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The London fiasco and lessons

The Head of State of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, went to London to address the Oxford Union upon their invitation. While the address was scheduled for December 2, 2010 the President was informed the previous day by the Oxford Union that the address had to be called off because of alleged ‘security concerns’ of which they had just come to know.

If the excuse given by the Oxford Union for canceling the scheduled address is true (it has not been contradicted by the Oxford Union or the British Government to date), it must follow that this episode proves beyond doubt, firstly, that the law enforcement authorities of the allegedly ‘Great’ Britain were intimidated by and/or confessed to being unable to control a gang of Tamil hooligans/rowdies/rabble and their backers if they chose to misbehave on the streets of Oxford and inconvenience bona fide travelers thereon; and secondly, that the law enforcement authorities of the allegedly ‘Great’ Britain and the members of the Oxford Union are a bunch of imbeciles.

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Why the budget deficit should be cut

The Government is committed to the IMF to keep the budget deficit for this year to 8% of GDP. Figures for eight months show that the deficit has overshot the full year’s target. Capital spending for the first eight months was up 15.1 percent to 158.3 billion rupees. Cutting the budget deficit to levels agreed with the IMF will be possible only if growth quickens in the rest of the year. Will the Government dump the IMF prescription without following the austerity measures recommended to provide a corrective for our problems?

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Questioning the Credibility of AI, HRW and the ICG

The past record of Sri Lanka’s commissions of inquiry has been so poor that ‘failure’ seems to be the predominant ‘home-grown’ quality of those commissions. Hence, there is naturally a great degree of skepticism shown when a government announces the establishment of a new commission (‘yet another commission’), even the establishment of the ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’ (LLRC). All governments (including the present one) are responsible for this state of affairs. These were some of the critical views expressed by this writer elsewhere (and by others), when the LLRC was established. The presumption that the LLRC or other commissions are bound to fail (given the past record of commissions) is, it is admitted, a rebuttable presumption; so, the LLRC and the government can always prove their critics wrong.
Yet, the LLRC process has begun. Even though the government may be disingenuous, the members of the LLRC have so far shown that they are not. A number of groups and individuals (respected former public servants and diplomats, senior journalists etc.) have appeared before the LLRC and made very useful submissions. Some civilians who were directly affected during the last stages of the war have come forward and stated their version of what happened; about how they were held as part of a ‘human shield’ by the LTTE, but also about how the government forces carried out certain attacks. It’s within this context that an invitation to appear before the LLRC was extended to Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Crisis Group (ICG). Having raised some important issues in their joint letter, these organizations have proceeded to reject the invitation; stating that they would be pleased to appear if a "genuine and credible process" is established featuring, inter alia, "truly independent commission members."

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If one Googles Sri Lanka

Last week I was on route on UL 227 to address a Global Forum on Tea that was staged in Dubai. As soon as the aircraft was airborne and was gaining height I could see the contour of Sri Lanka taking shape. My mind went back to the time when I had to travel almost on a weekly routine to Jaffna on military aircrafts to develop the private sector businesses in Jaffna during the height of the final battle. From a 34 companies that were operating in Jaffna in the 1990’s, we were able to harness the real potential of the peninsula where by the end mid 2009 there over one hundred and fifty private sector companies operation either directly or through indirect methods of distribution. But even with all this work amidst a war with one of the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world, if one googled brand Sri Lanka, the reports were not that encouraging.

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The UNP shoots itself in the foot again Reflections on the No-Confidence Motion against the Minister of External Affairs

The motion brought by the United National Party against the Minister of External Affairs seemed a heaven sent opportunity for the government to clarify a number of issues regarding the External Relations of this country over the last few years. In particular it made clear the erosion of what might be termed the international agenda of the principal opposition, a factor of great importance since, though the most dangerous threat facing this country, that of terrorism within our shores, has been defeated, the external threat still looms.

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