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When the idea of Reconciliation Committees first took root, I had thought in terms of meetings in Colombo, and others in the Districts, where I had been impressed over the last few years by the dedication and understanding of the various Government Agents of the North. All of them had excellent relations with the Special Forces during the conflict and beyond, but they were also acutely aware of their obligations to the people they served.

But more recently I have worked with Divisional Secretaries, since it became obvious that meetings for large areas did not really permit issues of close concern to particular areas to be enunciated. I have therefore over the last few months been to all Divisional Secretariat Offices in the four southern Districts of the Northern Province, and a couple in Jaffna, where of course the problems are very different in scale and in scope.

On the one hand I have been depressed by the failure of our administrative systems to address what are really very simple problems. The very impressive achievements of government in the fields of infrastructure development and basic social amenities will to naught if a few very basic needs are not addressed.

One of these, as expressed also by one of the aid agencies which works very well with government, is the absence of platforms at which citizens can speak out. This I think explains the satisfaction expressed at our meetings, and the wish that they could happen every month. I have explained that I can solve nothing myself, and can only make suggestions, but I think the opportunity simply to express themselves is welcome. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

May 2012
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