Friday, December 26, 2014
Posted by media at 3:03 AM
Monday, December 22, 2014
The current choice in Sri Lanka – and the answer to those crucial questions – is excruciatingly simple. On 10 December, International Human Rights Day, Sirisena addressed a civil society coalition and assured it (and the nationwide television audience) that he “was seeking to occupy the chair of the presidency not for the purpose of remaining in it but precisely for the purpose of abolishing its power and going home.”
Now this was during the same television newscasts that showed the true nature of the place and the persons he was pledging to transfer the power of the Presidential chair to, namely the parliamentarians who before our very eyes, and at that very time, were engaging in a game of musical chairs! So, if we are to trust Sirisena’s pledge, we can expect the disempowerment of the Presidential chair (and its occupant, to wit, Sirisena), which is anchored in the democratic consent of the majority of our citizenry (50.1% of the vote), and the empowerment of an institution susceptible to musical chairs.
Who is to say that in a post-Mahinda period, a hung parliament barely topped by a self-enfeebled presidency with residual executive powers will not be susceptible to decisive manipulation by a concerted infusion of cash from the secessionist network of the Tamil Diaspora? Who is to say that such a maneuver by the Diaspora Tamil Eelamists will be unable to engineer a government of its choice which will pledge the withdrawal of troops from the North?
In the new configuration as designed by the Opposition’s strategists, domestic and external, the residual presidency of Sirisena will not and structurally cannot be the decisively preeminent power center. It will be the PM and the Cabinet. The dominant political poles of attraction are more than likely to be Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.
One doesn’t have to be Hobbesian (though it helps) to concur that the primary duty of the state towards its citizenry is not good governance so much as the more basic existential one of the protection of life and limb from a violent, determined, ruthlessly marauding enemy. Chandrika and (more so) Ranil miserably failed that most crucial test while Mahinda Rajapaksa passed it with flying colors.
He protected this country and its people, liberating us from Prabhakaran’s reign of terror. Therefore as a student of politics, I cannot recommend an outcome that sends Mahinda Rajapaksa packing while restoring Ranil and Chandrika to prominent positions of power and influence – equal to, if not surpassing that of Sirisena. After all, Mangala Samaraweera did solemnly declare that it is Wickremesinghe who will be “the first among equals.”
It is true that Gen. Sarath Fonseka was perhaps the main driver of the victory insofar as the ground war was innovatively designed and determinedly driven by him. It is no less true that this administration treated him disgracefully.
However, an outstanding troika, Generals Fonseka, Janaka Perera and Gamini Hettiaarachchi were in Chandrika’s army for her two Presidential terms and she failed to win the war – because she didn’t believe it could be won; that Prabhakaran could be militarily defeated. Or, due to utter ideological and philosophical confusion, she didn’t consider it as desirable.
Mahinda Rajapaksa won the war for us because he had political will and clarity – and he had a brother, Gotabaya, who could manage the war effort with zealous dedication and knowledge. Together, Mahinda and Gotabaya were able to mitigate the bitter inter-service (Fonseka-Karannagoda) and intra-service rivalries.
In the loop in the early 1990s, I watched helplessly as the Waidyaratne-Kobbekaduwa split paralysed the war effort during President Premadasa’s term, while he refused my entreaties to step in and consistently spearhead the National Security Council, asserting that that “we should leave it to the professionals – the Tamils must be able to see that the Presidency was not directly involved in the war.”
What was the crucial moment of the war? It was a replay of that moment in 1987, when the Sri Lankan armed forces were about to prevail over Prabhakaran in Operation Liberation but President Jayewardene received a deterring warning from High Commissioner J.N. Dixit. In 2009, President Rajapaksa had two fairly similar moments about which I heard, not only from him, but far more credibly and at first hand, from the Norwegian Ambassador Torre Hattrem and the French Foreign Minister of that time, Bernard Kouchner.
