Keeping A Close Eye On Trump
by Ashanthi Warunasuirya
How Sri Lanka deals with the current US administration will be interesting to see.
Bimal Rathnayake – JVP MP
Due to the socioeconomic problems the US has faced at present, its politics has also become centred on issues such as racism and war. That is the foundation of their economy. There are many empty promises Trump has made to the American people. He has promised to rebuild the US economy by creating jobs and factories. But we will soon see how he is going to do that. USA is the leading country in the world that supplies weapons and training to various terrorist groups in the world. It is not a strange thing to see that they have banned immigration from Muslim majority countries. For example, there are allegations that the state of Qatar has given away billions of dollars to Al-Qaeda under the influence of the US government. This still continues with ISIS. The same can be said about Saudi Arabia. So these countries, despite being Muslims, are working according to the US will.
The same hatred the Bush administration created within the US public against the Muslims is still being continued by the new government. While condemning this racist attitude, we would also like to point out that this is the ultimate result of their own doing. However, this is only going to create racial hatred among our countries as well. Recently the level of hate speech has increased in Sri Lanka and as we see it, the main reason for this is the US slave mentality of the Ranil-Maithri government. So we are walking towards a policy that has been denounced by many other countries in the world as well as the US judiciary. When dealing with a country such as the US, we must always maintain our integrity and political independence so that we would be able to protect our rights and freedom. Otherwise we are going to look like jokers before the international community. Finally, the US public has chosen a mentally unstable person as their President. If we follow the leadership of such a person we too would become jokers. Therefore we must stop it at once. Otherwise, like Israel, we too would be isolated in the global arena.
Mujibar Rahman – UNP MP
At present Sri Lanka is heavily invested in exporting apparels to USA. Therefore the future economic plans of the USA matter to us a great deal. So far the new administration has not mentioned a clear path or policy on its economic plans, but within one or two months their attitude towards dealing with developing countries would be apparent. However, one thing is clear: Trump’s Presidency has become something that has created tension on a global level. Even countries such as UK that are considered as their close allies have also expressed their concern over the matter. If this is to continue, it is only going to create more trouble in the future. It may create some unfair consequences to Sri Lanka as well. But in general, the present government maintains more cordial relationships with USA than its predecessor. That is why the EU ban on fishing exports as well as the revocation of the GSP+ concession has not been reconsidered. Even the attitude of the international community for a war crimes tribunal has also changed over time. But we cannot still be sure of what would happen in the future in light of these new developments. So we would have to make our plans after observing the situation patiently.
Vasudeva Nanayakkara Leader of the Leftist Front
But due to the new ‘protective’ policy of the USA, there could be a change of regulations and taxes on imports and exports that could have an impact on Sri Lanka. If we cannot fulfil our needs with the existing prices, then the competition could be worsened by imposing extra taxes. Hence it could be for our disadvantage in the competitive market. But on the other hand, I cannot see a clear motive for the US to ‘tame’ Sri Lanka. The USA has a state policy that is not going to change despite whatever administration that is in power. Within this state policy, the US may consider Sri Lanka as a strategic location in its global expansion of military might. Therefore, in order to save the country from these undue influences, we must change our government that bows down to the will of the US.
Ravindra Samaraweera Minister for Labour Relations
But I think that this is something that has surfaced with the election heat. So this will be solved very soon. However, this decision cannot be approved on any level. This is outright racial segregation.
But I do not think that this would have any adverse effect on us. If something happens that concerns us, then as a government we are in a position of negotiating it with the USA. If such a thing happens that would have a global impact and it would not be just us in the table. Therefore we must not be concerned about it that much.
Gamini Viyangoda Social Activist
I do not think Trump’s conduct would have any adverse effect on Sri Lanka. But in the global context, there will be some ill effects. With a leader like Trump, the international community is going to experience a rough time. It may also cause us some discomforts. Especially for the Sri Lankans who are currently residing in Sri Lanka, these new developments could have an adverse effect. Apart from that, I do not think that there would be any major state level policy changes. But that also will depend on how Trump intends to continue on his path.
The democratic foundation of the USA still remains strong. For an example if we take its judiciary, it has been able to halt Trump’s actions. So it is not going to be easy for Trump to execute his desires. Here in Sri Lanka, when the President makes a decision, everyone else become ‘yes’ men. But that is not the case in the US. So he will not be able to put his plans into practice as soon as he thinks. But in the end it would not be for the betterment of the world.
As I see it this is not something that has been triggered by Trump, rather than a trend that is being developed in the Western world in general. Rather than continuing with the concept of globalization, the western world is not turning towards opting for nationalism. Even in Trump’s case we see how he wants to minimize relationships with the outside world and is attempting to focus more on the interests of the country. The same can be said about the UK as well. But in the current global environment, no country can live on it’s own, therefore all these talks about self-sufficiency are just myths. Since he is not a politician, Trump can say things like that. But he would soon understand the practicality of his concepts when he is running the country. There are several ways the international community could cure Trump’s ‘madness’. Apart from that, the US government mechanism is still capable of countering such policies.
But we must always keep in mind that the USA is the main export market of Sri Lanka. If the USA moves towards giving priority to domestic productions then that is going to be unfavourable to us. So we must still be concerned about what is going on inside the USA.
Sumika Perera – Social Activist
Even though there are issues regarding human rights, I do not think our government would raise its voice against the USA. So it is up to the civil society activists and organizations to struggle against such atrocities. By forcing the government to change its policies, the civil society can keep any government in check. That is the best way to protect the people’s rights and freedom. By trying to impose these kinds of bans, it seems that the US is backtracking from its previous policies. We can clearly see that racial and gender issues have once again become burning problems in the society. At present over, 1 million women in the US have come to the streets to protest against the government. More of these protests will soon take place in US. This might even trigger religious extremism in the country.
But still, it would not be easy for Trump to do as he pleases. It is true that Trump still controls a larger share of the US community that supports him. But the recent public outcries have become a red light to his conduct. People do not like to go back into their dark past times. When compared with Obama, Trump is like sky and earth. His policies may even affect the performance of the UN. So we are about to witness an uncertain future.
However, it is unlikely that the rulers would share the same views of the civil society in these matters. All the rulers are alike. In overthrowing the Marcos government, the civil society activists played a major role. It was the same with Suharto’s government. There are many examples in history where people have changed the course of the governments. So I am still optimistic about the future.