Full understanding of Geneva Fiasco
My intention in this brief note is to point out some important matters that Dr. Sarath Gamini de Silva has omitted, and also facts of history that he has not correctly interpreted in his letter titled “Problems in Geneva : Facts that brought us here” (The Island 26.02.2021). When one deals with the “facts that brought us here” with reference to the UNHRC Resolutions against Sri Lanka, the history, the nature and the present status of the Tamil Problem are of vital importance, as that problem is the core issue leading to the Geneva Fiasco. Further, an assessment of the UNHRC activities, particularly its lack of neutrality due to Western pressure and influence which has made Sri Lanka reject the Resolutions calling them a political campaign, is critical in a discussion of this subject.
The fact that Western powers use the UNHRC to exert pressure on Third World countries on the pretext of human rights, to make them do their bidding has been totally disregarded by Dr.S, while he finds fault with the Sri Lankan governments for not doing enough in the implementation of the UNHRC recommendations. Further, the fact that the Western powers make use of Tamils to destabilize Sri Lanka, as they did with the LTTE, to get it to fall in line and that Tamil separatists are willing partners in this project, has not been considered by Dr. S. It is naive to think that mishandling or not solving the Tamil Problem “brought us here” and resulted in Geneva Resolutions.
One cannot discuss Geneva disregarding the Tamil Problem. To understand the nature of the Tamil Problem, and why it remains apparently unresolved, one must examine its history and origin. It has its origin in Tamil separatism which dates back to 1930s. Tamil separatism is a Tamil construct. When independence for Ceylon was being considered by the British Raj, as it was uneconomical to maintain their empire, the Tamil leaders petitioned the British Government requesting a separate state for the Tamils. A case had been prepared for this claim well in advance. Mudaliyar C. Rasanayagam in his book titled “Ancient Jaffna” (1926) attempts to show that an independent kingdom existed in Jaffna before it was conquered by the Portuguese in 1619. This is a distortion of facts. Mudliyar Rasanayagam’s views on Tamil habitation in Sri Lanka have been proved to be baseless, and less than a scholarly discourse of the matter by Prof. K. N. O. Dharmadasa (2007). Prof. Indrapala Karthigesu’s research work had shown that there is no evidence of Tamil habitation in Sri Lanka before the 10th Century CE. If there were Tamil kings in Jaffna, there should be inscriptions in Tamil, but not a single one has been found. On the contrary the earliest inscription found in Jaffna could be attributed to a Sinhala king, Parakramabahu II, who ruled Jaffna from Polonnaruwa.
In this context, it is important to see how this issue is being pursued at present. Former Chief Minister Wigneshwaran, has called for the creation of a Federal State for the Tamils, and to substantiate his claim had made reference to the ancient Tamil Kingdom and he has said Mahawamsa is fiction.. TNA leader R Sampanthan, speaking in the Parliament on the 8th January 2020, drew attention to the hitherto unresolved Tamil man’s problem (The Island, 10.01.2020). He has said 85% of Tamils have voted against Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which he says is an indication that their problem has not been addressed and that the Tamils have at every election repeatedly voiced the need for a solution to their problem. Since most of the economic, social, political and cultural needs of the Tamil community, in the Sri Lankan context, have been sorted out, one wonders what other grievances could be bothering the Tamils. However, when one reads Sampanthan’s speech, one would understand that his problem is the nature of the state of Sri Lanka as defined in the present constitution. What he wants obviously is to replace the word “unitary” in Chapter 1 Clause 2 of the Constitution, with the words “united, undivided and indivisible”. These words place the single sovereignty concept in jeopardy, and opens the way to federalism and separatism.
The above facts show how the Tamil leadership has made the Tamil Problem an intractable issue. Dr. S says, successive governments have failed to discuss these matters beginning from early times, and points out that the “50- 50” demand made by GG Ponnambalam, in 1939 in the State Council, and then to the Soulbury Commission in 1945, should have been discussed. When 50% of representation for the minorities is demanded disregarding population ratios, which is a crucial factor in universal franchise, could it be discussed? Similarly could the Thimpu Principles of recent times (1985) which the Tamils said were non-negotiable be discussed? Further, the TNA has submitted its proposals to the Experts Committee drafting the new Constitution, and these amount to a demand for an almost separate state for the Tamils. Are the Tamils serious in negotiating a solution?
