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Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The LLRC report and SL’s future

The LLRC report which was presented to Parliament last Friday by the Leader of the House, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, is a historic document in that it could pave the way for a new beginning to be made by Sri Lanka in the direction of durable social peace and reconciliation. It is a document which progressive opinion in this country and the world over were waiting for.
Now that it has been made public, the hope of all who wish this country well is likely to be that the state and all concerned quarters would give it a very close look and act on those of its practicable recommendations which could have a healing effect on this country.

In his statement to Parliament on the occasion of the presentation of the report, the Leader of the House made no bones of the fact that the aim of the government is national reconciliation. ‘The achievement of national reconciliation is one of the principal aims of our government after the eradication of terrorism. The reign of terror, which our country had to endure for 30 long years, was the main impediment to economic and social development’, the minister explained. He went on to clarify that the ‘spirit of inclusivity’ would play a key role in building a new Sri Lanka which would be characterized by reconciliation and ethnic harmony.

We urge all quarters concerned to first read the report with the utmost seriousness and earnestness. This is not a task that could be achieved in a hurry. It is a somewhat voluminous and detailed report and would make it necessary for those interested, to allocate some time for reading it, if the latter process is to be gone through with the utmost clarity of mind. Accordingly, we call on all concerned to go about their reading in an absolutely serious frame of mind because already some flippant, irresponsible comments are being made about the report in some political quarters. Our hope is that interested parties would refrain from playing ‘political Pandu’ with the report, which, most often, has been the case with reports of this kind.

While we await serious, studied responses to the report, some satisfaction could be gained from the fact that public discourse on issues concerning our communities is undergoing some change. For instance, Minister de Silva has pinpointed ‘inclusivity’ as a fundamental founding principle of post-conflict Sri Lanka. He has also underscored the fundamental importance of reconciliation in the days ahead.

While a mainly law and order approach was necessary, in those times when the military action against the LTTE was being carried out by the state, to break the Tigers’ intransigence, this is not the case today, although this country cannot afford to let its defenses down against ‘terror’. We need to shift from a law and order approach to one which emphasizes a political solution to our conflict and the language being adopted by the minister is entirely in tune with this new approach to resolving our issues. Hopefully, this new language and related conceptual tools would gain increasing currency among the local public from now on.

Indeed, we cannot lumber on with our old conceptual baggage and language, now that reconciliation and the forging of a united nation are moving to centre stage in public debate. We need to increasingly speak the language of communal peace and ethnic unity and the future of this country could very well depend on whether the state and all concerned could lay the groundwork for inclusivity. That is, earnest efforts must be made in the direction of establishing a polity where every person and social group would experience a sense of belonging with the larger society and state. This is a foremost project facing the country.

Even at a cursory glance, it could be gleaned that the LLRC report has addressed a wide gamut of issues of utmost relevance to a future of reconciliation and harmony. Land, for instance, is one such issue and from the statement made by the Leader of the House it is amply clear that the government intends to resolve land questions in an equitable fashion. Particularly important is the minister’s assurance that the state is not intent on changing the demographic composition of the areas which experienced the conflict. That this was taking place was an incendiary canard which was let loose by interested quarters.

The state is also on record that it would go ahead with the PSC process while engaging the TNA in a dialogue on outstanding issues. These efforts must not only get into top gear but it needs to be clearly seen that they are result-oriented. Thus, will the cause of reconciliation be served fully.



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