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Thursday 17 August 2000




Slmc's politically correct decision
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress decision to contest the forthcoming elections under the PA banner is politically correct. Need of the hour is to support a political and just solution to the ethnic conflict. A formidable alliance of those supports the Constitution Bill is historical necessity. A pro-peace political alliance is essential in view of the fact the UNP has caved into Southern Extremist Preassure. SLMC leaders letter to the UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinhe should be an eye opener to those who have been taken in by UNP hype on their volte-face on backing the new constitution. Bearing couple of issues there was agreement between the PA-UNP on almost all provisions of the new constitution. The PA even agreed amend the transitional provisions relating to the Executive Presidency, which the UNP entertained some observations. The UNP thinking is that it could make some electoral gains by mindlessly opposing the Constitutional Bill.  We call on the UNP to rethink its destructive course of action. There is no getting away from the fact that the solution to the ethnic issue should be a just one and the new constitution promises just that. 





Justice or red herrings?
During the six years of PA government public attention has been diverted from the pledges the government were committed to implement.  The PA started with pledging to expose bribery and corruption during the 18- year UNP rule. The Special Bribery Commission tied itself in knots with one commissioner resigning allegedly for the failure of the government to act on the first report submitted. It is said that the coup de grace came when the commission commenced investigating activities of big wigs of the present government. Staffs attached to the commission were transferred out. Two of the gentlemen chosen for the PA's 'Dooshanaya' bashing were Mr. Ravi Wettasinhe and former UNP Min. Vijepala Mendis.  Mr. Wettasinhe fled the country. Mr. Wijepala Mendis was hurled before a Special Presidential Commission for illegal land transfers. The PA gained much mileage on this issue. The bitter irony is that Mr. Wettasinhe is back in business and Mr. Wijepala Mendis now a prized political asset. Presumably the assumption is that the Sri Lankan public is suffering from acute amnesia. For 'Beeshanaya' (Terror) an outstanding example was former Minister Nada Mathew, he was accused to be responsible for much publicised 'Mass grave' of school children at Sooriyakanda. Now he is a frontbencher of the PA, the PA leadership does not feel that they owe an explanation. There where allegations of conspiracy behind the assassination of President Kumaratunga's husband, no conclusive evidence has been unearthed. The Richard De Soysa killers remain unknown although his mother identified one of those who abducted the journalist. Now the Batalanda issue has surfaced with the appearance of a police officer. A prominent journalist Chandraprema is being questioned. With the dissolution of parliament and elections to be held, there is much political speculation whether there is nexus between the re-surfacing of the Batalanda issue and the elections. 





The right action though belated
It is encouraging to note that even late the UNP is attempting to do the right thing of formulating its own alternative proposals for constitutional reforms. It would have been much better if the UNP had reopened its talks with the government to explore the possibilities of reaching agreement on the few contentious issues that remained agreed upon. However the possibility of this occurring remains very bleak in the present context of the vituperative and destructive election campaign. The stage of conciliatory, constructive and cultures of democratic politics has passed, shattering the nations hope. It is the UNP's bounden duty, as the main opposition hoping to wrest the power at the forthcoming election, to put forward in concrete form its own package. Parties need not bother about formulating their policies because people know well that all their impressive promises and pious intentions incorporated in election manifestos, very rarely find actual implementation. The tasks will not be easy for the UNP because it hopes to please two groups, which have taken up positions diametrically opposite to each other. Would they be able to bring the LTTE and the Maha Sangha to agree on a common policy? The solution to the present problem lies in narrowing this ever-widening gap between extremist groups in the country. The PA government should re examine the draft constitution bill they had wisely presented in parliament. The infamous Batalanda Affair that the government has managed with sensational disclosures through an affidavit submitted by former SSP Douglas Pieris is about to bring out a lot of mud against the UNP. 





Isn't there anyone who looks into the grievances of farmers? 
It was reported that two members of the clergy had joined the fast to death campaign launched by Farmers at Hingurakkgoda along with two aged women and couple of farmers. The demands of the fast are to purchase a kilo of paddy at Rs. 15 a kilo and asking the government to implement an agricultural policy so that the farmer could decide on the selling price. Sri Lankans use rise as their staple food, there are also farmers who cultivate vegetables but problems of both of these types of farmers have been swept under the carpet for a long time. We have heard on several occasions' farmers committing suicide unable to pay their loans. Farmers wouldn't have to fast if all government which promised to usher an era to flourish had implemented their promises. There are politicians on the both side of the divide over the last 50 years who gave enough promises to farmers. Although the government promised Rs. 14 per kg of paddy, businessmen purchase paddy at a rate of Rs. 9 -Rs. 10 per Kg. We have highlighted the need for the government to purchase paddy through SATOSA if the government sets the price. There is no difference in the fate of the vegetable farmer too.  We should not forget that our lives depend on the produce of the farmer. 





Farmers who know the best in farming should be provided with their requirements  
There should be paddy field in a country where the staple diet is rice. There should be farmers too. For their sustainability of the produces should be marketed. If there should be market for local produce, the stores of SATOSA or the stores at the Mahaweli Zones should no be stuffed with foreign rice. The agricultural policy of the nation is in conflict with the economic policy. The government has been watching this situation from the day it was elected. They watched the demise of the potato and the onion farmer. As previous governments the present government has turned a blind eye on the farmers of the country. Now the Farmers fast to death. Formally farmers committed suicide individually but brainless politicians of the area disgraced the deceased saying that it was due to a family matter and not a reason of agriculture.  The present government went on stage promising to make the 'farmer' a 'king'.  Stores are filled with imported rise, government has no provisions to purchase and store paddy at the moment. Businessmen have a field day exploiting the farmers at their own mercy. These farmers' wants to talk to the President there request the government to secure Rs. 15 per kg of paddy, and they want an authority to set the prices for them.  





Progress report of the pa government 
The PA government celebrated its sixth years of existence yesterday. The Parliamentary election to elect the next government is round the corner. This is a good moment to evaluate the progress. People who were fed up of the UNP regime elected PA with lots of joy.  The right to live, which was garbed from the people in 1977, was returned back in 1994 with the electing of the PA government.  In 1977 soon as the UNP was elected it unofficially declared holiday to all police stations for two weeks to attack all its political opponents, destroying life and property. UNP supporters feared that they will also face it, but President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her PA government totally rejected that violent route taken by the UNP. The PA government was not only awarded with the terrorist problem but also a corrupt and unjust economy.  At the time there was no value for humanity. The international community identified the nation as a country, which harmed its minorities. Foundations were laid for a long lasting peace. This impeded the progress of the extremist Tamils and the chauvinist Sinhalese of the South. 



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