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US National Security, foremost factor in ‘Export Control & Border Security’ project in Sri Lanka: ex-State Dept employee

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US Embassy Website carried the above photograph Ambassador Chung introducing the new arrival from Washington

Retired Foreign Service National Political Specialist of the U.S. Department of State Daya Gamage who was in the Political Division of the US Embassy in Sri Lanka has said that the US was stepping up an operation here meant to enhance its own security.

American ambassador Julie Chung announced recently the arrival of an official to join her diplomatic staff, in the wordings of a twitter message from the ambassador “Welcome a new team member from US Export Control and Border Security (EXBS) to work with the GoSL to develop and enhance systems for safe, productive ports, ensuring SL can strengthen trade and exports to build the economy in this challenging period.”

The announcement largely went unnoticed as it would have been considered another Washington assistance to lift Sri Lanka’s economy from its current doldrums, he said.

In what manner could Washington endeavor to help “for safe, productive ports, ensuring SL can strengthen trade and exports,” never came to anyone’s mind, Gamage added.

Gamage issued the following statement: “On the face of the announcement Washington intentions were to “strengthen trade and exports to build the economy in this challenging period” which is an immediate need of Sri Lanka, but the background check revealed the foremost objective was indeed to strengthen and enhance the national security of the United States which was its prime focus since 2016 with the undertaking of building military capabilities and economic power in the Indo-Pacific region to lessen the clout of China. What happened here, with the arrival of the official from Washington, is that the United States Government stepped into Sri Lanka, which is strategically located at the center of the Indo-Pacific region to do just that.

The US is already has three defense and technology agreements with India.

It is interesting to find out the covert motives behind the declared intention to assist Sri Lanka, and how Washington could ‘bind’ Sri Lanka to assist its foremost objective in further strengthening its national security at a time when there is an imminent threat from China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Despite the Rajapaksa-controlled political entity continues to hold a clout in the legislature with its national and global credibility at a low ebb, it has collaborated with its presidential nominee Ranil Wickremasinghe for the latter to have a free hand in the governance knowing full well that he has better inroads to Western portals of power centers to seek economic assistance. The US has 16.6% control over the IMF and a greater clout in the World Bank.

Of course, Ranil Wickremasinghe as prime minister during 2002-2004 period – under Chandrika Kumaratunga’s disabled presidency – due to her political coalition losing control of the legislature in December 2001 elections followed by the surrender of the vital foreign and defense establishments to the prime minister of her rival party – signed two military agreement with the U.S. to facilitate to protect (from the International Criminal Court) alleged American war criminals engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, and extend the facilities of the Colombo Airport to have easy transfer of alleged 9/11` terrorists in American custody to CIA torture chambers in other countries. India refused to sign both these agreements, vehemently opposing them. Washington progressively increased economic assistance during Wickremasinghe tenure due to the then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage’s direct involvement in GSL-LTTE peace talks. The Norwegian negotiator Erik Solaheim, who was found favoring the LTTE at that time arrived in Colombo last week as an advisor on environment to President Ranil Wickremasinghe.

Could be Washington’s reading was correct – well fed by Julie Chung’s diplomatic post in Colombo – that President Ranil Wickremasinghe could facilitate to achieve what is intended by sending an official to fulfill the ‘national security’ tasks embedded in four U.S. federal regulations: (1) U.S. Export Control and Border Security (2) Export Control Reform Act (3) Export Administration Regulations and, (4) Bureau of Industry and Security.

The new arrival from Washington’s Export Control and Border Security is attached to the US Commerce Department under which the four US Federal regulations are strictly enforced through overseas diplomatic missions of the US Department of State under which Ambassador Julie Chung functions.

As Ambassador Chung herself in a twitter notification – announcing the new arrival from Washington – mentioned the use of US Export Control and Border Security to strengthen Sri Lanka’s trade and export, it is pertinent to find out what the US Export Control Policy is:

With the stated policy to preserve the qualitative military superiority of the U.S. and to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base, Washington will use export controls considering the impact of its economy to restrict the export of items which would make a significant contribution to the military potential of any other country while strengthening U.S. defense industrial base.

