Towards Eastern development
The gunning down of Eastern
Province Chief Secretary Herath Abeyweera while shocking in the
extreme should come as no surprise to those conversant with the
modus operandi of the LTTE.
Abeyweera, a senior and much respected civil servant is only
one among a long line State functionaries felled by the LTTE
bullet while attempting to restore normality and ensure the
smooth functioning of civilian life in the areas under their
In this regard the name that readily springs to mind is
former Jaffna Mayoress Sarojinee Yogeswaran. She too worked
towards bringing a semblance of normality to the suffering
population when she was ruthlessly stopped in her tracks.
The LTTE will of course not stop with this killing. Humbled
by the Security Forces and driven from the East it will resort
to desperate tactics in a bid to shore up the morale of its
cadres while trying to prove a point to the world at large.
Therefore, restoring civilian life to satisfactory levels in
the immediate aftermath of the victory is the biggest challenge
confronting the Government while affording maximum protection to
the State officials and civilians.
Being annihilated by the Security Forces in the East the
Tigers who are on the run are bound to create a trail of
destruction in their wake and the killing of the Provincial
Secretary is perhaps the first of these atrocities to bolster
it’s depleted image.
There would no doubt be more such killings and other attacks
to detract from their defeat. The Government has taken
cognisance of this reality. In a condolence message on the death
of the Provincial Secretary President Mahinda Rajapaksa asserted
that the “assassination would further strengthen the
Government’s resolve not to give in to the forces of terror but
would proceed with the task of restoring freedom and democracy
to the East and all of Sri Lanka”.
It is now upto the Government to ensure the distraction
caused by the sporadic depredations of the LTTE would not
detract from its avowed mission of developing the East for which
it has drawn an ambitious programme under the theme “Neganahira
It should proceed with single minded purpose to get the
programme off the ground and not squander the opportunity
presented by the heroic deeds of our Forces. It should seize on
the opportunity to make use of the exit of the LTTE to woo the
Eastern population which has endured much suffering and
privations all these years.
To begin with the Government should lose no time in embarking
on an immediate Hearts and Minds operation to assuage feelings
and heal the wounds of a largely alienated population which
would make implementation of its economic programme that much
No development programme is bound to succeed without people
participation. There is a need for doing this fast lest the
celebrations of victory detracts from this main goal. The
proposal to hold local Government elections is a move in the
right direction, for civil structures have to be in place for
things to get moving.
This is also the time for the main Opposition to drop its
polemics and hair splitting over the nature of the Thoppigala
victory and make a constructive bid to help the Government in
its monumental task of rebuilding the East. In the end the gains
obtained will be for the country at large and not for one
The East as we all know is home to bountiful resources and
the Government’s development programme should aim to tap all
such resources in way that would inject a huge fillip to the
It should start by looking at the agricultural and fisheries
sectors which have a vast potential that can make a significant
contribution to the growth in production.
The acid test before the Government would be to convert this
victory to a renaissance of the embattled East for the larger
well being of the nation.