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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.