none of this money will fall into the hands of the LTTE's own (one might say rather depleted) treasury?

It is still unclear how the money is to be channeled for the ostensible effort of 'unprecedented development' for the war ravaged North East? There are no clear answers to these questions, and the government's chief negotiator G. L. Peiris has, as yet, not helped in any way in the effort to obtain some clarity in this area. We may in sum, have the comic outcome of the international community legitimizing the LTTE, and then obliquely funding them in the very activities that the international community wants the organization to refrain from - such as further acts of terrorism.

Perhaps the only conduit of information that the people have on all these issues is the media - and even if the government does not lend any clarity on the issues themselves, the media's job is to make sure that the authentic situation on the ground is reported. But it appears that the government, while not clarifying the picture, is also aggrieved with the messenger. The media have been faulted on several occasions both directly and obliquely for reporting the developing situation accurately. In newspaper parlance, we define our role by the 'consequence neutrality principle.' It is the job of the press to report the news as it is - and it is left to the rest of the polity to make sense of these developments.

But the press cannot be converted into a monolith that unquestioningly follows the agenda of government. When the US Bay of Pigs invasion failed in the 60s, President John Kennedy asked the press 'why did you people not warn us against this possibility?" The fact is that the government had in fact twisted the arm of the only Editor who had got the scoop on the impending Bay of Pigs invasion, and made sure that he suppressed the news. When the invasion failed either Kennedy was contrite, or he felt that the press was a convenient scapegoat. Hence his lament: "Why didn't the press warn us about this - why did they abdicate their responsibility?"

It is as good an example as any of the consequence of the press abdicating its responsibility to publish the truth. This newspaper for one is not about to abdicate this responsibility. The ultimate endeavour of all our present striving is to bring about a country at peace with itself. But for that realisation the harsh realities of the ground situation on both sides have to be faced and dealt with.


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 Columns  Back to Index

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.