Aluth Avurudu, World Cup Cricket, Vesak and May Day; all these events that came in quick succession and kept our politicians and our people enthralled and absorbed for the last few weeks are now over. Renewed in spirit and strengthened morally by these events, the country`s collective political leadership has to return to the national issue quickly and vigorously.
The May Day saw the presentation of the SLFP proposals for the resolution of the national problem. And political parties, commentators and analysts have now begun commenting on these proposals. Reports say that the Tamil parties have expressed dissatisfaction over these proposals while SLMC Leader Rauff Hakeem has said that the SLFP proposals to resolve the national issue fell short of their expectations, but he has added that his party was prepared to discuss them further. The UNP, quite understandably, has scoffed at these proposals since they are for more extensive methods of devolution. JVP Propaganda Secretary Wimal Weerawansa addressing their May Day rally has said the present government is engaged in gratifying imperialists and that is why they have presented devolution proposals. He has further said these actions would only help imperialism and separatism but they provide no assistance for solving the national question.
Besides these reactions from political parties, comments have also been made by political analysts who have, to a great extent, viewed our national issue in an objective and dispassionate way. Some of them also do not consider the SLFP proposals as adequate to solve the problem. One commentator while denouncing the proposals in strong terms, has said the SLFP is offering less than what has already been provided under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in the form of provincial councils.
The SLFP leadership has, however, made it clear that their proposals have been formulated for submission to the All-Party Representatives Committee (APRC) for deliberation. The spokesmen for the party as well as for the government, in a demonstration of the required spirit in tackling this problem, have indicated their willingness to be amenable to the proposals and suggestions that the other parties would submit to the APRC. It would, therefore, be advisable for all concerned to avoid both extremes of adulation and condemnation of the present proposals. This does not, however, mean that any discussion on these proposals should completely be avoided. As the subject is delicate and sensitive it has to be approached cautiously and objectively without leaving room for emotional or angry reactions from concerned parties. Attempts now apparently being made by some interested parties to gain political mileage at this stage, to say the least, are destructive.
In fact, reasoned and dispassionate analysis and discussion of all the proposals before the public today, by informed and competent persons and groups would to a great extent assist the APRC in arriving at a consensual set of proposals. Those parties that are yet to present their proposals have to expeditiously submit their proposals. Some parties were waiting for the main party in the government, the SLFP, to submit its proposals. These parties could now approve of the present proposals or formulate their own alternatives. The UNP Democratic Group in the government that has promised to present its proposals has to do so quickly.
The APRC which is headed by Minister Tissa Vitharana, meanwhile, has to get its machinery properly organized to take up the onerous task of deliberating on the proposals placed before it. It has to make every endeavour to get the participation of representatives from all concerned political parties in this national effort. There is indeed no reason for any political party to shun this process which is the only democratic way to solve the problem. If these parties are committed to democracy and peaceful resolution of conflicts as they often declare, there is no alternative for them to resort to. They should place whatever proposals they have, before the collective body and let them to be considered by all parties.
Needless to emphasise here that whatever conclusions reached at the APRC, they have to be finally placed before the people for their approval.