Mafia & Media Hitmen: Multinationals & Import Monopolies
Published (updated: ) in Uncategorized. Tags: Adam Smith, Advocata, Bay of Bengal, Benjamin Franklin, Canto General, Champika Ranawaka, Chevron-Caltex, Citibank, Exxon, Fake news, Fertilizer, FG de Saram, Ford Foundation, FTZ, Fuel, Gamani Corea, GATT, Gaza, Gramsci, Greenspan, Greenwashing, Hemas, Illuminati, IMF, Indian Ocean, ITO, James Steuart, John Exter, John Kotelawala, Kadirgamar, Karl Marx, Kipling, Lenin, Liberty Cinema, Liberty Plaza, Marshall Plan, Nestlé, Pablo Neruda, Polllution, Procter & Gamble, Rajya Osu Sala, Rockefeller Foundation, Sachets, SBD de Silva, Second Dose, Senaka Bibile, Sinophobia, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Social Media, Standard Chartered, Standard Oil, Students for Liberty, SWRD Bandaranaike, The Jungle Book, The Night Watchman Society, UNCTAD, Unilever, Vira Alakeshvara, War Games, World Bank, WTO, Zheng He.
“Before you study the economics, study the economists!”
e-Con e-News 09-15 May 2021
The Standard Oil Co (now ExxonMobil, Chevron, Caltex, etc.), accounts for our largest import bill. Unilever grabs 10% of everybody’s income here. They’re the leading mafia hitmen of the import monopolies – fuel, fertilizers, consumer goods, medicines, etc. – in Sri Lanka. This ee examines their control of the growling and mewing of the media through advertising. Worse, they prevent investment in modern (machine) industry, by also controlling the rural home market. ee examines why the media is vehemently against import controls, examining the origins of that clamour. Multinationals are also the main source of pollution in the country, which the environmental groups they fund gaily ignore.
• A ruling party has to meet the challenges of production and everyday life – the needs of salt, rice, housing, clothing, childbirth, etc. They must restore and develop production, first improving the lives of cultivators, workers, people in general. If not, they shall be unable to maintain political power.
To counter soaring prices, a ruling party must get cultivators and workers to direct the army to ship large quantities of rice, clothes and fuel from major production bases to locales where speculators are hoarding goods and hiking prices. They must distribute hard-to-get goods, forcing drop in prices. Then, levy taxes and enforce monetary policy. Third, don’t let merchants determine health and media policy. This ee shows: professors, economists, technocrats, actors, sportsmen, are mostly in the pay of these multinationals and their merchants.
• We’re approaching the 3rd anniversary of the passing of SBD de Silva, to whom ee is dedicated. SB was charged with writing articles on industry for The Central Bank Journal, a regular survey. Yet the much-lauded and well-connected Gamani Corea, as Director of Economic Research at the CB, told SB to rewrite his columns and leave out the vital fact that the development of industry was inhibited by the dominance of import monopolies. SB, nonetheless, kept this crucial analysis.
Corea was linked to the UNP – on whom the white man in 1948 had anointed power – through blood and inheritance (his uncle, the 3rd PM of a ‘free’ Ceylon, John Kotelawala). When Corea died he was considered the richest man in Sri Lanka, so much so that his cousin Lalith Kotelawala, of Ceylinco and Golden Key fame, was accused of trying to grab his wealth. It was instead grabbed by ‘free world’ economists! (see ee Random Notes)
• ‘Students for Liberty’ conjuring ‘A Freer Future’, are conducting a May 15 online event about ‘Criminalizing Fake News – Implications for Sri Lankan Society’. These students are tutored by the US-funded Advocata Institute’s ‘The Night Watchman Society’, whose inaugural 2017 meeting some ee Readers attended, and roared a hearty laugh. Is any of Gamani Corea’s endowment funding such ‘freeways’?
This ee examines, who sponsors, funds, and more importantly profits from all this ‘Free’ and ‘Liberty’ business. The only ‘Liberty’ we know is a Liberty Cinema that projects imported dramas, and a Liberty Plaza hawking imported dreams in Kollupitiya. Both share a sewer with the US Embassy (which also took over the old English High Commission building) flowing into the rocky beachless seas of that increasingly bellicose ocean called Indian for now.
• ‘Free’ we were told we were in 1948. ‘Free’ and ‘Liberty’ are words spread by the most expensive capitalist media dollars can buy, disseminated by economists and various foreign-funded thinktanks. Where does all this ‘free’ business – minus economic power – come from? (see ee Random Notes)
So, what enchains these crusaders for freedom and ‘fake news’ to the US and English governments? Their multinational banks and corporations are represented by US Standard Oil & Citibank, Anglo-Dutch Unilever & Standard Chartered. They’re also the biggest unnamed polluters here, through noxious monoxides, chemicals, packaging, advertising, etc., inhibiting industrialization by preventing investment in machine industry.
Take the headlines and spluttering against the bans on palm oil, fertilizer, and the mocking of ‘native’ ‘peniyas’ etc. Standard Oil et al officially took over global fertilizer production in the 1960s. Unilever is the biggest buyer of palm oil for their soaps, like Lux etc.
Jeering at helavedakama and ‘syrups’ aims to shame the very idea of local production of medicines. This links to the MNC import mafia who blocked early access to Russian and Chinese vaccines. Private pharma importers like Hemas stride boots across the grave of murdered Senaka Bibile, the formulator of a national policy on medicine and the founder of the great Rajya Osu Sala network, which ee believes should be augmented as a model for running the entire country!
As for fake news, which our funded ‘students for liberty’ do not wish criminalized: the biggest producers of so-called social media (actually anti-social media) are these very banks and multinational corporations (ee Random Notes)
Exxon’s and Unilever’s professors and economists are leaping out of their ivorine towers to caterwaul against bans on fertilizer, palm oil, etc., as well as against China. Yet, not all scholars are hired gunslingers: ee reproduces a fascinating response to the sloppy media fictions about 15th century Chinese Admiral Zhang He. ee Focus also has a takedown on Sinophobia Inc & the Information Industrial Complex. Further, the media outcry about the visit of China’s Defense Minister was meant to conceal the belligerent war games by NATO conducted throughout March and April in this ocean called Indian, perhaps soon renamed the Eastern Indo-Atlantic or Western Indo-Pacific (see Quotes & Sovereignty.)
• ee therefore (da! da! da! daa!) presents a famous elegy by Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda from his classic Canto General – General Song. Standard Oil is known in Lanka under many names, Esso, Chevron, Caltex, Mobil etc. Sponsors of bribery, terror, coups, assassinations, fake rebellions, etc. – essential to their international toolkit:
Standard Oil Co.
When the drill bored down
toward the stony fissures
and plunged its implacable intestine
into the subterranean estates,
and dead years, eyes
of the ages, imprisoned
and scaly systems
became strata of water,
fire shot up through the tubes
transformed into cold liquid,
in the customs house of the heights,
issuing from its world
of sinister depth,
it encountered a pale engineer
and a title deed.
However entangled the petroleum’s
arteries may be, however the layers
may change their silent site
and move their sovereignty
amid the earth’s bowels,
when the fountain gushes
its paraffin foliage,
Standard Oil arrived beforehand
with its checks and it guns,
with its governments and its prisoners.
Their obese emperors
from New York are suave
who buy silk, nylon, cigars
petty tyrants and dictators.
They buy countries, people, seas,
police, county councils,
distant regions where
the poor hoard their corn
like misers their gold:
Standard Oil awakens them,
clothes them in uniforms, designates
which brother is the enemy.
The Paraguayan fights its war,
and the Bolivian wastes away
in the jungle with its machine gun.
A President assassinated
for a drop of petroleum,
mortgage, a swift
execution on a morning
mortal with light, petrified,
a new prison camp for
subversives, in Patagonia,
a betrayal, scattered shots
beneath a petroliferous moon,
a subtle change of ministers
in the capital, a whisper
like an oil tide,
and zap, you’ll see
how Standard Oil’s letters
shine above the clouds,
above the seas, in your home,
illuminating their dominions.
• Green Ambulance Chasers? One of the oldest colonial law firms, involved in the robbery of lands for plantations, is washing itself ‘green’ on its 180th birthday. Those who see the ‘weaponization’ (or is it NATO-ization?) of the eco-business, like human-rights, should note their claim, ‘certified’ by heretofore unpublicized organizations . Weaponization means they will use sanctions to control the state and the economy, particularly industrialization. ee doubts the law firm plans to pay compensation to undo the damage caused by the destruction of the montane… and the continued erosion of soil into the rivers… (ee Agriculture, de Saram)
• As an imminent southwest monsoon shapes the skies, an agricultural policy advisor to ee notes, due to excessive rain, cultivators in some parts of the country have lost some cash crops such as cowpea, peanuts etc. Was there a possibility they could have anticipated this? ‘Not really. We’re a tropical monsoonal country. Meteorology is still not as accurate as astrology.’ What about greenhousing? ‘Yes, a possibility but requires investment.’ So here too, astrology and the lottery offer more hope than any real agricultural investment plan by the banks, who prefer to rob cultivators instead.
A1. Reader Comments –
• Marx & Free Will • Frontline Workers & Covid • That 2nd Shot & Covid • 27 Million Soviets & Real Holocausts
A2. Quotes of the Week
• War Games in the Indian Ocean • China & Kadirigamar • Media & Murder in Gaza • Unelected Market & Presidents • Victoria’s Asses
A3. Random Notes –
• Gamani Corea & Import Substitution • Industry requires Leashing Import MNC Mafia • The Power of Import Controls: Why the Whites Hate Them • Exxon, Unilever & Fake News • Unilever, Exxon & Pollution in SL • US Oil & Chemical Producers Took over Fertilizer Industry • Just before they killed Martin Luther King • Hemas & Murder • International Relations & the English Dept: ee & Night Watchman • Marx & Free Will • Origins of Political Economy • Populism & Rural Petit-bourgeois Entering the Cities • On Conspiracy Theories
B. ee Focus
B1. Sinophobia Inc & the Information Industrial Complex
Part 1 – Shiran Illanperuma & Dr Vagisha Gunasekara
B2. Vira Alakeshvara and Zheng He: More Basic Facts – Sena Thoradeniya
C. News Index
A1. Reader Comments
ee thanks Readers who send articles of interest. Please excerpt or summarize what is important about any news sent, or your comments, and place any e-link at the end. It’s better to email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• ‘I’m not well-versed in Marx. Where does that quote mentioning free will, appear?’ (see Random Notes)
• ‘In May, the government twice issued revised Covid-19 guidelines: number of workers allowed in state and non-state sector offices has been limited, and people can work from home. It seems these options are available mostly to white-collar jobs. But workers in the garment, construction & agriculture sectors must work at full capacity. It’s not clear how plantation workers are affected. The guidelines say workers in these sectors must operate in a “bio-bubble” under area MOH supervision, or follow social distancing and respiratory etiquette measures (called DREAM). How this is to be practically achieved is not explained.
Meanwhile, trade unions, political parties and civil society groups that usually highlight rights, democracy, good governance and public health issues, are silent on this matter – not even making the simple demand to prioritize these workers for vaccine shots. Their silence would indicate they too don’t have a problem with such workers risking their lives to save “the economy”.
