Categories
Economics

Sri Lankan Accountants Lure Global Outsourcers

Southern China has its assembly plants. India has customer support centers, research laboratories and low-cost lawyers.

And Sri Lanka’s contribution to global outsourcing? Accountants — thousands of them, standing ready to crunch the world’s numbers.

As this tiny island nation staggers back from a bloody, decades-long civil war, one of its brightest business prospects was born from a surprising side effect of that conflict. Many Sri Lankans, for various reasons, studied accounting in such numbers during the war that this nation of about 20 million people now has an estimated 10,000 certified accountants.

An additional 30,000 students are currently enrolled in accounting programs, according to the Sri Lankan Institute of Chartered Accountants. While that ratio is lower than in developed economies like the United States, it is much greater than in Sri Lanka’s neighboring outsourcing giant, India.

Offices in Sri Lanka are doing financial work for some of the world’s biggest companies, including the international bank HSBC and the insurer Aviva. And it is not simply payroll and bookkeeping. The outsourced work includes derivatives pricing and risk management for money managers and hedge funds, stock research for investment banks and underwriting for insurance companies.

Categories
Politics

The Tamil Leadership Solely Responsible for What Happened to the Tamil People

Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Commission,

I am honored and privileged to be invited to give evidence before this Commission and lengthy historical events of our time and I thank the Commission for giving me this opportunity.

Before I go any further I must congratulate the Commission for the progress made so far, especially in giving the lie to its critics dismissed it as fantastic as that of an international inquiry. The wonderful and fantastic commission scheme again debunked the cynical attitude common in some Sri Lankans who believe that local products are not so good as that imported goods and services. I can not see how three foreign gentlemen, sitting far away New York, with a predetermined attitude towards Sri Lanka, may investigate and report on the conditions in Sri Lanka based on the accounts presented suspicious sources which has a notorious record of reporting adversely and negatively in Sri Lanka. It is predictable that the UN Panel appointed by UN Secretary General, ban Ki Moon, – you know especially the problem of attitude of the UN panellists – is just rubber stamp the prevailing judgment of the West denigrating the largest historic movement in living memory Sri Lankans.

I want to say with certainty that the alliance of the World for Peace, which I represent, with the implicit trust and faith in the integrity and the ability of the distinguished Commissioners to fulfill their mandates to honor. I can, therefore, begin by congratulating the Commission for his outstanding performance as another successful attempt in telling the critics and doubting Thomases that we – yes, we can – manage our problems ourselves, in our own way, without intrusive foreigners trying to teach grandmothers how to suck eggs. The irony in all this is that foreigners preaching and elegant universal behavioral standards to us in no uncertainty principle that we should do what they say and not what they do.

Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Panel We value and appreciate the advances made so far and we trust and hope that you will continue to do so to serve the country which requires the user to make the laudable and very purpose of reconciliation.
I am here today as representatives of the World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka (WAPs). It is a global net work, spread from Toronto to Melbourne, dedicated to fighting the horrible anti-Sri Lankan forces damaging the image of Sri Lanka abroad. It is composed of volunteers committed to the forefront of an international movement to protect, preserve and promote the good name of Sri Lanka. WAPs are an independent organization that does not rely for funds, or direction from any government, either Sri Lanka or elsewhere. WAPs runs itself raised funds collected from the patriotic Sri Lankans in the diaspora and I’m proud to represent the WAPs which is probably the only NGO consisting of Sri Lankans without any links to any government in Sri Lanka or any other country or foreign funding agencies. It does not pretend to be a non-governmental organizations like the National Council For Peace, OR THE CENTRE FOR POLICY alternative that, in fact, linked either directly or indirectly to the Western governments or their agencies funding.

Works of Western governments and private funding agencies hand in hand to finance the local NGOs that received agents to do their dirty work in crisis-torn or less developed countries like Sri Lanka. To the West it is cheaper to outsource their foreign policy objective of the hired hands of the local NGOs because they proved highly sophisticated agents that can push the Western political purposes at a cheaper rate than their expensive career diplomats posted to Addis Ababa, Islamabad or Colombo. Western governments have openly admitted that NGOs have their “soft power” used effectively to advance their political agenda. It is, therefore, a misnomer to consider the National Council for Peace or the Centre for Alternative Policies or International Centre for Ethnic Studies, to mention only a few, such as NGOs because they are, directly or indirectly, may owe the government abroad. The NGO is also working closely with the diplomatic mission of the West where the local arm of Western governments. To whether the NGO is funded by Western sources, directly or indirectly linked to Western governments, and if they also work closely with the diplomats of foreign governments, how they are called non-a government organization? They act as the local arms of foreign governments. They dance to their tune because that is the only way in which they can continue running their funds from Western sources. If the local NGOs that fail to promote a political purpose useful to Western sources they go after business.

