26 May, 2019

Blog

Reasons For Separating Military From Civilian Affairs

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The acquisition of about 7000 acres of land in the Jaffna peninsula has become a major issue that impacts upon the post-war reconciliation process.  The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission recommended the release back to their owners of private lands taken over for military purposes during the war.  This was also the position taken by President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he made promises to the international community that the displaced people would be returned to their homes.  But as recent events have shown, the acquisition of privately owned lands by the military had continued dealing another blow to the possibility of national reconciliation.

Despite protests by the affected people in the North it appears that the government is determined to go ahead with its plan to take over large extents of the land in the North for use by the security forces.  Those who have been able to get inside some of these areas report that not even the foundations of the buildings remain on the land which is being prepared for new constructions.  It is believed that at least some of this land will be utilized for military-run tourist hotels and economic enterprises. It may have been this reason that prompted the government to prevent the Leader of the Opposition from entering one such acquired area when he visited the North recently.

What is worthy of note is that the acquisition of land by the military that is taking place is not limited to the North and to land inhabited by Tamils.  It is also taking place in other parts of the country.  Recently there have been media reports about the acquisition of over 1000 acres of land in the East in the traditional Sinhalese area of Panama which was a lush, serene and peaceful village on the sea coast when I last visited it during the time of the war, although vulnerable to LTTE attack.   This area was the sanctuary of Sinhalese people who were forced out of their villages in the interior parts of the country during the Great Rebellion of 1818 due to the scorched earth policy of the British colonial rulers.

The Buddhist monk in the area was quoted in the media as saying that about three years ago, the people were chased away by armed men, and the following day the area was cordoned off by military personnel. But it is believed that the land has been taken over to construct a hotel complex although the military says it is for a military camp.  Media reports claim that the permits from the departments of coast conservation, archaeology and forestry that are usually required prior to the construction of any building have not been obtained.  In one media report a military spokesperson is quoted as saying “This is a Defence Ministry land and there is no necessity to obtain approval from any department to carry out any of our development work.”

Unexpected Increase

One of the unexpected post-war developments has been the increasing role of the military in the life of the country.  There has been continued recruitment by the military, increase of the military budget and the entry of the military into commercial life.  The explanation given by the government for increasing the size of the military machine rather than downsizing it has been that it is to preserve national security.  This has made government actions in terms of increasing the role of the military in national life difficult to criticize.  After a three decade long war, there is public deference to the imperatives of national security, or what is claimed to be national security.

However, there is another explanation for the increase in the numbers of the military, and its enhanced role, after the war.  This has to do with the ideology of the government.  It appears that the government is modeling the Sri Lankan state on the lines of states such as Pakistan, Myanmar and Indonesia, where the military has become embedded with the civilian authorities in governing the country.  In these countries the military has become a part and parcel of civilian life, and not kept strictly separate from it, as in conventional democracies.  In these countries the military runs big economic enterprises such as hotels, banks and travel companies.

Where the military gets involved in business, they can often outdo the private sector in providing goods and services to the people at a cheaper price.  This was seen in Sri Lanka too during the time when vegetable prices soared.  The military started to sell vegetables at cheaper prices.  Likewise the military run hotels, restaurants and travel services are competitively priced and seem to be efficiently run.  But they contain a huge hidden subsidy.  This is on account of the salaries and logistical costs that are paid separately to the military personnel from the military budget.  These costs are not included in the cost of goods and services provided by the military.  Therefore they can be provided at cheaper rates to the consumers.

There is a further hidden cost of military involvement in civilian affairs which is why democratically governed countries keep the military strictly separate from civilian affairs.  The military are disciplined to take orders from the top.  They are not expected to question their superiors.  But in democratic life, it is exactly the opposite that is expected to take place.  It is the people who should be able to decide what they want.  The democratically elected leaders are expected to listen to the people and implement their wishes, so long as they conform to principles of human rights and respect for democratic values.

Democratic Cost

The reported statement of the military spokesperson who said that lands taken over by the Defense Ministry do not require going through the approval process of other government departments shows the limited and sometimes one-track focus of military thinking.   They tend to see security issues in primarily physical and military terms.  But security has also got other dimensions, such as human security, food security, environmental security and also the need to preserve historical and archaeological sites. Good governance requires the ability to see the larger picture in a holistic manner and how the different aspects of life interact with one another.

