Written by Staff Writer
22 Jun, 2019 | 7:52 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st): It is reported that Japan has offered Sri Lanka Yen One billion to develop the Trincomalee harbour.
During a meeting with Dr Hiroto Izumi, the Japanese Prime Minister’s Special Advisor and the Japanese Ambassador in Sri Lanka at Temple Trees yesterday (June 21), Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said they made great progress on the Japanese Sri Lanka economic cooperation.
During the meeting, Dr Hiroto Izumi reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to develop the East Container Terminal of the Colombo South Harbour as a joint venture partnership of Sri Lanka and India.
Issuing a media release the Prime Minister’s Office said the Bandaranaike International Airport Expansion project will also receive Japanese assistance. It added that an LNG terminal will also be built in Sri Lanka with Japanese assistance. Discussions about freedom of navigation in the Indian ocean was also focused on during the meeting. Ministers Mangala Samaraweera, Ravi Karunanayake, Kabir Hashim, Malik Samarawickreme, Sagala Ratnayake and several others attended the meeting. However, the release did not mention if it was the Minister of Foreign Affairs or a representative from the Ministry who attended this meeting.
Meanwhile, the Island newspaper reported that Japan offered Sri Lanka Yen One billion to develop the Trincomalee harbour during the meeting.
Speaking on Japan’s concern for the Trincomalee harbour UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara said that Japan is only doing this to intervene on behalf of the US, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. He further said that all these countries cater to the needs of America and all this is just a variety of steps taken by the US to establish and handle their power over the Asian region.
We question those who say Sri Lanka is in a Chinese Debt Trap, what is the nature of the trap proposed by countries including the United States and Japan? Since there is no such thing as a free lunch, everything comes with a price to pay.
Also speaking on the matter, UPFA MP Rohitha Abeygunawardene claimed that although he was the subject minister back then under the previous regime that by now the Hambantota port has already been sold for two 99 year leases. He continued to say that when recalling previous regimes (Chandrika Bandaranaike) that state institutions which were sold in this manner were never regained by the government while adding that it could be better off termed as a sold property. The parliamentarian further said that the country would not need any more Zahran’s because if the US, China or Japan decides to attack the country that they could do so by either giving out lands in Colombo or Hambantota. MP Abeygunawardene also questioned what the government can do at a time when they are rooting for the Trincomalee harbour now. He added that in this case that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is a talented auctioneer.
Politburo member of the JVP K. D. Lalkantha said that the country would not have a Colombo Port once the Eastern Terminal is given away since the other parts have already gone. He continued to say that once the Eastern Terminal is also given away that the country is only left with a small terminal named the Jaya terminal where only small boats can be docked. Lalkantha added that regardless of whoever is in power that what they are trying to do is ridding themselves from the responsibility of these institutions being held by economic and service activities.
Also speaking on the matter JVP MP Sunil Handunetti said that the faction which is in agreement to sell off all resources of the country comprises of Gotabhaya Rajapakse, Mahinda Rajapakse and Ranil Wickremesinghe. He further said that 102 out of the 225 members in parliament are those who came in utilizing their families inheritance. Handunetti also said that a human political camp is what is needed to house the general public and not a display of family politics.
He also expressed the need for creating a society who would oppose inhumane people who have no value for the country’s resources from entering the parliament.
Trincomalee harbour is one of the most valued natural harbours in the world. A significant amount of Sri Lanka’s maritime history revolves around it. Apart from the natural beauty, the depth and the location of the Trincomalee harbour has long been the envy of various foreign powers. The area and the harbour, in particular, was of such significant interest that the British colonial powers held on to an arrangement that lasted beyond the granting of independence.
The British used the Trincomalee harbour as the naval base in their region because of its geographic and natural value. Trincomalee was the centrepiece of British security arrangement for the region.
Admiral Dr Jayanath Colombage, Director of Center for Global & Strategic Studies said the Trincomalee harbour has a natural depth of 25 metres and does not have to be dredged and it is a huge advantage in comparison with Hambantota and Colombo ports. He added that given the depth of the harbour, nuclear submarines are able to dive low within the inner harbour.
That we need to develop the Trincomalee harbour and the area surrounding it, is a fact that has not escaped the government of Sri Lanka. We believe, however, that Sri Lanka has the necessary capability to develop the harbour using her own resources including the technical knowledge.
The valuable assets our nation has been blessed with must be protected and should not be sold in order for foreign nations to fulfil their own political agendas, however, geo-politically important it may be to them.
It appears that the fact that Sri Lanka is a republic and an independent country, is conveniently overlooked by several interested nations in the current context. Global powers would do well to understand that Sri Lanka although small in size, is fiercely independent. Our neighbours and global powers would do well to appreciate Sri Lanka’s freedom and independence, as it would never be forgotten by the citizens of Sri Lanka.
Japan found out Sri Lanka’s value at the 1951 Summit in San Francisco, when JR Jayawardena stood against the world, in support of Japan. Hopefully, they haven’t forgotten this helping hand at a time of need and will continue to have our best interest at heart.
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