25 May, 2022


‘Lanka May Miss Chance To Heal Its War Wounds’

By Pramit Pal Chaudhuri – Hindustan Times

Sri Lanka has a “marvellous opportunity” to heal and reconcile its twin populations after 25 years of civil war, says Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka’s former prime minister and president. Which is why she is more than a little baffled at the slowness with which the Mahinda Rajapaksa government is building post-civil war “bridges.”

“Such opportunities do not last forever,” she warned.

“That is why they are called windows and not something larger.”

Chandrika Kumaratunga

In New Delhi for the first annual conference of her own South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI), Kumaratunga said that since retired from active politics six years ago, she had dedicated herself to two international organisations, the Club of Madrid and the Clinton Global Initiative.

“Now I have created my own foundation,” she says.

SAPRI will look at issues regarding the subcontinent, Kumaratunga says, engaging research scholars globally on these topics.  These deliberations will result in policy recommendations which will be communicated to policy-makers and professionals.

Sri Lanka is still fertile ground for the dissemination of such ideas. While the civil war has seen some repair work accomplished, Kumaratunga says still more needs to be done in terms of physical reconstruction and rehabilitation.

Kumaratunga led Lanka during some of the bloodiest years of the civil war. Today, with a Tamil minority “who want rights but of whom only a small minority still talk of a homeland,” she seems worried Colombo doesn’t recognize what a good thing it has going for it.

Rajapaksa’s abrogation of her promise of Tamil political devolution – a decision he had been party to at the time and did not oppose – was one reason Kumaratunga declined to support him in the last elections.  “Even though he called me eight times asking for support,” she remembers.

Kumaratunga strongly denies she backed the rival candidate, General Sarath Fonseka. “Normally I would have supported Rajapaksa: I am still patron and member of our party. But I could not support some of his policies.” So she stayed out of the campaign altogether.

If she is concerned at Rajapaksa’s minority policies, she is “bewildered” by his foreign policy.

“In my time, we practiced nonalignment, which meant keeping good relations with the entire world,” she says.

This led many Western countries to agree to ban or limit the activities of the Tamil Tigers. Kumaratunga is clearly discomfited with Rajapaksa’s confrontational policies with the West and his rhetorical claims to having new “friends” in China, Myanmar and Iran.

“Relations with India are essential and crucial,” she stresses.

Which leads her to wonder, after New Delhi’s recent United Nations vote against Sri Lanka, what has changed there. Two years ago, in similar circumstances, India actually canvassed on Lanka’s behalf.

“Somethings must have changed,” she says.

“I do not know what they are.”

Unsurprisingly, a key interest of SAPRI, besides development and poverty alleviation, is how such issues lead to conflict.

Kumaratunga is much taken with Frances Stewart’s work on “horizontal inequalities” and their connection to violence and conflict.

“The first priority is that all sections of a population must be brought into a development process,” she says.

“That is the theme of the conference.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0

    The cursed family of Sri Lanka the Bandaranayakes, who ruined everything for the citizens of this country and changed the destiny to doom. They have the audacity yet to appear and speak as Sri Lanka is their family powerloom. Her misdeeds were exposed more from her own than RW. Her famous defence of others scolding her in ‘thiththa kunuharapa’ while she was basking in ‘kunuharapa’ is no secret to all. No wonder the family is cursed by the masses, their end is near of the Bandaranayakes. I remember when she was chairing a meeting of the heads of state bodies on some development project, as President she was scribbling on a pad as if she was taking down notes. Once the meeting was over, she left the room and the note pad was left behind. The note pad reveals that she had been drawing flowers. So much for her intellect. During her period as President of 11 years, although meetings were scheduled for mornings, where many a head of govt. organisations had attended had to kick their heals and wait for hours, till late afternoon for her appearence to come downstairs for the meeting. The reason was she was drinking fruit juices to sober herself upstairs, after her drinking bouts the previous evenings with her catchers. Such is this CBK’s ability.

