Never Say Never!
Posted on February 13th, 2011

Prof. Hudson McLean

Whilst I agree whole heartedly with the contect of LankaWeb Editorial, at this present moment, any uprising against the current Administration, is indeed “Wishful Thinking”.

However, said that, generally humans have short memories. Under President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan citizens enjoy a good night’s sleep. Now peace is a fact of life and taken for granted. Major infrastructure projects are running at speed.

Refugees are resettled. Tourist traffic is on the rise.  Investors are getting excited at the prospects! Future looks good. So is Bribery & Corruption is still rampant.

There are many other factors which cannot be neglected.  The Rump of Tamil Tiger Terrorists LTTE are still alive and well, in Sri Lanka and amongst the Tamil Diasspora.

As I have stated many a time, the Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions are incompetent in handling Media, whilst the Tamil LTTE have a professional organization to manage effective Press & Public Relations.

Then there is India, which might use any excuse to threaten Sri Lankan sovereignity to maintain conflict, in order to control its own homeland problems.

The Western countries, European Union, USA are maintaining calm waters now, but beneath only God knows what they are brewing beneath the waters.

Then under the current regime, Bribery & Corruption is still rampant. The civil servants are lazy and lethargic, under a blanket of bureaucracy, stretching their irresponsibility. Why can’t the government take a leaf out of the Singapore book?

Like North Africa which woke-up without any major revolutionary leadership, the Opposition forces might light a single spark which might spread beyond controllability.

The mighty Egyption Defence Forces, fed and nurtured by Hosni Mubharak, remained impartial and silent, the silence which made the demonstrators to take a cue. The same military leadership, forced Mubharak to leave the controls and then blocked him from leaving Egypt.

The strategy was to prevent any emerging leader from the revolutionary forces to take control using “people power” and change the Military leadership.  Furthermore, as a measure of goodwill, influenced Switzerland to freeze US$40 billion or so of Mubharak assets to be frozen. That would prevent any audit of other stolen assets by the Military and their stooges.

At least Mubharak has friends in the region who are able to offer a comfortable Palace and banking facilities to enable Mubharak family to retire in comfort and in luxury.

There are still open questions of what and how much the General Ratwatte and Mrs Chandrika Bandaranaike-Kumaratunge enriched themselves. Late Ranasinghe Premadasa was alleged to have expropriated vast sums into UK to build a property portfolio for his son Sajith Premadasa.

When the time comes, there will be other “dirty linen” exposed and hung in public both in Sri Lanka and freely on the Internet.

So all politic leaders should remember now, as Public Servants, elected by the citizens, should not rob the poor and try to escape, since the Internet acts and pass judgment with global repurcussions.

Two weeks is a short time with the Internet, to say “Never”!

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7 Responses to “Never Say Never!”

  1. Sunil Vijaya Says:

    Experience Sri Lanka as I did for the last 3 months – you might then re-visit your conclusions. Mahinda who was instrumental in the downfall of UNP, will bring back the UNP. I felt the pulse of the nation and now people are wary of the government, which is at the height of corruption and progress would never come about with this bane of our society. Solving problems in the current climate that matters to most to people who are just surviving. I defended this man partially because he is a friend of mine but most including his own associates are fed up with him now. People may address him as HE which according to my memory was dropped (the crap) with the real independence in 72 from the plunderers, who virtually ruined our country. Mahinda appeared at the right time and did the right thing with the Tiger terrorists but peoples’ expectations have now turned to more mundane issues like cost of living, and moreover the plight from natural disasters, thanks again to our pluderers who virtually wiped out the hill country of its flora and fauna. You may opt to read my article on Nagasalan Sri Lanka, which gives a picture of the current situation in the country, which is not my opinion but the true situation. Mubarak is a lesson for Mahinda. Sunil Vijayapala

  2. shenali Says:

