25 June, 2019

Blog

WikiLeaks: President Rajapaksa’s American Report Card

By Colombo Telegraph

“Rajapaksa has a no better than average record for politicians when it comes to delivering on his campaign rhetoric. While the long-running ethnic conflict is no closer to resolution now than when he took office, the Tamil Tigers bear a large share of the blame for the resumption of hostilities. The focus on the violence has taken up most of the national debate – and taken some heat off the President to perform on his other promises. Still, Rajapaksa could do more to address Tamil concerns, for example, by promoting dual-language instruction in schools according to the commitment he made in Mahinda Chintana.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Rajapaksa has a no better than average record for politicians when it comes to delivering on his campaign rhetoric

A Leaked “UNCLASIFIED” US diplomatic cable, dated November 28, 2006, updated the Secretary of State on Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s performance one year after he came to office. The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable was written by the Ambassador Robert O. Blake.

Ambassador Blake wrote “President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to office in November 2005 after a campaign highlighting his strong Sinhalese nationalism. He made electoral pacts with the Marxist, Sinhalese chauvinist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the hard-line Buddhist monk-based Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU). Rajapaksa’s pre-election rhetoric, compiled in his manifesto ‘Mahinda Chintana’ (Mahinda’s thoughts), focused on a ‘unitary’ Sri Lankan state and made a number of economic and infrastructure commitments, most of which he has not fulfilled. One year into the Rajapaksa presidency, the peace process has stalled, the ethnic conflict has re-ignited and economic development has not met the average voter’s expectations. Yet economic growth remains high thanks to continued strong remittances and healthy rains that will help the politically crucial agricultural sector. The populist Rajapaksa remains popular among his Sinhalese base, despite widespread dissatisfaction among the intellectuals and elites of Colombo.”

“Rajapaksa is clearly attempting to keep his promise to people in his constituency in the Sinhalese south. Work on the highway connecting Colombo to Matara continues. Recently the GSL and donors decided to widen the highway to 4 lanes by 2010 and are conducting feasibility studies to extend the road to Hambantota. Government agencies are planning an airport and a port in Hambantota. On the other hand, Mahinda Chintana had promised to construct 20 overpasses in Colombo within three years to minimize traffic congestion and accidents at road-rail crossings. The Road Development Authority reported no discussions to date on these proposals.” Blake further wrote.

Discussing the ‘Peace process’ he also wrote  “On the positive side, Rajapaksa asked Norway to remain as facilitator for the peace process, despite vigorous objections from his erstwhile coalition partners, the JVP and JHU.”

The cable discusses the campaign promises, the peace process, the all-Party Conference, macroeconomic management, taxation, education, regional development, agriculture and infrastructure policies.

Read the cable below for further information;

VZCZCXRO9917
PP RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #1982/01 3320812
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280812Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4820
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 9646
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 6576
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 4633
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3354
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0281
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 3443
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2531
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 7117
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 4924
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 001982 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

SENSITIVE 

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PTER CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: PRESIDENT RAJAPAKSA'S REPORT CARD, ONE YEAR ON 

1.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to office in 
November 2005 after a campaign highlighting his strong Sinhalese 
nationalism.  He made electoral pacts with the Marxist, Sinhalese 
chauvinist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the hard-line 
Buddhist monk-based Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU).  Rajapaksa's 
pre-election rhetoric, compiled in his manifesto "Mahinda Chintana" 
(Mahinda's thoughts), focused on a "unitary" Sri Lankan state and 
made a number of economic and infrastructure commitments, most of 
which he has not fulfilled.  One year into the Rajapaksa presidency, 
the peace process has stalled, the ethnic conflict has re-ignited 
and economic development has not met the average voter's 
expectations.  Yet economic growth remains high thanks to continued 
strong remittances and healthy rains that will help the politically 
crucial agricultural sector.  The populist Rajapaksa remains popular 
among his Sinhalese base, despite widespread dissatisfaction among 
the intellectuals and elites of Colombo.  End summary. 

MAHINDA CHINTANA: "UNDIVIDED COUNTRY, 
NATIONAL CONSENSUS, AND HONORABLE PEACE" 
---------------------------------------- 

2.  (SBU) President Mahinda Rajapaksa hinged his 2005 campaign on 
Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict, committing in both his electoral pacts 
and his manifesto "Mahinda Chintana" (Mahinda's thoughts) to review 
the 2002 Cease-Fire Agreement with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil 
Eelam (LTTE).  His pacts with the Marxist, Sinhalese chauvinist 
Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Buddhist monk-based Jathika Hela 
Urumaya (JHU) led analysts to believe Rajapaksa would take a hard 
line on the LTTE.  However, Rajapaksa surprised many by later toning 
down his rhetoric and making overtures to the LTTE, resulting in 
government talks with the LTTE in Geneva in February 2006.  Despite 
the initial positive step, the peace process did not move forward, 
and Rajapaksa's first year in office has seen a breakdown of the 
2002 Cease-Fire Agreement and an upsurge in violence.  On the 
positive side, Rajapaksa asked Norway to remain as facilitator for 
the peace process, despite vigorous objections from his erstwhile 
coalition partners, the JVP and JHU. 

