18 September, 2020

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Towards Nationhood !

By Ranil Senanayake

Ranil Senanayake

Ranil Senanayake

I am sure that I speak for many of us who took the promise of the Prime Minister that the ‘Port City’ project was to be scrapped. Now, it seems that it is been broken. This is a shock, I could understand the greedy and ignorant, willing to compromise our nationhood, but to witness our leaders submit cringingly to continue ‘good relations’ so soon after they had come to power was a blow, to my sense of national pride, are we a nation that has accountable and independent government. A nation that lives by enacting it’s laws fairly and ensuring transparency in international transactions. Or will be bullied to accept some secretive contract, because it is in the interests of some other nation ? If there was a ‘contract’, the nature of that contract must be made public. There must be a clear statement weather its action infringes on our national rights, its veracity must be also be established. Has the legality of putting our rocks and soil into our offshore sea and calling it ‘exported’ been proven to be valid?   All islands that suddenly appear, tectonic or volcanic belongs to the country within whose maritime boundaries that land has appeared. The Sandwip Island in Bangladesh, made relatively recently by the deposition of silt at the mouth of the Padma river is another example. The government must seek legal opinion as to the legal status of an island constructed entirely of national assets with our national boundaries. Until this is done, the credibility and the authority of the Prime Ministers office is at stake if the project is allowed to proceed.

Beyond the national boundary issue, there is the veracity of the EIA. This document has had very limited circulation. Should it not be given for public scrutiny, especially when the issue might hinge on national security. There are many issues to consider, but take three examples, water, power and effluent. The EIA should demonstrate the capacity in evaluating the risk factors for Sri Lanka. Take water, already we are living within a restricting watershed. The Rathupaswela incident should remind us that access to clean water is a life or death struggle. How much from our national aquifers will be diverted into this port city? This will create water scarcity at times of low flow and if there is prioritizing water between a rich urban client and a poor ‘native’ client. Diverting rivers to feed some misbegotten project or dream is to steal the water right to those who live within that watershed. If the purported solution is reverse osmosis, from desalinization plant, the question of energy comes in.

Mahinda ChinaDesalination plants much like whole building air conditioners demand a large supply of uninterrupted energy. Where will that come from? If poisonous coal fired power plants are seen as the source of energy to this city, where will they be built? Given the current levels of knowledge on the horrendous health effects of these plants, will the poor Sri Lanka be forced to breathe toxins and watch their children sicken, while, gleaming elevators zoom up and down in the city? I would like to see the EIA on which this project was accepted. I would like to see some public statements on its contents and not just treat the public, with the same dismissive attitude, that was done before.

Finally, it will be interesting to see how the EIA has dealt with the question of waste, especially toxic, electronic and industrial waste. Will Sri Lanka have to function as their garbage dump or will they send it to their point of origin? These are among some critical questions that have to be discussed at the national scale.

If this government is truly interested in the well being of a Sri Lankan nation, they must put such a critical decision as a referendum. Regaining national sovereignty is what my ancestors were about. We almost lost it and now hangs on some potty contract. Is the party about to give up what their founders gained, without consulting with the nation? I hope they will be responsible and act. But, if they continue to cowtow to the new economic masters, I suggest that they remove the images of my family from the party, as their struggle would have been betrayed!

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    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/

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    Right on, Ranil!

    It is imperative that “Good Governance” includes transparency, not to mention being watchful with regard to the ecological implications of dubious projects undertaken mostly for the benefit of the ‘implementors’ and their ‘special interest’ sponsors. Let’s save our country’s extremely delicate eco-systems for the benefit of our coming generations instead of pandering to the political shenanigans of politicians who have only their selfish interests at heart.

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    May I add to this discussion a letter I sent to several newspapers last Friday? The Island was good enough to carry it on Sunday but I would appeal to CR asist in its wider circulation.

    The New Port City

    I wish your newspaper had run an opinion column about this project. I believe it is such a serious matter that it should probably have been put to a referendum in the first place, after the plan was properly presented to the country.

