Re: Sri Lanka - News and Discussion
Posted: 13 Nov 2017 11:15
Weren't there talks of how RAW played a hand in bringing down Rajapakse to assist someone who is more pro Delhi? May be things didn't go as planned.
Consortium of Indian Defence Websites
ArjunPandit wrote:ashish the problem is that ..the guy with lamborghini will rape our friend too...and will take over the flat of our friend who is our neighbour too, the question is you pull the friend out of this deep shit or wait for the guy to be at door with a gun in your hand,
make this situation when the 'friend' becomes son or brother. I will not go to the xtent of saying porkis as our friends who are just 'misguided' but SL is seriously. We both have rough patches in our relationship, but let's realize we dont want another pakistan in our neighbourhood
The Chinese takeover of the Hambantota port only increases New Delhi’s worries that it will become an Indian Ocean hub for the Chinese navy. But, in fact, Hambantota has never been feasible as a full blown Chinese naval base. Its proximity to India would make it highly vulnerable to air attack in the event of conflict between the two countries. But short of war, Hambantota would make a fine logistics point for an expanded Chinese naval presence. Although Colombo has repeatedly claimed that no Chinese naval facility will be permitted in Sri Lanka, New Delhi worries that China’s influence will one day reach a point where the Sri Lankan government simply cannot say no.
This is where the world’s emptiest airport comes in. India is proposing to spend around US$300 million to buy out Sri Lanka’s debt to China in return for a 40-year lease over Hambantota airport. But India’s future plans for the airport are hazy. Maybe a flight school? A new destination for Indian weddings? There seems little chance that it will turn a profit.
That is not the point of the deal. A key element in any overseas naval base, and even a logistics facility, is easy access by air for people and supplies. A naval base also requires maritime air surveillance capabilities. Control over Hambantota airport will give India considerable control over how the port is used. It is difficult to conceive of the Chinese navy developing a significant facility at Hambantota without also controlling the airport. In short, India is spending US$300 million buying an airport to block a Chinese naval base.
nvishal, In war, they can serve as support structures for long battle.
Sri Lanka’s recent dealings with China offer a cautionary tale for many African countries. The way the island nation has ceded control of the strategic port of Hambantota highlights the issue of “debt-trap diplomacy”. It poses the question of whether developing countries are naively mortgaging their resources and strategic assets to China.
Given Africa’s huge reliance on China as a source of funding, there is concern that African states will suffer a similar fate to Sri Lanka – and unwittingly become pawns in China’s global strategic agenda.
It is important to recap what happened in Sri Lanka. Post-civil war Sri Lanka went on a borrowing binge to reconstruct dilapidated infrastructure. To successive Sri Lankan governments, China was a benevolent friend, offering cheap, easy and addictive money – an attractive alternative to the strict conditionality of Western financing arrangements. But the country soon ran into economic woes, and when the debt burden became untenable, the Sri Lankan government was forced to relinquish majority control over the port in 2017 in lieu of repayment.
This sparked outrage across Sri Lanka. To critics, it was confirmation of China’s imperial agenda and demonstrated the pitfalls of Chinese financing: that despite a lack of explicit political conditionality, there is certainly ‘no free lunch’, and such arrangements pose a threat to the sovereignty of vulnerable countries.
Many believe the Sri Lankan example demonstrates China’s unique form of ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ – a predatory system designed to ensnare countries into a straightjacket of debt servitude.
Brahma Chellaney, in a 2017 article for Project Syndicate, explains that Chinese loans are collateralised by strategically important natural assets with high long-term value (even if they lack short-term commercial viability). The port of Hambantota, for example, straddles Indian Ocean trade routes linking Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to Asia.
Typically, Chinese loans assume the form of ‘cash for resources’. In return for financing and building the infrastructure that poorer countries need, China demands favourable access to their natural assets, from mineral resources to ports. The recipient nations usually suffer from low credit ratings and have difficulty obtaining funding from the international financial market.
China, however, makes financing relatively easily available – albeit with certain conditions and less “paperwork” than conventional sources. China’s “tied aid” for infrastructure usually benefits Chinese companies, while its loans are in many cases backed by natural resources. Through this method China achieves the twin goals of economic penetration and strategic leverage.
In light of this trend, what is the nature of China’s engagement in Africa and will African countries suffer a similar fate to Sri Lanka? The question is especially relevant in light of China’s broad geopolitical ambitions.
With the West in retreat and focusing on internal issues, China is asserting a more muscular approach across Africa. As Africa’s main trading partner since 2008, China is securing a long-term ‘foothold’, where it can do business and also ensure the security of its citizens and companies.
Central to this approach is the One Belt, One Road initiative. China is expected to invest up to $1.3-trillion in infrastructure projects as part of a mammoth trade route across Asia, Europe and beyond. In Africa, the initiative will create the continent’s largest free-trade zone in the Horn, and should also include flagship projects like the East African Railway Master Plan.
The tiny East African nation of Djibouti is at the core of this strategy. Beijing has taken root in Djibouti through numerous infrastructure projects including a new port, two new airports and the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway. The sheer scale of these projects, combined with the fact that they are concentrated in a small but strategically located, cash-strapped country, make China’s presence significant.
Apart from being China’s first overseas military base, the Djibouti base represents the first pearl in China’s “String of Pearls” (a theory regarding the country’s Indian Ocean ambitions) along the sea route connecting China to the Middle East. The strategic similarities to Sri Lanka are obvious.
