10 July, 2020

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Sri Lanka Faces Crucial Tests Ahead With Growing Opposition To ETCA

By W.A Wijewardena

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

Management of Economic Policy – Part I

Linking Sri Lanka to the global market

The proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement or ETCA has been one of the crucial economic reforms which the Government is planning to introduce, according to the Government, to deliver the promised prosperity to Sri Lankans.

It had not been specifically mentioned as a policy by name in the manifesto which the ruling United National Party had presented to the electorate in August 2015 coaxing voters to vote it to power. However, the ETCA can be considered as one of the programs under the main economic strategy outlined in the manifesto to deliver prosperity to people. That main economic strategy consists of linking Sri Lanka to the global economy and to do so, making Sri Lanka globally competitive.

Produce for a market that is bigger than that of Sri Lanka

What was meant by linking Sri Lanka to the global economy was further elaborated by the Prime Minister in his economic policy statement delivered in Parliament in November 2015. He said that Sri Lanka should produce for a “market bigger than the domestic market” indicating that Sri Lanka’s markets should be ‘enlarged’.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

To attain that target, he proposed to enter into trade agreements with “India and China”. The reason for singling out these two countries for having bilateral trade relationships has been due to their fast economic growth accompanied by an equally fattening middle class with an appetite for Sri Lanka’s products.

Further, by regaining GSP+ concessions, he expressed the hope of entering the European markets as well. He had also opined that Sri Lanka should look into the possibility of partnering with Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, commonly known as TPPA, signed by the Pacific-rim countries recently. That agreement has enabled countries like Vietnam to get extra benefits for its garment exports, a competitor for Sri Lanka’s threatened garment industry. Partnering with TPPA is to open up all the Pacific-rim countries for Sri Lanka’s international trade.

Hence, ETCA is only one item on the long list of bilateral trade agreements which Sri Lanka is planning to sign in the period to come.

Fear of Indian professionals flooding Sri Lanka’s job markets

ETCA has received wide condemnation of and protest by local professional bodies, especially those representing the engineering, medical, accounting and legal fields. Their charge is that it is a gross sell-out of Sri Lanka to India.

The fear expressed by these professional bodies is that the ETCA will enable Indians to flood the local professional markets. Such an inflow of India professionals, it is claimed, would threaten the jobs of those who are currently employed and deny job opportunities to those yet to be born.

However, the real fear which is not spoken of in public is something else. That is the fear of facing competition and the fear of losing the current income levels. This is specifically a serious problem in the case of accountants, lawyers and engineers who are in excess supply in the local market today. If Indians come to the local professional markets, their income levels would be driven down pretty fast. This fear is understandable because it is these professional competencies which have promised the local youth to help climb the social ladder – known as social mobility – and enjoy the fruits of their sacrifice of time, money and energy in acquiring those competencies.

Hence, naturally, they would have objections to the ETCA if they fear that it will shatter their dreams.

Strange information silence on the ETCA by the Government

Though the ETCA has become a crucial issue in economic policymaking in Sri Lanka today, local economists have chosen to keep mum on it. The reason would have been the total ‘information silence’ which the Government has maintained about the issue.

Except for the announcements made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe from time to time, there has not been any attempt by the Government to keep the public educated about the issue. Hence, both those who support these types of trade agreements and those who are opposed to them have been kept in the dark by the Government.

The website of the Department of Commerce is totally silent on ETCA. There has not been a website or at least a Facebook page for the two leading ministries concerned, namely, the Ministry of National Policy Planning and Economic Affairs under the Prime Minister or the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade under Minister Malik Samarawickrama.

In this background of total information silence by the Government, it is not strange for local economists too to keep silent on the issue. The only exception has been Rohan Samarajiva, who has written a few articles in Sinhala to the local website Yukthiya (www.yukthiya.lk). Even Samarajiva has discussed the issue in general terms without referring to specific provisions in the proposed agreement relating to the ETCA.

Against this backdrop of Government inactivity, it is heartening to see that the Government Medical Officers Association or GMOA, a critic of the ETCA, has developed a rich webpage on the ETCA accessible through its main website (available here ).

The distinguishing feature of this webpage is that it has posted all the information relating to the ETCA, both supporting and critical, so that readers can make their own judgment on the issue after perusing all the postings.

