Crucial times ahead as UN Chief plans hush-hush visit to Sri Lanka
Posted on August 19th, 2016

Gagani Weerakoon Courtesy Ceylon Today

President Maithripala Sirisena is all set to drive forward his party on a different path as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is planning to celebrate its 65th anniversary more splendidly and proudly on 4 September in Kurunegala.

Interestingly, President Sirisena who celebrated the 64th anniversary in his hometown Polonnaruwa last year after assuming office has this time chosen Kurunegala, the electorate of his predecessor and now Member of Parliament Mahinda Rajapaksa to hold the 65th Convention which he vows will be more splendid than all the anniversary celebrations held during the last 64 years.

The SLFP has the full freedom and the right to build the party while protecting its own identity, the President said that adding the own identities of the respective political parties have not been compromised in any way in a conscience Government.

He made these remarks participating in a workshop organized by the SLFP Women’s organization at the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Headquarters in Colombo on 11 August under the theme “Strengthened country – Sustainable future” with the aim of ensuring 25 per cent of representation for women in national and local government bodies.

Addressing the gathering the President further said that the history of the SLFP could be explained as an era which crowned the women.
President Sirisena further said that the SLFP should go forward in strengthening the Women’s organization of the party for the betterment of all the mothers and daughters of the country.

Strengthening of the SLFP will provide highest value for our culture and our thinking and through these things a better society could be built, he said.

The President said that the SLFP in coalition with the UNP, rule the country under the present government with a pure motive of solving financial issues and facing allegations made by the UN Human Rights Council as a result of the actions by the previous government.

Return to ‘mahagedara’

With President Sirisena insisting on inviting the former Presidents to the party convention, another team is working on paving way for SLFPers who have now joined hands with the Joint Opposition also to come.

Accordingly, at least six rebel SLFP MPs are to return to ‘mahagedara’ and show solidarity with President Sirisena by joining him on the stage.

A meeting of representatives of these six MPs and representatives of the SLFP took place at Fingara Club recently. According to sources, President Sirisena too has not shown any objections to the developments as he too intends to reunite the party.

UN Chief to arrive

As the President is planning to celebrate his Party’s convention UN Secretary General is all set to arrive in the country to hold crucial discussions ahead of March 2017 where the progress made by Sri Lanka on the area of Human Rights will be reviewed.

According to well-informed sources, the UN Secretary General will arrive in the country on 2 September 2016 and is expected to meet President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera amongst others, before he leaves the island the next day, 3 September.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who is serving his last term in office is expected to bring a strong message to the Sri Lankan Government ahead of progress review on Sri Lanka in March 2017 on the Sri Lanka co-sponsored resolution at the UNHRC adopted in October 2015.

The UN Chief’s visit comes at a time the country is in the process of drafting a new Constitution and debating on getting foreign judges and other experts involved in its accountability process.

In the October resolution, the UNHRC had unanimously recommended a credible probe involving foreign judges and prosecutors into the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka in the brutal war against the LTTE.

The resolution had called for the establishment of a Sri Lankan Judicial Mechanism with a Special Counsel to investigate allegations of violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law during the final phase of the nearly three decade-long brutal ethnic conflict that ended in military defeat of the LTTE in 2009.

The UN Chief first visited Sri Lanka in May 2009, soon after the government declared militarily defeating the LTTE terrorists. During his stay, he also consulted other relevant stakeholders, members of the international humanitarian agencies and civil society. The Secretary-General visited the IDP sites at Vavuniya and flew over the conflict area, near Mullaitivu that was the scene of the conflict.

Issuing a congratulatory message to President Sirisena upon completion of one year in Presidency in January 2016, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon asked the Sri Lankan Government to continue moving forward in advancing reconciliation and good governance as the country continues its political transition.

He acknowledged the initial steps the government has taken to strengthen good governance, advance reconciliation and implement the resolution of the Human Rights Council of October 2015.

JF-17 deal to go ahead

The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal by President Maithripala Sirisena to purchase new fighter aircraft and associated weapons for the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF).