It is Mahinda Rajapaksa who sought India’s backing and overruled the US evacuation attempt which had been facilitated by the Norwegians. More crucially, it is he who curtly told an arrogant, blustering David Miliband that “Sri Lanka is no longer a British colony” when pressure was put on him for a ‘humanitarian pause’ in the fighting and a resumption of negotiations, a few weeks before our soldiers achieved final victory. (Kouchner’s story, related to me and my wife at a lunch in Paris, came as no surprise since I was part of the discussion in early 2007 when President Rajapaksa told US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher “I am sorry Mr. Boucher, but what can I do if my terrorists are not Islamic?”).
Champika Ranawaka, who claims credit for the drive to finish the war, was not even a peripheral figure in those decisive discussions with the global powers. Gen. Sarath Fonseka was not present in the room. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was in the loop but not on center stage. The decision not to blink and to take the war to a finish whatever the consequences was a political and existential one, and it was made by President Rajapaksa.
In the final analysis, it wasn’t Gota’s war; it was Mahinda’s, and he must not be made to pay a price at our very hands for his resolve in our defense and his defiance of the West. The Tamil Diaspora wants revenge for the defeat of their Tigers and the death of Prabhakaran. The West wants to make an example of Mahinda for far higher stakes: he opted for China and Russia over the West. The two compulsions converge (most overtly in Geneva).
Consider this carefully: are we ready to risk the possibility that Rajapaksa could be a 21st century Rajasinha (the last king of Kandy), carted off by the West to be made an example of i.e. legally lynched, for his defiance in our defense? Do we want that on our collective conscience? Is that how we want future generations to view us? I rather doubt that history will absolve us.
The Joint Opposition’s current program combines the prospects of radical politico-constitutional change and no less radical economic change, given that Ranil Wickremesinghe is an ideologically conservative, neoliberal privatiser and freezer of public expenditure (as proven during his mercifully brief tenure as PM).
Punishing a proven leader
If the contrasting fates of Gorbachev/Yeltsin’s Russia and Deng Hsiao Peng’s China demonstrate anything, it is that political and economic reform must not proceed simultaneously, if one is not to risk meltdown. The scenario of a self-diminished Sirisena Presidency, a shift of power to a volatile Parliament, an economically neoliberal Wickremesinghe Prime Ministership, a ‘CBK as Sonia Gandhi’ factor, an assertive Northern Provincial Council, cosmopolitan civil society-human rights NGO-Western pressures on “cooperation and compliance” with the UN probe on international law and accountability issues, and radical privatisation, fill me with foreboding because the centrifugal factors outnumber and outweigh the centripetal ones.
Are we ready for a Western dominated, semi-colonial Sri Lanka of the sort we lived in during the Ranil–Chandrika-Solheim years; that disgraceful decade of diminished and retrenched national sovereignty? Are we ready for the inevitable blowback, polarisation and radicalisation?
In its narrow judgment in favor of the 13th Amendment in 1987, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ruled that this structural reform, which made for provincial autonomy, remained within the framework of the unitary state because of the executive presidency and its powers over the council as vested in the Governor. Without the magnet or ‘maypole’ as it were, of the elected executive presidency, the centripetal potential of the provincial councils would be greater than their centrifugal potential. This is yet another, doubtlessly unwitting, danger posed by the joint Opposition’s stated project.
A presidential election is not about constitutional change. It is about picking a leader for the country, the state – or more fundamentally, the collective, the community, the tribe (if you prefer an anthropological existentialism).
I am reluctant to dispense with the services of the leader who passed the crucial test of ‘domestic R2P’ – the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ his people and country from the armed enemy. I hesitate to ditch a strong leader and proven success in the most important matter, and replace him with an unproven if courageous, decent man who will cede much of his power to two proven failures.
Posted by media at 12:29 AM
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Sri Lanka’s Presidential Elections: Thoughts for the Floating Voters/New Voters on the Common Candidate
- The same people are appearing with a different theme
- The same people are singing a different song
- The same people are promising a difference – but their terms in office was nothing the country could be proud of
- Can the same people be trusted when they had broken our trust some more than once?
