18 April, 2021

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When Elephants Clash, Mice Are Crushed

By Kumar David

Prof. Kuma David

US-China relations got off to a rough start under the Biden Presidency when a diplomatic spat broke out at the 18 March sessions in Anchorage, Alaska. Ditto for relations with Russia; a few days earlier, asked if he thought Mr. Putin was a “killer,” he responded: “Mmm hmm, I do”, and also threatened “Putin  is going to pay” for interfering in the 2020 election. Russia recalled its Washington Ambassador for “consultations”! My today is that when mighty elephants clash little creatures down on the ground are trampled. There are three small countries that need to be alarmed if there is serious deterioration of relations between the US and China; Taiwan, Singapore and Sri Lanka. Taiwan is unique so I will say no more. Seventy percent of Singapore’s people are of Chinese descent and China is its main trading partner, its investments, direct or indirect in China are enormous and the island state has succeeded in developing a very special relationship with Beijing. China is its biggest market – ours is the US. However Singapore is militarily close to the US which also provides its strategic umbrella. It is tiptoeing wisely between the elephants.

If tensions between the US and China sharpen both Singapore and Sri Lanka will be in stormy seas. Another factor in our case is India, the regional power. We are dependent on India in more ways than Singapore is on anybody, and our economy is in free fall while Singapore’s is strong. For these reasons our predicament is more precarious if these elephants clash. Unlike our presidents and prime ministers, past and present, the present and past leaders of Singapore are alert and intelligent, hence there is much to learn from how they manoeuvre and position themselves. Three cardinal implications that I read into PM Lee Hsien Loong’s recent BBC and World Economic Forum interviews are:

* Always put Singapore’s interests first and make it clear to the big powers that you have no intention of meddling or taking sides in geopolitical manoeuvres.

* Ensure that the Government of Singapore functions within the remit of Singaporean law and give no room for outsiders to allege that it curtails or violates its proper and binding responsibilities.

* Maintain fairness between ethnic communities (Chinese, Malay and Tamil) so that rifts that open the door to outside interference are precluded.

The US is determined to make the focus of its foreign policy under the Biden Administration ‘global human and democratic rights’. You can call it bogus if you like, nor do I have space here to explain why it is doing so. One certainty is that this is going to make the rest of Gotabaya’s term of office very rough. The US, though it is not a Council Member with a vote, supported from outside the tough anti SL-regime resolution in Geneva on 23 March carried 22-11 (14 abstentions including India and Japan). It also intends to enter the HR Council next year. Phew, so Gotabaya and his military will be in American cross-hairs.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Alaska: “There are a number of areas where we are fundamentally at odds, including China’s actions in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Tibet and Taiwan . . .” America may take limited action against China over its “genocidal campaign” against Uighur Muslims. China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi reacted strongly, warning the US against meddling in its “internal affairs” and challenging its own rights record using the Black Lives Matter as an example. The Chinese unfortunately picked a bad example because the massive BLM movement drawing in whites, blacks and Hispanics is a demonstration of the strength not the weakness of a more open society. The attack on Putin too is focussed on issues of democratic rights and attempts to murder opposition leaders. Therefore to return to my starting point, given the turn of the Biden administration to rights issues as its foreign policy plank, Gotabaya would be wise to learn the three Singaporean bullet points that I reproduced above.

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  • 21
    3

    Kumar David

    “When Elephants Clash, Mice Are Crushed”

    Kenyan proverb “when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers, when elephants make love also it is the grass that suffers. “

    • 2
      1

      NV: Re. Kenyan proverb.. When grass suffers, there are others who make a “Fortune”, e.g. “Rajapakse & Co. Inc.” That is the time China “Assistance” through Investments, Loans, Grants, Swops, etc. pour in. That is also the time America (an elephant) pour in through “MCC”, “SOFA” etc. With all that, our country (grass) suffers, but the “Vultures” – Rajapkse & Co, Inc. make a “FORTUNE”.

  • 10
    18

    Does not the author think that the US has Trump Mark II for president?
    Not only does he make the wrong move but does it with a stupid statement calling his counterpart a murdered.
    He has already retreated on some of his pledges to the poor.
    With the economy still struggling, he will retreat further.
    *
    Vice President Kamala Harris has had phone discussions with three important heads of state with no reference to the President.
    The Prez perhaps needs more sleep.

    • 6
      14

      …does it with a stupid statement calling his counterpart a murderer.

