Sri Lanka

The Power of Forgiveness: South Africa’s Reconciliation as a Model for Sri Lanka

5 mins read

by Our Political Affairs Editor

If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. – Desmond Tutu

Sri Lanka has experienced deep-rooted conflicts and a prolonged civil war, which have resulted in widespread human rights violations and atrocities. In the aftermath of the conflict, the Sri Lankan government established a transitional justice mechanism in various forms to address past wrongs and bring about reconciliation. The process has, however, been fraught with challenges and criticisms, including accusations of inadequate participation and engagement with affected communities and lack of progress in implementing reforms.

To address this inadequacy, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established after the end of apartheid, offers valuable insights into Sri Lanka’s transitional justice process. The Commission was based on a forgiveness-based approach that aimed to promote healing and reconciliation through truth-telling and forgiveness, rather than retribution and punishment.

Drawing on this approach, Sri Lanka could consider prioritizing forgiveness-based reconciliation as a means to heal the wounds of the past and build a more cohesive and inclusive society. This would involve a process of truth-telling, accountability, reparations, and ultimately, forgiveness. By embracing this approach, Sri Lanka could establish a foundation for lasting peace and justice and ensure that the atrocities of the past are not repeated.

One of the most significant aspects of the TRC was its emphasis on forgiveness and reconciliation. The commission provided a platform for victims and perpetrators to come forward and tell their stories, with the aim of promoting healing and forgiveness. While the TRC was not perfect, it was a significant step towards building a more just and inclusive society in South Africa.

Sri Lanka can also learn from South Africa’s commitment to transparency and accountability. The TRC held public hearings and released its findings to the public, ensuring that the truth was not hidden from the people. This level of transparency helped build public trust in the commission’s work and ensured that the process was seen as legitimate and credible.

It is also worth noting that South Africa’s commitment to truth-seeking and reconciliation mechanisms is not unique to the country. Many other countries in the global south have established similar systems, demonstrating that these mechanisms are not exclusive to Western democracies.

In contrast, many Western democracies have struggled to establish effective truth-seeking and reconciliation mechanisms, particularly in cases where the state has been responsible for human rights abuses. The United States, for example, has yet to establish a truth commission to address the legacy of slavery and racism in the country.

That is why we strongly believe that Sri Lanka can learn a great deal from South Africa’s experience. First and foremost, Sri Lanka needs to establish an independent and impartial truth commission that is free from political interference. The commission must have the power to subpoena witnesses and compel them to testify, and it must be able to recommend reparations for victims.

Secondly, Sri Lanka must prioritize the involvement of victims and their families in the truth-seeking process. This means providing them with legal and psychological support, as well as ensuring that their voices are heard and their experiences are acknowledged.

Thirdly, Sri Lanka must be willing to confront its past and acknowledge the crimes that were committed during the civil war. This requires political will and a commitment to accountability, which can be difficult in a society that is deeply polarized and where there is a culture of impunity.

South Africa’s success in establishing a truth and reconciliation commission is even more remarkable when one considers the country’s history. Like Sri Lanka, South Africa was a deeply divided society that had suffered from years of violence and repression. However, unlike many Western countries, South Africa did not simply brush its past under the rug and move on. Instead, it confronted its history head-on and took steps to address the injustices of the past.

Within this context, we can commend the ongoing visit of the Sri Lankan delegation as a symbol of the strengthening partnership between the two nations. The discussions on nation-building, constitutional making, and building a better future for all demonstrate the commitment of both countries towards democracy, human rights, and justice.

This visit of Sri Lankan delegates has provided an opportunity for both countries to strengthen their partnership and share experiences in building a better future for their people. The discussions on lasting peace, unity, justice, and reconciliation demonstrate the shared commitment of both countries towards building a democratic and inclusive society. The importance of consensus-building and confidence-building mechanisms for national revivification, as well as the role of ordinary people in shaping constitutionalism, were also emphasized during the visit. It is hoped that this visit will pave the way for more meaningful collaboration between the two countries in the years to come.

In addition to the main theme, the Sri Lankan delegation also highlighted their responsibility as the chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). Former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s foreign policy was marked by the pursuit of non-alignment, regional cooperation, and peace-building efforts. In the 1970s, she advocated for the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace and proposed a UN resolution to this effect. The initiative aimed to promote peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region and ensure freedom of navigation, especially for developing countries.

The resolution was tabled at the UN General Assembly in 1971, and it was eventually adopted as Resolution 2832 in December of the same year. The resolution recognized the importance of the Indian Ocean for world peace and development and called for the establishment of a zone of peace in the region. The resolution was a significant achievement for Sri Lanka and helped to promote regional cooperation and peace-building efforts. Sri Lanka continued to play an active role in promoting the Indian Ocean as a zone of peace and supported various regional initiatives to this effect. Sri Lanka, as a vital Island nation, is always inspired by its own uniqueness and value of upholding democratic values. Sri Lanka has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to regional peace and stability through its actions under any circumstances. It is in this context Sri Lanka is going to play an important role as the Chair of IORA.

However, as Minister Sabry emphasized, some sections of the Sri Lankan diaspora are unfairly involved in domestic affairs in Sri Lanka. The delegation emphasized the importance of devolution of power and supporting the required executive actions in terms of decision-making. Furthermore, they stressed the need for credible and transparent domestic accountable mechanisms, which can learn from other countries, especially South Africa, as a genuine partner. The visit of the Sri Lankan delegation to South Africa was deemed significant in this regard.

The delegation also discussed the importance of accountability mechanisms acceptable both for victims and perpetrators. The benefits of such a mechanism would be many. It would help to promote healing and closure for victims of the conflict, and it would help to create a shared understanding of the past among Sri Lankans. It would also help to promote national unity by creating a sense of ownership over the process among Sri Lankans. South Africa’s success with the TRC highlights the importance of transparency and inclusivity in establishing such mechanisms. Sri Lanka could benefit greatly from adopting these principles in its own efforts to establish a truth-seeking and reconciliation mechanism.

It is worth noting that South Africa’s success with the TRC is particularly noteworthy given that it is a country in the global south. This stands in contrast to some Western countries, which have been criticized for their own truth-seeking and reconciliation mechanisms that are perceived as hypocritical or driven by dubious motives. By learning from South Africa’s example, Sri Lanka can establish a nationally and internationally recognized and acceptable truth-seeking and reconciliation mechanism that is transparent, inclusive, and effective.

It’s time to put an end to the politically-driven pursuit of revenge through “eye for an eye” tactics. As Mahatma Gandhi once wisely observed, such a path will only lead to a world where everyone is blind. Now is the time for forgiveness and coming together to work towards a brighter future for our nation.

Indian investigators link Coimbatore car blast to Sri Lanka Easter bombings

1 min read

Those involved in last October’s car explosion in front of Coimbatore’s Sangameswarar temple operated an Islamic State (IS) module inspired by Zahran Hashim, the mastermind of the Easter 2019 bombings in Sri Lanka, the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) probe has found, the Hindu reported.

