15 August, 2020

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A Danger Of International Isolation

By  Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The impeachment process launched by the government against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake has entered its most contentious and controversial phase.  The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to look into the charges against her has declared that she has been found guilty on three counts and innocent of two others.  There were a total of fourteen charges against the Chief Justice.  The opposition members appointed to the committee had earlier withdrawn from it and the Chief Justice herself had refused to continue to appear before it citing bias.  The belief that justice is being done in these circumstances would require a leap of faith.  The national Bar Association has taken a decision to go on token strike on Wednesday. Many international legal and judicial associations, in which Asians have leadership roles, have got activated in opposition to the impeachment.  This is generating a negative wave of opinion internationally.

It is unfortunate that the government, so dominant within the country should be isolating itself from the international community.  The government appears to believe that opening embassies in hitherto unknown African countries will make it new friends and receive the votes at international forums that will safeguard it from international sanctions.  But the government also needs to keep its international stature and reputation high within its own Asian neighborhoods and not be lulled into a sense of complacency by their diplomatic statements.  There was a time in the past when Sri Lanka was the cynosure of the world on account of the relatively high quality of life it provided its people even with limited economic resources.  The governmental leaders of some of these countries may speak today at international forums in favour of Sri Lanka, and expect the favour to be reciprocated at a future date.  However, what they really think about Sri Lanka’s government and its leadership may be quite different.

An international conference recently took place in Singapore that was attended by academics, media professionals and political analysts from several Asian countries.  The theme of discussion was how the media could contribute to counter terrorism and violent extremism. The conference was hosted by the National University of Singapore which is the premier state-run university in that country.  Singapore is known as a country that is by no means sympathetic to either terrorism or to violent extremism.  On the contrary it is a country that gives a very high priority to national security.  At the same time it gives a great deal of emphasis to ensuring that there is inter-ethnic harmony by treating its different ethnic and religious communities with equal respect and trust.  The off-the-record opinions voiced by participants about the situation in Sri Lanka were more negative than what appears in the public domain.  It is a serious cause for concern by Sri Lankans who think about the future.

SERIOUS MISTAKE

It was noteworthy that none of the participants at the conference regretted the demise of the LTTE.  The issue of how the war ended did not loom large to them.  The war ended over three and a half years ago and is a fading memory to the world at large, including the vast majority of its academics, media professionals and political analysts.  What they are concerned about is what is happening today in post-war Sri Lanka.  Like many in Sri Lanka they too expected there to be a sharp improvement in the human rights situation, especially in relation to the political rights of the Tamil minority.  The common opinion that was expressed at this conference was disappointment that Sri Lanka had not gone forward to sustainable peace after the end of the war, by finding a solution to Tamil grievances.  Now the impeachment of the Chief Justice makes them think that lack of democratic practice is at the root of the problem.

The government’s post-war foreign policy priority appears to be one of protecting its leadership and the military from international war crimes charges.  The government leadership is rightly concerned, along with the general population, that the issue of alleged war crimes in the last phase of the war is a threat to it.  International human rights organizations and those who function as custodians of the international criminal justice system will continuously put pressure on Sri Lanka until these matters are investigated to their satisfaction.  This has to be a matter of concern to all in the country, but most specially those who can one day be charged for these offenses. However, the issue of how Sri Lanka ended the war with the LTTE is not the only, or even the main concern of many in the international community.

It can be believed that the international community as a whole, possibly including Russia and China, would wish to see Sri Lanka resolve its ethnic conflict that gave rise to war through a political solution.  They would also stand for the rule of law and respecting the independence of the judiciary.  This was the clear message that came out at the conference held in Singapore.  The opinion of those few academics, media professionals and political analysts who are interested in Sri Lankan affairs will go a long way in shaping the thinking of the foreign ministries of their countries.  The government and its leadership will be making a serious mistake if they believe that they can protect themselves from this problem by ensuring that Russia and China are there to deliver a veto to any international move at the UN.  Those are also countries that seek to be respected members of the international community and will not wish to be identified as supporters of countries that defy international norms.

UNJUST IMPEACHMENT

In winning the war against the LTTE the government achieved a victory that few thought was possible and thereby gained international recognition.   Political and military analysts in all parts of the world will now study the Sri Lankan model of militarily quelling the challenge posed by terrorism.  However, the government is losing out where it concerns post-war developments, most notably the provision of full democratic rights to the Tamil people and now, the respect for the independence of the judiciary.  By not dealing with the roots of the political problem that gave rise to terrorism and extremist violence the government is losing the battle for favourable international opinion.

