The Defender of the Nation - Gotabaya Rajapaksa

by Dr.T.C.Rajaratnam

(December 07, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) He is both a historical figure and a legend—and it is sometimes difficult to separate the two. For the first time in the history of this country we have an efficient, meticulous, brilliant Secretary of Defence. As Sri Lankans we should be proud of this Patriot.

As a Tamil and as a Citizen of Sri Lanka who owes allegiance to the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the President, I consider it my duty to pay tribute to a worthy gentleman and hero of our times.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa assumed duties as Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law & Order on 25th November 2005.

Gotabaya joined the Sri Lanka Army in 1971, spent twenty years in service, and held the appointment of Deputy Commandant of Sir John Kotelawala Defence University in 1991 and, as a Lieutenant Colonel was Coordinating Officer of Welioya area from 1990 to 1991. Prior to that, he was the Coordinating Officer of Matale District and the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, Gajaba Regiment from 1989 to 1990. He has also held numerous other positions in the Sri Lanka Army such as Instructor, Adjutant, and Staff officer to the Operations Officer commanding contingents.

During his military career, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been awarded the President's Commendation letter by former President J R Jayewardene and medals for valour in combat such as Rana Wickrama Padakkama (RWP) Rana Sura Padakkama (RSP) - by former Presidents R Premadasa and D B Wijetunga. He has also received a commendation from the Commander of the Army for his bravery in action.

He has commanded many anti-terrorist operations in the North and East in different capacities. Among them was his Command of the 1st Battalion of the Gajaba Regiment in the important Vadamarachhci Operation in 1987 and Operation Thrividabalaya in 1990 respectively, to rescue Jaffna peninsula and the Jaffna Fort from terrorist control.

He completed his basic officer cadet training at prestigious Military Academy at Diyatalawa, and proceeded to Pakistan to complete the Young Officers' Course at Rawalpindi and later the mid-carrier course at Quetta. He had advanced training in Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare at Assam, India. Later in his career, Gotabaya Rajapaksa graduated in advanced Infantry Training from Infantry School Fort Benning, USA.

As a staff officer, Mr. Rajapaksa completed his Staff Course at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, India in1983. He obtained his Masters degree in Defence Studies from the University of Madras in 1983. He has also obtained a Postgraduate degree in Information Technology from the University of Colombo in 1992.

He is a revered figure in Sri Lanka for leading the military operation which drove out the opponents from the entire Eastern Province of the country.

It was during this time that I was instructed by Jeyaraj Fernandopulle to represent him in the Morning Show programs on SLBC and ITN on several occasions. I have poignant memories of Jeyaraj telling me that Gotabaya was an excellent and brilliant gentleman and that we ought to give him adequate publicity as Tamils to show our appreciation as Patriotic citizens.

Every citizen owes the duty of loyalty to the state where he is a Citizen. Allegiance is owed both to the Sovereign as a natural person and to the Sovereign in his or her political capacity. Loyalty requires affection also to the office of the sovereign, attachment to royalty, attachment to the law and to the Constitution of the realm and he who would by force or fraud endeavour to prostrate that law and Constitution, though he may retain his affection for its head, can boast but an imperfect and spurious species of loyalty.

As nature and religion teach moral obligations and prescribe to children dutiful conduct towards the parents, so nature and religion imposes on citizens certain obligations towards their country and its rulers. These obligations may be interpreted as patriotism and obedience. Patriotism requires that the citizen would have a reasonable esteem and love for his country. He should have a reasonable esteem and love for his country.

Article 2 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka states “The Republic of Sri Lanka is a Unitary State.”

Article 63 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka states: “Except for the purpose of electing the Speaker, no Member shall sit or vote in Parliament un and subscribed the following oath or made and subscribed the following affirmation, before Parliament:- ‘I ………………………………. do solemnly declare and affirm/ swear that I will uphold and defend the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”’.

Article 81 illustrates in regard to the expulsion of Members and imposition of civic disability. The Sixth amendment to the Constitution (certified on August 8, 1983) the preamble states “Whereas Sri Lanka is a Free, Sovereign, Independent and Unitary State and it is the duty of the State to safeguard the independence, sovereignty, unity and the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and associations other parties political persons, ……...AND WHEREAS it has become necessary to prohibit such activities and to provide punishments therefore:…”

By virtue of the Sixth amendment to the Constitution Article, 157A was added after Article 157 for ‘Prohibition against violation of territorial integrity of Sri Lanka’ , Article 11 was amended as well. The Seventh Schedule by virtue of the Sixth amendment to the Constitution is “ I……………………………… solemnly declare and affirm / swear that I will uphold and defend the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and that I will not, directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka”.

