Opening of New Central Bus Stand at Nelliyady

17341883283_3b30afba0eThe newly constructed Central Bus Stand in the Nelliyady Town was ceremonially declared open  by the Chief Minister Justice C.V.Wigneswaran on 21 May 2015.

In the presence of Provincial Minister of Fisheries & Transport B.Deniswaran, on the invitation by the Vadamaradchchi South West Pradeshiya Sabah Chairman P. Viyakesu .This Bus stand was constructed by Vadamaradchchi South West Pradeshiya Sabah with the Provincial council funds.

Provincial Council members, Secretary to the Chief Minister R.Varatheeswaran, Secretary – Provincial Minister of Fisheries & Transport S. Sathiyaseelan, officials and general public were present at this event.

Educating, empowering and involving Youth

untitledText of a presentation at the World Conference on Youth – 8 May 2014

I am grateful to Aide et Action for this opportunity to speak to you, and even more grateful that they have engaged in a process of international consultation to highlight issues crucial for the well-being of youth. The document they have put together provides a clear and concise account of how the areas initially touched upon in the Colombo Declaration can be fleshed out meaningfully.

Underlying the suggestions are a few basic principles that need continuous emphasis. Inclusivity and involvement, information and awareness, empowerment and equal access, all require greater attention from governments.

To achieve this, I think it is necessary to pursue comprehensive reform with regard to mindsets. Reform is of course central to the agenda of Liberalism, which is the creed I uphold, but I think in this context we should also use another word, which has often been twinned with Liberalism.  I refer to the term Radicalism, which means essentially the idea of getting to the core of things and uprooting whatever is not conducive to progress. It is because Liberalism has often been misunderstood, and thought to stand for only free market policies, that in many areas Liberals associate themselves with Radicals, as in an institution of great energy and commitment, the International Federation of Liberal and Radical Youth. This juxtaposition was sometimes necessary to emphasize the Liberal commitment to inclusive progress.

Liberals do indeed believe in free markets, but they also realize, unlike capitalists and conservatives, that markets are not free unless measures are in place to reduce inequalities, to enhance opportunities and to control power, whether it be political, economic, social or physical. The creation of a level playing field may be an impossible dream, but that does not reduce the imperative to pursue this.

This dream, this ideal, lies at the heart of the Colombo declaration, and the additions Aide et Action have suggested on the basis of their consultations in four continents and 16 countries. The details of the consultation make clear how AEA is well qualified to undertake such a task, given the remarkable work it has engaged in all over the world.

I have seen this system of aid in action in just two countries, India and Sri Lanka, but the confidence of their students, and the initiatives they undertake, make it clear that this is an organization that puts its principles into practice. It is for this reason that, over the last couple of years, I have used much of my decentralized budget to set up Vocational Training Centres in the North to be run by Aide et Action. I should add that I was keen that these be set up in schools, to emphasize the link between academic and vocational education, something that the consultations have stressed is necessary. I am happy to say that the initial snooty approach of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Education to Vocational Training is now changing – though not fast enough for my liking – and I received active cooperation from the authorities, both earlier and now, more recently, from the new Provincial administration.

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Governor on Inspection Visit to Jaffna Railway Station – 09 February 2014

“Completing the railway line from Kilinochchi to Pallai is yet another milestone of the steadily progressing Northern Railway restoration project. The train, when it drove in from Killinochchi to reach Pallai, made history, giving hope to many thousands of residents of the area that the resumption of train services would soon recommence. According to the construction agency, Ircon International Ltd., the track works between Killinochchi and Pallai are fully completed, with a few finishing touches left to be completed shortly.

The reconstructed railway line from Omanthai to Kilinochchi was commissioned and dedicated to the public of Sri Lanka on 14 September 2013 by the President at a colourful ceremony held at the Killinochchi station yard. The reconstructed track was the first segment of the Omanthai – Kankasanthurai line. The second segment, Kilinochchi – Pallai, of approximately 30 kilometres is now being readied to be added to the railway network of the island nation.”

Governor of Northern Province GA Chandrasiri paid an inspection visit to the Jaffna Railway Station on 09th February 2014 and observed the reconstruction work of the station.

For almost three decades the Jaffna-Colombo train service was interrupted due to the civil war. After the end of the hostilities in 2009, the railway stations and tracks along the Vavuniya – Jaffna railway path have been reconstructed in a rapid phase. Now the train services extended till Kilinochchi station. It is expected that the train will hit the Jaffna station in April 2014.

Governor had discussion with the officials and instructed them to expedite the work.

Two contrasting petitions, and an attempt to stimulate consensus

I have received recently two very different petitions, one from a body that calls itself the World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka, the other from a body that calls itself the Friday Forum. They present two very different points of view, the one asking that the 13th Amendment be abolished, the other that no changes be made to it.

I think we need to understand the fears of both sides, and in both cases reasons have been given for the positions presented. My own view is that we need to look at the problem from three different angles, all of which are equally important.

The first is the moral position. From that perspective, it would be wrong for the present Sri Lankan government to abolish Provincial Councils, given that it clearly pledged to implement the provisions of the 13th amendment. However, in also committing itself to go further, it could propose further devolution of power, which indeed is what WAPS suggests.

They believe that too great an accretion of power to the Provincial Councils could lead to disruption of the unitary character of the country. I believe that this fear is unfounded, though I could understand it at the time of an enforced merger which was pushed through contrary to the provisions in the Bill that permitted this. It is for this reason that I see nothing wrong with getting rid of the Constitutional provision that permits merger. To reimpose the merger was not part of the pledge made by the current government, and it would be wrong to insist that it abides by a previous measure that has been ruled unconstitutional and was achieved through sleight of hand.

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