On May 16, 2019 the China-based Huawei Technologies operating in Sri Lanka was black listed by the Government of the United States. This is one of the world’s largest providers of telecommunications equipment, networking gear, smart phones and more.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on January 28, 2019, charged Huawei with bank fraud and stealing trade secrets. Huawei denied the U.S. charges, saying requests to meet with the US Justice Department had been “rejected without explanation.” The company said that the trade secret theft allegations were “already the subject of a civil suit that was settled by the parties.”

The targeted goals of the US Export Control Policy were, to carry out the foreign policy of the United States, including the protection of human rights and the promotion of democracy, to ensure national security controls are tailored to focus on those core technologies and other items that are capable of being used to pose a serious national security threat to the United States, to ensure national security controls are tailored to focus on those core technologies and other items that are capable of being used to pose a serious national security threat to the United States. One other objective is the national security of the United States requires that the United States maintain its leadership in the science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing sectors, including foundational technology that is essential to innovation. Such leadership requires that United States persons are competitive in global markets. The last objective explains why Washington black listed Huawei Technologies operating in many countries including Sri Lanka.

The Export Control Policy document has clearly stated that the “US needs to do the hard internal work of deciding which specific commodities, software, and technologies should, for example, be controlled to (i) respond to human rights abuses; (ii) support a “global level playing field;” (iii) address “legal, ethical, and political concerns” about emerging technologies; (iv) respond to civil-military fusion policies in countries of concern; (v) avoid disruptions to strategic supply chains; and (vi) respond to “technology acquisition strategies, including economic coercive measures.” The primary agencies responsible for such work are the export control agencies at the departments of Commerce, Defense, State, and Energy.”

It is within these parameters that the Government of the United States will engage in discourses with the Government of Sri Lanka, and an experienced official from the US Department of Commerce, just arrived at the American Embassy, to fulfill Washington’s desire to hold onto its hegemony in the Indo-Pacific region.

What is understood and seen from outside is “to work with the GoSL to develop and enhance systems for safe, productive ports, ensuring SL can strengthen trade and exports to build the economy in this challenging period.”



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NHSL narcotics mafia: DG points finger at SLFP union, blames govt. for inaction

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Deputy Director of the National Hospital, Dr. Rukshan Bellana, who had to be rescued by the police recently as an unruly minor staff laid siege to his office and threatened to cause him bodily harm, yesterday (03) alleged that he was under threat subsequent to the exposure of what he called a narcotics mafia operating in government Hospitals.

In a brief interview with The Island the beleaguered President of the Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) found fault with the government for its lethargic response to threats emanating from a trade union affiliated to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

Responding to queries, Dr. Bellana alleged that a section of the minor staff was trying to force him out of the National Hospital at the behest of trade union leader Roy de Mel. “Contrary to reports and claims, I’m still here,” Dr. Bellana said, warning the government of dire consequences unless action was taken to discipline National Hospital staff.

Dr. Bellana emphasized that the SLFP trade union, under any circumstances, couldn’t be allowed to dictate terms to the health administration. The outspoken official said that the situation was so bad the National Hospital seemed to be in the hands of ruffians in the garb of trade unionists.

The Island raised Dr. Bellana’s accusations with the SLFP trade union leader De Mel who strongly defended their response to what he described as a wholly unnecessary issue caused by the Deputy Director.

There could be some drug addicts as well as drug pushers among the minor staff of the National Hospital, De Mel said, while referring to the recent reportage of the arrest of a minor female employee carrying heroin with a street value of Rs. 250,000 by the Katunayake police. However, Dr. Bellana for some reason only known to him had repeatedly slandered the entire minor staff, de Mel claimed, challenging the Deputy Director to prove his accusations.

Both Dr. Bellana and De Mel accused the Health Ministry of failing to address the issues at hand. Dr. Bellana said that for want of clear instructions from the Health Ministry, the SLFP union was trying to terrorize him. The official demanded that the ministry initiate a no holds barred investigation into the conduct of the SLFP union.

De Mel said that the Health Ministry owed an explanation as to how Dr. Bellana repeatedly exploited mainstream and social media to propagate his accusations whereas other doctors faced disciplinary measures. Reference was made to cases involving doctors at Kataragama and Karapitiya hospitals.

