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Is the IMF a Member of the UN Family?



by Dr Sarala Fernando

The UN Secretary General seems to think so when he recently urged the Security Council and the Bretton Woods institutions to undertake reforms. Yet as the IMF programme unfolds in Sri Lanka one can see the divergence in the methods and objectives deployed by the IMF with its emphasis on domestic fiscal reforms and the UN which is advocating sustainable development, strengthening of health, education and protection of the environment and addressing global emergencies like climate change.

The mismatch is reflected in the growing chasm between the government and the public. The government had hoped that after Covid, Sinhala/Tamil New Year would be held in grand style this year, even providing funds to government institutions to organize events. Contrary to such expectations this year was marked with an absence of the usual cacophony of celebration. Instead of fireworks, the regular tv and radio counted down the auspicious times. The public was protesting the escalating cost of living as a result of new taxes, rupee depreciation causing food inflation, closing of enterprises and loss of jobs under the current IMF programme.

Reports galore on the increasing “misery” level with the deterioration marked among the most vulnerable under five-yearnold children, while women appear to be among the most affected whose plight, suicides, domestic violence, despair, are shown on live tv every night. Added to the woes it seems a sort of apathy has gripped the working people – that is those who have not been able to go abroad – seeming to prefer to voice their grievances and sink into depression rather than buckle down to work harder for more pay. Fortunately in Sri Lanka in time of any crisis, there is a huge network of humanitarian relief provided by the private sector, religious organizations, NGOs and concerned individuals which is making up for what the government cannot do.

People are asking now about the real cost/benefit of the IMF deal especially since it turned out that a substantial amount of the first tranche went back to the multilateral banks and bilateral lenders like India to meet outstanding debt repayments, as part of the IMF conditionality. In contrast, Bangladesh made the first positive move, offering to defer debt repayment on their $500 loan for another six months followed by India offering one year’s deffered repayment on their billion dollar loan.

The government argues that the IMF deal is a seal of approval opening the way for more assistance from multilateral banks and bilateral investors. But multilateral assistance has been slow to disburse in Sri Lanka such that when Covid hit, the World Bank just canceled their unutilized projects and redirected balances for the urgently required vaccines (in the haste, cancellation may have included expenditures already made by the government and not yet forwarded for reimbursement).Now the ADB has done the same, repurposed unutilized grants for emergency assistance of $350 million. For multilateral assistance to be well utilized there must be a strong domestic disbursement tracking system in place for timely reimbursement –has that been put into place and has the IMF provided necessary advice on that?

An early catastrophic consequence of the recourse to the IMF has been instead of strengthening human capital, there is an exodus of skilled workers and professionals for foreign employment leaving Sri Lanka’s flagship health and education system in dire straits, beset by strikes and shortages of equipment and essential drugs. Worse still, it is a blow to the national psyche where robust national health and education systems had given Sri Lanka its high social development standards, quoted as an example in early international indexes like the PQLI.

After the tsunami hit, our medical services responded immediately and prevented epidemics, hailed by WHO as exemplary. Now, young doctors well trained virtually free of charge in Sri Lanka, are leaving in droves attracted by study offers converted to work visas in overseas countries . Encouraged by the government release of foreign exchange for educational purposes, Sri Lanka’s students are facing a barrage of advertisements from foreign universities judging by the press advertisements and other inducements like work visas and permanent residence status upon graduation. There was even one advertisement recently by a foreign educational institution scouting for underage students with the added incentive of visas being provided for accompanying parents!!!

Has the IMF considered how focusing on revenue is disastrous for organizations like zoos which need not to boast about raising visitor revenue but rather on how they care for the animals in their charge? A similar situation exists for wild life parks and cultural triangle sites which are now encouraged to focus more on visitor revenue than on protecting the treasure in their charge. It is not only the family silver that is being put up for sale but even the wild animals are under threat.

The Agriculture Ministry has even entertained a proposal to export our wild monkeys for lab experiments and has been taken to court by a number of voluntary organizations, for this atrocious proposal. Now the Ministry of Agriculture is giving more firearms to farmers to kill monkeys, peacocks, wild boar etc claiming they are pests. What an example at this time of Wesak and Poson when the emphasis should be to highlight the Buddha’s message of compassion to the animals!

