POLITICAL SKETCHBOOK                  by Rajpal Abeynayaka  

Anton Balasingham, the man who straddled the divide
It was almost totally impossible to get the Mafioso to break their so called "Omerta" or the honour code. Not that the LTTE is anything like the Mafioso - - but getting a LTTE leader to break the honour code is like getting a Mafia Godfather to give the names of all his accomplices to an Italian magistrate.

But, this has been done. The newspapers say that Anton Balasingham is 'ape miniha' (our man.) Truth is, nobody said so directly, but if news Editors are being suggestive, they have been pretty suggestive. Stories say that "Anton Balasingham has advised Prabhakaran not to go to war'' "Anton Balasingham has advised the LTTE not to take Sri Lankan forces aggression seriously'' etc.,

Anton Balasingham has definitely broken the code of honour, and not just broken it, but broken it while still having good times with his bosses. What will Anton Balasingham be if he was a Mafioso, a real Mafioso? He would be a man who breaks the code of honour, and is sipping wine with the Godfather, while at the same time ratting to the Italian Magistrates. In other words he would have been quite a freak - an impossible accident.

There was an unkind cartoon of Anton Balasingham somewhere. He gets on a airplane (en route to Japan or wherever ) and says "This is a safe flight. There are no terrorists on it.'' Then he remembers. "…Except me…of course'' he adds looking around, and being suitably sheepish.

But now Balasingham has crossed the divide -- the press considers him 'our man'' and Tilak Marapana has been considering him 'our man 'for a long time, judging by everything he said when LTTE fishing boats were intercepted last year, engaging in business that was anything but fishy. I mean fishing.

So, if Balasingham is our man, next time, the press corps might be warned - - do not lampoon Balasingham. It is not done. It will be like getting Rajiv Gandhi here in Colombo to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord , and then trying to knock him out with the butt of a rifle? What did J. R. Jayewardene say when that happened? 'A national disgrace.'

Balasingham has in the meantime however said he is at the end of his tether. This was when the Sri Lankan government offered another 'national disgrace' to him by destroying a LTTE ship. This time of course the Minister of Defence said that the ship contained 'warlike material.'' Must have been a couple of Australian tribal boomerangs and war paint. No?

Next time they hope to use Balasingham to use his influence with Tony Blair to get Sri Lanka some clout within the European Union. All right, all right -- just joking, certainly not lampooning. Anyway, suppose somebody writes a novel about Anton Balasingham. Surely, creative writers are not forbidden to write novels based on him. The art of making a novel is something else, and should not be thought of as offering a national disgrace.

What will, say, Sarachchandra have named a possible novel based on Balasingham if the man (bless his soul) would have lived today? 'Our man in London?' No, that would sound too much like Graham Greene's 'Our man in Havana', but then, if Greene can place his man in Havana, why can't we place our man in London, what?

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