Categories
Domestic

Sri Lanka Tourism achieves 600,000 arrivals target

Marking a remarkable historical moment, Sri Lanka Tourism celebrated the targeted 600,000 tourist arrivals on Friday.Tourism officials headed by Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa welcomed the guest at the Bandaranaike International Airport when he touched down.

Commenting on his arrival, Dr. Godahewa said “This marks a significant moment in the history of tourism. Sri Lanka is now on the world map as a unique safe destination. With this we hope to achieve the 700,000 target set for Visit Sri Lanka 2011. The lucky guest was presented with a 6 hight 7 day package which includes hotel accommodation ground transport and entrance tickets to historical tourist sites in the island.

Since the end of the conflict in 2009, Sri Lanka has seen an increase in tourism figures. November 2010 saw 72,251 tourist arriving in the country, a market a 63.1 percent jump as compared to last year and the highest figure attained in a month since 1966. The last highest figure was seen in 2004 recording 66,159 tourists.Sri Lanka Tourism launched Refreshingly Sri Lanka Visit 2011 with 12 events spread across in year.Refreshingly Sri Lanka Visit 2011 will have twelve different theme events happening throughout the year, in keeping with the 12 letters that has been used for the tagline “Wonder or Aisa.”

Categories
Military

Api Wenuwen Api – Housing Project for 50,000 Sri Lankan Soldiers

THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE in cooperation with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka is building 50,000 housing units for armed forces personnel. The project is phased over five years, with 10,000 houses to be completed each year. Already 1620 housing units are being built in Ipolagama, Anuradhapura and are expected to be completed within six months. Stage two is expected to begin in Horowpathana. Each housing project also includes schools, shopping complexes, gymnasiums, and other facilities. These, along with new roads and other services will ensure that the surrounding region will also benefit from significant infrastructure development.

Categories
Domestic

Sri Lanka needs YOU! Give your expertise for the struggle against terror

Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces, Police and Civil Defence Force are engaged in a historic battle, as they fight against one of the most barbaric terrorist movements known to mankind; that has caused immense suffering to a nation that lived in peace and harmony for thousands of years. Their success, while ridding our motherland from terrorism will also set a milestone in the global war on terror, the greatest challenge facing modern civilization.

The Ministry of Defence invites Sri Lankan academics, professionals, technical experts and strategists in all related disciplines and technologies, living in Sri Lanka or any other country, to contribute their knowledge and expertise for the success of this necessary battle.

Our aim is to create a new knowledge base vital for the defeat of terrorism, through a network of committed experts who share our vision: Saving the motherland from terrorism and making sure future generations will live in a single, undivided country, in peace and harmony; moving in unity towards the progress that is the right of all our people.

If you believe that our cause is worth achieving and that you can help in achieving it, do send us an email via the link given below with your contact details, areas of expertise and how you will be able to help us. The Ministry of Defence will contact you soon.

Categories
Domestic

SLUNA’s Media Release on Bruce Fein’s comments

Bruce Fein labours to Justify contractual payments of $30,000 each month from the Tamil Tiger Terrorist Front called the Tamils For Justice

Bruce Fein a Harvard Graduate and a Reagan era Deputy Attorney General of Justice attached to The Lichfield Group who in an article published in the Washington Times dated February 3, 2004 fully endorsed the banning of terrorists including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers. He subsequently offered his services effective October 1, 2006 to lobby on behalf of the Friends of Sri Lanka to have the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran brought before an appropriate tribunal for war crimes, and to bring criminal charges against supporters and sympathisers of the LTTE in the US Courts amongst other services at a fee of $25,000 per month. He renewed his offer in February 2007 to defend the listing of the LTTE for a fee of $40,000.

Strangely, the same Bruce Fein offers his services in 2008 to a front organization of the LTTE called the Tamils For Justice to seek de-proscription of the LTTE and win US support for establishment of a separate Tamil State in the north and east of Sri Lanka, this time seeking $30,000 each month for a contractual term of nine months. He certainly appears to know that the Tamil Tiger coffers are stacked with illicitly earned green backs from trading in narcotics, smuggling of humans, extortion, credit card fraud, and every conceivable crime, and are desperately in need of whitewashing or laundering of their dirt in the western capitals to stall the fast receding boundaries of their usurped territory in Sri Lanka.

Despite his highly acknowledged credentials as a lawyer, what we saw as mere laymen was that Bruce Fein’s strategy is partial disclosure of events and historical data that he highlights to support his case, with his very subtle spin aimed at misleading the reader or listener into reaching conclusions that are far removed from the truth. In other words, he is not truthful and does not state facts as they are, but distorts the real position to mislead persons in the US who are far removed from the history, politics and everyday issues of Sri Lanka. It is not surprising to understand that Americans know little of the outside world and especially a tiny island such as Sri Lanka. In fact, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program called “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” found that a good proportion of US citizens did not know that their neighbour Canada was an independent country. Bruce certainly lacks knowledge of Sri Lanka, and obviously puts out the doctored separatist propaganda provided by the LTTE front, the Tamils For Justice group that he represents.

