Posted on July 18th, 2019


July 18, 2019, 9:02 pm 


There is a considerable degree of anxiety and concern relating to the American ACSA (Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement), SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) and the MCC (Millennium Challenge Corporation) projects currently being considered or probably have already been signed off by the govt. in recent times. The trepidation is mainly due to the lack of information on these developments, which supposedly have a detrimental impact on the sovereignty of our nation.

Sri Lankan media needs to be commended for their part in exposing parts of these arrangements for the benefit of the public. The deafening silence of the govt. on the underpinning reasons for these projects and their impacts have left the electorate in a state of shock and confusion. Government platitudes have only aggravated people’s fears, judging from their experience with other government sponsored controversial issues such as bond scams, UNHRC betrayal and lack of elections.

The opposition concerns too have had not much traction, as they appear to have difficulty in obtaining the required information. Some of the TV programs, in particular, the program Balaya, launched by Hiru TV on 13 July 2019, however, presented some credible evidence for concern as the program panel consisted of a well known political analyst and representatives from the Sri Lankan Bar Association, including a legal consultant to the Govt. on MCC projects. Although the Govt. had claimed there was no difference between the 2007 and 2017 ACSA agreements, the panel agreed that a significant difference is the deletion of the 2007 agreement’s clause of the need to have prior approval for American troops to enter Sri Lanka. They maintained that SOFA, supposedly is not ratified yet by the Sri Lankan Govt., is designed to provide facilities, including diplomatic immunity, to all American personnel that would enter Sri Lanka through the ACSA agreement.

The lack of control as to who enters the country for military purposes is indeed a serious security threat to a small country like Sri Lanka to endure, whether the entrants are Americans or any other foreign power. Even Australia that has a defense agreement with America has no open entry stipulation for American or any other army in the world.

The alleged lease of 1.2 million acres of land for 200 years for an ‘Economic Corridor’ extending from Colombo to Trincomalee, for which the Govt. has supposedly already obtained a paltry sum of USD 400 million; and the proposed increase of land market activity for the benefit of multi-national companies are some of the other issues that have driven fear and distress within the community. Their fears are understandable because of the detrimental impact these assertions can have on the future economy and security of the Island.

In an election year, it is for the benefit to the Govt. to publish the agreements in the public domain, so that the electors will not be embroiled in the current rumor mill. Also by publicizing the agreements it would provide an opportunity to all political and civil society leaders to agree on an arrangement that would be of benefit to future generations, as well as safeguard the sovereignty of the country. People and governments can make mistakes, as no one is infallible, but it is prudent to make amendments when it is still possible, irrespective of party affiliations, to put the country first even at this late stage before implementing the controversial agreements.

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