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
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.

Categories
Economics

Now OPEN: Treasury bill and Treasury bond Market for Sri Lankan Diaspora

Treasury bills and Treasury bonds are issued by the Government of Sri Lanka to Sri Lankan Diaspora and Migrant Workforce since January 6th, 2009.

Through this scheme, it is expected to widen the investor base, diversify the Government Securities market, make it more convenient for Sri Lankans living abroad to access Government Securities, and to create a more stable Government securities market.

This scheme will also provide a safe and highly liquid investment opportunity for Sri Lankans living abroad, while providing them with an attractive return on their investments.

To facilitate this endeavour, which is expected to cover almost the entire globe, six Joint Lead Managers, namely, Bank of Ceylon, Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, National Savings Bank, NatWealth Securities Ltd., People’s Bank and Sampath Bank have been appointed.

Investments in Treasury bills or Treasury bonds could be channelled through any one of the Joint Lead Managers, using the Treasury bill/bond Investment External Rupee Account-D (TIERA-D) to be opened by the investor for that purpose.Remittances into and out of TIERA-D accounts would be free from exchange controls.This scheme will benefit, Sri Lankans living abroad, including Sri Lankans who have made their permanent residence overseas (Non-residents), citizens of Sri Lanka who have taken up overseas employment or set up business abroad, citizens of Sri Lanka with dual citizenship living in Sri Lanka or abroad, and Sri Lankan professionals living in Sri Lanka or abroad who earn income in foreign currency.

Categories
Domestic

Suriya Sinha Awards Presented by Mawbima Lanka Foundation

Suriya Sinha Awards, an annual awards ceremony of the Mawbima Lanka Foundation was held at the BMICH last morning (18).

The event saw 46 Sri Lankan home grown corporates being awarded brand names while 300 were presented with Suriya Sinha Award. ITN and Lakhanda Radio were honoured for their media role on innovations.

The http://www.gannaapede.com website was also launched.

Chairman Maubima Lanka Foundation, Ariyaseela Wickrmanayake said Sri Lanka has spent Rs. 30billion for the import of milk when the country can be self-sufficient. There has been a 15 per cent increase of milk production after the ban of slaughter of cows from last year. `Milk production is a major contributor to the New Zealand`s GDP and 85 per cent of their produce is for export. With the present initiative taken I am sure Sri Lanka will be self sufficient in milk in five years. Similarly Sri Lanka can be self sufficient in sugar and many other imported commodities, he said.

He also said the telecommunication industry had revenue in the excess of Rs. 8 billion and appealed for the companies to reduce tariff. He appealed from the users to use a handset for a longer period to cut foreign exchange flowing to foreign manufacturers. He appealed from the public to buy Sri Lankan products thus saving foreign exchange, encouraging entrepreneurs and strengthening Sri Lankan economy.

The Minister Kumara Welgama addressing the ceremony said that the Government was implementing a major programme for the well being of the local industrialists. This he said had been consolidated through the Budget.

It was also mentioned that President Mahinda Rajapaksa presented the last budget travelling in a locally assembled Micro car powered by locally made Ethanol.

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
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
General

Defence Seminar 2013: Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision for Sri Lanka

