Army Commander Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayaka says Tamil extremists abroad continue to pose a “clear and present” danger to Sri Lanka.
He said that various attempts are being made to destabilize the country more than four years after the war.
Speaking at the ‘Defence Seminar 2013’ in Colombo today, the army commander noted that challenges of a different kind have emerged in Sri Lanka.
He said that if the LTTE continued to operate today the organisation could have posed a threat to the region and Asia by using the sea lanes from the north.
The army chief however said that external and internal non state actors are attempting to divide the public from the government.
He expressed disappointment that attempts by the government to use its resources at hand for post war development, including the army, is seen as some as militarization. (Colombo Gazette)
Your presence with us today is inspiring and sets the stage for what I believe, for an unforgettable learning and interactive experience.
As the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and the host of this important annual event, I am honoured and privileged to welcome all of you to Defence Seminar 2013 under the theme ‘Post-Conflict Sri Lanka – Challenges and Regional Stability’.
I consider it’s a privilege to continue the Defence Seminar tradition; the brainchild of the Secretary Defence which was made a reality by the former Commander of the Army, now the Chief of Defence Staff.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Guided by the vision to be the Wonder of Asia, our nation is steadily emerging from the chaos of more than three decades of violent conflict, articulated through separatism and terrorism which was effectively defeated thanks to the strong political leadership of HE the President and a cohesive military strategy devised and implemented by the Secretary of Defence and Urban Development, Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Our nation as a result has gained space to breathe and restart the much-wanted development process.
A dedicated an accelerated approach to post-conflict recovery through the judicious application of 5Rs, namely Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Resettlement, Reintegration and Reconciliation by the government, has enabled the rapid transformation from the pre-conflict emergency phase to a development-oriented phase, just in 4 years.
As we progress in rebuilding our nation with greater vigor and ambition, challenges of a different kind have surfaced and are emerging, for which more attention should be paid in terms of national security.
Being a nation, that follows the Buddhist perception of ‘Ahimsa’, a doctrine advocating that all forms of life are sacred and urging non-violence towards any living-beings, our innocence was exploited by the extremist organization, the LTTE, and we paid the price for not being prepared nationally, an error we will never repeat.
Although threats of the traditional nature have subsided and violence no longer exists, non-traditional threats of a new breed are just over the horizon. Attempts to impose political, social and economic systems inappropriate and unhealthy to our national interests and the way of life, are among some of the more recent challenges we are faced with.
An active group of Tamil extremists domiciled abroad, still pursuing a separatist agenda, remain a clear and potential danger, which the security apparatus and the entire nation are well aware as the nation’s grievances are addressed, gaps of uncertainty between the parties to the conflict bridged by the government, amid sustainable peace that has dawned and been enjoyed by the Nation.
Sustainable peace, thus achieved has contributed to national security, stability and overall development. As we all know there could never be development without security and vice versa.
Employment of the Army in the Nation’s development efforts has added impetus to nation-building. The organizational skills, manpower and the objective approach of the Army has acted as ‘a capacity multiplier’ for government institutions, undertaking development projects.
This has been the case with many a nation which has experienced similar situations. However, it is sad to note that the use of such a valuable resource for development of Sri Lanka is unfortunately defined as ‘militarization’ by some interested external elements.
As a Nation we should be constantly on guard to identify and deal with threats of this nature, specifically those which aim at subverting the minds of the populace at large.
External and internal non state actors with common agendas, designed to separate the people from a popular government, are among some of the threat perceptions in the making.
Protecting the hearts and minds of the populace from such designs and building the overall resilience of the Nation to face the same, will be of paramount importance to national security.
Sri Lanka’s defeat of terrorism and the subsequent security dividends naturally permeate through the region adding to the much-needed stability.
This is a critical requirement in view of the fact that a good part of the world’s energy requirements pass through sea lanes, just a few nautical miles away from our country.
The northern part of Sri Lanka under the LTTE would have had disastrous effects on the use of these lanes and posed a direct threat to the commerce of the region in particular and the whole of Asia in general.
Ladies and Gentlemen, with Defence Seminar 2011, we shared our experience in defeating terrorism, in 2012 we followed up with our post-conflict experience and the famous 5Rs.
Today, guided by the theme “Post-conflict Sri Lanka; challenges and regional stability” we expand the discourse to include the sensitive aspects of nation-building, reconciliation and the effects of our post-conflict success on regional stability.
Reconciliation, the transition from a divided past to a shared future, will be dealt in depth by the Secretary to HE the President, whom I believe is the best authority on the subject.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are privileged by the presence of some of the finest and eminent local and foreign personalities on contemporary subjects to be discussed in the next few days.
It is with immense pleasure that we welcome our Special Guest and friend from India, Member of Parliament and President of the Janatha Party of India, Dr Subramaniam Swamy.
We are also fortunate to have with us eminent government officials, who at the sharp end of policy-making, have played and are playing lead roles in shaping the future of this Nation.
I welcome Mr. Lalith Weeratunge, Secretary to HE the President, a central figure in designing and overseeing the implementation of the Nation’s quest to be the Wonder of Asia and Mr. Gotabaya Rajapksa, the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban development, the architect of the defeat of terrorism in the country and now, the driving force in the regeneration of urban centers in the country.
The beauty of our cities including Colombo testifies to the magnitude of work done. Sir, your presence inspires and honours this forum.
I welcome Mr. Karunathilake Amunugama, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs who plays an important role in the implementetion of our foreign policy.
I welcome your Excellencies; High Commissioners and Ambassadors.
I am pleased to welcome General Jagath Jayasuriya, Chief of Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Jayanath Kolombage, Commander of the Navy, Air Marshal Harsha Abeywickrama, Commander of the Air Force.
Rear Admiral Ananda Peiris, Director General Civil Defence Force and Past Service Commanders, whose presence at this forum reminds us of your continuing concern and commitment to the cause of the Defence Services.
I am particularly pleased to have been able to bring together a host of prominent foreign speakers from the region and outside, whose presence with us here today, will bring diverse and interesting perspectives to this thought- provoking theme.
Let me also welcome Mr Ajith Nivard Cabraal, Governor for Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof Rohan Gunaratne, Mr Mohan Samaranayake, Chairman, Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation, Mr Arun Thambimuttu, Mr Ajith Rohana Colonne, Lieutenant General Mollah Fazle Akbar, Senior Colonel Xu Hui, Mr Jagdish Shetty, Mr N Sathyamoorthy, Mr Sohail Amin (Retd) Ambassador, Prof Joachim Krause, Dr Clive Vincent Jachink, Senior Col Naguyen Hong.
Last but not least, I welcome all delegates and participants from home and abroad. Your partnership in this event today, bears testimony to the special relationships that exist between our nations and the common interest we pursue.