Minister Ranawaka calls for new Asian brotherhood
Clad in his immaculate white banian and cloth, Technology, Research
and Atomic Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka made his debut in
the Jathika Hela Urumaya to rediscover a lost heritage. Fully convinced
of his convictions, he would tear the arguments of his rivals in debate
to shreds or debunk its myth. The Minister in an interview with the
Sunday Observer said, “As a country, we should not be worried about the
US sponsored resolution passed at the UNHRC sessions in Geneva recently.
We have to look forward positively and do whatever possible for the sake
of the country and the reconciliation process by disregarding this kind
of external pressure.
At the same time, we have to be forearmed and deploy competent people
to represent the country at the international fora”.
The Minister stressed the need to build a new Asian brotherhood since
Asia would be a great power to reshape the world order. We have to
accept this and move forward. We have to refocus on our foreign policy
and ensure economic solidarity with Mesoamerica , Africa and the Asian
Sri Lanka should refocus on its diplomatic ties with Indosnesia and
Malaysia as well. Indonesia would be the biggest economy in the region
and also the energy hub in time to come. Indonesia would also be among
the ten biggest economies by 2020. We have also to focus on countries
such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. Our diplomatic ties
should also be extended to the Pacific region.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: How is it that Sri Lanka lost at the recent UNHRC sessions? What
has gone wrong?
A: I think it was something inevitable. The USA, EU and India ganged
up and no diplomacy could stop that kind of combination. We should not
worry about this kind of resolution. We have to look forward positively
and do whatever possible for the country and reconciliation process
disregarding this kind of external pressure. At the same time, we have
to be forearmed and also deploy competent people to represent the
country, so that a consistent policy could be maintained.
Different statistics had been presented about those who were rescued.
Some people said 289,000 people had been rescued while others said that
it was as much as 326,000. So we should maintain consistent figures and
policies to counter various allegations. We should not bother about such
Q: Chile and Argentina being socialist countries where no Tamil
diaspora activities are reported, have voted against Sri Lanka while
Angola, Kenya and Malaysia abstained from voting. Could you explain why
these countries adopted such a policy?
A: It is very sad that Korea, Brazil and Argentina are going against
us. At present Korea is under serious pressure from North Korean
aggression. South Korea has recently signed a military agreement with
the USA. Both Korea and Japan have military and trade agreements with
the USA on the Pacific region security. So enormous pressure is exerted
on Korea and Japan. We appreciate the manner Japan is handling things.
They support our reconciliation process and development priorities.
They have supported us immensely. It is very sad that Korea is going
against us. We understand what happened during the past two or three
weeks in the Korean peninsula. There is a serious war climate due to USA
pressure. We can’t understand Brazil’s and Argentina’s stance though
they are socialists and somewhat anti-USA. I think there is some kind of
diplomatic loophole there, which we have to address. We should refocus
on our entire diplomatic and economic ties.
We are only focusing on North America and Europe. Latin America and
the Central America which we call Mesoamerica are changing rapidly.
Brazil is having a serious economic amity with Argentina. They have also
a kind of anti-American stance like Cuba and Venezuela as far as their
foreign policy is concerned. There is a huge market there for us to
focus on. There is a problem in Malaysia due to elections.
The ruling party in Malaysia UMNO is under enormous pressure from
Indian-origin Tamils and as such they are trying to avoid this
situation. Nearly 10 to 14 percent voters in Malaysia are Tamils of
Indian-origin. But they were not going to vote against us. It is a
serious problem to be concerned with. I think we have to refocus on our
diplomatic ties with Indonesia and Malaysia. Indonesia would be the
biggest economy in this region and also the energy hub in the near
future. Its economic growth was enormous specially in the last decade.
I think Indonesia would be among the ten big economies. We have to
re-focus on the Indonesian archipelago and countries such as Malaysia,
Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar in addition to the Pacific
region. These countries are important as far as the economy, trade and
other areas are concerned in a rapidly changing world.
The economic centre of gravity is now moving from Europe and North
America to Asia, specially the Pacific-Indian Ocean. So we have to
revisit our foreign policy and focus on these countries specially India
and the Malaysian archipelago. It would be the energy hub. We have also
to focus on Libya and Sierra Leone. They are all Islamic countries, but
they voted against us. What is the reason? We have to revisit these
They are moving away from USA’s sphere of influence. My view is that
we have to build a new Asian brotherhood because Asia would be a great
region in this century to re-shape a new world order. We have to ensure
economic solidarity with Mesoamerica, Africa and the Asian region.
We have to refocus our economic ties with various States such as
Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat separately, because India is a
kind of federal State where the State actors are thinking in an
independent way. We also have to keep in mind the Buddhist community
there. It has become a large community because of Dr. Ambedkhar’s
influence. According to the Indian Constitution, over 22.5 percent are
low caste people called, Harijans the untouchables. Most of them are
Buddhists. Mayawati became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Maharashtra is the biggest political bloc. Still Mumbai and Delhi are
the centres of the Indian political arena. So we have to foster close
relations with these two political centres.