The trade union leader said that it wouldn’t be fair to declare the entire minor staff of the National Hospital drug addicts on the basis of a few cases or unsubstantiated allegations. De Mel pointed out that there had been cases of security forces and police personnel, including an SSP being arrested with narcotics. But such arrests didn’t justify calling the services and police drug addicts, de Mel said, urging the Health Ministry and law enforcement authorities to investigate Dr. Bellana’s accusations.

“We are ready to face investigations, at any level,” De Mel said, claiming that actually he took up the alleged drug issue among minor staff before Dr. Bellana went public with it. De Mel claimed that he appealed not only to minor staff at the National Hospital but other health sector institutions as well.

Dr. Bellana said that de Mel commanded about 200 minor employees whereas the total strength of National Hospital minor staff was approximately 3,200. The total staff consisted of 11,500 including 1,500 doctors and 3,000 nurses.

Referring to a recent appeal made by Public Security Minister Tiran Alles to police officers not to accept hampers from drug dealers, Dr. Bellana said that he expected law enforcement authorities to restore normalcy at the National Hospital. The police seemed to be hesitant to rein in unruly minor staff against the backdrop of a weary political response, Dr. Bellana said, adding that he briefed Minister Alles of the developing situation.

Dr. Bellana said that workers shouldn’t be allowed to threaten disruption of services. Alleging that some minor staff went to the extent of disrupting surgeries, Dr. Bellana said that the Health Ministry couldn’t turn a blind eye to the developing situation.De Mel claimed Dr. Bellana was practicing what he knows best. “He is causing chaos as he did under previous administrations.”

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Seven million Lankans in need of humanitarian assistance:UNICEF

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UNICEF has said seven million people in Sri Lanka are in need of humanitarian assistance due to the economic crisis.In its Sri Lanka Humanitarian Situation Report, issued on 02 February, the UN agency said essential services for children such as health, nutrition, and education have been severely impacted by shortages of medicine, food insecurity, lack of fuel and long power cuts.

In 2022, UNICEF reached over 1.3 million people, including 750,000 children with humanitarian assistance through humanitarian interventions.Over 800,000 people in urban areas have access to safe drinking water, 285,403 children in rural and estate areas were provided with educational materials, and 205,000 adolescents benefited from mental health and psychosocial support services in communities and in schools through UNICEF initiatives, the report said.

UNICEF also piloted a humanitarian cash transfers program which reached 3,010 mothers with young children for three months in the Colombo municipal area in 2022.

This is to be further scaled up to reach 110,000 mothers and caregivers in 2023, the report said.It said that in 2022, UNICEF appealed for 25 million U.S. dollars to provide life-saving humanitarian services to nearly 2.8 million Sri Lankans, including 1.7 million children affected by the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.

UNICEF received USD 34 million, however there is uneven distribution of funding received, it said.

UNICEF said: “Some sectors (Education, WASH and Child Protection) remain significantly underfunded, while others (Nutrition and Social Protection) have received almost triple the asked amount. This situation highlights the need for fresh funding into 2023 particularly for the underfunded sectors. In addition, the generous contribution to the cash-based programming was only made available in the fall.

UNICEF Sri Lanka Country Office launched its Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) on 10 June 2022 aligned with the UN inter-agency Humanitarian Needs and Priorities (HNP) appeal for Sri Lanka. The HAC has been funded thanks to the generous contributions of bilateral, public, and private donors. UNICEF expresses its sincere gratitude to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, USAID, the Central Emergency Response Fund, UNICEF USA, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (UK) and Global Thematic Humanitarian Funds and many others for their generous contributions, without which UNICEF could not meet the most pressing needs of woman, children, and most vulnerable populations affected by the worst economic crisis the country has experienced since independence. While the HNP expired in December 2022, the need for continued funding to sustain prevailing humanitarian needs post-HNP is critical.”

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Archbishop Emeritus Oswald Gomis passes away

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Archbishop Emeritus Oswald Gomis passed away yesterday, while being treated at a private hospital. He was 90. He received his primary education at St. Bendict’s College, Kotahena, and at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. He was ordained in 1958 and was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo, in 1968. He was appointed as the Bishop of Anuradhapura and as Archbishop of Colombo in 2002.

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