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Sea change or same old story?

"The real moot question on the other hand is whether the government’s Singapore and Malaysia modeled economic policies, since these are being espoused and carried out so religiously by the administration, would deliver the goods and repair the tears in our social fabric."

by Rajpal Abeynayake

(September 28, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The fact that certain frontline TNA MPs are sitting down with Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa has been underreported in the newspapers. This is rather curious, for the simple reason that these are TNA MPs who are very often accused of being agents for the so-called Tamil diaspora, and for the so-called remnants of the LTTE.

The TNA is very critical of the Sri Lankan government and some aspects of resettlement and rehabilitation, and other aspects dealing with so-called national reconciliation at the end of the war.

But a TNA spokesman has gone on the record saying that if TNA MPs could sit with government heavyweights on the committee to develop Jaffna and other parts of the North, they would do so in the interests of the Lankan Tamil community’s larger welfare.

This position could be seen by some as cynical practicality and pragmatism but after years of bloodletting and horrendous conflict, can anyone discount the fact that something good may come out of this pragmatic cohabitation?

The LTTE is out of the way, and diehard diaspora fanatics may be up to their old tricks, but even , it is reasonable to assume that the diaspora is not one-sixteenth as powerful as it used to be when the full backing of the armed and dangerous LTTE was available.

It is possible therefore that state and TNA cooperation though there might not be any love lost between these two entities, would have their own dynamics, and would lead to some good in the final analysis.

Ramifications


All quarters, including editorialists and commentators in this newspaper are free to criticize the government on policy matters, as has been done before in this newspaper for instance. But, there must also simultaneously be an attempt to accurately fathom the possible ramifications of government policy, especially on economic issues, given fact that the government has taken up a policy position that economic uplift would eventually solve most of our problems.

Commentators and journalists would therefore be totally remiss if there was no appraisal done of the state’s economic and development policy in the wider context. A recent article in the French Le Monde for instance did such an appraisal, but arrived at the curious conclusion that since neo-liberal economic policy has been rejected by the current Sri Lankan administration, that would make it unlikely that Sri Lanka would reap the economic peace dividend that was expected after the end of the war.

In the absence of a serious appraisal of the government’s economic and development policy, it is not surprising that such piffle passes off for serious analysis. “Neo-liberal’ is now a dirty word in most countries which were devoted adherents of this abhorrent economic policy that was at one time the medicine prescribed for all nations — developed and developing — by the World Bank.

But the savants of the neo-liberal school of thought are reeling from the after-shocks of the monetary collapse in the powerful economies beginning from the USA, which have had a devastating knock-on effect on all countries, particularly those who are pledged to common regional currencies, such as Greece for sample.
Eschewing neo-liberal economics therefore is the least of this country’s problems.

Uneasy collaboration

The real moot question on the other hand is whether the government’s Singapore and Malaysia modeled economic policies, since these are being espoused and carried out so religiously by the administration, would deliver the goods and repair the tears in our social fabric.

State policymakers seem to think so, and individual commentators may agree or disagree, but it is up to all these analysts irrespective of political or ideological shading, to do a serious and deep-going appraisal of the government’s development effort.

This is why the perhaps uneasy collaboration between the government and the TNA has to be closely watched, to determine whether it is germinating a paradigm shift in bringing about ethnic reconciliation through economic and developmental means — or whether it is just another damp-squib political exercise which can only be described by the appropriate colloquialism ‘non starter.’

Time will tell of the contours of the outcomes, but these TNA-govt collaborations are unexpected and absolutely interesting post-war developments, previously unthinkable, and therefore any commentator or observer of events that does not take these developments seriously, is guilty of being totally tuned-out, if not being unconscionably prejudiced and absurdly cynical. Tell a Friend

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