Two sides of the same coin | Daily News

Two sides of the same coin

Health Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne will certainly not win for himself many friends from the South by his comments at the post Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday where he was loath to draw a distinction between the JVP and the LTTE.

Replying to journalists, the onetime ardent leftist said he saw no difference between the violent campaigns launched by the JVP and the LTTE, the former in its quest for toppling a democratically elected government while the latter towards the goal of achieving a separate state.

This is in reference to the commemoration events of the two groups where both sides have set apart days each year to remember their fallen men and women.

The minister said he saw no difference in the Reds commemorating the dead in their two bloody uprisings in 1971 and 1989-90 and the LTTE doing the same in the North.

“If the JVP commemorates its members who died fighting the Police and the Armed Forces at two terror campaigns in 1971 and 1989-90, no one must have any ill will or resentment when parents of those who died at war in the North and East did the same”, he told the journalists.

True, he qualified this remark by saying that only civilians who died in the North can be commemorated, implying that no dead member of the LTTE will be so allowed to be remembered during the so called martyrs day. However even the minister is aware that those commemorated on this day are fallen Tiger terrorists like the JVP commemorates only its combatants who not only killed policemen and soldiers (and their family members) but also butchered a countless number of innocent civilians as did the LTTE.

Hence, it is no use wearing blinkers. Like the JVP marks the death of Rohana Wijeweera on the day he was killed in November there can be little doubt that Velupillai Prabhakaran will be the focus on May 19 in the North despite all the bans imposed by the government against the commemoration of members of a secessionist organisation.

However Minister Senaratne should be commended for his frankness in admitting that parents in the North has as much a right in commemorating their fallen sons and daughters as the JVP does their members in the South. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Hardliners such as Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila are bound to find fault with the minister. They no doubt will see a clear distinction in the two events. But the fact remains that the JVP's cause was as macabre as that of the LTTE. Like the LTTE, the JVP too killed members of the police and the security forces and this differed only in numbers. Not only that, the Reds also killed a large number of Buddhist monks who were perceived to be supportive of the government and gunned down charismatic figure Vijaya Kumaratunga and intellectuals such as Prof. Stanley Wijesundera.

The LTTE, at least, permitted schools and universities in the North to function without interruption while the JVP not only enforced shut downs of educational institutions in the South but also forced schoolchildren onto the streets to protest against the government.

Hence, there can be little or no difference in the two groups in their final aim of rising against the state. It is time those in the South do some serious soul searching and stop making a big hue and cry of events to mark the dead in the North. After all, we are in the process of reconciliation where all differences and parochial considerations must be set aside, particularly distinctions based on race and nationality.

GMOA back in business

The docs are at it again. The GMOA went ahead with its strike action yesterday crippling all government hospitals, causing much hardships to the poor patients. How the GMOA can justify inflicting suffering on the innocent merely because the government is to sign the FTA agreement with Singapore and ECTA with India only the likes of the Padeniyas and Aluthges will be able to explain.

The GMOA has once more ventured into areas outside its remit. It should stop telling the government how to run its business. Doctors should stick to the business of practicing medicine instead of meddling in affairs that are far removed from their profession. Running the country's economy is one of them.

It is patently clear that the doctors are once again doing the bidding of their political masters, going by the identity of those who are in the forefront of the campaign against the two trade agreements. At this rate there is no knowing if the government will be allowed to undertake any bilateral trade agreement with any country without the doctors going on strike.

The government should assert itself and not surrender its authority to whomsoever who make use of the vital nature of his/her profession to hold it to ransom. It should tell the doctors, who owe their education to the poor tax payer, where to get off.


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