So what’s the problem? Africa has a substantial infrastructure deficit and if China can help bridge the gap, surely this should be celebrated rather than criticised? In theory, this makes sense, but practically, not quite.
African countries do need investment; and substantial loans from China are helpful – but there is a catch. With narrow revenue bases and undiversified economies, there are doubts about whether these countries will be able to service debt, especially against a backdrop of weak commodity prices.
Indeed, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (copper, cobalt), Zambia (copper) and Angola (oil) have recently experienced the negative consequences of this strategy. Mozambique, currently in the midst of a gas boom, should also be aware of the risks, given its elevated debt levels.
In Djibouti, the situation is particularly alarming: “The debt with China increases exponentially. They are going to take this port, just like they did in Sri Lanka,” Doualeh Egueh Ofleh, a deputy in the National Assembly with the opposition Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development told ISS Today this week.
Many states would have to resort to payments “in kind” – which effectively amounts to a country handing the asset back to China a la Sri Lanka. This has led to Beijing’s role in Africa being criticised by Western governments and some Africans as neo-colonial.
However, while there is a tendency to paint China’s financing as predatory, African political elites are also complicit, argues China-Africa expert Dr Lucy Corkin. Blaming China provides a convenient scapegoat but doesn’t absolve governments from brokering shoddy deals that don’t benefit their people.
John Ashbourne, an Africa economist at Capital Economics, believes a disproportionate amount of attention is devoted to China’s model as it is newer and different to Western ones. He believes it’s unfair for African governments to claim victimhood given the range of financing arrangements available to them.
“Governments are able to weigh the costs and benefits of borrowing from China with the option of taking out loans from the (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank, though the latter option may come with more policy prescriptions. If a few sovereigns get themselves into a position where they are worryingly dependent on Chinese loans, they essentially have themselves to blame.”
Ultimately, the question for policy makers in Africa is whether they should adopt a more circumspect approach towards dealing with China. It is important to be aware of exploitative dangers associated with such arrangements, but it is also important to be strategic in how Chinese interest can be exploited to Africa’s advantage. Here a level of tactical nous and economic diplomacy are required.
By exercising their agency and setting the terms of engagement, savvy countries could use China’s involvement in Africa to grow their economies. They could also solicit renewed interest from previously disengaged foreign powers by using their relationships with China to bolster their political capital.
If this is done properly, they could avoid the fate that befell Sri Lanka – and even ensure African nations emerge as winners rather than losers.
Bart S wrote:Huh? How did Sri Lanka get on that list? What have they been up to? Would not be one of the countries that comes to mind easily when talking about terror financing, despite being a Chinese loving PITA.
Also, how do they manage to get GSP+ concessions (or for that matter the Philippines) when their per-capita is higher than India, while India with a lot more poverty to deal with, does not?
The FATF’s proceedings at plenary sessions are private. After three days of intense negotiations, official documents carried no mention of Pakistan’s name in the “grey list” that included the names of countries such as Ethiopia, Iraq, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Vanuatu and Yemen.
Tamil Nadu-Sri Lanka drug nexus: Something fishy about these fishermen
Written By: Vicky Nanjappa
Thursday, February 22, 2018,
The legendary movie Scarface opens with a scene where 1,000s of refugees from Cuba land into the United States. Antonio Montana played by the greatest actor of our times, Al Pacino is one among them. What follows is chaos and dark, dirty world of drugs.
There were 18,600 Tamil refugees who arrived at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. All were sent to special camps on the suspicion that they had links with the LTTE. Further, the probe revealed that many were drug co, Many refugees had become couriers and in the name of medicines and aid came the drugs. The modus operandi was busted and with the fall of the LTTE there was a lull.
Today not a single day passes by when an incident of drug smuggling is not reported. There is a sudden spike in the smuggling of ephedrine and in the first half of 2017 86 kilograms of ephedrine was seized. Further, there is an increase by 26 per cent in amphetamine seizures coupled with 115 kilograms of the heroin being picked up by the enforcement agencies.
The list is endless. The cartels bring in LSD, cocaine, cannabis, pseudoephedrine and Ketamine too in large quantities. The top route: Tamil Nadu has always been a transit point for smuggling.
The end of the civil war in Sri Lanka, the smuggling of drugs has increased. There is a great demand for heroin in Sri Lanka and smuggling has become easier thanks to the porous borders. Further, the proximity between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka has made it a smugglers paradise. While at first, the couriers were the refugees, today it is the fishermen. Recently the Sri Lankan naval fleet apprehended six Indian fishermen and also seized a fishing boat on the charge that they were attempting to smuggle 13.5 kilograms of heroin. The men from the Nagapattinam area were nabbed and it was found that three of them did not even have proper identity cards. Sri Lanka has claimed that they have been regularly nabbing drug traffickers approaching the north waters posing as fishermen.
The international cartel:
The international cartel which is using Sri Lanka as a transhipment destination relies heavily on the fishermen. The heroin trade between India and Sri Lanka was established over a century back. While it continued, the LTTE too sources heroin from India and smuggled it into Sri Lanka where the domestic consumption is very high. The LTTE would use the funds for its activities. After the LTTE fell, the model is now being replicated by the international drug cartel. It was found that the cartel bribes the fishermen to smuggle the drugs.