Having come out of two bloody youth insurrections, do we need to develop a gun culture in Sri Lanka or should we pursue UN sponsored programmes to collect and destroy small arms and light weapons? A domestic gun manufactory in Kadawatha has even started to advertise its wares in the local papers. Is there some connection between this new manufactory and the recent government initiative to promote gun distribution to farmers? Those concerned with national security would agree that the need of the hour after the end of the armed conflict is to reduce the numbers of small weapons in the hands of the public.

If culling is the only option, should not this be handed over to the military or police which is trained in the proper use of weapons? Compare our failed policies to the success of the wildlife campaigns in India under Prime Minister Modi with tiger numbers rising and parks well patrolled and conserved which has given the Indian Prime Minister excellent credentials internationally and a domestic political benefit as well, helping to draw the youth voters in India who are most interested today in nature and wild life protection.

The IMF with its focus on graphs and paper figures also needs to consider whether the value of tourism should be calculated in tourism arrival numbers and revenue forecasts or on goals of sustainability such as installation of renewable energy and recycling? Should unsolicited attractions like cable cars be entertained when unusually intense rains caused by climate change are causing the hillsides to collapse and what is required is more regulation to control construction in vulnerable areas? Forest conservators whose prime duty should be to protect the upper watershed from where all our major rivers derive, instead are being asked to sell off residual forests to raise revenue without a thought of the priority to increase forest cover to combat climate change as agreed under UN auspices.

As for bilateral assistance, sadly we hear from the press only about the controversial unsolicited projects, the return of the costly light rail system once abandoned due to protests from our transport specialists and a barge mounted nuclear power project apparently ignoring the perils of contamination from the worst maritime disaster experienced in Sri Lanka, Express Pearl. Following the IMF lead, the government focus is only on collection of compensation, yet what is needed is tightening of the regulations on carriage of hazardous materials as suggested by experts. Maritime zones around the country should be strictly protected and passing ships monitored for dropping plastic waste, excess oil etc in our waters as discussed under UN auspices.

Under the IMF raising revenue mantra, the government has lined up a list of failed SOE’s for sale or restructuring but has the IMF shared experience on how to do this with minimum social disruption? Why privatize strategic ventures like Sri Lanka Telecom which is a strong vibrant organization making profits and providing a good service? As a consequence its staff are demoralized and worrying about whether there is some deal already in the works for the new owner and whether that party will be interested in building the organization or just taking out its profits as quickly as possible.

Inevitably the discussions turn to queries of how geopolitics will play given the need to pay off the debt owed to India. It seems there are Indian companies lined up already to purchase these government assets, one such major player being the Adani group once brought to Sri Lanka as a “prestigious” investor subsequently smeared by legal challenges. The larger question that looms is the anxiety of the public over the growing Indian presence in our economy which if mishandled will become a major bilateral headache.

The government argument was that with the IMF nod of approval, it would open the path for new foreign investments, multilateral and bilateral. This approach has been contested by the public suggesting alternate domestic options ranging from moving to a knowledge economy including music and cinema exports, debt for nature swaps, bringing back “stolen” assets etc. In other words, their message to the government is that it should look inwards for domestic solutions instead of the old pattern of depending on foreign assistance and incurring more debt.

To restore its credibility, the government could begin by moving on the long overdue Ministry reorganization– finally let there be agreement on a fixed number of ministries with fixed locations which will facilitate public access. This reform has been stagnating since the time of Lakshman Jayakody who visited the Indian National Planning Commission for advice. A proposal worth considering is merging the Foreign Ministry with the Ministry of Trade, which has been accomplished in Australia for example quite successfully.

Consulting a respected Australian colleague, his comments were as follows: ” the Canberra amalgamation between foreign affairs and trade was so many decades ago that it now seems totally natural. At the time it involved a lot of pain and was divisive but time elapsed has more than demonstrated that it is a natural alliance and very sensible. Indeed much of the serious stuff and careers are now made on the trade side of the house. Our HC in Colombo would be able to obtain the various reviews etc but in short it’s been a huge success. We have two Cabinet ministers and two junior ministers to make the workload bearable.”

