10 December, 2019

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Why Sri Lanka Needs A “National Securitism” Oriented National Security Policy?

By Kasuni Ranasinghe –

Kasuni Ranasinghe

Why Sri Lanka needs a “National Security Policy”?

“National Security” was one of the main discussion point in the propaganda campaigns of all major contenders of the Presidential election. Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the war time Secretary to the Ministry of Defence elected as the 7th president of the country, stressing the security gap. The Easter Sunday attack brought attention to the security of the country that appeared as religious fundamentalism and extremism again after a decade of the end of the 30 years brutal war. Many have pointed this as a failure of the government and accused of dismantling the military intelligence service. Even the report of the select committee of parliament on the Easter Sunday attack (21st April 2019) has accused President, former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence as the Director of SIS and IGP as failed in fulfilling duties. “……. the PSC observes that the President failed on numerous occasions to give leadership and also actively undermined government and system including having ad-hoc NSC meetings and leaving key individuals from meetings…….” And regarding Secretary Defence and others, PSC noted as “that whilst the greatest responsibility remains with the Director SIS, others too failed in their duties. Within the security and intelligence apparatus, the Secretary MOD, IGP, CNI and DMI failed in their responsibilities. All were informed of the intelligence information prior to the Easter Sunday attacks but failed to take necessary steps to mitigate or prevent it…” However, now former Defence Secretary Mr Hemasiri Fernando and IGP Mr Pujith Jayasundara were arrested for further investigations. The victims are not pleased with the solutions tabled by the government which created a trust deficit between the government and citizens. 

Meanwhile, the country is alarming a debt trap with China and a drastic economic downturn. India’s interest over strategic infrastructures such as Mattala Airport, newly open Jaffna International airport and Trincomalee harbour is becoming a challenge to the sovereignty and peace of the country. Also, other threats (apart from interest over infrastructure) coming from India is crucial and that has been historically proven. South India seems to be the key customer of Jaffna International airport and at the same time, Southern province of India is one of the major breeding grounds for ISIS as well as for LTTE. Thus the potential of the airport to be a flood gate for Islamic extremists and LTTE is high if the immigration is not carefully monitored. 

Meanwhile, proposals coming from USA such as Status of Forces Agreement-SOFA, Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement – ACSA and now with the Millennium Challenge Cooperation- MCC. None of these agreements is completely evil and the theory of conspiracy is not directly applicable for any of them. All pros and cons are visible if terms and conditions are prudently appraised. Practically, implementations of SOFA and ACSA are challenging to Sri Lanka as the power of negotiation with the USA is limited. The MCC is an important initiative addressing two of the crucial issues of the country; transport development and digitalizing land titles. Both are identified as key parameters of poverty reduction and human development initiatives of the government. However, the security concern is with the proposing GIS and CCTV monitoring systems which has potential of accessing personal information of individuals. The closure or termination is also problematic to the country. Sri Lanka has no potentials to terminate the agreement, if a case, the grant will be converted to a loan and has to repay the grant, interest, earnings as well as assets. In case of breach, the country will be financially trapped with USA and consequences will be similar or worse than the cancellation of the Colombo Port City project of China. Sri Lanka will be another significant case study similar to Djibouti of how massive investments go terribly wrong for the hosting country and becoming a regional facilitator for Military bases. The results would be terrible if SOFA has signed with no reviews.

Cyber is another source of threat which has capabilities of disabling vital websites and networks for the stability of the nation. Further, it has the potential to paralyze the economy by stealing and destroying classified information via hacking relevant data-banks. Illicit drugs and small arms are other two challenges which identified by Hon Maithripala Sirisena, His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka as critical threats to peace and security. Climate change, modern slavery, corruptions, poverty, piracy, lack of identity, IUU fishing issue, racism, separatism, ethnic unrest, misinformation and unregulated social media networks are some of the other key challenges to the present national security. 

In this context, national security should be the prime duty of the President and also the government. Overall, it is proven that the lapses of the prevailing policies are the foundation of the discussed coercions. Unclearness of national purpose, values and interests are also foremost roots. The National Security Policy which defines the national purpose, values, interests, threats and challenges would be a pathway. 

