23 April, 2024


Geopolitics Of Indian Ocean: Sri Lanka Postwar Challenges In Reconciliation

By Asanga Abeyagoonasekera

Asanga Abeygoonasekera

Asanga Abeygoonasekera

President Sirisena who survived an assassination attempt several years ago, created the first sign towards true reconciliation by forgiving the LTTE rebel who was a key suspect. He even got the National Anthem to be sung in both languages Sinhalese and Tamil. These are positive signs of reconciliation. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe setup an advisory council for Young Global Leaders to advise him recently. From a close administration we have moved into an administration more outward and now we have media freedom restored fully, there are no blocked media sites. I see five challenges as a nation we need to overcome.

Good evening, Prof. Sara De Vido, distinguished scholars ladies and gentleman,

I was told it’s the first time a Sri Lankan and a South Asian speaker is delivering a lecture at Ca’Foscari University PISE lecture series and it is a great honour and privilege to speak at this prestigious University in Venice. This is the 6th International PISE (Philosophy International Studies Economics) Lecture and I wish your program great success.

I am certain we will have more academics and scholars who will visit in the years to come from Sri Lanka. I thank Prof.MatteoLegrenzi and the University for the kind invitation. Venice has been one of my favorite places since I was a child and I enjoy your hospitality and the beautiful city. Byron called Venice “the city is like a dream”, for me it’s a chemistry of poetry of light and water surrounded by narrow and gloomy lanes filled with romance.Sri Lanka

Before I begin my lecture on “Geopolitics of Indian Ocean: Sri Lanka postwar challenges in reconciliation” a topic which I have spoken in United States earlier and few other places, I would like to offer my deepest sympathy to the innocent victims of the recent bomb attack two days ago in Ankara. This is the third attack in the Turkish capital in less than six months which shows the multiple security threats that Turkey now faces. A stable corner of the Middle East and the West’s crucial ally Turkey, now in a volatile region and at a dangerous moment. Pain of one nation should be pain of another as we are all interconnected in this world. This was the situation Sri Lanka faced for three decades and our streets were bombed by suicide attacks and we lost many lives. With the right political and military leadership with the courageous Sri Lankan military officers we crushed the rebels in 2009. From this day all Sri Lankans has enjoyed peace and we have not witnessed the ugly side of horror of war which I have witnessed since my birth and also became a victim due to the assassination of my father in 1994.

Let me begin by giving you a snapshot of Sri Lankan history, political system and demography of the Island. Sri Lanka was called in the ancient days by the Roman’s as Taprobana which Ptolemy drew in his map a larger island below Indian sub-continent, the Island was also called Lanka, Lanka Dweepa, Arabs called us Serendib and Ceylon was the former name before the Island became Sri Lanka.

Recorded history speaks of emissaries between Sri Lanka and Rome in the 1st century. According to historian Pliny, there were four members from Sri Lanka who visited (Circa 50 A.D.) the Court of Emperor Claudius Caesar. Another delegation from Sri Lanka arrived in Rome during the time of Emperor Julian (Circa A.D. 375). This was during the reign of King Mahanama of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was known for its spices and specially the Cinnamon still the world’s best and today for its fine tea. Marco Polo visited our Island according to his book of Travels and saw a huge sapphire which belongs to the King, even now Sri Lankan Blue Sapphire is known as the best in the world.

The country was colonized by Portuguese followed by Dutch and finally the British in 1815. The country gained independence in 1948 from the British rule.

The country has little above 20million population, with 12 million working age population. Ethnicity of the Island is close to 75% is Sinhalese, 11% Sri Lankan Tamils, 9% Moors and 4% Indian Tamils. There are smaller minority of Malays and Burghers. Religious statistics are Buddhists make up 70.1% of the population, Hindus 12.6%, Muslims 9.7% and Christians 7.6%.

We have an Executive President our 1978 constitution similar to French constitution six years term for President and five years to the Parliament.

There are two main political parties, the green party United National Party and the blue party the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Both parties ruled the nation since independence and at the moment we have for the first time a bipartisan government the blend of green and blue. The President newly elected last year, President Sirisena is from the Blue party and Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe from Green party.

Geopolitics of Indian Ocean

With this brief introduction I will take you to the first part of the lecture geopolitics of Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka is seen by many Scholars including Robert Kaplan in his book “The Monsoon” as a Geo-strategic Hub. In one of the interviews he clearly states “I consider Sri Lanka part of the new geography. It’s part of the new maritime geography, and that makes it very important”.

From the ancient time Sri Lanka has been a geo-strategic hot spot due to its geographical positioning 6 degrees North and 79 degrees East at the center of the ancient maritime silk route.

It’s on the Rimland of Spykman and a connector of East-West shipping lines. The interest in the Indian Ocean has become a topic of “new geography” due to the large hydrocarbon energy deposits and a passage to bring the required energy resources for the emerging giant China. China is already becoming the world’s largest consumer of petroleum and other energy resources to become the production house of the entire world. The oil consumption growth was on 43% in 2014. To maintain this and the future demand China requires a continuous supply of its energy resource. The recent South China sea turmoils are all to secure the sea around them which will unlock to the Indian Ocean a priority for China.

Previous Sri Lankan regime of President Rajapaksa had a clear Beijing Centric Foreign Policy this was due to the great assistance given by China to defeat the terrorist group and for infrastructure development aid.

A small nation like Sri Lanka has tilted its foreign policy from non-aligned to Washington centric, New Delhi Centric and Beijing Centric directions in the past due to the interest of many key players in the Indian Ocean.

