UNP leadership and People’s Alliance hopefuls
go back to grassroots
By Out Political Editor
Broken buses may not be equal
to broken spirits, but the spirit of the UNP MPs delegation was
sometimes almost as broken as the broken bus that took them on a
tour of the Eastern province. Somewhere in Samanthurai, the van/mini-bus
that was carrying UNP Chairman Malik Samarwickreme and Secretary
Senarath Kapukotuwa got submerged, careened and turned onto a side,
on a broken stretch of road.
The scene of the bus - - on a side -- and tilting over, almost completed
the picture for the UNF MPs who came in for a great deal of flak
from party organisers and grassroots level UNPers at locations such
as Adalachchanai, Sammanthurai etc., in the Eastern province.
The main complaint
of the UNP organisers and grassroots men was that the constituent
parties of the UNF are running the show in the Eastern province,
and sometimes in the rest of the country. At least in the case of
the Eastern province, this is the situation they said, with nothing
being done unless there was the okay given by the local SLMC man.
When the UNP MPs were being battered with this line some of them
were seen resisting - and getting into bigger messes.
MP Azwer, ever
impish and ready to say something - anything -- was saying that
the UNP was only trying to assert itself and see that the party
organisation was active in the Eastern province as well. "It
was not a case of trying to get the UNF back from the clutches of
the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress, certainly not,'' he said.
were not so clever. Minister Dayaratne was quite irritated with
the UNF organisers’ complaint, and finally in exasperation,
he said 'it is a case of the dog wagging the tail and not the tail
wagging the dog.'' Guess what? Dayaratne is now in hot water for
making that statement, and the tail is wagging the dog so hard over
this matter, that Dayaratne may soon have to issue an apology.
The 'dog wags
tail'' statement reached the ears of the small party constituents
of the UNF even though their leaders, Rauff Hakeem and Arumugam
Thondaman were both in Japan, one for the peace talks, and the other
for a parley on irrigation. When the 'dog wags tail'' statement
was conveyed to them , both of them got incensed saying that this
is an insult that had been offered to them by the Minister.
They sent messages
back home saying that they intend taking up this matter no sooner
than they arrive on Sri Lankan shores. They are so serious about
this insult, that they intend taking up the matter with the Prime
Minister, who it is said, may ask Minister Dayaratne to apologise.
Talk about tail wags dog……
If the UNP
was trying in this way to whip up some enthusiasm among their rank
and file and was getting only broken spirits and broken buses, there
was even less success with the opposition trying to imbue some life
into its own ranks. Anura Bandaranaike was spearheading a meeting
at President's house to ensure that power is returned to the People's
Alliance in the Central Provincial Council.
Provincial Council members were blunter than Bandaranaike ever imagined.
One said aloud that 'first the PA was trying to grab parliamentary
power, but now what's this talk about grabbing power in the Provincial
Anura Bandaranaike was not about to take that lying down , so he
said that a bid for power in the national arena will be made at
the correct time, but until then , the party had decided to make
a bid in the fringe by regaining power in the Provincial Councils.
But all he got
a was bleak picture, with grassroots men telling him that a lot
of potential PA votes have gone the way of the UNF after the Udatalawinna
massacres that had brought the PA a bad name in the Central province.
Some were heard to say that it is better to determine the state
of affairs in the Central province, only when the PA was ready for
power in the national electorate. Anura Bandaranaike did not seem
to have any respite that day -- and when he inquired about Matale
after one session of loud bickering, and asked 'how is Monty Gopallawa
fareing'' he was told bluntly that ''Monty Gopallawa is your kinsman,
so you should know better about him.''
