16 May, 2022

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War Of Attrition Will Ruin Both The Government & Country

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is changing his mind by the day it seems, but the bottom line is that he is refusing to quit. It appears that the orientation of the government leadership is to seek victory in a war of attrition in which the casualties will be the people of the country. They seem to be hoping the protests will diminish over time and they can go back to business as usual. The evidence on the ground, however, is otherwise. The one-day token general strike saw an estimated one thousand trade unions go on strike. Even government departments were not functioning. The public protests are expanding throughout the country, even if the numbers at Galle Face are lower than they were at the start of the protest campaign. There are messages circulating on social media that the next general strike will be on May 6 and accompanied by a hartal, or total closure of shops and shut down of transport and commercial life in general.

The government leadership needs to end this senseless war of attrition by acting according to the higher traditions of democracy. They need to be forthright in accepting responsibility for the disaster that has befallen the country under their watch. They can either step down or, in the alternative, agree on a roadmap where they would lead the process of reform according to a strict time frame. The first two steps, in this regard, would be the appointment of a new prime minister, acceptable to the opposition in Parliament and the repeal of the 20th Amendment that gives super powers to the President at the expense of Parliament. The final step in this sequence that would ensure the exit of the present government leadership would be the abolition of the executive presidency.

A change of government leadership will induce more international assistance for the country. The peaceful nature of the protests in Sri Lanka as much as the role of youth in them have captured the imagination of supporters of democracy worldwide. In many other countries, including those of the West, mass protests against the government are often accompanied by acts of vandalism and looting. So far in Sri Lanka there has been none of this. Despite the heart of the protest being right opposite the country’s most opulent shopping centre, One Galle Face, and notwithstanding the dire economic conditions facing the majority of the protestors, they have behaved with a sense of social responsibility. The images of families camping out at the protest sites and people of all ages and social classes, ethnicities and religions taking part in them are newsworthy ones.

Special Status

There has always been something special about Sri Lanka. In 140 AD the geographer Ptolemy drew a map of the island that made it much larger than it is. This was probably on account of the stories he had heard about its diversity, where forests, mountains, oceans and cities inhabited by diverse peoples could only have existed in a much larger entity. At the time of Independence from colonial rule, the British colonial administrator Leonard Woolf was so enamoured of the country and its potential that he described it as the Switzerland of the East. After Independence, too, the country retained its attraction to foreigners. Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore wanted his country to emulate Sri Lanka as late as the 1960s.

In the 1970s. Sri Lanka found a place in textbooks on economic development for its low Gini Coefficient (which measures income inequalities and its high PQLI index (that measured the physical quality of life). This was on account of its social welfare-oriented economic and taxation policies. It is no wonder that Sri Lanka enjoyed considerable international goodwill. In 1976, Sri Lanka hosted the 5th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Colombo, and its Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike chaired the session in which 86 nations participated, with additional 30 observers and guests representing all the continents in the world. China stepped in generously to provide the country with a world class conference centre, the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall, as a donation which even today is unmatched for its beauty and facilities.

When Sri Lanka chose to chart a new economic path and open itself up to export-led development, the UK made a full donation of the Victoria Dam and other infrastructure. Japan donated the new parliamentary complex and the 1001-bed Sri Jayawardenapura General Hospital. Smaller European countries such as Norway and Sweden donated large sums of money for integrated rural development that sought to spread the benefits of economic development to all parts of the country. Today, when the country is facing its biggest economic challenge, since attaining Independence, it needs to recapture the goodwill that once existed in the world and which it lost to a large extent in the aftermath of the three decades of civil war.

International Solidarity

Sri Lanka clearly needs external support urgently. Even today there are ships anchored in port, loaded with fuel, but which are not unloading it due to the inability of the government to find the dollars to make immediate payment. While anchored, they incur demurrage costs that add to the dollars that the government will eventually have to pay and for which the general population will be additionally burdened. The present unrest in the country is due to the economy running out of dollars to pay for imports and people are suffering in queues and unable to purchase what they need because of the scarcity.