What’s noteworthy is this is happening in the backdrop of earlier 2nd Covid wave from a leading garment factory that forced its workers to work even while many showed Covid symptoms. To date we don’t know what happened to the so-called “probe” conducted by the government labour ministry into the matter. Instead, the workers were stigmatized, and the matter hushed up. The same authorities now saying these workers must operate in a “bio-bubble” amid an even worse 3rd wave. Meanwhile TV crews are videoing construction workers without masks, scapegoated as “irresponsible citizens”. All this is happening in the month of May Day.” [ee: May 15 news reports, the government has begun vaccinating workers in the FTZ]
• ‘Many in Colombo, who queued early for AstraZ, are blaming the government, etc., for uncertainty over when/how they’ll get the 2nd jab (due to India’s tragedy) – but people should know, many countries are in the same boat. Anyway, experts say better to wait longer for 2nd dose – Canada’s Ontario gives all 2nd dose AstraZ 4 months after. This Globe&Mail May12 article says mixing vaccines produces higher 2nd side-effects rate, ie maybe better immunity response: “As Canada and other countries consider mixing Covid-19 vaccines, an English study has found that people experience more chills, fatigue and general malaise after receiving a different vaccine as a 2nd shot. The study by researchers at the University of Oxford compared combinations of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in 830 volunteers. It examined the side effects people experienced after 2 shots of the same vaccine vs a mix of injections. Those who received a mixture of doses… were more likely to experience feverishness, chills, fatigue, headache, joint pain, malaise and muscle ache than those who received the same vaccine for both shots.” (theglobeandmail.com/world/article-people-who-receive-mixture-of-covid-19-vaccine-doses-are-more-likely/)
• ‘27 million Soviet citizens were killed during WW2, but the west only speaks of 6 million Jews? Both are terrible, but it’s strange, for they justify the land theft and murder in Palestine on the grounds of that holocaust, but kept attacking the USSR, while what ee calls ‘Her Majesty’s Left’ (HML) joined in and continues to demonize Comrade Joe Stalin, who set the template for rapid industrialization. HML’s babble against him prevents rational discussion of how they did it.’
A2. Quotes of the Week_
• ‘War games in the Indian Ocean – In March & April the waters of the Indian Ocean were bristling with warships engaged in military exercises, many of them representing extraterritorial powers. From 28-29 March the Indian and US navies carried out a naval exercise in the eastern Indian Ocean region. From 5-7 April a French-led mega naval drill called La Perouse saw the participation of India along with its Quad partners US, Japan and Australia in the Bay of Bengal. It followed the first (virtual) summit of Quad leaders in March, where the Biden administration had affirmed the importance of the ‘Indo-Pacific’ in US foreign policy. Indian Navy Spokesman Commander Vivek Madhwal signaled that India was onboard with US strategy when, according to PTI, he said India’s participation in La Perouse “demonstrates the shared values with friendly navies ensuring freedom of seas and commitment to an open, inclusive Indo-Pacific and a rules-based international order.” From 25-27 April the French and Indian Navies participated in another joint naval exercise called Varuna 2021 in the Arabian Sea. A notable development is the growing interest of European powers in the Indian Ocean. Yet the cohesiveness of these newly active anti-China formations is by no means clear. The US call for a ‘rules-based international order’ is riven with contradictions stemming from the US’s own conduct. Just days after the conclusion of La Perouse, a warship of the US 7th Fleet transited through India’s exclusive economic zone without India’s consent, in what the US termed a ‘Freedom of Navigation’ operation. This sparked a diplomatic spat between Washington and its new best friend, Delhi.’ – Lasanda Kurukulasuriya (ee Sovereignty, China)
• ‘When a relationship is founded on mutual respect and affection, importance and power – the size, of one of the 2 countries in that relationship does not have an uneven influence on the other. China has never sought to pressure the internal politics of Sri Lanka. Over the years China has demonstrated to be caring and sincere with no ulterior motives for assisting Sri Lanka. She’s never tried to undermine, dominate, or destabilize our nation.’ – Lakshman Kadirgamar, Foreign Minister, unveiling a bust of late PM Zhou Enlai at BMICH, 9 April 2005
• Media & Murder in Gaza – ‘The destruction of 2 important Gaza buildings housing 20 media outlets was both shocking and predictable. History shows that if the media aren’t around to document Israel’s war crimes, it’s a lot easier for it to commit them… Reporters Without Borders & the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the bombing and noted the Israeli military had contacted Reuters (which had an office inside) ‘minutes before the attack to confirm the location of its Gaza office,” and had explained it would not be targeted… after a few days of Israeli bombardment, horrific reports from Gaza, include accounts of Palestinians killed by what is believed to be toxic gas, and Israeli precision bombings killing entire families. As of May 14, Gaza’s health ministry reports at least 119 killed, including 31 children.’ – defenddemocracy.press/israel-is-deliberately-obliterating-media-buildings-in-gaza-to-cover-up-the-war-crimes-that-will-follow/
• ‘We are fortunate that, thanks to globalization, policy decisions in the US have been largely replaced by global market forces… it hardly makes any difference who will be the next president. The world is governed by market forces.’ – Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve (2007)
• ‘In one of the stories in The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling shows discipline at work in a strong bourgeois society. Everyone obeys in the bourgeois state. The mules in the battery obey the battery sergeant, the horses obey the soldiers who ride them. The soldiers obey the lieutenant, the lieutenants obey the regimental colonels; the regiments obey a brigadier general; the brigades obey the viceroy of the Indias. The viceroy obeys Queen Victoria (still alive when Kipling was writing). The queen gives an order: the viceroy, the brigadier generals, the colonels, the lieutenants, the soldiers, the animals, all move in unison and go off to the conquest. The protagonist of the story says to a native who is watching a parade: ‘Because you cannot do likewise, you are our subjects.’ – Antonio Gramsci
A3. Random Notes (‘Seeing Number in Chaos’)_
• The media religiously ignore that our foreign-exchange problems began, not just with the colonial import-export economy that impoverished our peasantry, but with the heavy consumption promoted by the first governor of the Central Bank, the US citizen John Exter. He encouraged dependence on imports of foreign foods and luxuries, etc. Exter prevented investment in industry, promoting dependence on US wheat, while opposing the SL-China Rubber-Rice Pact.
Gamani Corea had authored the first 6-year Program on Investment in 1955 under his uncle PM John Kotelawala. By 1957, our terms of trade declined as export prices fell, even as the new government of SWRD Bandaranaike was attempting for the first time, a rapid increase in real industries. Corea also authored the 10-Year Plan in 1958, though SWRD was suspicious about him.
The 10-Year Plan, and the attempt to rein in the English banks, led to SWRD’s assassination. The Anglo-US monopolies, behind the sabotaging of SWRD’s government, would go on to attempt a coup against his successor Sirimavo Bandaranaike in 1962, and later an infantile rebellion against her government in 1971.
It was during the Dudley Senanayake tenure of government, 1960-65, that Corea was fully in charge of planning the economy, in charge of the whole economic apparatus. Import substitution was introduced in agriculture, during the Dudley Senanayake UNP era by Gamani Corea, not because they wished to promote modern industry but to resolve balance-of-payment issues. Corea once told SB de Silva in the Central Bank dining room: “If we cut the import of potatoes we can save 20 million”. Austin Fernando at a funeral told SB, “Whether we like it or not we will have to be a closed economy.”
Cabinet Minister MD Banda in that UNP government, met Sri Lankans in Bangkok where he said, “If we lose the next election it’d be because of inflation & unemployment.” At the end of Dudley’s term, the country was in serious economic crisis, and led to the sweeping and greatest defeat in the history of the UNP.
The next Coalition government inherited a bankrupt economy from Dudley, and had to face rebellion in 1971, and an oil and grain crisis in 1973. Events studiously ignored by the capitalist media.
Gamani Corea, due to his links to the defeated UNP, was viewed with suspicion by Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s 1970-77 government (still much-reviled by the media). In 1970 Sirimavo appointed PH Siriwardene who formulated a 3-year program of investment. Corea was thus ignored by that new government and fled to Geneva, where he was made Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Once at UNCTAD, he got a little more hip, and told SB that his CBSL articles on how the dominant import monopolies inhibit industrialization were ‘quite good’. The government remained manacled.
Though also hit badly in the early 1970s by the recession, Japan had an industrial economy. Japanese scientists invented an auto engine with lower gas consumption, and lighter body, which soon competed in world auto markets. We have not been allowed such options. Industry requires the chaining of the import mafia led by the MNCs. It requires a state dedicated to capital accumulation, because the private sector just aint interested.
• The Power of Import Controls: Why the Whites Hate Them – In January this year, the European Union demanded that Sri Lanka notify the World Trade Organization of the import controls imposed in 2020. What’s this WTO?
The 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement, quarterbacked by the US Treasury, set up a permanent UN financial machinery to control international monetary policy through the IMF, with a bank for long-term investments, the IBRD, and a trade organization (ITO, later GATT, then WTO), promising to promote ‘full employment under the UN Economic and Social Council’.
UNCTAD, that Gamini Corea joined, had been set up in 1964 because the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade (GATT, now replaced by WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank were seen as undermining most countries. WTO and GATT had come out of the International Trade Organization (ITO), which had been seen as ‘an attempt by imperialist US monopoly capitalism to enslave the economies of the weaker countries’.
ITO was meant to take its place beside the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Labor Organization, the IBRD and the IMF among the specialized agencies of the United Nations. ITO had been planned from the very beginning of US planning for post-WW2 reconstruction and recovery. Plans to reduce barriers to trade was pledged by the Atlantic Charter of 1941 and by the lend-lease agreements in 1942, which made England, a US poodle, and us a poodle’s poodle.
ITO, envisaged by the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, was required, under the Economic Cooperation Act of 1948, by agreements between the USA and countries in the Marshall Plan – the European Recovery Program. ITO was integral to economic reconstruction – “as long as it is lacking, the pattern will be incomplete. The future of the IMF is dependent upon the establishment and operation of the ITO.”
Yet, ITO was not set up, mainly due to objections by the USA. The ITO/GATT issue was and is important to us, because they wished to prevent tariffs to protect nascent industry. This was the real reason behind stalling negotiations. The Communist world, led by the USSR under Joseph Stalin, their shining prince when they were destroying the Nazi war machine, was now their main enemy. They had to go easy on us: ‘In underdeveloped countries, all over the world, there is a compelling desire for rapid industrialization, and a belief that industrialization is to be promoted by restricting trade,’ wrote Clair Wilcox, who chaired the International Trade Conference, which resulted in GATT. He added:
‘The future of the IMF Fund is dependent upon the establishment and operation of the ITO. It is the purpose of the fund, by contributing to the stabilization of currencies, to bring about the eventual elimination of exchange controls. But there would be little point in abolishing national regulation of the use of moneys if unrestricted freedom to license imports were retained, for anything that a nation was forbidden to do by regulating its exchanges it could accomplish with equal certainty by imposing a quota system on its trade. Unless quantitative restrictions as well as exchange controls are brought under international supervision, the purpose of the fund can be circumvented with the greatest of ease. Unless the fund is supported by the ITO, it’s possible contribution to the restoration of a freer trading system will be insignificant.’
• Exxon, Unilever & Fake News – Banks like Citibank and Standard Chartered, and MNCs like Standard Oil and Unilever don’t just control BBC, CNN, and news agencies, they spend tens of millions of dollars on ‘influencer marketing’, using YouTubers, vloggers and other social-media stars to power their brand sales. They pay $100,000s for a single post mentioning their brand by ‘someone’ with over one million followers, and pay ‘micro- and nano-influencers’ – those with under 10,000 followers – about $5,000 for a single post.
Many Twitter ‘users’ are fake, and almost 100 million Facebook accounts are said to be automated, or bot accounts. A huge number of FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brands buy into influencers with fake followers. Unilever and P&G brands ranked among the top 10 brands use paid influencers with bot or false followers. Influencer marketing is not regulated at all, and brands are never transparent about how they use influencers to promote their products online. Unilever treats influencers like boutique agencies, making measurement of KPI (key performance indicators) easy. MNCs also prevent and underplay mention of critics’ popularity. Social media for now is capitalist media. It’s actually anti-social and does not promote organization. And, why should they?
