26 May, 2019

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Presidential Misconceptions

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

According to media reports, President Sirisena, addressing the UPFA Matale District Rally in Dambulla, has reportedly stated; “There was a shortage of fertilizer due to private sector’s delay in importing fertilizer. Though Government was not responsible for this problem, I apologize for the inconvenience caused. I contacted Pakistan President on the phone and requested 40,000 tons of fertilizer and the following day he phoned me and said 65,000 tons of fertilizer was allocated to our country. This goes to show that we have won the international relationship crisis.” Moving on, he has further stated, “When I was about to return from my recent visit to Qatar, a minister from that country and a delegation of officials was preparing to come to Sri Lanka to make arrangements for their investments in Sri Lanka. They expressed their willingness to develop any town in Sri Lanka we suggest with all facilities of a modern city in the world.”  Continuing on the same subject, he has reportedly stated; “Recently, I visited South Korea, the President of which is opposed to corruption like me. When I was returning from the two-day stay there, he came close to my car and whispered to me to call him in the event of an emergency and assured that he was ready to help.”

President Sirisena has concluded stating; “Could anybody else maintain such close relationships internationally – my predecessors only quarreled with them.”

Politicians habitually make absurd assertions, especially during the run-up to elections, particularly to less informed audiences. In this instance, he has been less than candid.

The shortfall in fertilizer was due to the fault of importers and the Yahapalana government. Pakistan bans the export of fertilizer during October, November, and December each year. Even if import of fertilizer is in the hands of the private sector, does not government agencies monitor and ensure the availability of a continuous supply of critical items such as fertilizer?

Pakistan has, and will always come to the aid of Sri Lanka, regardless of the name of the leader in Colombo. In the mid-1970s, Prime Minister Bhutto, responding to a personal appeal from Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike facing a severe shortage of rice diverted several shiploads, already sold to a Latin American country from the high seas to Colombo, thus saving her government.

Addressing a one-day confab in Colombo on Feb. 23, 2005, on Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations, one-time Sri Lankan Army chief and High Commissioner in Islamabad, Gen. Gerry H. de Silva recalled how Pakistan had airlifted urgently needed weapons and ammunition during Operation Riviresa, thus enabling the capture of Jaffna in 1995. Gen. Silva appreciated Pakistan pulling out arms and ammunition from operational areas to meet Sri Lanka’s requirement. Five years later, Pakistan airlifted Multi Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRLs) for deployment in the Jaffna peninsula, in the immediate aftermath of the LTTE capturing the strategic Elephant Pass base in April 2000. Gen. Silva emphasized that the military was able to thwart LTTE efforts primarily due to what he called prompt and ready military assistance provided by China and Pakistan. A grateful Silva said: “Assistance received from these two friendly nations was always prompt, well within the budget and well suited to our servicemen.” This was during the CBK presidency and at a time when some politicians in fair weather friend India were saying, “if Jaffna falls, it will not be the end of the world.”

President Sirisena expressed his gratitude and friendship to these nations by permitting the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo to pay an official courtesy call on his first day in office, the Chinese Ambassador on his third day and the Pakistan High Commissioner over three weeks after assuming office.

The state visit by President Sirisena to Qatar, to say the least was ill timed. It was in the immediate aftermath of the blockade of Qatar by the quartet Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt. Seven MoUs in non-critical subjects signed during the visit were on visa exceptions for diplomatic and official passport holders, cooperation on diplomatic training and research, emergency drought relief, the field of energy, wastewater management, health and medical science and financial investigations. Despite the inclusion of Minister for Industry & Commerce in the delegation, Trade and Investments did not feature in the list of concluded MoUs. The wisdom of undertaking a state visit to a country embroiled in a conflict with a group of nations equally crucial to Sri Lanka’s interests is questionable. A more balanced approach would have been the postponement of the visit to a later date thus avoiding the possibility of displeasing any of the five nations. Sri Lanka is fortunate, nations of the embargoing quartet did not decide to show their displeasure through diplomatic and other channels. Over a million Sri Lankans currently work in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain besides more than 200,000 in Qatar.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi played host to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natenyahu last week during a much publicized six-day state visit. Modi is due to pay a visit to Palestine next week. An excellent balancing act if any, the likes of which is unfortunately beyond the comprehension of those directing foreign affairs in Sri Lanka.   

