by Lynn Ockersz
‘Collective solution should be arrived at through a process of consultation’:
President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday that the solution to the issues faced by our communities resides in Parliament, where all relevant parties must parley together and arrive at a consensual remedy, since the problem is of a national nature.
“This is not my personal problem, it is a problem faced by the country. Therefore a collective solution should be arrived at through a process of consultation, involving all relevant parties.
In fact, these parties are duty-bound to help out in this effort,” the President explained during his monthly breakfast meeting with newspaper Editors and senior personnel of media organisations.
He said the Northern Provincial Council poll will be held by September next year once the resettlement and rehabilitation of all the displaced of the North and the dismantling of all the High Security Zones in the province is complete.
“To hold the Northern poll, we must ascertain the exact number of electors of the North.
“In this exercise we cannot base ourselves on the 1981 enumeration. We have to go about this in a democratic way and for this purpose all the displaced in the region, including the Sinhala and Muslim refugees, must be brought back and resettled in the province. To complete this process we need some time and this is why the election cannot be held before September,” the President explained.
Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa who was also present at the meeting said the new electors’ list for the North will be finalised by next June.
By then, the state hopes to resettle all the displaced persons, including the Muslims and Sinhalese, who left the province over the years. Unless and until all these persons return to the region, there could be no fair poll, he explained. It was also pointed out that some international organisations do not recognise the importance of the older displaced, raising land issues in discussions relating to them. But both categories of IDPs need to return and be resettled.
“I am ready for polls at any time. This is one way in which I test the pulse of the people,” the President said when a journalist drew his attention to the allegation in some quarters that the government was over fond of elections.
The government’s decision to both hold and not hold elections were matters for criticism in some quarters, he said.
“But over the 17 years we were in the Opposition we demanded polls. We eagerly waited for them because we wanted to know the people’s aspirations. But sections of our present Opposition want to go to courts even over the holding of elections,” he said. With regard to crime in the country, the President said most sexual crimes against young females were committed by their close kith and kin.
Since this category of offences originated ‘at home’ sexual crime was a matter for a wide cross section of society. Sections such as homes, civil society, educational institutions and even the media need to join hands in resolving the issue, besides the law being enforced strongly.
On the strike by university academics, the President said when an issue is politicised it cannot be easily resolved. This has happened with regard to this strike. They went in for the strike while having discussions with the authorities. If the decision is to strike then there is no need for talks. Today a senior academic’s salary is greater than that of a Supreme Court judge. However, the aim of the state is to arrive at a ‘win-win’ solution.
The President said the state is working towards resolving the Z-score linked problems. At present attention is being paid to how the Z score has affected students and how many have been affected. How these affected students could be helped is also addressed. A report is in the process of being forwarded.
Higher Education Minister S B Dissanayake who was present pointed out that the salary demands of the striking Dons were unrealistic.
Going into details on the salaries received by the numerous categories university lecturers, he pointed out that the Dons had over the past one and a half years received an 83 percent salary increase and that their salaries were higher than those of other public servants.
On the question of possible cross-overs from the Opposition to the government side, the President said that anyone was free to leave his government or join it. ‘The door is open’ either way’. He has also not thought of any Cabinet reshuffles to date.
On the issue of possible sabotage in the power sector, the President said that he is yet to receive any reports on it. He also said that action will be taken by the state against land-grabbing and encroachments. “We take action against any wrong-doing anywhere but when such action is taken we are accused of being dictatorial,” the President quipped.
The President said the state expects the media to regulate itself on the basis of ethical principles.
Mud-slinging websites will need to be brought to book since they indulge in the “freedom of the wild ass.” It should be considered that the victims of these errant websites are helpless because the websites are manipulated from abroad. Moreover, only civil defamation cases could be filed against these websites. But legal action will need to be taken against wrong-doers. courtesy: Daily News