Sri Lanka has become the belle of the Asian Ball. And most certainly must take advantage of her privileged position. Opportunity, which only knocks once, now knocks twice on her door and, by all means, she should open the flap and let her in. But that does not necessarily mean she must feign to turn [...]


India offers love and air from heart: China grants cold cash from pocket


Sri Lanka has become the belle of the Asian Ball. And most certainly must take advantage of her privileged position. Opportunity, which only knocks once, now knocks twice on her door and, by all means, she should open the flap and let her in.

But that does not necessarily mean she must feign to turn the blind eye and ignore the lusty winks she receives from her many suitors either. In her fallen circumstances, she cannot afford to do so. She must play ball and try her best to overcome the dire straits she presently finds herself in. Thankfully, though it may seem she has gone to seed, things appear to be pecking up in her favour. Her old Indian flame who once snubbed her and dumped her to the bin has started reviving old emotions and begun wooing her with roses of endearing love, whispering sweet nothings in both her ears, pleading her in earnest for her to return to his bosom and there remain bewitched, clasped in his iron embrace.

Her new suitor of late, the wily Chinaman, sitting pretty at his table not that far off, takes in the whole nine yards scene of his rival’s entreaties; and, watching with the confidence of patience – as had been the virtue of his 5000 year old ancestry which had reaped rich returns for that virtue alone- instinctively knows how to pluck the heartstrings of a damsel in distress and make her tango to his cash register’s cha-ching tune. Not for him, the sloppy sentimental hog wash. He covets her body and soul with cold hard cash. Knowing it’s the sure fire way to sweep a dame off her feet whilst she is sinking in the swamp, yelling to be saved.

But whilst China’s Xi Jinping drops the cash line for the Lankan lass to climb aboard the Chinese aircraft carrier berthed next to the Colombo Port on a ninety nine year lease, India’s Narendra Modi believes, and is willing to bets his last paisa on it, that his love line would anchor her firmly to his Indian ship of state lying just 22 miles cross the Palk Straits.

Last Saturday in Jaffna the Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his India counterpart Modi flagged off the first two ambulances in the ambitious Emergency Ambulance Service program go nationwide.

The Emergency Ambulance Service was first launched in 2016 in Western and Southern Provinces of Sri Lanka under an Indian grant of USD 7.5 million. This grant includes purchase of 88 ambulances, operational expenditure of the service for one year and setting up of an emergency response centre. The service was expanded to the remaining seven provinces with an additional grant of USD 15.02 million, covering the cost of 209 ambulances, training costs and operational expenditure for one year in all seven provinces.

Though the Indian Prime Minister was not present in person to flag the first two ambulances, he was present on the Live Video Link to give the welcome program India’s blessings and flaunt India’s new found generosity towards the islanders whose isle has oft been described as the pearl that hangs on the Indian coarse rope.
In his speech Modi said: ““I am very happy to be talking to you in Jaffna today through Live Video Link. I am all the more happy that this is the occasion when the National Emergency Ambulance service is being extended all over Sri Lanka. This event marks another major achievement in the development partnership of India and Sri Lanka.”

As the Lankan Prime Minister stood to attention as the Indian Godfather spake of India’s largess, he would have heard Modi say:” “During my visit to Sri Lanka last year I had promised the friendly people of Sri Lanka that India will work for expanding the pre-hospital Emergency Ambulance Service all over Sri Lanka.”
“I am happy that India has completed its promise in a timely manner and we have marked today the beginning of the second phase of the Service. “I am also happy that this phase of expansion begins with the Northern Province.”

Of course India’s only care and concern over Lanka has always been, in the main, confined to the Jaffna peninsula. Nothing wrong with that, of course. For the last 30 years and more, she has claimed that the Tamils of Lanka, though Sri Lankan citizens for centuries, somehow had dual citizenship with India; and used the welfare of the Tamil minority’s Indian origins as justification to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign Lanka.

Though the Sinhala chronicle, the Mahawamsa, states that the Sinhalese too hailed from India 2500 years ago when the vagabond son born of an incestuous relationship by an Indian king himself born out of a bestial sexual relationship, arrived on the shores of Lanka with seven hundred other Indian delinquents banished from Bharatha and populated the land with thousands of other little Bharathans, no Indian Government has stepped forth to admit paternity over the Sinhala race.
Even as Lanka, with many lessons learnt after the thirty year terrorist war, now strives to establish a common identity for all its citizens – be they Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burgers, Malays – and gather them all under one common banner of being Sri Lankans, successive Indian government, while it calls for reconciliation, have sought to create a racial divide by adopting a policy that the Tamils of Lanka come under their umbrella due to their origins and thus merit the protection of Big Brother India.