An officer with the Narcotics Control Bureau told OneIndia that fishermen are today the favourite couriers of drugs for the cartel. The NCB official said that two-thirds of the heroin is being produced in Afghanistan. It is then brought into Pakistan following which the contraband is dropped off at Punjab. From there it is loaded into inter-state trucks and then supplied to the rest of the country. Most of the grade 3 heroine referred to as brown sugar lands in Ramnathpuram which is the closest sea link to Sri Lanka. It is then divided into smaller and larger quantities. While the larger quantity is taken to Sri Lanka through the sea route from Rameswaram, the smaller lot is packed off through the Chennai airport.
Hard to track:
Monitoring all the boats is no easy task. There are 100s of boats that venture out from Rameswaram and to check each one of them is no easy job. Most of the contraband is handed over to agents mid-sea by the fishermen. The problem is immense and even the Sri Lankan navy has managed to apprehend the fishermen only when there is very concrete information. This ideally means a large part of the contraband manages to reach its destination. Over the recent months, it has also been found that there is a very high demand for cannabis from Kerala. The cartels use a similar route to reach Sri Lanka. Statistics would show that 2,500 kilograms of cannabis and 180 kilograms of heroin have been seized in recent times.
Why wasn’t Sarath Fonseka appointed law and order minister ?
The latest Cabinet reshuffle was a disappointment. Even some UNP parliamentarians have gone on record calling it a ‘joke’, others mutter the same in private. If anything at all, this is another proof of how indecisive President Maithripala Sirisena has become. He is being dragged here and there by his Maharaja advisers, who are preoccupied with discrediting the UNP leadership and SLFP heavyweights, who even after coming in a distant third in the recent election, still have the tenacity to call the shots within the government.
The Cabinet reshuffle has only settled their grudges. It simply ignored the elephant in the room, i.e. the government’s repeated failure over the past three years to successfully prosecute those accused of corruption, nepotism, abductions and a prison massacre during the tenure of the former regime.
The President rejected the UNP’s nomination of Field Marshal SarathFonseka as the minister of law and order and instead appointed the Prime Minister, who will now have to pull off a miracle out of nothing. Mr. Wickremesinghe is bound to fail. And his failure will further discredit the government, and especially the UNP. The President, his advisers and the SLFP are plotting to cash in on this impending failure. But, they won’t win. It will be ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa who is bound to win at the end of this partisan gambit.
To be fair by Mr. Wickremesinghe’s predecessor in the post, Minister Sagala Ratnayake, his failure to catch crooks was not so much due to foul play but that he was held back by the usual lethargy of the Sri Lankan judiciary and the political affiliations of some of those at the Attorney General’s Department to the old regime. To overcome those challenges, one needs political courage and perhaps a different kind of personal disposition.
Let’s take a different analogy. Consider a dozen former generals who commanded the army. Most of them could well have been more gentlemen-like than the one who finally defeated, or more accurately annihilated, the enemy. That they failed in their primary task was not because the previous governments were less supportive to their efforts, perhaps with the exception of J.R. who was forced to stop the Vadamarachchi offensive by the Indians. They did not have something the last man who ended the war had. That is a certain degree of calculated ruthlessness.
The government needs a dose of that, if it is to successfully persecute the corrupt of the former regime and those inside the current one as well. Obviously, military and civil structures entail different challenges and limits of political influence. However, in a more practical note, judiciary independence is also relative. Those who crow about the efficiency and independence of judiciary of Singapore also know quite well how skittish those courts are when taking up issues that are in conflict with the regime interests.
SLFP ministers who influenced the president’s choice are more worried about saving their skin. A determined anti-corruption campaign led by someone of the calibre of Fonseka will be unrelenting. There will be little room for manipulation and influence peddling. And it could also have caused quite a bit of collateral damage along its path.
Countries such as Sri Lanka that face enormous economic and social challenges should evolve a system that is more committed to goal achieving, rather than being obsessively rule-abiding. That applies not just for catching crooks, perhaps it is more important when economic development goals are concerned. Weak institutions often make existing rules susceptible to manipulation. See the daily drama of high profile suspects ending up in prison hospitals, then being bailed out, and running to political office and financing political parties. Sarath Fonseka if given a chance could well have cleansed the system. But it is not exactly what the political leaders of either party really want.
The Prime Minister’s new assignment would also distract him from his responsibilities in economic policy, something he is competent with. That would have serious negative implications on the investment climate. An economy cannot be salvaged by giving subsidized sprats and lentils to the public. The country needs to create favourable micro-economic conditions that would foster a long term growth. That is however a painful process in the short run. Sri Lanka rarely had sound economic managers in the political office. Instead, we had quite a lot of populist charlatans. UNP under MrWickremesinghe is quite good at handling economy, even its detachment with grassroots’impulses at times can help it stay the course. Though too much alienation could only see that it would a joint opposition government that would distribute to the people the benefits of the UNP’s economic policy.
President’s choice of the law and order minister thus creates vacillation not only in law and order, but also in economy. That is a double jeopardy to the country and its people.
rsingh Ji :rsingh wrote:Bakistan is going to take moral responsibility of Muslims. Lanka is a friendly country for them so statement is going to be like
" We call upon all concerned parties to resolve the issue peacefully. We request muslim community to show restrained as peaceful co-existence is main teaching of islam. We have sent our special envoy to Colombo to find out what kind of help may be provided.
Two die in explosion, over 40 premises destroyed
March 7, 2018, 11:19 pm
By Cyril Wimalasurendre and Rathindra Kuruwita
The government yesterday declared a curfew in the Kandy District and urged the public to remain in their homes until further notice as the unrest in the area continued for a fourth day. The police clamped a curfew initially.
Tension prevailed in Katugastota, Ambadeniya, Akurana and Barigama as mobs attacked shops and places of worship.