Several countries have already shown goodwill to Sri Lanka in its time of need. They are led by India which has been by far the most generous and which has promised to ensure that Sri Lanka will have the food and fuel to stave off the worst. There is also generosity from China, Bangladesh, Italy and other countries. But Sri Lanka needs much more and on a much larger scale if it is to bridge the period between now and the IMF assistance that is expected to put the country on a sustainable path to recovery. The calculation of government leaders that they can stay in their seats of power and ride out the storm is a misreading of the lack of credibility they have. If the Sri Lankan people are out on the streets protesting against the government’s corruption and Sri Lankan expatriates are refusing to send in their dollars to the country for the same reason, it is unreasonable to expect foreign governments to spend their taxpayers’ money on supporting Sri Lanka.

On the other hand, a statesmanlike approach to political problem-solving that is within the frame of the constitution, and born of the ethic of responsibility, could once again elevate Sri Lanka to the realm of a special country. There will be the possibility of redemption that could serve the next generation of the government leadership well. By way of contrast, the longer that the government leaders stay on, as they seem determined to at the present time, the more likely is the country going to descend into a worse state of economic collapse. The government leadership would then encounter the further wrath of people suddenly thrust into unexpected poverty. This will spell the end of any hope to obtain the large scale financial assistance that a new government leadership that is untainted by the human rights violations and corrupt practices of the past could obtain from the world.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    3

    It is reported that the Venerable Chief Prelate of Malwathu Chapter will no longer meet with politicians. The Asgiri Chapter may also follow suit. Well, it was Chief Prelates and Sub-chief Prelates in Kandy who were insistent on electing their choice of “Hitler” as the President. Elsewhere in the world, even mentioning Hitler’s name is spine-chilling. Hitler is responsible for deaths of over 40 million innocent civilians! He was later awarded the Iron Cross First Class medal for his services (?) at the First Battle of the Somme (1916) during World War I. Interestingly, it was a Jewish lieutenant called Hugo Gutmann who had recommended that Hitler should receive the award!! Why a Jewish? The reason is obvious and it may be “news” to Israel.

    • 4
      2

      “Elsewhere in the world, even mentioning Hitler’s name is spine-chilling.”

      Yes this is right.
      But in a country over 70% of the population would still be behaving like mercy cows – what changes can ever be possible ? I am sorry for the people – they just dont know the size of the danger before them.
      :
      One former minister was saying ” not even cabinet ministers of the current govt have the slightest knowledge about the danger before the nation”.
      .
      Cabba aka Cabral is still on media. How come ? In a civilized country, the bugger would have been hung by his balls – alone his and few others singlehandedly caused the bankruptsy of the country. It is no fair to put the blame on all previous govts.
      :
      Until yesterday, the bugger et al went on saying their hapankam…. their self proclaimations were telecasted by the very same TV channel (Delete Jayaweera’s Pachawahini-Derana TV)

  • 2
    6

    Sri Lanka’s middle-class protesters who waste money, time and energy should open their eyes to those who actually need help in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.
    My heart goes out to children, adults and elders who have been living in bunkers in Donbass for nearly 8 years. They fully deserve a better life, good education, good housing and good salaries. I see a stark difference in the standards of living in Western Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine. There are health issues, poverty and life-threatening malnutrition in Eastern Ukraine, particularly in Mariupol. We are yet to see the quality of life in Southern Ukraine.
    As revealed by Patrick Lancaster’s latest video, DPR citizens are still under attack by Ukrainian forces.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=npQiQx3OmQA
    (I hope this video will remain as it is. Patrick’s other video about the humanitarian works of Russian forces in Mariupol had been ‘altered’ after I posted the link. Anyway, I was happy to see civilians in Mariupol receiving a lot of rations thanks to Patrick’s video. I would like to see him in Mariupol again.)
    Contd’

    • 2
      6

      Over hundred civilians have been evacuated from the Azovstal Plant in Mariupol. It was reported earlier that there were at least a thousand of them. How did ordinary civilians enter a high security zone is a mystery.
      Surprise visits of high profile world figures in Kiev and Moscow proves that ‘very important foreign nationals’ are trapped inside the Azovstal Plant. First, the sudden visit of the US Defense Secretary and the State Secretary in Kiev. Then, the UN Secretary General in Moscow. Then, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Kiev. Even the Pope has made a request to meet with President Putin! They all have “sent an unmistakable and resounding message to the entire world: America, the UN and Vatican stand with Americans and Europeans”! We should thank them for being so transparent and proving their selective humanity!!! Well, there is an easy solution to end their anxiety. They can request President Zelenskyy to “exchange” Donbass with trapped Americans and Europeans. I don’t think Russia will settle for less.
      Contd’…..