Even after the terrorist war was won, India has continued the same policy to gain its foothold on Lankan soil again. Every project she has financed, through either a loan or grant, has been exclusively been for the welfare of the people in the north. Not that anyone is complaining. After all, the northern Tamils suffered the worst of the thirty year terrorist war. And they deserve all the attention. But that doesn’t mean the Southern Sinhalese suffered any less.

Credit where credit is due and the Indian Government must be thanked for building homes for the Tamil refugees in the north, for establishing a hospital for the Indian Tamils in the hills two years ago. And for lending money to the Lankan Government to restore the northern rail track from Colombo so that the Jaffna residents working in Colombo amongst the Sinhalese and living in amity, peace and friendship, could easily ride to Jaffna on the Yal Devi at a moment’s notice to visit their beloved ones in their home towns. No one has any quarrel with that but thank Modi’s India for affording the privilege to the Lankan citizen.

Modi in his live video speech also said: “When I look at Sri Lanka, I see not only a neighbour, I see a very special and trusted partner of India in South Asia and in the Indian Ocean family. I believe that our development cooperation with Sri Lanka is an important means for translating our vision of shared progress into reality. “
How gratifying. How comforting. How so moving. To discover that finally India has had a change of heart toward Lanka. And what a change of heart from the one adopted fr over thirty years.

India may have forgotten but Lanka certainly hasn’t.
When Modi said last Saturday in reference to the ambulance staff, that he ‘understands that the people associated with this service have been trained in India“ it only served to remind us all that so were the LTTE terrorist, under the patronage of Indira Gandhi, fostered, trained and armed on Indian soil to wage terror on Lankan land.

To wage a terrorist war that was to last for over thirty years, which enabled God Brother India to bring Lanka to her knees and, without even a by your leave as diplomatic protocol would demand, to violate Lankan airspace and drop dhal on the pretext of humanitarian grounds to the northerners? To be followed by the signing of the Peace Accord which led to the enactment of the 13th Amendment plus the formal invite J. R. Jayewardene, with his twisted hand had to sign to invite the Indian Peace Keeping Force, the first and only instance since the grant of independence when sovereign Lanka had to suffer such an ignominy without murmur?
These things you don’t forget. Even though, the Indians will wish us to suffer a bout of amnesia in return for 297 ambulances when Modi says; “I see not only a neighbour, I see a very special and trusted partner of India in South Asia and in the Indian Ocean family.”

If Indian Ocean family ties did indeed bind India to Lanka would India have committed the perfidy to do her worst and force Lanka, desperate at that terrible hour, to succumb to India’s needs? The same India represented by a new government, of course, that now says “India is happy to work together with you for wiping tears from the past and ushering in a bright future.”

If India ever shed a single tear it would have been from a crocodile eye. But Lanka’s tears were real and it flowed from broken hearts. Whatever the community, both the Sinhalese and the Tamils wept grievous whilst India stood askance, her eye and mind focusing solely on how to capitalize on the situation and advance her geopolitical interest in the South Asian region.

After having caused so much damage and having had the power to have prevented the human tragedy that was to unfold and engulf Lanka and her people, Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, it does indeed take some gall for the Prime Minister of India representing as he does his predecessors in the same office, to speak now of longstanding friendship between India and Lanka in the Indian Ocean Family and blithely say ‘Wipe the tears of the past away’.

He said: “I am also happy that this phase of expansion begins with the Northern Province. India is happy to work together with you for wiping tears from the past and ushering in a bright future.

Is it not an affront to those who fell victim to the guns of terror, financed, protected and given safe refuge on Indian soil by the then government of India which Modi now represents without any apology? As if those tears of blood from grieving hearts could be so easily brushed away with an Indian made toilet tissue?
What did India weep for? Except to make tears incessantly flow from Lankan orphans’ eyes that India made cry for her political advantage in the North, East West and South? Now that the war is over and her stranglehold on Lanka is gone, she makes recourse to regain her position with 297 Indian made ambulances with a one year operational cost added to the fee and makes a song and dance4 about it as if it as the next best thing to slice bread. And the Lankan Government too leaps in delight in receiving it.

