|Tuesday, 31 August 2004|
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Reconsider ceasefire loopholes
With the LTTE continuing its pistol gang killings in the North-East and even in the South unabated, brutally snuffing out the lives of their rivals the question that needs answering is how this evil tide could be stemmed.
We don't believe it would prove advisable to look askance at the SLMM and to irresponsibly pick holes in its performance.
The SLMM is doing its best within the present terms of the Ceasefire Agreement and so are the Lankan law and order agencies. As Cabinet Spokesman and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera said recently, the Government is committed to peace and would in no way undermine the present order where a degree of normalcy prevails. The State and the people need to build on what has been achieved rather than lose their cool and commit something which is completely uncalled for, from the point of view of the national interest.
Nevertheless, the LTTE would need to prove that it is not trigger - happy and blood-thirsty if the necessary climate for a resumption of the peace process is to be created. In fact, the LTTE would need to scrupulously observe the terms of the Ceasefire if are to get anywhere, in terms of peace-making.
Besides, the Tigers need to recognize that an anti-human, despotic tendency and peace-making on the basis of democratic norms and values are a contradiction in terms. As we have said before, the LTTE's present mind set wouldn't help in the realisation of the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people. If the latter aims are not achieved all will be lost and, therefore, it could be said that the LTTE's present approach to the posers it is up against would prove utterly - counterproductive.
While we hope a measure of sanity would prevail at the decision-making levels of the LTTE, the Government needs to consider the point of view put forward by IGP Indra de Silva that some sections of the Ceasefire Agreement need to be reconsidered and scrutinized critically.
These provisions are those which permit free movement of persons from the North-East to the rest of the country. These loopholes are exploited by not only those persons who are attempting to flee LTTE terror but by the members of LTTE killer squads themselves, who are in hot pursuit of the former.
The authorities cannot certainly prevent the public from going about their legitimate business but a monitoring mechanism needs to be in place to easily identify those persons who come into the South from the North-East. This would enable the authorities to keep track of LTTEers and other elements whose presence could have security implications for the State. We, therefore, need to take a second look at those provisions which facilitate the movement of would be trouble-makers.
For the record
Another edition of the Summer Olympics has ended, leaving a raft of world records in its wake. Yet many of these records will be bettered in 2008, when Beijing hosts the 30th Olympic Games.
A record signifies the very limit of personal achievement and human endurance. A millionth of a second can mean victory or defeat in the Olympics.
In fact, new research indicates that top athletes are already closing in on the limitations of human physical performance. Sports physiology researchers have told the EuroScience Open Forum in Stockholm that "we are close to the limit" of physical endurance.
They have taken the example of throwing events such as shot put, discus and hammer, suggesting that athletes in those events may already have reached the body's full potential. They however believe that endurance events such as swimming and running could still see world records shaved by up to 10 percent over the next 15 years.
Marathon runners, for example, would be able to take minutes off their times in the future if they learned to maximise their aerobic capacity and economise their technique.
Achieving the pinnacle of sports performance is no easy task. It is a scientific endeavour, with athletes meticulously monitoring their training techniques and diet.
Nevertheless, some athletes eager to earn golds and shine for their respective countries have followed the wrong path: the consumption of banned performance-enhancing drugs. Given the very high stakes involved, athletes will continue to cheat their way to the finishing line. But sophisticated detection techniques, coupled with extra vigilance at sporting venues, have shamed many top athletes. It will remain a constant tussle between anti-doping agencies and players as the latter go for almost undetectable 'nutritional' supplements.
It is also not clear as to why athletes from certain countries fare well at certain events. For example, Africans are masters of the long distance races whereas Americans and Jamaicans seem to excel in sprint events. Genetics and climate could be playing a role in addition to training. Experts also point out that sports equipment could make all the difference.
All-new track surfaces and running shoes for land events and body hugging 'fastskin' swimming suits are known to have helped athletes in their quest for records. New computerised training techniques also help athletes to refine their actions.
Perhaps the biggest contribution could come from medical science. Advances in medicine already help us to live longer than our ancestors ever thought possible. Sports medicine is now well-established as a separate discipline and doctors work closely with athletes all the time. Futurists predict that athletes will one day have bio-mechanical aids that could propel them to feats unimaginable today.
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