29 May 2012

The importance of disclosure

The Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe, made a very valid point in Parliament this week.  Referring to the mysterious ‘Plan of Action’ that Minister of External Affairs, G.L. Peiris is said to have submitted to US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Wickremesinghe said that it is the right of the people in this country to know what kinds of plans the Government has about anything and especially (as in this case) when it comes to matters such as reconciliation and resolving of antagonisms. 

Wickremesinghe must be applauded without reservation for demanding disclosure and the Government must be faulted without hesitation for doing this behind-the-backs-of-the-people number, especially considering the unfriendly behavior of the USA towards Sri Lanka in Geneva in March. 

Wickremesinghe’s patriotism, however, needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, for he signed a Ceasefire Agreement with a terrorist without any by-your-leave of the people on February 22, 2002.  Neither did he object when his uncle and then president, J.R. Jayewardene palmed off sovereignty to Rajiv Gandhi on July 29, 1987 without informing the people, and hiding parts of the documents when presenting it in Parliament and bulldozing through objections using an illegally obtained (through the 1982 Referendum) two-thirds majority.  He may have matured or it may have been lip-service as is typical of those in opposition, i.e. self-righteous objection that slips into matter-of-fact capitulation when in power.
He is correct, even though he may lack the moral authority here for he is yet to confess to errors of omission and commission on the issue of disclosure.  He may not have the moral authority, but we, as citizens, certainly do. 

We can and must ask, ‘What is this “Plan of Action”?’  We can and must object: ‘No, not behind our backs, for we’ve suffered much on previous occasions’.  We can and must remind: ‘This is a democracy, not a monarchy!’ 
This Government didn’t seek US approval for executing the military strategy that resulted in the eradication of terrorism and such it is legitimate for people to ask why sorting out post-war issues as well as addressing grievances that contribute to the conflict require ratification, shall we say, of the US Government. 

The ball is in the Government’s court and the fact that Wickremesinghe tossed it is incidental.   

[Part II of 'The Nation' Editorial, May 27, 2012] 


fayaz said...

pithily said malinda.. well done sir..