• Unilever, Exxon & Pollution in SL – Unilever makes their greatest profits through retail sales of their 300+ products, made elsewhere. They sell through 100,000+ kadays to the impoverished in Sri Lanka.
There was a funny headline and story this week in a daily newspaper: ‘British funding to study plastic/polythene waste influx from India.’ But this waste is not just ‘from India’!
Over half of the plastic waste in the ocean is the small plastic packaging called ‘sachets’ for single-use consumption. Beaches, lakes, creeks and rivers advertise these drowned plastic-aluminium corpses, heavily marketed by multinational companies – Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé – brands such as Sunlight, Sunsilk, Lux, Lifebuoy, Nescafé, Maggi, Palmolive, Colgate, Head Shoulders, Mentos, promoted by suave cricketers and sexy actresses. Why’s there no fashion show with models using their garbage?
MNCs, led by Unilever, dump over 21,000 metric tons of plastic & polythene into SL’s environment annually. They make most of their profits from marketing small quantities to people every day in sachets – made of a thin film of plastic & aluminium in a sandwich laminate form.
At least 60% of SL households buy the 10-12million sachets that enter the market every month. The low-income and rural market is huge. With even a small margin, with these sachets, these companies both sell more, earn more money, grabbing more market share and profit, while destroying the environment.
The companies advertise these sachets as pro-poor. They market sachets as ‘affordable’ for everyone, including those less fortunate. So consumers believe they’re not only affordable but save money too, but in reality, they don’t! They blatantly mislead unwitting consumers into spending more for what they need. It’s much better to buy in bulk or large amounts, to get more of what you paid for in more cost-efficient ways. Through co-ops! Only the multinationals profit, while consumers suffer both financial and environmental consequences. The sachet epidemic should be blamed on companies for making these and forcing consumers to deal with the aftermath.
Most non-recyclable waste comes from these top multinationals, led by Unilever, P&G, Nestle. Unilever refuses to disclose how many sachets it produces, but global production is over 610,000 tons of plastic packaging annually. They, along with Exxon, are also the top sponsors of the main environmental groups, and deploy ‘greenwashing’ – to act environment-friendly. They say the impoverished need sachets, and then claim they’re ‘exploring other delivery formats and packaging alternatives’. They always say they’re willing to do it. But it’s a different story altogether whether they’ll ever do it.
Unilever, etc., claim they have ‘tried to limit environmental damage through education’, that education and media campaigns unsuccessful due to the lack of Government support, and promise ‘to dispose of this waste more responsibly’: this is greenwashing, faithfully reported by media like Sunday Times etc.
Unilever et al claim they introduced low-unit sachets into the market to help lower-income families, allowing them to enjoy ‘quality’ shampoos, toothpastes, lotions, condiments, even ready-to-eat food, (plastic) drinking water: ‘bottom of pyramid’ consumers aspiring ‘to consume the same Colgate to brush their teeth, and Fair&Lovely to look younger and fairer like their rich urban counterparts’!
• US Oil & Chemical Producers Took over Fertilizer Industry – The US government bolstered farm prices by reducing the planted acreage, and also pushed its food on Sri Lanka and other countries after their World War Two. White US farmers were allowed to increase yield per planted acre with greater use of farm machinery, hybrid seed, fertilizer; nitrogenous compounds particularly, added to the soil directly or combination with other fertilizer ingredients.
The USA controlled over 50 % of the world’s production of phosphate rock to make phosphorus for fertilizer, with 30% of superphosphate production. The US, Germany, France, Canada each produced most of the potash, the source of potassium. The US accounted for 30% of the world’s nitrogenous fertilizers. After 1950, there was a dramatic increase in the US consumption of fertilizer ingredients and fertilizers.
After 1963, the major US petroleum, chemical and food companies took over the largest phosphate producers and mixed fertilizer distributors, including production and supply of its basic elements – nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium. These oil companies took over, converted foreign natural-gas resources into synthetic ammonia and other nitrogenous materials for fertilizer. Most ammonia production was for fertilizer, 20% for plastics, synthetic fibres, industrial explosives and other chemical and industrial uses, setting off a technological revolution. World consumption of nitrogenous fertilizers was also rapidly increased, and the ensuing ‘green revolution’ using such chemicals was heavily promoted by both Ford & Rockefeller Foundations.
• Just before they killed him, Martin Luther King Jr spoke on Federal Subsidies to White Land Owners?: ‘At the very same time that America refused to give the Negro any land, through an act of congress our government was giving away millions of acres of land in the West and the Midwest, which meant it was willing to undergird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor. But not only did they give the land, they built land-grant colleges with government money to teach them how to farm. Not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming. Not only that, they provided low interest rates in order that they could mechanize their farms. Not only that, today many of these people are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies not to farm and they are the very people telling the Black man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. This is what we are faced with and this is a reality. Now, when we come to Washington in this campaign, we’re coming to get our check.’ (youtube.com/watch?v=ifh7NKE7lNw)
• Hemas & Murder: The naming and shaming of presumably quack medicines is to forestall local research, experimentation, and production… What is the link between the murder of Senaka Bibile, who (with SA Wickremasinghe, Communist Party SL head) formulated a national & international policy on pharmaceuticals, and the rise of import monopolies like Hemas, who prevent the local manufacture of pharma, and control the import of materials and pharma? Capitalist control of pharma has become a major issue, using it as a bioweapon in these Covid hours. Like in the US, the production of pharma must be seen as a national security issue, like food reserves. Bibile’s policies were as a model for many countries, the World Health Organization, the UN Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD), and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
• ee, International Relations & the English Department: Why does ee use the term ‘white’ rather than ‘western’? Cos Africa is to the west of us. As is much of India, Pakistan, and a whole swathe of Asia. If it’s geographic, and means Europe, and the Atlantic – say Europe. Use USA, rather than ‘American’ (which includes all peoples south of the Arctic and north of Tierra del Fuego. Other ‘American’ also carries the odour (and ordure) of Manifest Destiny and the Munro Doctrine. Use Anglo-North-America, cos many claim they do not know Mexico is part of North America. Use ‘West Asia’ rather than Middle East, East Asia rather than Far East. These terms are not only confusing and colonial, but are meant to decentre who we are. ee uses ‘imperialist’, though it’s true that ‘hegemonist’ is also powerful, in the sense of their ‘soft power’, via education, culture, etc.
• The Daily News reported on The Night Watchman Society’s inaugural meeting in 2017: ‘Most memorable from this session, though, was an impassioned outburst, in which one audience member questioned how western capitalist ideologies – specifically those borne in the England – could be held up as exemplars: “Is there any greater example of a rampant state than the English state in the world? When you’re talking laissez-faire, they were basically robbing the seas around the world, installing slavery.” –www.dailynews.lk/2017/12/27/features/138287/common-ground-new-vision
The Night Watchman Society’s inaugural included those enjoying the patronage of the Yahapalana government of the time, including a policy professor from Singapore, made chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies in Colombo, linked to infamous governor Arjuna Mahendran: They wish us to sell off state property as fast as a Central Bank bond, and spoke of laissez-faire, free trade, etc. Also, a Sri Lankan legal expert from the English colony of Scotland, who tells us, economic rights are not ‘justiciable’ (a word they love to love). They quoted such people as John Stuart Mill (who opposed democracy in India), and John Locke, the ‘founder of liberalism’, who was a promoter of slavery. For ‘liberalism’ believes in a master race! Think about it!
• An ee Reader asks about Marx and ‘free will’, because last ee mentioned: ‘According to Marx, there’s no ‘capitalist’ without the waged worker – that ‘other man who is compelled to sell himself of his own free will’. What indeed is this ‘free’ business? This enabled the 1948 English fraud called Soulbury independence minus economic power.
The English game of the last few centuries has been to claim that capitalism made people ‘free’ – but capitalism made only made people free of medieval restrictions. Marx’s work was responding to this dominant ideology of the time, pointing out the English peasant, whose land was stolen (through eviction, enclosure) had no choice but to work for the capitalist, or starve. Whenever he uses ‘free’ he’s usually making fun of it. Robbed of their means of production, they were pronounced as ‘free’ – free became a cloak for exploitation, buying and selling people – the real commodities!
There’s some cool wordplay with ‘free’ in Marx’s writings on primitive accumulation: Vogelfrei – as ‘free as a bird’! His irony, sarcasm and wit are lost in translation into English. Marx was responding to the dominant economics and economists of the time, eg Adam Smith, David Ricardo. A response to the game of the English state, via the idea of laissez-faire, ‘Father of Capitalism’ Smith, Mill, Bentham etc, who also equate or reduce the notion of freedom to free trade. The Communist Manifesto & Capital have famous lines on this ‘free’ business.
Smith learned about the leading French school of economists, the Physiocrats, after he met US media owner and slave seller Benjamin Franklin in Paris. Physiocrats believed, wealth came from agriculture, and agriculture should be priced high. Smith cribbed many ideas from Franklin. Smith recognized that the cause of increase in national wealth was labour, rather than the nation’s quantity of gold or silver. Smith himself in his most famous The Wealth of Nations (1776), was responding to the work of James Steuart, who exposed the role of the state in setting up capitalism, which Smith concealed. Steuart, almost a decade before Smith, had published An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy (1767).
While our media and economists love to talk only of manufacture, it’s vital for Sri Lankans to understand: real wealth comes from workers, especially those making the machines that make machines. Marx conceived of humans as homo faber, recalling Benjamin Franklin’s definition of the human ‘as the tool-making animal’.
• Some ee readers are confused about this focus on the origins of ‘political economy’ (PE), why the wrangles? It flows out of insistence that fascism etal have origins in colonialism, denied by ‘Her Majesty’s Leftists’.
‘The origin of political economy as a science does not by any means date from the time to which it is referred as such.’ PE apparently arose due to the ‘erosion of religious authority and the need to explain social events’. ‘PE is the theoretical analysis of modern bourgeois society and therefore presupposes developed bourgeois conditions.’
When the proletariat grew strong and proletarian parties appeared in 19thC Europe, their ‘whole theoretical existence proceeded from the study of PE, and scientific, independent economics also dates from the moment of its emergence. This economics rests essentially on the materialist conception of history.’ The proposition was ‘the mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual’.
Political economy began with commodities, the moment products were exchanged for one another – whether by individuals or by early communities. The product that appears in exchange is a commodity. But it’s a commodity solely because a relation between 2 persons or communities attaches to the thing, the product, the relation between producer and consumer no longer united in the same person. This fact runs through the whole of economics, and caused serious confusion in the minds of bourgeois economists – economics deals not with things but with relations between persons, and in the last resort between classes; these relations however are always tied to things and appear as things. This interconnection, which in isolated cases it’s true has dawned on this or that economist, was first discovered by Marx for all economics, and he thus made the most difficult problems so simple and clear that even bourgeois economists will now be able to grasp them!
While ee refers to the classical political economy of William Petty (founder of English PE), of Adam Smith et al, it’s Franklin who should be credited as the formulator of Modern Political Economy, for focusing on workers and tools. Even as it’s Marx who, criticizing PE, formulated Scientific Socialism – Communism: ‘What I did that was new was to prove: 1) the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production, 2) the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat, 3) this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.’
• A group of intellectuals from villages, who claimed to be socialists, having entered the cities, are now denying the existence of classes, after being promoted by the university and the media. They’re now, having risen up in the world, being named professors, etc., claim to be divorced from class and therefore political economy. Some deny they are forgetting class and political economy, while others take great pride in doing so.
