It is certainly bound to be a huge
drain on the State coffers, but the decision taken by Deputy
Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama to offer relief to the
next of kin of soldiers who lay down their lives for the
Motherland is indeed commendable.
According to a front page story in a national Daily
yesterday, the Widows and Orphans Act is to be amended entitling
the next of kin of the Security Forces who sacrificed their
lives on the battle field to the full salary and other
emoluments of the victims until the age of 55 and to the full
True, over a million public servants will benefit by the
scheme but the move is mainly aimed at the Armed Forces and
Police numbering over 400,000.
No amount of rewards can compensate for the sacrifices by our
Security Forces who are waging a battle in the noble endeavour
of protecting the territorial integrity of the country. This
therefore is but a small price to pay for their valour.
It should also be noted that until recently our soldiers were
completely cut off from public focus where the sacrifices of
these valiant soldiers gained no currency among the majority of
the populace particularly the urban elite.
Most of our people went about their merry way enjoying the
bounties of city life and wallowing in the luxury of
ostentatious living completely oblivious of the ordeal endured
by our fighting men.
There were plenty of distractions to blot out the reality in
the theatre of war where a segment of our brethren were shedding
their blood for the Motherland, such as cricket matches,
carnivals not to mention the latest Super Star culture to
mesmerise the young.
It is to the enteral credit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa
that this trend has now been reversed and the soldier brought
into the lime light, unravelling the hardship and sacrifice he
has to undergo in countering a ruthless enemy in hostile
terrain. The public today as never before has been exposed to
the harsh reality of the war.
Thanks to this move today the soldier has been placed on a
pedestal where he his being depicted in his heroic cast in the
press on television and the ubiquitous banners, hoardings and
cut outs that dot the country’s landscape and even committed to
This adulation alone will not suffice and we should strive to
materially reward the efforts of these valiant men and their
kith and kin. The 5,000 unit housing scheme for members of the
Security Forces now being constructed in Anuradhapura is one
move to recognise the sacrifice of our fighting men. There
should be more such projects to help our soldiers, a great
majority of whom come from poor families in the rural outback,
to raise their morale further to forge ahead determinedly to
finish off the remaining vestiges of terrorism from our midst.
True, President Rajapaksa like no other leader before had
given pride of place to our soldiers appreciating their
sacrifices. He has thus rewarded them with high remuneration and
other wherewithal that had egged on their spirit to give of
their best towards their motherland. The public too today
empathise with our heroic men as never before as seen from the
sporadic celebrations in the wake of military victories.
But they should also show their appreciation in a more
tangible form by contributing to the various welfare schemes
being established for cause of the Security Forces.
Now that the end of the three decades old war is nearing its
end these valiant men deserve all the fruits of their labour and
NIC reigns supreme
The affable Plantation Industries Minister D.M. Jayaratne
according to press reports was almost deprived of his vote the
other day when he went to his local polling station in Kandy to
cast his ballot at the Central Provincial Council elections.
His offence; producing his Parliament Identity Card to the
presiding officer, which was not in the stipulated list of ID
documents prescribed by the Elections Commissioner.
Luckily for him he had his National ID and was able to cast
his vote. Had he not he would have been the second high ranking
Lankan politician on record to have been denied of his voting
right at the point of voting.
The other of course was the one time SLFP presidential
candidate Hector Kobbekaduwa. This though was not for want of an
ID document. That of course is a story by itself which has been
told and retold over the years. Suffice it to say this marked
the beginning of election malpractice, the intimidation of
polling agents, storming of polling booths, the whole malaise
that affect elections in Sri Lanka to this day.
To get back to the Jayaratne episode how come the Elections
Commissioner overlook this most vital identity document which is
a pass to the supreme legislature that even votes funds for the
Elections Commission not to mention the salary of the
This indeed is a big faux pass that we are sure will be
remedied by the Elections Commissioner without delay.
Looking at the funny side of it a wag is bound to say it was
a come uppence against local politicians who are known to call
the shots inside polling booths where they strut about like
peacocks to have their way.
Thankfully there were no ruffled feathers this time around.