Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne on Tuesday (22) lashed out at politicians who spread rumours that there would be a military coup if the government failed to arrest deterioration of democracy. He said it was only a figment of the imagination.
“These politicians are are trying to mislead the masses as the security forces have commanded the respect of the whole nation. Those politicians are trying to vent their frustration by pointing an accusing finger at the security forces and their accusations are baseless, unfounded and unsubstantiated.”
Addressing a news conference at the Government Information Department, Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne claimed that in the history of Sri Lanka there had been no such incidents. He said there would be no military coup in the future as well as the armed forces were there to protect a government elected by the people.
“Ours is a professional and a battle hardened Navy and if some politicians think that they could demoralise these officers and men with their derogatory rhetoric it is only a pipedream,” the Navy Chief said.
“Our Navy was able to destroy floating armouries of the LTTE and brought the ruthless terrorist group to its knees before it was decimated in a concerted effort by the security forces.”
Wijegunaratne said today 60 per cent of Navy personnel were engaged in duties on land and in future 20 per cent of them would be deployed at sea as the service made its presence felt not only in the country’s territorial waters, but in the region as well.
Responding to a query by media personnel on the challenges faced by the Navy right now, the Commander said combatting piracy and drug smuggling operations and added “We have been quite successful in curbing both to a great extent”.
“The Navy has increased its patrols and with the help of modern technology today we can cover a range of 200 nautical miles, he said.
Sri Lanka Navy had already ordered two ships from India and they were to be delivered from a shipyard in Goa and plans were also afoot to order more ships to strengthen our fleet, the Navy Commander said.
Meanwhile, the Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne said that as they were about to embark on the seventh edition of the annual Galle Dialogue, it had gained immense popularity and was becoming more and more useful to participants.
“Due to our experience in fighting a war with the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world, many countries look forward to joining us in seminars of this nature and the number participants has increased over the years”, the Navy Commander said
Addressing the same press conference he said there would be participants attending the two day seminar next week from as far as Canada and Japan.
Asked about the cost involved in organising the seminar, the Commander said this year it had cost the Navy around Rs. 40 million and 80 per cent of the cost would be recovered. (Sri Lanka Guardian)