Sri Lanka’s redemption lies in history of Bali


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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, July 10: There is no better teacher than history. Gotabaya Rajapaksa just needed to look back 24 years, and assess the outcome of his (mis)deeds in Sri Lanka.

But political leaders seldom learn from history, blinded by the arrogance of power and sparkle of luxurious, as is also the case with Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, who has tormented and traumatized the world with his brazen abuse of power against a weaker neighbour Ukraine.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa earned the ignominy of running away from Colombo to an undisclosed location after the people swarmed his neighbourhood after the Galle Face protests took the whole country in its stride with people trooping to the capital from all across the country. Earlier his brother and former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had run away to an undisclosed location with the help of the Sri Lankan Navy.

Two more brothers – Besil Rajapaksa and Chamal Rajapaksa, who held finance and irrigation ministries – have already quit the government.

Prime Minister Renil Vickremesinghe, the only political leader from Sri Lanka, who had in the past negotiated with multilateral agencies, including IMF, to bailout his country from similar mess, has quit to facilitate formation of an all party government in the island nation.
On May 4, the people had risen again Suharto in Indonesia. The anger of the people struck the Suharto government with a lightening pace on the streets of Medan.

Suharto had been ruling the country for 32 years. His regime was marked by excesses, violations of civil liberties and rampant corruption.

Suharto regime lorded over the people. But his time had run the full course. In the course of next four weeks, violence took the whole of Indonesia in its grip. Estimates suggest that over a thousand people lost their lives and many more were injured, besides unprecedented arson and fury seen against public properties in all parts of the country.
The Suharto regime was thrown by the people.

The Rajapaksa regime has also met the same fate in similar fashion.
Indonesia is now blessed with better democratic conditions.

Indonesia has taken right lessons from her past. In November, Indonesia will host G20 Summit, and has taken steps to bring the leaders of the warring Russia and Ukraine to attend the meeting.

Rajapaksa was hugely popular in his country, and his credentials in winning the battle against Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

People showered love and affection on him and his brothers.

Everything was going all right for Sri Lanka, as the island nation had better per capita GDP than India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. At one time, Sri Lanka was looked upon by advanced countries like Sri Lanka.

But Rajapaksa squandered the advancements by hobnobbing with Sinhalese bigots, while making windfall of fortunes by working in cohoot with Chinese bribing machineries to take Sri Lanka into a debt-trap that the country is now officially bankrupt.

Sri Lanka has more than 10 per cent of its foreign debt from China at an excessive high rate. Pakistan too has over 15 per cent of its foreign debt from China. Nepal has just been saved from Chinese debt trap. Bangladesh has stayed away largely, with Dhaka knowing well that Beijing is only throwing the net to encircle India, with holds on strategy assets in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.

That encirclement strategy against India has been drowned in the Bay of Bengal. China is struggling now to burn cash for its Belt and Road Initiative.

China hasn’t responded to the distress calls of Colombo and Islamabad. The US has moved in swiftly in Kathmandu to de-toxify Nepal from Chinese dependence.

Now that the people of Sri Lanka have taken the power of the country in their hands, they should just look back in this history and take a leaf out of the evolution of Indonesia.

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