|When will we learn our lessons?
As one learns from mass media, it is very discouraging indeed, to realise, that party politics in the South, has not yet, come to terms with the need for peace in our country. The old UNP-PA battle seems to be visible in many ways and in many places. I wonder what it means, to cohabit according to the 1978 Constitution? Did the architects of the 1978 Constitution, ever envisage, the 5th of December, 2001 verdict of the people?
In this context, one wonders, whether if and when we have a new Constitution, we should not plan to have a Head of State outside party politics? Why do I say this? The recent visit of an American Under Secretary and the Presidents inability to see her, the battles between Prof. G. L. Peiris and the President regarding the nomination to the Constitutional Council are examples, which communicate, southern party politics. Moreover, when there are elections in the country, whether national or local Government, it is good that in the best interest of good governance, the Head of State does not get involved in campaigning.
However, my main concern is the peace process. In the backdrop of the 11th of September, in America, it does not matter whether it was Osama bin Laden or anybody else, who was responsible for the US tragedy and in the context of the violent and unnecessary Civil War of the last twenty odd years in our country, it is absolutely necessary that our southern party politicians, also sign a MoU! I say this, because, students of history will testify to the fact, that it was the inability of the UNP and the SLFP to work together from at least 1958, which could be said to be the primary cause for the tragedy of our times. Speaking on behalf of most of our people, I am sure, the day has dawned for the two major southern political parties to work together for peace in our country. It is a well known secret from the North and East that the people there want these two parties to, together offer a package to solve our national problem.
Therefore, I ask the very pertinent question, will we ever learn from our past mistakes? Isnt it true, that the Kandyan kingdom that was not conquered by the Portuguese and the Dutch was ultimately in a sense handed over to the British, because of the treachery of the Kandyans themselves? In the year 2002, are we in the South prepared to learn from our past mistakes and work alongside each other for peace in our beloved homeland.
Our hope and prayer is that at least our new generation of party politicians will teach their seniors, what it means to work together on national matters? Isnt this what Winston Churchill and Clement Atlee do in the context of the Monster of Hitler? I wonder whether we in the South are prepared to learn from the past?
The Very Rev. Fr. Sydney Knight
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