Looking Backward, Looking Forward
Posted on December 30th, 2011


2011 has been an interesting year for Sri Lanka.

Early on, it was the Moon Panel which dominated all discussion. Fortunately, this proved to be the farce that many predicted all along. Its inherent flaws were many and varied. Legally, it stood only on an unprecedented and undemocratic diktat from a disgruntled Secretary General (UNSG) who couldnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t get his way at the UNHRC.

Structurally, it was composed of biased individuals who had never shown any impartiality when it came to Sri Lankan affairs. Its terms of reference ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ focussing on the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-final stagesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ of the war ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ were conveniently framed to do as much damage as possible to Sri Lanka, while leaving the terrorists untouched.

Factually, it was a disaster. It borrowed heavily and unashamedly from terrorist propaganda from TamilNet or from ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-humanitarianƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ mouthpieces with a strong Tamil supremacist slant. Starting off by describing the FBIƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-most ruthless terrorist organizationƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-disciplined militant[s]ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ didnƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t leave much to hope for. Furthermore, it relied on the notorious Channel 4 video footage for a lot of its case against the State, though this tapeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s many incongruities had been pointed out by the UNƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s own experts, aside from Sri Lankan experts. Its principle conclusion, that there were ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-credible allegationsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ of human rights abuses committed by ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-both sides,ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ was neither unexpected nor provable ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ and certainly fell far short of a water-tight case for war crimes investigations.

All told, the Moon Panel upon which so many Tamil supremacist and NGO expectations ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ a separate state for the former, a continued source of funds for the latter ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ were based had the gravitas and credibility of a hatchet job by a really, really bad journalism student. A last-minute cavalry charge by the Norwegians ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ rushing out their own report into the failed ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-peace processƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ as soon as Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s LLRC completed its work ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ did little to stop the tidal wave of truth that was now flowing against the international peace-niks and crashing down with devastating effect upon the edifice of lies with which they had built the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-war crimesƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ case.

Despite the unforced errors on the part of outside meddlers which doomed the SGƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s Panel, the efforts of Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s diplomats, technical experts and politicians should not be forgotten. It was thanks to them that the world was able to see through this latest propaganda effort on the part of the terrorist rump and their various backers. It was also thanks to them that international summits (not least the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting) were triumphs for Sri Lanka. We should all be grateful for their hard work.

By the second half of the year, with the worldƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s attention squarely focused on the tumultuous events of the Middle East, Sri Lanka stood victorious in all its many battles. At yearƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s end, the release of the long-awaited Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) Report ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s own investigation into the causes of the war and events of the last three years of the conflict ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬‚ proved to be the icing on the cake.

Today, Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s detractors stand dumbfounded by the LLRC ReportƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s quality, impartiality, and above all its credibility both domestically and internationally. Sri Lanka has shown once again that it is able to sort out its own issues, and that its people have the maturity to be both self-critical and to provide solutions to address identified problems. Implementation of the ReportƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s findings should be a major focus for next year.

So what of the future?

Locally, the slow-motion train-wreck that is the UNP rebellion will continue. The real reckoning will be next year, despite RanilƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s internal election win. The already cracked-up JVP should also be monitored, especially with disturbing signs of a clandestine alliance between the terrorist rump and some of the JVP factions.

It was the laissez-faire attitude of successive post-independence (read: post-1956) Sri Lankan governments coupled with a lack of human intelligence sources which meant Colombo was caught totally off guard by the opening shots of the terrorist campaign on that fateful night in 1983. Those soldiers need not have been butchered if the authorities had their ears to the ground up north. Alas, the nation as a whole paid for thirty years for the governmentƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s negligence. Let us hope the country will never have to go through the same problems again.

Though defeated and demoralized after more than two years of smack-downs at the hands of Sri Lanka, Tamil supremacists spread around the world, and closer to home, are not going to give up that easily. Sri Lanka will have to remain on guard to thwart future attempts at stirring up ethnic tensions and internationalization of an internal terrorist disturbance.

India will shortly be entering a period of great instability as its two main parties jockey for votes ahead of a marathon of elections at all levels of government which will only end in 2014. This will mitigate somewhat the amount of interference that New Delhi will be able to engage in across the Palk Strait. Recent figures for the Indian economy have shown that things arenƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢t going so well, as endemic problems of corruption, an entrenched bureaucracy, and an illiterate, hungry and ever increasing population all play a part in sapping growth.

China will also be undertaking its handover of power to the next generation of leaders, meaning that though staunch backers of Sri Lanka, they too will be pre-occupied with internal affairs and a restive population for much of the year ahead. However, their transition should be far less time-consuming and messy than IndiaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s, China being a one-party dictatorship afterall.

This means there will be a one year period where both Sri LankaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s main meddler and its main backer will be out of the scene. At home, the self-destruction of all the opposition parties has secured the SLFPƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s pre-eminence in all matters domestic.

As we head into 2012, out of all South Asia Sri Lanka will remain the most stable nation, politically and economically. Will this mean things will be balanced out and everyone can go merrily about their business until 2013? If the past is anything to go by, this will be unlikely. Sri Lanka should remain alert, and continue aiming for industrialization and economic development, backed by a modern military and robust intelligence gathering.



One Response to “Looking Backward, Looking Forward”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Good analysis.

    Destroying and dismantling Tamil Nationalists at all levels is the key to prosperity.

    Their misery is our happiness; their misfortune is our good fortune and their disaster is our victory. This seesaw relationship defines the relative fortunes of SL and mythical Tamil Elam. One MUST fall for the other to succeed.

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