Need for vigilance
The past few weeks have seen a spate of
attacks by the LTTE on civilian targets in the South. From the
bus bomb in Piliyandala to yesterday’s carnage in Moratuwa,
which saw the deaths of 21 innocent people, the pattern is
The LTTE, battered in the North and completely vanquished in
the East, has found the easiest target to take its revenge -
civilians. It is a sign of desperation and hopelessness on the
part of the LTTE.
The LTTE has always been known to target non-combatants
through is acts of terror, but the new wave of strikes has taken
its barbarity to a new level. These innocent civilians had
nothing to do with the conflict - they were going about their
Yet, there is an answer. It is called eternal vigilance. Even
as this incident shocked the Nation yesterday, several other
explosive devices were detected thanks to the alert eyes of
civilians in many parts of the country. Needless to say, their
vigilance prevented a number of tragedies.
As the saying goes, Governments have to be lucky all the time
and terrorists have to be lucky only once. But vigilance can -
and does - stop the terrorists in their tracks. The Armed Forces
and Police cannot be present everywhere, all the time - we
should be their eyes and ears at all other times.
The next time you see a suspicious parcel, other object,
vehicle or person stop for a moment and call the relevant
authorities. This simple action may save many precious lives.
It is also extremely important to remain calm under these
trying circumstances. The very intention of the LTTE is to raise
communal tensions and gain international sympathy. Any such
event will have negative consequences for Sri Lanka and its
The public should also cooperate fully with the
investigations of the Security Forces even if they have to
undergo some inconvenience in the process.
We must all bear in mind that the terrorists need one slim
chance to cause death and destruction. Whether they are military
or civilian lives, Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims is immaterial to
Increased public vigilance is essential. Even a seemingly
trivial observation may yield clues to a bigger destructive
design by the ruthless LTTE. Thus a raised level of alertness by
civilians will enable the Security Forces and the Police to
discharge their duties even more effectively.
The Government has laid to rest some of the fears surrounding
the extension of the GSP Plus facility by the European Union.
Minister G.L. Peiris, addressing the Cabinet news briefing
explained that contrary to disinformation spread by certain
elements, the deadline for submitting applications is a long way
off. More than five months, in fact.
Prof. Peiris stressed that the Government was doing all it
can to secure this facility for Sri Lanka, especially for the
sake of nearly one million Lankans directly or indirectly
involved in the apparel sector.
One of the main arguments of Lanka’s detractors, both local
and foreign, is that the country does not meet the stringent
human rights conditions needed for granting this concession
which enables Lanka to access the EU market (mainly for
garments) duty free.
In a landmark ruling earlier this year, the Supreme Court
reaffirmed that Sri Lanka does indeed meet these requirements to
An extension of this argument is that Sri Lanka would have to
amend its Constitution specifically to incorporate such
requirements. In the light of the SC ruling, this becomes
irrelevant and totally unnecessary.
It is important that the Opposition participates fully in
this exercise as it is a national issue. Politics apart, the
apparel industry is one of the country’s leading earners of
It is a vital component of the economy and no future
Government will be able to resurrect the industry if it
This is why it is important for the Opposition to work
together with the Government to secure GSP Plus.
As Prof. Peiris explained, it is also important to prepare a
very comprehensive dossier to be presented to the EU, in
consultation with all stakeholders and the European Union
itself. It is heartening to note that the EU is having a close
dialogue with Sri Lankan authorities in this regard. A top level
EU delegation will be here next week for extensive talks on this
While securing the GSP Plus, the garment industry should also
strive to improve the quality and range of its products, find
new markets and improve access to existing markets in order to
compete with other countries in the region and elsewhere
aggressively promoting their garment products.