Sri Lanka’s Crisis: Meeting Fair Dinkum & Thuppahi Foursquare

Prithi Perera

Allow me please to be as brief as possible in responding  to the Positions taken by Fair Dinkum” and Thuppahi.
Falsehood 1. As genuine Sri Lankans, we should not want to be colonized by anyone of the big powers, be it US, China and or for that matter, Western Europe or India.
Falsehood 2. As such, based on 1, being a fifth column of Russia becomes irrelevant. Therefore, no need for any pipe !!

Falsehood 3. The corruption by our politicians cannot be blamed on China alone. They make use of any opportunity to do so, be it Chinese, US, European, Indian and or Japanese interventions. However, proving is not made easy since asset declarations for politicians are not being strictly enforced. Also, there is no obligatory presence of the Auditor General and the Attorney General in the COPE/COPA Committees in Parliament to ensure in depth forensic audit analyses and legal follow up actions. This is real and are stark raving facts and not lies or disinformation.
Yet another fact not mentioned in FOURSQUARE DINKUM on the country’s financial collapse is the non evidence based decision to ban chemical fertilizers with immediate effect that badly affected the agriculture  sector food production, resulting in massive losses in harvests and in resorting to food imports making huge additions to the foreign currency deficits. Other factors include the timely non re-arranging or restructuring of the foreign debt and not initiating action to seek IMF assistance in a timely manner. We have to also bear in mind that other countries too have had to face up to COVID 19, but, yet, they are not as badly off as Sri Lanka is.
Falsehood 4. In working towards sustainable development, it is not merely social and cultural aspects that have to be taken account of, but, issues of environment and economy. The said projects have totally disregarded those important aspects. Please look at issues in a holistic manner and not be blinded by bias.
Falsehood 5. The responses being given here are clear, concise and brief and not false or insane. They are not mere claims.
Falsehood 6. Yes. For once, we are in agreement that China has been and is our traditional friend, just as much as India and the West have been where trading and assistance have been concerned.
Falsehood 7. It is not only China’s money at work, all kinds of monies are at work !! I agree that Michael Roberts and his “Thuppahi Blog” allows all kinds of multiple narratives to be heard and is a good thing.
Falsehood 8. At the present moment, it is mostly India and China in the recent past who have helped most. Even Bangladesh has stepped in by way of credit and currency swaps. We have also to keep in mind that it is the West who have been our major traditional trading partners. We need all and have to work with all for the greater common good of the country.
Falsehood 9. There was a delay in response from China to restructure debts. But, they are helping despite the issues they are also facing.
Falsehood 10. Right at the present moment, India has been the biggest giver. Dynamics do change and will keep changing.
Falsehood 11. It is to be borne in mind that IMF interventions have to do with Foreign Currency Assistance and Adjustments, whilst those of WB and ADB are mostly for reconstruction and development, including for infrastructure. We need all types of loans, whilst the foreign currency requirement becomes an immediate need. We need all to save Mother Lanka from the brink we have been brought to by our corrupt and inept rulers. It has also to be noted that we are already on belt squeezing and not just tightening and the IMF requirements may have already been somewhat achieved. Furthermore, all multilaterals, including IMF have  advised that ensuring of the “social net” is an imperative at this crucial juncture.
Hope to have responded in brief and as appropriate !

A NOTE :  The cartoons have been selected by Thuppahi and are not Prithi Perera’s ‘work’. The lead cartoon is from  =  ….. while that showing a plane is by awanthaartigala  .. …..  at Trendsmap =


Filed under accountability, american imperialism, authoritarian regimes, centre-periphery relations, China and Chinese influences, economic processes, foreign policy, governance, IMF, IMF as monster, island economy, life stories, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, transport and communications, truth as casualty of war, welfare & philanthophy, working class conditions, world events & processes

7 responses to “Sri Lanka’s Crisis: Meeting Fair Dinkum & Thuppahi Foursquare

  1. N. Goonewardena

    It is not only politicians that should declare their assets before taking office. It is also required of all those who take up high office in government. Some of them are as corrupt as the politicians.