Having read his article in the Washington Times of January 29, 2008 and his subsequent address at the Brookings Institute, it is necessary to bring out some of the inaccurate statements that he relies on to make a case for de-proscription of the LTTE and break up Sri Lanka into two separate states to be dominated by the Tamils and Sinhalese instead of the multi-ethnic whole:

    1. Bruce Fein claims that the Sinhalese denied citizenship and disenfranchised a million Tamils immediately after independence from Britain in 1948.

      The fact is that the Tamils of Indian origin who were brought in by the British colonial regime as indentured labour from Tamilnadu for work on newly established plantations set up on lands confiscated from the indigenous Sinhalese land owners without a penny in compensation, did not qualify for citizenship in terms of the seven year residency stipulated in the Citizenship Act. These Indian Tamils were migrant workers who considered Tamilnadu their home, often returned to India with their earned wages. The Citizenship Act was passed in parliament by the elected members from the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burgher communities, and not just by the Sinhalese as stated by the lawyer Bruce Fein. The case of the stateless Indian Tamils was amicably resolved in 1963 with Prime Minister Shastri agreeing to take those opting for Indian citizenship, and Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike undertaking to absorb the rest. A balance of 94,000 who did not proceed to India as earlier decided were also granted Sri Lankan citizenship in the 1980’s.

 

    1. Bruce claims that the Tamil minority has been oppressed by a brutal regime controlled by the majority for the past 50 years, which entitles them to seek a separate breakaway state.

      Bruce is merely parroting Tamil separatist propaganda without studying the underlying facts. The Tamil minority of 11 percent in pre-independent Ceylon (Sri Lanka) were a privileged minority community that benefited immensely during the 145 years of British colonial rule under the latter’s divide and rule policy. The new Christian Missionary Schools were established in Tamil areas such as Jaffna for the dual purpose of propping up the minority against the majority and also with an eye to converting the Tamils who suffered indignities due to a strict caste system prevailing under the dominant Hindu culture. Fewer schools were started in the rest of the country to cater to the multicultural communities outside Jaffna, creating a serious imbalance in access to education. As a result, the Tamil minority came to dominate the majority in almost every field of economic activity, in that they demanded balanced representation for the 11 percent Tamils with the 78 percent Sinhalese in the new parliament popularly called the 50:50 cry, which the Commission set up by the British under Lord Soulbury rejected as an insidious attempt to make a minority of a majority, and instead recommended the grant of universal franchise to all citizens over 21.

      It is not oppression of the minority, but a minority that wanted to retain their dominance over the majority even after the departure of their British colonial fairy godmother following independence. Instead of adopting a cooperative approach they decided on a confrontational stance on ethnic lines, which naturally caused friction and hostility giving rise to serious clashes on certain occasions. It is unfortunate that the Tamils have always organised themselves on communal lines and avoided joining mainstream national political parties. The cry for balanced representation later turned to a separatist cry adopting the infamous Vadukkodai Resolution of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in 1976, based on myth and fantasy of a traditional Tamil homeland in the north and east of Sri Lanka which they could not substantiate. This false claim was used by the TULF to mislead the Tamil youth and encourage them to take up arms against the Sinhalese to gain their separate state of “Eelam”. (Ref. Justice Sansoni Commission Report)

 

    1. BF – The 1958 Sinhalese Only Act was a landmark in the history of Tamil oppression, which reflected a Sinhalese policy of “separate and unequal” that has persisted for 50 years.

      The Sinhala Official Language Act and not the ‘Sinhalese Only Act’ was introduced in 1956 to recognize the language spoken by 78 percent of the people, and to replace the alien language of English spoken by just about 5 percent of the population, due to the limited access to English education in spite of 145 years of British colonial administration. It was a measure adopted to give redress to the vast majority of the population that had been marginalized throughout colonial rule. In India, Hindi spoken by 44 percent was made the official language as a unifying measure, just as much as the USA keeps English as the official language even though it has become a mixing bowl of a multitude of languages and cultures.

      The Sinhala Official Language Act merely required that official records of the state would be kept in Sinhala, and it further required those public sector employees to acquire a working knowledge of the official language assessed at the Grade 8 level within a space of 5 years, failing which, with the option of retiring from public service with full pension rights. Contrary to what BF states, every Tamil child was provided with opportunities to be educated in the Tamil medium from the kindergarten to university free of charge at state expense.

      Furthermore, a Reasonable Use of Tamil Language Act of 1958 was adopted, formalizing a set of Tamil language rights which also required public servants to have a working knowledge of Tamil to be able to serve in Tamil areas. Added Tamil linguistic rights and concessions were introduced in 1965 by the government led by Dudley Senanayake. Tamil language was enhanced as a National Language by the Second Republican Constitution of 1978 enshrining an array of rights far exceeding those enjoyed by English Canadians in Quebec and French Canadians in the rest of Canada. Thus within a short space of 22 years Tamil linguistic rights gained ascendancy to meet levels acceptable to most Tamils. Tamil was again elevated as an official language in the 1990’s bringing it on par with Sinhala. It must be added that language is not a fundamental right and needs to be won through the political process by gaining support of the constituency.

