Avoiding collective humiliation

Harassment Sri Lankan VIPs suffer at the hands of visa officers of western embassies in general and the shabby treatment meted out to Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake at the Narita airport in Japan the other day in particular are despicable, to say the least. Politicians of all hues in this country claim they are perturbed. But, some of them seem to derive a perverse pleasure from the harrowing experience of government leaders and top state officials.

Prophets of doom and gloom are making a subtle attempt to have us believe that the empire is striking back and their prediction of Sri Lanka's international isolation owing to her war on terror in defiance of the West is coming true. The message they are trying to convey is that they alone are capable of repairing the country's image and reversing the hostile trend and, therefore, they must be given a mandate to form a government.

Speaker W. J. M. Lokubandara, a person who genuinely feels for this country, took up the issue in Parliament on Friday and stressed the need to oppose the sinister moves by certain foreign forces to demean Sri Lankan dignitaries.

We cannot but agree with the Speaker that Parliament must put up a united front. But, the problem is far more complex than it looks and there is no quick fix. We would like to consider the unfortunate incident at the Narita airport an exception, given the healthy relations between Japan and Sri Lanka. Japan has launched an investigation.

Unpleasant experience of Attorney General Mohan Peiris and others at the British High Commission in Colombo have the trappings of an anti-Sri Lankan campaign in keeping with the policy of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who exudes animosity towards this country from every pore. The LTTE lobby is jubilant. Its propagandists who have now been left with only the Internet to wage war against Sri Lanka has lost no time in claiming this country is coming under 'diplomatic sanctions'!

Why the neo-colonial forces have become so rabidly anti-Sri Lankan is patently clear. They never wanted the LTTE defeated. The outfit posed no threat to them and Sri Lanka's conflict provided them with an opportunity to play an active role in this region as Co-Chairs, facilitators etc. After war broke out in 2006, they waited for the army to be wiped out in Kilinochchi. Else, they would have intervened to scuttle the war much earlier. It was the fall of Kilinochchi, which Prabhakaran promised to turn into what Stalingrad had been to the German army during WW II, that jolted them into pressuring Sri Lanka to stop war but their intervention came too late in the day. The rest is history.

Today, after KP's arrest and 'extraordinary rendition', the neo-colonial forces have gone into overdrive to create a political environment in Sri Lanka conducive to the revival of secessionist forces which are currently in a state of suspended animation. They have resorted to their time tested divide-and-rule policy to achieve this end.

In the past, they created rifts among ethnic communities to facilitate the expansion of their empire but today they are all out to make use of the differences and divisions among political leaders in a bid to effect a regime change and install a puppet government willing to toe their line and compromise the national security interests.

The Rajapaksa government ought to be wary of providing ammunition to the hostile external forces hell bent on conferring pariah status on this country. Unnecessary tussles with the media, witch-hunts against conceited NGO elements etc. are extremely counterproductive. By resorting to them, the government only ruins its image and strengthens the hands of Sri Lanka's enemies on a campaign to destroy her economy by scrapping GSP Plus and blocking loans.

The only way neo-colonial forces could be kept at bay is to develop Sri Lanka's economy and hoist it from the depths of shameful dependency. Beggars are no choosers, it is said, and so long as Sri Lanka depends on other countries for economic survival, her leaders and citizens will have to undergo humiliation at the hands of donors. Mendicants cannot demand respect, can they?

All is, however, not lost and we predict no doom and gloom. Sri Lanka can! The government must stay maniacally focussed on building the economy to help benefits of its spectacular victory over terrorism accrue to the people and to safeguard national sovereignty. Hollow rhetoric, muscle flexing, tilting at windmills etc. are of little use in confronting a formidable enemy.

For the first time in thirty years, the country has had an opportunity to unleash its full economic potential and regain itself; it needs to be grabbed, if Sri Lanka and her people are not to be humiliated.

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