Most of the participants at the conference in Singapore had the impression that the government was suppressing the Tamils after winning the war.  The absence of a political solution that the government can credibly show to the world contributes to this negative impression.  This is added to by acts of violence and suppression of democratic freedoms that occur at regular intervals.  The assault by security forces on university students in Jaffna who were lighting lamps on November27, the date formerly commemorated by the LTTE as their Heroes Day, and the manner in which the security forces handled the situation has added to this negative impression.  Even journalists who were covering the incident were assaulted.  Now making an even worse impression, the government is impeaching its own Chief Justice who has been the country’s first ever Supreme Court judge and its first woman Chief Justice.

The government is engaging in this act of impeachment in defiance of the public opinion voiced by the totality of the country’s religious leadership and also the bar associations in the country. The rapidity with which the Parliamentary Select Committee, or what is left of it, has been proceeding with the impeachment cannot impress any objective outsider as being the actions of a government that respects democratic procedures.  It is necessary to recognize that in the absence of a political solution these incidents will serve to polarize Sri Lankan society and convince the international community that the ethnic minorities cannot expect justice from the government when its own Chief Justice is being treated unjustly. Tragically, such actions can be expected to be to the detriment of the country and its political leadership in the years to come unless the government changes course even now, as it can.

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    LET US SING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM IN TAMIL TO START OFF THE RECONCILIATION
    PROCESS. “NAMO NAMO THAAYE’ NAM SRI LANKA, NAMO NAMO NAMO NAMO THAAYE’.
    WE ALL SANG THIS BEFORE 1958, WHY NOT NOW?.

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    When will they ever learn? I mean our President and his cronies who advise him, and those professional academics and writers who blindly choose to sing his praises rather than show him the true picture of the sorry state of the Republic as Jehan perera’s critique clearly shows… If only they had a modicum of true patriotism!

    Most critics of the Government, incuding our Venerable monks and the clergy, well-meaning academics of repute and my humble self for one, do not wish, in the wildest of their imaginations to replace the President as one cannot see any alternative leadership to the current MR government… in the farthest horizons of the Nation.

    However, the greatest impediment to ceaning up the bad image of the President and that of the country (to which this President has has done so much), both nationally and internationally,is the small exclusive group of corrupt men and women who invariably show the President the wrong side of the picture… deliberately preventing any chance for President to really feel the pulse of the people himself (since evrything’s stage-managed) not depending on his rowdy bunch of current advisors. These minions, as recent events show, are only guided by blind loyalty to the President for the sole purpose of safeguarding their own backs and livelihoods and satisfying their selfish ends….

    Blatant disrespect for Human Rights, the Rule of Law and decency as the world has witnessed as was obvious to he world in CJ’s Impeachment Inquiry by the PSC, has become the order of the day in this resplendent isle where only a personal decision by the President can restore everything almost overnight.., to make the Government of Sri Lanka work…, appear to work and shine!(everything needed – an excellent people-oriented infrastructure – and gifts of Nature, a sanguine culture, all being in place benefiting the welfare of the masses..).. to become the envy of the world….

    As a socialist, I am most disappointed with Sri Lanka’s Left, which is part of the Government, presumably represented by DEW, Vasu and Dinesh?, for their unpatriotic, hypocritcal stance of keeeping mum for fear of losing their perks and livelihood.. Their’s is a total abnegation of resposibility as Socialists wedded to upholding the Cause.. Instead, they keep repeating the Manthra of impending “Imperialism” as to why they have chosen to keep silent! That was not the hallowed tradition of their mentors Philip Gunawardhena, SA Wicramasinghe, Peiter Kenuman,NM & Colvin who knew the meaning of self-sacrifice always foregoing their perks and personal pleasures for the sake of the masses. when they were compelled to get into coalitions.. They were upright men with spine! This infamous TRIO has lost all credibility… Just waiting for the PRESIDENT TO FAIL… so they can hoodwink the masses again and seek high positions in the Nation’s Left Movement TO KEEP THEMSELVES AFLOAT. aLL PATRIOTIC lEFTISTS should reject them next time around… Now you see why they are dumb!