Q: US Assistant Secretary of State Robert O. Blake in an interview to
BBC has said that the US has stressed the need for reconciliation and to
deal with human rights violators to bring lasting peace to Sri Lanka.
A: At the very outset, I have to say Blake, the entire American
bureaucracy and politicians should go before the international criminal
court. According to their own war logs, they have killed 109,000 people
in Iraq alone. According to their so called ten year progress report on
Iraq, they have already accepted that at least 138,000 people have been
killed in Iraq. It is about 132,000 to 600,000 people. Is Blake going to
punish those responsible? Are they not war criminals? In Afghanistan,
they have killed over one million people. In drone attacks alone, they
killed 46,000 innocent people in Pakistan and destabilized the entire
The economic impact for the USA is now about US$ 1.4 trillion. The
public debt crisis and fiscal cliff which the USA is facing now is due
to this so-called intervention under the pretext of human rights and R2P
concept. Blake and others don’t have any right to intervene in the
internal affairs of other countries.
We should have our own mechanism. We had formulated an action plan
and we are now in the process of implementing it. What would have
happened if Prabhakaran was still living? If Prabhakaran had been there
from 2009 to date there would have been 3000 to 5,000 killings a year in
this country. Now we have completely stopped this killing spree. At
least the US has to commend it. Robert O. Blake should realise two
One is that he has no moral right to talk about Sri Lanka’s
accountability issues, since they have committed serious human rights
violations as far as the humanity and the human history is concerned.
The other is that we had been fighting a terrorist war on behalf of
the USA, because we defeated the LTTE and as such the LTTE’s
technological know-how and other expertise could not be provided to
other countries or international terrorist organisations. Blake should
not forget that the Al Qaeda used the same technology to attack the USA.
All Generals in USA say that the war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen is
unwinnable. Talibans don’t have fighter planes, submarines or armoured
vehicles. We gave them a serious moral boost. They should take us as an
example to defeat terrorism. They can learn from us. That is what Blake
should actually do.
Q: Tamil Nadu authorities seem to be at an “undeclared war” with Sri
Lanka specially after the recent US resolution in Geneva. Even cricket
is not spared from politics. Is there a way out of this deadlock?
A: As a responsible nation we should deal with Jayalalithaa and
Karunanidhi appropriately. We should not resort to attacks on Tamil
people here, Tamil Nadu people or Indian businessmen. We are a civilised
country not like Tamil Nadu. It is not only our cricketers, but they
also protested against President Mahinda Rajapaksa when he visited
India. Our Bhikkhus had been attacked. It should not be against
individuals. It is the dignity of this country. They disregard our
sovereignty, self-respect and existence. So we should act in a very
I would say it should be a kind of economic and social noncooperation
with Tamil Nadu. From 2011 to date, Sri Lankans were attacked and
harassed every day.
Sri Lankan businessmen have been chased away. These are not random
incidents. I would say the Indian politicians mollycoddled and armed the
LTTE which in turn killed Rajiv Gandhi. This Tamil racism which both BJP
and Congress are now promoting will bite BJP’s and Congress’ hands. They
are going to form an armed struggle to carve out Tamil Nadu from the
Q: The British Government has instructed its nationals visiting Sri
Lanka to be cautious in view of the “nationalistic sentiments” active at
present. Your comments?
A: Actually nothing will happen against the British people. They
invaded and caused serious damage to our country. They killed over
100,000 people in 1880 and 1818. They destroyed our environment and
ecological system. They forcefully imposed their economic and social
system on us. I am not going to comment further on this issue. They have
to secure themselves from Al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations. I
think the British people who know about Sri Lanka will visit the country
without regard to the so-called travel adversaries.
Q: According to Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe one reason for
anti-Sri Lanka crusade in Geneva is that LLRC recommendations have not
been implemented. Is not the Opposition Leader fishing in troubled
A: Actually this Opposition Leader is not the Government’s Opposition
Leader. He is anti-Sri Lankan. This is the UPFA Government. But he is
anti-state and not anti-Government. So he is the anti-State Opposition
Leader. He is representing TNA, LTTE, Muslim fundamentalists, Western
powers and Tamil Nadu as well. He is not the Opposition Leader so long
as this Government is in power.
Q: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s resolution to take back
Kachchativu island had been unanimously passed. Kachchativu issue was
settled long ago on Sri Lanka’s claim-being proved on historical
evidence. Could you elaborate on this?
A: When Kachchativu issue was raised in the 1950s, Indian Prime
Minister Jawaharlal Nehru gave a very good answer to it. This is not big
brother’s or small brother’s problem, but he gave over Kachchativu to
Sri Lanka. Actually its a kind of brotherhood.
There would be small or big issues coming up as far the brotherhood
is concerned. If they are trying to instigate things, I think we should
not hesitate to reciprocate. Tamil Nadu should know that this country
has been in existence for centuries. We are not under their influence.