Hindu’s report reads further as follows;

A source privy to the investigation said that the agency has unearthed material and digital evidence which showed that the 12 persons who have been found to be involved in the blast so far were inspired and radicalised by Hashim.

The evidence showed that they watched multiple videos of Hashim. Jameesha Mubin, the suspected mastermind of the Coimbatore blast, recorded a video of himself before carrying out the attack on Sangameswarar temple, as is typically done by IS suicide bombers. The farewell video was shot in a style similar to the one shot and released by Hashim before the Easter Sunday bombings. In the video, Mubin said that he wanted to become a shaheed (martyr). The module is believed to have had plans to release the video. However, that did not happen.

“Evidence strongly support that they acted like an IS module inspired by Hashim,” said the source, adding that the agency could not find links to any outside handlers in the module’s operation so far.

Common link

The investigation into the Coimbatore car blast, in which Mubin was killed, has also revealed that Hashim was the common point of inspiration for the IS module behind the car blast and another module headed by Muhammed Azharudheen, which was busted by the NIA in June 2019. Mr. Azharudheen was a Facebook friend of Hashim himself.

Y. Shiek Hidayathullah, an associate of Azharudheen in the first IS module, was also arrested for his alleged role in the car blast. Mr. Hidayathullah’s brother Sheik Safiullah and two others, namely Mohammed Hussain and A. Shajahan, were arrested by the Coimbatore city police a few days later in June 2019. The police had found that they planned to carry out a terror attack on places of worship using a truck laden with explosives.

“Several materials were seized from the trio by the police. They also studied how to make explosives. The investigation has found common links from the first module to the latest one,” said the source.

Preventing bail

NIA is nearing the completion of its investigation into the car blast and is planning to submit a chargesheet against 11 accused (Mubin was killed in the blast) before April 21. Chargesheeting the 11 persons, currently in judicial custody, before April 21 is also aimed at preventing them from getting the benefit of statutory bail in the UAPA case after 180 days. (It is normally a 90 day period, and was extended by the court to 180 days on the request of the investigating agency.) 

Sri Lanka: Conflict Resolution might be the Way Out?

6 mins read

Sri Lankan crisis cannot be separated from the international crisis both in economic and political terms. This is a warning for the political leaders to resolve their differences and conflictsin an amicable manner. Holding (or not holding) of Local Government elections and the newly introduced Advance Personal Income Tax (APIT) regime are the main fighting issues between the main political parties and their trade unions at present.

While there are only nine recognized parliamentary political parties in the Australian federal system, sixty-two political parties are recognized in the Sri Lankagiving rise to both superficial and unwarranted conflicts and competitions between them. As a result, there is no stability in the political party system. Where are the UNP, the SLFP, the Federal Party or the Ceylon Workers Congress today? All these main parties from the early years of independence have now splintered badly.

Conflicts and Conflicts

Intense political rivalries at the political party level are undoubtedly a reflection of the psychological mood and orientation of the public and the people. These rivalries are not uncommon to many other political systems including the developed democratic countries. France at present is one example while many parts of America have been inundated in this situation for a long time.

However, to my experience and observation, extreme politicization and rivalries are much higher in the case of Sri Lanka. There has been a tendency among the people (both young and old) to look almost everything from a prism of politics. Even at social events or even family parties, mainly men, get involved in political debates. The drinking of liquor (excessively) at these occasions might be a contributing factor. Perhaps young people learn these fights from the parliamentary leaders.

The world undoubtedly is going through a civilizational crisis. The war in Ukraine has become a mess and a human disaster. The invasion by Russia was unwarranted even in terms security or prestige of its country. However, instead of resolving the conflict through peace and negotiations, the NATO countries and America have intensified the war through supplying arms and ammunition to Ukraine to continue a fight. The major failure has been on the part of the UN which has become hopeless in terms of conflict resolution and peace. There is a possibility of the war becoming a nuclear disaster.

This is not an isolated case. Humanity, civilization, the so-called developed nations, and the UN have continuously failed to prevent war between Israel and Palestinians and many other wars and conflicts in the Middle East and Africa. These conflicts have given bad examples to many other developing countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan etc. Similar conflicts have continued in the Latin American nations. This is the civilizational crisis today. Although humans have developed in terms of science and technology, they have terribly failed in terms of human relations, justice, peace, and conflict resolution. This is also one reason for the natural disasters and environmental problems.

Facets of Economic Crisis

Sri Lanka should not be callous in addressing the present economic problems. The IMF does not have a magicwand while those who oppose the IMF are misled through old leftist arguments. Sri Lanka has been a member of the IMF since 1950. If there are disagreeable conditions from the IMF, those should be discussed and negotiated. I was surprised to observe that many international media reported that the last general strike in Sri Lanka was held in opposition to the IMF! While the trade unions undoubtedly have many grievances, they should sober their positions and slogans to suit an amicable resolution to the present crisis.

The emerging international signals are continuously worrisome. Two major banks in America, Silicon Valley Bank, and the Signature Bank, have completely melted down. The signal clearly is for a world recession sooner than later. The repercussions are now shaking the Credit Suisse bank (the second largest) in Switzerland. If the government leaders in the country are trying to give a rosy picture after obtaining a small amount of IMF loan,and restructuring the debt repayments, it is a complete distortion of the situation.

The loan taking during the last ten fifteen years have been completely irresponsible. There was no transparency. There were no discussions to reveal the plans and objectives and to take inputs from independent specialists and/orthe people. The political leaders and the top bureaucrats were not even keeping the accounts or information properly. When it became revealed that Sri Lanka is not able to fulfill the debt obligations, it was a shock to everyone. That was the result of the irresponsibility of the political leaders.

Stillthey go in the same direction of duplicity. The so-called debt restructuringis often pictured as debt cancellation. These restructured debtsmust be paid later while the government is still taking loans from countries and multilateral institutions. Apart from debt restructuring, the country needs to restructure the economy. Although some measures have been taken, no clear planor program is put forwardbefore the people. The people’s support is imperative for any economic recovery. This is where the conflict resolution is necessary.

Relevance of Conflict Resolution

The last year 2022 was a mess both in political and economic sense. According to reliable figures the economy had contracted by 8 percent. This will not significantly change this year. A global recession will adversely affect the Sri Lankan efforts to resuscitate the economy and develop the country. These are the matters on which the political parties, trade unions and civil society organizations should come to a common understanding. That is one aspect of conflict resolution. However, there are so many other aspects.

Although the open war is over, the Sinhala-Tamil conflict is still a major obstacle for the country’s development and peace. The failure to understand each other, and respect other people’s values and culture is common even among religious, language, cast, gender, professional, regional (up-country vs. low country) and other groups. Under such a situation, peace and conflict resolution should be taught to children from the beginning of school years. There can be a mass movement and a massive effort to fulfill this task transcending political parties, divisions, and groups.

