By Hiran B. Jayasundara –
It has been three months since Sri Lankans were thrilled to find the world’s largest blue star sapphire from Sri Lanka, weighing 1404.49 carats and valued at over $ 100 million. According to media reports, it was not only the largest sapphire ever found in Rathnapura, the world-famous gemming destination in Sri Lanka but also the largest treasure of such value found throughout the human history of the world. The ancient Sri Lankans believed that such great treasures were found in the land by the fortune of the kings who ruled the country at that era. The clergies commented on the great fortunes of the present rulers and the emergence and connection of the wealthy miracle. However, the senior gemologist, the only Sri Lankan professor with quantitative knowledge on the subject, said that this was a dead-stone only having a museum value. But no media gave time for illustrating such ideas. All the national media took at least 5 minutes in their press releases to announce this wonderful news to the world. All Sri Lankans went to their beds at night with wonderful dreams about the things they are going to have in next day after selling this gem to the Chinese. It is a miracle that only Sri Lankans can see in dreams.
Last week, however, the same media reported that the gem had been shipped to Sweden via regular courier service to make its actual valuation. The second story, as well as the miraculous news of the existence of such gems in human history, is another miracle, as no courier service assumes the responsibility of transferring at least one gem of value or international destination. However, this is the third time this year that Sri Lankans have celebrated the emergence of such wonderful and greatest treasures to their motherland.
The year began in January when a well-known minister for a piece of gold jewellery announced that the world’s largest gold mine had been discovered with Copper- a deposit of even greater value than the world’s largest copper deposit in Michigan, USA. This discovery was first published in a newspaper that found bricks on Mars and the people of Sri Lanka were amazingly delighted with the news. The news headline goes as “Sri Lanka hopes to rise on its own and bring good luck with gold mine”- the title itself made a marvelous dream among the citizens. The government entertained the public for over one month with a huge treasure trove of gold covering an area of 54 square kilometers in the Seruwawila region on the island, given massive hope to poor people. To build up a debt-ridden country with a miracle economically in a short period of time was confirmed by the so-called experts. This was more sharpened news and politicized by the fact that the previous government of Sri Lanka was about to sign the MCC- agreement with the United States one year ago. The economic corridor where the agreement has proposed is within the area where this gold deposit is located. Fortunately, the Americans went by losing a big treasure. The Lankans were really happy about this changeover. They hoped to repay all debts from the gold mine, as well as to provide interest-free loans to China, which had provided commercial loans to Sri Lanka during difficult times. However, another university scholar at the University of Moratuwa said there was no such treasure in this area. And he also indicated that the excavations may be causing great environmental damage to one of the last existing virgin forests in the northern dry zone in the island. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the year, Sri Lankans could be purchased one Pawn of gold at the rate of Rs. 90 thousand and now they have to pay over Rs. 115 thousand for the same.
Also, the Minister of Petroleum of Sri Lanka announced the discovery of the largest oil well in Asia in June 2021 this year. The annual value of the oil deposit is over US $ 240 billion and the people of Sri Lanka were delighted with the news of the great miracle. Look at the size of the miracle. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has an annual oil revenue of only $ 200 billion. At present, the total debt of Sri Lanka is around the US $ 35 billion and the total debt can be repaid from the monthly income from the oil well. However, in July, Sri Lanka’s oil prices soared by about 20 percent and the petroleum minister had to face a no-confidence motion in parliament. Presently, the government is having discussions with the leaders of the oil-producing countries to obtain oil as a loan.
Throughout the political history of Sri Lanka, attempts have been made to take the people to their dream worlds at a time of severe economic crisis, especially when governments are unable to solve their economic problems. The first such fiction was dramatized in late 1974 by the United Front government led by Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike. The government was able to find an oil well in the “Pesala” area in the northern part of Sri Lanka. According to the government’s own mass media, As the first step, Sri Lankans are foot-towards to becoming an Asian oil giant. The whole country began to rejoice. Meanwhile, the government summoned a newspaper editor who reported that there was no ‘Pesala oil’ to the Press Board immediately. And later he was warned by Press Board and he was informed that there was an oil well in ‘Pesala’. The ‘Pesala’ oil resource was dried after the Sirima government went home in next election. In the 1977 general election, the opposition won a five-sixths majority in the parliament. Due to the economic policies of the United Front government (1970-1977), ordinary people had to wait in line for more than two hours to buy a loaf of bread. For about 6 years, the GDP growth was close to zero and this era was one of the darkest periods in the Sri Lankan economy.