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said, the government will call for expressions of interest for the purchase of around 8-12 fighter jets.The fighter aircraft of the SLAF have been aging and it is important to upgrade the equipment to maintain security and be prepared for any unexpected threat, he explained.

The Cabinet approved a proposal by President Sirisena, in his capacity as the Minister of Defence, to obtain expressions of interest from interested aircraft manufacturers, assistant manufacturers, and authorized government agents. The deal will be on a government to government basis.

The announcement came a day after Pakistani Air Force Commander Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman who was in the country for a brief official visit leaving, thus prompting speculations whether pressure mounted from Pakistan’s end to finalize the JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft deal which Pakistan is producing in collaboration with China.
This columnist in the 6 December 2015 column revealed that the intended plan to purchase fighter jets from Pakistan has come under fire from India as the latter vehemently opposed the move.

Ceylon Today on its 10 July 2016 edition revealed that Sri Lanka will be shortly concluding the purchase deal with Pakistan for the supply of 10 JF -17 Thunder Multi-role Fighter Jets, with delivery expected in early 2017.

Pakistan has stationed Brigadier Muhammad Bashir in Colombo to work out the details of the deal. That will include financial arrangements.

The deal to purchase this stunning new multi-role fighter from the Pakistan Air Force was held in abeyance under mounting pressure from the highest levels in the Indian Government.

When the deal was first mooted it was expected to be inked in Colombo during Pakistani Premier Nawaz Shariff’s visit in early January this year. The deal included the sale of 10 JF -17 s, each priced at around US$ 35million through a special Line of Credit (LoC). But Shariff’s visit ended with eight Pakistan-Sri Lanka agreements being signed in Colombo during the visit. None were related to defence cooperation or to the JF-17 deal.

SLAF Commander Gagan Bulathsinhala visited Pakistan last year for a reality check on the aircraft at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) in Kamra, where the PAC and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) co-manufacture the fighters.
A highly placed source in the diplomatic corps said India came out strongly against the deal with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to purchase 10 JF-17 combat aircraft.

Indian National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, had personally expressed India’s concerns in connection with the deal to President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Doval had personally telephoned President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and told them outright that New Delhi was against the deal, warning that Sri Lanka will have to face serious repercussions if the deal was sealed with Pakistan.

Sri Lanka made a compromise offer to purchase three naval ships from India as suasion for India to desist from objecting to the deal with Pakistan. This, however, was not favoured by India, and New Delhi maintained the pressure instead.

The Sri Lankan Defence Ministry then asked India for 10 JF-17 aircraft or a similar fighter jet. India came up with a counter deal offering the SL Government a credit line to purchase alternative combat aircraft subject to the condition that Sri Lanka could buy the aircraft from any country other than Pakistan.

Pakistan however maintained a low profile and renewed their offer stating that they would give one 10 F-7 combat craft free if Sri Lanka makes an outright purchase on the initial deal.

The finalization of the deal was gradually put off following the low key visit of Indian Foreign Secretary

Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to Colombo ahead of the Pakistan Premier’s visit in January 2016.

The deal was apparently opened when former Air Force Commander Jayalath Weerakkody was serving as the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Pakistan.

However, India is also likely to bid for the supply with India offering indigenously made Tejas Light Combat Aircraft.

Ranil off to China

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and a delegation left on a three-day visit to North Eastern China yesterday. The delegation will inspect a number of industrial zones, cargo terminals, technological parks, and production houses in North Eastern China that help economic development.

Professor Maithri Wickremesinghe, Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka accompanied Premier to China.

The delegation also includes Secretary to the Prime Minister Saman Ekanayake, Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister Charitha Ratwatte, Prime Minister’s Additional Secretary Saman Athaudahetti, Sri Lankan Ambassador in Beijing Karunasena Kodithuwakku, Megapolis and Western Development Project Director Ajita De Costa, Development Agency Director General Mangala Yapa, Southern Development Agency Director General Shirantha Herath, Development Strategy and International Trade Ministry Advisor Ryan Rockwood.

Just 24-hours before PM Wickremesinghe’s visit to China, a tripartite agreement was signed, between the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, the Urban Development Authority and CHEC Port City Colombo (Pvt) Ltd. to develop and form the new Colombo International Financial City (CIFC), during a simple ceremony held at Cinnamon Grand, Colombo on Friday (12).

