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DateLine Tuesday, 3 June 2008

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Government Gazette

Demilitarising Tigers

A negotiated end to Sri Lanka’s conflict is still possible but not before the Tigers are “verifiably demilitarised and democratised,” senior diplomat Dayan Jayatilleka has said in Geneva.

This is a very sound argument, considering that Tigers have always negotiated with their weapons intact. They made a mock show of handing in their weapons after the Indo-Lanka Accord, but it was never a long-term intention of the Tigers to become a demilitarised outfit.

All Sri Lankan Governments have negotiated with the Tigers in good faith and never really imposed any conditions on the terrorist group. No Government has requested them to lay down arms first and then talk. But the Tigers always took advantage of this position to backtrack on talks and launch attacks against the Security Forces.

Time and again, they have shown their lack of enthusiasm for a negotiated settlement.

This is the simple logic behind Ambassador Jayatilleka’s argument. The Tigers will never honour any pledge for peace as long as they remain armed. They are likely to come for ceasefires and peace talks only to buy time for strengthening the outfit.

There could be elements in the LTTE who may want to pursue the path of peace. This was in fact what happened in the case of the East as Karuna Amman decided that enough was enough and decided to join the democratic mainstream.

Today, his deputy Pillayan is the Chef Minister of the Eastern Province. And he did not get this position through the power of the gun. It was the power of the ballot that took him there.

It could be the same in the North. It is fairly well known that some leaders of the LTTE are wary of Prabhakaran’s strategy of war and violence, even if they do follow his commands. This is why some say that a LTTE without Prabhakaran or with a demilitarised Prabhakaran will be a more amenable entity.

The bottom line is that the LTTE must be genuinely interested in peace for the Government to reciprocate in the dame manner. The Government is still keeping its doors open for peace talks with the LTTE.

As long as the LTTE attacks Security Forces and innocent civilians, the Government will have to take military action against them. But if they do change their ways and opt for genuine peace, they can be accommodated in the country’s democratic framework.

Food Summit

All eyes will be on the Food and Agriculture Organisation Summit which begins today in Rome. President Mahinda Rajapaksa will address the parley, which is expected to be attended by around 3,000 delegates from UN Member countries.

Earlier, FAO summits were only of academic interest. This year, it has assumed added significance in the wake of massive food price hikes around the world. Some countries even witnesses so-called ‘food riots’.

The food crisis will be one of the main topics at the FAO Summit, with millions of poor people around the world facing starvation. Food security will be a prime topic. The poorest sections have to be protected from the vagaries of food price hikes. A recent SAARC (South Asian) initiative would be an ideal answer - a SAARC Food Bank. Each region in the world should have at least one food bank.

Another major topic will be the impact of climate change on agriculture. Here in Sri Lanka, we have noticed slight changes in rainfall patterns and seasons, which can have devastating effects on agriculture.

The recent rains and consequent floods inundated hundreds of acres of paddy lands. Likewise, prolonged droughts can also destroy crops, especially those heavily dependent on water such as paddy. A temperature rise will also cause damage to crops.

The use of food sources for biofuel production is another controversial issue. After all, the food grains used for fuel production can feed millions of hungry people in say, Africa. It is true that we must find alternatives for petroleum, but depriving the world of a food source to do so may not be a practical solution.

It is clear that rich nations have to do more to end hunger.

A recent newspaper report revealed that Japan has ‘rice mountains’ which can be exported to countries experiencing a rice shortage. Several Western countries have doubled food aid but regional groupings in the West can and should do more to alleviate hunger in less privileged parts of the world.

Technology transfer and better access to agri products from the Third World are just two ways in which these countries can help.

Wider cooperation is essential to end the current food crisis and this FAO Summit can be a precursor in that direction.

On sleeping dictionaries and the Planters’ Raj

Here’s a new one on dictionaries, which I bet you have not heard before! A friend in Canada tells me that he picked this from a book published in the USA, titled, ‘Round The Tea Totum - When Sri Lanka was Ceylon’, by Dr. David Ebbels, who worked for some six years as an assistant manager on a tea estate

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Combating terrorism: No time to dither

American audiences in general tend to identify Sri Lanka with two specific phenomena - the tsunami of December 2004 and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or the LTTE, a terrorist group also known as the ‘Tigers.’

Full Story

Private sector corruption

While everybody loves to talk about corruption in the government sector, they for some reason lose this enthusiasm when it comes to the goings on in our large and vocal private sector

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No borders on Ondaatje’s imagination

‘INHALE,” Michael Ondaatje said as he opened the door to Coach House in Toronto, inviting visitors to take in the aroma of ink, paper, wood and well-oiled machinery. Two mastodonlike Heidelberg presses clacked out the covers to a children’s book, and two young men stood watch, adjusting the cyan, magenta and yellow.

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Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Mount View Residencies
Ceylinco Banyan Villas

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