Government on Holiday
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.

By 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 .

Even 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 ".

The 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.

There 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.

And 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.

Relics and realities
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.

From 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.

But 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.

It 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 so.

The 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.

Sri 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.

Centuries-old 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.

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