n April 14, we will celebrate the Sinhala Hindu New Year and probably wish for, among other things, unity among all communities. The government was committed to ending the war, but issues associated with the conflict have heightened the gulf between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil community.
Come New Year day there will be Tamil families living in makeshift shelters celebrating the occasion. One of the biggest grievances of Tamil people is some of the land belonging to them in the North not being rightfully returned to them.
Lawmakers talk of many issues plaguing Sri Lanka. TNA leader R. Sampanthan opines the problem engulfed in the country is not about the economy but more of a multi-faceted issue. He harps on the fact that the government has not conducted any internal investigation into the alleged war crimes by its security forces during the civil war -- a condition imposed by the UNHRC on the resolution adopted in 2016.
The veteran politico affirms the country’s future is underpinned by ‘unity and its strength based on unity.’ For Sampanthan, Sri Lanka’s future hinges on the reputation it savours locally and internationally.
New Year is a time when lawmakers attempt to reflect to the world all is well. We heard the government had decided not to implement revised petrol prices this month. Yet, people need money to celebrate the festive season. Time and again, we have seen the government wrapping temporary plasters around issues the world has pestered.
On the other hand, we have the next presidential election a few months away in 2020. No party forwarded its residential candidate and hence we know of no election manifestoes nor who will contest from which party. It seems as if all major political parties have taken the people for granted. The message all political parties seem to convey is ‘wait till you are served with your meal’ which is the closest we can get to the Sinhala adage: “Dena deyak kaala wena deyak balan inna.”
Much is spoken of about Wilpattu and the contentious resettlement programme under deforestation taking place there. But the fact that needs to be taken very seriously is that Muslims too are eligible citizens of this country and need land for housing. The little plaster the government has wrapped around this alarming issue is the efforts taken to translate the Holy Quran to Sinhala with much enthusiasm.
Much more needs to be done for the displaced Muslim community apart from giving wider acceptance to a sacred document because it is a community which was driven away from its right won by the ruthless terrorist rebel.
We as a nation paid a huge price to usher in peace after terrorism was defeated. Now we have to double that effort to establish unity among communities. Even President Sirisena had mentioned that a divided society was a hindrance to the programme carried out to build national peace and reconciliation.
It was a little ugly to behold the representatives of Tamil parties going to Geneva to show opposition to government officials at UNHRC sessions. This division must end and we must unite for the sake of the next generation. For this to happen, all parties must realise that the compromise we make to achieve this goal should know its limits.