The UNHRC Resolution 30/1 and the subsequent resolutions on Sri Lanka were sponsored by the Western countries, who indirectly supported LTTE terrorism and almost stopped the war being conducted to its finish. The Resolutions are biased because they make unsubstantiated accusations that the Sri Lankan armed forces have committed war crimes and these have to be investigated by international judges. No examination of the witnesses by the defense is allowed. Further no consideration whatsoever has been given to the available evidence that shows no war crimes have been committed by the armed forces. The evidence provided in the diplomatic dispatches filed by Lt. Col. Anthony Gash the Defence Attache of the British High Commission, and the revelations by Lt. Col. Lawrence Smith the Defence Attache of the US Embassy, which could be considered as reliable as these officers were aware of the ground situation during the final stages of the war, have totally been disregarded by the UNHRC and the sponsors of the Resolutions. Recently Lord Naseby has written to the UNHRC about these evidence, and he has brought these facts to the notice of the British House of Lords.
Is it such a UNHRC and its dubious resolutions that Dr. S wants our government to take seriously as the “day of reckoning” closes on us as Dr. S puts it? Does Dr. S think that the West is genuinely motivated by human rights issues? Surely he knows that they are the worst HR violators. Would the West withdraw these resolutions if we implement their recommendations? As a matter of fact, had we agreed to sign the MCC, ACSA and SOFA agreements of the US there would be no resolutions against Sri Lanka. And Mitchel Brechtlet would play a different tune. UNHRC Resolutions against Sri Lanka are nothing but tools of hegemony and imperialism.
Further the International Community, whose opinion and dictate Dr. S wants our government to pay heed to while dealing with human rights and UN Resolutions, is nothing but the Western power block, which uses human rights as a bludgeon against small countries while murdering millions of civilians all over the world. Is China with the largest population or Russia the largest country included in this International Community. The UK just a few weeks ago passed a law prohibiting accusation of war crimes against their armed forces. And their armed forces are not innocent of war crimes either, their brutal excesses in Iraq are well known. And it is the UK that led the crusade against Sri Lanka in Geneva.
It is very easy to say that if the government looks after the minorities there would be no Geneva resolutions against us. But when we are dealing with minorities who know that they can exploit the geo-political situation that exists in the Indian Ocean region to their advantage, by helping the West to get a grip on the strategically situated Sri Lanka, it is difficult to negotiate a solution that would be fair by all stakeholders. The Tamil separatists know this and they will make the Western powers pressure the Sri Lankan government to give in to their demands. The minorities will want to dictate terms and get their pound of flesh. However, the minorities must realize that everybody stands to lose if the imperialist West is allowed to take a stranglehold on our country. Tamils must give up their campaign which they started before the time of independence, and ask for a reasonable and realistic solution.
N.A.de S. AMARATUNGA
Ven Ajahn Brahmavamso visits Sri Lanka in May
by Nanda Pethiyagoda
The next month, soon to be upon us, is of special significance to the majority of Sri Lankans since we Sinhalese and Tamils celebrate our New Year, with festivities continuing for a week or more in mid-April. The month of May is significant to Buddhists as the three major events of the Buddha’s life are commemorated at the Vesak full moon poya. This year, May carries another significance, joyful and to be grateful for. Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso arrives here towards the end of the month for about two weeks. The Ajahn Brahm Society of Sri Lanka (ABS) has completed all arrangements for the visit which is full of great good happenings.
The last time Ven Ajahn Brahm was in Sri Lanka was 2017. I well remember the day long sessions of his speaking to the audience in the BMICH, delivering so easily and absorbingly the Word of the Buddha and conducting meditation. 7000 persons were present to listen to the venerable monk from Australia, spreading themselves in all the BMICH halls and a few even seating themselves in the corridors. The sessions, with Ven Ajahn Brahm moving from hall to hall, with of course TV presentations in them, were deep in significance and of immense benefit to us. However, as is his manner of presentation, the gravity of what was being imparted was tempered by Ven Brahmavamso’s informality and constantly smiling, benign face. One indication of his informality is shortening his religious name to Ajahn Brahm.
This time it is one session on May 30 that the monk will conduct at the BMICH. Passes were available at announced venues from the 15th of this month. I am certain they were all snapped up, so eager are we to listen to this great teacher.