It is ironic that when the Government has maintained total silence on the ETCA issue, the first draft of the agreement prepared by Sri Lanka’s negotiating team for submission to its counterparts in India and updated up to 12.01.2016 has been published by the GMOA on its webpage (available here ).

This is a professional approach to an issue since it gives options to readers. It appears that the Government, in its communication strategy, has to learn a lesson or two from one of its severe critics, namely, the GMOA.

UPM demanding the right to participate in economic policymaking

The ETCA has been such a burning issue for Sri Lankan professionals that it has brought 11 professional bodies under a single umbrella called the United Professionals’ Movement or UPM against ETCA, according to the GMOA webpage. That includes all known professions in Sri Lanka, namely, government medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, management accountants, statisticians, computer experts, architects, personnel managers plus the umbrella outfit called the Organisation of Professional Associations or OPA.

Though the UPM has taken to the streets against the ETCA, its objectives have not been to fight against the ETCA per se. As pronounced in the webpage under reference, it seeks to establish good economic policy governance in Sri Lanka specifically in three areas, which are also the main ingredients of the good governance package being promoted by the present Government. Hence, as far as the objectives are concerned, there cannot be any objection to the UPM from the Government’s side.

The three key principles which the UPM is agitating for establishing in Sri Lanka are the following: getting professionals involved in the policy development processes relating to international trade agreements, formulating house rules, regulations and policies for all professions in Sri Lanka and forcing the Government to make Indo-Sri Lanka cooperation agreements public.

In other words, what it demands from the Government is not to leave such vital trade agreements entirely in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians and maintain transparency in what the Government does in this area by ending the strange information silence which it practises at present.

These objectives set by the country’s established professional organisations call for the establishment of a regular and continuous consultation process in economic policymaking.

Economic consultation is a must today

Such a consultative process is a must in terms of the good economic policy governance necessary for ensuring the success of policies. It not only gives an opportunity for policymakers to get diverse views from a wider segment of society but also helps them to assign ‘policy ownership’ back to society.

This would not have been necessary or relevant 50 years ago when societies were not concerned about good governance principles, transparency, disclosure policies and right of the people to information.

For instance, the Mahaweli Project that required inputs from a diverse assembly of experts was accelerated by the Government in early 1980s without such wide consultation. As such, the physical engineering of the project was a success, but the human and economic engineering involving the settlement of farmer families, improving their knowledge base and connecting them to markets locally as well as globally has failed. In the recent past, the development of the mega infrastructure projects such as the Hambantota Harbour and Mattala Airport were engineering marvels; but since the due consultative process was not pursued by the previous government in this connection, they have become economic failures imposing enormous costs on the current and future taxpayers.

Once views are known, abandon or modify policy

This issue was addressed by this writer in a previous article in this series under the title ‘Delivering economic democracy will lead to controversy unless it is defined properly’.

This is what this writer said in the article under reference relating to the need for continuous consultation on policies: “This calls for introducing suitable mechanisms to have wide consultations on economic policies that are being implemented by the Government. That applies to micro-level policies as well as to macro-level policies. In the case of micro-level policies, people who have a stake in that policy should necessarily be given an opportunity to express their views on the policy. Once these views are known, the policy could be abandoned completely if there is wide public opposition to it or implement it with suitable modification having taken the public views into consideration. At macro-level, even the monetary policy being implemented by the Central Bank should come under this public scrutiny. In the present circumstances, the Central Bank implements its policies ex parte without giving a chance for people who are affected by its policies to express their views on them”.

Having recognised the practical difficulty in introducing such a consultative process, the article under reference recommended the need for empowering civil society organisations as follows: “But one difficulty that may be encountered in a wide public consultation is the diversity of views of people and their ability to make a logical evaluation of Government’s economic policies. It will also be costly and time consuming to have a wide public consultation. To overcome these problems, two mechanisms could be suggested. One is to allow civic society organisations to represent the public. The other is to use the social media to gauge the views of the public on the policies being proposed. When the internet penetration becomes universal in the country, it will not be difficult to seek the views of the people on economic policies through social media.”

The UPM is such an organised civil society organisation and the Government should not ignore its cry for being consulted in policymaking.

Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement

The ETCA has been the natural evolution of the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement or ILFTA, signed in 1998 and implemented from 2000. The ILFTA has promoted bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and India, despite the claims of the critics to the contrary.