Making the keynote address at the 3rd consecutive Sri Lanka Army organized ‘Defence Seminar-2013 on the theme ‘Post-Conflict Sri Lanka: Challenges and Regional Stability’, held from 3rd to 5th September at the Galadari Hotel, Colombo, Secretary Defence Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa delivered a spectacular and visonary speech to the more than 300 participants including 66 foreign delegates from 29 countries.
The 1st Defence Seminar focused on Lessons Learnt by the Sri Lankan Defence establishment in defeating LTTE terrorism.
The 2nd Defence Seminar focused on Post-war efforts to create lasting peace and stability examining steps under 5 areas of Reconstruction, Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Reintegration and Reconciliation.  
Secretary Defence on Sri Lanka’s immediate post-war challenge successes  
1.         Accommodating and ensuring the welfare of nearly 300,000 Internally Displaced Persons
2.         Demining and Reconstruction of Infrastructure/facilities – nearly 5000sq.km of land demined. 
3.         Resettling the IDPs in their places of origin (All IDPs in welfare camps were resettled from October 2009 – August 2012) inclusive of other displaced persons. This achievement took 3 years and 3 months after elimination of LTTE.
4.         Rehabilitating nearly 12,000 ex-LTTE cadres and
5.         Reintegrating them to society.
Independent Surveys 1:
UNHCR survey confirmed Sri Lanka’s resettlement success (Nov 2012-Mar 2013) assessing Sri Lanka against global standard of Inter Agency Standing Committee Framework for Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons – Sri Lanka is mentioned under–
a) access to personal and other documentation without discrimination
b) family reunification
c) access to effective remedies and justice
d) safety and security
e) access to livelihoods
f) participation in public affairs
Note: Only 29% of respondents had negative views on military presence.
Independent Surveys 2:
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Field Mission survey (May-June 2013)
§  ‘remarkable improvement in infrastructure development in many sectors including transportation, communication, roads, railways and health facilities’
§  Survey observed that there was no visible presence of armed military personnel in uniforms that military support was primarily for ‘immediate and development needs of the population’ (building houses, shelter, water, sanitation, scholarships for schools and children, vocational training, organizing tours for people of North to visit other parts of Sri Lanka) – efforts to help civilians return to normal life.
Independent Surveys 3: Foreign Researchers/Dr. Kruglanski & Dr. Gelfland of the University of Maryland
§  LTTE cadres showed reduction in support for violence after rehabilitation program
Other successfully completed post-war challenges:
§  Setting up Livelihood Assistance programs
§  Material Assistance programs – donation of fishing gear, utilities for farming, provision of livestock and seeds for agriculture
Secretary Defence on shifting military from combat with terrorists to cooperation with civilians/society:
§  Gradual reduction of military camps/troops but military will remain for strategic security reasons.
§  Engineering battalions engaged in reconstruction and national development programs
§  Redrawing internal security policies and procedures and expanding intelligence units
§  Handing over to police the maintenance of law and order – establishment of more police stations and recruitment of Tamil speaking police personnel
§  Helping restore civil administration mechanism
§  Disarming former armed groups
§  Civilian properties in the process of being handed over once legal proof of ownership is established.
§  Removing restrictions previously placed for security reasons (movement in high security zones, limitation to fishing, restrictions in trade of classified items) Palaly cantonment is open to all with free access to airport and Kankasanthurai harbour.
§  Releasing detainees for involvement in LTTE activities while a handful remains in detention for prosecution. Database of all detainees available with police. Lawyers, family, Human Rights Commission and ICRC given access to them
§  Repealing of Emergency Regulations in August 2011
Secretary Defence responds to allegations against Military : Number of Civilian Casualties
Number of civilian casualties (during final stage of war) ranged from 7000 to more than 40,000. The allegations were all guestimates without sources and ignored independent and credible sources (Dept of Census & Statistics/UNICEF/LLRC).

If LTTE had 30,000 approximate cadres at the start of the Humanitarian Operation and nearly 12,000 surrendered to the Armed Forces either the remaining had been killed, they are posing as civilians or have fled the country.

It must be also noted that Sri Lanka lost nearly 6000 of its personnel in combat while 20,000 or so were injured. Such a number of casualties in the army could not have happened if the enemy was not engaged in intense battle with the Sri Lankan military during the final stages of the war.

