by Palitha Senanayake
I read with interest the ‘Light Refractions’ column by Lucien Rajakarunanayake, under the caption ‘Namo Namo Cheena’ on the 22nd instant, and the following is my take on the much-propagated claim that Sri Lanka is fast becoming a Chinese colony.
There has been considerable criticism, in print as well as social media, of Sri Lanka’s increasing ‘dependence’ on China especially under the Rajapaksa governments. This kind of dependency poses a threat to Sri Lanka’s independence and sovereignty, the critics of China claim.
In this respect, it is important to ponder whether Sri Lanka, as a country, has been truly independent for the past 73 years of its existence since it was granted ‘independence’ by its colonizers’, the British, after 145 year imperial subjection. By the time the British left, there had emerged an English educated elite that emulated the British. The world order at that time, being the post- World War 11 scenario, was inclined in that direction, and the victors began to dominate the world. The deleterious effect of all that was not just the emulation of the West, but the servile mentality our rulers inherited. As a result, they were subliminally accustomed to a state where they just could not see beyond ‘what the Englishman would show you’.
We therefore continued with the same economic and social values and the changes that took place. To start with, the democratic system of governance that was thrust upon us would not have been the most appropriate governing system given the fact that the country’s literacy rate at the point of independence was a mere 6 % and its standard of living was not worth speaking about. Under the democratic form of government, the people are the rulers and you could just imagine the capability of a semi-literate ‘ruler’.
The fact is that the new nation bequeathed a human stock that had been neglected for centuries with a life expectancy of only 45 years, per capita income of 1.5 $ and a literacy rate of a mere 6 %. Thus, the post-independence democratic governments had little choice but to invest in human development by spending heavily on health and education. We changed governments, one after the other, expecting more from the government that succeeded. Lee Kwan Yew, the architect of Singapore’s resurgence, has said, ‘I meet my commonwealth colleagues every other year at the Commonwealth convention and they complain of their woes in nation building; democracy has only brought regression and not progression to them’. He further maintains that when a country’s people are not educated and when their basic needs of life are not met, democracy is the last form of government they should have. “The Governor of a country, be it a Sheik or a King should carry on for at least for 20 years and instead when you have governments elected for a limited period it is inevitable that such governments will turn out to be ‘time servers”.
We complain of corruption among politicians but corruption is a part and parcel of democratic politics. Today, an MP needs Rs. 20 million to do an election and how do we expect him to make that Rs. 20 million every five years? The Treasury bond scam was as funds were needed for the 2015 UNP election campaign. In the US, the presidential campaigns run on corporate finance and as a result today every US government is elected by the country’s rich who account for only 2% of the population. Agendas of these corporations do not stop there as the most profitable businesses to day are the arms manufacture and the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. The first make money by creating wars and the second diseases.
John Perkins served as an economic hit man the World Bank. He has authored a book titled. ‘The Confessions of an Economic Hit man’ and the US government prevented its publication for 20 years. It is an interesting episode of how the World Bank consultants defraud developing countries for billions of dollars in the guise of ‘development finance’ and the final benefactors of such activity are the US corporations. The book details how these operations against smaller nations are carried out with the sanctions of the Central intelligence Agency of the US. Economic hit men are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, pay offs, extortion, sex, and murder.
Apart from Perkin’s confessions, evidence is omnipresent all over the world with ‘liberation wars’, alleged ‘human rights violations’, ‘Arab springs,’ ‘export of democracy’ etc. that are disguised to enable the World Super powers to maintaining the post-WW11 status quo. This modus operandi that they will always rule the world. The solutions they advocate to world issues are carefully crafted to ensure that the problems remain permanent so that their corporations could thrive. Palestine is only a single case in point and today thousands of women and children are dying and the perpetrator of that war is backed by US and Britain. Britain’s economy today is behind that of its colonial subject India, but thanks to the war in Yemen, British economy gained a boost this year. The current state of the world, with so many manmade wars, deceases and hunger is not a state that augurs well for the super powers. The Super powers, while they govern their countries with humane and equitable laws, practise the ‘laws of the jungle’ when they deal with other nations. That is the reason that why Bill Clinton was almost impeached for having an illicit affair with a white- house intern, while George Bush who killed millions in Iraq, on triumphed up WMD charges, did not face any such problem.
