Sri Lanka looks to appease China as hotel deal collapses

A Chinese state-owned defence company has been awarded a contract to construct a university department on Colombo, days after a major hotel deal was cancelled by the Sri Lankan government. The deal to construct a hotel on the illustrious Galle Face Green with the Chinese defence contractor China Aviation Technology Import-Export Corporation (CATIC), was worth $500 million and was hailed as one of the island’s single biggest foreign investments. See our earlier post: ‘ Sri Lanka’s defence ministry and tourism investment ’ (June 2011) The Sri Lankan Government, anxious to placate the Chinese investors, were reportedly looking for alternate land and have now offered the university project worth $89.6 million. The contract was cancelled after the Sri Lankan government came under intense scrutiny from opposition parties over the sale, who claimed the deal was not done transparently. They also questioned why the “best property in Sri Lanka” was being sold to an arms company that owns only a few hotels in China and not a well reputed international chain, reportedly with not a single cent of tax being charged. CATIC does however, export military aeroplanes to Sri Lanka. The announcement comes as Sri Lanka faces increased pressure from China for loan repayments, leading to Sri Lanka trying to swap some of its debt for equity with Chinese firms, starting with the Norochcholai power plant in the North-West.

Government not serious about political settlement- TNA

The TNA have condemned the Sri Lankan government's failure to investigate war crimes and the forestalling of bilateral discussions to address the Tamil peoples leigtimate grievances. Citing a lack of political will, the main Tamil party urged the government to respond to the TNA's publicly stated basic requirements for future talks . Speaking to the Associated Press, TNA's Sumanthiran said , "The message that we have given is that we are disappointed and disillusioned at the Sri Lankan government's failure to show the political will [in sharing political power and postwar rehabilitation ]" "...

Expropriation bill claims first victim

Supporters of President Rajapakse’s government have stormed a private sugar company owned by an opposition MP. Sevanagala Sugar Industries was one of the 36 private companies ear-marked for nationalisation by the government for under-performing, a move made possible by the controversial expropriation bill. Meanwhile the Bar Association of Sri Lanka has demanded the withdrawal of the bill. "We appeal to the president, the government and all promoters of the bill to take steps to ensure that the bill is withdrawn and not passed without opportunity of further careful scrutiny...," it said in a...

‘Competent authorities’ for takeover appointed

The Sri Lankan government has appointed six “Competent Authorities” that will handle the 37 enterprises that are due to be taken over by the recently passed Assets Acquisition Bill. The District Secretary of Hambantota and the District Secretary of Monaragala are set to oversee the running of two sugar companies, while the District Secretary of Badulla has been appointed as the Competent Authority for Colombo Commercial Company Limited. Working alongside these new committees will be a team of five ministers to “assist” them in the management and administration. There is a further team of six...

Militarising Cricket

The Sri Lankan sports ministry has announced that the three biggest cricket stadiums on the island will be maintained by the military from this month. According to the Sri Lankan cricket board, this move is due to debts incurred by the board while co-hosting the world cup earlier this year, costing them $69 million. Two new stadiums were built and one was completely refurbished, at an estimated cost of $46 million. The huge debts have resulted in players' wages being unpaid for many months. "We are doing this because we are not in a position to afford the maintenance costs," Sri Lanka Cricket...

Sri Lanka provides aid to Pakistan flood victims

Sri Lanka is to provide flood relief goods such as tea, biscuits, sleeping bags, bed sheets, exercise books and medicines to those affected by the floods in Sindh province of Pakistan. According to the Sri Lankan government's official news portal, Mahinda Rajapaksa personally instructed G.L. Peiris, the Minister of External Affairs, to arrange for the donation. Last week, officials from Pakistan's army, toured Sri Lanka and pledged to provide military and demining training. See Sri Lanka seeks Indian and Pakistani army advice on demining (Oct 2011) See While the North starves (Oct 2011) A...

An open letter to ‘Shooty’

"Dear 'Shooty', I've just watched our Prime Minister talking about shared Commonwealth values in Perth. My mind turned at once to you and your solitary, late-night death in Villawood detention centre last week.” “At CHOGM, the high table of Commonwealth values, Sri Lanka went un-punished for atrocities against Tamils. But even when the Tamil human-shield civilians were being blasted at the end of the Sri Lankan war between the government and the Tigers, we all knew some people like you would inevitably come to Australia . Good old John Dowd, who is head of our local chapter of the...

Lost opportunities at the Commonwealth

"The second major issue for the meeting concerned the civil war in Sri Lanka and whether both the government and the Tamils had committed war crimes in the conflict's final years. The question, however, was virtually ignored ." "Indeed, there is now sufficient evidence to justify a full international inquiry into the actions of both sides, potentially leading to indictments before the International Criminal Court ." " This failure to debate what happened in Sri Lanka may have consequences for the Commonwealth down the line. Indeed, several weeks ago, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper...

Sunday Leader editor threatened by ‘Sinha Regiment’

Reporters Without Borders have expressed concern after Frederica Jansz, the editor of The Sunday Leader received death threats from the “Sinha Regiment”. The handwritten letter in Sinhalese, was sent to the editor warning her over her involvement in the “White Flag” case, in which she is a key witness. In the case, Gen Fonseka is being tried over alleged “false statements” he gave in an interview to the Sunday Leader, where he claimed Defence Secretary Gothbaya Rajapakse gave the order to murder surrendering members of the LTTE. Sent to her home, the letter warns of extreme violence and...

Sri Lanka seeks Indian and Pakistani army advice on demining

Indian army officials visited the Sri Lankan army's Security Forces Headquarters in the Vanni region on Wedesday, during a six day tour of the country. The delegation, leg by Air Commodore P R Navalkar of the Indian Air Force, also called on Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, Sri Lankan Army Commander. Bilateral discussions included military training. India's visit, comes the week after officials from the Pakistan Army visited the country. The Pakistani delegation, consisting of veteran de-mining experts and led by Colonel Zaafir Nisar, reportedly shared their demining expertise with the Sri Lankan...

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