 

    1. BF states, in 1983, the Sinhalese Government originated race riots that culminated in the slaughter of 4000 Tamils, and that no Tamil was compensated.

      It is true that Tamils suffered at the hands of a mob that ran amok in 1983 after the non-transfer of bodies of 13 Sinhalese soldiers killed by Tamil militants by a claymore mine attack and simultaneous machine gunfire, to the respective families to conduct last rites, a decision apparently taken at the time to avoid the identical situation as display of badly battered bodies in the several townships and villages had the potential to trigger similar riots in the country. It was not originated by the government though certain elements are suspected of having participated. Also, it was the government led by the United National Party and not “the Sinhalese Government” that was in power at the time, which had representatives of the Tamil and Muslim communities in the cabinet.

      The number of Tamil deaths according to official sources was 400, whilst BF has given an exaggerated figure of 4,000, both of which are unreliable. Most Sinhalese took steps to protect their Tamil neighbours and friends from the mob at great personal risk, of which little is said by those so protected. The Sinhalese have acknowledged the serious crimes committed against the Tamils during the riots in 1983 and have publicly apologised, whilst the state took steps to compensate the victims and apologise to the Tamil community both at the local and international forums.

      BF and most Sri Lanka observers have failed to note the prevailing situation in the period prior to 1983 which contributed to the building of communal tensions such as the forced eviction of the 27,000 Sinhalese residents in the Jaffna peninsula in the late 1970’s following the adoption of the Vadukkodai Resolution, the forced closure of the Sinhala stream at the University of Jaffna necessitating the evacuation of 400 Sinhalese students to safety in 1981, and the blatantly false propaganda carried on outside the country by the Tamils to demonize the Sinhalese. These factors have been ignored and left out in determining the causes for the unfortunate eruption that occurred in July 1983, in the aftermath of the killing of the 13 soldiers that triggered the mob violence.

      The riots of 1983 involving the Sinhalese who had hitherto treated the various minorities with respect was clearly an aberration. The Sinhalese who have regretted the action of the mob have remained calm despite numerous brutal attacks carried out by the LTTE with intent to deliberately provoke them, such as the killing of 144 pilgrims at the Sacred Bodhi Shrine in Anuradhapura, killing of 33 Buddhist monks at Arantalawa, regular bombing of passenger buses and trains and targeting of civilians in public places, attack on the world renowned Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, and untold massacre of thousands of Sinhalese residents and Muslims in the north and east of Sri Lanka to ethnically cleanse the region of non-Tamils, in areas sought for their mono-ethnic Tamil racist separate state comprising 1/3rd of the land and 2/3rd of the coast for residentTamils numbering less than 4 percent of the island’s total population.

      Notwithstanding the riots of 1983, the temporarily displaced Tamils have been able to return to their homes and livelihoods in the City of Colombo and other places in the south, whereas the ejected Sinhalese and Muslims have not been able to get back to their former places of residence due to the danger to their lives. In fact, a larger proportion of Tamils have taken up residence in Colombo and its suburbs and other southern townships to live in mixed ethnic surroundings midst the Sinhalese majority, as they have opted to distance themselves from the influence and control of the self-declared sole representative of the Tamils, i.e. the LTTE. Today, the Tamils account for the second largest group in the capital city of Colombo following closely on the Muslims who are in the majority, whilst the Sinhalese community are in third place.

 

    1. BF – General statements on Discrimination of Tamils in education and employment.

      The oft repeated statement that Tamil students had to score higher marks than Sinhalese students to gain admission to universities is a distortion of the truth. In
      1972, Sri Lanka introduced a scheme of standardization as a temporary measure to assist children in less developed areas (districts) having schools with sparse facilities in respect of teachers, libraries, science laboratories, and other extra-curricular activities, to be able to enter higher educational institutes with a lower aggregate of marks as against students in districts such as Colombo, Kandy, Matara, Kurunegala, Jaffna, etc. that had far superior facilities. This enabled students in Tamil areas such as Kayts, Vanni, Vavunia, and Sinhalese areas such as Moneragala, Hambantota, Ampara, to be admitted to universities with lower scores, while both Sinhalese and Tamil students from the better facilitated city schools requiring higher scores had to give up some places to their rural counterparts. It has been wrongly described as a measure to restrict the admission of Tamil students, whereas it was to assist the deprived students notwithstanding their ethnicity.

      In fact, Jaffna earlier regarded as a district with superior facilities has deteriorated following the upheaval caused by the long drawn out separatist conflict in the north and east, is today the beneficiary of the standardization scheme, enabling Tamil students to acquire places in universities with a lower aggregate.