Several business places were set ablaze on Tuesday (6) night while some others were set on fire yesterday morning (07).
Two men who tried to carry out an attack at Welakade near Ambatenna in Katugastota died in an explosion.
Over 40 business places and houses in the Kandy police division during the three days beginning Monday (05) were destroyed.
They were at Digana, Katugastota and Ambatenna.
Prez Sirisena should talk with Basil or Gota and reach an agreement -Dr. Nalin de Silva
2018-03-06 00:00:36 9 3854
I’m not a fan of Maithripala, he was used by the west and Indians against the Rajapaksas
We asked GL, Dulles and Wimal to form a new party without contesting under the UPFA ticket for General Elections. But they didn’t listen to us. They contested under the UPFA (betel leaf)
The Joint Opposition now wants the SLFP MPs in the Government to withdraw. This is wrong as there are no SLFP MPs in parliament
The Joint Opposition can’t muster two-thirds for dissolution. They are only marking time till 2019/2020
It isn’t clear what this National Government is. The Prime Minister is also not clear about it
Dr. Nalin de Silva during an interview with the Daily mirror spoke about the current political situation in the country. Dr. de Silva has been a leading proponent of the Sinhala nationalist movement since the 1980s and been a critique of Western science and culture. Dr. de Silva has been noted for his strong push for the military defeat of the LTTE through his regular articles to the Sinhala and English newspapers through the 1990s till the ultimate ending of the war in 2009. In recent times and particularly after the defeat of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015,
Dr. de Silva in his almost daily writings on social media and the website kalaya.org has been one of the first to advocate the return of Mahinda Rajapaksa to national politics and the formation of a new party as early as April 2015. Most recently he was vocal that President Maitripala Sirisena and the Political camp led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should come together to remove Ranil Wickremesinghe from the Premiership. Excerpts of the interview follow:
Q : Why have you been advocating for a long time that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should be brought back to politics?
Soon after the defeat of Mahinda, I knew that he should be brought back. He is the most suitable person to lead the country during this period. We organized a conference to advocate that position. Unfortunately, nobody took us seriously at that time. At that time, the 19th Amendment wasn’t there. We said that if Ranil Wickremesinghe was made the Prime Minister with 40 odd members, we should be able to bring back Mahinda. Even at that time, Mahinda had the majority in Parliament. He had the required majority. If they had moved a vote of no confidence, they could have won.
Even at that time, the Rajapaksas had different ideas. I am fed up with this type of politics. Even at that time, the Rajapaksas did not want to remove Ranil. They were interested in removing President Maithripala Sirisena. The Rajapaksa rule, in the opinion of westerners and Indians, was against their views. They wanted a new constitution giving more powers to Tamil racist elements. They really wanted a confederation here. They wanted to remove Rajapaksa and bring Ranil. Maithripala was a puppet. People, including me, say that Maithripala should not have defected from the then Government. What made him to defect?
It was Basil Rajapaksa who was behind this. Most ministers were not in favour of Mahinda Rajapaksa because of Basil Rajapaksa. If anybody is responsible for the defection, it is Basil. Ask Maithripala. People do not understand this. I wanted to bring back Mahinda. I knew that it was possible. Also in my opinion Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is not just a representative of the English, Anglican Christian culture. He is one of them. Even D’Oyly spoke Sinhala.
Q : In the run up to the last General Elections too, you asked for the formation of a new party under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Why did you do it at that time?
I knew at that time that Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was a dead party. So, I wanted them to form a new party. They did not listen to me at that time. In fact, I, along with a few others, went to meet Prof. G.L. Peiris at his residence. I met him, Dulles Alhapperuma, Wimal Weerawansa and a few others. We asked them to form a new party without contesting under the UPFA ticket. They did not listen to us. They contested under the UPFA (betel leaf) ticket. What happened? If they had contested under a different party, Mahinda Rajapaksa could have even become the Prime Minister. If not, he could have become the Leader of the Opposition at least. Today, they cannot do anything. They are MPs as members of the UPFA. The Joint Opposition is not a recognized political party. They have 51 or more members. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has only 16 members. Even then the Joint Opposition can’t stake a claim for the post of Opposition Leader because they are UPFA MPs. Then, they are virtually members of the Government though they do not realize it. The speaker knows this.
When the Prime Minister got the Secretary General of Parliament to read a resolution passed in September 2015, it said that the UNP, having obtained the majority of votes, had formed a National Government. The resolution said that Parliament could approve 48 Ministers and other numbers of non-Cabinet Ministers.
The resolution said the UNP had formed the National Government as the party with the biggest majority. The problem is that the UNP is not represented in this Parliament. It is the United National Front (UNF) that is represented in Parliament. As far as Parliament and the Speaker are concerned, the UNP is not represented in Parliament. However, they continue to ignore that.
Q : Yet, they all contested under the elephant symbol of the UNP. Then, how can you say that it is not recognized?
The elephant is the symbol of the UNF. The symbol does not matter. It does not matter as long as the Elections Commission recognizes it. They contested as the UNF. Then, the UNP, even as a party, though not represented in the parliament, does not have a majority. It has only 82 members. If that is the case, the Prime Minister cannot say his party has the largest number of seats. This National Government has been illegal from the day it was formed. The opposition claims that there was an agreement between the UNP and the UPFA or SLFP. That is not clear. We do not still know whether the UNF (UNP) formed a so called National Government with the UPFA or the SLFP. The so called agreement is immaterial. The Constitution does not say there should be an agreement between the two or more parties concerned. Then, the argument of the Joint Opposition is also invalid. The Constitution only defines a National Government and states that such a National Government could have a cabinet consisting of more than 30 MPs with the approval of Parliament. The above mentioned resolution read by the Secretary of the Parliament received the approval of the Parliament to appoint a cabinet of 48 members.