One of the main goals of WAPs is to take the same NGO in Sri Lanka and other countries which are, by and large, anti-Sri Lankan political fronts of the West. Distinguished members of the Commission, it is my intention to focus exclusively on the conflict for several reasons.

1) became the national reconciliation agenda from colonial times where communities compete with each vying for power and territory and it continues to be the national aim of this day almost in the same format.

2) It has been prioritized as the prime need of the day for us to move forward.

3) International and national pressures have mounted on the issue of conflict.

4) I believe reconciliation is also the main purpose of this Commission.

When we talk of reconciliation we mean essentially the reconciliation of the Sinhalese in the Tamil-speaking community took up arms demanding a separate state. A notable – but mostly ignored – political reality is that the relationship with the other two Tamil-speaking community, the Muslims and the Indian Tamils, remained undisturbed normal levels without either of them going the extreme of demanding a separate state or taking up arms against the majority Sinhalese. A single barrel statistics are revealing because that is denigrated as Sinhalese extremists, chauvinists, anti-Tamil racists will never be overcome peacefully co-exist with two other Tamil-speaking community if they are bad as they are painted to be.

A single political statistic also goes against the general accusation that the Sinhala majority is the oppressor of the Tamil-speaking community. This makes it abundantly clear that, despite the differences and tensions, both Sinhala majority have been successful in maintaining compatible and peaceful relations with two of the Tamil-speaking community and had only one problem with Tamil -speaking community. This single political truth should talk more about the political culture of peninsular with mono-ethnic extremism than about the Sinhalese who had grown Co-exist as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi- cultural and pluralistic entity.

