An Email Memo from Gus Mathews addressing His Schoolmate Prithi Perera, 22 September 2021 … with highlighting and End Notes being impositions of The Editor, Thuppahi
Prithi, we will not concur on this debate about Hambantota and I wish to conclude this discussion. But before I go let me take you up on India being a friendly country to Sri Lanka. While Sri Lanka wants a friendly relationship with India, it does not want to be a vassal state of India.
Recent events have proved that India is not to be trusted. India trained, armed and let loose the LTTE in Sri Lanka to murder 100,000 Sri Lankan civilians. Many Presidents could not defeat the LTTE and one Sri Lankan President paid the ultimate price. The LTTE became powerful and even defeated the IPKF. Unfortunately, India will never learn that interference in Sri Lanka is detrimental to India too – my case in point is the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi by the LTTE. Finally, it was left to Mahinda Rajapakse who gave the political will and Gotabhaya Rajapakse who banged the heads of the Service Chiefs to strategise the ultimate demise of the LTTE.
You just have to look at the geo-politics of the region where India has very poor international relations with all its neighbours like Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China. Sri Lanka is no exception where India interferes into the internal politics of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the UNP pays obeisance to India. This is demonstrated by Ranil Wickremasinghe who on winning the 2015 election invited Narendra Modi to address the Sri Lankan parliament – there was no such reciprocity from Narendra Modi to Ranil Wickremasinghe. In my opinion this is a diplomatic insult to Sri Lanka.
Colombo port, though periodically upgraded, is still an old port and the upgrades have their limitations while Hambantota is a brand-new port with modern state of the art infrastructure.
You and I will never agree that the debt to China is only fifteen percent of Sri Lanka’s total debt at two percent interest and debts to Western banks is eighty five percent at six to seven percent interest. This is despite Dr. Nishan De Mel laying out the facts in the video I sent you. Also you will never accept that the leasing of Hambantota to Merchants Ports limited was to pay the maturing sovereign bonds to Western banks and not as a quid-pro-quo to settle Chinese debts. You can go on believing the American propaganda about Chinese debt trap, Personally I do not.
The wealth of a country does not determine economic principles as borrowing is justifiable if there is economic growth and the ultimate determinant of any borrowing is economic activity. Any loss of economic activity is detrimental to growth and the recent Covid debacle proves beyond doubt about the stymied growth in Western countries due to the loss of economic activity.
I know that you have a hatred of the Rajapakses for political and personal reasons and anything they do to bring Sri Lanka into the twenty-first century is anathema for you. The Rajapakses like many politicians in various political parties are prone to corruption and this has been ongoing since Independence.
The ‘coup’ that you are fond of mentioning is the result of Ranil Wickremasinghe who could never win the Presidential election and utilised a ‘patsy’ like Maithripala Sirisena and changed the constitution to give himself near Presidential powers, until the ‘worm’ turned and threw the whole GoSL into chaos with lax security where two hundred and fifty four innocent civilians paid for with their lives. Is it any surprise that in the following election the UNP lost all its seats and threw Ranil Wickremasinghe into the political wilderness?
Finally in conclusion I give below a host of emails in support of Hambantota by those who have worked closely with the project.
Subject: Re: Fw: Hambantota Port
The Hambanthota port is a viable concern and will definitely pick up with
time. The idea to develop the port was there for a long time but due to
decisions taken by Colombo based politicians and business crowd it was
During my time in the port we were under pressure to close the project and
say it is not viable, but we managed to carry out the feasibility studies
On Sun, 19 Sep 2021 14:21:09 +0000
Subject: FW: economy and pub culture
Hambantota Port inks deals with more than 30 countries
September 15, 2021
The Hambantota Port has signed deals with more than 30 countries as
it looks to promote its operations globally. Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) said
that the promotional activities have garnered commendable results despite the gloomy
market situation experienced globally.
“We are rapidly moving to diversify HIP’s industrial zone portfolio and at
the same time we are widely promoting the location internationally. We have
signed with more than 30 investors from across the globe i. e. UK, Singapore, Japan, Sri Lanka,
China and now the Maldives,” Johnson Liu, CEO of HIPG said.
The new operational blueprint of the Hambantota International Port >s impacting all aspects of the port’s activities. “HIP Speed” is a concept to increase efficiency and momentum across port operations for the>benefit of all stakeholders, HIPG said in a statement today.
“HIP Speed will bring a new dimension to investment in port operations and
allied industries. We put this formula in place taking into consideration
the opportunities that will emerge in the coming year, when supply and
demand structures will change and trade routes will be reinvented.
The Hambantota Port is well placed on the global maritime map for growth
and investment, and this formula is to strengthen processes and
infrastructure to capitalize on future opportunities. As per our overall plans HIP
will be a port that will complement the services of other ports operating in
Sri Lanka,” Johnson Liu said.
