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Are We Doing Justice to A Nation? Deciding on"7 Wonders of Sri Lanka " By Vote Count

By Ramani D.Wickramaratne

In the modern commercialized society of Sri Lanka, we consider it trendy to do a lot of things by sending SMS messages, mailing coupons to vote on "The School Boy Cricketer of The Year", "Sirasa Super Star of The Year", casting preferential votes for politicians at General and Provincial Elections, "Most Popular Film", "Most Popular Drink" etc. etc. and in the process "create heroes or products" by popular vote-sometimes the winners deserve it and yet some others do not. This is the chance we take by mobilizing the citizens of this country to vote on something partly as a source of entertainment and relaxation in a dull competitive world when we need to profit by selling a particular product.

Recently we have read in the "Daily News" newspapers that Lake House in collaboration with Abans Limited and The Sri Lanka Tourist Board are conducting a vote on "The 7 Wonders of Sri Lanka" and offering fabulous prizes to encourage readers to participate. No doubt, Daily News must be hoping to increase its sales by leaps and bounds in this process for which we have no objection whatsoever as these are the evils of commercialism and advertising. However, this particular programme is not similar to voting for " Sirasa Super Star of The Year" or "School Boy Cricketer of The Year" but it is of national importance because it is titled " 7 Wonders of Sri Lanka" and the voting is done by readers sending in coupons printed in the Daily News newspapers commencing from 26th May 2008 onwards through a period of time.

With all due respects to Daily News and Lake House Ltd. May we ask "what is the island-wide readership of "The Daily News" as against the population of Sri Lanka approximately 19million people?" May we also ask whether the Daily News is read by all citizens of this country or just a percentage of the English readership of this country living in the big cities only?; Is the English readership greater than the Sinhala and Tamil readership of this country? Why did the Daily News not consider utilizing its sister newspapers of Lake House in Sinhala and Tamil to conduct this wonderful programme together with them( which would ofcourse increase the sale of all Lake House newspapers within a given period of time)? Can an important National event like this, be limited and decided to/by a minority English readership which does not represent the entire citizenry of Sri Lanka? What justice is Daily News doing for/to the nation of Sri Lanka by conducting this programme?

Above are some of the thoughts that come into the mind of the writer when considering the enormous responsibility taken on by Daily News, to pave the way for deciding on an important issue like deciding on the "7 Wonders of Sri Lanka" which no doubt will become a decision which affects the entire nation of Sri Lanka and not limited only to the English readership of this country. Deciding on a topic such as "7 Wonders of The World" or "7 Wonders of Sri Lanka" cannot be done by a popular vote. This has a far more important and far reaching effect and which will become engraved in the history of not only Sri Lanka but the entire world. This is not a matter which should become a scape-goat of cheap commercialism, tourist attraction or promotion for household appliances. It is worthwhile to check out whether any other country in the world has decided on their heritage in this manner?

A subject such as "7 Wonders of Sri Lanka" must be decided on by a national committee comprising experienced and highly knowledgeable Archaeologists, Historians, Botanists, Engineers & Architects given the fact that Sri Lanka has a rich and long history behind her and there are many historical wonders created by Ancient Kings and Engineers of this country. The process for making a decision on what should be considered to be the "7 Wonders of Sri Lanka" must be serious and committed and have historical value taking into consideration when they were created. It is not something that can be decided on by offering lucrative prizes to readers who most often do not even know who our National Heroes are (with no disrespect to the late H.R.Jothipala, the writer heard a student answering to a question "Name a National Hero of Sri Lanka?" at an inter-school general knowledge quiz competition aired over the SLBC about 12 years ago & one student answered "H.R.Jothipala!") to say the least.

Therefore, to get a public popular vote count on a matter of National Importance and something that will get recorded in history, the State Media must play a more important and responsible role as it is their duty to guide the nation on the right path in matters of National Importance. We hope Lake House Ltd and Daily News will understand the gross injustice done to an entire Nation by conducting this programme based on a vote count! The writer has no objection to someone winning a Geely Car as First Prize but to win such a prize at a heavy cost to the Nation of Sri Lanka is an insult which cannot be rectified later.


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