Sunday, 2 July 2017

United front - Otara Gunewardene, Sajeewa Chamikara and Bodu Bala Sena

It is perilous time. So, the obvious also has to be stipulated. 

The authority which is in-charge of an action or inaction and orders something to do or not to do shall be accountable for relevant actions or inactions taken. The authorities could react officially ignoring the issue at hand too.

Each politician, bureaucrat and institution shall be accountable for the actions, inactions and ignorance within the scope of their relevant mandates. If cheap politicians are driven only by the votes, not by long term national interests, then the bureaucrats are there to preserve the interests of locals, which shall always align with the long term interests of nation. The strength of civil society and its organizations are measured upon the influence they possess on the politicians and the bureaucrats making them accountable upon when they evade their professional responsibilities aligned with the interest of people and nation. When politicians and the bureaucrats fail to adhere to their mandate, disciplinary actions need to be taken against them. When the politicians are disoriented from the real interest of nation, the pillars of civil society should come together in the interest of nation to bring those politicians and bureaucrats to justice creating examples for future generations. Otara Gunewardene, Sajeewa Chamikara and Bodu Bala Sena could establish a united front against the much discussed archeological and forest reserves destruction.

It seems though, these obvious facts on authority and accountability are becoming very vague in many aspect in Sri Lankan state-making. Our interest in this article is to bring attention to the destruction of national forest reserve and archeological sites. There are no greater crime than neglecting the duties to protect forest and archeological inheritance. These crimes shall not come only within the relevant local jurisdiction but also through universal jurisdiction.

It is all over media that archaeological sites are being vandalized and national forest reserves are being encroached. The beginning of destruction of Wilpattu goes back to 2015. And unethical practices in archaeological sites like Kuragala and Kalu Diya Pokuna in Kandalama have been very well documented. Lands encroachment activities in eastern province of Buddhist temple have also become like a mantra these days.

Who is accountable for neglecting duties for these crimes?

Who is accountable for initiation of destruction of Wilpattu? And who is accountable ignoring the distraction of archaeological sites?

It has to be obvious that who is in charge of preserving the National Forest Reserves and Archeological sites in Sri Lanka. Extraordinary gazette may exist and they shall be respected within due reason – reason is remained and determined within the nation interest. But generally speaking no complications should exist as to whom duty is it to protect the land of Wilpattu. Nor shall any complications should exist as to who is accountable neglecting Kuragala or Kalu Diya Pokuna archaeological sites and land encroachments in the east.   

As the main political parties are always up to minority votes and therefore will not raise these issues - as Magalkande Sudaththa Thera also states – in public we, as a members of civil society, have to rely on institutions and bureaucrats in place to protect our national interests. In these cases local Gramasevakas, divisional secretariats and secretaries in relevant departments come to my mind.  
One thing has to be very clear to us. It is that politicians and their departments have two different jobs. Politicians may come and go but these departments and their bureaucrats stay. And the bureaucrats in these departments are responsible for their actions, inactions and ignorance.  And they are accountable to the public by their mandate and public law.

No secretary is obliged to sign in for an irrational request made by his or her superiors. Each and every action of secretary shall comply with the interest of nation and his or her relevant mandates. If the mandate is not cohesive with the long term interests of our nation then it is another issue – an issue need to be dealt separately.

And if the bureaucrats insist that the political pressure is too strong to stand against an irrational political development the bureaucrat always possess few options as a patriotic individual. These options may will not be codified options but a true bureaucrat always know when and how to materialize these tools when the national interest at stake. From trying to convey the right from wrong to the superior to leak the information to opposite political party as a resort always exist. The media and the civil society organization are also there to come to rescue these bureaucrats. The whole point is that the bureaucrats shall stand firmly with the interest of nation. When all the resorts are exhausted the resignation of the bureaucrat remains as the most dignified action left. Those good deeds are always remembered by worthy dignitaries reassuring future prospects of these firm individuals.

A lot of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ keep these the bureaucrats playing according to and with politicians. Therefore, then civil society organizations and pillars of them need to come together for those worthy causes.  Setting precedence in a developing country like ours has to take place now. We shall know how to maximize the legal tools available against the bureaucrats and politicians in the interest of our nation.

Otara Gunewardene is a pillar of our civil society who is really passionate about the preservation of Sri Lankan nature. Her leadership skills are unquestionable. Sajeewa Chamikara is also another pillar in nature preservation. For definitive answers everyone tend to listen to Chamikara on nature issues. Some concerns of Bodu Bala Sena could also be tunneled together towards a strong working coalition to bring those perpetrators to justice for the sake of our nation. Allegation for being an extremist organization need to be dwarfed by the greater good that these parties could achieve together. Furthermore, few social media groups, which indicate that they could be worthy stakeholders in such coalition, could also be welcomed. But an ideal coalition would be a small group but a united front behind one true leadership towards few specific goals - may this be a temporary assimilation if needed.