    Do not blame everything on corrupt politicians. The people of this country are equally to blame. People vote politicians not on the basis as to whether they can do something for the country. A large number of people vote for someone thinking I will also get “something” if I vote for him/her.

    Besides, who is responsible for making politicians near to gods? It is, once again, the people of this country.

    The people must know that there are no short-cuts to success. They must realize that it is only through their determination and effort that they can succeed. Unfortunately, a large number of people, particularly, youth, do not think so. They expect things to automatically fall on to their laps, and when this does not happen, they will blame everyone from the President right down to us, and their catch all phrase ” the system” for their plight. According to them they do not think that they are at all responsible for their plight. As long as this mentality prevails, Sri Lanka will never progress. Putting all the blame on corrupt politicians is a partial and incomplete view. What is implied then is that if we do not have corrupt politicians, we will progress. That is only an unrealistic and untrue belief. Very much more has to happen. If people do not realize this, we will remain where we are.

  2. Fair Dinkum

    I am curious as to why some Sri Lankans constantly demonize China and Chinese projects in Sri Lanka by projecting a “China is responsible for Sri Lanka’s problems” narrative and “China is bad and the West is good”. Nothing is ever black or white.

    Corruption is endemic in Sri Lanka and was so long before China came along. To link corruption exclusively with Chinese investment or to suggest corruption is something that China has brought to Sri Lanka is unfair.

    There are always allegations of corruption and bribery in Sri Lanka. When I was in Sri Lanka in the 1990s, I often heard people complaining about corruption — particularly against whatever government happened to be in power. We cannot discount the possibility that making allegations of bribery and corruption are often political tools designed to taint a person’s reputation, damage their credibility, so they get voted out. But if there is evidence of bribery or corruption, then due process must be followed to ensure it is not simply political.

    During the war years, I can remember the allegations made about bribery and corruption over weapons Sri Lanka purchased from overseas those in Sri Lanka allegedly making vast sums of money through corruption and bribery. I also remember the shipment of weapons Sri Lanka had purchased from Israel which disappeared off the radar near Africa and were never seen again.

    We should not take allegations of bribery and corruption seriously when there is no actual evidence to support it. There may be more evidence to the effect that the allegations are politically motivated. It is very hard to prove corruption is occurring, which is why Transparency International’s annual ranking of corruption occurring in every country is always in terms of “perceptions” rather than actual corruption.

    With regards to cash flows, according to Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to China, Sri Lanka is only required to pay China $1 billion in 2022, and even that amount may be restructured, so claims about Chinese debt having a negative impact on cash flows seem far-fetched. Again, in such comments, we see the usual emphasis on tainting China with corruption and bribery to serve the interests of geopolitics rather than truth. It is more likely loans from Western Vulture Funds, which are far more predatory than Chinese loans, are having an impact on cash flows in Sri Lanka.

    I can remember talking to a professor at a management institution in Colombo in the 1990s about corruption in Sri Lanka. I suggested to him ways to deal with corruption through education programs. He gave a strange look and said: “You can’t stop corruption. Nothing can be done about it”, implying you educate Sri Lankans out of corruption, and it was pointless to raise the issue or to even try to stop it. That’s how apathetic about corruption I found professional people were in Sri Lanka in the 1990s. Sri Lankans are very good at complaining about corruption, especially if it involves politicians they don’t like or countries and peoples they don’t like such as China, but they are not very good at solving the problem – if indeed such a problem exists.

    There is corruption going on in Ukraine now with vast quantities of weapons being sold on the blackmarket to end up in the Middle East, Asia and Western Europe. We will no doubt see the blowback in due course with more terrorism. There are also allegations of corruption against the Biden family, particularly his son who is accused of engaging in corruption in countries from Ukraine to China – allegedly making many millions of dollars from bribery and corruption, Ssomething Sleepy Joe doesn’t want you to know.

