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islandAn Interview with Rajiva Wijesinha

“About three years ago, at a private meeting at the Central Bank Maithreepala Sirisena was the first person to say that there are questions about the way the roads are being built. He said there was a lot of waste going on. I think that was very brave of him.”

University don turned parliamentarian Rajiva Wijesinha was in the news recently for having crossed over from the government to the opposition and for having appeared on Al Jazeera with the head of the Global Tamil Forum Suren Surenthiran where he made some utterances that have been given various interpretations. In this interview, he speaks to C. A. Chandraprema about his Al Jazeera interview, and his support for Maithreepala Sirisena.

Q. You seem to have ruffled feathers in Colombo with your interview on Al Jazeera. I have heard you (and many other people) saying much worse things about the Rajapaksas. It would appear that the reason for people to be upset about what you said would be that you seemed to be telling Surenthiran that what he was saying (about Rajapaksa being taken to the International Criminal Court like Charles Taylor or Milosevic after he loses the election) was ‘precisely the kind of nonsense that will lead to an undesirable result at this election’. You also said that the GTF should have the sense not to try to interfere in this election ‘because they will pervert it’. That may have been interpreted as your telling Surenthiran not to say such things because his statements will skew the election result in favour of the government and defeat the ‘common goal’.

qrcode.26587774A. I said that in direct contradiction to what Suren Surenthiran was saying. When I said that I believe the army fought a very good war both Surenthiran and the lady doing the interview started shouting at me to which I responded by saying that ‘I am not concerned about the prejudices of the international community’. I also said that at the rate the government is going our forces will suffer if Mahinda Rajapaksa is re-elected because Mahinda Rajapksa’s foreign minister has utterly betrayed the record of our forces. No answers have been made to the allegations made against us, there have been blanket denials, and there has been no analysis to show that the allegations made are false. Only I have done that. Mahinda Rajapaksa says that I nodded my head to what Suren Surenthiran said about taking him to the Hague after the election. But I have said very clearly that there is absolutely no case (against Sri Lanka).

Q. Could this irritation be because you were considered a friend of the family and even appointed as a national list MP? In such a context some of the things you said may be quite hurtful. Such as for example saying that “there is a dangerous collection of people around him (the president) who are treating him as a cash cow” and they have “blockaded him from the reality of what is going on in the country and they let him out of this fortress only in order to use him.”

A. I have been saying this sort of thing to him before. And about being grateful to be a national list MP, I think the boot is on the other foot if I may say so. I was offered a couple of ambassadorships but I turned them down because I could not leave my father who was growing older. Then I was offered the position of head of the Peace Secretariat which I never asked for. I accepted it because it was a challenge and I think I did a very good job and I think gratitude is owed to me and it may be because of that that I was appointed to parliament. When G. L.Peiris didn’t want to use me, he (the president) used my services to go abroad to deal with the channel 4 challenge. I feel very strongly that we fought a good war and I was very happy to defend our people in that situation. He asked me to go to Geneva three times, but I said I couldn’t because I found the whole thing was a mess. Read the rest of this entry »

qrcode.26572681Basil had told me that I did not need to worry about the Peace Secretariat being closed because I had another position too, that of Secretary to Mahinda Samarasinghe’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights. That was correct, and for anyone else that would have been a full time job. But the wider dimensions of the work we did, and in particular the need to coordinate work with regard to the North, had been facilitated by my position at the Secretariat, with the authority to coordinate responses from a range of Ministries.

In theory the Ministry had a coordinating role with regard to humanitarian assistance but, during the course of that year, Basil had ensured that was eroded. The Consultative Committee on Humanitarian Assistance, which Minister Samarasinghe had chaired, hardly met in 2009, and its role was taken over by a Task Force for the North which Basil chaired. That did not initially include any Tamils, which was typical of the command structures Basil enjoyed, though after some protests Minister Douglas Devananda was included.

Still, there was enough to do, given the situation in the Welfare Centres and the need to continue to liaise with the UN, and in particular the Special Representative for the Rights of the Displaced, Walter Kalin, who visited us three times during this period and was extremely helpful, whilst also pointing out areas in which we could do better. I also continued to work on humanitarian support, and in particular tried together with Mr Divaratne, who was the Secretary to Basil’s Task Force, to introduce some cohesion into the inputs of the various Non-Governmental Organizations keen to work in the welfare centres, and then in the areas in which the displaced were being resettled.