There is no known personal relationship between Presidents of South Korea and Sri Lanka. South Korea repeatedly voted against Sri Lanka during the UNHRC Resolutions in Geneva. The recent interest in Sri Lanka possibly has more to do with the US-sponsored ‘Indo-Pacific’ security initiatives being promoted by the USA through their proxies India, Japan, and South Korea to counter China’s growing assertiveness and its OBOR initiative.    

President Sirisena’s immediate predecessor brought the conflict with LTTE to a successful conclusion not by “quarreling internationally” as claimed by the President. When Sri Lanka’s ‘traditional friends’ declined to help Sri Lanka fight terrorism, the former President sought and received assistance from fair-weather friends China and Pakistan besides other nontraditional friends. However, that was not to the liking of our ‘traditional friends’ since their agenda did not include the eradication of LTTE. Hence the last-minute effort to evacuate Velupillai Prabhakaran and the LTTE high command.

The former President received assistance from USA and original LTTE sponsor and promoter India, during the last several years of the conflict.

His mistake was his failure to repair damaged relations after May 2009. He quite rightly rejected requests by the meddling British Foreign Secretary and French Foreign Minister to halt the final campaign. He then blundered by publicizing the act rather than remaining silent. Big and powerful nations do not take kindly to refusals by small countries to toe the line. Publicizing such instances does not help matters. 

Does “maintaining close relations” mean total surrender by way of co-sponsoring a resolution against Sri Lanka as was the case at the UNHRC in Geneva in 2015?   

If the previous government can be accused of failing to “maintain such close relationships internationally and quarreling”, this administration can be accused of extreme servility.   

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Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    Excellent article which is a ‘slap’ to My3 who is spreading lies after lies to win the ‘sympathy’ of the voter at this election.
    His latest move is to take over the economic portfolio from the UNP. After all strategic assets such as Hambantota port was leased to China for 99 years for peanuts, he is now trying to fix what? After the horse has run away he is now thinking of closing the stable gates.
    What a president!

    • 0
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      Rajeewa Jayaweera

      “When Sri Lanka’s ‘traditional friends’ declined to help Sri Lanka fight terrorism, the former President sought and received assistance from fair-weather friends China and Pakistan besides other nontraditional friends.”

      Only a few days ago Dr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (DSc) reconfirmed the role of Hindians in the successful conclusion of the war. Just a few days after the end of the war both brothers Dr Mahinda and Dr Ghota (DSc) also thanked Hindians for their immense support during the war and both on the record said if not for Hindia Sri Lanka would not have won the war. Please request reports of NDTV telecast in May 2009.

      How India secretly helped Lanka destroy the LTTE
      Last updated on: August 21, 2009
      http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-
      how-india-helped-lanka-destroy-the-ltte/20090820.htm

      NDTV Walk the talk: Rajapaksa “I was fighting India’s battle” part 01
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl67mP0rcdo

      • 0
        0

        Native
        Did you miss :
        ‘The former President received assistance from USA and original LTTE sponsor and promoter India, during the last several years of the conflict” or is it your usual diatribe?

        To all readers
        Para 11, line 4 should read ‘all weather friends China and Pakistan’ ISO fair weather friends. Typo error is regretted.

        • 0
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          Rajeewa Jayaweera

          I did notice your buried message of ” The former President received assistance……………..” under the rubble as if its one of casual observation whereas China and Pakistan are being praised up to the hilt.

