Sri Lanka has a “marvellous opportunity” to heal and reconcile its twin populations after 25 years of civil war, says Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister and President.
Which is why she is more than a little baffled at the slowness with which the Mahinda Rajapaksa government is building post-civil war “bridges.” “Such opportunities do not last forever,” she warned.
“That is why they are called windows and not something larger.”
In New Delhi for the first annual conference of her own South Asia Policy and Research Institute (SAPRI), Kumaratunga said that since retired from active politics six years ago, she had dedicated herself to two international organisations, the Club of Madrid and the Clinton Global Initiative.
“Now I have created my own foundation,” she says.
SAPRI will look at issues regarding the subcontinent, Kumaratunga says, engaging research scholars globally on these topics. These deliberations will result in policy recommendations which will be communicated to policy-makers and professionals.
Sri Lanka is still fertile ground for the dissemination of such ideas. While the civil war has seen some repair work accomplished, Kumaratunga says still more needs to be done in terms of physical reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Kumaratunga led Lanka during some of the bloodiest years of the civil war. Today, with a Tamil minority “who want rights but of whom only a small minority still talk of a homeland,” she seems worried Colombo doesn’t recognize what a good thing it has going for it.
Rajapaksa’s abrogation of her promise of Tamil political devolution – a decision he had been party to at the time and did not oppose – was one reason Kumaratunga declined to support him in the last elections. “Even though he called me eight times asking for support,” she remembers.
Kumaratunga strongly denies she backed the rival candidate, General Sarath Fonseka. "Normally I would have supported Rajapaksa: I am still patron and member of our party. But I could not support some of his policies.” So she stayed out of the campaign altogether.
If she is concerned at Rajapaksa’s minority policies, she is “bewildered” by his foreign policy. “In my time, we practiced nonalignment, which meant keeping good relations with the entire world,” she says. This led many Western countries to agree to ban or limit the activities of the Tamil Tigers. Kumaratunga is clearly discomfited with Rajapaksa’s confrontational policies with the West and his rhetorical claims to having new “friends” in China, Myanmar and Iran.
“Relations with India are essential and crucial,” she stresses. Which leads her to wonder, after New Delhi’s recent United Nations vote against Sri Lanka, what has changed there. Two years ago, in similar circumstances, India actually canvassed on Lanka’s behalf. “Somethings must have changed,” she says. “I do not know what they are.”
Unsurprisingly, a key interest of SAPRI, besides development and poverty alleviation, is how such issues lead to conflict. Kumaratunga is much taken with Frances Stewart’s work on “horizontal inequalities” and their connection to violence and conflict. “The first priority is that all sections of a population must be brought into a development process,” she says. “That is the theme of the conference.” (Hindustan Times)
How many opportunities you missed during your time. Don't preach now. You have no followers in SL - so you're no leader
boston Monday, 09 April 2012 05:16 AM
Madam your statement stands corrected “This is a marvelous opportunity for country to move forward and to overcome opportunities lost during CBK’s period”.
Handipora Monday, 09 April 2012 05:28 AM
Well said. You are 100% true.
r Seneviratne Monday, 09 April 2012 06:05 AM
Only good at talking... what a shameful 10 years left behind. Sri Lanka went to negative growth. Talking big as always with no substance or proof.
subbiah Monday, 09 April 2012 06:07 AM
It seems politicians attain enlightenment after retiring from politics
xlntgson Monday, 09 April 2012 06:43 AM
Opportunities come but once, I think you got twice, not bad either (!), are you trying for another, if people wish so!
Clement Monday, 09 April 2012 06:55 AM
Hello, It was really marvalous "the deal with Emirates"...ha..ha..
Imtias Monday, 09 April 2012 06:48 AM
Hey everybody, just raise your chins and look beyond the lines, somebody wants to join the club of Desmond TUTU , Dalai Lama and like...
Wish her good luck.
