21 October, 2017

Good Governance & Port City

By Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Two days after the protest against Colombo Port City, there was in the morning an announcement that the Port City Project was suspended. On face value, this will bring happiness to many. But is a mere statement to the press by a Minister or two sufficient grounds to believe that the statement contains the truth? In spite of the statements of the Ministers, it was reported by the media that work on the project was going on even at 6.00 pm that day.

My reflection here is about the event that took place on the 3rd of March. We of the “People’s Movement against the Port City”, staged a protest in front of the Fort railway station on this said issue and then proceeded to the Presidential Secretariat to present a petition.

But the civilian unarmed group of people was met by a strong police force and riot police with tear gas and so on, and our way was blocked. I do not blame the Police because they only carried out the orders of the higher authorities. What then is the issue there? As a participant, my concern is on what grounds did the authorities prevent an unarmed group of civilians to walk up to the Presidential Secretariat to present a petition?

My feeling is that it is a sign that the two leaders are gradually getting alienated from the people. I would like also to question whether this behavior reflects good governance or whether these are signs of dictatorial governance that is to come in a short period of time.

Port cityAnother reason to doubt the validity of today’s statement of the Ministers is the assurance given by President Sirisena to the Indian government that since 25% of the ground work on the Port city is already completed, he would not able to stop the project. Further he has decided that the 80 acres to be given to China will be given on the basis of a 99 year lease.

This promise made to the Indian government says that the project will not be stopped. This compels us to question whether the Maithree and Ranil government have taken that decision on the information received from the EIA report of the committee recently appointed or have decided independently without any reference to the report of the environment committee. Does it mean also that this government also does not follow the normal procedures?

Therefore it is becoming clearer that both MaithriRanil, although they made promises to do away with it during the election campaign, they are not prepared to drop this Port City plan. At the same time, Ministerial statements are not sufficient proof that the project is going to be stopped. We know the behavior of the politicians. The practice of bluffing and misleading people is their second nature.

Therefore, all talk about good governance has now been proved to be mere empty words. They are valid only during the election period to deceive the gullible and naïve voters.

So people ought to know that the project will definitely move ahead. That is the truth about it. It will be useful to remember the origin of this idea of constructing mega cities was first found in the concept of “Regaining Sri Lanka”. Later it was found in the “Sri Lanka National Physical Plan of Mahinda Chintanaya”.

Therefore, year by year many more such projects will be introduced whoever holds the political reins of the country. It is therefore of paramount importance that people continue with their resistance to the project. At the same time they have to be prepared to face disaster when it comes. If not, catastrophe will fall on them quite unawares as it happened to the people affected by the Uma Oya project.

As a result of this Port City project, the coastal land, sea and lagoon and the fish breeding grounds, will be damaged and the livelihoods of the fisher people will be heavily affected. The houses in the coastal line will be in danger of being washed away into the sea due to erosion.

In the interior of the country, hillocks will be cut down and rocks will be blasted to provide close to 16 million metric tons of granite, impacting on the lands in the Western province and the water level in those areas will drop and the paddy lands will go dry. When blasting of rocks take place, the walls of nearby houses can crack or collapse. This is already happening in the areas such as Waga, Bomiriya and Padukka.

Further politically, we are getting more and more convinced that the government is now on its way to forget the people who voted them into power but better committed to serve the capital of the Chinese business community.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    5

    We can’t stop a project this magnitude just because India and Singapore feels they will be left out !!! [Edited out]

    • 3
      3

      Lasanda, what an asinine remark!

      The main point here is not Regional Politics, but the detrimental effect this Project will have on the Environment of our Country!

      Look at what unrestricted Development is doing to the Water supply of our People in the NCP, and Jaffna. The Port project will create a similar situation in Colombo and Outlying areas.

      Projects should be undertaken for the Welfare of our People, not for the Aggrandisement of Politicians!

