Sunday 30 March 2014

The Path of Dragon and the Fate of Ceylon

The Beauty of Colombo City

It was the last week of February this year. I was heading to Kuala Lumpur from Johannesburg, South Africa. The Dutch engineer, Henry, sitting next to me in the Boeing 777-300, had a long chat for the whole journey from Dubai to KL. 

"Colombo is the most beautiful city in the whole South Asia. The change that it has gone through during the last 3-4 years is unbelievable and amazing". Henry was praising the capital city so much.

A week latter I was in Sri Lanka for a four-day ultra-crammed program. Amid this busy schedule, I could get a glimpse of Colombo as my business partner in Sri Lanka, Chandimal, took me around the city, from Hotel Galadari to my sister-in-law's home at Borella, mainly to avoid the after-work traffic. 

Very evidently, Henry was dead correct. The city is turning out to be a pageant beauty. 

Another two weeks latter I was again on my wings. This time it was to Kampala in Uganda. My long tranquil transit at Dubai airport was shaken by an ultra talkative Arab from Sharjah, who was also travelling to Kampala. A merchant of precious stones, he was no stranger to Sri Lanka. For nearly two hours he was repeating the same scenario about Sri Lanka which was told by Henry a few weeks before. 

I felt genuinely proud about my country. At least the way it appears to the external world at this moment is impressive.

The Realty

....... And, I wish that I were ignorant of the reality, as many of us are, so that I could fill up my heart not only with pride but with happiness as well ................

Unfortunately, my sniffing nose could sense quite well the very existence of the dark hellish pits covered by the beauty of city limits. 

For the last few years GoSL has put it's borrowed money to many mega projects. Some of them such as Airport-Colombo express way, is highly admirable. 

However, almost 90% of the money, borrowed at exuberant interest rates, mainly from China, has been dumped into sinkholes. 

Whatever said in media and defense ministry websites (don't forget that now almost all electronic and printed media in Sri Lanka are either state-owned or owned by clans of the regime) the situation in the economic backyard is gravely horrible.

Hambanthota port gets few ships as they are forcefully diverted from Colombo. Thus, in total, the harbour does not produce anything in extra for the country. Still, it incurs a significant maintenance /operational cost + monthly payback installment

Mattala is a disaster... No need to explain further as there are no plans of getting-out of the hook in the visible future.... The flight information of the airport is a sorry scene to look at. No flight start or destine at the airport. Only a few touch the airport on their way to (or out from) Colombo. If you check the airport information you will find that there are hardly any passengers go out of the airport (or come in). How long we can drag this operational cost...?

Can anyone state a single foreign investment on these two mega projects under which a single wall has been made (or at least the foundation is laid). There are figures of many millions in the state-media and websites... that's it.  

There are many other investments such as Norochcholei power plant, Mihin Lanka, Sri Lankan Airlines etc. which have been incurring heavy losses to the country at every second passes by. Still, GoSL plans to start second phase of Norochcholei, bail out Mihin Lanka and get more planes to Sri Lankan.

And at present the so called "reality" is that the Sri Lanka treasury is running at a several billion credit line from the state banks.  

Has China lent these money not knowing what will happen to the projects that they have been funding...?    

They are still giving loans... not just loans, loans to payback loan installments of previous loans.. 


Let's look at Africa

Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia etc. etc...... There is a long list of African countries which are now tightly bound to the pole of China.... by a heavy dog's chain. 

Corruption, state-terrorism, human-right violations.....; these are essential qualifications of a country to get Chinese loans. 

The reason is simple.

China does not expect these countries to payback their loans in cash. Their picture of recovery is much bigger than just getting the loans paid back. All these countries have immense natural resources, strategic importance and ample space for creating Chinese colonies. Thus, China simply wants the "total control"; both political and economic.

If these countries do not have corrupted, unwise and egoistic leaders, they do not need to borrow money from China, at the first place. Even if they borrow they would do that with proper pay-back plans.  Thus, Chinese motives will not be fulfilled.

These countries will also feel the political significance of Chinese friendship only when they have international pressure for investigating their own crimes. Knowing this well, China always enjoys the international pressure building up on their targets. 

Unlike the West, that has at least some pseudo self-pride in showing the world their "white-face", China has nothing to cover their dark patches.  

