Thursday, March 19, 2009

What the Keith Vaz affaire signifies

Those who may have naively thought bribery and corruption and abuse of power were endemic to the developing world stand corrected. Although the self-appointed champions of good governance, transparency etc are flaying only the politicians of the global South––they deserve to be horsewhipped, no doubt––that the situation is equally bad anywhere else is only too well known.

Yesterday, we reported quoting the British press that Senior Labour MP and former Europe Minister Keith Vaz had landed himself in the soup right royally over an abortive bid to aid a crook allegedly by abusing his privileged position as Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee (HAC) to influence the High Court. A letter he wrote on a House of Commons notepaper to the judge concerned seeking the adjournment of a court hearing against an ace conman cum 'solicitor' named Sean Mireskandari, suspended from practising law in Britain, has received wide publicity in the media. Vaz, given to high life and his human rights lawyer wife, are alleged to have benefited from freebies from the crook by way of a quid pro quo.

Vaz has come under pressure from his fellow lawmakers to step down as HAC Chairman.

The question is whether Vaz has become the LTTE's mouthpiece in the British Parliament because of freebies which the outfit is notorious for showering on influential personalities in foreign countries.

The US Department of Justice officially announced on August 21, 2006 that four LTTE members caught in an undercover sting operation shopping for surface-to-air missiles, missile launchers and automatic assault rifles in the New York arms black market had conspired to bribe some US State Department officials to remove the LTTE from the State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organisation list. The LTTE offered a huge bribe including a $1 million up-front payment for that purpose.

This shows how much the LTTE with money for jam coming from sources such as drug smuggling is willing to part with to further its interests. Among the foreign lawmakers and other administrative top guns not impervious to payola and lagniappe, there must be many beneficiaries of the LTTE's largesse.

For a group bold enough to offer bribes to the State Department mandarins, greasing the palms of some garden variety foreign parliamentarians in the US or elsewhere is child's play.

Lobbying in the West requires whopping sums of dosh to be dished out and the fact that the LTTE has mustered the support of some US lawmakers raises a serious doubt in one's mind whether the greenbacks that the LTTE failed to bribe State Department officials with found their way into some other hands. Else, how is it possible that the LTTE has, in spite of a ban, succeeded in cultivating so many US politicians? Former US Deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein is obviously in the LTTE's pocket, as could be seen from his open backing for it. He has surely sold his soul to the devil. He could not be alone in the game.

In Canada, too, parliamentarians are falling over themselves to be at the LTTE's beck and call. Recently, Liberal MP Gurbax Singh Malhi thought it fit to attend an LTTE rally in Canada. Blandishments and votes that LTTE backers deliver at Canadian elections alone could not have helped turn MPs like Malhi into mere putty in the hands of terrorists. What has really made them hired guns of the LTTE is worth probing for the sake of Canadian democracy. Parliamentarians of Malhi's ilk who shamelessly stoop to the same level as Vaiko et al in India to back terrorism have tarnished Canada's image.

In India, legislators have become minutemen of the LTTE, which is throwing money around through some fronts to keep Tamil Nadu on the boil so as to generate pressure on the Central Government to harden its stand on Sri Lanka's war on terror. The LTTE may not have been able to achieve its goal, but it has managed to trigger seditious protests and prove that it is a force to be reckoned with in Tamil Nadu. Whoever thought the LTTE would be able to engineer agitations inside Indian courts!

Perhaps, if Prabhakaran had not made the blunder of cooking his goose by killing Rajiv, he would have been able to make India intervene in Sri Lanka again; he would have been whisked away in an Indian Air Force chopper!

There is nothing that venal parliamentarians and bureaucrats in any part of the world won't do if the correct amount is quoted. When money talks, it is said, politicians listen very attentively! Earlier it was only unscrupulous transnational corporations bent on extracting unconscionable profits that could sway the governments of target countries to expand their commercial empires at the expense of the global poor. Today, even terrorist groups are capable of such feats thanks to wealth they have amassed through criminal activities such as drug smuggling, gun-running, robbery and extortion.

If a fraudster like Mireskandari could woo a senior British MP with freebies and obtain his service to meddle with the law, there is no reason why well-heeled warlords should fail in doing so.

In a world where elected representatives turn out to be hirelings of terrorists and other anti-social elements like racketeers, global democracy has a bleak future. For, before long enemies of democracy may place themselves in a position to control governments that people vote to power and pervert the law to promote their satanic agendas.

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