It is significant that the government’s decision to suddenly acquire large extents of land in the North has been taken prior to the establishment of a legitimate and popularly elected civilian administration for the formerly war-stricken Northern Province.  Those decisions that severely affect the lives of large numbers of people would more appropriately be taken in consultation with the elected Provincial Council after it is constituted.   The general practice in the country has been that when the government wishes to take over large tracts of land for a public purpose it discusses this matter with the affected population and with their political representatives, and gives the necessary time for legal objections to be made through the judiciary.

In Jaffna in the North more than 2000 persons who owned land are ready to file petitions in the courts of law.  There is a possibility that 5000 petitions may end up being filed in the courts. It is to be hoped that, as advocated by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, government policy will not substitute for recourse to courts of law where the affected people have proof of title, and even where they do not have this, the civilian arm of government has the duty to carefully check and reissue them with the rights to which they are entitled.  This is a matter of national interest, as what happens in one part of the country will have its consequences on the other parts as well.

The military’s takeover of land is an expansion of the role of the military in the life of the Sri Lankan nation which will affect every one of its citizens, and not merely those who belong to the ethnic minorities. Especially in a country that is recovering from three decades of warfare and violence there can be no equality between those who have guns in their hands, and those who are unarmed.  This is why the military – civilian relationship in governance is problematic and why the established democracies in the world keep them separate.  This democratic process now appears to be overpowered, as in Panama in the East, where the local authorities are trying to accommodate the military’s take-over of the people’s lands.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    On the Palaly- KKS HSZ , the government will be making a mistake of immense proportions, if it insists on proceeding with the acquisitions.

    The link between the Jaffna man and his land is unique not only within Sri Lanka, but probably in the world ( In Tamil Nadu the village name was used in the past as part of a person’s name,but that practice has disappeared. The practice exists in Kerala to this day. In Jaffna the village name is not used as part of the name, but has is a unadvertised ‘Brand’). It is part of his identity and label. This even transcends his name and ancestry, because there is no family name system in Hindu Jaffna. He continues to identify himself with the village he comes from for generations after his family had abandoned it. It establishes who he is, his origins and spatial relationships. Further, when it comes to agricultural land, it is based on the sheer physical toil that has gone into improving the land and make it productive over several generations .

    It was a love with the soil and its careful tending that has made the soils in this area the best in Sri Lanka for agriculture. My paternal great grand mother was from Vasavilan-an agricultural village in the area- and I remember visiting her as a child. The memories of the agricultural practices I saw and the efforts that went to it are yet fresh in my mind.

    This link with the land cannot be exchanged for money or alternate land!! The Thesawalamai customary laws make sure the collective village identity remains instact even if the ownership of the land changes hands.

    The Jaffna Tamil is a special breed. He is different from other Tamils. He is a creation of a unique environment, within Sri Lanka. He has been moulded over the millenia into something unique. He has his positives and negatives, but the combination, make him unique. He has a questioning mind and a love for his land unlike any other. The soil and air run in his blood. He may live anywhere in this world, but his link is first to his village, then to the peninsula and finally for the country. In the present circumstances this does not extend beyond the peninsula!

    The fact that land is a limited resource in the peninsula lends another critical dimension to the issue.

    He is at the heart of the ‘ National Problem’ in Sri Lanka. Unless this is understood and intelligently dealt with by the government and the Sinhala polity, there will be no end to this aspect of our national travails.
    ( This is a slightly modified version of the comment made in another thread)

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0
      0

      A rare occasion I will not only agree with you but you have stated it well I might add–well done!

    • 0
      0

      Every where in this comment, it shows how self-centered tamils are.

      Tamils can leave the island and live else where not to come at all to their place of origin. Yet, at every cost, they want their birth place remains to be Tamils only.

      It is simply Tamil superiority complex.

