Churning world: Churning Sri Lanka
Posted on November 7th, 2015

By Susantha Goonatilake

A few days ago China’s President Xi Jinping visited the UK. And the British media reportedthat the British leaders and itsestablishment: groveled , kowtowed” (dana gahala vandinawa, on bended knee), the USAlost its best friend to its rival”, the 19th century Chinese humiliation by the British was now reversed” and China was out to restore the prestige it lost 175 years ago” to the British. These phrases describe the changing power relations between Britain and China.

The Western media further noted that Britain had really rolled out the red carpet, the Chinese leaderwas driven in a gilded carriage,given a lavish banquet by the Queen where the Duchess of Cambridge’s dress was red coloured – the Chinese colour of good luck, stayed at Buckingham Palace, addressed the British Parliament, and was constantly attended by the Queen or Prime Minister Cameron. And the Queen spoke of a UK-Chinese global partnership”. Wow! Lecturing Britain, had calculated her wins and losses. (In parenthesis, one should note that our President Sirisena on his own visit to the UK gushed that the same Queen shook hands with him without gloves-I have seen her twice at close range shaking hands without gloves-and that Cameron had walked up to his car to greet him. This naivity – to put it mildly –perhaps excusable of a newPresident).

Now China’ssense of earlier humiliation and today’s confidence are because she, as observers have noted, sees herself as a civilisation state -having a continuous historical narrative from circa the 3rd century BCE. This continuity is provided by her majorityHan ethnic group which current research indicates is not genetically pure but mixed. Contributing to this civilisational whole are her three cultural strands Confucianism, Taoism and the foreign import Buddhism. China unlike recent western nation states,has therefore,a long-range view from its long historical memory.

Midway between China and the UK, you find another country,Sri Lanka with a historical memory,also beginning around the 3rd century BCE. India” named after what the West Asians calledthe land beyond the Indus, has on the other hand as 19th century British sneered,no continuous historical memory mostlyfables and myths like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In fact, India’s early history was only recovered in the 19th and 20th century through British translations of Sinhalese chronicles. The carriers of our own continuous history, namely the Sinhalese, current research indicates, arealso but a genetic mixture, the result of various groups coming here and mixing. Although Sinhalese speak a North Indian dialect,they areby no means Aryan” that invention of 19th century British. And we of course like the Chinese had been humiliated for five centuries ever since the barbarous Portuguese came.

In recent years, both China and the UK (and India) have loomed large in Sri Lanka. China after the end of the war had helped develop Sri Lanka’s infrastructure but indications are that the terms could have been better. In fact, one commentator noted that our foreign debt in 2010 was only 36% of GDP while this year, it is estimated to rise to 94%. Bottom line: we fought the war without much indebtedness but afterwards; especially through infrastructure developments due mostly to Chinese loans, our debt increased. We could have perhaps bargained better. And worryingly, there were some speculations that the huge Dubai accounts held allegedlyby a former top political family member could have been from some of the extra charges in these deals. Who knows?

The war itself, as opposed to ethnic tensions, we should recall,was started by India creating and arming a number of Tamil groups in different parts of India- and an act of indirect invasion and cross-border terrorism. As we were winning the war, India and the UK,both behind-the-scenes and overtly, tried to stop us. In the war, a, there could indeed have been rights violations as of course, versus a is US you are a a a a little ladder state a mechanic a there is in every war. In India the disputed territory of Kashmir is a huge platform for human rights violations while her suppression of Punjab separatism was by any standard extremely brutal. And as for Britain (and of course the USA) her invasion of then peaceful Iraq cost about half a million deaths as did her other adventures in the Middle East. Today’s international TV covers extensively these outcomesof imperial overreach. But there are no cries for accountability for these two rogue states. (Okay! Partial rogue.)

The cynical reasons are not far to seek. One of the most brutal countries, Saudi Arabia has been proposed to the UNHRC by Britain. Saudi Arabia as well as other Middle East states in the semi desert areas including Jordan were created by Britain and the West in the 20th century. Time magazine once revealed that the former King Hussein of Jordan in his 46-year rule was on the pay of the CIA. And Jordan’s own CIA clone is a brutal organisation and no paragon of human rights. And from this illustrious Jordan Royal house comes also Prince Zeid, head of the UNHRC,strong advocate of the International Criminal Court ICC and the presumed judge and arbiter on what happened during our war. The grander advocate of human rights, the USA is not a signatory to the ICC. In fact, as Bernie Sanders a leading Democratic candidate to become the US President, points out there are more prisoners in the US than in China with about five times the US population. This example of misreading of the US reality is a counter tothe US’s self-delusion of a non-existentAmerican exceptionalism”.