          Had you explained in details how the war was won and how Hindia and USA provided many war related support I would not have wasted my time pointing out your hypocrisy. The idea and claim that that Sinhala/Buddhist particularly by Dr Mahinda & Dr Gota & Kamal Gunaratne & Champika Ranawake & The Sangha, & Wimal Sangili Karuppan & ……………………….. won the war single-handedly is a bogus one.

          As a wannabe successful columnist your emphasis just on China and Pakistan is not evenhanded.

          “Prime Minister Bhutto, responding to a personal appeal from Mrs. …………………………….”

          How did the state arrive at a situation where Mrs Banda … had to appeal for urgent delivery of rice? Was it in exchange for the support she gave to the war criminals who perpetrated unspeakable war crimes in Bangladesh? There was plenty of early warning about 1973/76 world food crises. What did she as prime minister do to anticipate and prevent a severe shortage of rice in the first place? When you have incompetent leaders like her you will always have to face emergencies and carry begging bowl, which does not make you proud.

          Continued

        • 0
          0

          Continued

          If those early leaders were wise enough the successive leaders didn’t have to beg for rice, weapons, funds, ………………….. .
          Please find out from the state sources the amount of loans Hindians provided to Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2009 under their exports guarantee schemes aimed at war effort. Maybe in the region of $2 Billion and interest free. Has Sri Lanka repaid the whole amount or Hindians have written it off as grant or compensation for their misdeeds in the island?

          It is puzzling as to why a wannabe columnist misses important details.

        • 1
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          Rajeewa, you say that the mistake of MR was his failure to repair the damaged relations with India, USA and West after May 2009. MR promised those countries that LTTE is intransigent and if eradicated, Tamil problem will be solved. They trusted him and gave him all the help possible. But after LTTE was defeated, he started behaving in another manner. He promised India that he will go beyond 13th amendment, but did not honour it. When pressurised by India, he brought China in to counter it, thinking that it will protect him from Indian threat. See the mess Srilanka is in at present, with part of the sovereignty ceded to China. India is demanding similar thing for it, and Srilanka is fumbling. Is it not a crime when denying Tamils their share of sovereignty, giving China part of the land. India is in this sorry position in Srilanka because of its anti-Tamil policy, and attempt to placate Sinhalese. Time has now come for India to shift its policy towards Tamils and to show the stick to Srilanka like what it did in 1987. You have to be thankful to India, for Srilanka remaining in one piece. and without that you are prostituting with India’s enemies. Please remember if and when India decides otherwise about Srilanka territorial integrity, no one on earth can prevent it. Do not test patience of India for long because Sinhalese will be losers.

  • 2
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    The President is a simpleton. His task and responsibility is to develop the country not ringing around begging for assistance. His Attitude confirms that the country is already anInternational Basket Case. How degrading for the honourable folk of Sri Lanka? I was intrigued by SIRISENA’S reference to a whispered conversation with the PMof. South Korea. In what language did the whispered conversation occur? Can Sirisena speak in English or South KOREAN.?

    • 0
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      P.
      This President has a boss; the PM , who basically has become a dictator like MR and runs the affairs of government. The President does not have much choice politically and therefore tends to be untruthful. The religiosity he displays is a cunning trait which he has cultivated over the years, appeals to the majority of people.
      He will be a candidate at the next Presidential election with the hope that RW will loose the PM’s job. Time will tell.

  • 0
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    Mr. Jayaweera: there was an article by you about SL airlines. I think it should not be privatized. Earlier it was profitable even with 60% govt own and 40% UAE airline owned. The present problem is Ranil has handed over it to his friends, and has recruited 7000 of UNP party card holders. chairman is doing his business while earning multi -million rupee salaries. CEO is ex-pilot so, jealousy work against him CEO is also not a manager and he just earns Rs 4.5 million. It is the same with director board just drunkard incompetents with no qualifications. YOur article was incomplete and you did have proper inside knowledge when you wrote or you on purpose avoided it.

    • 0
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      Jim Softy

      Divergent opinions are normal. I do not know your justifications to keep the national carrier going. On the other hand, I have given my justifications in several articles I have penned over the last two years for total privatization or total closure.

