23 June, 2021

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Government Leaders Need To Analyse Problems More Rationally 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The loss of the USD 480 million grant opportunity provided to Sri Lanka by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was on the cards for some time. The two projects it was meant to implement became too controversial, though on their face they were about promoting economic development. The Transport Project aimed to increase the relative efficiency and capacity of the road network and bus system in the Colombo Metropolitan Region and to reduce the cost of transporting passengers and goods between the central region of the country and ports and markets in the rest of the country. The Land Project was to help the government identify under-utilized state land that might be put to more productive use and maximize rents from lands that the government leases. Both of these projects were interpreted in a negative light to make them a threat to Sri Lanka.

The US government’s decision to withdraw its offer cited its Sri Lankan counterpart’s lack of interest in taking up the offer and therefore the need to shift the funds to other countries. The main problem that was highlighted by opponents of the MCC grant, and by leading government politicians on many occasions, both prior the elections that they won and after them, was that the MCC grant had linkages to two military cooperation agreements that Sri Lanka has with the United States. These are the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and, Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) which permit the United States to use Sri Lankan facilities for its logistical purposes, including refueling and entry into and exit from Sri Lanka for American military personnel without having to obtain visas. The MCC grant was seen as feeding into the geo-strategic engagements of the United States that would be detrimental to Sri Lankan sovereignty.

The MCC grant provided nationalist politicians and those associated with them the opportunity to fan fear in the minds of the electorate. They predicted the bifurcation of the country by an economic corridor that would stretch from Colombo in the west to Trincomalee in the east. Also that it would make it necessary for Buddhist pilgrims from the south to get visas from the US embassy to go worship in the ancient capital of Anuradhapura in the north. This was one of the key factors that induced thousands of Buddhist monks to advice their followers about the need to ensure the defeat of the then government to prevent the division of the country. In a similar manner, many government leaders spent the past two weeks captivated by the herbalist who claims to be son of a Hindu goddess and produced an indigenous herbal tonic to do battle with the Coronavirus. Unless government leaders analyse problems more rationally they will not be able to cope with the enormous problems of getting Sri Lanka out of our morass. But once nationalism takes a grip on the imagination of a people it becomes very difficult to move them in the opposite direction even if it is in the national interest.

Further Deterrents 

As a result of the US government’s withdrawal of its offer, Sri Lanka will lose two very large economic projects that could have brought in an infusion of foreign exchange and helped the country to modernize two critical sectors of its economy which have lagged in comparison to other developing countries. Unlike Thailand and Malaysia, and a host of other comparable countries, Sri Lanka still does not have a bus system where buses run to regular schedules and where the buses have electronic panels which indicate the location of the bus. Likewise, where land is concerned the tenancy or ownership of much of it has not been registered which makes it difficult to use the land in an economically efficient manner. The MCC grant would have upgraded urban transport, land registration and also built several key rural road links to the main roads.

The Rs 89 billion that that the MCC grant would have made available to Sri Lanka could have been utilized for the welfare of the people by renegotiating the activities set out in the grant. The fact that Sri Lanka had received such a large grant from the US might have also induced foreign investors to put their faith in Sri Lanka as they would have been reassured by the US government’s investment in the country as an indication of its economic viability. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been asserting the need for foreign investment in the country instead of loans. This is an indication of his determination to ensure that there is sustainable growth in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the message that will go out now will be a negative message that the US government has given up on Sri Lanka at a time when it faces a massive debt repayment crisis. This negative image will be worsened by the negative credit ratings that Sri Lanka has been receiving from the most well reputed credit rating agencies whose analyses are watched carefully by international investors.

