20 October, 2017

How Can We Become A Credible Country?

By R.M.B Senanayake –

R.M.B. Senanayake

We have challenged the UN Human Rights Commissioner about her statement that those who met her have been questioned by the Security Forces? Surely she made her statement on what was told to her by the people themselves? The Government denies it and wants the UN High Commissioner to give concrete evidence. Surely the world knows how journalists have disappeared or have been killed for writing anything which has displeased the powers that be. So the Government must do more than asking the High Commissioner to give concrete cases which would involve betraying the trust of the complainants when the credibility of the Government is at low ebb. How has the Government’s credibility eroded?

At the end of the war the Government first took up the position that there were no civilian casualties but later modified its stand to say a few thousands only were killed. It also took up the stand that the Army was engaged in a humanitarian rescue mission to save the civilians from the grip of the LTTE. Each time the Government changes its stand it loses credibility. Then there are the disappearances not only of the Tamils but also of the Sinhalese journalists who have migrated stating that they were under threat. There was the farce created regarding Ekneligoda.

We must become a predictable country with a credible government if we want the world to take what we say seriously. If we want the world to think of us well we must become a normal country like other normal countries in the world.

If we want to attract foreign capital, to attract foreign investors and achieve growth we need to be a normal predictable country where there are established procedures and where the Rule of Law prevails and where the Security Forces are confined to their role to defend the country against external enemies instead of spying on our own citizens and seeking to intimidate them. The Government has a big task before it and it involves changing the image of the country across the world.  The UN Office must be receiving complaints from citizens and from Human Rights organizations. The Government must honestly find out what the world thinks of it and the country not from the hurrah boys but from normal educated persons. Usually, being predictable is what is expected of any normal country. Our foreign embassies must be encouraged to report honestly how these countries see us- as a normal democratic country where people are free to go about their ordinary business or a country described in George Orwell’s 1984 where the people are spied upon, intimidated and disappear. The spying is done largely on the Tamil citizens but also on journalists and critics and members of the opposition. Can the military involvement in civilian activities be justified in the North? A distinction has to be drawn between the military engagement in
civilian economic activity and military involvement in the social activities of the community. The latter is based on the suspicion that
the ex-LTTers and their sympathizers are still active and that their activities need to be monitored. Yes but such intelligence gathering
has to be done without intruding on civilian life just as the Secret Services in other countries do.

There is a difference between the right to self determination and the right to secede. The right for Tamil people to decide their future
cannot be denied. But even the UN does not recognize any automatic right to secede. That requires evidence of oppression by the State. It
is up to the Sinhala dominated State to show the world that there is no such oppression and that the Tamil people enjoy the same rights as the majority Sinhala Buddhists. Devolution of power to the Northern Provincial Council will accomplish this objective provided we
co-operate with it instead of striking an antagonistic posture. The Tamils have all to gain by being part of a larger entity like the Sri
Lankan State. They have much in common with the Sinhalese and it is the politicians which have muddied the waters since 1956.The 13th Amendment provides a framework for devolution and any changes will have to be done with mutual consent. The right to secession is not automatic and it is not recognized in the 13th Amendment or in the Indo Lanka Pact. India has said she is committed to the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. But if we go back on the Agreement then the issue is once again open. The ruling party cannot and must not whip up fears of secession and Eelam in order to win the support of the Sinhalese. This has been done enough by selfish politicians in the past and at least now they should give it up.

The British framework of law and governance which prevailed for 150 years did provide such a framework and we could ensure that it
continues to be upheld. It is the attempts to convert the State into a Sinhala Buddhist State enforcing Buddhist religious and ethical values which are not universally accepted that has led to problems. In a plural State this cannot be done without antagonizing the minorities. If the UN were to accept the Tamil demand for secession the folly of the present regime’s massive investment would be apparent to the majority Sinhalese. Now that we have invested so heavily the best course of action is to attend to the remaining grievances of the Tamil people like the demand for restoration of their private lands. They allege that the Government wants to settle Sinhalese in the North to make them a minority in the North. The Sinhala nationalists state that there were Sinhalese in the North. Yes there were and I remember even in 1960 there were Sinhalese bakers in Jaffna town. But these Sinhalese settlements in the North were not the result of any action by the State. It was the result of the operation of free market forces. Probably the only action required by the State was to modify the Thesawalaimi just as the government in the 1970s abolished “fidei commissum” The opportunity was missed then and now any changes will have to be done with the consent of the Tamil people. The British recognized the private customary laws called the Thesawalamai. There are two other private customary laws recognized by the British- the Kandyan Law and the Muslim Law. I think all three should be abolished and all citizens should be brought under the same set of general law. Then the law governing property transfers would be uniform as will the family law governing all communities. The pope’s has invited all States to defend religious freedom to create a “harmonious society”. The ICCPR is the best guidance and we should adhere to it.

