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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha > Chandrika's Credit Card War

 Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha

Chandrika's Credit Card War

7 August 2000

[see also Foreign Aid & Sri Lanka's Military Expenditure]

While lot of 'gas' is emanating from the Colombo scene, like that from a newly opened soda bottle, and palanquin-carriers such as Varadaraja Perumal and his ilk have been pushed to work overtime, dusting Chandrika Kumaratunga's sandals for the 'peace drama' she is preparing, it seems pertinent to peep behind the peace mask of the President of Sri Lanka.

What knowledgeable defence correspondent Iqbal Athas, reported on July 30 in the (Sinhala owned) Sri Lankan Sunday Times newspaper, is of some interest to Tamils. He stated:

"...officials at Army Headquarters wrote to military suppliers seeking their consent to make payments next year for supplies that are being made available this year. Whilst some suppliers had agreed to accept payment late, others with whom deals had been concluded and whose countries had been visited by special envoys to thank them for the sales, have shown reluctance.

"Such deals were still in the balance as Treasury and senior Army officials discussed last Friday ways and means of accommodating payments for the deals which have been concluded and Letters of Credit opened. President Kumaratunga was to chair a meeting of these officials to reach finality.

"It has now become clear that cash flow problems were the main reason why the Government had to appeal to suppliers to delay accepting payments. 'We are now working out the priority areas and will ensure the war effort is not hampered in any way', a Senior Army official who spoke on grounds of anonymity said."

Sri Lanka President Chandrika KumaratungaWell, Chandrika Kumaratunga's treasury coffers are empty. And now, she is pursuing a credit card war on Tamils, while parading the international scene as a peace-seeker.

I wish to present to tamilnation readers, my prediction of this situation, which appeared in the Lanka Guardian magazine (edited by late Mervyn de Silva) in the Dec.15, 1995 issue, under the caption 'Prabhakaran's Retreat'. This was written when the majority of the residents in southern Sri Lanka were gloating over the army's widely-overrated 'capture of Jaffna'. Some excerpts of what I wrote, are as follows:

"Why is it that when the Army hits Jaffna with missiles and bombs, the suffering of commoners is cast aside as 'collateral damage' in the international press release, but when the LTTE retaliates in the East or in Colombo, the attack is called a 'terror campaign'? Is it because the definition of terror is different for those who hold nominal power and those who challenge the status quo?

"The party line that the 'LTTE and its senior commanders fled [Jaffna] city' may definitely give a morale boost to the battered and accident-prone image of the Army. It will also probably 'strengthen President Kumaratunga's case' in the political stage. But as the old adage says, 'Don't count your chickens before the eggs are hatched.'

"A comment about the much-touted 'army's resources'. Can you be more specific about these resources in terms of cash? I hardly find any real figures mentioned about the defence expenditure related to military offensives? Does the Army generate its own resources? Someone is paying for the army's resources and everyone knows that Sri Lanka is not blessed with gold mines and oil fields. If you put a moderate guess, such as one million [US] dollars per day as operational expenses in Jaffna, then one can easily guess that the Army's resources are not unlimited. There lies Prabhakaran's strategy....

"Just as they have taken the LTTE frontally, can the Army and the President feel comfortable that they can establish a government in Jaffna? This will be akin to the mental peace of a guy who pretends to sleep in the tiger's den."

I was glad that Mervyn de Silva even published this letter in his magazine at that time. I will never claim that I'm a seer who could forecast the future. But what I wrote in December1995 was simple common sense. That was all.

Now let us calculate, how much Chandrika Kumaratunga has squandered in dollars for her war against Tamils in Jaffna region alone. I put down a very conservative estimate of one million US dollars per day as operational expenses in Jaffna. Now let us count. This means, 1996 - 366 million dollars; 1997 - 365 million dollars; 1998 - 365 million dollars; 1999 - 365 million dollars; and until end of July 2000 - 213 million dollars. A total of 1,674 million dollars and counting operational expenses alone! What does she have now to show to the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka? Lost territory of the '1995 capture' and 30,000 captive troops in Jaffna, surrounded by Prabhakaran's freedom fighters.

Contemporary scholarship has calculated that Spanish Queen Isabella's sponsoring Christopher Columbus's first voyage to West Indies, cost about 5 million US dollars in current terms. This figure was arrived at using a conversion of the 1492 Spanish coins, the maraveda, to a current US dollar value of $1.60. 'Peace Queen' Chandrika has spent an astounding, [335 fold] higher amount than that spent by Queen Isabella, to establish her 'army route' to Jaffna. Still her army is floundering and nearly 20,000 members are farcically fleeing the command, despite repetitive amnesty pleas!

However, history is replete with foolish politicians, and if one believes the lines of Iqbal Athas, Chandrika is still interested in pursuing her credit card war against Eelam Tamils.


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