People may use President Ranil and analyze – By Prof. Samitha Hettige

President Xi Jinping was the first super power leader to congratulate President Ranil on being appointed President. Most Sri Lankans assume that right wing Ranil will not and should not work with eastern friends. Some question how Ranil can work with countries other than western powers. Such persons may study the very moment SL is in, available persons and the financial capacity to hold elections etc. and  decide themselves whether SL should be governed as per the constitution or not. The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) helped SL during President Gotabaya rule to ensure the right to life of Sri Lankans by providing the COIVD vaccine when SL was struggling to save lives. The PRC worked with all elected governments of SL and it was during UNP governments they signed the Rubber Rice Pact 70 years ago (during Dudley S) ensuring the right to life of Sri Lankans and constructed the Supreme Court indirectly strengthening rule of law in SL (during JRJ tenure) 35 years ago.

When the PRC established diplomatic relations during SWRD (SLFP) government in 1957, they purchased the ancestral home of UNP’s JRJ (in Colombo 07 facing the Town Hall) to establish the first embassy. After President JRJ assumed office, President RW’s father Esmond Wickremasinghe (King Maker proven beyond doubt) was invited to the PRC as a special guest. After the Port City recommenced operations during Sirisena administration, PM Ranil visited China and also flagged the Port City at the International Investors forum in Switzerland. China which protected SL at international forums unconditionally will have to be respected and treated with a win-win attitude by all Sri Lankans while maintaining good relations with the western world if SL wishes to control undue influence by others.

Fighting famine with friends!

President Premadasa who visited China as PM weeks before running for office stated that “No good will happen to anyone who acted against SL” when PM Rajiv Gandhi lost an election in the early 1990s. Premadasa era is remembered for the poverty alleviation efforts more than others. Those responsible in SL agricultural sector should get support from friends such as China and India to face the predicted food shortages. The public will have to pay the price for the decisions of the officials (with agendas or intentions of migrating) such as turning away the Chinese fertilizer ship. Public may monitor how same officials are now receiving Indian fertilizer with no hesitation.

SL boasts 2500 years of agricultural heritage but it must study on how China developed their Agricultural sector since 1949 before commenting on the quality of China’s agricultural produce. China as a state has to ensure staple food (rice) for more than 1.5 billion humans and they lead the world in rice production. Chinese organizations including the company whose fertilizer was rejected by some SL officials are leading suppliers to international organizations which practice highest standards. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems initiative (GIAHS) is such an attempt which recognizes agricultural excellence. In 2022, the GIAHS marks the 20th anniversary and the Chinese President recognized the initiative with views on protecting agricultural heritage as a common responsibility of mankind. In his message President Xi indicated China’s willingness to work with the world to protect agricultural heritage and enhance its economic, social, cultural, ecological, scientific and technological value (ref. Chinese sources). Sri Lankan public and the agricultural officials may learn from the above message. The officials (who might migrate after embarrassing the country among good friends) and the public concerned about preventing conflicts in SL may also study the ICE report.

The ICE report

The Law Centre of Georgetown University, USA published a report on the activities of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) surveillance systems. According to that ICE may keep track of immigrants and citizens bypassing all privacy laws etc. This may be of concern to those who discuss human rights in China, at the Galle face or even in USA. Some believe that ICE is treating ordinary citizens as suspects. According to the report during 2008 – 2021, nearly 3 billion USD has been spent to develop surveillance systems and ICE can access driver’s license data of approx 75% of the US public, track movements of vehicles and learn change of addresses (US sources). SL may also learn from ICE (USA) on how to prevent future conflicts provoked by those affecting the fuel and energy supply etc. The people must use the best persons to get support from west and the east to get a good deal for SL at this very moment.

(The writer is an academic and a broadcaster. Views expressed are personal and may not be the views of his affiliations.)


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