The topics that dominate the political landscape turned reality on its head. For example, the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and pluralistic society is denigrated as Sinhala racist or chauvinistic as the mono-culture of Jaffna which was fought strenuously to preserve its mono-ethnic hegemony is projected as an exclusive haven of cultural superiority. The anti-Sinhala lobbying manufactured an ideology as Sinhalese extremists paint and paint the mono-ethnic extremism of the Jaffna Tamils ??as the Sinhala victims of bullying. If, as they say, the Sinhala majority is oppressing the Tamil-speaking minority in the scale described by NGOs and related propagandists of Jaffna Tamil separatist lobby, not all the other Tamil-speaking community There are basically due to gang up against the Sinhalese? Besides, why is the leadership of Jaffna Tamil not move the other two Tamil-speaking communities in their political and military campaign against their so-called “Sinhala oppressors”? Serious attempt was made by the SJV Chelvanayakam to develop a pan-Tamil-speaking peoples’ front against the Sinhalese but he failed to get them in a common front against the Sinhalese.
If the mathematics seen in convincing rational political analysts, the majority Sinhala has maintained consistent relationship with two of the Tamil-speaking communities, resolving differences without violence, why is the Jaffna Tamil leadership alone fail to keep non-violent, harmonious relationships with other communities? Why did they drag their own people by a senseless war in abysmal depths of Nandikadal? What they achieve? They went to destroy the Sinhalese whom they demonized globally and in the end it boomeranged on them. Their violence turned inwards and they lost their entire leadership, they lost their friends and relatives, and they lose their self respect and dignity when they were forced to surrender to fascist terror of a pathological serial killer. Now that we have gone through the worst part time has come for the Jaffna Tamil leadership to consider how the other two Tamil-speaking community leaders succeeded in guiding their communities in constructive and reliable end and why only the Jaffna Tamil leadership fails? Why is it that reconciliation is possible with other two-Tamil speaking community and a community not only in Jaffna?
The answer is found in the intricacies and complexities of the unique political culture of peninsular which dragged the Jaffna people from colonial times to the mono-ethnic extremism. In summary it is shown that according to the northern leadership is doomed to fail because of their intransigence and extremist mono-ethnic ideology that refuses to compromise on anything short of their fancy state of Eelam.
Jaffna jingoism is the most destructive and counter-productive to all the political culture of the Tamil-speaking community. Their ideologues and intellectuals who rationalized mono-ethnic extremism of Jaffna demanded reconciliation should be based only on terms dictated by the purpose of extremist of Jaffna-centric politics. This intransigence is one of the main causes that led to the failure of any moves towards reconciliation.
Reconciliation is viewed, argued and expected as a one way process – ie, the government of the day should provide the needs of only one Tamil-speaking community of disregarding or marginalizing the aspirations, the historical grievances, and needs of others other minority and majority communities whose primary purpose is co-exist in harmony with each other, sharing common ground with all those that consider the entire 25,000 square miles, from Point Pedro to Dondra, their homeland without any division.
Successive governments have lost this one-way track without any success. Each national, regional and global endeavor to bring about reconciliation failed because each move is aimed at appeasing intransigent leadership of Jaffna. The Indian move to bring about reconciliation completed by assassinating Rajiv Gandhi. Moves to harmonize the Premadasa finished assassinating Premadasa. The Chandrika-Neelan transition to produce a charter for reconciliation ended in assassinating Neelan and almost getting Chandrika. The last major one-way attempt at reconciliation Ranil Wickremesinghe when the Prabhakaran signed the CFA that conceding almost the next best thing to Eelam. It failed because the Jaffna Tamil leadership, as usual, refused to accept it as the route to reconciliation.
Furthermore, the undeniable fact is that the reconciliatory moves, signed the Tamil leadership, was approved by the Tamil people and their fellow travelers in the circuit NGOs. So what is the logic in saying that the Sinhala leadership has not made real moves in harmony? The Sinhala leadership has even gone as far as dismissing or marginalizing of the aspirations and needs of other Sinhala and Tamil-speaking community. Ranil Wickremesinghe, for example, crimes committed against the country when he authorized the supply of arms and ammunition, duty free, the Tamil Tigers. Even put him in the Navy Commander, Wasantha Karannagoda, the mat for the disappearance of Tamil Tiger boat smuggling arms and ammunition. Should he go to the Guinness Book of Records for being the first prime minister in any part of the world that pulled up his Navy commander for the defense of territorial integrity and security of the country. It is the innocent children in the Security Forces had to pay with their lives to repair the damage done to the CFA.
However he lost Wickremesinghe actions prove that he was bent over backwards to appease the Tamil leadership – a task that is doomed to fail. Successive Sri Lankan leaders have lost their way – sometimes under international pressure – to harmonize with the Tamil separatists. But they succeeded. Although the evidence is loaded against the Jaffna Tamil leadership for deliberately pursuing a military solution, reject a negotiated settlement, it is the “Sinhala state” to be blamed for every failure to harmonize the Jaffna Tamil leadership.
The Nordic peace-makers are on record saying that 95% of the terms and conditions of the CFA was violated by the LTTE. So who should take responsibility for failing to bring about reconciliation?
That is the leadership of the Tamil who decided to seek a military solution when they passed the Vadukoddai Resolution on May 14, 1976. It is known Resolution unanimously endorsed the decision to wage war against other parts of the country. Prof. AJ Wilson, son-in-law of Chelvanayakam, the father of separatism and the man who posed as Gandhi, states in his memoir that Chelvanayakam went through every word of Vadukoddai Resolution. Specifically urged the Tamil youth to take up arms and not REST until they achieve their goal of Eelam.
So it is not the “Sinhala state” adopted by the military solution. Historical documents record that it is the Tamil leadership to deliberately and consciously decided to go down the path of violence. That is the leadership provided by the ideology Tamil instigate the Tamil youth to take up arms. That is the leadership of the Tamil who financed the bullets, the guns, landmines, hand grenades, boats and all other firearms when the door is open to them to negotiate as the other two Tamil-speaking communities. That is the leadership of the Tamil who gave silent acquiescence in the killings of Tamil leaders.
