21 October, 2020

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The Significance Of The C’wealth And Its Heads Of Government Meeting

By Rajiva Wijesinha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

The meeting in Sri Lanka in November 2013 of the Commonwealth Heads of Government provides a great opportunity for our government. This can be summed up in one word, Engagement, which Sri Lanka has not been very good at over the last few years.

The principles of engagement, which we need to understand, are very simple. First, we need to listen carefully to what others say. Second, we need to put our own perspectives and practices clearly and systematically. Thirdly, we need to search for common ground between us and our interlocutors, and work towards strengthening those commonalities and developing understanding of how mutual appreciation could be strengthened. Fourthly we need to work out where there are differences, and point out where these are because of inadequate understanding of our situation. Finally, where there are differences based on perspectives, we need to explain our own position clearly, and indicate why changes on our part would not be beneficial to the Sri Lankan people. However – and this is a vital caveat to this last aspect – we must try to understand different positions, and listen to arguments supporting them, and if necessary adjust our own positions if those arguments are clear and convincing.

About each of these, there have been great difficulties in recent years. We do not listen carefully, and we tend to put everyone who criticizes us in the same basket. We then play to local galleries by criticizing them and, since the sincere are generally nicer than those who have a subtle agenda, we are more critical of the decent. This has made us lose credibility amongst those who, even if they have different approaches in some respects, are basically our good friends. The manner in which India is often treated in our media, and even by some in authority, is a shocking example of this absurdity.

The excuse offered for this boorish and counter-productive behavior is that there are elements in India who are opposed to Sri Lanka and its interests. This may well be true, because there are elements in every country who have their own views of what should be happening. But, given that the same is true of some individuals in Sri Lanka, and that they operate in a more crude fashion, we can hardly build our policies on the aberrations of a few. Second, the official position of leading officials in India has been extremely positive for the last two decades and more. To base our own position on rumours and suspicions of clandestine activity is absurd, and the more so when there is clear evidence of clandestine activity within Sri Lanka to undermine relations with India.

With regard to putting our own perspectives and practices clearly, we have failed miserably. This is also because we allow too much leeway to those who play to the gallery, and wish to score debating points, instead of sticking to the truth and presenting it convincingly. The manner in which we fell prey to the charge of war crimes, which I believe to be preposterous, exemplifies this. When a false charge was made against us, at the end of 2009, instead of denying it on the grounds that it was a lie, we went into paroxysms of indignation by claiming it was traitorous. This created the impression that it was true, and what was wrong about it was making it public. Thus, simply because we wanted to score what we thought were electoral points (assuming indeed that this was the rationale for this destructive behavior), we laid ourselves open to serial abuse as it were.

Similarly, when the Darusman report came out, we failed to rebut it clearly. Indeed there was no coherence about our response, which we insisted on claiming was not a response, but an attempt to tell our own story. If that was the case, we should have told that story much earlier, instead of waiting to be attacked. And, to make it worse, instead of focusing on the issues in question, we meandered with a host of unnecessary details that made the intended rebuttals unreadable.

Unfortunately we have not learned our lesson since, and have failed to develop an effective communications strategy. This is the more reprehensible given that we have excellent communicators held in high regard by the international community. The query by a recently arrived political affairs officer of a country that has been uniformly negative about us over the last few years, as to what happened to the team that had carried such conviction in Geneva in 2009, is testimony to our determination to shoot ourselves in the foot, though whether this was because of jealousy or at the behest of another country with its own agenda is a moot point.

I worry therefore about whether we will be able to get across our points clearly and coherently. But I hope that those responsible have made sensible plans in this regard, and will ensure that credible interlocutors are available, given the captive audience that we will have.

Seeking common ground has also not been our strong point. The responses to the visit of Navanetham Pillay illustrate this, and so does the effort to portray her as a prejudiced Tamil. Though some of her actions and pronouncements could have been more balanced, by and large she said enough positive things which we should have built on. Her unequivocal condemnation of the Tigers was a great step forward, given how mealy mouthed many in the international community have been about this, and we should have made much of her clear message to the terrorist obsessed members, I believe only a small minority, of the diaspora. We should also have welcomed her recognition of the substantial development in the North, and used that to obtain assistance for what we should have also paid attention to from the start, namely Human Resources Development in the conflict affected areas.

When we come to the area of differences, we need to understand where our critics are coming from. Where there is no argument about principles, we should show how we have acted in good faith in defence of the interests of the Sri Lankan people. In this regard, it is preposterous that we have not given greater weight to efforts to implement the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. Even if it is too late now to have a dedicated Ministry for what is our best defence against criticism, we must set in place a communications strategy, using individuals whose credibility and integrity are not in doubt. Fortunately  we have such individuals in abundance in various executive positions at the moment, ranging from the Ministers who were so positive about the Navi Pillay visit, to the Secretaries, including the Media Secretary, who have done much to further the LLRC and the Human Rights Action Plan.

