The Sunday Leader

Govt Cannot Overcome Current Crises – Ravi K.

  • Incompetence in handling international community

UNP Colombo District parliamentarian Ravi Karunanayake said the government’s incompetence in handling the international community has resulted in the current issues faced by the country. “Your own bad governance, your own white van records, your own media harassments, your own opposition attacked or your own impeachments have led to the resolution,” he said referring to the US move to present a new resolution before the UNHRC. According to Karunanayake, it is now time the government made friends with the international community since the country needs them.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: How successful do you think the government has been in addressing concerns raised by the international community?
A: We have been very clear in stating that this government is regarded like a village thug that is governing the country. We have said that their international policy has not been fitting to the running of a country. Because, when you are in an international club there are certain norms and respect that you are able to choose and this government just does not have that. You see that we are fighting with our closest neighbour, a country, which has always been with us – India. The European Union (EU) has basically put us on circumscribe. UN is questioning and bringing resolutions against us. Japan that has been giving aid has basically stopped giving such things. So you could see that we are basically trying playing one against the other and going against the national interest. We have not been able to tackle any of the international matters at that.

Q: Do you feel the government is prepared to face questions raised at the UNHRC at the sessions that will commence this week?
A: Absolutely not. As a matter of fact it has been so clear that the government has not even felt the need. I guess the government last time got a hammering, this time they feel they better not say anything at all. They got the Ambassador of the EU in Geneva to look into the affairs and I am informed that the ministers who have been designated are not going now. So basically they are unable to meet the international obligations. The president gave certain undertakings to Ban-Ki-Moon; they gave certain undertakings to implement the LLRC and they gave certain undertakings to the Indian Prime Minister. This was re-emphasised or re-echoed at the last Geneva session and they tried to, before the resolution came about, to find answers.

None of them have been put in place. So as a result they feel that not being there in any case, they do not have to say anything. We from the opposition are demanding because this is not their country but it is our country on the basis that all of us take a protective action on Sri Lanka. We are calling upon the government to rephrase their international obligations and to please tell the people as to why they are acting in this manner since it is not a case of their own. As a country you give a certain commitment, they are expected to be fulfilled and by not doing so the ramifications flow. It is not just a political party’s destiny, it is the country’s destiny and we hold the government responsible. We demand the government to tell us how we could help and what we should do in order to prevent more resolutions being presented against Sri Lanka.

Q: What are your views of the US draft resolution to be tabled at the 22nd session?
A: As I told last year the resolution came about owing to the actions and the reactions of the government itself. The government had the LLRC, they had been interacting with Mrs. Hilary Clinton, and they were interacting with Mr. Robert Blake, etc. with a certain commitment. Now what happened owing to the bad governance, owing to the bad human rights records, owing to the questions that were not properly answered this led to the resolution that came about in Geneva. The government did everything possible in order to ensure the resolution did not come across, but it did. So you see from then up to now it has only worsened. We have more media people being attacked. You have the human rights records being put to question; you have the Chief Justice being impeached without rhyme or reason and you see good governance going into no governance at all.

So this is the reason why the Americans, it is not America alone, but backed with EU, India, all of them so it is not one country taking on, it is all of them and collectively all of our friends ensuring that Sri Lanka is put to a better place in moving forward. There is no point in pointing the finger at somebody else, when the problem is created domestically. Your own bad governance, your own white van records, your own media harassments, your own opposition attacked or your own impeachments have led to the resolution.

Q: The US has vowed to continue its focus on Sri Lanka. How would it affect the country in the long term?
A: Well, what the Americans are trying to tell the government of Sri Lanka is that you basically stick and work according to your constitution there is no interference into our internal affairs. It is the government, that is elected to democratically govern, does not do what is expected. Then you open us to the international world. We cannot feel that we are a country in isolation; we are not the only girl on the beach. So as a result the Americans are basically telling ‘You do what you said you would do’. So in that scope it is very important – one of our biggest trading partners is the US. Trading partners are very important in today’s world. Our trade is better than them and on that scope we are alienating ourselves from the very people who buy our products.

Q: What do you think the worst-case scenario would be for the country due to the government’s failures?
A: The government’s failure is owing to its incompetence to handle the international community. As I said they think that a village thug comes and shouts and the rest of the world will bend at their knees – that does not happen. Owing to the fact that you have to engage and you have to have a reconciliation process the focus of the entire world’s attention was on Sri Lanka. Now it is coming on a negative term. So, we lost the labour GSP. Why, because of its own sense of arrogance and its own sense of falsehood on an issue that they thought was being imposed. Likewise you have the IMF saying, ‘I am sorry we are not going to give aid’. Why invest when everybody is not giving? So on that basis when they are basically making life difficult for the Sri Lankans, they think staying in power is more important than developing the country for the benefit of the Sri Lankans. You will basically have an uprising within the country.

People today are unable to live with one square meal. As a result a huge imbalance of trade is happening. Aid is reducing by the day. When IMF stopped giving aid your borrowing powers will go. Worst of all you are putting Sri Lanka into a different league. You are putting it in league with North Korea, Iran, etc. Which is unsafe and certainly not good for Sri Lanka?

Q: Do you believe the government can overcome these issues?
A: I think they do not have the ability, the talent nor the intention. They want to stirrup communism, they want to stirrup racialism and religious affairs in order to ensure they have popularity and think they have mustered a more communal oriented vote. They are not bothered about the international community; they are bothered only about the next election.

Q: What about the opposition? How do you think the opposition could overcome these issues if it were in power?
A: Sanity has prevailed upon the people or subsequent thoughts have come about. People now see that you have to have brains rather than brawn in this instance. You cannot run a country by saying the world is inside Sri Lanka. You must realise that we are a small country inside the world. We have certain obligations; we have certain international treaties and certain respects playing in the world community. So we have basically been able to have a consistent policy of friendship with everybody and trust with everybody. On that basis we have the international acceptance of the UNP being a responsible party whether as a government or the opposition. Now it is the time that we with our international friends get into a consolidation at a time we need them, more than they need us.


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