ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 19
Front Page Columns
The Lobby

JVP barking up the wrong tree: Kiriella

By Chandani Kirinde, Our Lobby Correspondent

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 north.

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 oil exploration.

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.

Lakshman Kiriella

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 months.

“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 interest.

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.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.