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Friday, 24 July 2009

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Another new beginning

Adding to the accelerated across the board transformations in the Northern landscape following the end to the three decade old war, the long abandoned Jaffna-Colombo bus service was re-started on Wednesday to the great relief of many.

Senior Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa MP on Wednesday flagged off the first convoy of five buses at the auspicious time of 10.32 a.m. amidst rousing cheers by the Jaffna population.

The buses will ply on the A9 route via Medawachchiya to Colombo for the first time in two decades opening a land route for North-South passenger travel. This certainly will be a great boon not only for commuter travel but also for the small time trader on both sides who will now have a convenient means to ply their wares across the divide. The lesser time factor too would reduce the risk of spoilage of items such as vegetables and fruits. Of course the large scale trader and businessman will transport their goods in lorries. But the bus service will also now see huge loads of merchandise piled on the hoods of buses destined to North and vice versa, a familiar sight in the past.

Earlier, goods were transported to and from the North via chartered vessels one of the reasons for the astronomically high Cost of Living in the peninsula. Now the buses could ferry them, in double quick time. For the passengers though it would no doubt revive memories of past travels on this very route in those tranquil days where people of both communities mingled freely with each other as the buses ploughed through the dusty roads bordered by thick jungle and the people especially children enjoying the sights of the abundant fauna on those long journeys.

Hence this bus service will signify just more than an easy mode of transport from the North and South and vice versa. It would be a symbolic reunification of the past of two separated communities and another step towards the President's efforts to build bridges with an estranged people.

The opening of the new bus service would no doubt go a long way in the Government's efforts to resuscitate the Northern economy. For the constant movement of people to and from the Peninsula would no doubt inject a fresh life and momentum to the once dormant and abandoned landscape bringing with it, it's own spin offs such as trade links and what is more, people to people contacts, which taken together would be an ideal recipe for stimulating the economy.

The opening of bus service could also have vast tourist potential with more and more foreigners keen to visit the war ravaged areas for souvenirs, which the authorities would do well to exploit. It would also be a big money spinner for hoteliers and restaurateurs and one would before long see the once ubiquitous eateries which catered to stop over passengers springing up like mushrooms along the A9 route.

There is no knowing the economic activity that would be generated not to mention the potential for direct and indirect employment. Therefore the inauguration of the bus service could not have come at a better time when the Northern Spring program has taken off in earnest. The heavy influx of people to the peninsula through easy access now can only provide a huge boon to the development activity now continuing apace.

But the most significant aspect of the bus service is it's symbolic role as a bridge to bring together people of both communities who were separated for over three decades and as a facilitator of the integration process.


Well done

The decision taken by the Education Ministry to be firm on the acceptance of donations for school admissions should be appreciated. According to our front page story yesterday the Ministry has issued an edict to educationist especially school principals that no payments should be accepted when students are accepted to Government schools.

Of course this does not cover facilities fees or payments to school development societies. But these too should be on a voluntary basis and there should not be even a hint of coercion. How this is going to be monitored is not exactly clear. But the Ministry has at least read out the riot act.

There is no denying that the effects of the free market has had it's fall-out even on the school edifice once a sacrosanct holy cow. They too are now in the grip of the commercial juggernaut at the expense of values, ethics unlike in the past. The ruses adopted by many school principals to extract donations from hapless parents are all too well known to merit elaboration. The instances of school principals who have been taken in for bribery too are legion.

Therefore whatever action taken by the Education authorities to stem the rot should be welcomed and appreciated. For, if this state of affairs is allowed to continue it would negate the free education system of which the country takes pride in.

However the Education Ministry should also devise a way to net in school authorities in private schools too where the big rip offs take place. After all, is it not it's duty to clean up the whole education set up?

Bar Association should not dabble in party politics

Constitution of the BASL is clear on the objectives as an independent professional body which is the most powerful professional organization in the country. Judiciary consist only of lawyers - the Head of the official Bar is the Attorney General and the Private Bar has only one organization statutorily recognized which is accepted by the Executive and the Judiciary which of course is the BASL.

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Double standards of the West

I totally agree with President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s comments about the Uva Rebellion and how the Christian Colonial British committed genocide by killing every able bodied man over 18 years of age, razing crops and even taking away the salt from villages in Uva.

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Buddhism, International Law and K. N. Jayatilleke -Part II:

Buddhist political philosophy

Prof. Jayathilleke, in his treatise has referred to the principles of justice, equity, human rights and equality as accepted by the Buddhist political philosophy. This writer thinks that the principle of common good (Bahujana Sukhaya) too should have been included as a principle of law.

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