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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

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Welcome call

The call made by chief incumbent of the Gangaramaya Temple the Ven Galaboda Gnanissara Thera to Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe to support President Mahinda Rajapaksa to rebuild and develop the country is a timely one. There can be no better time than this for some sober thinking on the part of our political leaders based on the need to take the country forward after decades of turmoil and turbulence that debilitated the country’s economy and ruined its development prospects.

Although the Ven Thera did not expressly state the point this cooperation should be reciprocated by the Government if it is to be sustained. One only recalls that during the Kumaratunga administration how similar cooperation was pledged only to be soon undermined by utterances and actions on the part of both sides. Even the tsunami disaster was not large enough to sustain such cooperation.

Therefore while welcoming Opposition support and cooperation it is also incumbent on the part of the Government to reciprocate such a gesture in a genuine way. No room should be made by Government politicians to belittle such cooperation by loose talk as happened in the past. Ditto for the media who should also act with responsibility and not rock the boat but instead foster and nurture such unity efforts.

Speaking at a ceremony attended by both President Rajapaksa and the Opposition Leader at the Gangaramaya on Sunday morning the podihamuduruwo told the latter to support the President’s efforts to develop the country for at least one year. Coming as it does from Ven Gnanissara Thera who is well connected to the Wickremesinghe family the call cannot be but a genuine one with the interest of the country at heart. One hopes that the UNP leader would pay heed to this call and extend his support to the President to take the country towards economic stability.

It has been the norm in democracies that the Opposition cooperate with the incumbent Government at a time of crisis or in the national interest. This happened in Britain during World War II, a move which received the endorsement of the entire British polity. Back at home during the 1971 insurgency then Opposition Leader J R Jayewardene extended his support to Premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike to crush the uprising to protect democracy.

While it could be argued that no such crisis of these proportions exits now in Sri Lanka with the vanquishing of terrorism, there is nevertheless no gainsaying the need to win the economic war which is as important as winning the war against terrorism. It is in this context that the appeal made by the prelate to Wickremesinghe bears relevance. For the country to develop unhindered in this post war phase of its history there is a need for not only peace and stability but also cooperation from all quarters who may be in positions to extend such cooperation unconditionally.

In this respect the UNP which had ruled the country for nearly three decades collectively in its post independence history and who are generally considered good administrators could contribute valuable inputs that would redound to the benefit of the country’s progress. What is more, such cooperation would certainly percolate down to the rank and file and grassroots levels of the party making it that much easier to implement the action plans of the Government.

But the biggest plus factor of this unity effort will no doubt be its effect in dispelling the rancorous and contentions political culture that has taken a firm grip of the national polity and has been the bugbear of development and progress. We say this because it has been the practice in the past for one party to destroy or discontinue the work started by its rival when it comes to power after an election and the other to follow suit when its turn arrived thus continuing the vicious cycle putting paid to any serious development getting started.

As a result we have been languishing at square one due to the acrimonious political culture that had been nurtured over the years. This has to stop and it is hoped that this clarion call by a venerable monk who wields much clout and has the ear of both the Government and Opposition quarters would put an end to this rancorous uncooperative political culture, so that all segments shedding their parochial interests would rally together to see through this development phase that would take the country to be the Wonder of Asia.

This is not to say that we should have a moratorium on Opposition politics. It needs no elaboration that the role of the Opposition is vital in a mature vibrant democracy to ensure checks and balances and keep governments in check of any excesses. What is suggested is while constructive criticism is offered the Opposition acts in a responsible fashion not to hinder the path of the Government in its genuine bid to develop and take the country forward.

Thwarting LTTE’s designs in Europe

In May 2009 having decisively defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the terrorist organization which for 30 long years held the country at gun point, the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) has re-settled 90 percent of the nearly 300,000 persons displaced due to the conflict, rehabilitated and re-integrated into society almost 70 percent of the 11,696 ex-combatants who surrendered/were arrested including all 594 child combatants and has facilitated restoration of houses and livelihoods to most of those resettled, while ensuring education to all, including ex-combatants who continue to remain in custody.

Full Story

Dimensions of discipline and ways of punishing

In 1978, the first time Ranjan Madugalle captained Royal at the Big Match, a sporting declaration by him responded to by positive batting by the Thomians almost cost Royal the match. If I remember right, S. Thomas’ had to score 44 in 8 overs with 4 wickets in hand (a piece of cake these days) but settled for a draw. This year, another sporty declaration by Royal was responded to as positively by the Thomians. The umpires, unfortunately decided the light was too weak.

Full Story

Philip Gunawardene - 39th death anniversary:

A man of the people

Philip had his early education at Prince of Wales’ College Moratuwa and Ananda College Colombo under P De S Kularatne. Even as a student, he involved himself in the political struggle by becoming a member of the ‘Young Lanka League’ founded in 1920 by Victor Corea and A H Gunasinghe. Leaving school he had a short spell at the University College, Colombo and then left to America to continue his University career, whereas most young men at this time were going to Britain.

Full Story

 

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