Act of bad faith
No member of the public
who harbour true national sentiments will approve of the act of
the main Opposition United National party to boycott the 61st
Independence Day celebrations, which was a watershed event in
the country's post Independence history.
Instead the party had deemed it fit to hold parallel
celebrations to rival the main event at Galle Face Green. An
occasion such as the country's Independence Day is an event
common to all Lankans devoid of race, religion and party
politics. The riot of national flags across the length and
breadth of the country was testimony to this. Besides an
Independence Day is a national event involving protocol. The
attendance of the leader of the Opposition is part of this
The opposition leader who never tires of expounding
Parliamentary traditions such as Standing Orders, dignity and
decorum, has not shied away from breaching one of the most time
honoured traditions in this country.
As the whole country was aware this Independence Day was
unlike any another preceding it. It was a turning point in the
nation's destiny with the country on the threshold of once again
being united under one banner bringing together all communities,
religions and ethnic groups as envisaged by the founding fathers
of our Independence.
Thus it called for unity among all groups, political parties
and factions in a common cause of seeing the country once again
stand up on its feet after defeating all sinister forces that
tried to dismember it.
It is indeed ironic that the leader of the very party, which
ushered in our Independence with the hope seeing a united
country, deigned to vitiate this very policy by going separate
ways on this momentous occasion. This no doubt is going to place
the Opposition leader in poorer light and indeed as a poor
Such action would only earn the opprobrium of the rank and
file of the party membership leading to further erosion of
support for it.
A national event should never be tainted with party politics
and the UNP leader who makes pious pronouncements upholding
liberal values will no doubt be exposed for this hypocrisy.
This conduct is indeed an affront to all past UNP leaders who
never resorted to such rash action. The non-attendance of the
UNP leader at the event also would not endear him to the public
at large who cannot but assume that this was prompted by envy of
the Government's popularity in the afterglow of the victory
against terrorism, which he singularly failed to achieve.
On the contrary President Rajapaksa displayed magnanimity in
his Independence Day speech when he commended the efforts of all
past governments to achieve peace in the country although their
methods differed from his. He also invited all political parties
to share in the bounty of victory and help him rebuild the
nation, in true statesman-like fashion.
The only way now the UNP leader can redeem himself is by
accepting the friendly gesture of the President and working
together to build a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka. He should
harken to his former Leader J R Jayewardene who extended his
cooperation to then United Front Government to defeat the JVP
insurrection. We are today confronting not just an insurrection
but also an attempt to divide the country and how much more
support should be forthcoming by a responsible Opposition?
Satellite of our own
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's observation that we would soon
be able to put into orbit a communication satellite of our own
augers well for the country's future advancement in the field of
communication technology. It is certainly time that Sri Lanka
takes steps to breach new frontiers on its own. We say this
because even poorer countries today have put into orbit their
own communication satellites and are going places in the
communication world. Presently we use this facility borrowed
from others which is a very costly exercise. Having our own
thing therefore would not only save us money but also launch Sri
Lanka into the big league in the communications field.
The President's invitation to Lankans domiciled abroad to
help with the country's development and expansion seen in this
context is a timely one. With their experience and knowledge
gained overseas they would no doubt be of great assistance. This
satellite was the brainchild of the late Dr. Arthur C. Clarke
and it would be a fitting tribute to the great space scientist
if it sees the light of day in the not too distant future as
anticipated by the President.