They are promoting populism. There’s a big difference between populism and what is called the national-popular. ‘A national-popular movement is one in which a fundamental class becomes hegemonic at a national level by drawing subaltern groups into an alliance.’ This idea has been quite a bit distorted and stretched – and distanced from class analysis – by Laclau and Mouffe’s idea of populism. Mouffers allow liberal democrats to think they’re radical and more advanced than Lenin, while defanging Gramsci. In them you don’t find any sense of this: “The term ‘national popular’ reflects Gramsci’s conception of the revolution in Italy as a national movement which fulfils under socialism the historical tasks which the bourgeoisie has abdicated after the Risorgimento.” In Gramsci’s own words, in 1919 (before Prison Notebooks): “Historically the bourgeois class is already dead… Today the ‘national’ class is the proletariat.”
Another set of intellectuals oppose the idea of class – speak of the ‘multitude’ etc. Their main point is there’s a new class, one that Marx didn’t or rather couldn’t see: a class that own their means of production, because these means have become ‘immaterial’. ‘Immaterial labor’ – the ‘knowledge workers’. Their means of production is increasingly knowledge, which they themselves own. So these folks are supposed to be capable of more radical politics, beyond exploitation. It’s a white view of the world that ignores the globalization of the classical proletariat as much as the mushrooming precariat (what Marx called the surplus populations in Grundrisse).
The poor man’s or low-brow version of this is the notion of the ‘creative class’: Richard Florida popularized this, and in Sri Lanka Champika Ranawaka is the most influential believer of this kind – in the potential of high-tech knowledge hubs etc. That is the vulgar edge of the ‘Empire’ people – who speak a blend of Marx, Foucault and Deleuze. So it’s not exactly a dissolution of class as such or an argument to go beyond class, by people who once called themselves Left, and maybe still do: It’s a claim that a new class with new political capabilities is here. They call it Multitude. Smart, flexible, mobile, tech savvy, creative – & ‘revolutionary’ – dot-communism!
Factories brought thousands of people together physically, thus offered space for alternative working-class organization. Their fear of an organized proletariat has led to deindustrialization. The US auto industry led in breaking up such large factories in the white world, via outsourcing etc, to small shops, then shifting certain labor-intensive production to Mexico, Japan, then China.
To be honest, ee are no experts on Marx, nor ‘Marxists’, nor belong to a party, tho we understand that belonging to a party is more honest than claiming to be a so-called ‘free’ individual. Which brings us to the ideas of Lenin and the importance of a cadre-based party.
Lenin’s cadre-based party model has been adopted by the BJP’s puppeteers in India, the RSS (who killed Mahatma Gandhi), and Trump’s advisor, Steve Bannon in the USA. This adoption of Lenin by his enemies, goes back to Nazi philosopher Carl Schmitt. Although Schmitt was on the wrong side, he understood, as Lenin did, the fundamental contradiction of capitalist liberal democracy – the irreconcilable difference between its democratic claim and dictatorial basis.
Analytically Schmitt was the sharpest on political and legal theory outside of Marxism, and respected Lenin as an intellectual, for having understood liberalism as nothing less than the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. He quoted Lenin with approval in The Concept of the Political and other texts. The difference was: Schmitt advocated a fascist resolution to the structural crisis of liberal capitalism of the 1920/30s, a national(ist) dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (democracy was too lame, no good for him), whereas Lenin called for an internationalist dictatorship of the proletariat (the only path for real democracy).
• On the Illuminati & Cabals: Conspiracies are sometimes pushed by (especially by so-called social) media to spread despair, that there’s no system of rule that may be studied and organized against to be overcome: ‘Marxism is a theory of the capitalist social totality as a structural conspiracy. Common sense often intuits this, but popular and commonplace versions of conspiracy theory tend to miss the structural and systemic aspect of the conspiracy of the social totality, tending to ascribe what is systemic to a cabal of evil individuals – rampant in moments of major crises. We’re always for conspiracy theory – of the sort that pushes the popular ‘few evil men’ perception towards a systemic critique.
B. Special Focus_
B1. Sinophobia Inc & the Information Industrial Complex, Part 1
– Shiran Illanperuma & Dr Vagisha Gunasekara
While the US and other Western nations are mired in multiple crises of Covid-19, economic recession and systemic racism, their well-oiled global propaganda machine continues to manufacture consent for a New Cold War on China.
Though there is Western media critical of ‘Sinophobia Inc’, such critical analysis of US foreign policy does not find much space in the Sri Lankan media. The term ‘Sinophobia Inc’ was coined by a Chinese diaspora group, to describe an information industrial complex where Western state- and corporate-funded media and think-tanks flood the public with negative portrayals of China.
Rather, there’s a pronounced appetite for Sinophobia, especially among Sri Lankan elites who uncritically regurgitate reports designed to justify regime change and military buildup against China. These reports are picked up, cited, and amplified by local journalists, academics and media outlets, then entrenched in the public consciousness.
From the now-debunked ‘debt-trap’ narrative, to more recent outlandish claims of ‘Chinese colonialism’, the intent appears to be to turn public opinion in Third World countries against China. This simultaneously denies our countries alternative partners for trade, investment and finance, while weakening an emergent China’s global standing.
Perhaps more sinister is a tendency by liberal elites to either co-opt China’s development model from the Right – by characterizing it as purely a victory of neoliberal economics – or to refute it from the Left – by advancing allegations of inequality, pollution, racism, authoritarianism. This focus on China’s development is in some ways a more potent weapon as it seeks to prevent the rise of more Chinas from among developing nations such as ours.
This article is the first of a multi-part series where we discuss aspects of China’s development model, particularly on questions round the above allegations. To be clear, this is not a series about ‘defending’ China, but about interrogating liberal imperialist hegemony, which has run out of intellectual steam to rationalize China’s objective successes.
Poverty eradication & inequality – China recently announced it had eradicated extreme poverty a decade ahead of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. The state has lifted over 770 million people out of poverty in the last 40 years – contributing to about 70% of global poverty alleviation.
Critics argue that China’s poverty line is lower than the World Bank’s US$1.90/day, therefore the claim of extreme poverty eradication is inflated. However, poverty is not just a function of income but also of purchasing power. China’s poverty line is adjusted for inflation every year, with 2010 as the base point. If China used 2011 as a base point, as the WB does, the current poverty line of 6.95 Yuan/day would convert to $2.30 – well above the WB standards.
Of course, inequality still persists in China. Only a naïve, ahistorical pundit would be surprised that ‘China still has massive inequalities’. It would be foolish to think the effects of 180 years of semi-feudalism, semi-colonialism, and the Opium Wars, could be overturned in 70 years, amid embargo and military encirclement.
At the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2017, President Xi Jinping stated: ‘As socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved. What we now face is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life… The more prominent problem is that our development is unbalanced and inadequate. This has become the main constraining factor in meeting the people’s increasing needs for a better life.’
Inequality in China is therefore an issue at the heart of contemporary political and scholarly debate in the country itself. The embrace of market reforms has objectively helped the country develop its productive forces, but at the cost of rising inequality which the government now seeks to address through demand-side reforms.
The data on inequality in China indicates that such rhetoric is being matched by concrete policy interventions. Urban income inequality is on an overall downward trend since 2008. According to a report from the International Labour Organization (ILO), the average minimum wage in urban China tripled between 2004 and 2014. Real wages in urban China are growing faster than in India, Indonesia, and even the G20.
However, since 2004, there has been a growing divide between labor productivity and wages, possibly due to rapid productivity gains as China leads the ‘4th Industrial Revolution’. Still, labor share (ratio of employees’ compensation over gross value added), which declined from over 50% in the early 2000s to 48% in 2008, is once more on the rise and currently at about 51%.
Inequality between rural and urban China is high because productivity gains have been highest in the urban areas where manufacturing grew in proximity to ports and international supply chains. Historically, the rise of colonial maritime trade was at the expense of landlocked trade routes in interior China. This is one of the many reasons that China has invested heavily in roads, railways, and the New Silk Road (BRI).
China spent $77.17billion on targeted poverty alleviation programs 2016-20. The government expanded coverage of subsidies, pension schemes and medical insurance in rural areas. China now has a 90% rate of home ownership, slightly higher in rural areas (96%) than urban areas (87%). Basic medical insurance covers 99.9% of the poor population. Meanwhile, access to tap water among rural residents increased from 70% in 2015 to 83% in 2020.
That said, inequality has to be considered not just at the domestic national level, but also in the context of the global economy. In terms of GDP purchasing power parity, China surpassed the US in 2017, according to a World Bank report. China’s moves to close the technological gap with advanced countries are essential for increasing developing countries’ access to more affordable capital goods.
The CPC learned through experience that ‘perfect equality’, in the context of high poverty and no modern technology, was not a desirable goal in itself. Its Reform and Opening-up, including resulting contradictions, may have not been necessary had China been as resource rich as the Soviet Union, or if the colonial powers that plundered it had voluntarily ended their blockade and paid stiff reparations.
‘Orientalism’ of liberal imperialism – On April 29, 2021, China successfully launched into space the core module of its space station. This is a remarkable achievement for a country founded 70 years ago that had to be rebuilt from scratch after decades of war, humiliation, chaos. The long and arduous journey of the people of China has delivered the results they wanted, and continues to do so.
Third World liberal elites tend to exaggerate the market reforms introduced by Deng Xiaoping, mistakenly comparing it to Sri Lanka opening up the economy in 1977. In doing so, they disregard the continuities in pre- and post-reform China, including the CPC’s enduring popularity, the strength of the Marxist-Leninist state, and most importantly, the Chinese people who have made heavy sacrifices to achieve economic progress.
Think-tanks and media institutions linked to liberal imperialist agendas have saturated the public domain with research on China’s development, in an effort to downplay the success of their unique system. Yet, they remain silent on the utter failure of the system exported by the West, via World Bank and IMF, to countries like Sri Lanka. China has been willing to share its experience, but not forcibly exported its model.
Although liberal imperialists claim virtues of reasoned argument, neutrality, fact-checking, and providing space to contrary views, these clearly take a backseat when discussing issues in which imperialism is invested. Liberal imperialism remains ‘orientalist’/racist at its ideological core. For them, the testimony of 90 million CPC members does not warrant the same coverage as a handful of ‘China watchers’ sitting comfortably in the heart of the empire.
– Shiran Illanperuma is a Journalist and Researcher in Economics; Dr Vagisha Gunasekara is a Scholar and Researcher in Political Economy – island.lk/sinophobia-and-chinas-development-model-part-1/
B2. Vira Alakeshvara 7 Zheng He: More Basic Facts – Sena Thoradeniya
Professor Sasanka Perera’s (SS) essay ‘Vira Alakeshvara’s Plight: Signals from the Past’ in The Island Midweek Review of 28 April 2021, invites interest owing to its political overtones. The readers, historians, researchers and others concerned are inundated with details of Zheng He’s 7 Voyages or Ming Treasure Voyages, Zheng He’s biography, Ming shipbuilding project hitherto unknown in world history and creation of a massive fleet, goals and objectives of the said voyages and their consequences. In all these writings Zheng He’s visit to Sri Lanka, capture of Alakeshvara and the erection of the trilingual inscription by Zheng He in Galle in 1409 AD are adequately treated. Why a sudden cry about Vira Alakeshvara? Why wave warning ‘signals’ picked ‘from the past’ when the anti-China lobby in Sri Lanka and its foreign allies are waging an unrelenting campaign against the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Colombo Port City and lately against China’s Sinopharm vaccine? Against this backdrop it is important to examine whether the Ming Voyages had expansionist and colonial designs to conquer, subjugate, colonise and plunder the countries in the Indian Ocean as Western colonialists who later dominated the oceans.