The agreement which was signed by the three parties with the presence of Ministers Champika Ranawaka, Malik Samarawickrema and Arjuna Ranatunga would formally replace the previous agreement signed on 16 September 2014 between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Project Company.

The new tripartite agreement has been signed following the announcement in March this year by the Government to lift the temporary suspension of work on the project until the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development completed the Supplementary Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA). The SEIA was completed earlier this year, pursuant to a Development Permit issued by the Coast Conservation Department to recommence the project.

The temporary suspension of the project lasted over a year, during which the Project Company fully co-operated with the government to address the various concerns raised following the formation of a new government after the Presidential Elections in January 2015. The SEIA and the new tripartite agreement have addressed all such concerns. The Cabinet of Ministers approved this tripartite agreement and authorised the signing of the same at the Cabinet meeting held on 9 August 2016.

The CHEC Port City Colombo and the government envisage creating approximately 83,000 new employment opportunities in different sectors, attracting over US$ 13 billion in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from investors and developers from countries including India, Singapore, Malaysia and China while also increasing the number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka within the next 20-30 years.

“During the 19th century, the economic centre of gravity has been shifted from Asia to Europe and the reverse phenomenon is happening now, and China being in the forefront of all the economic activities.

We have taken all these important and vital aspects into consideration when developing our Megaplois Plan. This Colombo International Financial City in the centre of the maritime City will be one of the key phenomenons which will decide the future development of our country. And also this will fuel the planned Maritime city, Aero city, Tech city, Industrial cities and Tourist cities,” Minister Ranawake said after inking the agreement.

Colombo Port City and now the CIFC is intended to become a truly international city with headquarters of reputed local and international companies, banks and financial institutions locating their businesses, and investors from many countries making investments in real estate development projects in areas such as offices, hotels, retail complexes, residual accommodation, recreation and culture. The new city will also have a marina that will be developed jointly with an internationally reputed Marina operator, Tang Qiaoliang President, China Harbour Engineering Company said after signing the agreement.

“We believe in hiring the world’s best international team to plan and construct the city. The Development Master Plan recently approved by the UDA was a collaborative effort by Sweco of Sweden, Atkins of UK and Aecom of USA – all are top global companies in their respective fields,” he said.

“He believes that the Colombo Port City Development Project achieves three key objectives for the economy of Colombo and greater Sri Lanka.

“Firstly, the project will position Colombo as the most liveable city of South Asia, attracting entrepreneurs and financial professionals and become a catalyst of growth of Sri Lanka services sector and position the city to become a magnet for corporate headquarters that will take advantage of Sri Lanka’s strategic location. The new trade agreement being negotiated with Governments of India, Singapore and China will also play a large role in attracting investments.

“Secondly, the new city will become attractive to tourists who spend only 1.5 on average in Colombo compared to 9.10 nights in other resort locations. As the Port City Development evolves, with the emergence of retail complexes, cultural and others recreational activities, the City itself will become a tourist destination rather than a transport point, contributing much to the growth of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.

“Thirdly, the Port City/CIFC development will be socially inclusive allowing many thousands of Sri Lankans to gain attractive employment opportunities and also enjoy its amenities that will include over 100 acres of park areas, which is more than your main park in Colombo 7, and around 3 km of beach area. In addition, there will be more than 200 acres of water areas created for water sports.

“With a direct investment of over $1.4 billion, our company has become a long term stakeholder in your country and we have planned our investment returns over 25 years. We look forward to working closely with the government in formulating mutually beneficial policies that will make Sri Lanka an even more attractive investment and tourism destination,” he added.

4 Responses to “Crucial times ahead as UN Chief plans hush-hush visit to Sri Lanka”

  1. plumblossom Says:

    This Is How The Office Of The Missing Persons (Which Will Become A Bogus ‘Evidence’ Manufacturing Machine) Manufacture Bogus ‘Evidence’ Of 40,000 Missing Persons To Try Our Brave Armed Forces For So Called War Crimes They Never, Ever Committed

    In the Missing Persons Act, a relative or a friend can make an official inquiry (but a totally bogus inquiry) from the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) by email inquiring as to the whereabouts of their relative or friend.