      • 16
        6

        SJ, Putin is a killer.

        • 0
          0

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

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        • 4
          8

          You mean Trump Mark II cannot be wrong.

    • 1
      7

      SJ,
      .
      “Yahapalana” Biden…

    • 5
      1

      He is a working man family man. Isn’t it nice even after decades of political experience a person does not want to hide in political talk but call a spade a spade.

      • 2
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        B
        Even Trump was said to be one who called a spade a spade.
        *
        The right wing thinking of Biden that was brushed under the carpet in the run up to the election is creeping out slowly, but surely.
        *
        Is “He is a working man family man” your explanation for Kamala H making the phone calls without reference to him?

        • 0
          0

          “Even Trump was said to be one who called a spade a spade.”
          By whom? Fox News?
          Ha ha ha

          • 1
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            B
            You should know that Trump still has many admirers who like his ‘plain talk’.
            That reputation enabled him to win in 2016.
            Not very funny though.

  • 10
    0

    Prabhakaran wasted all the resources he had on arms and ammunition. He only had to pay for passage for a few hundred Sinhalese to visit Singapore.

    • 10
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      Nathan

      “Prabhakaran wasted all the resources he had on arms and ammunition.”

      Not true.
      Informed sources tell me most of the monies invested in Europe and North America have been unaccounted for. The LTTE agents had vanished immediately after the end of the war.

      The armed forces which broke into LTTE’s Fort Knox either shared the loot among themselves or Gota/Mahinda had collected the entire lot for themselves. Some people have suddenly become rich.

      Gota sold lot of LTTE’s gold in Sri Lanka, possibly TO Sea Street jewelers .

      LTTE very effectively extorted cash and gold from poor people however it left most of it to its enemies and benamies.
      .

      • 0
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        NV: “Gota sold lot of LTTE’s gold in Sri Lanka….” Was that another “DEAL”?

    • 7
      7

      It was not his money.
      The diaspora segment that funded him wanted war at any cost.
      One ticket for an enemy to anywhere would have led to sanctions by the donors.
      *
      When he (during a rare moment of sanity) in 2002 gifted two truckloads of essentials to flood victims in the Sabaragamuwa, the money bags condemned him for wasting their war funds on charity to the enemy.
      Puff went a fresh fount of Southern goodwill in smoke

  • 10
    1

    I doubt very much that NGR is going to take up the way Singapore is doing to be a successful, prosperous and peaceful country. He had so far been functioning to take SL down the drain. Appointing unsuitable characters [A] to represent our country overseas
    [B] to head various government departments /ministries does not help. it is not wise to make use of tri-services to become civil administrators or getting into business/agriculture thereby preventing the civilians of taking up those jobs.
    His background as a military person does not allow him to have enough patience.
    He gets irritated easily; ready to get the revenge.
    Is he going to change after the UNHCR resolution is a million dollar question.

    • 3
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      Naman,
      There was no democracy in Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew. He did not allow Tamils to play hell as they did in Sri Lanka under rotten democracy introduced by Brits. Tamils over there behaved like poodles taking orders from Chinese. If Sinhala politicians followed what Lee Kuan Yew did, Sri Lanka could have become a better country than Singapore. Though it is late, President Rajapakshe should do that to take this country out of the mess created by ‘Jadapalana’ Government.

      “I doubt very much that NGR is going to take up the way Singapore is doing to be a successful, prosperous and peaceful country.”

    • 2
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      What’s the choice he has every govnt department has corrupted to core santhosam is there to move ahead how many middle man is there to go through normal service

  • 5
    22

    Singapore doesn’t employ muslims in security sensitive jobs, because Muslims get their religion in the way, and keep an eye on potential terrorists.
    /
    Anyway China is unstoppable. Its totalitarian government will keep the country in one piece. On the other hand, US is on the brink of another civil war, African-Americans and Native American are still fighting for full equality. Recently they have started attacking Chinese and Chinese looking people as well.
    /
    If Sri Lanka put its signature on MCC agreement, UNHRC resolutions will go down the toilet within seconds.

    • 7
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      Tony

      “Anyway China is unstoppable.”

      So?

    • 0
      0

      😂😂😂

  • 3
    0

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  • 5
    2

    Advantage China and Rajapaksas,
    there will be plenty currency swapping and food imports from now. As Cabraaal said yes it is missed opportunity for treasury to make but it is not lost, ( Billions) because we didn’t have it in the first place. You the GENIUS !!!

