Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday stressed the need for a new defence setup and a military strategy adding that Parliament should be allowed to monitor the armed forces.
Speaking at the launch of the book titled My belly is white written by Former Defence Secretary, Austin Fernando, Mr. Wickremesinghe said there should be parliamentary control over military warfare.
While explaining there should be a full time Defence Minister and a defence secretary who is a true civil servant he said the job of the Defence Secretary is to look into the administrative activities of the Defence Ministry and not to get involved in military matters. This was the case in the past and during the time of President J. R. Jayewardene but that system has fallen today, he said. Mr. Wickremesinghe also stressed the need for new warfare which concentrates on political, cultural and religious aspect of the problem. In that aspect he said one has to work towards finding a political solution to the national issue while looking at the cultural, religious and social aspect of the problem. He said Northern Ireland issue is a good example of it. While citing the example of North Ireland problem once again which took 40 years to be resolved, he said this new process is a long termed one. The Opposition Leader also stressed for media freedom stating it is an essential need. He said the defence columnists would question the set back but it is something which was needed. He said this was the case in Iraq when the media in US questioned about the heavy causalities among the US Army which led to the appointment of a new Defence Secretary.
Mr. Wickremesinghe was also of the opinion that there should be democracy for a war to succeed. If you don t have democracy you will lose the war, he said. He also stressed the government cannot resort to killing saying it is resorting to it because the Tigers are doing it. You can not go by that rule, he added.
Going down on the history of the national issue, he said he inherited a peace process which had been already started by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Mr. Wickremesinghe also disclosed that he could not agree to some aspects of the peace process which the Norway peace facilitators expressed when they briefed him.
Several eminent personalities including Ven. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera, Ministers, Maithripala Sirisena, Douglas Devananda, SLMC Leader, Rauff Hakeem, family members of Mr. Fernando and wellknown publisher and former Editor of The Island, Vijitha Yapa were also present at the launch.