H. L. D. Mahindapala

ITEM 1: On June 23rd , an agent of the LTTE, whom the Prime Minister trusts as genuine promoters of peace initiated by him, walks into the Dehiwela Police Station in broad daylight and shoots the OIC, Sunil Thabrew, in the head. Will the Prime Minister ever hear that shot? Will he wake up to the sound of that shot? Or are his ear plugged with cotton wool to prevent them from hearing unwanted noises that irritate his frayed nerves?

ITEM 2: His Defence Secretary, Austin Fernando, the highest official in the Ministry assigned to defend the nation, goes to Jaffna on June 14. He goes to meet leading citizens and some guerilla leaders. When he gets off the plane at Palaly he is told that the town is tense after the LTTE gunmen had killed Tambirajah Subanthiram, the Deputy leader of the EPRLF opposed to the LTTE. Austin Fernando makes quick u-turn, on the advice of the Security Forces, and heads home seeking his own safety.

“The tragic irony,” says Iqbal Athas, the best informed Defence Correspondent of the Sunday Times, “is the fact that Mr. Fernando was seeking the safety of his life from the very men he had gone out of the way to placate in the past 16 months of the ceasefire - those of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“It was Mr. Fernando who ordered that the Commanders of the Army and Navy sit together as equal partners with guerrilla cadres in camouflage uniform during a prisoner exchange in the no man's land at Omanthai, north of Vavuniya, on September 18, last year. It was he who set up an official Committee to expedite the release of equipment for the LTTE to set up a modern radio broadcasting station in the Wanni. It was he who went to a Colombo nursing home with bagful of apples to visit a guerrilla leader undergoing treatment for tuberculosis. The list is unending.
And now, it is Mr. Fernando, the country's top most bureaucrat responsible for the nation's security forces, who felt it unsafe to travel in Jaffna. Of all things, it was for fear of a threat to his life,” adds Athas. (Sunday Times – June 23, 2003).

ITEM 3: The Sunday Leader, a pro-Ranil newspaper, reported that he was visibly angry when he heard that the SL Navy had sunk the LTTE ship smuggling arms on June 14, 2003. He demanded to know why the SLMM monitors were not informed? And the Minister of Defence, Tilak Marapone, was also perturbed that he was not informed? In fact, the panjandrums of the UNF government went on the offensive against the SL Navy saying that this act would sabotage the peace process.

When conflated these separate acts point unambiguously to the direction in which the nation is heading. Put simply, it means that Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister, his Defence Minister, Marapone and their two chief chuck-goloyas, Austin Fernando, and Bad-man Weerakoon of the Peace Secretariat, are jointly working, covertly and overtly, to strengthen the hand of the LTTE to take over Jaffna without even a token resistance from the Security Forces and present a fait accompli to a shocked and helpless nation. Quite surreptitiously, Ranil Wickremesinghe is manipulating to hand over territory and powers to the LTTE – a process he knows he knows he cannot do through the constitutional process -- by weakening the Security Forces and openly encouraging the LTTE to grab as much as they can without any resistance from the Prime Minister.

This fact is emphasized by Iqbal Athas, who states that in the peninsula, the “security forces installations have been pruned down to half their strength after the ceasefire.” He adds: “The message is clear - anyone who is an LTTE target can no longer move around in "liberated" Jaffna peninsula. Much the same as how things are in the Tiger guerrilla dominated Wanni.” (Sunday Times – June 23, 2003). Ranil’s pompous removal of the barriers in Colombo as a symbol of peace to come has blown up in his face at the Dehiwela Police Station.

If Ranil Wickremesinghe, Marapone, Austin Fernando and Weerakoon are unaware of these realities then they are guilty of criminal neglect of duty. If that is true, then they are not fit to hold the responsible position they hold. They should be sacked forthwith by the President. But the hard reality is that they are totally aware of it and, as seen in the three items mentioned above, they are deliberately planning to rein in the defenders of the nation in the Security Forces and prevent them from taking any action against the LTTE. Is this a tactic to save the nation or to surrender the nation?

If the Prime Minister is serious about protecting the sovereign status of the nation why should he be angry with the SL Navy carrying out its duties to protect the territorial integrity by sinking an enemy ship smuggling arms to destabilize and dismember the nation? Should the Prime Minister be angry with the SL Navy or the LTTE which is smuggling arms in violations of the agreement he signed with his co-partner, Prabhakaran?

Ranil’s action against the Security Forces will be recorded in the annals of recorded history as the first in which a prime minister reprimanded his navy for defending the nation’s security and territorial integrity. This lead to another intriguing question: Is he the prime minister of Sri Lanka or Eelam? The irony is that he is neither. Anton Balasingham is on record saying at the failed publicity stunt of the Killinochci press conference that they have their own prime minister. But then can a prime minister who attacks his own navy for thwarting the enemies of the nation be regarded as the legitimate prime minister of Sri Lanka?

The UNF ministers have come out crying that this is a threat to the peace process. Is it really? Or is it a threat to their ministerial seats in Ranil’s regime? Is the SL Navy anti-national and are they resorting to unlawful action? Ranil is said to be a qualified lawyer, though with hardly any noticeable credits in that field. Can he and his legal-eagles in the Cabinet point out to the illegalities in the Naval action? If so why doesn’t he get this ever-obliging Attorney-General to initiate legal action against the Naval officers?