Take the case of what Sri Lanka is made to face for vanquishing terrorism that haunted it for 35 years. On March 23rd in 2021, the UNHRC adopted Resolution, A/HRC/46/L.1 on Sri Lanka at its 46th session. The resolution was presented by the United Kingdom sponsored by a core group of Western countries. The real motive of this resolution is to prevent Sri Lanka from clearing the shackles of the previous resolution 30/A brought against Sri Lanka in 2015 by the United States for alleged ‘Human rights violations’, by the SL forces at the last stages of its war against the LTTE. Lord Naseby has produced very clear evidence to prove that these allegations are not consistent with the ground reports of US and British military attaches who were in the thick of these happenings and also contrary to the census surveys carried out, post war. The most cynical nature of these allegations is that these two super powers who express so much concern about the HR violations in Sri Lanka today had no heart to express their concern in anyway while Sri Lankan people suffered at the hands of this most ruthless and organized terror outfit in the world causing the deaths of 80,000 civilians over a period of 35 years. Whenever they were confronted with this problem they advocated ‘talks’ as the only way out and finally all the talks successive SL Governments held elevated the LTTE to a diplomatic status as liberations fighters in the eyes of the west. The irony however was that the parties who called LTTE, the ‘liberation fighters’ are the same parties that called Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist’ for 40 years.
It should be clear to all, except of course to those who are naïve and so servile to the west, that these resolutions on HR violations are now being brought with the sinister idea of rekindling a problem that has been finally brought to an end. This is because the western propaganda industry and the west’s arms manufacturing corporations thrive at the misery of third world countries.
On the other hand, china and Russia helped us overcome terrorism in this country. Apart from the physical support they rendered, the position of Sri Lanka in international forums, if not for support from China and Russia, could well be imagined. Terrorism is not just about people being killed and maimed, but it is the uncertainty of life and the stagnation in development that terrorism accompanies that has plagued this country. And 35 years is just half the life time of the Sri Lankan nation.
No smaller nation can remain 100 % independent. The whole world is in a flux according to Buddhism and everything changes. Thus, things will continue to change and in that this country’s language, culture and even religion will not be an exception. Thus, in this changing scenario, wise people will change things for the better while stupid will remain bigoted and servile.
A servile mentality not only prevents one from seeing beyond what one’s white masters want one to see but also makes one see one’s true friends as enemies.
New Trend of Defeated Democracy
One does not know whether Minister Udaya Gammanpila is enjoying his time of special prominence with the SLPP Secretary calling for his resignation and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya moving a vote of No Confidence in him.
The cause for his delight must be that the price of oil remains at the new high levels that were announced by him. He will certainly go down in history as one who replaced the Rajapaksas in leadership on a national issue of importance. Gotabaya, Mahinda, Chamal and Namal are all in the background on the fuel price hike – this is the Gammanpila Gift to the people, not the Rajapaksa curse, when they are trapped in burdens of the Covid pandemic.
The price of fuel is the stuff of governance. Gammanpila has shown how well he can burden the people with a huge fuel price hike. A new trend in fuel price politics was seen in the statement by the smaller parties of the SLPP government that opposed the SLPP Secretary’s call for Gammanpila to resign. Among them were members of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, the Communist Party and the Democratic Left Front. Three left parties that were definitely not against the rise in fuel prices, and the hardships it will cause the people.
Just try to keep alive in your memories how the old left parties – LSSP and CP – with Vasudeva aligned with them, being strongly opposed to burdens imposed on the people. That is the fading history of the Left. What we now have is the Saubhagyaye Thel Mila, the Prosperity and Splendour of a Fuel Price Hike.