Adding to the problems likely to be faced by the government is the likelihood that the United States together with EU countries will be contemplating a fresh resolution in the UN Human Rights Council to replace the last one on Sri Lanka, Resolution No 40/1 whose period of implementation ends in March 2021. In February of this year, the government decided to withdraw from the implementation of that resolution and the commitments made by its predecessor government when it co-sponsored Resolution No 30/1 in 2015. There is every reason to believe that the government will strenuously resist any new resolution on it. The government is confident that its allies among other developing countries and in particular its strong relationships with China and Russia will enable it to prevail in such a contest. However, the negative publicity resulting from a battle on Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council will serve to act a further deterrent on foreign investors being willing to invest in Sri Lanka.

More Challenges 

The forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva in March 2021 will see Sri Lanka having to face down two sets of challenges. The first is the argument that is being made that Sri Lanka should not be permitted to set a precedent for international institutions by its unilateral withdrawal from its co-sponsorship of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 30/1 of 2015. Those countries that support the UNHRC as an important global institution for the protection of human rights would not wish to set precedents that enable other countries to back out of commitments they have made. Although at the time of its withdrawal in 2020 from the commitments made in 2015, the Sri Lanka government promised to come up with a nationally driven reconciliation mechanism as an alternative, this has not yet materialized.

The government’s hope will be to muster the support of developing countries as well as its superpower allies, China and Russia, to numerically defeat those countries that wish to put it into the dock again on human rights. However, this hope will be endangered by the alienation of Muslim countries. Turkish news agency TRT reported that the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation expressed concern over the issue of Covid cremation and called for Sri Lankan Muslims to be allowed to bury family members in line with their religious beliefs. “Against this practice, forbidden under Islam, the OIC calls for respect to funeral rites in the Islamic faith,” it said in a statement. The international media, especially in Muslim countries, have reported the story of the 20 day old baby who was cremated without permitting his parents access to the body. TRT further commented that “The image of a sleeping baby Shaykh has become a symbol for what Sri Lanka’s Muslim community as well as moderates consider cruel and inhuman treatment of the Muslim coronavirus victims.”

If Sri Lanka is to prosper, it needs to build its relationships with the world beginning with those within the country. President Rajapaksa has said that he will be the president of all Sri Lankans and not only those who voted for him. Accordingly the government he leads would need to think about problem solving that is not aligned to any one group or community but with rationality with the interests of all in mind. This needs to be done on the issue of Covid burial which is accepted worldwide, on the issue of constitutional reforms which requires the reality of Sri Lanka as a multi ethnic, multi religious and plural society be taken into account, on the issue of the MCC grant which provides Sri Lanka an opportunity to upgrade its road transport and land registration practices and on the issue of prisoners who are at risk in overcrowded prisons, especially those held as LTTE suspects without charge for many years even exceeding twenty. If the government does so, the healing and rebuilding of Sri Lanka as a multi ethnic, multi religious and plural society would have begun, and the country will emerge stronger to engage with the world and get the best from it.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    4

    Government leaders must consider only the national interest when making decisions.

    • 3
      7

      Gatam:
      Please get someone to translate the article, then read and understand before writing crap.

  • 9
    3

    One can expect rationality only from those who care about the country, not from those who care about their power and about saving their necks and the family members necks from the grip of the law.

    • 4
      3

      You are right. I don’t know whether Jegan is mad to speak about rationality from Rajapakse family.

  • 3
    3

    “President Rajapaksa has said that he will be the president of all Sri Lankans and not only those who voted for him.” What did the president mean by that?
    He only meant that he will boss all of them and lord it over them equally. That does not mean he will address and solve the different communities’ problems equally. In practice, he is doing it rather selectively as it is quite evident that he solves the problems of only the majority community. In fact, he does many gratuitous things to harass minority communities.

    • 4
      2

      ““President Rajapaksa has said that he will be the president of all Sri Lankans and not only those who voted for him.” What did the president mean by that?”

      All Sri Lankans will feel screwed by the end of his term. No guarantee there could be some in his extended family that would feel this way too.

    • 2
      2

      These people who spew anti-Rajapakshe venom are suffering from ‘POST-DEFEAT SYNDROME’. Anger and hatred towards the party who defeated them are the main symptoms of these people who suffer from depression and inferiority complex. These poor chaps need psychiatric help to overcome this situation.

