An honour which is more than
A good part of the world
is with Sri Lanka and we have clinching proof that this is so.
Not only will Sri Lanka host the next Commonwealth Parliamentary
Association (CPA) conference, due next year, but Speaker Chamal
Rajapaksa has been accorded a rare honour by being elected
president of the CPA. This double distinction is not merely
symbolic of the respect and regard Sri Lanka had and is
achieving internationally but is also a pointer to the ready and
friendly acceptance being extended to this country by some of
the most crucial sections of the world community. Apparently,
Sri Lanka's prestige and fame is remaining undiminished, the
adverse campaign against her notwithstanding.
There is food for thought for both friend and foe of this
country, in these developments. The CPA is an epitome of the
Commonwealth's commitment to democracy and its institutions.
Whereas the British Commonwealth is a heterogeneous mix of
countries, in terms of political systems and beliefs, one of its
defining essences over the decades has been its commitment to
democratic governance and ideals. Thus, a clear message is
transmitted to the world, in this turn of events, that Sri Lanka
is cherished and respected for her continuing commitment to
democracy and its institutions by the British Commonwealth of
Those sections which are seeking to denigrate this country
for what are described as accountability and connected issues
are thus standing rebuffed. Deep down it is universally felt,
apparently, that Sri Lanka was exercising an inalienable and
perfectly legitimate right by neutralizing the LTTE, which posed
a dangerous threat to both the territorial integrity of this
country and to its long-cherished democratic way of life.
Regardless of what its detractors may say, Sri Lanka is seen as
operating well within its rights and obligations. This, the
democratic sections of the world fully recognize and endorse.
From this recognition come the current honours the CPA has seen
fit to bestow on us.
The news of these freely bestowed laurels should be spread
far and wide and in this task the totality of the polity should
participate. It is an enterprise for not only our
Parliamentarians and foreign missions. Every lover of democracy
in this land is obliged to speak and publicize these
achievements of one of the oldest democracies in South Asia.
In these developments we also need to see the coming into its
own of the legislature which is an institution of fundamental
importance in the local polity. The legislature is continuing to
play a crucial role in local governance and this fact is being
clearly underlined, by the honours just earned by Sri Lanka.
Clearly, the Parliament of this country is no 'rubber stamp';
its essential role is law-making and this vital function it is
continuing to play vibrantly. That Sri Lanka is a very lively
democracy in this sense has been clearly underscored by the CPA.
However, the democratic order which we have thus fortunately
inherited and fostered needs to be not only prolonged but
qualitatively improved and fine-honed. We are at a cross-roads
in our post-independence political history and from what could
be gathered nation-making needs to get into top gear. For this
purpose the communities of our land should be welded into a
single united polity and the task of democratization would not
be complete until every community in this country believes that
it is an equal stake-holder in the Lankan state. This is
nation-building, correctly understood.
Thus, much remains to be done and the totality of our people
should take up the challenge of creating a nation out of the
many communities we comprise. There is no disputing that every
community will identify with the country only to the extent to
which it believes that it is at home in Sri Lanka. This is the
reason why a political solution to our conflict must be worked
out and what better place to initiate this task than Parliament
which is widely representative of our communities. Parliament
could consolidate its prestige and fame by helping to work a
solution to our problem. The Parliamentary Select Committee
could clearly underscore the relevance and vitality of
Parliament by putting its mind to this historic enterprise of
deliberating a political solution without further ado.