I find the Sri Lankan flag offensive for purely aesthetic reasons. It gets a D in this comprehensive flag review, which is very funny btw. I was reading the review of ‘The Other Congo’ and laughed so much that I drooled on my desk
I hear from a Parliament birdie that that the Joint Mechanism has been signed and is on the way to Killinochi. Dunno, here’s an article that’s 2 weeks late for the LT that I’ll working on here…
By now the joint may have been signed, but as of yet it rests on Chandrika’s trembling lips. Wimal has left the government in disgust and extremist monks have got the anti-munchies, but the joint rolls on. This article cannot hope to be timely in this state of flux, but what follows is a brief description of the Joint Mechanism and what it means. A draft was published in full by the Daily Mirror, posted online by Nittewa (nittewa.blogspot.com), and Tamiliana (tamiliana.blogspot.com) has posted a review from another perspective. What the Joint Mechanism does is share power among the various colors on the flag. That flag includes a number of
vicious ornery animals, hence the controversy. What the Joint Mechanism implies is that the Sri Lankan government does not represent the entire island. It is not meant to solve the national question because that, of course, would take forever.
The Sinhala maroon, Tamil orange and Muslim green each get one seat apiece on the *High-Level Committee*. That committee oversees the donor funds and tsunami rehab. The orange is represented by the LTTE, by virtue of other Tamil representatives being dead. The giant,
garish, sword-bearing Sinhala lion on the flag is none too pleased with this. As further aggravation, control of the North East *Regional Committee* lies mostly with the Tigers. It allocates five seats to the LTTE, three to Muslims, and only two to the Sri Lankan government. The final level is grassroot *District Committees* which already exist for the most part, without particular racial quotas.
This mechanism is necessary because Sri Lanka never completed the peace process. Despite a cease-fire, it’s not clear who is in charge of the north and east of the country. In order for aid to reach those people, there has to be some ad hoc agreement with the LTTE and Muslim representatives. The Joint Mechanism, whatever its faults, does not partition the country. It is limited to coastline (2km deep) and a one year term. It is just a band-aid for the coast, not a governing body. Regardless, the JVP has
wet themselves objected on principle and backed out of government. This makes the governing coalition one more victim of the tsunami, camped out in Parliament.
However, in this time of urgent need the Joint Mechanism may be worth the political cost. Six months in, major goals have not been met, and the Joint Mechanism could provide the international funding and support to meet them. One simple statement of those goals came from Bill Clinton, special envoy on tsunami relief for the United Nations. In a New York Times editorial he prioritized 1) An early warning system 2) Reporting and accountability in donations 3) Livelihood and microcredit loans 4) Permanent housing. If the government doesn’t control the North and East it’s tough to implement any of those objectives, making a Joint Mechanism necessary.
In tsunami rebuilding, as in every aspect of development, Sri Lanka is continually held back by its unsettled civil war. As long as the cease-fire holds everyone can pretend like things are OK, but at this time of tension it’s obvious that there is a problem. Most of the aid and camps in the North and some of the East already passes through the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (LTTE affliated). The government cannot physically deliver aid there, so those people won’t be served if all donor funds go to the government. You cannot tell people living in tents to wait for a peace settlement, so there has to be some compromise. What the Joint Mechanism does is provide a temporary solution. What the Joint Mechanism means is that both sides have to swallow their pride and leave the national question for another day.