Daily News Online

Wednesday, 2 June 2010






Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Road to integration

A batch of 269 policemen and policewomen have been recruited from Jaffna according to a news report.This is also the first occasion that such a large number of police recruits have been made from the North since the end of the war, it adds.

Time was when the country’s Police Force was multiethnic in character. We often read accounts of the gallant deeds in the past of Police Officers belonging to the ethnic minorities.They were held in awe and respect by the general public devoid of any prejudice.They were all regarded on par with the majority for their dedication and professional integrity.

The events that followed thereafter radically altered this perception among the majority community. Tamil Police officers were regarded with scorn and branded as Tiger sympathizers while on the other side of the divide Sinhala officers who had hitherto won the trust and confidence of the Tamil civilians were now objects of hate and loathing. Thus the war breached the multi ethnic character of our Police Force and the escalation of the conflict saw the gradual decline in the intake of minorities to the Police Force.

Hence the move to once again recruit Tamils to the country’s Police Department should be appreciated. It is a re-invention of the wheel harking back to the old days when our Police Force was noted for its multi ethnic fabric and the bonhomie and camaraderie of the officers of the different communities.

This also is another link in the expanding chain of the on going unification and the normalization process and augers well for national unity. That the Government has seen it fit to co-opt members of the tamil community to a vital arm of the country’s law enforcement can only be construed as heralding a complete break with the past. It signifies the dismantling of the barriers of suspicion that existed for over three decades when communities were torn asunder by rancour and mistrust.

Every effort should be made to accelerate this normalization process, for the sooner this is accomplished the sooner will it facilitate national integration - a sine quo non for achieving the development goals and economic prosperity of the country. In this context it is also heartening to note that steps are also under way to induct more and more members of the minority community to the regular forces which we are sure will accelerate the normalization process.

The recruitment of minorities to the Police would serve to alley lingering fears and suspicions that the Tamil community may harbour against the Government - a residual state of mind that was carried over from three decades of estrangement. The presence of Police officers in large numbers in the regular force is also sure to instil confidence among the minorities.

Time was when Sri Lanka’s Police Force was adorned with officers of the minority community who left their mark on the Police Department for their valour, gallantry and dedication to duty. Some of them even went on to ascend the highest rung of the ladder in the Police Department. That was an era when race and ethnicity had no part in the selection criteria in our Government Service least of all the Police Force. Many were the Tamil Police officers who made the supreme sacrifice in their line of duty during the early stages of the Eelam war. Some even suffered gruesome deaths at the hands of the terrorists for being ‘traitors’.

The gratitude of nation for the sacrifice made by these officers in the name of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would not diminish with the sands of time and we are sure to be acknowledged and appreciated by one and all.

The move also comes at a time the Police Department is to revert to its role as a civilian law enforcement agency shorn of its militaristic outlook of the war days. This will make the task of those new recruits from the North that much easier. It will be the task of those officers who handle these new recruits to prepare them sufficiently to meet their new environment among the majority community they are to serve. One must not lose sight of the fact that these recruits come from a different background and environment where there was no civilian rule for long periods.

The move certainly harks back to an entirely different era where all members of the law enforcement functioned in amity and brotherhood untrammelled by ethnic and race differences. One hopes that this spirit is recaptured once again in the country’s Police Force at a time it is shedding its hardened military patina and returning to civilian mode. Also it is hoped that a truly multi ethnic Police Service will emerge before long catalyzing the communal harmony and ethnic concord of Lankan society that prevailed in the past.

From footpaths to expressways

Until a couple of years ago conditions of our main roads were not far different from what they were in the 1960s owing to the increasing volume of vehicular traffic. Sri Lanka incurred an annual loss of around Rs. 200 billion due to faulty road systems, a survey conducted by the Moratuwa University a few years ago revealed. This problem however will not disappear until the planned network of expressways linking the country’s major towns and cities are completed.

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Fathers and sons (or daughters)

My friend Shanthi Abeywickrama asks me, ‘was your mother proud of you?’ I think all parents are proud of their children, but parents don’t always say it out loud because parenting is a life-long vocation and as such no parent would pass out blank cheques to their children, who might very well cash them at inopportune moments. Maybe it’s a South Asian thing. There is affection. It is shown. A pat on the back. A word of encouragement. All this is there. Still it is rare for parents to go overboard with praise. That they do in private. To other people. Not to the child.

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Health effects of cigarette smoking:

Killing the fire

Use of tobacco is the chief preventable cause of deaths worldwide. The culminative number of deaths due to the use of tobacco for the 20th Century was 100 million. Of the 1.1 billion current smokers in the world 70 percent are in developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes four million deaths per year to tobacco, this is about one in 10 of all adult deaths. By 2020 annual deaths due to smoking is projected to rise to 8.4 million per year, 70 percent of these deaths will be in the developing world. Half a billion of the world’s population alive today will be killed by a smoking related disease, half of them will be between 35-69 years.

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