Memories of a Great Guru II
e-Con e-News 2-8 June 2019
1912: London gave only English officials a huge rise in salary, despite a Salaries Commission stating: “The classes most urgently in need of relief are peons, process servers, railway porters, vaccinators & employees of that type and the large army of minor clerks.” Workers were not awarded a wage increase, sparking the first major railway strike in Colombo, Kandy and Navalapitiya.
• 3,000 railway workers walked out of the Maradana workshops, spreading to the running sheds, paralyzing the entire railway for 9 days. 500 railway firemen and cleaners struck work in sympathy. Workers in the government factory, harbour, municipality and engineering firms set up a railway workers’ strike fund. The strike was sparked by management ignoring petition on grievances. Average wages for skilled workers had declined, 1892-1912. Daily-paid workers had 9-10-hour working day, 5 days a week, but were only paid for hours worked. The Ceylon Observer, Morning Leader and Independent blamed government officials for tactlessness. The CGR workers formed the Ceylon Workmen’s Provident Association (CPWA) with several politicians, temperance and social service activists among its leaders… Management spied on ringleaders, had them deported after 1915 tumult.
• London, preparing for war, increased Legislative Council to 21 members, with only 4 members elected by 2,938 voters (36.4% “Ceylon Tamils” & 56.4% Sinhalese). Voting rights for new seats (“Burgher Seat” & Educated Ceylonese Seat”) were determined by property and education. For the Educated Ceylonese seat, the Karava elite, making up a significant proportion of Sinhala voters, fielded Marcus Fernando (related to CH de Soysa), supported by some new Govigama elite. ‘Sir’ Ponnambalam Ramanathan was supported by Govigama aristocracy, Ceylon Tamil voters, and some Salagama elite. Ramanathan won.
1913: AE Goonesinghe set up the Young Lanka League to lead the urban working class, forming trade unions. Plantation workers remained unorganized. The Young Lanka League opposed the poll tax that forced all adult males to pay 2 rupees annually or work for 6 days on road construction. Only Goonesinghe wanted voting for all people. The Sinhala and Tamil rich opposed universal suffrage.
• The English banned village chiefs from joining the Temperance Movement, which Civil servants had to get permission before joining.
1914: Many ‘volunteers’ from Colonial Ceylon Defence Force (CDF) sent to fight England’s WWI: to Gallipoli, and to Egypt to control the Suez Canal.
• German warship Emden landed in Diego Garcia, and headed northwest. The Emden steamed 33,000 miles and sank or captured 23 merchant ships, one cruiser, and one destroyer. More than 80 allied ships chased after it.
1915: Cost of living rose during and after WWI, without a rise in wages, leading to further unrest. Riots (later labeled ‘Anti-Muslim’ even tho more Sinhala killed) began on Vesak (May 28), sparked off by rail workers, resulting in slaughter by the English authorities.
• After the ‘Riots’ the colonial government, claiming threat of an islandwide railway strike, shut down the Ceylon Workmen’s Provident Association (CWPA), the first trade union among the railway workers. IGP HL Dowbiggin: “The talk of a railway strike shows that the recent disturbances were not solely religious…” Trade union activists were detained for 14 days at jails in Welikada and Old Royal College, and deported by steamer to Batticaloa. They received no compensation for wrongful arrest, exile without trial, humiliating treatment as criminals and for loss of employment. They were “the first workers’ leaders to emerge from the working class itself.” The English meanwhile focused on setting up a fake electoral system and ‘leadership’, with the Senanayakes and Ramanathans, et al.
• The Inspector General of Police Dowbiggin warned: “The term Ceylonese was not heard 10 years ago and I submit it is a mistake to use it. The different classes are best managed by being called by their different names.” (Dowbiggin, a relative of the Layard family involved in settling Jews in Palestine, was later commissioned to inquire into the Palestine Police Force).
• New Governor William Manning, fresh out of murdering Africans in the Sudan, saw there was “naturally plenty of racial strife and jealousy and that will be of value in deciding the composition of the council.”
– from A Very Personal Ingrisi History of the World, Krisantha Sri Bhaggiyadatta
A. Random Notes, Quotes of the Week, Reader Comments
• The Road from 9/11 to 21/4 is Clear – the Road from 1899 to 2019 even Clearer
• US waging Trade Wars on China
B. ee Focus
B1. Mega land-grab imminent? – Beware of rushed laws and agreements – Kurukulasuriya
B1a. Part of $480mn MCC grant to be used to create State land inventory: Eran
B2. Attempts at Industrialization in Sri Lanka
B3. US presses on with its hegemony over Sri Lanka, region
B4. What is the vision for Sri Lanka? Nationalism vs Diversity – US-funded Advocata
C. News Index
A1. Random Notes ______________________________________________________
The Road from 9/11 to 21/4 is Clear – The Road from 1899 to 2019 Even Clearer
• Is ee the only medium in the country to call for a modern industrialized nation? Those who call themselves nationalists or entrepreneurs or intellectuals refuse to name us such a destiny. Even those invoking the vision of Anagarika Dharmapala refuse to examine this part of his legacy – the call for industrialization, once common to all people struggling against imperialism around the world (see ee Focus, Amunugama). Are they too in the grip of merchants and moneylenders who bleed the country?
• As ee is‘uploaded’, we are told the roads in Colombo are being closed for the grand entry of India’s PM Modi, whose welcoming guard of honor shall, ee hopes, proceed more smoothly than Rajiv received. ee guesses India is quite sober about such honors, let alone about garlands. We must be sober too.
• Modi’s visit comes right after the US Assistant Secretary for Political and Military Affairs Perry Cooper’s visit this week, which got little publicity except for the usual cut-and-paste press release from its Kollupitiya Kaverns (US Embassy & Temple Trees, where the MCC office – Millennium Challenge Corporation, not Marylebone Cricket Club – is based).
We imagine Cooper’s visit was meant to stiffen the various bones of the UNP ruling cabal, bones grown flaccid for repeated genuflection at the designs of the Yankees. Will Cooper’s visit enable another coup to maintain its grip on Sri Lanka? Perry went on to India to strike new war deals. As ee asks repeatedly, how long will India’s brown sahibs go along with these colonial stratagems (see, ee Sovereignty). When JR acceded to Reagan’s wishes for Trincomalee, Indira Gandhi started training predatory bipeds to act as terrorist quadrupeds. What role will these new terrorists play now?
The anti-Sinhala-Buddhist, anti-China, anti-India, anti-Muslim game is meant to break us away from ourselves and our closest allies. It is no coincidence that the celebration two weeks ago (see last ee) of the ‘last king’ of Jaffna, Sankilian, involved activists from India’s Shiv Sena (The Army of Shiva, linked to India’s ruling BJP and paramilitary RSS, who killed Mahatma Gandhi) There are many such agents around us, some who do not even know they are agents. But they too share such divisive goals.
It’s no coincidence that white-funded civil society is claiming the state has failed. The “failed state” discourse is right out of the US playbook. Is this a preliminary to inviting foreign intervention? Why not demand an immediate general election? Why not talk about the economic future of the country? Do we continue as a mercantilist economy or do we modernise and industrialise? Isn’t it the muscle and brain of the working class, those who go to work everyday, those not allowed to choose the form and pace of their work, who can change the country and the world? Isn’t it they who can save the nation?
• The opposition to the selling out of the country focuses on the military agreements to set up a US/NATO base and divide the country into 3 if not 4 parts (north, east, central, south). The far more vital threat to the country is the continuation of economic policies that keep turning Sri Lanka deeper into a pliant market serving the needs of the industrial economies of Europe and its settler states, as well as its off-white allies (see, ee Focus, Kurukulasuriya).
• Imperialism has decided that its branding as ‘liberal’ since the last ‘World War’ is no longer needed. The Bretton Woods agreements to set up IMF/WB/WTO, after 1945, having served the US Treasury well, are also no longer applicable…So what lies in store in the next week?
• While China, as ‘double devil, Yellow Peril + Red Menace’, has been media-reproduced ad nauseam, it becomes clear that this present moment of ‘heaven and hell in great turmoil’ offers a greater opportunity for us to rid ourselves of this 500+-year-old damnosa hereditas! It is time once again for Sri Lanka, great in its history of resistance, to join the other great peoples of Asia – Iran, China, Russia, Indonesia – to ensure the defeat of white domination, once and for all.
• The first ‘World War’ led to the creation of the first socialist state in the USSR, which was then invaded by 14 white states and their honorary white allies. The second WW led to the creation of several socialist states, China, Korea, Cuba….This 3rd World War offers endless possibilities.
• The US, with its 1,000 bases around the world, is supplemented by its floating fortresses, which also carry flying armadas as well, to assert control over the seas and skies as well. Meant to not just annihilate whole populations, their primary purpose outside of instilling fear on land, is to ensure its economic control of local states. Sri Lanka, as ee has pointed out before, is another vital ‘chokepoint’ like Yemen, the Iranian Gulf, the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, to prevent the recovery from colonialism and the growth of Asia and Africa…
• As the media fog sprayed on our eyes vaporizes, it becomes clearer how the US and its local (domestic and neighbourly) allies were behind the April atrocities. The atrocities may be easily tracked back, past 9/11 in 2001, to the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in 1989, and the need to keep Asia under their thumbs (see, ee Sovereignty, Vasudeva, et al), and further to 1978, when Carter acceded to Brzezinsky’s request to aid Islamist narco-terrorists to undermine the PDPA government and drag the Soviet Union into a quagmire – https://www.workers.org/2017/06/05/zbigniew-brzezinski-the-lies-about-afghanistan/. The terrorists of Jamiat-e Islam of Burhaddin Rabbani and Hezb I Islami of Gulbeddin Hekmatyar also murdered teachers educating girls and civil servants carrying out land reform http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=gulbuddin_hekmatyar&printerfriendly=true]
In 1991, with the first US war on Iraq, Pentagon strategist Paul Wolfowitz told former US General Wesley Clark: “With the end of the Cold War, we can now use our military with impunity. The Soviets won’t come in to block us. And we’ve got 5, maybe 10 years to clean up these old Soviet surrogate regimes like Iraq and Syria before the next superpower emerges to challenge us.” (https://blackagendareport.com/how-us-foreign-policy-spawned-terror-and-trump?)