Let us take few examples. On the advice of the IMF, the present administration has declared that over 40 loss-making state institutions would be closed. To my view,this is a necessary measure to manage the economy better, and the support of all groups should be sought.Although not overtly expressed, there can be conflict of views on this and other matters. What are these institutions? What kind of an economic position that they are engaged in? These facts and information should be revealedto the public to open a healthy conflict resolution discussion.

Strengthening Positives

This does not mean that the situation in the country is completely hopeless. The younger generations are quite skillful with modern ideas and views as revealed through social media and new social engagements. Although they are highly frustrated about the present situation, they could be mobilized and motivated for new ventures and paths. It is unfortunate that the present university students are disoriented and discouraged. While curricula should be changed to modern directions, the medium of instructions should be English for future prospects. Sri Lanka should be a modern country and old views,values and practices should be discarded.

During the last two decades,the development trajectory had taken a distorted form. While large infrastructure (ports, airports, major roadways) is a must to the country, they should have been the second priority, giving much prominence to industrial, entrepreneurial, and export-orientedenterprises. What are the main pillars of the economy? Traditional exports (tea, rubber, coconut) have not improved enough with value additions. New exports (textile, garments, gems, and labor) are also a fragile pillar without long term agreementsor understandings with importing countries.

Of course, tourism is a promising area although affected by the Covid and political instability in the country. Unless the two major current issues of local government elections and APIT tax are remedied amicably through conflict resolution, the tourism sector also would be badly affected.

On the question of elections, the government is now playing with the idea of a presidential election at the end of this year. Although a presidential election could resolve the de-legitimacy of the present President, the logical step is to have the local government elections first to safeguard and preserve democracy. There can be negotiations, but soon. Even in resolving the tax issue, there should be negotiations and the government can easily reduce some percentage of the tax while trying toresurrect the abandoned files of the people who were excluded from the tax net under the last government.

It is not good for the country to have continuous strikes, protests, and demonstrations that could lead to violence and destroy not only the reputation but also the economic recovery of the country. It is my wish particularly for the universities to commence their sessions/teaching soon and for the students to study well and contribute innovatively to the economy, country,society, and democracy. There should be amicable conflict resolution in this sphere.

The Banality of Julienism in Sri Lanka: Feeding Diplomacy or Diplomatic Feeding?

3 mins read

by Our Diplomatic Affairs Editor

Diplomacy requires tact and sensitivity towards other cultures and customs, and it is important to avoid behaviour that could be perceived as offensive or disrespectful. – Kofi Annan

An image circulated by the US embassy in Colombo featuring an American diplomat the incumbent US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Julie Chung feeding a hungry school kid in Sri Lanka shows the ugly side of the so-called American diplomacy. While the act of feeding a hungry child is undoubtedly a noble one, the image has raised questions about the ethics of using such acts for publicity and whether it is appropriate for foreign diplomats to involve themselves in such situations. Performing like a monkey with feathers to fly in front of the media and other social gatherings is nothing but a deplorable form of comedic entertainment.

For parents, the hardest thing is to see their children being fed by someone else. This sentiment is universal, and it is understandable that the image of a foreign diplomat feeding a child in another country is disturbing. The little girl’s face in the picture says it all. She is a victim of the entire scenario, caught up in something that should not have happened in the first place.

The embassy’s decision to circulate this image as a means of publicizing the diplomat’s efforts is questionable. Diplomacy is about building relationships and fostering understanding between nations, not using a child’s hunger to garner attention. It is even more disturbing to consider the possibility that this act was done with the intention of promoting a hegemonic image of the US in Sri Lanka.

Certainly, this incident represents something beyond diplomacy, perhaps even a new term should be created to describe it. Let’s refer to it as “Julienism.”  It is important to note that this incident does not reflect the behaviour of all American diplomats in Sri Lanka but the act of a disordered individual who does not know the limits of her diplomatic duties. The fact is that there have been many US diplomats who have done an excellent job during their tenure in the country, behaving with respect and humility. But quite contrary to her predecessors, she does not hesitate to point out small errors in signboards or take selfies to demonstrate her “artificial humanity” and use every possible opportunity to mock the island nation and its people.

It is unfortunate that Sri Lanka has politicians who are willing to act as western bootlickers and take the country down to such a low level. The incident involving the American diplomat and the hungry school kid is just one example of how the Western mindset works to undermine the morals and ethics of nations.

It is important to recognize that this is not an isolated incident, but rather a part of a larger pattern of behaviour from Western powers. They know how to manipulate and control nations to serve their own interests, often at the expense of the local population. The fact that a kid born into the Korean dissidents turned diplomat picked rice, certainly not by accident, is a prime example of how the West works to keep countries dependent on them. They create a situation where the local economy is unable to sustain itself and then swoop in with their aid programs to keep the population dependent on them.

The ultimate goal of this strategy is to turn Sri Lanka into a vassal state, where any external power can come in and exert their influence. This is a dangerous situation for any nation to be in, as it puts their sovereignty and independence at risk.

In order to counter this threat, Sri Lanka must strengthen its own economy and reduce its reliance on external aid. At least for basic foods. This will require a concerted effort from the government and the people, but it is a necessary step if the country is to thrive and prosper.

It is important to condemn the banality of the act of this US Ambassador in the strongest possible terms. The US government must take this issue seriously and take appropriate action to address the matter. It is unacceptable for any foreign diplomat to act in such an inhumane, insensitive, and disrespectful manner towards Sri Lanka, its people, and its future generations.

It is unfortunate that some media outlets, NGOs, and civil society groups are manipulated by the US and other Western blocs, and are hesitant to speak out against this triteness. This kind of behaviour is a clear violation of Sri Lanka’s nationhood and sovereignty, and it should not be tolerated by any means.

Although Sri Lanka is going through a difficult time, this does not give anyone the right to disrespect the country or its people. Sri Lanka is not a tool for anyone’s disordered mind to fulfil their brutal desires. Such actions are not only disrespectful but also degrading to the country and its people. As Henry A. Kissinger, once noted, “In diplomacy, actions speak louder than words, and it is crucial to avoid any behaviour that could damage trust and credibility.”

It is indeed an ugly show by those who claim to be the guardians of human rights and who often brag about the right to privacy. However, it is important to note that sooner or later, such diplomats will receive the same treatment, the famous shoe treatment, that George W Bush received from the Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi.  This kind of behaviour is unacceptable, and it is imperative that it is addressed with the seriousness it deserves.