      • 2
        6

        In early March, I mentioned the possibility of Russia forming a ‘territorial buffer zone’ in Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a new map which shows the extent of new territories under Russia. The layout of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border and advancing towards inland at a steady pace without changing the original layout is super impressive.
        Even after two months, Western military analysts are still trying to figure out Russia’s military strategy. They have predicted that President Putin may want ‘some kind of victory’ to present on the Victory Day of Russia. I totally disagree with them. Russia never announced a deadline. Russia’s Defence Minister once said that their operation in Ukraine was meant to end in May, which is obvious as President Putin has already abolished the Azov-Nazi military regime in Donbass.
        Contrary to the assertion by many, I don’t think Russia will expand its special military operation up to Moldova, where the population is mostly women and children.
        As it appears and proves so far, President Putin has a “noble mission” in Ukraine.

        • 0
          0

          Champa,

          I think Putin may use a “tactical” nuclear weapon to re-gain control of Kiev. He has no choice if the West keeps giving Ukraine heavy weapons. Some of these weapons have the capability to hit targets in Russia. Finland and Sweden will very likely join NATO now, so Putin has to win in Ukraine no matter what. The question is can he do it before Western countries, especially the USA, get militarily involved in Ukraine. That may happen if the Russian Army continues to show incompetency.

        • 0
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          I hope my comment is not too late.
          A quick world to Russian forces in the Azovstal Plant. Watch out Russia!!! DO NOT enter the Plant. The Plant itself has some security measures. I cannot tell what I know of the Plant as the same thing can be used against Russian forces. I don’t want anyone to die. Therefore, Russian soldiers should not enter. Some surprises may be waiting for them, if you know what I mean. The two or three Azov regiment guys who posted videos are not inside the Azovstal Plant. At least not in the range where Russian forces can capture or harm them. The civilian evacuation is not real. No, I mean, it is real. I don’t know how to explain it. This is a huge place. Watch out Russia!!! Soon after their family members are out from the Plant, it could blast “by itself”. Therefore, change your plans immediately and stay within a safe range. I cannot tell the exact place, but there is a certain area in the outer area which is like a bomb field.

          • 0
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            Oh I missed one part. Something I noticed and it is urgent. The Azov regiment guys who posted videos are not in a ‘desperately fighting mode’. They are more like in a jubilant mood. Something to think. There is a shift. Please change your plans to save your troops, Russia. I remember making a request for President Putin to ‘slow down a little bit’. I couldn’t write about it after that. The entire outer premises of the Plant are not safe. I will tell you the reason later.

            • 0
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              Sun Tzu said, “If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” Sorry, I didn’t mean Ukraine as an enemy. But, Azovs will not escape with empty hands.
              Mr. Putin, Sir, since early March, I saw great humanity and compassion in you. You respected the rights of the Ukrainians to defend their country. You respected their right to seek foreign weapons. (You destroyed them later, and it is a different matter.) You respected their right to attack positions inside your country. I can write more. You are a tough nut to crack, but you are a good person. You stood by internationally isolated Sri Lanka at a time when the country desperately needed international support. That is why I took time to share my opinion on the decisions made by you. You have given many chances for the Ukrainian troops trapped inside the Azovstal Plant to surrender. They didn’t, not because they wanted to fight until the last man, but because they had other plans. Their body language tell it all. Happy Victory Day, if I couldn’t write before the 9th.

          • 1
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            Champa, in case u don’t have a relevant contact, I might suggest one a bit later this evening (it’s 7.35 pm here & I’m just having lunch). It is a Russian woman who posts on Craig Murray’s Twitter site but I havent looked at it for weeks so dont know if that particular blog is still operative.

          • 0
            0

            Champa, if you dont already have a serious contact, u might try Tatyana in Graig Murrat’s Twitter blog.
            .
            Go to https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2022/03/the-universal-boosting-of-putin/comment-page-12/#comments
            .
            Scroll down to Comments & Tatyana is the first on that page (page 12 of 1870+ comments).
            .
            She may be helpful. I’m just guessing; I dont know her at all, only what she has revealed on this site.
            .
            When, oh when, will the world sanction Israel? Judicial sanction has just been given again to yet another horrendous act of uprooting & dispossessing Palestinians from their own land.