The Government can also do much more to cut down waste, requiring government ministries and agencies to give up rented buildings and declaring a moratorium on new building construction in favour of better usage of existing facilities. Seeing the shortage of beds for cancer patients in Anuradhapura main hospital and a building project which is stagnating, one wonders whether those emergency treatment centres opened for the Covid could not be repurposed to fill urgent health sector needs? Official reports suggest there are many unutilized building assets, empty small schools without teachers or students, unused small hospitals without doctors or proper equipment, which could be converted to support the morale of local communities.

As the IMF officers sit in far away offices and draw economic models on paper, they need to face the human predicament of those undertaking their reform programme and the need for conformity with UN expectations. The IMF is also learning and it is good therefore to note this time around that the visiting IMF team in Sri Lanka is meeting and facing questions from the public, the press, trade unions and opposition parties. Elsewhere in the world political leaders are pushing through unpopular measures and paying the price, like in France where as a result of pension reforms it seems President Macron is now unable to walk the streets without being accosted by protesters and heckled.

Little wonder that no elections are likely to be held in Sri Lanka in the near future and a mirage is being created by speculation over possible candidates for a quick Presidential poll. Fortunately for the IMF it has a charming Managing Director able to reach out to political leaders and with a friendly public image, a stark contrast to her stony faced officials!

(Sarala Fernando, retired from the Foreign Ministry as Additional Secretary and her last Ambassadorial appointment was as Permanent Representative to the UN and International Organizations in Geneva . Her Ph.D was on India-Sri Lanka relations and she writes now on foreign policy, public diplomacy and protection of heritage).


Full implementation of 13A– Final solution to ‘national problem’ or end of unitary state? – Part III



President Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Modi

By Kalyananda Tiranagama
Executive Director
Lawyers for Human Rights and Development

(Continued from yesterday, 27 Sept.)

TNA Spokesman MP Sumanthiran’s Statement on discussions with the President:

The Island of 02. 08. 23 published a statement issued by TNA spokesman M. A. Sumanthiran, MP, on his party’s demand for enhanced and meaningful devolution, following their discussions with the President. As usual, Sumanthiran has taken care not to be too specific and to cover up their real intention:

“This statement issued in order to clarify our position with regard to the political solution for the national question, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the conduct of the long delayed Provincial Council Elections and the All-Party conferences convened by the President.

“The Tamil People have, since 1956, consistently given the Tamil political parties a mandate to work towards a political solution to the Tamil National Question by means of a federal arrangement in the North-East, which was recognized as the ‘historical habitation’ of the Tamil speaking people in the Indo-Lanka Accord that was signed on the 29th July 1987, which provided for a measure of devolution to the provinces, including land and police powers.

“The Govt. of India has actively engaged in this pursuit for the past 40 years after SL accepted the good offices, offered by India, consequent to the 1983 July violence against the Tamils.

“Most recently, too, Indian PM Narendra Modi conveyed to President Ranil Wickremesinghe, India’s hope that the Govt. of Sri Lanka will fulfill the aspirations of the Tamils and drive the process of rebuilding for Equality, Justice and Peace, He also hoped that Sri Lanka will fulfill its commitment to implement the 13th Amendment and conduct the Provincial Council Elections, and will ensure a life of respect and dignity for the Tamil Community of Sri Lanka.

“The Prime Minister clearly expressed our belief that a meaningful devolution of powers and the full implementation of the 13th Amendment are essential components of addressing and facilitating the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka. This has been our consistent position and this was put forward during the meeting between the two leaders.

“Our position is that power sharing must be in a federal structure, consistent with the aspirations of the Tamil People expressed at every election since 1956.

“Thus, the non-implementation of any part of the Constitution is a violation of the whole. To that extent, we insist on the full implementation of the devolution arrangements currently extant in our Constitution. Provincial Council Elections must be held without further delay.’

Sri Lanka High Commissioner to India Milinda Moragoda has, in a statement, confirmed what Sumanthiran said on Indian PM’s stand on Tamil issue:

Milinda Moragoda’ s statement:

“Modi strongly raised the Tamil issue with Wickremesinghe, seeking the implementation of the 13th Amendment for devolution of power and also early provincial elections. He had said India wanted Sri Lanka to ensure a life of dignity for the Tamil community. During his visit Wickremesinghe had shared with Modi his comprehensive proposal for furthering reconciliation and power sharing through devolution.’ (Times of India and The Island – 11. 08. 2023)

From all these resolutions and statements, it clearly appears that the aspiration of all Tamil Political parties in the North-East all along has remained the same from the founding of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) in 1949 up to date and Mr. Sampanthan’s dream never changes in essence.