These differentglobal threads have now come to a juncture in Sri Lanka. While the British were kowtowing to China to get investment, so was backward India appealing for investment whenXi visited India. India did not get big Chinese investment and during Xi’svisit, China in a show of force amassed troops at its disputed Indian boundary, a boundary drawn by the colonial power. In 1962,India had lost its only war with China and comparisons between the two indicate that India is no serious rival. An indirect outcome of India’s defeat in 1962 was that separatism was banned in India, most notably in Tamil Nadu.

But India has Sri Lanka to squeeze. And we gave the excuse when we allowed in Chinese submarines and our ambassador was berated in no uncertain terms. LikeXi in the UK, we also had our Parliamentary moment when Modi addressed our Parliament. As regional bully, he lectured to us on how we should govern ourselves. Forgotten were the uncleanliness and mass poverty in India. And in the meantime,Modi ran away totally with the soft power Buddhist option distortingin the process,the Buddhist message which India had forgotten. India considers Buddhism as part of Hinduism. And Sri Lanka, theoldestcontinuous Buddhist heritage in Asia, had ignored the Buddhist soft power possibilities in international relations.

After berating the Chinese for nearly one year, reality has dawned on the current Sri Lanka rulers.Finance MinisterRavi Karunanayake, Defence SecretaryKarunasena Hettiarachchi andRauff Hakeem were all pleading for China to come back and invest. And China was playing hard to get.

The Geneva resolution jointly sponsored by us was directly reminiscent of the infant King Dharmapala handing over our kingdom to the Portuguese. But our Parliamentary gentlemen were no infants. During the recent General Election, a section had shouted them hoarse supporting a nationalist perspective. And now,throwing all that aside, they were kowtowing to the privileges of being a Minister. This was no parallel with the situation when JR with Indian gunboats outside and overflying aircraft had to give in to the 13th amendment. Under pressure, he forced his parliamentarians to vote but said he will campaign for the nation in the proposed referendum.

But the current lot does not require any pressure; they prostitute themselves willingly, discarding any ideology. The best illustration of this is seen in the book bythe pro- JHU, Asoka Abeygunawardana titled TheRevolution of the Era” which describes how key JHU personnel conspired to bring down MR. And these were the very people who voted enthusiastically for the 18th Amendment which gave MR unprecedented powers. And these were the very ideological people who came to power stating that they wanted to carry the torch of the venerable Soma, were against their own leader SL Goonasekara as he had once been a Christian, had carried on fasts against unethical conversions and had in their own admission supported the awful BBS. And till the last moment, they were all unquestioning supporters of MR. And what today of the seeming lionMR? And what of the government of the SLFP et cetera that replaced his?

MR has pushed himself into near silence as financial and other accusations like the misuse of government resources in elections are piled up. Most shamefully, during thethree-day parliamentary debate on the Geneva resolution,Rajapakse remained silent.The spokesman for the SLFP dominated government that replaced him gives press conferences behind a rainbow background- not the SLFP blue or coalition blue-red. And from where distant land did this foreign rainbow come here? From the Western gay community, from the increasingly corrupt South Africa?

Leaders, what leaders?

10 Responses to “Churning world: Churning Sri Lanka”


    Susantha Goonatilake, Before you confuse the average reader; Did you do a background search of you prince Zeid -Al Hussein? He is the half brother of King Hussein how sent him to a mental hospital because he was insane. King Abdulla got him out (what a mistake). This was a gods gift to MUSLIM OBAMA. During the war he took the side of terrorists against Jordan. Go do your home work. can you see what he has done to our military hero’s. THINK BEFORE YOU WRITE SOME THING. Not just you get Kappan paid, may be in Dollars?