  • 5
    4

    The fundamental issue is the ego of our political leaders. Only a few countries have what it takes to be truly independent. Sri Lanka is not in that class. We are a tiny island dependent on many nations both economically and strategically. India would have been a safe bet for a friend-in-need. But, our political leaders have left us partnering China instead.

    • 1
      1

      Nathan,
      India was never a friend. Only thing India did was bullying Sinhalayo. Can we consider a country that trained and armed terrorists to fight against the Government and massacre Sinhalayo as a friend?
      China on the other hand helped Sri Lanka when needed. China helped to eradicate LTTE Tamil terrorism created by India.
      —-
      “India would have been a safe bet for a friend-in-need.”

      • 1
        1

        Eagle Eye,
        You cannot say that India was never a friend after having received Katchativu from them, can you. You have forgotten Ceylon supported Pakistan during India’s war to liberate Bangladesh. I was a witness to Pakistan ferrying military men like cattle, through BIA. Yet, India offered military intelligence to Sri Lanka to annihilate LTTE.
        At international level, a friend-in-need is the best friend.
        Sri Lanka is cuddling with China because of its power to Veto at UN. You think that China doesn’t know that. They are smarter than that.

        • 1
          0

          Nathan,
          India offered military intelligence to Sri Lanka because Sri Lanka Armed Forces were doing the job for Indians who wanted to get rid of Prabhakaran and LTTE that was considered as a security threat to India.
          If India was a true friend they should have allowed the Sri Lankan Armed Forces to take Prabhakaran into their custody at Wadamaarachchi in 1987 and finish LTTE terrorism. Instead of doing that Mr.Parippuwa dropped ‘Parippu’ and messed up the whole thing. I heard Prabhakaran was whisked to New Delhi and Rajiv Gandhi even gave his bullet proof vest to him. What an idiotic thing to do.
          Did India support Sri Lanka at UNHRC?

          “Yet, India offered military intelligence to Sri Lanka to annihilate LTTE.”

          • 0
            0

            Eagle Eye,
            You make me laugh. So, SL killed Prabhakaran thru that very bullet proof vest India had given him. Was there any leak in that?

      • 0
        1

        What mistake India did was when Sinhala Chi Guevara captured all police stations was going to kill Siri Ma O, India sent its troops and saved Lankawe. The friendly Lankawe allowed Pakistan military planes to land & refuel during war against India. Then India gave the Katchchativu when Siri Ma o asked for. But what Lankawe did in return? Diplomatically ignorant JR called Mrs. Gandhi “Monstrous Satan”.
        Ranil reminded recently that JR asked Romesh Bhandari that if India didn’t train Tamils, would the needed of Keenie Meenie Services (KMS) arisen to Lankawe. But Ranil forget:
        1. If Don Stephen didn’t disfranchise the Tamils and create a problem to India to take back those for Generations not lived or born in India,
        2. If Solomon didn’t bring Sinhala Only,
        3. If JR didn’t go for Kandy walk to tear Band –Chelva pack,
        4. If Junius and Solomon had not started Emergency 1958,
        5. If Siri Ma o didn’t bring Standardization to destroy Tamils education and force the Tamil youth to stand on roads.
        6. If Junius had not created 1977 & 1983 pogrom and told on public Radio to please Sinhalese he had to do those.
        Then India wouldn’t need to please its Tamils train Eelam boys.
        Still, it would have ended there unless Ranil burn the Chandrika’s Solution 2000 in Parliament.

        • 0
          1

          Dear M

          Your point 1 is not factual with regards to generational. They should all have been sent to Jaffna I agree. It is not late.

