Selling assets, crushing protests yahapalana way
Posted on December 13th, 2016

Editorial Courtesy The Island

There seems to be no end in sight to the government reneging on its pre-election pledges. One of its main campaign slogans was that the Rajapaksas were turning the country into a Chinese colony. It promised to regain Sri Lanka and cancel Chinese funded Port City project as the first step towards that goal. What it is practising now is the very antithesis of that pledge. Its grandees are shamelessly groveling before the Chinese, unable to draw loans from their western masters. They have even sold the Hambantota Port plus a vast extent of land to the Chinese to all intents and purposes. Worse, they have unflinchingly resorted to military means to crush a workers’ protest to enable the Chinese to take over that port! Good governance has fallen by the wayside.

The Navy has celebrated its 66th anniversary with a bang. It launched its first peacetime offensive on Saturday with its commander Vice Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne acting like an overgrown school bully. Clad in shorts and a T-shirt, he personally led the operation against a group of unarmed protesters. He manhandled a journalist named Roshan Gunasekera. He obviously went overboard in a bid to impress his political masters and, in the process, brought the entire Navy into disrepute. He must be brought to justice forthwith.

President Maithripala Sirisena was busy clearing the names of ancient Sri Lankan freedom fighters including Keppetipola; Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was pontificating on the virtues of the Liccavi method of solving problems amicably and Minister of Ports Arjuna Ranatunga was preoccupied with bridging the earth and heaven with a Christmas tree. They were blind to the burning issues in the country. The Hambantota Port was in turmoil and the Navy got free rein to bring the situation under control.

The protesting port workers obviously overstepped their limits. They held a ship’s crew incommunicado. Their action must be condemned unreservedly. They asked for trouble. The foreigners had to be freed though there was no threat to their lives. But, that was a task for the police. After all, the government has withdrawn the army from the VIP security units and replaced them with police. So, the question is why it could not entrust the task of freeing several foreigners in the custody of a group of unarmed protesters to the police. The very politicians who condemned—and rightly so—the deployment of the army to crush a protest at Ratupaswela in 2013 under the previous government had no qualms about ordering the navy to neutralise a workers’ protest!

It is a supreme irony that the ruling party big guns, who capitulated to the LTTE in the name of a ceasefire agreement and even compromised national security with the Navy being ordered to turn a blind eye to terrorist operations both at sea and on land, are now deploying the Navy against protesting workers! If they had had the courage to let the Navy carry out its duties in this manner during the 2002-2004 period the LTTE would not have been able to take delivery of so many arms shipments and, perhaps, the army would not have suffered so many casualties in the Vanni war. The shameless politicians who had their tails between their legs then are now flexing their muscles!

A UNP-led government sought to obtain USD 4.5 billion from the so-called Tokyo Co-Chairs (the US, the EU, Japan and Norway) by allowing the LTTE to control the North and the East at the expense of the country’s sovereignty and security between 2002 and 2004. Today, another UNP-led government has allowed China to take control of a vital national asset for USD 1.2 billion!

All protests are politically motivated because most of the trade unions are controlled by political parties. The dispute at the Hambantota Port cannot be an exception. That is no reason why the government should not attempt a negotiated settlement. First of all, it must stop letting China or any other country gain control of ports and airports because such measures are inimical to the country’s sovereignty and fraught with the danger of antagonising other powerful nations concerned about the involvement of their rivals in this region. Will the government have to sell the Trincomalee harbour to some other powerful country opposed to China bagging the Hambantota Port?

Let the government be urged to employ its much-flaunted Liccavi method in trying to solve the Hambantota Port dispute of its own making. It is unbecoming of a government which promised good governance and demilitarisation to deploy armed forces to crush workers’ protests.

4 Responses to “Selling assets, crushing protests yahapalana way”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Bravo ! This Editorial says it all re the Ports of Lanka and sale of Assets in Lanka, whilst crushing protests in the South.
    The Ranil led UNP leading the Yahap excels at this type of action – crushing people without attempting to solve their problems. Shame !

    Well stated, Prabath. We salute you for telling the whole truth of the matter.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Deployment of the Navy instead of the Police to bust the Hambantota Port strike is an attempt by the Yamapalanaya to bring the Navy into DISREPUTE in the eyes of the Patriotic citizen voters of Sri Lanka.

    Their GOAL is THAT SIMPLE!

    Falsely accuse war heroes of war-crimes, imprison and prosecute them, baton-charge disabled war veterans when they legitimately protest the lack of payment of pensions, imprison intelligence officers and disable the nation’s security apparatus leaving the nation vulnerable to resurgent separatists, dismantle the camps of the former war zones and hand-over control to unrepentant separatists,

    and now engineer a new Constitution that divides the nation into semi-sovereign provinces beyond the control of the Central Government so that the terrorists who were crushed yesterday can today regain what they failed to win through unremitting MURDER & MAYHEM?

    What kind of a TREACHEROUS devil’s government is this?

    Not a Yahapalanaya but a TREASONOUS YAMAPALANAYA!

  3. Christie Says:

    Will the Indian Empire get full control of Trincomalee?

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Agree with Ananda.
    Re the inimical actions of Ranil led Yahap against the People of Lanka – you have put it in a nutshell. Thank you.

    I would like to add that the existing Constitution of Lanka is being ignored in a number of ways.
    Why have Laws if not followed ?
    For Ranil led UNP – Lanka is their backyard to do as they want ?

    Tamils are being USED to divide Lanka. Solutions to social problems must be done so that Lanka is kept whole and safe in the future, not crushed and divided up.

    ———

    Christie,

    You are right. TRINCO is the key issue.

    Even the Glyphosate related illnesses are worst around the surrounds of Trinco area. Is this just a coincidence ?

    Settle the PORTS issues, and settle most of the Lanka problems …… !!

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