If it is a ‘National Government’ comprising the UNP as the resolution says claiming that UNP has the most number of MPs then such a claim is wrong on many counts. The so called joint opposition does not speak about it as they also want to be recognized as a party. The UNP and SLFP may be recognized parties by the Elections Commission, but they are not represented in the Parliament. Whether they like it or not, the Joint Opposition is also part of this Government if the so called National Government is formed with the UPFA. If it is formed with the SLFP then there are other problems as the SLFP is not represented in the Parliament.
If the so called National Government has been formed by the UNF with the UPFA then there is some sense in asking the UPFA to withdraw from the Government, but in that case the joint opposition should realise that they are also withdrawing from the Government. More than that by asking the UPFA MPs to withdraw from the Government they are strengthening the hand of Wickremesinghe. Maithripala, if not impeached, will be a prisoner of Ranil.
There was a talk by the joint opposition about a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister over the Central Bank bond fraud. What has happened about it? Nobody is talking about it. Instead of that, they now want to support Range Bandara if and when he moves a vote of no confidence. It is the Joint Opposition as a group of MPs that should take the leadership in bringing a motion of no confidence. They now want an election.
How can you hold an election? The President cannot dissolve Parliament until February, 2020. By that time, he would not be in presidency, most probably. There would be a different President at that time. I do not want to speculate on it.
The only way to dissolve Parliament today is by bringing a resolution in Parliament to the effect that the House declares that it should be dissolved. For that, they need a two-thirds majority. The Joint Opposition talks about it without talking about the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister that can be passed with a simple majority. This is nothing, but humbug. The Joint Opposition cannot muster two-thirds for dissolution.
Q : What do you think of the formation of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) since you have been advocating the formation of a new party ?
The Party should have been formed before the 2015 General Elections. In February, it was able to get only 44.6 percent of votes with all these problems the country was facing. They claim it as a huge victory, though it is not. The Government is so unpopular. The cost of living is so high. There is the bond scam. With all that, the SLPP could not get more than 45 percent of votes. In the 2015 Presidential Elections Mahinda secured 48% of the vote. It has to be emphasized that I never advocated that the SLPP should form an alliance with Maithripala at the Local Government Elections. I am more concerned with the removal of Ranil as Prime Minister rather than capturing power of the local bodies.
Having said that, one has to remember that President Sirisena got 13 percent. Of that, I would say three percent were from the UNP vote base. Some people who are disappointed with the UNP would have voted for him. The remaining ten percent is from the Sinhala nationalist camp. Some supporters of Mahinda/Basil want to believe that these votes are from Thondaman without realizing the latter contested separately. From Mahinda’s 45 percent, at least 40 are from the nationalist camp. The nationalists have at least 50 percent together. That is more than enough to form a Government on their own. Even if the joint opposition does not want to accept ministerial posts they can still be in the Government. As UPFA members they have no alternative. Why are they (Maithripala, Basil and Mahinda) ignoring the Sinhala nationalist camp? Are they under foreign influence?
The Tamil parties are now in shambles. They did not get the necessary votes. There are problems. If the Sinhala people are united, the Tamil racist elements cannot do anything. They understand it more than the Sinhala people. In this game, Tamil racist elements have no say if 50 percent of the Sinhala nationalist votes remain intact. They realize it more than the Rajapaksas and Sirisena.
How can you hold an election? The President cannot dissolve Parliament until February, 2020. By that time, he would not be in presidency, most probably. There would be a different President at that time. I do not want to speculate on it
Q : In your view what should be done in the future under these circumstances?
Get President Sirisena to talk with Basil Rajapaksa or Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and reach some agreement. They need to sign a document. That has to be done within the next few days. If they do not do it, that will be the end of the nationalist movement for some time. The Prime Minister will be powerful. Already, he is the Law and Order Minister, either for a temporary period or on a long term basis. Giving it to Minister Sarath Fonseka is equally harmful. They would destroy the Sinhala nationalist movement. Mr. Fonseka was the Army Commander. But, he is against the Rajapaksas. As a result, he is also against the nationalist movement. In a way he had betrayed the country on the white flag incident.
Q : If that is the case who should take over as Prime Minister?
I would go for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Different Rajapaksas have different mindsets. I am for Mahinda because he is the best person. If it is not Mahinda, somebody from the Joint Opposition should be appointed. If they are not ready for it, somebody from the Maithripala faction in the Government should be chosen. It could be anybody like Ministers Dayasiri Jayasekara, Susil Premajayantha or S.B. Dissanayake. Definitely, it should not be Minister Duminda Dissanayake.
Q : On the other hand there is an opinion that the stance taken by you is being racist and excludes the minorities. Your view?