    It was Biden who in 2016 told the Ukrainian government that unless they fired the Chief Prosecutor Viktor Shokin, Ukraine wouldn’t get the billions of dollars of aid. He gave the Ukrainian authorities about two hours to fire the Chief Prosecutor saying he was leaving the country in five hours’ time, and if the Chief Prosecutor had not been fired, Ukraine wouldn’t get the money. What happened? Ukraine fired the chief prosecutor and the US gave them the money. The US claim Biden wanted Shokin removed to pave the way for anti-corruption reforms in accordance with IMF requirements, while Shokin claims he was removed by Biden because he tried to launch an investigation into Hunter Biden’s dealing with a company in Ukraine. It doesn’t seem like Ukraine have introduced those IMF reforms given the many allegations of corruption over weapons currently being supplied to Ukraine.

    So, I am cynical when I see so many people going on about corruption surrounding Chinese projects in Sri Lanka. It’s easy to single out China, but I would suggest, if there really is a problem, then there is more to it than just China.

    It is unfair to expect the projects in Sri Lanka to give returns at the moment, given what Sri Lanka has gone through with the pandemic until now. It will take time for the returns to come through.

    There is little doubt the BRI is reconfiguring the global governance system to make things more equitable to all participating countries, especially in the way the BRI emphasizes innovation, multilateralism and inclusiveness.

    To take one example. The Pan-Asian Railway network runs three separate rail routes. The Central Route (Kunming to Yuxi, Mohan, Vientiane, Bangkok, KL to Singapore); the Western Route (Kunming to Dali, Baoshan, Ruili, Yangon, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur to Singapore); and the Eastern Route which goes from Kunming to Yuxi, Menzi, Hekou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Apart from the vast trade moving through these routes, to the benefit of all, there is also innovation. All countries on the Pan-Asian Railway network have Chinese vaccines and are also manufacturing vaccines in their own countries which are being funded by a US private equity firm – so it is not just China or Asia, but global. Some other innovations include the world’s first 5G AI Hospital in Thailand (not in the West) while the world’s first Blockchain stock exchange is located in Kuala Lumpur using revolutionary technology, and so there are many innovations taking place in Southeast Asia as part of the BRI that are not being led by the West. You never hear of these achievements in the West because the West only engages in propaganda to destroy these innovatory achievements.

    The China-Europe rail system is a remarkable network of rail systems –with the East Route, Middle Route, and West Rout. One route starts in Xiamen in Eastern China, links up with routes coming from China Shanghai and other provinces of China, continues up to Urumqi, then passes through central Asia, and splits again into several sub-routes in Europe with the main route continuing on through Russia into to Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga. A second route goes through Warsaw, then splits into further sub-routes with one going to Prague and on to Istanbul; and the other to Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris, Lyon, and to Madrid. It is worth noting that the longest distance of the old Asian silk road was 5,000 miles; while the BRI rail longest distance is 13,000 miles long.

    These major rail connections from East China to Western Europe allow for huge amounts of trade to move between Europe and Asia, and vice versa, with all parties benefiting. For example, Sweden uses this Eura-Asian freight trade route to export a range of goods such as European cars which are exported into China. China exports cars to Belgium to be sold in European markets, while the more expensive XC90 luxury cars are sent back from Europe into China on the same train to be sold in China where many Chinese consumers desire luxury European cars.

    The number of freight trains crossing these routes from Asia to Europe is around 55,000 trips in one year with a massive flow of goods and trade. The war in Ukraine has not impacted negatively on it. In fact, the war has only increased the number of trains travelling on this BRI infrastructure. None of the projects above could ever be described as “white elephants” or involved bribery, but are highly successful projects so we shouldn’t be too worried by criticisms over BRI projects in Sri Lanka.

    There is also the Caribbean BRI network, which is equally impressive, but I won’t go into it here.