The components of this never-ending dream are as follows:

a. Tamil Speaking People in Ceylon constitute a nation distinct from that of the Sinhalese;

b. The Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka are the areas of traditional, historical habitation of the Tamil speaking people. Sinhala Colonization in the Northern and Eastern Provinces must be stopped immediately. This position cannot be compromised in any structure of government;

c. The Northern and Eastern Provinces must constitute one administrative unit; Any meaningful devolution should go beyond the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, creating a federal rule in the merged Northern and Eastern Provinces;

“All the powers required to ensure the unity and indivisibility of the country – defence, foreign affairs, finance and currency and immigration and emigration would remain with the Central Government. All the other powers, including land and Police powers, would be devolved to the provincial councils enabling them to exercise unrestricted authority to govern their land, protect their own people, and develop their own economy, culture and tradition with enhanced powers.

The Tamil Nation has an Inalienable right to political autonomy/self-determination.

Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Dream

As revealed in President Wickremesinghe’s Address to Parliament on 08 Feb., 2023, both President Wickremesinghe and Sampanthan had a common dream to provide a sustainable solution to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. When one examines the various steps taken by President Wickremesinghe at different stages in his political career to end the war and find a solution to the ethnic problem, one can clearly see that both have shared the same dream with more or less same solutions in mind.

This is what the UNP Election Manifesto presented at the General Election of December 5, 2001 stated:

“Our prime objective is peace. We stand for peace and peace alone. We will end the war and build national unity. We will bring about a political solution acceptable to all those who are party to the crisis, within the framework of an undivided Sri Lanka. An interim administration will be set up for the northern and Eastern Provinces.”

One can get a glimpse of his solution to the ethnic problem from the Oslo Declaration and the Ceasefire Agreement signed by Wickremesinghe, as the Prime Minister, on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka and by Anton Balasingham on behalf of the LTTE on February 23, 2002. The Oslo Declaration was drafted by Erik Solheim.

One paragraph of the Oslo Declaration reads thus: Responding to a proposal by the leadership of the LTTE, the parties agreed to explore a solution founded on the principle of internal self-administration in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka.

As claimed by Erik Solheim, Balasingham had accepted it and taken it to LTTE leader Prabhakaran, who rejected it because it referred to federalism. LTTE leader’s position was that they were prepared to consider favourably a political framework that offered substantial regional autonomy and self-government from the part of the Sinhala side. It was after the LTTE submitted the ISGA framework, stressing the external dimension of the right to self-determination in its preamble that the ceasefire became effective. During the period when the ceasefire remained effective, the LTTE was allowed to have an internal self-administration in the territory under their control, setting up its own police stations, courts, banks and other institutions and have its border control points issuing entry passes. He did not openly reject the proposals of the LTTE for the establishment of Internal Self Government Authority (ISGA) under the LTTE leadership for the governance of the North-East. However, he could not openly accept the proposal and grant ISGA to LTTE due to strong protests of the other political parties and the people in the South.

The solution proposed by the Ranil Wickremesinghe government in the Oslo Declaration is similar to the one demanded by R. Sampanthan at the ITAK Convention in Batticaloa in 2012 and during his speech at Matara in 2016.

As the Leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremesinghe in 2005 had brought pressure on the Kumaratunge government to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the LTTE for the establishment of a Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS Agreement) under the LTTE leadership for the reconstruction of the Tsunami devastated zones in the six Districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mulathivu, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara in the North East. That MOU was signed by the Secretary of the Ministry of Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation on behalf of the Govt. of Sri Lanka and by Shanmugalingam Ranjan, Deputy Head of Planning and Development Secretariat, on behalf of the LTTE. However, it could not be implemented due to the Supreme Court order declaring it illegal.

The Northern and Eastern Provinces, which remained merged as one administrative unit since 1987 on a Proclamation made by President J. R. Jayewardene under the Emergency Regulations, were demerged on the Order of the Supreme Court made on 16 Oct., 2006.