What is the National Security Policy? 

The “National Security Policy” is considered as the “Grand Policy” where skills of soldiers, civilians and politicians merge to ensure the stability of the territory. In other terms, NSP can be characterized as the integration of military, foreign and domestic policies with the aim of coordinating its economic, political, social and military capabilities in preventing actual and potential external and internal adversaries. Thus, the NSP should be aligned with all ministerial portfolios to achieve the ultimate national purpose, values and interests of the island. The ministries related to defence, foreign affairs, economic and finance, socio-cultural, environmental and technologies and information should respectively convey their policies and strategies to reach the ultimate goal of NSP. 

However, what type of Security Policy does Sri Lanka need is questionable? Defence and security theorists are coming up with the number of them and amongst them “National Securitism” oriented policy would be appropriate for Sri Lanka. 

“National Securitism” oriented Security Policy for Sri Lanka?

“National Securitisum” is for the states which practice democracy and continually using the law of emergency to resort conflicts. The characteristics of a democratic regime appear to exist and practically the civilian leader (political) of the country, the president controls over the tri forces and police. Rule of law is supreme and the political leader directs military and civilians with the instructions of the constitution. 

As the national purpose and interest of the island appreciate democratic “National Security State”, the National Security Policy should in line with the same. Thus, the NSP of Sri Lanka should not just a state of emergency to meet threats to the democratic process. It’s a permanent policy with timely amendments, which combine civil and military establishments to safeguard the national security of the county in general. Further, the policy consists of the tools to stricter the control Political, Economic, Social, Technologies, Ecology and Military arms (PESTEM) during the exceptional state of emergency. Roles of civilian, military and police forces should blend to bring democratic approaches (human rights) to the mandatory military exercises in political conflicts. The NSP mandate to fill the gap between investment requirement for national developments and threats arising (internally and externally) due to the same. The military involvement in economic and social development projects also all other social welfare activities necessary to appreciate. Aligning with other policies in a democratic and political process such as defence, foreign, economic and finance, technology and information is necessary to ensure the democratic values of the nation. Line policies and strategies as mentioned above should be interconnected and NSP should derive all of them. More importantly, defence, foreign and economic policies should interconnect as well as the strategies to ensure the success of the NSP. For example, National Defence Policy which is already compiled by the Ministry of Defence should connect to the foreign policy of the country. If two policies interconnected, Sri Lanka capable to exercise foreign policy for the use of military, in the form of technical assistance, training, arms supply, sharing intelligence and also the military industry activities. Intelligence sharing through proper channels would be a greater solution to mitigate threats coming from other territories which fires the home. Such as Islamic fundamentalism which exported from Saudi Arabia and fuelled by the fundamentalists living in South India and Sri Lankan. 

Further, national securitism would bring up the approach of human rights to the national security of the country which may ensure the practice of normal jurisdiction. In the context, NSP would be a great initiative for Sri Lanka to answer the Geneva Human Rights Council. However, NSP of Sri Lanka if it’s under the ideology of securitism, will function the military and civilian establishments as moral censors to the government warring potential activities destabilizing the peaceful political arena of the country. 

*The author is a Research Analyst of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL), Ministry of Defence, Sri Lanka. Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Security is a must for the country. But it should be a consistent process not only after a bomb blast or insurgency in whatever form it may be. Unfortunately, the successive governments’ activities are the cause of insecurity. The economic issue caused the JVP insurrection and the ethnic issue caused the so-called terrorism. Both could have been avoided if there was foresight. Subsequently, both become the Fodder for the political parties to win elections. No political party of the Sinhal Community has the courage of conviction to educate the masses that Federalism is not a division of the country even after the court ruling. Even the Sinhala/ English newspapers failed to adequately high light the court ruling. Not that it would have mattered very much with the Sinhala politicians going around the country howling against it.
    It is said that over 80% 0f the Srilankans are literate and have the capacity to weed out good from the bad and the bad from the ugly. But the bad and the ugly seem to overtake the good, despite the fact that professors and political scientists are involved in politics. It appears they are the worst offenders when it comes to a reasonable approach to politics.

