Terrorist attack : What does ‘National Security’ mean?
It is apparent that the outgoing Secretary of Defence by his controversial statement on national security, inferred that protecting luxury hotels was not the responsibility of the Police forces, on the basis that these hotels earn large profits and as such they should provide their own security. Two issues emerge at this point. The first is, what is the purpose of spending the Sri Lankan tax payer’s money notwithstanding the economic setbacks to maintain a Defence force and Security Forces consisting of more than 400,000 personnel and whether the Defence Secretary is a suitable person to hold that position. He has however by this time proved to the World that he lacked sufficient knowledge on National Security.
Whatever he may say, National Security means the protection of the citizens of a country, its territorial integrity and sovereignty and its assets, from outside threats, by the use of power. The right of a sovereign state to do so is clearly stipulated in Clause No.1 of Article 1 of the United Nation’s declaration of 1945. A country’s National Security should be framed to include the will of the countrymen, their needs, their views and after an in-depth study of the overall strategies the state would adopt for the development of the country ensuring its prosperity as well. National Security does not only mean waging a war or prevention of terrorism, but it is a subject covering matters that are beneficial to the entire nation, security and matters that are good for the people. The aim of this article is to create a broad awareness among the people on this matter.
Insecurity, which can have an impact on the National Security, can be grouped under five categories.
First being Physical vulnerability, the second, Economic vulnerability, the third Social and Security vulnerability, the fourth Environmental vulnerability, and the fifth Political vulnerability.
How these insecurity situations affect National Security needs a further study and they are discussed in detail below.
Under this category are the misuse of energy, science and technology which would have an impact on National Security.
It covers defects in the economy, gross domestic product, financial policies and regulations, state expenditure, investments, import and export trade, private sector, public sector, the rate of economic development, losses due to the economy depending on imports, the leasing of state assets for 99 years (Hambantota, Colombo and Trincomalee Harbours), dependence on foreign countries for food, wastage of fuel, depreciation of the rupee, the fall in foreign reserves, the closure of Macro and Micro industries, the crisis in the Tourism Industry, lack of employment opportunities, burden of foreign loans, and the failing agriculture all contribute towards National security.
Social and security vulnerability
Itis connected to frustration among the youth, and national identity. Preferential treatment provided to one province while neglecting the other provinces. Social injustice, the break down in the rule of law, the decline in public health services, situations of national calamities and disasters, the presence of foreign labour in the island – at present there are more than 200,000 foreign employees in the country, the number unemployed in the country – the present rate is 4.400% and the unresolved issues confronting the University Students. Out of 220,000 students who sit for the A/L examination, 23,000 become eligible to enter the University. The number of unemployed graduates in the island is 58,812 which would grow further and these factors too directly affect National Security. Further the connection the drug racketeers and extremists have with the outside world. Narcotics that enter the country and the presence of suspicious persons. The judiciary being politically biased. The police service becoming corrupt. The land grab by supporters of politicos, the corruptions connected to public procurements and the destruction of natural habitats and the environment, the corruption in the customs department are also vital factors.
With the most recent massacre on Easter Sunday, the extent of the ISIS influence in Sri Lanka is now clear. This also brings to the limelight the inaction in netting those responsible for having in their possession a variety of weapons and firearms. The activities of the underworld being unchecked had spread to villages. Cyber crimes, organized crimes, religious extremism, unjustifiable demands by religious fanatics and public utterances that lead to arousing clashes among communities and religious groups also directly have their impact on National Security. The damage that can be caused by social media websites is also alarming.
The mediation by the Tamil Nadu politicians to take back the Kachchativu island, the Nuclear power stations built in Chennai, Kalpaakkam and Kudankulam also pose a serious threat in the event of a blast, how it will affect our environment in the event of a blast – the flow of dangerous radioactive substances would have a serious impact on our environment. It is also observed that the arrest of officers of intelligence units had also created an impact on National Security.
The appointment of unsuitable persons to high positions in the army and security divisions have also posed a serious threat to the national Security. Such appointments should be made strictly on merit and not based on political affiliations.
Under this category the climate change and the lack of drinking water has to be taken into account. Protection of our coastal belt of 1,340 kilometres should be continued. The provision of Micro and Macro industries to increase income and wipe away poverty, the development of Agri-Business, the development of the tourist industry and promotion of new products should also be given recognition. Global warming, the clearance of natural forest land, soil erosion, wildlife, flora and fauna, rivers, endemic birds, animals and reptiles numbering 751 and 3,314 varieties of plants also influence our national existence which relies on National Security.
According to the World Health Organization the quality of the air (Air Quality Index) that we breathe in, is indicated at 25. But in and around Colombo this has gone up to 153. This is also a factor that influences National Security.
Under this category are the Education of Parliamentarians of our country which should also be indicated, as it also influences National security levels. Out of the 225 Parliamentarians 94 have not passed the Ordinary Level Examination. This reveals the education level of the State sector. The population in Singapore is 5 million. The number of Cabinet Ministers is 22, and twenty of them are post graduates.
In 2015, the gross domestic product of Singapore stood at US Dollars 290 Billion.
The population of India is 1300 Million, and the number of cabinet Ministers is 26 with 49 state ministers. The majority of these ministers are graduates. In 2015 the Gross National Product of India stood at US Dollars 2.9 Trillion or 2900 Billion.
The population of United Kingdom is 65 Million and the number of ministers 23; all of them have their degrees or post graduate qualifications. The Gross National Product of UK in 2015 was US Dollars 2.8 Trillion or 2800 Billion.
The population of Sri Lanka is 21 Million. The number of Ministers 92 and its Gross National Product in 2015 was US Dollars 82.32 Billion.
The educational qualifications of Ministers in Sri Lanka cannot be verified as they are not available unlike in other countries. The readers can understand why this information is not available. Under a government of Ministers who do not have educational qualifications it is doubtful whether, any technological, practical or scientific policies could be implemented.
Whether there can be any fruitful vision that could benefit even the unborn children. It was clear as crystal that our politicians lacked any foresight or any knowledge, while viewing the discussions they had over several media in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday incident.
The politicians ineptitude was immensely proved during parliamentary proceedings and their lackadaisical attitude in keeping away from sessions. From a study it became clear that 50% of them attend 75% of the sessions. Their presence is observed only during the first hour and the rest of the time they spend attending weddings or visiting funeral houses. The general public have viewed this apathy of the Parliamentarians in horror and aghast and had been deplored at every platform. The keenness with which the parliamentarians had engaged in corruption, frauds and enriching themselves with the filthy lucre earned through misuse of state resources, had created so much frustration and anger among the general public.
I was prompted to write this letter to a News paper, after having heard the unprofessional replies our Defence Secretary made when he was confronted by the BBC Media on 22/04/2019 in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday tragedy. He should have first and foremost realized that National Security covers not only the Defence Forces, intelligence, Police and Civil Defense Forces, but the entire nation.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that after having been battered by a 30-year LTTE terrorism, and the ten years after crushing this outfit, it has proved the lack of knowledge of those who hold high positions in the security divisions and their unsuitability to hold these positions. They had given importance to safeguarding their positions and bartered the security of the entire nation.