Friday, May 4, 2012

The Combined Opposition – A Jaffna first – about time too!

It took a lot of courage for the Leader of the Opposition to join hands with the various dubious forces on the fringe, all mavericks, to hold a joint rally in Jaffna. Many of the UNP party faithful fearful of the inevitable LTTE partiality label thought it was not playing to the gallery. However all who went to Jaffna realized how important it was for the truly faithful to ascertain some of the ground realities of Jaffna which are hard to understand if one does not actually go there.

The long drive through almost derelict landscape, with hardly any humanity or habitation or even proper cultivation is what strikes one on the way up. The totally devastated state of the Peninsula with the odd new govt. building here and there is all that greets us. There are few if any non govt. private new buildings going up, with the obvious implication that people fear to invest in the north, in case their assets are seized by a greedy govt. A sort of self fulfilling prophecy!

The other point that was too obvious and which was capitalized by the Govt. speakers on the May Day rally was that it was they who enabled the Opposition to be free to go North to hold a rally, as they freed the North from the terrorists. That dubious distinction is completely lost on the people of Jaffna who certainly DO NOT feel free at all! They are under occupation, with little done to return seized property and to give them a sense of entitlement in their area of habitation.

Both labels are incorrectly applied and should instead ricochet back to the person making the allegation as being racist, bigoted self interested. They cannot see the wood from the trees and only wish to perpetuate a myth to keep power they have retained by resorting to trickery and deception. It will take a little time for the fooled masses to see the light, as the level of deception is a daily event, and as the saying goes, if you lie and deceive long enough those who you lie to will believe the lies, and that seems to me to be the Government’s modus operandi.

It was therefore very interesting to see that the Opposition kept to the message, not wasting time except with some antics of music to add some light to the occasion. It was a simple demand of 5 things, of which the most important was the need to stop taking revenge on those who do not agree with them. The other was the Rs7,500 monthly pay raise for those in both the public and govt. service.

While the latter is a populist one, it can be achieved by making the state sector more efficient and possibly getting rid of about 300,000 dead wood in the sector resulting in a huge productivity increase that will justify the pay raise rather than one that will just increase the deficit. 

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