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NORWAY PLEDGES ASSISTANCE TO DEVELOP NORTH - EAST

Noor Nizam

Reporting from New York, Journalist N.M.Ameen's article published under the above heading has to be noticed as very important, due to the fact it is dated the 17th. September, at a time when both the Government and the LTTE are sitting in Sattahip,Thailand, the same day deliberating how to make lasting Peace to the bloody ethnic conflict that has ravaged the island's North and East and devasted the Capital and the South, affecting hundreds of thousands of civilians and killing both security personnels and the rebels (terrorists) in the thousands over the last nearly 2 decades.

Interestingly it is the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen who has pledged Aid assistance to develop the North - East, to the Hon. Ranil Wicremasinghe at a discussion held in New York (UN Secretariat) where the Interior Minister John Amaratunghe, Secretary to PM, Bradman Weerakoon, Foreign Secretary Nihal Rodrigo and Adviser to the Ministry of Policy Planning R. Paskaralingam was also present. He has also promised to hold discussions with European countries to help Sri Lanka to develop the North East.

But coincidentally, in Sattahip, the Nowegian State Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vidar Helgesen, facilitating the Peace Talks, has addressed more than 50 Diplomats at the Ambassadors City Jumtien Hotel appealing to them for substantial funding to rebuild the North and East, while the controversial Mr. Erik Solhiem, the main Norwegian Mediator, in his speach has told the 50 Diplomats to go back and tell their Captains this need, meaning to report back to their heads of States or Prime Ministers, the request of Norway for funds for Sri Lanka.

True to the word, Dr. Anton Balasingham, the Chief negotiator of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) has also made it very clear, that the funds have to come first, before anything tangible about Peace could be made a reality through the deliberations as they proceed to October for the second round of talks. The general call at Sattahip to the international community has been " start investing in Peace today and not wait for Peace to happen tomorrow".

This call was to be put to action in Sri Lanka on the same day, as reported by Journalist Don Asoka Wijeywardena writting in the Sunday Observer where he stated that a sum of Rs. 100 million has already been allocated by the Ministry of Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Refugees - for improving the living standards of the approximately 100,000 internally displaced persons. A furher sum of Rs. 198 million expected from the European Union will also be made available to rehabilitate 132 schools which have been occupied by the security forces in the North and East, which have now been vacated .

Happy as all Sri Lankans are as reflected by what Mr. Scott McDonald wrote in is wire-report on Yahoo News dated Tuesday September 17th., where an auto-rickshaw driver Nimal Perera,swerving through traffic in downtown Colombo said - he was already reaping the benefits of the moves towards peace, defenitely, many a Sri Lankans and foreigners are going to reap the benefits of Peace in Sri Lanka, in the weeks, months and even years to come, once the foreign fundings are going to flow into Sri Lanka. But sad to say, it will not make those Refugees or the Internally displaced persons (IDP's) reap the benefits or the benefits of the investments to be made as called for by Mr.Vidar Helgesen, State Secretary, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Funding to be brought in by the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen by discussing with the European Union or as requested by Mr. Erik Solhiem, when the Captains of the 50 Diplomats he addressed will start to pour in the funds.

It is the UNSCRUPULOUS Politicians, Government Officials of all levels, Secretary Generals and CEO's of local and International NGO's, Co-ordinators of UN Agencies, both Locals and foreign and leading Businessmen and Company Chairmans, including Company Directors, who will reap the best benefits of Peace to come in Sri Lanka.

The past have shown enough proof of this. What happened when H.E.Chanrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge initiated the Peace Process no sooner she was voted to power. It was leading Finance Companies and "Joe ohans bottom of the ship" Company that got hundreds of millions of Rupees, in loans and grants. Breakaway groups of the Sarvodaya Movement who had formed NGO's to undertake rehabilitaion and reconstruction work in the war affected areas, pocketed millions of rupees. The CEO's of these NGO's were leading luxurious lives running about in the most modern 4 wheel drive vehciles and drinking and dinning with diplomats in 5 star hotels. Peace Advocay NGO's with just a name and a constitution with one or two front members were raking in millions which they mishandled for their own pleasure and needs, manupilating the accounts and books and sharing their high profile life with the corrupt politicians and providing for then their unfair needs from these funds enabling then to be appointed as Advisors to Ministries, Party Officials and even to the Board of Government Corporations.

A very good example has been a series of investigative reports/articles written in the Norwegian Newspaper "The Nationen" (The Nation ) from the 23rd of August 2002 to 14th., September 2002 of the misappropriation of 100 million Kroners received by a Sri Lankan registered Norwegian NGO called Worldview International Foundation, which has it's modern headquaters in somewhere Nugegoda. The question asked by the Special inquiring audit firm (Consultants) hired by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry of which Mr.Jan Petersen is the Honorable Minister and Mr. Vidar Helgesen is the State Secretary. Both are leading personalities in the facilitating and mediation process of the Peace Initiative. The much talked about Mr. Erik Solhiem has served in the Board of Directors of Worldview International Foundation, one of the articles says. Four leading Norwegian Journalists have done the investigative research on this scandal and the matter has come up in the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) for questioning last week. Strange as it can be, non of the Newspapers in Sri Lanka have published even a line of journalistic report on this giagantic scandal.