          • 0
            0

            Thiyagarajah,
            It is Tamil congress who supported Citizenship Acts to get Minister Position in UNP government. Your father never in his history condemned GG’s action on that. You never wrote a line criticizing your father for being In Tamil Congress that time. Then he joined Siri-Ma-o who the one was made the Siri -Ma-O Shastri pact. It is for that Siri-Ma-O you show high respect without condemning her. PM Shastri is known for his graceful acts. He was crediting back even his PM salary to Indian Government. He is not a man change parties for minister poisons’ perk. Some murders poisoned him. Under the deed, he tried to take in as much as Tamil from Lankawe he could that time, only to solve the stateless pathetic situation of Tamils. But dirty Wildlife Sanctuary, has no regards or passion for human life & never keeps any of its words, delayed until Vaalaiththodam Sr.
            Recently (coup time) Dr. Devanesan Nesiah returned his National Honorary by Aanduwa saying that government honors title means nothing. I like to take an example from that proud man.
            My talks are always with factual, other than language errors. Feel free always to comment back to me.
            But, I don’t need a certification from a man like you who come from Tamil Congress, UNP, SLFP background.
            Sorry for the rudeness man!

            • 0
              1

              Dear M

              – My understanding of TC had a different politics to FP hope we agree.

              – My Father joined the TC and won the Vaddukottai election in 1970…the purpose was to serve the people and not for any causes.

              – At the same time GG and Amir lost the elections and went on to reunite their path to form TUL.TULF etc for separatism.

              – Those TC MP’s whop found themselves in a limbo joined the GOSL and served their constituents is all it took place. The same (1977 debacles by the TULF) UNP offered an opportunity to rectify matters and sought corporation from my Father once More set out to perform his duties of serving the people.

              – With regard to the Indian Citizenship act we as a Nation have the right to fix the numbers specially that was part of the disinfrachised Sinhala heart land post colonial time…I would go as far as to say we had no business in those decisions too.

              – Any political party is a vehicle is serve people in a developing country specially FP/TC made a mockery of their opportunities not focused on what needed tone done.

              – It is clear to me you know nothing about my Father other than he was with TC/SLFP/UNP…….that is ok.

              • 0
                1

                Dear M
                What you need to focus is the the FP/TULF activity that led to their opponents being murdered from 1970-1977-1981..infact all the killings that happened in Jaffna…a Tamil crime against Tamil.

                If do not know or do not have any interest or OK with that kind crooked act then you should not discuss my language/culture/National issues etc as we have nothing in common. The reason I share is thinking we are a group of human right activists discussing matter for improvements??

                Happy New Year

                • 0
                  0

                  dear M

                  Only think you need to know about my Father

                  He did not try to undermine the TULF after 1977 elections and kept out of politics as we need to respect what was the electorate wish in a democracy. You know I did write earlier how fraudulent this election was as this was full of intimidation/violence through out the campaigns and leading upto the election too. However since we had no independent election verifies as we have now days we had to honour the results and dignify the TULF voters.

                  You have to know what happened ever since 1970 election in Vadukottai (1970-1977-1981) you will know what happened to our culture/heritage/language thereafter etc.

                  • 0
                    0

                    Anyhow my Father went to Madras University (age of 65) and completed a thesis on ” Accelerated Sri Lankan Economical Development alongside the Tiger Economies of Asia” and in 1981 the opportunity for District development Council was offered for by the UNP (a first time setup). These are position non political but one need to be elected based on their qualification to deliver the title of the position to people of Jaffna. He was killed by the thugs then and called a traitor. The thugs who did this ever since live under GOSL protection in Colombo and still sit in the parliament fed by the SL tax money. A very generous GOSL in the world.

                  • 0
                    0

                    A thuggery show run by a thug(s). Tamils are bigger people than that bro…just incase you are a Tamil and may be of interest to you. Our children were the victims because they were stolen from Jaffna at the age of 13,14,15 year of age to India for training in 70’s.

                    • 0
                      0

                      We are the Ceylonese Tamils and we have died to save our identity ever since. As you may be aware what happened to our refugees in India and in Jaffna ever since…it is called expansionism and colonialism…talk to JVP they will explain to you.

