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Tuesday, 3 April 2012






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Security Forces in development effort

Our lead story of page one yesterday was on one of those positive developments in post-war Sri Lanka which should be brought into sharp focus as a news report which elevates the observer and encourages the citizenry into believing in the potential possessed by this country for national rejuvenation and self-sustained growth. As reported, the Security Forces of this country are contributing tremendously to the common weal by involving themselves in the development effort. In fact, their solid contribution is reportedly running into the billions.

This is one of those post-war success stories that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would have been having in mind when he told the country’s media recently that they need to also focus on the good and the beautiful around them. It is now common knowledge that the Security Forces play a key role in the development drive in particularly the North and the East. Infrastructure development, for instance, is almost entirely in the hands of the Forces. As the Auditor General’s report for 2011 points out, the involvement of the Forces in the development drive has enabled the country to save a stupendous amount of money which would otherwise have been disbursed among private business interests here and abroad.

Incidentally, the Forces are also involved in the beautification of the metropolis and other urban centres and here too we see the ample potential of these personnel in activities which are highly constructive, creative and productive. Our Security Forces, of course, did remarkably well on the battle field in their confrontation with the LTTE, but to get these vast human resources to contribute towards the development drive is an act of great foresight and all credit needs to go to the governmental authorities for such timely action.

These are facets of the armed forces which need to be constantly dwelt on because Sri Lanka’s Security Forces and Police have proved to be increasingly professional in the discharge of their functions over the years. Generally speaking, they have steered clear of politics and to that extent they could be said to have helped in upholding Sri Lanka’s democratic way of life. Not very many countries in South and South-east Asia, for instance, could boast of having a defense establishment which has not been politically-inclined.

Moreover, Sri Lanka’s armed forces have steadily built close and friendly rapport with the country’s civilian population. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The high water mark in this happy trend came, of course, at the height of the humanitarian operation in mid-2009 in the North when tens of thousands of civilians were saved from the savage jaws of the Tigers, who were using them as a human shield. The Security Forces not only rescued them from certain destruction but gave them ample shelter and other essential comforts. These moments also marked the apogee of the Security Forces’ professionalism.

So, our armed forces are a great boon and not a bane. It is important that Sri Lanka’s critics are made to understand this. They may bay for the head of this or that member of the Forces, but the truth is that the Security Forces are today discharging their duties in accordance with the highest professional standards. This must be clearly understood.

One cannot expect the LTTE rump and their supporters to disabuse their minds of the misconceptions they have formed of the Forces and to rid themselves of the hatred with which they have come to regard our security personnel. But Western governments are a different matter. The positive national role played by the armed forces should be impressed on the West and ready proof of this fact should be forwarded to them. The Forces are steady with the task of national reconciliation and this should be borne in mind by all.

Thus, the Security Forces are playing a significant role in the humanization of those areas of the country which witnessed the conflict. The ideal is to have Officers who are also Gentlemen and Sri Lanka is making progress in this direction.

Commitment as a key to national success

I thank the MBA Alumni Association of the University of Colombo for having invited me to be the Chief Guest at this Management Conference. The theme chosen for this year’s conference, 'Beyond Traditional Boundaries' is a very appropriate one. Sri Lanka is now one of the most peaceful and stable nations in the Asian region. All of us are stakeholders in this country’s future, and we have an opportunity to build on the foundation of peace to take Sri Lanka to the next level.

Full Story

Economist with a social conscience

This week reminiscences features Professor W. D. Lakshman, an internationally renowned economist and a highly respected university teacher. The former Vice Chancellor of the Colombo University, Professor W. D. Lakshman is surprisingly unassuming yet self assured and self confident. “I was born in a village in the Southern Province called Mihiripenna, about eight or nine Kilometres from the Galle - Matara highway line. I had my early education up to Grade Five in the village school. My father W. D. P. de Silva was a small businessman and my mother, Nonahami Kumarasinghe, was a housewife. I had one younger brother and two older sisters. After Grade Five I went to Vidyaloka College. It was a small school at the time, and I enjoyed life there with a small number of students,” said Professor Lakshman.

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Role of youth leadership in reconciliation

I work through a multi-talented diverse network I have build myself ever since schooling at St Bridget's Convent, Colombo which kept growing as I attended several universities and then worked as a Conflict Transformer across continents. The experience of having worked in the humanitarian field since 2003, seeing the volatile ground reality, change of attitudes among the victims and offenders during and post conflict, I believe broadened my understanding and sensitize me towards the deeper needs of the beneficiaries.

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Unforgettable personalities - Comrade Colvin

In 1940, Colvin along with the other LSSP activists were thrown behind the bars. They succeeded in breaking free from their incarceration at Bogambara prison and fled to India where they lived incognito for a considerable period of time. Their freedom was short lived; the Police swooped on them and they found themselves back on Sri Lankan soil, behind the bars. Colvin did not idle while in incarceration. He came up with a fine book titled 'Brithanya Palanayata Yatahwu Lankawa' (Ceylon under British Rule). Colvin continued his relationship with Bolshevik, Leninist party - in India and extended his fullest co-operation to the strike launched by the Madras Worker's Union at the Buckingham and Carnatic Factory.

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