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Government Gazette

A triumph for democracy

Yesterday’s swearing in of one time LTTE Eastern Commander Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan better known as Karuna Amman as a member of Parliament can be termed as a groundbreaking event in Sri Lanka’s political history.

We say this because this is the first time that a former leader of the LTTE whose avowed goal is separatism has taken a constitutional oath to renounce Eelam. For, the swearing also included upholding the Sixth Amendment which repudiates the creation of a separate state.

Of course there is the famous case of Kuttumani- a hardcore LTTEer- who was made an MP while in prison by the TULF. But there was no formal oath taking and he was subsequently killed in the July 1983 prison riots.

The Government should be commended for helping this Ex-LTTEer who led many a battle against the Security Forces to make the transition to the democratic mainstream.

Although Karuna Amman had given up his militant garb he was in a sense of drift with no civilian role to play.

Now with his formal entry to Parliament he would be able to provide a democratic voice of the Tamils, along with his deputy Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, the Eastern Chief Minister. The Government in fact has pulled off a major coup against the LTTE who had been portraying itself as the sole representatives of the Tamils.

Now this mantle can certainly be taken over by Muralitharan who will be provided the forum of the country’s Supreme Legislature to articulate the aspirations of the Tamil people in a more forceful and effective manner that would carry the patina of legitimacy.

This could eventually pave the way for a consensus that could help evolve a political package meeting the reasonable demands of the Tamil community.

This articulation of Tamil grievances from the Parliamentary forum would gain currency even with the international community. This could carry more weight and legitimacy than some other ‘voice in the wilderness’.

In getting him into Parliament the Government has acted prudently in allowing for democratic space to a group of militants who were once marginalised from the national polity. This has now paved the way for the one time leader of the LTTE’s military machine in the East to work within democratic structures.

It would now help redress grievances through the time honoured democratic practise of consultation, compromise and give and take instead of guns and bullets as in the past.

Muralitharan follows in the footsteps of his erstwhile comrade Chandrakanthan who was elected directly by the vote of the people as the Eastern Province Chief Minister. This follows a pattern that is witnessed elsewhere in the democratic world.

Today one time militant leader Prachanda is the Prime Minister of Nepal. Other examples too abound such as that of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who was a guerilla leader during the bush war days in former Rhodesia.

Similarly it is hoped that the TMVP leader would in the course of time acquit himself well within the national polity and eventually give democratic leadership to his community as an effective alternative to the LTTE.

This inclusivity and integration is what is required if this fractured country is to heal its wounds. It is hoped that all political parties would provide the required support to guide this one time die hard militant to assimilate with the democratic process.

A shining example

In a country where the practise of most Government functionaries is to cling to office even when they have long overstayed their welcome the example of Attorney General C.R. De Silva stands out as a shining beacon worthy of emulation.

Even though persuaded by the highest of the land to continue in the post he decided relinquish office as Attorney General not willing to be an impediment to an impending court ruling on a Government gazette notification.

This at a time when the tendency of the public officers is to stay put in their posts through political influence and refuse to budge even when shown the door. The outgoing Attorney General’s conduct is all the praiseworthy since he was potentially in line for the post of Chief Justice with all its power and prestige.

That he chose to stand down on a point of principle is what is most salutary in an era when principles don’t count in the equation.

Only one other officer in recent times has volunteered to step down from his post upon reaching the retirement age and that is Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake.

Certainly the outgoing Attorney General belongs to a rare breed and has done honour to his post and the Attorney General’s Department which he adorned with aplomb as a brilliant prosecutor over the years.

Perhaps as a good sportsman in his hay day he would been the best judge on the right time to quit, and that is when at the top.

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Tigers must enter democratic mainstream - TMVP Leader

“First of all I would like to thank President Mahinda Rajapaksa for giving me this post and my intention is to give my full energy for my people in the Tamil community as well as the Muslims and Sinhalese. I became a guerrilla soldier because of the needs of my people at that time but soon became transformed when I saw new hopes”

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Tiger embrace killed Janaka Perera

The opening of the UNP office in Anuradhapura was the ideal place where the UNPers opened the doors to all and sundry - including the suicide bomber - to join in the celebrations. And after he joined the UNP the Tigers knew the time would come when he would expose himself.

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Of bailouts and public sell-outs

There was something touching about phase two of the $700 billion bailout drama in the United States. When it got past the Senate, leaders of both parties stepped up to take a bow and admit to “some pride” in their vote.

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