It is expected that there would be about 500 Journalists from overseas covering the CHOGM meetings in Colombo. This when added to 500 local Journalists appears to be the capacity for accreditation. In my earlier Blog Entry, I asked for some objectivity in reporting by not arriving with pre- conceived prejudices.
Only then with a blank page can one get an idea of the conditions we have to live in. While it is a well known fact to all but those in Sri Lanka, an objective view of a Country can usually be gained by an outsider, as compared to a local.
That is why our tourist industry is so lousy. Our policy makers have no clue how to market Sri Lanka. Only someone coming to Sri Lanka from overseas can point to the positives and negatives in Sri Lanka. Just because they go overseas and have experience in travelling as tourists or for conferences, does not mean they know what is required to attract the right caliber of tourist to Sri Lanka. Accordingly Sri Lanka as a product is being ruined beyond belief. We could have started out in 2009 without this Thailandisation becoming a Phuket, and instead remained Sri Lanka!
In the same vein, due to many restrictions on reporting, there is NO scope for objective and independent journalism in Sri Lanka, and therefore we do not have any respected journalists, as THEY CANNOT speak their minds.
In short there is NO FREE MEDIA. So don’t expect to get any objective opinions from journalists in Sri Lanka, there are none of a caliber who is not beholden to someone for his or her survival. Travel, observe, speak to people of all walks of life.
With this background, and the general and relative calm in Sri Lanka today, as compared with the past, Sri Lanka has economically never had it so good. It is all thanks to the US$10B p.a that is remitted from the 2M Sri Lankans who live overseas. Of course sadly the Govt. takes credit for this and the people believe it and so dissension is not easy to find due to this delusion.
For those of you who are savvy journalists the US$10B is equivalent to a Sri Lanka sovereign wealth fund of US$1Trillion worth invested in US treasuries receiving an interest of 1%. That is more sovereign wealth than Dubai, or Norway or Singapore, but we have a 20M population here.
Even better than a Wealth fund that reinvests its dividend, this money is free money coming into the hinterlands of Sri Lanka, going direct to the middle class who spend it immediately on Consumer Goods, Building homes and businesses, education and a little bit in savings, which the Govt. takes from the State Banks for profligate spending on low investment returns like abandoned airports to line their pockets.
The multiplier effects are huge on Economic Growth. Govt. is the drag not the spur!
What is even better is that the growth of remittances in US$ terms is growing by 20% per annum, that if not for a corrupt Govt. SHOULD have the economy growing at 10% per annum quite easily, if private enterprise was allowed to compete on a fair basis, without fear or favor, and THE RULE OF LAW.
So what should be your job? What do you report from this fair Isle? If you read the last 10 blog entries you will get a fair idea of the angle of reporting you should take. After all your report must be interesting enough to justify the expense claim on gin and tonics you send back. So what will your readership like to read about Sri Lanka, about CHOGM and your interests in general?
If you want my opinion and that is purely personal, with experience of having lived overseas, primarily in the US and UK for 33 years, my student years, my formative years, and income earning years all overseas and having traveled extensively, that there is NO COUNTRY ON EARTH WITH MORE POTENTIAL, but which has been ruined by those who live in it, and especially those who are in power, who pander to an electorate, illiterate of this potential. This Govt. has done NOTHING to exploit this so that all who live here, can truly live happily and contentedly, without division, in relative prosperity.
This present Govt. granted a chance in a life time with absolute power to take SL to that utopia, has done nothing, but engage in divisive politics, to pit one against another, to ensure that through the ballot box they will remain in power forever. They have misused the race card to use fear of being overrun by minorities to strengthen their support. (also used in western politics)
Worse, it has used the inherited Sovereign BOND ratings to borrow excessively, mainly from China, on loans of questionable interest, when loans at half those interest rates were available, and share it on contracts with friends on poor infrastructure projects, where the productivity is way below, and funds siphoned in graft.
The environment raped, agricultural lands poisoned, infrastructure of dubious benefit, education and thinking purposely suppressed, media CONTROLLED, to keep people from understanding reality, and instead being easily fooled into a mistaken sense of values and worth, of success by physical monuments, defiling Buddhism, all for the greed of a few and obsessed with staying in power.
It is an uphill task to prevent further erosion, but we need your help, in order that we can regain our Country from this treachery of bogus patriots.
Could there be starker contrasts in elected dictatorships, comparing Lee Kwan Yew's Singapore to Mahinda Rajapakse's Sri Lanka at two extremes? Even in the Casino stakes, Singapore got a couple of US$Billions for the license up front, and we give it away free! So the powers share it and not the people!!
Oh Mother Sri Lanka, why did God Bless you with so much and curse you with its Rulers?