In 1992, when the New York Times published Wolfowitz’s Defense Planning Guidance, the US military sabre-rattling, had less to do with protecting the US oil supply than with discouraging “advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership”. Asia, Africa and Europe must be confronted with military dominance capable of “deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role”. This would be called “full spectral dominance’ extending even to space.
9/11 in 2001 would then become a pretext, for what the US War machine called “Operation Infinite War”. In 2002, Richard Perle, chairman of the US Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, 2001-2003 (before resigning for being caught at bribery), called for “Total War” – There would be no ‘stages’ in “the war on terrorism”. “We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq… This is entirely the wrong way… [We must] wage a total war… our children will sing great songs about us years from now…”
This ideology of “war without end” answers the needs of the new imperialism. An imperialism which began in 1899 with the US blowing up their own warship, the USS Maine in Havana, to then declare war on Spain and grab the Philippines, Cuba, etc. The 1964 Tonkin incident (set up by the father of Jim Morrison, a drug-addled poster boy for Colombo’s rock’n’rollers) enabled the US to justify their invasion of Vietnam. There is no lack of such staged historical pretexts to justify their invasion of countries. And the April Atrocities are but one more…
• US Trade Wars on China
• On 22 January 2018, US President Trump imposed increased tariffs on imported washing machines & solar panels. On 8 March, he imposed 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% on aluminium imports. On 2 April, China imposed retaliatory tariffs of up to 25% on selected US products. This set off a series of tit-for-tat tariff increases by the US and China.
Most damagingly for Trump, China imposed a virtual ban on the import of soybeans from the US, causing hardship for a swathe of Trump voters – continued sanctions could cause the soya farming sector in the US to collapse. Trump has actually asked China to shift the tariffs from soya beans to aircraft and parts!
Prophets of profit have been sounding dire warnings about the imminent collapse of Chinese industry, while others have been warning of the Chinese dumping its huge (US$1.12trillion) holdings of US debt (~7% of the debt). Neither is likely to happen. China has begun selling its US treasury bonds, disposing of US$20.5bn in March. However, it is unlikely to simply dump them, as that would cause a precipitate drop in the price of the remainder. As it is, worries about the US economy are boosting treasury bond prices, allowing China to exit with a big profit.
China is probably mindful that the US has a history of sequestering the funds of states it disagrees with. The US did this to Switzerland at the end of WW2, to Iran in 1979 – the money is still in US hands – to Iraq, Libya and Venezuela more recently.
So it behoves China to move its spare cash into other, safer areas. It has actually been buying gold, in a shift away from the almighty dollar.
One expert has said, people should not fear China dumping its US bonds so much as if they devalue the Yuan (or RMB/renminbi, ‘people’s money‘). The pressure of the US tariffs has been pushing down the Yuan towards the 7:1 Yuan:US$ ratio which analysts believe to be crucial.
Yet another analyst believes that China may actually be using the trade war as a lever to devalue the Yuan in order to deal with the huge internal debt problem.
Following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, China lost some 20% of its jobs in manufacturing, and launched a Keynesian program of infrastructure investment, fueled by loans from state banks. This enabled a rapid modernization of the country, providing the basis for even better industrialization. Modernized factories could lay off excess labour without worry, since the expanding economy could take them up. A leaner and more efficient manufacturing sector emerged.
There is no worry of a Global Financial Crisis-type meltdown in China, because individual housing loans go to home buyers rather than to investors, and because there is no toxic derivatives market.
However, corporate debt remains a problem, although not an immediate one. A lower Yuan would help reduce the total debt, which is currently of the same order of magnitude as that of the USA.
Yet another Chinese consideration is the need to shift away from certain areas of exports. China’s main exports to the USA are cars and shoes. China manufactures 25 million motor vehicles a year, three times as much as Japan. As for shoes, their manufacture is labour-intensive, and China is trying to move away from that to more modern industrial sectors. A lowering of the value of the Yuan would tend to soften the shock of transition.
Lowering the Yuan openly would lead to accusations against China of cheating. As with the trade war, China has been careful only to respond, not initiate action which could be viewed as aggressive at an international forum such as the WTO. The trade war may be just what China needs in order to carry out a devaluation and still be seen as the aggrieved party.
A2. Quotes of the Week__________________________________________________________
• Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, director-general of SL’s Institute of National Security Studies, did not buy US Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan’s argument at this week’s Shangri-la Dialogue, that China had designs on the region: “No one can deny the US foreign policy has had liberal, hegemonic interventions, whether in Iraq, Libya or Syria.” – https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/shangri-la-dialogue-shanahan-makes-a-splash-by-raising-thorny-issues?
• “I don’t know how many remember Milinda Moragoda, a former minister and now a dedicated pathfinder who told the audience that when the US ambassador telephones to ask him for a meeting he does not stop to inquire what it is about but goes directly to the ambassador’s residence – in Horton Place.” – http://www.sundaytimes.lk/190602/columns/gone-too-far-with-sofa-351733.html
• “If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.” – Samuel Adams, one of the founders of US Independence from England rallying his country to action – https://ezilidanto.com/2019/06/core-group-butchers-of-haiti/?
A3 Top Reader Comments on Last ee_________________________________________________
• “The ee historical snippets – fascinating!”
• “It seems that Rathana (and Champika is never far behind him) has achieved what he set out to do. Before the fast unto death charade, a no-confidence motion was on the agenda in Parliament, which looked like being passed. It would have isolated Bathiudeen and split the government. Most importantly, it would have avoided a polarization between Sinhalese and Muslims. Many of the latter had broken away from their ethno-political leaders because of the economic situation. The victory of the SLPP faction in the education co-operative elections in Muslim Mutur is indicative of this (see, https://lankacnews.com). By Rathana’s actions, Bathiudeen and Co. have been enabled to say, ‘We are the victims of Sinhala-Buddhist racism’. Reports are that Fowzie had chaired a meeting of Muslim parliamentarians. So, instead of isolating the pro-Towheed section from the rest of the Muslims, the entire Muslim community is uniting in the face of ‘Sinhala Buddhist extremism’ The Yahapalana government thus has ‘Towheed extremism’, bolstered by renewed Muslim support, on one flank, and ‘Sinhala Buddhist extremism’ on the other. It is difficult to think that such a sophisticated game plan was drawn up by the incompetents of the Yahapalana regime.”
B. Special Focus__________________________________________________________
B1. Mega land-grab imminent? – Beware of rushed laws and agreements:
– Lasanda Kurukulasuriya__________________________________________________________
After Narendra Modi took oaths on Thursday for a second time as India’s PM, having steered the BJP-led coalition to a landslide election victory, there was a string of announcements relating to diplomatic engagements involving Sri Lanka, India, China, and the US. Modi will visit Sri Lanka on 9 June, President Sirisena told a press conference in Delhi, where he attended the Indian leader’s inauguration ceremony. Before that Modi will visit the Maldives, his first overseas trip as PM. The Indian media anticipates that the Indian PM will have bilateral meetings with the US and Chinese leaders in September and October, respectively.
Discussions on what the US calls its ‘Indo Pacific Strategy’ are to figure at meetings of senior US officials in Singapore for the Shangri-la Dialogue, and in India – a ‘major US defence partner.’ US Assistant Secretary for Political Affairs Clarke Cooper is on a tour of Singapore, India and Sri Lanka from May 29th to 6th June. Against this backdrop, an unusual statement appeared on Friday titled “Indo-Lanka relations under the 2nd term of Modi – in the backdrop of Chinese foothold in SL and US proposed SOFA,” on the President’s Media Division (PMD) website. It is in the nature of a commentary on Sri Lanka’s relationship with India which, it asserts, is ‘at a high now.’ The gist of it was to reassure Delhi regarding Colombo’s foreign policy moves.
Worrying about India’s possible reactions to controversial defence pacts with the US, it said “… Sri Lanka will have to be very careful not to antagonize India while shifting foreign policy decisions or entering into a new pact to replace Acquisition and Cross Services Agreement (ACSA) with the United States. …Now, the US proposes to replace ACSA with a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).”
Repeating the US’s misleading assurances in relation to the SOFA – that there is no need to fear the establishment of a US military base, that Sri Lanka ‘will retain all its sovereign rights’, etc. – the article asserts, “Currently, there is an acknowledgement in Washington with regard to India’s regional supremacy and its role in regional security and stability” and “there is an understanding of the need for cooperation between India and the US to check rapidly expanding Chinese influence in this region.” Inexplicably, it adds: “Hence, it is essential to keep India informed about Sri Lanka’s intended military cooperation with any outside country, especially with a superpower such as the US.”
External pressure – Could the uncharacteristic comment posted on the PMD website be interpreted as an indirect admission that Sri Lanka has in fact agreed to sign up on the SOFA (which, till now, officials have been at pains to say, is still only ‘under discussion’)? Or is this an indirect (if somewhat clumsy) attempt to reassure India – timed to coincide with the president’s visit to Delhi for the Indian president’s oath-taking ceremony? Whatever the purpose, the sub-text of the essay suggests that political leaders are more interested in appeasing external forces and bowing to pressure from diverse quarters, than guiding policy in a manner that serves the national interest. There appears to be much external pressure being exerted to finalise this pact that gives carte blanche to US defence personnel entering the country, and threatens Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.
The SOFA is not the only agreement that the US has been pushing to conclude in Sri Lanka. The country’s pro-US-PM-led government is working hard to conclude or implement a number of other pieces of legislation and policy at the behest of its Western patrons, against all odds. If there is a sense of urgency in these efforts, it is because time is running out. With a presidential election only six months away, and the government showing a dismal report card on its performance in most areas, its Western backers know that its days are numbered. Hence the pressure is turned up, to fast-track the desired laws and agreements. It is the US-friendly UNP leadership that will be instrumental in this process. The public will need to be on alert because once these laws are passed there is no possibility of judicial review, under the constitution.