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    Mr Jehan Perera needs to explain why Sri Lanka faces international ‘isolation’based on a purely domestic affair. It is like falling out with a neighbour because they are facing some domestic issue.

    THE IMPEACHMENT IS NOONE ELSE’S BUSINESS.

    THe UN Charter, Article 2.7 to be exact, is explicit in that the UN has no authority to intervene in domestic affairs of member countries. Where else are those who want to ‘isolate’Sri Lanka can gain authority? International treaties? The impeachment does n’t breach any! It is fully constitutional.

    Mr Perera is expressing the wish of local players who have made a profession of repressenting foreign interests in the country, including subversion.

    Why don’t they yslk about isolating the US, UK and Israel for the things they do to the Palestinians and the ethnic minorities among them?

    As a fello Roman Catholic I sincerely hope Mr Perera will see the light oneday and abandon his representations on behalf of evil forces in the world.

    Peace be with you.

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    ” Srilanka recieved a cynosure guernsey” says Mr Perera.

    Like to l know when for the great majority of Lankan inhabitants have been rural pooor all along..

    Surely this guernsey wouldn’t have been about them.

    It is only in recent times that the rural poor got a shot at participating in the Economy of the country, thanks to the great many real time mega Infrastructure projects introduced by the current Regime and encompassing the rural sector.

    In 5 years , Lankans may get a guernsey for the best in South Asia. And it is only if the crrent programs are allowed to continue.without major interference from our Western friends.

    The last local frontier against reconciliation lead by the only anti Govt Tamil party also seems to be crumbling according to its Leader’s latest utterings to the Media.

    That leaves only the Western based Frontiers who may have different agendas.

    Yet it is difficuilt to see what the local Tamil inhabitants got to do with the impeachment of a Govt official for inappropriate financial and employment practices.

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    Jehan Perera

    I understand what you are talking about. You should also know that where we came from…We are Rude,Ruffian King Vijaya’s desendents and we still carry that blood.

    Ever since we got Independence, our Socially, morraly and extremely jealous,negative, degenerated, selfish, politicians ruined out country.

    The first a..ho..SWRD Bandaranaike who along with D.A. Rajapakse (President Mahinda Rajapakse’s father) left UNP to form his selfish LSSP party, brought Sinhala only policy in 24 hours…and ever since that our country went down the drain.
    And for doing this great sin he payed the ultimate price by getting shot by Somarama a buddhist monk.

    The Britishers are the first to build tar roads, railway, Tea,tea plantations, bunglows, Rubber plantations, Schools, Universities, Libraries, Hospitals,medicine, Churches, Electricity, water, gas, brought in cars, trolly busses, lorries,Helicopters, planes,Police, Army, Navy, Airforce, Courts, parliament, Cricket, football, netball, rugby, athletics,swimming,golf, cadating, scouts, dams, furniture, cement, Radios, record players, movies, cinemas, shoes, shirts and slacks, hotels, bunglows, guest houses, glass, plates,pots and pans, fork and knives,flour, bread, cheese, cakes, butter, wisky, elephant house soft drinks, banks, Pens,western music, weddings, pencils,telephone,telex, post office, harbours, airports,etc etc. …..I could write a book.

    BUT WHAT I WANT TO SAY IS AFTER DOING ALL THESE FOR SRI LANKA WITHOUT BORROWING OR TAKEN A SINGLE PENNY ON LOAN…..I MEAN WITHOUT BORROWING A SINGLE PENNY FROM ANYBODY, STILL OUR UNAPPRECIATIVE, UNCULTURED, THUGS WHILE STILL USING ALL OF THESE WHAT THEY GAVE US FREE….STILL BLAME WITHOUT ANY GRATITUDE JUST FOR THEIR POLITICAL GAINS.

    THIS IS THE CURSE THAT OUR COUNTRY IS PAYING TODAY….OUR BAD, SELFISH, UNGRTITUDE, SWOLLEN HEAD,INSANELY PROUD, BAST..DS.