Under the ILFTA, the trade of visible goods between India and Sri Lanka was to be promoted taking advantage of the specialities which each country had in different lines of production. For instance, India has the advantage in producing drugs and machinery and so Indian producers could sell their products to Sri Lankans at reduced duty rates offered by the Sri Lanka Government.

Similarly, Sri Lanka could sell in the Indian market, say, spices and garments in which Sri Lanka had speciality in production again at reduced duty rates offered by the Indian Government.

Growth of trade with India under ILFTA

The track record of the ILFTA shows that the two countries have indeed made satisfactory progress toward the realisation of both these objectives. In 1999, Sri Lanka’s total trade with India consisting of imports from and exports to India amounted to $ 545 million. This trade volume shot up by more than four times to $ 2401 million in 2005 and, even in the gloomy foreign trade scenario that prevailed after 2008, the total trade amounted to $ 2,142 million in 2009. In 2014, it was $ 4,648 million.

Trade gap with India has narrowed

The narrowing of the trade gap between Sri Lanka and India was much more prominent during this period. In 1999, when Sri Lanka exported one unit to India, it had to import 11 units from India.

By 2014, this ratio fell nearly by half enabling Sri Lanka to export one export unit to India and restricting imports from that country only to six import units, still much better than what it was in 1999.

The critics have used the growth in the trade deficit with India in absolute terms over these years to belittle its significance. But they have ignored the fact that during this period, the total trade of Sri Lanka has grown significantly along with the country’s increase in the total economic output. As such, India was a negligible trade partner in 1999. But in 2014, India was number one source of imports for Sri Lanka and number three export destination followed by the US and the UK.

Trade surpluses with all countries are not the objective of trade

The critics of the ILFTA appear to be under the belief that Sri Lanka should necessarily have a trade surplus with all the countries with which it conducts international trade. This need not be the case. Trade surpluses occur with any particular country or a region depending on the type of goods which Sri Lanka exports and imports.

For instance, Sri Lanka has huge trade surpluses with the US, the UK and the EU. This is because Sri Lanka exports much of its garment and textile products to these three regions. But conversely, Sri Lanka has high trade deficits with India, China and Japan because it meets most of its industrial product needs from these three countries. Thus, the objective of international trade should be to promote trade among countries.

Accordingly, aspiring to have trade surpluses with all the countries in the world should not be the objective of international trade.

CEPA was the natural evolution of the ILFTA

The success story relating to the ILFTA led both Sri Lanka and India to explore the possibility of having a wider international trade relationship between the two countries. This led both countries to get together and propose a comprehensive economic partnership agreement or CEPA in 2004.

The Rajapaksa Government that came into power in 2005 decided to shelve CEPA without looking at the beneficial effects which it promised to bring in. ETCA is a modified form of CEPA that had been abandoned by the Sri Lanka Government a long time ago.

The criticisms levelled against both CEPA and the ETCA need be closely evaluated weighing evidence for and against them carefully. That would be the subject matter of the next few articles in this series.

*W.A Wijewardena, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, can be reached at waw1949@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 4
    0

    The problem is the government is keeping an information silence on this. I don’t think that nobody is completely against these agreements but there needs to be checks put in place under these agreements to make sure the it doesn’t not impact the local labour market. An example would be Singapore where a foreign national has a minimum salary requirement of 4500 Singapore Dollars in the IT sector and it needs to be proven there is no local person that can be hired for that Job. There doesn’t seems to be any terms like that in ECTA and the total media blackout of this is not helping either.

    • 3
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      Wije

      As you say the fear of facing competition and the fear of losing the current income levels is the issue faced by local professionals This is specifically a serious problem not only in the case of accountants, lawyers and engineers who are in excess supply in the local market today but also the doctors.

      All these guys will have to compete for work for the first time.

      Our doctors for instance have never faced competition. Look at them from the time they enter medical college.

      1 free education to pass out as a MBBS.
      2 internship guaranteed in a govt hospital
      3 job assured in a govt hospital.
      4 free staff quarters if posted out stations.
      5 free car permit every 5 years
      6 free education overseas for specialisation
      7 unlimited private practice before 8 am and after 4 pm.

      They don’t know what competition is?????

      The doctors will fight against trade liberalization at every corner even though it is best for the country.

      Hope yahapalanaya govt has the courage to implement trade agreements with all our neighbors.

