Author Topic: Sri Lanka: Rebuilding, Reconciling And Rebranding  (Read 1929 times)

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Offline mayya

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Sri Lanka: Rebuilding, Reconciling And Rebranding
« on: November 14, 2013, 15:39:00 PM »
 11/13/2013 @ 10:07AM |877 views

Sri Lanka: Rebuilding, Reconciling And Rebranding


English: Flag map of Sri Lanka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Ajith Nivard Cabraal

This week, Sri Lanka is hosting the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). That occasion provides Sri Lanka the opportunity to showcase its progress, 4 years after the devastating conflict that caused untold suffering across the country.

Sri Lanka could also use the opportunity to dispel some of the myths that have been propagated over the past four years by a determined and well-funded Tamil diaspora who, since of late, have been carrying out a sustained campaign designed to discredit Sri Lanka and to discourage Commonwealth leaders from coming to Sri Lanka. That is probably because, in the recent past, whenever foreign political leaders have visited and experienced Sri Lanka’s conditions, and seen the progress that is taking place, they have, almost always, concluded that the actual conditions are entirely different to what has been claimed by the Tamil diaspora. Therefore, the diaspora must obviously know that Commonwealth leaders will see many positive developments, first-hand.

What are the Commonwealth leaders likely to see?

From a macro-economic perspective, that Sri Lanka has embarked on an ambitious program of infrastructure development, job creation and rehabilitation in all parts of the country including the North, from where suicide terrorist attacks were launched by the Tamil Tigers, not so long ago. That the Sri Lankan economy has been growing on an annual average of 7.5%, while the previously conflict-affected North has recorded a phenomenal average nominal annual growth of around 20%. That poverty levels across the country have reduced dramatically, while the people in the North have been able to enjoy inclusive livelihood activities, regular health services, satisfactory educational services, good quality infrastructure, national-standard government services, and robust banking services.

From a political and socio-economic perspective, Commonwealth leaders would see that the people in the North now enjoy unfettered freedom to engage in social and political activities. That elections were held for the Northern Provincial Council in September 2013, in peaceful conditions, which resulted in a victory for a coalition of Tamil political parties, thereby empowering them to carry out the further development of the Province, in a manner similar to that prevailing in the other 8 Provinces in the country. That the elections were hailed as “free and fair” by all observers, and the fact that 54 different political parties competed for office, was a sign of normalcy in the former conflict area, and vibrancy of the democratic traditions in the country.

That the implementation of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, which aim to promote further national unity and reconciliation among all communities, have been given top priority by the Government, and a high level Task Force is pursuing its implementation. That the former Chief Justice was impeached for financial impropriety including the false declaration of her Assets and Liabilities and serious conflicts of interests in cases she was hearing.

That, of the 19 journalists who were claimed to have been killed in Sri Lanka over the past 10 years, 18 had either been killed by the Tamil Tigers or were Tiger terrorist cadres themselves. That the massive number of alleged disappearances that had been registered in the minds of many by the Tamil diaspora, has been done through a clever strategy, where regular repetition and clever cross quoting has been the basis for most accusations. That the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims of Sri Lanka live in harmony with each other in every part of the country and that the Sinhalese dominated Western Province has financed the enormous development in the North amounting to over US dollars 3 billion during the past 4 years. That the majority of the Tamils live outside the Northern Province, and that they live in harmony with the majority Sinhalese in all parts of the country.
From a business perspective, the leaders would learn that many global investors have found Sri Lanka to be a safe and credible investment destination. That several Sri Lankan companies have been exporting high quality apparels and other merchandise to sophisticated Western consumers, at competitive prices. That Sri Lanka has now graduated to a lower-middle-income nation, and hence, is now developing new ways and means by which economic partnerships could be promoted between other nations and Sri Lanka.

Such wide understanding is likely to suggest to the Commonwealth leaders who visit Sri Lanka that the Tamil diaspora who live in Europe, USA, Canada and the West are undermining reconciliation, unlike the people living in Sri Lanka. Based on that understanding, it is hoped that, after the Summit, many of the leaders, when they return to their own countries, would be able to convince their own countrymen who were former Sri Lankans, to allow those Tamils who live in Sri Lanka, to live in peace and harmony with the majority community.
Ajith Nivard Cabraal is Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.