      Profits made during Emirates management is a myth. Rs 4.4 billion declared in their last year 2007/8 was achieved by selling three aircraft the airline owned for Rs 5.4 billion and taking them back on dry lease. Please visit SriLankan Airlines website, Annual Report 2007/8 and refer Note 17.1.

      In my humble opinion, UL has grown into an unmanageable monster. Before the end of the conflict, there was a justification to keep the airline going with Treasury subsidies using tax rupees in the greater interest of the nation’s tourism plant. There is no such justification any longer.

      We have to be pragmatic rather than emotional. Since President JRJ, every Head of State and current PM have interfered in decision-making processes and has micromanaged the carrier. It is time, we accepted, we as a nation do not have the required skills set to own an airline and allow professional to manage it. In addition, there are several interest groups (staff) with vested interests who will not cooperate in making the airline viable, if such a thing is possible.

      To begin with, how many unions will agree to renegotiate the many Collective Bargain Agreements (CBA) agreed by the former Planter Chairman who knew ‘Jack’ about aviation?

      I trust I have given you a snapshot of my justifications for total privatization or even better, liquidation.

  • 0
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    Mr. Jayaweera: I think Sri lankan politician are dishonest with respect to fertilizer issue. IF they want they can establish Fertilizer manufacturing plant in Trinco any where closer to a harbour. they never do that. Instead they go to import it. See Sri lankan politicians are very good people because the women working in the middle east send money if Not. Sri lanka is bankrupt because of the bond scam that is going on right now. Sri lanka would be worse than the Greece. PResident knew well in advance what was going on., Still all the politicians are playing games. Inside the parliament they knew that one day, Ranil would have to resign or quit politics. They are playing games with elections. Even the bond scam investigation is not for all three bond scams which happened. It is only for one. There are many other scandles and wastage. but media does not discuss. Sabitha’s building, Fertilizer scandles, tourist board chairman, SL airlines, There are so many. PResident is no leader wither.

    • 0
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      Jim Softy
      It is not only in respect of Fertilizer, dishonesty, and corruption of Sri Lankan politicians is obvious. Please read ‘People s The Swamp’ in today’s Sunday Island by Prof Kumar David, an authority on Electric Power.

  • 0
    0

    Is Rajeewa Jayaweera telling us that the MR regime was far better than the present GoSL? Or marginally better or what?

    • 1
      1

      K.Pillai
      Lest you get the wrong impression, I am not. All I am telling is that Prez JRJ did not interfere or micromanage but the necessary damage was done by the Chairman he appointed. Thereafter, Presidents Premadasa, DBW, CBK, MR, MS and PM Wickramasinghe have all made a mess of it to a greater or lesser extent. Hence my view, we as a nation and as a people can not overseer an airline. Marginally better or worse Presidents and PMs is not what is required. What is required are Presidents, PMs, and Ministers who doe does not treat the national carrier as their inheritance. Unfortunately, we do not have such people.

      • 0
        0

        Rajeewa Jayaweera: How fast you have forgotten history.

        We had a fertilizer factory adjacent to the sapugaskanda refinery. It was mooted first by Mr.Dudley Senanayake and installed during Mrs Srimavo Bandaranayakes regime.

        Came the jealouse man JRJ, who wanted to destroy all good things that his predecssors did.Out went the Fertilizer manufactury.The hit man was foul mouthed Ronnie de Mel.

        With the present fertilizer problem, it high time that the people demand that Ronnie makes ammends or make him pay.

  • 0
    0

    Tel call by Maithri to South KoreanPresident.
    Hallow,Hallow. Mr Kim da Oya ?
    Mr Kim; Who are you?
    Sirisena: Me Maithri katakaranne!
    Kim: Who?
    Sirisena: Maithri, Maithri
    Kim: So what about your three?
    Sirisena: Mata pohora tikak oney
    Kim hands over phone to his Secretary saying “Who is this idiot”!!

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