19 September, 2020

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The 19A: A Key Step Forward In Sri Lanka’s Path Towards Sustainable Human Development

By Mohan Munasinghe

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe

Prof. Mohan Munasinghe

Excellencies, distinguished colleagues on the podium, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen,

Ayubowan, Vannakkum, Good Afternoon.

I am going to talk to you on the 19th Amendment as a scientist and professional, and I will talk about its relationship to Sri Lanka’s path towards sustainable human development (SHD) – ie., sustainable development with a human face.

The first point I want to make is on the well-known sustainable development triangle (Figure 1). It has an economic dimension, because in any country, growth and income are important factors. It also has a social dimension with elements such as empowerment, governance and inclusion. And of course, last but not least the environmental dimension includes elements like natural resources and pollution. Clearly the elements of the triangle have to be kept in balance, integrated and harmonized. That equilibrium creates the democratic space in which we can pursue sustainable human development.

MMFigure 1: Harmonize, balance & integrate economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development triangle to create democratic space for sustainable human development in SL.

Source: Munasinghe (Rio Earth Summit 1992)

Unfortunately, in the last few years, and certainly before the last election, we have had an unsustainable development pattern in Sri Lanka. The social dimension was driven by very unethical social values like greed, nepotism, corruption, violence, injustice and so on. This led to a model of economic mal-development which was based on debt, unproductive megaprojects, corruption and growing inequality. Finally, the environment was also harmed, through pollution, depletion of natural resources and the like. And certainly the democratic space in the middle was greatly diminished.

This is further elaborated in Figure 2, which shows the imbalance in investment. Sustainable human development needs three types of capital (or assets): economic (built capital), environmental (natural resources), and social. In Sri Lanka, the previous regime’s over-emphasis on unproductive built capital, coupled with corruption, nepotism and inequality dominated and actually undermined both natural capital (air, land and water) and social capital. The latter is extremely important – it is ignored, undervalued and invisible. At the individual/human level, social capital it is built on helpful personal and professional networks. At the community and national levels, it is the invisible glue that binds society together – involving values, ethics, culture, behaviour, and social linkages. And I think one of the things that this government has started to do is to restore eroded social capital and natural resources, through more balanced investment for SHD.

MMMFigure 2: INVESTMENT IMBALANCE: Over-emphasis on built capital destroyed vital social and natural capital, due to unproductive megaprojects, nepotism, corruption and inequality.

Source: Munasinghe (Rio Earth Summit 1992)

It is also useful to look at the relationship between the three main stake holders (government, civil society and business) within a sustainable development framework (Figure 3). The government of the previous administration dominated overwhelmingly. As so eloquently explained by Jayantha Dhanapala, the weight of executive presidency, the 18th amendment, the 2/3rds majority in parliament, the nepotism, the corruption, the violence, the intimidation, the control of media, and the security state, really crushed civil society and business, thereby effectively destroying the democratic space. So the electoral process of the recent election, the 100 day program and the 19th Amendment symbolize a restoration of that balance between the stakeholders.

MMMMFigure 3 : STAKEHOLDER IMBALANCE: Dominance of executive presidency and government control crushed civil society and business, and destroyed democratic space.

Source: Munasinghe (Rio Earth Summit 1992)

Figure 4 shows how the government, civil society and business have begun to work together in harmony, to recover the democratic space in the middle where sustainable human development could resume. We are now moving towards a governance framework characterized by more, ethical values, justice, equity, harmony and hopefully a lasting peace at the end of the road.

So the electoral process in particular, reinforced democracy and the will of the people through nonviolent means — against all odds. It restored faith in key institutions, like the office of the elections commissioner, broadened the democratic discourse via newspapers, websites, social media, personal emails, blogs, public platforms and debate tv shows. The 100 day program and the 19th Amendment maintained the momentum. This is a fundamental requirement for sustainable human development. I can summarize by saying that much has been achieved in spite of the many blocks in parliament and elsewhere. Key steps have been taken towards a sustainable human development vision, and there is more to come, I promise you. Although I’m not a spokesperson for the government, I’m confident (together with my colleagues) that this will happen.

MMMMMFigure 4: Restored stakeholder balance and recovered Democratic Space after January 2015 election, 100 day programme and 19th Amendment.

Source: Munasinghe (Rio Earth Summit 1992)

Let me conclude by explaining the current status of global suitability. Internationally we know that there is a risk of breakdown because of the many issues that the world faces: the financial-economic crisis which is still going on in many western countries, the persistent poverty and growing inequity, resource shortages (water, food, energy, etc.), many kinds of environmental harm, and finally climate change which is the ultimate threat amplifier because it makes all the other problems worse.