  • 5
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    Indian news reports say 80% of the indian engineers are unemployed. They migrate to west and do security guard jobs. Sri Lanka wants to sign an economic ccorporation agreement with india and Screw up Sri lankan job market.

    • 2
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      That doesn’t become true just because “you said it.” Can we have the source of your amazing statistic?

  • 2
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    W.A Wijewardena

    RE: Sri Lanka Faces Crucial Tests Ahead With Growing Opposition To ETCA

    RE: Linking Sri Lanka to the global market

    “The proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement or ETCA has been one of the crucial economic reforms which the Government is planning to introduce, according to the Government, to deliver the promised prosperity to Sri Lankans.”

    In Today’s global market, there is no choice. Otherwise, Sri lanka will be a 4th World Country like many African countries.

    Does Sri Lanka posses sufficient trained personnel, give the average IQ of 79 and the current education system? What about the GMAt Scores another measure of the Graduates from the different countries.

    National IQ Scores – Country Rankings

    http://www.photius.com/rankings/national_iq_scores_country_ranks.html

    Countries with the highest (and lowest) average GMAT scores

    http://blog.prep4gmat.com/countries-with-the-highest-and-lowest-average-gmat-scores/

    Last year, the GMAT was administered in over 180 countries. The Graduate Management Admissions Committee has carefully recorded the number of people that have taken the GMAT in each country, as well as the mean score for test-takers in that country.

    In the 2012-2013 testing year, the GMAC administered over 90,000 tests in the United States. China took second place with 53,000 and India was in a distant third with 25,000.

    http://blog.prep4gmat.com/countries-with-the-highest-and-lowest-average-gmat-scores/

    The 10 highest mean GMAT scores:

    1. New Zealand (608)

    2. Singapore (605)

    3. Argentina (591) (tie)

    3. Belgium (591) (tie)

    5. United Kingdom (590) (tie)

    5. Australia (590) (tie)

    5. Austria (590) (tie)

    8. Uruguay (587)

    9. China (582)

    10. South Korea (581)

    Note that only New Zealand and Singapore had scores above 600. Meanwhile, the U.S. was ranked 53rd with an average score of 532.

    The top ten is relatively well distributed geographically, with 3 Asian countries, 2 South American countries, 3 European countries, and 2 Oceanic countries. The highest scoring African country was Morocco, with 505. In North America, Canada took the top spot with a score of 565.

    Notice that the majority of the top countries are dominated by a language other than English.

    The 10 lowest GMAT scores:

    1. Afghanistan (307)

    2. Saudi Arabia (311)

    3. Democratic Republic of the Congo (312)

    4. Liberia (314)

    5. Cambodia (338)

    6. Sierra Leone (341)

    7. Kuwait (344)

    8. Namibia (347)

    9. Antigua and Barbuda (353)

    10. Mauritania (354)

    Of course, of among the bottom 10 countries, only two (Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) has more than 100 students taking the GMAT every year. Though Afghanistan had the dubious honor of the lowest mean score for the 2012-2013 testing year, the mean GMAT score for Afghanistan in 2011-2012 was 382.

    Of the other Countries in Between

    Australia 590
    China 582
    India 577
    Canada 565
    Russia 553
    Turkey 550
    Japan 542
    US 532
    Iran, Islamic Republic 520
    Indonesia 509

    Sri Lanka 477
    Ageria 471
    Egypt 463
    Madagaskar 468
    Sudan 435
    Ethiopia 427
    Nigeria 418

    Saudi Arabia 311
    See What Iblis, Satan Following Wahhabism does to its Citizens. It makes them stupid, Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi Population is 25%

    Of course, when it’s your turn to take the GMAT, your preparation will matter far more than your passport.

    So, Sri Lanka’s economic preparation will matter most, up to a point.

    • 1
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      Dear Amaray…!

      Your obsession with IQ is ridiculous. I see that you have to link IQ for all your comments irrelevant of the subject matter concerned. However, have you ever wondered if IQ test results truly endorses a person’s intelligence or ability? I think that the researches suggest otherwise. In many instances IQ tests aren’t even reliable. refer the link below

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/iq-tests-are-fundamentally-flawed-and-using-them-alone-to-measure-intelligence-is-a-fallacy-study-8425911.html

      What I see is that, emotional intelligence (EQ) is far more important than IQ and EQ has more than 70% weighting on a persons performance in personal and professional life. People with high EQ develop a great personalities and that’s what is important to develop a more cohesive and a civilised society away from arrogance, prejudices and racism.

      http://www.mindset-habits.com/emotional-intelligence/

      And your prejudice Saudi’s is ridiculous. I guess you are no way near to understand the true Islam.

