“Sri Lanka’s Role in the Indian Ocean and the Changing Global Dynamic” Speech by Dep. Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva at the Institute of South Asian Studies
“Sri Lanka’s Role in the Indian Ocean and the Changing Global Dynamic”
Speech by Dr Harsha de Silva, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the Public Forum organized by the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, 9th January 2017
Ambassador Gopinath Pillai, Mr. Shivshankar Menon, Mr. Sanjeev Sanyal distinguished ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
Let me first thank Ambassador Pillai for inviting me to the Institute for South Asian Studies here at the National University of Singapore for this public forum on The Indian Ocean.
It is an honor for me to be here this afternoon and participate in this discussion. I bring greetings from the people of Sri Lanka.
Today marks the 2nd anniversary of an important turning point in Sri Lanka’s recent history. It is the beginning of the 3rd of the 5 year term of President Maithripala Sirisena. On 8th January 2015, the people of Sri Lanka went to the polls and on the 9thswitched from a government which had embarked on a divisive and authoritarian trajectory to one of convergence and National Unity.
For the first time since Independence, traditional rivals in Sri Lankan politics, eschewed adversarial politics to undertake pressing political and economic reforms in the long-term interests of the people. Sri Lankans demonstrated to the world that they could change a well-entrenched government, long considered to be undefeatable, by using a simple tool called the ballot.
It was an unexpected outcome to many, both outside and inside of Sri Lanka and demonstrated the importance of democracy.
Optimism in a changing global dynamic
During the last 2 years, we have achieved some notable successes as well as faced some complex challenges that have slowed down our progress. It is a trajectory that is inevitable in a democracy.
Sri Lankans are a resilient people who sustained a sense of optimism about the potential of their country even in the darkest moments of our history. Now, perhaps for the first time in our contemporary history, the future holds more promise than doubts.
We believe that we are at a stage of economic growth and political maturity, which combined with opportunities presented by global and regional developments, will allow us to propel ourselves to the next phase of development if we play our cards right.
Therefore, it’s with a sense of optimism that I approach this topic of my speech ‘Sri Lanka’s Role in the Indian Ocean and the Changing Global Dynamic’.
The moment one hears the two words Sri Lanka his or her mind travels to South Asia. And that is why we are here at the ISAS. However, for centuries Taprobane, Ceylon, Sri Lanka or whatever the island was referred to was the heart of the Indian Ocean.