Reneged on the national, regional and international agreements, which rejected all reasonable offers for reconciliation, even though the offer came with international guarantees, the Tamil leadership and their fellow travelers in academia, media, NGOs etc refused to accept political responsibility for the horrendous crimes committed in the name of the people in Tamil. Not surprisingly, the intellectuals, academics, NGO pundits made rationalizing their volumes dividing Tamil politics and justifying violence by blaming the Sinhalese.
Blaming the Sinhalese are the most common features of the Jaffna Tamil political culture. Jaffna-centric politics has thrived in targeting the Sinhalese. Ultimately it turned into a cult of hatred. The true expression of this anti-Sinhala politics is encapsulated in Resolution Vadukoddai. This is the most specific document to produce Jaffna determining their political goals, the violent approach and the cult of hatred. Made it a core ideology based not actually concocted history and geography.
A whole new industry grew round the ideological Vadukoddai Resolution. The pro-separatist seminars, lectures, researches, publications aimed at blaming only the Sinhala-Buddhists. The Vadukoddai ideology designed to justify the Jaffna Tamil leadership from all blame and any subsequent review of studies reveal that academics and public intellectuals are not deviated one inch from the fictions and laid down in Resolution Vadukoddai concoctions. In the end they blamed Prabhakaran also as a creation of the Sinhalese. If Prabhakaran is a creation of the Sinhalese his bullets should be directed only to the Sinhalese. But why did he turn his gun first at the father of Tamil Vadukoddai Resolution that endorsed violence? Is the Sinhalese teach him to target the entire Tamil leadership? If, as claimed, he came of Sinhala violence, why is he targeting innocent Muslims? What they have done to him? Why did he pluck the children in Tamil from Tamil breasts of mothers? It was the Sinhalese who prompted him to commit crimes against humanity?
Sinhala-Buddhists demonizing is a necessary strategy to justify Tamil violence and the needs of extremist. The root of the Tamil violence and the needs of extremist ideology Vadukoddai this is where specified and laid the road map to Eelam which, contrary to their expectations, completed in Nandikadal.
The Vadukoddai Resolution made the Vadukoddai War which lasted 33 years and four days. It has a definite beginning (May 14, 1976) and it has a definite conclusion on May 18, 2009. I consider it as an ongoing war and not as four Eelam Wars. The fact that Vadukoddai see-sawed in the War between the low-intensity and high-intensity phases does not add up to four war. This is just one ongoing war led by the war-mongers Jaffna specifically declared war on the rest of the country Vadukoddai Resolution.
This Commission and the major countries are now committed to working out the modalities for reconciliation. There are many roads to reconciliation, up from state initiatives in organized activities at grass root level. Reconciliation is not one-way traffic. It takes two came into conflict. Reconciliation, it must be mentioned, is a process that begins in the mind. Leading down the mental barriers, misperceptions, prejudices and fear-mongering some of the essentials needed to bring about reconciliation. More importantly, no reconciliation is possible if the ideology that led to the War Vadukoddai is left unchallenged.
Vadukoddai Resolution is not intended for reconciliation. It is intended to demonize the Sinhalese, they rewrite history to fit the purpose of Jaffna-centric politics and whip up anti-Sinhala sentiments Vadukoddai violence to keep the boiling point. In fact, when the Tamil separatists decided to go down the path laid down in Resolution Vadukoddai they opened two fronts: 1. The military front in the soil where the Tamil youth took up arms as stipulated in the Vadukoddai Resolution and 2. the ideological front where justified and fueled Vadukoddai War for 33 years. We won the war on the ground. But we have yet to win the second front – the ideological front which was heavily defeated by the military as before.
The Vadukoddai ideology hangs like a sword of Damocles over the heads of the country. The Tamil diaspora is primarily driven by Vadukoddai ideology. That is their one and only reference point. The Interim Government of Tamil Eelam Transnational is designed to achieve the objectives of Resolution Vadukoddai. Although the Tamil Tigers – the misled children Vadukoddai Resolution – is dead ideology is still alive.
Resistance to the ideology that it is a sine qua non for countries to move towards reconciliation. The main task of the second front, where the government has not been opened in any effective way, is to abolish the political topics and fictions woven round Vadukoddai Resolution. No amount of legislation can win this ideological battle. It’s going to be a battle for hearts and minds of people. Reconciliation is only possible when the mind is liberated from the subject of divisive and violent politics embedded in the Vadukoddai Resolution. The removal of the Tamil Tiger terrorists from the political equation helps. But the ideology that fired them to continue to linger on in various shades and manifestations.
This is why the ideological battle has to be taken seriously and fought relentlessly as the recently concluded war on the ground. The common thrust of anti-Sinhala ideology was based on allegations of discrimination against Tamils. Besides the concocted historical and geographical fictions, Jaffna-centric politics has always been accused what they called “Sinhala state” in the areas of discrimination. This is the rationale which took Jaffna-centric politics of violence. This accusation has been accepted uncritically by various pundits who found it very useful to toe the line.
It has become an integral part of conventional wisdom that hardly anyone dares to challenge it. I do not have time to cover all the issues of discrimination raised by Jaffna Tamil lobby. But let me deal with the main charge based on the Sinhala Only Act. As a result of massive brainwashing the world will know it as a symbol of discrimination against the Tamil-speaking people. But the other two Tamil-speaking communities – the Muslims and the Indians – is not consider it as an issue which could take up arms or demand a separate state. What should be mentioned that all issues of discrimination are raised and pursued relentlessly, ending up with the War in Vadukoddai, only by Jaffna Tamils. Almost every one of the issues of discrimination raised by the Jaffna Tamil political caste / class – except for the issue of citizenship of the Indians – has nothing to do with the other two Tamil-speaking community. This is one reason why the issue of discrimination that is so hollow. If two out of three Tamil-speaking community always pursued a political program of peaceful co-existence while having their rights through non-violent politics what is the justification of the Jaffna political caste / class to go all the way from Vadukoddai to Nandikadal?
