The Sunday Leader

Christmas And New Year Thoughts

Christmas is a time of joy and goodwill wished by Christians to all on earth. Unfortunately today much to the regret of Christians and those of other faiths there is unimaginable suffering of millions going on in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and now Europe which can be witnessed on TV in sitting rooms around the world. Newly born babes, the old and feeble, civilians and activists gravely wounded are out in the open in temperatures below zero trying to cling on to life. These thoughts may be disturbing to those who want to enjoy Christmas joyously but can these hapless people be forgotten on this day?

These pathetic scenes are of relevance to our own country for nine years ago Sri Lankans of all the three main communities suffered likewise  from the ravages of war. The nightmare has ceased to be but communal conflicts have the potentiality of being rekindled.

It is noteworthy to recall the preamble of the UNESCO Constitution formulated after World War II: Since wars are created in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that defences of peace must be constructed. The preamble of UNESCO and other basic documents of the UN documents declare that for the prevention of war and establishment of peace, member states should commit themselves to equal opportunities for all people such as in education, pursuit of the truth, free exchange of ideas and basic human rights.

However despite these noble sentiments, the UN has time and again failed to achieve its stated objectives as is witnessed now in Aleppo and other theatres of conflict but it is noteworthy that the pursuit of those ideals are not given up but continued.

Sri Lanka’s 30-year- war also has its roots in the warped minds of men and women who with their myopic views on racism and religious bigotry attempted to bring about political changes that would ensconce them in power. In many instances political leaders are not viciously racist or ultra bigots but they implement such policies because of the poisonous and destructive forces that could propel them to power. The majority in different races and religions involved is by no means racists or bigots and are peace loving citizens who get on well with their neighbours. But it is a universal occurrence that political forces driven by rabid communalism and bigotry formulate policies, laws and implement them.

Nearly ten years after the war ended an attempt is being made to enact a new constitution, a main objective being to bring about reconciliation between the Sinhalese and Tamils. Sri Lanka has  gained plenty of experience in breaking and making of constitutions.

The experience gained indicates that the mind-set  of members of the Constituent Assembly will be vital for the successful working of the constitution as much as the provisions of the constitution itself.

Attempts to beat the communal war drum and allegations that the majority rights are being sent down the drain are ridiculous because the Constitutional Assembly comprises all members of parliament representing all communities and political parties. Besides approval through a referendum is also likely to be required. It would be regrettable if former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and former Minister of Justice, Constitutional Affairs and many other things Prof. G. L. Peiris (BCL Oxford) get on to the streets and start bellowing that old refrain: Menna aaye rata bedanda hadanawo – They are trying to divide the country once again!

The proposed constitution while protecting rights of minorities should certainly ensure that rights of the majority would not be frittered away. The rights of any group – particularly that of the majority group – cannot be easily undermined if that group leadership remains alert. Sinhalese and Buddhists have survived for over 2500 years through many foreign conquests before the advent of its present day ‘saviours’ like Mahinda Rajapaksa and G. L. Peiris.

We are not attempting to dissuade these two politicians in their endeavours but it has to be said that Sinhala-Buddhism should not be exploited for the purpose of winning elections. Quite recently that ploy failed twice and is likely to happen again.

The year ends with signs that the National Unity government has used a strategy to rid itself of the debt burden to China by making use of China’s own resources. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his new ‘pottu’ party members should be happy that their old friendly money lender had helped the country out of the debt burden which threatened Sri Lanka albeit it is now under his rival party.

1 Comment for “Christmas And New Year Thoughts”

  1. errol de niese

    Where is Samat’s column ?

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