  2. Geeth Says:

    If the writer is well known scholar Dr. Susantha Gunathilake, the President at Royal Asiatic Society Sri Lanka, then please read the following academic background of him before you jump your guns irresponsibly…

    Dr. Goonatilake was trained in engineering in Sri Lanka, Germany and Britain and later in sociology in Sri Lanka and Britain.Dr. Goonatilake has taught or researched among others at the University of Exeter, University of Sussex; Columbia University; New School for Social Research; Institute of Developing Economies, Tokyo; University of Philippines; University of Trondheim; University of Linkoping and the Institute of Social Studies, University of Malaya. He has numerous journal publications and has lectured in hundreds of academic locations around the world.
    He has worked at the UN and has being a senior consultant for all UN organs dealing with knowledge and science issues. He is a fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, a former general president of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science and is currently the president of the country’s oldest academic body, the 164 year old Royal Asiatic Society, Sri Lanka.

    His specialties include cultural history, global shifts in culture and science, relationships of information in genetics, culture and computers.Among Dr. Susantha Goonatilake’s books are “Cultural Consequences of the Shift to Asia (forthcoming)”, “A 16th Century Clash of Civilizations: the Portuguese Presence in Sri Lanka”, “Recolonization: Foreign Funded NGOs in Sri Lanka” etc.

    LankaPuthra, when you write a comment for an article, please stick to the thesis of the article that you target and above all, irrespective of the background of the writer, put forth your ideas or refute the writer with respect. And please mind your language; because what is most benefiting the reader is not your comment but the article. We really want to read articles of writers in the caliber of Susantha, and not to offend; we of course can live without your comments. It is sad that you didn’t understand that king of Jordan or the prince of it is not the point of departure for the article to unleash your wrath against the writer in such ruthless manner.

    If you read your comment carefully once more LankaPutra, you will realize (??) Actually it is not the article that will confuse the average reader, but your “yanne koheda, malle pol” type comment. I am sorry to say that I have noticed time and time again that your comments are so disrespectful and offensive.

  3. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:


  4. Lorenzo Says:

    Kithsiri, Kithsiri, Kithsiri!

    This is a highly knowledgeable man. No one can dispute his credentials. What he has written is TRUE.

  5. Cerberus Says:

    We do not blame MR for not coming out to debate the UNHRC resolution in Parliament. We are aware that the Parliament is now totally defunct. MY3 broke the Constitution and the SLFP Constitutional laws to create a so called National Government which is a joke, with TNA in the lead in the Opposition. Who is there to debate the Resolution? TNA is very happy about it while the rest of the Parliamentarians have no voice since the Speaker has not recognized the other Parliamentarians who are not in the National Government.

    What MR did was to publish his views about the UNHRC resolution in the newspapers. He did not speak about it in Parliament since it would have been a waste of time. In any case without consulting the Parliament the Yahapalanay group had co-sponsored the Resolution already, thereby forfeiting all our rights. I do not know what the Govt is going to do now. It appears that they are all in a waiting mode. Waiting for what?

    Regarding speculation about MR or his children having money in Dubai banks that is just what it is – just speculation. Unless we have evidence I think it is unfair of anyone to accuse him. You can see the damage that has been done to the country by people who just hated MR because they thought he had a lot of money. There have been so many lies about MR family that I like to refresh you mind about it.
    -People said that MR had eaten up the Central Bank. Now you can see who has really eaten up the C’Bank – It is Arjun Mahendran and RW. The Rupee value has dropped, cost of goods has gone up.
    -People said Sri Lanka will become a colony of China. People were promised free WiFi on Google by RW and also a Volkswagen factory. Not a word about it now.
    -People said Lanka Hospitals was owned by Gota. Now Yahapalanaya has changed the Board and put their relations in.
    -People said Rs 300 million was taken from Divinaguma for election work. S.B. Dissanayake has now said in Parliament that there was no such thing.
    -People said that Avant Garde was a scam. Now Tilak Marapana has said there was no cheating at all and that it was aboveboard business.
    -People said that the EPF money has been played out. RW has said that the EPF has Rs. 1.7 Trillion.
    -People said MR had private helicopters, Lamborghini cars, golden horses from Buckingham palace, Nothing has been found.
    -People said MR had palaces all over Sri Lanka. It has been proven that most of these were hotels which are owned by the Govt.
    -All that this Govt has done is to open roads which had been built by MR govt.