Take the example of Sinhala only Act that were mentioned as the mother of all evil in Sri Lankan politics. It is not only the Jaffna Tamils ??but the whole Westernized, English-educated ruling class of all communities, including the Sinhalese, who rebelled against it. Although the language of the Tamils ??issue was confined essentially to the English-educated professionals, especially those in public service. The majority of the Tamils ??who lived in the Sinhalese have no problem with Sinhala as the language of commerce. When I grow my barber, my corner grocer store, my people thosai boutique, my rickshaw man took me to school, botal karaya, – you name it – all
Tamils ??and they have no problem with the Sinhalese. My mother shopped for her jewelry on Sea Street is no problem with bargaining in Tamil jewelers in Sinhalese. In fact, this is a problem confined only 6% of the English educated elite who resented and resisted their power and privileges taken away by enthroning the language of most people. They Hooked on retaining the colonial privileges which are going to 94% of people to communicate in the language of their elected government in the mother tongue. Which democratic, or even dictatorship, continue to unfair practice of running a government in a foreign language? France is run in English? England provided the Welsh? China is run in Japan? Why is it right for all other countries to run their government in the language of most but not Sri Lanka?
But let me hasten to add that the Tamils ??also have the right to communicate with their elected governments in their mother tongue. And provision is made for it by SW In RD Bandaranaike, the largest liberal Sinhala leaders who demonized the Tamil lobby as the sole author who deprived them of their rights. Bandaranaike will not overthrow the Tamil language. The dethroned him only English. Its mission is to correcting the imbalances left by centuries of colonialism. The pendulum swung in the West under colonialism is swinging in the East in all ex-colonies. One of the first human rights are managed in their own language.
When Sinhala only act was passed Chelvanayakam went from kachcheri kachcheri urging Tamil public servants do not know Sinhala. This is typical of the narrow-minded, divisive politics of Jaffna-centric politics that took it late in Nandikadal. It is the duty of all public servants to serve the public and it is the duty of all public servants to deliver 75% of the population in Sinhala. Chelvanayakam and the English-educated ruling class does not want to change the colonial practices. They are for retaining the status quo. In other words, you Chelvanayakam public to learn the language of public servants rather than public servants to study the language of the public. How fair it public? In fairness to Bandaranaike, it must be noted that he made it compulsory for public servants burgher Sinhala and Tamil to learn and even provided free classes in the department for public servants to learn the language of the public. That is the policy of this administration and democratizing the administration publicly accessible without any barriers of language that is vilified as a racist act by “Sinhala state” against the Tamils.
Let us also not forget that it is Sinhala youth took up arms first to yell discrimination. They too raised the issue of language but on the basis of a class. They said that English is the language of the ruling class who declined the opportunity to lower class. The Jaffna Tamils ??took the same issue on an ethnic basis and accused the Sinhalese pursuing racist politics. Although the late Marxist leader came to the conclusion that it is a class issue and not an ethnic issue. And despite all the allegations of discrimination in a base language of the country is still run in English. The judiciary, the executive and the legislature is ruled by and large in English. Although the bulk of the evidence recorded in the commission that it is in English. So where is the discrimination if all three languages ??are used in operations management today?
Let me highlight some key aspects to debunk this myth of discrimination. There are 192 members of the distinguished flying UN flags. Flags of all this is only the flag of Sri Lankan Tamils ??gave a place of respect, dignity and honor. The flag is the highest symbol of any country. When the President salutes the national flag as he salutes the Tamils ??and Muslims also. So with “the Sinhala state” excluded the Tamils ??and gave them a lower status nationally or internationally? Take the case of money – another symbol of national recognition. Remember every penny because it gives Tamil recognition as an equal partner. So where is this discrimination? This place of honor is not there for Tamils ??even in India – the ONLY homeland of Tamils.
In what way the unique symbol of the Tamils ??are denied their rights, their culture, their identity? On the contrary, in developing countries is not “successive” Sinhala government “put minorities on equal footing to every critical level? This is confirmed by the fact that two Tamil-speaking community has refused to join the Jaffna Tamils ??in their violent campaign against Sri Lanka. They had no reason to join hands because the issues of discrimination and other allegations are not valid. If the allegations of discrimination and oppression of minorities is valid it will be felt across the board with the minorities. But it is not. They all spoke in Tamil language, all of them are faced with the same majority Sinhala and they live in the same political space. Their refusal to join hands with the Tamils ??in Jaffna that the allegations of discrimination and oppression conclusively refutes the allegations of the Jaffna Tamils ??concocted.
As a result of distorted ideologies political culture of peninsular country was put through the most traumatic period in its history. The Jaffna Tamil political parties have survived past the culture of blaming the Sinhalese. If they are to learn from the history of one outstanding lesson that they must accept that there is no future in ideologically wild past. They pushed their mono-ethnic politics in the extreme and they are gone. Now is their task to re-think their place in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious state.
But to summarize, their mono-ethnic politics of extremism does not expire as long as their second front – the ideological front – is left wide open. Reconciliation can be built only by abandoning the Vadukoddai ideology which has no future. Those still are committed to the ideology that is not grasped the geo-political facts that went against Vadukoddai ideology. The Tamil leaders are aware that the international community is against a separate state but they said that the Tamil people. They kept the illusion of the Eelam alive for their own self-interest without any consideration for the suffering of people in Tamil.
Let us not forget that all this is the Jaffna Tamil people who suffered most. The Jaffna Tamil leadership should apologize to their knees in Jaffna people for leading them to Nandikadal. Jaffna deserves a more enlightened leadership that can save them from going to the same old route from Vadukoddai to Nandikadal on. Blaming the Sinhalese are not going to pay them any dividends any more. They should be responsible for manufacturing the Vadukoddai ideology that took them nowhere. No one asked them to pass the Vadukoddai Resolution. They did it themselves. No one asked them to drag the people of Tamil, using it as a human shield, to Nandikadal. They alone must take full responsibility for what happened to the Tamil people. They should not only apologize but promised their people not to take them down the path to another Nandikadal.

