The Sunday Leader

The Commonwealth Summit And After

CHOGM has not ended as these comments are being written but much of the froth and fume, hosannas and panegyrics and predictions of a glorious fallout from the conference are coming to an end.

The Sri Lankan government will view it as an outstanding success. The proposal to hold the conference in Sri Lanka ran into heavy fire of Western nations from the very beginning. Canada led the appeals for a boycott of the Summit which failed to find respondents other than India – at the last moment – who was obediently followed by Mauritius which traditionally hangs on the dhoti tails of Indian leaders.

India sending only second XI minus its captain at the last minute can be considered a last minute effort to derail the conference.

To the international media, particularly international TV channels, the Colombo CHOGM had only one focus: Having Sri Lanka in the dock for alleged War Crimes committed during the war on terrorism but for whatever reasons they failed to pull it off.

Britain and some of its Commonwealth buddies threatened to teach Sri Lanka civics lessons on ‘good governance’ and ‘rule of law’ etc., but till the last day (as these comments are being written) did not appear to be successful in their quest.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa candidly answered the Western interrogators at the press conference deflating them.

Nonetheless, there will be disagreements about the successes or failures of the conference depending on the political blinkers through which the conference is viewed. Quite apart from the basic charge made against Sri Lanka, the war crimes committed, there are other aspects that have been raised such as basic freedoms such as independence of the media, independence of the judiciary, reduction of military presence in the north, greater devolution of power to the North, among other aspects of democratic governance.

The failure to respond to these aspects has contributed to the Western view of the Rajapaksa government being authoritarian. Despite the proliferation of ‘media ministers’ and media spokespersons, there has been no successful prosecution of killers and abductors of journalists like our founder editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge who was killed on the highway in broad daylight, the killings of many journalists in the North such as those from the Udayan newspaper and disappearance of the online reporter Pradeep Ekneligoda.

The absence of vociferous and militant journalists’ organisations too are partly to blame. Occasional feeble protests are of little or no consequence such as that of the letter sent to British Prime Minister David Cameron by the Editors’ Guild saying that moves made by the British government to regulate the press in Britain might send wrong signals to Sri Lankan authorities. The dangers and threats faced by Sri Lankan journalists are much greater than their British colleagues.

The Rajapaksa regime’s responsibilities of safeguarding the democratic values and principles do not end with the Summit but will go on for two years because Sri Lanka will hold the Chairmanship of the organisation for that period. While protecting these rights of citizens of the entire Commonwealth will be his responsibility it will be salutary to reflect on the homily that charity begins at home.

The Commonwealth Secretariat is the watch dog of Commonwealth rights and principles in between CHOGM summits but President Rajapaksa will continue to be in focus particularly because of the pressures that will be applied by the Tamil diaspora on British parliamentarians. Of course there are no legal obligations on him to obey the Commonwealth Secretariat or British MPs but the incessant howl of Sri Lanka’s global watch dogs will be heard around the world.

Will there be a change in Rajapaksa policies after CHOGM during his Commonwealth chairmanship? The complaint of Tamils has been that not much attention has been paid to them other than infrastructure development. Little has been done in bringing them back to the mainstream of society or restoring their dignity either. How the president handles this tricky issue with many elections pending next year – even parliamentary and presidential elections as predicted by some analysts – is anybody’s guess.

3 Comments for “The Commonwealth Summit And After”

  1. Drums and dancing couldn’t placate the cry of injustice. British P.M. said what he came to say. He became the man of the show.

  2. commonwealth_insider

    Malta’s Secret weapon demolishes CHOGM 2015
    opposition

    Commonwealth insider can exclusively reveal that the main man behind Malta’s
    unexpected bagging of CHOGM 2015, is a reclusive Maltese Anglo Indian millionaire ,Shiv Shankaran nair.

