by Prof. Hudson McLean

After almost twenty years, Sri Lankans have experienced a halt to hostilities due to the gymnastics of Ranil W. One would not go as far as declaring that a permanent peace has arrived. Not quite yet.

Whatever said of our "Boy Wonder", he has brought a glimmer of hope within the business circle through cessation of hostilities. Good for the investment climate. Sri Lanka desperately needs that.

Permanent peace is another matter. It is more like a bad dream. One sees it occasionally but upon waking up, one faces the reality.

The reality is the presence of the Tiger mob. As one reads on the LankaWeb, the LTTE is continuously violating the MoU, whilst the LTTE's Viking puppets are fully aware of such misdemeanours, their only action is an offhand comment, "We shall investigate".

From the responses one reads, one sees that there is a diligent group of Sri Lankans, both Sinhala and Tamil actively observing the goings on and cautiously supporting the 'peace' process.

As said many a time, one can neither change the spots on a leopard nor the stripes of a Tiger. With the major countries keeping a watch on the LTTE Terrorist sympathisers, the cash flow is not as fluid as it used to be. Suddenly the Tamil Diaspora who were supporting the Terrorists have had second thoughts especially after the WTC Twin Towers collapse.

Then other activities of LTTE have come to light. The LTTE shipping fleet's alleged involvement of transporting arms for Al Qaeda supporters have not gone down too well with the top end Tamil expats. Like VP's statement, "We are not Muslims. Therefore USA will not attack us in Wanniya". The moment an Al Qaeda bomb kills another American and if USA finds that the LTTE freight network was responsible for shipping logistics, then Wanniya would be reduced to something which resembles Afghanistan. The ships would be history. And no way that Norway would lift a finger to help the enemy of a NATO ally.

Over a dozen affluent Tamil expats have been visited by security officers in several countries, and were subjected to hour long 'interviews'. Several businesses folded up due to frozen bank accounts. The security organisations have confirmed that if the LTTE restart hostilities, the supporters of the LTTE would be their first target of observation and scrutiny.

The Tamil engineers, supporters of LTTE, who are at Boeing Seattle would find the heat too close to their collar. When the FBI blokes begin to sniff around, the neighbours start their gossip mongering and might make life rather uncomfortable to the school going children and their moms.

Questions addressed to a ten year old kindergarten kid, such as, "Is your dad a Tamil terrorist?" is nothing to be proud of.

On top of that, the whole Tamil world witnessed the Great LTTE Fiasco on 10th April 2002. A future Thanksgiving Day in Sri Lanka. A devastating blow to the Tamil ego. The bubble burst with a soft hiss. Their bloated venerable leader, all dressed up in the powder blue safari suit over a bullet proof vest, did make a dog's dinner out of a Tiger feast. Sorry to harp over this episode over and over again.

Now over to Ranil. Actually, one does not know how to take this lad. From the time he started his election campaign in 2001, Ranil has been more like The Return of Pink Panther from a Peter Sellers Blake Edwards comedy. However Ranil does an impressive cool act with his nonchalant look on his face. I wonder whether he plays the occassional round of Poker at the Orient Club in Cinnamon Gardens.

When the election monitors suggested that there were irregularities during the voting in favour of the PA, as long as he got the Temple Trees, Ranil chose to ignore such comment. He was simply grateful to scrape in.

Then he announced that he will enter into a MoU with the participation of a team of Nordic monitors led by the Norwegian blue eyed oil Sheiks, with Erik Solheim at the helm. One would not classify him as "impartial". Someone who spends half his time in Wanniya, eating Dosai and the other half entertaining LTTE sympathisers in Norway, is not exactly a man who could be trusted by the Sinhala electorate.

A question which one might raise with Solheim and his Viking lot is, "What is their interest in NE Sri Lanka?" After all, it is a long way away from their Fjords and the frozen Arctic. Perhaps it is the tuna they are after. The warm water Gulf Stream which runs through Torres Straits and Indonesian Archipelago into the Bay of Bengal is one of the richest tuna fishing grounds, and Trincomalee would be an ideal location to stage the fisheries fleet.

Then following that, Ranil's visit to Jaffna was an absolute masterpiece. Took the wind off the Top Cat himself. Stripped to the waist, exposing to the Jaffna sun, a not-so-hairy chest in full view of the world, Ranil walked where not many Sinhala chiefs would dare to tread.

Brilliant touch of PR, Ranil. Top marks for courage, timing and leadership quality.

Now that the Tigers are back to their normal selves, showing that they have not changed or never intended to keep to their word, the Sinhala electorate wants the head of Ranil on a plate.

Not quite yet, chaps. Let Ranil display his Vidal Sassoon hairdo on top of his shoulders. And one must give credit where credit is due. Ranil has brought about a halt, albeit temporary, to hostilities and subsequently, confidence towards inward revenue generating projects, such as tourism. That is a start. But one cannot blame Ranil for the dishonest insincere behaviour of Tigers. One has to start from somewhere. CBK would never have taken that step.

Breaches in MoU. Arms smuggling. Setting up the Tiger network in the Sri Lankan South and in the Hills. Even marrying (buying) into Sinhala families. The busy freight shipping activity. The hustling in the armaments market in South East Asia and in former Soviet Union republics. With the advent of the Internet, the world has shrunk to a 14" screen and in a few seconds one spans the universe, with a tiny mouse. With a decent network, one gets the news and what's going on, globally, in a few heart beats.

Due to the close working relationships between the Chechen rebels and the LTTE, the Russians are keeping an eye on the Tigers. The Al Qaeda-LTTE link has got the Americans interested. Both the major Indian political parties as well as TamilNadu, want to avenge the murder of their icon, Rajiv Gandhi. Such international activity are beyond the scope of Ranil's bunch of intelligence scouts. This super power high profile surveillance activity is worrying the Tamil expats. They are under several microscopes.

However, one should not let Ranil run on a carefree surf, but should be kept on a fairly flexible yet a controllable leash.

Over and above the peace programme, Ranil has also got several parallel projects, which require time, patience and effort. One should also give some degree of credit to his recruitment drive to revitalise the armed forces.

One thing is certain, that peace on a permanent basis in Sri Lanka is a long long way away. Yet one should live in hope. That the current four cylinder machinery within the LTTE is firing on only two and on top of that fuel is desperately running low.

And if anyone needs watching, it is the Norwegian led SLMM. Over the past few weeks, they have shown that, they are a bunch of puppets being manipulated by the LTTE machinery and its foreman, Dr. Anton Balasingham.

Whatever opinion one might have on Ranil W, he is one of the better ones out of a bad lot. So, Give him a fair crack of the whip!


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