One true goal shall be bringing the perpetrators justice on destroying Wilpattu National Park and Archaeological sites. No matter what who gave the definitive order to cut down the trees in Wilpattu, who neglected the duties in Kuragala and Kalu Diya Pokuna have to be investigated. Going there to file the individual cases and following up all the cases with financial assistance would be paramount. If the domestic legal framework proven to be biased and ineffective a such united front shall prepare to materialize all the international resources available until precedence are made for future generations that no such negligence of duties would be carried out in the future.

If we do not unite to bring perpetrators to justice today no one will take them in the future too.

It is our duty, as well-informed and most-privilege members of civil society, to act.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Buddhist extremism in Sri Lanka

No pacifist idealism has ever created strong and proud nations.

The perception that G Ganasara Thera is an extremist is written in many UN papers, BBC new reports and Aljazeera’s. 

No denial that some minor part of Sinhala Buddhists too are thinking GG as an extremist. But most tolerate him and some aspire him. They all seems to understand that in a nation like ours, where no politician seems to be accountable for the electorate to protect their national interest, what is wrong with the good-old-age Buddhist valor to remind to others Sri Lanka’s Buddhists national identity and its national interest.

The thing is that most critics of GG never seek out about the fact of the rout causes. Widespread fear of Muslim expansionism, deforestation of Wilpattu National Reserve and an attempt to clear off an area in Kulamarippu National Forest Reserve by Rishard Badurdeen, Muslim parliamentarian, and evidently visible destruction of pre-historic and historic archeological sites by some Muslim communities are grave concerns for majority Sinhalese, mainly for Buddhists. A statement made by Mano Ganeshwaram, another Tamil parliamentarian, few days ago, has triggered a dire concern among Sinhala Buddhists. He stated that nowhere in the Sri Lankan constitution it stipulates Sri Lanka is a Buddhist nation.

G Gnanasara Thero 

M. K Shivajilingum too, another Tamil parliamentarian, did openly challenge the country’s President not to visit North at the time of Tamil celebration of genocide week. Every year, he commemorates the death of terrorists and bystanders of 2009. This is on the Sri Lankan independent day, as it shall be. No European nation celebrates Hitler or Nazis or bystanders who perished with them on their respective independent days. So does the Americans; Abraham Lincoln is celebrated not Jefferson Davis or bystanders perished with him. Chairman Mao and Red army is celebrated not the nationalists or bystanders.

The violation of this simple norm constitutes a grave danger to national identity and interest. No systematic actions are taking place either by any of law enforcement authorizes in Sri Lanka to neutralize these ongoing provocations.  

Tolerance of minorities and mutually benefiting diversity within boarders must be protected by natural law. But when the very diversity and tolerance challenge the overarching ideology of the state it shall also be dealt with the same laws. But the protecting this Sinhala Buddhist identity is being questioned by global-cosmopolitans and pluralists.

Sri Lanka’s challenge is to stand up to those criticism with real realist rigor. Real forefathers of ours have left no doubt of the process of nation building and tolerance of people within it. No nation as such was ever built by pacifists. Behind the creation of each powerful nations lie the graveyards of millions. And it is on the winner’s term the peace is written. No one ever question the Anglo-American ideology or deny the UK’s Christin heritage. So does the state of Saudi Arabia’s or Iran’s or India’s.  

No pluralist or cosmopolitan grievances need tolerated in the case of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a very young nation. Alien post war theories have no application in Sri Lankan case. The first step have already been taken in the right direction in 2009. And the country shall be a marching further in that right direction.

A state shall never be hesitant to enforce its core values on minorities. The long term trick is to make it works without even realizing it. Before that GG and many others seems to have very legitimate roles to play defining Sri Lankan Buddhist identity. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Playing with India and China - Principle positions

Photo credit : India Today
India is our greatest ally and it is our greatest strategic hurdle too. 

We have to take decisions based on only our national interests to play with India and China as major investing parties in Sri Lanka. It is more important then ever to do so since our Mother Land is in historical conjuncture. 

Geographical position of India and Sri Lanka have entangled us to play politics with India very cautiously. The relation of these two land masses'goes far back. For example the archaeological extracts found in Jaffna indicates influence of Indus Valley Civilisation in Sri Lanka. That is pre-historical. So, Mr. Modi is peaking to Sri Lankan Tamil community in Dickoya few weeks ago shall also be understood as a continuation of this inevitable natural entanglement of geopolitics. To me, weather British Empire poked in in this relationship or not we Sri Lankan have to play this geographical political game with India for eternity. We have to understand that Sri Lanka could not flourish not getting our international relation right with India. This is our first principle understandings. We have to get it right right now as we are in a historical era of our history.

