UNP’s brouhaha

There have been some complaints againstThe Island on ‘misleading the public’ on the UNP’s current........ Current what? we beg to question? That has been the difficulty faced by The Island in reporting current—may we use a very vague word— ‘events’ within the UNP. Reporting these ‘events’ has been difficult because UNPers, who claim to be one happy family, say that there is no in-fighting within the party. There is no rebellion or revolt, they claim. Therefore, without rebellions and revolts there cannot be rebels or challengers. They say they are not against ‘The Leader’ but in the same breath say thatThe Leader’ has to go. This is dialectical and metaphysical politics of a very high order which down- to- earth reporters of The Island have found it difficult to fathom.

Thus, The Island (Sunday edition) said: ‘Ranil firmly in the saddle’, Tuesday, The Island (City edition) said: ‘UNP’s Home Vs Home match still on’, while yesterday we said: ‘Crisis over’. As we pen this column, we are told that the brouhaha (OED gives its meaning as commotion, sensation, uproar)—was continuing. The confusing and conflicting statements have been caused by

(a) Confusion within the party

(b) There being no official statements issued and even if such statements were issued they would have been challenged by the Reformists (we hope that word is permissible to use) and

(c) Neither the Reformists nor the Loyalists (we hope this description is, too, permissible) are willing to speak openly or be quoted. Despite these difficulties in semantics,The Island , will endeavour to give impartial coverage to this brouhaha.

UNP loyalists may view all this as being ominous to the party and could lead to a possible party schism, but it need not necessarily be so.

Political parties have to undergo rejuvenation and reformation from time to time. It need not involve change in leadership but party reformation could give new life to the party as it has happened periodically in the UNP since 1956. The UNP after its stupendous victory in 1977 has gone on for almost quarter century without much change. There have been changes in the leadership, but the basic infrastructure remained the same. The present UNP leader, Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe, did attempt to give a new look to the party but has not been able to do a complete reformation as J.R.Jayewardene did.

The Island’s concern is not that these events will lead to a change in the leadership of the UNP or not or whether the UNP could defeat the PA government. As we have said in these editorial columns earlier,we wish to see a strong and virile Oppostion that is sine qua non for a virile parliamentary democracy. Unless such an Oppostion exists, it could well lead to anti-democratic forces attempting to capture power as it has happened twice in post -Independent Sri Lanka.

The current events in the UNP should be considered as a party reformation that should augur well for the UNP and the country.

Earth Day

Return of the victorious Sri Lanka cricket team from Sharjah on Sunday eclipsed all other major events on that day, April 22, which was Earth Day. This day is of tremendous importance in the global calendar because it is a day for all nations to take stock of the pollution of the environment in their countries as well as the global environment in its entirety.

Third World nations like Sri Lanka are suffering from pollution as a consequence of poverty and underdevelopment while the Developed World suffers the consequences of over-industrialisation and over-development.

For over three decades, environmental protection has been a major concern for all nations, but the concern expressed has fallen short of effective action. Third World nations despite the threats of being choked by garbage and other problems caused by poverty do not give protection of the environment the first priority. So do developed nations and countries on the way to becoming developed nations, such as China, One of the causes of major global concern has been the decision of the Bush administration to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol that aims to reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

The world appears to be on a collective suicide mission and this is evident from the black diesel fumes that is saturating Colombo’s atmosphere and is already causing widespread chest diseases, while the import of vehicles goes on merrily.

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