But in presenting what we have done well, and what further we plan, we should not attempt to defend the indefensible. Sadly, even where we have taken action against individuals who acted wrongfully, we conceal this – perhaps because we are now nervous of being called traitors ourselves – and thus lay ourselves open to further criticism. But another reason for taking publicly the few measures we need to with regard to accountability is that we must also ensure the primacy of the Rule of Law, and that the State supports prompt action against violators. Given that we now have leadership in the Police that commands respect for both integrity and efficiency, we must encourage them to take tough decisions, not only with regard to errant police officers but also errant politicians. Allowing state agencies to be held guilty because of the abuses of a few is not fair to the Sri Lankan people or its democratically elected government.

In order to make best use of the opportunity to engage, we must also develop a suitable strategy that builds on our strengths and the strengths of our friends. We know that we have much to show with regard to our Youth and, with a sympathetic and capable Minister, that is an area in which our achievements, including our commitment to pluralism, can be showcased. With regard to business, though we have an communicator in the Governor of the Central Bank, we also need to promote greater efficiency and streamline our systems to encourage investment. But we should also put in place a strategy that makes clear our determination to provide better job opportunities, together with appropriate training, for those who have been underprivileged for so long – and this means not only the people of the North and East, but also those in other areas that have been neglected in the past. Our current concern with top down infrastructure is insufficient to win hearts and minds, though we must also make clear that such work is a prerequisite for the people friendly development policies we are pursuing.

Where we have been remiss is with regard to the Civil Society aspect of the Meeting, where changes in perspectives have led to many lost opportunities. This is because we still do not have a sensible approach to community organizations, where our worries – in a few cases justified – about some advocacy organizations have inhibited us about using them as partners. This is tragic, because a system of establishing our priorities and then finding both local agencies and foreign funders willing, within our developmental parameters, of supporting these, would have meant a much more efficient use of resources available than we now see. Again, this is where I hope sensible discussions will lead in time to the Ministry charged with Reconciliation also having a brief to work with community organizations to promote this.

Finally, we need to consider where and how our efforts at engagement have worked well, and we should build on these. While we received much support from many Commonwealth countries to have the meeting here, we know that one or two were bitterly opposed to us. Though of course we should engage with them, and assuage the genuine fears of those who worry about some of our policies and practices, we should use the positive approach of others to show how misguided these excessively critical elements are. We should also make clear our appreciation of countries such as India and Australia which others were trying to dragoon into opposition to us, but which, without compromising on suggestions as to how we could do more to promote Reconciliation, maintained and asserted their confidence in our capacity to improve things for all our people.

In this regard, we must take our leadership role seriously. We cannot afford to neglect the position we will occupy for the next two years, but there is a danger of this happening, given the opportunities we lost with regard to our leadership of the G 15. Those responsible for Foreign Relations at the time advised the then Minister against us accepting the position, but when he was properly briefed he encouraged the President to accept. Unfortunately nothing was done with the position, even though we were at the height of our international prestige at the time, following the successful outcome of the Geneva Special Session.

We need therefore ideas and initiative, of the sort that led to our more articulate diplomats being appointed to positions of influence such as the Chair of the UN Working Group on the Right to Development. The President has a number of excellent ideas about the participatory and inclusive path to Development that countries like ours should take, and we should use this opportunity to get across a new vision, rather than simply responding to crisis after crisis. That will need innovative ideas and strong communications skills but we are not without these, if only we understand the opportunity CHOGM gives (and our current need) to shine internationally, rather than simply, like Cato, sitting attentive to our own applause.

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Latest comments

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    This “understanding man” who holds forth here on self criticism,is totally dumb and mute in parliament.

    His punchline is “The president has a number of excellent ideas about the participatary and inclusive path to development……………….”

    This is the reason for his survival as an MP – ‘praise the lokka whenever and wherever possible’!!
    That is the sum total of his great theory of “engagement”.

    He is totally deaf and dumb to the reality of the brutal policies of his regime which has now even increased food prices to give the savings thus made to Lankan Air and Mihin Air which have been swallowing billions ever since they were created.
    He is blind to the death of the Rule of Law and the impunity of the army and police.

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      couldn’t have stated it better !

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        “Engagement” is an empty word – CONCEPTUALLY empty. It is SPIN and PR. The time for SPIN and PR on war crimes is past. The world is asking for SUBSTANTIVE answers and it is time for Accountability.

