India to overtake China’s bridge diplomacy in Maldives
Malé (Maldives) – India on Thursday pledged $500 million to build bridges and causeways in the Maldives, as New Delhi seeks to counter growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean.
The Maldives borrowed billions of dollars from Beijing and hired Chinese firms for infrastructure projects under previous President Abdulla Yameen.
This stoked concerns in India and the West that China was saddling countries in Asia and beyond with unsustainable debts while expanding its sphere of influence.
Under the new Maldives government, India has sought to regain influence in the archipelago nation of 340,000 people and 1,192 islands located on major East-West shipping lanes.
The new investment announced takes India’s total pledged outlay to over $2 billion since President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih came to power, India’s foreign ministry said.
Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid said the new money was part of a financial package to build bridges and causeways linking the capital Male to three neighbouring islets.
“Once completed, the project will be the single largest infrastructure project in the Maldives,” Shahid said in a statement.
In total, they will also be more than three times longer than the $200-million “China-Maldives Friendship Bridge” completed under Yameen with Chinese loans which has since been re-named.
It was not clear how long the new project would take.
Shahid also id his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in their talks Thursday had pledged $250 million to meet urgent needs and support efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The virus has infected over 5,300 people and claimed 21 lives in the Maldives, where its crucial tourism industry took a battering.
“There has been a reset in our relations,” an Indian diplomat said after the bilateral talks via video conference.
“In the last one-and-a-half years, President Solih and his government have acted on its ‘India First’ policy in right earnest. In line with its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, India has worked proactively to deepen its ties with the Maldives.”
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam
The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.
Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.
A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.
The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.
According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.
The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.
DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.
PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners
By Norman Palihawadane
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.
Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.
Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.
The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”
Thilo Hoffman remembered
A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.
Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.
The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.
Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’
Happy New Year!
A Cabinet reshuffle needed
7-billion-rupee diamond heist; Madush splls the beans before being shot
Unfit, unprofessional, fat Sri Lankans
The Burghers of Ceylon/Sri Lanka- Reminiscences and Anecdotes
news7 days ago
UK rejects Lanka’s request for handing over of Gash dispatches to Geneva
Opinion5 days ago
Monumental blunders paralysing Sri Lanka
Editorial7 days ago
The strange case of Naufer
Opinion7 days ago
After Geneva Resolution: What Next?
Features3 days ago
How confidence has been eroded
Sports7 days ago
When ‘siri’ means failure?
Sports6 days ago
COPE exposes large scale corruption at SLC
Sports3 days ago
When failures boast of success