        • 1
          1

          Mallaiyuran
          There was a cordial relationship between Mrs. Bandaranayake and Mrs. Gandhi because both of them were in ‘Socialist’ camp. JRJ who came to power in 1977 was viewed by India as a supporter of US and capitalism. JRJ also antagonized Mrs. Gandhi by passing a nasty remark. So, India decided to destabilize Sri Lanka. They did not want to have a prosperous country under a capitalist system as their neighbor. The things that you have mentioned had nothing to with India’s decision. India used Demala Tamils disgruntled by losing their privileged position they enjoyed under British rule to destabilize Sri Lanka. Creating ‘Black July’ in 1983 was the first move. Who provided the land mine to ‘Jaffna Boys’ and who were behind that operation?

          • 0
            0

            Eagle,
            Stop after doing everything calling it as Zero Casualty Humanitarian Rescue mission. In very story of yours, there are abundant of worms crawling.
            It is for comics Jaffna Sadampy like fools write here that Sinhala Buddhists leaders are friendly. No Sinhala Buddhist Intellectual has been an honest friend to anyone.
            It is Siri Ma O’ time Mrs. Gandhi’s India started helping rebels. That is why JR was angry.
            But, there is no country in the world supplied arms and money as much as Lankawe did to different factions of rebels.
            Let’s look at Siri Ma O’s records.
            1). Ask Alfred Family why Siri Ma O was angry with him.
            2). Chandrika was ousted from family until Kumaratunga was murdered.
            3). Ask Sunitra why didn’t she marry.
            4). Read Thero’s witness in Solomon’s murder case in the court for Siri Ma O role in the murder.

            These are as a housewife. Then ask her other close encounterers.
            5). Then ask Mrs. Gandhi about Sirimavo’s coziness with China, BMICH & Pakistan Military Planes landing………
            6). Read the Ronnie de Mel’s speeches that how she encourage her him to give his acres of estates to government and how in turn she swindle.
            7). Ask Shanmugathas, ask V.Pooner, Ask Felix, Ask NMP, ask Colvin…..
            Do you think Mrs. Gandhi was that fool like you?

  • 4
    2

    President Gotabhaya appears to be lacking inputs from pragmatic people, leading to mishandling of the MCC project with a high return on the investment and simple issues like burial of Muslims dying from the Covid-19 Pandemic. Academics and forces personnel without exposure to the commercial world cannot make his vision of attaining ‘ Vistas of Splendor and Prosperity’ a reality.

  • 4
    3

    Jehan Perera; “Government Leaders Need To Analyse Problems More Rationally”
    ===================
    There are no leaders in the government. only scroungers; racists and “yes men/women”

  • 5
    2

    Rationality and this Government are miles apart. Simple example, the police and army finds left over LTTE weapons when an election is around the corner. There after no guns or weapons of LTTE appear inside wells. Similarly no AVA Kalliya as well. Is this rational action of a Government or creation of the Government?

  • 0
    0

    In a democratic country the leader is selected by election. When multiple candidates compete, the election is serious divisive process. The loosing candidate’s supporters feel exasperated and alienated while the winners celebrate with firecrackers and Kiribath, parading on Gall Road showing the rowdiness. So the election makes the original purpose, i.e the unanimous agreement of majority’s decision get implemented for the shake of maintaining unity, is lost. The onus of uniting the losers and make them still feel that they too are part of the decision making, is on the winners solders. So the starting to this is a formality of the winning candidate give a unifying speech, as soon as the opportunity arises. But the losers will feel included only when the winners’ team magnanimously show the word in the deed, not as usual election promise. Sadly, this formality is used by Royal Brothers to issue stern warning to the stray sheep. Failing to heed will end in Shepard brand with hot iron rod on the buttock of the idiot. Sweet fruit can fall or poisonous unripe can fall, Jehan PhD knows making profit from anyone of them. Earlier, PhD was cashing on King’s word “I am the president & my word is the Sir-Cular”. PhD made a very good use of it too. Now this.