    • 0

      Gamini beat me to it.He had said what i have to say.Thank you Gamini for saving my time.I am made to understand that CBK is involved in a couple of scams.One being the Clinton Global Initiative.CBK,better be careful messing with ole Bill.Since the Monica Lewinsky scandal,Hillary has been keeping an eagle eye on play boy hubby Bill.Whatever you do with Bill,make sure that it’s done in top secrecy.That Hillary is a nasty woman.

  • 0

    I need not write any comments as Gamini has written the best summery. Nastiest ruler of modern Sri Lanka ever. Woe on you.

  • 0

    OK, pundits with the benefit of hindsight are queuing up to tell us whom to blame. In this instance, Mrs K is talking about seizing opportunities for building a lasting peace in the future. Perhaps one should give her credit for acknowledging that things are wrong today, when many of her peers are conspicuous by their silence.

    Another thing to bear in mind is that her decisions may have been appropriate at the time, given the demon Prabakaran that she was up against. Mrs K may have been president for 11 years, but Prabakaran was f#cking his country and people for nearly 30! How’s that for 20:20 hindsight?

    Or is she simply being cynically opportunistic, like most politicians, and simply saying the right things that would restore her to power?

  • 0

    People can look at her from different corners and some may even go to the extreme to condemn her personal conduct than leveling constructive criticism to make her yet a useful person in politics.

    She did something good and she also did lots of destructive things without taking repercussions into account. She had sound foreign policy but she failed to study domestic problems deeply. Her extra-ordinary sympathy for minority Tamils did only harm to her and she could disappoint Sinhalese majority by behaving herself in a nasty manner.

    On many occasions, she looked down on her own culture, while trying to be too smart amongst her Western allies. Her biggest blunder was that she had no specific national or cultural identity as a result of her dream in global identity and thereby she lost her authenticity to remain in power further.

    She has every right to be back in power but only by re-thinking of grave mistakes committed by her in politics as well as in her private life.

  • 0

    mulims terrorist together with parkistan active in sri lanka and this is the biggest time in sri lanka

  • 0

    Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga for 11 years govern Sri Lanka with many odds. Gamin is wrong as I was told by one of her Secretaries that she telephone him at 6.00 AM to give him 100 tasks, and talk to others about the day to day urgent work. Unfortunately she had a very bad set of Secretaries and Adviser who were bent on making money, and she approved some of their agendas. She appointed Kadiragamar as the FM and brought respect to Sri Lanka and got the LTTE ban in many countries. During her time she couldn’t get the Army to fight straight as Rathwathha was so corrupt he never allowed the war to succeed beyond what he wanted. When the Jaffna was falling and every country refused to give her any support to transfer 42,000 soldiers and Officers, she bravely drafted late General Janaka Perera and General Fonseka to save the 42,000 soldiers and the people of Jaffna. She had a very good foreign policy and she appointed very good HC/Ambassadors not novice like now. But as her adviser were bad she got a very bad name. When the World Bank was trying to hand over US $ 210 million direct to LTTE by recognizing the Eelam advocated by LTTE she managed to stop the WB giving the money direct to LTTE. Otherwise today Mahinda may not have a North and East to rejoice as the victor. What she says now is correct, if Rajapaksa did the correct things and consulted people knew better than him today UNHRC and the USA and India is not presseing for reforms.

  • 0

    Krishna de Silva, please could you reveal who this Secretary CBK phones at 6 in the morning. For your informaton having worked for a govt. organisation, I can firmly affirm that in her eleven years, although she had fixed meetings in the mornings, never even once that she had a meeting commencing in the morning as scheduled for the eleven years. It was always late afternoons, where valuble hours of responsible officers were lost being treated for shorteats and drinks untill the meeting. Krishna please find out whether she had a meeting even once as scheduled in the morning. Then you will understand CBK’s ability. In fact the International players who was responsible for affairs in this country probably realised that CBK is a lost cause. She is used now in the over sixty club just to keep her going to provide some entertainment for the other members like Bill Clinton for the favour she did the International Community allowing them to involve in the this county’s ethnic problem for the Norwegiens. It is not only the Norwegiens, there are many others having their fingers in the Sri Lanka Pie.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.