- Published on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 16:21
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An article on Sri Lanka published in the Malaysian daily New Strait Times says that three years after the end of a brutal 30 year’s of separatist war, Sri Lanka is emerging to make the fruits of peace a reality to all its citizens.
It says that it is evident to everyone living or visiting Sri Lanka that a new era has dawned; life has indeed picked up, particularly in the North and East where the people suffered the trauma of the war more than elsewhere in the country.
The article points out that schools are being rebuilt, as are hospitals, roads and places of worship. Almost 90 per cent of those displaced have been resettled with the building of over thousand homes. A major de-mining programme is also almost over.
It further states that the administration is being conducted by Tamil public officers and, above all, the police service almost entirely consists of Tamil officers. The trauma of a 30 year war cannot be erased or overcome overnight but the Sri Lanka Government is making an honest effort as the leaders of the country have accepted that they should reach out to the Tamil people, as they are also Sri Lankans.
The article points that only language divides the two principal communities who have much in common. This, in a sense, is the tragedy of the situation. It says that the Sri Lankan Government seeks to take a page out of Malaysia’s book and establish a new Sri Lanka.
The article written exclusively to the Strait Times by the former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Malaysia K.Godage says that with the end of the war, Sri Lanka has today an unprecedented opportunity to shift to a higher trajectory of growth and development. He says that in the 1950s, Sri Lanka enjoyed better economic and social development than South Korea, Singapore or even Malaysia, and today, it has fallen way behind these countries.
The writer points out that in the first decade after independence, Sri Lanka had an agricultural economy dominated by tea, rubber and coconut but the country did not take the opportunity to diversify and restructure the economy. He says that in 1978, the country opened up the economy, dumped socialism and embarked on a new era but most unfortunately the separatist war put an end to economic development and progress. Today, with the end of the war the economic geography is extremely favourable to enable Sri Lanka to transform the country.
The writer further states that at present Sri Lanka has the glorious opportunity of plugging into two of the largest emerging economies in the world, India and China. Sri Lanka has a free trade agreement with India and are negotiating a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with that country. He further states that relationship with China is also extremely close and in time to come Sri Lanka will be a bridge for India-China economic relations.
The article also states that during the war Japanese investors looked elsewhere in Asia but today, the old friends are back with Sri Lanka. It also mentions that Sri Lanka do have powerful friends now who are ready to help and help themselves too because of Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean.
In conclusion, the article also points out that Sri Lanka’s relations with Malaysia are especially valued, for they stretch back a thousand years and more, and Sri Lanka is today particularly interested in promoting investment in infrastructure development, tourism and information communication technology from Malaysia, which is currently the biggest investor in Sri Lanka.(niz)