Positive sign of the times
Nominations for the forthcoming elections to the Eastern
Provincial Council closed last Thursday with 1,342 candidates from 19
political parties and a record 56 independent groups contesting the 37
seats from the Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara districts.
The Government’s effort in restoring democracy in the East is
commendable and we fervently wish it would be the same in the North as
well before long. Even the political parties which boycotted the recent
Local Government elections in the Batticaloa District are also
contesting the Provincial Council elections.
The United National Party (UNP), the main opposition, shunned the
Batticaloa LG polls alleging that there wasn’t a conducive atmosphere
for a free and fair election. To justify their controversial decision,
fearing that it would have been their 17th successive defeat, the UNP
said the TMVP, under Pillayan, would pose a threat.
But eventually, the UNP ate humble pie as the Government conducted
the Batticaloa LG elections in an exemplary manner. Even the main
election watchdog - PAFEREL, too declared it was free and fair without
any notable incidents.
On the other hand, it was indeed a commendable effort to bring a
group of ex-terrorists into the democratic mainstream. The TMVP was
formed by a group of ex-LTTE cadres led by Karuna Amman and its deputy
leader Pillayan now wants to enjoy true democracy.
These people who earlier believed in the bullet now have faith on the
ballot. Isn’t this a great victory for democracy in the country? Sri
Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauff Hakeem said that his aim in
contesting the Eastern PC, was to restore democracy.
Is there any need for Hakeem or any other candidate/political party
do so as the Government has already done so? Hakeem, together with
Basheer Segu Dawood and Hassan Ali resigned from their Parliamentary
seats to contest the PC polls. Their decision has vindicated the
This is a clear indication that the liberation of the East is now
working in the direction the Government anticipated and democracy has
dawned in the East.It is due to this that Hakeem and his other two
fellow SLMC Parliamentarians resigned from their posts to contest the PC
In doing so, the three SLMC stalwarts have confirmed that the
Provincial Councils have the real regional administration powers. For
them, it seems that being a member of the Provincial Council is more
powerful than a Parliamentarian.
This is a positive sign and these leaders are confident of what the
Government is doing to bring about peace and stability in the country
under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Those who downplayed the liberation of the East from the clutches of
LTTE terrorism and Velupillai Prabhakaran’s barbaric rule are now
assured that democracy is taking root in the East.
But it’s unfortunate that Hakeem has ignored the aspirations of the
late SLMC founder A.H.M. Ashraff. Hakeem, who represents the Kandy
District, seems to have disregarded the Muslim community in the East. If
not, he wouldn’t have abandoned the tree symbol and agreed to contest
under the UNP ticket.
Having lost 16 successive elections, including two Presidential
Elections, under the tottering leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe, the
UNP is now desperate to taste success through Hakeem.
The UNP’s decision to contest the Eastern PC election is an
encouraging sign for democracy. But at the same time, the Opposition
Leader had to swallow his own words. The same Wickremesinghe compared
the Eastern Thoppigala to a thick jungle when our brave Security Forces
The UNP did not see anything significant in the Government’s effort
to liberate Thoppigala, Sampur, Vakarai, Mavil Aru and the entire
When President Rajapaksa took office in November, 2005, barely anyone
believed that the East could be liberated. However, those great
humanitarian operations in Mavil Aru helped to destroy the Tiger power.
Many were in the belief that the Government merely wanted to liberate
the area and gain political advantage. But this was the furthest from
President Rajapaksa wanted to develop those areas and restore
democracy as quickly as possible. The resettlement process in the East
took place at a rapid phase and it even impressed many international
The Government allocated two billion rupees to develop infrastructure
and de-mining operations in the East. Already, 5,000 trained persons
have been deployed in the process of de-mining under the supervision of
the Sri Lanka Army.
Several human resource development projects have also been launched
in the province and 800 persons, including women were trained last year
in masonry, carpentry and other areas under a skills development
Innocent civilians in the East yearned for peace and the Government
delivered more than their expectations. Apart from the thousands of
houses built in the resettlement process, the Government, under the
Eastern Reawakening program, also developed the road network, bridges
and other facilities.
In the final phase, the Government wants to restore democracy in the
East and hand over the provincial administration to the people in the
area. The dream of the innocent civilians in Wanni and Mullaitivu is no
Before long, the Government would fulfil their aspirations.