    It is natural for anyone to assume similar uprising now that it appears the norm of western countries is to incite “people power” the irony & catastrophe will needless end up the people actually falling from the frying pan into the fire.
    Sri Lanka’s case is far different from the tyrants that have been ruling the Middle East & Africa…these now “tyrants” were the “darlings of the West”…they were “their men” until they decided to trim their wings.
    Mahinda Rajapakse so long as he remains “NATIONALIST” with his patriotism to Sri Lanka & Sri Lanka alone…it would be very difficult to bring about an Egypt in Sri Lanka….
    If at all a people uprising is needed…it should be to oust the present Opposition Leader who is refusing to step down…
    Nevertheless, it serves as a good lesson to all politicians that there is a limit to their misuse of power and state expenses…this is the lesson that ALL politicians need to take from the actions we have seen unfold in the Middle East & Africa…

  3. A. Sooriarachi Says:

    Can’t agree with Sunil Vijaya’s attempt to compare Mubarak with Mahinda. Except for their names beginning with letter ‘M’, they are like chalk and cheese. Mahinda is a democratically elected leader, who liberated the country from ruthless terrorists and now battling along with huge infrastructure development work acrooss the country, in spite of devastating floods and undue pressure exerted by foreign enemies making bogus accusations and applying subtle economic blackmail. Having come out of a distructive war, we need to give his Govt at least 3 to 4 years to show economic and social standards recovery.

    As for Prof Mclean’s comment that many of the SriLanka’s diplomatic missions are incompenent in handling media, I agree wholeheartedly and the remedy could be to appoint energetic, young, knowledgeable and committed career diplomats with high integrity, who are also conversant with the culture and values of the countries they are posted to. Diplomatic positions should be likened to corporate jobs with predetermined goals and performance targets set, rather than treating them as rewards for commendable work done in their previous jobs. It will be difficult to find such people.
    As for stating LTTE supporters are acting in a professional manner, I cannot quite agree with Prof M. The LTTE has enough illgotten wealth to operate multiple front organisations and influence weak and indifferent journalists and politicians, and also the LTTE need research in to actual events or history, as their task is merely to manufacture stories and throw all sorts of allegations against the SriLankan Govt. It will be a difficult task for SriLankan diplomats to effectively counter such daily dished out false or twisted or exagerated allegations without resorting to some sort of sufficiently deterrent legal action against such slander and disinformation. Till our diplomatic missions are efficiently manned, engaging foreign PR firms to protect the good name of the country is a step in the right direction.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    In almost all democracies all over the world, some form of B&C (Bribery & Corruption) takes place, in one form or the other. It is only the degree of it that differs. Democratic leaders generally have to lead through the Carrot, rather than the Stick. If the Stick is used excessively, then the government (especially the President), will stand accused of totalitarianism, dictatorship, etc.

    So, take your choice : Carrot or Stick !

    We have yet to see concrete evidence of B&C, though there is much shouting about it ! The govt. gives Car Permits to MPs, but that is hardly a thing to carp about. We suggested earlier that a Car Pool be run by the govt. for the MPs, and MPs pay a nominal amount to hire a car from the Car Pool. Car Pool rights may be used as rewards for good work, & for disciplinary action against errant MPs.

    Besides, isn’t there much more real evidence of B&C in the Private Sector ? Abroad, CEOs stuff their pockets and bring down entire companies and the investors money along with it.

    For people who want Regime Change, no matter how well the government performs under Democratic Rules, we have only one answer : Emigrate to a country of your choice !

  5. cassandra Says:

    The writer of this article has said that “the Sri Lankan Diplomatic Missions are incompetent in handling Media, whilst the Tamil LTTE have a professional organization to manage effective Press & Public Relations”

    Handling the media calls for specialist skills, and I don’t know whether the SL Missions abroad have officers specially dedicated to the task, by way of Press Officers and so on, or whether these duties are left to be handled by the general staff. If the latter is the case it would not be fair to expect such staff to do well in this area unless skills in media handling were part of the job specifications.

    I also don’t know whether in fact the “LTTE have a professional organization to manage effective Press & Public Relations” as the writer says. What is clear, however, is that LTTE propaganda and misinformation appear to be effective. So, what is needed is not just the ability to handle the media but also the capacity to effectively counter what the LTTE is putting out. It is the latter task that is the more challenging and about which we need to be realistic. As against one or a few embassy spokesmen, however competent they be, the LTTE has available to it a veritable army to spread its message. Its advocates are everywhere. They spread their message at individual work places, within community groups and through various organizations which are ostensibly pursuing only religious, literary or cultural interests.

