Provincial autonomy and the merger

A few years ago, the President of the country, in an attempt to solve the prevailing national conflict, thought it prudent and pragmatic to grant devolution of power (provincial autonomy) to all the provinces. He also decided to merge the Northern and Eastern provinces temporarily (as an interim measure). It must be recognised that at no time did the people in all the provinces make a demand for provincial autonomy, nor did the state seek the will of the people.  While the wisdom of that decision was, and is, questionable, the country has now to face the resultant consequences and repercussions. There has been a merger, a verdict for a de-merger, and now claims for a re-merger from some quarters.
It is now an opportune moment to seek the considered opinion (the will) of the people regarding the real need for provincial autonomy for all the provinces, and to give them the opportunity to assess the status quo. In this connection, they should consider the vast amount spent on a few, such as the staffs of the Governor, Chief Minister, Ministers, Provincial Council, (in addition to expenditure on provincial elections), etc, whereas that colossal expenditure could well be diverted to the ultimate benefit of all the people.
It is, therefore, suggested that provincial autonomy should be granted to a province, only if there is a demand by that province, as determined at a referendum. At such a referendum the will of the people to merge with an adjacent province could also be ascertained, and a merger granted only if the provinces concerned are in agreement. This may lead to asymmetrical devolution (autonomy), where some provinces are granted autonomy and some come under the Central Government. Considering the national benefits, it is considered unlikely that such an arrangement would be either unacceptable or impractical. If there is any doubt, the decision should be to give it a reasonable trial for a few years, and then redesign it, if considered necessary, in the interests of good governance, national security, and socio - economic development.
 It should also be pointed out that there is nothing inviolable or sacrosanct about the division of the country into nine provinces. The guiding principles in arriving at a division of the country into provinces for the purpose of better administration (whether they are granted autonomy or not) should be considerations such as the following: ethnic and communal harmony, geographical boundaries, regional development, and the protection of national interests.
On these considerations, and on the will of the people, as expressed at the referendum referred to, a decision should be taken to decrease the number of provinces, and to grant provincial autonomy only where there is such a demand.
 It is also suggested that, in consideration of national interests, an adequate area should be vested in the Central (National) Government, around: all points of entry to, and exit from, the country, areas of socio-cultural-economic importance, the National Parliament , if such areas happen to be situated within a province that is granted provincial autonomy.
Professor H.A. Aponso


Dengue threat in Mount Lavinia

An abandoned BOI approved luxury apartment project has become a major mosquito breeder, in the heart of the tourist and fine dining enclave at Mount Lavinia.
Hidden from public view by high rise apartments on Beach Road and covered by high walls, the site is 35/1 Beach Road. It is a near 20 perch mosquito breeding pool of water. Complaints by residents of this imminent dengue threat, has fallen on deaf ears. Residents calling the Dengue Campaign at the Ministry of Health on 2368417 are asked to complain to the MOH Dehiwala on 2723290. The response from the MOH office is “the PHI will be informed”.
The charm of Mount Lavinia will be lost forever residents say, with many high-rise apartments approved for construction on the ocean front. “It is a case of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs”. Residents say each of these apartments blocks will rise to eight storeys with around 48 apartments each on a 20 perch block. The increase of vehicle emission, traffic congestion and noise levels will kill the hotel and café industry, as Mount Lavinia emerges as an unplanned congested housing estate.
But all is not rosy for apartment buyers as well. Approval for building is for six storeys, and those who have paid for lesser rates for higher floors, fear they will not be able to occupy their dream homes, and will be left in a legal tangle.
A concerned reader


The A9 issue and a humanitarian crisis
GOSL to buy from India and distribute to Jaffna using Tamil Nadu seas

