Feature Article

Acid test for Tamil Nadu: DMK politician tricked into geopolitics of genocidal Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Sunday, 24 March 2019, 23:29 GMT]
Within a few days after getting over with the ‘mere formality’ at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, SL Prime Minister Ranil Wickramsinghe is moving ahead with upholding the very same ‘development’ paradigm of the former SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa through securing USD one billion loan from China to link the centre of the island to the Chinese-built seaport Hambantota, which Mr Wickramasinghe leased out to China for 99 years in 2017. The SL Prime Minister has also tricked the family-owned business of Tamil Nadu's DMK politician Samikannu Jagathratchagan to invest 70% of USD 3.85 billion to build an oil refinery and cement factory in Mirijjawila in Hambantota district. The investment, made along with Oman's Oil Co (30%), is the largest foreign direct investment in the island, according to media reports in Colombo.

It was Meera Srinivasan of The Hindu who broke the story on Friday linking Singapore-based company in which the stakes are held by the family members of DMK politician, who was also a former Union Minister of State in India (June 2009 - March 2013).

Jagatratchagan was a AIDMK politician and the founder-president of Veera Vanniyar Peravai (launched and renamed to Jananayaga Munnetra Kazhagam in 2004) before he merged his party with the DMK in 2009.

The DMK aligned with Congress is poised to challenge the BJP establishment of Indian PM Narenda Modi in the forthcoming elections. Mr Jagathratchagan is the DMK candidate for Arakkoa'nam electorate. The AIDMK is aligned with the BJP. The Lok Sabha elections are slated for 18 April, 2019.

The revelation by The Hindu journalist comes following an official statement issued on the previous day by the SL Board of Investment (BOI).

The BOI was responding to a controversy created by a Reuters report on Oman's involvement in the project on Tuesday.

“The investor – Silver Park International PTE Ltd – has conveyed to the Board of Investment their full confidence in implementing the project,” the BOI statement said.

The initial news report by the Reuters also noted that the 70% ownership of privately owned Accord Group in India was coming through a “Singapore investment vehicle which is 90-percent owned by its Silver Park International Pvt Ltd operation”.

The The Hindu report quoted a senior SL government source as saying on condition of anonymity: “We are aware of the Singapore company’s links to an Indian business interest. The agreement has been signed by one Mr. Jagathrakshakan.”

On Sunday, Oman's Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhy joined Ranil Wickramasinghe taking part in the foundation stone laying ceremony at Hambantota.

“We have Chinese investment, we have Indian investments, we have Oman interest for investment, and we have investment interest from many other countries,” Mr Wickramasinghe said adding that Hambantota would become the “multinational investment zone”.

China is the biggest buyer of Omani oil and consumes 80 percent of the overall crude exports from that country in the recent months.

The refinery in Hambantota is going to cater the Chinese needs, commented Eezham Tamil activists in Jaffna.

On Saturday, the SL BOI opened a ‘one-stop service center’ at the Hambantota harbour. SL Minister of ‘Development’ Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama was taking part in the launch along with China's Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan.

Samarawickrama said it was a landmark event and added: “Our government looks forward to working even more closely with the government of China to bring progress and development to our country.”

* * *

“In foreign relations, China is more broad-minded than you might have imagined,” responded China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang, who was responding to a question asked on the Indian company spending 3.85 billion dollars on the oil refinery.

The question and the response follow:

Q: An Indian company is going to spend 3.85 billion dollars on an oil refinery in southern Sri Lanka near to Hambantota, which is a huge investment for Sri Lanka. The Hambantota port is an important cooperation project of the Belt and Road. Does this represent a challenge to Chinese investments in the country by India? Is there a strategic competition between India and China in Sri Lanka at the moment?

A: Thank you for your keen interest in China's foreign affairs. You seem always busy worrying for us.

I am not yet aware of the information you mentioned and will need to check whether it is true. I would like to say though that, China and Sri Lanka have conducted extensive and deep cooperation in various fields under the Belt and Road Initiative with fruitful results. The Hambantota project you mentioned is a good case in point. Through such mutually beneficial cooperation, China has been helping with Sri Lanka's economic and social development. Sri Lanka appreciates and commends what China has done.

At the same time, China adopts an open attitude toward the mutually beneficial cooperation between Sri Lanka and India as well as other parties. China stands ready to work with India and other relevant sides to help boost Sri Lanka's development. In foreign relations, China is more broad-minded than you might have imagined.

* * *

China's representative at the UN Human Rights Council, Ms Shao Wu, delivered the following statement, defending the SL State during the interactive dialogue on the report of the OHCHR (A/HRC/40/23):

“China commends Sri Lanka for the efforts made and the results they have achieved in the protection and promotion of human rights. Sri Lanka encourages economic development and is working to eliminate poverty and to protect the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and vulnerable groups.

“Effective measures have been taken to combat domestic violence and human trafficking. All of this deserves our appreciation.

“China would call for the international community to consider objectively and impartially the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and to try to understand the challenges they think this country in terms of development in line with the aspirations and the goals of the government and the people of Sri Lanka.

“China has provided technical assistance in terms of human rights to help capacity building in the country and happen to improve the human rights situation.

“As a neighbouring country and a friend of Sri Lanka, China sincerely hopes that the country will maintain political stability and will be able to achieve the national union and the unity of the country. All of this will help to restore its national development for the country.”

Related Articles:
07.08.18   Kalaignar Karunanidhi passes away at 94

External Links:
Reuters: Indian-Omani group strikes $3.85 billion deal to build Sri Lanka oil refinery
The Hindu: DMK leader Jagathrakshakan’s family linked to record FDI in Sri Lanka
Xinhua: One-stop-service center opened in Sri Lanka's Hambantota port to woo global investors
Reuters: Sri Lanka signs $1-bln loan with China to build highway
Reuters: Oman oil minister excited to be part of Sri Lanka oil refinery project
Board of Investment of SL: BOI Statement Regarding Oil Refinery Project in Hambantota
Reuters: Indian-Omani group strikes $3.85 billion deal to build Sri Lanka oil refinery



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