        “Have you not eyes, then, Do you not see your own damnation?” asked Cassandra in Agamemnon – People no longer believe the spin of you and other Rajapakse Regime apologists for the purposes of empty ENGAGEMENT.. like the CHOGM circus..

        Why is your international politics guru and buddy Dayan J so silent on CHOGM circus, Prof? Guess he also realizes the time for PR and SPIN is long gone!

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      I second that Justice.. Some of these guys seem pretty genuine but just scared of dying.. Maybe because of family commitments, etc.. Whatever it is there a lot of good people around, just scared of the Justice system here in Lanka.

      It has to change soon, this lying to get ahead and eating up the whole world has to change.

      Nice thoughts from Mr Rogan.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYCS2o8JMY4

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    President appoints National Pay Commission to formulate National Wage Policy

    http://www.sundaytimes.lk/news/president-appoints-national-pay-commission-to-formulate-national-wage-policy-74570.html

    My 6 months baby was crying and I called the President and he said
    he will appoint a commission for this.

    This moran appoint commission for everything – why – Time buying tattics

    World biggest Idot MR and his brothers

    God save this country.

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    This man is rather like the curate’s egg; from time to time he manages to write something sensible. Since he has the ear of almighty, it would be good if he could advise MR on the the good sense of making peace at home before embarking on raising his and our international profile. At this moment, Sri Lanka and MR are dirty words out in the wider world. Of course it doesn’t deserve to be!

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    Engagement cannot be to be in a state of denial and rebut everyone and everything. Putting ones house in order and being an accepted and respected member of the world community requires the Govt to be transparent and adhere to international standards of governance, justice and human rights.

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      well said Safa, as usual !

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    Let’s not delay any more: March the war criminals Mahinda, Gotha, Sarath F, and their henchmen to the Hague before they do further damage to the peoples of Sri Lanka island.

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    What do you mean by “We” learned Sir ?

    Do you not notice that you are alone and naked ?

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      What he means by “We” is too well known to be trotted out! It means a cross between a Portugese, a chinese and the Vedda which is what the Sinhala Buddhist ancestry is. He is speaking to them!

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    Rajiva and Dayan are two sides of the same coin.
    So Congruent when it comes to King Kekille.

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    /* In order to make best use of the opportunity to engage, we must also develop a suitable strategy that builds on our strengths and the strengths of our friends. */

    What strategy ?

    MR gave a new minister post to Minister Chandrasena because he stopped the CH4 train in ANuradhapura.

    This is our national strategy. -:)
    Surprised why can’t Rajiva Wijesinha understand these simple things.. -:)

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    bbs Dayan,

    I think you are wrong. The learned Professor is just talking to himself.

    He can certainly read – especially stuff that is written here. But he has to write to collect his brownie points. So the dear Professor writes. We should admire him for that. Because the more he writes – the more he reveals of his true self.

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    Rajiva,

    First of all, all discussion needs to be two way – not unilateral. You personally fail miserably on this count alone, since you put one one-sided views in this forum and then go hide somewhere deep in the you-know-where, doing (only) you-know-what!

    Anyhow, I would like to point out that you are yourself exposing/undermining your five-step process, with the final step which will be to “indicate why changes on our part would not be beneficial to the Sri Lankan people” – you will merely go through the motions of the first four steps and then nullify all with the final and the preemptive step “we will not change” – So, why go through the pointless motions except to kill time and dupe the internationals?
    I might also remind you of your last posting where you confessed your total ignorance of ground realities in Jaffna until after the elections which showed that the populace has almost entirely rejected the Governments leadership, both in policies and plans. Are you saying you guys were so dumb that despite the highest possible concentration of military intelligence per square mile anywhere in the world, you were incapable of finding the truth until after the elections (reminds me of the claim that despite having 100, 24-7 security personnel right in the midst of Colombo to guard Kathirgamar, the security establishment was so utterly pathetic they could not find the assassin!)

    You spread canards for international consumption, and then start believing your own canards – that is the problem. If you truly need to understand ground reality, there is no way other than to let some independent (not necessarily international) investigation – remember not allowing the Eminent-person team headed by Judge Bagwathi to conduct a proper independent investigation – had you allowed that to do its work, we all Sri Lankans would have been better informed and far better off – and will not have to listen to your one-more face-saving attempt with this five-step blabbering.

    One more thought. While you continue to butter MR’s bread, did you notice that about a month ago Dayan dismissed MR as a spent, emasculated figure-head, although possibly enticed by new job offerings he is again willing to get under MR’s frock!

