|Saturday, 28 August 2004|
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Government's commendable commitment
The country is in no way on the brink of war - this timely and firm assurance comes from no less a person than Cabinet Spokesman and Media Minister, Mangala Samaraweera.
Coming close on the heels of a measure of unease in some public quarters on the possibility of the Ceasefire Agreement being breached, Minister Samaraweera's statement should go a very long way in putting the record straight on the true intentions of the Government.
The factual position is that the Government is totally opposed to war and believes firmly in non-violence. This much was made amply clear by Minister Samaraweera. Accordingly war jitters in any quarters are completely unwarranted. The public could now rest assured that efforts by the Government to revive the suspended peace process would continue unabated.
While the Government has come clean on its future course, what about the LTTE, we are compelled to ask.
Why can't the LTTE too clear the air on what it intends to do? If the LTTE does so, rather than continue with its terror spree, the foundation for a resumption of the peace effort could be considered as having been laid. But the country does not have this assurance from the Tigers.
Instead, anti-LTTE Tamil political activists are being cold - bloodedly gunned down, speaking eloquently of a continuing pro-war mindset among the Tigers. Thus is the LTTE increasingly jeopardising the chances resuming the peace process.
However, we warmly commend the Government for not only making its position abundantly clear but for also unambiguously choosing peace instead of war. Through this firm commitment to peace the Government is doing its part to perpetuate a pro-peace ethos in the country.
An important task for the future is to integrate the LTTE into the peace effort. While the Government clearly and correctly perceives that there is no alternative to a negotiated settlement, based on a democratic framework, the LTTE is yet to arrive at this position.
The Government promises to be patient but if the LTTE is really acting with the interests of the Tamil people at heart it would seize this opportunity for relaunching the peace effort. If not, the Tigers would be only prolonging the nightmare of the Tamil people. In other words, nothing would be gained by the LTTE continuing to remain recalcitrant.
If the Tigers are thinking beyond their narrow interests they would seize this opportunity to put the peace process back on track. If not, it faces the prospect of bearing the entire blame for the stalling of the peace effort. We call on the LTTE to prove the sincerity of its intentions.
The right spirit
New research showing that alcohol sharpens brain power and is good for the heart would no doubt lift the spirits and warm the cockles of all imbibers. Not only that, they can now ask their wives too to join in since the findings reveal that women could also benefit.
What will be even more heartening is that the research does not impose a limit. The study conducted by a team of academics at University College, London states that "frequent drinking could be beneficial than drinking on special occasions."
Just the kind of excuse needed by drinking hubbies to use against their over-protective wives. A tipsy husband now need not fear of being dragged away from his Bacchanal orgy at some family party by his better half.
The Research team whose findings are reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, suggests that the results may reflect the fact that alcohol can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and increase blood flow to the brain - factors linked to improved mental function.
Now what would be the fallout of this study in Sri Lanka- a nation already ranked among countries with the highest number of boozers in the world. The possibilities could be endless.
There is no doubting the 'magic' of alcohol to some. There are those who would swear to its power and potential as a morale booster, a rejuvenator of the mind and spirit. It is also noted how different people respond differently after one too many.
Some become boisterous while others turn into interesting raconteurs. There are heavy boozers who suddenly turn maudlin while others entertain with song and dance. Lankans sure do not need some research study in Old Blighty to tell them the impact of alcohol on the grey cells.
One recalls not many moons ago two legislators advocating the legitimising of Moonshine (kasippu). Both Members, representing the strip of coastline known for its thriving moonshine industry, blamed the authorities for penalising pliers of the moonshine trade instead of converting it into a profitable cottage industry.
In fact, heavy taxes on legitimate alcohol have driven many towards the illegal stuff, resulting in a loss of revenue to the coffers and a massive health bill.
What the two legislators stressed was that provided the proper methodology and under supervision we could turn out an alcoholic drink which could not only generate employment but also turn out to be a good foreign exchange earner. With the latest research giving a clean bill of health to Bacchus, that much reviled god in the pantheon, what could one say but a hearty "cheers".
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