Negotiate in a cooperative spirit
l ling to talk to
the disaffected Dons, provided they take the initiative to open
talks with him. He, however, said that the talks would need to
be conducted by the Dons in a constructive spirit, since he
feared that the agitation was politically-motivated. The
President pointed out that nothing would come out of these talks
if they were politically-motivated.
There is food for thought here. Problems could be resolved
among parties only if there is an earnest and sincere effort on
their part to focus on the problem at hand and to resolve it.
Nothing would come out of their efforts at negotiating if they
are politically motivated or if they are egged on by external
forces which seek a change in the existing relations of power.
We hope that this is not the case in the present Dons' agitation
and urge them to sit at the negotiating table with the President
in a spirit of sincerity.
Another issue that presents the same considerations is the
present opposition among some sections to the proposed private
pension scheme. Here too, there seems to be a destructive bent
among those protesting it. The latter could put their doubts at
rest, if they are really in earnest, by reading an explanation
of the scheme by no less a person than the Secretary to the
Labour Ministry, which we front-paged yesterday. There the
Secretary lucidly clarifies that no deductions will be made from
employees' ETF and EPF funds to finance the pension scheme. In
fact, the pension project is to be funded by a separate and
independent fund and the earnings and savings of employees in no
way would be compromised.
This being the case, it is a matter for wonderment why the
agitation over the pension scheme has to be continued with such
ferocity and bellicosity. The rational and the sober could not
be found fault with for concluding that these protestors are
politically motivated and nothing more, since they seemingly do
not see reason.
There are political forces which are all out to disrupt the
state's development drive and to make life for the government
very uneasy. Attempts at talking to these sections would prove
futile. But it is up to those who are backed by them to see
through the wiles of these forces which are
destructively-oriented. It is up to those who are in earnest
when they make demands to approach the government in a spirit of
sincerity and to resolve their problems at the negotiating
table, rather than fall prey to these opportunistic forces whose
agenda is usually at variance with the good intentions of both
the state as well as of those sections which are earnestly
seeking solutions to their problems.
What all this adds up to is that moderate opinion in our
polity needs to close ranks and adopt a rational and
down-to-earth approach to resolving their issues with the
government. There is little we could do about the hardliners;
they would always want to make life hard for the administration.
But there is an urgent need for moderate opinion, which is
usually in the majority, to assert itself, overcome opposition
from the hardliners, and peacefully resolve their problems with
There are larger issues in these developments which need to
be taken up for consideration and discussion. Despite having
come some distance in democratic development, we are yet to
evolve a polity where constructive discussion and debate would
hold sway over passion and base emotions. That is, one could
argue that not all the elements of a true democratic culture are
in place in our polity. It is just not enough to hold periodic
elections and to elect our representatives to governing bodies.
Our public also needs to institutionalize democratic practices,
such as, peaceful debate and discussion, which would be geared
to resolving differences in the most rational cordial fashion.
Besides, public discussion and debate needs to be aimed at
positive results and results which could heal differences and
bring about agreement among contending groups.
This is the spirit of democracy and this should ideally
motivate public interactions and the relations between the state
and the people. In other words, our politics should be nothing
less than consensual politics. And such consensuality is badly
needed today, as we put our shoulders to the wheel of national
development. Let us not squander the opportunities that have
opened unto us in the wake of a destructive conflict which has
been finally overcome. Let us unite to see Sri Lanka through.