I am not a racist. I recognize that the Sinhala Buddhist culture should be given its due place. If that is racism all the western countries are racist. They have dominant Christian cultures in their countries. Please remember that I am not asking for a dominant place for the Sinhala Buddhiist culture. The Christian culture especially in its Anglican form is the dominant culture in the rest of the world as well. Our education is Christian. The Judiciary system, the Parliament and almost all the others are Christian. What is the place given for traditional (paramparika) medicine in Sri Lanka. There is not even a Vaidya Sabha even in the western format for traditional medicine. The list is long, and I have written on these during the past thirty five years or so. The English wanted to destroy the Sinhala Buddhist culture, but they failed. However, they have succeeded in weakening the Sinhala Buddhist culture. The English created Tamil racism and baptized it in 1833, which I have explained in An Analysis of Tamil Racism, in order to weaken if not destroy the Sinhala Buddhist culture. With Nandikadal, Tamil racism was defeated. A military solution is also a political solution. The Tamil racist ‘problem’ created by the English has been solved. There is no need for further talks on this matter. Would Churchill have spoken to the Nazis after the so called second world war? The Sinhala people are still fighting, albeit without the support of the politicians, to win back their lost rights. If you call it racism, then what do you call Christian hegemony throughout the world? Please remember that it was the Sinhala people who protected the Muslims from the Portuguese Catholics, and settled them in the present Eastern Province, and protected the Catholics from the Dutch Reformists.
Q : How do you see the present Constitution making process and where it is heading?
If the present Prime Minister is allowed to get himself established by the Rajapaksas, he will get the new Constitution that would pave the way for a confederation hook or by crook. The Constitutional Assembly is a dangerous instrument that Ranil could make use of to establish the new constitution without presenting it to the Parliament citing the 1972 constitution as an example. He could even claim to be a follower of Bandaranaike policies by extending the Parliament for another five years. If that happens those who are preparing for 2019/2020 without removing Ranil Wickremesinghe from the Prime Minister post in 2018 will see the end of their politics.
March 7, 2018, 12:00 pm
The government says it has managed to douse the flames of communal violence in the Kandy District, but the situation is far from normal. The savage fanatics responsible for plunging the country into chaos thrice during the last few months are capable of striking at will. Troublemakers have shown a remarkable ability to regroup and carry out attacks. A recrudescence of racial attacks either in Kandy or in some other parts of the country is, therefore, within the realms of possibility.
In a dramatic turn of events replete with irony, the yahapalana government has had to adopt some stringent, if not draconian, measures which some of its leaders condemned vehemently while they were in the Opposition. A state of Emergency has been declared for one week; a curfew has been imposed and restrictions have been slapped on social media. These measures are temporary, we are told. It is hoped that the government won’t make a habit of declaring emergency at the drop of a hat hereafter. It had better heed the concerns expressed by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and act accordingly.
Gagging the media, social or mainstream, cannot be countenanced, but extremists have been abusing social media, especially Facebook, to disseminate ‘fake news’ and highly inflammatory information so as to incite communal violence. All it takes to cast the country into turmoil is a mobile phone in the hands of a fanatic. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with social media, but they lend themselves to abuse at the hands of sociopaths. There’s the rub.
The mainstream media is in a dilemma. They act cautiously in handling sensitive issues such as communal disturbances and refrain from revealing the ethnic identities of parties to a dispute lest there should be a breakout of copycat violence elsewhere. But, the social media are without any such ethical constraints or responsibilities. Issues, more often than not, get blown out of proportion and given racist twists via social media.
People, especially the youth, have been exposed to a great deal of inflammatory, hate-mongering rhetoric and incitement to violence through social media during the last several days. The result was a kind of mass hysteria about ‘infertility causing pills crushed and mixed with food’ sold in some eateries. Thankfully, the Health authorities promptly responded and nailed the canard, putting the matter to rest.
The government may have thought the best way to overcome the problem of fake news was to block some social media platforms. But, the efficacy of this measure is in doubt because there are other ways troublemakers can disseminate fake news and incite violence.
Prabhakaran used guns and bombs to plunge the country into chaos to advance his macabre agenda. Thankfully, he failed in his endeavour and is pushing up daisies. But, ethno-religious fanatics can throw the country into turmoil without firing a single bullet. They need only mobile phones, nay, they don’t need even phones. They can use the word of mouth. In 1983, there were no social media and even land phones were considered a luxury, but savages carried out a well coordinated anti-Tamil pogrom in many parts of the country, didn’t they? Neutralising these barbaric elements is far more difficult than battling terror. Police and military crackdowns coupled with legal action are called for to deal with them as a short-term measure, but the most effective way of sending them out of circulation is to defeat them ideologically. There is a pressing need for educating the public on the danger of being misled by them.
President Sirisena is reported to have set up several task forces recently to tackle various issues. Perhaps, he should consider setting up still more task forces, under his direct supervision, at the grassroots level, consisting of members representing all ethnic and religious communities, law enforcement officers, Grama Niladharis and politicians, to prevent communal disturbances. They can be made to swing into action at the first sign of trouble. Each and every local government ward now has a member besides many others appointed via the Additional List. They can be tasked with promoting coexistence and preventing ethnic violence.
The biggest game changer in 100 years’: Chinese money gushes into Sri Lanka
Beijing is spreading its influence across the region with huge investments – much to the worry of India and the west
Michael Safi in Hambantota and Amantha Perera
Mon 26 Mar 2018
Mattala Rakapaksa airport, built with Chinese loans, handles 50,000 passengers a year, a fraction of its capacity of 1 million. Photograph: Michael Safi
Little disturbs the serenity of Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion, as her statue sits in contemplation at the centre of Mattala Rajapaksa international airport.
The last flight from the airport departed at 7.50am. The next is scheduled for 7.50am tomorrow. In the meantime check-in counters are empty, car rental desks deserted, and the only sign of life a handful of staff laughing around an information desk who disperse when a visitor arrives.