Most important of all, though, I felt, was finishing the plans we had been tasked with formulating with regard to Human Rights. One was the National Action Plan, which we had pledged in Geneva at the Universal Periodic Review, in May 2008, that we would get ready. This was done, despite all our work in relation to the conflict, through committees chaired by professionals of great ability, and we managed in the latter part of 2009 to bring the recommendations together and produce a draft.

As important I felt was the Bill of Rights, which the President had pledged in his 2005 manifesto, and for which a Committee had been appointed under the aegis of the Ministry of National Languages and Constitutional Affairs. When Mahinda Samarasinghe crossed over to the government early in 2006 and his Ministry was created, obviously it became the body responsible, but I found when I was appointed to be its Secretary in June 2008 that there had been no progress on the matter. Together with his Consultant, Nishan Muthukrishna, whom I had known long ago as a schoolboy, through the cultural activities I had worked on while at the British Council, we went into overdrive and persuaded the Chair – a distinguished lawyer who was however close to President Kumaratunga and had little confidence in the current President’s commitment to Rights – to produce a draft. He and his committee did in the end deliver, and I had that draft too ready by the end of 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

qrcode.26559451One of the reasons I still continued to have hopes about Mahinda Rajapaksa was that his instincts have always been sound. This was exemplified when I called him to complain about what the Bodhu Bala Sena had been up to in Aluthgama. Instead of attempting to defend them, as I had feared, he promptly declared that they were involved in a conspiracy to bring his government into disrepute. He claimed that they were funded by the Americans and the Norwegians, and that they were determined to alienate him from the Muslims.

The story seemed to me implausible, even though I knew there was some basis for his allegations. What had been the precursor of the BBS had received funds from the Norwegians, and though I believe the Norwegian government as represented by its regular diplomats in Colombo acts in good faith, I have no similar confidence in Mr Solheim and his acolytes. One of them, who once boasted to me of his acquaintance with Mr Solheim, was Arne Fjiatoff, who had been the godfather of, if not the BBS, its principal lay spokesman Dilantha Withanage. I have little doubt, given that he has also recently been fishing in troubled waters in Burma, that he had a shrewd inkling of what they were up to.

With regard to the Americans, we have long known that they will recruit anyone to bring down what they are most worried about at any point, with no concern for possible consequences. At one stage I thought their sublime ignorance was to blame, but there is a certain callousness too, and a confidence in their own strength which leads them not to worry about catastrophes for other people. I find this wicked, and the fact that Americans claim that such behavior is only  response to (other) evil empires is no excuse.

Recently, at the Congress of Liberal International in Hong Kong, I voted against a resolution urging immediate action against ISIS, not because I do not acknowledge the danger it represents, but because there was no mention in the text of the American adventurism that had led to the rise of ISIS. Unless that is registered, the world is in grave danger of similar blunders that can lead only to anarchy. I am happy to say that the British Liberal Democrats whom I upbraided agreed with me about the responsibility of the Americans for what had occurred, beginning with the illegal invasion of Iraq. But unlike the Liberals in the days of my youth, who were able to call a spade, the modern generation is wrapped up in trying to achieve a European consensus, and that consensus is swept away by the American penchant for othering – which requires total devotion to the Americans, whether promoting democracy or anarchy. Read the rest of this entry »

qrcode.26476412I was delighted to find that the small group with which I am working are not the only people putting forward suggestions for reform. Recently I was sent a document prepared by the Pathfinder Foundation which puts forward a policy agenda for political parties. The Pathfinder Foundation is I think run by Milinda Moragoda, who is also an adviser to the President, so it looks like his advice too is not taken seriously.

