At a time when the superior courts in Sri Lanka had English judges,
a local scribe penning a column for a Colombo daily was found guilty
of Contempt of Court when he wrote a piece titled 'Justice on Holiday.'
It was as tongue-in-cheek as it could get; a reference to judges
taking a breather from steamy and sticky Colombo during April to
witness horse-races in cooler Nuwara-Eliya.
contrast, it's more a case of 'Government on Holiday' - with us
having to witness the spectacle of the Executive President dispatching
her National New Year message from Old Blighty as it were .
the Opposition is on holiday, which means the JVP keeps scoring
brownie points with the masses with their leaders partaking of Avurudhu
meals with tsunami victims still suffering in make-shift tents.
The pictures of these excursions are published in the press in short
order, to make a mockery of the President's own message." ..elaborate
plans to rehabilitate all people affected by the tsunami have been
formulated and implemented within the last three months ".
President meanwhile contradicts herself in her own Avurudhu message.
Having said that "elaborate plans " to rehabilitate all
people have been implemented" - something the whole country
knows is furthest from the truth - she goes on to infer, and correctly
so this time that tsunami affected people of the North-East are
caught in a tug-of-war between the Government and the LTTE.
is so much more work to be done for the victims of the world's biggest
natural disaster in living memory. World Governments and NGOs have
confirmed the fact that the outpouring of financial assistance has
surpassed all expectations. But now there is a widely heard call
to divert some of these surplus collections to AIDS and poverty
ravaged Africa, as countries such as Sri Lanka and Indonesia struggle
to come up with project proposals.
yet, while the proposals are in the burner, the victims spend this
season of their discontent burning in the hot sun and being drenched
in pelting rain, while the Government takes a break for the April
vacations. A vacation must after all, be earned.
The golden jubilee of the Afro-Asian grouping which later
took the world stage as the Non-Aligned Movement is largely an exercise
in nostalgia today in a world where a single superpower looks at
the world and wants it all and strikes like a thunder ball. So much
so that Sri Lanka's President Chandrika Kumaratunga, though being
the daughter of two prime ministers who played a key role in the
Afro-Asian and the NAM movement, does not even consider it fit to
disrupt her holiday in Britain to attend the golden jubilee summit
in Jakarta this week. So much even for nostalgia.
the end of the Second World War till the late 1980s, NAM played
an important role on the borders between the US-led NATO and the
Soviet bloc. But with the collapse of orthodox communism and the
emergence of the United States as the kingmaker and policymaker
in a unipolar world, NAM gradually lost its vision and goals to
the extent that its very meaning and relevance is questioned today
and the main challenge to the growing US empire appears to be coming
from the extremist forces linked to Osama bin Laden.
the reality is that anyone who does not subscribe to US agendas
or does not worship and pay tribute to the new empire or deity is
ostracized, marginalized and then eliminated.
seems Sri Lanka has decided it won't try to fight neo-colonialism
as our forefathers did. In Jakarta we will not be bothered about
neo colonisation, but in seeking a common Asian candidate for the
post of UN Secretary General - not on any principles such as those
fostered by the NAM but more because former foreign minister Tyronne
Fernando first threw in the hat and now Jayantha Dhanapala has done
suggestion received a fairly big push last week when the visiting
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao endorsed an Asian candidate for the next
Secretary General's post, but stopped short of endorsing Sri Lanka's
runner for the job. Thailand's former foreign minister is also a
key runner for the post, while there is some lobbying in New York
for Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suki, and in Washington there
is re-thinking whether the UN top slot need even go on the basis
of geographic rotation anymore.
Lanka needs to be conscious of three important factors:
Sri Lanka must tread carefully. We should not make asses of ourselves
as has happened in similar elections to UN posts, spending huge
sums of money on globe-trotting campaigns.
ties with Buddhist Thailand cannot be needlessly frayed for a job
that will eventually need to be rubber-stamped by the US. Non-Alignment
is now a mere chapter in international history.