Terrorist attacks unfortunately are a fact of life in the 21st century. Almost all Western countries such as the US, UK, France, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Australia have experienced terrorist attacks in the not-too-distant past. These leaders were intelligent and smart in realising international terrorism was an element of danger that could not be eradicated, but needed proper control. How did they avoid repetition of these attacks on their soil? They identified the problem and sprang into action by surveillance, arrests and dealt through the legal system with severest punishment.
Unless we realise this and act accordingly to tackle the problem in a diplomatic manner – learning from our past and from other countries that encountered similar situations – this will only grow into chronic, frequent attacks if not a civil war for many more years. Do we need to travel back 30 years with curfews and anxiety when our loved ones leave the house, wondering if they were going to come back?
Sri Lanka is multi-ethnic and multi-religious, and is a land generous in hospitality. Most of us wear a trademark smile on our faces which brings warmth and serenity to any stranger. We remain positive and forget the bad things pretty fast.
Whenever there is a calamity, it is the people who gather to help each other, irrespective of colour and shape, taking the victims to hospital and donating blood.
We tend to enjoy in singing and dancing and the majority live a simple life. 99% of the people believe in non-violence. Then, where did we fail?
· Legislators not talking in one voice -- No collective responsibility. Irresponsible utterances led to comedy of errors (i.e. changing the casualty figures at will and publishing details of an unrelated individual living in the United States as an accused, disgraceful behaviour of politicians and ministers and so forth).
· Lawmakers only think of the next election and not the next generation – Without tactful handling, ruthless terrorism through advanced methodologies and legislation decided to circulate defamatory letters to arouse the prelates and the general public who had been patiently controlling their pain and sorrow.
· Complacency – Ignored the gravity of intelligence reports that came thrice during the month and overlooking information provided by Muslim organisations of the local fundamentalist groups. Currently, these communities are cooperating with law enforcement authorities to help nab suspects.
· Infighting – No one was in full control of the country and the fundamentalist groups made use of the weak processes and the writing was on the wall to strike with ease.
· Country before self – Not appointing the best and most experienced person to handle the respective job, but appoint ‘yes’ men and exposing the country to a colossal loss of human lives and unbelievable cost.
· Leadership – Not appointing acting defence and law and order officials to portfolios while the Head of State and Defence Minister globe-trots and not returning to the country when it was burning down.
· Legislation – Not amending archaic and outdated laws to support modern technology used by criminals.
· Mistrust – No transparency and honesty in dealings. Irrespective of political alignment and positions held by suspects found aiding and abetting fundamentalist groups should be investigated and appropriate action taken.
· Weaponry – Weapons in the possession of non-military personnel who are backed by lawmakers, hate literature in university hostels, large number of swords found in places of religious worship not being sealed until investigation are conducted.
· Education system – Not amending the flaws in our education system and in institutions. The early 2-3 years of schooling should focus on values, establish good manners and develop character. Curricula should be scrutinised by the Education Ministry.
· Social Media – Rather than resorting to ban social media, punish anyone who spreads fake or hate speech. Inform such action taken by the government in social media platforms. While social media is active, the government’s social media is dormant.
· Irresponsible behaviour of the media – The ‘we report first’ attitude of media outlets has led to inaccuracy and irresponsibility in information dissemination. It has created fear in people’s minds. They should be careful in what they report. They shouldn’t support a particular political party or individual.
· Tolerance – The ‘Halal’ factor and ‘Burqa’ have created Islamic power in a predominantly Buddhist country.
· Separatism – The government crushed the LTTE when it demanded a separate State, but have we given Kattankudy on a platter to the Muslims to promote fundamentalist ideologies or create an atmosphere for the average citizen to sour their relationships with their Muslim neighbours, colleagues and friends?
Your future actions will determine whether international terrorist attacks would grow into serious domestic problems or we as a nation would stand together and bounce back as done in