WAFFLING TOWARDS ELECTIONS LYING ON SOFAS

Decisions made by the government of Sri Lanka led by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe are in need of clear unambiguous explanations. Instead, of late, statements coming from the UNP hierarchy are in urgent need of deciphering. At times the, deciphering may well be above the brave people who took a chance, believed in Ranil Wickremesinghe’s assurance of an end to high-level corruption and the re-imposition of an equitable life style for all and voted Sirisena and the coalition led by ‘our man Ranil’.

Since 2015 the people are aware of the monumental blunder the majority made and the blunder was compounded along with the appointment of Wickremesinghe as PM when at the time he commanded a minority in parliament of 42 seats. So much for democracy, that prized asset Wickremesinghe waffles about most of the time.

If democracy is about being economical with the truth or if it is to add a touch of colour then Wickremesinghe must win hands down.

Never in the annals of this country post-independence have the people endured such drivel and hogwash than since 2015.

If we begin at the beginning the extreme bunkum came in explanations about the change of the system to award bonds by the Central Bank. Wickremesinghe explained that he ‘insisted’ on the change to bring about transparency. Well he made a very very expensive boo boo then! The Auditor General told the nation that the method that was in place (since 1997 introduced by AS Jayawardena) was in fact the ‘least cost’ methodology of raising funds for the state. The fact that the EPF alone lost in excess of Rs 8,500,000,000 is known to all. Yet the Prime Minister does not acknowledge that openly.

In terms of the ACSA agreement with the USA the people have been left in the proverbial dark and are starved of the actual facts. It took a lot of parliamentary time to extract from the first among equals the details of that – he ended up assuring the Opposition that he would table the SOFA agreement and its annexures but without his notes.

ACSA is heavily USA leaning. Their forces can make use of our ports airports for military purposes. The agreement provides for reciprocity. When is the last time Sri Lanka wanted to land its military craft in an American port or airport? Does the signing of ACSA provide any better security for Sri Lanka and its people?

The question begging a response is: who asked for the ACSA. Sri Lanka? Why and what for?

SOFA – not the type scattered around the parliamentary complex – is a different kettle of fish altogether. And the PM’s explanations and rationale was bereft of the one answer we seek. WHO wanted SOFA? Why? For what benefit?

If SOFA is signed we will end up with US troops on our soil, uniformed and armed. Unaccountable to Sri Lankan law. What is the benefit to Sri Lanka? Who wanted SOFA?

Thanks to the intense coverage of the matter by the private media led chiefly by the Capital Maharaja Media asset, NewsFirst, in response to growing calls the matter came up in parliament. The JVP were accused of propping up the ailing government by bowling what people called full tosses.

 

Somehow Wickremesinghe’s statement that we will only sign it if it is not detrimental to us sounds a little off course. We say that because Foreign Minister Marapona was in the United States in May this year to discuss this very matter!

Who wanted SOFA? What benefit for Sri Lanka?

Yet another near cynical matter that troubles the conscience of the average Sri Lanka citizen is of course the grandly titled Millennium Challenge Corp’s Compact. Said to be worth USD 480 Million. It is to identify state lands that are underutilized.

Does the Prime Minister wish for the people of Sri Lanka to truly believe that the country has zero individuals and corporates who can undertake a spot of surveying? Really? Do we need American money and expertise for this 71 years after the British left us to our own devices?

If the government has no real intention of signing anything detrimental to the nation will the Prime Minister clarify without ambiguity that SOFA has been put to bed for at least until after the next election? If not why the indecent hurry?

In between all of this we have the American Ambassador confirming that the USA has no intention of setting up bases in Sri Lanka. Well none of the main stream media mentioned about bases only about the ACSA and SOFA agreements. Is this an attempt to create a diversion away from the pressing issue of the potential disaster (sovereignty wise) of signing the SOFA?

Malik Samarawikrama signed the Singapore FTA. So one sided it is not true! Now the government is trying to backslide on that agreement, not exactly endearing our nation as being pliable and non-aligned in its international perspective.

Why can’t the Prime Minister indulge in absolute plain speak? If he did he would be able to categorically state that the UNP will not sign SOFA or anything like that, during the currency of this parliament.

We aver that the people will be waiting for a very long time for the PM to make that statement. A bit like waiting for Godot.

 

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