Unfortunately, these problems interact synergistically, in a bad way. The stakeholder interests are very divergent and their efforts are poorly coordinated. We need integrated solutions. That is where sustainable development comes in. We will be making another attempt at the UN general assembly and after that at the climate conference in Paris. Let us wish them all success, because progress in recent years has been painfully slow due to of lack of leadership in the globe today.

Let me summarize one problem which encapsulates what I have been saying at the global level. Consider the ecological footprint of the human race – the total burden we place on global ecosystems. We are consuming today more than 50% of the planet’s sustainable carrying capacity. By 2030 we will need two planets worth to sustain our lifestyles. The pattern of consumption is very unfairly distributed. 85% of human consumption is done by the richest 20 % of the world’s population who consume 60 times more than the poorest 20%. So basically the rich are consuming more than one planet worth. And the question I have asked many world leaders at many conferences is how we can keep the promises we make, like the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDG), and now 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). While such targets are worthy, if the rich are already consuming more than one planet worth, where are the resources to feed the poor? This is a huge contradiction.

Prof. MWhat we are trying to do in Sri Lanka can become a model for the whole world. The sustainable development goals (SDG) of the UN’s post 2015 agenda are very much in tune with Yahapalanaya and what President Sirisena has promised. For instance, SDG 16 says promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) did not focus on those particular aspects. In fact, we in Sri Lanka have already taken the first precursor steps to anticipate the thinking in the global community. These 17 SDGs will be ratified in New York, in September, and I hope President Sirisena will be there to confirm our commitment to them.

Finally, the world is seeking a global eco civilization, with the three elements of the sustainable development triangle in harmony. For Sri Lanka, our long term goal is a society which meets the basic human needs of all, especially the poor and vulnerable, ensuring reconciliation, peace, harmony, social justice and security. Environmentally, we want to respect nature and contain Sri Lanka’s resource use, within the sustainable capacity of our country. Economically, we do want to have a prosperous economy – with adequate growth but respecting critical social and environmental limits. Socially we have the human and social capital committed to peace and unity. Environmentally, we can draw on our ancient values and a culture that respects nature. Economically, we have the technology, resources and skills. So we are in a good position.

I give you this ancients Pali blessing from Sri Lanka: “Devo Vassatu kalena, Sassa sampatti hetu ca, Pito bhavatu loko ca, Raja bhavatu dhammiko,” which means “May the rains come in time” (environment), “May the harvests be bountiful” (economy), and “May the people be happy and contented; may the king be righteous” (society). So many hundreds of years ago our forefathers knew about the sustainable development triangle, and we are rediscovering it now.

Just some final thoughts to our friends in the diplomatic community. We know that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it (Santayana). We know that critics are our friends, because they show us how to correct our faults (Franklin). But, we must also unite against common challenges that we face and not necessarily dwell on past changes that will divide us. So help us. Criticize constructively. Do not lecture, threaten or impose. Have faith, be generous and give us the time and space to further enlarge the democratic space we have already created. Sri Lanka is firmly non-aligned and a long-time member of the G77. A friend to all, and foe to none. We are small, but we will surprise you and become a shining example for the world. We can do it, together.

Sthuthi, Nandri, Thank you.

*Prof. Mohan Munasinghe – Founder Chairman, Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND), Colombo. Vice Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-AR4) that shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for Peace.

Prof. Munasinghe made this speech at “19 A: Landmark of Democratic Revival” a panel discussion and Q & A for the diplomatic community of Sri Lanka on the 19th Amendment on June 16, 2015, 4pm at Jaic Hilton. The transcript of the speech was provided by the President’s Media Division.

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  • 5
    0

    Prof. Mohan Munasinghe

    Ayubowan, Vannakkum, Good Afternoon.

    Thank you.

    “Figure 2: INVESTMENT IMBALANCE: Over-emphasis on built capital destroyed vital social and natural capital, due to unproductive megaprojects, nepotism, corruption and inequality.”

    “Figure 3 : STAKEHOLDER IMBALANCE: Dominance of executive presidency and government control crushed civil society and business, and destroyed democratic space.”

    Need some changes and improvements to the Social Capital, the Transformation of Modayas, Mootals and Fools.

    Still, there are too many Modayas, Mootals and Fools, and like a bunch of Cattle, and Buffaloes, they gravitate to Mahinda Rajapaksa.

    Can you write a short book Social Capital and Common Sense in Sri Lanka?

    A case for transforming Modayas, Mootals and Fools so that they will not be fooled by Actors and Politicians.

