22 June, 2021

Blog

Port City: Control & Reformulation

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

The Port City (PC) Act has been signed into law. Despite a majority of citizens decrying it as paving the way to corruption and a travesty of democracy, some 149 Ministers, government MPs and cronies did not hesitate to put their personal benefits ahead of any residual feelings of allegiance they may have fleetingly had for Mother Lanka. Last week when I asked “What Next” it evoked much discussion in Colombo Telegraph, so I have decided to press on. Today’s column is not all cussing and swearing; that’s past. I am hoping to kick-off some discussion on what to do next.

This is only a start and the ideas here may not all be well formed, but some joker has to take the plunge. Let me introduce it in three chronological parts; the immediate period ahead, medium-term preparation of amendments or planning for a repeal of the Act, and third the longer-term – regime change and specifically ousting Gota at the next presidential election if it is held. There are numerous ambiguities built into the PC Act such as what land comes under the PC Commission’s mandate, provisions allowing PC investors to extend their reach into other parts of the country while continuing to enjoy PC privileges, ambiguous concessions that cannot be challenged in the courts, and other infringements. For sure these are not drafting blunders but deliberately inserted to give leeway for mischief. Hence opposition inside and outside parliament needs to form oversight teams to scrutinise every investment decision of the Royal Rajapaksas, Ministers and the President’s military cabal and flag doings that need to be reversed or to attract prosecution at the first opportunity, even before regime change if the Attorney General can be shamed into intervening and the courts agree to entertain action. This threat has to be transparent and potential investors must be forewarned that corrupt, illegitimate or undemocratic measures will be reversed.

Second: People’s movements (and the Opposition if it has the stomach) must begin a dialogue and a consultative process to set out amendments to the PC Act or in the alternative examine how best it can be repealed altogether. This may take fine and filigreed legal effort to work round contradictions with contracts that may have been awarded in good faith and may take a year to finalise and I would commend this as an initiative to entities like CPA, NPP-JVP and Lawyers Organisations that have resources and the manpower to take it on. The political-party opposition will be interested since these proposals can be inserted in future electoral manifestoes aimed at defeating one or both branches of the Double-Paksa Regime and reversing its power monopoly.

The final piece of the strategy is maturation of this process to defeat Gota at the next presidential election which must be held by November 2024. Things are sliding into an abys, hence defeating Gota in a free and fair poll is not hard. (In the event it is annulled or invalidated by gross fraud – desperation drives rulers to psychosis – how we the people should respond is outside the scope of today’s column).  A resilient, trusted, democratic candidate is needed and with all due respect Mr Sajith Premadasa lacks the stature to pull it off. Hence it is sensible to cast around for an alternative figure, untainted by corruption, never associated with communalism and of high standing. For example a former Speaker, a former Judge, or a Minster of exceptional calibre who meets these requirements. Though Pissu-Sira was a clown his election did serve the fundamental requisite of the Common Candidate in 2015, viz. foiling a third Mahinda term and repealing 18A. A situation is emerging where a trustworthy liberal is better than another five more years of Goth malevolence. Since we are in the grip of an angry avalanche against Gota I argue again as I did in 2013-14 (people blame me for the Single-Issue common-Candidate strategy which actually served its primary objective) that all who are not a Double-Paksa supporters – and not a sectarian, opportunist or dreamer – should join this dialogue. Parliamentary elections, if not subverted, are different because parties of diverse ideologies and communities are free to try and maximise their representation. 

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Latest comments

  • 6
    3

    Dr. KD: Sri Lanka is in the Cross hairs of US China Hybrid Maritime Trade War.
    This is why burning 2 ships called the MV Pearl and MV Diamond came to Sri Lanka during the build up and signing of China Port City agreement to destroy the marine life and livelihood of the people of Lanka.
    2 burning ships with deadly cargo from Dubai where there is a Huge US military base?! The Jarapassa brothers are using the Covid-19 mask to lock down people so they won’t see the environmental disaster in the West coast of the island and protest against the failure of the Rajapassa INC to take action while the ship burned for 10 days.
    The President and PM and minister of Ports must be held accountable and forced to resign. This disaster will destroy livelihoods for years and is worse that Tsunami disaster in many ways.
    Selendiva Investments is the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), land grab project in another guise.
    The Rajapassa regime’s Foreign and Economic policy is Prostitution – selling the country to everyone – Port city to Chinese and prime lands in Colombo including Hyatt and Hilton and Foreign Ministry to the US -MCC project – this is what they call a balanced foreign policy!!

    • 3
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      Dear Dinuk,
      .
      The theories that you outline are sweet music to the ears of those of us who are sick of the Rajapaksas. “The wish is father to the thought” said Henry IV.
      .
      However, Dinuk you have gone to town so much with your conspiracy theories that I actually gave your comment a “Dislike”.
      .
      In our global village, I don’t think that any government would go so far as to ruin the World’s Environment. Not even Trump’s or Putin’s.
      .
      O course, idiot individuals may. I wouldn’t put it past Eagle Eye. If he could make a huge personal profit. No, I don’t think he did it, or “soma” despite his many years on the sea.
      .
      These were accidents, but the conditions that led to these disasters were created by the Rajapaksas. Also, however irksome, I support the lockdown. “Double-Paksas” should resign is correct, but they won’t, dear Dinuk.