Modi expressed happiness that the promise he had made, for expansion of the ambulance service island wide in Sri Lanka during his visit last year, was now fulfilled. Well, it must be said in his favour he kept that promise.

But, in view of his tourism boosting statement stated last Saturday, “I would encourage you to come to India and experience the New India that is taking shape.” what about the other one he made when he first visited Lanka as the honoured first Head of Government shortly after Sirisena became President and the Indian Prime Minister was granted the privilege of addressing the Lanka Parliament? When he announced that all Sri Lankans need no longer apply for visas to come to India and it will henceforth be a visa on arrival, like in Singapore for Lankans?

So much for India’s Modi kitted up in his motley of Indian fancy dress. He cannot be held responsible for the actions of his predecessors but neither can he escaper condemnation for the premiers in India’s past. For the golden thread of the Indian Government runs through the tapestry of Indian Government policy that once held Lanka as a doormat to wipe clean their chappals.

No doubt about it, Sri Lanka owes a great debt of gratitude to India, the isle’s closest neighbour, It is from India that she received the priceless gift of Buddhism. The inestimable gift of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. The living symbol of the Sri Maha Bodhi. They were given with no strings attached by the ancient kings of India, Not to forget, of course, the whole pantheon of Hindu Gods the majority of the Sinhalese hold in utmost reverence amd pray before their altars day in and night out. For that we must all be thankful.

But should we grovel before the Modi icon merely because he has given us some Indian made ambulances worth some 3. 5 billion SL bucks in toto? Is Lanka so bankrupt that it cannot find Rs. 3.5 billion to have its own ambulance service for the masses when it spend more than 3 billion per year on her MPs and Ministers salaries and perks annually?

The Chinaman, on the other hand, seated at his table not far off and within earshot of the conversation between the Indian and the Lankan damsel, has shown a more disarming attitude to win with charm what the Indian failed to with the macho approach, the hand of the belle of the ball. Not for him to rush things and force her hand. The patience of his forefather has proved right again. He slips a quiet unsolicited note and suggests he will build a Taj Mahal on a manmade Shangri-la on the shores of Colombo 1 for her?

And, apart from making Hambantota Port ship shape for phantom ships to harbour and constructing a new airport in Mattala for flying apparitions from the sky to touch down on its tarmac, all at a price, of course, these last two weeks showed an extraordinary zeal by Xi Jinping’s China to demonstrate that her charity begins in Lanka.

On Monday, two days after the Indian grant of Rs 3.5 billion for a countrywide ambulance service was announced with much fan fare and flagged off, China announced without any song and dance the no strings attached gift of Rs. 48 billion Rupees to President Sirisena to spend as he pleased on any project of his choosing. The president stated that he would spend it on a country wide housing program.

Showing the ivory from ear to ear, the smiling President said that Colombo-based Chinese Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan had visited him at his official residence where the offer was made, about two weeks back, during talks to finalize the launch of the hospital project.

President Sirisena quoted Ambassador Xueyuan as having told him that China wanted a project proposal within one week. The President said that he decided to utilize the entire grant to build houses in all administrative districts. He said that Rs 1 m would be spent on each house. That would mean 48 thousand houses. Great

But the Chinese Santa, making a premature appearance before Xmas, had more goodies in his bag. Just when it was being reported last Sunday that the Lankan Government was being coerced by the Russians to purchase a Russian built frigate at the sum of Rs. 450 million, along comes the Chinaman the following day bearing in his pocket the gift of a free frigate

So pray say, what can an innocent, impoverished lass like Lanka do in these circumstances when two powerful suitors spoil her with their baubles competing with each other to gain her laurels but to say ‘come or go Chicago’ with old flame India looking after her north and the Chinaman attending to her needs in the South? It will be the best of both worlds if she plays her cards right. And does not lose her sovereignty in the process.