The new Thel Mila is the garnish on the dish of the people cooked with the banning of chemical fertilizer imports. There will soon be more of such painful decorations for the people of this not so pearly island.
While the Thel Mila will keep making its inroads into the lives of people with a Gas price hike, the rise in prices of vegetables, rice, flour and all other food, and essential clothes too, Gammanpila will dance, seeing how much he has progressed in crooked politics, forgetful of his past records in law and order.
There is a different joy that we are entitled to enjoy with the Court of Appeal allowing the application for bail by Shani Abeysekera, former head of the CID, and another police officer held in detention for nearly ten months. This has certainly strengthened our faith in the higher judiciary just as the Supreme Court saw to it that 25 clauses of the Port City Bill that were in violation of the Constitution were removed.
The details of that judgment by the Court of Appeal, not fully reported in the media, shows a very dangerous trend in the activities of the police and the authorities on governance, with complete disregard for the rights of the people, or Human Rights, that is an increasing topic of political manoeuvre.
The release of Abeysekera and the other police officer brings into focus the other issue that is the burden of governance in Sri Lanka today. It is the passage of a resolution by the European Parliament, with a huge majority, that consideration be given to the withdrawal of the GSP-plus facility for imports from Sri Lanka if important changes are not carried out to the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and this country acts in compliance with international agreements it has signed of the principles of the Rule of Law.
Let’s just bring back to our knowledge the full name of this Act. It is the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act of 1976. Why are we hanging on to all the temporary provisions of this law, passed at a time when the temporary provisions were necessary?
In a fast changing world on issues of the rights of the people, whether it is the Black Lives Matter in the US and Europe too, and the rights of women and children that require constant updating, as well as the rights of workers that are moving away from the days of colonial dominance, should we not update our legislation on matters that relate to humans, as well as animals too.
If we have as a democratic country – that we keep boasting about despite the 20th Amendment to the Constitution – signed so many international agreements relating to Human Rights and principles of justice by several governments, should we keep talking about issues of sovereignty, when the call is to fall in line with recognized international norms of Justice, Law and Order, and Human Values?
It is time to bear in mind that the denial of GSP-plus to Sri Lanka, will hardly affect the business sector that owns the garment industries – who can always go to other countries; but the several thousand workers in our garment factories. Why are we making so many adjustments to the ‘lockdown’ rules to keep these factories working? Is it not because of the foreign exchange they bring to the national treasury, coffers being emptied each day. We cannot afford to lose the benefits of GSP-plus, which will drive thousands out of employment and the country to much worse than it is today.
It is time to bear in mind that Udaya Gammanpila would bring no solution at all to the GSP-plus issue. It is time to go much beyond Gammanpila politics of today!
Come next week, Gammanpila will be largely replaced by Ranil Wickremesinghe. That is the new emerging politics. What a fine democracy we have, when a party leader whose party of political history was wholly defeated at the last general election, without even a single elected member – including himself, is appointed to the National List and crept back into Parliament.
Are we moving to the new trend of Defeated Democracy, whether fuel prices, Gammanpila or Wickremesinghe?
Prominent Persons in society
I saw a letter in the newspapers the other day purported to be from “prominent persons” in society. Now every single person in that collective had appended their signature and it was virtually a directive to the President to follow certain instructions issued by these people. Firstly, there was no detailed plan just instructions to do as “we say”. Secondly, I was left wondering as to how one becomes a “PROMINENT PERSON”? If you have held down a government job, not achieving anything of any consequence for your entire working life, or wormed and slimed your way through the mercantile sector to the detriment of countless dozens of your fellow workers, does that make you prominent? Furthermore, can you appoint yourself as a prominent person? Should you not be recognised by an established and more importantly a credible body, preferably with international credentials? What happens in a failed state? Are prominent people prominent failures? Heartfelt apologies to our Dear Mr. Haniffa, purveyor of all knowledge logical to the Royalists of my era!
