Civil society and contentious issue

Civil society and contentious issue   

Many years ago Sri Lanka had a very vociferous and active civil society which were very concerned about social and political issues in the country. In fact if we to go back to pre independence days it was to a great extent stalwarts in civil society who clamoured for various rights for the people . Persons such as the late Dr. E. W. Adikaram who spearheaded the Temperance movement, C.W.W. Kannangara though a politician advocated free education. Certain other civil society members were those who agitated for various social and economic reforms which would be of benefit to all citizens. Today unfortunately organization that were said to speak out on social and economic issues were defined as Non Governmental organizations were accused of getting embroiled in partisan issues and this tended to make their comments to be viewed with suspicion.

It was stated recently that in February this year that the ‘National Intellectuals and Professionals Organization’ was formed. The organization’s objectives were explained by the speakers at the inaugural convention held recently and was apparently founded by various intellectuals and professionals serving throughout the island. Office bearers, a national organizer and an executive committee for the new organization were elected and they appear to be a representative group consisting of those of diverse specialties. Keynote speakers stressed at this inaugural meeting that ‘society in Sri Lanka is silent, (we) wish the ‘National Intellectuals and Professionals Organization’ would have strength to break this silence.’ And ‘.There are intellectuals and professionals in all parts of the island. However, they do not play any role in the social structure’ and another speaker commented ‘We should attempt to find solutions for issues as intellectuals and professionals by joining our forces experiences and abilities. Hence, the step we are taking today is a very important one and one with a strong will. What commences today is the process of changing the society with the mediation of intellectuals and professionals.’

Giving such views on the stance that should be taken by all influential members in civil society we hope that this organisation too would not go the way of all other organisations and that the founder members will be able to create awareness among the public of contentious issues that prevail and provide a voice to the voiceless. As the National Bhikku Front Patron Ven. Attaggne Ratanapala Thera said “those who advised the rulers of the country should provide effective guidelines for the government to run the nation in an exemplary manner.

People are fully aware of the need for permanent peace, good governance, continued impartial enforcement of law and order, justice, observance of human rights and media freedom, individual and collective security and social welfare let us hope the new organization can give the much needed direction to realize these issues.

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