  • 2
    0

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  • 4
    3

    USA and China will never go to war.

    Both are nuclear powers so war is out of the question.

    The disputes are only temporary only until USA accepts China as the world superpower. Accepting is painful, sad and disappointing for USA. All empires fall. USA’s time has come.

    Within another decade all this will be over. China will be the undisputed world superpower and USA and others will accept it.

  • 3
    10

    One good thing with British is they pay gratitude to those who helped them.
    At the time they ruled Sinhale as their colony, Tamils in plantations helped them to exploit this country and get rich. Low caste Tamils in Yapanaya grew tobacco and helped them to get rich. Malabar Vellala Tamils became their obedient servants, got into top Government jobs and helped them to oppress Native Sinhalayo. Sinhalayo (except ‘Kalu Suddas’) on the other hand were the trouble makers for them. So, the position British have taken towards Sri Lanka is understandable.

    • 7
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      EE, how splendid our Sinhalayos are. They are begging from the Indians and the Chinese at the same time. This is what is called a neutral foreign policy. Actually, the Sinhalayos get a bad name as most of those who pretend to be Sinhalayos are really Indians who need to be sent back. The cinnamon peeler Salagamas were brought by the Dutch from Saligramam in Kerala. The Karawe came to fish from India and never went back. They gave themselves fancy names associated with Kuru Kula indicating their ancestry. I am all for keeping the Sinhalyas pure. Let us send these Indians back to India.

      • 2
        1

        Tamils are begging those Sinhalese in turn!!

    • 2
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      EE,

      You got a point. Also applies to the Netherlands.

      You forgot that the Brits took Tamil slaves also to Malaya, Burma, South Africa, Nigeria, etc.

      (1815 Kandyan Convention prevented the British from taking Sinhala people slave.)

      But the British denied Tamils their nation. There was no India when the Brits captured it. But when they left in 1947 they handed it over to Hindi speaking rulers.

  • 4
    8

    “Maintain fairness between ethnic communities (Chinese, Malay and Tamil) so that rifts that open the door to outside interference are precluded.” [S’pore PM Lee Hsien Loong]

    *Rifts will be created to enable outside interference by you know who if Singapore tries to take a path that hurts US interests.
    I wonder if the lessons of Hong Kong are victims of short-term amnesia.

  • 3
    3

    It was a WIN didn’t you hear the foreign minister? Sinhala bauda lanka on a roll and the rats are running wild.

  • 17
    6

    There 100 & One ways to skin a Cat .
    ==========/===================

    Those who rejoice over the UN RESOLUTION against Sri Lanka Are all traitors.

    Sri Lanka will overcome.

    Opposition are the last bunch of jokers who should point fingers.

    People in this country suffer from amnesia .

    They forgot what destruction Yahapalana did and if not for JR and UNP we would never have had the LTTE war.

    Tamils should update themselves and blame JR and his bunch not Rajapakshes.

    Well also no one should get over enthusiastic.

    This government will be around for a very , very long time , people better get use to it .

    And if anyone is suggesting the government must aquire a certain hotel, we may haveA a lot more to acquire.

    We need a one to one governance same as Ruwanda for next 10 years.

    If that is not achieved , remember we are all in this, we will all have to pay this price.

    Just because some crooks of some politicians are destroying and robbing our resources, there is no need for the President to take the blame.

    If we ever have another Yahapalana like government , we will see a tyre burning culture again and the robbing will go on with blessings of everyone.

    • 1
      0

      We need a one to one governance same as Ruwanda for next 10 years
      ————
      Rwanda is ruled by its minority tutsi tribe

      • 0
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      • 2
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        @Humble,
        My comment was not about minority or majority rule , the term minority and majority itself are toxic .
        However , it was about a political mechanisms that worked for them.
        And we need to find ours .

        • 0
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          Lanka Netizen, once we get all the war criminals we can figure out a better method of ruling this country. By the way those rabid dogs in orange and red cloths called Buddhist Monks, keep those wild beasts locked up somewhere and see how this country progresses.

