Avurudu sans politicos! | Daily News


Avurudu sans politicos!

Yes, our headline comes with an exclamation mark because, in recent years, it has become the norm for local politicos to be VIPs come April when the whole country resounds to the festivities of ‘Avurudu’ or ‘Putthaandu’.

Not this time, however.

This year, April will be the time of political campaigning for our snap General Election which has been scheduled for April 25. The National Elections Commission may have perceived the gleam in the eye of the local politico with his/her village or neighbourhood Traditional New Year celebrations in mind. ‘Oh no, you don’t!’, the NEC has now said, nipping any campaigning tactics using ‘Avurudu/Putthaandu’ in the bud.

A formal announcement issued by the Elections Commission has banned any kind of promotion of election contestants in connection with such ‘Avurudu Ulela’.

‘Ooo Laa Laa!’, the Kohaa may call loudly – whether in real life or in radio adverts – but no election candidate can dare do so anywhere near Avurudu festivities. It would be quite inauspicious for them if they break the rules laid down by the Commission.

It is an offence to display or otherwise promote any candidate’s name, number or symbol in connection with or, at, such New Year events, according to the NEC announcement last week.

We hope that all our aspiring Parliamentarians heed this injunction. No amount of dashing of coconuts or New Year gifting will work if the National Elections Commission chooses to strictly enforce the law disqualifying offenders from contesting.

The NEC has also similarly warned the news media which traditionally gives much airtime and newspaper space for such festive events.

Of course, the Commission will need to greatly expand its monitoring operations to ensure that the large number of New Year events held in almost every nook and cranny of the island will be ‘clean’ of any electioneering. Thankfully, we have some very experienced, highly professional, non-governmental election monitoring organisations that regularly come forward to supplement the NEC’s role in ensuring the standards of democracy are upheld during the citizens’ exercise of their franchise.

At the same time, we hope that the expansive bonhomie that reverberates across the island during the April festivities, embracing all communities, will help reduce some of the political animosity that wells up during electoral contests. We just hope that this most auspicious time of the national calendar will not be spoilt by the intrusion of political bad-mouthing and other antagonisms. May the spirit of Avurudu/Putthaandu prevail this electoral season!

Caring for our soldiers

Regularly or constantly risking one’s life is not something most people would like to do for a living. This is why employment in a country’s Armed Forces is not among the most popular of jobs. This, in turn, is why it is those in need of livelihood, especially a decent livelihood, and, who are unable to easily find an alternative, are the ones who take up employment in a country’s Armed Forces. It is these social layers who then make up the vast majority of the armed forces in a country – especially among the main body of military personnel, namely the ‘lower ranks’, being Air Force ‘airmen’, ‘naval ratings’ and Army ‘privates’. They comprise the people from the poorer, less socially advantaged layers of society.

It is these lower ranks, however, who have to be the ‘bravest’ of them all, being literally on the firing line when it comes to fulfilling their duty in defending the nation. It is the foot soldier/rating/airman who fights in the trenches and in gun turrets, marches into enemy fire and, bears the brunt of the casualties. In the Air Force, pilots and other aircraft crew also face hostile fire.

‘Api Wenuwen Api’ is a fund-raising programme founded by the Ministry of Defence at the tail-end of the separatist war that aimed at servicing the needs of these vast numbers of lower ranks. The vast bulk of the troops are rural youth, most of whom have joined the Forces from remote impoverished rural areas where many of them had hardly enjoyed any of the modern conveniences. All of society – rich, middle class and poor - ultimately depends on these personnel for protection and security as the foundation of our collective social well-being.

Last week, in re-launching ‘Api Wenuwen Api’ (officially translated as ‘Together for All’), the Defence Ministry calls on all of us to recognise the brave service to the nation by the women and men of the Armed Forces by making our own financial contribution to their social welfare.

The monies so gathered go straight to the families and homes of our Forces personnel, mainly in the form of housing but also for other social welfare benefits. It is a call to our conscience to do something in return for those who are among the less socially advantaged who risk their very lives to protect our social advantages and well-being.

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