      • 1
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        Rizy

        “What I see is that, emotional intelligence (EQ) is far more important than IQ and EQ has more than 70% weighting on a persons performance in personal and professional life’

        1.) Agree, it is not one-measure. Multiple factors are in play for a person and a nation. Ther nation comprises people, and affects the nation.

        IQ and the Wealth of Nations

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ_and_the_Wealth_of_Nations

        IQ and the Wealth of Nations is a 2002 book by Richard Lynn, Professor of Psychology, and Tatu Vanhanen, Professor of Political Science. The authors argue that differences in national income (in the form of per capita gross domestic product) are correlated with differences in the average national intelligence quotient (IQ). They further argue that differences in average national IQs constitute one important factor, but not the only one, contributing to differences in national wealth and rates of economic growth. Critical responses have included questioning of the methodology and of the incompleteness of the data, as well as of the conclusions.The 2006 book IQ and Global Inequality is a follow-up to IQ and the Wealth of Nations by the same authors.

        2. “And your prejudice Saudi’s is ridiculous. I guess you are no way near to understand the true Islam.”

        This is not an Islam Issue. This is a Wahhabi Education Issue.

        It is not Saudis as such. It is the Wahhabism, that has misled the Saudis and its people. with 25%, Wahhabies and clones, and produce graduates whose GMAT scores are 311.

        Now Compare the other Islamic Countries with almost 99% Muslims, and 0% Wahhabies and their clones.

        COUNTRY GMAT SCORE % Wahhabies

        Saudi Arabia 311 25%
        (99% Muslim)

        Turkey 550 0% or <1%
        (99% Muslim)

        Iran, Islamic Republic 520 0% or <1%
        (99% Muslim)

        Indonesia 509 0% or <1%
        (90% Muslim)

        Morrocco 505 0% or <1%
        (99% Muslim)

        Sri Lanka 477 0% or <1%
        (9% Muslim)

        Why does Wahhabism affect critical thinking skills?

        Because the students are brainwashed to memorize the Quran and Hadith all day long with very little room for other subjects including critical thinking and other skills. So, the Wahhabi graduates are "Educated" but lacking critical thinking skills, as indicated by the GMAT scores.

        What does GMAT exam measure?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graduate_Management_Admission_Test

        The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT (/ˈdʒiːmæt/ (jee-mat))) is a computer adaptive test (CAT) intended to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to a graduate management program, such as an MBA.

        The GMAT does not measure business knowledge or skill, nor does it measure intelligence. According to the test owning company, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the GMAT assesses analytical writing and problem-solving abilities, while also addressing data sufficiency, logic, and critical reasoning skills that it believes to be vital to real-world business and management success. On June 5, 2012, GMAC introduced an integrated reasoning section to the exam that is designed to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate data presented in new formats and multiple sources.

        GMAT is a registered trademark of the Graduate Management Admission Council. More than 5,900 programs offered by more than 2,100 universities and institutions use the GMAT exam as part of the selection criteria for their programs. Business schools use the test as a criterion for admission into a wide range of graduate management programs, including MBA, Master of Accountancy, and Master of Finance programs. The GMAT exam is administered in standardized test centers in 112 countries around the world. According to a survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, the GMAT is still the number one choice for MBA aspirants despite the increasing acceptability of GRE scores. According to GMAC, it has continually performed validity studies to statistically verify that the exam predicts success in business school programs.

        3. )How do you convert your GMAT score to an IQ score?

        The test population for the GMAT is very different to the general population as you must have a degree and be applying for an MBA before you can sit the test. As a result a score in say the top 2% in the GMAT should be much higher than the top 2% in a standard IQ test. But what is the conversion formula?

        How to estimate your IQ based on your GRE or SAT scores
        New and improved method to estimate your IQ based on your GRE scores:

        http://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/greiq.aspx

      • 1
        1

        Rizy

        “And your prejudice Saudi’s is ridiculous. I guess you are no way near to understand the true Islam.”