Sri Lanka: A Nation’s Quest for Identity and Unity

11 mins read

I concluded a previous article published  Sri Lanka Guardian on January 28, 2023 (Is recolonisation the final solution II) touching on the deplorable situation that innocent Sri Lankans have been plunged into not only by the current economic crisis but also by the so-called Tamil ethnic problem, both aggravated by unjust direct foreign intervention in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs, subversive NGO activities and various forms of imported religious fundamentalism, with the following words:

“The solution is not to try to return to the alleged Utopia that the British are believed by some to have bequeathed to us at independence (for such wasn’t the reality), or to overlook the 1972 change as insignificant, but to make way for the young of the country today to make a correct assessment of what has been achieved and what has not been achieved by the previous generations since independence (who were no less patriotic, no less proactive than them) and forge ahead with new insights, new visions, and appropriate course corrections as our ancestors did during crises to ensure our survival for so long as one people in spite of manifold differences among us.”

Now a large proportion of “the young of the country today”, unfortunately, are not aware of the unspoken truth behind the growing political instability and the artificial economic ruin that is engulfing the nation. The criticism often repeated these days that all post-independence governments mismanaged the economy, ruined everything through corruption and did nothing for nation building is not a valid one. It is deliberate disinformation chiefly peddled by anti-national political and religious extremists, that is, Tamil federalists/separatists, and Christian/Catholic and Islamist fundamentalist groups. Ordinary Tamils and Muslims have lived peacefully with the Sinhalese majority as equal citizens of one country for many centuries.  Although extremists are only a handful among the relevant mainstream minority communities, they are a power to reckon with in Sri Lanka’s current besieged condition.

The aforementioned misrepresentations and corresponding misconceptions are accepted as indisputable facts, particularly by the sadly uninformed credulous section of the young population today. They are largely ignorant of the origin of the alleged Tamil ethnic problem and its exploitation by the former colonial powers and their allies to destabilize our little island that is located in a geostrategically and geopolitically sensitive region. The future that the genuinely concerned young people envisage for the country could end up as a mere pipedream unless they make a serious study of what truly happened within the past seventy-five years of independence and shape their strategies, learning from the formidable challenges the older generations had to meet, and the admirable successes as well as the dismal failures that they had experienced in the course of the past three quarters of a century. 

Had these misguided young people including the yellow robed ones among them been properly instructed about the sharp political awareness and inspired activism that the brave youth of their parents’ generation involved in the second JVP insurrection of the 1986-1990 period displayed, they would be ashamed of themselves. Had they learned about the ideologically even more sophisticated fresh young men and women of their grandparents’ time who took to arms in the first JVP rebellion of 1971 against the popular, newly elected left-of-centre United Front government of Mrs Sirima R.D. Bandaranaike without any provocation except a self-denying revolutionary zeal to force a real system change in the country’s politics, the strange bedfellows of the so-called Galle Face Aragalaya  would have died of self-loathing. 

Of course, it must be remembered that the majority of the Aragalaya protestors were genuine. I would not include among them the handful of religious extremists who staged an ‘Aadaraye Aragalaya’ (Struggle of Love). The authentic agitators were similar to, if not identical with, the countless groups of spontaneously inspired young boys and girls from diverse communities who volunteered to adorn the city walls across the country with beautiful paintings (some with historical themes) to celebrate what they thought was the dawn of a new era with the eagerly awaited ‘system change’ made possible by Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election as president in 2019. The expectations of the youth of the country were dashed to the ground when president Gotabaya, earlier universally believed to be the iconic leader the country needed to salvage it from the mire of corrupt politics and the Yahapalanaya, Good Governance, misadventure (now conveniently forgotten), failed to deliver due to countervailing internal and external forces assisted, as suspected,  by the treachery of his family as well as his own lack of pragmatic political skills, in spite of his undoubted moral uprightness. These genuine protestors should be distinguished from the few political and religious extremists who wanted to hog media attention by making the loudest noises. 

Corruption among politicians is a fact. ‘Dealer politics’ is also a perennial issue. Mahinda Rajapaksa embodies a striking example of both. He, whose political leadership helped to rid the country of LTTE terrorism, has almost totally nullified the benign results of that success through his horse trading with extremists aimed at perpetuating his family’s ascendancy over Sri Lanka’s political landscape. Corruption charges against him remain yet to be substantiated. But the notoriety he has been already accorded in the media cannot be any worse if the allegations turn out to be true. These evils – corruption in high places and abuse of democracy for selfish gain – must be fixed by the enlightened youth of the country. But the present economic crisis and political instability cannot be totally attributed to these evils alone. Such simplistic generalization in itself is a grave error. It is a graver error, a crime against the nation in fact, to dismiss the history of the past seventy-five years since independence as one of unchecked thievery and erroneous policy making by unpatriotic politicians.   

Within the first two decades after severing ties with the British monarchy, thousands of pure-hearted idealistic young men and women (over 5000 in 1971 and over 60,000 in 1986-90, almost totally from the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community) paid the ultimate price, laid down their lives, in the name of their Motherland. They fought for the country, not for a particular race or community. Their battle cry was: “mau bima naeththam maranaya” “Motherland or Death”. The 1971 JVP rebellion provided a major stimulus for the government to introduce many progressive measures to build a self-reliant national economy through new state enterprises (such as the tyre and steel corporations, paper mills, sugar mills, and chemical fertilizer plants) as well as through increasing domestic food production. Similarly, the second JVP uprising of 1986-90 became a watershed for a profound change of course in Sri Lankan politics. The deluded, impractical modern day Aragalakarayas who are merely adding to the hardships of  the suffering masses by their exasperating antics must remember that they are by no means pioneers in the struggle for a system change in Lankan politics. (Of course, today’s JVP is not what it was then. Its new leaders do not seem to understand the meaning of simple concepts like nationalism, racism, secularism, religious fundamentalism, culture, and the rest.)

Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was known to the outside world before 1972) was under Christian European domination for roughly four and a half centuries from the beginning of the sixteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century. With the annexation (through conspiracy rather than conquest) of the Kandyan kingdom (or the Kingdom of Sinhale as it was called then) to the British empire in 1815, the whole of the country came under colonial rule. The British left in 1948 having granted Ceylon what was known as dominion status independence. That is, it became one of the “autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations”. It is clear from the Wikipedia definition quoted in the previous sentence that the ‘independence’ given in 1948 was subject to lingering colonial restraints. Full independence was achieved in 1972 through the promulgation of the first republican constitution under the United Front government headed by prime minister Sirima R.D. Bandaranaike. 

