By Ratna Bala –
Our country can breathe again. The people of Sri Lanka had made an unthinkable choice with their united vote to put the past behind and move forward together in our beautiful country. With their patriotism not only for the land but also to uphold dignity of their people they have voted to live without fear and corruption. Their resolve reverberates in their collective voice for law and order to prevail and justice to be delivered. Above all they made their motherland proud by preventing strangulation and slow death of her soul.
Our country had begun its journey to find its place in the democratic world. Our newly elected president have shown courage and determination to win our people’s hearts and minds and given them hope of better future. He has already put forward a 100 days programme when implemented the country will be laying the foundation for genuine democratic governance basic structures. Even these to be effective existing institutions we will face tremendous difficulties and dangers as moral fibres in many of us have withered. However this first bold step should be applauded and all resources should be made available for its completion in 100 days.
Our country paraded proudly when the war ended in 2009. But major problems faced by affected people still at large remain unresolved. Destruction and devastation caused by the war to individuals and families are not addressed adequately with participatory engagement of suffered communities. Five years after the end of war people are still looking for their missing and arrested family members. They are struggling to find their land, shelter and daily meal. Government should without any further delay discuss with the elected parliamentarians, community representatives to find the means to relieve their sufferings. We should implement a collectively agreed programme to alleviate their sufferings as soon as possible. Long term monthly allowances and compensation packages should be rolled out with UN and other multilateral assistance. More employment opportunities should be created soon. Diaspora should be encouraged to invest in these areas. Post trauma related health problems need additional health provisions to this region.
Our country at this juncture does not need huge armed force and massive defence expenditure. Unless significant number of them remobilized into civilian life with proper training and jobs opportunities rampant abuse of power and wastage of money is inevitable. Morale of men and women in forces will deteriorate as they have nothing to do or get exploited to do all sorts of jobs without getting paid. Their frustration is already visible. Large sum of money allocated for defence should be utilised to give these children better future and become good citizens. New government should give serious concern on this regard before a chaotic situation arises among armed forces.
Our country is at tipping point in relation to welfare of women. Abuse of women and their human rights overlooked and ignored even by people at highest level in the Government. Clear guide lines and laws should be strictly advocated for women right to be upheld in our society. Public servants making derogatory remarks about women should be forced to resign. Sincere thanks to the president for appointing a woman to lead the ministry of women affairs. Please promote equal opportunities for women in new government as an exemplary to rest of the world.
Our country sending women to Middle East as house maids should not be encouraged. Many women have suffered significant abuse of torture, rape and murder. When they come back they find their family also in disarray. We should do everything possible to avoid this form of employment. I don’t think we can be a proud nation if we continue to send significant number our children as housemaids. This is not the way to earn the foreign exchange either. It is possible for us to train more of our women as nurses and in other skills to help them find jobs at home and abroad.
Our country need to improve the health system to best serve the whole population. At present our health system giving enormous hardship to poor people. I would like to see our government implement UK NHS GP service structure in our country. This will improve the health service to a greater extent and provide significant amount of jobs for doctors, nurses and auxiliary staffs. Improving the health of hard working ordinary people promote the productivity of the nation. I would like to appeal to expertise in this field to persuade our Government in this regard.
Our country lost many of its children to find a solution to ethnic problem. Volumes have been written about the issues involved. Both sides need more passionate willingness and commitment to find a pragmatic solution and negotiate with trust and more trust. Any amount of logic and reasons alone can’t find a solution. Negotiation is a very difficult art. Genuine willingness will open up the space for dialogue to get outside help with better negotiation skills for successful outcome. At present Government can initiate the process by releasing long term political prisoners without major criminal charges and abolishing Prevention of Terrorism Act which is the main reason for abuse of power even in post war period. In my opinion this is not only a goodwill measure also a necessary immediate step for reconciliation and building trust. Government can be magnanimous on this regard at this juncture.
Our country is unique, small and beautiful in many ways. To the world at large Sri Lanka can place itself as a true paradise on earth. Our entire island can qualify to be protected as historic heritage site kept away from war and guarded against environmental disaster. People should come together and find the way to live peacefully in harmony with nature and humanity. I believe our people have the capacity to fulfil this dream. Our hearts can be humble to embrace this venture. We can find better ways to express our love more humanely. Then all magical living is possible.
Our country has proven its optimism with courage. I am sure our new president has the same optimism and the determination to promise our people better future with hope and happiness. I wish our president and his Government success in all their good endeavours.