      • 2
        2

        When US railway started their project, they had similar objections , did they stop??? Now look where they are??
        India has paid people to make this project stop , and this guy is one of them!!!

        • 0
          0

          Like comparing chalk with cheese! Or can’t you see the forest for the trees???

  • 5
    0

    Nothing has been changed, same cycle, we all were taken for another ride…. never interested in politics before, but fooled by the flamboyant Lamborghini ride. Where is our Modulawe Sobitha Sadu???

  • 4
    0

    Well said Fr. Iddamalgoda. And although many other environmental aspects detrimental to the country if this ‘Port City’ happens, have not been mentioned by you, it would be incumbent on the ‘committee’ appointed by Ranil W to highlight and stress on the disasters that will unfold if this crazy scheme succeeds. The very fact that the existing ‘apology’ for the EIA covers only a minuscule aspect of what will result from this project, must expose the diabolical schemers behind this as only being concerned with the filthy lucre they can lay their grubby hands on and pay no heed to the future of the country.

    Not only should this project be stopped, the entities behind it should be charged for attempting to falsify a proper EIA to the detriment of us all.

    It is indeed an indication of the double-speak of our political animals and one wonders if any change at all will be forthcoming, in spite of all the promises made.

    • 1
      0

      Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda –

      RE: Good Governance & Port City

      “Further politically, we are getting more and more convinced that the government is now on its way to forget the people who voted them into power but better committed to serve the capital of the Chinese business community.”

      Thank you for pointing out the environmental damage and the deception of the politicians.

      However, what are the contractual obligations of Sri Lanka, and the Chinese Investors, and the damages if either part were to pull out of it? Is this the reason the Govt. is hesitating?

      You need to get the details of this contract and contractual obligations. Please talk to JVP. Even though their hands are currently full chasing Crooks, Robbers and Criminals, CRCs, they are likely to be interested in getting to the bottom of it.

  • 6
    6

    Indians destroyed Srilanka by creating Prabakaran.

    If Prabkaran didn’t kill India’s favourite son,Prabkaran would have been in Colombo 7.running the Eelaam with the Elite and the Anglicans.

    Now India is back trying to to fuq us up again.

    What has India got to do with our new Harbour City?.

    Ranil has already given Indians 3 full days a week fishing rights in our Srilankan waters with their trawers, leaving only sprats to our fisher folk..

    Ranil wants to sign the CFTA with Indians which will kill our little Industries as well.

    Eventually India will help Ranil to give the Vellalas full control of the North and the Muslims the East.

    Divided Srilanka wouldn’t be of any use to China as a strategic partner.

    • 2
      1

      CT how did you allow this fool to use swear words in your column? Why is it because he’ s crying fowl for the fallen psycho? He wants his harbour city and ruin the environment.
      Colombo is already polluted with high rise buildings no proper drainage system nor sewage system. When the Mother Nature rains down the flooding is in stoppable . How does these fools who supports these hideous projects can live with themselves? If Colombo gets submerged in water what the effect would be.
      The Reputable university which sanctioned the Port city project as environmentally friendly and how it was passed on as safe. Now it has been proven as not environmentally safe. Who is telling the truth??

      • 1
        1

        Obviously you haven’t read or heard about Noah’s Ark..

        Don’t you attend Father Iddamalagoda’s patch even on Easter?..

  • 3
    2

    This positive and brave act by the new Govt and RW is a step in the right direction, as declared by the Cabinet as an action prior to Hon.Modi s visit! Just imagine China holding 263 acres right where it matters, for the arrival of their Navy fleet, including submarines without any permission from the Govt. and its ramifications. They will as well have legitimate sea lanes in keeping with the land they intended to hold in Sri Lanka? MR was well aware of these but did not care as he was the King with Senior SLFP/LSSPers his menial subjects. Foremost there was no Tender procedure and the King
    expected to carry on his Dynasty and forget all International Political
    implications.

    The slight delay in its suspension is I believe the local Contractors plea on their Investments on Labour & Machinery for the 26 mil. tonnes
    of rock duly contracted.?