      As regards employment, the Tamil cry of discrimination does not hold when you examine the proportion of high positions held by members of this community. In 1981, when the Tamil minority population was only 12.6%, they had 34.9% of the engineers, 29.9% surveyors, 35.1% doctors, 38.8% veterinary surgeons, 30.2% medical technicians, 41.5% life scientists, and 33.1% accountants in the public service in Sri Lanka. Tamils have held high offices such as Chief Justice, High Court Judge, Attorney General, Army Commander, Navy Commander, Inspector General of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Heads of Departments, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, which is most commendable for members of a minority community. Tamil judges and other senior officials have been held in high esteem by the public.

 

  1. BF – The oppressed Tamil minority should have the right to break up a sovereign nation and establish separate statehood as in the case of Kosovo.

    Sri Lanka founded over 2600 years back by the indigenous Sinhala people has a pre-history still being unravelled by archaeological experts. She has never invaded others lands. Sri Lanka has welcomed friend and foe, and permitted even defeated Chola and Pandyan Tamil invaders of South India to make it their home. Amongst Sri Lanka’s ethnic mosaic are the majority Sinhalese comprising 78.5 percent, Sri Lankan Tamils roughly 7.8 percent, Muslims (Moors) making up 7.8 percent, Indian Tamils numbering 5.4 percent, whilst Malays from Indonesia and Burghers who are descendants of the Portuguese and Dutch colonialists make up the balance of approximately 0.5 percent. The Tamils who initially came as invaders to pillage and plunder came as settlers only around the 11th century. The homeland of the Tamils is Tamilnadu in South India where an estimated 61 million Tamils live.

    Today, Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic country with no exclusive homeland of any single ethnic group, with the majority of the people living in mixed ethnic surroundings except for some parts of the north which were ethnically cleansed in recent times by Tamil militants who forcibly evicted the long resident Sinhala and Muslim people. The Tamils like all other citizens enjoy equal rights as enshrined in the Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Nation’s Constitution. As a result of favoured treatment meted out to Tamils by the British colonial ruler for over 145 years, they have arrived at the notion that they are more than equal and should therefore continue to dominate the other communities, or have a separate state for their exclusive domain for which they have engaged in armed warfare for the past three decades.

    The people of Sri Lanka are not willing to grant the demand made by a segment of the Tamil community for a separate state, but are agreeable to devolve some power to the periphery to a unit yet to be determined such as the district council, and to share some powers at the centre to enable the minorities to participate in the day to day governance.

    There are absolutely no parallels to the Kosovo situation in Sri Lanka. The UN Security Council Resolution Number 1244 of June 10, 1999 recognized that Kosovo was an integral part of Serbia and formed part of Serbia’s sovereign territory. Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and recognition of Kosovo as an independent sovereign country by the USA, UK, France, Germany and some others is in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and Resolution adopted by the Security Council in 1999 of which the USA and UK are key members. The USA is now backtracking from its earlier position as contained in the UN Security Council Resolution, and has now claimed that the unusual combination of factors found in the Kosovo situation allows her to recognize the breakaway state of Kosovo. The USA further stated that Kosovo cannot be seen as a precedent for any other situation in the world today.

Bruce Fein’s position on the claim for Tamil statehood in Sri Lanka is untenable and lacks any legal, historical or other basis to support it. The only reason that he touched on it is probably to make some undue turbulence to justify the high fees charged to his client. If the Tamils are unwilling to live as equals within the common homeland of Sri Lanka, they are free to move back to their motherland of Tamilnadu in South India, Bruce Fein country or any other place where they would be free to become true worshippers of the ‘Sun God’, as the LTTE’s sun gradually sets in the Vanni and the separatist fires fade away.

Yours very truly,

Mahinda Gunasekera
Honorary President

Categories
Domestic

Tamils must ask for what is reasonable and accept their role in the conflict

One of the important, and valid messages contained in Satheesan Kumaran’s message, published in the Midweek review if The Island of 20th February is that we need bridge-building among the different communities. But he observes it in the breach.

Hurling accusations does not help. He claims, “The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese and Tamil-speaking has been a creation by the Sinhala leaders”. Then Kumaran proceeds to attack Theravada Buddhism, and gives advice to Buddhist monks. He says “Irresponsible words of politicians in Colombo will only add fuel to the flames of destruction engulfing Sri Lanka politically, economically, militarily, culturally and socially, rather than educate communities on the importance of co-existence.” He goes onto claim “what Sri Lankan politicians really want is to create a society of voiceless citizens remote-controlled by a bunch of politicians.”

Surely, such voiceless citizens already live in the Vanni and how did that come about? We Tamils have not understood how we dug our own graves.

Kumaran says, “A national consensus can only be achieved when the Sinhalese embrace the minorities and win their hearts and minds”. Here again it seems that only the Sinhalese have to act. Don’t we Tamils have to also act to reassure the majority?

As an aging Tamil who has observed Tamil-Sinhala politics since the 1940s, I cringe to see the continued repetition of simplified and historically incorrect hurling of accusation, even by a man who recognizes the need for building bridges between communities. People of Kumaran’s generation do not know that politicians like D. S. Senanayake (DS) tried to create a “Ceylonese” nation.