One example is the proposed Counter Terrorism Act (CTA). From the moment the Easter Sunday attacks took place PM Ranil Wickremasinghe has been vigorously arguing that a new law is needed to curb terrorism. This is despite multiple arguments that have been made showing that there is ample provision in the country’s existing legislation, to deal with terrorism. It has been pointed out that amendments to the existing Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) would suffice. It is an open secret that the eagerness to have the CTA passed, stems from pressure to comply with the demands of the US-led UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka, which calls for repeal of the PTA.
Land reform and MCC – Parallel to the defence-related agreements and arrangements sought by Western powers, such as the SOFA, a number of laws have been drafted and/or passed relating to the economy as well. Reforms that would bring the economy in line with the Western neo-liberal model, represent the ‘other side of the coin,’ of the defence agreements that advance US hegemony on the military front. Among them are the MCC, new laws that will radically transform patterns of land use and ownership such as the proposed Land Bank Act and already-gazetted State Land (Special Provisions) Bill and, according to some, the revised National Physical Plan 2050 (NPP).
The Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) is said to be a US grant for development purposes. The MCC was developed in secrecy by a team located in the Sri Lanka PM’s office. A government minister in parliament even denied its existence. There has been no public discussion on it. The MCC’s approval of the $480mn grant for Sri Lanka was announced by government just days after the Easter Sunday attacks – when one would imagine that Sri Lanka’s investment credentials were at an all-time low. The secrecy, the odd timing of the announcement and other aspects would suggest that the MCC is being imposed by the US for its own purposes, rather than for the benefit of Sri Lankans.
From the little that is known, the MCC relates to two projects, on Transport and Land. The goal of the Land project is said to be to ‘increase land market activity’ and the ‘tradability of land’ through ‘policy and legal reforms.’ 80% of Sri Lanka’s land is owned by the state. Making such land a ‘tradable commodity’ or creating a ‘land market’ as the MCC aims to do, has long been advocated by the World Bank to bring about what it calls ‘market based land consolidation’ for the benefit of private (including foreign) investors.
Dispossession of farmers – Environmental groups and land rights activists, aware of details of the MCC, are strongly opposed to the project. Smallholder farmers cultivate land on the basis of state grants or other forms of tenure short of outright ownership. Since farmers are chronically indebted, the reforms underway will in all likelihood lead them to sell their plots, activists have pointed out. The end result will be mass dispossession of farmers and other rural populations engaged in animal husbandry, fishing etc. These groups whose livelihoods will be destroyed, are the source of food sovereignty, says Sajeewa Chamikara from MONLAR, a grassroots land-rights organization.
The government’s moves to remove the bar on foreigners owning land, the removal of the 50-acres limit on individual ownership, the proposed ‘Land Bank’ (that will bring publicly owned land under a single hub and make it available for private investors), are inter-related.
“You need to look at all the factors to see the final outcome,” explained Chamikara. One needs to ask, if the government is genuinely interested in addressing the land-related and other multiple problems faced by farmers, why doesn’t it address these issues directly, in consultation with the farmer organizations – rather than bowing to pressure from foreign ‘advisors’ who may have their own agendas?
The State Land (Special Provisions) Bill was gazetted on 27.03.19, and the National Physical Plan 2050 was recently reported to have got presidential approval. Both were strongly opposed by the president, during the November-December 2018 constitutional crisis. The land laws which he, at the time, described as ‘anti-national,’ were among reasons he cited for his move to sack the prime minister. What pressure was brought to bear on the president to make him give his assent to them later? Why did he give in? It would seem that the instability caused by in-fighting between president and PM has made the country particularly vulnerable at this time.
The State Land (SP) Bill, gazetted by the UNP’s Minister of Lands (and not the president), will need to be passed in parliament. Its purpose is “to grant absolute title to state lands held by citizens who are holders of grants or instruments of disposition.” Its validity is for 7 years. So it would appear the government seeks to dispose of large tracts of land in a short time, to make them quickly available for investors. This again will accelerate the dispossession of smallholders.
Drastic changes – The revised National Physical Plan 2050, prepared by the National Physical Planning Department of the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry, is yet to be made public, although it is said to be ‘completed.’ The NPP seeks to concentrate economic activity in 4 ‘Economic Corridors’ of which the Colombo-Trincomalee corridor will be its showpiece. Attracting private investment is a key objective. According to a draft summary seen by this writer, the NPP’s medium term goals include the ‘transformation of the economy from conventional industries to high tech and innovation based Industries,’ increased international trade and increased ‘attraction for investment and trade.’ The NPP expects to transform land use patterns and bring about movements of population, to achieve a ‘reversal of the rural-urban population ratio’ in 30 years. This gives a clue to the drastic nature of envisaged changes. The NPP however will not be required to be passed in parliament. According to NPP Director General Dr Jagath Munasinghe “it is a policy document, not a Bill” and so it only needs to be gazetted.
It has been observed that the districts covered in the NPP more or less overlap with those coming under the MCC. From the little available information it would appear the goals of the two projects broadly dovetail. It is unlikely that this is coincidental, they both come within the economic thrust of the UNP government that seeks to put the country’s land and other resources at the service of foreign capital. Whatever the merits of these projects, it is unconscionable that plans to bring about such far-reaching social and economic change, are not made available for public debate. The secrecy surrounding them shows that the government knows they will be unpopular. The overarching question is. whether the present government is more interested in pleasing its Western backers, than the constituencies in Sri Lanka, millions of voters, to whom it is answerable.
B1a. Part of $480mn MCC grant to be used to create State land inventory: Eran
The Institute of Valuers of Sri Lanka (Amendment) Bill received House approval yesterday in Parliament, with State Minister for Finance Eran Wickramaratne stating plans to use part of the $480mn Millennium Challenge Corporation grant to create an inventory of State-owned land in 7 districts.
The Bill amended the Institute of Valuers of Sri Lanka Law No. 33 of 1975, which was outdated, with provisions to establish the Institute of Valuers of Sri Lanka and a council of the institute, which will be responsible for the management of the affairs of the institute, and for the maintenance of professional standards and discipline of members of the institute; and for the protection and promotion of the interests of the public in relation to the profession of Valuers. State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne, moving the Motion, held the Bill will popularize university degrees on the subject, which has a high demand in most parts of the world:
“This is an organization with 45 years of history, both in Sri Lanka as well as abroad. The valuation is a subject that can be awarded a university degree. Now with input from stakeholders, we have made amendments, which were submitted in this House for approval allowing the proposed expansion.” According to the State Minister, a part of the allocations from the MCC will be made available for the land sector development in Sri Lanka, where valuation is a key factor. “There was a discussion held on the $480mn grant from the MCC. A part of this money, $67mn, is allocated for the land-related matters to make room for the transport sector. State land inventory of seven districts will be developed in order to strengthen the Government Valuers Department. Most of it will be computerized, enabling digitalization of deeds, giving clear holding to landowners,” he said.
“The Valuers need not fear. There is a difference between the method followed to survey land in the past and now. Using digital technologies, you have the ability to measure a particular land from a different part of the world. It is necessary we go forward with technology,” held the Minister highlighting the need for digitalization….
In response, UPFA lawmaker Dr Sarath Amunugama criticized the State Minister, for not talking about the Institute of Valuers of Sri Lanka (Amendment) Bill much, but focusing on the topic to be taken up on Friday: “These amendments are limited, but should have further expanded for the betterment of our economic development needs. Our traditions and laws followed for valuations are outdated. So, it is essential to update the valuation system to suit the current requirements and to include infrastructure and landl”
B2. Attempts at Industrialization in Sri Lanka
Cabinet minister and aspiring scholar Sarath Amunugama was seen smiling and calling on the President to seek another term of office! He also appeared in a Beyond 2020 video indulging in a rant against socialism (happily ignoring China’s example!). (https://www.facebook.com/723398747796747/posts/1527421090727838?s=675034973&v=e&sfns=xmo) His much acclaimed book on Anagarika Dharmapala turned out to be a pus-vedilla, failing to highlight Dharmapala’s other vision for a modern industrialized Sri Lanka. If only socialism still existed in the world as much as it does in his confused – or deliberately confounding? – imagination! This is throat-clearing for a new round of US-sponsored raids on our public assets and resources, an intensification of post-1977 neoliberalism. Acceding to World Bank/IMF/US Treasury dictat, he wishes us to sell off the national heirlooms (airlines, transport, telecom, etc). While it is true that socialism is based on the development of productive forces, and not on romantic proclamations, Amunugama displays an absolute ignorance on the class forces in the country. He also refuses to accept that the private sector, making so much money by all manner of rent-seeking and criminal means (the luxury cars on the road offer a clear sign of the country as drug entrepot), is not interested in the development of the country.
ee reproduces below a rudimentary glimpse to examine our history at attempting to industrialize. Recalling again how Japan’s strategy involved first learning to repair machines and replace imports step by step. They also did not immediately apply heavy machinery. Approaching the 1st anniversary of the passing away of SBD de Silva, to whom this ongoing attempt at economic analysis has been dedicated for the last 9 months, ee recalls, SB’s vision was not of production in and of itself, but of its ability to transform the economy, of its backward and forward linkages, its supply chains etc., to enable surplus accumulation by uplifting the skills of rural and urban workers, of enhancing the state of our science and the degree of its practical application, to socialize the organization of production, the extend the capability of the means of production, and to protect our beautiful natural conditions that would ensure all of this…
• Many ‘Marxists’ tend to come from the ‘humanities’, or from the ‘top end’ of science. Very few of them (except for the less-theoretical ones on the shop floor) have an idea of the practical issues of manufacturing. We recall a then-Marxist social science professor at a railway workshop being amazed that people were not wielding enormous hammers, etc. Perhaps a reason Marx was so on-the-ball was that he had Engels, who had practical knowledge of running factories, to help him.
There are several engineering operations that go into manufacturing a machine. The basic structure of the machine has to be made: This can be done by casting, which consists of getting the raw material, melting it in a furnace and then running the molten metal into moulds. Once it cools, the moulds are broken and the cast parts are obtained. They then have to be fettled – cleaned of extraneous bits. Then it needs to be machined – to enable parts to fit, or to assist in the working of the machine. For example, a rubber roller needs to have the two ends of the central shaft machined to fit into bearings, and the rolling surface needs to be machined with various patterns. The parts must be fitted together and the motive power (generally electric motors) installed.