This massive Chinese development aid which came with a construction of a massive port “Hambanthota” became the most debated topic. According to Robert Kaplan “The main sea lines of communication between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea and between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. It’s part of China’s plan to construct a string of pearls – ports that they don’t own, but which they can use for their warships all across the Indian Ocean”. Therefore Hambanthota is the diamond in the string of pearl theory due to the position at the center of string of pearls.

Hambanthota port was seen at the southern tip of Sri Lanka which is closer to the busiest shipping lanes of the world few nautical miles just outside the port. This is seen by some experts as a Chinese strategy for military presence in the Indian Ocean which China denies clearly stating as this is only for economic and trade benefit only.

If you refer Kerry’s report on Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2009, he urged the US government to forge closer ties with Sri Lanka to prevent it from drifting into the “Chinese orbit”. The Rajapaksa foreign relationship with Chinese elevated to strategic relationship with the visit of Chinese President Xi to the Island. The nuclear submarine which was docked in Colombo became a big issue for the neighboring India and threatened to some extent India’s security sphere in the region according to few New Delhi Scholars.

The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs informed the Upper House of the Indian Parliament that a Chinese submarine visited Colombo for “replenishment purposes” and the Sri Lankan government had assured Delhi that it would not do “anything against the security interests of India”. The Indian Navy chief announced that Chinese naval activities in the Indian Ocean were being continuously monitored and his force was “ready to face any challenge” (Times of India, September 25, 2014). However, the Indian strategic community warned that China was testing the Modi government to resolve not only on land but also at sea (Times of India, September 28, 2014)

This was seen as a strategy to remove the former President Rajapaksa and restore the balance with India and the West. According to South China Morning Post, the former president blamed India’s spy agency RAW for conspiring to bring him down. “I asked the Indians, ‘Why are you doing this? … I assured them that I would never allow the Sri Lankan soil to be used against any friendly country, but they had other ideas,” Rajapaksa said.

It was a clear zero sum to a positive sum game working with west and the rest a balance restored by removing the former President’s Beijing centric regime. But as I said the Island is a hot spot which can get heated really fast and reset really fast too as many key global players has interest in this place, only for its geographical position.


If you look at the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, Sri Lanka was one of the first nations to support Maritime Silk Road initiative of President Xi. I have visited China twice to speak of the importance of this initiative as Sri Lanka is at the center of Maritime Silk Road. Revival of the ancient MSR will benefit many developing countries like Sri Lanka to bolster trade, tourism and perhaps security.

The six economic corridors and MSR is all sitting on the classical theories of Rimland and Heartland. I call this a re-visit to Mackinder and Spykman. A paper I have written recently. Classical Geopolitics explains whoever controls the Heartland or Rimland will be the power of the world. OBOR with its 6 corridors include China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor (CMREC),New Eurasian Land Bridge (NELB),China-Central and West Asia Economic Corridor (CCWAEC),China-Indo-China Peninsula Economic Corridor (CICPEC),China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIMEC). OBAR will connect 4.4b people around 60 Nations from a US$900b economy. All this will happen in the backdrop with ASEAN trade with China now $500b will reach $1trillion by 2020. US – India relations which has become very strong with Civil Nuclear Agreement signed in 2006 and Modi-Obama relationship showing very positive signs.

Sri Lanka needs to navigate its political economy in this environment.

China which has given so much of aid and assistance to Sri Lanka is a factor that needs to be managed and impossible to disconnect due to the recent relationship and the historical friendship. Suspension of Chinese projects by the present Government during election and commencement is a clear sign. Prime Minister Wickramasinghe’s visit next month to China with his statement of further development of 10,000 Acres with Chinese investment closer to the Hambanthota Port is a clear indication of this.

According to statement made by Harry B Harris US Pacific commander clearly states to resume US-Sri Lanka ties an important strategic location “given Sri Lanka’s location it’s in America’s interest to increase military collaboration”.

If we revisit history of US Sri Lanka relations, Voice of America was broadcasted from Sri Lanka and during President Nixon’s visit in 1953 he states in his interview to Radio Ceylon the role US would play to suppress communism and using Sri Lanka as a strategic partner for this mission.

We can’t look at todays events without revisiting history and whatever we research today as scholars the same set of variables with a different time frame was researched during the past. Sri Lankan politics will be affected time to time by the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean due to its positioning closer to India and closer to Maritime route. Balancing New Delhi Washington and Beijing will be a priority for Sri Lankan foreign policy.

It is important the nation invest in Defence research, a research think tank on Defence is essential and I am happy our Secretary Defence is in the process of developing the first Defence related think tank. We don’t have much research done unfortunately on Foreign Relations and Defecne. The only Foreign relations think tank owned by Government the Kadirgamar Institute which I was heading for the last four years is an underinvested institute, even the annual research publication “Kadirgamar Review” which was introduced during my time was not continued and 2015 this was not published a very unfortunate situation.

Without investing in research Sri Lankan policy makers could make ad hoc decisions and get into real trouble. This is the reason I have been requesting the Government to look into this important area and invest in research. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers can come and go but publications and research developed will remain in the libraries for the future leaders to refer.

Sri Lanka postwar challenges in reconciliation

My second part of the lecture will be on Sri Lanka postwar challenges in reconciliation; if you look at the brief history of the insurgency which became a civil war, triggered by several incidents which threatened the rights of the minority Tamil community; which became a civil war demanding for a separate state.