From Tiananmen Square Massacre to mass murders and genocide in Tibet and Mongolia, China has painted itself in red and black allover. Thus, they may not mind having any further small marks in their face. 

In other words, China may have no shame in protecting corrupted and murderous regimes at international level.... until they want. 

When you have a free time read about what has happened in Sudan.

China protected the leaders of Sudan, despite the gross human right violations and corruption of these Sudanese, until the Chinese sensed that the partition of oil rich South Sudan is imminent. Then, China remained silent while Sudan was fragmented into two and their leaders were tried at international tribunes. By such time, both Sudans were so tightly tied to the Chinese pole, that they could do nothing but going after China wagging their tails even knowing that China has betrayed them both. This is a good lesson for all those who go after China. 

The Geneva Resolutions

For the last two years I was looking aghast at the proceedings in Geneva on the resolution, as it is the country that I was born, Sri Lanka, that has been taken to task by the international community. 

I am not an international political expert, however with my peripheral knowledge on the subject, I can easily state that we are now at the wrong end of the stick. 

A war is war, where there could be many violations of accepted behavioral norms. Thus, no one expect an angel's story after a cruel war. However, in order to prevent or at least minimize future misdeeds, it is very natural that the world (both international and local activists) will demand for a credible investigation for finding the wrong doing and punishing the culprits after the end of a war.

Despite the pressure from diaspora, international community could not have done much if GoSL appointed a panel of judges to hear the complains from both sides on the victimization that has been taken place during the war time. 

Such processes take years to complete and most often everyone forgets what has happened, by the time the process is over. The world could only have witnessed the process patiently as in the past such war-time investigations have taken 10-15 years. 

At the end, most often all the cases have to be dismissed either due to lack of evidence or lack of identification of culprits or the culprits have already passed away.

Meanwhile, the government could develop an environment within which the tension among communities thins down as fast as possible. Thus, after few years victimized families themselves start asking the question "what is the purpose of going after such war-tribunes?". 

Instead, the regime adopted a totally different and grossly unwise sequence of decisions.  

What did the regime do?

At the first place, they appointed the LLRC, to investigate and make recommendations to the executive authorities on what to be done. 

In my opinion, the executive presidency should have taken the decision on what to be done, as it has done on starting and completing the war. 

While, the LLRC process was progressing, the GoSL started capitalizing on the patriotic sentiments of the public. The flames of vengeance and hatred were unleashed upon Tamils, Muslims, Catholics etc, in the name of patriotism. 

Anyone who voiced against this unethical stupidity were branded as a "Desha Drohiya", the traitor. 

Uneducated and blunt headed orators such as Wimal Weerawansa and Mervin Silva etc. as well as educated, yet thick headed personnel such as Chmpika Ranawaka and Rathana Thero were inflated and taken into the front desk. 

There are several factors that lead the regime to take such imprudent steps. The major reason may be the hunger to clinch into the power. 

As the corruption and state-terrorism started increasing exponentially, the only hope that the current regime has on getting the votes of the public is to create a ghost who is ever sharpening it's teeth to prey on the country.

I do not tell that the country has no security threats both internally and externally, however, the erroneous ten-fold magnification of the possibility of threats may actually help the real enemies to boost up their covert activities. 

The real enemies may be laughing at the childish acts of GoSL in catching hauls of arms from nowhere and creating LTTE new leaders in the wake of elections. Most often there are many loose ends to these creations which make the whole episodes become stage comedies. It is interesting to see whether these LTTE leaders will exist even after the elections. They may just vanish into thin air after the elections and re-emerge just before the next election similar to the oil wells in Mannar Basin.

Now the creativity of GoSL has come to such a ridiculous level that the society call any suspect of a given criminal incident that police catches as "Kan Gatta", following the Museum burglary. 

By the time the LLRC was out the regime has unfortunately created a "patriotic monster" who would destroy even the regime itself if the recommendations of the commission are put into practice. 

The Geneva Party

When the Geneva fiasco stepped into the stage, the regime started playing the wrong cards from the right beginning. Apart from Thamara Kunanayagam and Mahinda Samarasinghe whose acts were somewhat sensible, all the others were seemingly the puppets of the regime who chirp whatever the dialogues written for them by someone. 

Instead of having a sensible analysis of terms of the resolutions and reports, the representatives of the regime started vehemently denying all allegations. Only those who believe that war is some sort of a "Bodhi Pooja" would have bought the argument put forward by Sri Lankan delegates. 

