Sri Lanka Setting a Course Correction to the Sri Lanka Navy

  • Published on
    20-Nov-2015

  • View
    201

  • Download
    1

Embed Size (px)

Transcript

Sri Lanka: Setting a Course Correction to the Sri Lanka NavySri Lankas navy fires a gun salute as a part of main celebrations for Sri Lankas 66th Independence Day in Colombo February 4, 2014. Sri Lanka obtained independence from British rule in 1948. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters) Image courtesy: darkroom.baltimoresun.com Sri Lankas navy fires a gun salute as a part of main celebrations for Sri Lankas 66th Independence Day in Colombo February 4, 2014. Sri Lanka obtained independence from British rule in 1948. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)Image courtesy: darkroom.baltimoresun.comSri Lanka Guardianby Nilantha Ilangamuwa(February 24, 2015, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) While the honeymoon period of the newly elected president and his installed government is coming to an end there are signs that good governance is once again a possibility in Sri Lanka. However even though the President, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena is moving in the right direction some of his ministries in his government are drinking old wine in new glasses.

It was reported that, on an occasion held near to his birth place, the President said that even he was confused with the delay in taking action against those accused of the plundering the nation. Merely a sad but honest statement by the first citizen of the country. He has expressed what he felt without hesitation. This is the reality of this nation. Nothing good can be done if the system is dysfunctional and a hidden group is playing the very game of manipulating the country.

It is a day dream to think the country will move forward to take authentic action against injustice when the basic institutions of the country are paralysed. The country has to arise, phoenix-like, out of the ashes. The present deteriorated system is providing nothing but hopelessness and frustration to the justice and freedom in general.

The fresh debate over the armed forces arose just a few days after the President assumed the office. It has given hope for those who were victimized and sent out the former President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa under the direction of his brother, who was the secretary to the Ministry of Defence. Later he also led the Urban Development Authority.

The daily newspapers based in Colombo, had shocking reports over kidnapping dozens of Tamil people for taking of ransom. Later they were tortured and murdered by suspected navy personnel. The report clearly blamed the navy for the atrocities. The inside sources revealed the names of those who were engaged in the notorious modi operandorum while describing as to why the navy had such officers in its recent past. Those were result of the my man theory, of the former commander of the navy.

Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, an ex-military officer who was the secretary of defence during the last phase of the long term civil war in the country. Despite his contribution to the elimination of the Tamil Tigers, rather bitterly politicised the three armed forces and the police in such a way as had never been done before. As a result, many skillful and genuine officers were victimized and forced to retire from the services. Therefore the people in general lost the faith on him and the defence institutions suffered because of his self-promoting decisions.

Like other forces, the dark side of the Sri Lanka Navy has the rooted story to tell especially after the conclusion of the military operations.

At that time the Navy was headed by Admiral (Rtd) Wasantha Karannagoda, one of most important officers with unique skills, the navy ever had. Though he was lacking in ground experiences he had administrative capacity. Therefore he was able to articulate administrative rules within the navy for greater contribution to the war against the Tamil Tigers, the longest internal insurgency after the independence the country has faced. Later in his bookAdhishthanahe described the all positive facts on his leadership during the time he led the navy.

But there is another side too, inside sources said. It was my quest after the shocking report was published by a local daily, to know more what has happened to this greatest and respectful institution which has the responsibility for the maritime security of the island nation.

The daily newspapers based in Colombo, had shocking reports over kidnapping dozens of Tamil people for taking of ransom. Later they were tortured and murdered by suspected navy personnel. The report clearly blamed the navy for the atrocities. The inside sources revealed the names of those who were engaged in the notorious modi operandorum while describing as to why the navy had such officers in its recent past. Those were result of the my man theory, of the former commander of the navy.

On the one hand those who accused for the atrocities were confidants to the former commander. On the other hand they were holding responsible positions during the last phase of the war. The commander may not have being aware when the crimes occurred but he has vigorous responsibilities, and he cant slip away when the matter is taken up for remedies in the court room.

The investigations are continuing. As Cesare Beccarias work on Crimes and Punishments (1764), outlined, no man can be judged a criminal until he be found guilty; nor can society take from him the public protection, until it have been proved that he has violated the conditions on which it was granted.( download the full text here) However, hundreds of family members of those victims are seeking justice and the state is responsible for finding the answers.

However, it was none other than former Navy Commander Admiral ( Rtd.) Daya Sandagiri who was the one who was heavily involved in politics to fulfil his personal desires. He, who attempted to involve with the present government, but the leadership was firmly sidelined, though he shed a few tears, reliable sources informed.

However, degree of the politicisation of Sri Lanka Navy after the end of the civil war was much higher and serious than what it faced during the tenure of Mr. Sandagiri. The credibility of the navy was shattered and ripped asunder due to politics and the internal blame game among the officers.The Sri Lanka Navy especially after the war has lost its respect and dignity within the institutions due to the politicisation, sources said. Therefore some of respected experts of the subject were sent home through forced retirement by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Will he listen to us? Will he follows our order? were the very notions of the former President considered when it came to appointments. If this consideration would have being good if its for good things. But in this case it was merely on political objectives for him to retain absolute power.

The four commanders which led the Sri Lanka Navy after tenure of Admiral (Rtd.) Karannagoda were selected on the based on political bias rather than personal skills, fairness, credibility, spirit, consideration of merit and professionalism of the service.

Admiral ( Rtd.) Thisara Samarasinghe, who later appointed as the Sri Lankan envoy in Canberra, was a gentleman, but he has failed in protecting the Navy from political interference. He was a good listener, but he used to panic when there was an urgent issue to deal with. The story of what happened to the cricket tournament some years ago, is the best and recreative example quoted by those who knows him well.