Further LTTE transformed into a violent terrorist entity killing innocent civilians which had to be eliminated militarily since many negotiations failed for a political solution. This is the part I need to bring in my late father Ossie Abeyagoonasekera a national political leader who negotiated for a political solution in 1986 and failed then assassinated by the LTTE along with Presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake in 1994. When he negotiated with LTTE and believed in devolution of power as the solution, some southern extreme nationalistic groups called him and his party members’ traitors back in the 80’s. And he clearly states what the LTTE is doing at that time, by killing innocent civilians and children is not the way forward and Prabakaran the leader of the rebel group is not willing to come to a political solution. Some LTTE say my father was never in the hit list but his friend Gamini, whatever they say now, doesn’t justify the killing. I have reconciled with the perpetrators and ready to work towards reconciliation thinking of a better future for the children and the next generation.

When I conducted eight National conferences in Reconciliation at the Government think tank in various themes, the public was well engaged and gave important input to the process. We even got a team of experts who was involved during the TRC of South Africa to speak at the think tank along with Sri Lankan experts and military personal. We can’t import or plug in models from other countries; we could take some best practices and create our own model. Unfortunately all this is reset after the new administration. I hope they will commence from the place we stopped all this important work. The former President Chandrika Bandaranaike is given the task of looking into reconciliation process, she possess lot of experience from the past and actually she is one of the survivors from an attack, who was also a negotiator with LTTE in the 1980’s.

During the role of religion in reconciliation Reverend Father Emmanuel who is part of Global Tamil Forum contacted me and wanted to participate which I was very happy to bring him in to listen to his presentation, but the former government declined. I was clearly told I can reconcile with Tamil community but not with LTTE. During a discussion with the former Secretary defence he clearly stated we can’t reconcile with LTTE but we can do reconciliation with rest of the others. This was difficult task.

One of the first points I made was we can’t reconcile with victors justice in mind. Victory parade transform to a reconciliation day. We can’t keep pointing the finger and blaming and do reconciliation. LLRC report we should have fully implemented with assistance and expertise from international community. When I tried to bring “Interpeace” to assist our process at that time it was rejected. Now we have them discussing with Sri Lankan Government a positive sign. You can’t shut rest of the world and do your own reconciliation. In the “Role of Education in Reconciliation” we sent an input to Government to introduce peace education to schools but all this was just inputs no action. I even got the remarkable Sri Lankan, Justice Weeramantry who introduced peace education to the world but failed to introduce to his own country to speak at the think tank. On the “Role of Business Community in Reconciliation” we sent an input to introduce to most CSRs in private sector to include elements of reconciliation. The conference on “Role of Women in Reconciliation” we addressed issues to overcome challenges the 40,000 war widows are facing. All this were not given priority and implemented and that was the reason previous Government failed to win the North Eastern community vote. My article I wrote train to Jaffna clearly questions the former President if the train can actually get votes for him. It was too late when he realized train to Jaffna never got him his expected votes since he underinvested in reconciliation which was a priority. When you are in power sometimes you are frozen in your own world and if you have ill advisers you will be in deep trouble. He had a foreign policy adviser a Monitoring MP who used foreign ministry money for gambling and claimed the bills signed by the former foreign secretary very sad situation for a nation. A brilliant Rhodes Scholar and an Oxford Professor his Foreign Minister couldn’t do much with this setup. A person like him will be a great asset for another nation.

With all this we see positive signs of reconciliation with the present regime. President Sirisena who survived an assassination attempt several years ago, created the first sign towards true reconciliation by forgiving the LTTE rebel who was a key suspect. He even got the National Anthem to be sung in both languages Sinhalese and Tamil. These are positive signs of reconciliation. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe setup an advisory council for Young Global Leaders to advise him recently. From a close administration we have moved into an administration more outward and now we have media freedom restored fully, there are no blocked media sites. I see five challenges as a nation we need to overcome.

The first challenge we face is internal the political culture needs to change. Close to 100 Ministers, even few weeks ago another Minster was sworn in, the wives and family members working at Ministries should be chased away. All appointments should be on meritocracy only. Without meritocracy you will not have the suitable people to run the institutes of the country. Since there are so many institutions they are reset regularly today you could be a Minister with one profile and tomorrow another Minister with a very different profile. More than 80% of state Institutions running at losses due to inconsistent policies. Politicians don’t retire in Sri Lanka. Give you an example the electorate I contested Kelaniya, the organizer has lost so many times and he is still the organizer even after losing this time. Everyone wait until someone dies to get a position.

Second, to make reconciliation as a National priority and Declare national reconciliation day and work towards reform with the public including the overseas Tamil diaspora, a diaspora re-engagement strategy should be worked out by the Government not NGOs; Constitutional reforms to bring in essence of reconciliation, devolution of power all this with public discussion and debate a priority.

Third, to provide economic benefit especially to the deprived victims such as the 40,000 war widows and all others in the war tone area of North-East, to create a better economic condition with resettlement and rehabilitation which is in much progress now.

Fourth, International assistance and support for the process. Working with “Interpeace”, USIP with terms of reference agreed with Government. International Hybrid court with mix set of local and international judges which was suggested by UNHRC could be looked at but this is not the only way as many nations developed their own process. When developing the process youth engagement in reconciliation process and policy making is essential, as the whole process is about creating a better environment for the next generation. It’s difficult for the youth to get involved in policy making now in Sri Lanka due to the political culture I explained in the first point.

Fifth and my final point is reconciliation should have a genuine effort with all stakeholders including the Tamil Diaspora. The nationalistic group BBS was invited to participate and also raise questions at the national reconciliation conference, some said to keep them away but I made sure we invited them at our reconciliation conference. You need to get everyone onboard some may not agree but we could find solutions together and act, not only discuss, it’s important to act. As Dante Alighieri says “The secret of getting things done is to act!”

Thank you!

*Speech delivered by AsangaAbeyagoonasekera, Adviser to Minister of Finance, former Executive Director Kadirgamar Institute and Director General BIDTI, at Ca’Foscari University, School of International Relations on 15th March 2016.

