Sri Lanka can not depend on China alone and follow a confrontational and isolationist policy with the international community, former Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said in a statement yesterday. The Westphalian concept of sovereignty was no longer valid and Sri Lanka must abide by its international obligations for the betterment of our own people, he said.
“Sri Lanka must revert to the foreign policy almost all governments have followed since independence; despite our relative “insignificance” in the International order, Sri Lanka was a much loved and esteemed member; from Washington to Beijing, from New Delhi to the Kremlin, from Downing Street to Tokyo, from Brussels to Ghana our leaders were welcomed with open arms,” he said.
Under the current administration Sri Lankans “like somnambulists” are walking towards the precipice while tumbling over one humiliation after another, and pushing the future generation towards a future of unimaginable horrors, Samaraweera said.
Given below are excertpts of his statement : “China is one of world’s greatest and most ancient countries; more a civilization than a country! The “Celestial dynasties” which ruled for millennia sincerely believed that they were the heavenly representatives sent to rule a vast kingdom – HONGUO/the middle kingdom, refined and civilized in a world of barbarians. With the advent of high imperialism in the 17th century, western powers tried repeatedly to penetrate this vast kingdom for trade/commercial purposes but China remained one of the few Asian countries which could not be colonized by the British to become a part of the Empire where the ‘sun never sets.’
“In 1839, the opium war started against China in the face of determined and stiff resistance by the Qing dynasty to open up its vast market to British opium traders. Consequently, the British ordered the blockade of principal ports in China and were poised to attack the ancient capital of Nanjing, when the Chinese sued for peace. The treaty of Nanjing of 1842 imposed on China the cession of Hong Kong to the British, a payment of $6 million in indemnity, and the opening of five ports in which trade would be allowed and westerners would be permitted to reside. Although China was not formally colonized, the treaty of Nanjing made it a de facto colony of the British Empire and the Qing court lost much of its independence in commercial and foreign policy. The principle of extraterritoriality enshrined in this treaty was to become a major infringement of Chinese sovereignty and the opium traders residing in the treaty ports would only be subject to their own countries’ laws and not that of China. Thus began, what is known in China today as its “century of humiliation.”
“Nearly two hundred years later, as the first quarter of the 21st century is drawing to a close, China is now poised to become one of the world’s leading economies with ambitions of becoming a military super power as well. Like the East India Company in earlier centuries, the investment, trading and commercial arm of China is now the Belt and Road Initiative. (BRI) started in 2013 and incorporated into the constitution of China in 2017. According to the BRI, the initiative is “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a bright future.” In fact we know that the East India Company colonized the better part of the world with similar noble objective of civilizing ‘savages’ and natives promising all a ‘brighter future’. The imperial powers of the west carved out a very bright future for themselves and their countries over the last five hundred years but at what cost to the countries and the peoples they colonized? Isn’t the BRI the same old concept wrapped up in brand new gift paper?”
“Sri Lanka needs FDIs and trade opportunities badly and desperately. Having an international Financial Centre on reclaimed land is a very good idea if it’s based on international law and participation, not merely serving the interests of a single country or two. In fact the first proposal for such a venture came from one of our very own Sri Lankan conglomerates in 2000. However, such proposals need not come at the cost of our sovereignty; it cannot be at the cost of our friends who provide 60% of our trade; it cannot be at the cost of diminishing our friendship with our friend and neighbor, India, 20 odd kilometres away. Sri Lanka has not been blessed with oil, diamonds, gold or copper; we have been blessed with a beautiful island and a most propitious geographical location on one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.”
“Therefore it is also in our greater interest to work with all countries to ensure that the Indian Ocean remains a zone of peace and stability while taking the maximum advantage of our position to create wealth and prosperity for our next generations. In the great power play between superpowers, Sri Lanka cannot afford to be a pawn of one group or another like Cuba in the early 1960s when not ideological but financial considerations compelled the Cuban government to allow USSR to install nuclear missiles 65km from the USA nearly triggering off a nuclear war in the Bay of Pigs. Sri Lanka cannot afford to follow a confrontational and isolationist policy with the international community.”
Two-year reconciliation project spurns Lord Naseby’s disclosure
EU, Germany funded scheme costs Rs. 8 mn
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The National Peace Council (NPC) says war-related matters hadn’t been discussed at the nearly two-year-long reconciliation project that brought together students from Eastern, Jaffna, Ruhuna and Sabaragamuwa Universities.