These are three separate operations, often taking place in three different factories – a foundry, a machine shop and a fitting shop. When a company like Walkers made a machine, it brought these three operations together in a single plant. This is vertical integration up the supply chain.
The process of setting up an industry is complex. Apart from the basic techniques concerned, there are various shortcuts and quality-control methods which need to be mastered. For example, while working at Browns’ cast iron foundry, people discovered that with all the skill available, they were not able to produce cast-iron rubber rollers with the correct combination of machinability and toughness. As a result, machining the rollers was a long and costly process. This is why even China today tends to buy licences for new and advanced technologies.
The importance of the tea and rubber machinery sector was its capacity to expand into other areas of machinery – which it never did, despite the sector replicating most of the tasks required. However, it did have that potential.
When people discuss the industrialization policy of the 1970s, they must bear in mind some of the constraints under which the government worked at the time.
The most important was the chronic lack of foreign exchange. The need to provide free and subsidized food rations proved a significant drain on foreign exchange, especially due to the 3-year drought – in 1974, rice, flour and sugar imports accounted for 39% of imports. To this was added the drastic drop in terms of trade, combined with reduced production from the plantation sector due to the lack of replanting in the previous two decades. The OPEC oil shock of 1973 made the balance-of-payments deficit jumped from Rs98mn in 1973 to Rs1,082mn in 1974 – 31% of exports!
This shortage affected industrialization strategy to the extent that even imported raw materials had to be rationed to manufacturers. This constrained the ability of the government to implement its strategy. It undermined the admittedly over-ambitious 5-year plan.
The 5-year plan did include some essential projects. One project sticks out: the TiO2 project.
Perhaps the most valuable of the raw materials available in Sri Lanka is the ilmenite sands deposits at Pulmoddai. Ilmenite is an ore of Titanium. Zirconium and Beryllium are also available in the sands. The extraction plant was primitive – a magnetic separator. In 1971, work started on an integrated plan. The 5-year plan envisaged a Titanium dioxide plant, to refine the ilmenite further. It would have been a step further in vertical integration. The next step would be extracting Titanium from the ore – it cannot be extracted from the dioxide. This was never implemented, and at present, Sri Lanka imports Titanium dioxide, mainly for cement floors, from India and China.
Stage 2 of the Steel Corporation could not be carried out – this could have meant further integration up the supply chain. However, one item included in the 5-year plan was the installation of a steel foundry, enabling the casting of steel (as opposed to cast iron). The Steel Corporation also acquired technology from HMT to produce lathes and grinding machines, and envisaged producing other machine tools.
The 5-year plan was based partly on the ILO study, which recommended high labour intensity projects, since unemployment was high. This did make sense in the absence of resources. The plan also intended to create backwards and forwards linkages in the supply chain. It specifically mentioned creating basic industries to provide inputs for other industries; and also intended to move industry to rural areas, utilizing rural sector raw materials. The plan did provide a basis for industrialization.
The manner in which the CTB came to the stage it could manufacture buses is instructive. The CTB proposed an automotive common market with India – that we buy their buses and they buy our rubber components, but the Indians refused. To illustrate some of the difficulties, the SLBC had considerable advertising revenues in India (the Radio Ceylon Hindi service was India’s most popular), but was not allowed to repatriate the funds. The CTB proposed buying spare parts in India with these funds, paying the SLBC in Sri Lanka. The Indians refused flatly. So the CTB started procuring or manufacturing parts locally.
Bus bodies had been built since before nationalization, but after 1970 the CTB expanded the process gradually by backwards integration – manufacturing parts in its own workshops, buying other parts (rubber items, shock absorbers, radiators, batteries, springs) from local manufacturers. Then it acquired technology to manufacture the chassis. The prototype Lanka 1 was designed and built entirely in Sri Lanka, with only the drive train and the electric and hydraulic systems being imported. The machinery for making chassis was fabricated in-house. Manufacture thus proceeded through a learning process. Employees’ Councils helped create shortcuts which would otherwise have to be obtained from overseas.
The CTB was able to do this because it was its own market. It required 500 vehicles a year simply to maintain its fleet. Since nationalization, it had evolved into a coherent, self-sustaining organism. This could not be said of any other institution except the Railways and the Irrigation departments and the Ports.
The shipping corporation and the Colombo Dockyard were also established at this time. The value of the shipping corporation was that it enabled Sri Lanka to ship direct to certain countries, instead of going through Singapore. The dockyard allowed repairs to be made, and eventually for vessels to be constructed. The shipping corporation could have provided a market for larger ships.
The development of irrigation in this period is also interesting. The SD&CC was founded specifically to construct irrigation projects, either alone or in collaboration with foreign contractors. The 30-year Mahaweli scheme was almost tailor-made for the SD&CC, so that it acquired know-how and capabilities as it went along. Polgolla and Ukuwela, for example, were built by the Yugoslavs, with SD&CC participation. Bowatenne was built by the SD&CC. One the other hand, rhe accelerated Mahaweli project was only possible because of grants and soft loans to the tune of about a billion dollars.
However, we do agree that not enough was done in the countryside to create the internal markets and labour force required for true industrialization. A twofold issue existed – the agricultural land remaining in the subsistence sector was not enough to go around, and the land-reform land ceiling for paddy land was, at 25 acres, too high to affect the paddy sector. The average size of holdings in 2002 is given here in ha and acres.
The average size of a holding now is 1.3 acres (0.54 ha), but only in the Vanni, Eastern Province, NCP, Puttalam and Hambantota is the average holding substantially more than 1 acre (0.4 ha). Some 46% of holdings are below 1 acre, far too small to run at anything beyond subsistence level. The average size of these holdings is less than 1/2 an acre.
The issue is even worse, when considering 1.8 million families are engaged in paddy cultivation. The need is to consolidate holdings at a feasible size, say 2.5 acres (1ha), which is the ceiling for land reform in Japan. Holdings over 1 ha account for only 18% of holdings here, but 48% of the acreage.
It was at this level that the land-reform ceiling should have been fixed, and some mechanism developed for consolidating holdings. The problem was that the SLFP did not have the will, although urged to lower the limit by the Left parties in the UF.
On the other hand, the nationalization of the estates should have created the same conditions of agricultural surplus which could have generated the investment necessary. Together with the expansion of Consolexpo (State Trading Consolidated Exports Corporation), the nationalization should have enabled the surpluses, repatriated to the UK by way of under-invoicing, to remain inside the country.
An idea of those possibilities can be gauged by the fact that Stassen Group was founded by a group of managers from Consolexpo . At its peak, Consolexpo handled only 10% of tea exports. The expansion of Consolexpo would have enabled the modernization and mechanization of the plantations. The surplus generated could also have provided the state with the finances necessary for funding industrialization along the lines of the 5-year plan. Control over the nationalized plantations was in fact the issue on which Mrs B broke up the UF… (to be continued…)
B3. US presses on with its hegemony over Sri Lanka, region
Ceylon/Sri Lanka opted for a Nonaligned policy during the old Cold War in Asia and the world and was well served by it, but now a New Cold War has begun in Asia. Where do we stand? Do we have a problem with China?
US presses on with its hegemony over Sri Lanka, region
June 3, 2019 – A report by the US Department of Defense (DoD) notes moves by the US to broaden its partnership with Sri Lanka.
The report says that within South Asia, the US is working to operationalize its Major Defense Partnership with India, while pursuing emerging partnerships with Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
It says while the Indian Ocean Region offers unprecedented opportunity, it is also confronting a myriad of security challenges, including terrorism, transnational crime, trafficking-in-persons, and illicit drugs.
To combat these challenges, the US seeks opportunities to broaden and strengthen partnerships with India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, and Nepal, to respond to shared regional challenges.
Since 2015, DoD has strengthened its relationship with Sri Lanka and increased military engagements significantly, particularly with the SL Navy. “In 2017, we conducted the first port visit in 30 years by a US aircraft carrier – the USS NIMITZ Carrier Strike Group – and the first ever bilateral Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Exercise. In 2019, we increased cooperation on mutual logistics arrangements in support of Indian Ocean security and disaster response,” the Department of Defense’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Report noted.
DoD notes that Sri Lanka, whose strategic location in the Indian Ocean through which 70 percent of maritime traffic passes, has outlined a vision to become a regional hub for logistics and commerce.
Supporting this vision, the US Navy recently initiated a series of temporary cargo transfer initiatives enabling non-lethal re-supply of passing naval vessels in Sri Lanka. These engagements serve as proof of principle for a range of initiatives that would benefit regional connectivity and security, including support to HA/DR. DoD also fully supports countries pursuing multilateral agreements and arrangements to enhance regional security, including the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration of Conduct to lower tensions in the South China Sea.
The report also notes that after 25 years of conflict, the Sri Lankan Government has transitioned to a constitutional, multiparty republic with a freely elected President and Parliament.
DoD also recalled that the political system in Sri Lanka was challenged with a constitutional dispute in late 2018. Ultimately, however, all parties respected the Supreme Court ruling that returned democratic processes and norms, and the military remained uninvolved throughout the dispute.
B3. Never underestimate the Power of the Mob! – Dayan Jayatilleka
(ee reproduces this even as we are aware that ‘mobs’ are not as spontaneous as usually claimed, but highly if not partly highly organized!)
Those social-media warriors cheering on the provincial mobs and their equivalent of the rabble rousing ‘mullahs’, and later exulting over their “power”, were quite right! The mob has done the nationally and internationally impossible!
1. Triggered a critical and cautionary statement from the Ambassadors and High Commissioners in Colombo of the 47 member-state Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), i.e. Muslim countries – including Pakistan – which are Shia and Sunni; consistently support Sri Lanka against western pressure on Human Rights in UN forums; and are important for the SL economy in so many ways!
2. Triggered a condemnatory statement from the influential and powerful US House Foreign Relations Committee which denounced the demonization of Muslims in Sri Lanka. Note that it is almost unheard of that the US House Foreign Relations committee and the OIC issue congruent statements at roughly the same time on the same issue! So that’s another great achievement of the provincial mobs.