Alas, what is happening in the present Parliament? Members from the various Tamil political parties huddled and grouped as the TNA are desecrating the sanctity of Parliament and flagrantly violating the provisions of the Constitution. It is the duty of the Law enforcing authorities and the appropriate personnel to take action against this unruly conduct. Whilst paying lip service to the ‘Tamil cause’ they violate every conceivable norm of law. The silence on the part of the State has made a mockery of democracy whilst allowing the Terrorists and their henchmen to be solely responsible for the decline of the economic progress of the country and the disastrous consequences that follow. This is the time to stop it. This is the time to protect the millions of innocent civilians from the hands of these politicians and the Terrorist organizations that they represent and it is obvious that although they have a front to reveal conflict they are all interconnected for their own survival.

This has to stop. The JVP and the Hela Urumaya by their own right are correct that the Nation has to be saved from Tamil Terrorists and those that represent them. We have been paying lip service to Peace, whilst the Tamil Political parties have been making fun of the country, its nation and successive Governments. We have to protect our nation. We need our armed forces to be vigilant and eradicate the pillars of Terrorism and the very foundation which supports them.

Every citizen owes his or her allegiance to the Constitution and to the Head of State- the duly elected President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. We don’t need people from the ‘international community’ to cast aspersions on our President and our Government. No one blames President Bush for the California fires, but if the same had occurred here then these Tamil Parties would have pointed at the President and the Government. People should be aware of what allegiance is and the concept of Patriotism. This is not only the duty of every citizen but the obligation in the best interests of the Nation.

Our nation has been torn apart by the evils of terrorism and natural disaster. We have all suffered - there is no answer - there is no justification for the pain. Freedom of choice alone does not guarantee justice. Equal rights are not defined only by political values. Social justice is a triad of freedom, an equation of liberty. Justice is political liberty. Justice is economic independence. Justice is social equality.

Due to our internal conflicts which we could have long resolved, external forces with vested interests have all sought to intervene some in the pretext of resolving the conflict but our experience has proved that the gap of resolution of conflict does not seem to be narrower now.
Those who finance terror, those who launder their money, those that cover their tracks are every bit as guilty as the fanatic who commits the final act.

We look for diplomacy. But there is no diplomacy with some of those opposed to us. We do not consider them opponents but they oppose every conceivable move we make to develop the country.

Sometimes, there is no compromise with such people, no meeting of minds - no point of understanding - so we would have a just choice -defeat it or be defeated by it.
We learnt that however much we strive for peace, we need a strong defence capability where a peaceful approach fails. Whatever the dangers of the action we take, the dangers of inaction are far greater.

Laws will have to be changed not to deny the basic liberties but to prevent their abuse and protect the most basic liberty of all; freedom from terror. The people are terrorized by certain vested interests in their vile pursuits for power committing crimes and targeting a reflex scenario as if the Government was responsible.

We must always be on guard for those who will exploit and manipulate religion for their own narrow political ends who will distort the essence of pluralism and tolerance for their own extremist agendas.

People are being tainted by the reckless media. It is a national catastrophe for the nation. We must enact new laws amend the old.

We must work as a community to ensure that everyone not just a privileged few get the collective ability to further the individual's interests.

The governing idea of modern social democracy is community founded on the principles of social justice. That people should rise according to merit not birth; that the test of any decent society is not the contentment of the wealthy and strong, but the commitment to the poor and weak.

But values aren't enough. The mantle of leadership comes at a price; the courage to learn and change; to show how values that stand for all ages can be applied in a way relevant to each age.
We learnt that equality is about equal worth and not equal outcomes.

The standard of living is higher. The expectations of the people are higher. This is a consumer age. People don't take what they are given. They demand more. The rising cost of living is because of Terrorism – not only the amount we spend on the war but the consequences that follow the false allegation by the Terrorists and their henchmen in Parliament who travel on diplomatic Passports , enjoy all the perks of the State, desecrate the sanctity of the House of Parliament and make false allegations to the world at large – these men and women will howl and cry but fear that they may not be elected to Parliament again. They neither love their own people they love themselves.