The overall trend, ever since Ranil signed the secret agreement dictated to him by Prabhakaran on February 22, 2003, has been to surrender every inch of the way – all in the name of a peace that has eluded him so far and will continue to elude him until he wakes up one day to find that his own “sweet, tolerant” (Sudar Oli, the pro-LTTE newspaper) co-conspirator to dissect the nation, Prabhakaran, has hung him out to twist in the bitter winds howling in his political graveyard. He is in a no-win situation. Whatever he claims to have won or hopes to win, can be achieved only by misleading the nation. Those who challenge him are kicked out. Leading journalists like Paul Harris of the London Daily Telegraph was refused an extension of his visa because he was campaigning actively to expose the surrender of Ranil to Prabhakaran. Paul Harris’s active intervention in exposing Ranil’s betrayal of the nation raises the question of whether it is ethical for newspaper photographer to carry on clicking his camera when a child is burning or whether it is his primary duty to put out the fire to save the child. To the credit of Paul Harris it must be said that he attempted to do both. But Ranil wanted him only to take the pictures and not to save the child.

Ranil’s Peace Secretariat, headed by Bad-man Weerakoon, went into hyper-action to suppress news coming out against their NGO-sponsored peace initiative. One such action was the statement issued by the Mahanayakes against the MoU. Ranil has been in a tight corner ever since he began this ill-fated sell-out. For him to “succeed”, or rather survive in politics, he has to seek compliance from his opponents to appease the LTTE. Without appeasing the LTTE he cannot go anywhere. He is now faced with the dilemma of appeasing the LTTE without raising the nation’s opposition that would unsettle him. But quite oblivious of the forces stirring under his very nose, he has taken a fancy to his assumed the role of great peace-maker. There is a vulgar exhibitionism in his parading in various capitals of the world as the next Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

His current magnificent obsession is to dress up in what appears to be Hameedia-tailored suits to project the image of an international hero of the world peace by selling the nation down the river. Each time he is in trouble he heads off to another Western capital, donning a Western suit (Hameedia-tailored?) with the sole purpose of posing as the equal of Bush or Blair. But unfortunately his penchant for Western suits hasn’t brought him the clout he desires either form the international community or his own. So far the only palpable result of his rather shiny suits has been to make him look increasingly like a constipated tailor’s dummy!

His negotiators, led by G. L. Peiris & Co., have gone half way round the world, from Sattahip to Rose Garden and back to Rose Garden (all in Thailand), from Rose Garden to Oslo, from Oslo to Berlin, from Berlin to Tokyo (Hakone) and from there to Washington and finally to Tokyo and finally landed in Wanni. What a merry-go-round that was!

In the end what did Ranil achieve? His own Defence Secretary had to run away from Jaffna in fear of his life. His leading anti-terrorist Police Officer is shot dead inside his Police Stations in Colombo -- the heart of the capital which he is supposed to be in command. Does his writ run outside his private residence in Cambridge Place these days? Does he have a grip on anything? Does he even have a grip on his own MPs? In his own backyard opposition members are massacred – 50 of them, according to Mahinda Rajapakse, the Leader of the Opposition. Does he care? When he hears that his own citizens are being massacred by thugs of his party has ever got angry the way he flared up when the Navy sank the LTTE boat? One of his own UNP MPs walked brazenly into a Police station and yanked out his supporter held in Police custody, firing pistols and abusing Police officers doing their duty. What does Ranil do? He appoints a committee of his own MPs to inquire into it. Is this Ranil’s new political culture? Obviously, he does not have an answer though he came promising to be Mr. Clean with all the answers. He is lost. His Ministers too are running riot in the hill country, firing pistols and demanding what is not due to them from waiters and public officials. What action has Mr. Clean taken to clean up his own stables? Appoint another committee?

Plainly, he is leading the nation into another Israel-Palestinian confrontation with no peace in sight, despite the road maps prescribed by the international community. As things stand, there is no hope in peace-keepers who are openly taking the side of the LTTE. There is no hope in the NGOs who are now silent when their glorified peace plans are being put through Prabhakaran’s shredding machine. There is no hope in the international community who, in the guise of pressing Prabhakaran, is pushing Ranil to surrender to the LTTE. There is no hope in Ranil Wickremesinghe, the only Prime Minister, known in history to take a navy to task for defending the nation.

There is no hope for the Tamils either who are being bumped off meticulously with the connivance of Ranil’s UNF government. There is no hope for the Tamil children who are being recruited forcibly with Ranil not saying a word about it. There is no hope for the so-called Tamil “moderates” who are either sacked from their leading positions (example: Anandasagaree) or forced to toe the political line of the LTTE. There is no hope for peace with the LTTE using the past 18 months to consolidate its military capability, aided and abetted by Ranil’s regime which has consistently executed a diabolical plan to reduce its balance of military capability to zero. In military terms, anything less than equal is zero.

What is visible is a slow but sure process of surrender by Ranil’s UNF government to the LTTE. This, clearly, is Ranil’s secret road map to surrender sold as road map to peace. His collaborators in this sell-out are the misguided missiles of the international community (example: Norway). Each trip Ranil makes to the capitals of the world would remind the nation of one of its old sayings: “Loketa parakashey. Gedetta maragathey.” (Translated roughly, it means that the big show put up for the world out there turns out to be a hilariously mad show for the people at home.)

Hope, if it comes, can come only from India. But who is going to wake up that sleeping giant? India has a moral and a self-centred reason for active intervention. Morally it must bear responsibility for nurturing the Tiger cubs in its backyard. In its own interest, India’s future is locked inextricably with the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. This is not a revamp of the “domino theory” that reigned supreme at the height of the Cold War. That theory was a phobia that drove the West insane with the obsession of communism sweeping down South East Asia and conquering the states south of China one by one. Marxism without nationalism never had the potential for export or conquest. The threat to India’s territorial integrity stems from separatism disguised as sub-nationalism. If Prabhakaran ignites the flames of separatism in Tamil Nadu – and the signs are ominous – then the greater India, envisaged in the Nehruvian ideal, will burn out in a political conflagration that will be the most memorable in its history, next, of course, to the sathi performed by the pure heroine in the Mahabaratha, Sita.



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