China, on the other hand, is on the rise. No matter what pivot to Asia or we will ever do to contain China it is on rise. China deserves all its success. And there are a lot all nations could learn from Chinese political system. The mass Chinese psyche is as such one strong leader is aspired by them. And this strong leader is always guaranteed by its National People's Congress by hand picking the best available leader for its Chairmanship. Until whole communist system is corrupt to its core this strong leadership will be prevailed in China. Meanwhile, China will gain its due credibility within international community in every aspect – politically, economically, socially and all. 

So, as India and China are becoming principle investment parties to Sri Lanka, we have to delicately balance our interests between these two countries.  It will proven to be particularly difficult because they are playing ice-cold diplomacy between them too for the dominance in Asia. So, how are we going about doing this delicate balancing act? 

We have to first humbly realise how lucky we are with our geographical position in Indian ocean to receive this much attention.

We only have to stick to few simple principles and we are ready to rock with this two nations while all, India, China and Sri Lanka, are benefiting from such a cooperation. Understanding in our core that our country could not flourish without India and understanding that no matter what China is on rise is paramount. Those are the foundations of understanding Sri Lankan position among them. 

Sri Lankan have to understand that our Island has great potential to become a developed nation than India ever will. India is troubled with its one point two billions population and its energy scarcity. Attempt to raise the income of every single individual of Indians to the developed nation level is irremediable act.  It is also paramount to understand Indian administration will always try to play with our Tamil communities for its advantage. But India will never welcome a separate Tamil nation within Sri Lanka.

Having those principle understanding we shall warmly welcome Indian investments into the country. Even if India can never complete building its highways across its vast nation an insignificant fraction of its investment could do a lot in Sri Lanka. So, let India build highways and power plants and what not. But it is very wise to develop an in-depth compulsory research into investment opportunities that Sri Lanka could open to India. Long term strategic national interest of Sri Lanka shall pay a central role all investment opportunities of Sri Lanka, which we allow India to invest.

When it comes to Chinese investments we have to be wary about a lot of Chinese people coming with them, literally speaking. Opportunist Chinese are already exploiting Sri Lankan gem, tea and tourism industries. Some thinks that their opportunistic actions are balanced out with huge investments projects of the Chinese government. This kind of attitude is common among opportunist with Chinese investments in Africa and elsewhere too. 

To contain that king of nuance developments we have to be an equal investing partner to Chinese investments . 

Be equal investing partner

No nation can truly be proud of 100% foreign investments. We need to be pro-active partners to all investments. 

Yes, The Belt and Road initiative is distinctly Chinese. And it is going to change the world for ever. But that is not a good enough reason for us to refuse investing in mutually benefiting investment projects along the Belt and Road. No nation can truly be proud of 100% foreign investments. We shall take an active role in those Port City Projects and other investment projects. We shall prepare to bare the burden equally to earn our pride and our share in our history.

I sense only doing that we can control the adverse effect of a lot of Chinese coming with Chinese investments fact. One of very recent a frank communication with one of my dearest Chinese colleague was to offer me a story to leave with you. 

The story unfolds with we sharing a newspaper article about Chinese gem racket found in Ratnapura in Daily Mirror, around 5th of May this year. I pointed out to my colleague that Chinese are ruining their reputation in Sri Lanka too. After few exchanges of our viewpoints, he pointed out to me that “Why do you Sri Lankans not see Chinese are building big projects in Sri Lanka.” He seems to justify Chinese who smuggle gem in their anus and they do not pay due taxes to our authorities. These kind of Chinese practices have infiltrated in to Sri Lankan tourist and tea industry. Some are illegally taking out some of our precious herbal plants away from Sri Lanka too.

We have to understand that top level Chinese leadership and these opportunists have very little in common. The Chinese top level leadership only portrays vision, commitment and hard work in their political practices. Observe Chairman Mao, Deng Xiaoping or Xi Jinping. I do not think that it is their wish to exploit its partnering nations. But with its large population China government can never control all of its inhabitants.

Point of this article is Sri Lanka shall welcome Indian and Chinese investments cordially in to our economy. While Indian investment shall be monitored with long term national interests of Sri Lanka in mind Sri Lanka must try to be equal partner to Chinese investments to protect Sri Lanka’s pride.

When Sri Lanka have two principle investors we could always play with them for our interests.