P-TOMS - no cause for triumphalism or complacency
Bishop of Colombo Rt. Revd Duleep de Chickera, in a statement on the
P-TOMS states: "Many are grateful that the Post-Tsunami Operational
Management Structure has been signed and is in the process of being
implemented. We should however not forget the turmoil and tensions this
Consequently this must not be seen as a victory, for no one wins when
a society fragments. The politically mature way forward is to see this
step as a sacred responsibility in which efficient and fair
implementation and reconciliation require concurrent attention. Segments
of civil society who have been supportive of P-TOMS see this as a rare
opportunity for rehabilitation as well as trust and goodwill.
Now, therefore is the time for the Government and the LTTE to prove
that this arrangement is right and workable. For this to happen, the two
signatories to the P-TOMS, must ensure that there will be no haggling
over trivialities, endless fault-finding and a cover up of
irregularities. Failure to do so will expose the real agendas of the
signatories and they will be judged by the people, specially the
afflicted. A democratic culture and prevailing dissent demands that the
P-TOMS process continues transparent and open to public scrutiny; and
with regular evaluation. Many who have supported the P-TOMs retain the
option to disagree if the signatories violate with the needs of the
This will lead to a loss of goodwill. Many who have had difficulties
with P-TOMS may come to accept its pragmatism if transparency, scrutiny
and evaluation are ensured and progress made. This will lead to a growth
of goodwill. A concurrent shadow mechanism set up in collaboration by
non-governmental, non-LTTE, civil society groups to monitor and ensure
that the needs of the afflicted receive the highest priority requires
Credibility of process alone is however not enough. Parallel counter
productive issues with adverse spill over effects need to be addressed.
One such issue is the current internecine killings which must stop
immediately. Collaboration for the benefit of the afflicted becomes a
farce if more affliction is caused by arbitrary killings.
That there are serious undercurrents that threaten and provoke this
cycle of killings is obvious. Something unknown to the public is
happening and this needs to be investigated. In the prevailing
circumstance of suspicion and allegations, intimidation and fear it is
unrealistic to expect local investigations to unravel the hidden issue.
Consequently, it is now imperative that the Government invites a
Commission of competent persons from interested friendly countries
without vested interests, to inquire into these killings.
The Commission should receive the approval of Parliament and, since
its mandate will include all regions and groups, be acceptable to the
LTTE. Where the co-operation of any group is withheld, the Commission
should have the authority to recommend appropriate local and
international sanctions as well as a review of the continuity of P-TOMS.
Another issue is the concern of groups who feel marginalized in the
operational areas, specially the Muslims and scattered Sinhala
communities. Political pacts tend to empower some and marginalize
others. It is therefore mandatory and certainly not too late for the
P-TOMS agreement to by modified for these grievances to be heard and
Some organisations engaged in tsunami reconstruction work have taken
a deliberate decision that the allocation of financial resources will be
equally divided between the North, South and East and that the
beneficiaries will be the afflicted persons of all ethnic and religious
groups. A similar guideline, if accepted by the signatories as mandatory
for their work will further allay the fears of marginalized groups."