Sunday, 12 September 2010
A reply to Sonali Samarasinghe on her article “Why the world must stop Sri Lanka’s decline?” appearing in Globalpost on 10.9.2010.
Sonali Samarasinghe appears from her hiding in the West to request her “world” to stop Sri Lanka’s decline. Stopping Sri Lanka’s decline is to help it to improve, help it to grow. That her “world” will not do. Because her “world” only wants to see Sri Lanka’s decline.
The “world” to which you appeal Sonali Samarasinghe, is the Western world of which we have had enough. Their democracy, their human rights are only “ excuses “ used against the developing countries to keep them subservient and kept bound to the West- their former colonialists. They are only slogan carriers for democracy, with neither the democracy nor the generosity to help the third world countries to progress into development.
We have experienced their democratic ways, they withdrew GSP+ which helped our country to employ poor young women from the villages, and earn foreign currency, they set up panels to accuse our Government Forces which eliminated terrorism, for war crimes. We have really lost respect to these countries Sonali Samarasinghe, your friends are unfortunately not our friends.
There is nothing new Sonali Samarasinghe in your present article against Sri Lanka other than what you had been saying in your previous articles and the speech. This is just the same old wine now turning in to vinegar served in a new bottle.
Not only Sonali but all those who had been taking their turn to write on the 18th Amendment seem to be inviting the same old ghosts to haunt Sri Lanka to create a semblance of fear. Any thing is good enough for the anti Sri Lanka vampires to attack the President and the Government of Sri Lanka, when in fact the 18th Amendment neither creates fear nor does it create a Dictator or a King out of the Present President or the future Presidents. It is just an Amendment to the Constitution to make it more flexible with regard to the terms of office of Presidency.
But Sonali Samarasinghe has not seen, from where she is hiding what is going on in Sri Lanka today with Mr.Mahinda Rajapaksa as its President. There is an enormous upsurge of progress and development. This surge of progress to continue unabated, there should be an assurance of the continuity of the leadership that ventured to begin the process.
Hence the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which would help the present leadership or another progressive leadership elected by the people in the future , to carry forward the process of development, without an attempt by a wrong leadership to take it backwards to enable a “world” to which Sonali Samarasinghe appeals to cause its decline.
The Constitution does not give the President unlimited power as there are Commissions which can advise and control appointments. The President is answerable to the Parliament cannot manipulate electoral process to his advantage. But further amendments, perhaps to set up an Upper House will be of further benefit to the country.
The 18th Amendment has not taken away the power of the people to elect who ever they want to lead the country, without placing the right of governance on one person for two consecutive terms, unless they approve the development processes he had started and want him to continue the process for a further period of time.
Our country being for the first time in the infancy of an independent growth, away from the “world” which had not been kindly to its development, requires a dedicated leadership as the one we have now. That is the view of the majority of the people of the country from which Ms.Sonali Samarasinghe has distanced.
The President Mahinda Rajapakse had been in power since 2005. He has won the ordinary people’s trust and confidence and they have no fear that he would abuse the trust they have placed in him.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, UN and its Human Rights Commission, and the EU had been the stumbling blocks put on the path of Sri Lanka’s progress towards development away from underdevelopment. The Parliamentary Council will not be a “toothless body” as you say, but it will have sufficient control with some of its members drawn from the Opposition, it is up to them to speak up in defence of “democracy”.
The President instead of being a dictator who has all powers in his hand , will overseer the smooth function of different administrative bodies, for the wellbeing of the people without being a deterrent for the progress of the country as a whole.
It is only being away from Sri Lanka and reading only biased media reports, unable to look at the present development that is taking place in Sri Lanka under the leadership of the President Mahinda Rajapakse in the correct perspective, that you have come to the wrong and sad conclusion that Sri Lanka is a Country falling rapidly into decline.
There was never a Dictatorship in Sri Lanka and there would not be one so long as Mahinda Rajapakse is in leadership. However, the 18th Amendment has not taken away the power of the people to enable a President turning to be dictatorial to be removed after his first term of office. The 18th Amendments gives greater power to the people, that the previous Constitution of JR Jayawardhane did not foresee, or purposely avoided such an empowerment to the people.
The opposition was given a chance by the President before the 18th Amendment was placed before the Parliament to discuss the issue of an Executive President or an Executive Prime Minister , but the “weak” Opposition- as you say, was unable to seize the opportunity to engage in a dialogue to come to a different political system by curbing the executive powers of the President.
This bill passed in Parliament on the 7th September,2010, was therefore not executed in haste, but having a two third majority in the Parliament to any Political party is rare, and maintaining it being uncertain with fickle minds of “persons”- and with an expatriate Tamil Community waiting generously with an open bag of dollars, backed by the anti Sri Lanka countries of the west, duped by persons like you giving a wrong image of our country, it had been thought wise to pass the 18th Amendment now without prolonging discussions on it with a “weak and non-cooperating opposition” for an uncertain period of time.
The President’s immunity, under the former Constitution lasted for two consecutive terms of Presidency. But with the adoption of the 18th Amendment he loses that privilege, as the Presidency is renewable after every single term of office.
In 2005 Mahinda Rajapakse came on a platform- not of war, as Sonali Samarasinghe says –but on a “platform” to remove terrorism peacefully with a dialogue with the terrorist leader. But Prabhakaran not only refused to meet him personally, but also refused to participate in negotiations for a peace settlement.
Prabhakaran showed his opposition for negotiation of peace by blasting a claymore bomb massacring a busload of passengers, and closing the sluice gates of a tank depriving the farmers of water. The President then had no alternative but to resort to military operations. That is the situation that Sonali carefully avoids speaking about, calling the government’s military operations against terrorism a “racist war”.