Gamini Udagepola Monday, 09 April 2012 07:34 AM
We had a Marvelous opportunity to solve the ethnic problem in the Island during your tenure as President, had you appointed Mr. Kadhiragamar as PM much of the problems we face today wouldn’t have arisen. Sadly you missed it.
wicks Monday, 09 April 2012 03:28 PM
Your final wrong decssion to you and people are also suffer in sri lanka today
Thomas Monday, 09 April 2012 03:40 PM
You are welcome Madam, a change of heart & attitude is most WELCOME.
Calistus Jayatilleke Monday, 09 April 2012 07:59 AM
Madam, you too had a "marvellous opportunity to reconcile and heal" when Ranil Wickremasinghe's government was elected by the people during your tenure as President and what did you do ? Got together with jokers like Weerawansa, subjected yourself to a "probationary government" and dissolved the duly elected UNP administration. These are all lost opportunities.
hb Monday, 09 April 2012 08:30 AM
do you remember how LTTE suddenly broke the peace talks and started the war?
FireStraight Tuesday, 10 April 2012 05:34 AM
She's simply bitter that she's no longer the president and some pup (in her mind) during her time is now holding that position.
humaid reyal Monday, 09 April 2012 09:44 AM
proud mother of the nation good to see back in the newspaper we like
shantha madawela Monday, 09 April 2012 09:48 AM
advice is good, but too late.....
jayagoda Monday, 09 April 2012 10:41 AM
ah ? seems now she sees the world. better late than never..
Montessori Man Monday, 09 April 2012 03:40 AM
Back to Politics?
bimba Monday, 09 April 2012 03:13 AM
She did nothing in her 11 years reign to Sri Lanka. Now what can she do for us? Nothing other than tarnishing country's face.
Hanifa Monday, 09 April 2012 03:31 AM
Missed opportunities, wounds cannot be healed easily. All sides have to commit. Healing is a difficult process, still wounds are spreading like cancer. What can a former president do? some form of healing took place after 94. still , long way to go.
kanan Monday, 09 April 2012 03:18 AM
Madam u also followed a war, people from North and East had trust on you but no one try
Mike Monday, 09 April 2012 11:31 AM
Madam, Please enjoy your retirement.
kondebendapucheena Monday, 09 April 2012 03:37 AM
Look who is talking ,she spoiled nearly 11 years and lost thousands of lives with so many operations after ops with Rathwatte for nothing,now talking about opportunity,
GSK Monday, 09 April 2012 03:39 AM
100% agree madam, may be the final call for all Sri Lankans!!!
Google_Modawansa Monday, 09 April 2012 04:14 AM
Mavelous opportunity ???
Dalu Bandara Monday, 09 April 2012 04:04 AM
she can contest, if people vote?
simple simeon Monday, 09 April 2012 04:16 AM
You got a much more marvellous opportunity when 62% Sri Lankans voted for peace and you tore it to pieces and went to war!!!.
Black Mamba Monday, 09 April 2012 04:32 AM
Look who's talking now. She's the root cause of Sri Lanka's present dilemma. She hijacked the UNP government and to make matters worse made a mega blunder in her choice for presidency.She's had time to reflect on her blunders, that's for sure!!!
Ks Monday, 09 April 2012 04:54 AM
You father started the whole play.you had the wonderful opportunity to rectify the mistakes.you could not do and you did not want to.now you wait and see what happens.
Bhathiya Monday, 09 April 2012 04:43 AM
policies need to be checked. Wounds can still be healed before it spread like a cancer.
Dilan Monday, 09 April 2012 05:02 AM
Proud mother of your nation
Lankeshwara Monday, 09 April 2012 04:52 AM
No wonder! This is a hereditary problem of aristocrats. Who fails in or retired from politics tend to fabricate their own entities in order to actualize their utopian ideologies indoctrinated by the west. We can expect the same from MR in the future. I admire the dedication in their historical projects of facilitating the west to exploit us economically and politically.
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