Built to handle one million passengers each year, Mattala Rajapaksa saw just over 50,000 people in 2017. Since it opened four years ago the gleaming facility in Hambantota district, on Sri Lanka’s south coast, has become known as the emptiest international airport in the world.
Mattala Rajapaksa airport in southern Sri Lanka is often called the emptiest international airport in the world. Photograph: Michael Safi
It is a symbol of the promise and peril of a fierce contest under way in south Asia. While most international attention has been focused on the South China Sea, on its western border China has been aggressively expanding its presence in the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – rattling the regional kingpin, India, and watched warily by the west.
China’s clout has few limits. Shouldn’t we be worried about its new Silk Road?
“China’s penetration of south Asia is the biggest game changer in 100 years,” says Constantino Xavier, a fellow at the thinktank Carnegie India. “The Russians tried, the Americans tried. This is the first time since at least world war two you have a massive power contesting the Indian state.”
Chinese money has gushed into south Asia and especially Pakistan in the past decade, and billions more has been promised as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing’s ambitious bid to create a new Silk Road of trade routes around the world.
In the Maldives the Chinese government or state-owned enterprises have provided loans or investment for more than 20 projects, according to new analysis by thinktank Gateway House, with the largest three projects alone worth nearly 40% of the Maldivian GDP.
Nepal, which shares an open border with India, is hosting at least two dozen Chinese investments. Beijing’s interests in Bangladesh are estimated to be worth up to $35bn. But few regions in the neighbourhood have been transformed as dramatically as Hambantota, about five hours’ drive from the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.
Surrounded by acres of paddy fields and banana trees, between fishing villages and food stalls, enormous pieces of modern infrastructure now line the Hambantota landscape. They are ghostly sites. More cows than cars ply a new expressway. A convention centre that hosted the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in 2013 now offers cheap rates to wedding parties. A newly built hospital has never admitted patients, instead providing accommodation to Chinese migrant workers.
World's biggest building project aims to make China great again
They were built in the fury of development that followed the end of the Sri Lankan civil war, fuelled by $8bn borrowed from China by the previous president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who dreamed of turning his ancestral home into a tourism and business powerhouse.
“There was this sense that China would write us blank cheques,” says one Sri Lankan government economist, not authorised to speak publicly.
Hambantota is dotted with paddy fields and banana trees. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian
The rates on Chinese loans were often no better than those on international capital markets, he says. The difference was China asked fewer questions. “There was no rigour applied to, how are you going to make this work, what’s the business model here?
“It took a while for folks to realise we might be in trouble.”
‘An acute crisis’
Not every Hambantota project is deserted. In 2010 Sri Lanka agreed to pay a Chinese state-owned corporation $1.5bn to build a new port. Last December, struggling to make repayments, the government agreed to lease the port – and 15,000 acres surrounding it – to the same Chinese company for 99 years.
The lease has alarmed Indian and western policymakers who worry China has won a strategic foothold in the Indian Ocean. It has also angered locals, who fear Sri Lanka is caught in a debt trap and will be forced to lease even more assets in the future.
On 9 December a Chinese flag was raised over Hambantota port in place of Sri Lanka’s. It lasted seven days. “I went to the port administration office and told them I was willing to be shot to take down this flag,” says Bergama Gnana Thilaka, the chief priest at a Buddhist temple near the site.
Thilaka has led hundreds of monks in resistance to the lease of the port, which he likens to a colonial invasion. “When Sri Lanka was colonised by the British there were Buddhist monks who played a pivotal role against them,” he says.
The presence of Chinese workers in Hambantota has particularly galled opponents, on a backdrop of raging Buddhist nationalist sentiment on the island. Thilaka complains he knows of at least five marriages already between Chinese workers and local women.
“If they start coming here and have that much of an imprint, we will have a similar problem to what we’ve had with the upcountry Tamils,” he says. “There is no way to send these people back.”
Bergama Gnana Thilaka, the chief priest at a Buddhist temple in Hambantota and an opponent of leasing the area’s port to Chinese state-owned enterprises. Photograph: Michael Safi
Watching on, analysts and western diplomats warn Chinese money is increasingly translating into political sway.
“What has changed is the sheer amount of [Chinese] influence, and how they’re using this economic leverage for political and strategic purposes,” says Tanvi Madan, the director of the India project at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC.
Mohamad Nasheed, the exiled former Maldives president, calls China’s involvement in his country an “acute crisis”, accusing it of propping up the current ruler, Abdulla Yameen, so it can keep acquiring territory in the archipelago. “They have weaponised foreign direct investment,” he says.
Sri Lanka has banned the Chinese navy from Hambantota port for now, but faces decades of debt repayments to Beijing. “Any country that extends economic assistance, whether it’s China, India or the US, has a strategic interest in doing so,” says Dushni Weerakoon, the executive director at the Institute of Policy Studies in Colombo.
Even in developed democracies such as Australia, governments are trying to adjust to more aggressive Chinese intervention, says Xavier, the Carnegie India fellow. “You can imagine what they can do with $24bn in Bangladesh in 10 years’ time.”
Inevitably a more intense rivalry also increases the potential for military confrontation. India and China have fought wars over disputed borders in the past, but in 2017 for the first time they squared off on the soil of a third country, when Bhutan called Indian troops in to stop Chinese road-building in a disputed area.
India is doubling down on courting its neighbours, Xavier says, but also China’s other rivals. Once described as “estranged democracies”, the US and India now boast closer ties than ever, and along with Japan and Australia have revived a high-level forum known as the “Quad”, aimed at ensuring the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions remain “free and open”.
