|Tuesday, 9 March 2004|
Please forward your comments to the Editor, Daily News.
Email : email@example.com
Snail mail : Daily News, 35, D.R. Wijewardene Mawatha, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Telephone : 94 11 2429429 / 94 11 2421181
Fax : 94 11 2429210
Welcome security precautions
It is with a deep sigh of relief that we learn that President Kumaratunga has taken it on herself to ensure that election candidates in the North-East are provided maximum security. Besides sounding out the SLMM on this issue, the President has also spoken to the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army about it.
The task of the SLMM would be to now speak to the LTTE about the need to refrain from terror attacks, following clear evidence that the LTTE is ruthlessly eliminating those candidates who are unlikely to toe their line and supinely be their proxies in a future Parliament. The death toll in such killings, as is well known, is two to date but may rise as the electioneering in the North-East hots up. Before then, the LTTE hot heads need to be reined-in and the SLMM is ideally suited for the job, given the recognition it enjoys as peace facilitator and the eminence it commands.
The question may be raised whether such intervention by the SLMM comes within the terms of the Ceasefire Agreement. This may not be so, if one bases oneself strictly on the word of the ceasefire, but it could be argued that it accords with the spirit of the ceasefire. During the ceasefire the Tigers are expected to transform from a combat mode to a peaceful mode and it is perfectly in accordance with the latter for the LTTE to respect and abide by the law of the land. It would be in the fitness of things, therefore, for the SLMM to mediate in this matter.
Likewise, we welcome moves by the President to call upon the Sri Lanka Army to provide protection for North-East polls candidates.
Come what may, the democratic process must be perpetuated. Since most sections of society do not accept the Tiger canard of being the sole representative of the Tamil people and because we owe it to the Tamil people to ensure conditions in which their civic rights could be exercised, we welcome these moves by the Army to provide protection for polls candidates.
The very fact that the Tigers are busy hunting independent - minded candidates, besides splitting down the middle on internal differences, proves their deep-seated uneasiness to face a free and fair poll. Their prime fear is that they will be unmasked and exposed as tyrannical power-seekers and not pass the test of being "freedom fighters".
Everyone knew it, but now it is official: Baghdad is the worst place to live in the world at the moment. Despite efforts by the Allies to restore law and order to the post-Saddam city, bomb explosions regularly claim military and civilian lives. Yet, its residents have no choice other than going ahead with their day-to-day work.
On the other hand, residents of Zurich, the Swiss city, have experienced war only on television. As they see pictures of death and destruction from Baghdad, they must thank their lucky stars that Zurich has been crowned the 'Best City to Live In', out of 215 cities around the world. The survey, published last week by Mercer Human Resources Consulting, predictably ranked Geneva and Vancouver second and third.
What makes a great city? According to Mercer, several factors combine to increase the appeal of a city. The political and social environment, the level of education, the efficiency of transport systems, the standards of recreational facilities and health and sanitation facilities are among them.
It is thus clear why Switzerland and Canada almost always win any 'best countries/cities' surveys with ease. Both Switzerland and Canada are mature, stable democracies. Crime rates are low. Educational institutions maintain high standards. Public transport systems are clean and efficient. Health/sanitation facilities are first class, as are recreational opportunities. Employment is relatively high.
This very promise of a 'good life' attracts thousands of immigrants to Western countries, though not all of them try legal means. The allure of a good job with high pay propels many young Asians and Africans to risk their lives as they attempt to enter the West.
Developing countries must do far more to keep them at home. Cities in most developing countries never get to the top of 'best city' surveys. Political instability and violence, armed conflicts, high rates of crime, appalling public transport, woeful sanitation facilities, high unemployment, corruption and a host of other factors firmly keep them near the bottom of such surveys.
They should not, however, give up the fight to climb the ladder. Third World Governments and civil society groups must earnestly and urgently address these issues to make their countries and cities more enviable. Overtaking Zurich may not be impossible, after all.
Produced by Lake House