 I think the ideas they have put forward are most interesting, and potentially productive, and I have urged that they too issue short, compact recommendations for different subjects, since that will make their ideas more accessible to all. With due attribution I might make use of some more of their proposals, but here I will look at what they have written with regard to ‘Education, training and skills development’. I find myself in agreement with almost everything they say, and I think it worth reproducing that section in full here –

Sri Lanka can no longer depend on a growth strategy which leverages low wages. The next phase of development will have to be driven by more skilled labour and technological upgrading. The lack of human resources could well become the binding constraint which restrains the country’s development prospects.
The current education system has been successful in terms of attaining very high participation rates, including for girls. However, learning outcomes have not been aligned with the needs of a rapidly modernising economy. Education, training and skills development should be better aligned with the country’s development strategy i.e. the needs of those sectors which drive the growth model.
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  1. Shifting the focus of the entire education system from exam-based learning by rote to one where there is emphasis on fostering creativity, creative thinking and innovation.
  2. Strengthening Maths, Science and English education.
  3. Aligning training and skills development to the priority sectors of the country’s development strategy.
  4. Increasing investment in tertiary education on the basis of a pragmatic and non-ideological approach to public, private and mixed provision.
  5. Restructuring and upgrading the multitude of learning and skills development institutions and schemes (lessons can be learnt from East Asia and Germany).
  6. Reforming the state-owned Universities in order to make them internationally competitive.’

 

This however is a brief synopsis of what needs to be done, so I thought I should divide it up into two or three areas, and expand on the suggestions. I will begin with the content of education at schools, and then look at what are termed school services. Then I will look at higher education and also vocational training.

Colombo Post 7 December 2014 – http://www.colombopost.net/columns/op-ed/item/302-a-reform-agenda-school-education

qrcode.26476270During my visits in the last couple of years to all the Divisional Secretariats in the North and East, I realized that little had been done to implement the proposal in President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s manifestos regarding more consultation of the people. Regular meetings did not take part at village level, and the supposed Divisional Development Committees met sporadically. Their conclusions were not recorded systematically, and there was no provision for follow up. Indeed in one area it was reported that the Member of Parliament, who chaired the meetings, ignored decisions and did what he wanted, and this was confirmed by the Government Agent. Elsewhere the Committees had not met for months.

I wrote to some of my colleagues and suggested they should take their responsibilities more seriously. I also suggested to the President, in my end of year report as Adviser on Reconciliation, how systems could be developed. But there was no response, except once when he told me, when I spoke to him about the need for better consultation, to talk to Basil. I told him I could not, since Basil never listened, as I had learnt from previous experience, so the President told me to write to Lalith, which I did, for the umpteenth time. Nothing happened, and instead I discovered this year that the chairmanship of the DDCs was being used to give MPs massive sums of money, over Rs 600 million in some cases, to spend on what they saw as development.

I brought the matter up at the Consultative Committee on Public Administration Reforms, and got details of the wheezes Basil had dreamt up to give funds to members involved in elections. It transpired that no one had known about this officially before I asked, and the opposition as well as more responsible members of government welcomed the relative clarity we established, but it was pretty clear the whole process was absurd.

Not least to prevent such abuse, we must set in place mechanisms to ensure that the voice of the people is heard before money is spent on their behalf. Fortunately there did exist a consultative mechanism in the form of the Civil Defence Committees, which I found well organized in the East. Unfortunately these had no official status, but we were able, after discussion with the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration, to improve the structures, primarily by his asking the Grama Niladharis to chair the meetings. This established a link with the formal administrative process, and in some places where there were able officials – such as the Nittambuwa OIC, who explained how he had taken things forward when spent some time in his office – files were systematically maintained. Still, the process requires fine tuning, and in particular provision for follow up, so the following administrative reforms are suggested –

  1. Consultation mechanisms should formally be set up at Grama Niladhari level, in line with the current Civil Defence Committees which are now chaired by the Grama Niladhari. There should be two committees, one for Development, which should discuss projects and allocations, and the other for Social Action and Service Delivery.
  1. The minutes of these meetings, with decisions / action points noted, should be shared with the next level up of government. Responses must be conveyed to participants at GN level, along with the minutes, at the subsequent meeting
  1. At Divisional Secretariat level, on the pattern of the Women and Children’s Units that have been set up, there should be coordination mechanisms for groups of subjects (ie Education and Training, Agriculture and Irrigation and Forests and Wild Life, Health and Social Services). Officials should work as a team, and ensure attention to all GN Divisions. For this purpose individuals can be given responsibility for particular GN Divisions, with the coordinating committee at DS level looking into all issues and providing feedback.
  1. There should be regular consultative meetings of department heads at Divisional level, chaired by the Divisional Secretary. To facilitate this, all government departments should treat the Division as the basic unit of administration. This will require restructuring of a few Departments, ie Education and the Police.
  1. Regular discussions between the Divisional Secretary and the elected head of the Local Government Unit are necessary. Ideally the proposed Local Government Act will lay down specific responsibilities so overlap of responsibilities will be minimal, but coordination and agreement on priorities is essential. Making the Divisional Secretariat and the Local Government Unit (or Units) coterminous will facilitate coordination.

