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Winning thoughts

THE noble aim of creating a Sri Lanka where everyone, regardless of ethnicity, language and religion, would receive his or her due, has been underscored by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. There is no doubt that the majority of Lankans would endorse this profoundly important sentiment.

We hope SLFP politicians, big and small, at the party's 55th annual convention, where the President gave eloquent expression to this idea, would treasure it in their hearts and take it to the masses of the land. The idea needs to seep into the hearts and minds of particularly those who cling to the misleading notion that Sri Lankan society needs to be monoethnic, monolingual and monoreligious.

Such notions have contributed considerably towards turning Sri Lanka into a conflict - ridden state. The country needs to put this destabilizing notion behind it and forge steadily ahead to a future where all our communities and cultural groups would co-exist peacefully on the basis of social justice and equal empowerment. That these considerations are on the State's agenda is abundantly clear from the President's address to the convention. The Government is clearly for an equal Sri Lanka where everyone would receive what is due to him or her on the basis of merit.

We are glad that the Government is considering the structures which would facilitate the implementation of this idea. For, there is no doubt that it is empowerment on an equal basis which would help in resolving our conflict.

Meanwhile, the LTTE's plans to destabilize Sri Lanka need to be resoundingly defeated. As long as the LTTE shuns the peace path and swears by the force of arms, it would need to be confronted by the State and militarily subdued.

We are certain the majority of the public would not question this position but the pains need to be taken to point out that the Tamil people should be carefully differentiated from the LTTE. Against the Tamil people per se, none could have a quarrel, for, they are not colluding with the LTTE in their evil schemes.

However, the LTTE is a terror organisation, operating outside the bounds of the law and needs to be treated as such. They need to be hunted and brought to heel. On the other hand, the Tamil people need to be given their due.

It must be also remembered that many a noble Tamil citizen has worked selflessly for Sri Lanka. Two such personalities of recent memory are, Lakshman Kadirgamar and Neelan Tiruchelvam. Therefore, it is doubly important that the communities of this land co-exist peacefully in the thought that they constitute a single fraternity. Only those groups resorting to terror and bloodshed, such as the LTTE, need to be alienated and hunted down.

We could be also glad that the Government is fully recognizing the need to "put the right man/woman in the right place", regardless of man-made barriers such as ethnicity and religion.

The President cited the case of a top officer in the Armed Forces who won his position purely on capability and merit.

Such thinking marks a distinct advance from communalistic and religious biases in some quarters which were instrumental in igniting the flames of social discontent in Sri Lanka in the past.

The role of the media in building a country's unity

A media which propagates respect for minority rights, democratic processes and international intervention could be an asset to a society. Compelling examples of this doctrine are Apartheid of South Africa, which in the beginning of the last decade was transformed into a multiracial democracy dominated by Africans through a moral conscience instilled by proactive politics and responsible journalism.

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'Devolution of powers - a necessary pre-condition for solution to ethnic issue'

As a party committed to democracy we firmly believe that we can find a solution to the national problem within a democratic frame work. In that we would not hesitate to look for new modalities of governance that could give true reflection to the aspiration of a multilingual and multiracial community if that could be a solution to stop this cruel war.

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Please Mr. Minister

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
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