Categories
Foreign Affairs

Sri Lanka ready to assist India in combating LTTE

Sri Lanka is to consider assisting India in combating the threat posed by LTTE elements said Minister of Media Keheliya Rambukwella.

Answering a query of a journalist at the Cabinet media briefing held in Colombo a short while ago (16), he said that Sri Lanka will consider on the issue if such a request is made and the country will share all its experiences in combating terrorism.

India is the neigbhouring country of Sri Lanka who has had strong ties for centuries mentioned the Minister.

The Minister mentioned this commenting on the very recent reports on LTTE attempts to take the lives of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and TamilNadu Chief Minister M Karunanidi. These details were revealed by the intelligence units of the country.

Categories
Military

Sri Lanka Navy Diamond Jubilee

Sri Lanka Navy is celebrating Diamond Jubilee (completion of 60 years) today. On December 09, 1950 the Navy Act was enacted to form Royal Ceylon Navy. In 1972, with the introduction of new constitution Royal Ceylon Navy was renamed as the Sri Lanka Navy.

Representatives from 21 countries including 06 Naval Chiefs from around the world are participating in the celebrations. Ships from Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Thailand Navies are participating in the Presidential Fleet Review and International Sail Past at the port of Colombo.

India is represented by Admiral Nirmal Verma, Chief of Naval Staff along with INS Mysore and INS Tarangini.

Categories
Foreign Affairs

Sri Lanka Gains from Indo-Chinese Supremacy Battle

As India and China jostle for influence in the Indian Ocean region, the island nation of Sri Lanka seems to be getting unintended economic benefits.
China has pledged more financial assistance as Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited Shanghai Expo exhibition earlier this month.

China is already the biggest lender for the Indian Ocean island. Sri Lanka’s Deputy Minister for Economic Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene says that China has, so far, pledged more than $3bn (£1.9bn) for infrastructure development, maintenance and other projects.

“China has been investing in Sri Lanka when many other countries were reluctant to invest during the war,” he tells BBC Sinhala service.

China has finished the first phase of the major sea port of Hambantota on the southern Sri Lankan coast – Mr Rajapaksa’s hometown – and is funding a new airport in the south. Chinese firms are also rebuilding roads in the north.

Many other projects are already in the pipeline, including handling a Special Economic Zone, a 900 megawatt coal-fired power plant and the Colombo-Katunayake expressway, the road connecting the capital with the island’s only international airport.

China is also funding port projects in Chitagong in Bangladesh and in Pakistan and Burma.

Categories
Domestic

Gota says US Statement at UN HRC Positive, Underscores Govt’s Responsibility to Maintain Peace

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says the global community should realize the growing danger posed by terrorism and take tangible measures to deal with the threat.

Sri Lanka, he says, can share her experience with those fighting non-state actors in difficult circumstances in various parts of the world. “Anyone perpetrating terrorism should be considered as the common enemy and the world should be united to meet the challenge,” he said.

Responding to a query by The Island, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said nothing could be as accurate as what US Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer told the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva on Friday (Nov.5).

The Defence Secretary was referring to Brimmer’s speech at the first comprehensive review of the US before the UN Human Rights Council, in which she noted it was “our own people, to whom we are ultimately accountable.”

The human rights review comes in the wake of whistleblower website, Wiki Leaks releasing a plethora of classified military documents relating to excesses by US forces fighting non-state actors and the US military turning a blind eye to abuses by those working under its command both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

War veteran Rajapaksa said that Brimmer was spot on. According to the Defence Secretary, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had emphasized on many occasions that his responsibility was for the people of Sri Lanka. The Defence Secretary said that the Sri Lankan government dubbed its military campaign a humanitarian operation as one of its major objectives was the rescue of the Tamil speaking people.