  • 5
    3

    A person who use to be in Geneva told me the resolutions are brought by countries after discussing in advance with member countries and knowing the outcome which way they will vote. No country wants to bring a resolution that will fail due to lack of support. If such resolutions are brought it is to document their protest but with no intentions to call for voting. Once a resolution is brought a consensus among voting members is agreed in advance before the real count (there is plenty time between two). When enough votes are there some countries are given the leverage to abstain for their own reasons. If there were not enough votes those countries would have been pressuraized to do the right thing. This will allow the country which abstain to vote against in future. It is all about negotiations and diplomacy. Nothing to do with Geo Politics as our Professor know it all is claiming here.

  • 13
    1

    Along with the poor innocent common Tamils still struggling to return to normal life , the poor and the dignified middle class struggling to survive each day of corvid 19 infused economic disasters, without addressing it and supporting the government to deal with it , suddenly we see rise of gretas, only waving the flag for one incident of environmental cricis ,well fermented by politics, I wonder where greta was all this time , the environment is destroyed everywhere around the island , it’s not enough to shed tears only at one particular incident, there are so many and no one can ban tree felling and free felling is renewable resource unlike the rest ,what is needed is proper regulations to monitor not over extract or cut trees than really needed.
    Meanwhile people are talking of regulations of building approvals. Funny , who cares in this country about regulations, highly residential environments are turned into wherehouses, factories ,large Scale building material storages, and industrial lands and coconut estates have been turned to housing schemes .
    As long as There is this bias, our man making money no matter even if it meant at the very cost of the country it’s fine; everyone shuts their mouth .
    Such hypocrisy.

    It’s time The Environment ministry is taken off the hands of politicians and brought under the Environmental authority and the MOD .

    • 11
      2

      Trees , are the one and only renewable resources .
      Tree planting needs l9t of expertise, you can’t plant just any tree , it has to blend with Logan climate , preserve water and not destroy other local flora and fauna.
      There are also trees that need to be cut and monitored because they have a negative effect on the climate.
      It is really time the environment issue is addressed openly and taken off the hands of politicians and brought under MOD and the President.
      Let by Gones be by gones .
      Things can be turned around.

  • 13
    3

    The common Tamils must seriously talk to their politicians and engage in a constructive dialogue directly with The President and Prime Minister and end the suffering of The common Tamils, settle the issues locally, work with the government to obtain the release of The Tamil prisoners.
    This is what is important, without becoming sheep to the Opposition to achieve their agendas.
    They had a very good opportunity to end the suffering of the Tamils and releasing the prisoners
    Instead they played political pandu ( ball) .
    Tamils WAKEUP, do not hold onto hate and reconcile with this government for the sake of the future of your children ; do not play into the hands of foreign Religous Extremists and regret .
    Like what the Muslims have done to themselves , its tolate now for the entire Muslim community.
    No turning back .it’s all about fighting not for Islamic rights , but for Arabization. So no.future for their children and no one is to be blamed.

  • 2
    9

    India raw has sent another bugger to destroy statues .
    And all the Hindustan kalathonies bora buggers who came like rats soon after tye bombings to fool us, the Indian Tamils and bora bai are all modi’s agents .
    Thoweed Jamath blue shirt bugger are all Indian kalathonies.
    Must deport these buggers

  • 0
    0

    Lankawe was betting for UN Veto; but has lost in UNHRC voting. One in hand should have been better than two in the bush. But Communist Denesh disagreed with that wise words and stood with China and Russia for the Veto protection. Further they are showing 1.3 billion Chinese voted for the Appeh Aanduwa, including Uyghurs Muslims, but they are Tamils’s category and UN is talking for them. Sadly even other Chinese didn’t have chance to vote for a government as for their own. US is stepping up its stands on China and Russia. For Long time, but for a short while in Regan time, the tightness in US-Russia relationship has not shown any relax. On the other side, China US relationship is facing growing road blocks.
    Lankawe has associated with those two countries. It is not about any policy decision, but criminal and opportunistic. China relationship is about both 1). A partner for anti-Tamil activity and a fountain not shuts off for commission. Russia is not an important Trading partner; not much commission; only for anti-Tamil needs. This situation is not comparable with Taiwan or Singapore. Singapore has been successfully balancing them both from the start. One can expect to continue that. China wants to take over Taiwan. But it is resisting with US help.

