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Monday, 10 September 2012

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Government Gazette

A ringing re-endorsement

The triumph of the ruling UPFA in the three Provincial Council polls held over the weekend could be seen as a ringing re-endorsement of the governing coalition by the masses. The results are added evidence that the people of this country do not see an alternative to the UPFA on the issue of governance.

It goes without saying that this triumph is also a re-statement of public confidence in President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is the driving force behind the ruling coalition and is its most influential guide. As should be known, the President traveled the length and breadth of this country in the run-up to the polls, and there is no doubt that his caring presence in the provinces helped to enhance the electoral fortunes of the UPFA.

Special mention needs to be made of the Eastern Provincial Council poll, where a close tussle was expected among the main contestants, but where the UPFA emerged a clear winner. As was right along known, there were political forces which were seeking to extract political gains in the province by harping on ethnic and religious issues, but the triumph of the UPFA is proof that these tactics have not paid any dividends for these opportunists.

Clearly, those who were seeking to engage in divisive politics in the East, have been given a sound rebuff by the Eastern voter. The latter would prefer to go along with the UPFA which has in its fold a number of political parties which are representative of the legitimate interests of our numerous communities and religions.

The average voter would prefer the UPFA, which represents the totality of interests of our social groups rather than go along with those parties which are dangerously persisting with the divisive agendas of the past.

These achievements of the UPFA should not be a cause for complacency on the alliance’s part. A duty is now cast on it to deliver on its repeated promises. Principal among these pledges is the Parliamentary Select Committee proposal which must be gone ahead with and a comprehensive solution found to the issues facing our communities. What the average voter is asking for is not anything on the lines of which political formations, such as, the TNA have been clamouring for over the years.

Apparently, separate states and ‘homelands’ are not of any importance, currently, for the average voter of the East, in these times of post-conflict resolution and rejuvenation. They would prefer to go ahead with the development process and it is the state which plays a prime role in the development thrust. Hence, the ‘thumbs-up’ for the UPFA at Saturday’s poll.

This strong trust the government would do well not to betray. Instead, the state should go right ahead and deliver all that it has promised to the voter. Needless to say, a durable solution to the conflict is prime among these lingering needs.

As seen by the results, it has been rather smooth sailing for the UPFA in the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provinces, but in the case of these regions too, there should not be any complacency and smug satisfaction. It must be remembered that the President toured these provinces and he had occasion to draw the attention of the provincial and local government authorities to the numerous developmental bottlenecks at ‘ground level.’

Provincial elections, ideally, ought to be about provincial development. There is apparently general satisfaction with the way UPFA administrations have been handling development in the provinces but nothing could be taken for granted.

The problems at the local level highlighted by the President, if and when resolved, could result in accelerated development and this thrust needs to be aimed at by the new provincial administrations.

Inevitably, confidence in the central government comes to be reflected in the triumphs scored by the ruling party at the provincial and local levels. Evidently, there is wide acceptance for the center’s policies and programmes and common welfare has been a central element in the latter. Hopefully, empowerment at the individual and group levels would continue to be the focus of our development effort.

‘SL has nothing to sweep under carpet’

Hon. Presiding Member, the Hon. R. Sampanthan spoke very emotionally. I would like to make two general observations on the tone and the content of his speech. The first is that it is a mistake to dwell exclusively on the past. Of course, the past is important. The present emerges from the past.

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Global Scan

Afghanistan’s agony, all but forgotten

While the big powers’ primary focus currently seems to be the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vladivostok, Afghanistan and its silent suffering seems to be all but forgotten by those sections of the international community who are usually seen as carrying any weight in international politics. So inconsequential seems to be the agony of Afghanistan that the scores of mainly civilian lives which are regularly snuffed-out in that tumultuous theatre of war are not considered ‘headline material’ any more by those sections of world media which are seen to matter.

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Effective management of public superannuation funds

Public superannuation funds have the potential to benefit from low operating costs because they enjoy economies of scale and avoid large marketing costs. But the important advantages are dissipated by a poor record on investment performance, caused by a weak governance structure, lack of independence from government interference, and a low level of transparency and public accountability.

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Sri Lanka rights Watch

Overcrowding in Prisons: causes, remedies

The ICRC study on overcrowding in prisons is deeply depressing, not only because of the sordid picture it reveals, but also because reform would be so easy, if only there were better coordination. Unfortunately we have now in Sri Lanka built up a system in which coordination is almost impossible, and the information that should stir authorities to change things is rarely systematically collated and effectively presented.

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