3. United the notoriously bickering mainstream Muslim politicians of Sri Lanka, each of whom has a connection with this or that Muslim country, and together, would be able to approach all of them, despite Sunni-Shia splits.
4. Given the anti-SL Tamil separatist Diaspora fresh propaganda arguments and hope of new allies.
5. Reversed the great sympathy that Sri Lanka was beneficiary of in the first 3 weeks after the Easter massacre.
It Is the Sri Lankan Armed Forces That Will Finally Have to Deal with the Downside of the Mob’s Great Victory, in an External Environment Made Worse by It!
B4. What is the vision for Sri Lanka? Nationalism vs Diversity – US-funded Advocata
• Is there a contradiction between “nationalism” and “diversity”? Countries such as the USSR, China and Yugoslavia celebrated both together. For these idiots below, nationalism is always ‘rising’, as opposed to the fact of exactly what centuries of colonial depredation has wrought. As for ‘diversity’, guess we are biological specimens. It is interesting that advocata and their ‘night watchmen’ (what do they do by day? Sleep? Advocate?) have got together with the decentred policy alternators funded by imperialism who happen to be fixated with capitalism, but do not say a peep about its fissiparous tendencies… ee
‘What is the vision for Sri Lanka? Nationalism vs Diversity’, Wed, 12 June, 5.30pm, Hatch, 6-6.45pm ‘Insights from Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu’
‘While Sri Lankans take pride in being the oldest democracy in Asia, recent events have highlighted the need for the country to create stronger institutions to uphold and protect the rule of law. The recent riots and unrest that followed the Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka highlighted the tensions created by rising nationalist sentiment. Given this backdrop, an open conversation regarding the deterioration of the Rule of Law in the country is of timely importance.’ ‘Nationalism vs Diversity is a debate that is now in the forefront of national conversation once again – what role does the Rule of Law play in this debate? What is the vision for Sri Lanka? Let’s discuss!’
C. News Index__________________________________________________________
01. Sovereignty (Pro-political, pro-politico, pro-nation-state, anti-corporatist, anti-expert, anti-NGO)__________________________________________________________
• Mega land-grab imminent? – Beware of rushed laws and agreements
• ACSA, SOFA and 2019 prez poll
The US made an abortive bid in 2002 to finalize an Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA), then known as ‘NATO Mutual Support Act’, with Sri Lanka… on the heels of a Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) signed by then PM Wickremesinghe and LTTE leader Prabhakaran, on Feb. 21, 2002. NATO member Norway arranged the CFA. Years later, Norway revealed its operation here had the backing of NATO by way of intelligence provided by the world’s most powerful military alliance.
• April Attacks in Sri Lanka linked to US War on Iran and China – Vasudeva
• “All nationalist forces must unite to ensure elections are held on time” – LSSP’s Vitarana:
“The ruling elite of the USA have got a tight grip on the UNP regime and have been able to bring in its two main intelligence agencies, CIA and FBI, along with their ally Mossad of Israel. It is open knowledge that the USA is the creator of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which is implicated as the foreign agency associated with the NTJ Jihadists.”
• “To get a foothold in Sri Lanka you have to first install a weak leadership in Sri Lanka”
• President reviews US-Lanka defence agreements
While the media plays the blame game, the new ACSA agreement, not tabled in Parliament, has over 50 annexures, with lists of US commands and military establishments allowed use of Sri Lanka’s airports and sea ports. Sri Lanka has to give 180 days notice to terminate this agreement… “President Sirisena’s conversation was revealing and laid bare the question whether some diplomats were being paid by the government of Sri Lanka to literally work for the USA…”
• USA Wanted a Strong Military Foothold in SL – ACSA Handed It on a Platter?
Sunday Times alleges Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and then Foreign Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam pressured then Defense Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi, to expedite ACSA, which allows US military establishments covered by ACSA to use Sri Lanka’s air and sea ports… (Kariyawasam’s family lives in the US. His girlfriend Maheshini Colonne, once a Director of the Foreign Ministry, is now the Finance Ministry’s Director of International Relations)
• US presses on with its hegemony over Sri Lanka, region
• Indo-Pacific declared US’s priority theatre – US interests in the Indian Ocean Region:
Ven. Mahanayakes and Cardinal Ranjith issuing a joint statement, last Thursday, on the need to exercise caution when entering into agreements with foreign powers. Against this backdrop, the US Defence Department issued its Indo-Pacific Strategy Report with the title, ‘Preparedness, Partnerships, and Promoting a Networked Region’ last Saturday (1 June)
• US accuses China of hegemonic ambitions – US interests in the Indian Ocean Region
• US sees ‘significant’ increase in US military engagement with Sri Lanka
• Gone too far with SOFA
SOFA gives the right of US military personnel to carry weapons and that they be subjected to US law in the event of some crime or criminal activity… even if one of them kills or wounds a local person with his weapon. Another clause that exempts US vessels and aircraft being boarded and inspected by Sri Lankan authorities. It also exempts equipment and other articles and material…
The 1977 JR Jayewardene government’s attempts to lease out some of the Trincomalee oil storage tanks to a Bermuda-based company that was a contractor to the US defence department… resulted in Gandhi’s first moves to destabilize the JR government by stoking the nascent LTTE into violence and later arm and train them on Indian soil.
• SL opinion all at sea on ‘Indo-Pacific’ questions
Since ‘economic security is national security’, and this is true for all countries, given the predominance of the economic in the affairs of states, the Asia-Pacific would need to brace for a prolonged US military presence. However, these same considerations happen to essentially shape Chinese foreign policy as well, since the Asia-Pacific is the world’s number one growth centre. In fact, all major powers would be seeking to have an enduring presence in the Asia-Pacific.
• Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R Clarke Cooper in Sri Lanka
June 2-5, he toured the once war-affected North Eastern Province… met the Commander of the Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Merill Wickramasinghe… State Minister of Defence, Ruwan Wijewardena… and SL Secretary of Defence… He will also travel to India during this tour. Cooper arrived in the island from Singapore, where he took part in the Shangri-la Dialogue Conference.
• Nearly Rs1bn from US for demining in 2018
• Top US official highlights Rs970mn aid for Sri Lanka’s mine clearance in 2018
• Top US diplomat to visit India Wednesday to push for $15bn fighter jet deal
US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R Clarke Cooper is coming to India with the sole agenda of pushing the defence deal.
• US, India to hold talks on defence industry ties New Delhi
US ASS for Political-Military Affairs R Clarke Cooper will be here for talks on expanding India-US security cooperation and tapping opportunities for US defence industry. The US has recognized India as a Major Defense Partner in 2016. The designation allows India to access more advanced and sensitive technologies from the US at par with that of US’s closest allies and partners. In the last 10 years, two-way defence trade has risen to $15billion.
• US cautions Modi government against buying Russian S-400 missile defence system
The official… said it is all but inevitable that India would lose access to preferential trade terms under the latter’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program that gives tariff breaks to less-developed countries. But it is India’s purchase of S-400, Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system, that Washington is trying to ward off for a variety of reasons.
• Did India draft the cabinet paper regarding the East Container Terminal?
• Cricket diplomacy: Modi comes bearing gifts on first post-election foreign trip
• Trade union calls on President to cancel East Terminal agreement
The All Ceylon General Port Employee Union point out that the longevity of the port will be affected by handing over the only deep-water terminal that can handle a large number of ships to two other countries. They also point out that during the past 40 years the governments that were in power have taken steps to privatize ports, terminals, land and other important property that belonged to the SLPA and these actions have not yielded any positive results.
• Was the ‘Easter’ Terminal of the Colombo Port used as a bribe for India?
Who decided that the Eastern Terminal cannot be developed and cannot be used to generate an income if it is not handed over to a foreign nation?
• Govt. runs into headwinds over ETC
Allowing foreign companies to operate at Colombo Port could become a security issue
• Japan lends US$500mn for 2nd phase of ‘Easter’ Container Terminal
• Sri Lanka enters port deal with Japan, India
Sri Lanka announced that it is entering into partnership with India and Japan to develop a deep-sea container terminal next to a controversial $500mn Chinese-run container jetty in Colombo harbour.
• ECT ownership remains with SL: PM
• No transfer of Eastern terminal of Colombo Port to any foreign country, Government assures
• Opposition demands halt to signing agreements with foreign countries in secret
• Modi ready to offer any assistance required by Sri Lanka
• Sirisena in India meets Modi: Agrees no fishermen to be kept in custody by India or SL
Sirisena & Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Austin Fernando (accompanied by Ministers Rauff Hakeem and Mano Ganesan, Arumugam Thondaman, met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Sandhu and Dinesh Patnaik, Additional Secretary (Indian Ocean Region) in the External Affairs Ministry. Nirmala Paranavitana Fonseka, High Commission Press Secretary and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia, met the President, who spoke in Sinhala (translated into English by Pabodha Senaratne)
• Full transcript : President’s media conference in New Delhi
Media: Mr President, you said that you did not receive any information from the security chiefs. What is the reason for that? President: The main problem is that they have not fulfilled their responsibilities. They have acted very poorly. There is no problem beyond that. That’s why they were removed. Also, disciplinary action is being taken against them.
• India keeps eye on Lanka turmoil to prevent spillover to Kerala, Tamil Nadu
Investigations revealed that Sri Lankan Muslim preacher Zahran Hashim, who masterminded the attacks in Colombo, had already radicalised several Indian youths in different parts of south India
• India, SL to focus on countering Jihadi terrorism
• Modi’s visit to Male, Colombo can affirm the salience of the Indian Ocean island states
“The visit to Male and Colombo offers the opportunity to firmly place the Indian Ocean island states into India’s regional geography. A beginning was indeed made in his first term, when Modi travelled to Seychelles, Mauritius and SL in early 2015 and outlined an Indian Ocean strategy called SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region). Modi must now expand the ambit of the strategy to draw in Madagascar, Comoros, Reunion and Diego Garcia. Reunion is part of France and Diego Garcia hosts a major US military facility. Similarly, Delhi should focus on a number of small islands that dot the sea lines of communication in the eastern Indian Ocean — the Cocos and Keeling islands belonging to Australia come readily to mind. In both the east and the west, India’s own island territories – the Andaman & Lakshadweep – have a critical role in reshaping our maritime neighbourhood.”