    • 1
      2

      Kasun Ranasinghei: Thanks for this but a country’s national security think tank should provide better analysis including of a disaster like the Easter Bombings and it foreign links.
      However, INSSSL has a head who is clearly useless and only talks about his dead father like a lot of politicians in this Miracle of Modayas!
      INSSSL has failed to provide any useful analysis of the Easter carnage for academia and the people of Lanka, and now what a joke, it is suggested here that the Easter bombers came from South India, when Saudi Arabia and US embassy were the center of the planning of the Easter Carnage and there is enough information on this in the public domain.
      Clearly the head of INSSSL should resign Or, INSSSL should be closed down as it is a huge waste of tax-payers funds.
      Or Perhaps some one like General Mahesh Senanayake could take over the INSSSL as Sri Lanka needs a decent national security think tank headed by a person who commands respect and legitimacy and who does not spend his time sucking up to politicians and foreign missions in Colombo.

  • 8
    1

    Kusmi Ranasinghe,
    National security is very important to the country. But you have outlined a number of threats including the Easter Bomb attack, ISIS from South India, LTTE from South India etc. Do you think Easter Bomb Nationals came from South India. Have your ever analysed what factors contributed to national security?
    Within a week or two a Swiss employee was abducted in Colombo and still you couldn’t find the abductors in a high security zone? Don’t you think that the security of innocent people is more important than national security? Rule of law, independence of military, police and Navy, independence of judiciary and the unity of all communities are much more important than other security measures.

  • 9
    2

    Attempting to read through the article with large amounts of facts and opinions, I was disappointed that the author had not used the services of an editor to refine the language, sentence construction and grammar. When one’s grasp of the language is weak, it affects the message being delivered, often significantly. I hope this issue will be addressed if she intends to write for public consumption.

  • 1
    0

    Is Kasuni ranasinghe penning this article with her Tongue in Cheek?

    Easter Bomb I view is something similar that happened in MALI……………
    US approach Malian Government sometime back and requests for Mining Rights for COBALT……….
    Malian Government says its already given to the Chinese…. THEN WHAT HAPPENED ?.
    A SITUATION WAS CREATED bombs commenced to go off and finally the MINING RIGHTS
    ended up with the Australians……………..

    Similar fate will befall Sri Lanka and the MONSTER in SOFA/ACSA/MCC will begin to raise its head in Sri Lanka. Chaos will be created and and next we know(Like Australia in Mali) India or another Country will take control of Sri lanka..
    Super Powers must be balanced with Super Powers to keep SL neutral.
    Also, its no secret CIA has over thrown many a foreign Government….

    GOTA got a difficult balancing act ahead of him. Moreover, Sri Lankans are their own traitors.
    latest addition to this list Candappas however much other may not agree.

  • 1
    0

    This canard of ‘national security threat’ is a subterfuge cooked up by the ruling elite to keep the minorities under perennial subjugation. There was no national security problem in the sixties, was there? Why invent this hoax and for what. National security becomes a problem only when the country faces a threat from the outside. If the Government feels that there is one, that is the time to rally round all the people, not repressing the minority communities.
    .
    JVP was not a national threat. LTTE was not a national threat. India is not a national threat. Then, what is the national threat for Sri Lanka? Don’t delude yourself with a non-existent security issue, wasting meagre resources.
    .
    The majority of the Buddhists are in a state of drunken stupor with political authority. Find a cure for that.

    • 0
      0

      Thappu!
      What you say is true. I feel that politicians are the national threat by the Auctioning of part of Srilanka to China- India-America.

  • 0
    3

    Sri Lanka needs certain premeditated`, pre planned security arrangements, may be different scenarios. . Should be careful about break into it too. Mali, Bolivia, Venezuela, Equador. Argentina (Bankrupt just like Sri lanka) are some examples. Poland like countries are going back. Prepare for some pre meditated situations.