Department of Census and Statistics ‘Enumeration of Vital Events’ in Northern Province (June-Aug 2011) field data collected in July 2011 by 2500 Tamil and Muslim Government servants from North. Report revealed:
a.  7896 deaths due to unnatural causes (Jan-May 2009) included LTTE cadres killed in action,
b.  2635 persons reported as untraceable (parents/next of kin had not recovered their bodies or knew their whereabouts)
c.   Of 2360 cases investigations reveal that 1625 persons had been forcibly recruited by the LTTE.
d.  Only 26 instances of people reported by the next of kin who had surrendered to the Security Forces and subsequently disappeared.
Secretary Defence on reasons for civilian deaths/missing  
§  civilians killed by LTTE trying to escape to Govt controlled areas,
§  civilians detained and killed by LTTE for other reasons
§  civilian deaths from being forcefully used in combat by LTTE
§  civilians deaths from crossfire
§  civilians reported dead but likely to have escaped or illegally migrated overseas. An unknown number of persons have left Sri Lanka and are now living overseas. The countries hosting them have not revealed their details to the Government of Sri Lanka.
§  deaths not occurring during Humanitarian Operation but reported to claim compensation
§  false reporting
UNICEF with Probation and Child Care Commission of North and Government Agent of Vavuniya – Family Reunification Project (confirms and corroborates with Sri Lanka’s findings)
§  2564 tracing applications received by July 2011
§  1888 applications related to missing adults
§  676 applications related to missing children
§  64% parents of missing children claimed LTTE had recruited their children.

Those making allegations against the Sri Lankan military may like to explain how any military should confront a non-state actor using asymmetric warfare strategies with no compunctions to safeguard civilian lives and oft times using civilians as human shields in order to attract external intervention and to once again gain themselves breathing space?

Those throwing stones at the Sri Lankan military may also like to explain why LTTE would deliberately and repeatedly launch artillery and mortar attacks at the military from No Fire Zones/ civilian installations like hospitals and churches which were created for the civilians and not for LTTE to place their weapons and ammunition or take refuge amongst the Tamil civilians?