• Modi 2.0 foreign policy to lay stress on ‘SAGAR Doctrine’ and ‘Act East’
“Modi will inaugurate two India-sponsored projects in the Maldives, the coastal surveillance radar and the Composite Training Centre for Maldives National Defence Force.”
• Did Japan and India just launch a counter to China’s Belt and Road?
• Next Hambantota? Welcome to the Chinese-funded US$1.4bn Port City Colombo in Sri Lanka
• Govt. defends ECT agreement with India, Japan
• Aussie intelligence cooperate with SL on terror investigations
• Norwegian Ambassador visits Chinese-funded Hambantota port
He visited a project resource centre run by Women In Need, which receives funds from the Norwegian Embassy and supports victims of domestic and sexual violence.
• Sri Lanka features in this interesting video of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ 4th Plenary Session of the Shangri-la Dialogue China & International Security Cooperation, with General Wei Fenghe, State Councilor and Minister of National Defence, China
• Shangri-la Dialogue: Shanahan makes a splash by raising thorny issues
US Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan says China is subverting the rules-based order and posed the greatest long-term threat to the “priority theatre” of the Indo-Pacific. It was not an outsider: “Annual two-way trade here is US$2.3trillion (S$3.1tn), and US foreign direct investment is US$1.3 trillion, more than China’s, Japan’s and South Korea’s combined.”
• MR asks SL Muslims to stop Arabization of their culture
• Putin’s Choice: Risk Starting a War – or Give I\in to US’s Greater Israel Plan
Even as Trump was calling Putin, the Rand Corporation was releasing its paper, ‘Overextending and Unbalancing Russia’ which outlines specific “geo-political cost-imposing” policy options.
• What a War with Iran Would Look Like – Neither Side Wants a Fight, but that Doesn’t Eliminate the Danger
• Palestine: Iranian Ambassador calls for referendum among Muslims, Christians, Jews
• Canada Closes Venezuela Embassy as Guaido Promises Maduro Out by End of Year
Ottawa also vowed to review the status of the Venezuelan diplomatic corps in Canada.
• US ready to combat Russia, China, Iran in Venezuela: Bolton
• Core Group Butchers of Haiti
In Haiti the Core Group of imperialists and colonial oppressors are composed of 9 rotating international career terrorists, legal bandits and global butchers, their successors and predecessors and is currently led by: Michele Jeanne Sison, current US Ambassador to Haiti, formerly in Sri Lanka; António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN; Manfred Auster, Ambassador of Germany, Jose Luis Machado E. Costa, Brazil’s Ambassador to Haiti; André Frenette, Canada’s Ambassador to Haiti Elisabeth Béton Delègue, France’s Ambassador to Haiti; Hubbert Labbe, representatives of Spain; Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States; and, Jean-Claude Juncker, EU President
• Protesters set fire to US Embassy in Honduras in second day of demonstrations
• How US Foreign Policy Spawned Terror and Trump
“AQ [al-Qaida] is on our side in Syria,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was advised in a February 2012 email from her deputy chief of staff. Journalist Max Blumenthal opens his latest book, The Management of Savagery, with this telling epigraph.
• The 75th Anniversary of the Allied D-Day Liberation of Nazi-Occupied Western Europe. A Civilizational Provocation, Russia Was Not Invited
02. Security (The state beyond ‘a pair of handcuffs’, monopolies of violence)__________________________________________________________
• Govt. working on anti-terrorism mechanism – Ranil
• Harsh laws to tame opponents
Successive governments have abused such harsh laws to tame their opponents on the pretext of safeguarding the national interest. The abuse of emergency regulations to suppress the rights of workers, students and Opposition activists has been rampant under successive governments. It has been pointed out by trade unionists, the Counter Terrorism Bill contains some draconian provisions which can be used against workers and oppositional forces. The govt is hell-bent on having the bill ratified.
• Govt turning blind eye to hotbed of extremism: SLPP
…the government had turned a blind eye to the rise of extremism while proceeding with the witch-hunt of the Rajapaksa family… 1,680 Madrasas had been established thus far and that as many as 130 Islamic clerics been granted visas to enter the country…
• Terrorism and the MPs
After a bitter campaign demanding his ouster from Cabinet and/or arrest, the Mahinda Rajapaksa led opposition presented a no-confidence motion against Rishad Bathiudeen in Parliament. It was signed by 64 MPs. The text of the motion was as follows…
• JO regrets its failure to vote for emergency, cautions govt over withdrawing military
• Sinking deeper into the security quagmire
Political patronage in the Eastern Province provided the NTJ leader with “some sort of protection”…
• SL failed to arrest Easter bomber despite warnings – Chief of National Intelligence
Sri Lanka’s main police intelligence unit, the State Intelligence Service (SIS), had not taken seriously the warnings of an impending assault.
• No service extension for Intelligence Chief Sisira Mendis; President tells senior police officers
• Sirisena’s SIS Issued Orders to Stop Police Investigations into Extremist Muslim Groups – IGP Pujith
• IGP received weekly reports on Zaharan – DIG Nalaka de Silva
• PSC denies jeopardising national security
“No information prejudicial to national security would be disclosed”.
• ACMC on no-faith motion against Rishad Bathiudeen: ‘We will win’
So far nobody has filed a complaint with the Police or gone to Courts against Minister Bathiudeen on the basis of any one of the ten accusations in the NCM.
• Security checkpoints vital, but treat everybody equally and with dignity – PPA tells President
… in the North almost all vehicles are stopped and passengers asked to get down and searched at checkpoints at Elephant Pass, Mankulam, Myliddy etc., he said.
• Failure of intelligence by the police in all the regions – numbering perhaps about 80,000 – is as much in the case of drugs and organised crime as in terrorism if the Easter carnage is anything to go by.
• Hizbullah seen meeting Saudis in Pasikudah, day after attacks?
• SL engages UN on new counter-terrorism strategy
• Sri Lanka using UN-sponsored law to oppress minority women: legislator
• ‘Threat of Islamic State: Managing Hotel Security’ – Gunaratne
” The UK being the single largest market to Sri Lanka from Europe with great air connectivity, we are eagerly waiting for the UK to revisit the advisory taking into consideration what other countries have done”, the THASL said they are planning a series of seminars on hotel security… the first scheduled on June 9 at Kingsbury Hotel, where Dr Rohan Gunarathne, Professor of Security Studies at NTU in Singapore will deliver a special address…
• Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Urges ‘Adequate’ Measures to Prevent Violence
• Present crisis results from collective inability to see need for national unity’ – General Kalupahana
“In ‘Internal Wars’ winning over the people is No. 1 and the enemy No. 2. Whenever the political leadership displayed such wisdom, the enemy capitulated”…The police came in the night to check on our Muslim neighbours. A Sinhala lady down the lane immediately intervened and accompanied the policemen to our Muslim neighbours to comfort them, at a time they needed such comforting the most. This is emotional integration of the members in a neighbourhood or village, who stand tall in ensuring that no member feels alienated. The lady, mind you still in her nightdress, did one better and offered the policemen, who were stressed out, some refreshment… [We must] successfully orchestrate the implementation of Strategic Plans on what are called the 3T’s i.e. Trust (Reconciliation), Tummy (Economics) and (absence of) Tension…”
• China says no formal request for surveillance equipment
• China thanked for boosting Lanka’s security
SL-China Friendship Association yesterday thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for providing Rs 2.6 billion to boost Sri Lanka’s national security…
• SL Navy takes over P 625 ship from China
• Malaysia wants evidence to show Russia shot down MH17
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the probe into the MH17 plane tragedy seems to be concentrated on trying to pin it on the Russians and this is not a neutral kind of examination.
• Serial killers hunting large swaths of Canada: criminologist
Indigenous women and girls are their prey.
03. Economists (Study the Economists before you study the Economics)__________________________________________________________
• World Bank warns political uncertainty could harm Sri Lanka
The World Bank said this in its June 2019 Global Economic Prospects: Heightened Tensions, Subdued Investment report.
• European investment in Sri Lanka seen balancing off mini-China image
“We got to ensure that Chinese state-owned companies don’t make this a mini-China,” said NGO-Queen Ganeshan Wignaraja at a forum on ‘Brexit and its implications’ organized by Ceylon Chamber of Commerce…
• Government cannot borrow from the Central Bank anymore?
…the Central Bank (CB) prints money when buying treasury bills from the government as and when the government is short of money. Now cabinet approval has been obtained to put an end to this practice which causes inflation and hurts the balance of payments, CB Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy told Business Times
• Institutionalize macro policy to make it sustainable: Wijewardene on Coomaraswamy on Jayawardene
He delivered the first memorial oration of the late AS Jayawardena on ‘Creating Frameworks for Macroeconomic Policy Making and Institutionalizing them to Achieve Sustained Improvement in Macroeconomic Fundamentals’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFVq18srDG8#action=share ).
“When the bank was destroyed by an LTTE bomb in January 1996, instead of lamenting over it, ASJ used the opportunity to reform the bank on modern lines…”
• Prospects of economic recovery in the second half of 2019 – Sanderatne
In 2018 exports reached US$ 11.9 billion but imports were nearly double at US$ 22.2 billion. Will the trade deficit be reduced this year?
• Losses of squeezing Kandy – Abeyratne (plays coy about the stranglehold by the car importers – ee)
Each working day about 301,000 people – more than double the city dwellers, enter Kandy city through its 3 main transport corridors – Peradeniya, Katugastota, and Thennakumbura, …vehicles entering the city are over 56,000. There are over 40 schools within, with 65,000 students and 3,000 teachers… Over half the people entering Kandy city come in over 3,750 buses. About 20% of people come in over 12,500 3wheelers and 14,600 motorbikes. Over 13,500 motorcars carry 9.0% of the passengers, but dominate the traffic flow occupying much of the road space… It is quite strange that the cheapest transport mode which can also help to reduce the traffic congestions – the trains, carry only 6,000 people to Kandy, which is less than 2% of the total.