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Latest comments

  • 12

    You should have mentioned a critical point in your segment on GeoPolitics. FACT: India armed, trained and financed all the separatist terrorist groups at a time JRJ veered towards US orbit and they felt a need to destabilize Sri Lanka. The open derision and hostility towards India led to the very vindictive Kashmiri Brahmin Indira Gandhi, daughter of Nehru a great friend of Sri Lanka to order RAW and other agencies to destabilize Sri Lanka by encouraging the growing dissatisfaction of tamil youth of the underprivileged classes at the discriminatory public policies. But the FACT remains it is INDIA which made matters worse by arming them and then losing control of the agenda when LTTE decided to be more nationalistic and refused to be controlled by India. Every Indian policy maker admits this sin now. Remember Vadamaarachchi and the Parippu drop? Both instances of geo political hegemony and flexing muscles by our big neighbor. JRJ made the mistake by allowing the heinous 1983 pogrom against innocent tamils to be carried out by JSS murderous UNP thugs. All that did was make it legitimate for India to further arm terrorist separatists and also to appease the very important political state of Tamil Nadu by taking an Anti Sri Lankan stand. Refugees fled to India because our Sinhala thug UNP leaders allowed that pogrom to happen. This in turn caused political problems for Cong-I from an election standpoint. And rest they say is history. The curse of the Sinhalese was the indifference to legitimate tamil grievances and the pogroms against innocent Tamils and of which 1983 was the most heinous. And the other curse is the geo location of Sri Lanka next to a regional superpower who bullies and dominates its neighbors except Pakistan and lives fearful of China ever since China whupped Indian ass in 1962 in their one sided border war. So MR made mistakes by overplaying the China card. REST again as they say is HISTORY.

    • 6

      Quite right Mano.

      India fermented and MILITARIZED the ethnic conflict between Tamils and Sinhalas and set Sri Lanka on fire. If India did not do this to the Sinhala-Tamil conflict, the issue would have been resolved over time in a peaceful way..

      India has militarized and fermented armed conflict this in different ways to all its neighbours and the border areas of India are a mess. This is why its neighbours dislike India.

      This is also why South Asia region is so backward and SAARC a non-started.

      First, India needs to take responsibility for its actions and learn lessons and stop fermenting Divide and Rule policies along its borders-internal and external.

      Otherwise, this is a good piece from a thoughtful young man who seems to promote himself too much! Needs to quote other scholars and experts beside himself.

      “The first challenge we face is internal the political culture needs to change. Close to 100 Ministers, even few weeks ago another Minster was sworn in, the wives and family members working at Ministries should be chased away. All appointments should be on meritocracy only. Without meritocracy you will not have the suitable people to run the institutes of the country. Since there are so many institutions they are reset regularly today you could be a Minister with one profile and tomorrow another Minister with a very different profile. More than 80% of state Institutions running at losses due to inconsistent policies. Politicians don’t retire in Sri Lanka. Give you an example the electorate I contested Kelaniya, the organizer has lost so many times and he is still the organizer even after losing this time. Everyone wait until someone dies to get a position.”

    • 10


      While your pointing fingers at India and Indira Gandhi are very valid, you must also note that India saw that opening to interfere in Sri Lanka’s affairs in a bid for selfish strategic advantage, ONLY because Banda intentionally created the major divide among the population to get his own selfish and short-sighted aspiration for block-vote.

      So, while you may try to push the baby to UNP/JRJ hands for the 80’s fiasco, SLFP should take the more fundamental responsibility they voluntarily initiated almost 25 years before that.

      • 0

        Kumar R

        The social context had been different during that time, there’s no clear evidence to support that banda intentionally divided the population.

        however it was a bad trick to divert majority votes to register victory.

        The blame should go strongly to JRJ/UNP for saving his racial gang and passing the blame to JVP and proscribing it.

        And to add to the crime the JVP went into hiding neglecting its social responsibility to use democratic path to expose the truth to the democratic world; that led to the killing of thousands of innocent sinhala youth for whose rights there’s nobody to voice.

        • 2

          You don’t think an election manifesto to make Sinhala the official language so that the Sinhalese can corner the job market without having to compete with Tamils in the English-based society was not dividing the population? What else was his strategy for the block-vote. What exactly is the evidence you were looking for?! Just putting on blinders is no defense.

          SLFP was the root cause of the “rebel” culture, whether that of Tamils or of JVP. JRJ/UNP merely took it to the next level. If LTTE didn’t put a stop to that in 1983, and expose to the world this snowballing State racism, each regime outdoing the previous one, SL would have done worse than what the European immigrants did to the Native Americans.

          • 0

            Kumar R

            What a silly idea?

            Compare the percentages of Sinhala and tamil in the population, How can there be a competition between them in the job market?

            However there’s a negative impact upon Tamil people but it could easily be solved in democratic way.

            • 0

              “How can there be a competition between them in the job market? “

              Banda extension Sirima/Baddurdin Standardization came in because the Sinhalese and Muslims could not compete the Tamils in a fair competition for jobs or at studies. It does not mean they are stupid but the application is not there.
              socialist India also bought in 30% quotas for SC/ST and the net result is a disaster just like UK equal opportunities.

              Everyone wants open fair competition like games without drugs or power push’s.

              However the rich and enterprising need not bother about education or job.

              in short all these killing from Banda to JVP on were perpetuated by socialist thinking idiots (uduran kanna pakkshaya) while their necessities for survival came from the democratic west.
              Remember Russia and China came out of WW2 because of the American funding- But Roosevelt did not expect Stalin and Mao to kill millions of their own people to establish communism.
              Sadly he died prematurely.

