It didn’t take long for Western opinion to start turning positive, confirming that the players in this media game are so very fickle. It helps that the government ended it quickly after the international pressure rose to a fever pitch last week. The government certainly did not do what “the international community” (in the form of Western countries) was asking it to do – they didn’t agree to a ceasefire, but they sorted it out in their own way quickly. I guess that means a lot in a world where memories fade fast and long term attention is always in short supply.
In the latest news, the Toronto Star reports that the UN chief in Colombo, Neil Buhne, is ‘backing Sri Lanka on refugee camps.’ This coincidentally comes just 20 days after The Nation needlessly speculated whether he would get his visa cancelled. They probably figured he was one of the nicer chaps we have had and, to be honest, it doesn’t look too good to expel yet another UN co-ordinator at a time like this.
The economic news which was looking down, is also looking up. While a couple of days ago our sovereign rating was downgraded to negative, the IMF bailout now seems fairly certain of being approved. Investor Jim Rogers had an orgasm over investment opportunities in Sri Lanka, and the stock market keeps going up. The Central Bank revised its growth rate predictions for the year upwards to 5% (not that anything CB governor Ajith Cabraal says really matters – the man has the credibility of a boiled ambarella).
Then, there is our dear BBC which has seemed, over the past few weeks, rather hostile towards Sri Lanka. Their reports have been bathed in a tone of negativity, even going to the extent of reporting the government victory within inverted commas. Perhaps it had something to do with the burning of Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s effigy and the resounding fuck-off that was still reverberating in his ears. Perhaps it had something to do with diaspora pressure. Or, maybe George Alagiah had his own version of things. Anyway, finally, they seem to have come around and published a story that throws some positive light on the effort that is being put in by at least one Sri Lankan.
This is just the start. Memories are very short and media-wise and diplomatically things should improve. Realising this and keeping the international community managed is an art-form. I have to say, that for all the criticism and even ridicule that the loudest voices in civil society have heaped on Rajiva Wijesinha, Dayan Jayatilleka and Palitha Kohona, they really have done a masterful job of balancing their government’s objective in this international circus. They’ve been very smart. Clowns like Bogollagama probably didn’t make it any easier. There’s a great article here that offers some insight into the process.