      • 0
        0

        jim softy,

        Please do not view everything from a narrow minded communal perspective. My comments refer to the Jaffna peninsula and the Tamils originating there. The other point I was making was that the ‘Jaffna Tamils’ are a distinct segment of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka. They are different, their concerns are different and their needs are different. The attempt to make the needs and concerns of the Jaffna Tamils that of all Tamils led to the calamity. This was compounded by the government and the Sinhala polity lumping all Tamils together and identifying them as synonymous with the Tigers. The needs of the Tamils as sub-communities within a larger community have to be understood and dealt with in an enlightened manner. The analogy is that although all Chinese may look the same to us, in reality there are many types of Chinese!

        Further, I present below some statistics about land use and the significance of the Valikamam area in terms of soil and water availability in the Jaffna peninsula. The information is what is available on the internet, and may not be the most recent. But they give an idea of realities.

        The total area of the peninsula is 1,129.9 sq. km of which lagoons cover 45.7 sq. km.

        Water is extracted from open dug wells for domestic and agricultural purposes. Approximately 28,000 wells serve both domestic and agricultural purposes. Water available in these wells and its quality varies from place to place. In the majority of deep wells in the Valikamam division water is available for irrigation throughout the year. These wells are situated in the calcic red-yellow latosols and their depth varies from 20 to 25 feet (7.6 m). The wells available in other areas are shallow (10 to 15 ft).

        Jaffna peninsula is divided into two agro-ecological zones (panabokke and kannangara 1975). The main distinguishing characteristic of each of these zones, that the land use for agricultural purpose, for crops like paddy, vegetables, fruit trees, coconut and Palmyra, has declined by 14 per cent between 1986 and 2001. lt was 44,160 hectares in year 1986 declined to 38,347 hectares in 2001. The notable feature is the land with arable crops has been declined by 25 per cent, fruit crops by 22 percent and coconut by 37%. Lt has been estimated that about 5.800 hectares of lands have been abandoned due to unstable conditions over the last 15 years. Buildings and roads cover 21.3% of the land use in 1986 remains more or less constant through out. the balance extent of land is composed of sadly scrap jungle and barren lands.

        The socio- economic conditions of the Jaffna District depend mainly on primary economic activities, agriculture, livestock and fisheries. Land ownership is governed by the traditional and tenure system. In the premium agricultural areas of Walikamam and Wadamarachchi the percentage of tenant landless cultivators are very high. The land holdings are very small. The total number of 84,416 holdings covers only an extent of 24,924 hectares, which gives an average of 0.3 hectares per allotment. Further, the smallest 73,483 allotments cover only an extent of 9,051 hectares, which gives an average holding size of about 0.12 hectares.

        The total population of the district is around 600,000. Agriculture and fisheries have been the principal economic activities of the district. Over 60% of the work force in the district depends on agriculture for their livelihood. About 86,000 families are engaged in agriculture while 15,000 families engage in fishing. Agriculture in the district contributes substantially to the GNP of the country. The land cultivated by 48% of the farmers does not belong to them. This study estimates the average land holding area is around 0.5 to 0.75 acres (3,000 m2).

        Unemployment in the rural areas is 27.9% while in the urban area it is 25.8%.

        Total paddy land available for the cultivation is 12,000 ha. Of which nearly 8000 ha (64.6%) is being cultivated. About 2000 ha of paddy land is being identified as marginal due to the salinity problem. Paddy is cultivated as mono crop in 85% of the paddy land and in the balance 15% paddy is followed by vegetable and field crops with the help of available irrigation.

        Among the other field crops, onion, potato, tobacco, chili and banana are cultivated as cash crops because farmers obtain considerable income from these crops. Total extent of high land available for cultivation is 7,851 ha. Of which 1.642 ha (21%) is not cultivated due to security force presence. At present field crops and vegetables are cultivated in 4200 ha with the help of left irrigation from the dug wells.

        Perennial crops include the orchard crops like mango, jack, grapes and citrus and other crops like palmyrah and coconut. Coconut is grown in home stead in the extent of 1470 ha. Other perennial crops are grown in 1500 ha. Further nearly 3.5 million palmyrah palms are available in Jaffna. Farmers generate considerable income from fruit crops, like mango, jack, grapes etc. cultivated in 1850 ha. Grapes were cultivated in 380 ha during 1985 is reduced to 55 ha in 2004.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        • 0
          0

          Jim softy,

          It is now known that the area involved is two thirds the side of Colombo. This reveals the scale of the acquisition in comparative terms. I wish someone reproduces a Google map of the disputed area as well.