    There are over 8 lakhs to 10 lakhs Tamil diaspora asylum seekers (actually economic migrants), a vast majority of who support the separatist terrorist LTTE and its aim of a separate state. If even 40,000 of these Tamil diaspora who support the separatist terrorist LTTE write bogus emails to the OMP inquiring the whereabouts of their friend or relative (but this friend or relative is actually living alongside them in these countries i.e. the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) these inquiries will officially be accepted by the OMP as 40,000 missing persons.

    According to the provisions of the OMP Act, even if the OMP inquires after these let us say 40,000 and finds out that these are all bogus inquiries and that all these 40,000 persons are actually living alongside the inquirer i.e. their relative or friend and these complaints about these persons being missing are all bogus, the missing persons, now found by the OMP, can request that their whereabouts not be revealed to their relative or friend or be made public. So officially these 40,000 persons will still be missing!!!

    Then the OMP will use these bogus 40,000 missing persons (who are actually living comfortably in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) as manufactured ‘evidence’ that war crimes happened in Sri Lanka (and all these bogus inquirers will state that these persons went missing during the 2006-2009 period) and our Sri Lankan Armed Forces will be persecuted for committing war crimes that they never, ever committed by a judicial process using these bogus email inquiries.

    The Missing Persons Act states specifically that if the missing person who is now found requests that the fact that they are now found not be revealed to the public that person will remain as missing as far as the OMP is concerned. That is how the OMP will manufacture bogus ‘evidence’ of 40,000 missing persons so that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces can be persecuted for committing bogus war crimes.

    The OMP emails cannot be checked by any outside body as stated in the Act since all evidence (almost all bogus) gathered by the OMP remains confidential. The OMP cannot be taken to the Supreme Court on this issue. However the OMP should absolutely and immediately be taken to the Supreme Court regarding what has been written above which is what would happen when this OMP is set up.

    The OMP will become a bogus ‘evidence’ manufacturing machine which will gather such bogus inquiries via email from those members of the Tamil diaspora who are supportive of the LTTE terrorists and who will send bogus email inquiries by their thousands. All these bogus inquiries (of people who are actually living in the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India etc.) will then be misused as missing person inquiries.

    I did not realize that the Sinhalese were this stupid as to allow such a process within the Missing Persons Act which can be blatantly misused in order to manufacture bogus ‘evidence’ like this. The OMP process is not transparent, it will happen in total secrecy, no one in Sri Lanka will be able to question it, not our police, not our courts, not our Sri Lankan citizens, nobody. All the OMP will do is gather bogus email ‘evidence’ such as described above which will then be misused as missing person inquiries to try the Sri Lankan Armed Forces for bogus war crimes that they never, ever committed.

    The OMP process as described above must be stopped immediately. If a relative or a friend really and genuinely wants to find out about their genuinely missing relative or friend (i.e. perished LTTE terrorist), they can make a complaint to the OMP in person in public. This is the only way that Sri Lanka and the world will know that their inquiry is genuine. This was the methodology followed by the earlier Paranagama Commission which then received 23,000 complaints from relatives or friends of the missing person (i.e. perished LTTE terrorist or our perished Sri Lankan Forces soldiers) but they made their complaint in public in person to the commission. This is the only way to ensure authenticity and make the process transparent since this happens in the public arena. However, even with such safeguards, even some of those complaints may have been bogus.

    The OMP should be stopped immediately since it is not a transparent process at all as described above but a totally secretive process where no one and nobody can request to be provided an opportunity to even peruse, investigate or look at the email inquiries received by the OMP. If the UNHRC, the US, UK, EU, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, India, the TNA and the separatist terrorists genuinely want to find out about perished LTTE terrorists, this Yahapalanaya Government could expand and extend the scope of the already set up Paranagama Commission in order to make such inquiries. This process should be totally following Sri Lankan Law, within Sri Lankan jurisdiction, paid for totally by the Sri Lankan Government only and with only Sri Lankan citizens appointed as commission members and investigators. In fact the entire staff should be composed of Sri Lankan citizens only. The process should be a totally domestic process with no interference or input whatsoever from foreign countries. Most importantly, all complaints should be made in person by relatives and friends in public if their complaint is genuine.