    • 3
      0

      JD

      You dont sound as Stupid as I thought you were and I like the Word ” Pre meditated ” . You are right man Gotha knows all about Pre Meditataed acts especially MURDER. Murder is a Pre Meditaed act. Bravo keep it coming

  • 0
    1

    ” In this context, national security should be the prime duty of the President and also the government. Overall, it is proven that the lapses of the prevailing policies are the foundation of the discussed coercions. “

    These are funny, silly, pompous, hypocritical, time wasting blah blah blahs. These show the childishness of the authors and the quality of the Lankawe Universities. The whole Lankawe know the Easter Sunday was planned and staged by Yahapalanaya. Yahapalanaya Ministers had hands in that. EP set up the shed. PM conducted the opening ceremony. All these were to make a war criminal EP. These matters were discussed by Ranil with King, and earlier-New King with King. Then it’s a pure farcical work to grind the same batter again and again for the spoiled Dosa. The thief going fix the National Security lapse is the one created Saharan group and paid them salary from Tax payers’ money. He traded arms in a ship with international terrorists. Instead of explaining these basic things to Sinhala Buddhists Modayas and tell them to bring down the Royal family in the next parliament election, what all these jokes are? There is way how President Clinton fixed the failing American Economy. He just left it where it were and went with his girl friends; the economy was booming for 8 years (in 1990s). Just tell the criminals to get out of parliament; the country will be safe itself.

  • 3
    0

    Kasuni

    Why Sri Lanka Needs A “National Securitism” Oriented National Security Policy?

    *** First things first. The contents of Gothas visit to India has been kept in secret other than an invitation to Modi and the $400 million Loan. I know what was discussed. It was not about friendship. I have done my research and I invite the Gotha Loving Sinkalams to watch U Tube “ SAMUGAM” and you will see the reason. Soon after Chinese ships were allowed to dock at Colombo by MS as a Parting Gesture Indian Ships arrived at Trinco and Gotha was summoned to Delhi to be given a stern warning as to what will follow. After the talks Gotha went quiet and put out the following statements.
    1) Sri Lanka to take the relationship with India to a new level but the question is to whose benefit.
    2) Sri Lanka needs Western Investment to keep China at bay. Gotha if you are listening I am sure you must be gutted that no Western Leader has called you to Congratulate so why would they invest in a Country under you.
    White vans are back and the first demonstration of that Syndrome was the abduction of the Swiss Embassy worker with more to follow.
    So as for your wish Kasuni the “ Heading” doesn’t make any sense . I hope you meant to write the following “A National SECULARISM” Oriented National Security Policy” and that would have made sense. Secularism is something either you are born with or not. You cant acquire it. Gotha Mahintha and Sir Basil don’t have it so we are stuck in the Mud.

  • 2
    0

    Yeah Kasuni, South India aka Tamilnadu has no other business other than creating so called mythical chaos in your cheap silly land. You blame the entire universe for your bad back, but never make efforts to look at your dirty back.

  • 0
    0

    Madam! Aren’t you aware that the national security policy happens of Sri Lanka is to look the other way or say something to please the bosses, invariably saying that the opposition is at the bottom of it? Somebody told me that Wijeweera Patabendige Don Nandasiri alias Rohana Wijeweera, identifying himself as Dr. Tissa was discussing in the toilets of an army camp way back in the 1960’s resulting in a coup attempt called the “Kakkussi Coup”. The trial against the principal accused proved to be damp squib. The sum and substance was that instead of investigating properly it was conjectured at the permanent secretary level, a diehard pro government man, that this is the work of the Army Commander who seem to have political sympathies with the democratic opposition of the then government. The imaginations of the permanent secretary was subjected to judicially stricture in the delivery of the judgment. Again in the same era there were no NIB and SIS at that time and all the “intelligence” work was done by the CID. The SP of the CID warned the government of the day of a possible uprising of the youth, which actually happened in 1971 under the leadership of Rohana Wijeweera. The SP was asked to shut his bloody mouth by the higher echelons of the Government of the day. The police bosses in the Northern Province identified 13 or 15 kingpins in possible disturbance in the province. That info was thrown to the dustbin. Had any notice been taken of it the costly 30 year war could have been prevented. More recently the 4/21 attacks. A lot of pen pushing and administrative activity but no actual achievement. Why? Something more fundamental must be put right long before a policy. What is it?

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