POLITICAL SKETCHBOOK                  by Rajpal Abeynayaka  

Peace: in Hakone, they were having a humdinger
Between the Japanese, Akashi and what's his name, there were rows of Sri Lankans, some labelled as LTTE and some labelled as GOSL. But the more the camera focused on the picture, the more it began to look like Dr Livingstone and his accomplice in the company of smiling brown men. Now, no racial stereotyping here, lest we are reported to the Press Complaints Commission on racial profiling.

Just saying that next to the serious looking Japanese, the lounge suited Sri Lankans looked like they were anything but enemies. Balasingham was smiling, few chinks in his teeth showing. G. L. Peris was smiling no chinks showing in his teeth. Karuna wore a broad smile, Moragoda wore a broader smile. All the while the Japanese were looking serious in the chill wind.

We don't know, but the Japanese were saying they had reason to be sombre. "Recovering from one war, the Sri Lankan economy is running the danger of being smothered by another war,'' they said. Then everybody was imploring Mr George. W. Bush not to forget the Sri Lankans please, even as he is looking towards blasting Iraq to Kingdom come in the new war.

The cosiest science fiction scenario invented yet, is that the day extra terrestrials attack the earth, earthlings will forget all their differences. Maybe, G. L. Peiris and Balasingham are smiling, because they know they are in one hell of a soup, and they are in it together. The Japanese tell them that the only way that they can rebuild their economy and their lives is if they make peace. Just when they are on the way to doing that, and making peace almost carrying that peace flame underwater, they are being told - 'oh faecal matter, oh faecal matter, there is another war -- so you can't get lucky just yet.'

Will G. L. Peiris remember all this when he retires (he will be there long after the Martians invade Earth….) and write a book titled "We don't make peace, it is something that happens to us.'' Or will he still be saying 'the peace process will continue despite all internal and external obstacles even though the portends are clear etc etc'' in the now well known GLspeak?

If say Tarzie Vittachi was alive today and would put his mind to it, or even say that Indian political thriller writer Kuldip Nayar was to put his mind to it, what would they title their books? "Peace in Lanka: who did what to whom?'' Even though it has slightly Website connotations (I am talking of websites a la Blonde Broads and More Blonde Broads etc.,) 'Peace: who did what to whom" is a purely non pornographic metaphor for the dynamics of the Sri Lankan peace process in its latest stage in Hakone.

Currently, those who do not have much initiation to these things will claim quite unkindly that the peace is something that the Japanese are doing to us. The Japanese will say that is very unkind - see - because according to them "peace is something that the Americans are doing to you people.''

They did not say that? Well not in so many words, maybe, but didn't Akashi say ' Americans must not forget Sri Lanka now that there is a war on Iraq,'' and that the 'Sri Lankan economy will now be affected by another war, even as it is coming out of one war.'' Sihala Urumaya will at this point say that peace is something that the Norwegians the Americans and the Japanese together are doing to us --but you have to ask them that……

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