    The Missing Persons Act is totally dangerous as pointed out above and should be dismissed totally as it is highly dangerous and a totally secretive process as described above designed and set up to manufacture bogus ‘evidence’ against the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Sri Lanka should AVOID buying military equipment from India, which interferes in Sri Lanka’s internal politics and is subject to opposition from Tamil Nadu to arms sales to Sri Lanka. In other words, India is an unreliable supplier, much less an ally.

    On the other hand, Pakistan has been a STEADFAST ALLY of Sri Lanka in its times of need. Many-a-time Pakistan has RUSHED weapons to Sri Lanka’s armed forces facing military debacles when the rest of the world embargoed Sri Lanka. In future, Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations promises to remain strong.

    Therefore, subject to the J-17 being evaluated and found to meet Sri Lanka’s needs, and is a reliable aircraft with state-of-the-art capabilities Sri Lanka should buy it. This path has many advantages: it helps Pakistan … a tried and tested friend of Sri Lanka, it gives Sri Lanka access to Chinese aircraft technology and future upgrades which promises to be world class in the future, and lastly it creates a measure of deterrence against India … a proven busybody interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal matters.

    There are, of course there other suppliers of fighter jets Sri Lanka could consider: the USA, Russia and Israel. US aircraft are great, but are terribly expensive to buy and maintain, and are subject to embargoes driven by their political agenda, as in the past. Israel aircraft are as expensive, but are as good as US aircraft and will be subject to less embargoes. However, as a client state of the USA, Israel may place an embargo on Sri Lanka if it is strongly pressured by the USA. That leaves Russia whose latest aircraft exceed US aircraft in performance and capabilities but are not as expensive, and will not be influenced by Western pressure to impose embargoes on Sri Lanka. However, Russia has strong long standing ties to India, especially in military aircraft manufacture, that may be influenced by India to deny Sri Lanka the aircraft and parts when we need them.

    Considering everything, buying from Pakistan-China, from Russia and from Israrel are the most viable options, and buying from Pakistan-China is perhaps the BEST OPTION for Sri Lanka.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Furthermore, Sri Lanka should develop a more diversified strategy for buying a mix of aircraft from China, Russia, Pakistan and Israel so that it’s supply chain is more reliable and NOT TIED TO ANY ONE COUNTRY while avoiding buying from unreliable sources and proven enemies of Sri Lanka.

    While excessive diversification increases costs, SOME DIVERSIFICATION is ESSENTIAL. Perhaps buying from China/Pakistan, Russia and Isreal would be optimal.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    “at least six rebel SLFP MPs are to return to ‘mahagedara’ and show solidarity with President Sirisena by joining him on the stage.”

    IF this happens, MR and DINESH G must take responsibility for it. They have been UNABLE to take over the SLFP and some are trying to form a NEW PARTY! Obviously JO MPs are frustrated and they will leave before forming the new party.

    So a huge rally in K’gala attended by Sira? What a joke!

    What they plan to have in K’gala is NOT SLFP’s 65 anniversary but MARU SIRA’s 65th BIRTHDAY celebration!! Having worshipped his god VENKARESWARA in THIRUPATI (MR’s god too) ahead of his BIRTHDAY now Sira is going to celebrate.

    When will a BUDDHIST leader rule SL again? After JR (1988), SL had no Buddhist ruler. We only have Hindu and Christian rulers from 1988 until 2020.

    “Pakistan however maintained a low profile and renewed their offer stating that they would give one 10 F-7 combat craft free if Sri Lanka makes an outright purchase on the initial deal.”

    BAD MOVE. We should buy ISRAELI KFIR or other jets. They are the MOST ADVANCED, MOST STABLE and HIGHEST QUALITY.

    ONLY SL buys jets from Pakistan! Disaster!
    Not buying jets of Endia is good but Pakistan jets are no better.

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