GL: Prez-PM combination poses danger


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris on Monday (June 6) alleged that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government’s policies were meant to appease western powers, the LTTE rump as well as Diaspora groups still promoting separatist sentiments.

Prof. Peiris said the government was pursuing a course of action severely detrimental to national interest. The former External Affairs Minister was addressing a gathering at Sambuddhathwa Jayanthi Mandiraya.

Among those present were a group of Buddhist monks, former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa, MP.

The government wanted the masses to forget Sri Lanka’s triumph over the LTTE in May 2009, he said. The former minister alleged that the unprecedented decision to call off the annual victory day parade scheduled for third week of May was in line with the government’s appalling policy. It would be the responsibility as well as the duty of patriotic organizations to make masses aware of the growing challenges faced by post-war Sri Lanka, Prof. Peiris said.

Commenting on the ongoing investigations into the alleged disappearance of media personality Prageeth Ekneligoda on the eve of January 26, 2010 presidential polls, Prof. Peiris faulted the police for arresting nine members of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The former minister underscored the need to examine the arrest of DMI personnel in connection with the Ekneligoda case against the backdrop of growing international challenges. Prof. Peiris asserted that it shouldn’t be considered an isolated case.

Prof. Peiris warned of dire consequences in case the government accommodated members of various Diaspora groups in electoral lists hence making the way for them to exercise their franchise at national level elections. The move to give voting rights to members of the Diaspora was taking place amidst proposed constitutional changes, Prof. Peiris said, while emphasizing the need for constitutional safeguards to thwart the government taking decisions inimical to the country.

The former External Affairs Minister also expressed concern over a recent decision to allow those who had sought political asylum overseas to return to the country without restrictions. The previous government prohibited their return on security grounds.

Citing the recently released State Department report, Prof. Peiris said that in spite of losing its conventional military power, the separatist movement continued to pose a severe threat to Sri Lanka.

The establishment of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP), too, would be inimical to Sri Lanka, Prof. Peiris said, accusing the government of causing serious difficulties to those who had served the motherland risking their lives. Prof. Peiris said the move was being made in the run up to the forthcoming Geneva sessions where an oral statement would be made during the last week of June.

Prof. Peiris explained the threat posed on military commanders due to the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe co sponsoring a Geneva Resolution adopted on Oct 1, 2015. The former External Affairs Minister said that no provision could be as inimical as the recommendation that personnel could be dealt with administrative measures even if not found guilty by a court of law.

During the previous government, Sri Lanka always opposed US moves in Geneva though the present administration accepted the US resolution meant to haul Sri Lanka up before a hybrid court comprising foreign judges et al. Prof. Peiris recalled the support extended by China, Russia, Pakistan and African states to the Rajapaksa administration during the previous government’s efforts to defend the country at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council.

Prof. Peiris said that it would be pertinent to mention that international action against Sri Lanka had been decided on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations made by persons whose identities would remain classified for a period of 20 years since the release of UNSG Ban ki moon’s Panel of Experts’ (PoE) report on March 31, 2011.

Prof. Peiris also strongly condemned moves to introduce new laws to try those officers and men who had been accused of various alleged atrocities during the conflict.

Accusing the government of acting maliciously towards the military and the police, Prof. Peiris rapped the government for not taking action against Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan and Eastern Province Chief Minister Nazeer Ahamed in spite of them acting in a manner disparaging of the military.

Prof. Peiris also criticized the appointment of Rear Admiral Travis Sinniah as the Eastern Commander after being on US embassy staff. Alleging that the government was bending backwards to appease the US, former External Affairs Minister expressed concern over the government obtaining UK funding amounting to 6 mn pounds for projects to reform the military.

Commenting on proposed constitutional reforms and the work undertaken by the Lal Wijenayake Committee, Prof. Peiris alleged that the government was making an effort to use parliamentary committees to endorse various documents prepared by outsiders, including foreigners. The Prof said that he had received briefings from members of the Joint Opposition regarding attempts to introduce various proposals.

The Prof. condemned attempts to introduce laws to suppress the media during elections. Their strategy was to ensure that the masses would receive an opinion favourable to those now in power, he said.

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