              • 0

                kumar, take that –
                funny piece of writing thanks

            • 0


              Obviously keeping the blinders on keeps you in your comfort zone.

              What exactly was the motivation for Sinhala Only that got Banda the block vote, if not the short-sighted attempt to corner the education and employment opportunities that the Sinhalese had difficult time competing under the English media? Didn’t Banda explicitly throw that bait in his pre-election campaigns?

              Where exactly did that get you as a country.

              It is as a direct consequence that Ceylon which had exported doctors, accountants, lawyers and engineers to the developed world had to resort to exporting wives, mothers, daughters and sisters to wash the backs of the new-rich Middle East babies, and who knows what else!

              Well done SLFP – you get the full credit, silliness-wise!!

              You, in the meanwhile, can keep your blinders on, as your mothers, daughters, wives and sisters come back in body bags.

    • 9

      Mano Ratwatte

      If you don’t treat your family well strangers and neighbours will see the opportunity to grope your wife, mother, daughters, aunts, grandmas, nice, granddaughters, sister in laws, mother in law, ….

      When that happen don’t blame the strangers and neighbours blame yourself.

      You see only one side of the big brother.

      Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end.

      I am not so sure you even know the beginning.

      By early 2005 the Hindians have already decided to obliterate LTTE. Hindians approached CBK with their proposals and persuaded accept it. And they did in 2009 what they set out to do in 2005. Similar to Amritsar Golden strategy, lured entire LTTE to a small area and finished them off. But then being little islanders, Gota, MR, Champika, Namal, Wimal, at al claimed credit for the annihilation of LTTE.

      They trained Sri Lankan armed forces in thousands. They lent more than $billion to support Sri Lanka’s war effort and foreign exchange difficulties. They provided intelligence, radar, military strategist on the ground, helicopters, … political and diplomatic cover, …

      You will do well to remember that Hindians relief effort just after tsunami struck this island and their grants to support build 50,000 houses in war torn areas.

      Hindian diplomacy at UNHRC was exemplary, saving Gota, MR, and all other war criminals’ a**es.

      Again in the last few months Hindians have provided more than $1.4 billions in currency swap facilities.

      It appears that you are still living in the 1980s, in shadow of female Hitler Indra. Since mid or late 1990s Hindian foreign policy has slightly changed. From look East policy to Gujral Doctrine.

      The Gujral doctrine was based on five basic principles :

      (a) With the neighbours like Nepal ,Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and
      Sri Lanka ,India does not ask for reciprocity but gives all that it can in good faith and trust.

      (b)No South Asian country will be used against the interest of another country of the region.

      (c)None will interfere in the internal affairs of another.

      (d)All South Asian countries must respect each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

      (e)They will settle all their disputes through peaceful bilateral negotiations.

      You should spend some time learning about Indra doctrine

    • 1

      Indira Gandhi’s personal traits apart, JRJ was no saint.

      He insulted her on election platforms. He said that the cow and calf had lost in India (meaning Indira and Sanjeev, also alluding to the election symbol of Indira G at the tome, as three was a court battle about the party symbol then), and the cow and calf (meaning Sirima and Anura) will lose here too. It was perhaps witty but also unwanted provocation.
      JR miscalculated and expected the pro-West Morarji Desai’s government to last longer than it did. Indira G toppled him in 1979, and came to power in 1980.

      Then there was the offer of China Bay Tank Farms to the US on long lease. Indira G torpedoed it with the offer of a higher bid. JR suspended action on the tank farms. There was much else going on behind scenes hurting India’s regional interests. (That is no defence of Indian manipulations, but a lesson in foreign relations.)

      The SLFP regime was never pro-Indian; it kept a healthy distance from all big powers. India desired a friendlier Sri Lanka and moved to ensure that, but Sirima held her balance. Overall, Sri Lankan foreign policy did well between 1956 and 1977.

      As for India’s taking advantage of the national question, who is to blame for creating conditions that made it possible?
      There is case for serious self critcism

      • 4


        ” The SLFP regime was never pro-Indian; it kept a healthy distance from all big powers. India desired a friendlier Sri Lanka and moved to ensure that, but Sirima held her balance.”

        Here is something you must have forgotten to include in your analysis.

        Role of Sri Lanka
        Pakistani high commissioner in Colombo, Seema Ilahi Baloch said in her speech addressed to Lanka-Pakistan business council in Colombo in June, 2011 that Pakistan can never forget the help which Sri Lanka offered to Pakistan during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan.

        “We in Pakistan cannot forget the logistical and political support Sri Lanka extended to us in 1971 when it opened its refueling facilities for us,” she said.

        Pakistani Aircraft destined to East Pakistan flew taking a round of India via Sri Lanka, since they could not fly over Indian sky. This forced Pakistan to get its aircrafts refueled on the way. Sri Lanka eager to help Pakistan, allowed Pakistani aircrafts for refueling at the Bandaranaike airport.


        In 1971 Pakistani armed forces were saints when they went inside East Bengal and came out as angels.

        Siri Mao took side with Pakistani war criminals against the oppressed Bengali people.

        This is not what one calls holding her balance, knowing full well what was going on in East Bengal.

        Had Siri Mao refused refuelling facilities the genocide could have delayed.

        Aiding and abetting perpetrators are considered war crimes. Will the Bengalis ever forget her stupid one sided action?

        Her friend Indra sent captured 90,000 war criminals home, without being subjected to war crime investigation.

        There is more to diplomacy than what you may consider her balanced approach to powers.

        SWRD Banda and Siri Mao were both a curse to this island.

        And her side-kicks of LSSP & CP were no better than Bandas.

      • 0

        I am talking of state-to-state affairs.

        Long after Sir John’s bungling at Bandung, serious breach of protocol was under JRJ in 1977-1980.