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    what a load of bs crap from this joker professor and sycophant. nothing he says makes sense and it is farting in the air from this pompous prick.

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    First of all, you resign as protest at the direction this nation is heading !!!

    Trying to eat the cake and have it at the same time!!

    The biggest curse to this nation are people like you and Dayan!

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    Kumar, you seem to have high expectation out of the Professor ?

    Can you not see old men fumbling here not understanding how social media works ? While the master pay them for the credibility they bring (thinking that they do) the old fools dispose it in forums like this, where servile and serpentine behavior of those like DJ is transparent to everyone – including themselves.

    So do not waste your time educating them or appealing to their moral judgment which they will trade for a few cents. But of course they are betting that the Mudhalais are goring to be in business and that they can switch over quickly as DJ has demonstrated – once the supple idiots that they hire make a complete mess of things. So they live off the desperate and make the best for themselves – as the learned professor is able to demonstrate.

    But this because carry no influence. Zero. But those who hire them do so out of desperation and those who join also through desperation. The like of GL don’t even bother to write anymore- because he is not a complete mutt and he is not self deluded like the Professor here making a spectacle out of servility and idiocy.

    Let us enjoy it while it lasts.

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    I feel all of those negative comments stated here implicate one certain fact. That is many of these negative critics do not like to tolerate what Rajiva says as they themselves fail to face the challenges given to them. So they stand against whatever Rajiva says when he is not in physical contacts which is the naked truth. So this is a very good phenomenon to understand their hatred attitudes towards challenging people.

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    No one hear is making negative comments about the learned Professor. Being naked is not negative.

    Being actually naked when you think that you are dressed in coat and suite is a sad mental condition that’s all.

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    Dear Professor Wijesinha,

    I understand that you have to be diplomatic when you refer to the enemies of Sri Lanka abroad. I have no such need, since I am a citizen of Australia and was born in England (though of Sri Lankan ancestry).

    The “British Commonwealth of Nations”, it seems to me, has always been about the British trying to rule the world. This was the unequivocal ambition of British political leaders at least until the time of Winston Churchill. In Masonic quarters Churchill is still seen as a hero.

    Here in Australia I have been surrounded by the Cult of Churchill. Churchill was a Freemason, and the Australian Federation was created by Freemasons, in their own interests. It is they who wrote the 1901 Constitution and the laws that followed. Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton was a Freemason, as have been most who followed him. It was the same situation in the USA – it was formed as a Masonic Union of British, Welsh, Scottish and Irish men – only men. And only white men. The black men were bought and sold as slaves. The Freemasons were the slavers, the masons who actually did the labour were slaves – some white and some black.

    Some years ago I read of how Captain Cook referred to all dark-skinned men, including those on board his ship and the “natives” who populated our shores as “indians”. The same mentality prevailed till modern times, except that different “types of black” were given different labels and classified in a systematic, racially prejudiced hierarchy. They were also given various “common names”, like “abo”, “coon”, “gin” (Aboriginal women), picaninny (Aboriginal children) and terms of abuse such as “black bastard” (with which I am familiar, having been not infrequently been mistaken for being Aboriginal). The professionals, the anthropologists referred to “octroons” and “quadroons”.

    It is clear to me that the British, who introduced racist eugenics “science” into the fields of anthropology, education, sociology, politics, psychology and medicine from the venerated Cambridge University have continued to demonize the “Third World” nations they once ruled. David Cameron’s hypocritical statement at the CHOGM showed how little insight he has into the heinous crimes of his country in the past and in the present.

    I have researched, over a period of 17 years, the role of my profession, the medical profession, in creating illness. This has included research into covert biological warfare programs by the Allies during the Cold War. The fact that the war in Sri Lanka began during the Cold War has led me to look at the use of biological and chemical weapons in this conflict as well.

    I have published my work on Scribd and YouTube and would like your opinion of this work (“Understanding the Tamil Tigers” and “The AIDS Conspiracy” on YouTube). Also, can you please refer this work, especially the book “Eugenics and Genocide in the Modern World” to the appropriate academic and medical authorities in Sri Lanka:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/71007453/Eugenics-and-Genocide-in-the-Modern-World-the-cause-of-AIDS-by-Dr-Romesh-Senewiratne-Alagaratnam

    This book proves the allegation that HIV/AIDS has been used as a biological weapon against Third World populations (especially in Africa) in an effort to counter the “population explosion”. The finger points, clearly, to a number of First World nations, including the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, France and Belgium.

    I hope my work can expose the outrageous hypocrisy of the “West”.

    Dr Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam
    Brisbane, Australia

  • 0
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    This Rajiva bugger is a tosser who bends for everything.

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