How foreign-government linked neo-liberal think tanks are undermining Sri Lanka’s sovereignty?
By shenali Waduge
No amount of promises to guard Sri Lanka’s sovereignty can hold water if at legislative & policy level changes are being drafted to suit a neo-liberal agenda that aspires to transfer all state assets to foreign corporate hands and turn locals to virtual slave citizens. This is the threat that Sri Lanka’s politicians need to understand and identify. Sri Lanka cannot be a sovereign nation if its wealth, natural resources, economic activities (ports, airports, railways, roads etc) are controlled by foreign entities who decide what Sri Lanka’s citizens get, at what price & in what quantity/quality and removes any role of politicians at some point or the other. The changes being done is to turn the State from protecting the People and National Assets/Resources to protecting the Corporates & Countries that will soon own or control a country’s people & resources. The ‘government’ will not be defending the citizens but dominating/subjugating them.
Undeniably the neo-conservative/liberal agenda is pro-West in particular pro-US hegemony
Their agenda is based on perception that Africans & Asians are inferior to Americans/Europeans. Concept of colonial White-Man’s Burden now masked as neo-colonial liberalism. The kalu-suddas are accepted into ‘their’ society so long as they can deliver what the white man demands of them. They are just paid ‘coolies’.
‘Civilizing’ is done via UN/INGO programs like ‘Responsibility to Protect’ ‘Reconciliation’ ‘Multiculturalism’ etc.
People are kept in check using mass surveillance, mass incarceration, open ended warfare, debt curtailing their privacy on excuse of protecting citizens.
Think tanks, media, paid journalists, civil society stooges are all tasked to brainwash citizens with sugar-coated opinion to believe these entities are working in our best interests.
Political sovereignty undermined
The UNHRC resolutions was used to force Sri Lanka to make unfair & legally questionable changes to penal code, constitution and demonize and weaken its military and demoralize by allegations and imprisonment. Placed within this context we wonder whether the Salawa ammunition storage was accidental?
Economic sovereignty undermined
Sri Lanka’s policy is now controlled by US officials, IMF, World Bank, Western Aid agencies, Western-corporate-backed think tanks, transnational corporations, foreign financial firms, foreign consultancies and foreign legal experts, foreign accountancy firms. This is the reality we will have to face.
They have identified and mastered the art of manipulating the biggest weakness in politicians to the detriment of the Nation & its people.
Sri Lanka’s labor, wealth, natural resources, public institutions, State enterprises, public utilities are being auctioned to foreigners by foreigners who have been invited to do so by the State (perhaps the State is even paying these foreigners for their ‘consultations’)
Is privatization a solution? State enterprises privatized between 1980-2009 had performed worse than public enterprises. European cities are now reclaiming public services from private sector.
A 2015 UNDP study declared there was no set model for efficiency – that meant public, private or mixed enterprise model was no solution. How an entity was managed efficiently and effectively was what mattered.
Originates in the secret Mont Pelerin Society founded by Friedrich von Hayk & Milton Friedman & Allan Waters in 1947. Hayek’s vision was outlined in his book The Road to Serfdom in 1944. The book advocates
- Elimination constitutional nation-State & replaced with a supra National World Government
- Expanding US hegemony beyond US & across international borders (free cross border movement of goods, people and money)
- States will not be able to decide price of goods
- States will have no independent national legislation
- States will have no control over taxation
- State will have no power over its economy (deregulation & liberalization are all modus operandi to achieve this goal)
- State will not control its national produce, national resources, national workforce, national currency
Friedman became Economic Advisor to US President Reagan, Waters was Chief Economic Advisor to UK PM Margaret Thatcher. You can imagine the influence they would have had on the leaders!
How Think Tanks / Universities & Media are used to control the world
The oligarchs have dumped millions into setting up think tanks, business schools, influencing economic subject in universities to promoting neoliberal thinking – Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institute, CATO Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Centre for Policy Studies, Institute of Economic Affairs, Adam Smith Institute (UK), Soros Foundation are just a handful of names.
These entities are tasked to mask the real intent in language & ideas and present as if the program is for the betterment of society.
Chile became the launch pad for the 1st neoliberal program after installing Pinochet with US backing. Mont Pelerin rolled out the project – anyone who disagreed got shot! That was neoliberal democracy! IMF & World Bank got their way. That was neoliberal economic transparency!
Media was owned by the billionaires who owned & funded the think tanks and universities. Media frames language to fool the masses on behalf of the secret societies that rule them.