Much false propaganda has been generated and good men like DS have been besmirched. People like Ponnambalam Ramanathan, in collusion with Governor Maitland introduced the principle of “communal representation” in the legislative process. Some Sinhala leaders rejected this (“Ramanathan’s deception”), and then came the Donoughmore commission which proposed Universal Franchise.

Surely, it was a defining moment when the Colombo Tamil leaders decided that their dominant position would be threatened, unless they separated themselves from the Sinhalese, and call for a separate identity. G. G. Ponnambalam (GGP) in the State Council in 1934 declared that he was “a proud Dravidian” and rejected the “Ceylonese” concept of a polity of a single people. Natesan and others followed suit, as a reading of the political history of the times will reveal. Ponnambalam lent his voice to a movement which began to attack Sinhala Buddhists, and the Mahavamsa, their famed historical chronicle. Should I remind Mr. Kumaran that the first Sinhala-Tamil Riot occurred in 1939, in Navalapitiya, and spread to Passara, Maskeliya and to many other towns, when the Colonial government stepped in and stamped it out?

Categories
Politics

“Self-evident” truths on Tamil statehood: a reply to Bruce Fein

A 1972 Harvard law graduate, Bruce Fein (BF), in an article published in the Washington Times (WT) on January 29, 2008, prods the United States and its president “to recognize the right of the “long oppressed” Tamil people to independent statehood from the racial supremacist Sinhalese.” BF is no ordinary citizen. He co-founded the NGO called American Freedom Agenda (AFA) in March 2007 to fight against the government intrusions on American civil liberties. He is now the chairman of this NGO. He wanted to impeach Dick Chaney. Unfortunately, he is also a lawyer for the NGO called Tamils for Justice.

Still one does not know for sure in what capacity he wrote his article. If he genuinely believes he uncovered “self-evident truths” on Tamil problems in Sri Lanka, just like the forefathers of the American Declaration of Independence that he quotes, then he and his client are in big trouble. Almost all the statements (facts?) in his article are untruths, half-truths, distortion of facts or cheap shots by an arrogant lawyer. He has done a disservice to the readers of WT by misleading them with falsehood. American people suffered en-mass so many times because of such falsehood emanated from inside the Beltway–Washington. D.C. Ironically, “to fight against this kind of falsehood” was the reason for his co-founding of his NGO, the AFA in 2007. As a person who has dual interest in promoting Sri Lankan-American friendship based on truth and ethics I consider it my public duty to demand accountability from BF. It does not matter if he is the most famous lawyer on earth.

Categories
Domestic

Sri Lanka Peace Chief responds to New York Times

The Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
U.S.A

Dear Sir,

My attention has been drawn to a recent article by Warren Hoge which, in talking about the R2P concept, asserts that:

“Next month, a research and advocacy center dedicated to moving the principle of responsibility to protect into practice is being inaugurated at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Similar offices are being set up in Australia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.”

As Secretary General of the Peace Secretariat, I was accordingly asked by a concerned citizen ‘what action you contemplate in this regard, if the UN actually intends to establish such an office in our country.’

I pointed out that this was not a UN initiative. However, the article is also in error in claiming that an office dedicated to moving the principle into practice is being set up in Sri Lanka.

There was an attempt to make the International Centre for Ethnic Studies in Colombo an Associated Centre of the New York Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. This was an initiative (perhaps not entirely unilateral, but certainly not official) of Dr. Rama Mani, the former Executive Director of ICES-C. Earlier this month she was dismissed, mainly for a lack of transparency and accountability with regard to a financial crisis that has affected the office, and for a contentious relationship with many senior researches at ICES-C.

It was only after her dismissal, and the surreptitious removal of material from the office, that the ICES Chairman realized that ICES-C appeared on the website of the Global Centre, with the objective indicated in your article. Dr Mani had only officially referred to the matter previously in a paragraph in her report on ICES activities in which she mentioned that ‘we have been requested to serve as a Southern affiliated centre’.

It was decided last week that ICES should be immediately disassociated from involvement with the Global Centre. This was intimated to all members of the Board on January 24th and, as if by magic, the following morning the Global Centre had removed reference to ICES from its website.

I am concerned about this because I have been asked by the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs and National Integration, with which ICES has a Memorandum of Understanding, to assist in monitoring of a Project for which ICES has secured funding from the World Bank. The Ministry had no idea that ICES was contemplating an association with the Global Centre, nor that it had led to action which misled Mr. Hoge amongst others.

Meanwhile it transpires that Dr Mani, and her predecessor Radhika Coomaraswamy, currently an Under Secretary General at the United Nations, are both on the Advisory Board of the Global Centre, which is headed by Gareth Evans. Last year Dr. Mani invited Dr. Evans to deliver a lecture in Colombo to create what she termed much needed waves. She succeeded, because the lecture was full of inaccuracies, which Dr. Evans was unable to defend in discussion with me at this office, following which he alleged that Sri Lanka was heading for a situation in which R2P should be invoked. Though he suggested I send him further details as to what he had got wrong, he has not as yet responded.

