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Today’s post recounts a positive achievement, my last in the role I had fulfilled for Mahinda Rajapaksa over six and more years. It was not much in comparison with what I had done for him during the war, and in comparison with what I could have done, but I suppose it is no small thing to have ensured that billions of rupees came to our people of which they might otherwise have been deprived.

The story is also relevant, because one reason given for Basil Rajapaksa nearly sabotaging the grant was the intervention of his acolytes Rishard and Hisbullah. Time has shown that, though he elevated them for their subservience, they were involved in other activities too.

Apart from pictures of the two villains of the piece, I show also the two people I worked with, to ensure the aid programme was implemented, Subinay Nandy of the UN and Mrs Charles. The fact that she has been appointed Governor of the North suggests that the President at least appreciates talent, though she was driven from pillar to post earlier – with Mangala trying to get rid of her because she was too honest a head of customs.

A final success

What had happened was that a large project, to be funded by the European Union and implemented through the UN, was being sabotaged by Basil Rajapaksa. The project, to be implemented at District and Divisional levels, had been agreed by  government after Basil had suggested various modifications, including that it be extended to areas outside the North and East to which the initial proposal confined it. But despite the changed he had suddenly clamped down on it and said it could not proceed.

Mrs Charles thought it was because his favourites, Bathiudeen and Hisbullah who had been basically given a free hand in the North and the East respectively, had not been consulted in the planning and complained. Typically they would have wanted the money for political advantage and were resentful that they had not been able to put forward projects that catered to their own agendas.

I was not sure that that was the only reason for I could also see that Basil wanted to control all developmental funds himself as he had done for the last four years,  and did not like the decentralized manner in which the project had been conceived. Yet another explanation was that Basil was deeply upset that the Northern Province had so conclusively rejected the government at the recent Provincial Council election, and this was his revenge. Sadly, this was perfectly in character, and led to Sarath Amunugama describing him behaving strangely because of what he characteristically described as ‘unrequited love’. 

After I heard about the stoppage I inquired about it from Subinay Nandy, the UN Head whom I would meet regularly though there was increasingly less I could offer him with regard to progress about Reconciliation. He was obviously deeply upset about what was happening, and could not understand how the government could reject such a large tranche of assistance. He said P B Jayasundara who was Secretary to the Treasurer had been and remained positive, so it seemed clear to him that it was Basil alone who was the stumbling block.

As the year ended both Vasantha Senanayake and I were in increasing despair about the government and we found our feelings were shared by other decent politicians including Vasudeva Nanayakkara and D E W Gunasekara. In addition to those three there are picture of Tissa Vitharna and S B Nawinne who also signed the letter

Despair mounts

In October, after routine meetings over the first 12 days including another dinner at the Norwegian ambassador’s, I set off for South America for a conference to which the Brazilian foreign ministry had invited me. That was just for a couple of days but I took the opportunity to visit Ecuador before the conference and Uruguay and Argentina afterwards, our embassy there facilitating visas through the consulate in Rio which was extremely helpful.

I was back in Colombo only on November 5th, but had to leave three days later for a CALD meeting in Manila, after which I had a few days off in Thailand. Back home I had much to do for my father since, though my sister had previously attended to his medical needs, she found it more difficult as he got worse, and wanted me to take over, even with regard to routine matters such as his eyes. I was quite happy to do all this, for she had done much earlier, and I could also count on her to take over when I was abroad which happened more frequently now since I knew I was achieving little in Sri Lanka.

I had one more university launch of Mirrored Images, at Ruhuna on November 25th. I was delighted that a couple of poets from Jaffna, led by So Pathmanathan and including the former Tiger propagandist, came down for the event and the interactions were heartening.

In December I resumed Divisional meetings, going up to the Thampa on the 1st and having meetings at Manthai East the following morning and at Kandaveli in the afternoon. I went to those areas with an AeA representative for I had decided to start vocational centres with my decentralized budget in both Manthai East and Tunukai in Mullaitivu District and in Kandaveli in Kilinochchi. So before the meetings I had a look at the schools which had been selected, all three of which seemed fine.

I was back at the Thampa that night, and then had meetings the next day at Nedunkerny in the morning and at Chettikulam in the afternoon before heading back to Colombo.

