It appears China has shown interest in our plantation industry, a vital sector bringing in foreign exchange
Our politicians hire smart professionals and tell them what to do rather than get them to tell what we should
The above news item appeared in on May 6 wherein it says: “The MoU signed by Minister Dissanayake and Executive Governor of the People’s Government of Hainan Province aims at rejuvenating Sri Lanka’s ailing plantation sector that comprises of tree crops including rubber, tea, coconut, cashew, sugar cane and related industrial value chains.” It also says: “The projects are to be designed based on the Sri Lanka Rubber Industry Development Master Plan which is a 10-year growth plan aimed at earning USD 4-5 billion from the rubber industry. Beginning from 2019, Chinawill field competent teams to conduct project feasibility studies across the industry value chains with participation of Sri Lankan private sector and government resource personnel.
Rubber is planted in most Southeast Asian regions, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka to name a few major countries and China is not listed as a rubber producing country. If so, why does China take such an interest in Sri Lanka’s rubber industry? In saying so, browsing through inter-net, this is what it says on the Rubber Research Institute, Sri Lanka [RRI] – “The Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka is the oldest research institution on rubber in the world and it is the model agency in Sri Lanka with statutory responsibility for research and development on all aspects of rubber cultivation and processing for the benefit of the rubber industry.” And its mission is to revitalise the rubber sector by developing economically, environmentally sustainable innovations and transferring the latest technology to shareholders through training and advisory services. If that were the vision and the duty of RRI, it is pertinent to question as to why we require Chinese assistance. Is it due to our failure to perform, due to government’s failure to fund this institution or lack of knowledgeable professionals?
On the other hand, Thailand and Indonesia are the top-most rubber producing countries and surely these countries may have done advanced research to keep abreast with the world’s demand. If so, why have we not approached these countries for assistance in the way of consultancies and technologies? There lies the hidden secret where China, as I said in one of my letters which appeared in on March 12 titled ‘China’s Modus Operandi to Dominate Asian Region as Feared by Some’ where China tries to gain a foothold in a country’s affairs by funding projects which are not viable as in the case of Hambantota Harbour, Mattala Airport, sports stadium in Wirawila in Sri Lanka and in Kenya, Zambia and Republic of Congo.
One major reason in our country to be subjected to bad governance is when our professionals do not speak out, but worse still, our professionals actually gang up with those committing anarchy for their own benefit
It was recently reported that the Republic of Congo was seeking assistance from the International Monetary Fund [IMF] to pay off Chinese loans to get out of China’s debt grip. When a country fails to repay the loans with interest, China takes over the projects and run same. We narrowly escaped one such move when China wanted to take over and run Norochcholai Coal Power Plant which with the advice of CEB engineers, the then minister of power and energy, flatly refused. Now it appears China has shown interest in our plantation industry, a vital sector bringing in foreign exchange. Our government must carefully study and seek other avenues for consultancy and funding to revive our rubber industry, if internal funding were not possible and local professionals are unavailable. Surely, our private owners, old rubber planters having a wealth of experience and agencies of rubber estates, if given some incentive, could come out to solve the problem. It is a shame to show to the world we have no professionals in this field when during the colonial regime this industry was well-nurtured with dedication.
In the recent past, governments looked to other countries for professional guidance at a cost when we have our own. I remember, while in public service, when foreign consultants were engaged, they first go through the findings and recommendations of our own professionals and then make a few alterations or suggestions to justify their engagement. Our professionals too would want outsiders to confirm their findings. One truthful statement made at this forum is ‘Sri Lanka must upgrade its outdated technological infrastructure both soft and hard, modernise its human capital in work ethics and competencies and also adopt new breakthrough management models to serve the global markets emerging with seamless disruptive effects.’ Is this truthful finding possible in Sri Lanka when politicians interfere?
One major reason in our country to be subjected to bad governance is when our professionals do not speak out, but worse still, our professionals actually gang up with those committing anarchy for their own benefit. What they seem not to realise is that in the long run, they too would be subjected to worst treatment by politicians whom they have protected. Has this not been proved where our top officials are facing court cases for fraud, committed to please politicians? The hilarious part is that our politicians hire smart professionals and tell them what to do rather than get them to tell what we should.
To conclude, whatever it may be, be mindful of China’s Trojan Horse. Its aim is, as I said earlier in one of my letters, ‘IS CHINA GAINING DOMINANCE OVER ASIAN REGION.’ Are we unknowingly a partner?