The regime took the Geneva resolutions totally into it's political gain within the country. So that sometimes, the threat was highly exaggerated and some other times it was discarded as a piece of shit, in front of the local public. 

Soon, we found that the few figures who could deliver something for the country were sidelined and several unpractical pundits and noisy idiots were stepping into the scene. The outcomes of Geneva meetings started becoming more and more unfavorable to the country and the whole nation appeared naked in front of the international community. Finally, the delegation was included even with people such as Sajin Vaas Gunawardane...... !!!!!!

Whereas Rajapaksha regime plays this game for it's internal political gains, other stake holders of the resolution take part with different motives.

The Role of India

For India this is a critical issue and they play the game much more seriously and more sensibly than Sri Lanka.  

India has two reasons to reject the resolution against Sri Lanka. 

One is the dirt that they have in their own back yard. India does not have a clean history on human rights record. They have not done justice to Punjab and Kashmir freedom fighters (or terrorists as you may refer). They also know well that at any instant they have to launch a similar assault, as it was done by GoSL, on numerous militant groups in and in the neighborhood of India. They know that the support given to whatever the action taken against Sri Lanka by the international community will boomerang one day on them. 

The second reason is the strengthening of ties between Sri Lanka and India's traditional foes, Pakistan and China at an alarming rate. China may well look forward to see a widening rift between Sri Lanka and India.  A vote by India supporting the resolution against Sri Lanka may quite fulfill this desire of China. 

In the other side of the story, Indian central government has a distinct advantage of supporting a resolution against Sri Lanka. That is to gain the political support from Southern state of Tamilnadu. 

Very similar to the public and politicians in Sri Lanka, their counter parts in Tamilnadu are also dumb-heads that do not think for the betterment of their country. 

A majority of Tamilnadu public is driven by the so called "patriotic sentiments" about their own ethnic group whereas all political parties in TN try to capitalize on this public stupidity. They are totally ignorant (or have no idea) of the repercussions that India will undergo in supporting a resolution against Sri Lanka. 

So far, Indian central government has played this game very carefully to the maximum benefit of their country rather than their political party. 

Sri Lanka has openly shown their stupidity by once grossly accusing India of trying to destabilize Sri Lanka (when India voted for the resolution) and then by thanking with roses and violets when they abstained from voting. In neither occasions India has taken steps in favour of Sri Lanka. Instead, they have done what is best for their country.

USA and Other Western Allies

I think, US is backing the resolution against Sri Lanka due to two reasons; 

One is to  emphasize that by right they are the policeman of the globe who is vested with the responsibility of protecting minor communities. 

The other may be to ensure that their pet, Israel, is not the only country which is being penalized by the international community for their unforgivable crimes against the humanity. 

It should not be forgotten that USA has a fierce cold war with China, especially at the economic fronts.

Apart from Canada, Norway and Britain who put their hands into this problem to secure the large Tamil vote base to their respective political parties, other European nations may be supporting the resolution to show their self dignity. 

If Sri Lanka is taking this issue lightly, then the whole country is seriously and sorrily mistaken the powers of international community. There may be parties such as Navi Pilley and the members of the diaspora who have determined to take this case until Sri Lanka become another Sudan. As I see the regime is playing right into the hands of these parties with perseverance. 

Chris Nonis type heroics coming into the stage once in a while will not be able at all to bail out the country from this predicament.

It is totally absurd to argue that the report of Navi Pilley on Sri Lanka has been tabled as a conspiracy by USA and the West. On the very next day, the same Navi Pilley tabled a resolution against the genocide of Israel which was voted by 46 out of 47 members of the council, amid stiff resistance from USA who was the sole country to vote against. 

What next..?

Looking at what has happened in Sudan, I strongly believe that Sri Lanka is playing at present right into the hands of China. 

The firing dragon sketched the game plan for Sudan, giving their leaders a false sense of security that they will have a safety blanket at international arena. Finally, the country was smoothly segmented into two parts and the leaders were dragged towards the gallows, while the dragon was witnessing the whole episode silently.

Don't be surprised on the day that you get the news that Vigneshwaran has signed a development agreement with China. In such case, the regime has to simply witness the process with a wry grin on the face, as it does when the millions worth Norochcholei power plant was broken down over 25 times within 3 years due to Chinese components of par-below standards.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

The message from Dale ..........

