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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 111

Leave chauvinism to achieve peace

By Quintus Perera – Asian Tribune

Colombo, 10 November, ( It was a damning indictment against the (organized) private sector when Edgar Gunathunga, Chairman, Sampath Bank said they were a lot of cowards and most of their leaders were shy to be forceful fearing they would be in bad books of this minister or that minister or the president

Dr Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Foreign Employment, Promotion and Welfare and the State Defence Spokesman was the Guest Speaker and along with Gunathunga, Kumar Mallimarachi, Past President, THASL and Managing Director, Associated Hotels PLC was the other panelist while Viran Corea was the moderator.

Gunatunga was making his comments as a panelist at the 11th Business for Peace Forum of the Business for Peace Initiative organized by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka at the JAIC Hilton Hotel ,recently.

Gunatunga said that they have to be influential and forceful on what they see to comment and appreciate and said Sinhalese think the Tamils in the North are ruthless. He said that the Jaffna people are a cultured and a disciplined lot as he and his family had the experience of living there.

He said the successive governments for the last 25 years though they have been trying to fight and secure, there were no meaningful steps for a solution submitted as unfortunately lot of them are tied up with politics.

Gunatunga said that the most important prerequisite for building peace among the peoples of this country is to take off the attitude of Sinhalese chauvinists of the ill-feeling against the Tamil people. He said that most politicians promote this attitude just to attract 2 to 300 votes and it is unfortunate that this country has more politicians than statesmen.

Nawaz Rajabdeen, President, FCCISL said that they were constantly lobbying for a peaceful solution to this unending conflict.

Rambukwella speaking on the theme “Maintaining the Balance of Peace Building and Economic Growth: The Strategy of the Government” contradicted the peace initiative slogan ‘Business for Peace’ saying “Business for Peace, I would turn it around. ”Peace for Business” , because if you do not have peace you do not have business”.

He said that but it is the idea as to how to get on with the day to day affairs and to look at targets at 7 percent or 6.5 percent and eventually 9 percent continuous growth.

He appreciated the attempts made by the Peace Initiative and said “We need to indulge ourselves continuously in a dialogue together with the corporate sector and the government in different forums to build confidence essential for positive thinking”.

He said that there are countries like South Africa having a similar conflict over a period similarly kept economy moving and in so far as the human rights, the international community, other inputs and winning international confidence and other involvements are concerned, they have to look at things very positively.

He said “We cannot sideline these issues and right now what is in the market, some people making out a case that we do not know the international community and to shut them off. We have to get-off that thinking. What we have to do is bring the international community and fight it, meet that challenge and tell the world look here what we are trying to do is to have everybody everyone who is looking forward which is most desirable thing for the country for this peace”.

He said that from as far back as President J R Jayawardene’s time from Timpu discussions up to the Geneva the final discussion we have had but the genuine peace effort s have failed and said that no one has the right to point a finger at a particular government or a single government or a head of state that they intentionally abrogated the peace efforts but did their best.

He said that they may have had ups and downs may be critical areas have been over sighted. As a result one could sit back after 25 years and criticize saying “We would have done that we should not have done this, or she should have done this.”

I do not honestly believe that none of the leaders ever did anything cynical or anything intentionally to jeopardize peace efforts or give way to the demands of the terrorist organization. It was the intention of the administrators over a period of 25 years to see to have all the room to have a negotiated settlement. A political settlement.

He elaborated as to what the present government did for the last 18 moths on the conflict and the peace efforts. He said that the rebels were not interested in peace but were pursuing to open up the A9 road and every time the cassation of hostilities were used to regrouping and strengthen themselves with war logistics.

He said the LTTE showed that there cannot be a peaceful settlement and relied on force the gun and the barrel and as a responsible government they had to meet the challenge.

He said that the government is attending to infrastructure requirements of the country to achieve growth and development and said that they relied on the free market economy and in the global scenario there is no turning back from this free market economic concept.

- Asian Tribune -

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