Mont Pelerin Society & objectives
- Shaping economic policies by infiltrating their stooges into govt positions & controlling the govt & its laws (placing policy planning network of advisors created from the think tanks & business schools & paid media into government)
- ‘Experts’ creating proposals that are in rosy language, gullible and are promoted by their ‘agents’ in media, journalists, social leaders/activists, political ‘analysts’, business speakers etc – all who have a way of influencing the politicians & their advisors
- Holding fancy conferences & seminars with full publicity with glitz and glamour to present the notion to public that their proposals are best – note recent seminar on MCC wherein moderator himself claims Sri Lanka was rejecting a gift horse!
- Shifting power from Public Institutions to Global Economic Institutes (statistics show how wealth, resources, power of the Public has been transferred to foreign corporates or local entities influenced or funded by foreign corporates) where national sovereignty is undermined by corrupting politicians and claiming corrupt politicians and political system must be replaced…
Oh yes, are we to replace corrupt politicians with the entities that corrupted them so that they could be eliminated and in place a system change of global transcorporate government would be replaced?
Mont Pelerin Society Sri Lanka Members
- PM Ranil
- Prof. Razeen Sally
- Prof. Suri Ratnapala
Atlas Network – Advocata Sri Lanka is a member
Is part of US foreign policy and plays key role in destabilizing and regime change.
Atlas Network through its associate think tanks and NGOs discretely funded by US State Dept and National Endowment for Democracy succeeded in
- military coup against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras,
- toppling Cristine Kirchner of Argentina using ‘corruption’ theme
- supported military against President Chavez in 2002
- diverting public anger against leading politicians in Brazil (similar to Sri Lanka)
The connections are obvious – Dr. Judy Shelton, senior fellow at Atlas Network is also advisor to President Trump & she chairs the NED.
Atlas Network is mostly funded by Koch Foundation, ExxonMobil, MasterCard, John Templeton, Donors Trust, and the American government. In February 2019, Atlas via its associate Advocata held the Asia Liberty Forum.
Is it a surprise that Atlas Network wanted to repeal law that made voting compulsory & withdraw funding to trade unions because people could ‘participate’ via FB, whatsap (free wifi was obviously a ruse to subtly remove entities that were challenging oligarchs with people’s support)
The effort to remove people’s representatives and hand over governance and asset/wealth control into private parties can be seen by the power some companies wield worldwide.
25 companies make more money than GDPs of these 25 countries
Spotify (Mauritania), Netflix (Malta), Tesla (Albania), Visa (Bosnia), El Corte Inglés (Libya), Starbucks (Trinidad & Tobago), McDonalds (New Guinea), Mercadona (Nepal), BBCA (Estonia), Inditex (Paraguay), Walt Disney (Bulgaria), Banco Santander (Panama), Telefónica (Luxembourg), Johnson & Johnson (Ethiopia), Microsoft (Slovakia), Nike (Cameroon), Coca Cola (Bolivia), Iberdrola (Ivory Coast), Facebook (Serbia), Repsol (Lebanon), Alphabet, Google’s parent company (Puerto Rico), Amazon (Kuwait), Apple (Portugal), Volkswagen (Chile), Walmart (Belgium)
ICBC (China) HSBC, Deutsch Bank, Credit Agricole Group, BNP Paribas, Mitsubishi, Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, China Construction Bank Corp, Japan Post Bank operate in just 6 countries and have a combined wealth of $21.1trillion – enough to fund the US Govt for 7 years.
Companies are becoming richer than countries and taking ownership of resources in countries.
How are companies taking ownership of resources in countries?
Influencing political affairs of sovereign states indirectly through their governments or NGOs or indirectly by employing government officials & getting participating in national policy committees as well as making political contributions and at times even bribing
UK/US overthrew democratically elected Iran’s leader Mossadegh because he nationalized oil and it affected US/UK oil companies, the United Fruit Company and its exploitations in Latin America with US government assistance is another example.
(part of Atlas Network founded by Mont Pelerin Society member Anthony Fisher) – neoliberal think tank promoting free market reforms.
Advocata is also connected to both Mont Pelerin Society & US administration.