However, until the year 2011 Sri Lankans did not have an opportunity to make a dream about such an oil or gas miracle. Again, back in 2011, the present Prime Minister, who was the President at that time was discovered a huge oil deposit in the Mannar area in northern Sri Lanka. At the peak time of a local election, when the fuel prices in the Sri Lankan market gone skyrocketed. This oil field was discovered amid rising oil prices. The vote was over. The oil-well dried up.
Due to the efficiency of a minister known as Captain Cool led to such a miracle during the last good governance period in the year 2018 as well. It was revealed that Sri Lanka had discovered the largest crude oil well in the northern part of the country, Mannar, which could supply fuel continuously for 20 years. It was a miracle and the largest oil well ever found in Asia. However, for the first time in history, Captain Cool has given an amazing opportunity to make use of Google Maps to search for floating ships in seas to obtain fuel for three-wheelers gangs even in extremely rural areas on the island. About two weeks all the fuel sheds in Sri Lanka were out of stock. Later the ship arrived. The oil wells again dries up.
In general, it can be said that there is a strong political link between the mythical treasures of Sri Lanka and the socio-economic problems in Sri Lanka. In particular, it further emphasizes that the number of such treasures and their value increases with the severity of the economic crisis.
However, such beliefs and unscientific findings are just nonsense to the educated world, but Sri Lankans should not always be embarrassed by such deceptions. Asian leaders who developed their nations to upper-middle-income status were only believed in their strengths although never rely on such untrue myths. All of those Asian nations developed with great planning and innovations and fast-growing educational systems. Knowledge was at the center of their development path but they did not focus on myths and miracles. All these nations have gone through periods of great crisis and have become great economic giants. No Asian or global nation has developed entirely from its natural resources. According to economics, resources are not a factor in developments. Many degenerate nations have made the increase in wealth a curse to their progress. Take examples from fragile states like Venezuela.
However, I am not saying here that the natural resources of Sri Lanka are not being beneficial for our development. I can remember times when foreign scientists who travel with me exploring from country to country could not believe their eyes when they saw the tea estates in Sri Lanka, the gems in Ratnapura, the beaches in the south, and the Stupas in Anuradhapura. We believe that our motherland is a paradise and the most beautiful country in the world. Until the 1970s, Sri Lankan teas made an empire in the Western European tea market. The then United alliance government showed the people of Sri Lanka the Pesala oil well and completely lost the billions of tea market from the European destinations. For centuries until 2005, Sri Lanka was the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of true Cinnamon. The rulers who showed the people the oil reserves and lost the cinnamon market all over the world handed it over to the middlemen. Today, Sri Lanka supplies the best cinnamon to the world market for less than US $ 60 for one Kilogram. However, intermediatory make a profit from the same at a rate of US $ 900 from one Kilogram of cinnamon. It can give us a thousand such stories about our abilities and stupidity. We are still having the world recognitions for teas and cinnamon and with stupid dreams will we get rid of that world situation we are in now?
Finally, the President has said in his speeches that he is proud to be a Buddhist. I am also very happy to be born as a Buddhist. In fundamental Buddhism, there has no miracles and fortunes. According to the Lord Buddha, he worked hardly and effortlessly to become a Buddha for innumerable periods of time. No man or God in the history of the world has made such an effort or sacrifice to gain his target.
It can be used as a basis to guide the nation to overcome all these tragedies.
*Some of the information obtained from a Mr. Vajira Liyanage’s article published in Lankadeepa newspaper on November 15, 2017 article titled “‘Petroleum in Mannar dug from the time of Mathini'”.