        Sri Lanka acted properly in 1971. It responded to a request of a friendly state to address an internal problem in its territory.
        India was irritated a little at the time, but realized soon that Sri Lanka acted properly and did not hold it against Sri Lanka.

        What India did in East Pakistan was not out of love of humanity as was the case in Sri Lanka 16 years later.

  • 17

    Keep singing for supper, Boy.

    Reconciliation may be welcome, but boot licking will always remain condemned.

  • 5

    Fantastic work by Asanga Abeyagoonasekera. Let’s hope America accepts the proposed defense deal (in the midst of the Chinese String of Pearls- they’d get half the pearls) – I’d surely vote for Clinton, then.

    • 6

      India is a super bully and so America. They help only if they can get anything from you.This showed when JRJ was with the west and India dropped Parippu he asked help from the west just to be refused by the west.Reason:Compared to SL, India is doing much more business wirh the USA and in every way India is important for them.It was China who came to rescue all the time not USA. Another thing is the commission headed by Desmond Tutu of RSA was critisized by many because he favoured ANC thugs and just patted on the hand of Winnie Mandela ( Nelson Mandela’s wife) for homicides.I suggest you to read about it from the net.

      • 3


        There’s no need for Asanga Abeyagoonasekera to have mentioned past dealings with India. His speech is an official one, to the The School of International Relations. We ALL know what India has done to us(and will keep doing, given the chance).

        Present Gosl has to move forwards astutely. As Mano Ratwatte said in his comment above : ….MR made mistakes by overplaying the China card.

        Whether US accepts the proposed deal is another thing. If it not laid out in detail in the next few months, a lot of us will be then voting for Trump!

  • 5

    Reconciliation must start from the government (majority’s) Because of the government programs !! Settling convicts among Tamils in north n east !! Discrimination !! Our culture !! Education !! Higher education !! Employment !! Language !! Government Sponsored programs !! Violence !! In 1956!! 1977 !!1981!! 1083 !! Surprising peaceful protest by our parimetarians !! Civilians !! Thease are the root course of the so cold terrorism!! You have address for any real reconciliation!! Any Srilanka leader is there to do this none !!

  • 2

    India is a super bully and so America. They help only if they can get anything from you.This showed when JRJ was with the west and India dropped Parippu he asked help from the west just to be refused by the west.Reason:Compared to SL, India is doing much more business wirh the USA and in every way India is important for them.It was China who came to rescue all the time not USA. Another thing is the commission headed by Desmond Tutu of RSA was critisized by many because he favoured ANC thugs and just patted on the hand of Winnie Mandela ( Nelson Mandela’s wife) for homicides.I suggest you to read about it from the net.

  • 25

    Please don’t try to be a paragon of virtue. There are those who know how you became close to the very people you accuse now like that distasteful former Monitoring MP. You were also going behind the Rajapaksa juniors. You engaged in influence peddling to get yourself appointed as Director of the Kadirgamar Institute for which you were not qualified in terms of academic background or experience. A distinguished academic or former diplomat should have held that post, not a pretender like you. You globe-trotted at Foreign Ministry expense and used the institute to build your image in the hope of launching a political career. Then you made some faintly critical remarks of the former government and changed sides when they were ousted. I hear that you even contested and lost during the last GE and then got a advisory post at the Finance Ministry. Charlatans get exposed sooner or later! If you have any self-respect, which I doubt, at least get your benefits by politicking and keep quiet on matters of principle.

  • 2

    You spoke only about blue party and green party. Why you have left out the RED parties? One or two of them were older than both blue and the green.

    You also talk about Ancient Sri Lanka and quoted the names that was given or called by selective foreign countries.
    Why did not you mention what Prince Sidarth’s father( a King ) and later Lord Buddha who visited Sri Lanka 3 times called Sri Lanka at that time ?

    What name SL was called by Emperor Ashoka,and also by King of Kalinga ?
    What are the names used by Aryan Kings and Dravidian Kings of Ancient times ?

    Also what names were used by Bengali people, Gujarati people, Tamil people and other ethnic people of Indian sub continent ?

    If Sri Lanka can have Bengali heritage which was further away than South India , how come South Indians were not part of Sri Lanka in ancient times ?

    You are a PhD holder but I’m not. Hope you can enlighten me and other readers.
    I’m sure if you can answer you will make Late Lakshman Kadirgamer proud.

  • 5

    Pl tell the President that he must have the conscience to tell the Sinhala masses what he told the visiting IFRC Chef on the 3rd nst: ”it is people in the North and East who suffered most due to the protracted conflict and reconciliation should originate from the people in the South and it should be inculcated in their mindset”
    Pl tell the Prime Ministerbthat in 2002/3 peace process he didn’t take the senior parliamentarians along with him. Those parliamentarians kept quiet when the opposition sabotaged the peace process. Therefore the then-Defence Secretary told LLRC in 2010: ”In the future if we are going to do anything of this nature we must develop a strategic vision and consensus from day one’’

    • 0

      Thanks for being true: postwar.
      How can we acieve postconflict please?
      Tamils overwhelmingly voted for the President in Jan15 and for TNA in Aug15.
      So where is the dialoue for political solution please?

      For decades Sri Lanka has been putting the cart before the horse: doing economic progress(that stays in the South) before political solution to the conflict.
      All through the 30-yr war, there has been ecnomic growth in the South as the war affected Northeast out of the way of the South.

      The occupation army continues its rule in the North 7yrs after the war was over without political solution and economic upliftment of the people. The army has been relentlessly carrying out cultural assaults for 7yrs filling up the Northand the East with Buddha statues and war memorials in public places. The public should have a say in thesematters in a democratic country. Oh, the lected President rules the South and the armed forces rule the North?