In talking about the eventful seventy-five years since 1948, we need to take a quick retrospective look at the immediate pre-independence years. The minority leaders, particularly, Tamil leaders, feared that the majority Sinhalese would dominate the government on the basis of their superior numerical strength to their disadvantage when the proposed Westminster type parliamentary system would come into operation with the departure of the colonial British. It was to avoid such potential Sinhalese dominance emerging that the Ceylon Tamil Congress leader and lawyer G.G. Ponnambalam demanded a 50-50 allocation of parliamentary seats for the Sihalese and all the minorities put together, which was grossly unfair by the former. The proposal was scornfully rejected by the Soulbury commissioners who drafted the independence constitution. Sinhalese leaders headed by D.S. Senanayake assured a government representative of all the communities without discrimination. The aim of his United National Party founded in 1946 was for the various communities in the country to evolve into one Ceylonese nation living in unity. But Tamil leaders always thought in communal terms. They wanted the privileged status that the Tamil elite of the time had enjoyed under the British to continue. But they knew this was going to change after 1948 when the native Sinhalese majority would try to restore their long lost rights. So, S.J.V. Chelvanayagam founded the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi or Lanka Tamil State Party in 1949. They popularized it as the Federal Party. The misleading English name was meant to conceal the ultimate goal of the party, a separate state for Tamils within the territory of Ceylon/Sinhalay (since this was not possible to achieve within the strong gigantic Union of India where Tamil Nadu, Tamils’ real homeland, lies). 

At independence, the British colonialists left a country that was able to flaunt relatively high economic indices due to volatile external factors associated with the end of World War II in 1945 (such as the increase in the price of rubber exports from Ceylon). A 1948 UN report described the Sri Lankan economy as agricultural and industrially underdeveloped; low productivity and unavailability of resources relative to the country’s population hampered its economic development. The people were socially and communally divided as a result of the imperial policy of ‘divide and rule’. A minuscule minority of citizens that emerged as an English speaking, Westernized and generally Christian elite was privileged over the rest of the downtrodden population. (Today some members of the same class are looking forward to a return to the good old days.) The vast majority of the people lived in grinding poverty then. The reality was a far cry from what (probably the majority of) today’s young people have been brainwashed to believe through propaganda, a pre-independence Utopia of sorts.

The seventy-five year post-independence history of Sri Lanka is the  record of one long national struggle conducted according to democratic norms from the very beginning for the historic goal of building a Sri Lankan nation that stands on its own feet as a single sovereign state that is second to none in the world. In my opinion, six iconic leaders gave leadership to this struggle, whose approaches were different, though the goal remained the same. Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake (1947-52) regarded all citizens as ‘Ceylonese’, not as Sinhalese, Tamils, Burghers, etc who were at loggerheads with each other. He began his national service decades before independence. As minister for agriculture and lands in the State Council in the 1930s, he brought in legislation to bring bare lands into cultivation through irrigation schemes. Under his multipurpose Gal Oya Development project, 250,000 landless peasants were settled in uninhabited areas in the eastern province. Some communal-minded Tamil politicians objected to this to no avail. It was Senanayake who proposed the use of hydroelectricity, as Sri Lanka had no coal or gas for energy production. He was popular among ordinary people of all communities as well as among the British who were leaving. His unexpected death in 1952 removed his sound leadership. Like D.S. before him, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (1956-59) was elected at a parliamentary election to lead the nation as prime minister in 1956. He was a true nationalist like Senanayake. As such, he took steps to redress the harsh discrimination that the majority Sinhalese were subjected to under the colonial British. Communalist Tamil leaders vehemently opposed him. Tamil MPs opposed him even when he had the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act No. 21, 1957 passed. The particular act was  meant as a check on caste discrimination, a social evil that was especially severe among their own community. (Some hooligans among the Aragalakarayas at Galle Face wanted to pull down the Bandaranaike statue there for obvious reasons.) It was his widowed wife Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1961-65, 1970-77, 1994-2000) who was able to turn the Dominion of Ceylon into the fully independent Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, which was the most profound system change that any post-independence leader ever achieved in the name of the Sri Lankan people (nation). She pioneered certain economic policies, that harked back to the D.S. Senanayake era of agricultural development just as well as they looked forward to a future of local industrial advancement. The austerity measures her government introduced were too much for the people. The opposition made use of the spreading public disaffection with her administration and the emergence of a streak of authoritarianism on her part in undemocratically prolonging the government’s term of office by two years. J.R. Jayawardane (1977-89), who was himself a staunch nationalist like his predecessors, had the second republican constitution promulgated by which he instituted the all powerful executive presidency. The institution of the executive presidency has to date protected the unitary status of the Sri Lankan state. J.R. saw to it that it survived even the Indian imposed 13A, at least tenuously. He introduced the open market economy model for national development. He implemented the Accelerated Mahaweli Programme, the largest multipurpose development project ever undertaken in the history of the country. It was the fruition of an plan proposed by Sirima Bandaranaike as (the world’s first female) prime minister in 1961. Following J.R. Jayawardane, R. Premadasa (1989-93) made history as the first ‘commoner’ to become head of state of Sri Lanka. He got elected as president at a time when the country was literally being torn apart by civil strife by the JVP in the South and by the LTTE in the North. The JVP violently opposed the UNP government of JRJ for giving into Indian expansionist intervention in Sri Lanka). Premadasa himself, though prime minister under Jayawardane, had demonstrated his angry disapproval of the Indo-Lanka accord by absenting himself from the signing ceremony between JR and Rajiv Gandhi. Premadasa put an end to the JVP insurgency in1989 through ruthless violence. The LTTE was mounting terrorist attacks on civilian as well as military targets in pursuit of their dream of establishing a separate state on Sri Lankan territory. On becoming president, Premadasa flatly asked India at a public rally to withdraw the Indian Peace Keeping Force. He was determined to resolve the Tamil problem peacefully as an internal matter. He made peace overtures to the LTTE. He was said to have given arms to the LTTE to fight the IPKF. But finally, Premadasa was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber. Mahinda Rajapaksa was able to militarily defeat the LTTE terrorism through his political management skills. But he gravely mismanaged the aftermath through personal hybris as well as family bandyism. Even his nationalist credentials are in doubt now. But his past achievements cannot be forgotten.

The great nationalist achievements of the past seventy-five years, which belong to all the communities that make Sri Lanka their home, are a memorable part of the country’s history, whatever its future is going to be. This truth must be revealed to the global powers – the America-led West, India, and China – who have remained our friends throughout the last seventy-five years and helped us generously in their different ways in spite of their own conflicting national interests. Sri Lanka is indispensable for each of them because of its geostrategic location. The highly cultured peaceful Sri Lankans of diverse ethnicities have been living in peace and harmony for centuries. Disinformation by the few separatists and the handful of religious extremists who are exploiting the misplaced generosity of charitable international donors should not be allowed to prolong the suffering of these innocent people, who pose no threat to any of those powers. All Sri Lankans want the geostrategic location of their island to be a blessing for them, not a curse.

Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Celebrates International Women’s Day

1 min read

With International Women’s Day 2023 centred around the theme of #EmbraceEquity, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, as a forerunner in promoting gender equality in the private sector and beyond, continues its longstanding pledge to support and empower women in business and societal spheres, through numerous initiatives and partnerships.

A workshop to facilitate women entrepreneurs to become export ready and expand their businesses to the global market was the most recent of such initiatives. Conducted in Ratnapuraon 3rd March, by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Centre for SMEs in collaboration with Seylan Bank and the Sabaragamuwa Chamber of Commerce, 65 women entrepreneurs from diverse sectors were coached on consolidating and adding more value to their product ranges, identifying opportunities and attracting international buyers.  

