Sri Lanka must correct her errors
Posted on January 2nd, 2017

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

The present administration committed two cardinal errors soon after coming to power. One was to turn our back on China and its investments, which within a short period of time caused a severe crunch in our economy. Much has been discussed in this regard and the government’s frantic scrambling to reverse the situation had not yielded the desired results. Now there is a real danger that China will change from long-term friend to master. The second blunder committed was to persecute our own security establishment. This however has hardly been discussed.

The cost of the two blunders are not exclusive. The economy and the security together constitute national security. In this, our international relations also play a huge role.

Norochcholai blunder

Construction of the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant is a classic case study that offers many parallel lessons to us with regard to our present predicament. The then Bishop of Chilaw, without foundation, opposed this Power Plant. Scared of losing the Catholic votes, none of the successive administrations took timely measures to address the power shortage that experts had warned about.

Then, the much warned threat became a reality and the nation faced such a severe power shortage leading to six-hour power cuts a day. As we had been busy grappling over a totally irrelevant issue, without attending to the needful, when the hour for action came, we could not afford to call for worldwide tenders for the best option. We had to settle for the 900 Mw Coal Power Plant offered by China, including their loan.

We got a power plant of outdated technology, for which the Chinese cannot be blamed. It was constructed entirely by the Chinese, with Chinese machinery and material. Except for the extremely menial jobs, all other tasks, including mixing concrete, were done by the Chinese. There was no technology transfer or effective training to the Ceylon Electricity Board in even the proper operating of the plant, leading to the malfunctioning of the Plant many times.

The Chinese offered to operate the Plant and supply us electricity. Thankfully, our officials wisely declined. Still, the Chinese got paid with interest for their technology, their men, machinery and material from the very loan they gave us.
China had done nothing wrong for China had done what China must do for China. This is one crucial lesson this case study holds for us – that nations by and large are self-serving. That is the very essence of international relations. While India and the West are intrusive and hegemonic, China aims for more symbiosis in their relations. Either way, their interest is for their country.

Maximizing our opportunities

Forgoing our own interests is not being magnanimous, but committing a disservice to our own people. We must thus ensure that the necessary clauses are included in our agreements to maximize our own opportunities. For instance, we must not blindly take it for granted that the leasing of the Magampura Port will create jobs for our people.

If we are not careful, the 99-year lease may generate jobs for the Chinese from the infrastructure that we built and are paying for with interest. We also must ensure that besides the jobs, other factors are in line with Sri Lankan laws and thinking. While China has often been faulted for its human rights, or rather lack of it, India is rather lax when it comes to safety in the work environment.

Trinco Oil Tank Farm

The current situation at the Trincomalee Oil Tank farm is most disturbing. Four officials, including an engineer, from the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation were unlawfully detained for several hours by the Indian OC. Only after the intervention of CPC, were they and their vehicle released. Sri Lanka must fast learn from its mistakes, and ensure that future agreements incorporate necessary checks to prevent such high handed action by foreign investors. This is vital if more of our strategic infrastructures are to be leased to patch up our woeful economy and to balance world powers, who might otherwise be annoyed that they did not get a stake in our investments, but their rivals did.

Persecuting the Security Forces

The other crucial lesson this case study holds is that for want of minority votes, the interest of an entire nation had been jeopardized. This brings us directly to the second blunder this government committed and that is the persecution of our security establishment on charges without foundation.

We must be very vigilant of the fact that the demand for the investigation of the so-called war crimes comes not from the Sri Lankan people. In fact, from the beginning there had been a concerted effort to reassure the people that this government had restored the honour of our war heroes. It has even been said that it is thanks to Ranil Wickremesinghe’s foresight that no one will be dragged to the electric chair.

While the government is thus reassuring the people, Tamil National Alliance bigwigs are demanding that the government fulfill its promises. They claim that though they had personally wanted an international court, they had settled for a hybrid court to try the war crime charges. Therefore, it must be kept in mind that this persecution is demanded by a minority within a minority.

LTTEs proxy

The TNA represents only the Tamils in the North and the East, when there are Tamils in larger pockets elsewhere in the Island. Tamils out of TNA’s grasp are not of the same mindset. We must be also conscious of the eerie silence in the North where only the TNA’s cankerous voice is heard, which is unnatural in a democratic society. It must be also remembered that the TNA was the political proxy of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

As such, they endorsed all the atrocities the LTTE committed, not only against the Sri Lankan people, but against the Tamils. The very founders of the separatism ideology, such as Amirthalingam, were gunned down by the LTTE. If not for such eliminations, would ‘young’ M.A. Sumanthiran be in such a senior position in the Party? That is indeed an interesting question.