The outspoken official said that the position taken by the US Assistant Secretary could be applied to any other country fighting state or non-state actors, in Sri Lanka’s case a formidable internal threat backed by powerful external factors.

Commenting on an interview given by US analyst Stephen Cohen headlined ‘Lanka lauded for triumph over Tigers, asked to reconcile with Tamils,’ carried on the Oct. 17, 2009, issue of The Island, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa pointed out that the former US State Department employee had referred to the situation in Somali waters and what could have happened if the Sea Tigers established control over Sri Lankan waters.

The Defence Secretary said that the world could learn from Sri Lanka’s experience in fighting an unconventional enemy, who would stop at nothing to achieve its military targets. “For 30 years there was a constant change of strategies. They adopted strategies to counter ours, and we had to take on counter their new plans,” the Defence Secretary said, adding that the government always believed that it was responsible for the people and the entire military effort was directed at restoring civilian control over the entire country. Had there been any other objective, the war against terror wouldn’t have been successful, he said, adding that the people threw their weight behind the military campaign as they felt the action against the LTTE was justified.

Categories
Domestic

Zardari, MR agree to enhance economic, defence cooperation

Pakistan and Sri Lanka yesterday agreed to work towards enhancing economic and defence cooperation.

Diplomatic and government sources told The Island, that the decision had been taken during one-to one talks between the visiting Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in Colombo.

They said that Zardari’s four-day state visit, which commenced on Saturday, was aimed at further strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries which dated back to Buddhist civilisation.

Sources said that regional peace, stability, money laundering and the fight against militancy had also figured in the discussions between the two leaders.

“The other areas agreed on were connectivity and cultural exchanges. Tourist,educational, technology and media sector exchanges were also discussed. The Pakistan Presidents visit is part of a long tradition of high-level contacts between the two countries,” sources said.

Pakistani diplomatic sources said that Pakistan had stood by Sri Lanka in good and bad times and expected the same solidarity with Pakistan now.

“The security situation in Sri Lanka was never an issue for us to do business or visit there. We expect the same solidarity now. The situation in Pakistan is not so bad as it is made out to be by some media groups with vested interests,” they said.

External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L.Peiris, asked to comment on his discussions with Zardari on the question of regional peace stability and the fight against militancy, told The Island that no country could act in isolation and that SAARC had to adopt a joint approach on the issue.

Money laundering, he said, was an equally serious problem that had to be tackled together as it was fast spreading its tentacles.

Prof. Peiris said: “The important thing is that violence is behind us and there is a huge scope for economic and social development. We discussed political, economic, social and cultural cooperation. Broad agreement was reached on enhanced bilateral trade in tea, sugar, betel leaves, edible oils etc. President Zadari will have a meeting the Sri Lankan Chambers of Commerce tomorrow, where the specifics will be gone into.”

Sri Lanka-Pakistan bilateral trade has increased from US$ 150 million to around US$ 350 million since the Free Trade Agreement signed in 2002 became operational in 2005. The two countries are also exploring the possibility of establishing an Investment Bank.

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Domestic

Sri Lanka unveils tax reforms to boost post-war economy

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday announced a major tax reform package aimed at boosting the economy of the island as it recovers from the civil war that ended last year, reports AFP.

Rajapakse, who is also finance minister, unveiled the new measures as he presented the annual budget for 2011 with the deficit predicted to fall to 6.8 per cent of gross domestic product from 8.0 per cent this year.
He slashed import taxes on many capital goods, including on vehicles and industrial machinery by 25 per cent, and also simplified taxes charged on imports and retail trade. “Having ended the war, and with vital infrastructure in place, we are now in a better position to engage in an accelerated development process within the next six years,” Rajapakse said.

As part of foreign exchange liberalisation, he said foreigners in future would be able to buy into companies through local investment funds.

He also announced plans to lower value added tax for banks from 20 per cent to 12 per cent, ease taxes on construction companies to 12 per cent and offer breaks on commodity exports like tea, rubber and spices.
Tax breaks for the fisheries, agriculture and construction sectors were among the schemes to boost economic activity in the island after the bloody conflict between government troops and Tamil separatists ended in May 2009.

“One of the main objectives of my government is to double per capita income to 4,000 dollars by 2016,” Rajapakse said. “But, that is not the only objective, I want real incomes to go up.” “A high per capita economy will help us to regain many opportunities we have lost during the war years.”