• Asia Power Index 2019: What does it say about Sri Lanka’s regional position?
Over the past ten years, FDI outflows from Sri Lanka to countries in the region have topped $1.17bn. This is likely mainly driven by the competitive Sri Lankan apparel industry, where firms like MAS, Brandix, and Hirdaramani have invested in factories across Asia – in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and India.
• Central Bank defends discretionary monetary policy
The bank has defended the continuation of discretionary monetary policy, in the wake of the most recent currency collapse which has ended an attempted return to freer trade with fresh trade controls.
• Government steps up public financial and investment management reforms
The Finance Ministry is working under the World Bank on a new Public Financial Management Act to improve the budgetary process and control risks from PPPs… Kandy Mahaiyawa Urban Housing Project, Pettah Multimodel Hub, Ekala Aero City Project, Convention Centre Port City, Medical Complex & School at Port City, Dedduwa integrated tourism development project, Colombo Port cruise terminal, renewable energy park in Pooneryn, Barge-mounted power plant are some of the PPP projects in the pipeline. Elevated Highway (NKB-Athurugiriya), Domestic Airline Service – Civil Aviation, Marine Drive Extension, Light Rail Transit System (LRT), Transit Smart cards, 300mw Multi-fuel Combined Cycle Power Plant – Kerawalapitiya, Gohagoda Waste to Energy, Renewable Energy Park (Wind 350&250mw Solar), 100mw Barge Mounted Power Plant and 500mw LNG Power Plant were among the 31 ongoing PPPs.
• Measurement Units, Standards and Services Department – Need for restructuring
• Russia and China to show united front at showcase economic forum
• Pompeo to visit Bangkok, commit to Southeast Asia: official
• Confronting Monetary Imperialism in Francophone Africa
Frances’ former African colonies are still tied to Paris by the chains of the CFA Franc, which makes them neo-colonies of Europe.
• Barbados Clashes with Creditors in Talks to Cut Greece-like Debt
04. Economy (usually reported in monetary terms)__________________________________________________________
• Governor Sally runs into storm at Kalutara
Rishad Bathiudeen, despite his fairly negligible vote base in the larger context of the Sri Lankan polity, had been given the crucial Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Industry … Last year, he rejected some of the names proposed by the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants for seats in its supreme advisory council and nominated two lesser experienced persons (linked to the Health Minister and the President’s brother) – something never done in the Institute’s history.
• Crisis at finance/lending institutions sanctioned by Commerce Dept
Majority of Sri Lanka’s rural finance and lending institutions approved by the Department of Commerce under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce are facing a risk to their credit profiles and deposit base due to mismanagement and lack of proper supervision of the administration… The total amount of deposits in 1619 co-operative rural bank branches including Thrift and Credit societies in the island amounted to over Rs. 25 billion while the advances portfolio was Rs. 8 billion.
• Sri Lanka cuts main lending rates to boost economy after Easter attacks
Two weeks ago, the International Monetary Fund released a delayed loan installment to Sri Lanka, helping the government ‘efforts’.
• Loss from VAT, NBT to reach Rs.26bn by year end: CBSL
…the Silver Park Refinery Project approved to be set up at Mirijjawila Zone in Hambantota of which the lease agreement was scheduled to be signed on April 24 had been postponed.
• Adjusting budgetary estimates after Easter terror
Sri Lanka will be making a budgetary review in the second half of this year as government expenditure is expected to rise with payments for compensation and concessions and moratoriums granted mainly to tourism and other sectors…
05. Workers (Inadequate Stats, Wasteful Transport, Unmodern Plantations, Services)__________________________________________________________
• Trade Union calls on President to cancel East Terminal agreement
The All Ceylon General Port Employee Union has asked the President to cancel the Memorandum of Cooperation reached with regard to the East Terminal with India, Japan and Sri Lanka. The trade unions point out… the longevity of the port will be affected by handing over the only deep-water terminal that can handle a large number of ships to two other countries… During the past 40 years the governments that were in power have taken steps to privatize ports, terminals, land and other important property that belonged to the SLPA and these actions have not yielded any positive results.
• GMOA declares next week as ‘protest week’
• EPF incurs a loss of Rs. 10.9 billion in 2018
• Govt. defends EPF return to markets
• Govt. busts Rs. 400 mn on advertising project to grant Samurdhi benefits
• Lurking in the Shadows: Closer Look at Multidimensional Poverty in SL – IPS Research Team
• PM is in favor of racial issues flaring up to divert – JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake
The JVP MP also stated that they would have joined Ven. Athuraliye Rathana thero’s fast if it called for the sacking of the entire Government instead of a few select individuals.
• SL to sign MoU with India to develop estate schools
Estate schools in the Central, Uva, Western, Sabaragamuwa, North Western and Southern Provinces which tutor more than 200,000 students lack proper infrastructure…
• Navy arrests 31 over illegal fishing
• Australia re-launches anti people smuggling campaign ‘Zero Chance’
• IUSF protest over Batticaloa Campus
Inter-University Students Federation (IUSF) carried out a protest march from Technical junction to the Fort Railway Station urging the authorities to provide solutions over several demands including the government to take actions to abolish the ‘Batticaloa Campus’
• Govt. deprived of billions of rupees in tax revenue due to irrational taxing of tobacco
Tobacco kills more than 20,000 per year in Sri Lanka, the annual healthcare expenditure is more than Rs. 89.37 billion…While deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is estimated to be around 75% of total deaths in the country, contribution to it by tobacco-induced incidents is a double whammy.
• Meethotamulla: Colombo Municipal Commissioner’s transfer based on PC findings
In 2009, the residents of Meethotamulla filed a human rights case against the Colombo municipal council at the Supreme Court…The Supreme Court ordered a stop to dumping garbage at this site within two years…However, the Meetotamulla garbage dump has grown up to 17-20 acres, and it is said the height of the garbage mountain was closer to a 20 meters. Around 800 tons of garbage is dumped to Meethotamulla on a daily basis…
• Monsoon: Over 140,000 families or some 547,200 people could be affected by this year’s monsoon rains with about 35,000 families or over 155,000 people having to be moved to safe locations in 5-6 districts in the southwest.
• Like it or not, 5G will become humanity’s major ‘cancer curse’ worldwide!
• An Open Letter to Young People
After poverty… For most youth, a second factor was how attitudes to race and gender (this last one means how people are treated as males or females) could make you feel inferior; girls were often treated as less important than boys and then too, were subjected to a kind of sexual disrespect and violence; and certain race groups were treated as lower than other race groups because of skin colour and hair or how much education you had or how you spoke English or whether you wore “correct” clothes – and the further away you were in skin colour and hair and speech and clothes from the English, the more inferior you were. I was well into my adult years before I realised that in the world of my youth, the majority of people in Guyana had been made to feel bad about themselves.”
• Today, most people are aware that ‘socialism’ is particularly popular among US millennials. The phenomenon began when the global financial crisis hit. …This is the labour market that awaited students coming out of community colleges and universities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, 753,000 workers in the US fast food industry – where the median annual income is under $18,000 – graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
• From Liberal to Communist: My political ‘Journey’
Very interesting description of a personal political anabasis. Also explains much youth culture today: see the references he makes to vloggers.
06. Agriculture (Robbery of rural home market; Machines, if used, mainly imported)__________________________________________________________
• Ailing economy and Agriculture sector Economics – Dr CS Weeraratna
Around 1.6mn ha of the country is cultivated with annual and perennial crops and the agricultural sector contributes around 8% of the GDP. Around 25% of Sri Lankans are employed in the agricultural sector… Around 860,000 ha are under food crops such as cereals, legumes, oil crops, vegetables etc.
• Learning from Gujarat Vav to bring to light dereliction of Rajarata Wewa
In 4th century BC there had been close to 40,000 Wewa in the country that enabled farming on their banks, generating a tradable produce surplus leading to the emergence of cities as marketing centres.
• Several roads that might go underwater in Colombo, and the districts of Kalutara, Galle, Ratnapura and Matara, important for tea and rubber cultivation, as well as in several other districts. It has also identified several landslide-prone areas on the western slopes of the central massif.
• Import of selected food items to be limited
The import of corn, cowpea, green gram, kurakkan, sesame, peanuts, soybeans and onions will be curtailed. Import taxes on these food items will be increased and the issue of import licenses would also be limited.
• Crops ruined as agro pest raises head in several parts of the country
Farmers in North Western and Southern Provinces are enduring untold hardships due to the spread of an agricultural pest.
• Day-old chicks buried as Easter attacks slay Sri Lanka poultry farms
Sri Lanka’s poultry industry has lost over 40% of demand… Sri Lankan poultry industry produces 14 million to 15 million Day-Old Chicks (DOCs) per month as per statistics.
• Electric fences shock Sri Lanka farmers
Persons electrocuted in Sri Lanka fell 16% to 89 in 2018, with the most incidents reported when farmers were rigging illegal electric fences to protect crops, the state utilities regulator said.
• [This reads like an England CTC ad – ee] 20,000 tobacco farmers will be affected by Sirisena’s intention to totally ban tobacco cultivation in 2020. Tobacco cultivation is mainly done between the four months gap of the Maha and Yala paddy seasons when paddy cannot be grown due to the scarcity of water. Farmers use the lean mean drought months to grow tobacco leaves instead, since tobacco needs only one seventh of the water that paddy demands. About 2,500 hectares are under tobacco cultivation during the seasonal Maha-Yala gap. Matale, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Moneragala, Badulla, Ampara, Kurunegala, Hambantota, Nuwara Eliya and the President’s own hometown Polonnaruwa are the main areas.
• China responds with Soya Tariffs
• Japan, US, EU want change in WTO rule on farm subsidy that will hurt India
07. Industry (false definitions of industry, anti-industrial sermons, rentier/entrepreneur, etc.)__________________________________________________________
• Once the pride of Sri Lanka’s manufactured exports sector…
• Driven by the ‘competitive’ Sri Lankan apparel ‘industry’, firms like MAS, Brandix & Hirdaramani have invested in factories across Asia – in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India.