Oh! why can’t the Lankans be more like the British?
Paisley gets suspended but local johnnies go scot free

BRITISH PAISELY: Suspended for not abiding by the’ Reporting Duty’

British MP, Democratic Unionist Party member Ian Paisley this week on Tuesday was suspended from Britain’s Westminster Parliament for 30 sitting days after fellow MPS voted to rule him out of order for his failure to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government in 2013,

His offence: Not so much that he accepted an all expenses paid holiday in sunshiny Lanka with his wife and children at the invitation of the then president Mahinda Rajapaksa to spread the good word about his regime in London and whitewash human rights violations in the echelons of power at Westminster but for his damning failure in British eyes to adhere to the ;Reporting Duty; all members of the House of Commons are traditionally expected to abide by.

DAYASIRI: Abides by ‘I didn’t know’ rule so no action

It cost the Lankan taxpayer Rs 22 million just to have the pleasure of the company and his brood on Lankan soil for a few days. But if the first visit didn’t convince this insignificant British MP representing an obscure county in Northern Ireland called North Antrim to give the all clear to his colleagues at Westminster a second holiday was arranged for him to visit Lanka, again with his wife and family for him to garner a second opinion.

The itinerary: He flew with his wife and four children for a 10-day holiday in March and he travelled again in July with wife and two of the children for a seven-day tour of Sri Lanka. They flew business-class, stayed at the Colombo Hilton and five other five-star hotels. The government of Sri Lanka also paid for their travel within the island by helicopter and a Mercedes Benz.

The total cost: The Lankan tax payer had to fork out Rs 45 million to give Mr. Paisley his wife and children the time of their life at Rs 2 million per night. And the service Paisley performed on his return to England was to merely write a letter to then Prime Minister David Cameron the following year urging him not to support a United Nations’ investigation into human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. The recommendation was brusquely ignored and presumably the letter was thrown into the trash can.

That was the fate of the letter. And the fate of Rs 45 million of the taxpayers money which the Rajapaksa government spent to hide their sins. In other words it was a Rs 45 million bribe given to a foreigner to paint a rosy picture of the Lankan situation.

The total costs of both visits: Rs 45 million. Never knew that a seventeen day holiday even staying at the Hilton and flying business class cost that much in Lanka. That’s Rs 2, 600, 000 a day. Hardly the sort of info one would include in a travel brochure promoting Lanka as a paradise isle to visit even for a weekend, now will one?

Anyway who is this Ian Paisley bloke? His only claim to fame rest on his father Ian Paisley who founded the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. But he has one outstaying feature he’s well noted for, And that is: he is a big spender.

For the 2011–12 financial year, Paisley’s total expenses claim was the seventh highest of all Members of Parliament.[4] His expenses for the 2012–13 financial year were £232,000; the highest of any MP that year.

RAVI: Abides by ‘I didn’t know’ rule so no action

The final analysis: Mr. Paisley has now been suspended from the British Parliament for thirty sitting days, He has also been suspended by his own party until an internal investigation into his conduct is concluded.

SUJEEVA: Abides by ‘I didn’t know’ rule so no action

Well that’s the way the British parliamentary system works. And whilst Lanka clamours for a new constitution to replace the old, in the misplaced belief that new brooms sweep better, the British have no written constitution at all. Its tradition that does the trick and why Paisley finds himself sent to Coventry today, snubbed by his peers.

But here in Lanka, the scene is different. Take for instance three recent cases.
In the last week of April this year it was revealed that former Sports Minister of this Government, Kurunegala District MP Dayasiri Jayasekera had received a cheque for one million rupees from Walt and Row Associates, a subsidiary company of Perpetual Treasuries owned by the man at the epicentre of the 5 billion bucks bond scam Arjuna Aloysius.

Did Parliament take any action? No.
In early June it was then revealed that police filed a B report at a magisterial court in connection with the bond scam which claimed that Sujeewa Senasinghe had received a cheque from Aloysius, a cheque not for one million but for three million bucks in three cheques from Aloysius liquor company, W. M. Mendis Ltd., the famous arrack distillers.

Did Parliament take any action? No.
Last year during the proceedings of the presidential Bond Commission it came to light that the ex Finance Minister and then Foreign Minister Ravi Karunanayake had been enjoying the hospitality of the chief architect of the Bond Scam Arjun Aloysius at the penthouse suite of Monarch Towers the rent for which amounted to Rs 1. 4 million a month had been paid by Aloysius.

Did Parliament take any action? No. Did his party the UNP take any action? Yes, it did. It reaffirmed his position this April as the Assistant Leader of the party
So don’t you sometimes yearn to cry out and sigh ‘Oh! why can’t the Lankans be more like the British?

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