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A victory for the masses

Now that the dust has settled on the Budget vote, the sooner the nation shakes off its political miasma and return to reality the better it will be for the common good of all.

The past four weeks saw the public almost suspended in a political vacuum by the unfolding drama in the country’s Supreme Legislature and outside it centred on the budget.

This was perhaps the first budget in post-independence Sri Lanka where the entire debate was centred on defeating an elected Government through conspiratorial moves rather than a critical analysis of the fiscal policy and for this reason it could also mark a watershed in the country’s political history.

Now that the Government has prevailed with a clear majority it behoves on the actors in the drama to put behind the contentious and acrimonious feelings and make a collective effort to ensure that the budget proposals are implemented for the benefit of the country.

The Government should be magnanimous and forget all the manoeuverings and shenanigans engaged by the Opposition to oust it from power while the opposition should not permit the rancour and the bitterness that marked the run up to the vote overtake its better judgement.

Politics after all is about acquisition of power and a quest for its retention. In this equation one side has to naturally to give way. This should be the premise by which the Opposition should look at things from here on and not allow the bitter feelings engendered by its defeat.

It is time to put behind all antagonism and work for the common good of the masses whom the Opposition is bound to serve by virtue of being elected representatives of the public.

The country is at a decisive stage when the war against the LTTE is being fought in earnest while several mega projects that are to benefit the people are about to take off. It was stressed time and again that defeating the budget at this juncture would only help the ailing LTTE.

The LTTE needed some breathing space and the halting of military operations through a budget defeat/dissolution of Parliament would have helped it immensely.

The APRC that is entrusted to evolve a mechanism for power sharing is also striving to forward its proposals and the support and assistance of all political parties is essential to move the process forward.

It would be pity indeed if the fallout of out from the budget episode were to stymie the forward march of the country which would be to the detriment to all. We should demonstrate to the world that we are a mature democracy by emerging from the ashes of this encounter between the Government and Opposition.

When countries around us are developing and forging ahead on many fronts we alone cannot afford to wallow in politics.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe should take the lead in drilling into the their MPs and partymen that fire and brimstone let out during the past four weeks should not spill over into the general polity that would certainly be an impediment to progress while causing deep fissures in an already fractious polity.

They should strive to rein in vociferous partymen from making statements that would reignite the rancour and bitterness of the past few weeks.

While the Opposition is within its rights to criticise the Government and engage in political work it would be ideal if talk of toppling the Government is left out of its campaign lest this create uncertainty and instability in the country at a time that Government is poised to implement its ambitious budgetary programmes and inflict a death blow to the LTTE.

Sri Lanka cannot afford another election right now and in any case, the people will get an opportunity to elect another Government in just three years’ time.

We say this because divisive politics had been the bane of this country since independence. We have witnessed all along how incoming regimes halted all work started by their predecessors. This had not only retarded development but also served to exacerbate the cleavages in society while taking the country backwards.

The future generations should not be allowed to inherit such a legacy. Therefore it is paramount that a moratorium is imposed on divisive politics. Otherwise the only winner will be the ruthless LTTE. Let us hope that mature leadership will emerge out of the dying embers of the fiery political engagement that would eventually steer the country towards development and prosperity.

Amplify and celebrate Tamil voices of moderation

THE price that moderate Tamil politicians and thinkers have paid for differing with the LTTE has indeed been too high. Neelan Thiruchelvam, Thambirajah Subathiran and Ketheeswaran Loganathan, who were shot dead for daring to speak in a voice different from that of the Tigers, serve as reminders of what awaits political activists who refuse to subscribe to extremist thought.

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Sci-fi guru wishes for peace

British-born science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, who turned 90 yesterday, says all he wishes for is peace in his adopted home Sri Lanka where he has lived for the past five decades.

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Asia in the world

Latin Americans and North Americans dream of creating a free-trade zone. Europeans speak of building a United States of Europe. The African Union aspires to become a United States of Africa. Why no United States of Asia?

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