Colombo Post 4 December 2014 –  http://www.colombopost.net/columns/op-ed/item/285-a-reform-agenda-administrative-reform

Enemies of the President’s Promse: Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Seven Dwarfs – Sneezy (Part 1)

RW-GR-600x234The reason Mohan gave for the Secretary of Defence being annoyed with me in June 2009 was a matter that was to prove an enormous bone of contention over the next few years, namely the claim advanced by some in Sri Lanka that there had been no civilian casualties during the war. This was obviously nonsense, and it never occurred to me that any such claim was serious. I assumed that what was meant was we had not inflicted civilian casualties deliberately, which I firmly believe to have been government policy throughout the conflict. I had seen this illustrated in the East when Daya Ratnayake, who subsequently became Commander of the Army – after he had survived, with Gotabhaya’s support, an attempt by Sarath Fonseka to have him prematurely retired – came to brief me on the campaign in that arena of the war. He had been responsible for the strategy there, and I had called him up to find out details of this after Human Rights Watch had given excessive publicity to a report it had prepared on the conflict in the East, in which they claimed there had been indiscriminate attacks on civilians.

qrcode.26475888When I studied the report itself, however, I found that, while this claim was made in the publicity, the report itself recorded only one instance of civilian deaths. This was something for which the army had acknowledged responsibility, but explained that they had used radar directed mortars to respond when the LTTE opened fire on them. This however had been from a refugee centre, but even the Human Rights Watch report disclosed that the LTTE had had weapons there, though they claimed that they had been told no one had seen heavy weapons being used.

I have no doubt that it was the attack on the Sri Lankan forces by HRW in this instance that made the LTTE feel they could get away with using civilians as shields when they were on the defensive. Any investigation of abuses during the conflict should look into the role of HRW in making such outrageous claims without evidence, and dodging the questions I posed to them in this regard. Once the LTTE realized that they would not be blamed for firing from amidst civilians, but public opinion could be manipulated to pressurize the Sri Lankan government not to respond to such firing, they developed the technique to perfection. This strengthened their resolve to ensure that civilians were taken along with them as they retreated in the North as the Sri Lankan forces were advancing.

The claim of some of the Non-Governmental Organizations that the civilians went willingly because of fear of the forces was patent nonsense, for those same NGOs complained to us that their former employees had not been allowed to escape to government controlled territory. The same thing happened to UN employees, and indeed one of the most skilful maneuvers of the LTTE in the latter stages of the war was when they persuaded the UN that they might free these employees, thus ensuring that UN staff that had taken a convoy of food in stayed on, to negotiate. The LTTE almost daily claimed that the local staff would be released, and asked for a cessation of hostilities, a period they used for military maneuvering, only to prove intransigent in the end.

The UN staff then were kept on by the LTTE till the end, but in fact there were no casualties amongst them, except for one person who stepped on a landmine in the final escape, but was given immediate medical attention by our forces, and also survived. Similarly, the local employees of the NGOs, who had been forced to stay back, also all survived the final battles. Read the rest of this entry »

qrcode.26458058If G L Peiris moved only gradually into seeing his principal role as advancing the agenda of the Secretary of Defence, his intellectual counterpart in the inner echelons of government, Mohan Pieris, had from the start been associated with Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. He began his rise to the position of Chief Justice by being Advisor to the Ministry of Defence. His reputation at the bar, after he had left the Attorney General’s Department, rested however on his commercial skills, and his main use initially was to advise on arms procurement for the Ministry of Defence.

Gotabhaya had set up a dedicated agency for this purpose, and it seemed an extremely good idea in a context in which, for years, arms procurement had been a cash cow for favourites of the incumbent President. Jayewardene had set the ball rolling, with indulgence of his Secretary, a former very junior public official called Menikdiwela, whose son became a well patronized dealer in arms. Premadasa was exempt from this trait, but Chandrika Kumaratunga allowed free rein to the children of both her Secretary, another not very capable official called Balapatabendi, and her Secretary of Defence, a distinguished public servant called Chandrananda de Silva. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government took things a stage further, when the offspring of his Minister of Defence, Tilak Marapana, a former Attorney General, also got into the game.

