ETCA and mandates
Posted on February 21st, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has annoyed many a government leader by opposing the controversial Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) to be signed with India. Hardly a day passes without some self-important ruling party potentate venting his spleen on doctors.

Minister Lakshman Kiriella has told our sister paper, the Sunday Divaina, that the government does not care about those who are without a popular mandate and is planning to make a public display of its strength by holding a rally next month. The previous government also resorted to such muscle flexing in a bid to frighten its opponents into submission, but could not perpetuate its hold on power.

Demonstrations to be staged by government backers, blinded by party politics and intoxicated with free rotgut, won’t help legitimize ETCA or any other pact inimical to the country’s interests. On the other hand, the course of action the government is contemplating is tantamount to throwing down the gauntlet which its opponents are sure to pick up. Street protests have a snowballing effect and it is a mistake for any government to trigger them.

The Rajapaksa government unflinchingly used a two-thirds majority it secured through a process of despicable political manoeuvring to change the Constitution. The present administration, claiming to uphold good governance, is using a similarly obtained parliamentary majority to ram ETCA down the people’s throats.

The present government which speaks so highly of popular mandates has within its ranks some defeated candidates appointed to Parliament against the people’s will and made ministers! It is led by a bunch of politicians who grovelled before Prabhakaran, who did not have representation even in a Pradeshiya Sabha! They entered into a ceasefire agreement with the LTTE, gave it parity of status at ‘peace talks’ and recognized it as the sole representative of the Tamil people. The Sri Lanka Air Force choppers were placed at the disposal of the LTTE leaders who were also given right royal treatment at the BIA, which they had attacked. Terrorists were allowed to operate freely in the North and the East and consolidate their power in those parts of the country. Minister Kiriella, during his Opposition days, derided military action against the LTTE and went so far as to claim that any idiot could wage war. Those who had their tails between their shivering legs and granted the wishes of the LTTE sans any popular mandate are today puffing themselves up and threatening doctors and other professionals!

Interestingly, the present government which accuses professional associations of engaging in politics and threatens action against them enlisted the support of trade unions including that of bus mudalalis before the last two elections. Several trade unions threw in their lot with the so-called good governance camp and publicly campaigned against the then government. This newspaper has carried pictures of the leaders of those bootlicking trade union leaders receiving awards from Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne for services rendered to the UNP-led coalition!

Trade unions have social responsibilities. The GMOA has, to its credit, courageously defended the public interest against commercial giants producing tobacco, alcohol and contaminated milk powder; it also threw its weight behind the national medicinal drug policy. It has, in the process, made very powerful enemies who are all out to destroy it with the help of some local quislings.

One need not be a doctor or an engineer to realise the danger of ETCA, the signing of which will certainly sound the death knell for Sri Lanka’s IT industry still in its infancy; it will prove to be the kiss of death for other sectors as well with the passage of time. Any average person with an iota of intelligence will see that ETCA is heavily loaded in favour of India. Else, New Delhi would not have evinced so keen an interest in it and pushed for inking it in such a hurry. The government says ETCA will help create employment opportunities. That may be so, but the beneficiaries won’t be Sri Lankans!

Politicians have no moral right to use mandates as bludgeons against professionals who defend the national interest. If the present-day doctors had dropped out of school before passing Grade Five and taken to cattle rustling, chain snatching, drug peddling, armed robbery and frauds, they would have been successful politicians today with popular mandates and instead of 22,000 physicians we would have had an equal number of political blockheads bellowing rhetoric and subjugating the national interest to their political agendas.

Politicians’ boastful claims of having mandates remind us of the Fuhrer. After the 1932 German election, Hitler also flaunted a popular mandate which he used to bulldoze his way through. What happened to Germany and the rest of the world thereafter because of his mandate is now history. So much for power hungry politicians and popular mandates! Champions of democracy, including trade unions, must join forces to form a countervailing force against such lunatics.

The GMOA and other professional outfits opposed to ETCA deserve the unstinted backing of all right-thinking Sri Lankans.


9 Responses to “ETCA and mandates”

  1. Sooriarachi Says:

    When the Sri Lankan armed forces led by patriotic and brave leaders of the tri-forces, the Army, the Navy and the Airforce;
    – bravely supported by the Police, Special Tasks Force; and
    – ably coordinated by Gotabaya Rajapakse under the strong leadership of the ex-President Mahinda
    Rajapakse, who stood like a rock to repulse attempts by Tiger friendly foreign leaders from India
    and the West, clamouring to save the Tamil Terrorist Leaders;
    – Sri Lanka was unfortunate to have had a bunch of shameless opposition politicians, who ridiculed the
    armed forces and belittled their achievements, probably attempting to demoralise the armed forces
    and the government:
    – not sparing an iota of compassion for the civilian victims of terrorism;
    – and the life and death battle of the armed forces, who were engaged in liberating the country
    and rescuing around 300,000 Tamil hostages herded around by the mindless LTTE terrorists,
    supported by their drug peddling, gun running criminal diaspora, wealthy enough to influence
    weak foreign and local politicians, journalists and officials.
    Today are we seeing many of such people who opposed the armed forces, now in the driving seat?
    Good luck Sri Lanka!

  2. aloy Says:

    Dr. Harsha has declared that an ambulance service has been started by India and that would improve our economy. I had some regard for Harsha. I think I have been mistaken. How on earth and ambulance service by India would improve our economy. These are services our countrymen can easily provide. They are only going to sell their products and services which appears to be a stepping stone into the private healthcare successfully being delivered by our people. He is only giving support to his boss, knowing fully well the economic side of it. He has no future in politics.