  • 0
    0

    If it bites China’s pocket, it will abandon Lankawe in UNSC. That is not the case of Taiwan. Lankawe’s anti-West policy and voluntary surrender to China is not comparable to China trying to take over Taiwan. Even if the US-China relationship gets well, Taiwan is facing a risk. After the experience of Hong Kong, a two way deal with China on that issue is not possible for Taiwan. US ambassador in Lankawe said the US is not acting against Lankawe in the Resolution issue, but the resolution is victory for Lankawe. It is only India’s stand on the resolution seems to be written in Indus Valley Scripts, UN-decodable. India said Tamils’ equal right and Lankawe sovereignty are two pillars for Lankawe. Now a similar statement the White House spokesperson too has said. She said America supported (externally) for the resolution hoping reconciliation would bring reconciliation. Now they too are thinking Lankawe’s prosperity and security is dependent on reconciliation & equality for minority.

  • 8
    0

    Right now all that matters to me as a Citizen is to bring in as much as possible dollars , even if it means hitting the global Halal beaf market,
    Only that is making money today in billions.
    The government must encourage Muslim businessman to attract halal meat .business exports.
    We need to bring the dollar index to Rsm130.00 and until then forget imports.
    We must approach Singapore, they are the safest business city nation to.deal with.
    They have a giant reserve and want to invest, but petty idiotic prejudice has always blocked our economy growth ,.it’s halal , at onetime , then beef of Muslims, as if others do not eat beef,
    Then abaya, then Niqab, then Madarasa. No time to encourage the young to unite and build the nation.
    What Cock and Bull Democracy for Sri Lanka.
    Anyone wants democracy, let them bring in investments in.hard cash of at Least 30 to 40 billion in USD , followed by guarantee of ending Religous bigotry from all religions and racism .
    If they can do that with democracy,.let’s talk democracy. 70 plus years , democracy ended up for those who trumpet about it to import coconuts to scrape.

  • 0
    0

    The Sri Lankan mouse is trying to roar like a lion!
    and lost in UNHRC.
    A Lion on the flag is only a deception.
    and specially if the Lion needs a sword there is some thing wrong !

    • 0
      2

      R
      Have you hear of the humorous movie ‘The mouse that roared’ (1959)?
      *
      A small nation can stand up to even the biggest bully on earth if it has its people fully behind. You do not need examples. It is happening over and over again.
      *
      Our tragedy is that we are a badly divided society (I do not confine myself to the national question); and successive governments have failed the people.

  • 1
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  • 0
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    Unfortunately, the Sinhala- Buddhist majoritarian mindset of the Rajapaksa clan will not help the country which is on life-support for its survival. The rulers are infringing all the 3 principles enunciated by the father-son prime ministers. Especially the principles of –
    (1) Ensure that the Government of Singapore functions within the remit of Singaporean law and give no room for outsiders to allege that it curtails or violates the rule of law or its binding responsibilities.
    (2) Maintain fairness between ethnic communities (Chinese, Malay and Tamil) so that rifts that open the door to outside interference are precluded.
    The relationship among the ethnic communities Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims are worsening day by day thanks to the myopic, confrontational and racist policies of the Rajapaksa government.
    In the North and East, not a day passes without a street protest, fasting, rallies against land grab and encroachment on Hindu Temples under the guise of excavating Buddhist heritage sites of importance. I will cite just three such examples that happened recently.
    (a) On February 02, Army Chief Shavendra Silva laid the foundation stone for the construction of a 100 ft Buddhist Stupa in Jaffna. The relevant land belongs to a Tamil person but presently occupied by the army. The ceremony was attended by all departments of the military and members of the Buddhist clergy.

  • 0
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    Shavendra Silva was invited as the chief guest by the Commander of the Jaffna security forces, General Priyantha Perera. The Stupa is constructed where there are no Buddhist worshippers.
    (b) On 23rd January, the Navy attempted to seize 7 hectares of land belonging to 29 Tamil families in the Mandaithivu and Mankumban regions of Jaffna. Again, the land in question is occupied by the Navy. The Navy has temporarily retreated in the face of massive protest by the people.
    (c) A Sivan temple at Uruthirapuram, Kilinochchi is under siege by the Department of Archaeology which claims the temple is standing on a Buddhist vihara!
Obviously, the government does not maintain fairness between ethnic communities (Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims Chinese) so that rifts that open the door to outside interference are precluded.
    All these are done when the government is battling more pressing problems like COVID – 19 pandemic, foreign debts, the escalating price of essential household items etc. but foolishly it opens another sensitive religious battlefront by encroaching on Hindu temples in the North and East.
    The Presidential Task Force appointed by the President last year and the Department of Archaeology is hell-bent to promote religious strife on top of existing fissures among ethnic groups.

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