        Q. Why does Wahhabism decrease GMAT scores?

        Let’s see how the Saudis and the Kuwaitis understand True Islam.

        Identifying the problem is 95% of the Solution.

        MEMRI: Arabs Have Nothing to Offer Others

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fWQ6WyAw-c

        Read Kuwaiti Columnist:

        State Schools In Arab Countries Should Abolish Religious Studies

        Kuwaiti liberal and secular activist Dr. Ibtihal Al-Khatib, whose bold views have frequently drawn fire from both Sunnis and Shi’ites in the Arab world,[1] advocated, in a November 30, 2015 article, to abolishing religion studies in schools and to replace them with lessons on the history of religion or on ethics and human rights.

        Al-Khatib, a lecturer at Kuwait University and a columnist for the daily Al-Jarida, argued that the state has no right to impose the religion of a particular stream or sect on students from diverse backgrounds, and therefore proposed to confine religious studies to elective frameworks such as afternoon or weekend classes, so that parents who wish to can enroll their children in a religion class of their choosing. Al-Khatib also criticized the teaching methods prevalent in Arab and Muslim societies, which, she said, are based on rote learning, ambiguity and the reinforcement of taboos rather than on fostering creative thinking. She argued that this is the root of the problems in the Arab and Muslim world, in particular the internal schism, racism and extremism.

        It should be noted that 10 days prior to the appearance of this article, Al-Khatib made similar comments on Dr. Sulaiman Al-Hattlan’s[2] show “Hadith Al-‘Arab” on Sky News Arabia, provoking many angry responses on social media.

        Below are translated excerpts from Al-Khatib’s column:[3]

        Curriculum Reform Will Not Help; All Religious Material Should Be Abolished “I believe that nearly all our problems derive from the study methods and the quality of teaching to which our young children are exposed. I’m aware that this statement [seems] very simplistic and superficial, but in most cases the simplest and clearest [observations] in our lives are the most accurate.

        “Our children grow up without much focus on critical thinking, because our curricula are based on rote learning rather than persuasion. They grow up relying almost exclusively on quoting and copying… because creativity and diligence are not part of the material or study method. They grow up evading many questions, resorting to ambiguity and avoiding many scientific and philosophical subjects, because the curricula surrounds [the students] with thousands of red lines, hobbles them with thousands of prohibitions and chains them with thousands of taboos.

        “Many writers, myself included, have advocated amending the curricula, but I am not convinced that this will be enough to generate sufficient change. I called for such reform out of a belief that it was the minimum that had to be done, and might perhaps save what could [still] be saved and minimize the expressions of racism and extremism… [But] in my opinion, the real truth is that no modification [of the curriculum] will eradicate sectarianism or heal the [social] schism – for as long as the official curriculum presents religious material [from the perspective] of a particular school or sect, the schism will remain, and the rift and disagreement will be carved in stone, with the government’s official blessing.”

        We Must ‘See Ourselves As We Really Are, Or Else Perish While Playing The Role Of Victim To An Empty Theater’ “When I noted, in an interview with Dr. Sulaiman Al-Hattlan, that the real solution is to abolish all religious materials, of any kind, in state schools, I received a harsh but expected response, which derives from the victim mentality that Muslims employ against anybody who disputes their opinion or criticizes them.

        [They see] any criticism as a plot against Muslims, any raising of questions as a plan to destroy the religion, and any innovative suggestion as Westernization intended to destroy the foundations of faith. Why? Perhaps this is due to the harsh historical conditions and to the restrictions that currently prevail, or to the nature of the Arab-Islamic mentality, or to external political [influences], or to internal regional disputes.

        [And] perhaps all these factors together, or several of them, feed this perpetual sense of discrimination and prompt Arabs and Muslims to play this tedious role [of victim], [which they] embody so well that they [end up] believing in it wholeheartedly. However, the world, and we ourselves, have grown sick of this endless role [of victim], which no longer elicits any sympathy or tears. So either we [start] seeing ourselves as we really are, or perish while continuing to play the role of victim to a theater without an audience.

