Category Archives: foreign policy

Mattala Airport in China’s Game-Plan

Brook Larmer,  courtesy of New York Times Magazine , 13 September 2017, where the title reads What the World’s Emptiest International Airport Says About China’s Influence”

   

The four-lane highway leading out of the Sri Lankan town of Hambantota gets so little traffic that it sometimes attracts more wild elephants than automobiles. The pachyderms are intelligent — they seem to use the road as a jungle shortcut — but not intelligent enough, alas, to appreciate the pun their course embodies: It links together a series of white elephants, i.e. boondoggles, built and financed by the Chinese. Beyond the lonely highway itself, there is a 35,000-seat cricket stadium, an almost vacant $1.5 billion deepwater port and, 16 miles inland, a $209 million jewel known as “the world’s emptiest international airport.”

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US Congress has Sri Lanka in Its Gunsights

Daya Gamage,  courtesy of Asian Tribune, where the title runs thus U.S. Congress Tightens War Crimes Noose on Sri Lanka”

The United States Senate Committee on Appropriations last week approved the FY 2018 Department of State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill with $51.35 billion for diplomatic and humanitarian programs that strengthen U.S. national security and support American values abroad. Despite the Trump administration’s soft-peddling of American values abroad – democracy promotion, good governance, human rights, and rule of law etc. – the Senate Appropriations Bill, co-authored by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democratic Patrick Leahy, independent of the White House budget proposals released last month, underscored policy iteration or ‘riders’ on Sri Lanka’s commitment to “increasing accountability and transparency in governance; supporting a credible justice mechanism in compliance with United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution (A/HCR/30/ L.29) of October, 2015”.

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Experiencing Terror in the Heart of New York: 9/11

Palitha Kohona, courtesy of Ceylon Today

It was another sunny September morning. The sky was a brilliant blue. As I gazed out of my kitchen window while having breakfast, in Midtown Manhattan, the Twin Towers were glistening in the morning sun. I noted, as I often had, that they were still there, a familiar reassuring sight. The cute young blonde in the apartment across the street was drying her wet hair, as usual, by her plate glass window. The walk to the United Nations (UN) and my office on the 32nd floor of the Secretariat was uneventful.

Kent Kobersteen, former Director of Photography of National Geographic

“The pictures are by Robert Clark, and were shot from the window of his studio in Brooklyn. Others shot the second plane hitting the tower, but I think there are elements in Clark’s photographs that make them special. To me the wider shots not only give context to the tragedy, but also portray the normalcy of the day in every respect except at the Towers. I generally prefer tighter shots, but in this case I think the overall context of Manhattan makes a stronger image. And, the fact that Clark shot the pictures from his studio indicates how the events of 9/11 literally hit home. I find these images very compellingÑin fact, whenever I see them they force me to study them in great detail.”

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The New Constitution is a Neo-Colonial US Project

Tamara Kunanayakam, being the full text of a talk entitled The new Constitution – a neo-colonial project!” at a Forum in Sri Lanka on 6th September 2017 .. with highlighting emphasis added by The Editor, Thuppahi

As we meet here this evening, a radical overhaul is underway – of our political, economic, financial, social and cultural system. A new Constitution is being discussed, at the same time a plethora of radical reforms are being rushed through. The fact that many of these reforms are being challenged as unconstitutional indicates that the new Constitution is aimed at making what is un-Constitutional today, Constitutional tomorrow, making legal what is illegal by a simple trick of changing the Law!

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Ken Dharmapala’s Pessimistic Evaluation of the Sri Lankan Situation–2016 and Now

Michael Roberts

Mark Salter’s feisty “Comments” placed recently in the Thuppahi Item conveying Padma Rao Sundarji’s Q and A Session with Erik Solheim sustains the combative stance he has adopted in previous Colombo Telegraph interventions.[1] I rarely engage in the verbal fisticuffs that are the standard pattern in blog commentary. Most bloggers hide behind pseudonyms and their physical location in the world is not self-evident. Nor does the format enable citations and bibliographical listings that may sustain an argument.[2]

Yesterday, however, in once again reading the sixty-four (64) comments that were inserted way back in time in response to my article of 5th April 2016 about “Attempts to Rescue Piräpaharan et al in 2009,” I came across a set of comments by Ken Dharmapala that I deem pertinent to our reflections today – as they were, indeed,  pertinent then in 2016.

 “SINHA-LE” agitations of yesteryear pertinent to Dharmapala’s critical thrust

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The Scam and Spam World of Neo-Liberalism, 1977-2917

Sumanasiri Liyanage,   in The Island, 3 August 2017, which has the title  Reflections on four decades of neo-liberalism: 1977- 2017″”

 

Senani and Kalpa, two of my former students, gave me a wonderful gift when they returned to Sri Lanka for a summer vacation from the New School of Social Research in New York. The gift that is a copy of Arundhati Roy’s second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, provided me loads of thought on the subject that I intend to deal with in this essay. Of course her narrative is about India. The following quotation appears to be equally applicable to Sri Lanka’s journey in the last four decades through neoliberalism. On page 105, she writes: “The summer of the city’s resurrection had also been the summer of scams-coal scams, iron-ore scams, housing scams, insurance scams, stamp-paper scams, phone-licence scams, land scams, dam scams, irrigation scams, arms and ammunition scams, petrol-pump scams, polio-vaccine scams, electricity-bill scams, school-book scams, God Men scams, drought-relief scams, car-number plate scams, voter-list scams, identity-card scams- in which politicians, businessmen, businessmen-politicians and politician-businessmen had made off with unimaginable quantities of public money.” If one wants to Sri Lankanize the list she may do some additions and subtractions like karunka scams, pepper scams and of course bond scams. Continue reading

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Lanka walks tightrope in Indian Ocean Political-Naval Manoeuvres

Shamindra Ferdinando,  in The Island, 2 August 2017, where the title is “China makes headway as Lanka walks tightrope

Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) on July 22, 2017, took delivery of an Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel (AOPV) built by the Government of India owned Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL).

On the invitation of Navy Chief Vice Admiral Ravi Wijegunaratne, President Maithripala Sirisena will commission the vessel as SLNS Sayurala (P 623) today (August 2) at the Eastern Container Terminal, Colombo harbour. It’ll be the first occasion a President participates in such a ceremony, in wartime or peacetime Sri Lanka. The AOPV is fitted for 76 mm main weapon though the SLN is exploring the possibility of mounting MBRL with stabilized platform developed by Research and Development. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be among the invitees. Continue reading

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