It is true that Vira Alakeshvara’s ‘plight at the hands of the Chinese’ (his capture, taking him to China as a prisoner, pardoning him and sending him back to Sri Lanka) was not adequately documented in Sinhala historical/literary works such as Rajavvaliya, Alakeshvara Yuddhaya or Saddharma Ratnakaraya. Why did this happen? Is it because “national defeats are hardly a part of public national memory” as SS alludes? Do we forget or “consciously erase” “moments of shame”? Don’t we commemorate the annexation of the Kandyan Kingdom by the British in 1815, the most “shameful moment” in the annals of our history? Don’t we commemorate the freedom struggles in 1818 and 1848 although they were ruthlessly suppressed by the British colonialists? The list is too long. Don’t the Communists all over the world commemorate the Paris Commune of 1870 although it did not last for more than 4 months? Don’t the Western powers still celebrate Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-1916 though it brought disaster to the allies. The day ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) landed in Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey is a public holiday in both countries (ANZAC Day).
Geiger in his translation of Mahavamsa says, “our chronicle makes short work of the undoubtedly eminent personality of this man” (Alakeshvara). Although Nikaya Sangrahaya gives a detailed account of Alakeshvara’s military exploits and his service to the Buddha Sasana it is silent about his encounter with the Chinese. The account given in the Rajavaliya was most confusing and sequentially incorrect. Accordingly, it was a certain Vijayabhahu along with his four younger brothers taken to China as a captive. Alakeshvara Yuddhaya does not mention the name of the ruler who was taken to China as a prisoner. Strangely, these two sources refer to the advent of Vira Alakeshvara and his military exploits at a time when there was anarchy in the country soon after the King was taken to China as a prisoner. This was followed by Alakeshvara’s hunt for a young prince, according to the chronicler the son of the captured king, who was later crowned as Parakramabahu VI. Rajavaliya says the Chinese troops had “deceived the King promising him tributes”. The King, for his part had “done some foolish things”. Saddharma Ratnakaraya clearly states that it was Alakeshvara of Raigama who was taken to China (“Cheena mayamata asuwa”). But the same source says this happened when he had returned to Lanka from his voluntary domicile and ruled for twelve more years.
The late Pro. AV Suraweera in his Critical Edition’s Introduction of Rajavaliya (1976/97) solves this “historical jigsaw puzzle” with the help of sources such as Diago do Couto. We should forgive the author of Rajavaliya as he had not accounted for several centuries of history from the downfall of the Dambadeniya kingdom up to the ascendency of Parakramabahu VI in Kotte. It is also evident that later writers were copying sometimes in verbatim what was written by their predecessors. Scholars such as EW Perera, Simon de Silva, HW Codrington, John M Senaviratne, Senerath Paranavitana and Lorna Devaraja shed more light on this most confusing episode of Sri Lanka’s history. To this list, we have to add the works of Edward L Dreyer (Zheng He: China and the Oceans in the early Ming Dynasty 1405-1433), Louise Levathes (When China Ruled the Seas- the Travel Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-33), JVG Mills (The Overall Survey of the Ocean’s Shores translated from Chinese texts, which remain the best scholarly work) and of many others. Records of the Chinese Royal Court of the day and eyewitness accounts of those who participated in these voyages now in translation in English provide a detailed description about the ‘plight’ of Alakeshvara.
Dr Ajith Amarasinghe, Consultant Paediatrician and Clinical Allergist, an investigative historian in his huge volume Lak Ithihasayen Wasan Woo Cheena Meheyuma (The Chinese Mission Hidden in the Sands of Time), published 2014, 31 chapters with endnotes and appendices, traces the trade between Sri Lanka and China in the 15th century, Zheng-He’s 7 voyages and their objectives, rise of Vira Alakeshvara, how Vira Alakeshvara challenged such a powerful personality like Zheng He, the capture of Vira Alakeshvara by the Chinese, advent of Parakrama Bahu VI and the prosperity during his reign, and eyewitness accounts of Ma-Huan and Fai-Shin who accompanied Zheng He in his voyages. So the ‘plight’ of Alakeshvara is not “forgotten or consciously erased” and it still echoes in our “heroic discourse”. As Louise Levathes who interviewed the contemporary descendants of Zhen family, Amarasinghe interviews descendants of Parakramabahu VI, who now live in Taiwan whose forefathers have come to China in 1459. Amarasinghe says, according to Ming Shi-lu Records (Veritable Records in the Ming Dynasty) an envoy of Parakramabahu VI had visited the Ming Royal Court in 1459. The author assumes that this royal envoy who made China his home was Parakramabahu’s third adopted son. It is amazing that medical doctors such as Ajith Amarasinghe and a few others have ventured into history when there is a dearth of professional historians in Sri Lanka now. Incidentally Dr. Amarasinghe is the author of the book Finding Sinhabahu (2019), an analysis of the early history of Sri Lanka documented in ancient chronicles.
Most writers consider Zheng He as a mariner, explorer and a diplomat in addition to a fleet admiral. He was skilled in the art of war, strategy and diplomacy. His main activity was exploration. In his friendly visits he visited Royal Courts building new relations and expanding existing relations with other nations on behalf of the Ming Emperor. In every country, Zheng He landed, he presented messages of goodwill and gifts to local rulers such as gold, silver, fine Ming porcelain and silk; invited the local rulers to visit the Royal Court of Emperor Yongle. He brought back letters, riches and gifts from local rulers and foreign ambassadors. This has been described as a tributary system but tributes usually were far less valuable than the gifts given by the Emperor. The Galle trilingual inscription shows the magnitude of offerings made to local religious institutions. In his subsequent voyages he accompanied the envoys who came to China to their respective countries.
Some opine they were involved in a succession struggle in Sri Lanka and Parakramabahu VI was installed by Zheng He with the concurrence of the Sri Lankan envoys present at the Ming Court; but according to Sri Lankan sources, Vidagama Maithreeya Thero was in the forefront in bringing Parakramabahu VI to the throne.
The most important purpose of these voyages was to open a Maritime Silk Road as Mongols were controlling the overland Silk Road across Central Asia. Ming Voyages were not designed to conquer or colonise foreign countries seeking territorial control. As a consequence, ports in the region were developed. It prevented invasion and provided protection to the Region. The troops used ‘limited’ military force when they were threatened as in the case of Vira Alakeshvara and in defeating a pirate fleet in Sumatra: settled enmity between Ming China and Java. They established Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean and invariably it increased China’s role in Indian Ocean trade.
It was recorded that Vira Alakeshvara was hostile (engaged in piracy) to the Chinese in their first voyage at Beruwala harbour in 1405. But Zheng He had decided to leave Sri Lanka for other destinations without confronting Alakeshvara, who commanded an army consisting of 50,000 troops as against 30,000 troops of Zheng He. Confrontation against Alakeshvara and his capture with his family and principal officials took place during the third Ming voyage in 1411. Strategically, this happened on Zheng He’s outward journey. The battle between the two topmost military strategists of the day had been recorded in minute detail. Dr Amarasinghe says this was the first occasion in Sri Lanka that gunpowder was used in military armaments.
Did this confrontation happen due to business rivalry? The late Prof Ananda Kulasuriya has pointed out how wealth acquired in trade helped certain lineages like that of Alagakkonara (Alakeshvara) to gain access to political power. It should be recalled Jayapala of Salawatha (Salawatha Jayapala Methi), the Prime Minister of King Parakramabahu VI who patronised the author of Guththila Kavyaya was a merchant. Amarasinghe points out quoting Chinese sources that Jayapala Methi, who visited China as an envoy, died in China.
World historians today show that Chinese ships could have ruled the Indian Ocean and far beyond for many more years, had not the Ming Voyages been abruptly halted. (We do not intend to discuss the reasons for the suspension of these voyages.) They could have definitely checked the Portuguese incursions in the Indian Ocean. The history of Sri Lanka would have taken a different course. If so, how different Sri Lanka would have been?
China was conquered by the mighty Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan – something Genghis Khan had failed to achieve. It is well known the Great Wall of China had been built to keep northern invaders out. From the Opium War to total liberation in 1949 China fought against imperialism. It waged a protracted war of resistance against Japanese imperialism 1937-45. China did not invade Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macao though they were its legitimate territories.
Deng Xiaoping, the architect of modern China, in his Address at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly, April 10, 1974, stated: ‘China is a socialist country and a developing country as well, China belongs to the Third World… China is not a superpower, nor will she ever seek to be one… If one day China should change her colour and turn into a superpower, if she too plays the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bulling, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as a social-imperialist, expose it, oppose it, and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.’ These words expressed at the behest of Chairman Mao are still valid in shaping China’s foreign relations. This is the signal of the present. – island.lk/vira-alakeshvara-and-zheng-he/
C. News Index______________________________________________
• ee News Index provides headlines and links to gain a sense of the weekly focus of published English ‘business news’ mainly to expose the backwardness of a multinationally controlled ‘local media’:
(ee is pro-politics, pro-politician, pro-nation-state, anti-corporatist, anti-expert, anti-NGO)
ee Sovereignty news emphasizes sovereignty as economic sovereignty – a strong nation is built on modern industrialization fueled by a producer culture.
• China seeks deeper military ties with SL amid pressures from Quad
• Ambassador Ravinatha attends inauguration of new US INDOPACOM Commander
• Genocide Bill against Sri Lanka now law in Ontario, Canada
• FM conveys SL’s serious concern to Canadian HC
• Ontario’s new Tamil Genocide Education Week hailed by some, called unfair by others
• Foreign Policy’’ – Is it a Necessity for a Nation?’’
‘Sarath Wijesinghe President’s Counsel, former Ambassador to UAE and Israel…’Henry Kissinger – USA has no permanent friends or enemies- Only interests’
• Erasing the Eelam Victory Part 18D Pt 2b & 3
• Erosion of national sovereignty and FTZs: A storm in a teacup?
• Who withheld crucial letter from Sinopharm for approval of vaccine?
• China Phobia or Genuine Fear ?
• Covid-19 pandemic spreads due to lack of a people-based campaign – Prof. Tissa Vitarana
‘A Covid Committee should be established in every village, at street level in every town, and in all workplaces.’
• European Union funded Rs.9Bn STRIDE program holds first National Steering Committee
‘The World Bank (WB), United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the British Council together with The Asia Foundation (TAF) in partnership with the State Ministry of Provincial Councils and Local Government Affairs as well as Ministry of Justice… for Strengthening Transformation, Reconciliation and Inclusive Democratic Engagement (STRIDE) program…’
• National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka set up in 1952
• Pre-Junta State and social militarisation – Jayatilleka
‘The regime’s project goes against the grain of 90 years of civilian democracy and almost 45 years of the Open Economy in Sri Lanka.’
• SL in the Indian Ocean at the crossroads of sea routes to Europe, India, Far East and Australia.
‘ships plying this sea route is around 36,000 a year. The ports account for 30% of world trade.’
• Islamic radicalism has deep roots in the Maldives
• China blocks US bases in Central Asia
‘the shadows of the great game have appeared too.’
• US-Taliban acquiesce to live and let live
‘At issue is the extent of heavy US air support for the Afghan government forces battling the Taliban.’
• Turning The Clock Back To 2001 – CIA, etc., Prepare A New Resistance Against The Taliban
• US seen more of a threat to democracy than Russia or China
• U.S. Officials Claim That Iraqi Kurds Helped To Kill Qassam Soleimani
• Escalation In Palestine
‘The Israeli army cancelled the start of a large scale manoeuvre it had planned to run the next 30 days. That manoeuvre was seen as a preparation for an all-out attack on Hezbullah in Lebanon. Yesterday Hezbullah had announced a general mobilization of its forces to deter a potential surprise attack. The Israeli troops are now on alarm for a potential escalation within Israel and Gaza.’