    • 1
      0

      Punchinilame:-

      “The slight delay in its suspension is I believe the local Contractors plea on their Investments on Labour & Machinery for the 26 mil. tonnes of rock duly contracted.? “

      That is not a good excuse to carry on with the Port City Project.

      I am sure good Planners and Architects would be able to find a good Environmentally Friendly use, for Rock already invested in by the local Contractors.

  • 3
    2

    Economic feasibility? None ! A small island like Sri Lanka does not require Dubai style projects.
    Real estate prices in Colombo will fall as a result and what of the ROI??

    Singapore doing this is fine but lanka with no economic development is crazy to go ahead.
    This may end up being Sirisena’s Mattala.

  • 1
    1

    Economic viability? None ! A small island like Sri Lanka does not require Dubai style projects.
    Real estate prices in Colombo will fall as a result and what of the ROI??

    Singapore doing this is fine but lanka with no economic development is crazy to go ahead.
    This may end up being Sirisena’s Mattala.

  • 3
    3

    Await Disaster in ten years.

    But then why does it matter? Rajapaksa would have collected his 30 percent on the gross contract price. Maithripala, Ranil and other “associates” would have become billionaires. By then they and their litters, subject to Ranil’s “pukeliarity”, would have acquired second citizenship of the United States of America.

    Purpose achieved.

    And of course Sri Lanka would have been fucked right royally. Who cares about that minor detail?

  • 1
    2

    Why do you say of environmental damage. How was the Palm Island in Dubai built by reclaiming the sea and rocks were brought from Ras Al Khaimah (another emirate close to Dubai). Why not consult the Dubai government on this ?

    • 1
      0

      John:-
      Comparing Dubai with Sri Lanka is like comparing Apples with Oranges.

      Politicians who got their first look at a Foreign Country in Dubai, will fail to understand why Sri Lanka with nearly two thousand years of History, cannot be compared with modern day Dubai which has only Petro-dollars to commend it.

  • 0
    0

    A report in Peoples Daily of China, says that the Port City project
    has almost been approved.

    http://en.people.cn/n/2015/0207/c90777-8847523.html

  • 5
    1

    I cannot understand how MR, Weerawansa and all these ‘great patriots’ could have been so ready to give 20 hectares of the country outright to the Chinese and 88 hectares on a 99 year lease – and all this from the Colombo port area. What sort of patriots are these men?

    And these are the very persons who speak of an international conspiracy against MR’s administration. Why would you need an international conspiracy against SL if we are so ready to give up our sovereign territory?

  • 1
    0

    Why all you fools are accusing each other it was a done deal by the previous regime. So the present regime can only do damage limitation now . Don’t Bark up the wrong tree.
    Get the horaya back again and you will not have anything to say or do. Get the dictator and the white vans back you can’t have a protest march to start with. Let alone the free media. Dumbos.
    You all can live miserably and the crime the drug lords, the parasites plundering state wealth , palaces for the kings and the princelings will return. Now it’s the correction period by the new government to deal with the damages done by the previous regime.
    We all know it’s not that easy after the cancer had set in deep deeply it’s going to be tough and no magic wand .wait for a long time to get cured. If you are in a hurry jump again in the fire.

    • 2
      0

      Analyst,
      You believe before MR, SL was a paradise, almost no corruption, nurses, doctors, teachers, principles worked with strong moral and ethical manner similar to politicians and journalists.. Who is the real fool? Ex UNP minister Gamini Disanayake was in top ten rich people in Asia (Asia Week)
      SL is like rotten mango, core is lot of bad bacteria and worms, what MS/RW did was just put another cover to this rotten mango, new name is YahaPalanaya.. Same cycle…