3.  (SBU) Rajapaksa followed through on Mahinda Chintana's 
commitment to "Undivided Country, National Consensus, and Honorable 
Peace" by assembling an All-Party Conference (APC).  Ambitiously, he 
promised to complete APC discussions within three months and to have 
a viable negotiating position to open direct talks with the LTTE. 
However, various Tamil parties, and even his principal opposition, 
the United National Party (UNP), did not participate.  In October 
2006, Rajapaksa made another effort to build a "southern consensus" 
on the ethnic conflict by negotiating an historic Memorandum of 
Understanding with the UNP to work together on the peace process and 
other critical issues facing the country. 

4.  (SBU) Nevertheless, Rajapaksa has yet to fulfill campaign 
promises that could address some of the ethnic conflict's underlying 
causes.  To date, he has failed to institute teaching of both the 
Tamil and Sinhala languages in schools, and to build two Tamil 
schools in Colombo and a Muslim Boys' school in Kandy.  Rajapaksa 
has also reneged on promises to resettle the conflict's internally 
displaced persons (IDPs) expeditiously and with government financial 
assistance.  His proposed "Jaya Lanka" program to assist 
tsunami-affected persons has yet to materialize, except for the 

SIPDIS 
permanent shelter component in his home constituency Hambantota. 

MACRO ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT 
------------------------- 

5. (SBU) Mahinda Chinthana promised to achieve 8 percent growth over 
the next 6 years and ensure that benefits of growth filtered in to 
the general public and the poor.  According to recent government 
projections, Sri Lankan economy is well on its way to achieving 7 
percent growth in 2006, with growth projected at 7.5 percent in 
2007.  Mahinda Chintana has resulted in high inflation, with average 
inflation currently running over 12 percent (and 17 percent during 
the year beginning October 2005).   Defending the high cost of 
living, the President in his budget speech said that people are 
ready to and should make sacrifices for national security.  The 
budget deficit for 2006, estimated at 8.6 percent of GDP, has come 
at the expense of a substantial cut in public investment.  Due to 
increased welfare spending and salary increases, recurrent expenses 
have increased sharply by 23 percent in 2006.  Public debt is 
estimated to come down to 91.5 percent of GDP from about 105 percent 

COLOMBO 00001982  002 OF 003 

as nominal GDP expanded due to inflation, not because government 
borrowing has been reduced. 

HIGHER TAXATION, 
CONCESSIONS FOR SOME SECTORS 
---------------------------- 

6.  (SBU) The government has been forced to find funds for newly 
created government jobs, salaries, subsidies and welfare measures 
through increased taxation.  Since coming to power, Rajapaksa has 
increased corporate and personal income taxes, import tariffs and 
other import charges.  In addition, a new stamp duty on a range of 
transactions was introduced.  The magnitude of the tax burden was 
highlighted by the World Bank in its Doing Business Report. 
According to the report, Sri Lankan businesses face one of the 
highest tax rates (75 percent of profits) in the world.  Rajapaksa 
has kept to promises to assist some local industries, such as the 
film industry, construction, gem and jewelry and footwear with 
tariff protection and tax concessions. 

MOST EDUCATIONAL AND ECONOMIC PROMISES UNFULFILLED 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 

7.  (SBU) On the social services side, Rajapaksa has begun to 
fulfill some of his key promises on the Samurdhi welfare program, an 
income transfer scheme aimed at the poorest of the poor.  He 
increased Samurdhi payments by 50 percent in August 2006 - but only 
to half the recipient families.  Other, less efficient programs have 
languished.  He also promised an ambitious five-year development 
plan to establish a Ministry for Children and provide greater 
assistance to children's homes, daycare centers, and pre-schools. 
Most analysts discounted these as mere electioneering, and in fact, 
the president has not delivered on any of these commitments.  He did 
establish a Ministry of Child Development and Women's Empowerment. 

