Breaking ranks with the poor
The contours of our foreign policy are now clear - the PM has mapped
them out himself at the United Nations. The UNF government is clearly
aligning itself with the West, abandoning its solidarity with developing
It is not uncharted
territory for the UNP. J. R. Jayewardene the late President, once
voted with the UK on the Falklands issue at the UN, going against
almost unanimous global sentiment. A fortnight ago, the Commerce
Minister Ravi Karunanayake read out from a prepared script, as Sri
Lanka broke ranks with the economically developing countries at
Cancun in Mexico, where a roadmap was being prepared on new trade
rules for the world.
the stand taken by countries such as India, South Africa, Brazil
etc., and closed ranks with the US and the European Union (EU) on
many issues such as agriculture subsidies etc.,
In plain terms,
we took the line that we don't mind foreclosing our paddy fields
because the cost-of-production of locally produced rice is more
than the cost of importing rice. We went by the logic that it makes
more economic sense to import than to grow rice. If there is some
element of straightforward logic in this argument adduced by the
Commerce Minister in Cancun, the people might find it illogical
all the same, when the same UNF Government's Agriculture Minister
urges Sri Lankans back home to eat rice thrice a day while praising
our farmers for a bountiful harvest.
In doing what
he did at Cancun, the Commerce Minister was instructed to break
ranks with the poor to fall in behind the rich. At the UN, the Prime
Minister on Friday asked that the world body reforms itself so that
decisive action could be taken without indulging in the idle prattle
of rhetoric. Such rhetoric has been heard ever since the UN was
what was clearly a bid to identify with the US, this time even by
distancing itself from the European Union and the world-at-large,
the PM supported the invasion of Iraq.
These are his
words ; " ... Then there are those of us who feel that the
United States and their allies had no choice but to intervene, that
the failure of the United Nations had created the need for a world
policeman however reluctant it might be ".
For this bold
if brazen stance, the US must now repay the UNF Govt. with a Free
Trade Agreement, help rally round our garment exporters, perhaps
grant us Most-Favoured Nation status, and add muscle to our battle
with the LTTE.
Sri Lanka must necessarily be made a US puppet-state or even in
the lesser of evils, a US satellite state, is a matter for vigorous
The Ranil Wickremesinghe
Government is desperately in search of economic upliftment of its
people with tourism and foreign investment as uppermost priorities
to raise the living standards at home, in a thoroughly unfair world
order in which the Government permits its citizens to be finger-printed
for overseas visas while encouraging the garlanding of visa-less
citizens from that country on arrival here.
In the process,
will this government also attract unwarranted attention as a lackey-state
running after the pot of gold represented by US largesse in the
short-term, at the expense of her self-respect and international
solidarity for a better world in the long-term?