• Escalation In Palestine – Hizbullah Is Ready To Join The Fight
‘This is the largest and most comprehensive IDF maneuver in its history…’
• Ramadan Nakba for Palestinians: Whither Biden’s human rights credentials?
‘Israel is losing its propaganda war despite Twitter and Instagram temporarily blocking the Palestinian narrative that explained the cause of the current crisis.’
• Saudi-Iran reset will take time
‘Israel’s clout with the US elite remains intact. And Israel will ensure that the US keeps its dominance in the Gulf, no matter what it takes… West Asia is not only about arms exports, petrodollars and terrorism, but a vital region that intersects with the Asian Century. It is a regional hub for China’s Belt and Road; it is where dollar’s pre-eminence as world currency could be seriously challenged; and, of course, roughly half of China’s imported crude oil originated from nine Middle Eastern nations in 2019.
• The US Military Occupation Of Trinidad
‘While stationed on the islands during World War Two, US GIs engaged in land dispossession, rape, murder, bullying and violence against local people’
• From Palestine to Colombia: The End of the White World Colonial/Capitalist Project?
‘“Liberals defend Black life as long as those lives are not in Haiti, Libya, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, all of Africa, and in the jails and prisons of the U.S.”
• USA – Immoral, Illegal, Irredeemable, and Irrelevant to Global Africa’s Liberation Struggle
C2. Security (the state beyond ‘a pair of handcuffs’, monopolies of legitimate violence)
ee Security section focuses on the state (a pair of handcuffs, which sposedly has the monopoly of legitimate violence), and how the ‘national security’ doctrine is undermined by private interests, with no interest in divulging or fighting the real enemy, whose chief aim is to prevent an industrial renaissance as the basis of a truly independent nation.
• US funds Training Center and Case File System for AG Department
• Ambassador Aryasinha attends US INDOPACOM inauguration ceremony in Hawaii
‘Inauguration ceremony of Admiral John Aquilino as the Commander of the Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), presided over by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii’
• Was six-week delay in using Chinese vaccine deliberate asks State Minister
• UNICEF reveals England hogs surplus vaccines while poor nations are crying out for help
• The ‘Third Wave’ of political chicanery
‘The USA, under Trump in particular but also under Biden, does not have even a rudimentary public health system. Arrogance, Sinophobia and rank ignorance are all part of the US story.’
• Do Communist-Led States Protect Public Health Better Than Capitalism?
• GMOA calls for ‘quarantine curfew’
• Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda alleges vaccines hoarded and only VIPs given in Colombo
• Sri Lanka, World Bank sign agreement for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment
• WhatsApp and Viber data can be retrieved – DIG Waruna Jayasundara
• India’s NIA takes over probe into seizure of AK-47s, ammo from SL boat
‘intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard around 225 kilometres off Vizhinjam coast…they claimed an unknown vessel carried the consignment from Chabahar Port in Iran, and handed over the same to Sri Lankan fishing boat Ravihansi in the high seas near Lakshadweep
• STF’s Special Waterborne Operations Squadron unveiled
‘comprising 16 officers of the Special Task Force of Police …to thwart illegal sand mining, deforestation, smuggling and other crimes across the country… trained under the sponsorship of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Sri Lanka Powerboat Association.’
• The unusual case of the ‘WDIG’
• BASL condemns recent killing of ’Uru Juwa’ & ’Kosgoda Tharaka’
• Rights group questions continuing deaths in police custody
• Criminals in high places never seem to be brought to justice
• Sri Lanka state fails in the core business: administration of justice
‘the average time to enforce a contract in Sri Lanka is 1,318 days..Land, Partition and Testamentary cases on average take a generation to be settled…A criminal trial takes on average 9½ years to conclude in the High Court. A criminal matter on average will take a year to be fixed for appeal and 3-4 years for the said appeal to be completed.
• Belfry Gate of the Trincomalee Naval Dockyard
‘Strategic natural deep water harbour in Trincomalee coveted by traders & colonists since ancient times’
• More Hacks, More Baseless Accusations Against Russia
‘In January police in various countries took down the Emotet bot-network that was at that time the basic platform for some 25% of all cybercrimes. Based on hearsay Wikipedia and other had falsely attributed Emotet to Russian actors. The real people behind it were actually Ukrainians’
• US FBI blames ransomware disrupting half of gasoline & jet fuel supplies to East Coast
‘The explosion of ransomware cases has been fueled by the rise of cyberinsurance — which has made many companies and governments ripe targets for criminal gangs that believe their targets will pay — and of cryptocurrencies, which make extortion payments harder to trace.’
• Craig Murray imprisoned for 8 months for my reporting of Alex Salmond trial
‘The practical result of the judgement against me is that it is virtually impossible to report the defence in any sexual allegation case’
C3. Economists (Study the Economists before you study the Economics)
ee Economists shows how paid capitalist/academic ‘professionals’ confuse (misdefinitions, etc) and divert (with false indices, etc) from the steps needed to achieve an industrial country.
• Sinophobia & China’s Development Model: Part 1 –Illanperuma & Gunasekara
• Current context of MPCS in Sri Lanka
‘Currently there are 309 registered MPCS in Sri Lanka, but only 303 are currently functioning as active societies, with 5.2 million members, which is close to a quarter of the population…one of every three economically active persons is a member of MPCS knowingly or unknowingly. Membership is evenly distributed among men and women, about 2.6 million each. There are 21,826 employees in MPCS island-wide showing how much MPCS contribute to the job market in Sri Lanka. Out of them 13,725 (62.8%) are female employees.’
• Losing markets for manufactured exports & no tourism severest external shocks – Sanderatne
• Regulatory economic systems create political interference and corruption – Abeyratne
• Mystery of assassination of President Premadasa: Now uncovered – Wijewardena
• Inflation & financial risk – Roberts
‘The problem with Keynesian inflation theory is that it assumes that profits comes from investment and not from the exploitation of labour power.’
• Some notes on the world economy now – Roberts
‘The high profits of tech companies such as Amazon, Apple or Alphabet are hiding the problem of profitability across the whole capitalist economy. There are a lot of unprofitable zombie companies and for most profit rates have fallen. We need to look at how this has affected investment. This is the central aspect that Marxian economic criticism can bring to the debate on the world economy’
• Globalism: a world in chains
‘Globalists’ greatest fear is not the state – it’s the people…It is the fear of the nation state as a democratic force that underpins the neoliberal project.’
C4. Economy (Usually reported in monetary terms)
ee Economy section shows how the economy is usually measured by false indices like GDP, etc, and in monetary terms, confusing money and capital, while calling for privatization and deregulation, their constant moaning about debt and balance of payments without stating the need for industrial production to overcome such issues, etc.
• Demons and Democrats
‘JR’s protection to robber barons was rewarded 3 months later by the largest IMF ‘aid’ package ever made by foreign banks, corporations and their governments. Who & what it aided soon very clear!’
• Sri Lanka Bonds Go From Asia’s Worst to Best After China Loan
‘SL notes have returned 15% this quarter, extending year-to-date gains to 25%, the best performance for any Asian nation’s U.S. currency debt in 2021, a Bloomberg Barclays index shows. They lost 31% last year, the worst showing in the region.’
• Sri Lanka not interested in IMF- drawn up policy package: CBSL Governor
• Growth projections may need revision: CB Chief
‘He defended the import ban and said easing depended on the improvement of the external situation’
• CBSL adopting ‘as and when needed’ stance on foreign reserves
• Govt and Central Bank in a mood for fiscal consolidation
‘in a mood for increased tax collection and reduced public spending in the medium term in order to reduce the burgeoning budget deficit in 2021’
• Sri Lanka forex reserves up US$471mn in April after China loan
‘Over the past 4 weeks SL has not printed money but excess liquidity remains in the banking system’
• Sri Lanka gets $500m South Korean loan after Chinese bailout
‘US-occopied Korea has agreed to provide concessional loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) of the Export Import Bank of Korea (KEximbank)’
• Sri Lanka’s non-credible peg to US dollar devalued to 202 amid LC struggle
• Sri Lanka finances 13.9-pct of GDP budget deficit in 2020, stated as 11.1-pct
• CBSL: Adjustments made to external debt according to international standards
• Old Chamber of Commerce chair calls on professional groups to speak up over ad hoc bans
• JVP predicts crash of economy imminent, due to mismanagement
‘There are 5 main crises in our economy. The first is the loan crisis…The second is the import-export crisis…The third crisis is the weak government revenue…The fourth crisis is the collapse of the industrial sector due to the high cost of raw materials, failure to combine technological support with the industrial process and inability to create a proper market for industrial output. The fifth crisis is the inequitable distribution of national wealth.”
• Harsha Misrepresents Industrial Strategy
‘import substitution model has not worked anywhere…to become self-sufficient, to produce domestically, and be less dependent on the developed world.. to bring in equipment that will enable these Latin American countries to manufacture capital goods that will then be used to manufacture consumer goods. Each country tried it. They found out very quickly that it did not work.’
• World Bank portfolio has 19 ongoing projects
‘US$2.33 billion in sectors including transport, urban, agriculture, water, education, and health’
• New withholding tax could sink Maldives
‘In January 2020, Maldives introduced a new Income Tax Act (Law No. 25/2019). This Act specifies that any payment to a non-resident company would be subject to a 10% withholding tax (WHT). It applies to a range of foreign companies that already pay income tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Maldives… Sri Lankan companies may be the worst affected.’
• Pied Piper of Borella, BRI and Brisbane
• India accounts for 80% of all intra-regional trade in South Asia.
C5. Workers (Inadequate Stats, Wasteful Transport, Unmodern Plantations, Services)
ee Workers attempts to correct the massive gaps and disinformation about workers, urban and rural and their representatives (trade unions, etc), and to highlight the need for organized worker power
• Govt. urged to increase nursing cadre to tackle national health crisis
‘Without referring to any political party, de Soysa explained how the political administration over the years treated the nursing staff as slaves. Government treated nursing staff as dirt…successive governments hadn’t responded to their call for enhancement of the nursing service with the introduction of a system to produce qualified nurses who specializes in selected field’
• Decline in labour force in 2020 first half Pt 1&2
‘declined to 8.470 million in the first half of 2020 from 8.603 million in the corresponding period of the previous year…driven by the significant decline of 6.0% in the female labour force during the reference period. In contrast, the male labour force increased by 0.9%…declines were observed across all sectors namely urban, estate and rural sectors during the reference period mainly due to the considerable drops in the female labour force. Meanwhile, the male labour force in the urban and estate sectors also recorded marginal declines, though the male labour force in the rural sector recorded an increase.’
• Switzerland urged to pay reparations for illegal adoptions from Sri Lanka
‘Some 900 Sri Lankan children being illegally sold to Swiss parents from the 1970s to the 1990s… 11,000 Sri Lankan children given up for adoption in European countries.’
• Lankan housemaid hacked to death in Kuwait
• Sri Lankan woman worker’s death in Japan and immigration bill
‘Japan only accepts around 1 percent of refugee applications…there were around 82,000 overstayers in the country as of January, while some 10,000 accept deportation orders and repatriate every year’
• World Bank expects worker remittances to SA to moderate this year
‘a new report titled ‘Resilience COVID-19 Crisis Through A Migration Lens’’
• Navy nets 30 illegal migrants
‘The residents of Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mullaitivu and Puttala, were handed over to Chilaw Police.’
• Lokuge admits he intervened to have Piliyandala lockdown lifted to protect daily wage earners
‘There are about 200,000 residents in the area. And isolation would have affected their livelihoods. There are so many self-employed people. Tuk-tuk drivers, bus operators, bakery owners, etc.’
