Vesak comes and Vesak goes Infusing serenity in our minds, Reminding one and all Lord Buddhas noble preaching Of nonviolence and loving kindness. Metta, Muditha, Karuna, Upeksha- The pivots of guidance for humanity; To shun evil, lust and vice in ones life, Cultivate love and care to achieve purity of mind. But has the Masters message reached home? A pertinent query as Dhammadeepa is bloodstained- The blood of innocent civilians tortured, murdered, To satiate revenge, greed for power and border. To temple converge the milling crowd - The devotees clad in snow-white garb With baskets of Na-mal, Orchid, Jasmine, Nelum, Exuding the fragrance of peace - The balm of life that has been elusive; Let the devotees with their faces wreathed in smile Invoke the blessing of the revered Master For the olive branch to flourish In the land of terror-torn Lanka; And may the Triple Gem - Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha Be the beacon light to the path of peace and harmony, Among all the ethnic groups in the isle.
It is a well known medical fact that if cancer cells develop in a human body they have to be totally eradicated if the body is to be saved. These cells are normal cells which have suddenly developed destructive tendencies and they set out on a rampage to destroy the entire body.
This medical syndrome has its implications in the body politic as well. Many countries in the world today are in the throes of minority uprisings. Many of these are based on narrow selfish and egoistical motives although they are often couched in very patriotic and highfalutin terms. These movements are always advanced by causing immense destruction to life and property and by ruthlessly manipulating hapless people in order to regain, establish and retain their objectives.
Sri Lanka is no exception. The present turbulent impasse is entirely due to the selfish insensitive political processes that were and are being pursued by most of the politicians of the past and present. This has spawned uprisings of various shades and dimensions. Then expecting politicians to evolve acceptable solutions for such problems is reminiscent of the Sinhala saying, going to the thiefs own mother to get a light reading about the robbery.
Some of the basic problems besetting all the people today are (i) the burdensome cost of living, (ii) the lack of rapport between the people and the politicians, (iii) the corrupt, lethargic, wasteful politico - executive administrative system, (iv) the political support and patronage to favoured groups and sycophants, (v) the blatantly manipulated police force, etcetera. Any constitutional reform which does not attempt to rectify these stated problems will never be acceptable to the people or even ensure peace.
A careful analysis of the modus operandi earlier adopted by the JVP and presently used by the LTTE show striking resemblances. Mass assassination of those not sympathetic to the movement, suppression by repressive methods of hapless peoples, pillage and destruction of public property, use of arms and ammunition etc.
The subsequent point of departure between the JVP and LTTE was that the LTTE had the added dimension of access to foreign aid and support. The JVP started its ambitious claims to cover the entire island. The LTTE was more circumspect and used the language issue to carve out a linguistic area for itself. There was no ethnic conflict then since many different ethnic groups came within this area. But with subsequent developments, it is now veering out into an ethnic conflict as well. Such is political intransigence.
The government is straining to present the Package which is nothing more than adding a few more embellishments to the existing Provincial Council system.
The present Devolution Package will certainly be an exercise of futility. It is ludicrous to expect the LTTE to lay down their arms, when the government cannot even get its own politicians to hand over their weapons. Consequently if the Northern Sector is handed over as a separate council it will be a very fertile area for the LTTE to return with all their arms and take complete control including the local police force and set the stage for a perfect Eelam State.
But, if the government communiques are anything to go by, then it is apparent that hordes of oppressed Tamil civilians are streaking in to government-controlled areas. It is thus manifest that these poor people are certainly not impressed by the Eelam elysium offered by the LTTE or by any of the other Tamil political parties flaunting an E in their party names. Thus providing for separate enclaves to the minorities is almost analogous to the attempt of setting up ladders to leaping monkeys, and thus sacrificing the innocent peoples.
It is well known that Kandys beauty and picturesque setting derives mainly from the lovely Kandy Lake. Visitors to Kandy are enchanted by its scenic setting and its blue water. Many foreign visitors to Kandy enjoy its beauty with the Sri Dalada Maligawa and the lush green flora at Udawattekele and spend their long afternoons enjoying the grandeur of the Kandy Lake.
It is however regrettable that in the recent past the negligence and indifference by the Municipal Council to maintain its beauty and its environs has been of much concern to the people of Kandy. Recently, during the period when the Municipal Council and its Mayor were no more on account of the local government elections, the beautiful park at the end of the Kandy Lake towards Ampitiya was given for a carnival and the result was that many wastepaper bags and bottles and even conservancy buckets had been thrown into the lake causing pollution. This park had never been given to run carnivals in the past.
There is also pollution caused by washing vehicles, with oil and crude material at the mouth of the Rajapihilla. This spout is the main supply of water to the Kandy Lake. It is the responsibility of the Municipal Council to maintain the spout, the roads and the natural flow of water. This lake and the Rajapihilla spout are so famous the island over, and its pollution is a serious matter for the environmental authorities. All these acts of misuse of the road and the spout should be stopped and Kandys picturesque lake must be saved from pollution.
The President appointed a committee in January 1996 to investigate and make appropriate recommendations on socio-cultural problems in the plantation community with special focus on youth with one of her Additional Secretaries as a Co-ordinator, a Professor of Sociology, a Chief Executive of an International NGO and an Additional Secretary who hails from the plantation community as members of the committee.
Initially this committee was expected to complete the task within three months and later it was extended by another six months. It is understood that several interested organisations such as Trade Unions, NGOs and other individuals made oral and written submissions. Also it is understood that the final report has been submitted to the President somewhere in August 1996. But although eight months have passed no announcement has been made regarding the contents or recommendations of the report. One therefore is not aware of the status of this report.
The appointment of the committee is a historical one in the sense that for the first time it flags that the government has recognised the problems of the plantation community. Hence it was welcomed by all concerned parties as it was a genuine effort on the part of the government. Also it can be seen as gratitude on the part of the government towards the plantation community for having supported the President in the 1995 elections. However this long silence on the part of the government in dealing with the report makes the concerned people doubt the governments real intention.
Following the UNPs victory at the recent local government elections in the plantation districts, the Leader of the Opposition has announced in the May Day rally held in Hatton that he had appointed a committee to look into the problems of the plantation community. Details of such a committee are not known yet. The announcement also can be treated to show the gratitude of the UNP towards the plantation community.
The results of the recently held local government elections were definitely a protest vote against the government for not taking any significant steps to redress the suffering of the plantation people. Non-action on the report of the committee-in-question is also one such instance. Will the government therefore make the contents of the report public in the name of transparency and show the world that it is genuinely interested in solving the problems of the plantation community? This will instill confidence in the plantation community and enable it to regain its hold in the plantations.
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