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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2491

Mr. Chilcott, From Which Side of Your Mouth Did You Speak at the Dudley Senanayake Memorial Lecture?

By Philip Fernando in Los Angeles

British Representative in Sri Lanka Mr. Dominic Chilcott ironically blames everything that is wrong with the world on the 1648 treaty of Westphalia which created the idea that no country has the right to interfere in another country’s problems. Poppy cock!

You are fully aware Mr. Chilcott that since 1648 the British behaved as if everything in the world were up for grabs. It was theirs for the asking.

Now you complain that “the conflict in Sri Lanka makes waves in the UK and as the conflict worsens, we get more asylum seekers from Sri Lanka. It becomes more difficult to manage the movement of people between our countries. More Sri Lankans try to get into the UK illegally. The numbers of those overstaying their visa also increases.”

Mr.Chilcott have you ever considered how many innocent Indians were massacred by the British troops during Gandhi’s struggle for independence from England. Were any British politicians ever tried for war crimes? How many innocent people were displaced and subject to degradation as hapless estate labor during the time when your forefathers invaded Sri Lanka? Did you pay any compensation to the poor unsuspecting victims?

Who expropriated the raw materials from the cotton factories in India and built the humungous British textile empire. Who took away raw rubber from the Sri Lankan estates and exported back finished tires for our edification? The list is endless.

Let me remind you of the interventionist actions since time immemorial your people had done. Read the life story of Mahatma Gandhi-a continuous struggle to get the British off the backs of poor Indian people. Your empire where the sun never set was built on a systematic and ruthless ravaging of international property. Have you ever paid a dime to any of the countries in the former British Empire for the massive losses you perpetrated? You were easily the greatest plunderers since the Romans.

Now you talk of a few thousand Tamils running riot in your streets and ruining your lily white neighborhoods. It is a sad but undeniable fact that for centuries the British have interfered in the affairs of other countries with impunity.

Now you wanted to justify a new kind of "plundering' and you call it the concept of liberal interventionism. You claim the right to intervene when fragile states go astray. Who is to decide the fragile index, you yourselves will do that, I am sure.

You exhibited an amazingly frigid tongue when British troops under the pretext of finding the non-existing weapons of mass destruction invaded Iraq. Your tongue seemed suddenly supple enough to double-speak as you stated: “we are now so interdependent that we cannot continue with the idea of absolute sovereignty. The problem we face now is how we translate our legitimate concern for fellow human beings in other countries into action that is proportionate, generally acceptable to our global society and effective.” Unfortunately you are two and half centuries behind time.

As victims of the global society you preached and practiced for two centuries in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and several other places, let us give you a kind word of advice. Now that your are almost getting ready pack your bags and leave for the solace of your home turf, just represent the British people as best as you can or you might be shown the way faster than you anticipate. Let the Sri Lankans manage the governance task as best as they can. Unless you are willing to become a citizen of Sri Lanka, governance should not and would not be one of your responsibilities in Sri Lanka.

Another thing you mentioned in your speech was that “In Sri Lanka, the contemporary picture of liberalism is pretty confused”. It is so in many parts of the world. We in Los Angeles have felt it that way since the war in Iraq was thrust on us by close friends of your former Prime Minister Mr. Tony Blair. So do not worry too much about it. We are surviving.

Incidentally, you forgot to mention that late Mr. Dudley Senanayake, the great liberal was given poor advice by the people in the World Bank with the same mindset as you in 1966. He was advised to reduce the weekly ration of rice given to the people, cut the mid-day meal of the school children, do away with the hospital lunch for patients, increase the electricity rates and bus fares, all in the name of good governance.

The present political hierarchy in Sri Lanka seemed content in taking the battle to the Tigers, because they do not like their methods or tactics. The results are over-whelming, you are fully aware.

You can help in one special way. If you can reduce the weapons used by the LTTE from western factories? Most of the finance for LTTE terrorism comes from the western hemisphere, particularly from the UK. You have to accept the failure of your government to control this destructive menace. Talking of an international system that should protect Britain from drugs and terrorism, while blaming poor and small countries for corruption, political mismanagement and all other social ills is just plain poppy cock.

Philip Fernando is the former Deputy Editor of The Sunday Observer

- Asian Tribune -

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