• Circular issued to reduce public sector to minimum staff, carry out only essential services
‘Latest circular from Public Services Ministry further shrinks staff from earlier 50%’
• Sri Lanka state workers hit record 1.5mn in 2020, take 86 cents of a tax rupee home
‘Sri Lanka’s state worker cadre rose to a new high of 1.58 million in 2020 amid a Coronavirus pandemic, while working and retired employees took 86 cents out of every tax rupee home’
• EPF’s asset base grows in 2020; but returns to members slip
‘Sri Lanka is in a dire need of more inclusive social security net/s to provide safeguard for those who are not covered by the EPF, as the majority falls outside the EPF, as they are either self-employed or in the informal sector… the large majority are unable to afford long-term insurance policies,…’
• EPF to be transformed to a part-pension fund
‘Joint Secretary of Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees’ Anton Marcus said proposal should not be another attempt to use private sector employee’s life savings by the state to borrow funds at lower rates to bridge the deficit or any other purposes… Labour Advisory Council meetings have not been convened during the past couple of months’
• Imported Indian labor changed population in many African and Pacific countries
• The tenacity of caste: A Reassessment of Arumuga Navalar
‘At the Round Table Conference in London, Muslims, Sikhs and the Untouchables (the last led by Dr Ambedkar) demanded separate electorates…There was also Gandhi’s fear that the ‘Untouchables’ would link forces with the Muslims. Gandhi, who had never fasted against ‘untouchability’ itself, now declared a ‘fast unto death’ and Ambedkar, fearful that the Mahatma’s death would lead to a mass massacre of the untouchables, withdrew his demand for a separate electorate.’
• TamilNadu has < 3,000 engineering colleges & 150,000 unemployed engineering graduates
‘there is no strong correlation between one’s academic qualifications and career path’
• Garment worker came first in A Levels in Kilinochchi
• Youth turn to Chairman Mao’s writings after tech executive says they sleep too much
‘Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong collection was the sixth bestseller in the past 24 hours’
• The End of Low Wage Work
‘The combination of unemployment and additional stimulus support has made staying home a better economic decision than working for peanuts under stressful conditions.’
• Nurses upset, frustrated by higher pay rate for doctors performing same tasks at COVID-19 vaccination clinics
‘doctors are getting paid up to five times as much as them for doing the same tasks.’
C6. Agriculture (Robbery of rural home market; Machines, if used, mainly imported)
ee Agriculture emphasizes the failure to industrialize on an agriculture that keeps the cultivator impoverished under moneylender and merchant, and the need to protect the rural home market. Also, importation of agricultural machinery, lack of rural monetization and commercialization, etc.
• F.J. & G. de Saram, the country’s first law firm, celebrates 180 years of continued excellence
‘When plantations were sold in the absence of prospectuses, companies depended on the integrity of three legal giants of the time who all worked from one office at Queens Street, Fort. They were F.C. Loos, V.A. Julius (an Englishman who founded Julius & Creasy) and F.J. de Saram.’
• F.J. & G. de Saram certified as the country’s first carbon neutral law firm
‘The Sustainable Future Group, administers the ZeroCarbon certification., assisted by The Carbon Consulting Company (CCC)’
• State lands information and management system crumbles
‘Planned to start the Bimsaviya title registration programme in 2002 and to end it in 2021 and although 17 years had elapsed by the end of 2019, surveying activities had been completed only in 1359 Grama Niladhari Divisions out of the 3621Grama Niladhari Divisions in 57 Divisional Secretariat areas.’
• SL 6th in Global Climate Risk Index due to extreme weather, floods, droughts, landslides etc.
‘15 % of the country’s children under five suffer from wasting and 45% of women of reproductive age are obese or overweight.’
• Spill gates of several reservoirs opened, Water levels rising (14 May)
‘Canyon, Norton, Udawalawa and Kukule Ganga reservoirs had been opened this morning due to heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of the Central Province… Nilwala, Gin, and Kalu rivers rising… flood warnings in Bulathsinhala, Palinda Nuwara, Millaniya, Horana, Dhodangoda, and areas under the Kalutara Pradeshiya Sabha Divisional Secretariat…The Kelani river has reached minor flood levels from Hanwella to Nagalagam Street in Colombo…’
• Do not venture into Southeast Arabian sea from tomorrow: Met Dept.
‘Low-pressure atmosphere over the Southeast Arabian Sea adjoining Lakshadweep…likely to transform into a depression during the next 48 hours…to move nearly north-northwestwards towards Gujarat and Pakistani coast around the evening on May 18… fishing and naval communities extending from Kankasanturai to Hambanthota via Mannar, Colombo and Galle are cautioned’
• Minister Devananda says Coast Guard will deploy more vessels to keep Indians out
• Sri Lanka to subsidize farmers and consumers if fertilizer ban hits yeilds
• Government guaranteed paddy purchasing price and free fertiliser improved 2020 production
• Let us grow crops to feed people
‘5 cereals other than rice that are consumed to a significant extent, namely dhal, green gram, chick pea, cow pea and soya. Out of these dhal or red lentil mainly is by far the most used’
• Nestlé Lanka’s earnings hit record high in 1Q of Rs.11.45 billion
‘key brands, including locally manufactured Maggi as well as Milo and Nestomalt’
• Japan’s SBI Group invests USD 2 Mn in Watawala Dairy Farm
• Pest issues in corn can be detected with AI – Dr. Sivam Krish
• Rs. 206 m funds misused by co-op set up to empower farmers: Audit report
• Why give up what graduates were doing at their villages without improving them?
‘Cos I am a degree holder’
• Sri Lanka bans blending of coconut oil
• Leading edible oil importer passed away after aflatoxin saga
• Glyphosate linked not only to Chronic Kidney Disease but also to many other health conditions
• Sri Lanka – the highest user of agrochemicals in the world
‘The President has taken a bold first step. It is not an ill-thought out measure based on a single individual’s whim or fancy, as some lobbyists for giant MNCs try to make out.
• Farmers should not have any fear in organic fertilizer initiative; President
• Importation of chemicals for non-agricultural sectors permitted on prior approval
• Successes in global food production attributed to inorganic fertilizers and chemical pesticides
• Inorganic fertiliser, agrochemicals ban and fallacies of organic agriculture
‘Sri Lanka spends nearly Rs. 60 billion on the fertiliser subsidy and import of conventional first-generation fertilisers such as urea, triple super phosphate and muriate of potash costs the country nearly $300 million annually. But the quality assured second or third generation fertilisers such as compound, slow release and controlled release types are hardly being imported to the country. Nearly a million metric tons of first-generation fertilisers are imported to the country while a mere 35,000 metric tons are imported from the second and third generation fertilisers.’
• Sri Lanka fertilizer ban haphazard, modern tech, risk management the answer: researcher
• Ban on agrochemicals: Where are we heading?
• Tea industry petitions President over fertiliser issue
‘The letter was signed by all stakeholders in the industry namely the traders, exporters, planters, brokers, smallholders and factory owners…Sri Lankan exports that currently stands at 14.5 per cent of total global tea exports in 2020 will be reduced to below 10 per cent’
• The quest for environmentally-friendly agriculture
• Rupee devaluation, high shipping rates hurt tea prices at Colombo auctions
• First batch of Field Officers graduate Hayleys Plantations Technical Skills Programme
‘Hayleys Group accounts for 3.3% of the nation’s total export earnings.’
• Can Sri Lanka learn from the Canadian experience of Legalising cannabis
‘Cannabis was prohibited in the United Kingdom under its Dangerous Drugs Act in 1928’
• Wildlife Society partners with Herpetological Foundation on research for Knuckles Forest
‘these species are classified as threatened according to IUCN Red List criteria’
• Conserving Horton Plains: What the Science Tells Us
• Cabinet approval for conservation of Muthurajawela
• Nature-based Landslide Mitigation An eco-friendly approach to landslide risk management
• Scientific team completes part of ongoing study on gene pool of 700 Lankan elephants
‘We have already sequenced and assembled the genome of the Sri Lanka Wild Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus), the type subspecies of the Asian elephant…Wild elephants in Sri Lanka is estimated to be between 5,000 and 6,000, according to the last survey conducted by the DWC in 2011’
• Assessing critical habitats of sharks and rays around Jaffna
‘Blue Resources Trust (BRT) data have shown that nearly half of the Sri Lankan shark and ray species diversity is present around the Jaffna peninsula.
• Cargills, Unilever team up to help reduce plastic waste
• Interbrand & Daily FT Kindness Project with Blackrock Real Assets & Dole Packaged Foods
C7. Industry (False definitions, anti-industrial sermons, rentier/entrepreneur, etc)
ee Industry notes the ignorance about industrialization (versus handicraft and manufacture), the dependence on importing foreign machinery, the need to make machines that make machines, build a producer culture. False definitions of industry, entrepreneur, etc, abound, and the need for a holistic political, economic and military strategy to overcome the domination by merchants and moneylenders.
• US Blackstone’s Piramal Glass mandatory offer gets only 22% additional stake
‘PGP is a fully owned subsidiary of BCP Topco V. Ltd., incorporated in Singapore and part of US private equity firm Blackstone Group…Piramal Glass Ceylon, which was incorporated in 1955 and headquartered in Ratmalana, is engaged in manufacturing and sale of glass bottles, offering moulded range of glass bottles for the food & beverage, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics and perfume industries.
• Lanka IOC 4Q profits surge on lower oil prices, revenues of Rs.20.7 billion
‘Sri Lanka’s only private sector distributor of petroleum products…Lanka IOC is also into bunkering, bitumen and petrochemicals and is the second largest lubricant marketer with a market share of 15%, after Chevron Lubricants.’
• 25 years of private sector-led renewable energy development: Profits to Whom?
‘The country’s streams are now flowing in tubes, but do benefits flow to the public who have fully paid the investors with profits?’
• Two main gas suppliers lobby to increase LP Gas price or provide subsidy or tax reduction
‘state-owned Litro Gas Co. & Laugfs Gas…’
• Innovative pipe borne LPG to Sri Lanka
‘a unique legacy that goes back 150 years, Litro Gas Lanka possesses a…legacy was the network of gas pipes that delivered gas to households as far back as a century ago, installed by Ceylon Gas & Water Co, precursor of Litro Gas Lanka… in the country’s energy sector LGL has a 75% market share and a network of 42 distributors, over 14,000 points-of-sale, 1,500 home delivery hubs…’
• Sri Lanka’s CPC hit by Rs21.8bn forex loss due to soft-peg
• NDB Investment Bank advises Sunshine Energy on hydropower asset sale to Aitken Spence
• Sri Lanka to borrow US$200m from ADB to upgrade rural roads
• Hambantota sees highest monthly RORO volume in April
• SL Engineering converts Airbus A320 passenger aircraft to cargo freighter for Fits Air
• Terminal Management System at JCT/ECT upgraded
• Certain Grama Niladari Divisions have zero connectivity, not even a land phone
‘Connecting with the 330 additional secretariats across the island, which in turn connected with the 14,016 Grama Niladari Divisions (GNDs), revealed that a significant proportion of the local populace did not have connectivity to even 2G…’
• Hayleys Fabric revenues swelled year-on-year Rs.3.7 billion,
‘Hayleys PLC along with its subsidiaries own 63.05 percent in Hayleys Fabric while the Employees’ Provident Fund has a 2.67 percent stake in the company, being its third largest shareholder.’
• British funding to study plastic/polythene waste influx from India
• Plastic ban: Poor will be hit hard, say some: manufacturers must find alternatives, say others
• Large stock of Sevanagala sugar factory ethanol detected on its way to Dankotuwa
• Customs seize 200 mn sticks of foreign cigarettes hidden in 21 containers
‘21 containers marked as ‘Ceylon Black Tea’ and sent from the United Arab Emirates… for re-exporting to countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, England… that forged shipping documents had been made…a Sri Lankan tea company had been mentioned in the documents as the re-exporter.’