Obviously dishonesty with regard to arms purchases also required the connivance of some serving officers, and there were many in the forces who believed that an unholy combination of corrupt civilians and military men were actually determined to keep the war going so they could continue to line their coffers. In this regard Gotabhaya was seen as a breath of fresh air, and the measures he took to ensure that money was well spent, and the forces supplied with both materials and motivation to take the war to a conclusion, was immensely appreciated. Mohan’s role then in the arms procurement agency set up through the Ministry was also highly respected.

Mohan indeed seemed a refreshingly decent addition to the team that went to Geneva during Dayan Jayatilleka’s tenure. I first attended sessions of the Human Rights Council in September 2007, when Mahinda Samarasinghe led a delegation that also included the then Attorney General, C R de Silva, and two of his brightest staffers, Yasantha Kodagoda and Shavindra Fernando. They seemed however conservative in their outlook, and were clearly not willing to move with regard to any of the issues as to which Sri Lanka was facing criticism. In particular, the Attorney General was not willing to bring a prosecution with regard to the killing of five youths in Trincomalee, in which everyone agreed that members of the Special Task Force (not an army unit, but belonging to the police) had been grossly guilty.

Mohan came to the next session I attended, and seemed infinitely more gentle. We knew that CR was due to retire soon, and Mohan was one of the candidates to replace him though, as he was seen as an outsider, this was not viewed with favour by members of the Department. However, given his very civilized approach to human rights in general, and his frequently repeated assertion that it would be a relatively simple matter to bring a prosecution, it seemed that he would introduce new and much needed liberal perspectives into the Department. Read the rest of this entry »

මගේqrcode.26393772 අවධානය යොමුව තිබෙනවා ඔබ පුවත්පතෙහි අද දින “අල් ජශීරා වැඩසටහන: විජේසිංහයන් වැනි මීතුරන් සමග ජනපතිට සතුරන් අවැසි නොවීය” මැයෙන් පලවූ ප්‍රවෘත්ති විශේෂාංගය කෙරෙහි.

රචකයා නිසැකවම ව්‍යාකූල සහගත තත්වයට පත්ව තිබෙනවා. මා එළඹෙන ජනාධිපතිවරණයේදී ජනපතිට සහයෝගය නොදීම පිලිබදව, ඔහු ස්ථිරව ප්‍රකාශ කරන්නේ “විජේසිංහ ඇත්ත වශයෙන්ම අදහස් කරන්නේ අපේ විදේශ ප්‍රතිපත්තිය සුරේන්ද්‍රන් වැනි දෙමළ කොටි හිතවාදීන්ට වඩාත් අනුකුල විය යුතුය” යනුවෙනි. ඔහු තවදුරටත් අවධරණය කරන්නේ මට ජනපතිගේ පරාජය අවශ්‍යයි   කියා, “එතුලින් ජාත්‍යන්තර යුධ අධිකරණය ඉදිරියට ඔහුව ගෙන ය හැකිය” යන මතයේ පිහිටා සිට.

මෙය සම්පුර්ණයෙන්ම අර්ථ ශුන්‍ය වන අතර මම මෙම වැඩ සටහනේදී සුරේන්ද්‍රන් සමග ඇතිවූ විවාදය මුළුමනින්ම නොසලකා හැරීමක්. තවදුරටත් රචකයා පැහැදිලිවම නොසලකා හැර තිබෙනවා නිවේදිකාවට මා අභියෝගයට ලක් කිරීමට හේතු වූ අපේ ත්‍රිවිධ හමුදාව යුද්ධයේදී සටන් කල ආකාරය පිළිබද මගේ කරුණු දැක්වීම.

