By Ratna Bala –
People who couldn’t get beyond nanthikkadal and mullivaikkal have blessed you all. In their total silence they prayed. They wished for you all to hold your head high and stand in front of their people to pledge them. You will look after them on their behalf in the coming years. In that hope they rest in peace believing their parents, children, wives and husbands will be looked after in their absence. They shed their remaining tears to thank you all for doing everything possible to take care of them.
I am sure you are all aware of your responsibilities and people’s expectations. It’s not difficult to understand the suffering these people have gone through all these years. Their family, parents and children have gone through continuous multiple displacements with the fear of losing someone in the family or himself at any moment. Along the way they have lost their properties and whatever they earned with years of hard work. Brutality and cruelty of war took the lives of many of their children, family members and friends. They got suffocated in mullivaikkal and found alive in manik farm refugee camps in difficult conditions. Finally they were dumped again with nothing to begin their life in the middle of heavy military presence whom responsible for the loss of their loved ones.
Since their return they were holding on to their life with minimal available resources. They need substantial help to stand on their feet. Without your help they won’t be able to hold on to their life too long. I hope you all understand the urgency to assist them. It is with this hope in spite of every difficulty they all came to cast their vote. They have participated in this election as our country had never seen before to elect you all as their representatives. I beg you all to keep this in your heart in every decision you make in the NPC.
Last four years TNA was not been able to contribute significantly to provide assistance to affected people due to several reasons. Now being elected with big majority to NPC you should be ready roll your sleeve and get into action as soon as possible to serve them. It is the mandate given to you by the people as your shot term goals highlighted in your manifesto. Deviating from this short term goal of doing everything possible to alleviate the suffering of these people may be equal to crime against humanity. Please do not commit such crime. I call upon my people to hold you all responsible if you all commit such crime with utter selfishness and arrogance of power. I hope all TNA affiliated parties will realise the immediate need in front them as elected members and behave responsibly to unite their collective energy and resources. Everyone wish NPC to perform effectively to overcome the challenges ahead of them.
What can be done by the NPC to improve the resettlement, reconstruction, reconciliation and recovery of our war affected people and develop NP.
1) Promote participatory governance and administration. Give more opportunity for people to get engaged and express their needs and concerns for their corporation to improve efficiency and creativity.
2) Put forward a relief proposal to provide long term assistance to war widows, limbs amputees, orphans, wounded disabled and sexual violence victims belong to all militant groups and civilians.
3) Providing help to build home to all affected people
4) Assist return of displaced Muslim people.
5) Promote an awareness campaign in the community to accommodate all those took part in armed liberation struggle to live a normal life in the society. They need more loving care to be successful to return to normal life. Tamil community should be aware of their responsibility to look after them and should stop involving in unnecessary gossip or vent their anguish and agony to hurt their feeling as they can result in tragic consequences. Government officers, teachers and community elders should be educated and trained to care these vulnerable people.
6) Establish children and women protection institution to prevent abuse of children and women. So many children who have one parent or both parents ended up in orphanages. These families should be helped so these children can stay with their parents.
7) Self reliance and self esteem are basic ingredients for living with dignity. We can reliably assist our people in their survival only by creating jobs which can give them self reliance and self esteem. There are plenty of opportunities available in several fields in NP such as vegetable storage and processing, bio fuels, wind and solar energy, animal husbandry, fruits produce, frozen fish products, Palmyrah industry etc. Tamil Diaspora business community should be encouraged to get involved in these ventures. Srilankan Government should be convinced to provide incentives like tax concession for initial few years for tamil diaspora professionals and businessmen to come back and serve their people. They should be able to get their dual citizenship as soon as possible without any delay to facilitate this process.
8) Psychosocial help is urgently needed in war affected areas. Significant help should be obtained from professionals in Srilanka and abroad
9) Trilingual education policy should be promoted with enthusiasm and commitment
10) Engineering faculty project should be completed as soon as possible as this will give more job opportunities and provide more professional work force.
11) Convince the government to upgrade Pally airport as international airport for tamil diasopra to visit home often in convenience. This will have significant impact on the economy of NP and the whole country. It will be very much appreciated by tamil diaspora.
12) Building Jaffna city sewage drainage system long overdue. Collection and Recycling garbage improve environment, health and revenue.
13) Fishing industry needs more investment to upgrade the boats available to our fishermen. The negotiation with India should be given priority to settle the dispute amicably.
14) Making sure safety measures in place to protect the environment from cement factory and parantan chemicals.
15) Fertilizers polluting ground Water should be prevented. Its impact on ground water need urgent assessment
16) Tamilnadu have significant automobile industry in India. This opportunity can be utilised to explore the possibility of manufacturing spare parts for their car industry in NP
17) IT sector need significant boost in NP. With appropriate approaches Microsoft should be able to provide help to build an IT park in vanni region.
18) Social inclusiveness to avoid any form of discrimination based on gender, caste and religions should form the basic discipline in NPC
19) Should strengthen the relationship with other provincial councils to share their experiences and cordial understanding and friendship to promote devolution of powers from centre to the provinces.
20) Full implementation of 13th amendment, Release of political prisoners, reduction of military presence, account for disappeared people, removal of PTA, having a civil governor all these could be achieved with win-win negotiations with the government done in good sprit and building trust.
These are few I could think. I am sure you all could be able to find much more options in your brain storming sessions and from resourceful resources.
Your commitment for next 6-12months should be dedicated to uplift the war affected people to reduce their sufferings. I appeal to all of you to show restrain in showing your emotions and avoid making statements unproductive to the immediate task at your hand. Showing restrain means you understand and take your responsibility seriously as a captain to navigate your ship without hitting any iceberg and getting damaged in stormy weather. All the people on board live under your responsibility. Unless you are clear about your immediate goal you can’t even start your journey.
Take this opportunity to build confidence and consensus among various groups. While seeking more devolution of powers from the centre creation of positive and productive power sharing arrangements and agreements at the provincial council also necessary to build peace. Promoting self interest, exploiting fears of others, cynical about others motive, arrogance attitude from people of influence, not open for change and closing your eyes and ears and hoping things will disappear are all not acceptable initiatives to build a solid foundation. We should begin to engage with issues in a responsible way with respect to each other.
We need right kind of change in our action and attitude to move Srilanka to be a beacon of justice and democracy in Southasia. It is not an impossible task. People of Srilanka belong to every community longing for it for too long. All Srilankans are more hopeful NPC under Mr.CV.Wigneswan’s leadership will show courage and conviction to contribute constructively in this endeavour.
I congratulate you all being elected by our people to serve them with utmost care and unfailing devotion. Promise yourself to live as an example for the future generation to follow. They will be proud of their leaders who have guided them to a new future to live with respect and dignity.
Dr. Ratna Bala