        “Yes, the solution is to abolish religion classes in schools during the morning and replace them with lessons on the history of religions, so students come to know the world’s diverse faiths, or else with lessons on human rights and ethics. This, providing that the state allows religious schools to offer afternoon or weekend classes, like the Sunday schools [operated] by the church, for those wishing to teach their children religion according to their [particular] sect and faith. Everyone has the right to provide his children with a religious education in a state-run school, but the state has no right to impose on all its citizens and residents… a single religious path from the perspective of one sect and one stream. The state should insist on equality for all in all the services it provides.

        “I do not see how this proposal could [possibly] be regarded as an anti-religious plot, but, knowing the self-pitying Arab Islamic mentality, we understand why there are people who think that if you say ‘good morning’ instead of ‘al-salaam alaikum’ you are a Westernized [Muslim] plotting anti-religious schemes. This is how we always are, deliberately miserable.”

        Endnotes:

        [1] See for example MEMRI clip No. 1720, Kuwaiti Columnist Ibtihal Al-Khatib Criticizes Hizbullah and Declares: A Secular State Is the Only Way to Protect Religious Rights in the Arab World, of a March 14, 2008 interview with Al-Khatib, following which she received death threats. On November 7, 2015, it was reported that Al-Khatib had said that coeducation was preferable to segregated schools because it produced better results, developed the students’ personalities and made them more confident in relations with the opposite sex. Abohamdan.com, December 7, 2015.

        [2] Dr. Sulaiman Al-Hattlan is a writer and Saudi media personality, and the former editor-in-chief of the American business magazine Forbes Arabia.

        [3] Al-Jarida (Kuwait), November 30, 2015.

        http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/8986.htm

        http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1720.htm

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          Dear Amaray…!

          There’s no such thing called Wahabism in reality. Wahabism is a name invented by Sufis and grave worshipers to refute the call of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhaab to follow the true teaching of Quran and Sunna the way Prophet(pbuh) and his companions were practicing Islam. since the leaders of those Sufis and grave worshipers could not provide any basis for their mislead religious practices from Quran and Sunna, they invented the brand of Wahabism so as to avoid ordinary people from listening to the message of haykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhaab.

          Everyone who has any knowledge of the movement of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhaab and his message knows that he sought to spread the message of pure Tawheed and to warn against shirk in all its forms, such as attachment to the dead, or to trees and rocks, etc. In his ‘aqeedah (belief), he was following the way of the righteous Salaf and the Taabi’een [i.e., the earliest generations of Islam], as is indicated by his books and fatwas. His message was in accordance with the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger (pbuh). Wahhaabism is not a new way or a new school of thought; rather it is a call to Tawheed and the revival of aspects of the religion that had been forgotten. Applying the word “Wahhaabis” to those who adhere to correct belief and warning people against them is the way of the ignorant and biased.

          Practicing islam is not the reason for having low IQ in Soudi or anywhere else in the world. In fact most of Saudis and people in GCC have lead a tribal nomadic life for centuries. until the mid of 20th century they haven’t even heard of the concept of going to school. so you cannot expect such people to perform better on GMAT(?) test all of a sudden and compete with rest of the world. And not having better results on GMAT doesn’t mean thy fools either.

          Practicing Islams as it should be, got nothing to with people’s foolishness as you claim.

          Cheers……!

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            Dear Rizy

            “There’s no such thing called Wahabism in reality. Wahabism is a name invented by Sufis and grave worshipers to refute the call of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhaab to follow the true teaching of Quran and Sunna the way Prophet(pbuh) and his companions were practicing Islam.”

            That is your brainwashed Opinion. GMAT Scores of Saudis show that you are incorrect because Allah, swt, is not on the Side of the Wahhabies, Salafies and their Clones.

            For alternate Opinions, see below in the link.

            Countering Wahabism – Part II

            https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/countering-wahabism-part-ii/

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            Rizy

            “Practicing islam is not the reason for having low IQ in Soudi or anywhere else in the world. “

            Yes. The Data from Turkey, Iran, Morroco, and Indonesia Show that iy is Not Islam, but the education system of the Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.

            But they are NOT Wahhabi or Salafis. Their education systems teaches in addition to Islam, other subjects that will allow them to think, reason and make critical conclusions.

            Look at GMAT scores for Madagaskar 468 Sudan 435 Ethiopia 427 Nigeria 418, Make them Wahhabi/Salafi, and see their GMAT Scores drop.

            al-azhar cleric about wahabis/salafis

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAvWmZfGjTU

            “pure Tawheed and to warn against shirk in all its forms, such as attachment to the dead, or to trees and rocks, etc.”