8. (SBU) Rajapaksa kept his "University for All" promise from the 
Mahinda Chintana, earmarking increased scholarship money in the 2007 
budget.  However, in his 2006 budget, Rajapaksa managed to create 
only 3000 jobs of the 10,000 public sector jobs he had promised to 
unemployed graduates.  He included funding for an additional 7000 
jobs in 2007.  From the beginning, it has been clear that the 
promise of employment was to win votes rather than to improve the 
bloated government -- which has over 70 ministries crammed into 
numerous office buildings filled with bored, underworked staff. 
Some new employees have reportedly been encouraged not to show up 
for work since there is nothing for them to do, and no workspace. 

AGRICULTURAL, INFRASTRUCTURE POLICIES: 
WAITING FOR IMPLEMENTATION 
-------------------------------------- 

9. (SBU) Rajapaksa partly fulfilled one key campaign promise to 
provide fertilizer at a subsidized price.   However, to date only 
paddy farmers have benefited from the subsidy, while other farmers 
have not.  Rajapaksa's proposed Paddy Marketing Board to set price 
floors for rice sales is still on the drawing board.    Mahinda 
Chintana also pledged the rehabilitation of 10,000 water "tanks" 
(irrigation ponds), but the government failed to deliver.  The 
promised National Land Policy to allocate 100,000 plots of land to 
farmers did not even reach the discussion stage in 2006. 

10. (SBU) Rajapaksa also included "Electricity for All" in his 
manifesto, promising research and construction of thermal, hydro, 
wind, and solar power plants.  The government has taken no tangible 
steps with regard to these initiatives, although a coal power plant 
in Norochcholai is under development.  Meanwhile, the government 
continues straining its limited coffers to keep afloat inefficient 
state-owned companies which manage subsidized energy production. 
Mahinda Chintana also promised to tap offshore oil and natural gas 
deposits and to channel benefits public quickly.  Rajapaksa declared 
that oil and gas revenues would be a panacea for Sri Lanka's 
economic problems.  Despite political pressure for a rapid 
exploitation of reserves, it appears that politicians are willing to 
wait for a well-designed plan that will strike a reasonable balance 
between appropriate development and expediency. 

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT, 
PROMISES TO HIS CONSTITUENCY 
---------------------------- 

COLOMBO 00001982  003 OF 003 

11. (SBU) Regional development beyond the well-off Western Province 
(which includes Colombo) was a key part of Rajapaksa's campaign 
rhetoric.  Rajapaksa is clearly attempting to keep his promise to 
people in his constituency in the Sinhalese south.  Work on the 
highway connecting Colombo to Matara continues.  Recently the GSL 
and donors decided to widen the highway to 4 lanes by 2010 and are 
conducting feasibility studies to extend the road to Hambantota. 
Government agencies are planning an airport and a port in 
Hambantota.  On the other hand, Mahinda Chintana had promised to 
construct 20 overpasses in Colombo within three years to minimize 
traffic congestion and accidents at road-rail crossings.  The Road 
Development Authority reported no discussions to date on these 
proposals. 

12. (SBU) COMMENT: Rajapaksa has a no better than average record for 
politicians when it comes to delivering on his campaign rhetoric. 
While the long-running ethnic conflict is no closer to resolution 
now than when he took office, the Tamil Tigers bear a large share of 
the blame for the resumption of hostilities.  The focus on the 
violence has taken up most of the national debate - and taken some 
heat off the President to perform on his other promises.  Still, 
Rajapaksa could do more to address Tamil concerns, for example, by 
promoting dual-language instruction in schools according to the 
commitment he made in Mahinda Chintana. 

BLAKE
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    //Rajapaksa asked Norway to remain as facilitator for the peace process, despite vigorous objections from his erstwhile coalition partners, the JVP and JHU.//
    Good to know. But looks uneducated uncultured rascal for sure.

  • 0
    0

    madamulana idiots, only thinking about Madamulan and only know about Madamulaana.

    • 0
      0

      Mademulane, Mada moley nathi evun, ohoma thamai.

  • 0
    0

    The post-war development model is highly regionally unbalanced and exacerbating regional inequality and disparity between Tamil areas and the rest of the country – particularly south. This regional imbalance in post-independence development policy was one of the root causes of the armed conflict. Today as then all the big funds go to the South rather than the north which needs more facilities and livelhood opportunities and would pay back richer rewards to the economy.

    The international Donors who are rushing to lend to the Rajapaske regiem particularly the IFIs – ADB, IMF and WB that claim to be great development actors are to be blamed for supporting the racist Rajapakse’s regionally unbalanced “development” policies which are in fact contributing to the root causes of the conflict – namely the denial of the right to development of the people of the northeast aside from a few new roads in northeast. Social development and Human resource development in the northeast is non-existent.