A staff workshop on decoding and identifying nutritional information on food labels will also be conducted on 8th March, coinciding with International Women’s Day, in order to promote better health and food choices amongst individuals and families and contribute towards a healthier nation.

The Chamber is the principle implementing partner of the International Labour Organization’s South Asia Leadership in Entrepreneurship (SALE) programme, which promotes youth entrepreneurship, and aims to address challenges such as gender bias and inequality among other challenges in this field. Other initiatives such as joining the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign annually, is further demonstration of its commitment to ensuring female empowerment in all spheres.

Adhering to the maxim that change must first begin from within, the Chamber has long been a champion of female empowerment and gender equality, demonstrated by its workforce composition, with women accounting for 59% of all employees, and a significant presence of 83% at the senior leadership level.

Deputy Secretary General and Chief Operating Officer of the Ceylon Chamber, Mrs. Alikie Perera said, ‘we believe that empowering women is essential for creating a more inclusive and prosperous economy, and we are committed to supporting women entrepreneurs and leaders in Sri Lanka’.

Election Manoeuvring Is a Blessing in Disguise

4 mins read

The manoeuvrings of the president of Sri Lanka who came to power abusing a constantly hackneyed and worthless paper called the constitution have made the election commission postpone the local government elections. I view this postponement as a grand opportunity for the NPP to regroup and battle it out better prepared or as at least an opportunity to turn the presumed disadvantage into an advantage. Ranil’s ascendancy to the throne is unconstitutional and unethical. When the Pohottuwa and the UNP fought the general election, they promised people different policies. Ranil was defeated. People celebrated the defeat of Ranil’s campaign and consequently his policies could not be implemented. Suddenly he becomes the president and starts implementing his policies that were rejected by people en masse. Perhaps some legitimacy could have been attached to his appointment, at least if he declared that he left the UNP and joined the PJP to be nominated for the presidency. The opposition missed this point, that they should have argued that he had not been elected by people, but he could join PJP and be elected to be the president by their vote. Ranil could have been trapped in his own trap.

Regroup with higher sophistication, better technology, and much vigour.

Until the ‘Aragalaya’ opened the eyes of everyone to see that the country is ready for a significant political change, even NPP had not believed that they could lead this change of power with just three members in the parliament. Since then, until now, they, encouraged by the new belief have worked hard to turn the tide to their side. The results are visible everywhere in the country. The undemocratic actions of the government in fear and agitation of a possible victory of NPP is proved by the hideous manoeuvrings aimed at a postponement or a cancellation of local government elections. While it is imperative to win the demand for holding elections, NPP cannot undervalue the opportunity offered them by the grace of God.


Election speeches should not be restricted to the well-known speakers. People have seen them and heard them time and again. There is a plethora of educated, experienced and skilled speakers in their ranks to go on stage and speak, reserving the veterans behind the scenes to appear at peak times. Speeches must refrain from traditional attacks on opponents and show a sophisticated trend of oration that should show points of facts, make counter arguments, and raise hopes for a disciplined rule and a bright future.

Better technology

The use of modern technology in the election rallies would be a much more effective weapon than a speaker screaming from the back of his throat with damaged vocal cords. If NPP can focus an old picture onto a screen on stage with severed heads that were placed on the culverts of the University of Peradeniya, it would be much more effective than someone telling the people that Premadasa murdered sixty thousand youth who were not necessarily JVP supporters but political opponents of the then ruling UNP and dragged this country backword by at least twenty years. Photos, video clips and other visual or auditory aids can be used to remind people what others have said and done in the past.


NPP must use its supporters to work individually more vigorously. Train them to go from house to house highlighting that this is the last chance for people to make the system change that people were clamouring for throughout the aragalaya. They must target still loyal traditional voters who have been constantly deceived by both the UNP and the SLFP and their splinter parties.

International recognition

Now, time is on their side to prepare better counter arguments backed by some proof. For example, when interviewed, a toothless man said “JVP has no  Jathyantharaya”. He meant to say that NPP does not have internationally recognised people in its ranks. In fact, the man has no understanding of what is meant by the term international. He just repeated something he had heard from another uneducated person. This is where the raising of awareness takes centre stage.

What is international support? Most people think that international collaboration can be drawn by people who wear suits and speak some English. For example, Ranil and Sajith. NPP should dispel that myth and make people understand that NPP is not a one-man party but a consortium of people and in that they have numerous people who can speak better English than what Ranil speaks.

None of the Sri Lanka’s current politicians have international recognition. To achieve international recognition, they should have raised the living standards of people and the reputation of the country. On the contrary SL politicians have sent what was once a relatively prosperous country of Asia to the bottom of the world ranking of every possible index and impoverished its people beyond recognition with the sole hope of getting their votes by offering metaphorical two measures of rice. Only to a beggar two measures of rice is a lottery drawn.

In the United Kingdom for example, all British citizens are proud of their individual and collective status on the world stage and no politician would imagine bringing that status down even by a shred. With their knowledge of what the current SL politicians have done to their own country and people, if a British politician privately meets one SL politician, he will get a fat spit on the face let alone international recognition.

Mud attacks

NPP can turn the appearance of Hirunika the loose cannon on stage who screamed that Anura cannot resist but wants to shoot them down when he sees people and wants to burn them when he sees buses, to their advantage. Newly baptised Damitha who said she wanted to help the son of a man who crushed the JVP in the 1980s. She forgot that she was inadvertently highlighting a mass murderer whose son is promising buses in place of his father’s promise of a coconut not half a coconut. Instead of delivering coconuts, Premadasa delivered bullets indiscriminately.

Prabhu class

Buddadasa Vithanachchi explained that none of the modern rulers descend from real prabhus except Sirimavo Ratwatte. They were wannabe prabhus. It is true that those families earned wealth by obeying Western rulers. In other words, by betraying locals and licking the foreigners’ boots. Ranil is the epitome of cunning, deceit, shamelessness, and lowliness that their ancestors possessed. The young generation should stop promoting them as prabhus or radalas. Prabhus must have dignity, respect, honour, and the sense of shame on the forefront of their personality. Ranil clan has none.

Sri Lanka: Ranil Faces Hobson’s Choice

4 mins read

February ended as a month of discontent for the public after the government raised power tariffs for a second time on February 15. It was said to be the last of 15 conditions to be met for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Extended Fund Facility (EFF) of $2.9 billion. But the uncertainties over the EFF are not over as the IMF is yet to receive assurance from China as India and the Paris Club have done. China has offered only a two-year moratorium on its debts.

