Leveraging the Patriotic Diaspora to Secure Sustainable Peace in Sri Lanka
Posted on December 30th, 2010

SPUR  (Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka Inc Reg: A003 0777 M P.O. Box 4066, Mulgrave VIC 3170, Australia

Evidence to Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission 27 December 2010  Dr Dasarath Jayasuriya, PhD., M.Eng, B.Sc (Eng), Grad.Dip.Bus.Mgt, M.I.Eng. Aust, CPEng President SPUR Australia

Good afternoon honourable members of the commission, ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) for giving me an opportunity to present my views as an active member of the Diaspora working to safeguard Sri Lanka’s unitary status, the territorial integrity and the sovereignty for over 30 years. I consider it to be a privilege to have this opportunity to submit my view to the esteemed members of the Commission.

Let me state very clearly first up that all citizens of Sri Lanka have equal rights, and the right to live anywhere in Sri Lanka in peace, harmony and prosperity sans any ethnic divide or whether you belong to the majority or a minority community. They should feel safe, and when dealing with civil services, be free to converse in the language of their choice and be heard, understood and responded to. As the President so eloquently stated, we are all Sri Lankans first. However, we respectfully acknowledge that Sri Lanka has a strong Buddhist, Sinhala heritage as evidenced by numerous historical monuments, manuscripts and the dominant culture. Buddhism continues to fashion core values and underpin behaviour which promotes non violence, tolerance and co-existence. Citizens should be free to practice the religion of their choice without any fear of persecution. As these principles are enshrined in Sri Lanka’s Constitution, they should be put in to practice and be abided with a passion. 

Preamble

I refer to the substantial submission made to the Commission by me on behalf of SPUR on 17 October 2010. After introducing SPUR and describing what we stand for, we addressed Terms of Reference Items (i) to (v), except Item (iv) which refers to the “ƒ”¹…”methodology whereby restitution to any person affected by those events or their dependents or to heirs, can be effected’.

 With respect to Item (iv), we strongly believe that the Government should establish by law, a statutory agency to locate, chase and recover funds collected or extorted by the LTTE both within Sri Lanka and overseas. We also urge the Government to facilitate class actions on behalf of the victims of LTTE terror. The Government should secure compensation for them by taking to court those hiding or living overseas still advocating Eelam and/or parroting the virtues of the LTTE. The TRO money that was frozen in Sri Lanka (and overseas) should also be pooled to benefit victims. This money should be used to compensate those affected by LTTE’s 30 years of terror, including the innocent civilians whose villages were repeatedly invaded, the people subject to systematic rape and massacre by the LTTE such as Avarantulawa and Kokeliya in the North as well as Wilgamvehera in the East. The surviving Sinhalese living in these villages are being left in the wilderness, fending for themselves as the Government and the NGO’s rush to service the Tamil dominated areas in the North and the East. Civilians who survived the terror perpetrated by the LTTE from these threatened villages need to be treated as national heroes as they bore the brunt of Tiger brutality and provided the rest of the country with a buffer. My point here is that they equally deserve to reap the benefits and enjoy the dividends of peace. This is a must do task to sustain communal harmony in clusters of villages dominated by different ethnic communities, as we must not create fully serviced Tamil villages and underdeveloped Sinhala villages cohabiting side by side as this could lead to frustrations and communal tension.

 SPUR and my credentials as an active member of the Diaspora

 The Society for Peace Unity and Human Rights for Sri Lanka (SPUR) is a 16 year old human rights organisation with over 700 members operating from Melbourne, Australia with sister organisations throughout Australia in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, as well as in New Zealand.  We also provide the secretarial services to the World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka (WAPS), the alliance of 16 patriotic organisations operating around the world. WAPS was responsible for organising the landmark conference about securing peace in Sri Lanka on 19 August 2004 in Oslo, Norway titled Road Map for Peace in Sri Lanka. I have been personally involved in fighting the Diaspora battle in Thailand in the early 80’s and as a member of OSLANU (led by Prof. Christy Weeramanthri) in the mid 80’s and later as an executive committee member and President of SPUR in Australia.