    It seems to me also that the government should make the work of the overseas missions easier by itself being competent in how it handles foreign afffairs. The missions abroad cannot be expected to present a better picture than what Colombo allows them to. Even the ablest advocate is handicapped by a poor brief. Constant anti Western statements by ministers and other officials do not help. Such things as the mindless ‘fast’ opposite the UN offices by a government minister – and seemingly with the blessings of the government – and the rowdy demonstrations opposite the British High Commission do not help either. Remember, most of the Tamil diaspora live in the West and you cannot afford to alienate those governments. Even such things as holding up at the Customs, copies of the Economist magazine, evoke adverse publicity and make little sense. The magazine has only a limited circulation in the island and most of the articles are accessible over the Internet, anyway.

    I am not saying that some incompetent people have not been appointed to SL’s missions abroad and I am not saying that embassy personnel do not have to be competent in handling the media. But we do need to be realistic in our expectations, to not underestimate the task involved nor the role that the government in Colombo also has to play.

  6. AsokaK Says:

    Dayan Jayatilleke saved Sri Lanka from the White Western Mafia at UNHCR in Geneva post- 5/09 only to be removed from his post a few months later even before completing his term !

    A good Information Attache in Canberra who worked with us in ’03 (?) against LTTE was recalled to be replaced by an ex-mistress of a Minister or big shot- she did not last long.

    Many embassies admit to the lack of resources and we are wasting money trying to host the Commonwealth Games.

    Sinhale Paaluwe !

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    Some interested parties will use any adverse propaganda against GoSL, (not against Sri Lanka as a whole), to ‘control’ GoSL to do their bidding, however much the Embassies & H/Cs will put out propaganda against the ltte.

    A western small business person we spoke to on one of our travels said that he knew about how badly Sri Lanka was treating her Tamils through some Tamil students he had met abroad ! We tried to tell him that these ‘Tamil students’ would have received a free education in Lanka together with free health care, and that the ltte is a terrorist organisation, but he was convinced that his Tamil students spoke the absolute truth ! He was also convinced that Lankan businessmen could not keep up with orders placed. Is this true ?

    So there you have it – after the 1983 Riots (thanks to even astute JRJ having been led up the garden path by god knows who !), some Tamils have had a great time abroad using that event to get loads of sympathy and attention. (We do not condone with riots in any form).

    As such, to counter ltte propaganda, best advertise Lanka as a wonderful Tourist destination and give a Cultural Taste of Sri Lanka at such Exhibitions. Perhaps Embassies & H/Cs should have, alongside the Tourist side, quarterly exhibitions of SALE & MARKETING of Lanka products & a few food items at such exhibitions abroad ? Have a small Yellow Pages type Directory available to give visitors who may want to do business with Sri Lanka. We ask again, can the Lankan business sector handle orders from abroad ? Alternatively, it should be made known at the outset that a particular business can handle only a limited amount of product. That way, those wanting to do business will not get disgusted and cheated.

    LEAFLETS (produced cheap) could be made available giving a brief history of Lanka and stating about Lanka’s free education & health care systems (THESE FACTS ARE QUITE UNKNOWN ABROAD !), the fact that Lanka is Asia’s oldest Democracy, etc. We think that is the best way to counter and squash down any ltte aspirations via false propaganda. Time to blow our own Trumpet, not just about our culture, but about our Social System which is basically so life supportive !

    There is a strong interest abroad in the different Buddhist Bhavanas. A brief write up on the subject should be included in the LEAFLETS distributed at Exhibitions. Recent news clips show that a large sector of Japanese youth, fed up with GDP oriented type of education, is turning to Self Realisation. Japan used to have the highest suicide rate in the world. Now South Korea is headed in that direction.

    In Sri Lanka, it is very important to keep our sense of BALANCE when we go on the Productivity binge.

    Foreign countries, particularly the west, may welcome such Exhibitions as the cost of living rises in every country, and people like to enjoy a taste of other cultures at Exhibitions without actually travelling to those destinations, as mainly they do not have the funds to do so.

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