  • 3
    2

    What happened to the rational LTTE government (1990-2009)? RIP!

    • 0
      0

      Dear GATAM

      You would’ve noted I do not blame the North and the South armed insurgencies that they embarked on as young people/CHILDREN who were misguided by the elders it is specially more so in the North (FP/TULF) than the Southern havoc.

      Whoever want to be on Board the democratic path have been taken on board with the above understanding.

      However we have not touched is the FP/TULF and other Ghetto parties with language and religious names getting in the way of “One Sri Lanka” concept.

      The upcoming constitution will see to the rest. There will not be any Sinhala/Muslim/Tamil/Indian references but one is a Sri Lankan or not based on the current citizenship/ic details one has to vouch allegiance to etc. No more treachery and treason and foreign Involvement in National affairs.

  • 3
    2

    Jehan Perera talks all the good things that MCC will bring completely ignoring the negative impact of MCC. To understand the dangerous impact of the three agreements, one has to read all of its clauses. I wonder whether he did that.
    While ACSA and SOFA are bilateral agreements MCC required Sri Lanka to pass that in Parliament and turn it into domestic law. Once it is done, Sri Lanka has to take on responsibility to implement all of the drastic measures in the MCC on behalf of the US corporates and US government completely ignoring the wishes of the Sri Lankan citizens. ‘Jadapalana’ Government that did not care for the wishes of Sri Lankan citizens was willing to sign the agreement. If they did that it will become no different to 13th Amendment imposed on Sri Lanka.

    • 1
      1

      Well said EE

      • 0
        0

        Dear EE

        Are we saying is matter of having a referendum first for such actions should we evaluate and decide is in the interest of SL??

        Did we have a referendum when Hon JR signed the 13th???

  • 0
    0

    Dear Jehan
    Thank you.
    The last GOSL was a good governance (having politically killed off the hon MR) and had participation of all the ghetto makers…Tamil/Sinhala/Muslim/Indian etc. They had the entire term the government with a president to complement too. As a create on the cake were given the NPC – Police Powers – Land Powers by Hon MR too to overlap the coup that disposed of him from power + Opposition leader position for TNA.
    To be fair to you all in a democracy you all had a go with all the NGO’s and International western loving support, UN being excited on the prospective of the delivery of justice by the elected who waiting in the wings for 70 years to apply their brain power to free the land of all the infidels correct?
    Where were these grants then? list all the achievements of the good governance? list all the achievements of the NPC? list all the achievements of the opposition holding the GOSL to account??
    I totally agree we have a very hardened SLPP with even harder resolve with identity politics that was created by you all is something you all have to admit at some point will free this land of this ongoing misery???

  • 0
    0

    ”If Sri Lanka is to prosper, it needs to build its relationships with the world beginning with those within the country”

    I think Jehan has summed it up in one sentence. The adage, United we stand, divide we fall, no longer applies. Divide & rule is a time tested political strategy. Dividing citizens by ethnicity & religion, we are fighting unnecessary fires within, instead of developing the country collectively. Stirring up nationalism in the guise of patriotism is the trump card of selfish politicians, who, unfortunately, have been governing this country since independence. We are anti western & view western aid with suspicion but happy to embrace China as the saviour without question. Maybe there is no such thing as a free lunch but it is up to the govt. to weigh the pros & cons & get the best deal because we need foreign aid, investment & markets open for our exports, without antagonising the helping hands. However, we are a backward country, as can be seen how the govt. & the Health Ministry is tackling the pandemic, & with uneducated, shameless, self serving politicians & cronies in high places, particularly, punks like Weerawansa, who survives politically on conspiracy theories, the gullible voters continue to elect the same yobs. We are happy to show 2 fingers to world while the country is debt trapped & falling deeper by the day. No wonder SL is a country like no other.

  • 0
    0

    It is said the MCC decision is reflected on today’s exchange rate. Rupee took a deep plunge against Dollar today, though the recent trend is in that way, but by with few points only.

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