It is not the business of a research organization to create dissension in a country, and the whole business suggests that Dr. Mani was involved in an agenda that she did not share with her employers. More worryingly, it would seem that Ms. Coomaraswamy, whilst an employee of the United Nations, has also been furthering this agenda. Though she was required to resign from Board positions in Sri Lanka when she took up the UN appointment, she has continued to attempt to influence matters at ICES, in particular with threatening and cajoling e-mails as to the reinstatement of Dr. Mani. It seems that she also attended the Board meeting at which Dr. Mani was appointed.

Though she had resigned by then, this was as a substitute for Bradman Weerakoon, Secretary to the former Prime Minister, with whom Ms. Coomaraswamy has sadly allowed herself to be associated. Ms. Coomaraswamy was responsible for advancing Mr. Weerakoon into a position of authority at ICES and, though she claims that this was purely for administrative purposes, Mr. Weerakoon has countermanded the order of his Chairman and sent a letter formally reinstating Dr Mani.

Since there is little doubt that there has been much financial mismanagement – Ms. Coomaraswamy has confessed that she signed anything put in front of her by the Financial Controller who she now says was not competent – the excesses engaged in by her and Mr. Weerakoon to have Dr. Mani reinstated suggest improprieties that need thorough investigation. Dr. Mani complained to the Indian High Commission, and following a press conference it was alleged in a website connected to the opposition that a police raid had been prevented by the Indian High Commission contacting the Inspector General of Police, and the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs. This is not true, and the Indian High Commission has assured me that Dr. Mani is not an Indian citizen.

The episode seems designed to obfuscate where Dr. Mani’s allegiances lie. She is currently a French national, but it seems unlikely that she serves French interests. Certainly she has not acted on behalf of ICES, and the list of those with whom she shared her correspondence with Gareth Evans suggests a very different perspective.

Similarly, there is no doubt that Ms. Coomaraswamy is not acting on behalf of the United Nations, and the Secretary General may need to investigate as to whether there has been a conflict of interests. While she is certainly not acting in the interests of Sri Lanka, her continuing association with the opposition may lead the UN to decide that she is not fit to exercise her current responsibilities. She has suggested that Dr. Mani needed protection from a leading opposition lawyer and propagandist when questioned by the police, an action she has described as performed by the ‘strong arm of the state – the police, SCOPP’ (ie, this Secretariat).

Meanwhile there is evidence that, while claiming she encouraged Sri Lankan staff at ICES to apply for the position of Executive Director, she had in fact decided that they were not fit, and assiduously promoted the cause of Dr. Mani.

What I had initially thought was simply a Valentine’s Day gift to the leader of the Sri Lankan opposition, the unveiling of ICES as a partner of the Global Centre when it was launched on February 14th now seems part of a deeper design. The undiplomatic intervention of the Canadian High Commissioner, highlighted in a newspaper yesterday (www.nation.lk – under news features), drawing in as it did other Heads of Mission in Colombo, indicates that further investigation is required. Meanwhile I would be grateful if you published this letter to explain the strange circumstances under which your columnist and his readers were misled.

Yours sincerely

Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
Secretary General
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process

Categories
Business

Thai Hotel Chains eye Sri Lanka’s tourist industry

The rapidly growing Sri Lankan tourist industry has become a focal point for foreign hoteliers to invest in Sri Lanka. Thailand’s two main hotel chains are the new prospective investors to invest in the Sri Lankan hotel industry.

These Thai hotel chains include Minor International, popularly known as MINT and Centara Hotels and Resorts.

MINT is to invest Thai Bhat 10 billion to open 42 hotels and food outlets in domestic and internationals including Sri Lanka, while Centara Hotels and Resorts, plan to form a joint venture with one of the biggest European tour and airline operators in a strategic move to expand the group’s mid-range hotels in Asia.

Other countries that include in MINT chain, Anantara Sanya Resort and Spa’s expansions plan are China, India and U.A.E.

The Centara Hotels and Resort’s expansion plan, other than Sri Lanka, include establishments of hotels and resorts in Maldives, Egypt, India, the Philippines Vietnam., Bahrain, Malaysia and Indonesia. (niz)

Categories
Business

Sri Lanka Port Handles Record Four Million Containers

Colombo port volumes hit a new record of four million containers Tuesday supported by strong growth in both transshipment and import-export cargo, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said in a statement.

The number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containers handled by the port is up 20 percent so far this year from a year ago.
It is also up 11 percent compared with the total of 3.68 million TEUs done in 2008, the highest-ever performance by the port before recession hit global trade.

SLPA managing director Nihal Keppetipola said efficiency improvements and removal of security restrictions with the end of a war had helped increase cargo volumes and reinforce Colombo’s status as south Asia’s hub port.

The number of import-export containers handed by Colombo is up 25 percent this year compared with last year while transshipment cargo has increased by 18 percent, the SLPA said.

The state-run Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) handling its highest-ever monthly volume of 201,217 TEUs in August this year.

Keppetipola said a new computerised terminal operating system at the JCT costing 800 million rupees helped integrate all terminal operation and plan and optimize rapid movement of containers between the gate and the quay.

This reduced dwell times for containers and turnaround times for vessels, Keppetipola said.