It was yet another long day. A tensed drive along the Galle Road, from the University of Colombo to Katubedda during the rush hours after work, is not an easy job by any means. 

For those who work in Colombo know that it is not the person who leaves home in the morning that returns in the evening. The road traffic, workplace stress and many other life-demands make the person half human during the day.

As usual, I went straight into the backyard where I have grown many plants in quite small garden; from Rambutan, Uguressa, Start Fruits, Sour soup (Anoda), Jambu... to even ornamental plants. If you know the size of this garden you will never believe that it is possible to grow all this stuff there.  My wife, Nilu, used to say that I love plants more than I love them. 

Within a fraction of a second, something terrible caught my eye. A small ornamental plant, popularly known as bird nest, which I bought few days ago, was taken out from the pot and ripped into pieces. I got really mad. I knew who has done that. 

Dale, the 2 year old female dalmatian, was lying on the floor in all fours, face down just like a slave in front of the master when he is given capital punishment. She knew that she has done a nasty thing.

"DALEEEEEEE, you stupid idiot" I screamed as loud as I could, and raced towards her; may be to kick her or beat her. I don't know what I would do but I was out of my normal sense. I could see that Dale was shivering and her eyes were wide opened in scare.  

I could remember that I was taking two or three  steps. The floor was wet due to the overnight showers and I was slipped. In no time, I ended up landing on the concrete pavement with a huge THUD. I felt that my whole back was on fire.

In the next instant, what I could see was Dale sprinting towards me with a loud moan. She started licking me and then barking to attract the attention of the others inside. She was even trying to push me up with her front paw, which was totally impossible with her tiny foot.

I tried hard to hide my tears from Nilu and kids as they were rushing towards me hearing Dale's call.......... I had no words; a big lump was in my throat.... I remember that I hugged Dale before my sons straighten me up.  

This incident gave me a BIG message, loud and clear. 

Ever... never... be aggressive towards your loved ones under whatever the circumstance. Lost materials can be gained but wounded hearts, even that of a pet, cannot be healed completely. 

Since then, I tried my best to keep cool when I find someone that I love does something that I don't like. Sometimes, I get out of control, but within a second or two I get back into my cool-self just as I remember what Dale did on that day.

To write a few words about Dale.... 

Have you heard of a dog who became vegetarian by itself....? That was Dale...!!!! 

From the day she started eating solid food, we fed her with boiled sprat (salaya or hurulla), vegetables and red rice. By the time Dale was about 6 months, one day, she turned her plate of food upside down, when she was served. 

Nilu has thought that Dale has got fed up of sprats and rice so that she has tried few other types of fish and even chicken which has never been given to Dale before. The result was the same. Dale turned the plate upside down. 

When this happened for two days at a stretch and Dale was surviving only with milk and water, Nilu has tried just Dhaal and rice. To her surprise Dale has eaten the whole plate with relish. 

That day onward, she ate only vegetarian diet. We could not give her any non-veg food even in disguise. She simply turns the plate upside down.

Dale used to eat even raw vegetables. She used to eat fresh jambu that she pluck from our garden (the tree was not very tall). She even plucked guava from the branches of our neighbours garden that were lowered to our side over the boundary wall. 

Believe it or not, she used to play football with my kids and even played herself alone (with the help of the boundary wall) when no one was obliging to her calls. 

Dale really enjoyed posing for photographs. She will stay at whatever the pose you want for even five minutes if you have a camera in hand... Quite surprising move for a dog... isn't? You see a few of her pics that I only have with me now.

Just few months after the plant-ripping incident Dale passed away very untimely, making the whole family crying for days. As the Doctor said she has caught tick-fever. She died within three hours since she showed the first symptoms and amid getting medicine and saline. 

Due to some unknown reason, the bird nest plants (a single plant over which I got mad about Dale) started growing naturally on the walls of our backyard latter. 

Even last time when I was in Sri Lanka, I was surprised to see that there are hundreds of bird nest plants covering one entire wall. 

And I think to myself..."Sometimes, you may do the stupidest thing in life, just for an unworthy piece of material". ...... 

You better determine to think twice before you take any move next time, when you see that your loved one has done something which you don't like........................