ad info

TIME Asia Home
Current Issue
Magazine Archive
Asia Buzz
Travel Watch
Web Features
  Photo Essays

Subscribe to TIME
Customer Services
About Us
Write to TIME Asia
TIME Canada
TIME Europe
TIME Pacific
TIME Digital
Latest CNN News

Young China
Olympics 2000
On The Road

  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia

Other News
From TIME Asia

Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol

Asia Buzz: Should the Net Be Free?
Web heads want it all -- for nothing

JAPAN: Failed Revolution
Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori clings to power as dissidents in his party finally decide not to back a no-confidence motion

Cover: Endgame?
After Florida's controversial ballot recount, Bush holds a 537-vote lead in the state, which could give him the election

TIME Digest

TIME Asia Services
Subscribe to TIME! Get up to 3 MONTHS FREE!

Bookmark TIME
TIME Media Kit
Recent awards


about Asia Buzz  |  more Asia Buzz

S U B C O N T I N E N T A L   D R I F T
Crunch Time in Colombo
Next Tuesday's election could end the civil war--and not just in Sri Lanka

December 16, 1999
Web posted at 7 a.m. Hong Kong time, 6 p.m. EDT

For years, elections in Sri Lanka have served to focus attention, domestic and international, on the country's unending civil war. Sadly, the polls are no longer required as a reminder--that role is performed by the daily reports of casualties in the Jaffna peninsula. All the same, the Dec. 21 presidential election bears careful watching. With a little luck, it might just produce an opportunity for a peaceful solution to the 16-year conflict between ethnic-Tamil separatist groups and the government.

Subcontinental Drift: Those Who Ignore History...
A refresher course on Pakistan's past
- Thursday, Dec. 9, 1999

Subcontinental Drift: Musharraf Talks the Talk
But he walks in a different direction
- Thursday, Dec. 2, 1999

Subcontinental Drift: Words Are Not Enough
The diplomatic art of obfuscation
- Thursday, Nov. 25, 1999

Subcontinental Drift: Choose Your Own Faith
Under Indian law, it's allowed
- Thursday, Nov. 18, 1999

Subcontinental Drift: No One Wins
The dust settles after the papal visit, and everyone's covered in dirt
- Thursday, Nov. 11, 1999

Subcontinental Drift: Don't Keep Up With the Joneses
Idle comparisons help neither side
- Thursday, Nov. 4, 1999

Market Q&A
Each business evening with analysts around the region

The story behind today's news from the editors of Asiaweek

Daily Briefing
Today's headlines from across the region

Make that a LOT of luck. The best peace plan proposed in those 16 years is President Chandrika Kumaratunga's devolution package. She aims to give the ethnic Tamils in northern and eastern Sri Lanka a greater degree of political and economic autonomy. Self-rule would address many of the grievances of the Tamils, who believe the island's ethnic Sinhalese majority discriminates against them. Moderate Tamils would like to give Kumaratunga's plan a try--particularly since the other option, civil war, has been pretty thoroughly exhausted.

Extremist groups, led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, want nothing short of full independence. But Kumaratunga is betting that the Tigers will lose their support base (and their funding) once Tamils begin to run their own affairs. It's a gamble, but the only one that makes any sense.

And not just in Sri Lanka, either. To my mind, devolution is the only sensible way to end the civil and sectarian wars in Kashmir, Karachi and India's turbulent northeastern states. There, too, military and police crackdowns against rebellious peoples have yielded no peace. The Kumaratunga formula (suitably adapted to local conditions) holds more hope.

The trouble is, Kumaratunga doesn't have the two-thirds majority in parliament she needs to pass her devolution package. Political pundits predict that next week's election will bring her no closer to that magic figure. But there is some room for optimism. Her main rival, Ranil Wickremesinghe, is not a military hawk. He believes peace can be achieved through negotiation, but has doubts about devolution. A renewed mandate to rule (if not a two-thirds majority) might give Kumaratunga the political capital necessary to overcome Wickremesinghe's opposition.

If Kumaratunga can pull it off, Sri Lanka could become the cynosure of South Asian eyes for all the right reasons: as a nation that had the courage to stop shooting and the sagacity to find another way to peace. New Delhi and Islamabad should pay attention.

Write to TIME at
Search for recent Asia Buzz

TIME Asia home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN

Back to the top   © 2000 Time Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.