principles into principals
Though the principle of natural justice "the presumption of
innocence'' remains, the Government's action in interdicting two
national school principals pending an inquiry into their conduct
in school admissions, is for all intents and purposes one to be
used to be the exception, but racketeering and fraud in admitting
children to the bigger schools is now routine.
Ministers past and present have been hassled unremorsefully by this
admissions issue, and tackling the problem has invariably become
the story of their lives. The UNP's current leader was an Education
Minister once and he knows only too well the booby traps and minefields
in the admissions game. Why the former Deputy Minister of Finance,
an educationist himself from his party should raise a shindig and
condemn whatever moves are afoot to root out this corruption is
therefore moot. Its political pettiness at its worst.
the decorated Bribery and Corruption Commission has not been able
to snare any national school principal involved in the commission
of acts related to what is (by far now) the best known secret in
the field of education - that bribery and corruption are lubricants
that oil the wheels of the admissions machine. The Commission, however,
trapped a small mouse as a way of justifying its existence. A principal
of a school in the greater Colombo area was charged with accepting
a tea-set as gratification for favours granted. She eventually secured
an acquittal from court anyhow.
Sunday Times has clear proof of corruption against at least one
of the national school principals interdicted by the government
this week, while another principal defines new heights in unmitigated
gall by claiming -- with a straight-face -- that only 16 admissions,
more than 10 per cent, have been improper at his school this year!
admissions are wrong, not only because they trip up the system,
but because they also signify a thoroughly unfair disadvantage towards
and Corruption in general, meanwhile, is over the top. Hats off,
to this Administration for at least attempting to reverse what has
almost become an irreversible trend in this country in tackling
the corruption ridden schools admissions morass.
China with love
The Chinese Prime Minister is on a whistle-stop tour of
Sri Lanka. We owe China an enormous debt of gratitude. That country
may have had any number of hidden agendas to be Sri Lanka's friend,
and critics say China wants as many friendly nations as possible
strung around the borders of its long-time enemy India.
that doesn't gainsay the fact that China has been a steadfast ally
ever since the Sino-Sri Lanka rice pact in 1952, maintaining its
comradeship all the way to the construction of the BMICH in 1976
right through to the solid support offered to a besieged nation
fighting a nasty separatist war.
support, both in terms of military hardware and in soft-loan terms
plus its support in the diplomatic arena, has been sans strings
that are the core ingredient of Western donated aid, which turn
roundly on the principle of quid pro quo. Usually, this aid is tied
to a double standard where "negotiated settlements", or
"kick-starting peace processes'' are made conditionalities,
all of which sounds very rich coming from countries which advocate
gung-ho military superiority to fight terrorism in their parts of
by contrast has asked for one thing only in return - something very
dear to their national psyche - that Sri Lanka does not recognise
what they refer to as the breakaway province of Taiwan. But, there
is one other subtle message Beijing has sent us, which Sri Lanka,
scratching the bottom of the barrel and grovelling for aid as usual
has to accept - which is that we do not recognise or have any truck
with the Dalai Lama of Tibet.
have said this before, and let it be said again, that the Dalai
Lama is probably the foremost Buddhist leader of the world today.
He is also a symbol for Buddhism worldwide, arguably, someone in
the league of a pope in terms of his global acceptance in religious
Dalai Lama has expressed one wish, which is to worship at the Temple
of the Tooth in Kandy - but we haven't relented in refusing him
that visa - because of fear of offending China.
don't want to hurt a friend, and the issue was probably not even
on the agenda for the visiting Prime Minster, but a diplomatic nod
of approval from Beijing on this score, would strategically cement
this solid relationship between our two countries all the more.
Notwithstanding the Tibetan blip, however, it is only right that
Sri Lanka and her people thank successive Chinese Governments unreservedly
for their solidarity with this country over the decades.