Opposition SJB MP and economist Dr Harsha De Silva, while strongly condemning the raising of power tariffs for a second time, said Sri Lanka could technically still receive IMF support. He said it can be done through Lending into Official Arrears Policy (LOAP) with support from the US, if 50% of debtors have agreed to restructure their facilities. He suggested that if loans from the China Development Bank can be moved under commercial loans instead of bilateral loans, this could be achieved.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe speaking at various forums has focused on economic recovery. While addressing a Rotary gathering on February 18, he emphasised the importance of economic recovery and improving citizens quality of life. He said democracy depends on the maintenance of public order which requires law and order. Following the country’s economic recovery, next year it would be able to decide on the future it wants, with the use of the ballot (italics added), clearly indicating he was against the LG election.

Addressing Tax Forum 2023 on February 21, he strongly defended the current tax policy, as a rescue operation and not a normal tax policy. If the policy is disrupted, Sri Lanka will not be able to join the IMF programme and lose the opportunity to do business with foreign countries.

The President is applying his masterly skills at obfuscation to handle questions on the long overdue LG elections. The election scheduled for March 9 stands postponed as the Election Commission had been facing a number of structural and financial issues to conduct the elections. The air has been thick for the last two months with questions on LG elections from all sides, ranging from semi literate politicians, sensationalising paparazzi, sanctimonious but erudite civil society leaders and sermonising do-gooders who shun responsibility.

The President’s speech on the LG election issue in parliament on February 23 is an eloquent example of obfuscation. He said “There is no election to be postponed. I have so far not got into this debate on elections as I kept out of it on the grounds that I will not get involved in politics. However, today, we hear the Election Commission will inform Courts that the election cannot be held since an affidavit has been submitted. I will speak on it, as otherwise it will be unfair on the part of the Treasury Secretary. The Commission has been informed by the Treasury Secretary that they are unable to provide necessary funds to conduct the elections. That is not true. It was I who first informed the Election Commission in December that due to the economic situation, it was not possible to hold the elections.

President Wickremesinghe appears to be a votary of 50s British humourist Stephen Potter who authored Lifemanship series of books. In that era of self-help manuals of the Dale Carnegie variety, Potter focused on books with less exalted goals of survival issues like: “winning without actually cheating (Gamesmanship), “creative intimidation (One-Upmanship)”, and “making the other man feel that something has gone wrong however slightly” (“Lifemanship”). The President seems to be using all the ploys of Potter to confuse the nation reeling under unmanageable price rise of daily necessities. Obfuscation is the erudite man’s quibbling in action. Oxford Languages explains it as “the action of making something obscure, unclear or unintelligible, when confronted with sharp questions they resort to obfuscation.”

Successful politicians develop their skills at the art of obfuscation to difficult questions from the paparazzi, awkward questions from the informed audience and perhaps, to handle embarrassing moments with their girlfriends. If there is an award for obfuscation in politics, President Wickremesinghe will win a platinum award. Perhaps, he can’t be faulted for it because probably that came, when he earned the President’s chair without a popular mandate after a severe drubbing in the general elections.

But time may be running out for such gamesmanship, if we go by the mood of the people in the thousands who had gathered in protest in Colombo on February 26. The National People’s Power (NPP) led by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) held a massive protest against the postponement of the LG elections by the government in Colombo. NPP and JVP leaders including MP Anura Kumar Dissanayake and NPP MP Vijitha Herath had joined the protest. Prior to the protest, magistrate courts concerned had issued orders preventing the protests. Orders were also issued against 26 persons including Dissanayake from marching towards Galle Face Green and the Presidential Secretariat. When the protestors gathered in strength and wanted to march towards Colombo Fort area they were stopped by the police. Meanwhile, reinforcements of police in riot gear and army personnel joined the police.

Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the restive crowd which were shouting anti-Wickremesinghe slogans. In the melee that followed more than 20 persons were hospitalised. One of the NPP candidates for LG election who was hospitalised succumbed to his injuries. Police action in crushing the public protest has been condemned by civil society and even political parties not supporting the NPP-JVP combine.

Meanwhile 15 unions of the Ceylon Electricity Board employees are already protesting against the structural changes and tariff revisions. Trade unions of several sectors are scheduled to go on strike on March 1 against the recently introduced tax policy. Meanwhile, President Wickremesinghe has signed a gazette notification declaring several services related to ports, airports and passenger transport services as essential services.

Clearly the President faces Hobson’s choice.

Tailpiece: Resurrection of Prabhakaran on February 13, 2023, Tamil nationalist movement leader Pazha Nedumaran resurrected the ghost of Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE leader who was slain on May 19, 2009 towards the end of the Eelam War. The aging former Congress leader from Tamil Nādu claimed Prabhakaran was still alive and would appear in public shortly. He said the LTTE leader was “hale and robust” and urged the Tamil people to rally behind him. The news failed to animate anyone.

Sri Lanka: Karannagoda Report — A Flawed Investigation?

5 mins read

by Our Defence Affairs Editor

The measure of a man is what he does with power. – Plato

The concept of a state is a crucial component of modern society. A state is essentially a structure that is based on a chain of command. This chain of command is what provides the state with its ability to function, as it enables those in positions of power to issue commands that are then carried out by those below them in the hierarchy. The strength of this structure is therefore essential to the success of the state, and any weakness in the chain of command can ultimately lead to the state becoming fragile.

Unfortunately, in Sri Lanka, many people do not understand the difference between the state and the government. The government is a temporary body that is elected by the people to govern the state for a certain period of time. Those who are elected are bound to fulfil the public aspirations, but in Sri Lanka, this relationship between the state and the government has become increasingly blurred.

This issue has been highlighted in the recent inquiry report into whether there was any lapse on the part of State Intelligence, Police, and the Armed Forces during the massive anti-government public protest on May 9th 2022 which eventually kicked out the elected president for the first time in history. Strangely, only 65 witnesses were summoned by the committee to have evidence on such a landmark incident. However, the report was issued by a committee comprising former tri-forces commanders and was headed by Sri Lanka’s first-ever Admiral of the Fleet, Wasantha Karannagoda. The 17-page report was first handed over to the President at the end of last year and was later submitted to the Appeal Court on February 23rd. However, the head of the committee, Karannagoda, made a strange move by submitting the report himself to the Appeal Court. Later, a selected number of pages were leaked to the media by an “unknown” party, but the essence of the report has yet to be made public. From what has been reported, the report openly alleges that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) who was then the Army Commander, General Shavendra Silva, had abandoned his responsibilities, which had caused chaos during the protest. Instead of highlighting the overall shortcomings of the whole incident, the focus of the report has been directed towards CDS as the main target.

As mentioned above, this case study is an exemplary one that highlights the importance of understanding the difference between the state and the government. It also highlights the need for state workers to exercise their duties without taking political bias decisions. The state and the government have different functions, and it is crucial that those in positions of power understand this. The government may be temporary, but the state is a permanent fixture in society.