      • 2
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        The magnitude of the tragedy of Lanka has got confirmed.
        .
        The time is 21.45: this is the most-read story on the BBC at this time.
        .
        https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-57327300
        .
        Obviously an especial tragedy for Lanka, but also a major tragedy for this world. Don’t we realise how fragile the world’s environment is?
        .
        We are aware of numerous stars, with countless planets revolving around them. It is only on our planet that we know of life forms of this complexity. Have we humans no shame about what we’re doing?
        .
        As for these Rajapaksas: I give up! I have no words to express my opprobrium.

    • 2
      1

      Dinuk.
      It’s more like damage the coastal environment and drive the people off the land so Chinese can start their building concerns.

  • 3
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    Professor David’s love for the NFF-JVP has no bounds. Does he not remember that it was only a few months back that JVP said that they will support the abolition of Provincial Councils? JVP’s opposition to Provincial Councils goes back to 1987. How many of Professor David’s NSSP comrades were killed by the JVP? One thought that the JVP has now changed its position and is supportive of devolution. But its recent statement in support of the abolition of PCs shows that they have not changed. Why does not Kumar David get the JVP to make a clear statement on devolution?

    • 2
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      JS
      There is something called selective amnesia– an asset for politicians but not so much for good scholars.

    • 2
      2

      What gibberish, Jayasiri Samarakoon.
      .
      Kumar has a clearer mind than most humans.
      .
      It is quite correct to say that the Provincial councils serve no purpose. When first mooted, there was this vague feeling that they would solve the huge race problems that we have. It is quite clear now that they do not represent a solution.
      .
      They merely lead to a proliferation of professional politicians.
      .
      We can’t get obsessed with “comrades” who were killed in the past. That doesn’t mean that we’re lacking in human feelings. It’s just that we don’t want to be controlled by what happened in the past.
      .
      We must concern ourselves with the future. .
      .
      What you say is analogous to SLPP fellows saying that we owe them votes out of “gratitude” for the ending of our unnecessary civil war.
      .
      Confession: I haven’t read what has been written above all that carefully. What for? Kumar is repeating ad nauseam because he’s come to realise that dolts like you have to be told something at least twenty times.

    • 3
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      Mr Jayasiri Samarakoon has aimed specific questions so I am obliged to respond tho I prefer not to intervene in the Comments section since now it’s the commentators turn. I have had mine in the article.
      “(KD’s) love for the NPP-JVP has no bounds”. Such an exaggerated remark defeats itself because its extremism renders it untrue.
      “How many of (my) comrades were killed by the JVP?” My rough count is about 7 or 8 NSSP comrades. Maybe 5 or 6 more if you include allies like Vijeya Kumaratunga.
      The JVP position on devolution is vacillating. During negotiations to draft the NPP programme Lal Wijenayage was able to push them quite far to accept a progressive stand. Not much further progress since then.
      “Why don’t (I) get the JVP to take a clear stand on devolution?” Wish I could; I am not in the JVP’s leadership councils. I am prepared to work with the JVP at the present time since that clearly the best possible alliance at this time. My firm and determined stand is that alliances are imperative at this conjuncture in our history.

      • 0
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        “The JVP position on devolution is vacillating.”
        In private conversation or public declarations?

  • 1
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    I think by 2024, everything will be done & dusted. Port City, an independent Chinese colony & the country deep in the debt trap to the point of no return, in fact, another Tibet (while the Port City, another Macau) There will be no credible opposition & the current lot will be re-elected with the blessings of China. Even if vote rigging (nothing new in SL) fails, Trump has proved that consistent fraud claims can keep the faithful in denial, even in face of defeat, & in the absence of a democracy, unlike in the US, the President will simply refuse to leave office.

    Anyway, I don’t think SL will have to go those extremes. The Rajapakses will have a landslide victory with the military clamping down hard on any uprising or protest. The opposition will be ‘cooperative’ so as not to be destructive to ‘progress’ ( (SP is known to suck up to the Rajapakses, so why not follow RW’s strategy of playing second fiddle in the opposition for ever).

    Won’t be surprised if Chinese will taught as the second language instead of English by then.

    • 3
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      R-UK
      Tibet was part of China ‘slightly before’ Scotland was part of UK.
      Macau was a Portuguese product, which China inherited as it did HK.
      Casino cities do not grow out of the air.
      Remember that the UNP too had plans for one.
      *
      As much as UK is still run on “Margaret Thatcher thought” and the US has not freed itself of “Trumpism”, the JRJ legacy will take long to undo.
      Everybody who succeeded JRJ improvised on his model. MR, and now GR, are no exceptions.
      *
      I do not think that the Sri Lankan electorate is any more daft that the British.
      If they can elect Boris J, are Americans any worse for electing Trump?
      *
      The reality is that Mahinda R is still popular, perhaps not as much as even in 2015 when he lost.
      But he is the single most popular leader. It is not my wish or choice, but reality.
      GR is not cut out to be political leader, and did not take long to demonstrate it.
      *
      You are drawing on Sinophobia to press your arguments.
      But extrapolation based on obsessive dislike cannot be objective.