අපේ හමුදාවන් ආරක්ෂා කිරීමට ජාත්‍යන්තර විනිශ්‍යතල වලදී මා අතිශය ක්‍රියාකාරිව හා ඵලදායීව කරුණු දැක්වුවන්ගෙන් එක අයෙක් බව ඉතා ප්‍රකට කරුණක් සහ ඉතාමත් කණගාටුවට කරුණ වන්නේ මා වැනි අයගේ සේවා හමුදාවන්ට අහිමි වී ඇති බව – ඉතා මෑතකදී අපේ රට ආරක්ෂා කිරීමට ඉතා දක්‍ෂලෙස CNN සේවයේ පැවතී සම්මුක සාකච්චවකදී කළ කරුණු දැක්වීමෙන් පසුව, ක්‍රිස් නෝනිස් මහතාව අපේ විදේශ ප්‍රතිපත්ති ක්‍රියාත්මක කරන්නන්ගේ උදහසට ලක්විම යන කරුණු පිළිබඳ රචකයා විසින් නොසලකා හළ ඇති බවයි.

ඉමහත් සංවේගයට හේතුවන කරුණක් වන්නේ Daily News පුවත්පත, ජ්‍යෙෂ්ඨ භාණ්ඩාගාර නිලධාරින් විසින් සැකසහිත LTTE හිතවාදීන් සමග ගනුදෙනු පිළිබද අවධානය යොමුකර සකස් කරන ලද විගණන විමසුම සම්පුර්ණයෙන්ම නොසලකා හැර, දෙමළ කොටි හිතවාදීන් කෙරෙහි නැඹුරු විදේශ ප්‍රතිපත්තියක් මා හට අවශ්‍යව ඇතැයි ප්‍රකාශ කිරීමයි.

ඉතා අවාසනාවන්ත ලෙස මෙම රචකයා මෙන්ම ජනපති නොමග යවමින් සිටින බොහෝ අය අපේක්ෂා කරන්නේඅතීතය පිලිබදවම කතා කිරීම තුලින් මේ ජනාධිපතිවරණයත් ජය ගන්නටයි. එය සමහර විට යෝග්‍ය වේවි, ජනාධිපතිවරයෙකු වශයෙන් මැතිවරණ ජයගැනීමම හුදු අභිමතාර්තය නම්. එනමුත් ඉන් ඔබ්බට යමින් ජනාධිපතිවරණයක් පැවැත්වීමේ අරමුණ විය යුත්තේ රට පාලනය කල හැකි සහ අපව සතුරන්ගෙන් ආරක්ෂා කල හැකි ජනාධිපතිවරයෙකු පත් කර ගැනීමයි. එය වර්තමාන රාජ්‍ය තන්ත්‍රය හුදෙක් අසාර්ථකත්වයට පත් වූ කාර්යයක් බවට පත්ව තිබෙනවා. Read the rest of this entry »

qrcode.26351281President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself is of the view that our Ministry of External Affairs is a mess. His offer to Mangala Samaraweera to make him Foreign Minister indicates his realization that his greatest blunder is the hash the troika that runs the Ministry has made of our international relations. And he confirmed this to Vasantha Senanayake, when Basil accused him of criticizing the Foreign Minister openly.

He had assured Mangala that he would not inflict Sajin Vas Gunawardena on him as a Monitor, which suggests he realizes what a disaster that particular appointment has been. When it was made, he claimed that at least now letters were being answered. That was a necessity, but the power Sajin exercised led to the Minister then abdicating all authority and handing over decision making to his Monitor.

Despite that the crucial letter sent by the Indian Prime Minister before the vote in Geneva in 2012 lay unanswered. In fairness though, that factor is true of our administration in general, and the requirement that letters be answered in three days has been interpreted to mean that at least three days must lapse before a reply is even thought of. One reason I had high regard for Maithripala Sirisena previously, and said so often in my discussions of my work in the North and East as Advisor on Reconciliation, is that his Ministry usually responded to my transmission of complaints from the public. But most Ministries kept silent, though occasionally there were flurries of activity after I had brought the matter up in COPE.

The prevailing lethargy is bad enough, but with regard to foreign relations it is worse, given that we need to engage actively with all stakeholders, and in particular those who have the capacity to do us harm. In order to do this, however, we need to have clear guidelines available to all government officials as well as our Missions with regard to foreign policy priorities. Officials could then take their own decisions as to how to react to correspondence, instead of waiting for instructions on all issues. Certainly, when there was a Ministry of Human Rights, we dealt promptly with any queries from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and this led to commendation of Sri Lanka’s engagement with that Office, in the reports for instance of the Working Committee on Disappearances. But after the Ministry was abolished, there were no responses as all for several years, and it is only in the last year, following the harsh criticism in resolutions, that we began to engage.