A satellite-based communication system was also added to monitor container stacking

“Last year we reopened the northern entrance, which had been closed for ten years due to security reasons, to facilitate smoother maritime transportation and to increase productivity in the port,: he said.

“This move put an end to the navigation restrictions that have caused congestion at the port causing delays in cargo handling and turn-around times of vessels.”

Sri Lanka’s 30-year ethnic war ended in May 2009, resulting in the withdrawal of war risk insurance surcharges and accelerating economic growth.
The JCT has handled 2.1 million TEUs this year with the remaining 1.9 million TEUs handled by the privately-owned South Asia Gateway Terminals in which Sri Lankan conglomerate John Keells Holdings has a 42 percent stake.

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Foreign Affairs

Government And Ethics

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Prof. Carlo Fonseka

Lately my friend RMB Senanayake has been severely critical of the present government for what he calls “unethical behaviour.” He judges that the government is “following only the Machiavellian ethics of politics which boil down to no ethics at all” (The Island 5 July). As a member of a party (LSSP) which is a constituent part of the government, I feel impelled to examine the validity of his judgment. I may be asked why? The answer is that RMBS is an honorable man whose opinions I respect. If his charge that the present government conducts itself with “no ethics at all” is true, then as a senior citizen first and a party political animal afterwards, I ought to do what I can to replace it with a better one. It is to help me to think through this grave problem that I go to the trouble of responding to RMBS publicly. The Editor of The Island merits high praise for promoting free and open discussion on such matters. Public discussions like this must be the sort of activity which Amartya Sen, the Indian philosopher and Nobel Laureate in economics, calls “democracy as public reason”. He regards “public reasoning” as an essential ingredient of participatory democracy.

Machiavellian Ethics

The very fact that RMBS has invoked the political ethics of Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) to characterize the nature of the present government implies that there have been other governments in history which governed with “no ethics at all”. Machiavelli based his ethics of politics mainly on his observations of the actual political behavior of successful rulers of his time such as Ceasar Borgia in Roman Catholic Italy. In Machiavelli’s view ensuring the territorial integrity of Italy which was divided into many warring principalities, had to be the prime objective of rulers. It was to achieve this objective that he formulated his ethics of politics. When reading about the context in which his ethics came to be worked out, the thought occurred to me that in their view of the best interests of their states, all successful rulers of states whose territorial integrity was threatened, must have been compelled by circumstances at least occasionally to behave unethically. From this speculation, it was only a small step to the hypothesis that because all rulers aspire to be successful, they will if necessary tend to behave more or less unethically. At this point a sweeping generalization became irresistible: “All rulers tend to be unethical but some tend to be more unethical than others.”(Readers familiar with George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm (1945) will remember his famous aphorism: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”.

Biological Philosophy

Biology being the only subject I have studied in some depth, I tried to figure out in biological terms why rulers of nations if necessary tend to behave unethically, in the best interests of their states. A plausible evolutionary explanation suggested itself. A nation is simply an expanded tribe (or super-tribe) engaged in the struggle for existence in the natural world. The imperative objective of a nation is survival by any means, at all costs. Biologically, first comes survival then comes ethics. (Bertolt Brecht’s memorable line “fodder comes first, then comes morality” comes to mind). In order to buttress this biological explanation with an input from political science, I appealed to the most erudite political scientist I know, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka through the columns of The Island (12 July). If my appeal caught his eye he ignored it perhaps on the (sensible) ground that the political education of an old medical fogey is not one of his priorities. Fortunately, illuminating insights into the problem came from other authorities.

Friday Forum

Voicing the opinion of the formidable Friday Forum, Sri Lanka’s most distinguished diplomat Jayantha Dhanapala spoke learnedly about the importance of “a balanced and principled foreign policy” for our country. He asserted that in the “globalized multi-polar world we now live in, we have to interact pragmatically with other states”. Pragmatism is popularly understood as the theory of dealing with problems in a practical way without resorting to abstract principles. In my mind, however, pragmatism is associated with the great American medic, psychologist and philosopher William James and his definition of “truth”. In his History of Western Philosophy, Bertrand Russell quotes pragmatist William James as follows: “…an idea is “true” so long as to believe it is profitable to our lives…the true is only the expedient in our thinking…our obligation to seek truth is part of our general obligation to do what pays…”. Russell mercilessly lampoons this definition of truth and ever since then for me pragmatism has been in bad odour. If William James’s definition of pragmatic truth is valid, a pragmatic foreign policy will boil down to doing “what pays”. It can be argued that such a pragmatic foreign policy is precisely what the present government has been carrying out according to its best lights. And no doubt all other governments too, must be pragmatic in their foreign policies. Predictably conflicts of interest are inevitable, producing the international mess the world is in.