          Dr.RN

    • 0
      0

      Dr. Rajasingham Narendran,

      I don’t know why this government is grabbing private land when there is enough unused state land in N & E.

      That said, its good to hear that Jaffna man is all very unique and with all do respect, I would love to learn about their culture and traditions. However, the irony is these Jaffna Tamils who love their land so much think its all very just and fine to settle Indian Tamils in doves in the backyard of upcountry Sinhalese without their consent!

      Is it because in their universe, they are unique and others are not?

  • 0
    0

    Dr.Narendran,if the Jaffna man loves his land so much why does he always leave it the moment he scents money somewhere else.My great grandfather too left Jaffna and settled in Kurunegala.So many tamils in Colombo can trace their ancestry to Jaffna and even wild horses coundn’t drag them back there.Also the tamils who have left for western lands from jaffna would not dream of coming back and living there and foregore all those dollars.Even after the war has nded many tamils are making a last ditch effort to get out in boats because they see their kith and kin and friends doing well abroad.

    I think your description of this love for the land is somewhat overblown.When you see dollars in front of your eyes all the love will fly out of the window.Everyone loves the place where they grew up and yearn to be there again one day,but it is not special to the Jaffna man or woman.Only thing special i can see is he likes to live in other peoples houses with his one locked up.

    In the case of this particular land grab by the government I agree with you it is a mistake.It seems to be like a daylight robbery.When there is land and land available which is crown land i don’t know why they always make a beeline towards land of private citizens.It will have consequences for them that they will regret later because after the series of UN resolutions the world is watching and one day in exasperation will decide that a kosovo,timor,south sudan or even a cyprus solution is the only one to get rid of the problem for good.

    • 0
      0

      Shanker,

      Even Luxshman Kadirgamar, who was a nominal Tamil, took pride in his Manipay origins! I have met several Colombo Tamils, UK Tamils, Canada Tamils and US Tamils who yet take pride in the villages they have connections to, though they will not dream of coming back here to live. I interpret the Diaspora support for the Eelam war a manifestation of this umbilical link. We Tamils are cowards of sorts and running away is our solution to many issues. However, this does not negate the emotional link.

      I have also spent most of the time I have lived in Sri Lanka, in various parts of the south. But my identity is yet linked with Jaffna and the various villages and towns in the peninsula that my ancestors came from. That is the GPS by which I am judged even today. The first question a Jaffna man will ask after being introduced is, ” Neengal evaddam’ ( where are you from?). Recently a relative from Canada visiting Jaffna was asked the same question by a stranger. He replied rather proudly, Canada. The stranger exploded in anger and burst out, I asked what is your place of origin in Jaffna? Once this question is satisfactorily answered, the next question is do you know so and so, living at a particular location in the village or town. The answers establish one’s caste and family connections.

      Further, even the Malaysians of Sri Lankan Tamil origin who are now probably third or fourth generation, remember their villages/ towns of origin and can position themselves well in the context of the peninsula. I remember a time in the 1970-1980’s when Tamil gangs in London were named after their villages of origin. There were Uduvil, Urumbirai and other similarly named gangs. I once listened to Tamil from Urumbirai, who had lived for decades in Jaffna talk for hours about Urumbirai. A Parisian could not have talked more of Paris!

      Even those who have now chosen to live in the outskirts of the Valigamam area are yet looked down upon unless they define themselves as from the prime locations in Valikamam. The description of the Tamils within the Jaffna peninsula as Kulaikaatar ( thenmarachchi), Theevar ( Islanders) and Vadamaraachhiyar in a rather nose up manner, is further symptomatic of this localised identities. Those in Thenmarachchi and Vadamarachhi too have pride in their villages within the larger entities. The cultures between villages and divisions are quite distinctive distinctive as well.