As reported in the Daily Mirror of 27. 11. 2006, the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe assured TNA leader R. Sampanthan of his Party’s fullest support to merge the Northern and Eastern Provinces if the issue comes before Parliament.

After 2007, while the armed forces were vigorously and successfully carrying out the war for the liberation of the country from the LTTE terrorists, the people stood by them.

But the UNP leaders carried on a vicious campaign aimed at disheartening our armed forces, making public utterances, belittling the heroic victories won by our armed forces such as ‘Thoppigala kiyanne kelewak’, ‘Alimankada yanava kiyala yanne Pamankada’; ‘Kilinochchi yanava kiyala Madavachchi yanava’; and passing disparaging remarks such as ‘ona gonekuta yudhdha karanna puluvan’.

At the 2013 Singapore Conference held to get Tamil support for regime change at the 2015 presidential election, Mangala Samaraweera, representing the UNP, ensured the full implementation of 13th Amendment and a federal state in the North and East of Sri Lanka in return for Tamil support for a regime change.

In October 2015, the Yahapalana government co-sponsored the resolution brought by Western countries for implementation of the recommendations in the Geneva UNHRC Report against Sri Lanka and its armed forces who liberated the country from the terrorists. It took several steps to implement the recommendations in the UNHRC report, such as signing and ratifying the International Convention on the Enforced Disappearances of Persons and enacting the International Convention on the Enforced Disappearances of Persons Act in 2016 and enacting the Office of the Missing Persons Act and opening the Office of the Missing Persons. All those were demands of Tamil political parties.

In January 2016, a Constitutional Assembly was appointed to draft a new Constitution to accommodate Tamil aspirations.

The Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly headed by PM Wickremesinghe released its Interim Report with its proposed Amendments to the Constitution on 21 Sept., 2017. However, due to differences of opinion among political parties and the upheavals taking place in the political field at that time, the Yahapalana government could not go ahead with it.

It is no secret that the Tamil diaspora, Tamil political parties in the North-East, religious groups supporting the LTTE cause and foreign-funded NGOs involved in various anti-Sri Lanka campaigns played a key role in the Galle Face struggle, which compelled the former President to leave office and brought President Wickremesinghe to power.

After assuming power as the President, Wickremesinghe several times expressed his firm determination to bring about a final solution to the ethnic problem in the North-East within a few months through required constitutional amendments with the consensus of other political parties represented in Parliament. With this aim, he separately met and had discussions with leaders of Tamil political parties representing the North-East. He addressed the Parliament and convened all Party Conferences and tried to bring pressure on MPs to come to a settlement.

In his Address to Parliament on 09 August, 2023, President Wickremesinghe clearly said that he stood for full devolution of power with 13+ , granting all powers, other than Police powers, to the Provincial Councils.

President Wickremesinghe, who has no popular mandate, has come forward to do things which six Presidents elected by popular mandate since 1982 – J. R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa, Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Maithripala Sirisena and Gatabaya Rajapaksa, did not dare to do, conscious of the consequences of doing so or the feelings of the vast majority of the people in the South.

President J. R. Jayewardene, in his address to Parliament on 20 Feb., 1986 clearly pointed out the danger posed to the country by accepting the demands of Tamil Political parties for self-rule and merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces as one administrative unit.

When the address of President Wickremesinghe to Parliament on August 9, 2023 is analysed, it becomes clear that he is ready to offer far more than Sampanthan expects.

(To be continued)

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Perils of ignoring the collective voice of the UNGA



President Joe Biden speaks at the 2023 UNGA sessions.

While the more progressive sections of world opinion would have expected all Heads of State and government of the permanent member states of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to be present at the recent UN General Assembly (UNGA) sessions in New York, this was not to be.

It could very well be that UN protocol does not make it compulsory that these political leaders be present at these annual UNGA sittings but their presence at the world forum would have testified to their sensitivity to global opinion on the crucial questions currently confronting the international community. A ‘bad miss’ on the part of the relevant political leaders of UNSC permanent member states, some observers are likely to quip.

On this matter, the US scored above its UNSC counterparts. President Joe Biden was not only present at the UNGA sessions but went on to address the global body. It proved that the US was eager to get to know at first hand, the perceptions of the world community on current questions. It should be granted to the US that in terms of proving its concern for the world’s wellbeing, it has ‘stolen a march’ on other foremost global powers.

