A sport reveals its healing powers
By far, the single largest
achievement Sri Lanka accomplished this year was booking a berth
in the Cricket World Cup Final, 2007 in the Caribbean.
As a Third World cricket playing nation, it is a great feat on
the part of our cricketers, led by Mahela Jayawardena, who
accomplished their task in good stead. This is the second time
Sri Lanka entered the third stage of the cricket World Cup after
gaining the honour of being world champions in 1996.
At a time when Sri Lankaís image is being tarnished, probably in
a well organised and orchestrated manner, by those who have a
leaning towards the LTTE and by those who justify the atrocities
committed by them, without a whimper, it is heartening to see
our cricketers perform amidst many an obstacle.
The white-ball campaign launched by Amnesty International (AI)
at the World Cup venues in the West Indies with the slogan
ĎPlay-by-the-rulesí proved to be a damp squib. The vicious and
the not-so-sporty campaign, was launched with the ulterior
motive of carrying out a smear campaign against Sri Lanka and
thereby discouraging our cricketers who were displaying their
talent in good form.
The psychological operation launched by the AI was a flop and
faced with right round condemnation, as our cricketers continued
to show their humility. Their sporty behaviour at almost all
fixtures received the attention of cricket fans who arrived in
their thousands to watch them in action.
In fact, they were de-facto ambassadors who showed good will
among the international community to prove beyond reasonable
doubt that Sri Lanka is not a nation of hooligans as portrayed
by some who sow anti-Sri Lankan sentiments in international fora.
It is time to pay our gratitude and tribute to this band of
sporty men who have performed a great task, on behalf of their
The government should, therefore, seize this opportunity to
prove that Sri Lanka is an ideal place for anybody who loves
natural beauty, golden sandy beaches and investment.
India, not so long ago, used most of their cricketing heroes as
brand ambassadors and with success. However, with their dismal
performances this year, the Indian advertising industry turned
to Bollywood once again. Now it is our opportunity to make use
of this situation for image building, which is very essential in
the present context.
We hope the government of Sri Lanka and its agencies would make
this a unique opportunity to put Sri Lanka again on the world
map as a safe destination notwithstanding the intermittent
problems caused by a band of northern terrorists.
The point to stress about the World Cup finals is that everybody
can witness that Sri Lankan communities are united at this
crucial juncture with one hope that Sri Lanka would win the
World Cup finals.
At the time this comment is being penned, the stage is set for
the final show-down. Whether we win the World Cup or not, the
underlying factor is that a small band of cricketers have made
Sri Lanka proud and made it a household name among millions of
cricket lovers, across the globe.
Isnít it a great achievement? Letís hope that the country will
unite as one nation to congratulate our golden boys in the wee
hours of Sunday.
Let democracy prevail
Simultaneously, the government should ponder on the ground
situation in Sri Lanka. Mahinda Rajapaksa was appointed as the
fifth executive President of Sri Lanka, at an election.
The government should be mindful that the presidency is not a
god given gift, but the one who possess it is elected by the
people, for the greater good of the citizens of the country.
In such a scenario, the government should act democratically and
with restraint, when dealing with the opposition. In a vibrant
democracy, a healthy opposition is an essential ingredient. It
would certainly help the government to act within the democratic
principles which we cherished from 1931, for more than half a
The voice of the opposition should not be muffled with trivial
issues such as the case with regard to Johnston Fernando.
If Fernando had committed a grave crime by misusing public
property, there should be a proper inquiry against him, in
keeping with the normal law of the country. The Criminal
Investigation Department should not act alone; taking the law
into their hands in such instances, but should consult the chief
law officer of the country, the Attorney General, to determine
whether there is a prima facie case against this opposition
parliamentarian and to determine whether the CID is acting
within the ambit of the law. By writing this, we donít attempt
in any way, to hold a brief for Johnston Fernando or anybody in
the opposition; but the way things are happening in the country,
there could be an element of suspicion that the government was
hell-bent on silencing the opposition. If Fernando has abused
public property, he should be dealt accordingly and also others
who fall into this category.
If the government is so obsessed on finding out about those who
have misused public property, while they were holding office,
they could appoint a commission to investigate into the matter,
without any discrimination. Also, they should inquire whether
the public or any other organisation could lodge their
complaints against individuals.
It was not so long ago when Environmental Minister Champika
Ranawaka of the Jathika Hela Urumaya lamented that Minister
A.H.M. Fowzie, who held the same portfolio sometimes back, had
used 11 vehicles attached to the Ministry. The vehicles have not
been returned. Has the government initiated an inquiry into the
matter or has Mr. Fowzie misused privileges awarded to him as a
These are matters that the public would want to know in the
greater interest of the country. Has Mr. Fowzie returned those
vehicles? Or is the current minister making wild allegations
against him? These are the questions that hang on the government
as well as the two good ministers; the public are awaiting a