But by this time it was clear that Mahinda Rajapaksa was rushing headlong into disaster, given that so many of those around him, while pursuing their own agendas, had lulled him into a false sense of security. But it still seemed necessary to try to help him, and on the 7th of December Vasantha Senanayake and I convened a meeting which included Ministers D E W Gunasekara and Vasudeva Nanayakkara, to discuss what was happening and develop strategies to bring back some balance.

And later that month I did have one significant success, which made me feel the situation was not irretrievable. It had to do with a problem I had heard of when in the East for Divisional meetings earlier on and tried to address through a letter to the President. But there had been no response at the time.

This post talks about various events in connection with Mirrored Images, my collection of poetry of the three Sri Lankan languages, brought together in a volume published by the National Book Trust of India. I had readings of this all over the country, bringing together Sinhalese and Tamil and Muslim writers, which highlighted what we had in common. That doubtless was why the LTTE oriented diaspora had been so bitter about the book. 

The pictures are of So Pathmanathan, Kamala Wijeratne, Prof Nuhuman, Ayathurai Santhan and Ariyawansa Ranaweera. The first is from an event last year in Kurunagala when So came down from Jaffna for the launch of Kamala’s latest book.

Poetry for Reconciliation

I could not leave for Batticaloa until the early hours of the actual Police committee meeting to which Pujith Jayasundara had invited me for the next day the Indian Cultural Centre launched Mirrored Images. We had readings from it including by So Pathmanathan who came down from Jaffna for the event. And then soon after midnight I left for Batticaloa and spoke at the police meeting at the Municipal Hall, and went back from the hotel in the afternoon to listen to reports from the various areas and comments. And I stayed that night at the Bridge Hotel so I could go next morning to Kattankudy for a Civil Defence meeting since our purpose was to use the local Civil Defence Committees to ensure protection in the widest sense.

The following week I went up to Kandy for the launch at Peradeniya University of Mirrored Images. Daniel had stayed the previous week in the guesthouse in the Botanical Gardens, which I thought would be a lovely place to spend a night, and I had arranged that for myself this time so I also had easy access to the University to set things up. The launch went very well, with readings by Prof Amarakeerthi and Prof Nuhuman who were both of the University, and by Jean Arasanayagam and Kamala Wijeratne, English Language poets resident in Kandy.

That was on the 27th and then two days later I went up North, taking with me Ariyawansa Ranaweera, a former Civil Servant who was one of the most interesting Sinhala Language poets I had included. We stayed on the 29th at the Thampa and then went to Jaffna to finalize arrangements at the Indian consulate for a launch there. I saw the GA and then had lunch with Kath Noble who had worked for me at the Peace Secretariat and was now in Jaffna for her research, and then in the evening we had a very well attended launch at the Consulate. The English poets were represented by Ayathurai Santhan, and there were many Tamil language poets including one who had been a leading propagandist for the Tigers, but was obviously very pleased to have been asked.

It was clear to me then why the LTTE diaspora had been so upset by the book, for reading what everyone had to say, noting shared experiences, allowing room for self-expression and empathy, would obviously contribute to better relations through understanding. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, who was Minister for National Languages and Social Integration, understood this and had in fact financed the attendance of poets at these launches, but he was not capable of developing initiatives on his own, and did nothing really with regard to the social integration he was meant to promote.

I mention here talking to the police after an officer who appreciated what we were trying to do for communities invited me. Unfortunately the systems we had tried to put in place for better coordination collapsed after the election.

The pictures are of Daniel Ridicki and those I interviewed for the splendid series he created, called ‘The Past is Another Country’. This is the link to the whole series and the videos of my interviews with Anne Ranasinghe and Jean Arasanayagam can be seen as given below, with the others at and and and and and and

Promoting coordination at Grama Niladhari level

On September 17th, before my meeting at Uhana Division in the afternoon, I went in the morning to a meeting of police community advisers which I had been invited to address. I had been working for some months on trying to build up protection committees in each Grama Niladhari Division, with the support of the police and we had finally got a circular from the Ministry of Public Administration setting out guidelines for coherent work.

Some Divisional Secretaries were also present and I suggested how they could use these meetings to strengthen the responses of their Divisions to many problems, and over the next few months I saw how the system worked where there was decent leadership. But sadly before it could be consolidated, the silly season of elections began with Mahinda Rajapaksa calling an early Presidential election, and not just innovations but even work in many areas ceased.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration, Mr Abeykoon, said we should wait till after the election for him to send out the next circular we had prepared, through a committee in which his Ministry was represented as well as the UN with the lead being taken by Asoka Goonewardene, formerly of the Finance Commission, who seemed to know more about local administrative systems than anyone else. And after the election, with Karu Jayasuriya unwilling to undertake any reforms, bleating about how Ranil did not trust him, the system collapsed.

After the meetings in Uhana I went to Kandy, to stay with Derrick Nugawela, for I had arranged for the Croatian film-maker Daniel Ridicki to interview him. This was for the series we had begun, ‘The Past is Another Country’, for which I interviewed several individuals who had contributed much to the country, and whose reminiscences would we thought be both interesting and useful for future generations.

I had already interviewed Tamara Kunanayagam and Fr Lionel Peiris, son of Harold who had created the Lionel Wendt Theatre, and my father. The day after I got to Kandy I interviewed Derrick and Jean Arasanayagam, and the following day Laki Senanayake at his rural retreat at Diyabubula near Dambulla. I had spent the previous night with Ena and tried to persuade her too, but she was having none of it and refused even to see Daniel. Later I added Anne Ranasinghe and Ismeth Raheem, and then Iranganie Serasinghe, before Daniel left Sri Lanka.

When I got to Colombo from Dambulla, Pujith Jayasundera came to see me. He was the DIG in charge of the East but had had a problem when policemen he had disciplined had complained. Though he was an efficient man, the IGP who was fond of him had no option but to transfer him. But I was impressed by his understanding of the consultative process we had tried to set up, and though I was busy I accepted his invitation to attend the Batticaloa Police Advisory Committee meeting two days later.

I record here my first inklings of the gravity of the problem of kidney disease, a problem that continues with arguments about its origins preventing the measures needed to limit its impact. And no one promotes rainwater harvesting though this had been broached years earlier when I was Secretary to the Ministry of Disaster Management. A bright official from the Water Board, who had been in school with me, had raised the issue but after I left I don’t think he found any support.

The pictures are of the wonderful Manique who sadly died a few years later, of Eric who still indefatigably pursues the cultural life, and of the wide-thinking Amarakeerthi Liyanage.

113 The still neglected problem of kidney disease

In the last week of August I went to my estate in Getamanna and set off early on the Monday morning for a Divisional meeting at Irakamam, checked then on the hospital since problems there had been mentioned, and went on to Amparai for the Divisional meeting there in the afternoon. I stayed again at the Kachcheri Bungalow there, and went next morning to Nintavur for a morning meeting and to Dehiattakandiya for the afternoon. I was very impressed by the Divisional Secretary there, who had initially been brusque and seemed to have thought my visit a waste of time, but he mellowed as the discussion proceeded and was very informative. In particular he told me how grave was the spread of Chronic Kidney Disease in the area, and said the government was ignoring it even though the neighbouring areas were all suffering gravely from the problem.

I spent that night at Aluwihare, and dropped in the next day at Peradeniya University to make arrangements for a programme in relation to Mirrored Images, my collection of English, Sinhala and Tamil poetry. It had been published by the National Book Trust of India and the Indian Cultural Centre had launched it in Colombo. Since I had received much assistance with it from Prof Amarakeerthi Liyanage of Peradeniya I wanted them to have a launch there too, and was pleased that the Vice-Chancellor agreed without hesitation.

On August 30th the British Council launched my book, The Care of Children, which was based on the articles of that name I had written in relation both to the human rights and the educational work I had engaged in over the years. But having been attacked by Wimal Weerawansa, I had also asked friends to expound some of the work I had done, and handsome tributes were also included in the book. As speakers we had the Secretary to the Ministry for Women and Children, Eric Illapayarachchi who was a distinguished writer himself, and Manique Gunasekara, Professor of English at Kelaniya. She was dying at the time of cancer, and I think this was her last major public engagement, but she was her usual dynamic and entertaining self and I was most grateful to her.

In September I set off again from Getamanna early on Monday, the 16th, for Divisional meetings at Addalachenai in the morning and Navathenveli in the afternoon, both in Amparai District. I met the GA in his office then and spent the night at the Kachcheri bungalow.

This account of Reconciliation journeys mentions my worries about the area north of Trincomalee where longstanding Sinhala settlements had even fewer facilities than others in the North. I also mention the reaction to my signing a petition against what had happened at Weliveriya, another nail in the coffin of endeavours to promote reform.

The pictures are all from August 1st 2013 when I went to Gomarankadawela

The petition about the killings at Weliveriya

I stayed that night, July 31st, at the Welcome Hotel in Trincomalee, with its beautiful view over the harbour, and had dinner with the Governor, Admiral Mohan Wijewickrema, and his Chief Secretary and the Education Secretary. They were keen to take the Province forward, though unfortunately none of the politicians with whom they had to work were particularly constructive. From 2008 till 2012 Wijewickrema had to work with Pillaiyan, who had left the LTTE along with Karuna in 2004, but had nothing like Karuna’s capacity. Then in 2012 the TNA won most of the Tamil seats and government had to set up an administration together with the SLMC, with a Muslim Chief Minister. The man they had appointed was a bit better than Pillaiyan, but none of the changes the province required, in particular with regard to education and the environment, were pursued.

The morning after my dinner with Admiral Wijewickrema I went north again from Trincomalee for a meeting at Gomerankadawala, with the afternoon meeting at Padaviya Siripura before the long drive back to Colombo. I was horrified after these last meetings at how neglected these areas were, with no chance of a decent education or productive training for the youngsters.

A few days later I went to the Buttala Advanced Staff College for a seminar, being perhaps the only fixture in the revolving group of civilians they and the KDU and indeed the Defence Ministry had for their seminars. This had continued despite my not voting for the impeachment of the Chief Justice, and my increasing questioning of what government was up to, but later that month an invitation to the KDU was cancelled after I had signed a petition against the shooting of protestors at Weliveriya. To give him his due though, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa did not hide his feelings and called me to bawl me out.

Interestingly he did not challenge my statement that what had happened was wrong and should be inquired into, but said that I should not have joined with enemies of the government. I thought he was talking about Dayan Jayatilleka and Tamara Kunanayagam, and told him they were certainly not enemies but only wanted the government to do better. It was only later I realized he must have been talking about J C Weliamuna, who was indeed an inveterate foe and I had wondered why he had been asked for all the others were in essence in favour of the government if critical of its excesses.

For the Buttala seminar, one of the other invitees was Janaka Sugathadasa, Secretary to the Ministry of Resettlement, a very thoughtful and decent man, who had been very positive on issues connected with the Human Rights Action Plan. I asked him then about what was going on in the North, and he told me the resettlement there had not come under his Ministry, but rather been undertaken direct by Basil’s Task Force. This was repeated in writing when I put down my worries on paper. Needless to say Basil did not respond to my queries about the matter.

I found that the Sinhalese villagers of the Wanni were particularly angry at what government was upto, for they resented outsiders being given land. They were quite clear that such people took the land and then left, not willing to bring their families to this remote area. And later I found that this project was not done  through the Ministry of Resettlement, and was obviously designed only for political capital. But of course more people were alienated than satisfied.

The pictures are from visits to the East in July 2013, including the earlier one in the middle of the month when I approached down the hairpin bends above Mahinyangana.

Increasing alienation

The settlement of people from the deep south caused enormous resentment, not only to the Tamils of the North but also, as I found later at the Vavuniya South Divisional meeting, to the Sinhalese who had lived in the north before. They told me that settlers had been brought from Hambantota, but said that if new lands were being available priority should be given to people from the district. They made no distinction in their representations to me between Sinhalese and Tamil, it was place of origin they stressed. So I could understand clearly now why Mrs Charles had been transferred and replaced by a more complaisant officer.

The next day I went up to Jaffna to see the GA there and then Education Ministry officials to suggest new initiatives. This was just before the Northern Province election after which for the first time a professional educationist was appointed Minister of Education. He did a great job and a new Education Policy document was produced, and much might have been achieved, had the Chief Minister not grown politically ambitious and sacked him.

I came back that day to stay the night at Aluwihare with Ena, who had another guest I helped entertain, and then got back to Colombo. The next weekend, after a night at Getamanna, I set off early for meetings in Damana in Amparai District in the morning and in Akkaraipattu in the afternoon. I stayed that night in Amparai and went to Sainthamarathu in the morning and Kalawanchikuddy in the afternoon, meeting another old Sabaragamuwa student in between, Anzar, with whom I had stayed when the Liberal Party contested the General Election all over the country in 2000.

I still recall that the first thing he did then was take me to the scene of the massacre of Muslims in a mosque the LTTE had perpetrated in 1990. Resentments still ran deep about that, and I was reminded of how the students I had lectured to in Jaffna in 1983 insisted I go to see the charred remains of the Public Library which government goods had set on fire a few months earlier. But I also remember the wonderful hospitality of Anzar’s family, and sitting out on the beach with him and his friends as dusk fell, the common habit of the youngsters of the area.

I stayed that night at the Bridge Hotel in Batticaloa but left very early to get to the Thampalagama Division north of Trincomalee for a morning meeting, and then went on to Kuchchavelli for the afternoon meeting, recalling my last visit there, soon after the war, when I had gone to see the medical facility that had been set up when it was found that the Tigers were sending fighters amongst the sick we brought down under ICRC supervision for treatment in Trincomalee.

I write today about further visits to the East and then the North, when I first saw colonization by people with no connection with the area.

New problems.

Having visited the Baltic countries in the early part of July 2013, I had intensive travel as well as work when I got back home, with two visits to the East to cover 11 Divisional meetings. I left on the 15th for Kandy where I stayed with Derrick Nugawela, leaving early the next morning for my first meeting at the Padiyatalawa Division. We picked up breakfast en route from Kithsiri’s sister-in-law in Teldeniya, and I still recall the wonderful view where we ate, at the 8th of the hairpin bends on the way down to Mahiyangana.

The Sinhalese villagers of the East were even more neglected than the others, for there were few people in large areas and the politicians concentrated on Amparai town. It was around this time that I began to stress the need for more work with regard to the elephant menace for elephants had lost their grazing grounds both to human construction and to stray cattle, and begun to invade villagers. I urged the President to look into this as well as water resources but of course there was no longer any interest in coherent planning.

The afternoon meeting was in Oddamavadai in the Batticaloa District and I then went to the Bridge Hotel where my former student Yuvi Thangarajah came to see me with his daughter. He had been in the first year when I taught at Peradeniya, and had gone on to a Special Degree in English, though he had then switched to Sociology which he taught for many years at the Eastern University, having done his doctorate at Sussex. He had been Dean of the Faculty and then Acting Vice-Chancellor but had fallen foul of the Tigers and been kidnapped. They had nearly killed him, but the intervention of his brother-in-law the journalist Sivaram, had saved him. But it had been made clear he should leave the area.

Having worked for a while in Colombo, on the IRQUE project which he soon found ridiculous, he had gone on to England where his children had been educated. After the war he longed to come back but had to wait till they finished and were settled. But the next deay, in between meetings at Vakarai and Valachenai, he took me to see his land near the Vakarai Lagoon and talked about retiring there in a few years.

The following day I went on to Trinco, to see Ranjith de Silva in his office, and then had lunch at the Padaviya Civil Defence Centre before a Divisional meeting which was held at a Mahaweli Centre though I have not noted which one. I went on then to Vavuniya, taking the road that passed the new settlements based at Bogaswewa but extending well into the Vavuniya District. There was a new village there called Namalgama, named after Namal Rajapaksa who had been feted there a few months earlier.

I return here to the East and note the signs I saw of increasing Arabification though I had no idea how far Mr Hisbullah was taking this, setting up a Sharia University after fooling the Ministries involved. The pictures are of the wonderful relatively unknown archaeological sites I visited.

Back to the East

In June I returned to the east, setting off from the Getamanna estate very early on the 10th. I had now found a lovely little café in Deberawewa where I had breakfast soon after daybreak, and then went on for a morning meeting at the Lahugala Division. Afterwards I was able to explore the Maghul Maha Vihara and Mudhu Maha Vihara archaeological sites. They were both entrancing, and I felt it was a great pity more had not been done earlier about preserving them and showcasing the treasures.

The afternoon meeting was at Tirukkovil, and I then saw the Government Agent in Amparai before going to the Home Ministry Circuit Bungalow which he had arranged for me after it was booked through the Ministry. Next day I had a morning meeting at Samanthurai, and was then given lunch by Jinnah Maulana, a student at Sabaragamuwa who was a longstanding friend. The afternoon meeting was at the Kalmunai Tamil Division, and I was very pleased to see there Mr Chandralingam who had done yoga with my father for many years. He was back now at his home, but insisted on having he home to meet his wife, and his son, of whom my father had been very fond.

I then went to the Bridge Hotel in Batticaloa for the night, before seeing Mrs Charles next morning and then having a morning meeting at the Manmunai South Division. I was delighted to see there an active Women’s Cooperative which had opened a small sales outlet which I patronized after lunch. And then I had an afternoon Divisional meeting at Manmunai West, before heading up to Aluwihare for the night.

I was struck more forcefully in the East this time by the separation of Divisional Secretariats into Tamil and Muslim ones, where the populations existed in close proximity. This had been done I gathered at the behest of Mr Ashraff when his support was crucial to Chandrika Kumaratunga in August 1994. But whereas Mr Ashraff would have thought this desirable at a time when the Tigers were stepping up their attacks on Muslims, by now the fundamentalist influences in the area had grown strong and this division mitigated against promoting unity through affirming the common needs of people.

My driver Kithsiri indeed noted the Arabification of Kattankudy which the local kingpin there, Mr Hisbullah, was engaged in, with date palms in the middle of the main road. I did draw attention to the need to promote secular education, but with a moribund Ministry there was no chance of coherent initiatives to develop links between the communities through the school system.

But I had no idea at all about the excesses in which Hisbullah was engaged, the circles he ran round the complaisant Dullas Allahapperuma who allowed him to set up what was supposed to be a Vocational Training Centre which was then converted with absolutely no investigation by government into a Sharia University.

This post describes one of the nicest journeys I made during my pursuit of Reconciliation. I have included a number of pictures of that magical visit to Delft, sunset and sunrise, the baobab tree, the Quindah tree and of course the horses. But I also note the training done by the navy, which unfortunately was not widely replicated though I kept asking the Secretary of Defence to extend such programmes

A journey to Delft

In May again I only went North at the end of the month, getting to the Thampa for the night of Sunday 26th. This visit was again to the Jaffna District, and the meeting the next morning was at Karaveddy, with Maruthankerny in the afternoon. I stayed that night in the camp and then went to Kayts for my morning meeting after which I went to the jetty for the water jet to Delft. The navy had given me their guest house there, where I had lunch before my afternoon meeting at the Delft Divisional Secretariat. After tea the navy gave me a comprehensive tour of the island, first the archaeology sites, the fort and hospital, with a pigeon cote and the stabling for the horses still visible, and then the wild ponies and the picturesque coast. This was followed by a sumptuous dinner, preceded by long dawn out drinks in the garden which the navy ratings had lit beautifully for us, and where they served us asssiduously.

I saw more next morning after my coffee on the verandah, the splendid baobab tree and the quite extraordinary Queen’s Tower which was used as a lighthouse. Then sadly I had to leave after breakfast to get back to the mainland, where I was given lunch at the Kankesanthurai Navy camp before my afternoon Divisional meeting at Tellipillai.

I then visited Ayathurai Santhan whose poetry I had published over the years, for tea at his house in Manipay, before going down to Kilinochchi where I had tea with Robin Jayasuriya who had been a junior officer when I ran the academic programme of the degree programme at the Military Academy at Diyatalawa. I joined the army for the lighting up of the Vesak Zone they had set up and then had dinner with Udaya Perere before getting back to the Thampa for the night.

I had another meeting next morning at the Vavuniya South Division, and then on my way to Colombo saw the delightful little archaeological museum at Puttalam. I had long wanted to visit this but it had always been closed on my previous transits through the area.

This visit made clear to me how sad it was that government had not planned sensibly for economic activity in the province. In Delft there had been no training of the young, except in the case of a group of young women to whom the navy had had sewing taught. They were now gainfully employed in a factory on the island which the navy ran, to produce uniforms for a large clientele. But the boys on the island had nothing, when it would have been so easy to start a course in motor mechanics. As things stood, the fishermen had to take engines requiring repair to Jaffna, which meant a long boat ride and carrying the engine thereafter by bus.

In Kayts I had found an enterprising young Divisional Secretary, who said that she had started some training on a small scale since there had been nothing previously. I simply could not understand why the many representatives of ministries posted to Divisional Secretariats – economic development, foreign employment, skills development – had not reported on needs and suggested ways of satisfying them. And I thought how sad it was that the Secretary of Defence had felt so diffident about doing more, since it was clear from what the navy had done that the forces could take a lead in training.

Rajiva Wijesinha


February 2021
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