Why Rajapakse’s case is different

“The Oxford Union has in the past faced criticism for inviting other controversial speakers also known for their racist views. However, President Rajapakse is in a different position from [far right leader] Nick Griffin or [Holocaust denier] David Irving. “These previous speakers live in countries with a free and independent media and the rule of law. They could not therefore use the Oxford Union as a means of propagating unchallenged, noxious views or indeed as a platform for a campaign of concealment. “However, President Rajapakse has crushed free speech in his own country and done his best...

Sri Lanka might — but probably won't

“Would Sri Lanka be better off wagering on the intelligence of President Rajapakse and his relatively small circle, or on the creativity and hard work of a broader entrepreneurial class? The fact that foreign direct investment, and domestic long-term investment money, is sitting on its hands a year and a half after the war is a sign of which side of that bet the market is taking .” Joseph Sternberg, editor of the Wall Street Journal’s Business Asia column, examines Sri Lanka’s economic prospects . (See also ).

Jaffna and the world

This is what India’s External Affairs minister S. M. Krishna said Saturday in his speech at the opening of the Indian consulate in Jaffna: “Over centuries, Jaffna has always stood at the crossroads of history, culture and religion, kings and kingdoms, trade and commerce, and arts, dance and literature. Jaffna port was on the main sea route of its times. … It is, therefore, natural that when India decided to establish a Consulate General, Jaffna was a logical, almost inevitable, place for such a presence. “There must be several in this audience who would have seen the days when there was a...

‘Ethnocracy’?

Out of the 55 Secretaries, the senior-most civil servants of Sri Lanka’s ministries, appointed this week, one was a Tamil, another a Muslim; the rest were Sinhalese. Recruitment of young Tamils or Muslims into the civil service has been negligible over the past several years; this year there were none. This is what Tamils mean by 'the Sinhala state'. The full list of newly appointed Secretaries - and what qualified the lone Tamil for the job - is available here . On a related note, it’s worth recalling how – and when – Sri Lanka’s armed forces became mono-ethnic. Prof. Brian Blodgett ,...

Sri Lanka’s foreign debt less attractive than even Greece's

So much for Colombo's claim of 'post-war optimism' amongst foreign investors. Sri Lanka’s long term sovereign debt is presently rated as less attractive to foreign creditors than that of Greece, which triggered another international financial crisis earlier this year after being caught concealing a yawning budget deficit. Standard & Poor’s , the debt rating agency, has given Greece’s foreign debt an overall rating of BB while Sri Lanka scores B+. According to the agency’s website , a rating of B is understood as more vulnerable to debt default than BB. The +/- signs indicate a state's relative standing within the overall ‘B’ category. S&P's raised Sri Lanka’s debt rating in September this year from B to B+ primarily on the condition Colombo sticks to the IMF’s reform programme, the LBO reported . Meanwhile, Sri Lanka is amongst the world's heaviest borrowers .

‘Britain must take the lead on investigating Sri Lanka war crimes’

“At first the UK government applauded the establishment of [Sri Lanka’s] LLRC, even though the deficiencies in the scope of its mandate and in its processes were evident from the outset. … The EU, unlike the UK, was quicker to see through this farce. … Fortunately the UK's position is now shifting. [However] words should translate into further action … leading to an independent international inquiry.” “The UK is uniquely placed to take the lead on refusing to settle for the whitewash that the Sri Lankan government is putting forward, and to demand more.” Elaine Pearson, deputy director of...

Dodgy numbers

The economic statistics that Sri Lanka publishes can’t be trusted. For example, in 2009 Sri Lanka claimed the construction industry ‘grew’ – despite falling cement volumes and a plunging housing market. Sri Lanka’s claimed drop in inflation, meanwhile, came after a telling change in the index being tracked, LBO reports .

Coming Contradiction

When Sri Lanka's military finally defeated the Liberation Tigers in May 2009, having also slaughtered tens of thousands of Tamil civilians, President Mahinda Rajapakse and the rest of the Sinhala establishment were confident that not only would the Tamils now meekly acquiesce to Sinhala rule, but so would the international community. They were wrong on both counts. Not only have the Tamils endured the ravages inflicted on them during and after the war, they still stubbornly insist on their demand for self-rule. On the other hand, rather than embrace the Sinhala ethnocracy, the international community is doggedly pursuing its transformation into a liberal market democracy.

Parameters for international investigations into Sri Lanka’s war

There has been some convergence between Tamil and international demands for an independent international investigation into the events of 2009 in Sri Lanka. The international community now largely supports the view that the manner in which the last stages of the war in Sri Lanka were fought may constitute crimes against humanity.

Who benefits from Chinese loans to Sri Lanka?

Whilst China’s massive development loans to Sri Lanka are often portrayed as rescuing the Rajapakse administration from international economic pressure over human rights abuses, the details tell a different story. While China’s loans are an immediate de-facto handout for Chinese companies (which Sri Lanka is obliged through conditionalities to hire and purchase from), future Colombo governments will be left with the debts - at interest rates higher than other developmental lenders ask for. In short, Colombo is borrowing from China but pumping the money into the Chinese – not Sri Lankan – economy.

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