NPC polls befuddles opportunists
Commissioner of Elections
Mahinda Deshapriya said last week that the elections to the Northern
Provincial Council (NPC) will most probably be held either on September
21 or 28. He said the Government has allocated the funds to conduct the
The Commissioner said that the Registration of Electors Act No 44 of
1980 was amended to provide an opportunity to those displaced due to
terrorism to exercise their franchise. The duration to apply for
registration has been extended till July 5 to enable voters in the
Northern Province to exercise their democratic right at the NPC polls.
This would help people in the North, whose democratic right had been
suppressed by the LTTE, to elect leaders of their choice.
The Government has called upon voters to exercise their franchise at
the forthcoming NPC elections and, moreover, they could forward their
applications for registration in the electoral list through the Grama
Niladharis, who could certify the names of displaced persons.
This laudable move will help restore the voting rights of displaced
persons due to the abominable terror unleashed by Velupillai Prabhakaran
and his goons. Around 20,000 persons are presumed to be still living
outside their places of residence. The Commissioner of Elections has
said that the majority of displaced persons had also registered
themselves in their current places of residence.
Many people had expressed reservations whether the Government would
go ahead with the NPC polls. Although President Mahinda Rajapaksa had
pledged last year to hold the NPC elections in September 2013, the
Opposition politicians were doubtful that the elections would be a
The ongoing controversy on the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and
debate on land and police powers vested in Provincial Councils made
certain Opposition politicians feel that the NPC elections would not see
the light of day.
Despite all overwhelming odds and the negative experience of former
NPC Chief Minister Vartharaja Perumal overstepping his powers, President
Rajapaksa has decided that people in the North should be given an
opportunity to exercise their democratic right and elect people of their
choice to run the provincial administration.
No sooner the country was liberated from the clutches of LTTE terror,
Opposition political parties such as the UNP and the TNA demanded that
NPC elections should be held without delay. However, the Government
turned down those requests at the time as the environment was not
conducive to hold elections as demining operations and resettlement of
displaced persons had not been completed.
Now that those tasks have been successfully accomplished, the time is
now opportune for people in the North to elect their leaders to take
over the provincial administration.
During the past four years since the LTTE leadership was vanquished,
the Government had not only resettled displaced persons in their
original homes and cleared hundreds of thousands of deadly landmines
planted by the LTTE, but had also developed infrastructure facilities in
the North. This enabled people in the North to get a new lease of life
with enhanced living standards.
More importantly, thousands of ex-LTTE cadres have been rehabilitated
and absorbed into mainstream civil society along with life skills.
Hence, a new chapter was opened in their lives.
The LTTE's former women's wing leader, Siva Subramanium Sivahami
alias Thamilini was released last week from the Poonthotam
Rehabilitation Centre in Vavuniya. According to sources close to
Thamilini, she plans to contest the forthcoming NPC elections. This
indeed speaks volumes and is a positive sign which could send a strong
signal to the international community.
It is heartening to note that Tamil youth such as Thamilini, who had
been brainwashed by Prabhakaran to repose faith in the bullet, has now
had a change of heart. It is only now that they realised that
Prabhakaran had created a fantasy separate state to enrol Tamil youth in
his terrorist outfit.
These Tamil youth could no longer be made suckers by opportunist
Tamil politicians who make desperate attempts to succeed Prabhakaran
with a 'democratic face'. They have understood the stark reality that
the Sinhalese are not their enemy, as was projected by the wily
In point of fact, it was the Sinhalese youth in the Security Forces
who had sacrificed their life and limb to liberate those Tamils from
LTTE terror. Those who now shed buckets of crocodile tears over Tamil
youth never uttered even a word of comfort when these hapless youth and
innocent children were forcibly dragged away from their homes to take up
arms against the Government.
The dawn of peace has opened endless opportunities for the Northern
youth to join even the Security Forces which Prabhakaran projected as an
enemy of the Tamils. Contrary to what Prabhakaran had done for over two
decades, the Security Forces and police have given opportunities to the
Northern youth to serve the nation.
The Northern youth have also been afforded opportunities to seek
employment in the public sector. The Government has provided state
employment for over 6,000 Northern youth. The appointment letters for
these youth were presented by Traditional Industries and Small
Enterprise Development Minister Douglas Devananda at a ceremony at the
Weerasingham Hall, Jaffna.
Moreover, graduates of the Northern Province have been provided
government sector jobs whilst casual employees have been made permanent.
Over 1,000 voluntary teachers who had served in the North for a long
period have been made permanent and another 653 teachers will also be
made permanent in due course under the Government's long-term plan of
providing employment to Northern youth.
The newly appointed personnel have pledged to extend their fullest
cooperation for the ongoing development projects with a commitment to
serve the public.
Forty-four Tamil Police Sub Inspectors and 110 Woman Sub Inspectors
had joined the Police since last week. A new batch of 215 Woman Police
Constables also passed out from the Kalutara Police Training School
Posting Tamil-speaking officers to their native regions would not
only help overcome the present difficulties of communication between the
public and the police, but also boost public confidence in the civil law
enforcement authority in the region.
The Government has also implemented far-reaching programs to expedite
the return of normalcy in the former battle-torn areas. Billions of
rupees have been expended on major infrastructure development projects
in the North which had recorded a growth rate of over 22 percent.
The NPC elections come at a time opportunist Opposition politicians
in the South are trying to capitalise on the ongoing talks on the 13th
Amendment. Rather than living in a dream world to capture power at any
cost, it is the bounden duty of Opposition political parties to take
part in the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to reach a decision
that suits the country best. At a time the President is making a sincere
and concerted effort in national reconciliation to strengthen
coexistence among all communities, his recent Poson message is an
eye-opener to one and all - building confidence among people of
President Rajapaksa, in his Poson Day message, emblazoned that we, as
a nation that respects the teachings of the Buddha, must shun
differences of race, religion, caste and geography. He stressed that we
should march towards progress by giving the highest priority to the
principles of tolerance ensuring unity and determination.
These words of wisdom are no doubt food for thought for those who
make a song and dance to gain petty political mileage from the ongoing
debate on the 13th Amendment. What matters most is to preserve the
hard-earned peace and the peaceful coexistence among all communities.
While protecting the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity,
all Sri Lankans should make a determined effort to unite all communities
under the Lion flag.