  3. aloy Says:

    At this moment there is riots going on in New Delhi because of lack of jobs there and some twelve people have died. Are our economists going to open flood gates for these jobless people?. The proper economic management is to train the school leavers or jobless people in the villages to come and take up job where they are. It seems there are a lot of jobless people in the north.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:


    The riots are in Hariyana. The riots are due to Caste discrimination.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    What Soori says above is absolutely true. Today’s govt is like a foreign neo-Colonial govt in power in Lanka !!

    Today’s govt leader, the Exec PM, Ranil, who was the Opposition Leader before and during the war with the LTTE, was opposed to the war, ran around abroad complaining about the GoSL leaders of that time.

    Today’s govt leader, Exec PM Ranil, has no feeling for the Sinhala/Buddhists of Lanka. His Heart is Colombo-centric, foreign-centric, similar to CBK.

    Th Exec PM came into power through the back door, appointed by the President who won a cheated election ! Said the Prez, that he appointed Ranil as Exec PM ‘because the west wants it so’. Gawd, what a mess in Lanka !

    Today, they (the Exec PM & Co) are keeping afloat on stopping and re-starting projects started by the MR govt.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    In India, the Caste problem is so bad, that riots have started in Hariyana over Caste discrimination.

    In India, in Tamil Nadu, during the last bad flood in Dec 2015, the Caste based discrimination against Tamil Dalits was so bad that they were not given drinking water.

    When Lanka has the Tamil language in place, free education & health care, etc. what is the message Lanka gives to the 15 Million Tamil Dalits of Tamil Nadu ?

    *. Tamil Leaders of Lanka demand Fed State etc.
    * Exec PM Ranil wants to build a Chunnel to Tamil Nadu.

    Conclusion : Suicide for Lanka in the offing.

  7. aloy Says:

    Some high caste people have cut off water supply canal to Delhi demanding that their caste be down graded so that they will get more job opportunities to their people according to India’s quota system. And a man named Sinhal was giving the info to BBC. There is a severe water shortage in Delhi. These scenes are relayed live to the world and the whole world can see India’s unemployment problem. Why our leaders go and get involved, I cannot understand.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:


    For clarificaton :

    The Jats of Hariyana who cut off the water supply to Delhi, are non-elites. They are the people who rioted, asking for govt jobs.

    See website below on riots, plus some excerpts on the Jats from Wikipedia.

    Re: JATS
    The Jats are a paradigmatic example of community- and identity-formation in early modern Indian subcontinent.[16] “Jat” is an elastic label applied to a wide-ranging, traditionally non-elite,[a] community which had its origins in pastoralism in the lower Indus valley of Sindh.[16] At the time of Muhammad bin Qasim’s conquest of Sind in the 8th century, Arab writers described agglomerations of Jats in the arid, the wet, and the mountainous regions of the conquered land.[18] The new Islamic rulers, though professing a theologically egalitarian religion, did not alter either the non-elite status of Jats or the discriminatory practices against them that had been put in place in the long period of Hindu rule in Sind.[19] Between the eleventh and the sixteenth centuries, Jat herders migrated, up along the river valleys,[20] into the Punjab,[16] which had not been brought under the plough in the first millennium.[21]Many took up tilling in regions such as Western Punjab, where the sakia (water wheel) had been recently introduced.[16][16][22] By early Mughal times, in the Punjab, the term “Jat” had become loosely synonymous with “peasant”,[23] and some Jats had come to own land and exert local influence.[16]

    According to historians Catherine Asher and Cynthia Talbot,[24]

    The Jats also provide an important insight into how religious identities evolved during the precolonial era. Before they settled in the Punjab and other northern regions, the pastoralist Jats had little exposure to any of the mainstream religions. Only after they became more integrated into the agrarian world did the Jats adopt the dominant religion of the people in whose midst they dwelt.[24]

    With passage of time, in the western Punjab, the Jats became primarily Muslim, in the eastern Punjab, Sikh, and in the areas between Delhi Territory and Agra, primarily Hindu, their divisions by faith reflecting the geographical strengths of these religions.[24] During the decline of Mughal rule in the early 18th century, the Indian subcontinent’s hinterland dwellers, many of whom were armed and nomadic, increasingly interacted with settled townspeople and agriculturists. Many new rulers of the 18th century came from such martial and nomadic backgrounds. The effect of this interaction on India’s social organization lasted well into the colonial period. During much of this time, non-elite tillers and pastoralists, such as the Jats or Ahirs, were part of a social spectrum that blended only indistinctly into the elite landowning classes at one end, and the menial or ritually polluting classes at the other.[25] During the heyday of Mughal rule, Jats had recognized rights. According to Barbara D. Metcalf and Thomas R. Metcalf:

    Upstart warriors, Marathas, Jats, and the like, as coherent social groups with military and governing ideals, were themselves a product of the Mughal context, which recognized them and provided them with military and governing experience. Their successes were a part of the Mughal success.[26]

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    I agree with Aloy that Lanka should NOT get involved in India’s vast Unemployment Problems. The ramifications are enormous and dangerous to Lanka.

    See below link to Discrimination against Tamil Dalits during the floods of Dec 2015. There are more articles on this topic on the internet.

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