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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2643

CHOGM show-cased Sri Lankan President's resolve and tenacity

By Philip Fernando

President Mahinda Rajapaksa made Sri Lanka proud delivering CHOGM with consummate ease. Even his harshest critics would concede it. He was resolute and tenacious dueling the brazen political arriviste Prime Minister David Cameron eyeing electoral gain back home with tactics bordering on skulduggery while brandishing a big stick. Cameron's ploys to denigrate CHOGM lacked even an iota of statesmanship but were a smoke screen.

Cameron seemed out for the count, floored perhaps unwittingly by the detached Prince Charles when he quoted late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru that the Commonwealth was “capable of bringing a touch of healing to the management of contemporary world problems and thereby delivering the very best future for those in the Commonwealth that should be taken to heart by every nation, big and small.

On a procedural note: it is doubtful whether Cameron is equal to the task of manipulating the UN, especially the Security Council, to achieve his objective. G-8 or G-21 would not dabble in these matters either. Thus the quick knock-out Cameron envisioned administering may ultimate get inflicted on him at the next elections, where the more circumspect British electorate would most likely outnumber the partisan riff raff Cameron was wooing. Cameron looked so "un-British." President Rajapaksa showed a better stiff-upper lip when hit below the belt.

Abbott counters Cameron

The logistically flawed attempts by Cameron and the like trying to link CHOGM goals to unsubstantiated war criminality charges disintegrated and looked whimsical. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had no qualms announcing that since the conclusion of the conflict there had been much progress in Sri Lanka. "I welcome the opportunity that Sri Lanka has had to showcase itself to the world." "As I said, at the opening of the conference a couple of days ago, Sri Lanka has come through many troubles, but today there is more freedom and more prosperity. "Obviously there is more to be done, but much progress has been made, and the fact that Sri Lanka is prepared to showcase itself in this way to the wider Commonwealth shows the goodwill and the good intentions of the Sri Lankan government."

It's funny how the best way things can go "forward" is when a diminutive group of self-centered trash-talkers run amok screaming—all’s lost. That concerted effort to inject their agenda constantly on a scale rarely seen in recent times fizzled. They bandied with a vengeance bent on bankrupting the very concept of a “Commonwealth." No one could decipher what part of the commonality of international affairs they believed in.
Sri Lankans love their country for the opportunities they have enjoyed. Sri Lanka is still a great country for people who get an education and work hard. Anyone who dared to diminish and devalue that notion just cheapened themselves. They need to take their heads out of the claptrap they are in and get some fresh air! CHOGM guests took away lasting memories of Sri Lanka's dynamism and singularity of purpose and that would be an imprint hard to erase.

Temper tantrums

Those exhibiting temper tantrums were hoping to have a field day but just failed to make a dent on what was being debated at the CHOGM. The phrasing and verbiage spewed out gave away the hidden agenda they carried--the whole "Osterreich mind set." Commonwealth was meant to be a forum for common sustainable goals among equal nations. The detractors must have either slept through high school “Civics” class or never went to one at all.

In his opening statement President Mahinda Rajapaksa put it succinctly: It is in recognition of the urgent need to address the burning issues connected to growth and development, which directly impinge on the lives of our peoples, that Sri Lanka proposed the theme, “Growth with Equity."

That theme embodied the purpose of the gathering. It highlighted the importance of equity in economic development, particularly in view of the existing disparities in the distribution of wealth, and economic benefits. Commonwealth was committed towards achieving Millennium Development Goals and indeed Sri Lanka had achieved that few years ahead of the target.

Vision for the future

The vast gathering of delegates saw Sri Lanka had spelled out clear strategies of improving the livelihoods of the broadest segment of society, and more importantly, the country was being taken into the future, by targeted dates and goals for achieving the growth.

The delegates saw that poverty in Sri Lanka had declined from 15.2 per cent in 2007 to 6.5 per cent in 2012, surpassing the MDG mid-term target. That had taken place while he post war reconciliation was going on at a fair pace. The pro-active approach to post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation was being demonstrated by Sri Lankan.

It is in recognition of the urgent need to address the burning issues connected to growth and development, which directly impinge on the lives of our peoples, that Sri Lanka proposed the theme, “Growth with Equity: Inclusive Development” for this CHOGM.

Again, President Rajapaksa stated in his address: We believe that this theme has broad relevance to the larger Commonwealth, and highlights the importance of equity in economic development, particularly in view of the existing disparities in the distribution of wealth, and economic benefits. Inclusive development promotes progress and contributes towards achieving Millennium Development Goals.
Social indicators.

Sri Lanka had within a short period climbed to be a lower middle income group. First, the delegates carried away the vistas of a dynamic operation regarding the need for basic facilities, healthcare, education, productive employment, access to food and safe drinking water, eradication of poverty and hunger. They were real and discernible even to the severest critics like Cameron.

Second, Commonwealth nations were collectively striving e towards the realization of development goals, to enable its member countries to reap economic benefits? Sri Lanka was a veritable model for others to follow. The fierce urgency of those in charge of the development effort seemed the most impressive take away for the visitors to CHOGM.

Third, the need to address the notion of ‘common poverty’ before talking of ‘commonwealth’ was amply demonstrated. The working sessions were a marathon "brain-storm" session as details of the growth patterns and targets came into sight. The business form was one humongous clinical lab testing hypotheses and what came out was indeed a development guide that Sri Lanka could be proud of.

As a matter of priority, the Commonwealth, should focus on development challenges, confronting the majority of our member nations. There is a compelling need for those who guide the destiny of the Commonwealth to give serious thought to practical methods, focusing on social and economic issues. This will greatly enhance the relevance and value of the Commonwealth. Those with an ax to grind tried to be another United Nations.

Sri Lanka is quite capable of dealing with any charges regarding the conduct of the war in 2009 or before.
The Common a vibrant region body should not dabble in internal affairs of its members.

- Asian Tribune -

CHOGM show-cased Sri Lankan President's resolve and tenacity
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