Clean campaign
The Presidential race gets off to an official start this week though it may seem the warm-up has been enough to burn out even the most seasoned campaigners.

The two main campaigns seem to be polarising into very distinct positions; one set campaigning on a nationalistic populist platform focusing on the unitary nature of the State, and the other on a development-oriented platform promising a settlement to the country's north-east conflict in response to minority aspirations.

The next few weeks will see how both parties argue their case before the people. We can only hope the contest will be more issue-based and less mud-based.

It is also clear that both contending candidates realise that reliance on their respective vote banks is insufficient to guarantee victory, and that both of them will need to veer to the centre, trying to woo some of each other's votes, which is a good thing in the overall context of this fractured island.
Let's not forget this is a contest for the most important job in the country. And wasted years need to be swiftly caught up.

Sri Lanka has slipped into the unenviable position of being one of the least developing countries in the fast-growing Asian continent. And the exodus from this country to fresher pastures by peoples from all communities and religions, some risking their lives to get out of what they consider a hell-hole, speaks volumes.

But for now, it's the campaign. And as we have said before, the two main contenders are relatively decent politicians. But already, sleazy wheeler-dealers have had a field day lining the pockets of the contending parties. And that is why we say the biggest bribe-takers in this country are the political parties.

But for the moment, let us hope that their campaigns stay clean in keeping with the laws of the land and the right examples are set.

Quo files?
Earlier this week, the MP son of a frontline Sri Lankan politician of not so long made an impassioned plea, if not an angry complaint, about the fate of the investigations into the assassination of his father.

Gamini Dissanayake was the UNP's presidential candidate in 1994 when he and a host of other UNP supporters were killed by a suicide-bomber as he addressed a campaign rally at Thotalanga at the gates of Colombo city.

But 11 years later we have the most astounding revelation - that the files pertaining to this investigation ARE LOST!!! And therefore, that the case is closed. So too, the cases dealing with the many others who died in that bomb blast.

Similar, too is the case into the assassination of the late President R. Premadasa. Twelve years after he was killed, also by a suicide-bomber, the Police, the State prosecutors come up with the sorry story that the investigations into his murder are closed for lack of evidence.

Both incidents took place in front of thousands of people - at political rallies - and the Police say they are unable to conclude the cases. The question that begs an answer is whether they are simply incompetent or whether they were deployed on other duties and hence investigations into the murder of two very senior political leaders in this country went into limbo just like that. Or still, whether someone inside was bribed to have the files stolen.

We know only too well how crucial files get lost in Courts, in the Customs, and now, in the Police. From the public's reaction, there seems to be no big fuss over all this either; Just the sons of the slain leaders making some noise.
Sri Lanka has had its fair share of politically motivated murders and clearly, the Police are unable to handle all of them.

Then, there is the question of the will and motivation to probe. And the difficulty in getting witnesses to come forward and testify. Just a few weeks ago the Colombo Magistrate asked some policemen who said they couldn't identify suspects in the murder of Senior Superintendent of Police Charles Wijewardene, what the public can expect from the Police, when they will not even come forward in defence of one of their colleagues.

These are all the hallmarks of a society just falling apart - and of a system of law and order that has literally gone to the dogs. A Police Service that had just four DIGs at the time of Independence and for some time thereafter, now has 40 plus DIGs - for all manner of subjects - but no one for politically-motivated crime.

In India, when their Prime Minister was assassinated, a three-year painstaking investigation was launched and concluded. The culprits were named and sentenced by a court of law.

In Sri Lanka, the files are lost!
Quo Vadis, Sri Lanka?

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