    • 0
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      Amarasiri – You are certainly not a Tamil as you do not know how to
      spell “Vanakkam’

      • 3
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        Lanka Watch

        “Amarasiri – You are certainly not a Tamil as you do not know how to spell “Vanakkam”

        So, not a Para-Tamil who came the Land of Native (Veddah) Aethho by Kalla-Thoni?

        ” Ayubowan, Vannakkum, Good Afternoon.” – Wrote Prof. Mohan Munasinghe

        Amarasiri just copied what Prof. Mohan Munasinghe wrote. May be Prof. Mohan Munasinghe is not a Tamil. He must be a Para-Sinhala who came by Hora-Oru to the Land of Native (Veddah) Aethho.

        • 0
          2

          Amarasiri – The Sinhala Weeraya – If Prof. Mohan Munasinghe
          jumps into the well, will you also jump? “Vanakkam’ is the
          way to spell.

          • 4
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            Lanka Tamil Watch

            “Vanakkam’ is the way to spell.

            Agree. No dispute here. So, you want to correct the writers writing as well? No That is the Job of the CT editors Anyway, yo make you Happy, here is the Tamil spelling..

            Given below in Tamil. Are you happy now?
            வணக்கம் வணக்கம் வணக்கம் வணக்கம் வணக்கம்
            “Vanakkam’“Vanakkam’“Vanakkam’“Vanakkam’

            Vanadium, Vanadium, Vanadium, Vanadium,

      • 3
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        Lanka Tamil Watch

        Prof. Mohan Munasinghe said, “Ayubowan, Vannakkum, Good Afternoon.”

        Given below in Tamil. Are you happy now?

        வணக்கம்

        வணக்கம்

        வணக்கம்

        வணக்கம்

        வணக்கம்

      • 0
        4

        Amarasiri is a Sinhala Muslim.

        • 4
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          Jim softy

          Not a Sinhala Agnostic?

          Not a Sinhala Buddhist?

          Not a Sinhala Christian?

          Not a Sinhala Veddah?

          Not a Sinhala Jew?

          Not a Tamil Agnostic?

          Not a Tamil Buddhist?

          Not a Tamil Christian?

          Not a Sinhala Veddah?

          Not a Tamil Jew?

          Not a Tamil Muslim?

          Not a Tamil Veddah? etc. etc.

          Nevertheless, the Earth Goes around the Sun and All the above Paras in the Land of Native Vedda Aethho have 46 Chromosomes from the original 48 Chromosomes, when they were apes.

          Ken Miller on Human Evolution

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi8FfMBYCkk

        • 0
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          Jimmy – If Amarasiri is a Sinhala/Muslim he would have said
          “Ayubowan/salam Allaikkum (Pardon if not correctly spelt)

    • 2
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      Prof. Mohan Munasinghe.

      RE: The 19A: A Key Step Forward In Sri Lanka’s Path Towards Sustainable Human Development

      Ayubowan, Vannakkam,வணக்கம், Good Afternoon.

      Can you please comment on Sustainable DOUBLE STANDARDS IN Human Development in Sri Lanka?

      The war was over 6 years ago, A section of the population is still displaced, perhaps close to 100,000 of them. The DOUBLE STANDARDS COMMUNITY OF SRI LANKANS, including the so-called environmentalists and others, are following SUSTAINABLE DOUBLE STANDARDS. A Few examples are given below.

      1. Forgotten People – The Evicted and Displaced North Muslims of Sri Lanka (English)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JV60McNQ9o

      Published on Jun 1, 2013
      The Evicted and Displaced North Muslims of Sri Lanka. The expulsion of the Muslims and other nations from the Northern province was an act of ethnic cleansing carried out by the Tamil militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organization in October 1990. In order to achieve their goal of creating a mono ethnic Tamil state in the North Sri Lanka, the LTTE forcibly expelled the 72,000 strong Muslim population from the Northern Province.

      2. Mahinda Rajapaksa Ego “Mahinda Rajapaksa Mattala International Airport”

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Fzf9p6K-k4w

      3. Many other Environmental and Economic disasters….with Double Standards at various levels…SUSTAINABLE EGO DEVELOPMENTAL DISASTERS.

      • 0
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        Amarasiri,

        Done it OK this time but you have missed out wishing the Muslims brethren by saying Salam allaikkum. There is no point in govt. fighting hard to unite the people, if people
        of one race do not know how to greet the other. Pls. alert Prof.
        Mohan about the lapse, which may have hurt the Muslim brotherhood.
        I am a Vellalar Tamil and got hurt by Prof. Mohan’s wrong pronun-
        ciation
        Keep up the good work of protesting at everything. Ayubowan.!!

