“The law should be applied equally to all without discrimination. The Police arrested MP Tissa Attanayake over an alleged forged document. Why are the Police not arresting Mr. Weerawansa’s wife, who was accused for forgery and the possession of forged documents? The law should be applied to Mr. Weerawanasa’s wife as well,” the mayor said at a media conference.
He said Weerawansa’s wife had presented forged documents to the Immigration Department with a false name and a false date of birth when applying for a passport.
People elected President Maithripala Sirisena to ensure good governance. Therefore the police should be independent and implement the law fairly, he said; adding that Weerawansa should also be arrested for abetting his wife.
He alleged that the couple had also committed fraud in the construction of a hotel in the area. He said that he would continue to press the police until they were dealt with. (Irangani Edirisinghe).
The United States Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal was here this week. President Maithripala Siriesena will visit New Delh on February 16 while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make a reciprocal visit in March. Within days of assuming office, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera undertook visits to New Delhi and Brussels. He will be in Washington in the next few days to meet Secretary of State John Kerry.
High level contacts with the West and the refreshing of Indo-Lanka relations may indicate a paradigm shift in Sri Lanka’s foreign policy – a shift towards, if official claims are to be believed, non-alignment, a long defunct political force. But the visible shift has stoked fears that we are moving towards a US-India-Japan axis from what was perceived to be a China-centric policy of the previous regime, though some may see the change as an attempt to shore up foreign policy sectors that were deliberately downplayed to appease China, Sri Lanka’s biggest donor. But are we hurtling headlong towards the US-India-Japan axis?
Resetting ties with the West and winning back the confidence of Sri Lanka’s giant neighbour, India, are steps in the right direction. Such moves may help Sri Lanka not only to work out a formula to extricate itself from international investigations on alleged war crimes but also to attract job-generating Western investors, many of whom shunned this country over law and order concerns during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime.
But we should be cautious not to get pulled by the gravitational force of the US-India-Japan axis, which has its own agenda vis-à-vis Chinas growing military might.
Although the US-India-Japan axis does not exist in a formal way, moves are underway to formalise a trilateral strategic partnership. It was a key feature during US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s visit to New Delhi in August last year. This alliance, which has the support of Japan’s nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is touted as the most powerful outside the US-led NATO.
During Premier Modi’s visit to Japan in September last year, the two countries decided to “upgrade” and “strengthen” their defence cooperation. China which has territorial disputes with India and Japan is certainly alarmed at these developments. In May last year, China’s Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper warned, “India gets close to Japan at its own peril”.
Also adding to China’s concerns is a parallel development involving the US, India, Japan and Australia. Known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), this tie-up, initiated by Japan’s Abe, was seen by many analysts as a response to China’s military threat.
These subtle formations of alliances take place against the backdrop of US President Barack Obama’s Pivot-to-Asia policy aimed at containing China, a looming superpower, which is likely to overtake the US as the world’s top economy within years. In this new Cold War, the foreign policy of every Asian country matters. To counter Beijing’s military muscle, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea and other nations that have territorial disputes with China have further strengthened defence relations with the US. While some countries that depend on Chinese economic aid remained neutral, the Rajapaksa regime with its myopic foreign policy that contributed to the worsening of relations with the West leaned towards China not only to solve its economic woes but also to court Beijing’s support to quash Western moves to penalise Sri Lanka for alleged war crimes.
Neglecting the balancing act with which almost all previous Sri Lankan governments have conducted their foreign relations with nations that are hostile towards each other, the Rajapaksa regime behaved like a desperate casino player. It placed all its chips on one suit — the red heart symbolising China, which has invested billions of dollars in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure facilities, including projects that have raised eyebrows in New Delhi and Western capitals because of their strategic value.
In the end, this policy became a case of a casino owner lending the gambler more and more to play again, lose again and borrow again. The gamble made Sri Lanka virtually a satellite state of Beijing — with the Red Army’s submarines docking at Sri Lankan ports, raising serious alarms in New Delhi, Washington as well as in Tokyo, which used to be Sri Lanka’s biggest donor before the Rajapaksa regime placed all its bets on China. It is reassuring to hear that President Sirisena has pledged to return to a principled foreign policy based on non-alignment. But the challenge is to strike a balance, taking into consideration the conflicting interests of different nations. Yes, we need the West and we need India which hopes that the new government will restore Indo-Lanka relations to the level which former foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar had described as ‘irreversible excellence’. But we also need China, which has stood by us in times of crisis and has all the money in the world to assist us, although Beijing, like all donor nations, has an agenda behind the aid it dishes out.