The commentator of international politics couldn’t be faulted for wondering whether the above ‘miss’ is a sign of sorts of our times, which are characterized by an overwhelming dominance of world affairs by the permanent members of the UNSC. A connected issue is whether the UNSC is increasingly and relentlessly upstaging the UNGA in international affairs. If so, the trend is to be regretted.

However, the trend has serious implications for the wellbeing of the global community. For, represented in the UNGA in substantial numbers are developing countries or the world’s South.

The UNGA is a principal forum where the majority of humanity could articulate its views on matters of the first importance to it, although the resolutions it passes in the UNGA have no ‘binding effect’ on the major powers represented in the UNSC. But the UNSC would be ignoring UNGA resolutions at its peril and that of the world, considering that unmet needs of the majority of countries have grave implication for world stability and peace.

Of course, all UN member states are usually represented in the UNGA in substantial fashion and the issues of the world are, in the normal course of things, duly conveyed to the respective national leaders, but a personal presence of UNSC political heads at UNGA sessions carries tremendous symbolic significance. Among other things, it means that the world could hope of having a reasonable hearing by the international community’s leading powers. This is bound to have a reassuring effect on the global South in particular.

However, it was in the fitness of things for the ‘G-77 and China’ to have met in Cuba almost at the time of the UNGA sessions. Needless to say, G-77 is a principal forum of the South and it has helped highlight some substantial issues confronting the developing world. It is incumbent on the South, going forward, to take up its causes with the UN community of countries in a united voice and to press relentlessly for pro-South positive change in the current world order.

In other words, the South should enable its numerical superiority in organs, such as the UNGA, to matter crucially. Theoretically, the South has on its side China and India and the challenge before the latter is to unflaggingly take on the most crucial issues of the South and work towards their resolution in the UN system.

The world could be said to be badly in need of a renewed and robust North-South Dialogue. Right now, it’s the issues of the North that are being made to matter and this is not surprising considering the decisive impact being made on international relations by the world’s foremost powers. That is, mainly the permanent members of the UNSC. In the process the issues of the South are tending to receive scant attention by particularly the Northern hemisphere.

This situation needs drastic changing and the major powers that identify with the South, such as India and China, are obliged to use their political and economic heft to usher the relevant Pro-South changes.

It was in order for Southern political leaders to highlight the yawning North-South gap in respect of scientific and technological progress at the Group of 77 Summit, for instance, but the question of economic equity within Southern countries and internationally, needs sustained and rigorous campaigning by the South and those sections of the North that empathize with it.

That is, ‘Bread’ needs to remain among the foremost of concerns of the international community. Equitable and fair international trade relations and other such questions that go to the heart of development, acquire substantive meaning only when they are made to matter in the question of advancing equitable economic ties within and without countries.

It will be found that when the international community, driven by the developing world, works towards these aims, problems such as the ‘Brain Drain’ and illegal international migration would prove resolvable. Likewise, achieving the MDGs would emerge as a realistic proposition.

Accordingly, the question is whether those major powers identifying with the South would be willing to go more than the extra mile to champion the legitimate aims of the world’s impoverished countries. They would need to place their power at the services of the poor since neglecting to do so would amount to imperiling global stability in increasing degrees. Among other things, they would need to be visible in the development forums of the world and provide clear evidence that they are indeed in earnest when they speak in terms of taking up the causes of the developing world.

The South, meanwhile, should come together on these issues and lay the basis for pro-poor ‘system change’. Reviving organizations of the South, such as NAM, and promoting South-South cooperation need to be considered tasks of the first importance.

As pointed out in this column last week, the UN would need to work very closely with Southern countries with a view to ushering democratic development within them on a sustained basis. UN aid needs to be tied to progressive change of this kind since not all Southern ruling elites are pro-people and in favour of the fair distribution of ‘Bread’. Instead, their hands itch for ‘Guns’. The UN should rap them over the knuckles by increasingly connecting its assistance to vigorous democratization.

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Beauty plus Brains




Maneka Liyanage has two important goals in mind – to be a recognized singer one day, and also a model.

She is 5’ 8″ tall, good-looking, and is a photographic model, but her ambition, she says, is to step on the ramp.

“My other ambition is to showcase my talent as a singer, and I believe I can do it.”