• Measurement Units, Standards and Services Department – Need for Restructuring
Several private sector organizations in Sri Lanka also provide instrument calibration services to industry and other organizations. Among these are Lanka Calibration Services in Colombo 7, Waga Trading Co in Maharagama, Electruments International (Pvt) Ltd in Ganemulla, and SAS Engineering (Pvt) Ltd in Mount Lavinia (Google search). The MUSS Act requires these organizations to have their reference standards calibrated against standards maintained at MUSS Dept. However, the current practice among these organizations is to send their reference standards overseas for calibration at high cost and inconvenience.
• Sri Lanka Approves US$8.18m Railway Cross Road Security Systems from India
• Solar industry petitions against CEB Circular to limit projects (Who makes solar cells? – ee)
Solar Industries Association petitions to President, PM and Ravi K on CEB Circular cancelling new applications for solar projects over 50kW. SIA claims moves afoot to stop excess power purchases from domestic solar by CEB
• Power mafia applies brakes on country’s infant solar industry
• PCoI – CEB mismanagement causes Rs100bn loss: Patali
08. Finance (Making money from money, banks, lack of investment in modernity) ________
• Time to get down to business: CB Chief (What have they been doing before then? – ee)
– Governor expects to see significant drop in interest rates after latest policy rate reduction. Says CB will impose lending cap if rates do not fall. Will revise 2019 growth after seeing 1Q numbers in mid-June. Assures CB has potential to borrow $4bn to top up reserves, refinance debt. In addition to $1.5bn bond issuance, can borrow $2bn under Liability Management Act. WB assistance up to $1bn. 65% of debt for 2019 already paid, next large payment due in Oct. 2020.
• FIU submits recent suspicious financial transaction reports to CID
Sri Lanka is expected to raise US$4.5bn in foreign borrowings in 2019 along with $2bn external debt servicing in 2020, he said. The cabinet has already approved $2.5bn in sovereign bonds for cash flow requirements in 2019 budget. Sri Lanka will borrow around $2bn additionally in accordance with the provisions of Active Liability Management Act of 2018 (ALMA). The Treasury will be expected to borrow around Rs480bn and the entire amount would be in US$ and rupees, he added. Dr Coomaraswamy said the Central Bank will seek Cabinet approval within the next 2 weeks for debt servicing in 2020 where there will be an international sovereign bond maturity in October next year.
• Banks asked to exercise due diligence with respect to NGOs, charities
CBSL Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) sends circular to all licenced banks. Orders monitoring and reporting of direct foreign funds/remittances into their accounts. Must also report on unregistered NGOs and others
• Central Bank will impose lending cap if banks do not cooperate: Governor
• [Fitch raised their rating last week but..] Cargills Bank posts losses in March as bad loans soar
• Supreme Court stays SEC prosecution of Dr Yaddehige
09. Business (Rentierism: making money via real-estate, tourism, insurance, fear, privatization)__________________________________________________________
• Business confidence plummets to all time low in 18 years
On 13 May, the IMF Executive Board announced the completion of the fifth review under Sri Lanka’s extended arrangement for the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). And it granted waivers of nonobservance of performance criteria, approval of a US$164.1million disbursement and an extension of the arrangement.
• Sri Lanka real-estate firms in bigger trouble after Easter blasts: Bandula
• Sri Lankan Billionaire Harry J’s Melstacorp increases JKH stake by 11.8mn shares in a Year
One of Sri Lanka’s oldest-richest men and a Billionaire turned Liquor and Dairy Baron Harry Jayawardena, has increased his shareholding in Colombo Stock Exchange’s (CSE) leading listed Blue Chip – John Keells Holdings (JKH)… Jayawardena already controls country’s largest privately owned 3 licensed commercial banks including HNB, DFCC and Commercial Bank, apart from the finance and insurance companies owned by those banks and Harry’s own Continental Insurance.
• Request to close all liquor stores in the country
• Thimbirigasyaya Clinic restores virginity? – https://www.londonantiaging.lk/sexual-treatments
• Rescuing small businesses
SMEs are the backbone of the economy, representing more than 75% of the total number of enterprises, providing 45% of employment and contributing to 52% of the GDP…
• Fitch upgrades Sri Lanka Insurance’s IFS to ‘B+’; Outlook Stable
SLIC’s exposure to Sri Lankan sovereign investments was 140% of its capital at end-2018, which continues to restrict Fitch’s assessment
10. Politics (Anti-parliament discourse, unelected constitution)__________________________________________________________
• June 18 No-faith motion against Bathiudeen trashed after monk’s fast, UNP avoids crucial survival vote
• The English decide how we choose our leaders – Nalin de Silva
• Gota under the US gun
“With brother Mahinda warning that more cases may be filed in US courts, which may well deny him his right to renounce US citizenship in advance of presidential elections in Lanka and make him ineligible to contest it, it seems for Gotabaya that it’s a long, long way to Tipperary.”
• Gnanasara Criticizes Rathana’s Protest Fast Today After Backing It Yesterday with Mobs
• Rathana Thera ends hunger strike after governors resign
Tamil and Sinhala traders in Kandy closed their shops in support of the hunger strike…
Private buses operating from many outstations including Negombo, Moratuwa, Maharagama, Nugegoda, Kottawa staged a strike action in support. 3wheelers operating in Negombo area also joined.
• Muslim ministers have not submitted resignation letters
• June, a decisive month for Yahapalana govt
Champika stopped short of saying what he would do in the event Minister Baithudeen does not resign
• Muslim ministers resign but continue to back govt
• Muslim MPs… have helped the government wriggle out of a difficult situation, albeit temporarily, but they are politicians thirsting for power like their counterparts in other communities.
• JO alleges UNP strategy caused irreversible communal split
• The UNP is throwing a lot of public funds around. It has arbitrarily expanded the Samurdhi programme to grant benefits to 600,000 more people and decided to spend billions of rupees on a project to provide tablet PCs to GCE A/L students and their teachers. State workers have been given Rs 2,500 each a month as a special allowance. The political agendas of the UNP and the UPFA have taken precedence over national priorities. All parties in power do likewise in a bid to win elections.
• Cardinal fanned flames of hatred by visiting ‘robed MP Rathana’ – Mangala
• Mangala hits back at those who debarred him from Gampaha temples
• On the trail of a fasting monk: Lawmakers are fast losing appeal in this country…
• Resume duties and responsibilities: Chief Prelates inform Muslim ministers
• Resignations of Sri Lanka Muslim ministers have echoes of Amirthalingam ouster: Navin
• People have a right to know what happened on April 21– Kiriella
“All areas where there were attacks such as Beruwala, Digana, Eastern areas, Kochchikade, Negombo, Kurunegala etc. are areas considered as strongholds of the UNP.”
• Gotabaya Rajapaksa does not return from overseas to appear before courts
• An extraordinary few months of political metamorphosis
The 100millions-strong pack that backed Modi is mainly Hindu ‘nationalist’; Muslims largely did not vote BJP. But the social and economic programme the pack is crying out for is far from “alt-right”. Modi’s post-election ‘acceptance’ speech to the assembled mass was about poverty reduction, farmer’s problems and creating jobs. Hardly an alt-right rant and I do not recall anything about serving the interests of the business or Hindutva communalism was said…
• Rahul insists on quitting as President of devastated Congress Party
… unfazed by the party’s gloomy future, Sonia Gandhi was once again elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) at a meeting of party MPs at the Central Hall of Parliament on Saturday.
11. Media (Mis/Coverage of economics, technology, science and art)______________
• “Revealing Government Propaganda Editor Was Behind NYT Saga Is Not Intimidation”: MR’s Media Secretary
“The allegation that a Chinese company funded the election campaign first appeared in the state-run Daily News in 2015. The New York Times has re-published the same false story and the state propaganda newspaper Editor Dharisha Bastians is behind the whole exercise…”
• Sri Lanka to jail people 5 years, fine million rupees for lying
• Cabinet nod for introducing draconian press laws
• Cabinet nod for amending laws to punish publishers of fake news
• New Cyber Security Act soon
…the Act seeks to set a framework to prevent the misuse of digital devices including social media networks… with provisions to establish the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of the empowerment of the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) and National Cyber Security Operations Centre, a senior official of the Digital Infrastructure and Information Ministry said.
• On the importance of countering false political narratives
Sri Lanka’s media has played a considerable role in promoting this hysteria. Though some newspapers in the Sinhala media retained their customary notoriety in this regard, it is the electronic media that takes the prize for communal reporting.
• Twists and Turns in the Dr Shafi controversy
Members of Dr Shafi’s family said they suspect a link between the DIG Kithsiri Jayalath, whose wife is also a doctor serving the Kurunegala Hospital in the capacity of an associate of the Director of the Hospital, Weerabandara…
• Sterilization story, ‘highly unlikely’: Prof. Senanayake
• The scheme was sought to be popularized with catchy slogans like “Punchi Pavula Raththaran” with monetary “bribes” offered for sterilization of men and women… Many of… victims to this sterilization scheme were the poor, with its immediate financial benefit and with no conviction of a long-term national benefit. The villain of the peace is hence the UNP, in-as-much-as it is responsible for spreading racist mentalities commencing as far back as 1958 with its official organ (Siyarata) publishing an article encouraging the Sinhala community to kill Tamils (headline “Marau, Marau”)
• Classic EW Perera book on the 1915 ‘riots”
• England and Australia dismiss UN report that Assange has been tortured
• Haiti Doesn’t Have a Vodou Problem, It Has a Christianity Problem
Christianity and the West’s real problem with Vodou is that, like the Maroons who practiced it, it remains elusive to those who would aim to profit off of it, package it, and control it. Unlike Hinduism or Buddhism, Westerners can’t take a “spiritual journey” to Haiti to “find themselves” in a Vodou temple. Vodou remains a religion steeped in African traditions, for people of African descent, and based on an understanding of the linkages between the natural and spiritual world—Hollywood can’t make a Julia Roberts movie out of that.
• When (and how) did Hindustani ragas become ascribed to different times of the day?
• What do Cardi B and AOC have in common? They’re better strategizers than US Democratic Party… For as long as the Democratic Party fails to understand authentic social media use, it will fail to mobilize young voters the way organic social media users do.
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