Sri Lanka Navy lost it respect due to the political interference and making yes men within the institute by those who bowed down before the politicians. Who can re-engineer the Navy into the status in which we as the Nation enjoyed in the past? None other than those were victimised in politics. Those who have best track records on their service.

Later under Admiral (Rtd.) Dissanayakes tenure, the navy had mixed feelings about the way they moved. Im not like Admiral Samarasingha. I studied at a central collage. I have bad attitudes and good habits as well as. Though I easily get angry I have self-confidence, he said when he was appointed as the Commander Northern Naval Area. Later as the Commander of Navy, he earned credit of constructing numerous buildings including the main Naval Hospital in Welisara, though the way he acted was questionable.

As I pointed out earlier the Navy lost it respect due to the political interference and making yes men within the institute by those who bowed down before the politicians. Who can re-engineer the Navy into the status in which we as the Nation enjoyed in the past? None other than those were victimised in politics. Those who have best track records on their service.

It was beginning of the second week of this month, 31 armed forces officers were summoned by the President, who paid attention to their stories. Ten of them were reinstated in the service as they were sent on compulsory retirement by the former President Mr. Rajapaksa. But there was a one navy officer who earned the diligent dignity of his service. He too had joined the same discussion with the President, Mr. Sirisena. Therefore he has submitted his appeal but the matter is taking time than expected. An appeal sent by another officer who has also became victim of politicisation also facing the same fatal scenario.In their detailed appeals, they narrated in details their service.

One of them joined the Navy in August 1978 and having obtained the highest grading on his performance during Officer Cadet Training was selected to undergo training at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth where he graduated with a First Division Pass. Due this performance and the achievements in the Sub-Lieutenant Technical Course, he was placed as the senior most Executive Officer in his batch on his promotion to the rank of Lieutenant in February 1983, a position which he maintains to date till the day he was forced to seek retirement.

He is none other than the Rear Admiral Susith Weerasekara, who earned the greater degree of service respect within the Navy and the security forces in general.

As the Director General Naval Operation, he was responsible for planning the Operations in which first 3 LTTE floating warehouses were destroyed, and was Commander Eastern Naval Area during the final phases of the humanitarian Operations, was responsible for all Naval Operations from Chalai to Sangamakanda, including the maintenance of naval blockade off Mullaitivu ;and arranging the humanitarian evacuation from Mullaitivu to Trincomalee and Pulmoddai, which brought kudos from the head of ICRC and international observers.

The second officer is Commodore Travish Sinnaih, an ethnic officer, who led the numerous maritime operations against the LTTEs sear tigers during service. His highly sensitive and detailed narration reveals the inside crisis of the Navy due to the political interference by former President Mr. Rajapaksa and former secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Mr. Rajapaksa.

He joined the Sri Lanka Navy on the 15th of November 1982 as an Officer Cadet and served in the Navy until 02 July 2011. During this period of service his record in the Navy has been exemplary and professional.

People have been changed by the art of governance, and the new leader promised his desire to re-engineer the three forces and the nation. It is time to hammer out the politicisation of the Sri Lanka Navy and re-store its delightful respect and dignity. To do the re-engineering procedure, the Navy has to pick the man who can lead the force with respect, dignity and solidarity. The President as the commander in chief of three armed forces in the nation, has to choose the correct officer to unifying the Navy.

He has held key appointments in the Sri Lanka Navy during his service including Personal Assistant to the Commander of the Navy, Flag Officer Commanding Naval Fleet, Director Naval Plans and Projects, Commandant Naval And Maritime Academy and Deputy Area Commander East, North and North Central Commands. He has also commanded the Naval Flag ship and commanded Ships and craft of all squadrons in the SIN, including command of the elite 4th Fast Attack Squadron. He held four key appointments, namely Commandant Naval & Maritime Academy, Deputy Area Commander Eastern Naval Area, Flag Officer Commanding Sri Lanka Naval Fleet and Port Facility Security Officer simultaneously, during the most crucial stage of the war from 2008 to 2009, which has never happened before or since in the Navy.

Around the 20th of March 2010, during a function held on board the Jetliner by the Commander of the Navy, to which he and his family members were invited, then the Chief of Staff Rear Admiral DWAS Dissanayake abused him in filth in front of his family and other visitors and punched him in the stomach. There were many senior and junior officers who were witnesses to this verbal and physical abuse. Soon after this his son was treated for severe depression and still suffers from this experience.

As the result of this shameful incident, the torturer was promoted as the Commander of the Navy while the victim sent to the home on compulsory retirement. It was the art of solving problems by Rajapaksas. Commodore Travish Sinnaih left the country and now lives in Queensland with his family.

People have been changed by the art of governance, and the new leader promised his desire to re-engineer the three forces and the nation. It is time to hammer out the politicisation of the Sri Lanka Navy and re-store its delightful respect and dignity. To do the re-engineering procedure, the Navy has to pick the man who can lead the force with respect, dignity and solidarity. The President as the commander in chief of three armed forces in the nation, has to choose the correct officer to unifying the Navy.

If they appointed the new army commander on the base of seniority why they cant take steps forward and apply the same rule when it come to the Sri Lanka Navy? This is appear to be the desire of the unbiased right thinking officers and sailors of the Navy. Knowing the President Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, the writer is confident that he will do the corrections as quickly as possible.

The writer can be reached at ilangamuwa@gmail.com or editor@srilankaguardian.org