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A secret deal between Mahinda and Moon?


UN Secretary General Ban ki- moon is once again figuring in a controversy  among the media. This is because of the growing criticisms against him  pertaining to the policies he is following in regard to Sri Lanka (SL).One of the accusations levelled against him is the veil of secrecy he is attaching to the panel of advisors he has appointed to inquire into whether  war crimes were in fact committed in SL or not. The other accusation is  his tight lipped reticence about his discussion at the recent one to one meeting  with SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the UN.

It is the belief of the media that behind the secretive policy of Moon in regard to SL there is a sinister deal between Mahinda and him. Mahinda had known Moon since the period when Moon was the Foreign Minister in South Korea. During that time when Mahinda was the Prime Minister  and Moon was the S. Korea  Foreign Minister, they jointly worked and coordinated to increase the employment opportunities for Sri Lankans in S. Korea. When Moon was a prospective candidate for the post of UN secretary General , Moon had made an offer to provide more jobs for Sri Lankans in S. Korea and to increase its  aid for SL if he is backed in his candidacy to secure the post of Sec. General at the UN by SL. Chandrika Kumaratunga who was the President of SL at that time did not much heed this offer. She appointed a  SL candidate, Jayantha Dhanapala   to contest the UN Sec. General post. The foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar then and Prime Minister Mahinda were however in favour of Moon’s offer. Incidentally , when SL was ravaged by the Tsunami , it was Moon who diligently worked to provide aid to SL when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the Prime Minister. The South Korean Prime Minister too paid a visit to SL during that period  and after  an extensive  tour of Hambantota with Mahinda he promised to  give aid to SL.

No sooner Mahinda became the President than he made Jayantha Dhanapala who was SL candidate selected by his predecessor Chandrika for the UN secretary general post to withdraw. This move was to assist Moon to secure the UN Secretary General post. It is on this account that there exists a close and cordial personal relationship between Mahinda and Moon.

Before Mahinda attended the recent UN General Assembly, Mahinda spoke to Ban Ki- Moon over the phone. After attending the UN assembly too he had a one to one meeting with him. Some sources say, at this meeting Moon had requested Mahinda to grant visas for the members of Moon’s advisory panel to visit SL. But Mahinda had requested Moon to visit SL first , and ensure whether the agreement between them entered into when Moon came to SL last year is being implemented. It is Moon’s consistent stand that the panel appointed by him was to ascertain whether  the agreement he has entered into is being duly implemented or not. If Moon has made the request at the one to one meeting to Mahinda to grant visas to his panel members to visit SL to explore whether the agreement is being given effect to, it would have been impossible for Mahinda to decline the request. But, as SL External Affairs Minister Dr. G L Peiris declared immediately after the panel was appointed ,  SL will not issue visas to the panel members to enter this country, it renders it impossible for the SL Govt. to shift from   that stand now. Yet, as this panel is not a legal investigative body as confirmed by Moon, according to Govt. sources, Mahinda has agreed for the visit of the panel members to SL to give evidence before the truth and  reconciliation Commission .

It is also difficult to assume that there is a secret deal between Mahinda and Moon , for it may be Moon’s soft inherent Diplomacy that is impelling him to attach a veil of secrecy in connection with the  panel and the discussions between him and  Mahinda at the recent one to one meeting. Even if  there exists no secret deal between Mahinda  and Moon in relation to Moon’s policy towards SL, whether there is a secret agreement between Mahinda and Moon to avert undue publicity being given on matters linked to the panel is obscure. That secret agreement could have stemmed from the close personal ties between them. It is  speculated  that despite the fact that the panel is receiving wide publicity ,Mahinda  is harboring the fear that if the panel’s  activities are carried out in a blaze of publicity, his Govt. may become subject to humiliation before the international community. May be Mahinda is utilizing his personal relationship with Moon to avert such a situation. After the meeting with Moon, President Rajapaksa’s office issued a communiqué wherein  it was stated that the panel is in no way empowered to investigate charges against SL. This statement was attributed to Moon as having said by him. Presumably , Moon is silent over this attribution  based on his close personal ties with Mahinda.

When the UN spokesman was questioned by the media whether Moon in fact made this statement, he had evaded giving an answer. May be Moon too does not wish to contradict and claim that it is a lie owing to the fact that he does not wish to enter into a collision course at this stage with Mahinda. In any event, Moon’s panel has been declared as not a legal investigative body. It is only a fact finding entity  eligible only to advise what measures  shall be taken after the facts are uncovered .

According to internal sources associated with the UN , following the completion of the  fact finding assignment , the panel is preparing to  instruct Moon to launch on the investigations. It is the mandate of the Panel to advise Moon after the examination of the facts whether charges shall be filed or  not against SL Govt. to conduct an investigation. If they advise that a legal body of the UN shall launch investigations  against SL , it will then come to surface  whether there is a secret deal between Mahinda and Moon , and what is Moon’s objective.

On the other hand , if the UN Legal body is to decide whether the war crime charges against SL shall be investigated or not, and at that juncture, China, Russia and Non Aligned countries exert pressure on Moon , the latter will be presented with the opportunity to sideline the investigations taking advantage of the pressures brought to bear on him. On the earlier occasion when these countries opposed the panel, Moon by explaining that this panel was appointed only to advise him dispelled their further  interference.  In case it is confirmed that  the UN legal body shall investigate, then China, Russia and the Non Aligned Movement countries will seize the opportunity to intervene. In that event, Moon will have the option to refuse the formation of a legal body to investigate, and wash his hands off this subject citing the opposition mounted by these countries.

At all events , when it comes to the  policy in regard to SL , India’s inextricably interwoven ties with Moon is most paramount. Moon’s first assignment after joining the foreign service of South Korea, was as Vice Consul at the South Korean Embassy in India. Moreover, his daughter is married to an Army officer who served in the Indian peace keeping Force (IPKF) stationed in the North- East of SL in the year 1987. It is also important to highlight that China too made a huge contribution in the past to Ban Ki- Moon’s appointment as Secretary General of the UN.

~ ~ By Upul Fernando


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