Neither India nor China is likely to ever completely dominate the region, Madan says. Instead, she predicts the small states will keep their powerful patrons guessing. “They will play one country against the other and try to maximise the benefits,” she says. “This is only going to become more complex, not less.”
Philip wrote:Our myopic and asinine MEA was asked several times to build the HT port,but refused.Result? We have the Chines eon our doorstep and with their nationals ointo SL ,seen everywhere,in a decade's time SL would've become a satellite Chinese state.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... -sri-lankaThe biggest game changer in 100 years’: Chinese money gushes into Sri Lanka
Beijing is spreading its influence across the region with huge investments – much to the worry of India and the west
Michael Safi in Hambantota and Amantha Perera
Neither India nor China is likely to ever completely dominate the region, Madan says. Instead, she predicts the small states will keep their powerful patrons guessing. “They will play one country against the other and try to maximise the benefits,” she says. “This is only going to become more complex, not less.”
Philip wrote:Let me clarify a few points.The truth does hurt.
The Chinese "invasion" into SL started decades ago.I warned our jokers what was going to happen two decades ago including the PLAN planning parking their assets in the IOR.Few understood what was to come. The Chins played their cards very well, very discreetly and took advantage of our myopia and arrogance.We used to openly remark that SL had no other neighbour but us and would have to listen to us now and forevermore as no one could come to its aid.
The HT port was offered to us not once but twice.All the GOSL wanted was a port which would bring some activity to the under-developed south.We brushed them off.I used to warn our jokers that for a measly few hundred millions, we would one day end up paying billions if we allowed the Chinese to get a foothold there.So under Rajapakse, man from the south, the Chins offered him not just HT but also the Colombo Port City- now fudged as a "Financial City" with huge land reclamation for a 99 yr lease too.The HT port was designed with the PLAN's needs in the future , not as just a commercial venture.They look at it like rental for the equiv. of say Subic Bay in the Filipinas that the US used to pay.
If we are so poor and couldn't afford to help SL, why then are we desperate to run the most useless intl. airport in the world, the Rajapakse Mattala airport near HT?
One of our sr. diplomats an old friend used to deplore "Delhi's" attitude, never giving
value to their warnings.15000 acres is attached to the HT deal, for the Chins to squat upon exclusively for 99 years!
16 islands/ atolls in the Maldives too.Sadly both events- the HT deal signed after Sirisena won his election as well as the parliamentary elections later on, and the Maldives takeaway have happenef in the era of the NDA-2.There was a promise to India that the HT deal would be scrapped by Sirisena and Ranil.But what happened? We were blind-sided by the Chins, how?
So too have we lost the plot in the Maldives and Nepal, both firmly entrenched with the Chinese.The MEA is now scratching its ghoolies wondering what to do.Those in the know know it to be true.We are clueless in our foreign policy in our very own backyard ( even the Seychelles just shafted us saying a big NO to our planned naval base there) but rush around further grandly further afar trying to cobble up some kind of alliances while the fox has entered the hencoop!
After local polls, where Rajapakse's benami party swept to victory, efforts are being made by him to throw out the govt. by allegedly buying MPs from his old party the SLFP where Sirisena has little authority being as someone put it, a v.lucky "village bumpkin" whom Chandrika picked for president! The village bumpkin is notorious for nepotism, like a good gaonwallah and his family members-a large one too like a good villager, have benefited much from hix good fortune. The other " familia" of the boy from the south can't wait to get back into power.If they do come back, Rajapakse will make the Mugabe era in Zimbabwe look like a Boy Scout jamboree in comparison.
We have more than enough money to spend wisely in our neighbourhood taking advantage of offers first given to us.Our SL policy has however suffered very greatly because of the arrogant attitude of the " Lutyens' Delhi"
mandarins not listening to the voices from the south.When the Tamils in SL needed our help we viewed SL through the prism of Tamil/ Southern separatism in India. Later on we rushed to their aid forgetting about the 75% Sinhalese who are also of Indian origin simply because they are Buddhist?
Godless China is now trying to usurp Buddhist organisations around the globe. Look at Nepal, Burma and SL too.Where India- the home of Buddhism should've taken the lead,we've abdicated our responsibility and shamefully abandoned our relationship and responsibility for the Dalai Lama and Tibetan diaspora just out of fear of annoying the Chinese, just becos the PM is visiting Beijing shortly!
I have never seen such an abject display from our MEA in decades.We have been defeated in our very own neighbourhood impinging so drastically upon our security where our neighbours havd dcant respect for our concerns .We must seriously ask why?
It is not too late to repair the damage which will now take sev.years to rectify ,but our MEA still gallops across the globe into diplomatic duels like a soldier who has no sword in his scabbard and unwilling to use his purse to buy his way out of trouble too!
pankajs wrote:Yawn .. and move on. We need to get out of this China phobia this brain freeze.
pankajs wrote:Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal and Bakistan can indeed attest to China's reach. Good for them that they are getting some infra built by the Chinese.
Who know but that Modi will invite the Chinese to invest in India/India Infra. Modi might even get India on BRI if our concerns are take care of. Modi is as sly as they get and very unpredictable by *normal* standards. It wouldn't surprise me.
PS: I am not trying to provoke shock and outrage by making the above statement. Modi has his own thinking/plans. Only in future will we know what he risked and for what prize and if he succeed or failed.
Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal and Bakistan can indeed attest to China's reach. Good for them that they are getting some infra built by the Chinese.