Advocata Board Member Frank Lavin
- Chairman of Public Affairs Practice for Edelman Asia Pacific on behalf of companies facing issues with various foreign governments
- 2005-2007 US Under Secretary for International Trade at US Dept of Commerce
- 2001-2005 US ambassador to Singapore (negotiated landmark US-Singapore FTA)
- 1987-1989 Director of the Office of Political Affairs in White House
- Worked in Hong Kong, Singapore for Cushman & Wakefield
- Worked for Bank of America & Citibank
- Worked for George Bush Snr & Ronald Reagan in the Dept of Commerce, Dept of State, National Security Council & White House
- Serves on the Board of Directors of Globe Specialty Metals (worlds largest producer of silicon metal alloys) Consistel (largest telecommunications firm in SouthEast Asia), UOB Bank (Singapore), UTEX (Texas energy services firm)
Atlas Network has been financing a variety of organizations that seek to influence the public and promote capitalist ideas.
The Asia Liberty Forum was co-hosted by the Advocata Institute and Atlas Network in February 2019. Speakers were Dr. Nishan de Mel (Executive Director, Verite Research) Ravi Ratnasabapathy (Resident Fellow, Advocata Institute), Suresh Shah (Director, Carson Cumberbatch PLC), Thilan Wijesinghe (Chairman, National Agency for PPPs) and Dr. Malathy Knight (Senior Economist).
Institute for Policy Studies
Sri Lanka’s Economic Policy Think-Tank established by Act of Parliament in 1988
Executive Director – Dushni Weerakoon / Chairman Prof. Razeen Salley
How far IPS is under influence of foreign funded think-tanks and foreign control can be seen & questions how ‘independent’ these ‘government’ bodies are. What is the point in a government think tank being ‘independent’ from government institutions but dependent on western governments and donors for their funding?
How ‘independent’ is IPS if it is co-financed by the Dutch Govt & run by a Resident Coordinator from Dutch Institute for Social Studies? DISS is funded by the Dutch Govt to train intellectuals and policy makers from former Dutch colonies!
How ‘independent’ is IPS’s OWN ‘Endowment Fund’ if Sri Lankan state does not know its funding sources?
How ‘autonomous’ is IPS, Sri Lanka’s supposed to be economic think tank if its donors are UK,, US Corporations, banks & equity funds (Hewlett Foundation/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Netherlands, Canada and Norway? They do not give money free without some agenda!
IPS is directly connected to Mont Pelerin Society via its member Prof. Razeen Salley who is now IPS Chairman. Sally is Adjunct scholar of Cato Institute a neoliberal think tank, he is founder director of Cato-related European Centre for International Political Economy a neoconservative entity linked to CIA connected Brookings Institution.
IPS drafted Vision 2025 and organized the Sri Lanka Economic Forum in 2016 that invited George Soros ‘colour revolution architect & his Open Society Foundation to Sri Lanka. At this forum Ricardo Hausmann of the Harvard Centre was directly associated with the PM’s office, the BOI and Ministry of Development Strategy & International Trade. This same Harvard Teams’ did the land privatization Bill.
Do we need economic experts if the only solution they give is to sell public assets and privatize all state owned enterprises. Any idiot can suggest this – do we need economists & think-tanks for this?
The Chairman of IPS Razeen Sally is 24×7 advocating selling State enterprises and even suggested a deceitful strategy to handle country-wide opposition – first partially privatize state enterprise by putting such into a holding company (SL Airlines, Mihin Air, SLTB etc) and then gradually increase private sector stakes & work towards complete private ownership. Sally’s proposition for public utilities (petroleum, water, electricity etc) is to replace Board members of the Public Utilities Commission with ‘independent directors’ obviously foreign ones! And how ‘independent are these foreigners one wonders!
Neoliberals holding Public & Private positions in Sri Lanka since 2015
Prof. Salley was made Senior Advisor to Finance Minister Samaraweera in July 2017.
Indrajit Coomaraswamy present Central Bank Governor is also on board of the Institute of Policy Studies
Dr. Sarath Rajapatirana, Economic Advisor to the President is also on board of the Institute of Policy Studies is a visiting scholar of American Enterprise Institute a neoliberal think tank and had been working for World Bank from 1975 to 1999.
M. I. M. Rafeek – Secretary to the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affair (Ranil’s Ministry) is on the board of Institute of Policy Studies
S S Mudalige Director General National Planning Department is also on the Board of IPS
In April 2019 Eran Wickramaratne also took part in closed-door discussions at the Heritage Foundation in Washington
Dr. Arvind Subramanian, the Chief Economic Adviser of the Government of India was keynote speaker at Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2017. Subramanian is also Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics a neoliberal US think tank.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, sister of Governor Central Bank – Open Society Justice Initiative, Member of the Board. Served as Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission during Ranil Wickremasinghe’s Govt in 2003 and then served again under his government as Constitutional Council member in 2015.