- Do you trust Chandrika? Do you trust Ranil? Do you trust Mangala? Do you trust Wickramabahu? Do you trust Sambanthan? Do you trust Champaka R? Do you trust Rajitha? Can you trust Maithri? – Can they be trusted to entrust the country with 20m people to safeguard?
- If the same faces that held power and wish to continue power are lining up to promise change, do you seriously think they can bring about change. More importantly is the change they are promising, the change that YOU want to see?
- Is the risk worth taking in wanting to vote for CHANGE but knowingly voting for people who have been proven failures in office?
- More importantly these failures are currently taking a back-office role because they cannot come out before the people to contest on their own however, floating voters and new voters need to realize that a future Maithri Government will place all of them in Ministerial roles and these are the very people who were failures in office.The ambiguity – Maithripalanayak for 100 days and what thereafter?
- The 1st important thing that floating voters/new voters must note is that the Opposition lobby was one created not amongst them or by them but by another secret group because the main Opposition party’s Leader the present Opposition Leader cannot win elections. He will neither step down as Leader of the Party nor change the party’s Constitution though he wishes to change the country’s Constitution for which he went to get trained in the US.
- The 2nd important point is that no person or party or parties can form an alliance and contest without drawing the UNP given its traditional vote base.
- The 3rd important point is the assurance that in exchange for the UNP votes contributing alongside the votes of others forming the new alliance, the deal is for the UNP leader to be handed power thus the 100 day story. Why is it then that the election manifesto, campaign slogan all speak of a ‘Maithri’ – Compassionate ‘palanayak’ only under Maithri …. Shouldn’t the campaign be a joint Maithri-Ranil palanayake? Is it not for this reason together with certain slip ups by non-UNP supporters in the Maithri wing tilted more towards CBK that they are beginning to wonder whether Ranil or the UNP will have a future or role if Maithri were to emerge President and Maithri would prefer tutelage under CBK instead.
- If Maithripala Sirisena cannot win without the UNP votes, why should the UNP voters vote a non-UNP when they easily have people to prop up as a contestant instead of Ranil. If everyone was surprised at the meek-looking former General Secretary of the SLFP emerging as a Presidential Candidate what is the harm in fielding a UNP candidate as there are enough of charismatic and strong personalities within the party to select from? Why have none of the other UNP leaders being considered to be groomed as Presidential candidate? Is it because Ranil would lose his place in the Party as a result so he prefers hiring an outsider?Do you trust the Opposition Camp?
- Can you entrust the country’s stability to the same faces that have been proven failures in leadership roles?
- Can we be assured that the peace and stability that currently prevails will continue under their leadership?
- Can we envisage decision making when all of them can’t agree on anything except wanting to somehow come into power.
What will bickering amongst these element result in when it comes to crucial international matters where forthright, stern and nation-centric decisions require to be taken?
- When some in the camp are for division of the country, some want devolution, some want separatism, some want foreign powers to control the country, some will siphon of everything for profit and some are willing to go along with anything because all they want to do is enjoy perks and privileges – what is this scenario likely to lead to for the country?An important factor for floating voters/new voters to take note of – no Conspiracy theories
- The Presidential Election is about voting for a leader that can bring stability and peace to Sri Lanka and handle the international lobby against the country. The crucial point is that the nations that are punishing Sri Lanka for ending the war using their influence in the UN/UNHRC are the very nations that are behind the Common Candidate.
- What is the likely danger if such people are ready to give everything and anything on the deal that they would be kept in power – these are no laughing or exaggerated scenarios for the very nations backing the common candidate have been successful at dividing Yugoslavia to pieces, creating an independent Kosovo and then leaving the people in chaos, arming insurgents in nations that they want stakes in so that the people are kept embroiled in eternal conflict while they escape with the loot (Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and now Libya prime examples) These are certainly no conspiracy stories. These nations have been destroyed by the very nations that are today responsible for selecting a candidate calculating the arithmatic on how votes are likely to sway on paper unless people are informed enough to realize the dangers.