            Is the Pre-Islamic practice of Circumambulations, 7 times, around a building containing Idols or a rock, Idol Worship?

            Why only 5 days during Haj? Pre-Islamic Idol Worship practice?

            What about throwing stones at the Satan, Iblis? Is that Idol Worship, or Idol hatred?

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    Ha! Democracy seems to be a strange concept for us. Did Mahinda Rajapaksa ask anyone before sending Basil to talk to other countries for discussions, or even before signing off any agreements? I won’t be surprised if there is any agreement at the bottom of the vault, in which Rajapaksas signed off parts of the country for 100 years.

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    2

    Thanks for updating on these economic issues.. Department of Commerce website is NOT silent on these issues, they don’t update it or have no knowhow. .. Home page has job vacancy stating closing date as Sep-2014, country trade statistics is just a link to Excel sheet, but it is zero bytes. :-( .. Do we need Indians to maintain our Gov websites?
    Anyway, there are other sources to confirm Dr. Wijewardane’s data and analysis. US buys 24% of our total exports, EU &UK buy anther 20%, after that India is largest, they buys 6% of our products.. our Rajapakse clan and SL greatest friend China buys less than 1%…
    But for some mysterious reason, SL people, mainly SB, dislike India and Indians in general.. “Appoi Indian Karoyo, Mata Pennana Baha”… I think this is the reason for public and media protest against ETCA (or CEPA before). It is not through their economic knowledge, but general dislike, jealousy (some unknown reason) towards India …
    My conspiracy theory…. Christian world still show some dislike towards Jews for rejecting Jesus.. Similarly, Indians preferred Krishna and his Bagawad Gita instead of Buddha and his Pali Canon. Could this be the reason for generalize hatred or dislike towards our ancestral India?

  • 5
    4

    Batalanda Ranil sent Yahapalana CID to interrogate the President and Secretary of the GMOA .

    Why?..Because there was a printing mistake in one the GMOA publications issued in 2012.

    It must be one hell of a mistake .. Right

    Or is it to silence the GMOA, so that Batalanada Ranil’s mates with the dosh can buy MBBS along side his Health Minister Rajith’s Daughter in Law?.

    And allow the mediocre Indian Doctors to come over to Srilanka in large numbers under the ECTA and castrate the GMOA.

    But what worries me most is the hidden agenda of Batalanada Ranil and his Health Minister Rajitha..

    The great majority of this GMOA members are Sinhala Buddhists who got their MBBS purely om Merit and not Money..

    Is Batalanada Ranil on a Mission to eliminate even Medical Doctors of Buddhist Sinha Le, alongside their Sinha Le Monks who do not belong to the Malwatta Chapter?.

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    Where was this level of protest when the MR government signed untold numbers of construction agreements with China, which resulted in hordes of Chinese prison gangs coming to provide free labour here (anyone who saw the labour camp in Kalpitiya would know what I am talking about) reducing opportunities for local construction workers to develop? The only result seems to be largely white-elephant projects that have indebted the country for generations to come. A trade in services (which is what ETCA is about) is different to wholesale trade in production, which is what was happening with the Chinese agreements. The difference is that there was little media freedom to protest these earlier. The arrogance of the RW government will result in their downfall as they clearly don’t understand the impact of the media and the misinformed in fooling the gullible general public.

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    Wije , I wish you Long dark days & nights.
    You write such utter nonsense that it hard to believe you managed to get up to bring a Deuty Governor.
    I know you wanted the Governors post, but you were never going to it.
    And tell people that the job was offered to YoY, bullshit.
    You are twit.
    Why don’t you just take a break from writing the ridiculous articles you do & enjoy the departure lounge

  • 0
    0

    An important agreement like this MUST be made public and should be taken to a referendum. WE are talking about the future economy of the country. It should not be decided by one single person, namely Ranil and simply approved by his ministers. An appropriate independent committee consisting of expert from ALL fields should be appointed to study this agreement before signing.

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    It was reported recently in India that an office peon post in some where in the north attracted three Ph.D holder among the millions of lesser qualified people. So once this agreement is signed where do you think these people will apply for jobs! Just imagine the cost of processing all those applications. There definitely is going to be a flood in the labour market. This should never be signed or studied well and all clauses that have a negative impact to SL dropped.

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