|The corridors of power were abuzz last week
because of a diplomatic furore in the making - the
alleged attempt by the United States Department of
Homeland Security to question the Chief of Defence
Staff, General Sarath Fonseka while on a visit to
The General now at the centre of a
political storm in Sri Lanka as well did return
unscathed and unencumbered, but not before raising
some serious questions about the bona fides of the
Government of the United States of America vis-à-vis
The recent turbulent relationship between the two
nations is too well documented to merit repetition
here. It suffices to state that the United States
was among those western powers which strongly
advocated a ‘peaceful’ or ‘negotiated’ settlement in
Sri Lanka’s conflict with the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
With the government of President Mahinda
Rajapaksa opting to ignore this line of thinking and
pursuing a militaristic strategy against the Tigers
and eventually succeeding, Western governments
adopted an increasingly hostile attitude towards
Colombo alleging human rights abuses, first in the
final stages of the Eelam War and thereafter in the
treatment of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
So far, Colombo has refused to blink, leave alone
yielding to the multi-pronged pressures exerted by
the Western powers and other influential sections of
the international community. That however has not
stopped the latter from flexing its collective
muscles against Sri Lanka, the most recent instance
being attempts to barter GSP concessions in return
for this country’s compliance with imposed
We would venture to suggest however that the attempt
to ‘interrogate’ General Sarath Fonseka goes one
step further. It is not only an attempt to
intimidate Sri Lanka; it is also a deliberate insult
to the integrity and independence of this country.
There were also reports that the attempt to
question General Fonseka was also a ruse to
implicate Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. If
that is indeed so, then it is an even more serious
Whatever his personal views may be and wherever
his latest political inclinations may take him,
General Fonseka is the highest ranking military
officer in the country. As such he should be
accorded due respect even by the so-called most
powerful nation in the world. By so doing, the
United States is not respecting General Fonseka per
se, they are respecting Sri Lanka as a sovereign
If the United States believes that by
intimidating General Fonseka, they can score a
brownie point in the eyes of the international
community, it only speaks volumes for the double
standards they adopt and the charade they proclaim
as democracy in their own country.
The attempt to embarrass General Fonseka, if one
were to draw a parallel, is akin to a State Counsel
from the Attorney General’s Department in Hulftsdorp
trying to question George Bush (Snr.) on the
atrocities committed by the United States in its
first war with Iraq over the invasion of Kuwait,
while Bush (Snr.) was visiting Sri Lanka after the
Tsunami disaster. Ridiculous though this comparison
may appear, the present attempts to lure General
Fonseka are no less absurd.
Thankfully, Sri Lanka has had the courage to
withstand these overtures until now. Whether Colombo
can continue to do so remains to be seen.
Nevertheless, it is time that Colombo clears the
mist in its foreign policy skies and takes a fresh
look at its allies and adversaries. After all, with
‘friends’ like the United States, who needs enemies?
It was only a few weeks ago that there was a
public outcry against the Police after incidents at
Malabe and Angulana where the long arm of the law
appeared to have acted with no respect whatsoever
for the very laws that they claim to uphold.
If those incidents were shocking, then this week’s
incident of a mentally ill person being clubbed to
death at Bambalapitiya until he drowned, in broad
daylight and while being watched by hundreds of
onlookers borders on the abominable.
It took a private television station renowned for
its frank discourses on current events to expose the
event to the country. The culprits will be brought
to justice, we have been assured.
The incident however must prompt several pertinent
questions. When will the Police ever learn and when
will these officers begin to behave like gentlemen
instead of taking the law into their own hands? And
what must be done to curb this indiscipline and
irresponsible attitude of the Police?
Deterrents are surely called for. And the only
viable deterrent is to deal with the miscreants in a
fitting manner so that their peers get the message
that they cannot be a law unto themselves.
The Police Department recently welcomed a new
Inspector General of Police. We must wish him luck
for he will need all the luck that he can get if he
is to transform this service into one that once
again enjoys the confidence of the general public.
But we must also confess that we are not waiting
with bated breath for that to happen, not in the
near future, anyway.