    Nair, who is the bête noire of the Maltese opposition press, and is
    dubbed by the Opposition leader as the PM’s “Grey Cardinal” appears to
    have pulled out all the stops for his adopted country.

    Commonwealth sources at the heart of the CHOGM2015 , who declined to
    be quoted as they were not authorized to comment, said that Nair had
    heard from his close friend Navin Ramgoolam, the Prime minister
    of Mauritius, that Mauritius would not be bidding for CHOGM 2015. Within hours
    , Malta has thrown its hat into the ring, wrong-footing other African nations
    that were preparing to submit their own bids.

    Kenya and Zambia, also submitted their interest, but using the
    Indian mafia in the Commonwealth, Nair appears to have scuppered their
    bids based on technicalities.

    A disgruntled African diplomat commented “Malta appears to have
    people who know our heads of state, and they have persuaded Nigeria,
    Uganda Mozambique and Lesotho not to support an African initiative”

    The critical moment came when Botswana challenged Malta, and was
    supported by some of the African countries. Here Nair came into his own.
    His documented associate Imtiaz Abdullah, who is the Chair of the
    S.African Karate federation, and one of President Jacob Zuma’s closest
    associates, somehow managed to persuade Zuma to sit on the fence. The
    lack of S.African support took the wind out of Botswana’s sails, and
    Malta won CHOGM 2015, “unanimously”

    Nair, who keeps a very low profile is an intriguing and controversial character.

    Dubbed by The Economist as “China’s secret weapon in Africa”, he has
    been responsible for some of the major Chinese funded projects in Africa,
    including an audacious offer to the Colombian government to build a railway
    line linking the Colombian Atlantic coast with the Pacific coast. In Malta he
    has been the target of the Opposition press for having been disbarred by the
    Worldbank, seventeen years ago, for his role as a non executive director of a
    British company ,involved in forming cartels on bank funded projects

  3. violet nansikombi

    Commonwealth insider can exclusively reveal that the main man behind Malta’s
    unexpected bagging of CHOGM 2015, is a reclusive Maltese Anglo Indian millionaire ,Shiv Shankaran nair.

    Nair, who is the bête noire of the Maltese opposition press, and is
    dubbed by the Opposition leader as the PM’s “Grey Cardinal” appears to
    have pulled out all the stops for his adopted country.

    Commonwealth sources at the heart of the CHOGM2015 , who declined to
    be quoted as they were not authorized to comment, said that Nair had
    heard from his close friend Navin Ramgoolam, the Prime minister
    of Mauritius, that Mauritius would not be bidding for CHOGM 2015. Within hours
    , Malta has thrown its hat into the ring, wrong-footing other African nations
    that were preparing to submit their own bids.

    Kenya and Zambia, also submitted their interest, but using the
    Indian mafia in the Commonwealth, Nair appears to have scuppered their
    bids based on technicalities.

    A disgruntled African diplomat commented “Malta appears to have
    people who know our heads of state, and they have persuaded Nigeria,
    Uganda Mozambique and Lesotho not to support an African initiative”

    The critical moment came when Botswana challenged Malta, and was
    supported by some of the African countries. Here Nair came into his own.
    His documented associate Imtiaz Abdullah, who is the Chair of the
    S.African Karate federation, and one of President Jacob Zuma’s closest
    associates, somehow managed to persuade Zuma to sit on the fence. The
    lack of S.African support took the wind out of Botswana’s sails, and
    Malta won CHOGM 2015, “unanimously”

    Nair, who keeps a very low profile is an intriguing and controversial character.

    Dubbed by The Economist as “China’s secret weapon in Africa”, he has
    been responsible for some of the major Chinese funded projects in Africa,
    including an audacious offer to the Colombian government to build a railway
    line linking the Colombian Atlantic coast with the Pacific coast. In Malta he
    has been the target of the Opposition press for having been disbarred by the
    Worldbank, seventeen years ago, for his role as a non executive director of a
    British company ,involved in forming cartels on bank funded projects

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