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Pro-people aspect of the Presidency

THE corollary of fame and influence, coming with high public office, is responsibility and accountability. It is not often realised that power and accountability go hand-in-hand in the affairs of men.

Unfortunately, the frailties of humanity are such that power and influence are considered ends in themselves, usually leading to misuse and abuse of power.

This is very often the case with governance and democratic rule has not proved an exception to the tendency except when curbed by a system of rigorous checks and balances.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa realised at the very beginning of his tenure as Sri Lanka's Head-of-State and Government that he was a Trustee of the public well being and not a source of arbitrary power.

In other words, he was willing to conform to the norms of democratic governance and the Rule of Law.

This was a good start to President Rajapaksa's tenure of office and it is encouraging to note that he has chosen to remain sensitive and responsive to the travails of the public.

This is reflected in the upgrading of arrangements at the Presidential Secretariat to resolve public grievances, as reported by us yesterday. We welcome moves by the Secretariat to fast-track responses to written requests by the public for speedy relief on problems faced by them.

We see here, one of the many positive and edifying aspects of the Executive Presidency. That is, the ability of this institution to intervene directly in public issues on behalf of the people, when local-level State and other bodies fail to respond quickly and positively to the needs of the people.

Accordingly, we see here, a progressive feature of the Executive Presidency which should be increasingly strengthened.

When it comes to resolving public grievances, time is of the essence. This applies in particular to the low income groups who lack the resources to seek redress in the courts of law and other institutions, which are public bodies in theory, but are usually not in a position to dispense justice expeditiously to the public and without the incurrence of some financial expenditure by the people.

Therefore, it is highly encouraging to note that the Presidential Secretariat is in the process of upgrading its facilities to accept and respond to public grievances.

While the Presidential Secretariat may do the job expected of it with vigour, it is not very certain whether the rest of the public sector machinery would be equally prompt and punctual in bringing the expected relief to the public, when the relevant petitions and requests are directed to them by the Presidential Secretariat.

This aspect of the resolution of public grievances should also be looked into. It is important that these public institutions are held accountable for any delays in responding to public grievances, once alerted by the Presidential Secretariat.

Besides, it is vitally important that "Public Days" are held by all public sector organisations that interact closely with the public and carry out functions which impact on the public weal.

Defenders of the Nation

MOST countries which have experienced war or armed strife keep a day to remember those heroes who have defended their country with blood, sweat and tears. They honour the official armed services - not militants, rebels or terrorists who wage war against the sovereign people and the law of the land.

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Lassana people in Lassana Sri Lanka

THE most Sri Lankans like to see the darker side of life or the other side of life. Please note, I say most, NOT all. A friend once said, "We always try to find fault. Go even to the theater and we find a negative audience. Why can't we look at the brighter side of life and the plusses not the minuses?"

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The significance of June 07:

Remembrance Day from a national perspective

THE week beginning June 1 is declared the National Remembrance Week and will be dedicated to the memory of the Heroes who gave their lives for the territorial integrity of the motherland.

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A leaf from South Africa on conflict-resolution

THE Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE should not only talk directly to each other, without outside help or facilitation, they must do it right here and now in Sri Lanka on the basis of an inclusive process which involves all sections of relevant local opinion.

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