|Wednesday, 4 September 2002|
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Valuable North-South TV link
North-South linkages were further strengthened on Monday when the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation relaunched its Tamil service to Northern Sri Lanka after a lapse of 15 years. This amounts to giving the public in both parts of the country access to information emanating from each others regions of habitation.
A virtual hot line has been established between North and South, offering the possibility of upgraded communication links between two vital sections of the population, which hardly knew of each others existence for long, sad years.
It goes without saying that this TV link would prove a great boon in the current peace effort. If the peace process is to be taken to its logical conclusion, the people of the North and South need to gain an insight into each others conditions. War mongerism feeds on ignorance and a break down in human communication. If at all it is easy for sections in the South to beat the war drums frenziedly, it is because they do not know the suffering and sorrow war and conflict entail in the North. The same is true of extremist opinion in the North.
Thus far the wide-ranging costs of war in the North-East have filtered into the Southern consciousness only sporadically and fitfully. Except for those occasional photographs published in the newspapers and specialist journals on the conflict, thus far very few ways have emerged of both sides of the divide getting to know each others situations more insightfully. In the Vanni, for instance, the ravages of war are truly astounding but most people in the South didn't know this until the A 9 highway opened and North-South travel links were established. If all sections of the South had an idea of the widespread nature of suffering in the North, those rhetorical calls for bloodshed would have fallen on totally deaf ears.
The reestablishment of the Northern Rupavahini channel would help to put the record straight on the costs of war and connected issues. Besides, the South would awaken to the hopes and aspirations of the North. This development would also steadily undermine the pro-war and chauvinistic propaganda blitz currently emanating from sections of Southern opinion. It cannot be realised enough that the majority of the people of the North yearn for peace and an undivided country. This reality was not fully known by the people of the South because communication channels had collapsed. Instead, they were exposed to biased and racist propaganda which fed steadily on ignorance.
On the other hand, the opportunity now offers itself for the Government to beam its message of peace and goodwill to the people of the North. Besides, the people of this region could be provided updated and accurate information on developments in the peace process. In addition, development news could be made freely available to the public in all regions.
This process of breaking down barriers of communication needs to continue between North and South. Since our aim is a united, undivided country efforts must be made to instil in the public conscience a set of values which facilitates this aim. Once again, Rupavahini would prove invaluable here.
Politicians and corruption posers
Ask most of our citizens and they will tell you our politicians are corrupt. Ask most of our politicians and they will tell you members of the opposing party are corrupt. Every government that has come to power rails against the previous one and points fingers at one or the other opponent and says he or she was on the take while in office. But this country is yet to prosecute and find guilty any politician for actually accepting cash for favours granted.
This brings us to the case of General Anuruddha Ratwatte, one of the country's leading politicians. The Police say they have discovered Certificates of Deposits to the value of some Forty Million Rupees in bank safe deposit boxes belonging to the General and members of his family. The General has also said that these monies have been obtained legally.
There is no way that anyone can say the good General is guilty of corruption. A man is not guilty until he is found so by the due process of the law. As he says these accusations may be malicious lies spread by his opponents and the usual finger-pointing that goes on in our politics.
But there has to be a reasonable explanation as to how a politician can amass such wealth, so please can we have one?
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