HIP Speed is modeled on previous hands-on experience of the current CEO on
other facilities managed by the CMPort, ensuring efficiency and
momentum of projects that would otherwise have dragged their feet in planning
The concept also extends to customers establishing their operations in the
port’s industrial zone; so that they receive optimum support speed
in clearing any bottlenecks. HIPG is also working on establishing
branch offices of leading investor companies, shipping and logistics
gents, and has leased out 7 floors of the Maritime Centre to more than 30interested
parties. The One Stop Service (OSS) facility with representative
offices from BOI and Customs have made the whole investment process more efficient,
the same facility will be available from the Ministry of Industries
in the near future. The aim of this effort is to minimize the burden on investors when obtaining required certification and approvals from government institutions.
Tissa Wickramasinghe, Chief Operating Officer of HIPG says, “The first two years of our operations was dedicated to setting up the processes, which included drawing up the master plan and putting in place a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). This was vital as when launching a project such as this we need to get everything right the first time over. While we looked at overseas models for benchmarking and maximizing our operational efficiency, we were guided mainly by the global standards andprocedures of CMPort, which operates more than 50 ports and terminals all over the world. In the first half of 2021, CMPort achieved double-digit growth on its container throughput and bulk cargo volume at home and abroad. The Group’s ports handled a total container throughput of 66.57 million TEUs, upby 21.3% compared with the corresponding period last year, and bulk cargo volume of 284 million tonnes, up by 42.8% over the same period ofthe previous year.”
Their partnership with the Shenzhen Xinji Group to set up a plug and play ‘Park in park’ manufacturing facility within the industrial zone isan example of how HIP Speed operates. The project went into construction within 20 days of signing the partnership agreement with HIPG. Likewise, several projects have reached the construction stage, like the Ceylon Tire Manufacturing facility, which is nearing completion of leveling and clearing work.
A state-of-the-art yacht building facility is also to be set up at the port by Sea Horse Yachts (Pvt) Ltd. HIPG recently entered into an
agreement with the newly incorporated company, a premium luxury yacht builder which is privately owned by boating enthusiasts from Maldives. The initial investment for the facility, which will be located within the Hambantota International Port, is set at approximately USD 58 million (Sri Lankan Rupees 11.5 billion) and production is set to commence by early 2022.
The vision of HIPG is to develop the Hambantota International Port to become an energy hub for South Asia. In order to build this energy hub, HIPG
entered into a strategic partnership with Sinopec Fuel Oil Lanka Limited (SFOL) to provide bunkering services as a wholesale exporter and
also service vessels calling HIP as a value added service. Bunkering is an important part of HIP’s energy services portfolio. Sinopec with their vast
resources guarantees the supply of VLSFO in Hambantota currently and MGO in the near future, enabling the port to service all vessels plying the principal sea route in the Indian Ocean.
Transshipment of LPG and delivery for local consumption is also a part of the energy hub mix at HIP, which has the two main players operating supply
facilities within the port. HIP has also partnered with Intertek Lanka (Pvt) Ltd to establish a state-of-the-art petroleum testing laboratory,
within the port to provide services to the energy hub, further strengthening HIP capacity to provide these services.
Not only is HIP investing in the efficiency of port operations, they are also helping the surrounding community deal with the pandemic in a
timely manner. HIPG has provided funding to establish a fully-fledged PCR testing laboratory at the Hambantota District General Hospital. Part of the
funding for the PCR testing facility comes from the China Merchants Foundation (CMF), the philanthropic arm of HIPG’s main shareholder, CMPort.
Many donations of personal protection equipment have also been made to government institutions in Hambantota.
In addition to bringing in new foreign investment, HIPG is increasing its own investment footprint at Hambantota Port, as well as creating more employment opportunities for locals and promoting the development of localindustries. The group will continue to promote the portand the Hambantota district, with a view to turning it into a new Maritime center, which in
turn will have the desired impact on the Sri Lankan economy as a whole. ……………(Colombo Gazette)
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The 2Q 2021 GDP data published by the Department of Census and>Statistics indicates a 12.3pct increase in the revenue of the country compared to the same period 2020.
The corporate earnings too validates this 2Q 2021 surge in economic activity with many retail stores,
FMCG firms, export companies, banks, telecos, and many listed companies too confirming this growth in their respective balance sheets and income statements. Due the countercyclical fiscal and monetary policies adopted in order to stimulate economic activity. We must be mindful of the fact that these results come on the back of many challenges.
It indicates our ability as a nation to ‘stand up’ and claim our stake in the face of setbacks and negativity thrown by external rating agencies, and our own doomsday economists who are desperate to stop this country from progressing with its ‘production economic model’.