Rajapakse, who has a strong grip on power in Sri Lanka after overseeing the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels, raised taxes on casinos, alcohol and international phone calls.
Charges for overseas calls have fallen to historic lows due to stiff competition among phone companies.

The president said he would cut income tax for tourism- related businesses, but added tax breaks would favour more expensive hotels in Sri Lanka in an attempt to push the island towards the luxury holiday market.

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Domestic

The right and wrong pertaining to Poddala Jayantha

Poddala Jayantha, Secretary of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists’ Association was abducted and assaulted on June 1, 2009. The ‘who’ and the ‘why’ of this attack is yet to be determined and I believe it is of little use to engage in conjecture.

On the other hand, this attack is not the first on a journalist. Over the years many journalists have been abducted, attacked and even killed. Some of these incidents have been investigated to conclusion and some have not.

I am not a member of any media collective. I believe that there are people out there who prefer quiescent journalists to relatively independent ones (‘an independent journalist’ is a non-existent creature) and I know that politicians are pretty sensitive creatures who for the most part don’t have what it takes to stomach criticism. At the same time, we have to keep in mind that journalists are hardly the saints they would like people to believe they are. Journalists are not above the law; they don’t enjoy any special immunity. They have enemies and not all of these enemies are in the Government.

We know that some arrests have been made. We know that Poddala Jayantha was quite an activist, even though one might not agree with the causes he championed or endorsed the policies his fellow-travellers.

Today, there are few, if any, who would stand up and say ‘this was wrong!’ when the news came that Poddala Jayantha had been attacked. Why? First, it was Poddala Jayantha who was attacked. He not only spouted nonsense on occasion regarding the situation in the country, but his organization had intimate dealings with forces that were actively operating to destabilize the country and give leg-room for the Tigers. Under these circumstances and especially after all such efforts have been comprehensively squashed, few would be ready to stand with Jayantha as per the basic civil duty of opposing anything outside the framework of the law. This is after all a period when everyone is a ‘patriot’ and when it is not easy to not be one.

Poddala Jayantha was never a patriot in the sense that he belonged to a motley group of disgruntled Enjoyists (NGO activists) whose livelihoods depended on bad mouthing the Government, the Sinhalese and the Buddhists. The organization he was associated with, the Working Journalists’ Association and its sister organizations in the sphere of agitation are moreover are currently in the dock (along with Jayantha and his pals Sunanda Deshapriya and Balasuriya) for perpetrating fraud. He was certainly a man whose hand can be held even in a moment of tragedy only with trepidation.

Let me repeat, I do not wish to go into the ‘who’ and ‘why’ of this attack. At the same time, one needs to remember that there have been strident ‘expose and kill’ calls regarding journalists and others deemed to have acted against the national interest. Such cries have been raised perhaps by a nationalist urge that has spilled over the boundaries of reason and the need to respect the structures that dispense justice in this country. A moment of euphoria cannot be grudged a nation that has suffered for 30 years under the shadow of terrorism, but that does not justify in any way the call for lynch-mobs.

I should mention also, that not all ‘patriots’ lighting crackers in the print and electronic media were exactly patriotic during those long years when one was called ‘war monger’ or ‘racist’ for saying that the LTTE must and can be defeated militarily. As my friend Shamindra Ferdinando observed in a good-humoured tone laced with a dash of irony, the media war was the private property of ITN and Rupavahini. Until they came into the picture, the media and journalistic fraternity in general was ‘unpatriotic’, they would have us believe.

This mindless ‘call for blood’ may or may not have precipitated this incident. It may be come from elsewhere, but it should alert all of us to the dangerous consequences of irresponsible journalism. On the one hand, a cogent argument can be made for arguments of the Jayantha-asked-for-it kind, even though, strictly speaking Jayantha was not a journalist and not even a working journalist but a person who profited from activism and a man who is under a shadow for defrauding organizations he is associated with. On the other hand, this lets-bypass-the-law attitude is the bread and butter of the worst kind of anarchy possible. We can’t afford it.

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Domestic

Sri Lanka Frost Over Sri Lanka Live

An international aid group has suspended its aid operations in Sri Lanka due to restrictions placed on it by the government.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told Al Jazeera on Wednesday, a day after Sri Lanka’s government declared victory over the Tamil Tigers, that “additional restrictions” meant it had no choice but to halt its activities.

About 265,000 ethnic Tamils were displaced in the military’s recent offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, and many of them have been sent to overcrowded camps in the country’s north.

“Since last weekend there have been additional restrictions imposed on aid organisations, including ICRC,” Paul Castella, the head of the group’s Sri Lanka operations, said.

“The authorities have said that because of security they had to restrict access to certain areas.

“What is the take of these civilians and what the conditions are we don’t know because we are not granted access to the area.”