Showing posts with label nationalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nationalism. Show all posts

Monday, June 07, 2010

Is China behind CEPA protests in Sri Lanka?

(June 07, 2010, Colombo - Lanka PolitySri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to visit India since tomorrow and the bilateral talks are expected to focus Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (CEPA) that was supposed to be signed two years ago but stalled.

Two weeks back, several hundreds of protesters took to the streets against CEPA claiming it would hugely benefit the neighboring country by forcing the domestic industry into appalling risks. A high profile lobbying is underway against the trade pact which is yet to be made public.

Many highly educated, including doctors and engineers who were part of the recent protest along with businessmen expressed their fears that the island could be dominated by cheaper and skilled Indian services at the expense of the domestic industry.

However, Jose Roy writing to says "this argument is unfounded as India’s educated unemployed were largely jobless because their reluctance to work for less or in remote places. Moreover, Sri Lanka being a country less than half the currency value of India would not have to panic about the products or services from India going cheap rather can ensure superior quality which could help the country build its economy on a firmer footing."

The Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) signed in 1998 and which is effective since March 1, 2000 has been able to boost trade between both nations significantly with near equal opportunity for the Sri Lankans. The ISFTA that is confined to the trading of only goods pushed country’s exports by manifold from $55.7mn in 2000 to $516.4mn in 2007. Interestingly, the part of the business community lobbying against the CEPA hail the ISFTA.

On the contrary, in 2002, the traded volume between China and Sri Lanka totalled about $350mn, of which China's exports accounted for $340mn providing room for Sri Lankan exports at about a meagre $10mn. Although Sino-Lankan trade witnessed tremendous growth over the years with bilateral trade crossing $2bn in 2009, imports from China remained predominately greater than the efflux. However, an anti-Chinese lobby is almost invisible possible because China is not involved in internal politics of Sri Lanka.

The conservatism of a part of Sri Lankan business community regarding CEPA is highly controversial. But the worst is Sri Lanka's leftist People's Liberation Front (JVP) and some other elements disgruntled due to the rise of Mahinda Rajapaksa through Sinhala nationalism in which they had kept all their eggs might try to rouse anti-Indian sentiments among the masses investing in CEPA protests.

These elements may use the opportunity for raising funds and mustering broad-based support for an anti-Indian campaign that may ultimately lead to a racist movement against any attempt to bring a solution for the ethnic problem through negotiations.

Frustration led them in previous occasions as well to similar disastrous racist tactics to grab power that caused havoc to entire nation. The JVP uprising between 1987-89 and the toppling of the democratically elected United National Party government through a premature election called manipulating draconian powers of the executive presidency they themselves despised in 2004 are examples. The damages incurred to the Sri Lankan polity in these vicious circles are immeasurable.

The business community members that protest the CEPA must be considerate of this kind of adverse effects of their protests that might ultimately lead to disastrous effects on the nation.

We, as leftists, do not believe in the conservatism in the name of safeguarding national states economies. It is the task of the capitalists to move in the path of market liberalization. Socialists must fight against the capitalist system for the rights of the down trodden masses. However, we believe that the forward march of the human socio-economic systems must not stop at nation state. Therefore, safeguarding national economies and state apparatuses should not be in the agendas of the leftists. Socialism, though not clearly defined, is an advanced social system, one beyond the fullest potentials of the capitalist system, that has nothing to share with the backward nation states.

CEPA is not leftists' subject. However, leftists must evaluate the situation vis-a-vis their aim of socialism. Socialism will be a reality only in a context labor has achieved the freedom of mobility that capitalism has already achieved.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa's maximum to Tamil demands

(January 03, Colombo - Lanka Polity) Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa's maximum reaction to the long-standing Tamil demand for autonomy is to be the 13th amendment to the constitution minus the merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces that came under the Indo-Lanka accord that preceded the constitutional amendment.

The jubilant President who successfully suppressed the three decade old armed struggle of the Tamils last year is struggling to win the support of the Tamils ahead of the early presidential poll in which he is facing a pitch battle with his ex-Army chief retired General Sarath Fonseka.

However, he has laid his hopes basically on the Sinhala chauvinist votes and unwilling and afraid to go beyond  the line of 13th amendment. Even in the latter years of 1980s, the Tamils rejected the 13th amendment and the Provincial Councils that were in fact imposed on them parallel to an Indian military intervention. Then the two provinces were merged and later the Sinhala nationalist Marxist People's Liberation Front (JVP) carried out a successful lawsuit in 2006 to demerge the two provinces in a judgment delivered by the ex-Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva whose role is highly questioned by media and civil society. The problem now remains is if the Tamil nationalists have the moral right to accept a lesser version of the 13th amendment after more than two decades they rejected it and following so much blood was shed.

Rajapaksa regime reportedly intends to hold elections for the Northern Provincial Council in coming June. They held elections for the Eastern Provincial Council in 2008 immediately after the areas under the rebels in the Eastern Province were 'liberated.' However, the Eastern Province Chief Minister, ex-rebel and ex-paramilitary leader Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan expressed displeasure several times over the way the central government deals with the powers of the Provincial Council. It is an open secret that the President's all powerful brother Basil Rajapaksa and the President-nominated Governor of the Eastern Province Rear Admiral Mohan Wijewickrama have sidelined the Chief Minister that hails from a subaltern background in the development work in the province that are directly handled by the central government.

The Rajapaksa regime is violating the fundamentals of power devolution even in the nominal decentralization they have offered to the Tamils. The fate of the would be-Provincial Council in the Northern Province will be the same if it goes to the hands of the pro-government ex-paramilitary elements groups the likes led by Ministers Douglas Devananda and Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman.

White handkerchief marks protest against forcible cremation by the government of Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan civil society is silently but strongly marking their protest against the government's inhuman  forcible  cremation of a 20-da...