    I am utterly dismayed that the new government after appearing to take a strong stand against the project while campaigning for our votes, has now decided, quite quickly, to go ahead with it. Surely they would have been aware of the Chinese “unhappiness” and the costs involved about our withdrawing from the project, while they were campaigning.

    They also campaigned on the basis of future transparency of government dealings. They must therefore give the country a very clear picture of what this port city is going to involve.

    I am strongly opposed to it, as I was to earlier attempts under previous governments to build on Galle Face Green (with the dubious promise of later reclaiming land to replace the green for the people of this country). I am opposed to it for at least two reasons.

    One, that it seems to be an infringement of national sovereignty, where we are handing over the possession of a large part of our coastal water/land to a major power in the region. And who knows what this could mean in the future if India and China become antagonistic to each other?

    My second reason is one that I have not seen expressed anywhere, not even by environmentalists whom I would have hoped were sensitive to this issue. I protest against the loss to the people of this country, and especially Colombo dwellers whose environment is being increasingly invaded in so many ways, of the very special view of the sea one has from Galle Face Green. We dont just look out to sea there but we have the sea to North, West and South of us and this has a very subtle spiritual (psychic?) effect on us. The whole sweep of the sea as we stand/walk on the edge of the Green is one of the great pleasures of “going to Galle Face”, even though we may not be conscious of it.

    It is the wrenching away from all of us of this very special experience that I wish to cry out against. I am angry that a few politicians, with other interests — in their pockets — and the possibility of flying regularly about the world where they savour the pleasures they are taking away from us, less privileged, more earthbound creatures — have worked up this scheme without consulting us, we who brought them to power to be our servants. And I am utterly disappointed that the new government only now (!)n realizes that it cannot undo what the previous one undertook. What are your promises worth?

    I ask the 100-day government to lay out for us the financial implications of withdrawing from this scheme, and I call upon the people of Colombo to think about what the loss of the view of northern coastal waters at Galle Face will mean to them?

    Is it too late for us to express opposition to this plan?

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      Where was all this opposition to this plan when the agreement was signed?

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    Your previous president gave us the harbor so why are you crying? He was your president not ours and he gave it to us on your behalf so that all of you will have jobs in the harbor. It is now our land and your new president and his , p pi, po, what do you say prime minister can go to hell. International agreements cannot be abrogated unilaterally – except with India.

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    Where was this man when the Rajapaksas were running hog wild. He has suddenly developed a coice after Rajapaksa was dumped. Another Senanayake singing a similar song to the one who has begun to look after the Goat’s baby elephants!

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      Ranil Senanayake:
      You have NEVER criticised the Jarapassas for what they were doing to this country. Your ivory-tower speeches did not put you at risk at all.
      Those of us who wrote and continue to have to write under pseudonyms were forced to do so because of very real risk to ourselves and our families. Can the privileged few like you make that claim?
      Senanayakes first, then the Bandaranayakes after and most reccently the Jarapassas.
      Please tell us what has changed in this country and what betterment we have had from the privileged families that have ruled us and what they have had to say?

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      Ranil Senanayake:
      There were two questions posed in my last post. Nearly 48 hours have elapsed since they were published. How about answers?

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    Answers to silly questions ? Sigh ! here goes ….

    Obviously you do not read much, or you would have seen that I have been criticizing the negative actions of ALL governments since 1978 based on science. While you have been sprouting subjective, vituperative aggression in the belief that such outbursts will make a change and to justify your hiding behind a pseudonym.

    So in answer to your first question :
    I do not know what a ‘privileged few’ means nor who my compatriots are supposed to be, but while many advised me to write under a pseudonym, as I was criticising the government, I chose to be public and let anyone challenge my intentions ! I can certainly defend both my words and actions !

    In answer to your second question :
    Again I do not know what the other families said but I can quote D.S. Senanayake with pride, when he stated that “ The performance of my, or any government has to be judged by the larder of the poorest of its home “. The changes that he wanted for this nation with this vision, was apparently not what you wanted.

    I suppose all there is to do now is to suggest you use your own pseudonym on yourself !

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