So what is the guarantee, that the funds called in by Mr. Erik Solhiem and his colleagues will not find it's way into the hands of these unscrupulous persons who are human vultures living on the misery and agony of the refugees,IDP's and victims of the cruel deeds violence and conflict that has been ongoing for nearly two decades. Have'nt we seen with enough proof of how foreign aid given to Sri Lanka had been used to purchase arms and ammunitions and kick-backs from them in millions of rupees deposited in banks by Parliamentarians who have held important defence portfolio's, and Security high-ups suspected of having purchased multi-storey buildings in Europe.

Recent newspaper articles also told us of how, certain Ministers of the present UNF government responsible for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction have misused their authority and manipulated construction tenders to enrich their family wealth.

No dought, the donor Nations and their representatives are septic of pumping the money up-front and want a more concrete approach to the whole issue. One has to think whether Dr.Anton Balasingham is correct in making a claim, that all Aid Funding should be made available for administration under the LTTE, for the LTTE has, what-ever their weaknesses of ethics and morales have been in the confrontational front, have shown discipline in conduct and administration within their organization. Yet, recent events happening in the Eastern province, have pointed some weaknesses in this area, which is a matter of great concern to themselves.
Likewise the SLMC has also had many problems of administrative defaults, mismanagement and misapropriation under its participation in governance in the Eastern Province, and many a disciplinary action against those officials and members of the SLMC have been taken.

The one and only solace one could drive in the present day context of the SLMC Leadership is that the Honourable Rauf Hakeem is a God fearing person and a practicing Muslim. Moreover, he is assisted by a group of lieutenants of the same principles which brings comfort to the Muslims in the North and East and confidence in the Muslims in the South, that corruption will not plague the community.

Under these circumstances, it is only correct and appropriate for all those concerned that, while the Peace Initiative is moving in the right direction, thaught has to be given to create a seperate body to handle and overlook the administration of the Rehabilitation of the North and East as well as the areas needing such imputs in the South and to manage the Aid Funds flowing in to the country from the donor nations.
Honest, dedicated, and trust-worthy persons with backgrounds that are un-questional
and ability to lead others and be role-models, should be enlisted for this honourable task of Nation building.

Like the Norwegian Foreign Minister discussing the possible modalities of financing a development plan prepared by the Sri Lankan Government, and for Norway to take the responsibility or lead in finding the financial resources to implement such programmes, when he met the Honourable Prime Minister Ranil Wicremesinghe in New York, a NATIONAL PLAN FOR REDEVELOPMENT, REHABILITATION AND RECONSTRUCTION of all Provinces, as a Master Plan , giving top URGENT priority to the NORTH and the EAST has to be undertaken immediately. The LTTE should play a very vital and pivotal role in the formulation of thisese plans.

Expert Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims who are expatriates, should be pooled into the working/planning group by recommendation and invitation. Necessary arrangements for their participation, without financial loss or career loss to such persons should be negotiated and arranged with the country authorities of the countries they are residing at present or have permanent or citizenship rights, to enable their services to be provided to their Motherland, in this time of need.
There is no need for foreign experts, whose services and involvements have been experienced as negative, by many developing countries, when looking back into the past. This does not means that exceptional personalities are not welcome to join the national group/team. It will also enable cost savings and give pride towards dedication to Nationals to contribute their best, at a time of need. Moreover, it will be a way of bridge building among the communities and give an opportunity to young expatriates of high academic and interllectual standas - the second generation of the immigrants and diaspora living aboard, specially in Europe,USA,Scandinavia and North America to do their best to their motherland.

These persons have gained much being born,grown-up,educated and lived in countries like USA, Canada, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden and the UK and have lots of good ethics, values and virtues that the rich nations are proud of and which have made then what they are as Nations today.

It is for Hon.Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mr. Prabaharan, Dr. Anton Balasingham,Hon.G.L.Pieris,Hon.Milinda Morogoda and Hon.Rauf Hakeem to extend their hand of comradeship and understanding to H.E.Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunghe now, without pushing her to a side (as may be the wishes and whims of some political stooges) and invite her to be a member of the team to rehabilitate, reconstruct the Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim and other minority communites of our nation and to make the Sri Lanka or Ceylon that it was once were all three communities lived as a family, with honour and dignity.

I therefore kindly request all newspapers to whom I have forwarded this article, kindly publish this paper. I also wish to thank LANKAWEB Internet Newspaper and it's Editor for publishing my earlier two articles.

Noor Nizam.
a Peace loving Citizen of Sri Lanka living aboard.
18th., September, 2002. 2.41 am .




 

 

 


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