His programme, most efficiently arranged and made widely known by the ABS under the guidance of Ven Mettavihari, includes a resident meditation retreat from May 22 to 30 in Bandarawela for 150 participants inclusive of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis and lay persons.
A singularly unique forum will be held exclusively for professionals and business persons at the Galle Face Hotel on May 29. These sessions are by invitation, sent out well in time by ABS.
The much looked forward to Dhamma talk and meditation instructions for the public will be at the BMICH from 7.00 to 11.00 am on May 30. Anticipatory of the large crowds that will flock to the BMICH on that day, the ABS has organised sessions with the venerable monk moving from the Main Hall to Sirimavo Halls A and B so all can see and hear him. He will speak in English, followed by summarizations in Sinhala.
More information could be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For WhatsApp messages the number is 0720735837. The filled applications are to be submitted before 10th April 2023.
It seems superfluous to give details, even brief facts on Ven Brahmavamso, as he is well known in this country of ours. However, it appears pertinent to mention facets of the life of this very blessed Bhikkhu.
He was born in London in 1951. Having read widely on Buddhism, at the tender age of 16, this promising student and keenly interested teenager considered himself a Buddhist by conviction. When in the University of Cambridge following his undergrad course in Theoretical Physics, his strong interest in Buddhism and gravitation to meditation went alongside his studies. After earning his degree he taught for one year, He then decided to follow his greater interest in Buddhist philosophy and practice and so proceeded to Thailand. He followed meditation under a couple of Thai masters. Convinced of his future as a Buddhist Bhikkhu, he was ordained a monk at the age of 23 by the Chief Incumbent of Wat Saket. He then went for further training to the famous meditation teacher – Ajahn Chah. He spent nine years studying and training in the forest tradition. In 1983 he was invited to help establish a forest monastery near Perth, Western Australia. Within a short period he was Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, Perth. He is also the Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia and Spiritual Patron to the Buddhist Fellowship in Singapore. These are but two of the spiritual responsibilities he undertakes. His pragmatic approach and his deep conviction in Dhamma have made him a much sought after Buddhist teacher throughout the world.
We Sri Lankans are truly blessed to have him visit our land and share his knowledge, his conviction in the Buddha Word and his encouragement to meditate.
The team that calls itself the Ajahn Brahm Society Sri Lanka of multi-talented and multi-skilled men and woman are all deeply dedicated to helping us, the public of Sri Lanka, benefit from Ajahn Brahm, acknowledged as an excellent teacher and exponent of the Dhamma. We are most grateful to them and Ven Mettavihari who guides the ABS.
One of best development administrators SL ever had
Mr. K. Thayaparan (KT), who retired from the government service after serving as a development administrator for more than thirty years passed away on Jan 05 at the age of 86. He was born in 1937 in Malaya, which was then under the British rule; his father had migrated there in 1916 for employment. His father was employed in the Malayan Railways, and the family was living a happy life. In the late 1940s, there erupted a terrorist movement launched by Communists of Chinese origin. To fight with the terrorists the British Government had issued a conscription order for all school leavers above the age of 17 years to join the military. Many families with male children over 17 years fled to Ceylon to avoid conscription. Since KT’s family also had a male child who had been noticed to report for military duty, his family members too other than his father left Malaya in 1951 and came to live in Ceylon. In Jaffna, KT resumed and completed his school education. In 1958 he entered the University of Ceylon at Peradeniya to undertake studies in geography, economics and history.
During the university days, KT had won university colours in badminton. He graduated in 1961, and served as a school teacher in the Matara district. In 1962, after sitting a competitive examination, KT joined the Government Divisional Revenue Officers’ service. In 1963, together with the other officers of the DROs’ service and comparable services, KT was absorbed into the Ceylon Administrative Service that had been created in place of the Ceylon Civil Service, which had simultaneously been abolished.