            • 0
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              Manel Fonseka
              Many thanks for your comment.
              Wow, I never thought all my comments would be published. I hardly read my comments before posting.
              I was trying to find some material for my book. Then I found out the history of Ukraine! I can even boast that I can explain Ukraine’s history just in two maps!!!! Me and my maps.
              I am trying to figure out why I am dragged into the Russia-Ukraine conflict. My ancestors have visited/lived in Russia for sure. And, they have some connection with Crimea, Southern Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine too, and another very special place in Russia. Maybe my comments are meant to save lives and the ancient history in Russia, Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine that have some kind of interrelation with my ancestors. It sounds creepy sometimes.
              President Zelensky talks about the need for Russia to cut a deal with Ukraine. Well, I can definitely say this. Eastern Ukraine, Southern Ukraine and Crimea are now in the hands of their “original owners”. Ukraine will never get them back. Never.
              When everything is over, I want Russia’s archaeologists to do something for me!

        • 1
          1

          Hi Champa,
          Good morning.
          You have been holding forth on the Ukraine matter and prophesised many actions that has come to pass.
          i am not suggesting that you have a ‘RED HOT LINE’ to Putin!!
          On the other hand, why don’t you uses those skills to prophesy, when this Fiasco in SL will come to an end, and when GR and MR combine take off – One to Uganda and the other to California and the third an youngest too, who is the main problem signing agreements at mid night??!!
          Suspect he suffers from INSOMNIA?
          Stressed and active mind leads to INSOMNIA, I am informed by many a medical practitioner and psychologists of repute!!
          If you happened to be “Gnakka to BR”, you may use that information and you will have instant luck!!
          Use your skills and ease our pain.
          We would be ever thankful.
          Gnanakka said, April New Year, which has come and gone, now May with Vesak in the vicinity!!
          Christmas may come before with no solution Sri Lankans Fiasco!!
          Very serious situation, than Ukraine and Putin!
          Incidentally, forecasting that VP (not Velupillai) going out to oblivion??!!
          Any idea?
          Could you please help with your abundant skills?????????

          • 0
            1

            Mahila,
            Do you think poor Champa has finally cracked from lack of gas and milk powder? Now, even if you have gas, there are no mat he’s told light it up.

            • 0
              0

              Matches

  • 5
    4

    “If the Sri Lankan people are out on the streets protesting against the government’s corruption…”

    Aren’t these guys singing the same ‘Baila’ they sang in 2015 and sent Mahinda Rajapakshe to Medamualana?
    ‘Yahapalana’ Government came to power promising to punish Rajapakshes for corruption. They had four years but did not punish Rajapakshes for corruption. So, people should ask Ranil why he failed to punish Rajapakshes instead of singing the same ‘Baila’ again about Rajapakshes’ corruption. May be they could not find any cases of corruption. Voters who elected him have the right to ask that question.

    Ironically, the guys who want to remove Rajapakshes from politics for corruption do not talk about removing Ranil who is the ‘Mahamolakaru’ of the Bond Scam from politics and punishing him. Politicians who were in ‘Yahapalana’ Government and tried to save Ranil by putting foot-notes taking bribes also should be removed from politics.

    • 2
      0

      EE,

      Ranil is one and the same with R’s. Corruption is the same except Ranil does corruption for land-bridge, and R’s do corruption to achieve kingly status.

      Nothing of the money of the suffering-hardworking-Lankan-Masses goes to developing the country to ease their burdens. All are vistas; nothing done for immediacy and realism of what the country contains for at any one time.

      Judiciary under Ranil and R’s is bought up. Trying to prove things, will make things go hidden even deeper. It will cost the country many $billions just to uncover the lost $billions. What AKD has brought up is the tip of the iceberg.

      When the guys sang the same “Biala” in 2015, realism hadn’t set in yet. Only when their babies and children cry day and night for lack of food, do they realize.