Diplomacy demands that if a state’s relations with one nation are in conflict with its relations with another nation, the state should be prudent enough to adopt a policy that balances its needs and aspirations with the needs and aspirations of the other states concerned.
The new government in its bid to mend fences with the West and win economic concessions and political support should not go all out to endorse every policy of the West in return.
The previous UNP government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe came in for criticism when its trade minister Ravi Karunanayake broke ranks with Non-Aligned countries and supported the US position at the 2003 world trade talks in Cancun, Mexico. Similarly, Managala Samaraweera in his previous stint as foreign minister hurt the feelings of Arab countries, Sri Lanka’s Muslim community and socialist parties, when he advised our envoy to slip out of the UN hall during a crucial vote in November 2006 for a pro-Palestinian resolution which was unanimously backed by the Non-Aligned bloc.
These two past foreign policy decisions stand out as examples where we put profit before principles. The new government should learn to balance profit and principles – realism and idealism — in foreign policy making.
Foreign policy is by definition an extension of the domestic policy. Since the domestic policy of the present government is built, at least ostensibly, on good governance principles, our foreign policy on sensitive global disputes should also be based on morality. – See more at: http://www.dailymirror.lk/62999/from-a-casino-foreign-policy-to-principled-foreign-policy#sthash.UCOnOgyf.dpuf
EDITORIAL : CBK BREAKS SILENCE WITH A BANG
Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, who is reported to have played a major role in paving the way for the common opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena to come forward and topple the Rajapaksa regime, made some bombshell disclosures this week about what happened in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) during the past 35 years.
In a 75-minute television interview, Ms. Kumaratunga said she could not and dared not disclose what she was revealing now because both the interviewer and she might have faced death after a notorious white van abduction.
One of the main disclosures was that in early 2005 when the SLFP Central Committee met to decide on a candidate for the presidential election, as many as 57 of the 61 members had opposed the nomination of Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, since there was no suitable alternative at that time, she decided to nominate Mr. Rajapaksa though even at that time she saw some leadership potential in minister and SLFP General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena and told him to build up those leadership qualities.
After a campaign during which there were major disputes between Ms. Kumaratunga and Mr. Rajapaksa, he eventually won the election on November 18. Ms. Kumaratunga claimed that when she called the new President to congratulate him on November 19 he screamed at her in bad language for 19 minutes. She said she just listened to what he was saying but timed it and said only one word in response, though she did not mention what the word was. Ms. Kumaratunga said that in 1981 when the then President J. R. Jayewardene stripped her mother Sirimavo Bandaranaike of her civic rights, a rebel group in the party sought her removal from the post of party president also. This rebel group included Maithripala Senanayake, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Anura Bandaranaike. Ms. Kumaratunga said she and her husband Vijeya Kumaratunga along with other party stalwarts fought back to keep Sirimavo Bandaranaike in the party and she contested the 1989 presidential election.
Another conspiracy not widely disclosed before, came after Ranil Wickremesinghe became the Prime Minister in December 2001 while Ms. Kumaratunga was the President. She charged that Mr. Rajapaksa had secretly negotiated with Mr. Wickremesinghe to get about 30 SLFP MPs to support an impeachment motion against Ms. Kumaratunga. She said she was aware of what was happening and found that only five SLFP MPs were ready to support the impeachment. The move was dropped at that point. Disclosing the secret details of what happened during the past few years, Ms. Kumaratunga said rumblings among senior SLFP members started after 2010 when the Rajapaksa family took control of the government and the party. Many SLFP seniors had negotiated with her secretly and urged her to lead a rebel group but she did not wish to enter politics directly because of the breakdown of the rule of law, the politicisation of the judiciary and the police and the mega corruption deals amounting to millions of dollars.
The scenario changed early last year when the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Nayake Thera, as leader of the National Movement for Social Justice, came forward to initiate a common opposition front to topple the Rajapaksa regime. Ms. Kumaratunga said it was at this point that she approached Maithripala Sirisena to come forward as the common opposition candidate. At first he was reluctant or afraid because as Mr. Sirisena later said he was taking a big risk that could mean death for him and the family if he failed. However the Rajapaksa domination was getting so unbearably bad that on November 6, Mr. Sirisena agreed to quit the government and cross over. From that point super-secret talks were held with the then UNP Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and other opposition party leaders. Thus when Mr. Sirisena eventually announced on November 21 that he was crossing over with a few other ministers, it took the Rajapaksa regime by complete surprise and even the State Intelligence Services’ chief was removed for not being aware of what happened.
Eventually Mr. Sirisena went on to win the election and change the history of Sri Lanka with an all-party National Unity Government which is being widely seen as a model or miracle of Asia.