      ” Thirai Kadal odium, thiraviam thedu ( sail the seas to seek wealth ) is ingrained in the ethos of Tamils. An Indian friend of mine who visited Mont Blanc in the Swiss Alps told me that he found a Jaffna Tamil running a shop there! At one time, they moved to all corners of Sri Lanka to sell cigars and bananas. Now the world is their hunting ground. They may not return, but when their daughters and sons get married they will proudly narrate where they come from and their ancestry. Do not t forget that many Jaffna Tamil men who were engaged in small businesses in the South had Sinhala mistresses and children through them. But their queen , princes and princesses were in Jaffna and they were their pride!

      Jaffna is indeed a unique place in Sri Lanka! This uniqueness comes from a unique mindset that is the product of a unique geography and the resulting unique culture. If this is not understood, there will never be a solution to the Tamil problem in Sri Lanka. I have learned this lesson after many years of observations, interactions and reading. What I found was a revelation.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      • 0
        0

        Correction : — Tamil from Urumbirai who had not lived for decades–

        Dr.RN

    • 0
      0

      Navin,

      The nature of the peninsula and the narrow neck by which it is connected to mainland has also made the Jaffna mind insular and conservative. This part of the culture. The difference between a Jaffna Tamil and a Batticaloa Tamil are a contrast. The Batticaloa Tamil is more gregarious. Further, even while living in western countries for decades, the Jaffna man would yet have a very narrow circle of friends, most of whom would be from the area he comes from. This conservatism is both a virtue and curse. However, he has many virtues such as commitment, ambition, capacity for hard work, capacity to sacrifice, capacity to save, persistence and an inherent intelligence, that make him valuable in any society. These qualities have evolved because without these, it would have been very difficult to survive and thrive in the harsh conditions of Jaffna.

      Further, the Jaffna man did not have a hand in the settlement of South Indians – Tamils and Telugus- in the hill country. They were brought in a indentured labourers to develop the plantations and they died in droves doing so. They were victims of their circumstances as much as the Kandyans were.

      Dr.RN

      • 0
        0

        When I refer to intelligence, it is in a sense of what is inherent being made to work. It should not be construed to mean that the Jaffna Tamils are inherently more intelligent than the others. A similar phenomenon exists among the Brahmins in Tamil Nadu. The training of the mind over centuries through memorising religious texts and understanding them, have honed their intelligence. They are the flag carriers of the IT and Engineering genius in India today.

        Dr.RN

  • 0
    0

    Well said Doctor. Thanks. The Diaspora is enlightened at all times in
    this direction and they are growing stronger by the day is evident.

  • 0
    0

    I have not yet seen a proper article with a plan indicating the land that is being acquired. According to Government sources, they are acquiring land for the expansion of the KKS port and the land required for guarding the airport.

    It is the duty of any government to safeguard its ports and airports from all types of threats, including Parippu drops. It is the duty of the Defence Ministry to safeguard Sri Lanka from the power hungry politicians in Tamil Nadu, The so called Tamil Government in exile and Arab Spring type mercenaries invading Syria.

    Jehan, why not provide some links to the land that is being acquired and how much of it is outside the existing high security zones. What percentage of it belongs to cultivators living in the Jaffna Peninsula? How much more is owned by Sri Lankans resident in Sri Lanka? As far as I am aware compensation is being paid to the owners.

    I get the impression that this is an issue fermented by Tamil political parties and the Tamil Diaspora, to increase their voter base, to win the Provincial Council election.

    • 0
      0

      Truth,whatever the reasons for the aquisition,when there is a series of UN resolutions against Srilanka and the world is watching the government has to be careful.It is upto them to have a dialogue with the tamil representatives and then show to the world that they are reasonable and the tamils representatives are unreasonable,not the other way about.

      So all the information that you have asked from Jehan you better ask the government to provide to the tamils representatives and see what their answer to that is and then counter their arguments with your own.This is what you call democracy,unless you want to follow the arrogant Prabha path of thumbing your nose at the whole world and ending up in a train wreck and losing a chunk of land permanently due to your arrogance and lack of transparency and democratic principles.

  • 0
    0

    Even in Pakistan we are now observing the break from the military control. The Miltary too has willingly handed over and supported the move towards civilian government and democracy. The people of Pakistan too have voted overwhelmingly against Terrorism and Military Control.