  • 1
    2

    I can remember lot of people were protesting when president Jayawardena made arangments to shift the Parliament to kotte from Fort. but now everybody apprecaites it.
    Secondly I can remember when hydro power projects were built many people were protesting complaining of severe environmental damage ,particularly in respect of Kotmale Hydro power project.However, I believe now every Sri Lankan appreciates these project,except few extremists
    Every project may cause some adverseenvironmental impact .However, we should analyse and see whether adverse impacts outweigh benefits or not.If the benefits outweigh the impacts, then project should be implemented for the greater good of the people of the country.
    Sri Lanka is a very small country with huge population of about 21 million people.Canada which is about 150 times the size of Sri Lanka, the population is only 31 million.In case of Australia which is about 50 times the size of Sri Lanka has only little more than Population of Sri Lanka.

    Any government that comes to power should first find solution to peoples needs. The Port city project will create lot of employment and contribute to development of the country.the entire Investment is by China, apart from the land we are giving.Hence, in my view, benefits of the project far outweigh the adverse impacts.Hence, for the greater good of the country ,project should be allowed to proceed ,after rectification of shortcomings.

    Just because ,indian guys do not like the project we should not abandon the projet. If you compare all the countries in the world who has done the greatest damage to Sri Lanka. is It Uk, USA, Russia, China,Or India. Who destroyed our country by training LTTE guts.
    As Sri Lankan I believe most would have experienced that it is some relatives who obstruct one progress ,relatives or friends. mostly ,it is relatives(some) who tries to obstruct progress.India definitely falls in to that category.they do not want any country i n the region progressing.India think we are a colony of them.
    Hence, Prime Minister ,being a gentleman will do the right thing by allowing the project to continue for the greater good of the masses of country.
    apart from that terminating the contract might entail payments of huge damages which will definitely will serevely impact our economy.

  • 1
    0

    The Port City Project is entirely funded by China and other International conglomerates including from U.S., U.K. & India. I do not believe that they would make such a massive investment if they did not think that the project is economically and environmentally viable.

    Apart from creating jobs for Sri Lankans, we must also understand that this project would raise the profile of Sri Lanka in tourism, commerce, real estate, business & banking. Just to put things in perspective, Sri lanka attracts 1.5 million tourists per year and that too with the greatest of difficulty. Singapore & Dubai, which are basically city states attracts upwards of 25 million tourists per year. Can you imagine the benefits to Sri Lankans if we too can attract such numbers of tourists? Think about the increase in foreign exchange earnings which would not only stabilize the local economy but would strengthen it. This in turn would ease the taxation pressures since the govt. would not feel compelled to tax the masses in order to sustain the country. Peoples quality of life will be drastically improved as their salary scales will be revised.But, in order to achieve all this, we need to take bold decisions which will hugely improve the physical infrastructure in order to attract such tourists. We need world class shopping malls, public transportation, hotels & service. We also need to organize world class events and activities for such tourists. If people think that we can attract such numbers of tourists by offering them Majestic City, Odel & Crescat for their shopping and public transportation in it’s present state, then they are sadly mistaken. I have been to supermarkets which offer a better shopping experience during my travels.
    One other benefit of this Port City is that somebody else is spending their money in order to increase the square area of Colombo. This in turn means that the geographical profile of Sri Lanka will be altered. While it is true that China will get ownership of a portion of that land as payment for their investment, we need to understand that though they may have ownership, the sovereignity over the entire port city would be Sri Lankan. This is similar to a British national who owns a villa in Galle. Just because he owns it does not mean he can claim that the Villa is part of Britain. Besides, what’s he going to do. Pack up and take the villa with him? I feel that there is also a geo-strategic reason why we agreed to have Chinese presence at the Port City. History tells us that India is not a country that we can completely trust with our security. India is a country which has ‘mood swings’ when it comes to Sri Lanka. In that context, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have another insurance plan as far as our security is concerned.

    • 0
      0

      Jazz you are brilliant! We already have a preview of what you are talking about in the migrating Somawithi’s and Somapala’s getting sodomized in the Middle East for a small payment. That payment financed the last government’s flying orgies. Just imagine this being multiplied a million-fold inside Sri Lanka itself.