  1. Amongst the principles we should adopt then is ensuring regular engagement with all countries and in particular with the United Nations. Whilst safeguarding our sovereignty, we should respond to concerns with understanding of the issues involved, and should fulfil any commitments we enter into. If this is impossible, we should explain constraints and ensure that our actions and attitudes are understood.
  1. But responses must be based on clear policy guidelines, and these should be laid out. The most important of the guidelines we should follow, given geo-political realities, is ensuring good relations with India. This cannot govern domestic policies, but there should be good and reliable communication with India as regards such policies, with the understanding that any commitments cannot be violated.
  2. Within this framework, or rather a broader framework that also lays down the need for promoting multilateralism, there should be flexibility. Thus we should have regular consultative meetings of senior level Foreign Ministry officials. If these happen each week, there should also be provision, perhaps on a monthly basis, for consultation of officials of relevant Ministries such as Finance and Defence and Trade. Such meetings should be minuted, and decisions / action points notified to relevant officials with provision for feedback.
  1. We also need to build up collegiality within the Ministry. Whilst there are good reasons sometimes for appointment of non-career individuals to Head of Mission posts, all other posts should be reserved for members of the Diplomatic Service. These officials should be required to submit brief regular reports on their activities, which should be based on targets identified by the Ministry, with consultation of the Head of Mission.
  2. But there is also need of a wider professionalism. For this purpose Government should establish at least two high level think tanks. The existing government managed institutions could be upgraded, but they should function independently and have research staff who could produce position papers and suggest responses to international developments. In addition, these think tanks should have a training wing, which develops communication skills in addition to the capacity to analyse. They should also publish journals to which diplomats are expected to contribute.

 

Colombo Post 30 Nov 2014 –  – http://www.colombopost.net/columns/op-ed/item/269-a-reform-agenda-tightening-up-foreign-policy-and-foreign-relations

Colombo Telegraph 1 Dec 2014 – https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/a-reform-agenda-tightening-up-foreign-policy-and-foreign-relations/

qrcode.26350621 (1)විධායක ජනාධිපති සතු බලය අසීමාන්තික බව බොහොසෙයින්ම පිළිගත් කරුණක්. එහෙයින් පොදු අපේක්ෂකයා සඳහා වර්තමානයේ සහයෝගය දෙන්නන් ප්‍රතිඥා දෙනවා මෙම බලය ඌනනය කිරීමට. කෙසේනමුත් මෙම බලය ඌනනය කිරීමේ ක්‍රියාවලියේදී, ඔවුන් මූලික දේශපාලන ප්‍රතිපත්ති පිලිබඳ අවධානය යොමුකළ යුතුයි, එනම් විශේෂයෙන්ම බල වියෝජනය නම් භාෂිතය කෙරෙහි.

මෙය සම්බන්ධ වෙනවා රජයේ අනෙකුත් ආයතනවල බලයන් ගොඩනැගීම පිළිබඳව. එතුලින් විධායකය පාලනයකට යටත්කළ හැකියි. එවැනි ආයතන නම්, රජයේ ව්‍යවස්ථාදායක බලය නියෝජනය කරන පාර්ලිමේන්තුව හා අධිකරණ බලය ක්‍රියාවට නංවන අධිකරණයි. මීට අමතරව අපට අවශ්‍ය වනවා ජනමාධ්‍ය වගේම ජනතා සේවය ශක්තිමත් කිරීමට. මෙය විධායකයේ කාර්යභාරය සඳහා ක්‍රියා කරනවා නමුත්  එය ක්‍රියාකළ යුත්තේ ප්‍රතිපත්තිය මතයි එනම්  උත්තරීතර  ව්‍යවස්ථාවලිය සහ නිතිය අනුව  මිස එක් කාලසිමවකදී බලය ක්‍රියාවට නංවන තනි පුද්ගලයන්ගේ උපදෙස් අනුව නොවෙයි.