Secretary Defence on Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission Report  
§  LLRC concluded that there was No DELIBERATE targeting of civilians by Sri Lankan Military
§  LTTE responsible for violations of international humanitarian law
Secretary Defence on International Commentaries on Post-Conflict
§  Negative feedback on Reconciliation – lacked holistic perspective did not consider ground realities as reconciliation is a process and takes time to accomplish and cannot give overnight results.
§  Negative feedback ignored type of rule under LTTE – people of the North and parts of East had no democratic freedoms – no room for dissent, no alternate views, everyone disagreeing with LTTE were silenced. People living amongst LTTE were taught to hate the Sinhalese and the State. Removing 30 years of indoctrination inspite of resettlement, reconstruction and even rehabilitation is not easy.
Secretary Defence on Democratic Process in Sri Lanka (contrary to the statement by Navi Pillai claiming Sri Lanka was heading towards an Authoritarian rule)
§  Provincial Council elections held in Eastern Province in 2008 before the Humanitarian Operation ended
§  Local Authority elections for Jaffna Municipal Council / Vavuniya Urban Council in August 2009
§  Presidential Election held in 2010
§  General Elections held in 2010
§  Local authority elections held island-wide in 2011
§  Provincial Council elections to be held in September 2013 – the 1st after 1989 elections of merged North-East province through 13th amendment. North-East demerged in 2006.
Secretary Defence on LTTE-fronts continuing to pose threat to Sri Lanka
§  LTTE’s extensive international network remains intact and their propaganda needs to be effectively countered.
§  Extremist elements within Tamil expat community part of this network
§  Their intent is to divide Sri Lanka
§  Strategies used include winning international opinion for separatist cause, increasing international pressure on Sri Lanka, undermining Government efforts for reconciliation and economic development, attempting to resume conflict by reorganizing local militant activities
§  These LTTE-linked groups influence foreign NGOs, foreign parliamentarians and even fund local groups masquerading as democratic
§  The LTTE international network comprises
a.    Tamil Coordinating Committee based in Norway led by Nediyawan
b.    Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam in US led by Rudrakumaran
c.    LTTE headquarter group in France led by Vinayagam
d.    Global Tamil Forum led by Father Emmanuel who coordinates all above groups.
§  Foreign Service and Foreign Ministry despite lack of resources need to counter by communicating the true picture globally.
Secretary Defence on Threats from Extremist Groups (including those involved in previous insurgencies)
§  Groups attempting to mobilize people to take up extreme left wing causes
§  Groups radicalizing students / the public and encouraging them to take to the streets in protest
§  Increase in communalism amongst ethnic groups – increased insularity of ethnic groups may lead to fragmentation of the Sri Lankan identity into ethno-religious lines
§  Some in the Tamil community who identify more with Tamil Nadu than with fellow Sri Lankans.
§  Some foreign groups encouraging Sri Lankan Muslims to identify themselves with global Muslim community distancing them from integrating with other communities
§  Muslim fundamentalism spreading all over the world and in Asia and concerns Sri Lanka’s Law Enforcement agencies and Security Forces.
§  Extremist groups have been in transit in Sri Lanka and may promote Muslim extremism in Sri Lanka
§  Consequence of increasing narrow-mindedness of minority ethnic groups is emergence of hardline groups within majority community which will lead to further tensions and a vicious cycle affecting overall unity.
Secretary Defence on Organized Crime
§  Rise of terrorism and insurrection required state to procure arms and ammunition some of which have fallen into criminal hands.
§  Rise of underworld engaged in organized crime – drugs, armed robberies, kidnappings for ransom, financial frauds, seizing land illegally are a handful of activities that need to be tackled.
Secretary Defence on Media Freedom
§   Legitimate media channels, newspapers, websites freely operate in Sri Lanka
§   Some illegal sources also engage in false propaganda to damage the country’s image internationally.
§   Negative image campaigning will impact on tourism, foreign investment and even trade
§   Media organizations (every citizen and political group) must exercise their democratic freedoms with responsibility – they should not engage in unlawful activity under the guise of exercising their freedoms.
Secretary Defence on India and Sri Lanka’s strategic geographical location in South Asia
§   Continued inter-linking domestic issues between Sri Lanka and India (India’s sensitivity to events in Sri Lanka due to influence of Tamil Nadu state on Tamil issues especially at times of elections)
§   Bilateral issues – increasing incidents of illegal fishing by Tamil Nadu fishermen on Sri Lankan waters
§   India is the most important and powerful country in South Asia, but Sri Lanka is a completely independent sovereign nation which India is aware of
§   Critical that both India and Sri Lanka retain a meaningful and close relationship despite issues arising between them
Secretary Defence on Sri Lanka’s relationship with China
§  China’s involvement in Sri Lanka is purely diplomatic and economic
§  China has been one of Sri Lanka’s foremost development partners contributing richly to key economic development projects.
§  Sri Lanka’s relationship with China should not be regarded as a threat by any other nation.