  • 3
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    Sustainable development is a valuable concept that is necessary to rebuild Srilanka. Fortunately, people have realised that the nation was going in a wrong direction. Resources have been used inefficiently, ineffectively. One good example was the number of ministers and ministries. Investments were focused on image building of personalities rather than people oriented. Fraud and Wastages was unimaginably high. The political enviorment was not favourable for investment. There was no people’s participation in the development and socially and culturally we have lost everything for money. Sex trade and drugs trade become dominant part of this development. We need a better Srilanka viable economically, socially, and culturally. We need peace and harmony. Every one should feel that he or she is secure, belongs to this nation.

  • 2
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    “Sustainable Human Development” – Where do you suggest this concept to begin? If the Human Beings are developed in a sustainable manner, how do you find all these “Rouges” in the Parliament? Out of the 225 “Human Beings” sitting in that Assembly, can you at least name a dozen of them who have been “Developed” to be Human Beings. So whatever the “Legislation” we have developed and passed in Parliament, if we do not have the proper Human Beings to execute those, what is the use? Look at the quality of Prime Ministers, Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentarians we have had all this while. For the last six decades what have achieved? Everyone of them is a “Leach” living on the Public National Resources. so I believe that “Sustainable Human Development” must begin with the Law Makers and our Administrators. Please “Lecture” to them first.

  • 4
    1

    Will the 19th amendment by itself bring about sustainable human development!p? Are we capable of mobilising intelligent, capable, experienced and honest persons to participate in governance? Can we elect better persons to parliament? How? How soon can we bring about drastic changes in the quality of our public service and how it functions? How soon can we change our education system?

    Prof. Munasinghe, you have sung a nursery rhyme for us with illustrations!

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 1
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    An excellent and concise follow up to the introduction by Dhanapala. Bensen

  • 0
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    Prof Munasinghe

    Please apply Figures 1-4 to:

    1. ‘’During the last five years, along roadsides (mainly along popular highways), main towns and in residential areas, shrines, temples, statutes and commonly venerated tress and physical objects have been constructed /planted on an ad hoc basis. It is unlikely that these constructions / occupation / planting  have formal approval of the authorities nor the respective land allocation made with lawful regulatory approval (especially in respect of the rights attaching to the use of such sites for religious purposes). These illegal constructions and occupation will deter the use of these land holdings for future community value adding public purposes and will in addition restrict road network expansion and road widening linked development initiatives’’ – Amber Light Signals Requiring Pro-active Action by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, Submission by Chandra Jayaratne to LLRC, 6 October 2010, groundviews.com

    2. Environmental impact of Colombo Port City

    3. News on harmful effects of uncontrolled sandmining on the environment and arrests of people engaged in illicit sandminingin the South. Army-assisted sand mining by businessmen in the North.

    4. Continued building of war memorials in the North by the Army

    5. Haphazard building of Buddha statues and Buddhist viharas in the North and the East

    • 0
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      Some conscientious Sinhalese did not think of these Figures 1-4 (visual organisers) to represent the ncongruence of the reality when applied to ethnic minorities but put them in words to LLRC:

      K.Godage(former Sri Lankan diplomat) addresses LLRC, 15 September 2010:
      ‘’ …. We have persistently discriminated against the Tamil people from 1956…. The Tamils have undergone, and are undergoing immense hardship. We need to reach out to them. It is because we have not reached out to them, that we had Wadukottai resolution in 1976, 20 years after 1956. Then the 1972, Constitution, it removed Section 29 from the Soulbury Constitution. There is no reason for any one to be insecure, as a result of giving into the reasonable demands of the Tamil people. …. Now I must tell you of a very, very sad, bad and dangerous situation. We have in our prisons over 2000 young Tamil men. Some of them have been taken on suspicion. Just picked up and taken. I am the Chairman of the Prison Visitors’ Board. In detention without charges for years.’’

      Prof Priyan Dias addresses LLRC, 07 October 2010:
      ‘’If we do not feel guilty for the Northern military uprising we cannot go anywhere in the future as a country.’’

      Mr. Mangala Moonasinghe to LLRC, 17 August 2010: ‘’…so, who started terrorism – it was we – and then gradually naturally the youth, Tamil youth, went into terrorism in the north. … So terrorism did not come on its own. We created them sir, we created them.’’ (Moonasinghe is a former Sri Lankan diplomat and MP)

      Bernard Gunatileke(former Sri Lankan Sinhalese diplomat) to LLRC, 11 August 2010: ‘‘The most important factor, which we have failed to attend, is meaningful devolution of political power to the periphery from the centre. There must also be involvement of the minorities in the political activities in the centre.’’