SELECT & LIMITED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Mathews, Gus 2019 “Security and Governance Failures Everywhere: A Concise Review,” 25 April 2019, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/04/25/security-and-governance-failures-everywhere-a-concise-review-by-gus-mathews/#more-35192
New York Times 2019 “Security Failures and Security Implications from the Jihadist Terror in Sri Lanka, Easter Sunday 2019,” 23 April 2019, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/security-failures-and-security-implications-from-the-jihadist-terror-in-sri-lanka-easter-sunday-2019/
Roberts, Michael 1994b “The Asokan Persona as a Cultural Disposition,” in Roberts, Exploring Confrontation, Reading: Harwood Academic Publishers, pp. 57-72.
Roberts, Michael 1994c, “The Asokan Persona and its Reproduction in Modern Times,” in Roberts, Exploring Confrontation, Reading: Harwood Academic Publishers, pp. 73-88.
Roberts, Michael 1994d “Four Twentieth Century Texts and the Asokan Persona,” in Roberts, Exploring Confrontation, Reading: Harwood Academic Publishers, pp. 57-72.
 It seems that Gus Mathews and Preethi Perera were batchmates at St Joseph’s College in Colombo together. The measured tone of disagreement in Mathews’ letter is quite admirable in my view. I have not met him personally and only developed email exchanges after the tragic act of euthanasia by Rajeewa Jayaweera a few years back. I stress, here, that he has no connection whatsoever with the Wahumpura Sinhala clan of Cyril Mathew (ardent Sinhala Buddhist defenders of the faith) and can be presented as “liquorice all sorts” in ethnic terms – a fellow Thuppahi in other words. He resides now in London.
 For this event, see DR Kaarthikeyen, The Rajiv Gandhi Assassination. The Investigation, 2008 and Michael Roberts, “Killing Rajiv Gandhi: Dhanu’s Metamorphosis in Death?” South Asian History and Culture, 2010, Vol 1, No. 1, pp. 25-41.
 To indicate that neither myself nor Gus are acolytes of the Rajapaksa lineage take note of three items on “the Asokan Persona” presented in the bibliography.
 The reference here is to the Easter Sunday massacres of the year 2019 carried out by ISIS inspired local Muslim zealots who profited from the lax security of sycophant officers of state appointed by Sirisena and Wickremasinghe. See Gus Mathews, “Security and Governance Failures Everywhere: A Concise Review…, 25 April 2019, ………………. …………… https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/04/25/security-and-governance-failures-everywhere-a-concise-review-by-gus-mathews/#more-35192 …………. AND New York Times,
“Security Failures and Security Implications from the Jihadist Terror in Sri Lanka, Easter Sunday 2019,” 23 April 2019, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/security-failures-and-security-implications-from-the-jihadist-terror-in-sri-lanka-easter-sunday-2019/
A RESPONSE from PRITHI PERERA, 23 September 2021
AN EXTENDED SET of COMMENTS from Edward UPALI in Canada, 25 September 2021**
AN EMAIL COMMENT from Gus Mathews in London in response to Ed-Upali’s Memo, 26 September 2021
A NOTE from Capt Elmo Jayawardena, 25 September 2021
In Addition, I took the liberty of asking Elmo Jayawardena about flight times and costs from Katunayake to the nearest Indian airport in comparison with that to Mattala [because these costs would impinge on the economic estimates of the airlines). His answer was as follows:
To answer your question
1/ Pilots will use Mattala as the alternate to CMB.
2/ If Mattala was not there they would use Trinandrum
The fuel to Trivandrum is about 4500 KG
The Fuel to Mattala is about 2500 KG
If you use Trivandrum the pilot will burn about 7% of the extra 2000. Which is 140 KG Approximately
That will be the additional cost if Mattala was not there. As Mattala is there pilots should use Mattla as the Alternate.
But there is no justification to build a big airport to be used as an alternate. Airports are built for commercial reasons.
Read – “ Mattala – the Magnificent Mistake”
It was written by a pilot I know very well, his name is Capt Elmo Jayawardena.
Take care Mike …………………. Blue skies
SOME THOUGHTS from Michael Roberts, 26 September 2021
Captain Elmo’s reasoning does not get round the possibility that Indian government action, whether induced by Foreign policy interests or by the intervention of Tamilnadu political pressure, could deny access to an Indian airport. Moreover, quite incidentally and in unantic1pated fashion, Mattala
A] came into one-off value as a transit point for the GoSL humanitarian operation that brought Sri Lankan citizens from Wuhan back to their motherland via quarantine in a military hospital in Diyatalawa — an event to which one cannot attach monetary estimates.; for some details, see
and B] it is now serving, together with Galle harbour, as a transit point for ship’s crews to and from leave for a number of ships …. https://thuppahis.com/2020/08/08/mattala-airport-rising-from-the-dust-maybe/ ….. AND https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/inchcape-corporate-production/app/public/ckeditor_assets/attachments/1645/New_SOP_for_crew_changes_Sri_Lanka_-_1-4-2021.pdf