Opinion

Yaka Says No Thanks!

Summary

“Give the Ceylonese the self-government they want and they will hand it over to Carson & Co.”

Stop teaching children to say, “Thank You!” and “Sorry!” – especially in English and to the English.

It’s an insult – the English have never said, “Thank you” to the people of this country. Even after saving English skins through 2 European tribal wars aka World Wars.

And the English will never say, “Sorry” – despite massacring tens of thousands of Sinhala throughout the 19th century, and from then on remote-promoting or threatening mass murder. Manners, they say, are agreements between fools.

Seventy three years after they supposedly left, here they are still giving us lectures on human rights and free trade! Without a blush! And why do we listen to such bluff?

Because our oligarchy hide their loot in London, Berlin, New York, and allied ‘safe havens’. Their banks still control our economy.

As singer Nanda Malini quipped, “The suddho never tried to leave, they never tried to stay!”

The Importance of being an Earnest Import Addict

Any attempt to extricate our main institutions from this English hegemon is now seen as caving into China! All of a sudden Anglomaniacs and related Kolombots cry: ‘The Chinese are taking over! The Chinese own the ports! Chinese Debt!
These experts have never heard of the IMF, the World Bank and their Structural Adjustment Programs, that engendered massive debt, especially after 1977. Such critics have never even heard of P&O, who first tried to block the Hambantota Port, because it would compete with their ports in India.

After the English destroyed Sinhala shipping by banning it in the 19th century, supply of boats also came to be controlled by the P&O.

Destroying Sinhala boat building also meant destroying and maiming the local woodworking, carpentry, lumber, furniture, fishing, iron and other related industries.

In real industry, one industry leads to another. Not like such fake ‘industries’ as apparel, tourism, etc., where all the inputs are imported, as the local anti-economist eCon eNews notes.

The control of shipping in an economy – made dependent on expensive imports and import-dependent exports – meant that shipping agencies enabled the domination of European commerce.

The English have run our ports for over 200 years, and Peninsular and Oriental Company (P&O), carrier of the English royal mail, shipper of the English opium trade, and partner of the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank, still determine international freight rates!

Many English companies still dominate our import-export trade. They first set up in Galle, our main port until the 1880s. Sea traffic was later diverted to Colombo’s new breakwater. By 1947, 90% of Lanka’s seaborne trade passed through the Port of Colombo, one of the largest artificial harbors in the world.

Worker disquiet in the Colombo Port began with the English exploiting prison labor to build the harbor, especially the dangerous breakwater. Stone breaking, the loading, unloading and setting of stones in the deep were all done by prisoners. Yes, that’s how Mahara Prison came into being!

To further control workers, the English imported ‘skilled’ labor from India. In 1948, Sri Lankan workers only constituted 33% of the total Port workforce. By 1957, however, local workers constituted 80% of the workforce. Strikes in the Port then increased because a colonial management cannot deal with free workers.

With a one-square-mile water area, Colombo Port became a refueling gateway to India’s eastern coast up to Kolkata and through to South East Asia, East Asia and Australia. Oil bunkering facilities were built to service 3 English and US oil companies – Exxon, BP and Shell.

The P&O has dominated Indian Ocean shipping, carrying the imperial mails east, and Indian opium to China. Cargo handling was privatized, with companies given separate sections in the Port. The Colombo Port Commission (CPC) set up in 1913, later took over the other ports, but private companies still controlled cargo handling, with workers hired through labor contractors.

In 1958, the Ceylon Wharfage Co. (of P&O) was nationalized and one of the first and most vital state corporations, the Port (Cargo) Corporation was formed.

Only after the attempted coup in 1962 were English troops asked to leave Trincomalee. In 1967 unions forced the UNP government to take over cargo-handling in Trincomalee, through which tea was exported. And only after the JVP were charged with “Overthrowing the English Queen” after their 1971 adventure, was a Republican constitution hastily enacted.

But then in 1979, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority was set up, and the UNP government handed power in the ports back to P&O, as if to fulfill an English civil servant’s contemptuous post-WWI prophesy: “Give the Ceylonese the self-government they want and they will hand it over to Carson & Co.”

We’re sure port workers would respondez si vous plais, “No Thanks! We can run the port better than any private company can.”

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