Category Archives: Indian Ocean politics

Pointers from Singapore towards the Appraisal of the Hambantota Port Scheme

Fair Dinkum

When Sir Stamford Raffles arrived in Singapore in 1819, the British set about creating the Port of Singapore. In time, with much hard work, the port became successful. In the 1960s, the Singapore government set about further expansions of its ports along the south of the island, with five additional gateways operating by the 1990s. It is now one of the biggest and busiest collection of ports in the world. Having visited these ports over the years, the scale of operations is extraordinary. The success of Singapore Ports was built up over time. It didn’t come easily or immediately. The same with the Piraeus Port in Greece, although it became successful and profitable quickly.

  Hambantota — a Pix and a Sketch

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The Internal Tussles, Vagaries and Scheming that Hindered the Development of the Hambantota Port Project

An Insider

Jonathan E. Hillman, 26 August 2021, whose title runs thus: “The Secret History of Hambantota” …. Starts his write up If Chinese loans were cigarettes, Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port would be the cancerous lung on the warning label. Some observers have pointed to the underperforming port and alleged that China is using “debt trap diplomacy,” This statement reflects Hillman’s intention of using Hambantota port to discredit China. Taking a similar line Fair Dinkum in his “American Schemes of Global Bifurcation behind Hillman’s story on Hambantota Port” is critical of the messenger rather than being responsive to the message.+++

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No Debt Trap at Hambantota: False Picture on China’s Role

Deborah Brautigam & Meg Rithmire,  in The Atlantic, 6 February 2021, where the title is The Chinese ‘Debt Trap’ Is a Myth “

The narrative wrongfully portrays both Beijing and the developing countries it deals with. China, we are told, inveigles poorer countries into taking out loan after loan to build expensive infrastructure that they can’t afford and that will yield few benefits, all with the end goal of Beijing eventually taking control of these assets from its struggling borrowers. As states around the world pile on debt to combat the coronavirus pandemic and bolster flagging economies, fears of such possible seizures have only amplified.

Ben Shmulevitch

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September 11: Back to Square One 20 Years After

David Kilcullen, in The Weekend Australian, 11-12 September 2021

Twenty years after 9/11 the terrorism threat is larger and more widespread, the Western alliance is weaker, and the US is in sharp ­decline relative to its rivals. Democratic societies are less free, stunted by “safetyism”, less resilient and more divided.

The abandonment of Afghans amid the return of an unreformed triumphant Taliban just in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11, underlines the failure of the global war on terror and the need for a radical rethink. This is particularly true for Australia, which faces the most threatening geopolitical environment in a century.

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Lakshman’s Hambantota Diarrhoeas

Lakshman Gunasekara … with highlights being the intrusion of The Editor, Thuppahi

I recall reading both these articles,[1] or at least parts of these articles just a few weeks ago sent by you.

1) China:- I am an admirer of China (just as much as I am an even bigger admirer of India, simply because of cultural and geographical affinity) and I am specifically an admirer of China’s role in the world today as a relatively civilised and certainly civilisational (in terms of Difference) counter to the old, beginning-to-fade Western imperialism. This is not to say that I do not have problems with China’s internal, unnecessarily repressive, political system. While I am a long-time Communist and I continue to watch with interest the successes and failure of the single-party system (the Communist Party is not at all the typical western-liberal-style ‘political party’), I am surprised at the lack of more dedicated practice of electoral politics within that one-party system, especially at the higher levels of national structures. Theoretically, I prefer the Communist one-party state than the bourgeois-liberal multiparty competitive electoral system as the best way toward greater democracy and consolidating social democracy.

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American Schemes of Global Bifurcation behind Hillman’s Story on Hambantota Port

Fair Dinkum

I am unfamiliar with the work of Jonathan E. Hillman. So, I spent time researching his background before reading this article. I wanted to read the article with an open mind. With this type of article, it is important know who the author is; what his relationship is with Sri Lanka, China and the US; the organisation he is affiliated with and what their goals are; and why did he decide to write this essay and for what purpose?

Greece may be on the fringe of the EU geographically, but it has become a key focus in the intensifying scramble for global influence. Sri Lanka could go the same way.  Illustration by Henry Wong

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The Story behind the Rise of Hambantota Port: An American Twist

Jonathan E. Hillman, 26 August 2021, whose title runs thus:The Secret History of Hambantota” ….  while the presentation here is marked by the imposition of highlights, let me prefigure the prospect of critical commentary from knowledgeable specialists sought out by Thuppahi.

If Chinese loans were cigarettes, Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port would be the cancerous lung on the warning label. Some observers have pointed to the underperforming port and alleged that China is using “debt trap diplomacy,” loading countries up with loans and seizing strategic assets after they cannot repay. Others have argued that Sri Lanka, not China, is responsible for its debt woes. The debate is important for understanding the risks lurking in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, especially as the pandemic pushes more of China’s borrowers to the brink.

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Jaffna Fort in Ruins: Evoking Its Chequered History

Dishan Joseph, in Daily News, 4 Septmber 2021, where the title is “Jaffna Fort: Reflections of Dutch History” … reproduced here with highlighting inserted by The Editor, Thuppahi

The Northern Province is embellished with history and culture. It is a land laced with mystic aura. Perhaps the most iconic landmark in the Jaffna town area is the massive Dutch Fort, which stands as a historic sentinel. This fortified superstructure is the second largest Dutch Fort in Sri Lanka.

For centuries this Fort has been associated with the strategic defence on the maritime boundary of our resplendent island. It is probably the most visited destination of the Northern Province by local and foreign visitors, the other being the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil. From the 13th century to the 17th century, the Nallur Rajadani featured prominently in ancient Ceylon.

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Turmoil & Transformation in Afghanistan: A Sri Lankan Writer’s Assessment of the situation NOW

Lynn Ockersz, in The Island, 2 September 2021, where the title is  “Power and sovereignty issues come to the fore in Afghanistan”

“More and more strength to those women and other vulnerable groups that are mustering for their rights in Afghanistan right now.” This is likely to be the wish of progressives everywhere. The enormity of their courage could be gauged from the fact that they are in direct confrontation with the Taliban who are no champions of fundamental rights. Now more than ever before, women’s organizations the world over and international progressive opinion need to rally round these protesting sections in Afghanistan.

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Jehan Perera on the Requisites for Political Reconciliation

Jehan Perera, in The Island, 3 August 2021, with this title “Restoring reconciliation process cannot be piecemeal”

 

The government is making a resolute effort to turn Sri Lanka around and put it in the direction of rapid economic development. The systematic manner in which it has been conducting the Covid vaccinations has earned recognition by WHO as well as the international community. The value of the military in getting things done on a large scale with minimum of delay has been manifested in the partnership that they have struck with the health authorities. The memory is fading of how some of the government leaders dabbled in alchemy and the spirit world to find an antidote to the COVID virus, despite being vested with the responsibility to strengthen the health of the country’s people. There is also increased space being given to civil society to engage in protests, such as the protracted teachers’ strike and the agitation against the expanding mandate of the Kotelawala Defence University.

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