The evidence of an even hand
ONE of the most positive points in our
lead story yesterday on the State's disbursement of house rebuilding
assistance to tsunami victims was that it covers almost every affected
area, including the North and the East. This feature is bound to bring
great joy to the hearts of the defenders of a just peace in this
True, such demonstrations of equity on the part of the Lankan State
do not have a direct bearing on the peace process but they speak volumes
for the goodwill the State possesses for the communities of this land,
regardless of regional differences. It is such goodwill and amity that
lays the basis for the smooth conduct of the peace effort.
The proposed joint mechanism for the distribution and use of
post-tsunami assistance, when activated, would play the same role and
this is the chief reason why it should be valued by all who mean this
We urge the State to persist with this approach in post-tsunami
rebuilding. For far too long, the Lankan State has been perceived in
some circles as being biased and even racist.
By dealing with all communities with an even hand, such
misconceptions could be dispelled and the secular, nonpartisan and
non-communal basis of the State strongly underlined.
Of course, one of the most triumphant moments for Lankan secularism
would arrive when the Government re-activates the peace process and
takes it to its logical conclusion, which is ethnic peace in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the Government needs to use every means at its disposal to
establish its secular, non-communal credentials.
As could be seen, the post-tsunami reconstruction scenario is rich
with possibilities for the assertion of this identity but all efforts
should also be made to defeat communalism and religious chauvinism in
the wider body politic.
Steering a steady course to establish the joint mechanism for the
handling of aid in the North-East could be one of these. Besides, the
opponents of ethnic equality and a just peace should be constantly
engaged and defeated on the ideological plane.
In addition to some of the laudable purposes just outlined, our lead
story of yesterday also rebuts charges that the State has been
slow-footed in meeting its rebuilding commitments in the tsunami - hit
The facts and figures on housing assistance contained in our news
report entirely demolish charges that the tsunami victims have been left
high and dry by the State. We now have proof that this is clearly not
In fact not only is housing assistance being provided but the Rs.
5,000 special allowance for affected families is being continued
vigorously. All this is being handled by the two main State banks.
We cannot help but reflect that these developments are also the proof
that the State is an indispensable institution and tool in the handling
of national emergencies. Without the State, the plight of the people
could have been graver.