 We spearheaded the fight against separatism and malicious spreading of rumours, lies, innuendo and misinformation about Sri Lanka during the period when Sri Lanka was held to ransom by the Tamil Tiger terrorists. We are now actively involved in executing a strategy to work with fellow Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora to secure the hard won peace in perpetuity.

 We stand unwaveringly for protecting the territorial integrity, the unitary state and the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. We are also committed to helping members of the armed forces adversely affected and injured by the war as well as affected civilians who lived in the threatened villages.

 The focus of this address and the international community

 My address to the Commission distributed today specifically address the Terms of References given to the Commission (see Annexure). Due to time constraints, I wish to focus now on the role of the Diaspora in securing sustainable peace, especially measures which need to be taken to prevent any recurrence of LTTE type terror in the future.

 There was one critical factor that stood between Sri Lanka where it is today, with its hopes and aspirations for a bright future, and the bleak and toxic despondency dominated by terror, fear and the real possibility of National disintegration.

 This critical success factor was President Rajapaksa’s strong will, on behalf of Sri Lanka, to stand up to the international community. His unwavering belief that it was time, time to eradicate terrorism and liberate the Nation from the clutches of Prabhakaran, the despotic and manic terrorist who had taken the citizens hostage. The President’s passionate belief that no one; and I repeat no one should or could stand between achieving the liberation outcome applied primarily to the so called international community which was convinced that terrorism could not be eradicated from Sri Lanka and only appeasing Prabhakaran’s lust for blood would secure peace.

 International support was crucial for Prabhakaran sustaining terrorism. It was the life-blood fuelling the terrorist engine. The international community influencing Sri Lanka is made up of many entities including:

 

  • Countries that consider themselves as the bastions of democracy and global morality. They include USA, UK, Germany, Canada, Japan and the EU as a collective body
  • Unconditionally supportive countries such as China who believe sustainable development to be the panacea for durable peace
  • Impotent countries in the global context such as Norway and South Africa which crave for recognition as influential members fashioning global politics and the developing world’s social and political construct
  • Global agencies such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth, ASEAN and SARC
  • The emigrant Diaspora with a Sri Lankan heritage permanently resident in countries such as Canada, UK, Australia, France and some Scandinavian countries
  • The Sri Lankan workers temporarily resident in countries such as Italy, Korea and the Middle East
  • Sri Lankan’s violating the law either working  illegally or knowingly overstaying visas
  • Those seeking refuge in countries in the EU, Canada and Australia; and
  • Students following courses overseas with the intent of seeking residency or going back to Sri Lanka.

 

Let me now briefly refer to the pressures exerted by some of the above actors and the drivers fuelling their actions. 

International pressures and the actors

 

Many of the Nations preaching the virtues of democracy to Sri Lanka are either fuelled by domestic politics (India), the votes carried by the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora (eg. UK, Australia and Canada) or affected by the fear of a small nation punching well above its weight setting an example to other developing nations. The latter is especially the case with USA. The Sri Lankan polity lead by President Rajapaksa, ably supported by the Defence Secretary, the armed forces and a unified cabinet, has demonstrated how indigenous solutions can deliver sustainable social, environmental and economic outcomes, in spite of powerful global opposition.

 

The Americans have no shame. Led by the Secretary of Stat and the High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, it continues to preach the virtues of Human Rights, good governance and transparency to Sri Lanka. Their hypocrisy has no bound as evidenced by many documents exposed to the world by the WickieLeaks saga, the 9 -11 of the Internet. A number of released emails demonstrate the intent of USA to interfere in the internal affairs of countries not assenting to their views. Sri Lanka is one of the countries that had drawn America’s disproportionate attention. There is also evidence of America influencing the workings of international agencies such as UN. We need to question the actions of Ban Ki Moon who is seeking a renewal of his appointment. Is he the cats-paw prosecuting US agenda within UN?