Now, I am not saying all those prominent persons who had signed that letter fitted the above description. No doubt there are people who have been of great service to the Pearl and even the world. My point of contention is why have they got to call themselves prominent people? Of course (in my opinion) it is a clear indication of their ineffectuality, the fact that they have not included any plan how to get a hold of the number of vaccines required not to mention how to administer them and circumnavigate the inherent, corrupt system that is in place. Maybe their prominence would be better established if they could use their “prominence” and in some cases, international credibility, to get some doses of the vaccine by ensuring fair distribution of same? Rather than simply issue directives (probably in a feeble attempt to assuage their consciences’ and maintain their prominence in their own estimation), they should offer to get involved or better still abandon their refuge in academia and put forward some practical ideas on how to ensure fair distribution. These are undoubtedly (in some cases) some of the best minds left in our country, surely, they can come up with a plan? If they can’t can a bunch of barely O’-level-qualified parliamentarians and army officers do better? To venture into the ridiculous, if the aforementioned members of parliament (read as the scum of the earth) do come up with a plan does that make them “PROMINENT”!
On the subject of what is published in the newspapers and featured on the web of the Pearl, it seems like the discarded leader of the Yahapalanaya regime, and I say this because even if he wasn’t on paper (or prominence) the leader, he was and certainly should have been, Ranil Wickremesinghe is beginning to worry “the powers that be”, again. Virulent descriptions of him and his supposed perversions in the form of a crudely worded obituary is doing the rounds. Surely, all those who condemned him in all possible ways CANNOT be thinking “could we have been wrong”? The two-thirds of the oh so “literate” voter base who gave a clear majority to an established cohort of robber barons to take over and continue to decimate their country, couldn’t be wrong? The “prominent citizens” who either stayed silent or actively promoted this electoral result with nothing but selfish ulterior motives couldn’t be admitting to the fallibility of their “judgment”? BTW another petrol price increase, the super cars that are being imported for the MP’s will help finish the petrol and thereby leave less petrol for the people to waste their money on! Another referral to the convoluted logic of today that also decrees that printing money will have no effect on inflation.
I see a typically innocuous statement from the Covid reprieved leader of the opposition, saying that he would donate his shots of the vaccine to the people of the country. One wonders if this statement has had input from his advisor on foreign affairs! Is there any use of vaccines for someone who has already had the disease? The answer is pretty obvious even to this “unprominent” person. Therefore, the grandiose and dramatic statement that this doubtful specimen of humanity, will not be vaccinated until every last citizen of his beloved country is vaccinated falls into the category of unadulterated excreta of a bullock, as does most of the other things he says.
When the prominent citizens of this country survey the aforesaid alternatives for leaders in their motherland. The selection between robber barons, retired army officers, and moronic parliamentarians, leaves the purportedly sexually deviant well in the lead, doesn’t it? I must admit that I never ever thought that this line of reasoning would ever be activated!
The inquiry into who was really responsible for the Easter massacre, the strong words of the Cardinal and any possible action by the Attorney General seem to have been swept under the carpet by the various diversions that have either been put into place or that have fallen into place, due to the “curse of Kuveni” that dogs the past present and future of our beloved ex-pearl of the Indian ocean. It is up to the people of the country to make up their own minds, based on the available evidence and at least now decide, not to allow people with even a semblance of doubt attached to them, anywhere near the seats of power. That is assuming they get another chance in the form of another democratic election. The possibility of which does not look too good at present!
Meanwhile the G7 countries have been enjoying a great beach party in Cornwall that extremely picturesque part of England and during the two days of summer that England enjoys, to boot! No Aotearoa NZ at the party, but we are having our own having thrashed England at test cricket and all the Aussie rugby franchises in the trans-Tasman super rugby tournament. I guess parties do happen and the games must go on, regardless of the situation?
