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Empowering the East

WITH the routing of the LTTE in Thoppigala in the East, which is imminent, the Security Forces would have complete control over the region, thereby paving the way for complete civilian resettlement and the restoration of civilian administrations.

We have it on the authority of Eastern Province Governor, Rear Admiral Mohan Wijewickrema, that these latter processes are already underway and we regard this news as highly welcome because civilian resettlement, rehabilitation and local administrations consisting of civilians, are ideal in situations such as these where terror has held sway for long.

There is no ducking the fact that the social and economic rehabilitation of the Eastern Province must now get into top gear.

The Security Forces need to be commended on a job well done in the East but what is of equal significance is the installation of civilian administrations in the province with which the civilian populace could closely identify.

A civilian administration is, in fact, an embodiment of the people’s will and the fulfilment of the people’s aspirations would be most possible under such an administration.

It is only administrations of this kind which would know most intimately the needs of the people and would best know which projects should be implemented to meet these needs.

The bringing into being of civilian administrations in the relevant areas of the East is integral to the ushering of social and economic rehabilitation. The latter is inconceivable without the former and vice versa.

Therefore, we call for an acceleration of the democratic process in the East and the speedy installation of civilian administrations in the province which could work closely with the people. Plans have already been announced for the economic and social rejuvenation of the Trincomalee district.

A major component of the development strategy aimed at the region would be its conversion into a foreign investment and employment-generation hub. This economic vision needs to be extended to envelope the whole of the Eastern Province.

Underlying this vision is the recognition of the need to economically and socially empower the people of the conflict-affected areas. If possible and practicable such measures must be strongly enforced in the cleared areas of the North too.

We cannot afford to forget the lessons of the past. Lack of development was a prime factor in the emergence of the North-East conflict. If the youths of these regions were gainfully employed, for instance, disaffection and frustration would not have been their lot.

Therefore, employment-generation plans need to receive priority in these areas and civilian administrations are the best means of conceiving and implementing them.

The people of these regions also need to feel that there is a caring State at the centre which is fending for them. To the extent to which this happens, the populace will feel at home in Sri Lanka.


A cure for HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is a disease for which no cure exists. That picture may change after last week’s announcement that scientists in the US have discovered a way to remove the HIV virus from infected cells.

The findings, published in the latest issue of the prestigious journal Science, do offer a ray of hope for more than 40 million HIV infected people worldwide. Although a number of drugs can prolong the lives of infected persons and prevent them from getting secondary diseases, no existing drug can banish HIV.

The potential cure literally tackles the problem head-on. The scientists involved in the project have engineered an enzyme which attacks the DNA of the infected virus and cuts it out of the infected cells.

It might take years before human clinical trials begin and the treatment is approved for general use, but it is an indication that medical researchers are getting closer to conquering one of the deadliest modern afflictions.

Only around three decades have passed since HIV/AIDS took an unsuspecting world by surprise and millions of people worldwide have perished to date.

The medical fraternity and the pharmaceutical industry initially fought back with drugs that suppress the HIV virus in order to delay the onset of full-blown AIDS and dramatically extend the lives of patients.

But there is a hitch. These drugs and treatments are still enormously expensive and only those in developed countries can usually afford them.

The World Health Organisation and individual developing countries in Africa and Asia, where AIDS is rampant, are campaigning for cheaper generic drugs. Their efforts are gradually succeeding.

The best solution to such woes is an HIV vaccine which will prevent the disease in the first place, thereby saving the massive expenditure on treatment. Scientists around the world are working on such a vaccine.

This would be the ideal solution, as worldwide vaccination programmes have already eradicated several diseases from our midst. An effective cure would be an immense boost to these efforts. That said, the best ‘cure’ is still prevention. Safe sexual practices alone can cut the risk by more than 90 per cent.

This message must be spread to all corners of the world, especially developing countries. HIV is a killer that can be halted in its tracks.

Resolving the conflict: The role of patriotic citizens

Sri Lanka, known as Ceylon in the good old days, was such a beautiful country in which we Sri Lankans -- the Sinhalese, the Tamils, the Muslims, the Malays, the Burghers and many others belonging to various ethnic groups -- lived in peace and harmony with mutual love, respect and understanding for each other and with malice towards none.

Full Story

Regional Integration - Can South Asia succeed?

South Asia is the least integrated region in the world, where integration is measured by intra-regional trade in goods, capital and ideas. It was even less than Sub-Saharan African region.

Full Story

Canada - forging ahead with confidence

Canada Day marks the creation of the Dominion of Canada through the British North America Act on July 1, 1867, uniting three British colonies-the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada. The three colonies united to form one country divided into four provinces.

Full Story

 

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