Sri Lanka endeavors to be a truly Independent Nation - Ranjith Soysa spokesperson for Global Sri Lankan Forum
February 4th, 2017, marks the 69th year of Sri Lankan independence. It is an important day in Sri Lanka and a day that is important for the Sri Lankans in the diaspora. Sri Lankan diaspora is spread all over the world and maintains strong, social, cultural and economic ties with Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is necessary to analyze views of the Sri Lankan diaspora living abroad. International Sri Lankan diaspora organisation, the Global Sri Lankan Forum (GSLF) is one of the largest and most influential diaspora forums spread across eight countries. Given the upcoming 69th Independence Day of Sri Lanka and increasing interest in the Sri Lankan diaspora, the Diplomatic Society Global Editor Srimal Fernando in an exclusive interview engages Global Sri Lankan Forum (GSLF)'s Australian based spokesperson, Ranjith Soysa.
Photo: Ranjith Soysa
Srimal Fernando (SF): On February 4th, Sri Lanka marks the 69th anniversary of its independence. It is an important day celebrated with traditional enthusiasm and national spirit . What does independence mean to you and to the Global Sri Lankan Forum (GSLF)?
Ranjith Soysa (RS): The Independence Day is vitally important to all Sri Lankans including the Global Sri Lankan Forum as the occasion celebrates the independence from British colonial rule of nearly 150 years. Sri Lankan endeavors to be a truly independent nation among the world community began in 1948. Today, it's been almost 70 years that the British left us.
We continue to re-live the unenviable and bitter experience we had to undergo as a nation ruled by the British imperial power. Current ethnic problems in the country can be traced to the British colonial rule. British colonial policy directly or indirectly created divisions among Sri Lankans.
We should consider seriously learning the lessons of history accurately and constructively and determining ourselves on every Independence Day to overcome the issues facing the Nation and the Country to usher in a period of prosperity and peace.
SF: Global Sri Lankan Forum (GSLF) is an influential diaspora forum connecting the Sri Lankan community to the world that bridges home for the Sri Lankan Diaspora. Would you briefly introduce yourself to our readers and describe the main sections and functions of the Global Sri Lankan Forum (GSLF)?
RS: Among the key objectives of the GSLF is to uphold the sovereignty of the Nation and its unitary form of the Government. We engage with political parties at all levels with a national interest. Duty of safeguarding the interests of the Sri Lankan defense personnel who fought during the conflict in the country is one of our objectives. We had launched a program to ensure safeguarding the interests of the Sri Lankan defense personnel. The GSLF is a registered organization with members from 8 countries. It will play a role in countering misinformation on Sri Lankan issues peddled by politically motivated groups. While in Sri Lanka it will work with the organizations with national interest in safeguarding the sovereignty of the country.
SF: The relational dimension of peacebuilding centers on reconciliation. Sri Lanka is yet at the point of the question of national reconciliation .What are your thoughts on this. How can your organisation play a role in building peace and bringing about national unity among all Sri Lankans?
RS: When compared to many of the developing countries and even some of the developed countries Sri Lanka does not have rigid divisions among various sections of her population. The average Sri Lankan leads a peaceful life with cordial relationships with many ethnic groups. Unity is the essence of a unitary system. Our view is that a unitary system guarantees national unity. Therefore, the purpose of peace building or reconciliation must not undermine or interfere with the unitary state principles of our country.
To reconcile such divisive programs it is necessary to educate the masses on the importance of protecting the unitary nature of the country. It is by following such policies that we can forge to build a strong and united nation.
SF: When you look back, what is your assumption in the post-independence development strategy about Sri Lanka? Do you think Sri Lanka is doing enough to achieve this development vision?
RS: The GSLF yearns for sustainable development. We are of the view that since 1977 our development goals have been shifted to favor a smaller section of the population by undermining the greater good of the majority. We are driven by the demand created for consumer goods in that luxury and semi luxury goods take priority. As a case in point we can cite the never ending urban demand for cars etc. the cost of which have to borne by the limited foreign exchange earnings for example, of the migrant worker men and women. We have to change the model so that we can make the best use of limited resources without running into extreme difficulties in balancing the budget. The theme should be a model of sustainable development in keeping with the environmental and need base priorities.
SF: On this 69th year of independence of Sri Lanka what kind of message would you like to share with your community?
RS: While wishing our country and the Nation a prosperous period we have to express our lingering fears about the challenges to unitary form of our Government by the planned introduction of quasi-federal constitution, to the Sovereignty of the Nation by way of indirect foreign intervention, weakening of the national security which can result in internal conflicts. Therefore, our message to the Nation and countrymen is to be aware of the critical challenges and be ready to defeat and overcome such challenges to survive as a ONE NATION.
Thanks for having GSLF in your program and let me take this opportunity to wish you and the audience a HAPPY 2017.