On Saturday 16 July I received two emails from Michael Roberts which contained emails from two of his friends. The first email came from someone Michael describes as “An old schoolmate from Galle now in Canada”, while the second email came from someone described by Michael as “a Burgher pal with a sharp mind and pen”. The two emails from these Sri Lankans contain highly erroneous claims that cannot go by unchallenged and hence this refutation.
In this first essay, I will only respond to the claims made by Michael’s schoolmate in Canada. I will cite the specific false claims he makes, and then provide my refutations in red.
FALSEHOOD 1. “Some writers to Thuppahi are very protective of Sri Lanka from being “colonized” by the US. But they are dead silent about the colonisation that has taken place already by China. Look at Hambantota Harbour.”
FACT. China has not colonialised Sri Lanka. This is total rubbish.
FALSEHOOD 2. “Are they the fifth column of Russia and China?”
FACT. No, I am an independent researcher. Given this absurd ridiculous claim that I am a fifth columnist serving Russia and China, I can only conclude by saying this pal from Canada has been smoking the good stuff (marijuana), and my question to him is: Can he tell us what kind of pipe he uses? Is it one of those colourful intricately carved pipes (a souvenir of a far eastern posting), or one of those pipes the CIA give out which are scented in chemicals designed to bring on the McCarthy syndrome and seeing reds under the bed when anyone dares to put forward a narrative that differs from Western narratives?
Keep passing the pipe around brother!
FALSEHOOD 3. “China has understood fully the power of money. And is using it to the maximum to make gains over countries that refuse to give bribes. Look at Port City, Sooriyawewa Cricket Stadium, Magampura Conference Hall, Lotus Tower et al. All causes of Sri Lanka’s. bankruptcy.”
Could he provide evidence of these bribes? These claims of bribery have been spread by anti-Chinese elements within the Sri Lankan community – people like the pal in Canada.
His claim that the building of “Port City, Sooriyawewa Cricket Stadium, Magampura Conference Hall, Lotus Tower et al” is the cause of the economic crisis in Sri Lanka is also false. This is another wild allegation designed to throw blame on China. As reported by Sri Lankan experts and in some Western sources, the cause of the crisis mainly comes from the collapse of the tourist industry in Sri Lanka due to the pandemic, which is a major revenue generator for Sri Lanka, and the collapse of overseas remittances. These two factors along with Rajapakse lowering taxes made it difficult for the Sri Lankan government to pay its debtors, and that is what caused the crisis. Get real and stop spreading lies and disinformation.
FALSEHOOD 4. “And they are all unsolicited projects.”
FACT. This is also false. Show me the evidence that these projects were unsolicited. Stop smoking the good stuff! I have attended cultural events at Lotus Tower. These have been well attended by Sri Lankans and from what I see, Lotus Tower contributes to the cultural and intellectual life of Sri Lanka through the activities hosted there. The other venues you mentioned, we could say the same.
FALSEHOOD 5. “Thuppahi and his merry writers are silent. No talk about them.”
FACT. We don’t talk about it as your claims are so patently false and therefore there is nothing to talk about except respond to your insane allegations.
FALSEHOOD 6 “Now China is baulking at helping Sri Lanka to restructure its debts. They are refusing to sit at the table with other creditors. No comment from Thuppahi and his merry writers. Is China money at work?”
You really must stop smoking the good stuff and read more widely, not just Western propaganda. China never baulks. It is not their style. It never baulked at helping Sri Lanka to restructure their debt. If you read the news (not just Western sources) you would know that China has agreed to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt. China has never refused to sit at the table with other creditors. This is another lie. You really have to stop smoking the good stuff because it is clouding your critical faculty and ability to see the truth beyond the smoke.
FACT Here is the truth about what China has said and the assistance China has provided to Sri Lanka.
- China will provide assistance to the best of its ability to Sri Lanka and work with relevant countries and international financial institutions in addressing its difficulties and debt burden.
- China is ready to work with relevant countries and international financial institutions and will continue to play a positive role in helping tackle Sri Lanka’s current difficulties, ease its debt burden and realize sustainable development.
- China has announced a total of $74 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka – the largest single donation ever made by China to any country. On Thursday 14 July, a second batch of emergency humanitarian grain aid – 1,000 tons of rice – from China was handed over to Sri Lanka.
- China says: “Sri Lanka urgently needs the support of international financial institutions as well.”
- China will continue providing assistance for the economic and social development of Sri Lanka and support its efforts to recover the economy and improve its people’s livelihoods
With regard to item 4 above, it appears creditors on Wall Street are not willing to come to the table to help Sri Lanka.
FALSEHOOD 7 “Is China money at work?”
From this false claim, and your inability to sustain a coherent rational argument, and that you clearly object to any narrative that departs from Western narratives, you resort to making fallacious statements and false allegations of China’s money at work just because you don’t like the narrative. What he is doing here is to try to silence any narrative that is not aligned with Western narratives by making false claims of “China money at work”.
This person must stop this stupid mentality of trying to silence narratives that don’t conform to Western narratives. And stop attacking people as being on China’s payroll just because you don’t like what they say. It is so undemocratic.
I cannot speak for Michael Roberts, but Thuppahi is a democratic blog in the way Michael Roberts allows all opinions and narratives to be aired, and not to be hijacked by a single narrative. I don’t always agree with Michael, and he doesn’t always agree with me. Occasionally, we do agree.
The democratic process calls for all narratives to be heard, and not to be silenced by the type of disinformation you are spreading with fabricated claims of China’s money on Thuppahi.
