ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s military which defeated Tamil Tiger separatists is now engaged in a joint operation with the health service to battle Coronavirus, the island’s wartime President, now Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said.
“On the 19th of May we mark the 11th anniversary of the victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa said in a statement.
“That was not a war against the Tamil people but against an organization designatedby the FBI as the deadliest terrorists in the world.
“Due to the defeat of the LTTE, Tamil people are now free to live as they wish. Tamil children are no longer forcibly recruited by the LTTE.
“Tamil politicians no longer live in fear of LTTE assassins. Furthermore, due to the absence of the LTTE,elections can be held in the Northern and Eastern provinces and that has safeguarded the sovereign rights of the people of those provinces.”
Sri Lanka is now aggressively contact tracing and quarantining Coronavirus patients keeping total infections to less than a 1000. About half came from the military after Navy base was infected at a time when tests were denied to frontline staff.
“The armed forces and policethat amazed the entire world by winning whatwas widely considered to be an unwinnable war,are now once again engaged in a joint operation with the state health sector in combating Covid-19,” Prime Minister Rajpaksa said.
“All indications are that Sri Lanka is winning the battle againstCovid -19 as well.
“The frontline role played by the armed forces and police in working with the general public, has undoubtedly been of immense help to the health sector in bringing the spread of Covid-19 under control in the present manner.”
He said the military was now an integral part of society along with Sangha, Weda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru social line up of former times.
“So whenever we happen to be in power, there will always be former members of the armed forces and police holding various positions in the government,” Rajapaksa said.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his brother who is now President has appointed ex military officers to head many state agencies and also the posts of secretaries of ministries.
Sri Lanka no longer has permanent secretaries to ministries and ministries also changed from time to time, which has led to policy uncertainty and weak governance according to critics.
The appointment of ex-military officers has raised concerns over the militarization of society.
But Prime Minister denied the charge.
“A person who has retired from the armed forces is a civilian and no longer a member of the military,” he said. (Colombo/Mar18/2020)