LTTE in the doldrums
The LTTE which lost more or less
its entire fleet of vessels on the high seas at the hands of the
Navy, dealing a body blow to its arms smuggling operations is
having its noose further tightened with the latest global and
regional initiatives to cut off arms supplies to the outfit.
Although the serial loss of its floating warehouses virtually
decimated the outfit's smuggling capability it is no secret that
the Tigers are shopping for arms in a desperate bid to replenish
It is in this context that the latest initiative to
effectively enforce a maritime blockade to foil armed shipments
The outfit, recently described by the FBI as the most
dangerous terrorist outfit in the world, will now have to
contend with the combined might of the global and regional
Navies which no doubt is going to have debilitating effect on
its fighting capability on land and sea.
The latest exercise to indict LTTE arms shipments comes in
the form of The Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) programme in the
South Asian region and is designed at the detection of arms
smuggling vessels which it is contended is more difficult than
destruction. The programme has been receiving growing
international cooperation according to a top military source.
An MDA conference is now being held in Port Blair in the
Andaman Islands in which 12 Navies including the Sri Lankan Navy
are participants. Significantly it is close to the Andamans in
the Java islands that the floating warehouses of the LTTE which
the Navy destroyed were anchored.
The latest initiative towards further debilitating the LTTE
arms smuggling operations could not have come at a more
propitious time for the Government which has hemmed in the LTTE
on all fronts and are poised to deal the killer punch.
It is no secret that the LTTE is today woefully starved of
weapons and is desperate to replenish its armouries. It is said
to be sounding out unconventional sources to fulfil this task.
The Government should be alert to this possibility and plug in
all gaps to foil the Tigers' machinations.
The Government should also solicit international help to
probe the extent of the LTTE's links with global terrorist
networks so that extra vigilance could be exercised.
There is also the need for further strengthening of joint
Naval surveillance with the Indian Navy to ensure the Tigers
don't enjoy a free run in the country's sea lanes and also to
augment the joint efforts now being taken to starve the LTTE of
Rogue job agents
It is indeed gratifying to note that focus has at last been
directed to the flawed recruitment process of Asian Labour in
the Gulf countries. At an ongoing conference in the UAE,
emphasis has been laid on the need to clamp down on rogue UAE
and Asian labour recruiters and employers.
Illegal and unethical recruitment processes were highlighted
at the 'Colombo Process' Conference in Abu Dhabi. It was held
that there were flaws in the recruitment process both in the
country of origin as well as in the processes in the destination
Sri Lanka has been one of the countries whose migrant workers
have had to undergo some of the worse ordeals at the country of
Though incidents of the abuse and maltreatment are fewer now,
one shudders to recall the state of affairs in the first flush
of the Middle East job boom when many housemaids returned home
in coffins while for some the pot of gold at end of the rainbow
ended in bitterness.
This was a time unscrupulous elements posing as job agents
had a field day and made hay at the expense of poor villagers
who had to mortgage their land to raise money to take wing to
the promised land.
There was no proper streamlining of employment agencies and
recruits were dispatched in an ad-hoc manner only to be stranded
in an alien land. This is not to say that things have improved
today. We still hear of unscrupulous job agents who dupe
prospective job seekers.
The Rizana Nafeek episode is a case in point. It is hoped
that the new initiative would provide the necessary safeguards
to Lankan migrant workers and protect them from the human
vultures who had been preying on them for a long time.