- Much as most voters may hate informing themselves of what is happening around the world and to countries around the world in particular smaller developing nations that are strategically placed beneficial for global geopolitics, it is time they should especially the Colombo and other urban voters. It is the realization of the gameplans and plots taking place around the world at a political level that a country needs a strong leader and a strong government minus small parties with small vote bases but with the ability to hold a coalition to ransome by their demands.Is the country safe in the hands of people who have lead the country before and failed?If we have not forgotten we need to now recall that
- More than half of total soldiers deaths occurred during the reign of Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga, most battle failures took place under her reign.
- She was together with Ranil Wickremasinghe ever ready to sign the PTOMs and ISGA whereby legalizing eelam in all but name allowing LTTE to negotiate directly with foreign nations, trade directly with foreign nations, transfer funds directly etc.
- Ranil Wickremasinghe the supposed visionary of the UNP signed a ceasefire agreement with the LTTE without even showing the UNP leadership the contents of that agreement – only later the country came to know that the agreement legally allocated sovereign territory as LTTE areas and the Colombo backers of the CFA were not bothered about what allocation of territory to the LTTE would mean to the country because they were over the moon that the military checkpoints had been removed which was more of a hassle for them. We cannot afford to function with such short-sightedness for the damage is irreversible.Do you believe the slogan ‘we will end corruption’?Please remember that the people now claiming to have come together to end corruption have themselves proven records of mass scale corruption during their tenure in power even those that have crossed over. They too have families – siblings and children very much waiting in the fray to take over. The CHANGE will only be changing the Cover of Corruption only. We must all be realistic to the fact that corruption is embedded in today’s society – even ‘donations’ for school admissions are corruption, even giving Rs.100 to the office peon to place one’s file above the rest is an act of corruption, even bribing the policemen for traffic violations is corruption. Both giver and taker are thus guilty.The golden rule on integrityAnyone claiming to be virtuous and uncorrupt can do so ONLY IF they go against coruption when it is taking place and come out against it by claiming to want to have no part in it. No one can claim to be uncorrupt if they have been enjoying privileges themselves and then having been selected as Opposition Candidate point fingers forgetting that four fingers point back at them in return. Let us all note that all those now pointing fingers were very much part of the corruption that they are accusing of – if they themselves were people of integrity they should have come out before elections were announced and before they had been selected to be fielded to form the Opposition.If we know that
- Corruption wont end
- We don’t know who the actual leader is – Maithripala is coming as the Presidential Candidate of the New Democratic Front, he next says he’s going to abolish the Presidency (totally ignoring that he has no mandate to do so), he says he’s going to appoint Ranil (unclear how that can happen too), then CBK who is politically now a nobody is assured of a role, the other supporters have all ruined the ministeries that they had been holding whatever party they had been in – is this a rosy picture post-2015 for the people? There are more questions than answers!
- How can CHANGE happen with the same people in a new camp especially when they have a history of crossing back and forth for OPPORTUNITISM and nothing else. Should we not ask whether this is also not an OPPORTUNISTIC decision and thus the camp have no common agenda to serve the people except serve themselvesThese are just a handful of questions for the Floating Voters and New Voters to think about before they cast their vote. It is also good for them to do a good background check on all those in the Common Alliance and they question how far they can be trusted to lead a nation and ensure Sri Lanka remains peaceful and stable as it has been since 2009 devoid the threat of terrorism and separatism. Two factors that Sri Lanka does not want is Terrorism or Separatism/Division under any name.Shenali D Waduge
Posted by media at 11:41 PM
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
- by Shenali D Waduge -
- Ranil Wickremasinghe (then Prime Minister of UNF Government) did not inform his own cabinet nor the President of Sri Lanka (Chandrika Bandaranaike) of the agreement being signed.