 Many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians including women and children have been killed by the invading forces led by America. Many Afghan civilians continue to be killed by the American and the allied forces on a daily basis. These civilian deaths have been considered as regretful but necessary collateral damage. As emails exposed by WickieLeaks demonstrated, sometimes they even treat their so called allies with contempt and ridicule. America has a history of giving their so called friendly nations the “Karapincha” treatment, used and abused as long as they tow the line but discarded once America’s objectives are served. This is evidenced by the predicaments faced by the Shah of Iran, President Marcos many Latin American leaders and President Noriega of Panama. This is sadly the fate laying in waiting for the current President of Afganistan, President Khazai. We should not be surprised by America’s conduct and should stand forthright, unflinching for what we believe in without compromising to adopt foreign models that have been imposed as solutions to the non-exiting ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. We had a terrorist problem and the President has dealt with it forcefully and ended it effectively. The Diaspora has to now work collectively to secure its sustainability.

 The behaviour of the United Kingdom and the EU is governed by the large expatriate Tamil Diaspora living and most importantly, voting in their countries. This too was partly exposed by WickieLeaks where the former UK Foreign Secretary Milliband shamelessly perused the Tamil vote, alas to no avail. After raping and pillaging the nation for more than 150 years, the British under Gordon Brown continued to treat Sri Lanka as their colony. The withdrawal of the GSP+ facility is EU’s response to Sri Lanka bucking the trend without playing to the whims and fancies of the EU. They all collectively want to teach Sri Lanka a lesson, as it has not followed tradition and displayed the typical behaviour of a developing nation, happy to be puppeteered by the so called benevolent beacons of democracy. After all, they have forgotten that we have always bucked the tradition and challenged the convention, Murali being the most recent example.  

 Norwegians always wanted to be seen as movers and shakers when it came to setting the global political agenda. They have made peace brokering an art and a Trojan horse to pursue their surreptitious agenda to secure natural resources. They are yet to succeed in any of their peace ventures having failed miserably in Sudan and spectacularly in the Middle East (the Israel-Palestinian Oslo Accord). Their efforts to interfere in Nepal were rejected and in Sri Lanka, with the death of Prabhakaran, they lost all influence. It was Erik Solheim who described Prabhakara as a military genius and the war prosecuted by this megalomaniac against the people of Sri Lanka, as a war that could not be won. They will continue to support anti-Sri Lankan elements; especially the NGOs in the guise of supporting democracy and freedom with the belief that changes to the worse in Sri Lanka’s status quo would once again propel them into the global limelight. We need  to watch the conduct of Norway as they continue to provide a stage for the Eelamist to pursue their destructive ambitions.

 The duplicity, hypocrisy and the inconsistency shown by Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the UN is breadth taking. I am puzzled by the disproportionate attention paid to a small peaceful country like Sri Lanka. Ban is influenced by the Tamil Diaspora, the media and the NGO’s funded by Tamil Tigers. He seems to be stuck in a time warp around 19 May 2009, incapable of extricating himself from the innuendo and lies parroted by some of the Tamil Diaspora who overtly supported the LTTE. The panel established to advice him is stacked with members who have a history of being anti Sri Lankan. Repeated emails sent by me to the United Nations and the panel members seeking their Terms of Reference have not yielded a brass razoo. Deathly silence has greeted every attempt to seek more information. So much so, for transparency.

