Sri Lankan citizens celebrate their 73rd Independence Day today (February 4) at a time when the present regime has just completed one year in office (Pic AFP)
The Independence Day celebrations of any country draw global attention; hence a country’s foreign policy matters
After one year in office the present regime is tagged wit the slogan ‘Sir Fail’
Critics point out that if these protests gather momentum they can have the potential to topple a regime
One of the biggest problems faced by Sri Lankans in general is that they are forced to worry too much about how to survive the 30 days of the month. This blunts thinking and puts a stop to coming up with creative ideas to escape from the financial mess they are in. The present financial mess the Government is in has a general reflection on the financial situation of the people of this country.
In this backdrop the islanders celebrate their 73rd Independence Day, in Colombo. And if our lawmakers are asked what they are celebrating they are sure to be scratching their heads for answers.
The Independence Day celebrations of any country drawglobal attention; hence a country’s foreign policy matters. We have an Indian Embassy here and right now the relationship between India and Sri Lanka has been soured to some extent due to the issues cropped with regarding to the deal associated with the Eastern Container Terminal of the Colombo Port. Sri Lanka is at present backtracking from an agreement that was signed in May 2019 to develop this part of the Colombo Port roping in India and Japan.
There is a similarity between how the GoSL and a credit card holder, who uses his card unwisely, look towards an event that needs to be celebrated. Both parties would continue with celebrations using ‘credit’ to facilitate payments or settle bills
We must remember that when the British handed over ‘Ceylon’ to the islanders the latter were not in debt to any other country. Now the present debt the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) has to service is over Rs 12 trillion.
There is a similarity between how the GoSL and a credit card holder, who uses his card unwisely, look towards an event that needs to be celebrated. Both parties would continue with celebrations using ‘credit’ to facilitate payments or settle bills.
Sri Lanka has had three families that have shaped the political face of this country since receiving independence from the British in 1948. They are the Senanayakes, Bandaranaikes and the Rajapaksas.
Right now it’s a member of the Rajapaksa clan that heads the state and is slowly appointing people with a military background to top posts in Government and state institutes. At a time when the lion flags are fluttering in the February breeze people today (February 4) are sure to regret another Rajapaksa taking over the reigns of the country which is yet to see development without getting into further debt. After one year in office the present regime is tagged with the slogan ‘Sir Fail’. Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa in an interview with the Daily Mirror a few days ago acknowledged this scenario and responded by saying that the Government hadn’t failed and this negative propaganda was the work of the opposition; which he terms as weak.
Critics air that the Indian company has a dark history while engaging in business activities and has also come under fire from the farming community back in India. It has also received flack due to how it has engaged in a business regarding a coal power plant in Australia
As much as the country’s citizens must keep a tab on who comes and administrates the country this nation’s lawmakers must ensure one thing because Sri Lanka is an island, eternal vigilance.
Because we didn’t do that we see India, the USA and China having made great inroads into the country and wanting to claim stakes. Today (at present) India is giving us our medicine in the form of a vaccine produced by them to fight COVID-19. Soon India will have a grip over this island like a doctor makes a patient depend on him and the hospital.
At present the focus is on whether the GoSL would go ahead with the trilateral memorandum of cooperation signed to develop the Eastern Container Terminal (ECT) because the country at large and as many as 23 unions are calling for the GoSL not sell ‘state assets’ to other nations, especially India and China. These protests by the unions have been quite aggressive over the past few days and have jolted the Rajapaksa regime. Critics point out that if these protests gather momentum they can have the potential to topple a regime. Sri Lanka is a nation which has a history of employees in institutes like the department of railways, the bus service, ports authority, banks and those engaged in teaching and the ones attending university as undergrads having successfully engaged in strikes after pressurising the government to give into demands. Such incidents have taken place in other countries too; especially in a country like America where the value for democracy is held high. For the record there have been many instances where even student movements have successfully pressurized governments to give into their demands. There have been many occasions in the past, especially in third world countries, where student movements have toppled governments.
Sri Lankans valued the freedom they received when the LTTE was defeated in 2009 and the island became a terrorist-free nation. Citizens put up with much shortcomings by the government just after the war; not forgetting the lavish spending incurred by the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime between 2009-2015.
When the Rajapaksa regime sees its back to the wall it harps on the patriotic theme. It did the same with America with regard to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact when the new regime in the island didn’t show interest to take up the grant offered by the MCC. Sri Lanka cited undermining the country’s security if it continued with MCC’s compact.
A similar situation revolving around ‘security’ exists with the ‘port’s deal’ after the Indian Government roped in Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited to engage in development work of the ECT. The Rajapaksas talk about freeing this country, but the regime sees it difficult to exit from a trilateral memorandum of cooperation that includes India as a party due to mounting pressure from unions that are buckling work at the port and engaging in a work to rule campaign. Critics air that the Indian company has a dark history while engaging in business activities and has also come under fire from the farming community back in India. The Indian company has also received flack due to how it has engaged in a business regarding a coal power plant in Australia.
The present lawmakers of the country are engaging in administration in a military style; shooting down the views of opposing ideas and playing to the gallery in matters regarding foreign affairs. Critics point out that the approach taken by the present regime regarding foreign affairs is not very healthy for Sri Lanka. For the record India insists that all sides, including GoSL, continue to abide by the existing understandings and commitment regarding the Memorandum of Cooperation signed to develop the ECT of the Colombo Port.
All in all it’s a little over one year after Gotabaya Rajapaksa took over the reins of the presidentship and stamped his authority over the people of this nation. When the national flags at home are raised by citizens today feelings of being proud would be eclipsed by reflections that they are slowly being made to work in keeping with a government agenda which might or might not work for this country.