Another grievance of the Tamil people at least of those who have seen the disappearance of their loved ones is the absence of any information about them. They hold the government under an obligation to disclose what happened to them. A Commission on Disappearances can deal with this problem.

It is important that the international economic and political elite see the country as an understandable and predictable reality, which –
despite its complexity – is similar to them.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Dear R.M.B Senanayake,

    You ask,

    “How Can We Become A Credible Country?”

    We need leaders like Kamal Atarurk of Turkey.

    Mahinda Rajapaksa is simply a coward, and he prostrates in front of yellow robed men, called Monks who usually run amok.

    Answer:

    1. Keep Temple, Church and Mosque Separate.

    2. Make Religion a private matter for the citizen to decide, but provide protection for all citizens to practice their religious myths and after life beliefs.

    3. Check the constitutions of USA, France and Turkey.

    4. Live happily in this life.

    DeJa Vu,,,,,

    • 0
      0

      Dear R.M.B Senanayake,

      You ask, “How Can We Become A Credible Country?”

      We need leaders like Kamal Atarurk of Turkey.

      Answer:

      Keep Temple, Church and Mosque Separate. Make Religion a private matter for the citizen to decide, but provide protection for all citizens to practice their religious myths and after life beliefs. Check the constitutions of USA, France and Turkey.

      Miss America Nina Davuluri: Too ‘Indian’ To Ever Be Miss India

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/miss-america-nina-davuluri-too-indian-to-ever-be-miss-india/

      Nina Davuluri made history hours ago as the first Indian American to be crowned Miss America. She is gorgeous, does a mean Bollywood routine, and plans to become a doctor. Move over spelling bees, #DesiPride is gonna rock beauty pageants in malls across America.

  • 0
    0

    Please don’t ask “How Can We Become A Credible Country?”.

    Ask how we can become a country, because we are not one!

    • 0
      0

      The island of Sri Lanka, Celyon or Elankai or Eelam is a physical, geographical entity that exists for a long time.

      But Sri Lanka is a concept in the minds of people today: It need not be a permanent entity. In fact if one looks at the island’s history, there were different types of states, rulers, etc, existed over several millenniums: Not one but more.

      We are still at the cross-roads to form a viable political entity for the island.

  • 0
    0

    Thanks. It is heartening to note that there are right thinking people in the Sinhalese community.

  • 0
    0

    Must be categorized as a failed state.

  • 0
    0

    MR. R. M. B. SENANAYAKE:

    Can you give us an example where this your exemplify country is ?

    There should be at least one country in this whole world ?

    Would you say Vatican ? or any other country ?

    • 0
      0

      Jim Softly, You aim to provide an answer with a question. This is illogical. If you imply that Sri Lanka is credible, then you must provide evidence for it. In my view Sri Lanka is only as credible as it’s President. And we all know he is not credible even though he may be incredible to some.

  • 0
    0

    If only the answer was as clear as the fresh dawn rays coming up over Arugam Bay.

    Restoration of our universal credibility will involve the arduous task of replacing the President and Government of SL who won our local war against terrorism but seems to be making a complete pigs ear of building a sustainable peace. The competence and skill sets needed to reconcile and repair communities and build a sustainable peace are as different as chalk from cheese from the finding of political will to fight a war and bring about an end to conflict. Rarely is it found in the same animal, and it is certainly not evident in the President and present GoSL.

    We do not have anywhere near a homogenous electorate. The Sinhala-Buddhist who are the 70% majority treat the victory over the LTTE as theirs. Hence they are minded to gratefully vote with their hearts for those who brought them that victory. The common man is deeply suspicious of the ‘machinations and scheming’ of foreigners; fellow Sri Lankans who question the actions of this government are treated as traitors or as agents for those who would disrupt the peace.
    The average Sinhala-Buddhist voter is oblivious to the universal damage that has been done to Sri Lanka, and Sinhala-Buddhists in particular. In recent months, following the distasteful activities of the BBS and Sinhala Ravaya, Sinhala-Buddhists have earned an undeserved reputation as racist, devious, cunning, scheming and vengeful.