 There are more pressing issues impacting global peace that requires Ban Ki Moons urgent attention. These include:

 

  • The Ivory Coast crisis where the incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo is refusing to leave the Presidential palace having lost the elections to his rival Alassane Ouattara. The country is on the brink of civil war
  • Somalian war lords controlling vast swaths of land and the thriving piracy affecting global shipping
  • Impotent UN response to North Korea’s brinkmanship tactics
  • The Israeli’s continuing to build illegal settler homes (108 built on 24 December 2010) threatening Middle Eastern peace
  • The Iranian nuclear ambitions and the resulting power struggle in the Middle East
  • The Haitian debacle with deaths due to cholera reaching 2500. Last week rampaging mobs lynched 45 people accused of spreading cholera
  • The disintegration of Sudan and the forthcoming referendum granting independence to the South
  • More than 30,000 dead in the Mexican drug war over the last three years with 12,456 deaths this year
  • WikiLeakes disclosing that India systematically tortured civilians in Kashmir
  • Refusal of EU to recognise the existence of an independent Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
  • Attempts by some of the developed countries to kill the Kyoto Protocol (the words of  Huang Huikang, the special Chinese representative on Climate Change)
  • and  “¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦..

 

Ban, instead of focusing on more important and contemporary issues listed above, continues to pursue Sri Lanka for violating human rights when all what it did was to liberate the Tamil civilians from the clutches of a terrorist. 

Some of the militant Tamil Diaspora in countries such as Australia, UK, USA and Canada still yearn for the illusive and racist Thamil Eelam and pursue and promote violence as the means of achieving it. They continue to exaggerate the civilian deaths from the Government’s liberating efforts during the final war, concocting stories to discredit the Government portraying the Sinhalese as racists and the Government, racially biased.           They lobby politicians with fabricated stories of torture and discrimination whilst enjoying the perks of living overseas in comfort. The collection of funds for nefarious activities continues unabated. They continue to pursue venomously, political and societal leaders promoting harmony amongst ethnic communities in Sri Lanka and development for all.  The recent fiasco involving the President and sabotaging his scheduled speech at Oxford University is one such example. They also ostracize members of the moderate Tamil community promoting infrastructure development and social initiatives that would contribute to healing and social coherence.

 

Since of recent, a minority of Sinhalese Diaspora in countries such as Australia have begun to denigrate Sri Lanka spreading rumours and blatant lies to further their bankrupt political views. Disguising themselves as democrats, these members of the so called “ƒ”¹…”third force’ are doing immense harm by describing the political climate in Sri Lanka as non-democratic lacking freedom of expression. They are joined by the criminal few who are willing to run the country down with fabricated stories of persecution with the intent of securing permanent residency as refugees.  Then there are other violators of law who have overstayed their visas awaiting blanket amnesty. All of these rouge elements benefit by running Sri Lanka down. These members of the Diaspora should be treated differently to others who are abiding the laws of the country that they are residents of. In a nutshell, it’s a misnomer to believe that the Diaspora is a homogeneous entity and thus, appealing to the Diaspora as a collective to help restore Sri Lanka’s integrity and its rightful place in global polity will yield naught.

 Leveraging the patriotic Diaspora 

 The Diaspora domicile in many countries is willing to help secure sustainable peace provided they have the Government doing its part to assist worthy initiatives These include:

 

  • Appointing capable, competent and adequately resourced career diplomats to occupy key High Commissions and Embassies around the world, especially where the Tamil Diaspora are actively prosecuting separation. Significant advances have been made but more could be done to hold diplomats accountable.
  • Nurturing the patriotic Diaspora and co-opting them by the Government and the respective overseas missions to counter the separatist’s overseas agenda
  • Encouraging the Diaspora to work as a non-racial “one homogeneous entity” with empathy and desire to support Sri Lanka and its people mostly in need
  • Establishing communication lines capable of responding quickly to misinformation and promoting successful integration and development initiatives
  • Identifying segments of the Diaspora community and the drivers influencing their behaviour and treating them on merit. There are mushroom patriots who have popped up recently claiming fame for fighting the expatriate war against the LTTE.  They launch web sites, write books praising the Government and its leadership, entertain Government Ministers and play the audience seeking fame and favour. The Government should carefully analyse their role and activities prior to 19 May 2009 and the last Presidential election as most of these “ƒ”¹…”new patriots’ were missing when action was required to safeguard the integrity and reputation of Sri Lanka.
  • Prosecuting those returning to Sri Lanka once deported from countries for violating local law. Most of these rogue elements follow considered strategy to denigrate Sri Lanka fabricating fanciful stories to garner sympathy and refugee status. They should be held accountable for their actions once they return to Sri Lanka according to our law. Currently most get away free of any prosecution and thus act with impunity when living overseas.