  • 13

    Dear Asanga,

    You were appointed by the former Government leaders, especially Sajin Vaas the crooked politician. Every one knew that you were the A**** Licker of G.L Peiris.

    Justice should also come and weight your deeds as to how you made all those foreign travels with the Ministry’s budget.


    your sudden change of political affiliation has re-put you to the same pathway as was some time ago.

    Now your again appointed to the Economic ministry to S****K the wtever of the current government.

    Stooges liek you should be send to the financial crimes unit for investigation.


  • 13

    One does not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this chap is a pseudo intellectual. His so called speech is a poor attempt at intellectual analysis and it is in fact self-righteous propaganda. Glad to see that he has been exposed by one commenter here for what he actually is. He is notorious for having played politics with the former regime’s shallow rotten types and for spending Foreign Ministry money (tax payer money) for many foreign trips and personal image building abroad, all in the name of furthering the Kadirgamar Institute! As mentioned, he actually used the institute for his image building and cheap propaganda; not intellectual academic or research work. The institute was used as a vehicle for self-promotion. Obviously, how can he engage in professional or academic work when he does not have proper qualifications, experience or character? Lakshman Kadirgamar would never have allowed a fake, a nobody and a petty political manipulator (poorly disguised as an intellectual) like him to ever be appointed to the institute. Now he seems to be playing a different tune to get more and more foreign jaunts from external institutions. He probably doesn’t have access to foreign Ministry roaming funds any more!

  • 14

    This guy is a disgrace to his father. His father at least believed in an ideology and did not switch sides. This guy is an opportunistic turn coat was sucking up to MR during his time no sooner MR lost this guy jumped hook, line and Sinker to Yahapalanya and now from Director KIC to Shoe Polisher to prime money launderer.

  • 12

    This guy is just as opportunistic as his uncle, who was heading a finance company and robbed the main investor, while sucking up to MR and previous ministers, throwing what little govt. clout about whenever he could. Now Asanga is also trying to change his tune. Sadly these are the people deciding our country’s policies. what a shame.

  • 2

    What kind of crap are you people talking everyone in this country knows how he build that dead institute which was shut down. Not only he revived it he put up Kadirgamar Statue which was in the car park. I have seen his capacity, he probably went to support Ranil W because he saw the only person who could deliver some results is Prime Minister. We all know about the famous monitoring MP and Former foreign secretary :) well done Asanga keep up the great work you are doing.

  • 12

    Good that this character is getting exposed. He never revived the Kadirgamar institute. He only added frills or window dressing to it and milked it for his benefit. The Kadirgamar statute would have been erected even without him as Mrs Kadirgamar was on the Board of the institute to ensure it. Asanga was a stooge of the Monitoring MP at the time. He merely boasted that it was the “premier think tank in the country” when it was actually an empty shell and a venue for endless talking and conferences devoid of real substance (no eminent personalities from international academia, policy community etc used it as a research or networking centre). To fill the void they just got visiting dignitaries to give speeches there. Such institutions elsewhere in the world have respected professionals or academics as heads, not political stooges intent on pursuing their narrow interests. Asanga made the institute into a political springboard for himself and a launching pad for his many foreign visits at tax payers expense. He has no worthy achievements to his name; only pretentious boastful talk. Some have rightly described him as a pretender, charlatan and opportunist. I would add one more: confidence trickster.

  • 2

    Well done Asanga. This is brilliant work. If you got all these ideas in it would not be a lecture and probably it will be a short story :) as a Sri Lankan I am proud of this, you have delivered a lecture at this great university. This is the problem of some living in our nation, we don’t appreciate or be proud of our Sri Lankan achievements. That’s why India has more scholars.Great work! And I remember while you served at Kadir Institute you criticized MR’s wrong doings, I have read your articles on media ,that shows your courage. If Asanga wanted positions he would have not done that.

    • 0

      Can you believe the guys above?!!! Can’t Lankans see good ideas for the nation when they see them. Instead, it’s nothing but personal attacks against anyone who can actually put things together.

      (Hope Asanga’s ideas don’t include that land-bridge……nothing was mentioned for or against it; pro or contra…..guess the China factor should exclude it)

  • 9

    Dear unkind critics,

    Please be understanding and sympathetic. He has the mindset of a determined teenager desperate to act like an adult. That shows in his speech and writings – they are an attempt at intellectual and professional analysis, but dreadfully wanting! When he attacks his former patrons and mentors, among other lamentable and childish comments, in the same speech, it sounds petty and crude. More like a teenage delinquent angry with his parents! It is similar to how he unethically published internal Foreign Ministry correspondence, together with his official response to it as Director of the Kadirgamar Institute, on the web. That was a desperate cry to show how he was wronged by officials connected to the previous government. According to well informed sources, a senior foreign think tank personality had once remarked “I mistook the Executive Director of the Kadirgamar Institute for a Research Assistant!” Please understand that he is a young boy desperate to have a political career and enjoy power, perks, privileges, fame and foreign travel but can’t get elected. So he had to try it through other means: he had to stooge behind the Rajapaksas and the notorious former Monitoring MP of the MFA, he had to act like a servant for the eccentric old professor and former Foreign Minister, he had to wash their dirty laundry, he had to simultaneously appear credible and plausible to the NGOs and other international organisations, he had to secure the Executive Directorship of the Kadirgamar Institute from the back door although he lacked adequate qualifications, he had to act intellectual by looking at others. That by itself constitutes a great effort like that of a teenager desperate to be accepted. That is what he did then and does now by changing sides. He is so desperate that he posts comments favourable to him on his own under various pseudonyms. Let him continue and feel that he is accepted and praised, otherwise he might plunge into depression. Good psychological counselling might help him cope with all the stress and inferiority complex. He needs it. Have pity, don’t criticise.