      How much money! Not only Rajapaksa, but all of us will be dollar billionaires!! What a carnival we could all have for ever!!!

      • 0
        0

        Indra,
        We need to take bold decisions if we are going to get out of our present state of economic stagnation. I may be a dreamer, but I believe that if you don’t dream ‘big’ and think ‘big’, then you don’t stand a chance of achieving ‘big’.
        The story of Dubai inspires me…..

        • 0
          0

          Dubai… Dubai.

          In Dubai, The World and Palm were built under the most stringent conditions. There was no thieving, no cheating, and no 1000 percent commission. Still the projects were stopped several times to fix the ravages of natural erosion, and sinking. The costs went up astronomically. Even now the erosion is continuing. And built up land is subsiding. In due course, Dubai will be paying through its nose for the maintenance, just to keep the place floating.

          But for the arrogance of man, buildings will be built on land provided by God. When you think you are smarter than God, you are digging your grave. Is Sri Lanka short of good God given land for building? Do you not agree that the perversion is only for the thieving politicians to get rich?

          You must know that the Sri Lanka politicians are in that business only for the purpose of making money. The Rajapaksa’s were. Otherwise how do you explain the Namal credit balance of US$ 700,000 in a Dubai bank account? Namal is the small fry in the family; what about Basil Gota and the big fish M?

          With the rampant corruption that can be expected, imagine the devastation that will be wrought on provinces adjoining the Port Area when 25 million tons of earth and rock are pulled out of those areas and transported to fill up the sea. Do you think the prevailing corruption will allow safety measures to be implemented. No way my friend.

          That is why I commented at 6.37 pm as follows:
          Await Disaster in ten years. But then why does it matter? Rajapaksa would have collected his 30 percent on the gross contract price.

          Maithripala, Ranil and other “associates” would have become billionaires. By then they and their litters, subject to Ranil’s “pukeliarity”, would have acquired second citizenship of the United States of America. Purpose achieved.

          And of course Sri Lanka would have been fucked right royally. Who cares about that minor detail?

  • 2
    0

    Father Sarath,

    You have a covenant with God & your church under which you have been ordained as a priest. Is it good governance for you to tell the church that you want to now repudiate your covenant with the church?

    Every contract is a covenant between two parties. It is a slap on the face of the Prime Minister of China, our all weather friend, to try to cancel a contract signed by him with the President of Sri Lanka.

    President Maithree is setting a good example to Sri Lanka and the whole world by his exemplary behaviour. In contrast the Prime Minister & his Cabinet of senile men are running amok, trying to cancel contracts signed by the previous government and introducing Robin Hood taxes on Sri Lankan corporates.

    The Leader of Opposition is quite right that the cancellation of construction contracts is creating unemployment and driving the supporters of the present government to the known Devil, rather than suffer under an Adharmishta bunch of fools, following the foot steps of the dead Old Fox.

  • 2
    0

    I am not a Mahinda Supporter, OR ANY politikka or to AN any Party.
    But We all SHOULD know that India is not a our friendly Country or Our Loving Big brother.
    but a country with full of Cunning bureaucrats, governing officers Who wants to find Markets and employments for their Labour forces and to uplift their Economy.
    It is pity, If Our Humble Presidente, Mr Maithripala Sirisena agree and fall into their traps.
    He should not forget that His Brother India, Spending Millions of Dollars to Destabilize neighbouring countries to their whims with two Secret Agencies.
    All the Indians have their love for the India.
    But Most of our Politikkas and Self serving bureaucrats are not Patriots of Sri Lanka as they are preaching,

    This Colombo Port city project is a Viable if the all infrastructure and other maintaining facilities should be self sufficient from itself.

