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Sri Lanka: still difficult to ‘bell the cat’ February 23, 2013

Posted by auriolweigold in : Gordon, Sandy, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

Commissioned by East Asia Forum and previously published in Future Directions International

Sri Lanka is a small country of about the population of Australia. Its location astride the major energy sea lanes of communication (SLOCS) of the Indian Ocean and just south of behemoth India, however, puts it in a strategic box seat for the forthcoming struggle for influence over the liquid energy requirements of the East Asian economic giants, including China.

Until about a decade ago, the island was a Western-leaning democracy, but one with a generational civil war involving human rights violations on both side. The denouement of the war in May 2009 saw the death of the head of the Tamil Tigers, Vellupillai Prabhakaran. Few who were not Tamil Tiger loyalists would have mourned the passing of the homicidal head of the feared organisation.  Fewer still would have regretted the ending of a civil war that had lasted since 1983 and caused an estimated 80,000 deaths.

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Sri Lanka: shed a tear for the teardrop island February 11, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Gordon, Sandy, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Sandy Gordon

While no reasonable person would shed too many tears for the passing of the Tamil Tigers (except for the number of civilian deaths involved), we should, perhaps, shed some tears for Sri Lanka itself.

A generation ago Sri Lanka had an ambition to become another ‘Asian Tiger’.  And it had every prospect of so doing had not the vicious civil war intervened.

Since then, much has changed.  The Sri Lankan economy, beset by the costs and instabilities of war, has not expanded as hoped.  At least some of the ‘Asian Tigers’, such as Taiwan and South Korea, have liberalised their political dispositions.  Others, like Singapore and Malaysia, still run relatively ‘controlled’ versions of democracy. (more…)

Winning the confidence of the Tamil electorate December 23, 2009

Posted by southasiamasala in : Perera, Jehan, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Jehan Perera

Who the Tamil people will vote for has become an important question at the forthcoming Presidential elections.  The departure of former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka, and his joining the opposition, has deprived the government leadership of its monopoly regarding credit for the war victory over the LTTE.  This has meant that President Mahinda Rajapaksa can no longer appeal to the majority Sinhalese electorate for their vote of gratitude to himself alone.

The entry of General Fonseka into the ranks of the opposition has also rejuvenated it, particularly the UNP, which was unable to face up to the President’s war victories and appeal to the ethos of the Sinhalese electorate.  Many traditional UNP voters from the Sinhalese ethnic majority began to vote either for the President’s party or for other Sinhalese nationalist parties.  With General Fonseka becoming the common opposition candidate there is a strong likelihood of these renegade UNP voters returning to the fold. (more…)