Dubai model for Sri Lanka

Feizal Samath

Do things ever change in Sri Lanka for the better? Or are we asking too much from a society that has been politicised so much that change inevitably is a political process and not one of national interest? This probably is one of the questions Sri Lankans living overseas constantly ask themselves when they return home on vacation. I asked myself this question when returning home 10 days ago after a two-week trip across the Middle East, as part of a study on migrant workers. My hope and wish? That the situation would have improved in Sri Lanka and that we were moving forward on all fronts - peace process; post tsunami reconstruction, economic development, law and order. What do I find? Chaos as usual, joint mechanism for post-tsunami aid opposed by the JV and peace process jeopardised by clashes between opposing rebel groups. But is that too much to ask? Apart from earning as many petro-dollars as possible before returning home, is it likely that our people prefer to work overseas because at least its nice to work in a progressive environment and not in backward Sri Lanka?

Dubai has little oil resources unlike other cities in the United Arab Emirates. But what it lacks in resou-rces is amply made up with brainpower, creativity, enth-usiasm, ideas, drawing the best talent available from overseas, and attracting the world’s largest companies. For the average Sri Lankan, a visit to the developed world and countries like Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea of the Gulf provides an insight into what Sri Lanka could have had if our leaders were pragmatic; courageous; honest; enthusiastic and working for the people and not themselves.

Why can’t we be like them (those countries)? The people themselves must be blamed for electing leaders who are more interested in feathering their own nests rather than take the country forward. The stock answer to that however is: Who else could we elect if there is no other alternative?

Back to the reality in Colombo: Opposition lea-der Ranil Wickremesinghe is firing on all cylinders aga-inst the government. There is a hint of elections in the air given the kind of campaigning that Wickrem-esinghe, leader of the United National Party, is undertaking and in the new appointment of different-level party organisers. Kumaratunga is pushing ahead with the joint mechanism (JM) or administrative structure to handle post-tsunami reconstruction work in the northeast, particularly areas under the control of Tamil rebels. The structure is to be jointly run by the government and the LTTE, a plan that the JVP is vociferously opposed to and threatening to quit the ruling alliance, if the JM is approved. If the JVP pulls out, there is every chance of the government collapsing in the absence of a majority and then Kumaratunga would be forced to call on the UNP to form the next government. Nevertheless, Kumaratunga is making bold statements on the need to implement this mechanism and political analysts say that she may sign and endorse the JM document on June 15 after she returns from a short trip to India.

Samath, a freelancer, wr-ites for THT from Colombo