up the wrong tree: Kiriella
Norway bashing seems to be the favourite
past time of JVP politicians and they made plenty of
it on the subject both in and outside Parliament last
week while TNA parliamentarians continued with their
somewhat silent “satyagraha” but the government
though did not appear to be listening to either side.
Repeated calls by the JVP to disassociate
the Norwegians from the peace process had been ignored
by the government and last week the Marxists made a
public announcement saying their talks with the government
of President Mahinda Rajapaksa had ended. One of the
reasons given for the breakdown in talks was that no
agreement was reached on what the JVP considered were
four important issues, one of which was the removal
of Norway from its role as facilitator in the peace
process.Similarly the TNA MPs’ sit-down protest
in the Parliament Chambers for six days yielded no results
with the government ignoring their demands to open the
A9 Road to Jaffna and lift the economic embargo on the
The Norwegian factor emerged again
in Parliament on Wednesday during an adjournment debate
on the agreement signed with a Norwegian company TGS
–NOPEC -- in 2001 by the Government of President
Chandrika Kumaratunga and again in 2002 by the UNP-led
UNF government -- to award exclusive rights for offshore
JVP Kurunegala district MP Anura Kumara
Dissanayake said the UNP had entered into the agreement
with the Norwegian company just before the signing of
the ceasefire agreement and said it was done discreetly
and kept hidden from the people and said it should be
cancelled as the company had violated the agreement
by not handing over the seismic data it had collected
to the Sri Lanka government and by not paying royalties
under the provisions of the agreement.
UNP Kandy district MP Lakshman Kiriella
said the JVP was barking up the wrong tree once again
by accusing the UNP of signing the agreement with TGS-NOPEC
when it was initially signed by President Chandrika
Kumaratunga whose administration the JVP joined as part
of a “probationary” government for a few
“For the JVP everything is a
trap. They want to tear up everything and throw them
away but most importantly the JVP has no answers to
any problem,” Mr. Kiriella said.
Petroleum Resources Minister A.H.M.
Fowzie did not appear too keen to cancel the agreement
with TGS-NOPEC, as he himself admitted, he was “caught
between the devil and the deep blue sea.” But
with many ministers supporting the cancellation, Mr.
Fowzie on Wednesday submitted a cabinet paper and obtained
approval to cancel the agreement with TGS-NOPEC after
the payment of US$ 8.5 million as compensation. As the
minister told Parliament earlier, he would now have
to find funds to pay this massive amount to the Norwegian
company. On Thursday Parliament debated the extension
of the emergency and this time it was the TNA parliamentary
group leader R. Sampanthan who turned up the heat on
the Government. He lamented the government was systematically
starving the people of the north by not sending them
the required food and medical supplies.
He said internationally Sri Lanka
was now in the “dog house.”
“The whole world is watching
you. It holds you in utter contempt given the manner
in which you are treating the Tamil people,” Mr.
Sampanthan said as his fellow parliamentarians had to
endure another long session seated on the carpeted floor
of the House.
He urged the government not to be
deaf and dumb and realize that young Tamils were being
brutally murdered and to take action against the perpetrators.
It was not only the TNA which was
not happy with the Government. JVP’s Anuradhapura
district parliamentarian K.D. Lal Kantha levelled several
allegations against the government.
“The government is hiding behind
the military successes it has achieved in the north
and east but it has failed to address the many other
problems facing the people. The government must understand
where it stands otherwise it will be digging its own
grave,” he said.
He questioned why only the ordinary
people were called upon to make scarifies when none
of the ministers were undertaking to make any sacrifices
of their own.
While on one side the JVP was blasting
the government, on the other side history was being
made within the parliament complex itself with the SLFP
and the UNP announcing the signing an MOU this month
to work together on six identified areas of national
So for the time being at least, it’s
unlikely the government will listen to the JVP however
loud it may scream and as for the TNA, the party might
soon realise that “passive resistance” doesn’t
always get the desired results.