    As an example; They should get their own Sea water electrical generators or Solar power generators and water Purification Plants to supply for their consumption,
    Not from our Cheap National Grid lines as We are suffering from Lack of Electrical power supply.
    There must be a SL government Environment Authority controlled, disposal of purified waste and sewerage system with air clean mechanism Like Singapore Jurong west Plants.

    now new government Must rent the Useless Maththala Air port with profitable, limited Agreement to hire our local staff to a Aircraft maintenance or Air craft production company as a regional hub.

    and Get maximum advantages from the Hambanthota PEOPLE’S Harbour,
    [ Mind you, that is not Maihendran Rajpasasa’s Own property to put his own name as it is not a Donation from China with Love, But a lunatic’s Loan with 6.5% interest and with Hidden, massive Commissions.]
    So we have to inform Our Presidente, Mr Maithripala Sirisena and prime minister Mr Ranil to be careful about The Big brother,
    And We must Use Our TRINCOMALEE OIL TANK FARM to store Oil from MIDDLE EAST and Resell to other countries OR rent out Our TRINCOMALEE OIL TANK FARM TO Japan, as they are willing to get that for Reasonable higher rent.
    Then we can See how much we get employments, investments and other marketing opportunities.

  • 1
    0

    The controversy surrounding so called “Chinese” and “Highways” projects were known well before the presidential elections. The opposition at that time, with its able economists, presented various points of views at that time. So they cannot say that they were new to the subject when they assumed office.

    One of the first things that should have been done was to suspend the port city project promptly soon after assuming office for review, instead of a delay of nearly 2 months. Within this period the cabinet spokes man said one thing (Project will continue) and the Foreign Minister said the opposite while the PM seem strike the middle ground. Some may describe as political or bureaucratic latency and anything latent means hidden. One may misunderstand that there were back door talks for under the table deals and that has now failed.

    As the Chinese special envoy said it is up to the Government of Sri Lanka to expose misdeeds. If it took 2 months to suspend how long will it take to come to a final decision either to stop it or get it going with sound reasons so that no contractual violations take place resulting in payment of damages and some put it like the hedging deals of the MARA government.

  • 1
    0

    Jazz,

    There are other ways of creating additional employment and obtaining other economic benefits than under the arrangements envisaged under the Port Development Project.
    We can do all those things without giving away part of the country to a foreign power and in such a strategic location.

    This, to me, is the most crucial factor. If MR was so unconcerned about giving away part of the country to China, might not one well ask why he was loath to conceding a separate state in the North.

  • 1
    1

    Know All,
    I think I have clearly explained the difference between ownership and sovereignty. I have also shared some thoughts on why China may have been given a portion of land. As you know, we are confronted with a regional bully who feels that the rest of south asia has no business formulating their own development plans. We are confronted with a bully, who while standing up for the rights of tamils has no issue with their fishermen looting the fishing resources of those same poor tamil fishermen. Not to mention that it’s a gross violation of international maritime boundaries and our sovereignty and you would expect a regional power such as India with all it’s naval resources to prevent such transgressions if they really wanted to.

    At the very least, one would expect India to financially compensate Sri lanka for the fish obtained from within our maritime borders. This just makes India a common thief with very little self respect. You would expect a country who aspires to be a superpower to at least provide toilets for millions of their citizens.

  • 1
    0

    Jazz,

    My point is that it is ill advised, wrong and totally unpatriotic to give part of the country, and in such a strategic location to boot, to any foreign power, whether it be China or whoever.

    I don’t disagree with your comments on the bullying and unfriendly conduct of our big neighbour. That, however, is an issue to be tackled separately. It would be naive – and dangerous – to imagine that securing a Chinese presence in SL by giving away part of SL’s territory to China would in any way lead to India mending her ways. A Chinese ‘presence’ can only invite more unfriendly conduct from India with the potential to make SL a target for attack in any India/China conflict and for fresh ‘adventurism’ in the North.

    We cannot ignore the lessons of history and of SL’s painful experiment in seeking Dutch assistance to rid the island of the Portuguese – in the event, the remedy turned out to be as bad as the malady!

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