    Each day that passes sees this President and this government further into entrenchment and willing to go to any length to keep, and enjoy, the spoils of war.

    The outlook is dismal though change will surely come in time.

    The task of effecting this change is daunting and not for the faint-hearted.

  • 0
    0

    How can the same set of cultural laws apply to all when there is diversity with unity as the goal? You wrote a credible article but pooped the last stanza!

  • 0
    0

    I agree with R M B Senanayake, who is a respected former Civil Servant and an economist. All the people of Sri Lanka must be governed by one law and treated equally.I am afraid Wigneswaran and the high caste Tamils will once again exploit the low caste people of the Northern Province, if the Thesavalamai law is allowed to remain in the 21st Century.

    It was distressing to note that there was not even one British MP who defended the Government of Sri Lanka in the recent Parliamentary debate on Sri Lanka. We appear to have forgotten who are the buyers of goods produced in Sri Lanka and supporting the growth of the tourist industry and IT enabled services.

    CHOGM is an excellent occasion to once again make friends and influence nations.

  • 0
    0

    Sri Lanka cannot become a credible country as long as the Rajapaksas are around. The Constitution must be radically revised to make it truly democratic enabling the Sri Lankan society truly secular, Bensen

  • 0
    0

    RMB -you are an honourable civilservant.Donkeys will not understand your language

  • 0
    0

    By getting rid of the power crazy lunatics from ruling our mother Lanka. This will be more difficult than eradicating the ruthless LTTE, but if not done, slowly but surely we will loose our mother Lanka.

  • 0
    0

    The brief reply is we cannot. How can we – run as we are by a bunch of
    rural thieves and murderers, who have been that for generations. Look at their appointments to high Govt positions and the Foreign Service – the “Yes, Sir. No, Sir. Two bags full Sir types” One of our Secretaries to a key Ministry is a former Waiter/Driver. A grinning,
    pavement-hawker looking chap is an Ambassador in a key Capital whom a senior journalist called “This and that, Ambassador” on the basis of the language used by the man in a TV interview. The man who went to Delhi recently as a Special Advisor on a sensitive issue ran away from the waiting media there because his English was virtually non-existent and he was afraid of answering the experienced media men there. At least he knew the Delhi press know more of the Sri Lankan problem than this grinning idiot.

    Varathan

    • 0
      0

      Spot on! We have been plagued by the curse of indiscriminate political patronage, not only at home but even more glaringly in our representation abroad. Not only political appointees but sadly career diplomats too. The times we have cringed as ‘incompoops’ – the result of poor selection, poor ability and poor training – have been tasked with presenting our face to to the world. Nepotism is rife. Some are nothing more than glorified travel facilitators for the President and globe trotting ministers. Who will purge us of this curse?

  • 0
    0

    forget Thesda valamai etc etc.
    Lets get the basics right firts.
    What is a country made up of ?
    strong community?
    what is a community/society made up of?
    people?

    we dont have a community or socirty.
    The sense of community and society has been eroded.
    We have military rule. rule of the dynasty.

    As some one posted here the people must first have a sense of a belonging to this country.

    We simply dont have it. It’s being gradually taken away.

  • 0
    0

    “It is the attempts to convert the State into a Sinhala Buddhist State enforcing Buddhist religious and ethical values which are not universally accepted that has led to problems.”
    RMB must be more specific ab out the unacceptable Buddhist religious and ethical values which trouble him.

  • 0
    0

    Mr.Senanayake,

    You are a lone voice in Sinhala Lanka and your message of Freedom , Justice and Equality to all Sri Lankans is an alien language to 99.9% who are born racist.
    Nothing has changed in Sinhala Lanka and will never change as long as the Politicians are able to use the Race Card. The marriage is over and
    Decree Nisi will be pronounced on the 21st Sept and Decree Absolute will follow in March 2014. We will be free at last and so will you be so just be patient.
    You can apply for either Contact Order or Residence order only at the week ends.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.