Till 1975 KT served in the district administration in the northern districts, first as DRO, then as Asst. Government Agent and as Addl. Government Agent. From 1976 to 1979 he worked in the Ministry of Fisheries as Deputy Director Planning, and contributed to the development of the National Fisheries Development Plan 1979 – 1983. The Fisheries Development Plan, among other activities had concentrated on exploitation of the fish resources in the Sri Lanka’s exclusive economic zone, which was proclaimed in 1977, and utilisation of irrigation reservoirs and village tanks for development of inland fisheries. The Government made a policy decision to implement an accelerated programme to develop inland fisheries and aquaculture. For this purpose, a new Division called the Inland Fisheries Division was set up in the Ministry, and KT was appointed its director.
The accelerated development programme had a number of activities to perform. Establishment of fish breeding stations in different parts of the country, recruitment and training of scientific and technical officers to serve at fish breeding centres, import of exotic fish species suitable for culture in Sri Lankan inland waterbodies, training of youth in inland fishing and aquaculture, promotion of investments in shrimp farming, etc. Funding agencies like UNDP, ADB and individual countries on bilateral basis came forward to support the accelerated inland fisheries development programme by providing funds for development of infrastructure, providing technical assistance, providing foreign training for the scientific and technical staff who were mostly young people without experience, and providing advisory services. It was heavy work for KT, but he managed the Division and its work smoothly.
KT was a firm believer in team work. He knew workers in all outstation inland fisheries or aquaculture establishments by name. He distributed foreign training slots offered by donor countries or agencies to every scientific or technical officer on an equitable basis. He listened to everybody, and was quite loved by his staff. KT was quite neutral in politics. However, in spite of his hard work to develop the inland fisheries sector, he was transferred out of the Ministry in 1985 to the SLAS Pool.
In 1979 when KT took over the responsibility of developing inland fisheries and aquaculture in the country, the total national inland fish production in Sri Lanka was 17,400 tons. During his tenure of nearly six years, the national inland fish production steadily increased and in 1985, the year he was transferred it had increased to 32,700 tons, showing an increase of nearly 90%. Also, there were 4,500 inland fishing craft operating in reservoirs, and the number employed as fishers, fish collectors, fish traders, etc. was over 10,000.
After leaving the Ministry of Fisheries he served different assignments such as Director Regional Development, National Consultant or the World Bank funded Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Project, Secretary to the North-East Provincial Council Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, and Secretary to the State Ministry Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs. In 1995, he was appointed Addl. Secretary Development of the Ministry of Fisheries, but his stay in this post was brief since the then Minister replaced him with one of his political supporters. His last government assignment was as Addl. Secretary, Ministry of Plan Implementation, National Integration and Ethnic Affairs. In 1997, he retired from the government service, but continued in a few foreign funded projects as institutional development consultant. He once told that his most productive period in the government service was as Director Inland Fisheries. After retirement he authored several books, Reminiscences of Malaya 1937 – 1951, Stories of Some Brave Men and High Achievers, and Introduction to Some Known High Achievers.
Although he was quite suitable to be appointed the Secretary to a Ministry, he was never considered for such a post. In the final years of his career, he was compelled to serve under his juniors. But he carried on regardless and did the best in whatever the capacity he served.
It was not Central Bank bond scam
I was surprised and sorry to read a journalist attached to The Island writing about a central bank bond scam: surprised because, the editor of The Island, in his inimitable editorials, consistently refers to a treasury bond scam; sorry, because it is simply factually wrong. I have driven home that point several times in The Island and assumed that that canard was dead. Would you permit me to flog a not-so-dead horse?
There never was a central bank bond scam; there could not have been, because there was no market in central bank bonds. The central bank has not issued its own liabilities at least since 1967. The currency notes issued by the Central Bank are liabilities of the government (aanduva/state?) of Sri Lanka. (Should you not clear up that mess confusing ‘state’ with the ‘government’? It is one thing to have faith in the state of Sri Laska and quite another to have faith in the government of Ranil Wickremesinghe.) The Central Bank issues those bills (it does currency) on behalf of the state/government of Sri Lanka and they are not the liabilities of the Central Bank or the Monetary Board. There was a scam in government bonds in 2015 as well as in 2016.
As became clearer in the course of the Chitrasiri Commission, the then-governor of the Central Bank and a few other officers of the Central Bank were parties to that financial fraud involving government bonds. The Central Bank is simply the agent of the government/state who markets government liabilities. Those liabilities do not become the Bank’s liabilities. When you carry Sri Lanka currency, you carry liabilities, much like government bonds, of an entity whose credit is low. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka is not in the picture.
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