Sorrowing Mothers

Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera shares memories of Tamil mothers at the Muhamalai roadblock, anxiously peering into every vehicle en-route to Kilinochchi to see if their abducted children were in it. TNA would of course like us to believe that the parents happily donated the child for the cause. It is left to the readers’ intelligence if a parent is capable of sending his eight-year child to be cannon fodder and sleep tight at night, happy to have done his or her duty for the Homeland.

People were taxed mercilessly, tortured in illegal prisons, killed with impunity or later turned into human barriers. The TNA remained mum. They did not at least speak for the elderly, the young or the sick. After the war, people could not return to their homes due to the anti-personnel mines that were installed, disregarding international practices. Generally, AP-mines carry 15g of explosives, as its design is to maim, not kill. They are installed in specific patterns, which are recorded diligently. Thus, even if the weather and other external factors dislodge it from its original location, the de-miner can still locate it.

The LTTE disregarded these norms blatantly. They not only increased the weight of the explosives, sometimes as much as three times, they even buried one on top of the other. Thus, the de-miner after removing the top one would try to proceed, only to fall victim to the second one. The community most affected by these actions was the Tamils. Yet, the TNA has offered absolutely no support, financially or morally, to the de-mining process.

The international de-mining organizations estimated that it would take 12 years to complete the process. It was the Sri Lankan Military that expedited the process and had most of the lands cleared within three years. Had it not been for this timely action by the Military, these people would be living in tents, in camps for Internally Displaced Persons for 12 or more years. Yet, the TNA’s contention is the presence of the Military rather than the service rendered to the people they claim to represent.

Seven and a half years have passed since the war on terrorism came to its resounding conclusion. Yet, not once had the TNA expressed a thankful note for the normalcy the people are enjoying in the North and the East. The children are, perhaps for the first time in their lives, attending schooling without fear of abduction. People are piecing their lives together after living with terrorism for 30 years. As Karuna Amman, in his famous speech delivered in Parliament, clearly stated, the people have not benefited from one cent, much less a computer terminal from their so-called sympathizers.

TNAs enemy

Despite the destruction the LTTE brought on the Tamils, the TNA sees the Sri Lankan Military as the enemy. Indeed, the Sri Lankan military is the enemy of the TNA as TNA is the political front of the LTTE. The terrorist arm was destroyed, but not the ideologists. They have now picked the mantle from the fallen LTTE.

Instead of the gun, they are trying to coerce the law into terrorizing the government to yield to their pressure. The West, especially the out going Obama regime, has proved to be the TNA’s staunchest supporters. It is certainly not out of sympathy for the TNA or the Tamils, but out of their own interest in digging a firmer foothold in Asia.

That is why the TNA’s own role and obvious agenda is overlooked and why the hardcore terrorists in custody are rebranded as ‘political prisoners’. While doing so, the very forces that eradicated terrorism are branded as ‘contract killers’ and are accused of committing war crimes and excesses. These accusations and cries for justice come from the very ones who funded, supported and even provided terror tactics to the LTTE. Just as openly as the TNA lives in Sri Lanka, these people live openly in the West. Yet, there is not a single organization – international or otherwise — that is calling for accountability from these entities.

On the other hand, the West, India, Tamil Diaspora and the TNA – each for a different objective – have banded together.
Through various channels and means, they have generated tremendous pressure on both, the previous and the present, administrations. When the previous administration refused to yield, they helped the present government come to power.
Within months of coming to power, three Navy intelligence officers, along with two others, were detained over the assassination of the Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian, Raviraj.

At a recent hearing by the Colombo High Court, all five were found innocent and released.
The entire case had been based on the evidence of a man embroiled in number of other criminal investigations. Despite the weakness of both the case and the credibility of the witness, the officers were detained in remand prison for nearly two years. During this period, they were subject to enormous economic and mental pressures.

Yet, an officer speaking to the press afterwards said, “We were war heroes for our contribution that freed our people from terrorism. Still, on false charges, we were detained. We are happy with today’s verdict because it exonerated not only us, but also all war heroes and the Navy. We will continue to fulfil every duty and serve our country.”
It is obvious from his words that he clearly understands the threat the country is under and that he is ready for the challenge.