Pragmatism in Practice

In a critique of Jayantha Dhanapala’s piece, K. Godage, perhaps our most experienced career diplomat, says that after the defeat of the LTTE in 2009, the Tamil diaspora succeeded in obtaining the support of the US, Britain and France to continue their pitch for Eelam. He then poses this question which helps to expose the real nature of a “pragmatic” foreign policy: “Would they (Britain and US) have supported the LTTE to destabilize this country had Britain continued to own plantations in this country or would the US have moved against Sri Lanka had Motorola, Harris and three other computer chip manufacturers setup their factories here?” In the considered evidence-based judgment of our most senior and respected diplomat, “those two countries would have stood by this country if they had such interests here”. (Sunday Island 25 August). That’s pragmatism for you, the obligation to do “what pays”! First comes capital, then comes ethics! Thus, my dear RMBS, it is not ethics but the antithesis of it, namely, naked economic self-interest that governs the relations between nations. And it can be cogently argued that in reason times Sri Lanka has been acting pragmatically i.e. doing what pays. By so doing Sri Lanka has succeeded in decisively defeating militarily the LTTE, the most blood-thirsty, murderous terrorist organization in recent world history. Though defeated militarily, the LTTE-inspired Eelam project continues unabated and the threat to the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka remains a real one. On the 24th of July this year I had the occasion to sit next to President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the same (marriage registrar’s) table. I took the opportunity to ask him a straight question: “Sir, why don’t you aspire to be a Dammasoka instead of remaining a Chandasoka? His unblinking instant reply was: “How can I try to do that when the TNA has not budged at all from the LTTE – Eelam project?” My only response was to ask in disbelief whether that is really so. The conversation ended abruptly at that point. The Defense Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who just escaped being blown to smithereens during the internecine conflict, is now in the position best equipped to judge the magnitude of the separatist threat. Understandably, the defense establishment is loath to run any risks and reacts – perhaps over-reacts – to perceived threats with no compunction. Equally understandably, RMBS of austere ethical propriety, finds the political behavior of the government

ethically reprehensible and morally repugnant. He asks whether “a state is free to ignore all moral values in the conduct of its business”. The rulers claim that they are in fact conducting state in accordance with their own moral imperatives, especially the need to counter decisively present and future threats to the territorial integrity of the state. RMBS indicts the government of practising Machiavellian ethics of politics forgetting that Niccolo Machiavelli formulated his ethics of politics, specifically with the aim of preserving the integrity of the Italian state of his time. Thus, there is an irreconcilable difference of opinion between RMBS and the rulers of the state duly elected to govern it. In this situation let me put the crucial question that arises in the starkest possible terms: Why should the government conduct its business in the way RMBS prescribes that it ought to? In other words, what is the authority on which RMBS bases his ethics?

Authority in Ethics

This raises a very fundamental question: What is the basis of authority in ethics? It so happens that “Authority in Ethics” is the title of a chapter in Bertrand Russell’s book called Human Society in Ethics and Politics published in 1952 when he was 80. He identifies four (overlapping) sources of authority in ethics: human authority, divine authority, the authority of truth and the authority of conscience. Given the absolutist tone of RMBS’s ethics, it is likely that his ethics derive from a divine source. A secular humanist has no argument to counter such a stance and the matter must end there. But a humanist could point out that if ethics are based on a human authority, then the only sanction known to ethics in a given society, is the assent of the majority in that society. In order to ascertain the thoughts and feelings of the people on a particular matter in a given society it is necessary to ask them, that is to say, to conduct an opinion poll. Conducting an opinion poll is essentially a political process. Thus, in the end ethics leads to politics. That no doubt is why the great Greek philosopher Aristotle regarded ethics as a branch of politics. In practice what the majority in a given society sanctions will constitute the ethics of the society at that point in time. If RMBS’s thoughts and feelings are not in consonance with those of the majority then his opinion (however ennobling it might be) becomes irrelevant. There is no other way to conduct public affairs in a democratic state. RMBS knows Churchill’s celebrated definition of democracy: “It is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried…” On the same analogy the present government may well be the worst one in living memory except for all the others. If RMBS considers matters dispassionately, the thoroughly amoral and unethical behavior of the US – which he seems to regard as the temple of democracy, the guardian of liberty, the dispenser of global justice, the citadel of free enterprise and the God-fearing secular state – in relation to Iraq, Libiya and Siriya, he must surely become less judgmental about the government in his own country. Let us not forget that this country endured a mortal threat to its existence from the worst expression of terrorism the world has seen in recent times. In this context, I will continue to support this government until my friend RMBS comes up with a specific named alternative to replace it. He must recommend it strongly, rationally and cogently instead of preaching transcendental ethics. I insist that he must name his recommended choice because in political matters nothing is easier to do than to indulge in unrelenting criticism of others and do nothing constructive.

Conclusion

A concluding relevant thought may be in order. As member of the LSSP, I stand firmly for the abolition of Sri Lanka’s version of the executive presidency which was criticized to death by Dr. N.M. Perera, the founding leader of the LSSP. I should strongly support every movement to abolish it. Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero whom I greatly respect knows how much I approve of his powerful campaign to abolish the executive presidency. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only one who has the power to do it. If he has the courage and wisdom to do it his name will shine in Sri Lanka’s history like a mighty star.

Courtesy The Island

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