ඉතා හොදින් තෙරුම්ගතයුතු කරුණක් නම්, පොදු අපේක්ෂකයා සඳහා කරන මෙම සියලු කටයුතු නැවත වෙස්මිනිස්ට්ටර් ක්‍රමය සඳහා අනුගත වීමට ප්‍රමාණවත් නොවන බවයි. මේ සියල්ලට පසු අපි දන්නවා 1970 සහ 1977 බලයට පත්වූ රජයන් දෙකම වෙස්මිනිස්ට්ටර් ක්‍රමය යටතේ සිමා ඉක්මවීම් සඳහා යොමුවු බව. එකල තිබු ප්‍රශ්නය නම්, පාර්ලිමේන්තුව උත්තරීතරය යන මතයයි. එමෙන්ම විධායකය විසින් පාර්ලිමේන්තුව පාලනයට නතු කර තිබීමයි.

විධායකය ව්‍යවස්ථාදායකයේ පාලනයට නතුබව සුරක්ෂිතකිරීම සඳහා කඩිනමින් වැඩපිළිවෙල 5ක් ක්‍රියාත්මක කලයුතුයි.

  1. පැහැදිලිව තේරුම්ගත හැකි පළමුවැන්න නම්, තනතුරුවලට පත්කිරීම් සිදුකිරීම සඳහා ජනපතිවරයා සතු අත්තනෝමතික බලය සිමා කිරීමයි. මේ පිලිබඳ උපදෙස් දීම සඳහා මණ්ඩලයක් තිබිය යුතුයි. තවද, මෑත කාලින අත්දැකිම් පෙන්වා දි තිබෙනවා මහජනයාට ද  එම කමිටුවේ තීරණ පිලිබඳ පැහැදිළි හේතුසාධක  ඉදිරිපත් කිරීමට අවස්ථාව සැලසෙන පරිදි එහි විධිවිධාන සකස් විය යුතු බව. එය තෝරාගත් සාමාජිකයින්ගෙන් එනම්, විධායකයට අයත් නොවන පාර්ශවයන්ගෙන් සමන්විත නම්, එයට නිශේධ බලයද තිබිය යුතුයි.
  1. කැබිනට් මණ්ඩලයේ ප්‍රමාණයන් සඳහාද සීමාවන් තිබිය යුතුයි. (මම යෝජනා කරනවා උපරිමය 25ක් වියයුතු බවට එනමුත් ඊලග මැතිවරණය තෙක් මෙම ප්‍රමාණය තවත් 10ක් දක්වා ඉහල නැංවූවද ගැටලුවක් නැත). මෙය අතවශ්‍යයි මන්ද එය පුර්වලක්ෂණය කරාවී සරල උපක්‍රමයක් වන, වඩ වඩා පිරිස් විධායක අංශයට එකතුකරගනිමින් විධායකයේ ප්‍රධානියා ව්‍යවස්ථාදායකය පාලනය කිරිම.
  1. නීතිපති දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව සහ නීති කෙටුම්පත් දෙපාර්තමේන්තුව අධිකරණ අමාත්‍යාංශය යටතේ ක්‍රියාත්මක විය යුතු අතර අධිකරණ අමාත්‍යවරයා ඡන්ද පිලිබඳ වූ දේශපාලනයට මැදිහත් නොවිය යුතුයි යන විශේෂ නියමය සහිතවද විය යුතුයි. අතීතයේදී ඔහු පත් වූයේ උත්තරීතර මන්ත්‍රණ සභාව තුලින් වුවද වර්තමානයේදී ජාතික ලැයිස්තුවෙන් එන සාමාජිකයකු වීම ද යෝග්‍යයි. කෙසේනමුත්, ශ්‍රේෂ්ථාධිකරණය අධිකරණ අමාත්‍යංශය යටතේ නොතිබිය යුතුයි.
  1. අමාත්‍යාංශ ලේකම්වරුන් පත්කළ යුත්තේ කැබිනට් මණ්ඩලය විසින් හෝ ජනාධිපතිවරයා විසින් හෝ නොව රාජ්‍ය සේවා කොමිසම විසිනි.
  1. පාර්ලිමේන්තු පළාත් සභා සහ පළාත් පාලන මැතිවරණයන් විධායකයේ අභිමතයට අනුකුලව නොව  නිශ්චිත කාල වකවානු තුල පැවැත්විය යුතුය.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

December 2014
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