  • 0
    0

    See the posture of the Head of State. Once he was shown seated with a VIP female visitor with his slippers out shaking his feet. ‘Koodallo mettey thiyanda baha’ or Dog’s tails can never be straightened.

  • 0
    0

    “Colombo telegraph”s real intentions of slinging mud at our president is quite evident from the nature of the photo posted. This is cheap, gutter ‘journalism’… Imagine the USA or UK journalists, however opposed to their president, publishing a photo like this.

    These morons have no sense of shame or dignity. Wonder why people read this kind of crap ‘web page’. This is not much different to the cheap trash sites like lanka enews.

    • 0
      0

      A leader of a Nation should conduct himself in a manner befitting a Leader. He should be aware, not to dig nose or to bend in two or be without foot wear when in VIP company. The fault is not on the media for displaying, but for the Leader to conduct himself in a dignified manner with decorum.

      • 0
        0

        Good response Gamini

  • 0
    0

    This articl predated MR delivering on the most important election promise of all:
    He utterly destroyed the LTTE’s capability for making an entire nation cower in fear for over a quarter century.

    So these leaked cables from before the glorious victory of May 2009 are really outdated and of dubious utility.

    Having been to the Vanni recently, I disagree that there are only “a few new roads”. Damn near the entire A9 is being rebuilt from North of Vavuniya, the A35 out to Mullaitivu, are just two MAJOR roadbuilding projects. Habarna to Trincomalee is another example. It is no exaggeration to say that close to half the roads in the North and East are being rebuilt currently and the A9 through Kilinochchi is as wide and smooth as any boulevard in any European Capital.

    The Jaffna airport is being refurbished to start accepting commercial flights, all sorts of infrastructure improvement projects are underway. So to accuse GOSL of not investing in the rebuilding of the North and as is just not accurate.

  • 0
    0

    There is massive road development in the north. I was there last month. The road from Kilinochchi to Mullaitivu should be done by next year. A-9 is great about 85% of the way and rest will be done by end of this year for sure. There is a severe drought in the entire N, and NCP and so that is causing hardship. Everywhere I went except in the final war zone, roads are being done in frenetic pace. The shattered areas are Puthukuduirripu; Vellamullvaikal etc. But reality is that the roads in the East are superb. There is a lot of block near Kantalai because the road is being done so you have to take a tortuous detour via Muttur and Kinniya.. That should end by next year. otherwise the road from Habarana to Trinco is really top class; once that bottleneck at Kantalai is done, it should be superb. Roads in Batticoloa, Pasekudah, Kalkudah are excellent now.. I was there in 2010 and all the ferry crossing were being replaced by bridges. That time i went north past Kutchuveli and crossed. I think those roads are done now. Roads inside Trinco are bad still. Parts of the road to Nilaveli are ok but still needs working. The amazing stuff is South of Trinco with the superb roads and bridges…

  • 0
    0

    Vavuniya roads, crossings, traffic lights etc are better than in Colombo or Kandy. .Very nice road through Vavuniya.. Tamil Terrorist lovers in Canada and US need to go to Sri Lanka and go on A-9 to appreciate the massive rebuilding. The shattered and sad areas are still the last war zone. Not one building is intact in those areas where the last war took place in May 2009. There are mines everywhere put by Tigers as they withdrew and set fire to vehicles and also houses. Also are housing schemes that were built for Tiger war heroes that are totally devastated along with the entire region. But no one can risk going there because of mines. Demining is taking place but it is a painful and dangerous process. Patience is needed. Sad to see in some areas people have built huts adjacent to their shattered houses and living there. The more well of Tamils were rebuilding their homes with tiles etc but i did not see a single house that was not affected. Sad cost of war.. If only Tigers surrendered when Kilinochchi fell none of it would have happened. In Kilinochchi, the Tiger buffoons blew up the Water tower. Result? only the civilians in now bustling town (A-9 is excellent) are suffering. When the Tiger terrorists withdrew they blew up the water tower. It did not impact the military at all. But they forced people to withdraw with them. as a result now there is no piped water to residents of recently bustling Kilinochchi. The liberal apologists for Tigers will not mention this cold brutal fact. Tigers practiced scorched earth policies as they ran. But that only harmed the Tamil civilians.

    • 0
      0

      well put Sir. The water tank is still there toppled on its side, or was when I passed by in April. I suspect GOSL is in no rush to remove it as it reminds everybody of how little the LTTE cared for the people it claimed to be representing.

      And while the Tamil disapora sent so much money to buy arms for the LTTE, they seem much less generous helping their brethren with money for reconstruction or development.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.