More than 160 students have participated in the project that culminated with a conference on the theme of ‘Plural Sri Lanka: Paths to reconciliation.’ Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris delivered the closing address and responded to questions from the audience.
Pointing out that post-war reconciliation efforts had been badly hampered by allegations that the Sri Lankan military killed over 40,000 civilians on the Vanni east front, The Island sought clarification as regards measures taken by the NPC to improve relations among the communities, and the following questions were raised:
During your two-year long project did participants discuss specific war crimes allegations and disclosure made in the House of Lords in Oct 2017 that contradicted unsubstantiated accusations pertaining to 40,000 civilian deaths.
Executive Director NPC Dr. Jehan Perera:
“No, we did not discuss these war-related matters. The project was titled “Creative Youth Engagement for Pluralism” and it focused on the nature of Sri Lanka as a plural society and the value framework that should guide it. The research papers highlighted the diversity within Sri Lankan society that goes beyond ethnicity and religion. They included topics such as “Attitudes of Society on Education and Transsexuality: A Comparative Study on the Ideologies of a Community with Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Education,” and “Pluralism and University Subculture: An Ethnological Study on Young Behavior towards Social Cohesion,” and “An Investigative Study of the Challenges Posed by the Changes in the Aboriginal Society.”
What is the total cost of the project?
: Rs 8 million was spent to train and mentor the writers of the 30 research publications in four universities, translate, review and publish their findings in book form and for the conference which brought the students to Colombo.
What is the GoSL’s contribution?
There was no direct financial support by the government. Four state universities supported through their faculty members and students.
The Island: What is the NPC’s stand on accountability resolution and announcement made in Geneva that the Sri Lankan military would be subjected to a fresh inquiry?
In order to get out of these allegations, there is a need for a credible and independent investigation. Our preference is for a national mechanism that is acceptable to all sides. Accountability will need to be a part of the reconciliation process. NPC favours the restorative justice approach which focuses on ensuring justice to victims. This includes an acknowledgement of wrongs done and reparations and institutional reform to ensure that there is non-recurrence.
The Island: Are you also engaged in post-war reconciliation projects funded by Norway?
NPC hasn’t obtained funds from Norway for the past five years.
The recently concluded project has been funded by a project called Strengthening Reconciliation Process here jointly funded by the European Union and the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by Deutsche Gesellsschaft Fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the British Council in partnership with the Sri Lankan Government.
Speaker promises to appoint bi-partisan committee to look into incidents in Parliament
Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced in Parliament yesterday (06) that a committee consisting of senior members from the Government and Opposition would be appointed within the week to look into the incidents that took place in Parliament last Friday and Saturday and submit a report.
High Court Trial-at-Bar orders release of several accused from 11 charges in CB bond auction case
By AJA Abeynayake
Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday ordered the release of several accused, including former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayke and former Central Bank former Governor Arjuna Mahendra, from 11 charges out of 22 in connection with the Central Bank bond auction held on 31 March, 2016.
Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar held that public property charges against the accused could not be maintained. Indictments had been filed against Perpetual Treasuries Private Ltd (PTL), former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayke, CBSL former Governor Arjuna Mahendran, Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) beneficiary owner Arjun Aloysius, PTL Chief dealer Kasun Palisena, Chairman of PTL Jeffrey Joseph Aloysius, Chitta Ranjan Hulugalle, Muthuraja Surendran, Ajahn Gardiye Punchihewa and Badugoda Hewa Indika Saman Kumara in connection with bond auction held on March 31, 2016.
The case against seventh accused Ranjan Hulugalle was dismissed on preliminary objections raised.
President’s Counsel Anil Silva, Counsel Asela Serasinghe, Hafeel Farisz, Sahan Kulatunga and Vishwaka Peiris appeared for the seventh accused.
The Attorney General’s stance regarding the future cause of action to be informed on 26 Jan. 2022.
The Attorney General had alleged that the PTL had been using the Central Bank’s important undisclosed information to alter the final outcome of the Treasury bond auction and it had a huge impact on the overall national economy as a result of the subtle; the systematic conduct of the offences related to the fraud and had caused injustice to other primary sellers in the bond market, and the PTL had acted cunningly and made a huge profit and conspired to cause a huge loss to the government.
The case was postponed until 26 Jan. 2022.
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