    This is a lesson to those in Sri Lanka who feel that the military is a panacea for the ills of the nation. It was succesful in the case of terrorism so must it succeed in everything. It is a misconception that the UDA has been brought under the control of the MOD. In fact the UDA website gives credence to this misconception. It states

    ‘UDA is a Government authority attached to Central Government of Sri Lanka through Ministry of Defense and Urban Development having the main objectives to bring versatile investors both local and foreign. In the event of this UDA make substantial profits to run as a nucleus in order to facilitate as a mediator and facilitator amongst all stakeholders.’

    Truth of the matter is that UDA is a civil organistaion and comes directly under the Govt, not through the Ministry of Defence. The Military and UDA are two institutions with different legal mandates. It seems that the Secretary of Defence is mixing up the two and using military powers to eject people and take over lands which is against the laws of the country.

    Sri Lanka is supposed to be a functioning democracy and with the withdrawal of the emergency it has to be under civil rule. There cannot be an inside arrangement to use military force against a section of the people outside the laws of the country. The misuse of PTA cannot be a tool for the military to control and harrass people. It must be challanged in courts under the laws of the land.

    • 0
      0

      The difference between SL and Pakistan in this respect is that the government isn’t controlled by the military in SL. The military is being used as a specialist force by the government to bypass civil barriers. This began long before this administration came to power, and it happened very gradually and insidiously, and arguably as a result of incompetence and failure on the part of civil arms like the RDA, UDA, etc. Remember when the SLAF took over the Fire Brigade back in the ’90s because that organisation was unable to do its job? Remember how Army engineers rebuilt the Parliament Road for the last SAARC summit because the RDA couldn’t do it? That is how this started. Corruption and incompetence has crippled a lot of SL’s civil and government service organisations, and it is obviously tempting to therefore use an organisation that simply follows orders, doesn’t go on strike, and is skilled, efficient, and willing to work tirelessly. Do you think any other organisation in SL could have refurbished the Colombo Race Course in that amount of time? It is pointless complaining about military encroachment when there is nothing to really replace it.

      • 0
        0

        David,

        I agree that in some cases in the past the civil institutions have been unable to get the job done and have been assisted by the military. Also the govt is facing a problem in maintaining a standing army of 300,000 strong and keeping them occupied. This is a convenient solution to both these problems but cannot become a permanent feature. Govt must reduce the strength of the army by demobilising and at the same time ensuring that our war heroes are rehabilitated and gainfully employed in civilian life. At least that is the way things are done in other countries who are not permanently in a state of war or ruled by dictators.

        Civilian institutions are the norm while the use of military is the exception. The competence of the civilian institutions needs to be built up, not replaced by the military. There is no reason why civilian institutions cannot perform, especially in the essentially civilian disciplines of town planning and engineering. The non-performance of such institutions is mainly due to corruption, mismanagement and politicisation which need to be rooted out. Premier institutions like the State Engineering Corporation and Colombo Commercial Company have been ruined by succesive Govts.

        The other difference is that the Defence Secretary brooks no nonsense and gets the job done. He is also able to get adequate funds from the govt for the upkeep of the forces and doesn’t need additional funds to pay contractors etc. The armed forces replace the civil contractors and engineering firms who would otherwise handle such projects. The people in the UDA, RDA, engineers and architects, are the same but only that they now come under GR who is also the Secretary of Defence. Legally being incorporated by act of parliament, UDA and RDA are civilian entities and cannot be considered to have been taken over by the Ministry of Defence.

        What is objectionable is the use of military force against civilians and to bypass the legal framework. At a time of peace the military should also be bound by the laws of the land. The launching of projects by undermining human rights, expropriating private land, bypassing environmental regulations cannot be condoned.

        It would be better if the Military also participates openly in tenders and bids for such projects to ensure that there is no misappropriation or overspending of public funds. The use of the military to operate ventures like hotels, farms etc are also questionable. These days the huge defence budget of 290 Bn is not subject to audit or reconciliation. It is not possible for anyone to spend that type of money without any explanation or transparency. This is just not economically feasible.

