Killing the bogey | Daily News

Killing the bogey

The attempts by the UNP led Opposition to have economic and political sanctions imposed on the country together with a travel ban on the President and Prime Minister, it appears had made not the slightest impact, with diplomatic sources quoted by our newspaper, in its main story, denying any such move on the part of their countries. No discussions were held at international level to impose economic or political sanctions against the Sri Lankan Government nor were there any travel ban imposed on President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa or Government Ministers our report quoted diplomatic sources as having stated. They also held the view that economic and political sanctions or a travel ban may be imposed on countries if there is sufficient evidence that the country concerned had committed crimes which violate its criminal law, or the questionable behaviour of such countries within the ambit of the global political arena.

The Opposition, since the October 26 regime change, have been busy as ants trying to get Sri Lanka censured by the international community. Frenetic activity was seen where prominent members of the Opposition were shown in huddles with western ambassadors obviously selling false bogeys to the diplomatic community. Among them were current Opposition Leader R. Sambandan, TNA spokesman M. A. Sumanthiran and SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem. This, no doubt, was with the intention of painting a wrong picture of the political developments and to demonize the President and the Prime Minister. UNP stalwarts, in the daily press briefings, aired from Temple Trees, were talking about cancellation of hotel bookings by tourists and flight of foreign capital from the bourse. They were constantly harping on the theme of an illegal Government in existence and of grim forebodings to the country as a consequence. They claimed that Sri Lanka was on the verge of losing the GSP Plus facility and foreign aid that was in the pipeline had been put on hold. Sri Lanka, these spokesmen claimed, had been ostracized vis-a-vis the international community and now risked being labelled a pariah state.

However, it appears that all this rhetoric and bad mouthing of one’s own country has not had the desired effect, going by the response of the diplomatic community.

Besides, nothing that has happened in this country since October 26 warranted the imposition of economic sanctions or a travel ban on the country’s leaders. The President acted well within the powers vested in him by the constitution. There was no bloodshed, barring a few incidents that are commonplace in this country during a change of Government. Democracy is in no way in peril since an opportunity was presented for the people to exercise their franchise.

Anyway it was the UNP led Opposition which is standing in the way of order being restored by its antics in stubbornly refusing to accept the legitimate Government. Nay, it is former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who is bringing the country into ridicule by refusing to vacate Temple Trees and ceding the Prime Minister’s official residence to the present incumbent. Exacerbating matters is the Speaker who is adamantly sticking to his guns in refusing to accept the new regime.

The unpatriotic nature of the UNP’s actions can be gauged from the manner in which party stalwarts keep on listing out the sanctions that are to be imposed on the country as if they wish for gloom to descend on the Motherland. They forget that the sanctions would affect every citizen, including those supporting the UNP. Anyway patriotism had never been the strong point of the Greens if one were to recall the agreements entered into with the LTTE to the detriment of the security forces and the country. Besides, the consequences of economic sanctions could also one day come to haunt the party if and when it ever captures power.

Like the Ven. Dr. Malwane Chandrarathana Thera, Dean of the Sinhala Faculty of the Kelaniya University said, if either the Opposition or any other party requests foreign countries or the diplomatic community to impose economic sanctions on the country, it is a disgrace to one’s Motherland. “If anybody makes such a request, that request itself manifests one’s own hatred and what the international community should do is to extend help to that country to rise up and move forward” the Ven. Thera was quoted as saying, in same news report.

In any event, from observations made in the past, the west is slow to impose economic sanctions on countries who had strayed from the path-at least in their eyes. There had been calls for imposing sanctions on countries such as Pakistan (during the rule of military dictator Zia ul Haq) and recently the Maldives for acting against democratic norms and also Myanmar during the junta rule for violation of human rights. Although threats were made no sanctions were imposed. On the contrary Pakistan was the recipient of unprecedented aid from the Regan administration both, economic and military. Therefore Sri Lanka can rests assured that our traditional donors would not jump to cut off aid to the country nor the west to impose economic sanctions as much as the Opposition may wish for it.

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