Mike Pompeo is arriving amidst a sudden & unexpected covid surge in Sri Lanka and coming from two of the worst covid-hit countries. He is arriving to fulfil objectives of 2 designations. He is the Chair of the Board of Directors of MCC as well as the US Secretary of State.He most certainly is not arriving to shake hands with Sri Lanka’s President & congratulate him on passing the 20amendment or shake hands with Sri Lanka’s Army Commander whom he has designated ‘war criminal’. He does not even wish to meet the Prime Minister. What will his demands be, how nicely will he convey those demands, what are the not-so-nice repercussions he will insinuate and what are the choices Sri Lanka’s leaders haveand inadvertently what will the ordinary people end up having to put up with?
Whatever the anonymous international development experts or other experts paid to lobby and campaign for MCC say, the fact is that the $480m is no grant or gift and the money is not given to Sri Lanka.
Yet, MCC 5 year compact has to be passed by parliament, Sri Lanka requires to privatize State land & make it marketable, the GoSL has to devolve its obligations & responsibilities cited in the compact to a private company, GoSL has to grant immunity, waive taxes and duties and provide work visas to foreign personnel & contractors, Sri Lanka has to follow US procurement guidelines, all correspondence has to be only in English while Sri Lanka has to also agree to accept undisclosed letters and correspondence from time to time. If this list is not shocking enough, there are many more aspects that would make any ordinary person wonder why leaders of the country are dilly dallying without saying ‘No thank you MCC”.
Those promoting this anti-Sri Lanka agreement is probably due to a host of personal perks & privileges being offered to somehow pass this agreement which is an integral part of the Pivot to Asia Indo-US Pacific Strategy and part of the Quads containment & challenge of China.
The US has made its intentions clear asking Sri Lanka to make difficult but necessary choices”. US has also warned about choosing who Sri Lanka makes economic partnerships with. How democratic and transparent these ‘threats’ are!
The Quad nations are even conducting naval training but the laughable irony is thatall of the Quad nation’s largest trading partner is China the very country they are uniting to bring down! Why don’t these nations match their military might by simply cutting all trade ties with China or even stop borrowing from China?
China owns about $1.1 trillion in U.S. debt. India’s exports to China grew 15 per cent in August, with shipments worth $1.68 billion. China has been Australia’s largest
While all 4 quad countries are trading with China, the US & India don’t want Sri Lanka to trade with China. What kind of logic is this?
The sudden arrival & the burly presence of foreign representatives arriving after sealing several pacts across Asia, is to personally read out the riot act to Sri Lanka. All this overlooking the fact that his administration may not continue after the forthcoming elections.
Nevertheless, Sri Lanka should by now, know how threats will get delivered and mitigate by counter planning.
With one of the 3D’s already signed (ACSA-Defense), the US armed planes landing in Sri Lanka’s airports & ports is nothing we can now say no to. Refusing to sign SOFA-the diplomacy arm of the US pivot is of little significance as there is an immunity clause in the MCC-development component.
Now our ports & airports are open to US to use as they like and if the other 2 agreements are signed, US personnel will be on land too involved in projects that GoSL will have no say over, as a private company is being tasked to handle the entire compact project. If anyone in government are not worried about the likely scenarios of US presence inside Sri Lanka, their general knowledge and world affairs knowledge must be nil. Americans are very nice people, but US transnationals & US troops under orders don’t have too much of a proud record since 1945.
What Sri Lanka’s politicians don’t seem to realize is that the agreement handing over government powers to a private company will eventually equate to incrementally clipping the powers of politicians and the power they control. By the time they realize they are sacrificing their powers to an external foreign nation, it will be too late to reverse & the people of Sri Lanka will not be siding with traitors who betrayed them & the 2600 civilizational history of the nation.
Ironically, several attempts were made to implement aspects and preconditions of the MCC in very cunning & dubious ways since MCC came into the limelight– under various different names & with veiled objectives. Thankfully, alert public connected the dots & realized their link to MCC.
There is also a subtle insinuation that if Sri Lanka does not agree to sign MCC, we are likely to face sanctions or face other consequences. The sudden mysterious manner covid has surged certainly warrants us to question if this is part of an ugly covert operation. The human covid carrier is worse than a LTTE/jihadi suicide bomber.
The many diplomatic hiccups, also signals a scenario that Sri Lanka is intentionally being made vulnerable from within (bad advisors in political & advisory roles) and via the US-satellite states, alliances & their proxies. Easter Sunday/jihadi suicide was one such experiment. LTTE diaspora is another. Sri Lankan intel must certainly watch the South-India-US covert operations.
The aim is to economically isolate or make Sri Lanka vulnerable, distance Sri Lanka from all of its ‘friends’ by promoting foreign policy that neutralizes the traditional ties Sri Lanka has held dear and when traditional friends isolate Sri Lanka, US comes to take the cake. There are high profile figures inside the government openly canvassing to remove Sri Lanka from the non-aligned membership. Who needs enemies when there are ‘friends’ inside the camp worse than the enemy.
Knowing that US & India will together, as partners be out to destabilize Sri Lanka, remaining ‘neutral’ would be like standing in the middle watching a tornado coming from one side and a hurricane coming from the other.
This is why Sri Lanka needs to expand and tie alliances, build better rapport, plan for mutual benefits & look for ways to neutralize opposition and googlys coming Sri Lanka’s way. Alliances must be built with countries that don’t interfere in internal affairs of Sri Lanka, while extending the hand of help when in need.
Sri Lanka must align with rising nations not those in decline at all levels.
Sri Lanka does not need any alliances based on threats on the one hand & a handshake with the other while planning to backstab & destabilize Sri Lanka.
For those who chirp that Sri Lanka must be grateful & peddle the need to behave as a doormat to all superpowers, there are some interesting facts.
Sri Lanka earned a record $5.3 billion from apparel exports in 2019.This money comes to the companies & not to the government but, the government will get 30-30% tax only if these companies pay taxes genuinely!
Over 3000 students from Sri Lanka are currently studying in US(general courses to doctoral degrees) The annual expenditure a Sri Lankan parent will have to send from Sri Lanka covering tuition, accommodation, living expenses & health insurance will range from minimum $25,500 to maximum $96,500 (Rs.4,717,500 to Rs.17,852,500 @Rs.185 against $) – calculate this into their course term and for the over 3000 students studying in USA.
Thus, while US may be providing an income to companies in Sri Lanka’s apparel industry, Sri Lankan parents are also sending a substantial amount of money to the US in $. What if this revenue gets diverted to other countries offering more facilities and opportunities to Sri Lankan students & Sri Lankan parents opt not to send children for studies to the US?
If, the representatives of the people have only excuses to give caving in to whatever the external parties demand without safeguarding the sovereignty of the nation, the poor tax payer does not need to pocket minimum Rs.147million annually to maintain an entire Parliament that cannot carry out the fundamental responsibility tasked to their representatives?
Many of these representatives have a second home on foreign shores and in all probability when things are not rosy in Sri Lanka, they will take wings & fly off, caring not what happens to the citizens. Quite often, these are the one’s doing deals & betraying the nation, the citizens and the resources for their petty personal gains.
Under MCC or under any other name elements of the MCC cannot be rolled out.
Sri Lankans have lived as servants of the whites for over 400 years. Returning to that status quo is going to be nothing new. But we refuse to maintain both a parliament as well as foreign presence – when both will end up betraying the Nation & the People.
Shenali D Waduge