    • 0
      0

      Safa,

      The Pakistani military is an integral part of that country’s economy. It is also politically strong and intrusive. The militarisation of civilian life in Sri Lanka is infinitesimal compared to Pakistan. The trend is unhealthy, however useful it is now. The government has been somewhat wise to keep the military otherwise engaged in useful pursuits after the war. If, it had decided to shrink it post-war, there would have been frustration and heart burn. While the military is yet there in numbers, in case of an emergency, they are not in a military mode. With time the military will shrink through natural attrition, unless a new crisis is engineered.

      Dr.RN

      • 0
        0

        Dr RN

        Pakistan which is on a state of alert on the east and fighting a war in the west has an active military of 617,000 and per capita of 3.5. With a huge border on both sides its army is not engaged in commercial activities as they are busy with defending the country. Sri Lanka is in a different situation post war. Sri Lankan military in active service is said to number 169,100 with per capita of 7.5. In addition we have a Police and STF numbering around 75,000. A total figure of 300,000 is often mentioned.

        I am not faulting our armed forces who have saved the nation and made great sacrifice to rid us of the scourge of terrorism. Now their task is done they need to enjoy the new found freedom just as all citizens of this country. So after the war it is necessary to demobilise and rehabilitate them and reintroduce them into civilian life with suitable source of income.

        Using them to suppress and harass our own citizens in the north is not a suitable occupation for the war heroes. The country needs to leave behind the carnage of the war and move forward. Continuous engagement of this type is not required and is creating many problems for the people and country.

        • 0
          0

          Safa,you say,quote”So after the war it is necessary to demobilise and rehabilitate them and reintroduce them into civilian life with suitable source of income.”

          I don’t agree with you on this.We will be an ungrateful nation if we do that.Also they should not be made into civilians because if anyone has an idea of starting a second phase of the war,just like the JVP did,ten they will think again when they see that Srilanka is ready to smash it before it even gets off the ground.

          If the people have to maintain those who saved them,so be it,they will be shown the gratitude that way.Action is worth a thousand words and just singing their praises and then disposing them is the condom theory at work and the armed forces should not be treated like used condoms.

          Anyway I think the Defence Secretary is trying to reduce the burden on the people by utilising them for various tasks.Even in ancient times countries did not have standing armies,maybe a core group only,but when the need arises the general population leaves their farms and tools aside and joins the army to fight for the king and country.In this case it is a bit different but same principle with them still in uniform but not idling and doing the civilian tasks required by the country.

          Also don’t forget the armed forces should be there for helping in natural disasters etc.Also they should develop core skilled components such as engineers,tradesmen,transport specialists for ports and rail etc so that if trade unions try to bring the country to its knees with strikes it will not be a success.

          • 0
            0

            Shankar,

            Well explained. In fact there is a severe shortage of skilled labour in key sectors of the economy now, chiefly due to external migration in search of better paid employment. The perks that the armed forces provide, keeps many skilled and disciplined men home. Their deployment in civilian projects fills a gap. However, the engagement of the armed forces in commercial ventures should be discouraged.

            Dr.RN

  • 0
    0

    “The explanation given by the government for increasing the size of the military machine rather than downsizing it has been that it is to preserve national security.”

    Is it a valid explanation? Is there any threat to the national security? How it is going to improve National security?
    Sri Lanka had two insurgencies (1971 and 1989)by Sinhalese. The motive of these insurgencies were to capture the power through violent armed struggle. There was a civil war continued for nearly six decades where Tamils are fighting for equal rights with Sinhalese. Initially, the struggle was non-violent and then turned into armed struggle for a self rule in the North-East region where Tamils of this island lived. There was no attempt to take control of the Nation as a whole. First we must understand What is defined as a Nation in this context. Sri Lanka is an island where Tamils and Sinhalese live side by side historically. This nation belongs to both Tamils and Sinhalese and National security belongs to both Tamils and Sinhalese. In fact there was a threat to the security of Tamils by Sinhalese for the last six decades and there was a threat to the security of Sinhalese, but there was no threat to the security of the island of Sri Lanka from outside other than one instance that came from India( which is now a friendly nation of Sri Lanka).
    If you want to protect the nation as a whole, security measure should be strengthened in Colombo and spread across the Nation. As we know currently, there are 19 out of the 21 military units in the Northern Region and the military constitutes 99.9% Sinhala people where 99.9% of the population are Tamils. In fact it is reasonable to have a military from Tamil People to protect Tamils and the land covered by the people of that region.