    • 1
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      Raj-UK,
      .
      You’re a very good guy, but why don’t you respond to what I’ve told you so many times?
      .
      I said it here again:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/time-to-pull-down-politicians-from-their-pedestals/
      .
      We’re all to blame. Why don’t you study the situation with regard to the old alma mater? Kumar has. It is a mistake to imagine that what happens at macro-level doesn’t matter. Compounded by the feeling that we must not, as persons committed to egalitarianism, be obsessed with our relatively elitist institutions.
      .
      I’ve told you that my grand-daughters are now learning English as first language, and Chinese as second. Sinhalese and Tamil are both getting neglected. We would it were otherwise.

      • 2
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        Sinhala_Man
        Thank you for the compliment but I don’t see the relevance of the current state of the country & STC, & the response you expect from me. The time I was at STC was probably the lowest point in college history. Just to highlight the bad deal we received, we had seniors awaiting AL results teaching Maths & Chemistry in OL classes & a famous Physics teacher who was more interested in tuition classes & rushed through the syllabus without any practicals. Nevertheless, I am happy to be a Thomian because of the bond we share (despite a few undesirables who also ”went through those hallowed halls”) & the camaraderie but education wise, my poor parents were short changed. I was fortunate by the opportunity to come to UK to attend technical college & later, University, & my gratitude to those many teachers & lecturers for their dedication, advising & assisting me in my career path.
        An old uncle of mine didn’t trust JR because he was not a Thomian, as all male PMs till then, were. Wonder what he would think of Namal R as a future President? Then there is Vermin Silva’s son. I am not a snob but I wonder who influenced his admission to STC. Needless to say, college failed to reform the son of a punk thug, probably because its in their genes. Tradition & elitism are immaterial.

        • 0
          0

          This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

          For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

        • 0
          0

          Now, what did I do here?
          .
          I think that I merely thanked Raj-UK for understanding the current situation in the four schools.
          .
          But perhaps I’ve forgotten; our moderators I know are reasonable people.
          .
          However, let me reiterate, that problems will begin disappearing the moment we start respecting the Rules and Regulations that we ourselves have put in place.
          .
          Yesterday, I had a long forty-minute chat with Angela Seneviratne, one time Miss Sri Lanka, and the only woman on the EXCO of the Bandarawela OBA. Tried ringing the Secretary of the OBA. No response, but every day, they send us some silly SMS about voting for some fellow to be the school-boy cricketer among Grade Three schools. amidst this COVID!
          .
          These fellows are not interested in Education; they want their sons to be, in some strange way, elite – oh, and English using!
          .
          The irony, Paitha, is that only two fellows have ever sat A. Level English from the school – in 1981. Both passed, after being taught by me, the teacher in the local Maha Vidyalaya.
          .
          tbc.

  • 1
    0

    Is this SJ guy okay, comparing UK politics to SL and UK electorate to SL!?

    Is UK in worst situation since its people elected Boris J and people are struggling to make ends meet.

    SJ lives in his own narrow and imaginary world view, only he can understand it!

  • 0
    0

    I am convinced that Prof: Kumar David is an optimist par excellence. Fine.

    But, I am afraid he has left out a very important scenario:
    If the man who sits on the Throne could go on only till Nov:2024, what would be the scenario if he decides to traverse to infinity; After all, all his moves since Nov: 2019 suggest he too knows infinity like Ramanujam!

  • 1
    0

    Prof Kum’s dream, in simple terms is let no investors come in, repeal or make the PC Act virtually inoperative and finally get rid of NGR. Is Prof Kum telling us that the Chinese are a set of fools to dump money to make the Port City investment a dead loss? Let us assume that there is a regime change in 2024, as per the prized dream of Kum. If the performance of the PC is poor, just as much as the Yahapalana regime gave Hambantota Port on a lease nearing a century, the successive government (Which Prof Kum would put his heart and soul for its victory) would be inveigled to hand over the land to a Chinese controlled company. Don’t forget that the Chinese analysts advanced the same argument producing statistics of woeful performance of the Hambantota Port in support of the lease. Chinese will not care who is at the helm here. In answering the question “What Next?”, if you don’t make it a success you lose the land. Will China’s competitors in global politics like it? Naturally they, unlike Prof Kum may want the PC to be a success story for the global balance.

    • 2
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      GS
      Makes sense.
      But to say “Chinese will not care who is at the helm here” is an overstatement.
      They care but they know ways of dealing with even the most hostile regime. We saw that happen with the Good Governance regime which came to power with all guns blazing against Port City.
      *
      The author is in a severe anti-China mood shift after vehemently defending China over HK.
      Give him time: he changed his mind about the JVP without the JVP changing its mind on anything.

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