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Monday, 16 November 2009

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Government Gazette

Crocodile tears

There is no end to the incessant wailing over the fate of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by the Opposition, certain NGOs and the so-called international community. One could agree with and respect the wailing of those that do so out of genuine humanitarian concerns. But when those who wail have not for the past five months contributed even a cent for the welfare of the people on whose behalf they wail, serious doubts arise as to their intent.

When the motley crowd of wailing persons are joined by those who advocated their long-term internment one is reminded of the Sinhala adage which says that when one wants to taste flesh even the monitor is turned into an iguana.

The only conclusion we could arrive at in this instance is that these loud wailings and cries are a result of political desires, anxieties and frustration. In fact taking care of IDPs should not become a divisive issue.

It is an issue which calls for maximum unity both nationally and internationally. The fact that such unity is yet not forthcoming betrays the vested interests among those that only shed crocodile tears.

The Government, on the other hand, took up the challenge and has delivered admiringly with the assistance of its friends here and abroad. The latest figures reveal that half the inmates at welfare villages and other camps have been resettled in their original places of residence.

That required a lot of work. De-mining of the resettlement areas and the provision of necessary physical and social infrastructure was a colossal task. However, it has been achieved in record time.

Resettling 150,000 people in five months in a war-torn and heavily mined terrain is no mean task. It took about four years for the tsunami displaced to be resettled. In that case, there was no de-mining to be done and capital expenditure was mainly for housing. Compared to the resettlement of the tsunami victims the present resettlement process is very much faster and very much better organized. There were even more funds then.

This achievement should be acknowledged and congratulated by every one. It is a pity that those who wail over the fate of the IDPs and try to put Sri Lanka in the dock cannot see this achievement. This reminds us of yet another local adage which states “it is easy to wake up those that are actually sleeping but no one could wake up those that are pretending to be asleep”. At the current rate of resettlement, we could expect the total evacuation of the inmates at welfare villages to their former places of residence within a month or two. Hopefully we would enter the forthcoming New Year sans IDPs, victims of the conflict.

Those that wail over their fate will have to find some new excuse to wail then.

It is in the context of the colossal funds that are needed for this purpose we feel aggrieved over the waste and ostentation that seems rampant in public institutions. It is time to look for and implement cost-effective measures at each and every institution kept up with public funding.

Synchronized lights

Colombo Chief City Administrator Omar Kamil has promised synchronized traffic lights at key road intersections for a straight drive from Ayurveda roundabout to the end of Horton Place for motorists. This is soothing news, indeed.

While welcoming the news we would reserve our comments for a future date, for the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We have heard many fairy tales from the authorities and each time anything is promised we tend to be a bit skeptical. It’s no offence but our knee-jerk reaction. We only hope that the traffic police would not start giving signals manually as often happens at newly installed light signals.

If successful, we would only urge the CMC authorities to extend the facility to many more such congested roads.

We would also like to add that the authorities should look into the possibility of installing such synchronized traffic lights further beyond the Ayurveda junction along the Parliament Road right up to the roundabout at the turn to Parliament. Such a move would further ease the congestion and ensure a smoother drive.

Economics as a driving force of international relations

The vision which Lakshman Kadirgamar had, both for close fraternal relations between India and Sri Lanka and for the future of Sri Lanka itself continues to inspire our thinking. It was he who dreamt of a world in which India and Sri Lanka would work together to build on our shared geography, history and culture in a relationship defined in his eloquent words by “irreversible excellence”. It was also Lakshman who believed that Sri Lanka should remain united, and that its people should live together in an atmosphere of confidence and trust.

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‘Labour’ should be a compulsory ‘subject’ in schools

‘Never in our days’ is a frequently uttered ‘observation’ by those who have left an institution, a country or profession. It is something that one hears whenever past pupils of a school gather to reminisce about days gone by. They also talk about how things are in the old school and spend an inordinate amount of time lamenting things-as-they-are-now.

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Charting a new course for Sri Lanka’s success

The SLFP Convention : A brief look back :

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party had its annual Convention yesterday. The party which was founded on September 2, 1951 by Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike made an impact in the country since its very inception.

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Speech-fronted Program to teach English:

Avoiding teaching grammar in communicative classroom

When I introduced the Speech-fronted program to the new entrants of the Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo, there was a burning question that came from all quarters: coordinators of different sorts, teachers who taught in the program and others who were not in the program raised a question: Aren’t you going to teach grammar? My answer was “No!” Then I added, grammar is taught not the way we used to do before, that is, giving all the grammar points long before students feel the need to use them but as and when students require them to carry out a task.

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