We are not alone in this. All round the world governments are struggling with the same problems. The program of reform is huge. We must have co-operation, determination and consensus.

We are a community of people, whose self interest and mutual interest at crucial points merge and that it is through a sense of justice that community is born and nurtured. This is the moment to bring the faiths closer together in understanding of our common values and heritage a source of unity and strength.

By the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more together than we can alone. We must reach beyond our fears and our divisions to a new time of great and common purpose. Let us trace the roots of affirmative action. Let us determine what it is and what it isn't. Let us see where it has worked and where it hasn't and ask ourselves what we need to do now.
Private media freedom is running amok. The news that millions of people in this country including foreign correspondents who convey news overseas receive each night is determined by a handful of men responsible only their corporate employers. The State should have control not to permit abuse of the freedom of the Press.

We must not permit a contaminated moral environment. Let us not negotiate out of fear, But let us never fear to negotiate.

As a philosopher once remarked. "The water is clear pure and fresh - it is for all to drink. But some clever people began to bottle the water. Some in beautiful bottles. Some in ugly bottles -
with no regard to the water but with great care to its shape."

It is time that affirmative action is taken so as not to eradicate the norms of democracy.
Resolution of conflict has its requirements. Parties to a dispute cannot threaten and violate the rights of innocent people or those who are performing their duties. If the conflict between the organized form of government and a force not popular on the norms of legality, it is then the duty of the Head of State to take such measures to safeguard the nation by whatever means to protect the nation.

There are individuals and groups who may be critical of the President for political gain, but the President has always taken affirmative action within the norms required of the President. No progress can be made unless a common ground is established. To endeavour to establish common ground certain specific responsibilities on the people and political leaders should be imposed. More of our people must set an example. People should be made conscious of their conduct. We must learn to discuss matters with those who are different from us. Not just people who agree with us but with somebody who is different.

Politicians must set an example to those among whom they work. After all, politics is a matter of serving the community which means that is morality in practice. We cannot restore peace unless we can find some way to bring the nation close together. There should be collective responsibility within groups or else the people will be confused.

We have had enough of terrorists paying lip service to democracy. It is trite learning that the intentions are questionable. Numerous Tamil militant groups have registered their respective groups as Political parties with a democratic fervor and flavour thus exploiting successive governments and flirting with the dominant terrorists from all parts of the globe. It is in this connection that the following measures should be taken in the best interests of the territorial integrity of the nation:

1. Scrutinize the legitimacy, operation and bona fides of all NGO’s, INGO’s and similar organizations.

2. Alert the Income Tax Department to scrutinize Property Developers of building high rise buildings and apartment complexes in Wellawatte, Kotahena, Dehiwela and other areas and the purchasers of these properties –as to how they suddenly get monies from some mysterious source. Income Tax Department should scrutinize every detail. Their conduct is questionable.

3. The UDA should scrutinize as most high rise buildings in Wellawatte are not approved by the UDA but all of a sudden the matter lies dormant without action.

4. All bank accounts should be monitored or the Banks should report any suspicious dealings.

5. All Communication centres and video parlours should be scrutinized.

6.All Tamil Political Parties should be closely watched as there could be wheels within wheels and inside dealings with a face lift of democracy. After all, the general notion is that the Tamils are sympathetic towards the major party to the conflict so in order to get the votes of the people, there could be insider dealings within these parties and they may be inter dependant. Lip service by Tamil Political parties cannot be trusted and checked, rechecked and counter checked inside out. Most of these Tamil Political Parties have spies groups, henchman throughout the globe. An Intelligence Report reveals that there are connections to the major player to the conflict.
We cannot let our Government to be exploited by traitors. We must be Patriotic. We must uphold and defend the Constitution and the Head of State-the President. We owe allegiance to the President and the Constitution as Citizens of Sri Lanka. We must uphold the norms of the Constitution apprehend and prosecute those who terrorize us by their actions and threats, then economic prosperity will follow suit. Our destiny lies in our hands.

In conclusion, may I cite the great General George S.Patton, Jr., :Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee of Thy great goodness to restrain this immoderate weather with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously harken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. AMEN.

The writer can be reached at:
- Sri Lanka Guardian