Secretary Defence on Regional Issues Sri Lanka faces due to Sri Lanka’s geo-strategic position
§  Asian region becoming increasingly important in global affairs
§  India and China increasing economic and military development bring Asian region into global focus
§  Western Governments may attempt to influence Sri Lanka to align to their interests in the Asian region
§  Power politics between nations will affect Sri Lanka’s relations with these nations.
Secretary Defence on Maritime Security
§   Sri Lanka does not have land borders
§   Sri Lanka does need to protect its maritime security and prevent transnational crimes – drugs, smuggling, arms smuggling and human trafficking, maritime assets within Exclusive Economic Zone, safeguarding Sea Lines of Communication against piracy.
Secretary Defence on National Economy
§   War suppressed economic potential and held back Sri Lanka’s growth
§   History reveals that majority of problems were fundamentally economic (insurrections of 1970s, 1980s even LTTE manipulated economic aspect along ethnic /racial lines)
§   Post-war needs to address unequal development / rural underdevelopment and uplift standard of living in rural areas to standards enjoyed in cities.
§   Establishing highways to connect distant cities – reduce travel time.
§   Rural masses must not feel marginalized or feel economic compulsion to move to cities (education, healthcare, meaningful employment without leaving their places of origin)
§   Need to promote tourism, foreign direct investment, industrial development, value addition in agriculture, service economy
§   Retain talented young people and encourage them to remain in Sri Lanka.
§   Keeping with our traditional way of living develop our agriculture, animal husbandry and seek self-sufficiency.
§   Adapt 5-hub strategy to develop Sri Lanka as a Knowledge Hub, Commercial Hub, Naval and Maritime Hub, Aviation Hub and Energy Hub.
§   Hambantota Port and Mattala Airport is a long term plan to derive economic potential to maximize on volume of ships that pass through the sea lines making the Hambantota region as an industrial and transhipment cargo hub.
Secretary Defence on Sri Lanka’s Future
§  Being able to navigate present issues (national security, geo-politics etc) will determine Sri Lanka’s destiny.
§  Looking ahead positively and confidently without focusing on issues inherited from the past
§  People need to develop mentality beyond that of a developing nation shedding Third World Mentality.
§  All Sri Lankans must accept challenge and move forward together into a shared future as one Sri Lankan nation.
Secretary Defence on Safeguarding Democracy
§  Handling subversive elements from using modern communication technology (internet, global news media, mobile phones etc) to attempting to disseminate wrong information and arouse people negatively.
Secretary Defence on future challenges:
1.    Preventing the re-emergence of terrorism
2.    Establishing effective methods to project Sri Lanka to the international community
3.    Suppressing the emergence of other extremist groups
4.    Preventing further ethnic divisions and communal violence
5.    Challenges of maritime security and border control
6.    Curtailing the growth of organised crime, and
7.    New challenges in safeguarding a just and wholesome democracy.
Secretary Defence on way forward:
§  Secretary Defence on a Government obligations:
o   Ensure national reconciliation is achieved
o   Move Sri Lanka into the future together as one nation without fragmentation into groups based on ethnicity, religion, caste or place of origin.
o   Ensure all Sri Lankans have same opportunities and unobstructed access to state services
o   Ensure Sri Lanka is a peaceful, stable and rapidly development democracy.
o   Holding elections after restoring normalcy to North and East provinces
o   Issues delayed due to terrorism must be attended to
o   Economic issues as a result of global economic conditions need to be solved gradually instead of using them as political slogans.
§  Secretary Defence on People’s obligations:
o   People must move forward as a nation – united by what we have in common.
o   People must not stay locked in a post-conflict mentality
o   People must remove from ‘Third-World Mentality’
o   People must understand freedoms guaranteed through democracy must be exercised with responsibility. Ex: right to public assembly – freedom to demonstrate on issues that they feel are important does not give freedom to engage in violent protest, incite violence or act in other undemocratic ways. Then they would have exploited and abused their democratic freedoms. When this happens other people with vested interests use this to turn the situation to their advantage and project a negative image of the country internationally as well as amongst the locals themselves.
§  Secretary Defence  on Politicians/political Party’s obligations:
o   
Political parties must promote the interests of the nation without focusing on one group
o   Political parties must bring all ethnicities and cultures together into one Sri Lankan identity so that the nation can progress.
o   Main political parties must stop politicizing divisive issues for petty political gain
A fine picture of Sri Lanka’s future was articulated in the key note address by the Secretary Defence covering the immediate post-war challenges, the achievements of the armed forces in their new role of capacity building in cooperation with civilians and society. It has heralded a distinctly unique partnership one that combines the value-added logistical capabilities and discipline of the armed forces with the new challenges that face a Sri Lanka journeying towards a future without terrorism and ushering a new chapter in uniting nations of the Asian continent for regional stability, economic growth and overall a shared future.

