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Substantive gains for State

THE just-concluded, second round of Government-LTTE talks in Geneva, could be considered as having recorded some significant gains for the State and the people of Sri Lanka.

To begin with, both sides have reiterated their commitment to the negotiatory process and this alone is a substantive gain for Sri Lanka. For, the State and the majority of the people of the land completely favour a negotiated settlement of our conflict.

No news would be more welcome for moderate opinion in Sri Lanka than a pledge by the sides to perpetuate the peace process and the overall result at Geneva II could be seen as being in accordance with the wishes of the majority of Lankans.

As usual, however, the real intentions of the LTTE are very much in doubt, because even as we pen this commentary, LTTE terror is being inexorably unleashed in the North-East. Yet another case of LTTE double-speak.

The international community, including the Co-Chairs, need to take careful note of these disquieting developments because they have here further evidence of who is scuttling the peace effort.

Surely, they cannot leave anything to chance when dealing with the LTTE because of its legendary duplicity. Obviously, the world community needs to hold a whip-hand over the Tigers if the negotiating effort is to be perpetuated.

Getting back to Geneva II, Norwegian Minister for International Development, Erik Solheim's pronouncement that a solution to Lanka's conflict should be worked out on the basis of a single, sovereign and undivided country, could be considered a singular triumph for the State and the majority of the people of this country.

The clear message to the LTTE is that there are no significant takers for its eelam agenda, save its few fanatical supporters.

Certainly, the world community is not for a division of Sri Lanka. This is a huge boost for the Lankan State and the majority of Lankans, who favour a political solution to our conflict, on the basis of a single, united and undivided State.

If some sense remains with the LTTE, it would from now on cooperate with the State in bringing about a just and honourable political solution which would satisfy the legitimate aspirations of all our communities.

It should see for itself that the path of violence it has opted for would not garner even the slightest good for the Tamil people, whose interests it is claiming to champion.

As for the State, it has taken up the most sensible of positions by stating that its number one priority is the resolution of problems faced by the Tamil community. If the Tamil grievances are at the heart of the problem, then the sensible course to adopt would be to resolve the issues faced by the Tamil people.

As explained by us a few days back in this commentary, if Tamil grievances constitute the 'phenomenon', the LTTE is only the 'epi-phenomenon' or a 'side-effect' of the main malaise.

Therefore, the endeavour of the State would be to redress the legitimate grievances of the Tamil people. This would remedy the main malaise and render ineffective the 'side-effect'.

This is the most advisable course to adopt because there is no question of the State arriving at a deal with the LTTE which would ignore the LTTE's repressive stranglehold over the Tamil people. This would be no solution. It would only be the proverbial peace of the graveyard.

However, what the State would be aiming at is a solution which would ensure for all our communities, absolute self-respect and a bright future.

 

Towards a developed water resources management plan

THE policy development process in Sri Lanka has a chequered past. In March 2000, National Water Resources Policy and Institutional Arrangement was approved by the Cabinet. However, public may remember how the water policy was made the red herring by all successive governments, particularly during times of elections.

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'We must stand on our own feet'

Up to the Mavil Aru confrontation, our politicians were told by every Dick, Tom and Harry of the international community, co-chairs, INGOs and NGOs that the LTTE was an invincible force and has a well equipped and trained war machine and that our Armed Forces could never defeat them at war!

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Child abuse - an impediment to country's development

In Western countries, where their citizens enjoy relatively high standards of living, the protection of children's rights and welfare is given high priority. Unlike in many Third World countries such as India, Thailand and Sri Lanka where child abuse in varying forms is very common and the measures taken by the State institutions to combat this menace is quite inadequate,

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