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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

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Heartening manifestation of concern

The tens of thousands of persons turning out for Sri Lanka, both here and abroad, in its hour of need, testify to the profound concern and love in their hearts for their motherland. These are rarely seen manifestations of collective solidarity. They may even be historic in nature. To be sure, these are not crude displays of narrow chauvinism but are the proof that the people of this country are moved by deep and abiding concern for their country.

This concern does not merely cut across region and community, but transcends religion and culture too. The best proof of this was the Adhistana Pooja of Monday evening in the heart of Colombo which was amply attended by the clergy of all local religions. Therefore, what we see here is a sweeping collective heart-cry of concern for Sri Lanka and the supporters of the cause seem to be swelling both locally and globally. Accordingly, the resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC has had the rather paradoxical effect of bringing the best out of Sri Lanka, although the resolution should be fought tooth and nail and defeated.

This momentous hour in the life of Sri Lanka needs to be handled most judiciously by both the rulers and the ruled of this country. What is of crucial significance is that the people of this country are rising as one man to decry an injustice that is being committed against it. This feeling of togetherness among Lankans should be made the basis of a renewed attempt at initiating a nation-building process. Such a process, correctly understood, has been lacking in this country from the time of political independence and it would be in order for policy and decision-makers to utilize the current wave of support for the country to forge a sense of profound solidarity and togetherness among Lankans, for, this is what nation-building is all about.

To be sure, this country has never been lacking in patriotism and patriots but it is open to question whether we have had here national solidarity in the manner in which it is being manifested today. That is, a coming together of almost all sections of our citizenry as one man, irrespective of man-made barriers. What is remarkable about the present moment is that Sri Lanka is not being seen as the exclusive preserve of this or that community or culture but as belonging to the totality of the citizenry.

Therefore, this moment should be seized. The foundation should be laid for a nation-building process and what this involves should be correctly understood. What is understood here as nation-building is not the generation of what may be referred to as 'bellicose patriotism.' Of course, Sri Lankans should rise collectively in defense of their country but this fervour should not be allowed to degenerate into a species of xenophobia, which could imply an implacable resentment of all persons and groups of Western origin in particular.

If at all the West is being opposed, it is purely on political and public issues and nothing further. This opposition should not be permitted to degenerate into the inhumane treatment of persons and groups of non-Sri Lankan origin. In short, Sri Lankans should retain their humanity, whatever the challenges facing them.

Therefore, the present opportunity should be seized to build, strengthen and sustain bridges of amity and unity among our communities and social groups. The idea needs to be conveyed in the process of doing this that the land of Sri Lanka belongs to all its communities, who would be equal partners in its present and future progress.

These points merit mentioning and reiteration because misconceptions have been numerous about issues concerning citizenship and the like. It is not this or that group which constitutes the 'true sons of the soil' but the totality of Sri Lanka's communities. At present when Sri Lankans in their tens of thousands are standing up for their country, it needs to be emphasized that the bonds of unity among our communities must be consolidated as never before.

National policy and thinking to the fore - Part II:

Accountability not alien to local cultural values

President Mahinda Rajapaksa inaugurated that and he asked me to address that conference which was attended by leading Buddhist scholars from all over the world. I used that occasion to present to that learned audience the philosophy of accountability to be extracted from the Buddhist scriptures. The Sigalowada Suthraya, the Dammapadha the Parividdana Suthraya - all of this. And I spoke in the presence of some of the learned monks not only in this country but in Nepal, in Thailand, in Myanmar in Cambodia and other parts of Asia. So there is a certain ideology, certain conceptual underpinnings of accountability in this country and accountability is by no means an omission in the contents of the LLRC report.

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Better be late than sorry...

The Human Dimension

The unfortunate death of a young man severed in two by the train he fell under, highlights the maddening rush everybody is in to get to where they are going. In his case, the steps of the carriage gave way and he fell. In the case of many others, rushing to board a train or a bus, it seems a minute would make a difference. Between life and death.

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Channel 4 - a review

The major error they make is saying that government forces drove the LTTE Tigers and hundreds of thousands of civilians into an ever-smaller area. That isn't true. The LTTE herded those people at gunpoint, and they used these people as a human shield to avert general threat in front of them. The strategy was to provoke international response based on sympathy and terror to preserve a terrorist group. This is the strategy that Channel 4 has unwittingly become a part of. Even dead, Prabhakaran is playing.

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The priorities of the present

The United States Assistant Secretary of State for Asia Robert O Blake and a high ranking United States official Maria Ottero came to Sri Lanka, that means they came to our doorstep. After discussions with high ranking officials they once again told the same thing what Hillary Clinton had said.

 

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