• Helavedekama vs Western Medicine
• MeGha Primal Intake: A mega scam by few govt doctors ?
• JICA Emergency Assistance to Strengthen Covid-19 Response in Sri Lanka
• Amnesty International must demand capitalist world part with a fraction of its vaccine stockpiles, not as charity but at affordable prices
• China on the horizon as ‘world’s pharmacy’
‘The western pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly has been breached, as Sinopharm’s is the first COVID-19 vaccine developed by a developing country…For the western world, this will be an intolerably rude reminder of the Asian Century. There are incipient western attempts already to resuscitate the moribund conspiracy theory over the ‘Wuhan virus’ — that the pandemic is a grand export project of the Chinese Communist Party! Sour grapes?’
C8. Finance (Making money from money, banks, lack of investment in modernity)
ee Finance tracks the effects of financialization, the curious role of ratings agencies, false indices, etc., and the rule of moneylenders.
• Ernst and Young and HSBC forum on ‘doing business in Sri Lanka’
• More CBSL compensation for Swarnamahal Financial Services PLC (SFSP) depositors
• Commercial Bank of Ceylon income Rs 40.905 billion for 3 months ended 31st March 2021
• HNB Profit Before Tax Rs 5.9 Bn Q1 2021
• Shareholders reaffirm faith as NDB’s Rs. 8 b Rights snapped up
‘Existing stakeholders take up 83% of Rights; bank to pursue private placement with Norway’s Norfund to complete new capital raising worth Rs. 9.5 b’
• Softlogic Finance goes for Rs. 2.2 b Rights Issue
• Sampath Bank 1Q pre-tax profit up 101% to Rs. 6.1 b
• Sampath Bank Inks Partnership with Sanasa Dev Bank
• Sri Lanka’s Asia Asset Finance credit rating outlook revised to stable: ICRA
‘India’s Muthoot Finance had acquired a 30 percent stake in AAF in 2014 and increased its stake to 51 percent the following year…AAF offers gold loans, SME loans, vehicle finance (2 wheelers, 3 wheelers, cars & vans etc.), loan against property, fixed deposits and other personal credit facilities.’
• CFA Society Sri Lanka announces appointment of new CEO, Aruna Alwis
• US Stock Market Larger than Combined GDP of U.S., China, Japan & Germany
‘5 companies (Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google’s parent Alphabet, and Facebook) account for a total of $7.85 trillion of the $49.1 trillion total stock market value.’
• Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has no bio
‘The OCC supervises approximately 1,200 national banks that operate across state lines. Those banks include Wall Street mega banks serially charged with frauds, like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup’s Citibank. The OCC also supervises federal savings associations and the U.S. branches of foreign banks. The entities supervised by the OCC conduct approximately 70 percent of all US banking business’
• Bitcoin market cap over $1 trillion, despite being backed by absolutely nothing.
‘ Bitcoin trading of futures is happening on one of the largest and oldest futures exchanges in the U.S., right under the nose of federal regulators and Congress, that would seem to suggest that Washington is endorsing “gambling” as a feature of U.S. markets.’
• Morgan Stanley Plans to Stuff Bitcoin Futures into Its Mutual Funds and Retiree Annuities
• Elon Musk Abruptly Stops Accepting Bitcoin to Pay for Tesla Cars.
‘Did He Learn that Bitcoin Uses More Electricity Per Year than Sweden or Malaysia?’
C9. Business (Rentierism: money via imports, real-estate, tourism, insurance, fear, privatization)
ee Business aka ee Rentier focuses on diversions of the oligarchy, the domination by a merchant mafia, making money from unproductive land sales, tourism, insurance, advertising, etc. – the charade of press releases disguised as ‘news’
• Lanka-Pakistan Business Council holds 29th AGM
‘Sri Lanka is our 14th largest export destination, while Pakistan is Sri Lanka’s 23rd. In South Asia, Sri Lanka ranks as the 3rd largest trading partner. Major exports to Sri Lanka include, Portland Cement, vegetables including onions and potatoes, rice, pharmaceuticals, cereals, cotton yarn, woven fabric, etc….Eswaran Brothers Exports Ltd. Managing Director Somasundaram Deivanayagam was elected as President, and Kalhari Enterprises Proprietor Kaushal Rajapaksa, and Spillburg Holdings CEO Shaameel Mohideen, as Vice Presidents. Committee members representing Akbar Brothers – Yogaratnam Yogeswaran, DMW Ventures – Wasantha de Silva, Hatton National Bank – Randeva Mahaarachchi, M.A. Razak & Co.– Ehab Razak, and MAC Holdings – Kamal Boyagoda…Pakistan is the largest tea-drinking nation importing 250-300 million kg of tea annually, but very low quantity exported from SL…The Ceylon Chamber operates 19 Bilateral Business Councils…’
• Lanka-Indonesia Parliamentary Friendship Association strengthens bilateral cooperation
‘MP W.D.J. Seneviratne was elected as the new President… Suren Raghavan was elected as the new Secretary of the Association and Members of Parliament Mohomad Muzammil, Aravindh Kumar and Imthiaz Bakeer Marker elected as Vice Presidents….MP Marjan Faleel was elected as the Treasurer and MP (Mrs.) Muditha Prishanthi de Zoysa elected as Assistant Secretary.
• Inland Revenue Act (IRD) tax incentives to new SL-REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts)
• SLT Group Revenue recorded at Rs. 24.7 Bn in Q1 2021, Net Profit improved by 14%
• Prime Group has 39% stake in HNB finance and 88% stake in Prime Finance
• A Citizen or Not: The Process and Concerns of Buying Property in Sri Lanka as an Expat
‘option of purchasing a residential or commercial condominium property is available, with lands they can only be leased out for a period of 99 years…. The Land (Restrictions On Alienation) Act No. 38 of 2014 prohibits transfer of title of any land in Sri Lanka to a foreigner, to a company incorporated in Sri Lanka under the Companies Act (foreign shareholding in such company, either direct or indirect, is 50% or above) or to a foreign company. However, at the same time, there are exceptions as well.’
• Virtusa CEO Kris Canekeratne to exit after sale to Baring Private Equity Asia
• WSO2 announces Free Linux Systems Administration
• EY facilitates discussion on Digital Cities at the FITIS Sri Lanka Internet Day 2021 Forum
• Association for Financial Professionals’ Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis certification
• Should ASEAN Free Trade Area be considered model for SAFTA?
• Colombo School of Business Management partners with National Institute of Exports
• Allianz with Hutch offers exclusive life insurance
• Allianz partners with Asiri Health
• Organised tourism and the Ceylon Hotel School (CHS)
C10. Politics (Anti-parliament discourse, unelected constitution)
ee Politics points to the constant media diversions and the mercantile and financial forces behind the political actors, of policy taken over by private interests minus public oversight.
• The Pohottuwa Government of Sri Lanka Part 2 C9a
‘USA has a secretive, strategically vital US military base in Diego Garcia – a launch pad for US military operations in the Middle East and as refueling point for Air Force patrols headed to the South China Sea, and even designated an emergency landing spot for space missions by NASA.. USA’s position in Diego Garcia has now become shaky. It may have to leave Diego Garcia. Even if it stays, its autonomy is over. If USA has to leave Diego Garcia, the obvious next location is Sri Lanka.’
• Whither the JVP?
‘Having abandoned the rural base on which it once stood, the JVP is now targeting a more urban petty bourgeoisie: student activists, government university lecturers, popular Sinhala artists, and a section of the NGO-cracy dependent on donor capital, yet also on a Sinhala audience.’
• Ranawaka’s somersault from JVP to nationalist right to neoliberal right
• The transitional 1990s and beyond (JVP-III)
• Does Sri Lanka have a Government?
• Globalism and tribalism: The Barber polemic
• Gouri Amma leaves a void hard to fill
‘The legendary couple of Kerala politics: KR Gouri and TV Thomas, two iconic figures of the communist movement…. mainsprings of Gouri Amma’s Marxism were found in Sree Narayana Guru.’
• One State in India Shows Promising Signs of Democracy as World Goes More Authoritarian
‘In Kerala, the re-elected Left government has prioritized making life better for all, even during crises—contrasting sharply with Narendra Modi’s right-wing central government’s devastating mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic’
• Tamil Nadu Ousts Religious Polarisation, Upholds Caste Divide and Dravidian Politics.
• Why did Tamil Nadu forget Lankan Tamils this time?
• Credit People, Not Just Mamata, for BJP’s Bengal Defeat
‘West Bengal’s voters—of all religions—swept aside all other affiliations to checkmate the BJP as they did not want divisive Hindutva in their state.’
• Democrats Give an “A” Grade to Joe Biden’s Brand of Corporate Rule. Should the Left?
C11. Media (Mis/Coverage of economics, technology, science and art)
ee Media shows how corporate media monopoly determines what is news, art, culture, etc. The media is part of the public relations (corporate propaganda) industry. The failure to highlight our priorities, the need to read between the lines. To set new perspectives and priorities.
• MarCom Collective Appoints Board of Directors and Advisory Council
‘Roshan Wijeyaratne – President, Tharaka Ranwala – First Vice President, Sugiban Sathiayamoorthy – Second Vice President, Roshani Fernando – First Secretary, Nishan Wasalatantri – Second Secretary, Delan Silva – Treasurer, Laksiri Wickramage – Assistant Treasurer, Santush Weeraman – Director, Mario Nesadurai – Director. A Special Director Committee: Sulaiman Nishtar, Bathiya Jayakody, Thayalan Bartlett and Rohan Rajaratnam. Advisory Council consists of Hemaka Amarasuriya, Thirukumar Nadarasa, Deepal Sooriyarachchi, Arjuna Herath, Imal Fonseka, Nilushi Jayatilleke, Kasturi Chellaraja, Shamindra Kulamanage, and Makshoodh Meerasaibu.’
• Suspects in journalist Nimalarajan’s murder case released
• Addressing Myths and Misconceptions of the 1958 Riots
• Barana of Sri Lanka & the tallest Buddha statue in existence today
‘Barana carved out of a large granite rock face around 455-477 AD during King Dhatusena, the Avukana standing statue of the Buddha, a height of more than 40 feet (12 m)’
• Imagining Malinda Seneviratne
‘Malinda ended his political associations once he started out on his journalistic (and writing) career in the 2000s. By then he had gone through Janatha Mithuro, Sihala Urumaya, and the National Movement Against Terrorism (2006-7).’
• A medical whodunnit that unravels much more
The book ultimately deals with ‘what happens when doctors think they are above the law’ says Carmel rather tantalizingly, hinting at what the denouement could be.’
• Astounding astrology & president Premadasa
‘He lived in Madras 11 Opposite Roypettah Police Station’
• In 1938, German zoologist Ernst Schäfer arrived in Calcutta on a steamer via Ceylon
• Besides COVID-19, India also fighting vulture journalists spreading more panic & despair than pandemic
• The Lurid Orientalism of Western Media
‘When reporting on any mass tragedy, a basic rule of journalism is to be sensitive to the victims and those who are grieving. Western media, which double as the international media, usually observe this rule at home but discard it when reporting on disasters in non-Western societies.
• England Imprisons one of their Few Real Journalists
‘This case exposes so-called English justice…his impending imprisonment as a journalist, a first for ‘jigsaw identifying’ a witness, , a former diplomat, the shutting down of his blog, the complicity between the police and the bbc, guardian, london review of books, the cia/mi-5 filming of his visit to assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy, and the filming of assign’s meeting with his lawyers,
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