    It is high time our people who spoke so vilely against a good man who loves the county should have the decency to apologise to him in public. MR was destroyed by a well orchestrated media campaign.

    We must not also forget the tremendous development work MR did in the country. He built up the entire infrastructure in the North and East which had been destroyed by the LTTE and also the roads, the airport and the harbor for the South. It would be true to say that he did more work in 6 years than the UNP had done in 30 years from 1983 onwards. Gota’s urban development program was tremendous, and the Divinaguma program which would have created 1.5 million jobs was killed by the Yahapalanaya. Yet people forget everything so easily and if one person comes forward with a lie they would rather believe it rather than what they see with their own eyes. Our people have got what they deserved.

  6. Geeth Says:

    “Our people have got what they deserved.”
    Very true.
    And the worst is yet to come.
    Until we get rid of all the colonial parasites in the ruling class controlling the helm of power, Sri Lanka has no future.

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    Agree with Cerberus.
    Add : Colonisation of 500 yrs., Tamil leaders & Tamil Diaspora demand for Eelam, False stories circulated about treatment of Tamils in Sri Lanka, Tamil Caste/poverty war, False War Crimes charges against the MR govt & SL Army, and last but not least, Cheated elections account for most of the tragedy ….



    ‘Colonial parasites’ is the right term ! They are entrenched and come in different hues. It all depends where some folk get their MONEY from ….

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    What MR has done for the Nation cannot be measured. Why MR, the MR govt and the SL Armed forces are made the ‘fall guy’ for all the wrong things done in Sri Lanka, I cannot understand ! May be the new govt is very inept and wants to distract the public and please foreign countries; may be they feel vulnerable because they have done a number of wrong things and want to ‘peck’ the MR group out into the horizon and out the memory of Sri Lankans ?

    We will NEVER forget how MR and his govt and the armed forces saved Lanka from 30 yrs of terrorism and separatism. In fact, the more these new govt people try to villify MR, GR etc. the more we feel that the new govt is wrong !

    However, this time around, we want a PERMAMENT PEACE with minorities and the rest of the world.

    * No more illegal migrants from Tamil Nadu.
    * Remove the Tamil Language from National/Official status,
    * activate 6-A,
    * free birth control material for any adults here,
    * better teachers, better health care etc.
    * Green energy
    * Law & Order – no riots allowed, zero tolerance for illicit drugs, etc. etc.

    These are some of the suggestions we have.

  9. samurai Says:

    I agree with Geeth. This is not the first time Lanka Putra made ‘yanne koheda malle pol’ type comment. I cannot understand why he cannot get rid of the habit of offending writers instead focusing only on the subject matter of the article. What right does he have to make unsubstantiated allegations that Dr.Goonatilake is taking kappan? If LP continues to engage in personal attacks against people he should identify himself without hiding behind a pseudonym.

    Furthermore, who says Obama is a Muslim? Obama is a practicing Christian. He was chiefly raised by his mother and her Christian parents. His father Barack Obama Snr. (with whom he lived only as a baby) was a Muslim-turned-atheist. Obama was baptized into the United Church of Christ (UCC) which he formally joined in 1988. In 2008 he left and began worshiping with a Southern Baptist pastor at Camp David. But since then Obama has not become a formal member of any church.

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    I am beginning to think that the MR govt did TOO GOOD A JOB for the majority community, i.e. the Sinhala/Buddhists.
    True, there were some making money out of various govt projects, but that is part of the normal corporate world interacting with various govts. The ‘colonial parasites’ plus the Colombians got mad at that power plus money making projects and felt insecure, and ousted the MR govt through a scam media campaign followed by more scams in the Central Bank.

    There was no real ‘divide & rule’ (of Colonial British Empire origin) on during the MR govt rule. Even the UNP people scored on govt projects.

    A truly National Govt (as Yahap says it is) would NOT villify a govt such as the past MR govt. The Yahap is a mostly ‘bought govt’. There is no Opposition functioning in Parliament as the TNA is a mere observer only with nothing to say and the JVP leader talks only to villify the MR govt. The Westward Ho ! has become Downward Ho !. “Venassa” or Change has happened – for the worse.

    Our people merely want to learn English, Sc&Tech. They do NOT want to be subjugated to neo-colonisation.

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