 For most of us the failure of the Geneva talks came as no surprise. It only displayed the ease at which the terrorists were able to hoodwink the international community and even their Nordic friends. That Norway and Iceland decided to cancel the extended stay of the LTTE delegation may perhaps be a sign that they are finally seeing the true nature of the LTTE.
 It was no surprise that the A9 issue would surface at the talks. The closure of the A9 roadway certainly had various implications. Of course it meant that there would be hardships for the people. But more importantly, it meant that the LTTE’s ability to levy taxes on transport to and from Jaffna as well as on innocent civilians suddenly and abruptly came to a halt – it was certainly a major blow and a steady but illegitimate income had come to a standstill. Who would be happy at such a move especially when a terrorist organization needs funds for its sheer existence?
 The Government apparatus is faced with a Herculean task – that of averting a humanitarian crisis.   The Armed Forces not only have to deal with the surprise guerrilla attacks often carried out by brainwashed child tiger cadres but also to see that somehow all persons in Jaffna are sent essential food, fuel and other provisions. Skyrocketing prices of sugar, petrol, flour and eggs only depicts the seller’s callousness. As of 27th October 2006, the SL Navy had delivered 18,558.369 metric tones to the Jaffna peninsular. UNICEF has said nearly 600,000 of people in the Jaffna peninsular have been affected. However statistics on population in Jaffna is questionable – are these figures correct? It is advised the GOSL themselves adopt a quick survey to determine exactly how many people does in fact live in the Jaffna peninsular. Estimated figures on statistics taken in a bygone era would not suffice. It would be useful for distribution of future provisions as well.
The LTTE international media is highlighting the plight of the Tamil people as a result of the A9 road closure and even comparing it to Germany’s Berlin Wall.
 If the LTTE being the “sole representative” of the Tamil people is so perturbed by the Government of Sri Lanka’s decision to keep the A9 road closed why is the LTTE not taking measures to do something about it. Surely when the LTTE is having various front organizations involved in charity work and other humanitarian causes (funded even by the UN, it seems) it can purchase essential items and distribute it to the people in Jaffna? If the LTTE can have kangaroo courts, self-declared post offices, stamps, police offices and even rank officials surely it can use the funds it has collected to feed the people that are suffering because of them?
 It is suggested that the Government instead of risking the lives of the Armed Forces as well as its equipment in transporting goods all the way from Colombo to Jaffna buy from India (Indo-Lanka Trade Agreement) and use the Northern seas and the narrow stretch between Tamil Nadu and Jaffna to distribute essential goods. The joint Naval expertise of India and Sri Lanka can combine in this effort.
Shenali Waduge


Unethical Advertising

I admit that at present advertising has reached a high professional standard and more attention is being paid to the quality and the training given to personnel. Advertising is considered very essential for the commercial world. However, advertisers must make every effort to adhere to the following guidelines:
* A clear message to be given about the product;
* Should not slander any other product either directly or indirectly;
* Must not be misleading;
* Should not violate any laws of the country (Drugs Ordinance, Tax Laws etc);
* Can be watched by all including children;
I refer to the following television commercials currently being aired and hoardings, which I feel are violating the above ethical guidelines:
* Body Spray - A girl gets attracted to a man who is using this Body Spray and intimate scenes are shown directly or indirectly.
* Exposure - A nice pair of legs are exposed for a Leather Product advertisement which is displayed at junctions. I am concerned this may result in road accidents. A long time back in the ‘60s, I remember that there was an advertisement pertaining to a Sinhala film and the Police had requested the authorities to remove it. Posters exhibiting female nudity should not be placed in public places.
* Avurvedic Massage - Health massages are advertised (I wonder whether they are bogus or not). However semi nude girls are shown exposing their backs to us which means even medical treatments are offered using sex appeal.
* Drugs - Advertisements are shown that diabetics, blood pressure etc could be cured using drugs. To my limited knowledge, I understand that blood pressure, diabetics, heart ailments etc., cannot be cured but only controlled. Therefore, I request that the Medical Authority should interfere and stop this type of bogus information being disseminated to the public. I am of the opinion that the usage of drugs should be under the supervision of your doctor.
I presume the above particulars come under the scrutiny of the relevant authorities.
S. R. Balachandran (Council Member)
National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka