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I used to find it most entertaining, I once told Bob Blake, that the main hopes of the West with regard to Sri Lanka rested on a Stalinist and a Trotskyist. This was in the days when some elements in the West were trying to stop us destroying the Tigers, while others, whilst appreciating our need to escape the threat that had bedeviled life here for so long, were anxious that we also moved towards greater pluralism. I used to place Blake in the latter category, and though it seems that he condoned the games that some Embassy staff such as Paul Carter played later on, I had no objection to his support of pluralism.

I was also glad that he appreciated DEW Gunasekara and what he had achieved in a couple of years for language policy, which no government had bothered about in the nigh twenty years previously after Tamil had been made an official language. This was because the foreigners who welcomed the measures DEW had introduced could not claim that these were done to keep them happy.

We know that there are elements in Sri Lanka, as represented most obviously by the egregious Dharisha Bastians, who nine months ago declared, in conformity with the views of her patrons in the Ministry of External Affairs, that Sri Lanka had finally decided who her real friends were, and would therefore obsequiously follow the West. That particular act of dancing on the graves of Tamara Kunanayagam and Dayan Jayatilleka and myself has since given way to virulent attacks on the government, with similar sanctimoniousness. These have become more shrill recently following the drama of the impeachment, and contribute to the view that everything has to be seen in black and white, with any opposition to the impeachment of the Chief Justice constituting an attack on the government.

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Presentation at a meeting on the COPE Report arranged by Transparency International, Sri Lanka,  January 26th 2012
The First Report of the Committee on Public Enterprises of the Seventh Parliament has drawn much attention of a favourable sort. The speed with which the Report was issued, and the number of institutions which it covers, comprehensively and incisively, was seen as unusual, and a possible precursor to a better exercise of Parliamentary powers of oversight than we had seen in the recent past.

The principal credit for this must go to the Chairman, the Hon DEW Gunasekara, who chaired the Committee with inclusive dedication. But I think, as indicated by his suggestion that I be asked to represent him at this discussion, that he would also highlight the role of Liberal principles which I was able to bring to bear on the work and the attitudes of the Committee.

The first problem which we resolved was that of having to deal with a vast number of institutions, only a few of which had been covered each year in the past. The solution was obvious, and I could not understand, when I suggested that we divide into sub-committees, why no one seemed to have thought of it previously, when the work of the Committee had expanded. Perhaps the explanation lay in the objection of one of those members who had specialized in criticism in the past, that it was necessary for the Committee to function as a whole.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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