Journal mention is not fame but infamy; ‘reversed’ is not ‘cancelled’; public figures shown up
In this time of natural disasters and government’s omissions and commissions; a leaky burning ship surreptitiously invited to seek haven just outside our Colombo Port for money considerations, destroying our wonderful sea and life in it for a hundred years, one hugs little bits of normalcy that intrude joyfully our woeful state. Such was my emotion when I opened my front door on Friday 11 June and saw The Island newspaper in crisp print lying there waiting to be read. I actually hugged it as I would a lost child. So many of us newspaper readers yearned for paper copy. You could read on-line but there’s nothing like holding a newspaper in hand.
Oo-la-la! Featured in The Economist
Yes, yes, Sri Lanka has got a column in the British Economist, one of the most prestigious of weeklies. It is not about our economy (sinking) or C19 spread (exponential) or being the first country to ban chemical fertilizers (disastrous in its overnight implementation). It’s mainly about a slip of a girl with strident voice and apparent clout with high ups, and other pluses we suppose which to us Ordinaries are deplorable minuses. I quote part of the article for you to enjoy or curl your noses in disgust at how low we are sinking as a nation. I must add I could not believe that the Economist would devote half a page to this but verifying, found it was The Brit weekly. Here below are excerpts with title intact.
Push the boat out: An influencer’s rant overshadows an ecological disaster in Sri Lanka “Influence” is, after all, part of the job description
The Economist 12 June 2021
“For two weeks an inferno blazed on the X-Press Pearl, a container ship off Sri Lanka’s western coast. Its cargo—everything from frozen fish to hazardous chemicals and tiny plastic pellets known as nurdles—burned up or spilled into the ocean. Eventually, on June 2nd, the ship sank. Nurdles and other debris are washing up on beaches. Hard questions have been asked about why the vessel, which was known to have a leaky container of acid, was allowed to enter Sri Lankan waters.
“But naturally all that many Sri Lankans have discussed for the past week is Piumi Hansamali, a 28-year-old model and actress. On the same day that the ship sank, police in the capital, Colombo, bundled Ms Hansamali and more than a dozen other people into an old bus and drove them to Passara, a distant village, for a compulsory two-week quarantine. Ms Hansamali had earlier been arrested and released on bail for attending a birthday party on May 30th for Chandimal Jayasinghe, a beautician and beauty-pageant impresario, in a five-star hotel, in violation of a lockdown that started in the middle of May.
“Ms Hansamali, an accomplished social-media influencer …. heaped wrath on a television journalist who had urged police to punish the revellers (he later complained to police of death threats). ….allegations later emerged that Sarath Weerasekera, the public-security minister, had ordered the bus to turn round so that its occupants could pick up clothes, the maritime disaster was all but forgotten. On June 5th a local news website wryly noted that searches on Google for Ms Hansamali and Mr Jayasinghe far exceeded those for the sunken ship. Ms Hansamali, for her part, made the best of a bad situation and took to posting pictures on Instagram of her quarantine digs”The episode reflects a deeper unhappiness with the government’s enforcement of lockdown rules. For days before the bus incident, police had cracked down on violators, in some cases physically carrying them off the streets. But the partygoers were detained only after pressure from the media. Nor was the hotel punished for allowing the bash. Three recent deaths in custody—including one on June 6th, in which a man seeking food for his family was detained for breaching travel restrictions and died after falling from a police vehicle—have sharpened the sense of double standards. Mr Weerasekera addressed Parliament two days later, to defend himself against allegations that he gave Ms Hansamali special treatment after she called him.
… Ms Hansamali and her friends may have meant to cause the government grief. In reality they did the opposite.” The imputations are important.
That is this resplendent Island of yesterday, now decadent. But the humour of social media keeps the people going and unintended jollification in Parliament where in apposition to Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who earns respect, his argumentative co-Parliamentarian Sarath Weerasekera has earned a new sobriquet to precede his first name. It sticks in Cass’ throat as ribald but that is the way this land like no others goes. He earned it for being considerate to Hansamali’s need for fresh underwear!