Former Foreign Minister Samaraweera addressed the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (US foreign affairs think tank) in February 2015, immediately after the regime change in January 2015. Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam embroiled in controversy for his salary payment by US was also a speaker at the same think tank in September 2015.
IPS & Advocata are both connected to US Govt and Mont Pelerin Society
Advocata was launched in May 2016 at the Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute together with a report State of State Enterprises” (a report made before Advocata was created) showcasing 55 state-owned enterprises making major losses between 2006-2015 and recommended the Govt decide which to shut down, which to privatize and which the govt should continue to keep. If a report emerged before Advocata was created it should be no surprise when Advocata is quoted by Malik Samarawickrema promoting far-reaching privatisation plans”
An interesting set of people make up its Board
Fredrik Erixon – Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) think tank co-founded with Razeen Sally in 2006. Erixon was an Adviser to the British government.
Nishan de Mel – Verite Research agents for promoting MCC in Sri Lanka. He was Executive Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies and the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.
Rohan Samarajeewa – LirnAsia
Prof Suri Ratnapala – member of Mont Pelerin Society, appointed by PM Ranil himself a Mont Pelerin Member to advise the Steering Committee chaired by the PM drafting a new Constitution
Advocata is promoting privatization in Sri Lanka. Advocata proposed the privatization of Sri Lankan Airlines. In June 2016 Cabinet approved PM’s proposal to hire US firm McKinsey & Co for $2.3m to establish a Central Program Management Unit inside Temple Trees to monitor projects under new Development (Special Provisions) Bill. A foreign firm is paid to monitor Bills passed in Sri Lanka!
Advocata in November 2016 recommended that the Sri Lanka Budget 2017 reactivate 987,000 acres in the Land Reform Commission. They categorized schools, government ministries, military occupied buildings etc as ‘prime real estate’ and claimed they ‘outweighed their economic value’ and wanted them shifted! So the hue & cry to downsize the military is part of this larger objective! What excuse will they give to remove schools? Is the decision to remove 25,000 slums in Colombo City by 2020 part of this bigger objective? Will they soon remove residential housing too?
When Advocata recommends an ‘independent body free of political influence to minimize corruption’ it means give it to ‘independent’ foreigners who will bribe ministers to get what they want! This is just like Sri Lanka suddenly being upgraded to ‘upper middle class’ country as MCC grants are given only to such countries!
How can a government give access to Sri Lanka’s land records to foreigners for them to exploit and recommend to be sold to foreigners?
So we are not surprised when the Central Bank outlined new laws and institutional reforms to establish a land bank as part of a move to remove ‘archaic’ laws and then arrives Prof. Hausmann Director of Harvard Centre. All these foreign experts from neoliberal think tanks, economists etc claim to be knowing what is good for Sri Lanka and interestingly enough they want Sri Lanka to privatize ocean-related activities, shipping, statutory bodies, liberalize free trade and investment, liberalize land sale, remove restrictions for foreign ownership including in freight forwarding and shipping and all these are being plugged into some rosy proposal known as Public-Private Partnership. While sugar-coated fortunes and benefits are dished out to Sri Lankans no one is paying any attention to the misfortune likely to come when everything we own fall into foreign hands and when they decide what is to be given to us at what rate/quantity, quality or whether we are to get anything at all and if not whether we have any alternatives and what if those are also denied by these foreigners if they own access to the entry and choke points into and out of Sri Lanka?
Millennium Challenge Corporation:
MCC is a US government body. Its head is the US Secretary of State. It has an ‘office’ inside Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister’s Office. Did the MCC draft the PM’s ‘Vision 2025’? Is Sri Lanka’s strategies formulated by the foreigners working inside the PM’s office?
Why is MCC grant covering only a few provinces and selected districts if it is for all Sri Lankans? Why is MCC grant subject to conditions of privatizing all state land? How is MCC evaluating Sri Lanka? Who is evaluating Sri Lanka? Who is providing the data? How sovereign is Sri Lanka when all decisions are being drafted & wetted by foreigners?
Clearly, Sri Lanka’s governance & government has been infiltrated by foreigners and stooges of these foreigners have been placed in prominent roles.
How many in Sri Lanka have identified the enemy & understood the dangers? Should we not be devising ways to overcome and nullify the damage they are doing? 239 Viewers