Unity is strength
The call made by Eastern Province Chief Minister
Pilleyan to all his colleagues in the fledgling Provincial
Council to unite shedding all differences to showcase the East
as a prime example of multi ethnic democracy, we hope would be
heeded by all actors in Eastern power play.
It goes without saying that unity is vital if the people of
the East are to enjoy the fruits of democracy which they had at
last being bequeathed after decades of trial and tribulation.
Instead if fissiparous politics enters the body politic of the
East all efforts of transforming the province into a model of
development and ethnic harmony is bound to fall by the wayside.
We are already witnessing a sample of the consequences of
this disunity in the incidents that have occurred in Eravur and
Kattankudi. There are no doubt sinister forces including the
LTTE at work attempting to destabilise the new Council and turn
the East into a powder keg once again and reverse the gains
achieved by the Government. Unity therefore should be the
buzzword if the people of the East are to see the dawn after
years of darkness.
As the Chief Minister said in his address at the inaugural
sessions of the PC "democracy in the East was gained at a price
with thousands of lives being lost to a conflict which plagued
the province for over two decades".
He also pleaded for the banishment of petty political
rivalries to make way for the Eastern Resurgence to fulfil the
aspirations of the masses who had undergone enough suffering.
One should understand that the Eastern Provincial Council is
unique by all accounts.It is the first experiment of democracy
in a region which was under the control of the LTTE for over two
decades. It is also a PC where a one time diehard LTTE cadre is
at the helm after opting to forgo his past and embrace
democracy. It is also the first PC born out of the demerger. All
this calls for unity among Eastern polity if the experiment is
Therefore it is of paramount importance to allow the Council
to function without unduly disturbing its activities or
attempting to scuttle its functions.
Regrettably the UNP has failed to realise the importance of
forging unity to deal with the unique situation in the Eastern
province. The party has singularly failed to act with
responsibility going by the comedy that was enacted at the
Opposition Leader's office where all UNP Provincial Councillors
were sworn in by the Opposition Leader to coincide with the
taking of oaths by the rest of the councillors in the East.
The fledgling council could well have done without this side
show at a time when the need of the hour was unity that is
needed to resurrect and rebuild the battered province and
deliver the fruits of freedom to the people.
The UNP which prides itself as a party with a liberal outlook
and a friend of the minorities, by this act had betrayed the
large number of Easterners who voted for it at the hustings. It
tantamounts to treating their mandate with contempt.
Will the UNP members forego their perks and privileges as
members of the Council ? This is what the party did even after
the notorious Wayamba PC poll where after all the brouhaha it
settled down to enjoy the largesse dispensed by the impugned
The party owed a duty to its voters in the East to have been
present at the inaugural session as representatives of their
sovereign will. The boycott would no doubt act to the detriment
of the party who will be branded as poor losers not to mention
the image it portrays to the general masses.
Above all else it was a body blow to the unity that is a sine
quo non for the smooth functioning of the Council which unlike
its counterparts in rest of the country would have to grapple
with problems unique to its special circumstances.
Sowing the seeds of discord and disunity as displayed by the
country's main opposition at the very outset is certainly not
going to endear itself to voters in the East who may have
expected it to work in unison with the ruling party to address
their urgent problems more expeditiously.
True the boycott stemmed from allegations of irregularities
at the Poll. But this has now being taken up before another
forum namely the courts of law. Hence it would have been prudent
for the UNP members to be present at the inaugural ceremony, if
for nothing else but to reassure the people of the East of their
genuine commitment to serve them. It should now atone for its
mistake and work for the uplift of Eastern masses.