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Sunday, 23 January 2011

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Be wary of Opposition bait

It was a historic and memorable occasion when President Mahinda Rajapaksa participated in the Thai Pongal national ceremony at the Duraiappa Stadium in Jaffna last Monday, 20 months after the Security Forces liberated the country from the clutches of the LTTE under his inspiring political leadership.

The Government's prime objective was to unite Sri Lanka under the Lion Flag as one nation, abandoning divisions for petty political objectives.

As President Rajapaksa has said, it is the duty and responsibility of all politicians to unite as a single force devoid of party politics for the development of the country and its nation.

It behoves everyone of us to love the nation as well as its culture and heritage. If we are to develop as a nation maintaining our own identity, it is important to safeguard the indigenous culture. To achieve that end, all politicians must work together, sinking petty ethnic and religious affiliations. They should not exploit ethnic and religious affiliations for petty political gains. The President is determined to end that era of segregation based on petty politics.

Despite baseless claims by the Opposition, the Government has proved its sincerity by providing the lion's share of development funds to the Northern and Eastern Provinces. This was purely because of the President's solicitude for those innocent civilians who had been subjected to untold hardships during the LTTE's reign of terror. Now that these civilians have been liberated from LTTE terror, the President is keen to offer them a brighter future with better infrastructure facilities so that they too could become stakeholders of Sri Lanka's success story in becoming the Wonder of Asia.

Simultaneously, the Government has cleansed the underworld, thereby maintaining law and order to build a peaceful society. The Government has time and again stressed that it would never allow criminal and underworld elements to raise their ugly heads again, irrespective of whether they are from the South or the North. The Security Forces and the police have been directed to take stern action against all forms of terror.

It was indeed heartening to witness several Government and Opposition politicians from the North, along with religious dignitaries of all faiths, on a common platform at the national Thai Pongal celebrations.

This should not be confined to just one occasion, but instead it should be made a practice as it would help to fortify ethnic harmony. They should work in unison on behalf of the people in the North and the East who had suffered for almost three decades due to the ruthless terrorism unleashed by Veluppillai Prabhakaran and his gang of terrorists. The strong bonds of unity among the communities and politicians will be a distinct advantage to build a united and developed nation.

Opposition politicians should desist from sowing the seeds of racial and religious discord to gain petty political mileage and look for shortcuts to regain power. We may have our own political ideology, ethnic identity and religious beliefs but these should not deter us when it comes to our country and the nation.

It was deplorable to witness certain Opposition politicians making a big issue over the national anthem in an attempt to gain political advantage.

It's a crying shame that they fail to see the damage that they are doing to destroy the harmony and solidarity that exist among the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims.

They must take the cue from India. Despite being the world's second most populous country, India has various ethnic groups, religions and faiths.

Nevertheless, when it comes to their country and the nation, the Indians outshine others in respecting their national flag and anthem. Shouldn't we take a lesson from our closest neighbour on ethnic harmony?

President Rajapaksa has won the hearts and minds of people across the length and breadth of the country, not only among the Sinhalese and Tamils, but also among the Muslims. He could read the pulse of all communities and is acutely aware of the problems faced by the Tamil-speaking people.

The Government has taken all measures to ensure an undivided nation for future generations, and the forward march of the country, which was set back by nearly three decades, has already begun. Although all previous regimes did precious little to solve the problems of the Tamils, the President went that extra mile for the well-being of the Tamils and the Muslims. As the President has already declared, there will be no ethnic groups such as majority and minority, but only two groups of people - those who are patriotic and love the country and those who don't.

Now that the Government has paved the way for a peaceful environment, it is incumbent on all of us to work indefatigably and develop the country.

People should not fall into the snares laid by opportunist Opposition politicians who resort to cheap slogans to disrupt normal life and harm the country's stability.

Certain Opposition politicians and a handful of Tamil leaders are attempting to mislead the public, alleging that a crime wave has emerged in the Jaffna peninsula. But this is furthest from the truth. Robberies and criminal activities are not confined to Jaffna. In most of the so-called big countries, which pontificate to us on democracy and human rights, these aberrations are even worse.

The Government has launched an all out drive to demolish the underworld, just as much as the Security Forces vanquished the LTTE leaders. Since the Government has intensified such operations, there are more reports in the media and one could get a wrong picture that the underworld has exacerbated. The Government is taking steps to further reduce the crime rate. It is gratifying to note that Colombo has recorded a low crime rate, compared to most other major cities in the world.

People should not be swayed by various Opposition gimmicks for their tendentious political agendas. People should not swallow the bait of Opposition politicians. They must think in broader terms with a vision to develop the country to ensure the future of the younger generation.

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