Remember a film starlet garnered more manapes than Karu Jaysuriya and at her first press interview said she knew nothing of the legislature and its rules. When rioting MPs of the Opp took over Parliament when Sirisena turned traitorous and ousted PM Ranil W, Pavitradevi of peni and mutti fame was the loudest rioter beside Johnston and company. Aney, now Health Minister! That’s Sri Lanka for you.
The intelligent and knowledgeable write on current matters
The Sunday Island of 13 June also came out in favoured paper/print copy. And it contained excellent reading on present matters. The eminent group led by Prof Savitri Goonesekera dealt with the misappropriation of Covid A-Z vaccine from those who rightly deserved the second dose. Chandra Jayaratne went deeper into this matter in his article “‘Fraud on a Power’- exercised in Vaccinations Management?” listing methodically cases of mismanagement. Sarala Fernando brought to light the help given by USAID to us and further help like free A-Z vaccines to be send by the government under Biden’s order. The Editor succinctly dealt with the “Aftermath of X-Press Pearl.” What had Cass calculating and getting tied up in Rs and dollars and not knowing whether the ship compensation to come would be in USDs or Singapore. But one thing hit her so it knocked her off balance and sent her almost reeling: The compensation for a hundred years of disastrous damage to the seas around us, a fertile resource to this island nation, is 50 M while the luxury cars ordered by the Prime Minister and readily and greedily rubber stamped by the Cabinet would cost us (we tax paying Ordinaries) 3 B. I had a banker help me in my calculations but the 50 M converted to rupees from USD was still totally inadequate payment to us and actually disproportionate to what was to be spent on luxury cars for fat MPS: 225 MPs, 399 cars.
Gentlemen meet, ladies included
Cass turned away from the degradation that is over here and listened with delight to BBC World News and saw wonderful pictures of Farnmouth, Cornwall, and Biden and other G7 leaders. No one can accuse Nan of being Suud savvy. See how civilly they sat at a round table and discussed seriously Covid recovery/ stronger global health systems; climate change; and trade. They have committed to handing over millions of vaccines to poorer countries. Chair Boris Johnson, coined their slogan of ‘Build Better Back’ which Biden adroitly directed to countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Cass particularly liked seeing merciful, sane Biden and teacher-wife meet the Royal Family; so gracious on both sides and so very civilized as against our mess and bits of partying fluff that even the Economist comments on as symptomatic of what prevails in this now cursed and battered island. The girl will boast being featured in an international journal little realizing the connotation she is mentioned in. This is the brash new type of young woman we are burdened with against all the beautiful, intelligent young adults we have.
Bright spark of news
That brightest star of Sri Lanka has yet again brought fame to the country. Kumar Sangakkara has been inducted to the ICC Hall of Fame, joining the other deserved Sri Lankan star already there – Muthiah Muralitharan. These two are definitely the greatest and both from Kandy, if you please. The accompanying thought is of how despicably the sports minister of then, Aluthgamage, and many on SLC Board badgered and bullied Sangakkara particularly when he was lauded overseas, particularly in Britain. This is why Cass is willing even to be stoned for an idea expressed which is a TRUTH. Class, upbringing at home and school, breeding and even caste hold good to sieve grain from the gross; the decent from dross.
All balanced Sri Lankans congratulate Sangha. We love and admire him.
A PS about Aluthgamage. Cass was told over the phone that the Anniewatte residents were all geared up to receive first vaccination at Kandy High School premises, tented and all, when a call of cancellation came through. Supposedly Minister Aluthgamage had appropriated the vaccines and hijacked them to Nawalapitiya or some such. Don’t believe Cass; please verify, then vilify.
The decision to import luxury vehicles for MPs has been reversed said Rambukwella. That probably means postponed, as this Minister himself said earlier the order could not be cancelled. MPs and others are not going to give up so easily on yet another perk.
We Ordinaries will never forget this heinous crime which was planned to be executed while the country was in dire straits on several fronts.
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