In addition to criticizing the behaviour of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), the report also pointed out the behaviour of the Secretary of Defense. However, the Board’s handling of the legal procedures that should have been followed by law enforcement agencies during the public protest has been largely ignored. This has led to criticism of the report for singling out the Secretary of Defense, while largely ignoring the responsibilities of the Secretary to the Law and Order Ministry. It is the Inspector General of Police who should be responsible for requesting the Secretary of Law and Order to deploy the army with the authorization of the Secretary of Defense when the police are unable to handle the situation. We don’t understand how the inquiry board came to the conclusion that CDS has been empowered with such power.  Therefore, the responsibilities of the Board should have been to investigate the nuances of the series of incidents without targeting selected individuals for whatever reasons.

When public outrage erupts against the government, it is the government’s responsibility to address the seriousness of the situation and punish the perpetrators who are responsible for plundering public assets. However, this inquiry report has been criticized for showing indifference to the wrongdoings of legislators within the government while attempting to silence and undermine the voices of the public. This is not only irrational, but it is also a sign of deliberate ignorance of the fundamentals of governance. Despite the report elaborating on the root causes behind the public outrage against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which was unfortunately hijacked by certain political parties later, the commission has pathetically tried to whitewash the injustices of those who first instigate the violence by humiliating the defence apparatus. This has led to further criticism of the report and the Board’s handling of the investigation.

The important issue that has arisen in relation to this inquiry report is the credibility of the report itself. The fact that the report was headed by a person who was arraigned by the court of law for allegedly abducting and killing 11 innocents for ransoms has raised serious questions about the report’s credibility.  The person in question, Admiral of the Fleet Wasantha Karannagoda, was implicated in the abduction and killing of 11 young men during the final stages of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The case is still ongoing, and Admiral Karannagoda has been accused of interfering in the case and intimidating witnesses. Given this background, it is reasonable to question whether Admiral Karannagoda was the appropriate person to lead an investigation into the conduct of the state intelligence, police, and armed forces during the May 2022 public protest.

The fact that only selected pages of the report were leaked to the media has also raised further questions about the report’s credibility. Without access to the full report, it is difficult to determine whether the leaked pages accurately represent the findings of the inquiry. Furthermore, the leak of selected pages has created the impression that certain individuals or groups may be trying to manipulate the narrative to suit their own interests.

It’s possible that someone is scheming against CDS General Shavendra Silva by defaming him, especially since he has taken some controversial actions that have challenged the status quo. As Woodrow Wilson said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” Silva’s actions, including his leadership during the final phase of the Sri Lankan Civil War and his involvement in various post-war initiatives, have made him a polarizing figure. While some may appreciate his efforts to bring about change, others may view his actions as threatening to their interests. Nevertheless, it’s important to evaluate any accusations against him objectively and without bias, to ensure that justice is served fairly and impartially.

As Jesus once said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.” The holy words of the son of the Lord highlight the idea that none of us is without fault, and that we should approach others with humility and compassion, rather than judgement and condemnation. This sentiment is particularly relevant in the context of the inquiry report being discussed, which is facing questions of credibility and impartiality. While some may be quick to criticize and assign blame, it’s important to remember that none of us is perfect and that everyone is capable of making mistakes. Rather than casting stones, we should strive to approach this issue with a spirit of understanding and a desire to uncover the truth, without allowing political biases or personal agendas to cloud our judgement. Only by approaching this issue with humility and an open mind can we hope to achieve a fair and just outcome.

Sagala at 55: Navigating Complexity of Social Upheaval in Sri Lanka

3 mins read

by Our Political Affairs Editor

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” – Winston Churchill

Today, February 27th, Sagala Gajendra Ratnayaka celebrated his 55th birthday. As a Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Staff to President Wickremesinghe, he is a man of commitment and dedication, hailed from the deep South of Deniyaya and was educated at Royal College Colombo. Before entering politics, he had a career in banking following his completion of an Economics degree from Lewis & Clark College in the USA. But Ratnayaka is not just any politician; he is a rare kind of politician who stands out in a sea of politicians who play the race card, are more interested in pandering to the public, and manoeuvre the country towards bankruptcy.

Sagala Ratnayaka is not a pseudo-nationalist; rather, he is an internationalist who tries his best to think outside of the box. He does not play racial elements to climb up to power. Instead, he is a politician who understands the importance of building a united and prosperous Sri Lanka. He is not a usual actor who cuddles infants in front of the public for photo opportunities, but someone who works tirelessly behind the scenes to navigate the country out of national calamities. He is a navigator who has the ability, courage, and skill to transform the country for a better future.

In today’s political climate, it is rare to find politicians who have a genuine interest in the well-being of the country and its people. Ratnayaka is one such politician. He understands the tribulations facing the country and is working hard to find solutions. His dedication to his work is admirable, and he has proven himself to be a man of integrity.

Sagala Ratnayaka’s journey from banking to politics is a testimony to his commitment to the people of Sri Lanka. He realized that he could use his knowledge and expertise to make a difference in the lives of the people. His willingness to put his skills to work for the betterment of the country is a reflection of his selflessness.

In times of social upheavals, it is crucial to have politicians like him who work silently for the betterment of the country as the country needs leaders who can navigate these challenges and come up with sustainable solutions.  His ability to work silently for the betterment of the country is a quality that is much needed in today’s political climate. Often, politicians are more concerned with their public image and how they are perceived by the public. This leads to a lack of action and solutions to the problems facing the country. Sagala, on the other hand, focuses on finding solutions to problems, regardless of whether or not it benefits his public image.

Furthermore, Sagala’s dedication to his work and his commitment to the country are qualities that inspire trust and confidence in the people. His work ethic and his ability to navigate the country through difficult times have made him a respected figure in Sri Lankan politics. His contributions to the country have not gone unnoticed, and he is seen as a valuable asset to the country.

Sagala’s success as the Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Staff to President Wickremesinghe is not only due to his dedication and commitment to the country but also his thoroughness as a reader and keen observation skills. These qualities have enabled him to stay informed and aware of the events and people that shape Sri Lankan society, politics, and economy. In this turbulent time, he navigates the country’s top forces and intelligence agencies towards new dimensions where national security strengthens and social order is maintained. His focus on economic revival as a means of keeping social order intact is a testament to his ability to think strategically and address multiple challenges facing the country simultaneously.

Sagala’s ability to navigate complex issues, his dedication to the country, his thoroughness as a reader, and his keen observation skills make him an exemplary leader who Sri Lanka needs. His contributions to the country and his efforts to strengthen national security and revive the economy should be celebrated and recognized on his birthday.

To conclude, Sagala Ratnayaka is a unique politician possessing qualities essential for tackling the obstacles confronting Sri Lanka. His astute awareness of events and people, unwavering commitment to the nation, and strategic mindset exemplify his leadership abilities. As he celebrates his 55th birthday, let us extend our warmest wishes and continue to acknowledge and endorse his contributions to Sri Lanka. His noteworthy accomplishments warrant our recognition and appreciation, and it’s incumbent upon us to create a conducive environment for more politicians like him to thrive.

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