    • 1
      0

      EE,
      Good morning, as informed a freezing situation in South East coastline – Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide immaterial!! All same??
      Blind to some, but in slumber and woken Now!!
      Quote,
      1. IRONICALLY, THE GUYS WHO WANT TO REMOVE RAJAPAKSA’S FROM POLITICS FOR CORRUPTION DO NOT TALK ABOUT REMOVING RANIL WHO IS THE ‘MAHAMOLAKARU’ OF THE BOND SCAM FROM POLITICS AND PUNISHING HIM.
      2. Politicians who were in ‘Yahapalanya’ Government and tried to save Ranil by putting foot-notes taking bribes also should be removed from politics”
      Unquote,
      You are seemingly the “Agra MAHAMOLAKARU” could you please enlighten us the loss incurred by the Bond scam of 2015, as at date (06/05/2022) based on the interbank/CBSL interest rates, has
      A. Increased, by how much in dollars?
      B. Decreased. By how much in dollars?
      C. If no change, why not??
      Your studied and enlightened response, is fervently and earnestly awaited with thanks!!??
      This information provided, would enable us to assess how the ‘Scum bags’ of MAHAMOLAKARU played out the poor Sri Lankans!
      If Sri Lanka has gained, well and good, as Sri Lanka deserves such favours!!??

      • 1
        0

        Mahila,
        The so-called bond scam is no longer a loss to the government. It got 10 billion rupees for 30 years at 12%. The current TBill rate is 22%.. So, a profit of 10%.

        • 0
          0

          so called bond scam was one of the biggest lies planted by Rajapakshes bps to marginalise UNPrs.

          Sorysena is said to have signed 25000 in order to extradite former CBGovernor AM from Singapore. To my best of knowledge, singapore is a state under rule of law. Besides, so called SRILAKNEN investigative Journos repeat this….. who on earth would need to sign of 25000 of documents ? The bugger may think that entire nation is stupd as they are.

          OC, please check the video clip below-
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bvu9cLbEO64

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDFTad8TdgA
          .
          FOlks, I told you that Rajaapkshes would drag this country to edge of a precipice – now it is before our eyes. Those men stood against me stay biting nails not being able to face me.
          .

  • 3
    0

    JP,

    What you say is very convincing, full of diplomacy, and truthful. With your sad dog face, the R’s just might relent, say sorry, and leave.

  • 0
    0

    Jehan, a war of attrition is fought by both sides, each side has a choice to give in or continue the fight, so it is the government that is wrong this time? Maybe the government and ‘the people’ deserve each other, fiddling while Rome burns.

    Making Sri Lanka more beautiful by the day.

  • 5
    0

    Civil disobedience as per the noble leadership of the Mahatma Gandhi against an arrogant British Raj must be followed in Sri Lanka against the present regime. In addition to “partying” at Galle Face (Freedom Green) the houses of members of parliament need to be laid siege to, and their lives made miserable and scary. Otherwise these 225 rascals will unite in sitting out the protests and hoodwinking the population and as the writer says, any worsening of the food and medicine scarcity will drive people to violence, as they will risk death from Govt bullets to a slower death by preventable sickness or starvation.

    • 0
      0

      LP
      Not as simple as that.
      Peaceful resistance has been attempted in history for long.
      It is only when brutal violence is unleashed that there is violent response.
      much is not told to us of the role of militancy in the Indian independence struggle.
      Bagath Singh and Subah Chandra Bose were greater heros whose contribution has been concealed very much.
      It is in this India that sings the glory of the ‘Mahatma’ that the police and the army brutalize the people seeking justice.

  • 2
    0

    The President of this country said that the protest and strikes will increase the economic crisis. It is true that the Economic crisis will get worse. Finance Minister said that there is only less than 50million dollar as it is. President also said that he made mistakes but this mistakes were made because of him only. Any leader who loves this country will resign and give the opportunity to others but again with full knowledge he wants to continue in power. As long as he remain in power, the economic crisis is worsen because people think he has not changed and it is a disaster if he continues in power.
    The country had an opportunity to develop this country in 2009. Again, it is Mahinda’s power greedy made things worse and he is responsible for this crisis. If he loves this country he also should resign and give the opportunity to create a new political culture. But the greediness of Rajapaksa family seems to not to bother about people or country.

  • 0
    3

    “War Of Attrition Will Ruin Both The Government & Country”
    But the NGO will survive it all.

    • 1
      0

      SJ,
      You are happy to ruin both government, country and people but survive Rajapaksa family?

  • 0
    0

    Protesting Is As Important As Voting. Protesting Matters

    They seem to be hoping the protests will diminish over time and they can go back to business as usual.

    How will the protest diminish the daily struggle to send children to school , no gas, no petrol, increased cement price bus fare will remind to go for the strike daily.

    To show why protests are just as important and influential as voting when it comes to making change.

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