 

In summary, we believe that the government of President Rajapaksa has more than adequate initiatives in place within Sri Lanka to prevent the recurrence of LTTE type terror. We support the development centric approach to securing sustainable peace and propose 15 additional initiatives (including National Service for the youth) in our detailed submission to the Commission dated 17 October 2010. However, we strongly believe that the threat to sustainable peace will be driven from overseas mainly with the energies of the remnant Tamil Diaspora favouring the LTTE. These groups will be emboldened from time to time by the actions of countries such as USA, UK and the EU and global agencies such as the UN. The patriotic Diaspora, if mobilised, has the capacity and the numbers to counter balance the treacherous behaviour of a few. However, for the patriots to be effective the Government has to strengthen the diplomatic effort and hold those occupying important positions accountable.

 Sri Lanka has a history of punching well above its weight. Our hydraulic civilisations were second to none including the Egyptians. We established the first National Park when the Buddha visited Sri Lanka. We have been the first country to militarily defeat terrorism. Its now time to draw a line in the sand and learn from history and bury the past. The time is right to collectively fashion a glorious economic, social and an environmental future for our nation.

 The speech distributed today contains a summary of actions recommended by SPUR to address specific Terms of References established for the Commission. I thank the esteem members of the Commission for allowing me time to present, a Diaspora view. I end with a commitment to working tirelessly with our fellow Tamil Diaspora members in Australia such as Dr Noel Nadesan to secure sustainable peace for all Sri Lankans, so that they can live in peace, respecting each others values and cultures in perpetuity.

 I commend our recommendations to the Commission.

 Thank you,

 Dr Dasarath Jayasuriya
PRESIDENT SPUR

 _______________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

ANNEXURE: Summary recommendations from the 17 October 2010 detailed submission by SPUR

 Terms of Reference (i) The facts and circumstances which led to the failure of the ceasefire agreement and the sequence of events that followed thereafter up to May 19, 2009

 Reasons for the failure of the ceasefire agreement CFA include but not limited to the following issues:

 

  • The LTTE had no serious intent to abide by the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement. They were only using the CFA to buy time to pursue the war with vigour.
  • Tamil political parties practiced race based politics even as far back as 1923. As evidenced by the conduct of G.G Ponnambalam (1931), their intent was not equal rights but of “equal representation in the parliament” to secure a disproportionate % of power. Blaming the 1956 Sinhala language policy and the 1983 riot for the LTTE’s terrorism are false, and misleading.
  • Tamil political parties such as the TNA to date, practice race based politics. They are mainly puppeteered and influenced by the Central Indian and the Tamil Nadu governments
  • The Tamil Diaspora continued during the CFA to collect and/or extort funds and organise purchasing arms and transporting them to Sri Lanka for the LTTE
  • The Tamil Diaspora sympathetic to the LTTE intimidated and suppressed the democratic Tamil Diaspora that spoke in favour of working for peace under the CFA
  • The LTTE continued to attack Sinhalese civilians in the threatened villages (eg Kebithigollewa), assassinated politicians (eg. Foreign Minister Hon Kadirgamar), attacked the armed forces (killed Gen Parami Kulatunga) and decimated the army intelligence (eg assassination of Lt. Col. Muthalif and 26 other intelligence officers) during the CFA
  • The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) was impotent and did not want to hold the LTTE accountable for CFA violations fearing LTTE’s withdrawal from the CFA
  • Unethical conduct of the INGO’s, NGOs and some in the Catholic Church such as Bishop Rayappu Joseph and their propensity to support and at times shield the LTTE from their crimes. This is evidenced by the coercive role played by Bishop Rayappu Joseph when the LTTE hijacked the revered  statue of Our Lady of Madhu
  • Pandering to the LTTE by the UNF leadership and LTTE sympathisers working closely with them such as Jayalath Jayawardena
  • Ethnically cleansing the Sinhalese from the North and the East by systematically attacking them and destroying their livelihood evidenced by incidents at Awaranthulawa (North), Welgamvehera and Mavilaru (East)