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8 Responses to “Sri Lanka must correct her errors”

  1. S.Gonsal Says:

    What errors ? No errors here. All because of lies by UNP.
    Either
    a) This time supressed Sinhalese have no choice but to talk to India to get rid of evil
    OR
    b) Pal Horu with “message of peace” will sell the whole country to India and China and rule like Moguls
    Which one you prefer ?
    The one which is reversible.

  2. Christie Says:

    “On the other hand, the West, India, Tamil Diaspora and the TNA – each for a different objective – have banded together.”

    Indian Empire in action.

  3. aloy Says:

    Shivanthi,

    Your first para is not consistent with second and third. The fourth is about Indian involvement in Trinco and an indication of what would happen if we give the slightest foothold to foreigners on our very important assets.

    Indians were given only a few oil tanks in Trinco and they have already become overloads.
    Imagine what would happen if we give a large chunk of our lands and a strategic port to China which is a country of over 1.2 billion people. MR first bound our country with loans to China. That money could somehow be paid from remittances etc from our large expatriate work force ( close to 2 million of them). But if we give the port and lands to China for about two centuries with a deed to escape the financial strangulation who is there to take them back. Can our politicians predict what would happen in ten years time?. If there is a war between China and another country (say India), who is there to take us out of the mess. MS and RW have been given the responsibility to take care of the country temporarily for a period of six years and not to sell it out right to foreigners. The future generations would curse these two people as well as the corrupt lot including the FM and the so called mouth piece, the Health minister.
    Can we expect the Chinese to bring in the best technology looking at the way they handled Norochchalai.
    At present there is no serious unemployment in th county. They are finding it difficult to find people for construction sites or for any other work. Therefore the Chinese are bound to bring in their people to handle the work in the port and industrial estates in that area.
    At the moment our politicians cannot do anything right. What they can do well is lining their pockets in various ways, Car permits, massive allowances which are unnecessary. If you go in a Taxi and talk to drivers they will tell that not even ten percent of the populqation are happy the way the GOSL is run.
    They should first take action on things like bond scam and give some confidence to the people. Not arresting rogues and releasing them after few days and playing drama.

  4. aloy Says:

    Does the PM know what is happening in South China sea?. All powerful countries (including US) have no clue how to counter the threats of China.
    China is our friend and we do not have anything against them as they stood by us at the time of need. Things may change over a period of 200 years. India is our neighbor for ever and is also a powerful country. So, we must not antagonize them also.
    Our advise to the politicians is: stay neutral or non-aligned and do not give our assets to any powerful country; give them to our companies to manage. No need to worry too much about debts and just keep law and order. We have an educated lot to take the country forward, those who have migrated also are bring in their investments. Perhaps that is the reason there is a construction boom right now in high-rise apartments.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    I agree with Aloy.

    We need good friends and allies who we must stand by in their hour of need as they have stood by us, BUT WE DO NOT NEED FOREIGN MASTERS be it China ….. or India or the USA.

    The FIRST PRIORITY must be to keep our country free of foreign masters of any kind.

  6. Christie Says:

    Dear Aloy and Ananda.

    Indian Empire and Indian colonial parasites are the problem.

    How many Chinese, white or black Americans do we have in our country? We have an Indian vermin from America working for his Empire and all the Indian colonial parasites.

  7. aloy Says:

    “How many Chinese, white or black Americans do we have in our country? ”

    I frequently fly between Colombo and Singapore/Kuala Lumpur and I find approximately 30-40% seats taken by East Asians, probably most of whom are chinese with their kith and kin. If you go to Arpico super market near Hyde park the situation is the same. We have no problem now as they are very peaceful people. This situation may change with large scale influx.
    The Chinese have taken over practically the whole of South China sea by drawing a demarcation line called “Nine Dashed Line” and claiming it to be theirs contravening the Law of the Sea crafted by our own flamboyant CCS man late Shirley Amerasinhe and approved by the UN, which they do not recognize. They may be doing it for their own security reasons and already have disputes with neighboring countries. This situation might change as they become more and more powerful. Our present day leaders will have to be extremely careful in dealing with foreign powers.

  8. Christie Says:

    Thanks Aloy

    They are tourists and I have come across them like I have come across Indian tourists. One thing I have noted is Chinese tourists spend a lot of money buying tourist merchandise made by Sinhalese.

    What happens in South China sea is not our concern.

    What is important to us Sinhalese is what the Indian Union and Indian colonial parasites do.

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