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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings by Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki) > Indo-Lanka Defence Cooperation Agreement: A matter of routine

Selected Writings by Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki)


So why did the chicken cross the road?

3 March 1999

We have all heard about that one about the chicken that crossed the road.

Recently a smart Alec who relentlessly operates in cyber space sent me this one. It is the most funnily precise statement on political attitudes on the eve of the crucial provincial polls " though a few may frown upon such insertions which may not go down well with their presuppositions about the kind of solemnities which should inform a political column.

So why did the chicken cross the road?

Chandrika Kumaratunga:

*. It was a result of the 17 year rule of the UNP. I will appoint a commission to look into that matter.

Ranil Wickremesinghe:

*. The UNP as a national party will oppose any such move by any chicken to cross roads. We will hold a Satyagraha, and file a violation of fundamental rights case in the supreme court!!


*. The chicken didn"t actually cross the road. I can prove this to you by using statistics released by the Central Bank. There have been such instances in other developing countries as well.... This shows very good economic growth.


*. The chicken crossed the road to end the 17 year old curse of bribery, corruption, and terror... Upon reaching the other side of the road, the chicken will ensure a new era of prosperity.... and a real difference.

Mangala Samaraweera:

*. There aren"t any chicken crossing any roads. It is a deliberate lie woven by the UNP to defame the government of her Excellency Chandrika B. Kumaratunga.

Anuruddha Ratwatte:

*. The road will be crossed within a matter of months. (after four years): The chicken has crossed 96% of the road, the rest will be crossed within a couple of months.

Anura Bandaranaike:

*. The chicken crossed the road so that it could be in the opposition.


*. Ask the chicken to come back immediately. Otherwise we will withdraw all support to any chicken...

Finding a political solution to the ethnic conflict in this country has long become such an exercise, resounding emptily with futilely divergent pronouncements.

As we categorically predicted in these columns when the package carnival was in full swing, ultimately for our politicians the question is how to win elections and not how to solve the national crisis.

In hindsight the peace process looks almost a cyclical rigmarole. JR convened the all party conference, negotiated with the armed Eelam movement at Thimpu, imposed an economic embargo on the north, tried to strike the final deal with the Tigers and bequeathed a political-military mess on his successor.

President Premadasa had peace talks, an all party conference that continued after the Tigers went to war, then a Parliamentary Select Committee to draw up a proposal for amending the constitution for devolving power to the minorities with a parallel plan for militarily overwhelming the Tigers. President Premadasa"s latter day policy on the ethnic conflict was known in Tamil political circles at the time as the "speak soft and hit hard policy".

President Kumaratunga has followed the same path. She started ad hoc negotiations with the Tigers, discussed peace with the Tamil parties while hitting the Tigers hard in the north (certainly harder than Premadasa). Then she got the Parliamentary Select Committee going under Minister G.L Peiris, promising to constitutionalise a consensus package.

And now when one beholds the zeal of Jayalath Jayawardena to visit the Wanni, one is inclined to feel that the UNP under the leadership of Mr. Wickremesinghe may also begin the whole process again talk to the Tigers, have an all party conference or consultation, start a Parliamentary Select Committee.

This again will be a repeat of the peace "show", the package bandwagon.

In moments of a seemingly gnawing compunction the Tamil parties in Colombo are heard to observe ruefully that the SLFP and the UNP will never agree on finding a political solution to the conflict but are always expressing their solemn consensus on the need to wage the war successfully and relentlessly.

The peace cycle that I speak about here has inexorably reinforced the belief among the recent generation of Tamil youth that the only solution to the ethnic conflict is war either one fights and goes down honourably or survive to be a second class citizen, precariously ruling a few powerless local government bodies.

The Tamil parties are well aware of all this; and they have become deplorably cynical. Securing an acceptable solution to the conflict is the last thing on their agenda today; they have even stopped paying lip service to the matter these days.

The hope of reviving the northeastern provincial council seems to be lost for good too. See what the controversial Perumal is doing now. It is understood he has discussed with his cronies in Batticaloa on Sunday a strategy for facing the local government polls that may be held in the east and Vavuniya this year. (The EPRLF leader finally made his position on Perumal clear yesterday. He said that the ex-chief minister had no authority to re-organise the party.)

The PLOTE hopes that the army will soon drive the LTTE out of the Wanni (this is what it argues in its colourful propaganda paper) and then allow it to run the region politically (that decapitating people may not help it much in this direction is another matter).

The EPDP thinks that all the other Tamil groups will decay due to natural and extraneous causes and that the LTTE will be reduced to a minor nuisance in due course because India will never permit the creation of a sovereign Tamil state. So the group is only keen to make itself acceptable to the Tamil people by behaving nicely until the TULF, PLOTE, TELO, LTTE and the EPRLF fade into political insignificance. (this is why it wants the guns and not the uniforms from the army in Jaffna).

The peace cycle is futile; the Tamil parties seem irredeemably cynical; the UNP and PA want to win elections first and think about national issues later. The chicken meanwhile, just wants to cross the road.


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