 Terms of Reference Item (ii) Whether any person, group, or institution, directly or indirectly bears responsibility in this regard

 We strongly believe that a number of entities either profited or benefited politically and/or economically by implementing the CFA. They continued the faƒÆ’†’§ade even when the LTTE violated conditions in it with gay abandon. These organisations and individuals include but are not limited to:

 

  • The racists Tamil political parties, especially the TNA, the political appendage of the LTTE
  • Tamil Diaspora Organisations (too numerous to list names) such as the Australian Federation of Tamil Associations and the Australian Tamil Congress
  • The Tamil rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) and other similar shadow so called “welfare” organisations
  • The Norwegian Government with their blatant bias towards the LTTE and their puppeteering of the SLMM. Erik Solheim should take the brunt of the blame as he orchestrated the strategy
  • The indifference shown by USA, UK, EU and Japan (the co-chairs) to LTTE’s blatant violations of the CFA
  • The UNF, its leader Ranil Wickremasingha and prominent members such as Jayalath Jayawardena
  • The former UNF Government’s (2002 to 2004) Defence Minister Tilak Marapana and the Defence Secretary Austin Fernando responsible for the decimation of the military intelligence. They should be prosecuted for manslaughter.
  • INGO’s such as Amnesty International and Asian Human Rights Watch who blamed the Government for not appeasing the LTTE and NGOs such as the Centre for Policy Alternative (CPA) and the National Peace Council (NPC) operating in Sri Lanka
  • Sections of the Catholic Church who turned the other cheek when the types of Bishop Rayappu Joseph blatantly sided with the LTTE, even calling them as “our boys” whilst touring Australia
  • Foreign governments in key countries such as Australia, Canada, UK, EU etc. where elected governments did very little to stop LTTE sympathisers raising funds to prosecute the war. Some like Australia continue to give flimsy excuses for not banning the LTTE as a terrorist organisation.
  • President Kumaranatunga for her lack of leadership, complacency and politicising a terrorist problem

 Terms of Reference Item (iii) The lessons we would learn from those events and their attendant concerns, to ensure that there will be no recurrence.

 

  • There should be no tolerance of terrorist acts or violence against the State under any circumstances.
  • The Government must take initiatives to transform each Province to multi-ethnic as problems originated in mono-ethnic Provinces (eg North) dominated by Tamils.  These are susceptible to racial intolerance, especially if manipulated by Indian influenced, racially motivated parties such as the TNA.  
  • The diplomatic community should act quickly and threaten terrorists (such as the LTTE) that they will unconditionally support the Government to maintain law and order unless the former ceased the violence
  • Violence as the means of achieving political aspirations should be condemned by the international community and institutions such as the UN and the Commonwealth Secretariat 
  • NGO’s and INGO’s operating in Sri Lanka must be licensed, fully transparent and be subject to financial/outcome audits with these audit reports lodged in Parliament annually.
  • All political parties must abide by Sri Lanka’s constitution and pledge allegiance to protect its unitary status and sovereignty
  • Bi-patrician apolitical solutions that protect National integrity and sovereignty must be developed by the polity in Sri Lanka to counter problems such as those created by the LTTE.
  • Capable, competent and adequately resourced career diplomats should occupy key High Commissions and Embassies around the world, especially where the Tamil Diaspora are actively prosecuting separation
  • The patriotic Diaspora should be nurtured and co-opted by the Government and the respective overseas missions to counter the separatist agenda
  • The Diaspora should be encouraged to work as non-racial “one homogeneous entity” with empathy and desire to support Sri Lanka and its people

 We strongly believe that in addition to the above points, we should create a just and free society with some critical features that are unique to Sri Lanka to prevent the racially based terror that was forced on it, recurring. A development centric approach is necessary to secure sustainable peace.