      ” If the overall nature of governance does not instil confidence, then whatever policies and efforts are put in place to achieve national cohesion and unity, they are bound to fail. Hence, strengthening of democratic governance, the Rule of Law and protection of human rights on the basis of equal rights should be essential goal posts on the path to reconciliation. …. The failure of successive governments to make the 13th Amendment and devolution of power work even in the South has left serious doubts as to whether devolution of power will ever be effective in the north-east. … Meaningful constitutional reform should necessarily be put in place – a strong legal régime of human rights protection.”

      Submission by Harim Peiris to LLRC, 7 October 2010:
      ‘’ We may have united the nation geographically, but remain polarized ethno-socially. It is not possible to simultaneously argue the need to maintain Emergency Law, the need for war time levels of defence expenditure and deployment of a network of security installations in the North not found anywhere else in the country and still maintain that the Tamil people are not alienated from the Sri Lankan State.”

  • 0
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    Just as Common Candidate election campaigners ”were careful to studiously avoid any reference whatsoever to the demands of the minorities let alone be seen to be promising anything to them, so as to ensure that sufficient numbers of the majority deserted Rajapaksa”, Prof Munasinghe avoided the phrase ”ethnic minorities” when he addressed the diplomatic community with visual representations of viable systems of sustainability quoting ancient Pali saying and Santayana and referring to global eco-civilization.

    • 0
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      That’s why he carefully includes ”vanakkum” and nandri” and hence he has to include ayubowan and shuthi.

      It’s very intrigueing that only people from Universities of Colombo, Moratuwa and SriJayawardanapura are given scholarships by his organisation, MIND:
      http://www.mindlanka.org/past.cfm?page=aa

  • 0
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    ”Unfortunately, in the last few years, and certainly before the last election, we have had an unsustainable development pattern in Sri Lanka.”

    Only in the last few years??????

    ”The lessons we have to learn go back to the past – certainly from the time that we had responsibility for our own governance on 4 February 1948. Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality.
    Our inability to manage our affairs has led to the taking of arms by a desperate group of our citizens. We need to rectify this bad governance and the first and foremost task before us is to undertake constitutional reform in order to ensure that we have adequate devolution of power. We need to have State reform; we need to have rule of law established; we need to ensure non-discrimination amongst our citizens; we need to have devolution of power and a tolerance of dissent and a strengthening of democratic institutions” – Jayantha Dhanapala to LLRC on 25 August 2010.

  • 1
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    ”What we are trying to do in Sri Lanka can become a model for the whole world. The sustainable development goals (SDG) of the UN’s post 2015 agenda are very much in tune with Yahapalanaya and what President Sirisena has promised.”

    President Sirisena is struggling to keep his promises – he needs the support of good citizens to stop the parliamentarians from pushing for increase in seats in the parliament in 20A.

    • 1
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      ”What we are trying to do in Sri Lanka can become a model for the whole world. The sustainable development goals (SDG) of the UN’s post 2015 agenda are very much in tune with Yahapalanaya and what President Sirisena has promised. For instance, SDG 16 says promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”:

      Is this a call

      i. to remember this:

      ‘’…. the minority vote came unconditionally to him, and what is more, the common opposition was careful to studiously avoid any reference whatsoever to the demands of the minorities let alone be seen to be promising anything to them, so as to ensure that sufficient numbers of the majority deserted Rajapaksa. All that the minorities are left with after the 2015 presidential election is the goodwill and decency of the new President and his government to treat them with some sort of respect, and when and if possible, to address their political and constitutional problems.” – THE EXECUTIVE PRESIDENCY AND THE SRI LANKAN STATE: MYTHS AND REALITIES, Asanga Welikala, 20 January 2015, http://groundviews.org/2015/01

      ii. to heed this(conveyed by Dr Ivor Jenkins in an interview with CelylonToday published on 10 April 2015):

      ”South Africa’s message to all Sri Lankans continues to be one that promotes ownership of the process by Sri Lankans, inclusivity of all key political stakeholders in any process and trust building, pleading with leaders to embark on confidence building actions through symbolic steps towards peace, so that the citizens of Sri Lanka can see a sincere commitment of these leaders to find a lasting solution for your country.”

  • 0
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    As the author is a Nobel Prize for Peace winner, he may have a view on the design, size and location of the ”Bullet-in-the-wall” war memorial on A9 in Kilinochchi town – a huge bullet is lodged on the huge wall with cracks around it.
    Will it develop or destroy reconciliation?

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