On the 18th May,2009, the President with his Armed Forces eliminated terrorism, despite the efforts by the Western countries to give a life line to the terrorists for some unknown reason. Subsequently, these Western countries angered by their failure to save the terrorist leadership continue to accuse Sri Lanka for violation of Human Rights.
There are many local media persons like Sonali Samarasinghe who helped the anti Sri Lanka moves by the foreign Media to bring discredit to Sri Lanka putting forward all sorts of unsubstantiated allegations.
It is wrong to say that Sri Lanka during the past five years achieved only a modest economic growth. On the other hand Sri Lanka despite the military operations against the terrorists during the last four years made a remarkable economic growth, as well as an unprecedented infrastructure development, which would surprise Sonali Samarasinghe if she were to visit Sri Lanka with an open mind and see them for herself.
Sonali Samarasinghe should not continue to discredit Sri Lanka, by talking about the doctored Video evidence planted by the UK Channel 4, which had been apparently amply compensated for their deplorable work by the pro terrorist Tamil Expatriates in UK, and strengthened by an equally deplorable journalist of your late husband’s Sunday Leader. It is not necessary to go back on it as it had been repeated ad nauseam.
With regard to the appointment of the brothers of the President that you seem to revert back to, you may perhaps know that one brother appointed as the Defence Secretary was a Colonel in the Sri Lanka Armed Forces and fought against the terrorists for nearly 20 years. Therefore, that was an appropriate appointment as he already knew of the tactics used by the terrorists, and knew how to coordinate the three forces -Army, Navy and Air Force and provide them with appropriate arms and ammunition.
It was an appropriate appointment despite the fact the appointee was a brother of the President. We now know that he played a key role in the military operations that brought terrorisms to an end in Sri Lanka. He was a person on whom the President could place his complete trust and confidence, which was an important factor at the time.
With regard to other two brothers and his son they contested different Parliamentary seats in the country and were democratically elected by the people of the country. Therefore harping on that is a mere effort to baselessly discredit the President.
All his appointees to important positions in the government sector were qualified for the posts and they have carried out the work entrusted to them in the interest of the country, of which you are out of touch, and repeat stories concocted by anti Sri Lanka persons whose company you seem to keep.
Arrest of the former Army Commander is on evidence of his misconduct not in keeping with his office as the Commander of the Army. His arrest was not a personal vendetta of the President, who may even today pardon him if he were to ask for it.
As you are biased against Sri Lanka you will fail to see positive aspects of the Presidency of Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse. On the same account you will be blind to the efforts of the West, securing the support of the UN, UNHRC, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International ,EU and the International Crisis Group, to take revenge from the President and the Government for its refusal to let their Agents, David Milliband, Bernard Kushner , or Blake to enter the war zone during the final phase of the war against terrorists to rescue its leadership.
We are an Independent Nation with a literate population. Our Academics, the Judiciary, and the intelligentsia are “noble” as much as they are in the West or perhaps more so. They could be trusted to carry out independent objective investigations into what ever Commissions they are appointed ,
Therefore Sonali Samarasinghe when you say , “ Many have no faith in such homegrown inquiries that have been more about the reinforcement of the government viewpoint, denial, botching evidence and creating confusion rather than genuine investigation.”, you are joining in chorus with all anti-Sri Lanka elements in the west. It is an unpardonable insult to our institutions and our learned intellectual community.
The “Many” you refer to may be the people of your ilk, and those biased Westerners, whose company you keep . But the people of the country have confidence in the investigators appointed to various Commissions, as well as those appointed to the Reconciliation and Lessons Learnt Commission, except of course the local political opponent of the President and his government .
Some of our media, and media personnel are the bane of our country that discredit the Country and the President for the most part inventing incidents and reporting them to the western media as manoeuvres by the President and the Government .
You and those who prompted the writing of your article have let all your minds run wild in trying to imagine how to condemn the adoption of the 18th Amendment as a means to make the incumbent President more powerful.
If you had looked at it without bias against the President and the Government you may have seen more clearly the adoption of the 18th Amendment does not attempt to make the incumbent President more powerful than he is.
With people like you who do not want to see the merits of the 18th Amendment, we can discuss until cows come home and you will still remain with the same bias as that with which you started the discussion.
Finally you come to the new Amendment, by which the President must attend Parliament every three months making him answerable to the Parliament, where you say that, “ a provision his supporters argue will increase accountability. In fact, such a move will only serve to increase presidential power, manipulation and interference in the parliamentary process and remove any semblance of the independence of parliament and the separation of powers.”
This shows that you are unable to look at any thing objectively when it comes to Sri Lanka , it is under these circumstances that one wonders how you came to be a “award winning” journalist with such a muddled mental attitude.
The final cutting wave of your sword comes , with the statement, “ Certainly for a country that has seen some of the bloodiest years of its 27-year civil war under the present regime, the culture of impunity, the fear propaganda, the persecution intimidation, murder and muzzling of the press is nothing new.”
But leaving aside insinuations, Sonali Samarasinghe should know that this country saw, with the coming of President Rajapakse, the end of nearly a thirty years of suffering bringing untold misery to the Tamil Civilians in the North and East and assassinations, murders, massacres, fear and uncertainty to the rest of the country. It also saw the dawn of peace in Sri Lanka with the end of terrorism.
There had been no muzzling of the press at any time and even now the media both local and international continue to berate, insult, discredit and level accusations to the President and the government of Sri Lanka, without a word of angry reaction by the President or the Government.
Please stop your vendetta against the President and the Government and come to Sri Lanka to see for yourself what has become of Sri Lanka since you have left , what progress it has made, before you write another meaningless article remembering Sri Lanka for what it had been under a ruthless terrorism “ in command”.
( for Sonali Samarasinhghe’s article: