Since the end of its three-decade long civil war in 2009 and with the help of India, Sri Lanka has been upgrading the Jaffna peninsula’s Kankesanthurai harbour and the adjacent air field Palali, which played a crucial role for the Sri Lankan air force to air-drop relief supplies during the brutal conflict, when supply lines to Jaffna were often cut off by the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
‘During the war, many Tamils fled the north and settled abroad or in other regions of the island. Since the end of the war, many of them have wanted to return and reclaim their land. However, the army has other plans: the appropriated estates have become
Military Camps, High Security Zones (HSZ) or Special Economic Zones (SEZ).’
A leader of Sri Lanka’s opposition said he would scrap a $1.5 billion deal with China Communications Construction Co Ltd (601800.SS) to build a port city if the challenger to President Mahinda Rajapaksa wins next month’s election.
“For me this election is very crucial for a number of reasons.
From the fifties onwards this kind of boisterous formal democratic functions – all beautiful and all – has been growing unlike in India in the subcontinent which has been committed to institutions and processes of parliamentary democracy. Now this has got a battering over the years. I think this is probably the greatest threat, because what you have got is a dynastic project and State capture by the family headed by a populist authoritarian figure underpinned by his personal popularity – probably the most popular politician at one level. Now under the Rajapaksa regime there is no space for civil society. Rights are irrelevant at best, subversive at worst, transformed into what we called the text book East Asian model. For the first time in our history we have a military which is a major actor in politics as well as the economy. ‘It’s the Military Incorporated’.”
“From contributing to changing the landscapes of the Colombo city with its rapid remodeling and ‘beautification’ to growing vegetables in the North and East, Sri Lanka’s military is systematically increasing its grip on the economy and business activities.”
Increasing numbers of rapes and sexual assaults are poisoning Sri Lanka’s south west coast, with TripAdvisor reviews now warning female tourists to stay away from Tangalle or risk having their drinks spiked. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“It’s beautiful here on amazing days like this, but during monsoons it can be a nightmare,” he said, noting that landing at the inland city of Kandy can be particularly difficult at that time of year. “You have 3,800 feet of water to land and take off on — trees on one side, a dam on the other, and who knows what’s in the water. It takes a certain feel to fly this way.”