Thursday, January 31, 2013

'Sri Lanka 2013 and beyond' – a bad topic for a deputy foreign minister of the UK to give as a guest lecturer

 – at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute in 2013

Alistair Burt – Under Sec of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth office, which means just a deputy foreign minister in the Cameron Administration is giving a lecture as noted above tomorrow, Friday, February 1st 2013.

I object to the subject of the topic from a UK politician. If roles were reversed and if I was a deputy foreign minister in SL going to the UK to give the same thing in the UK, saying UK 2013 and beyond! I doubt I would be even taken seriously. So why should we in SL take this seriously? We should not and it should be boycotted as simply patronizing, unless of course a more meaningful topic is chosen.

SO what should he say or do instead? Well change the topic of the lecture for a start. He should call it UK relations with SL in a globalized world of new technology. What should he then say about that? So shall we start!

Putting the rifts of the past 30 years behind us, where those who fled Sri Lanka for whatever reasons and who have now settled in the UK, are bent on keeping a flame that is forever lit, we must stamp this flame out and integrate our countries in a common front to develop peace and goodwill amongst our people, and ensure understanding, or in other words a dialog with mutual respect for each other.

Sri Lanka has over the past 30 years given the UK an unimaginable contribution in terms of human resources that have assisted the UK in reducing and mitigating their internal problems and for that we are very grateful. We will permit any of them to return to help their mother country, and we believe that the SL govt. should also make conditions favorable for those who wish to return to do so, as I believe they can contribute immensely to the development of Sri Lanka, its industries and businesses.

In a global world such as we live in today, the freedom of movement of people is only obstructed by practical issues specific to the host country, and all countries welcome with open arms those who can contribute to their development. I trust that the SL authorities will provide favorable immigration and investment rules to attract inward migration, without the perceived barriers at present.

In a global world ethnic origin becomes less important. By isolating groups by ethnic or religious groupings will only harm the country and not help it in the long term, and our example of accepting over 10M immigrants over the past 30 years has added to the diversity of our country as well as to its development. I would therefore ask you to be blind to people’s prejudices and look only at commonality.

Let us break the shackles of past misunderstandings and look at the commonalities of a common language within the confines of the Commonwealth Ethos, which we have shepherded to develop shared values in the interests of the well being of all our citizens and to prevent one group from suppressing others and most importantly ensuring basic minority rights.

I am aware of the many criticisms of Colonialism, and that is behind us, however with the rejection of colonialism, a sense of misguided nationalism in Sri Lanka has kept the country in conflict for too long, with people of all ethnicities suffering. We have provided assistance in rehabilitating the people of affected communities so that they can regain their past livelihoods and live in harmony. We will continue to the assist GOSL in its endeavors at peaceful coexistence.

Sri Lanka is facing internal political ideological changes that must be satisfactorily resolved within its shores, to ensure adequate representation of all people in all walks of life. Development, security, jobs, and other benefits should NOT be afforded to a select few as history has shown us that which is inevitable, namely the rapid fall of regimes that advocate such ideology.

The security of the world is ensured through communication, distance education, and shared common beliefs. To that end we will do our part in assisting SL with teaching of English and the use of modern technology for people in your country to communicate with people in ours, to foster friendships between our two nations.

We regret the perception that the UK was not able to prevent the flow of funds to SL for the terrorists to wage a dirty and bloody war with the GOSL. We did our best, which was not sufficient. We as a country DO NOT condone terrorism in any of its current manifestations covertly through a Govt. or directly, and will stop any repeat of terrorists attempting to restart a campaign of destabilization. We will assist your country in adhering to the international obligations SL has undertaken to conform to. Furthermore we will assist SL in strengthening its institutions of law and order to comply with SL’s international undertakings.

Despite adverse publicity to the contrary, I am not here in Sri Lanka to give my opinion on your internal matters. I am here merely to foster further good relationships with the oldest commonwealth country in the old world along with India and Pakistan, which achieved self rule without undue violence. If we foster our shared values we can overcome temporary setbacks from time to time, and I trust your internal issues with regards to the judicial independence will be amicably resolved soon.

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