|It is time, Mr. Mayor
It was really a sad account to
learn about the deaths that occurred on Thursday due to the
flash floods that affected most parts of the country in the
spate of torrential monsoon rains.
The city of Colombo, which was severely affected, recorded two
deaths when an office worker who fell into a pit by the side of
a road, drowned, and another died of electrocution.
The roads in the city of Colombo, once dubbed ‘The Garden City’
due to its beauty, are no more safe, even for pedestrians.
The cause of the death of the office worker is an unprotected
man-hole, which was left open. This is not an isolated incident.
In Colombo, we find many more death traps along the roads, to
which the municipal authorities have paid scant attention, so
It is a pathetic scene to witness Colombo, especially being the
capital city, with unsafe road contraptions all over the city,
which would bring disastrous consequences to pedestrians as well
Additional city coroner Ashraf Rumy had, quite rightly,
apportioned the blame on the municipal authorities – he ruled
that the Colombo municipal council should be held responsible
for these deaths and urged authorities concerned to take swift
action to remedy the situation before more lives were lost.
If the main city council has no respect for human lives, a very
appropriate question to ask is, where we are heading to? It is,
undoubtedly, from bad to worse, and it is time for the
governmental authorities to think twice and take action against
this pathetic council that conducts itself to the utter
dissatisfaction of the citizenry.
If the government of the day is civic conscious, then, it would
swing into action and pay proper compensation to the kith and
kin of the deceased, who died due to the sheer negligence of the
The law makers should take prompt action to legislate the
necessary law, under which any city council could be brought to
justice, if they do not perform to the satisfaction of the
tax-payer. The absence of such municipal laws or the little
knowledge of the citizenry, of the responsibilities of the city
councils, have left enough room for the municipal authorities to
conduct themselves in haphazard manner.
Mr. Mayor it is time to put your act together or quit for the
sake of the people.
Country on ‘Nowhere Lane’
The question where we are heading to, has to be posed once
again, after examining the proposals put forward by the Sri
Lanka Freedom Party to the All Party Representative Committee
for the resolution of the ethnic crisis.
These proposals no doubt fall short of the aspirations of all
minorities, including Tamils and Muslims.
Most of the minority parties and the opposition United National
Party have pooh-poohed the proposals as something going
backwards from the existing provincial council system, which was
set up under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution as a sequel
to the Indo-Lanka Agreement signed between the governments of
India and Sri Lanka in 1987.
In fact, some of the constituent parties within the government
had objected to the proposals put forward by the SLFP, including
Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), Eelam People’s
Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) and People’s Liberation
Organisation of the Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and Ceylon Workers’
In a statement issued with the signatures of government allies
in this group – TULF, EPRLF and PLOTE, it was stated that the
powers to be devolved under the SLFP proposals are not even
coming close to the powers vested in the provincial councils
formed, under the 13th Amendment.
It also said that 50 years of agitation by the Tamil speaking
people to win their rights has brought them back to square one.
They have also emphasised that Tamils would not accept anything
less than a federal solution.
Not only the Tamil parties, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC),
too find it difficult to fathom the objective behind these
The district council system proposed by the SLFP had been tested
and failed as far back in 1981 and a similar system was proposed
by Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, under the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam
pact in 1958, which however, did not see light of day.
However, a paradoxical stand is taken by the two other
constituent parties of the government, the JVP and the JHU. The
two parties have opposed the district council on the pretext
that it impinges on the Mahinda Chinthana concept, promulgated
by the SLFP during the election.
No doubt the government is utterly confused over its stand, as
it has now come out with another statement saying the SLFP
proposals are not essentially the proposals of the government.
It is a known fact, that the government made it a point to come
up with district councils in a bid to appease the more
hardliners, the JVP and the JHU, however now it appears, the
government has a difficulty in swallowing this bitter pill.
While the Tamil parties who are supportive of the government are
up in arms stating that the proposals do not meet the
aspirations of the minorities, the more hardliners such as the
JVP and the JHU are taking an entirely different line.
Which way will the government go? Can the government sustain its
proposals and solve the ethnic crisis, based on the proposed
district council? These are the pertinent questions that should
be answered. It looks like a distant dream for the government,
which tries to rely on the strength of the JVP and the JHU, to
maintain a parliamentary majority.
In the absence of the UNP proper, we hope the UNP reformists
would come up with something more practical to resolve the
problem, though they are a part of the government. By far, the
more practical move is to rely on the 2000 August proposed
constitutional amendments and discuss this as a working paper by
the APRC, which even goes beyond the 13th Amendment to the