A Nation taken for a Ride

By R. Chandrasoma

It is not often that an entire nation can be hoaxed by a brazen leadership which believes that public opinion is not something belonging to the people but is an imposition that is cleverly worked out by spin doctors working for the State. This remarkable feat of political skullduggery is the greatest achievement to date of the New Government of RaWik - a regime that seems to have adopted as its governing maxim something borrowed from the Roman Catholic Church in its Glory Days. 'Error has no Rights' declared the Doctors of the Church.

RaWik's party (the UNP) which made a great song and dance about 'press freedom' and the inalienable right of the masses to hear 'both sides' of a contentious issue has lately had fearful qualms of conscience on this matter. Anything that 'hampers' the 'Peace Process' belongs to the self-defined category of error and has no 'rights of publication'.

The well-orchestrated and shameless fanfaronade of sound, word and music poured out through an imbecilic and docile media-establishment forced to pander to the diktat of a regime hell-bent on having 'peace at any cost' is a stunning evidence of the ruthless application of this principle. A statement issued by the Maha Thera of Malwatte and Asgiriya (among others) declaring their doubts and reservations on the infamous MOU failed to make the 'quantum leap' to acceptability and perhaps for the first time in the recent history of publishing in this country was rejected as 'dangerously divisive' by all print and electronic media.

This, surely, marks a watershed in the abasement and servility of a press that was known to have better backbone until the recent change of government. It also marks the desperation and senseless over-reaction of an administration driven by forces and agencies that treat with great fear and barely concealed anger the vestiges of patriotism that occasionally bestir this troubled land of ours. It is patriotism that is dreaded most by RaWik's Guides and Mentors. It is the 'racist monster' that disturbs their sleep when everything goes swimmingly well during their waking hours.

There is a fascinating asymmetry in all this. While the supposed 'error' of the patriotic opposition is squished into oblivion by massive use of state power, the propagation of a kind of 'mytho-history' (a term much used by enemies of Sinhala-Buddhism) by high and mighty Officials of the State is deemed entirely acceptable and is afforded maximum coverage in media both here and abroad. Our maverick President not quite admired for her grasp of history, both ancient and recent has once again blamed the 'Sinhala racists' for the willful genesis of our current troubles. This proposition was couched, of course, in a more scholarly turn of phrase that the Sinhala people had failed in the delicate art of co-habitation with minorities rightfully claiming their due.

This gobbledegook deceives nobody. Nary a word about the bloody shenanigans of a famous Tamil Killer. What is dumbfounding is that this lady has never been challenged by a dissident of public standing on the truth of this claim. We have a culture of fear and respect for the Leader that makes it easy for arrant rubbish to pass as the wisdom of the anointed. We also have a tradition of blatantly one-sided scholarship where praise and hallelujahs are reserved for those who write movingly of majoritarian hubris and the plight of its victims but is strangely silent when this selfsame majority is at the receiving end of accusations that are outrageously unfair.

Dear friends, here is another example of a Big Man getting away with a Big Lie. RaWik is reported to have implored the High Prelates in Kandy to 'give the LTTE the same indulgence that the State gave the JVP after the suppression of its (i.e. JVP's) brutal insurrection'. He is said to have added that 'just as the JVP joined the mainstream of politics after a bloody chapter of its history was closed, so will it be with the LTTE. They are in the throes of a transformation that we in the South must help and encourage'. This is not a mere obiter dictum of a Prime Minister trying to curry favour with a constituency that he sees as a danger to his stranglehold on public opinion. It is the lynchpin of his policy the belief that the LTTE will give up its armed struggle and enter the mainstream of democratic politics in this country.

Does he truly believe this? He is not an unintelligent man and, certainly, his IQ is higher than that of the Lady at the Top. But, it is obvious even to a schoolboy (or schoolgirl) that there is quantum difference between the JVP armed with primitive shot-guns and an organization internationally recognized as one of the most feared terrorist movements in the world. It is not merely a difference in fire-power.

Let us take the Kotte Period of our history to illustrate this last point. There were warring factions led by disgruntled Sinhala Princes and violent clashes led to a fast-moving scenario of changing power and territorial possession. Notwithstanding this seeming disarray, the belief in Lanka as their motherland never deserted them and in their own misguided ways, they sought to make their land of birth more puissant and caring of the needs of its people. The Portuguese were also major players in this drama but it is obvious to even the beginner in matters historical that these foreigners were driven by motives and considerations that had little in common with the thinking of the Native Princes. They were culture exterminators and sought, above all, to reduce Sinhala sovereignty to a vassalage dependent on the Kingdom of Portugal.

Let us return to the contrast between the JVP and the LTTE. The JVP sought by armed struggle to overthrow a hated usurper that used its tyrannical authority to suppress the common people. We can disagree on the validity and usefulness of that which is presupposed in this understanding of matters, but it is clear that what we had in place at that time was an extra-paliamentary struggle by zealots to 'liberate' a people whom they regarded as their own. It was not a threat to what is called 'the Sinhala State'.

Contrast this with the declared agenda of the LTTE- this armed group seeks to drive the alien invader from a territory that it calls Eelam. It is not a revolt against unjust rule it is an armed struggle to free territory overrun by a colonizing power. Like the Portuguese of the Kotte Period, the LTTE is an 'intrusion' into the political power-play of this country that can be eliminated only through military defeat. The idle talk of the LTTE entering the mainstream of politics is a great insult to the intelligence of our people.

There are other differences that stick out a mile that our Prime Minister RaWik fails to notice either through a lamentable failure to grasp detail or (more likely) a desire to conceal the unpalatable truth. Here are some points that scream for attention:

1. The JVP suffered a huge military defeat and its leaders were killed, captured of driven out of the country. The LTTE claims to have defeated two armies and stands triumphant. It is the victor and exults in its position of strength.

2. The JVP failed dismally to capture and hold territory and used commando-style operations to terrorize the people and subvert civil authority. So far as the LTTE is concerned, the contrast could not be greater. They held territory and waged 'conventional war' against attackers. There is no need to add that the State was heavily defeated on more than one occasion and is now reduced to the pathetic position of hanging on in places that are effectively encircled by the Terrorists.

3. The JVP was pitifully insignificant as an international terrorist movement. The LTTE represents the cutting edge of an International Collaboration with vast resources and having a clearly defined aim the establishment of Tamil Eelam as the springboard for further adventures that remain for the moment undisclosed.

4. The JVP was a rustic movement with little support from powerful and influential sections of society - which treated it with fear and derision. In contrast, the LTTE was, from the beginning, backed by Marxists, "Freedom Fighters', Rights Activists, the Christian and Catholic Churches, Hired Intellectuals, Bribed Journalists etc. the list is too long to be completed. We have not spoken of the role played by India in coddling the LTTE in its critical formative stage or of the shameful double-speak of the Brits, Yankees etc all of which helped mightily to keep afloat a terrorist movement without parallel in the rest of the world.

5. Let us speak finally of the Man. While the leader of the JVP was caught ingloriously in a 'kukul farm', confessed his errors in a famous TV show and was dispatched to oblivion in the sad precincts of a cemetery with a shot through his head, the great Pirpaharan is King and Prime Minister of a de facto Eelam. He holds magnificent presses conferences. RaWik's ministers pay obeisance to his greatness. His mighty army is poised for the final attack.

Dear readers, is it necessary to pile on the evidence? To speak of the LTTE 'doing a JVP' is so outrageously funny and absurd, that one has to question for how long the public will tolerate our nation being taken for a ride by the spineless leaders of this new Government.


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