 Key features of our terror free Sri Lanka are listed in pages 16 and 17.

 Terms of Reference Item (iv) The methodology by where restitution to any person affected by those events or their dependents or to heirs, can be effected

 We do not wish to respond to this ToR in detail. However, we strongly believe that the Government should establish by law, a statutory agency to locate and recover funds collected or extorted by the LTTE both within Sri Lanka and abroad. The finances should be audited annually and reported (balancing money recovered and spent) to Parliament.

 Terms of Reference Item v.1 The institutional, administrative and legislative measures which need to be taken to prevent any recurrence of such concerns in the future

 Sri Lanka is too small in area and population and too diverse to justify a Federal type or any form of devolved (or decentralised) governing arrangement. The cost of governance (ie. the political overhead) far exceeds the benefits of running a decentralised State. The level of professional competency required to run many tiers of government is also not widely available leading to corruption and inefficiency. Sri Lanka unfortunately is not blessed with an abundance of clean, professional talent at this moment in time.

 We would like to see a strong Central government with at least the following key features defining it: 

  • The development unit to ideally be the District, where elected District Development Councils (DDC) members identify development priorities
  • The dismantling of the expensive, unwieldy Provincial  Council system
  • The establishment of Provincial scale service delivery organisations accountable to the Centre to cover essential services such as agrarian production, medical services, food distribution, education etc. These organisations should be funded proportionate to the population in the Province and its development needs. The larger the development needs, the bigger the funding.
  • Strengthening of the Local Government governance in large to medium urban centres with service delivery as the focus
  • Utilise skills and competencies of the armed forces by establishing development focused, legally constituted Government Business Units (GBUs) in each Province to construct key infrastructure.

 The responsibility for developing policy and managing crown land and the police (and law and order) should always rest with the Centre. The delivery of the services (where appropriate) should be decentralised to the adequately funded Provincial service centres, with priorities set by elected DDC members. Consideration should be given to establishing a second chamber of elected members (similar to a Senate) to ensure checks and balances.

 Further institutional, administrative and legislative measures implemented to prevent the recurrence of the type of “dark days” dominated by the LTTE, should reflect a number of key features (11 in total) listed on pages 17 and 18 of our detailed submission.

 Terms of Reference Item v.2 Promote further national unity and reconciliation among all communities

 We also advocate a development centric approach coupled with multiethnic Provinces for securing sustainable peace. We list 15 initiatives (on page 19 of the detailed submission) to promote and underpin national reconciliation.

 This includes initiatives such as learning history compulsory to promote harmony from early days at school (leveraging education) and integration through sport.

 Part of the reconciliation is educating the community about the damage done by the LTTE to Sri Lanka and her people. The Government should seek unconditional commitment from all ethnic communities (including children) to protect the Nation from separation and future disintegration.

 The ability to deal in the Tamil language with Government institutions in Districts where the majority of people speak Tamil can still be a problem. The Government should introduce translation facilities to even remotely situated institutions (through telephone) to ensure equal treatment of all communities. This should equally apply to Sinhalese people living in Tamil dominated areas such as Jaffna. Although from a policy perspective, the Tamil language has an equal status to Sinhala, the implementation of the policy is yet to be fully realised. The link language should be English.

 Compulsory National Service (NS) should be introduced for a 6 month period prior to students entering University or leaving school. A compliance certificate (CS) should be issued upon completion of the term. This CS should be produced prior to securing employment, entering the University or obtaining a passport for travel.

 To simplify the administration, those under the age of 17 wanting to travel overseas will be issued once off travel permits valid for the duration of travel. Those over the age of 17 wanting to travel must complete the 6 month NS term. During this period, youth from different Provinces of the Island should be mixed, placed in teams and given common tasks to achieve. Sri Lanka’s history should be taught and a sense of pride of being a Sri Lankan instilled.

  ———————————————————–END SPEECH——————————————————

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