Lankan Diaspora have a dynamic role to play: Prof. Peiris at Asia Security Summit
June 7, 2010 01:54 am
The emphasis of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not on retribution, not on punishment, or the imposition of sanctions. But, rather, on restorative justice, enabling people to pick up the pieces, to get on with their lives. The State is firmly resolved to put at their disposal all the resources that would facilitate this difficult task, Prof. G.L.peiris told the 9th IISS Asia Security Summit on Sunday.
Sri Lankan Minister of External Affairs Professor G.L. Peiris’ speech ‘Counter-Insurgency and Strengthening Governance’, at the 9th IISS Asia Security Summit, ‘The Shangri-La Dialogue’ Fifth Plenary Session held in Singapore on Sunday 06 June, 2010.
“I consider it a privilege to be asked to share some
thoughts with you this morning on the themes of counter-insurgency and good
governance. I propose to broach the subject from the perspectives of my own
country, but I would like to dwell on some of the aspects of these themes which
have a far more than national significance. I think
“The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said that when ‘hearts beat together’, he was quoting a poem he liked, ‘then even clay can be turned into gold’. I think the challenge confronting Sri Lanka is how exactly to achieve this in an excruciatingly painful situation, when the island is emerging from two decades of conflict, and attempting to find its feet, and to focus on accelerated economic and social development.
“Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of modern
“During the last 20 years, the one inhibiting factor with regard to our progress was the phenomenon of terrorism, violence.
“Happily, as the Chairman pointed out, that is behind us,
and we have the opportunity, which we did not have for two long decades, to
drive the maximum benefit for the country’s inherent strengths, in particular,
the uniquely high calibre of
“But, it is important for us to ensure that this process does not consist exclusively of physical relocation: we must ensure that the people who are resettled have access to adequate incomes. Consequently, there is a sharp focus on the restoration of livelihoods, the revival of the economy of those parts of the country which have been ravaged by the war. Today, we are working closely with the private sector to open factories, schools, hospitals. All of that is part of an economic renaissance which the country is seeing at this moment.
“It is therefore, and it has to be a multifaceted response.
Apart from the focus on resuscitation of the economy, we also have to think of
reviving the political process; the holding of elections, which could not
happen at the local government level for a decade and a half, because of the
turbulence in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the country. In the
“Then, to return to the wise words quoted by the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, if hearts are to beat as one, if clay is to be transformed into gold, then we have to put in place structures and mechanism that will enable people to leave behind them the pain and the anguish of the past and to confront the future with courage and fortitude.
“How do we do this? We have set up a Reconciliation
Commission, drawing upon the experience of
Ambassador Dr. Susan Rice, the United States Representative
to the UN, has spelt out some of the requirements that need to be fulfilled if
this exercise is to be successful. As I told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
at my meeting with her in
That is one of the exciting things happening in the post-conflict scenario in my country. It is called the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission. This is buttressed by a vigorous initiative directed towards constitutional reform in my country. The Government of Sri Lanka has no illusions that a military victory per se is going to provide us with a durable and lasting solution. Problems that emanate from the hearts and minds of people require political responses, and tomorrow the President of Sri Lanka and I will be meeting representatives of Tamil political parties, to ascertain their own views with regard to constitutional reform. They must make a vigorous input into the processes of political reform.
Many governments in
I should tell you a word about the role that we envision for
the Diaspora; that is a very critical factor. Our message to the Diaspora in
the Western World and elsewhere is that they have a dynamic role to play; we do
not want them to distance themselves from the exciting developments which are
taking place in
“The country went through a very difficult phase, which is
now, happily, over, and exactly a month ago we went to the Parliament of Sri
Lanka, voluntarily, without any pressure being exerted on us by any external
actor, to tell the Parliament that we no longer need the elaborate security
apparatus, which was put in place almost five years ago when the late Foreign Minister,
the Honourable Lakshman Kadirgamar, was assassinated. We have now expunged from
the statute books of
That is where we are. We are in one of those phases in the history of our country to which the words of Shakespeare play; there is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken in the flood leads on to fortune. Many things are in reach, and the destiny of our country will depend upon the wisdom, the quality of the decisions that we make at this time. The Government of Sri Lanka is confident that we have the support and the goodwill of the international community as we address these complex tasks.
I thank you Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, for the opportunity that you have given me to express these brief thoughts to you on the evolving scenario in my country.