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The Sri Lanka saga


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In the 1940s Ceylon/Sri Lanka was awash with a huge sterling reserve for war reparations. Politicians were shouting from rooftops that ‘we are going to make Ceylon a paradise’. 

The first act was to give every citizen – the entire population – free rice weekly. It killed agriculture and the paddy fields went dry and we were importing ship loads of rice from Burma and when our coffers went dry the country was bankrupt. We then appealed to China against US wishes for rice in exchange for rubber. The Rubber-Rice Agreement came into being. 

The US was totally opposed but got JR’s support and he was nicknamed Yankee Dicky. R.G. Senanayake who supported it was nicknamed China Dicky. In the end China Dicky won the day but caused a split and rift in UNP ranks and I don’t think JR ever visited China as a result.

I was in the mission to China to sign the Agreement as Ceylon was becoming a basket case and to this day continuing in this state. Seventy years after independence – still begging.

One comment I wish to make is that the Cabinet then was composed of honourable and honest persons. However their capabilities are questionable, otherwise we will not be in the present state

Today’s corruption is crying to high heaven. Whether you vote for UNP, SLFP, JVP, TNA, SLMC, etc., this situation will continue and will get worse as the same calibre of politicians are in place.

We will eventually be hostage to China. After 150 years of British rule and before that Portuguese and Dutch.

My best wishes are to my succeeding generations.

H.Z. Cassim


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