    If the politicians would have allowed us to learn in english medium…..all our town and village women would have gone to Europe, USA,Canada or Australia as Nurses or montessori school teachers or baby sitters which those countries still have a very good demand…..but with no proper english education now they go to Middle East as servants….and those house maids are our main foreign exchange earners. Even Bangladesh, India, Malaysdia and Phillipines have curbed sending their women to some of these ME countries…but the ‘cursed’ Sri Lanka Govt. still send them. ALL BECAUSE OUR SWOLEN HEAD BAST..DS DON’T KNOW HOW TO APPRECIATE AND BE THANKFUL.
    IN FACT OF LEARNING THEIR TALENTS AND GOOD OF THEM…WE TRY TO SHOW OFF TO THEM THAT WE ARE MORE BIGGER THAN THEM. IF NOT FOR THEM OUR POLITICIANS WILL BE STILL GOING IN GON KARATTA (Bullock Carts) eating Aggala and wearing Amude, Holding King’s Pandama.(Koppara Lamp)

    I WILL BET YOU TODAY…NOW… IF WE EMPLOY TEN QUALIFIED BUSINESSMEN FROM ENGLAND OR USA…..THEY WILL DEFINITELY DO A BETTER JOB AND WILL DEVOLOP THE COUNTRY MUCH MORE THAN THE 225 PARLIAMENT PIN PADI JOKERS WHO ARE EVER SUCKING PEOPLES BLOOD MONEY DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. INFACT THEY ARE A BURDEN TO OUR COUNTRY WITH ALL THE CORPORATIONS THEY RUN ARE RUNNING AT MULTI BILLION RUPEE LOSSES TO THE COUNTRY. THEY ARE NOTHING BUT RATA KANA KELAWADDAS.

    I BET TEN EUROPEAN BUSINESSMEN WILL DO THE 225 parliament MP’S JOB AND WILL BRING OUR COUNTRY OUT OF THIS CATESTROPHE.

    SUBA ANAGATHAYAK…….G.N HAR K.

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    British built roads and rail to transport the produce from their investments.

    They also built the port to transport it back to England.

    They built Anglican Church run schools to educate their children and the children of their servants .

    The great majority of the inhabitant population had no schools,until that Russian philanthropist lady arrived and observed the injustice of denying the great majority of the inhabitant population who were Buddhists ,their basic but fundamental Human right for an Education

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    I always appreciate your analysis, even if you are sometimes a bit too punctilious and too diplomatic. This time you are simply wrong. Sri Lanka positioned itself firmly on the side of China and India. The concerns of a seminar of academicians and intellectuals about the interference of executive power with judiciary’s unlikely will disturb the sleep of many outside Sri Lanka. Especially when you say that the major worry didn’t refer to the end of the war. EXCUSE ME: 80 000 (maybe 140 000) slaughtered by a governmental organization is not a reason of concern? What are we talking about? I think you are lost in your hyper-diplomatic arguments. You live in a authoritarian regime, responsible for heinous crimes (see also abductions with the white vans). As you can image, after this some polemics with an high ranking civil servants are nothing more than conversation.
    Trust me, after all what happened in Sri Lanka, the international community is barely awake when it comes to this provincial dispute. Please do more, use your refined intelligence to make a change. This cerebral criticism is toothless.
    Trust me, after all what happened in Sri Lanka, the international community is barely awake when it comes to this provincial dispute. Please do more, use your refined intelligence to make a change. This cerebral criticisim is toothless.

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    Jayantha, your comments are wrong.

    One needs to read history of SL and other countries colonized by the British, to understand the current situation around the world.

    You speak of the British as if they are philanthropists. This is very far from the truth. One needs to live in Britain and know british history to see the ruling elite’s agenda there. Britain is a bit of a sh**h*le if you are the lower class or can only earn the lower class wages. There are many highly qulaified and trained immigrants working at the bottom end of society and in some cases doing 3 jobs to make end meet.

    One point to remember is that no group of people from inhospitable countries like Britain, Europe went to other countries in asia and south america, with magnanimous and philanthropic ideals. The masses in the cold countries were suffering and starving and hence they left these land in search of civilized,established and settled soieties in greater asia (inc middle east) and south america to plunder, steal and enslave the native people.

    The result is what you see now.

    The current leaders of countries like SL need to navigate their way carefully and with intelligence as the old colonial powers are plotting and scheming to subjucate their people in very wily and cunning ways using wars and creating internal dissention.

    We must hope that all the local people of influence and intelligence will not fight among each other and sell the country once again to the old masters. It will be a tragedy.

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    We need action based on the analysis,changes come through action. Like in the case of Govt. the NGOs also get big money from donors but what is the percentage spent for social change and affected people ? Enjoy Dr.you are lucky.

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