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FISHING IN TURBULENT WATER-
Thinking Time for the JVP

By Shyamon Jayasinghe, Melbourne

The CWC went out of the UNFPA government one day, and came back the next day. The question in the lips of everyone is why they went out at all. There is no answer to these sorts of questions in good old Sri Lanka. It just happens. In fact, the JVP, which is one of the most important limbs of the government, threatened to quit earlier but they cobbled back, not ruling out a possible repetition of their threat. CWC politics have always been self-centred gymnastics. However, the JVP has to think hard about its role if it is to continue its hold in the public imagination.

The country burns! The judicial system (the pinnacle of hope for ordinary citizens in a democracy) is in tatters as is reflected by the killing of accused persons in court; the intimidation of magistrates to carry out “orders”; bombing of court houses; government VIPs getting into hospital for “treatment” instead of being in remand prison; VIPs of the opposition like SB incarcerated in jail for two years with automatic disenfranchisement thereafter; allegations by a retiring SC judge that a SC court decision can be predicted by the constitution of a bench; and the CJ himself getting associated with ugly personal charges. In the past, whatever went wrong in the country the judicial system had been held in high regard and public confidence about it was unsullied.

When the judicial system falls like this, when corruption in high quarters becomes the subject of daily gossip, when contractors now automatically add 10 per cent to their tenders as santhosam to be given to the decision-makers, when the lives of ordinary people become heavily burdened, when finding a school to educate a child requires several trips to the MP plus a bribe to someone or the other, when medical staff go on strike while public patients are dying, when rural farmers are distraught -when things like these occur political analysts see the ground being formed for a fascist take-over by a person or party that appears as a messiah.

That, in fact, is how Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy in the year 1922. That is how racial Fascism raised its head in Germany under Hitler in 1933. Those interested in understanding political events anywhere should read about comparative political developments. One cannot understand events in Sri Lanka by only reading about Sri Lanka.

In the fear of general disorder in Italy King Victor Emmanuel 111 invited Mussolini to become prime minister. In the meantime, Mussolini had planned the ‘ March on Rome’ with thousands of his squads converging on the capital. Similarly, Hitler owed his power to a head of state, President Hindenburg, who appointed him Chancellor. In the meantime, Hitler used the SS to murder his potential opponents one by one and to organise street uprisings. Both these guys played Jekyll & Hyde to the head of state.

My question: Are we seeing a repetition of this historic pattern in Lanka with the JVP blowing hot and cold on the government? No doubt, CBK is weak in character and is vacillating. But why not give her untinted support and confidence to run the government, now that she is the Head of State? How can she concentrate on the affairs of state when she has to spend her time putting out fires within her ranks?

From independent reports I get about SL, the government component of the post-Tsunami restoration is lagging behind rather badly. Private groups, Buddhist monks, and NGOs including Red Cross, CARE, and PLAN are doing an excellent job. There is a beautiful plan to rebuild Galle town (which in the past has been a mere bus-stop) by relocating it at Mattegoda but opposition from within the government is stymieing that. The JVP is crying “foul” all the time largely to score points over the SLFP. In the meantime, the JVP does work hard with its rank and file donning red caps and attending to a lot of relief distribution. Nevertheless, its role seems apparent: It is “white-anting” the UNFPA government, planning as it does a Fascist-like take over at some point in time. The JVP must realize that it has got a good opportunity to work hard, honestly, and sincerely and thereby to woo the electorate. They have a lot to do in gaining experience in government. They must develop their capabilities and their vision. They should not give into their old impulses of bidding for power by sabotage and violence. Rather, they should be patient, learn their work, run the ministries they have got with creativity and efficiency, and tame the government when it tries to go out of hand.

The electorate hoped that the JVP would have such a progressive influence on the government. The JVP must realize that Tsunami is a ‘now or never’ opportunity for Sri Lanka and, indeed, for itself. The party can place dedication at the efforts of restoration and impress everyone by such efforts. This is not the time to fish in turbulent waters.



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