So, Mr. President has got it right!
Addressing the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) in Kuwait President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that Asia should not be considered a playground of other forces who “seek our wealth, our assets of nature and human resources”.
On the surface, it may seem like a sweeping statement that was meant to make headlines than to prick a few sleepyheads. Believe it or not, Asia has already become the playground of the west. Though, geographically tiny, Sri Lanka too feels the heat of it.
Despite the cultural and natural heritage frequently bragged about by its inhabitants, the socio-economic challenges faced by the Asian citizens have become increasingly complex during the last few decades. Though oil is considered the remedy for every ill, as much as it has crowned the continent, the resource has also courted enough trouble. All the same oil may be there to make the continent self-sufficient; yet, with it comes the entangled political partialities, poverty, malnutrition and everything else that puts the continent on the backtrack.
The age-old method of fishing in troubled waters has been the West’s way of dealing with Asia. Though one prefers it or not, so long there is bloodshed and unresolved conflict to haunt the soil of Asia, the west can test its weapons on these troubled terrains. Then there is political chaos in abundance for it to intervene, have its battles of wit and pass arbitrary verdicts.
Of course, there is also human suffering and poverty in plenty for the west to exhibit the magnitude of its sympathy.
However, the bend in the road comes with China’s growing economic and military strength that no longer gives the US the monopoly to decide the movements of the world economy; the same reason why the US spices up the rivalry between the former and Japan in Asia’s money war.
The President does not exaggerate when he implies that when it comes to capabilities, Asia stands abreast with the west, far ahead of other continents. While housing many Third World countries the continent still slowly marches towards development.
If Asia is a muddle the west bears the guilt of stirring it.
Perhaps, the President was right in taking pride in Asia’s achievements in the modern world, when individually Sri Lanka has a lot of ground to cover to match the rosy picture. If he wishes to live up to the description it is high time Sri Lanka gets out of its post-war blues and look into achieving the sustainable development goals where every citizen is economically, socially and culturally empowered.
Only then will we be equal proponents in saving Asia’s pride.