  • 2

    I don’t agree with Duncan, he may look like a teenager but his thinking is brilliant. You should read his book it’s a brilliant piece of work with amazing comments by reputed scholars like Edward de Bono. Tell me one Sri Lankan who has got a comment from Dr.Bono? He has all the qualifications and more than anything he is a young global leader a great community which is very difficult to be a member. I have spoken to few colombo intellectuals about him and they admire him and respect him. I only see a rising Lalith Athulathmudali unfortunately assassinated just like his father. I wish Asanga all success and my vote for you is there when you contest from Colombo one day. This time you got Kelaniya I watched your campaign you did well as a new comer. Like your father you didn’t have money to spend I heard you spent only little amount and Kelaniya in less than one month you did well. It was a test RW gave you and you passed it. Kelaniya electorate was won even the existing organizer could get only fifteen thousand votes. There are many people who love your father in Colombo we made him second highest after RW in 1994. I was happy to hear you speak brilliantly like Ossie. Asanga will have many enemies because he is fearless like his father which I worry but that’s in your genes. All the best Asanga! Who knows one day what Vijaya and Ossie couldn’t achieve their sons Asanga and Vimikthi may achieve. I hope I will live to see this. Good people of our society we get rid of them unfortunately labeling them as traitors.

    • 0

      Dear Asanga alias[Edited out]

    • 6

      Sam you’re way out of your depth. He’s a nonentity promoting himself. Enough people know what he did during the previous regime and what he is up to now. The more he’s defended and promoted the more he’ll get exposed in future.

  • 0

    [Edited out]

  • 6

    Just another skeleton in the Rajapaksha clan closet that managed to crossover and whitewash himself. Nothing special, just the order of the day.

  • 1

    The writer has mixed up two very political important issues of Indian Ocean geo-politics and Reconciliation Sri lanka after the end war defeated LTTE by MR led democratic forces 2009 May.

    We have to considered and seek new possibility of resolving
    Sri Lankan National Territorial Integrity and key of question Nation Sovereignty that has deep relationship between last 68 years old which that ours Parliamentary democracy and Terrorism in many forms north and south after Independence in 1948-Sri lanka.

    End and defeated of Tamil LTTE terrorism of Gun rule politics back by TNA and behind by that Tamil political class of Tamil petty bourgeois chauvinist, which is quite impossible to find any solutions that within the framework of Unitary character Republic of Sri lanka.

    New problems need new answers. That is how related of geo-politics of Indian Ocean and reconciliation of Tamils with majority Sinhalese people new issues cannot be solved by old ones? Issue is complex ones. But there is secular solution by democratic means and methods by not that “power devolution” by US and Indian originated solutions.

    We want at least 20 years of peace to give priority to concentrated on our economic sustsnibility and its domestic development in Indian Ocean countries.

    First Indian Ocean will Peace Zone , no military rivals of US led forces. No any foreign military bases led by US or other emerging powers in Indian Ocean.

    Second, Indian must guarantee sovereignty of politics and Economic of Indian Ocean countries. No way Indian monsoon badly affect and interfere that internal affairs and power games and installed their political puppet regime in any part of Ocean.

    Three Indian must allowed Free and Fair foreign Investment and Trade with other than Indian of that outside Indian Ocean.

    We have guard wrong thinking ,specially new -colonialist ideology are not clear about sustsnibility of capitalism and its sovereignty not clear of democracy and development is. So we are to enlighten them by mass movement of politics, economic and socially. Our people make fresh mistakes by using their our ballot or right to vote choose the democratic rulers, whom that elected in 2015 January 9th by Indian influence and penetration by RAW services.

    We have brand-new undertaking mistakes been inevitable like 2015 January 9th and 2015 August 17th of past Elections by elected Indian support rulers, who back by Indian big bourgeoisie vital interest .

    Making mistaking will be temporary setbacks must not make us abandon mission of Sovereignty of Economic and politics of whole Islanders.

    Sri Lankan has to review ours experience. This major error is not easy to correct it, but is left to the mobilization of forces of democrats by People of Democracy and their leadership.

    As Indian Ocean Sri lanka country that counter-revolution by “rainbow” methods has posed problems of unusual difficulty, but is colossal important of Indian Ocean and world-wide.
    It is impossible either to cope with economic development or break free of domination from the Indian terrible grip of US and Indian led hegemonies by mockery of democracy means.

    We want democratic most drastic revolutionary measures that will back by the unbounded heroism of majority people democratic forces.

    But correct this mistake People and their Leadership still looking the Easiest way out, but there is NO WAY OUT.

  • 0

    Reconciliation for Tamils means a homeland.

    All these people are selling and destroying the country because that is how in the future they want to Feed their families by destroying the country.

    Just blood suckers.

    ” Sri Lanka’s Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has expressed opposition to a housing project in the Tamil-majority north which has been dubbed the “reconciliation village”.

    On Thursday during the northern provincial council sessions TNA councillor T Sarveswaran said the housing scheme was a forcible settlement of the majority Sinhalese in lands belonging to the Tamils.

    The village at Kokeliya in Vavuniya district is to be opened by President Maithripala Sirisena early next month.

    Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Defence Sarath Chandrasiri Withana however denied the TNA accusation.

    “This is a state land not a private property,” Mr. Withana said. He said 51 people were allotted pieces of land out of 81 lots of land. “

    • 0

      jim softy ,

      As long as they pay National Lankan Taxes, and include 12%-15% Sinhalese into their areas, then a Tamil Homeland is ok.

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