All eyes on Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka will be the cynosure
of all eyes when Colombo hosts the Commonwealth Heads of Government
Meeting (CHOGM) from Friday. It will be undoubtedly a memorable occasion
for Sri Lanka as Heads of State, Foreign Ministers, Foreign Secretaries
and other top-notch delegates from 53 countries of the Commonwealth will
wing their way to Sri Lanka for the eagerly looked-forward to meeting
held once in two years.
The Commonwealth Summit will be the biggest ever assembly of Heads of
Government in Sri Lanka after the 1976 Non-Aligned Summit held under the
patronage of the then Prime Minister, the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
Coincidentally, the then Government in power was also a coalition led by
the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
Sri Lanka will eventually beat all overwhelming odds when it hosts
CHOGM 2013. Ever since Sri Lanka was proposed as the host for CHOGM,
many disgruntled elements did their utmost to discredit the country and
prevent Colombo from hosting it. The LTTE rump did its damnedest to
paint a gloomy picture and intertwined extraneous issues to mislead the
Unscrupulous politicians in the Opposition also joined the bandwagon
and trotted out various theories to mislead the masses, saying that the
expenditure to host the event was a waste of money. They knew for
certain that such allegations were baseless but continued to do so to
gain petty political mileage.
Certain bankrupt politicians in the Opposition even attributed the
costs to construct the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway or the
International Convention Centre in Hambantota as expenses to host the
CHOGM. But everybody knows that these are investments for the future and
could not be categorised as monies spent on tamashas as was during the
1977-1994 UNP regimes.
The renovation of the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference
Hall or the road network in Colombo were not merely done for CHOGM, but
are investments to bring the city on a par with other major cities in
Hosting CHOGM 2013 would help Sri Lanka showcase the island nation to
the world. Even lesser known countries in the Commonwealth are now
talking about Sri Lanka as their leaders head towards Colombo.
Since the end of terrorism, Sri Lanka has been exploring
opportunities to tell the world about its remarkable achievements. In
this scenario, CHOGM 2013 will provide the ideal platform for Sri Lanka
to showcase its achievements to the world.
At a time when certain elements in the international community and
the LTTE rump are still making a big hue and cry over the human rights
of the terrorists killed in action, CHOGM 2013 would provide Sri Lanka a
priceless opportunity to tell its story to the world and show the
milestone achievements after its humanitarian operation which liberated
over half a million people from the jaws of LTTE terror.
Hosting a high-profile summit of this magnitude was not even dreamt
of when LTTE terror was riding high, threatening the lives of over 21
million people. Barely anybody even in their wildest dreams reckoned
that Sri Lanka could overcome the threat of terrorism to host an
international summit of this nature. But lo and behold! Sri Lanka has
overcome all insurmountable challenges and is now ready to host the
biggest ever international summit in 37 years! That alone is a
creditable victory in Sri Lanka's ambitious march towards becoming the
Wonder of Asia.
Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of the Security Forces and
President Mahinda Rajapaksa's political sagacity, Sri Lanka could
proudly claim to be one of the safest countries. It was due to their
praiseworthy efforts that Sri Lanka could now match any country as far
as national security is concerned.
None could for a moment forget the dynamic role played by Secretary
to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Gotabaya Rajapaksa in
not only giving unmatched leadership to the Security Forces in the
country's relentless battle against terrorism, but also in transforming
the Greater Colombo area into one of the most picturesque capitals in
Hence, CHOGM comes at a decisive time when Sri Lanka is marching
forward towards national reconciliation and development. Amidst mounting
pressure from a few Western countries at the United Nations Human Rights
Council (UNHRC) due to the influence exerted by the LTTE rump on some
Western politicians in their adopted countries, Sri Lanka has made a
significant breakthrough in resettlement, reconstruction, development
No other country, having recovered after such a horrendous experience
on the battlefield, has gained so much during such a short period of
time. Though some of the so-called super powers are still grappling to
crush global terrorism, but are reluctant to acknowledge Sri Lanka's
achievements, CHOGM will send a clear and resounding message to the
world at large.
The first-hand experience of the visiting leaders of the Commonwealth
member countries will definitely shoot down the bogus propaganda spread
by the LTTE rump. Even British Foreign Secretary William Hague has
conceded that he wants to see the change in Sri Lanka.
Certain countries have been either ill-informed about the actual
situation in Sri Lanka or misled by the concocted stories disseminated
by Tiger sympathisers. Hence, CHOGM will be the most appropriate time to
send the strongest signal to the world, demolishing the false propaganda
spread by LTTE cohorts.
Sri Lanka will present its case of political stability and
tranquility as part of the process against all kinds of misinformation
spread by some petty-minded politicians looking to tarnish the country's
image in the eyes of the world. Sri Lanka is at an advantage in terms of
political stability and tranquility in the subcontinent, without which
there could be no investments.
The presence of Commonwealth leaders and top business personalities
will make the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) in Colombo an eye-opener
to the world business community. As the host nation, the local business
community too could look forward to ample opportunities to tap
international markets. The Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) strives
to provide a bridge between the private sector and governments, between
emerging and developed markets and between small businesses and the
international private sector.The CBC targets to achieve economic
empowerment for shared global prosperity through the enhancement of
private sector contribution to social and economic development. The CBF
is playing a key role in developing stronger partnerships among
Governments in Commonwealth countries and businesses to ensure that the
Commonwealth promotes sustainable growth to benefit the global society.
The first-hand experience by the Commonwealth Heads of Government
will definitely prove to be a positive sign for global investors to
invest in Sri Lanka. The prevailing peaceful atmosphere, coupled with
the conducive business environment and the skills of the local workforce
would inspire big-time global businessmen to invest heavily in Sri
Simultaneously, the Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) would enable youth
to win new friends around the world and share their ideas and know-how
to build a better world. The contacts established and the friendships
developed through the CYF in Hambantota will open endless opportunities
to the youth in Sri Lanka. The Commonwealth People's Forum, the third
main event conducted on the sidelines of CHOGM 2013, would help social
leaders to pool their experience for the betterment of the Commonwealth
family. The Commonwealth, which is only second to the United Nations,
has an opportunity to carve out a new path. If Sri Lanka taps the right
opportunities and makes the best use of CHOGM 2013, the country could
reap the fruits of the summit in the near future. This would not only
silence the critics, but also end the day-dreaming of the LTTE rump.