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 motherland.
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 century.
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 minister?
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 response.