- The nationalists viewed the signing as one of the greatest betrayals of the nation no different to the signing of the Kotte Kingdom to the Portuguese by Don Juan Dharmapala and the signing of the Kandyan Convention on 2 March 1815 to the British. In fact many a time, Ranil Wickremasinghe has been likened to Don Juan Dharmapala!
- 6 rounds of talks abroad were subsequently held between GOSL and LTTE – all failed.
- Significant was the Karuna-split from LTTE in March 2004
- Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission were empowered to only tabulate the violations and NOT to prevent or punish
- Government Chief Negotiator – GL Peiris
- Defence Minister – Tilak Marapana “I have no intention at all in waging war with the LTTE at the moment. We have embarked on a peace mission and our target today, and my role as Defence Minister, is not to plan strategy to attack but merely to ready ourselves to defend”
- Secretary Defense (Dec 2001) – Austin Fernando http://groundviews.org/2008/
11/02/interview-with-austin- fernando-a-peacetime- secretary-of-defence-in-sri- lanka/
- Chief Spokesman/Secretary for the UNF – Bradmon Weerakoon later to be the Secretary to the PM and thereon to ICES NGO
- Head of S L Peace Secretariat – Bernard Goonetilake and Jayantha Dhanapala
- Deputy Director General, Peace Secretariat in Colombo, Dr. John Gunaratne
- Head, LTTE Peace Secretariat, S. Puleedevan
- Head, SLMM, Tryggve Tellefssen
- Army Commander – Gen. Balagalle (25 Aug 2000 – 30 Jun 2004)
- SL Legal – Lakshman Marasinghe
|What the LTTE gained from the CFA||Sri Lanka’s sovereignty betrayed|
|· LTTE violated the CFA on more than 10,000 occasions · Impunity for Crimes – From 22 February 2002 to 4 February 2006 – LTTE ceasefire violations number 5464. LTTE killed 174 security forces personnel and 388 civilians while 117 were attempted murders, 620 abductions, 46 attempted abductions, 106 cases of extortion, 2199 conscriptions, 875 injury to persons, 22 instances of torture, 128 cases of intimidation (GOSL)· February 2002 to April 2005 LTTE had recruited 1200 children to turn into killers|
· LTTE granted an official recognition through CFA (as first clause mentions SL State and LTTE as equal stakeholders
· CFA helped legitimize LTTE’s defacto state.
· LTTE cadres were allowed to freely move throughout Sri Lanka
· LTTE got Ranil to dismantle the Army’s Long Range Reconnaissance Unit (Athurugiriya Safe House) LTTE’s suicide cadres and pistol gangs ended up killing virtually all of Sri Lanka’s intelligence units whose names were divulged by the UNF Govt
· LTTE smuggled shipments of arms, sophisticated communication equipment through SL’s own customs and there are officials and advisors even with the present Govt who were responsible for those approvals.
· These smuggled equipment helped LTTE build an air strip with the asphalt meant for the A9 Highway, assemble small planes
· LTTE even built illegal bunkers in Govt controlled areas
· Ranil’s Govt gave LTTE 95% of their Eelaam and the rest the LTTE planned to secure through the ISGA/PTOMS with the former President playing Santa with Sri Lanka.