    China cannot solve all the problems in the world, but China is showing a reasonably positive way forward. Unfortunately, the US, EU and G7, rather than cooperating with China, have chosen to be competitive and are trying to sabotage this extraordinary initiative in over 140 countries, in a vain attempt to replace it with their BBB. Every year since 2021, the G7 announce their Build Back Better (BBB) initiatives to counter China’s BRI, and each time we find these announcements are just that – hot air and more BLAH BLAH BLAH (BBB), and there is no action until the next G7 when they come together and announce the same initiatives which is just more BLAH BLAH BLAH. The G7 hasn’t even produced a single nail or piece of wood to start their BBB initiative. They are too involved in Ukraine supplying trillions of dollars of weapons, many of which end up on the black market to fall into the hands of terrorists and criminals all over the world. The West have said they will continue the war in Ukraine so I see no reason to think the West will ever get BBB off the ground. The G7 are more interested in weapons and war than building infrastructure that nurtures innovation, multilateralism, and inclusiveness, benefitting all countries involved.

    The truth is the Belt Road Initiative has proved to be so successful that Western governments are secretly studying it, to learn about it, and use that knowledge (or steal it), to build their fantasy BBB in order to asset global dominance and continue the greed and neocolonialism. The Global South, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean’s have any choice between Western greed and innovation, multilateralism and inclusiveness. Most are going with the BRI, and Sri Lanka should too.

  3. THANK YOU, Fair Dinkum. Most of this information has been revelatory for me. It is vital for all readers to digest the several interlocking lines of argument.
    For my part, let me add two little “FOOTNOTES” …. (A) I believe that Communist China has long memories and has been eternally grateful for the Rubber-Rice pact entered into by RG Senanayake anda right-wing Govt in 1952 –a time when China was a “Pariah” in the world at large; and (B) a “FEELING” that the Chinese “STYLE” of commercial partnership favours win-win exchanges.
    I have no hard evidence re B but just as ensibility which I gathered when I was at NUS in SIngapore for a short spell in the early 2000s.

  4. Fair Dinkum

    PRITHI PERERA — With regard to Falsehood 2, your analysis is fallacious for two reasons. First, you have taken my pipe reference out of context and applied it to colonialism in general which is not what the pipe reference refers to in my essay. The pipe is used as a kind of “taking the piss” approach to make sense of how someone could make such an absurd allegation that China money was flowing through Thuppahi and that anyone presenting narratives that differ from the West is a China fifth columnist. I don’t like being taken out of context. Would you argue that Michael Robert’s saying he must be drinking too much brandy is related to colonialism?

    Secondly, you may more knowledgeable than me about economics, but you have missed the obvious fact that the pipe was used as a poetic metaphor. There are eight meanings behind the pipe and you missed all of them and took the pipe out of context.

    The pipe, as a metaphor, becomes clear in the final sentence because human beings cannot put a series of allegations into a pipe and smoke them. If you are able to smoke allegations in a pipe, please share your secret.

    So, your falsehood 2 is a falsehood in itself, and consequently Falsehood 1 on which Falsehood 2 is based is a fallacy but in illogical reasoning and the fallacy of misrepresentation.

    I have given two meanings behind the pipe metaphor but I’ll let you and other readers on Thuppahi decipher the other six layers of meaning.

    With regard to Falsehood 3, I did not mention the ban on chemical fertilizers because it seems to me the fertilizer ban relates more to the food crisis than the economic crisis, which is a consequence of the first.

    Your point listed in Falsehood 11 is better placed as a critique of my essay and I have no problem with it, and thank you for making this clearer.

    • N. Goonewardena

      What an idiot you are! For you, the food crisis is NOT part of the economic crisis. So, according to you, food availability, food prices, and food imports are not part of the economic crisis. Where did you learn this from?

  5. Colin Fernando

    Fair Dinkum is spot-on with regard to his comments on China.. I cannot understand why everyone blames China for Sri Lanka’s misfortunes.
    Of the total debt that we owe the World, bleive it or not, China’s proportion is a mere 10% !

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