    It is true that Land is an important for the security of the people and thus to the nation. There is nothing unique about Jaffna man, it is a fundamental need for every one. I have seen the suffering of those number of families who were displaced from their land and homes. The efforts they made to develop those and build their homes cannot be measured in terms of money or another land. It is day light robbery by a Sinhala state that never consider Tamils as Sri Lankans or human beings. True Sinhala Buddhist should ashamed of their state.
    the primary reasons for those Tamils who moved in and out of the nation is the war and security. It is true that those Tamils who moved to Wealthy nations had the opportunity to enhance their economic and social levels and you cannot blame them for creating the environment where there safety was questionable. There are many Sinhalese who migrated due to this war and Sinhala insurgency to wealthy nations enjoy the same benefits. How can those who migrated to wealthy nations come and take over the government and responsible for the corruption and lawlessness in this country and enjoy all the benefits in and out of the nation. we should understand that those Tamils who are migrated still contribute lot to this nations wealth and prepared to contribute more to the development of the war affected area if there is a proper devolution of power and if their safety and security is assured. This is why it is important to recognize that you must have the trust on the people not on those opportunistic criminals who are there to say “Yes” for everything and violate the law of the nation.

    Trust! Trust! Not Force! Not Force!

  • 0
    0

    Ajith,

    Are you nuts ??

    “.Is there any threat to the national security?…”

    “..armed struggle for a self rule in the North-East region where Tamils of this island lived. There was no attempt to take control of the Nation as a whole..”

    That’s why we need to keep all the forces in combat readiness, in Jaffna & whole Northern sri lanka, to nip in the bud, any damn self rule for N&E of our country by a Terrorists again. Your comment truly legitimizes ever presence of Military , with Diaspora terrorists beating war drums in Europe & North America.

    • 0
      0

      John,

      Yes I may be a nut or nut you are nothing on your head. It is very clear that you believe the island of Sri Lanka belongs to only Sinhala race. It is exactly I said in my comments.There are different kinds of terrorists around the world. One is called “state terrorism”. That is what Tamils experienced over the past six decades and you want to continue it rather than solving the problem. If you kindly think and list all the characteristics of a terrorist you want disagree that Tamils faced Terrorism longer than Sinhalese and continue to face even you declared you have won the war against terrorists. Some of you talk about reconciliation, rehabilitation, reconstruction of Northern Region. With whom you are going to re-conciliate? rehabilitate? For whom the reconstruction?

      I reiterate again Tamils and Sinhalese are inhabitants in the island of Sri Lanka. National security should constitute for both Tamils and Sinhalese. Tamils should have the same rights as Sinhalese. Tamils live in the North East historically as Sinhalese live in South West.
      It is an accepted fact throughout that proper devolution of power in the Tamil majority area (this is what I meant by self rule) is the way forward to bring the trust between both communities and benefits the nation. That is the security I call ” National Security”. If you think that oppressing Tamils by occupying Sinhala military will bring National security you are a fool. It does not gurantee the necessary security for the Nation. There are countries, people liberated without armed struggle. There are powers Nations with much powerful military, and economy than Sri Lanka. In the International power politics circumstances may change very rapidly and anything can happen.

      The people of nation had suffered for long because of foolish Sinhala lead politics. Since the the so called Independence internal power politics based on Sinhala Buddhist extremism kept constantly under blood. People of Sri Lanka need peace and harmony with each other and your military under a dictatorship cannot bring the necessary peace and harmony to this nation. Every Force has a reaction and I warn the people of Sri Lanka (both Sinhalese and Tamils) don’t fall in the hands of extremist fundamentalist who love blood than Nation.

  • 0
    0

    I am amazed that all these big mouths kept quiet when LTTE were around

    • 0
      0

      The. Tamils were liberated from the LTTE! A liberated and hence free people should have the right to express themselves and demand what is their due.

      Dr.RN

  • 0
    0

    The militarization of a country’s economy is a great danger to any government. With commerce comes money and people who control the purse do not like to relinquish it when they have to retire as in any government service. We might be corrupting the military by giving them commercial projects. I hope the government realises this danger in time.

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.