We have our own language, civilisation and identity. We have to
further improve our relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and other
emerging countries. I red in an article that direct investments in Tamil
Nadu have dropped due to this so-called agitation.
There was a serious demand in India for technically-educated Tamil
students. Now it has dropped because of these agitations. A
self-destructive phenomena is being promoted by Jayalalithaa and
Karunanidhi. Sonia Gandhi, Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi are talking about
an independent and credible investigation.
Yes, we are for that. But these things should be investigated from as
early as 1983 to ascertain how Tamil Nadu supported the LTTE. We call
upon to initiate this move from Jain Commission itself which was
appointed to investigate Rajiv Gandhi’s killing. People like Karunanidhi
and Ramdas also gave evidence before this commission. So please
investigate how the Indian people’s tax money was used to harbour the
world’s ruthless terrorist group, the LTTE. They should go before a
mirror and identify themselves as culprits of the carnage in Sri Lanka.
Q: Halal has been interpreted differently by people including
parliamentarians. Could you explain how the JHU’s stand differs from
A: As a party, we are for cultural diversity. We are not going to
attack other people’s cultural identities. Some people try to portray
that the JHU is going to attack Islamic cultural identities.
But every religious organisation should know that its identity is a
relative concept. On September 6, 2007, the Consumer Affairs Authority
had banned the issue of Halal certificates by Jamiyyathul Ulama.
So after September 06, 2007, it is illegal to issue Halal certificate
to industries and other products by Jamiyyathul Ulama. Halal is a kind
of standardization process and it is not a logo. It is not separated
from swine-related food items. Transportation, buildings and clothes
should be Halal. It’s not only confined to foods, but it is a complete
way of living. In the modern world, we can’t simply think like that.
For example, take fossil fuel, oil, gas or coal. These are actually
fossils of biotic forms specially the pigs’ and the swine. Are we not
going to use these things because swine fossils are there? We can’t
segregate things in this way.
We should have some pragmatic approach to this. Some extremist
elements among the Muslims are trying to impose these things on the
society. Moderate Islam should come up with a solution to have its
desired food but should not impose such things on others, because 91
percent of the country’s consumers are not Muslims. We can’t buy only
non-Halal items in the market because of this.
The SLS certification has been issued only for 453 products while the
Halal certification has been given for 4,600 products. There is a huge
pressure from the market to convert products into Halal. Now it’s
turning the other way about and people are not going to buy these
products because of Halal. This is not a hate campaign. This is a very
liberal country and they can’t segregate this country on religious
lines. No one should be allowed to issue religious symbols on consumer
No one should be allowed to divide this society using religious laws.
People should respect each others’ religions and realise that there is
no absolute diversity or identity. These are relative things. So they
have to accept the rights of others. The issue of Halal certificate to
consumer goods by Jamiyyathul Ulama is against Quran, legal system and
social harmony in this country. They should withdraw it. The learned
Muslims should devise a new mechanism to get their dietary requirements
as provided in the Quran.
Q: Some outsiders insist that an environment conducive to Tamils to
live in dignity be created in Sri Lanka. What does this mean? Are there
any rights or privileges enjoyed by Sinhalese and Muslims but denied to
A: This is actually a stereotype propaganda. They are talking about
Black July. In 1981, before the Black July, the Tamil population in
Colombo was about 23 percent. After the Black July and all those
so-called activities against Tamils, the Tamil population in Colombo is
33 percent today. So they are enjoying themselves living with the
Actually Tamil people themselves have rejected that norm. On the
other hand, the Sinhalese and the Muslims could not live in Jaffna. They
were ethnically cleansed. So what is the problem in Sri Lanka? In all
other parts of the country, all the communities can live in harmony. In
the Colombo district alone, 240,000 Tamils live. How could it be, if
there was any kind of discrimination or hate campaign against the
Tamils? Tamil people themselves have proved that specially the Sinhala
majority areas are more conducive places for them to live in than their
Q: In the context of national development, what is the role of your
Ministry’s technology and research component? Are there any programs
launched under this?
A: There are hurdles in the country’s development history. It was a
serious challenge for many countries to achieve a per capita income of
US$ 1000. Technically-aided products should be made and the
manufacturing process should be automated.
If we are going for a per capita income of US$ 4000, we should have a
high-tech economy. Economic and technological trends should be converged
to form a new economy called innovation economy.
There are four tools for this innovation economy, namely nano
technology, biotechnology, information technology and neuro-science
technology. Since 2006 we have initiated nano technology and we have to
do a great deal to achieve our targets.
Actually we missed the bus on biotechnology and information
technology. We have to reinvent and recharge our direction towards them.
We have not done anything in the field of neuro-science. Our focus is to
create a conducive environment for an innovation economy. To do that, we
have to use these four tools to improve and enhance our economic
Q: You are well known as an outspoken politician who sticks to the
policies, despite being unpalatable rather than compromising your
policies and long-held convictions. What are your comments?
A: I am a professional. I wanted to change the tide. At times, I go
against the existing current. We are trying to change this society and
the world through our actions.