What was this
'correct time'' to launch the bid for power, then that Anura Bandarnaike
was talking about? Nobody knows, but if you would ask the sister,
the correct time is written in the stars. Last week she had asked
various stargazers both of local and Indian origin what the stars
foretell about her future bid for power, and she was told that the
current is definitely not the best time for her to make that bid.
she was given a certain date and time - -some say in April - - from
whence her political campaign will bear success, and so we are told
that through the grapevine the national Defence Establishment, under
Tilak Marapana has been told that they will have to watch out. There
is bound to be trouble -- but only after a certain date. All we
can say is they are not the Ides of March.
in the human rights roadmap
IAN MARTIN, the former Amnesty International chief now co-opted
for the Sri Lankan peace process, alas, came a cropper this week
in Hakone. His proposals for the all-important Human Rights roadmap
for the LTTE was shot and sunk just like the Chinese trawler off
the Mullaitivu coast.
The Human Rights
roadmap was the sine-qua-non for the exchange of autonomy for the
LTTE - a pre-requisite from the "international community"
to legitimise the LTTE.
Multi-party democracy, elections, the rule of law, no child conscription
- these were to be the culkverts on the roadmap.
But Mr Martin
could not deliver.His problem was to find a suitable group which
could monitor the implementation of this roadmap. He had suggested
the local Human Rights Comission headed by Ms Radhika Coomaraswamy
who must have held her head in horror at the suggestion.
Then came the
suggestions that the Norwegians do the honours. Having their plate
full already, and if trying to ensure that their monitors dont have
to jump off boats is not bad enough, the Scandinavians opted out.
in that order, the UN was to be asked to undertake the unenviable
task - something positively the Sri Lankans, possibly the Indians,
and probably the UN itself - to appoint a special UN Human Rights
Force to be planted in the country.
And even if that did not work, a coalition of UN agencies - UNICEF,
UNHCR, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights et al.
And so, Ian
Martin got lost in his own roadmap. The LTTE didn't mind that at
all, for they are in no indecent hurry to effect Human Rights as
the world knows it in the north and east of Sri Lanka where they
claim they rule the roost. But what was clever (or not so, as the
case maybe) on the part of the Norwegians was the way they put down
all this in their official press release for the consumption of
This is how
they put it to the public; " Following up on the discussions
in Berlin inFebruary on human rights,the parties asked their international
human rights adviser, Mr Ian Martin to develop three aspects of
the proposed roadmap for adoption at the seventh session of talks".
They then detailed
what these three aspects were; basically, (i) the drafting of a
Declaration of Hunan Rights and Humanitarian principles, (ii) human
rights training for LTTEcadres, government officials, police etc.,
with specialised training by UNICEF in relation to the Rights of
the Child with the support of the ICRC and the UNHCR, and (iii)
the strengtening of the Human Rights Commission to increase effective
monitoring with the help of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
the UNHCR, SLMM and UNICEF.
Nary a word
about what happened to Mr. Martin's original proposals painfully
worked out betwen Berlin and Hakone. So then, so much for expert
international advise. Thats the Human Rights roadmap as we have
it for the moment, to ensure the LTTE will support multi-party democracy,
abide by the rule of law, refrain from child-conscription and the
like. He himself realised his limittaions when all he could come
up with was.
Men, women and
How come there was a male in the women's delegation of MPs that
emplaned for Bangladesh to study violence against women? Apparently
this was on the rationale that women alone are not responsible for
such violence, and now, on return MP Pavithra Wanniarachchi has
proposed a special committee allied to one of the select committees
already in session in parliament to study the issue of violence
against women is never as serious as violence against Ministers,
certainly not to the ruling party - --and therein lies a tale. Ministers
- - the formidable duo Tilak Marapana and John Amratunga of Defence
and Interior portfolios --- were to tour Jaffna to ascertain the
security situation there, when intelligence reports reached them
that there was a LTTE plan to assassinate these two Ministers in
promptly notified the Prime Minister of this development, and the
Prime Minister you could say hit the ceiling. He ordered an immediate
investigation, and launched an inquiry into the circumstances of
this intelligence report. He eventually determined that it was false,
and now the officers who issued this warning have been asked to
furnish letters of explanation with a view to seriously reprimanding
them for this 'lapse.'