|· Constitutional violation – for Ranil Wickremasinge to sign an agreement with a proscribed terrorist· The MOU was signed without the consent of the People of Sri Lanka (much like how the same UNP Govt signed the Indo-Lanka Agreement again without the consent of the People)· 2002 CFA was really an unauthorized secret MOU which Ranil Wickremasinghe did not share with his own cabinet or the President of Sri Lanka|
· Equating a terrorist organization with a legally established armed forces of a nation
· Forcing the armed forces to shake hands with terrorists who were killers
· Armed forces were continuously humiliated by LTTE
· Security Forces restricted to barracks
· The free access given to LTTE resulted in LTTE assassinating Sri Lanka’s intelligence unit members(violating Article 1 of CFA)
· Maj. Muthalif – Army intelligence May 31, 2005
· Lt. Col. T. Rizvi Meedin – Senior Military intelligence
· UNF Government disclosing Sri Lanka’s long range deployment members causing their deaths by LTTE who hunted them down one after the other (Millenium City Athurugiriya)
· Lakshman Kadiragamar – SL Foreign Minister assassinated
· Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunga – Deputy Chief of Staff of Army killed
· Journalist Sivaram (Taraki) in Colombo on April 28, 2005 killed
- GOSL and LTTE shall stay in areas under their respective control
- Unarmed GOSL troops shall be permitted unlimited passage between Jaffna and Vavuniya using Jaffna-Kandy road (A9)
- “individual combatants” unarmed and in plain clothes can visit families and friends under control of GOSL and visits to be limited to 6 days every second month.
- GOSL and LTTE reserve right to deny entry to specified military areas.
- 50 unarmed LTTE members shall for political work be permitted freedom of movement in areas of North and East dominated by GOSL.
- 100 unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted freedom of movement as of D-day +60, and all unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted freedom of movement as of D-day+90.
- LTTE members to carry ID papers.
- GOSL has right to deny entry to specified military areas
- GOSL and LTTE to undertake confidence-building measures to restore normalcy.
- GOSL and LTTE shall abstain from hostile acts against civilian population including acts as torture, intimidation, abduction, extortion and harassment.
- GOSL and LTTE shall refrain from engaging in activities or propagating ideas that could offend cultural or religious sensitivities. SL Army to vacate all places of worship that it is occupying.
- GOSL and LTTE to vacate school buildings
- A schedule to indicate return of all other public buildings
- GOSL and LTTE to review security measures and checkpoints particularly in densely populated cities and towns to prevent harassment of civilian population (indirectly aiming at reducing Colombo’s high security checkpoints)
- GOSL and LTTE to ensure unimpeded flow of non-military goods to and from the LTTE-dominated areas with exception of certain items.
- GOSL and LTTE to establish checkpoints at locations on their line of control to facilitate flow of goods and movement of civilians.
- GOSL and LTTE to ensure Trincomalee-Habarana road remains open 24×7 for passenger traffic
- GOSL and LTTE to facilitate extension of rail service on Batticoloa-line to Welikanda – repairs to be done by GOSL.
- GOSL and LTTE to open Kandy-Jaffna road (A9) to non-military traffic of goods and passengers modalities to be worked out with Norway
- Easing of fishing restrictions – but fishing will not be permitted in harbours or approaches to harbours, bays and estuaries along the coast.
- Norway to appoint Head of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (HoM) who will be final authority regarding interpretation of CFA.
- SLMM to liaise with GOSL and LTTE and report to Norway
- Head of SLMM to decide date of SLMM’s operations.
- SLMM will have offices in Colombo, Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticoloa, Amparai
- GOSL and LTTE agree that search operations and arrests under Prevention of Terrorism Act shall not take place. Arrests will be under Criminal Procedure Code.
- To inquire into instances of violation of the Agreement
- Local monitoring committee in each of the 6 offices set up shall have 5 members (2 appointed by GOSL, 2 by LTTE and 1 appointed by HoM) the international monitor shall chair committee.
- The local committee shall advise SLMM
- GOSL and LTTE responsible for protection and security arrangements of all SLMM members.
- SLMM shall have access to areas where violations take place
- SLMM to take immediate action on complaints made by GOSL or LTTE
- GOSL and LTTE to notify consent to be bound by the Agreement through letter to the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry.
- Agreement may be amended and modified by mutual agreement
- Termination of agreement can be given by either Party to Norway within 14 days of advance notice.
Posted by media at 1:10 PM
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
By Dr Dayan Jayatilleka
Posted by media at 12:40 AM