Maneka is also involved in the IT scene, exploring the universe of innovation and critical thinking.

And this is how our Chit-Chat went…

1. How would you describe yourself?

I’m a flexible person who wears many hats in life. By day, I’m an IT person, and when I have a free time, I change into a design model, displaying my affection for style and imagination. My enthusiasm for workmanship and music powers my spirit, and I sway between being a vivacious, chatty character, to someone calm…just taking in the scene around me.

2. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would say setting out additional open doors for quality time together, with my loved ones.

3. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

As I’m the only child, I would love to have my dearest and loving friends as my brothers and sisters.

4. School?

I attended Lindsay Girls’ School, Colombo 3, and also Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya. While at school, I did music, participated in many events, and I was also involved in netball. I was the President of the Science Society, at Lindsay Girls’ School, and was in the Buddhist Society and the Yaha Mithuru committee at Sirimavo Bandaranaike Vidyalaya.

5. Happiest moment?

My wedding day, no doubt. Also, spending quality time with friends brings me happiness, and career achievements, such as modelling, or achieving milestones, certainly does give me lots of happiness and fulfillment. As an IT executive, pursuing a fulfilling career is another form of happiness.

6. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Where I’m concerned, my happiness revolves around career satisfaction, meaningful relationships, creative expression, personal growth, self-acceptance, and a deep connection with nature.

7. Are you religious?

Yes. I identify myself with Buddhism and actively participate in its practices, demonstrating a level of religious affiliation. Additionally, I have respect for, and occasional visit, Hindu temples and Catholic churches.

8. Are you superstitious?

Not exactly as I don’t take unseen, or improbable things, seriously.

9. Your ideal guy?

I would say a partner who embodies my values; a strong person who maintains honesty and integrity, cares for others, and has exceptional qualities, like consideration, compassion, humour, and inspiration.

10. Which living person do you most admire?

Vladimir Putin comes to mind – a prominent political figure known for his assertiveness and controversial leadership style. Admiration may extend to various figures, not just one living person, and it’s crucial to continue learning from those who inspire and align with my values.

11. Which is your most treasured possession?

My most treasured possession could be a symbolic or personal item, such as a diary or journal, reflecting on my journey and growth. The true value of a possession lies in its personal significance, and only I can determine which one represents my values and experiences best. These possessions empower me to navigate life with purpose and authenticity, making them my most treasured possessions.

12. If you were marooned on a desert island, who would you like as your companion?

I would prefer my husband as I value personality traits and believe husbands’ embody these qualities, making them an ideal partner for such a challenging and isolating situation.

13. Your most embarrassing moment?

A few odd things are there but nothing much to shout about that would be of any interests to your readers.

14. Done anything daring?

As a student I loved Biology and I did Biology for my higher studies. But I wanted to go with Information Technology, in keeping par with the modern world. So I changed from a Bio student to an IT student and I think that was a bold and daring move.

15. Your ideal vacation?

A mindful retreat, cultural exploration, wildlife and nature experiences, and relaxation.

16. What kind of music are you into?

My music taste is characterised by a love for music that stirs emotions, tells stories, and has a diverse and multicultural flavour. I appreciate intricate piano and symphony music, country music, piano music, and multilingual music in various languages. This reflects my open-mindedness and ability to find value and beauty in a wide range of musical expressions.

17. Favourite radio station?

Gold FM. My preference for Gold FM stems from my affinity for old English music hits and the emotional and nostalgic connection I have with this type of music.

18. Favourite TV station?

ART TV. Usually I don’t watch much TV, but I like ART TV since it telecast music.

19 What would you like to be born as in your next life?

I like a peaceful, harmonious, and happy existence in my next life. And I wish to be with my beloved ones in my next birth, as well. I desire a human being with a similar life, a peaceful and harm-free existence, a beautiful environment, and happiness for all living beings. I hope for a life free from obstacles, conflicts, and difficulties. And also, value aesthetics and a sense of compassion for all living beings.

20. Any major plans for the future?

I may focus on career development, also having a family, plus financial goals, travel, supporting each other, and personal growth. Communication and flexibility are crucial for a successful future, as everyone’s plans are unique and may evolve over time. One last thing; I enjoy reading The Island newspaper, especially on a Tuesday and Thursday.

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