Again, I can’t speak for Michael Roberts, but the democratic process which he encourages on Thuppahi allows for multiple narratives to be heard, so that readers are informed of the different views and can make better judgements and decisions as to what is going on in the world.
And let me say this, and you won’t like it. China has a right to a narrative and a right for that narrative to be heard and Sri Lankan’s have a right to hear that narrative. For example, yesterday the Global Times published an interview with the Sri Lankan Ambassador to China, Palitha Kohona, to hear an update on what he had to say about the crisis, the current position of IMF discussions and his concerns about an IMF bailout. Based on your fabricated allegations against people writing on Thuppahi, you would also claim that because the Sri Lanka ambassador is talking to China, he must be on China’s payroll and a 5th columnist for Russia and China? If you think that, you need to see a psychologist because you would be suffering from acute paranoia brought on by smoking too much of the good stuff.
FALSEHOOD 8. “Only IMF offered to help. Did China or Russia help? When ex-president requested Putin for help, he was told to contact Russia’s oil companies.”
FACT. This is totally false. And what is wrong with Putin telling Sri Lanka to contact Russia’s oil companies? That is normal procedure. Leaders do this all the time. It is the oil companies that provide oil, not the Kremlin.
It is false to say only the IMF offered help. As indicated above China has too, and I would add so too has India.
FALSEHOOLD 9. We requested China to restructure the debts. China is silent.
FACT If you stopped smoking the good stuff and read more than just Western propaganda you would realize how absurdly false this claim is.
China has agreed to restructure their debt with Sri Lanka. It is the creditors on Wall Street who are silent. What you are saying is offensive. China has donated free rice to Sri Lanka, and you respond by making these false allegations against China who is helping Sri Lanka. Shame on you.
Has the US or UK provided free rice to Sri Lanka? All the US has achieved through their 12,500 sanctions against Russia is to push the price of food and oil up to record highs. US sanctions are responsible for shutting down most of the global chain supply system. Only yesterday, the IMF and World Bank urged the West to lift the sanctions partly because they realise the harm it is causing (that it is causing a recession going into a global depression not seen since the 1930s), but also because the sanctions are impacting on the IMF and the World Bank, and they too could collapse if the situation isn’t reversed.
FALSEHOOD 10. So far the only country that has helped Sri Lanka to tide over TODAY is India.
FACT. This is patently false. China has just provided $74 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka which means China is not asking for the money back. China has given rice. Stop smoking the good stuff! It clouds your judgment.
FALSEHOOD 11. I like to ask Thuppahi whether it is China money talking?
FACT. China money never talks on Thuppahi. Firstly, I am an independent unpaid researcher. Second, there is no evidence whatsoever that Michael Roberts is on China’s payroll and Sir, you should be ashamed at suggesting such a thing to such a fine scholar as Michael Roberts whose main concern throughout his long life has always been focused on Sri Lanka, a country he cares about. It is not about the West or China, but he will engage on issues and events dealing with the West and China whenever it impacts on Sri Lanka, and he presents all narratives in a democratic process. We should embrace democracy on Thuppahi and speak truth to power whenever people are wrongly labelled as being on China’s payroll.
Finally, this pal from Canada has a naive view of the IMF as if they will save Sri Lanka. Let me cite Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Beijing, who reports from Beijing that IMF negotiations with the Sri Lankan government are still ongoing, but he has concerns about IMF conditions likely to be imposed on Sri Lanka. He said,
“Sri Lanka has not reached any initial agreement with the IMF on debt relief, and its largest creditors -the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank – are urged to come up with a package that would speed up its debt restructuring process.”
Sri Lanka’s ambassador to China Palitha Kohona. Photo by Li Jieyi. Source: Global Times
Kohona said that he hoped that terms and conditions attached to the IMF package will not be “onerous.” He said,
“It’s inevitable whenever the IMF comes along we will have to tighten our belt, but in some cases it’s difficult because the belt is already on the last notch. We’re worried that the IMF may insist that we curtail our state-fund health care system. The education system which is free from grade one to university level might be another area the IMF recommends to cut. These may add to the unrest,”
Kohona’s comments here raise genuine, fair, and balanced concerns all Sri Lankans should be aware of about the conditions likely to be imposed by the IMF. It is right and proper to raise these concerns.
If free education goes, how many Sri Lankans will be unable to send their children to school? If free health care goes, how many Sri Lankans will die prematurely because they couldn’t afford health care? In such circumstances, Sri Lankans will suffer, and Western creditors will be rewarded for Sri Lanka’s suffering, and you are helping the IMF to cause such suffering.
Just because Palitha Kohona speaks positively about China’s assistance to Sri Lanka, and raises genuine concerns about the conditions IMF might impose on Sri Lanka, is it right to conclude the Sri Lankan Ambassador is a fifth columnist receiving China’s money?
I would suggest you take these outrageous claims, stuff them in your pipe, and then smoke them!
My response to the second email I received will be forthcoming later today after I have had lunch. It will take about 30 minutes to write it.
A NOTE from Michael Roberts
- The title deployed in this item is mine and not something presented by Fair Dinkum.
- As the pseudonym adopted by this gentlman implies, he is resident in Australia. He happens to be proficient in Chinese and his working engagements are such that he considers it vital to keep his advocacy outside the purview of the Australian government’s survey machinery.
- I have refrained from my usual policy of inserting emphasis in bol type becuase Fair Dinkum has already resorted to this tactic.
- However, I have loafed into the digital caricature world andselected the cartoons whihc embellish this Thuppahi entry ….. After all, I do need to sustain my Thuppahi character.