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Sunday, 29 July 2012

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UPFA makes headway in the East

Sri Lanka's success story in combatting terrorism is worthy of emulation, especially by those countries which are hit by terrorism. Britain and the United States are taking no chances when it comes to security following the 9/11 attack by Al Qaeda. London is under a well-knit security blanket, fearing unexpected terror attacks during the 2012 Olympic Games now in progress.

There was a time when Sri Lanka too could not host any international sports events due to LTTE terror. When Sri Lanka won the 1996 cricket World Cup, countries such as Australia and the West Indies cited security concerns and refused to honour their qualifying round matches being played in Colombo.

Following a suicide attack which killed the then Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Admiral Clancy Fernando near the Galle Face Green in 2001, the New Zealand cricket team, putting up in a nearby five-star hotel, packed their baggage and left, abandoning their Test series after the first match.

Nevertheless, such frightful experiences are now a thing of the past, thanks to the Security Forces crushing the LTTE militarily and liberating the country from the scourge of terrorism. It is indelibly etched in our memory how it all began in Mavil Aru when LTTE terrorists closed an anicut, thus depriving civilians of their basic need of water. It was at this point of time the Government decided to prod the Security Forces into action, thereby vanquishing the terrorists and opening the Mavil Aru anicut.

The 14-day humanitarian operation to liberate Mavil Aru from hardcore terrorists ended on August 8, 2006, providing water to over 15,000 Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim villagers of Kallar, Seru Nuwara, Seruvila, Dehiwattha and Neelapola.

This also helped farmers in the area to irrigate thousands of acres of paddy cultivation which were abandoned due to the closure of the Mavil Aru anicut.

This was the turning point in the East and the world's largest human rescue mission which rescued over half a million people from the jaws of LTTE terror.

Since then, the Security Forces made tremendous headway to destroy Tiger power in Sampur, Thoppigala and Vakarai. Within a few months, the Security Forces liberated the entire Eastern Province and ushered in an environment for people of different ethnicities to live in peace and harmony.

The Government not only liberated the Eastern Province and its people who had been subjected to untold privations, but also restored their democratic rights. Provincial Council elections were held soon after the resettlement was completed. Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, a former LTTE child soldier, gave up arms and entered the democratic process, and succeeded in becoming the new Chief Minister of the Eastern Province.

The economy of the Eastern Province is characterised by its rural setting and close proximity to the sun-kissed beaches. However, the three districts, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara had comparatively unfavourable links with the country's main economic hub Colombo at that time.

After the East was liberated and while the Security Forces were engaged in liberating the North, the Government launched its development drive in the East.

The Eastern Reawakening program gave a new look to the province and the Government developed infrastructure facilities in double quick time. A large volume of funds had been pumped for development activities in the East. Massive bridges were built at strategic points to strengthen its road network and connect villages in Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara districts.

A new lease of life opened for the people in the East and the province now shows a rapid economic growth of 22 percent, compared to around eight percent in the entire country.

Four years after the last election, the Government dissolved the Eastern Provincial Council to feel the pulse of the people.

The Eastern Province economy has shown steady progress with its fishing industry and agriculture having recorded remarkable growth. As a result, more cash is now flowing into the province to strengthen their purchasing power. This has been a godsend for people who had been subjected to untold misery under the LTTE's ruthless terror just five years ago.

The immense sacrifices of the Security Forces in liberating the East have brought about fruitful results as the three communities are now living in peaceful coexistence.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the people in the East would demonstrate their profound gratitude to the Government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. There is no gainsaying the fact that it was the President's political sagacity that transformed the lives of people in the East. A large number of them had been forcibly held as a human shield when LTTE terrorism was at its peak.

Those hapless civilians would perhaps never have dreamt that LTTE terrorism could have been annihilated so swiftly to offer them a new lease of life. Hence, most people in the East would gladly rally round the UPFA at the forthcoming Eastern Provincial Council elections.

Does the TNA, which is also contesting the elections, have any moral right to seek votes of the people in the East, especially Tamils? The TNA turned a blind eye to LTTE terror and did not utter a word in favour of the Tamils who had been at the receiving end under LTTE mayhem.The TNA acted as a mere LTTE proxy and danced the fandango round terrorist leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. The TNA leadership led by R. Sampanthan was remote-controlled by Prabhakaran from the Vanni jungles. Was there a single Tamil leader who spoke in favour of the people in the East, until the province was liberated by the Security Forces under President Rajapaksa's illustrious political leadership?

Hence, the people in the East would definitely endorse the President's political vision and the UPFA. Tamils in the East would undoubtedly reject the TNA in toto as it did precious little for them when it mattered most.

Have the TNA leaders been sincere even to their own community? If they had any feeling for the community they represent, the TNA should have vehemently opposed LTTE terror and alleviated the sufferings of the Tamils under Prabhakaran. Sampanthan and his cohorts were only interested in their political survival.

Although the Security Forces eradicated terrorism, the TNA is still claiming to be the sole representatives of Tamils - the LTTE too did likewise when they held the area forcibly.

The Provincial Council elections would no doubt mark a new political culture and increase the UPFA penetration in the East. People in the East would teach the TNA an unforgettable lesson for the sins they had committed in liaison with Prabhakaran.

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