Shenali D Waduge

Categories
Video

A different sort of “Rock” – Nemesis

A different kind of

Nemesis, which was formed in the year 2005, is 1 of the few Sri Lankan rock bands to be effective in the Sri Lankan Rock music arena. Since the inception …
Video Rating: five / five

Categories
Foreign Affairs

Just before The Spectre Of Idiocy Takes Over Sri Lanka

Kamaya Jayatissa

Kamaya Jayatissa

“You only lose what you cling to.” –  Lord Buddha

This piece is a response to Ms. Shenali D. Waduge’s recent article “The Existential Fears of Buddhists in Sri Lanka must be given high priority and addressed without delay” published on August 13th, in Lankaweb. Having read the article and the even more dangerous comments it gathered, I could not help myself but feel outrage at each line, or should I say each word, I had the misfortune to read.

The one and only sentence on which I agree with in Ms. Waduge’s article is when she says that “A spectre is haunting Sri Lanka”. As for the rest of the article, I could only feel disgusted at each argumentative point that was developed in it. According to the author, Sri Lanka is on the verge of getting overrun by Muslims. Sri Lanka is indeed on the verge of getting overrun but not by Muslims. The island is actually about to get overrun by ethno-religious detractors who, instead of talking in their own name, are talking in the name of both the Sinhalese and the Buddhist communities. Unfortunately, one cannot label the author, her article and its like-minded readers as ultra-nationalists or racists anymore because their so-called “existential fears” go beyond any possible form of extremism. In fact, it goes to the extent of becoming pure idiocy; a desperate behaviour that will end up labelling Sri Lanka in the worse possible manner in the eyes of the international community, with repercussions that might last for quite some time –especially among its allies in the Middle East. And, in this sensitive post-war transition, this is the last thing Sri Lanka needs right now. Not to mention that the UN HRC is to meet in Geneva next month; shifting the international focus on Sri Lanka once more before the CHOGM Summit this November.

To Ms. Waduge and her followers, I wish to say that, being a Sinhalese and a Buddhist myself, the only time I feared for survival in my beloved country was when it went through a three decade long protracted civil war. A war which tore apart communities that once used to live together, in peace and harmony. A war in which every Sri Lankan lost one of their own –irrespective of their religion or ethnicity. A war that I never want to see happen again because of the narrow-mindedness of a few. And yet, given the recent incidents and hate speeches displayed on the public sphere (especially through the media), I now fear that the peace we have all been longing for will never see the light due to idiotic and disrespectful behaviours such as the recent Grandpass incident; behaviours which I must confess are quite “brilliantly” illustrated in the irrational figures laid out throughout the said article.

In fact, before talking about Buddhism, one should perhaps start to read, learn, and may be even practice its deeper philosophy. If Ms. Waduge did so, she would know that there is no such a thing as “mine” in Buddhism. She would also know that Lord Buddha never claimed Sri Lanka, or any other country for that matter, to be a Buddhist land. Mostly, she would know that what Lord Buddha tried to preach us with much emphasize were universal values such as respect, forgiveness and above all compassion among all living beings. So before blaming other communities and religions of overrunning Buddhism, one should perhaps get his/her own communal and religious values/practices straight. That, for me, would be the most effective way to preserve ones culture, religion and traditions without harming others. But unfortunately, I also know that this perspective of mine might not change the mindset of a few in our society who suffer from an ethno-religious inferiority complex of its own.

According to the author, “The territory and space of Islam is non-negotiable and if Islam is non-negotiable what is wrong with others saying the same?” Well, despite the fact that the said statement does not speak for all our Muslims friends, what is wrong here is to assume that others’ mistakes give you the legitimacy and credibility to replicate the same mistakes. If one wishes to set up a constructive example, one should always think and behave with a stronger sense of rationality; a rationality that does not intent of fulfilling one’s own need to the detriment of others.

I do not intent to comment on the factual examples on which the author naively –or not- bases her theory. These facts, I believe, are not only distorted but also taken out of their context. Indeed, while going through these comparative facts, delivered with quite a level of distortion throughout Ms. Waduge’s article, I could not help myself but wonder how any foreign incident/attack which occurred against the Buddhist community had anything to do with Sri Lankans of Muslim religion. I personally am starting to feel tired of reading this type of idiotic comments that are doing no good to our country and certainly not to our people. Perhaps, it is time for us to mature our own thinking process and start behaving as responsible citizens; citizens who are supposed to be working on rebuilding a nation, not destroying it. Bad people are everywhere, Ms. Waduge. That’s no news to anyone. But one cannot, and should certainly not, generalize a specific mindset or incident which occurred due to the behaviour of a few to an entire community. This will only end up in wrongfully labelling the said community and wrongfully labelling ourselves at the same time.

Correct me if I am wrong but currently, Sri Lanka is facing major concerns –both internationally and nationally. Wasting our time on these idiotic matters only takes us further away from addressing the actual post-war issues faced by our country; such as: access to quality education, lack of an effective foreign policy, socio-economic development, reconciliation, restoration of trust between communities; among others.

Ms. Waduge, from a Buddhist to another Buddhist, let me end up with a quote of Lord Buddha, which I strongly invite you to meditate on: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

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