The process of NGO governance needs to be implemented with great care
Posted on July 13th, 2009

Ajit Randeniya

According to leading analysts of doctrinal developments in US foreign policy, the American international NGOs (INGOs) were one of the foremost elements of the “third wave of democratisation” putsch that began in 1974, as a means of achieving regime change in “target states” in alignment with the US foreign policy objectives. The “informal penetration” theory was based on INGOs, together with US foreign aid, increasing the porosity and penetrability of rival or “recalcitrant” states: the specific charter of INGOs is to penetrate vulnerable target states and societies through the propagation of US propaganda relating to issues such as Human Rights and internationalism, in coalition with influential state actors; maintaining constant criticism of target states is an essential secondary operational tactic.

 The “colour revolutions” in the first-half of this decade, the “rose revolution” in Georgia (November 2003-January 2004), the “orange revolution” in Ukraine (January 2005) and the “tulip revolution” in Kyrgyzstan (April 2005) were all spearheaded by the American INGOs working at the behest of the US Stae Department and the CIA. In keeping with US foreign-policy priorities, the INGOs also acted to prevent the comparable political convulsions of Uzbekistan (May 2005) and Azerbaijan (November 2005) from developing into “colour revolutions”.

 Despite being one of the countries who had “woken up” to the INGO game plan fairly early, in the early 1980s in fact, the plentiful availability of local collaborators (read Ranil Wickremesinghe, Kumar Rupesinghe, Jehan Perera, Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, Basil Fernando, J. C. Weliamuna and the entire vipers’ nest of the Leader Publications) made Sri Lanka a virtual playing field for these frauds. They were able to virtually manage events in Sri Lanka by manipulating the inept and subservient leaders such as Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Kumaranatunga, leading them to endless “peace negotiations” with Prabhakaran, a non-compromising psychopath. Their objective was to buy time for the establishment of the Eelam. The devastating effects of the 2004 tsunami made the situation worse for Sri Lanka’s national interest by providing them with more opportunities to intensify their activities.

 The 2006 decision of the Rajapakse government to seriously focus on the contemptuous behaviour of these frauds, due partly to JVP agitation, by appointing a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) was a welcome development due to the threats they posed to Sri Lanka’s national integrity. As to be expected, the NGOs and their local collaborators protested against this inquiry in to their activities that are detrimental to the national interest and sovereignty of the country, and their violations of financial and labour laws; they accused the government of launching a witch-hunt against voluntary organisations.

 The December 2008 interim report of the PSC pointed to some excellent work that had been done in scrutinising NGO activities, giving confidence that their destabilising activities were likely to be curtailed through “smart” government supervision. The early problems sited by the PSC included the lack of a precise definition of an NGO and the ability to register NGOs in Sri Lanka as “voluntary originsations” variously at the Social Services Ministry or under the Companies Act.

 Now it appears that a dispute between the Ministry of Social Services and Social Welfare and the PSC is delaying the drafting of legislation to implement the PSC recommendations. This situation should not be allowed to continue in view of the obvious dangers posed by these agents of foreign powers, especially in the light of evidence of their criminal and disgraceful activities the armed forces have gathered. If the dispute is based on any bureaucratic “turf war” regarding the future control of the NGOs, the responsible parties need to be taken to task urgently: it is this type of behaviour that put personal interest ahead of national interest in some cases, that prolonged the war to a thirty year affair.

 It is also disturbing to hear that the PSC is recommending that NGOs in the provinces be brought under the supervision of Pradeshiya Sabhas secretaries. An approval process based on such “regional” decision making is likely to be accepted gleefully by the NGOs due to the opportunities that will become available for them to exploit the malcontents in the North and the East and the gullible and the corrupt everywhere: it should not be forgotten that they deal in US dollars! Hopefully, this process will be replaced with a central approval process based on clear guidelines on proposed activities, local staffing and reporting requirements.

 The government’s recently announced requirement that NGOs wishing to enter former conflict areas in the north should obtain prior permission from the Presidential Task Force (PTF) provides a more suitable process for this purpose, reducing the avenues for their corruption of the approval process.

 Needless to say, the future of Sri Lankan will depend on efficient public administration as much as it will depend on the locally developed plans for economic development.


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