He should not be made a martyr… Why whitewash Gnanasara?

He should not be made a martyr… Why whitewash Gnanasara?


“How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.”
~Benjamin Franklin   

2017-06-28

Human nature has not changed. It may have embraced new cultures. It may have rejected certain others. It may have progressed from check books to credit cards and e-banking but remains loyal to money and what it does to bring about outwardly pleasures and riches to a tiring businessman and an upstart youth heading for promotion after promotion for doubling and trebling sales in the company he works day in and day out. It continues to indulge in its base instincts and any renunciation of its natural propensities such as avarice, lust, jealousy, enmity and confrontational stoops, more often than not, is rejected. The change of context has not and does not change the fundamentals of human nature. That is why those who have conquered that rudimentary nature of humanness, as did Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha, are being worshipped by millions, if not billions, today as who have made the greatest of all conquests – mind and the varied paths it could lead an ordinary human to.

The political will of the governing coalition will be tested and those who adhere to the fundamentals of the messages of the two communities which would be more religious than social and ethnical are bound to triumph in a perfect world

When Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, continues on his ultra-racist verbiage, drawing ulterior motives of like-minded politicians and their close cohorts towards his, things can get quite out of control when some unintended word, phrase or even an innocent-sounding call is made towards a highly-charged mob. The real consequences of a provocation accompanied by pseudo patriots who roam the streets with placards of restoring Buddhism and granting its rightful place in a country in which already nearly 70% of the people are Buddhists, could lead to dangerous levels. Violence could break out and the subsequent carnage would make the ’83 riots look like a ‘minor’ protest at a village fair in a rural hamlet.
Whitewashing, glossing over or covering up something that is immoral, illegal, or otherwise plain bad is usually done by the surrogates of a criminal. Galagoda atte Gnanasara fits into the narrative of whitewashing a dangerous activist. Not in the sense that he is intrinsically an evil man with evil intentions, but the consequential chain of mayhem, looting and killings that would entail will ultimately set the country back by another couple of decades, not to mention the drastic ill-reputation in the international arena.

Yet such a criticism, either in isolation or otherwise, of the leading political provocateur of nationalist/racist politics would not suffice. In a country in which nearly 70% of the population are Sinhalese-Buddhists, Galagoda Atte Gnanasara’s appeal, whether it’s woefully misplaced or not, cannot be ignored nor could it be regarded as a clarion call to arms. The issues and concerns he raises could have gravely significant national and socio-political consequence if the current government keeps sweeping them under the proverbial carpet. The issues raised by this group of provocateurs go beyond partisan politics. The ethnic group that is being targeted by the Bodu Bala Sena and its supporters led by this monk, among others, are Muslims. Most of the Muslims in Sri Lanka are concentrated in the Eastern Province. The Provincial Council in the Eastern Province is headed by a Muslim Chief Minister. More than one third of the Province is populated by this ethnic group and an overwhelming majority of Sri Lankan workers in the Middle-east hail form the Eastern Province Muslims. That’s a reality. Given the context of even more widely parochial claims from the Muslim community as regards Sharia Law etc. which is usually an anathema for all right-minded people, whether Sinhalese or Tamil, the tendency for a serious break down in law and order cannot be overruled.

Such a solution is possible only between two harmonious minds that are completely devoid of hatred, jealousy and distrust etc

In the meantime, the government is dragging its feet about the widely-publicized alleged settlement of Muslims in the middle of Wilpattu Wildlife Sanctuary. No government can wipe its hands off such a fundamental breach of the country’s Land-policy. The brand that the present rulers have created for themselves as ‘gutless and unstrategic’ is becoming a real issue and they simply cannot run away from such serious accusation from the people. Criticizing a Buddhist Monk would not resolve the issue. It is also extensively rumored and even long-established by some legitimate and valid quarters that the Muslim power behind these alleged settlements is a Minister from a Northern District. A young charismatic figure, this Minister is alleged to be heavily immersed in a toxic vessel of corruption. Extremists on both sides won’t do. Two rights don’t make a right. It actually amplifies the undercurrents of the present situation and if it explodes, as I said in one of my earlier paragraphs, would shatter all social constraints. Such an uncontrollable event should not be an option before our decision makers.

At the same time our Sinhalese Buddhists and their extremist leaders realize another unfriendly reality. Almost 35% of the Eastern Province is occupied by Sinhalese Buddhists. Some of our ancient Buddhists artifacts and temples are situated in that province. Any counter onslaught in that province against our Sinhalese Buddhist brethren would be catastrophic. The ’83 carnage of Tamils in Colombo might be countered by a similar vengeance-ridden slaughter and it might be inevitable. It is only advisable that in the interest of peace and détente between the two communities, a more amicable and just resolution is reached. And the first step belongs to the government. The need is to be more proactive and take the first steps towards bringing these two parties together.
However, one must also remember the failed Timpu-Talks between the militant Tamils and Sinhalese in the mid-eighties. One cannot expect results from inviting extremists to a peace conference.
Prabhakaran’s terrorists and Sinhalese extremists who took part in Timpu-Talks did not generate any tangible results. The enmity and mutual hatred Sinhalese and Tamils bore against each other got further sharpened after this Timpu fiasco. One must realize that a settlement between these Sinhalese and Muslims should be a political one as against an exclusively legal one. Yes, land settlement and physical boundaries between the provinces and districts need to be at the foundation of these proposed talks. But the negotiators must essentially consist of educated and wise men and women whose antennas are tuned and set to the pulse of both communities and daring enough to give and take.    Do we have such men in the active public service? My answer is no. In such a case, one would eventually be pushed to recruit such talent from those public servants who are still among the living but retired. Some may be ‘retired hurt’ but others just retired. I am sure those wise men would come forward if the government extends a warm and hearty invite. For these public servants who had served this country under many a regime – either UNP-led or SLFP-led – would volunteer their invaluable service if a sufficiently prudent and extensively calculated Terms of Reference (TOR) is prepared and submitted for national conversation.
The composition of such a Conference/Talks between the leaders of the two communities must essentially do away with diehard extremists of both communities. Law and Order cannot be sustained if two extremist parties meet at such Talks. The political will of the governing coalition will be tested and those who adhere to the fundamentals of the messages of the two communities which would be more religious than social and ethnical are bound to triumph in a perfect world. But the world is far from being prefect. That is why we need to talk within the confines of civic responsibility and religious tolerance. Islam and Buddhism are two religions whose founding sages preached peace and harmony. Dominance of one over the other is not an option.
Am I writing about a utopian dream? Maybe, but if one does not dream about one’s own prospective realities, this world would never have progressed; the first Neanderthal would never have ventured out of his cave.
The government’s active search for a resolution of this malefic condition is a prerequisite. There will never be a solution to problems between two ethnic groups. Such a solution is possible only between two harmonious minds that are completely devoid of hatred, jealousy and distrust etc. Such sublime heights of the mind are yet light-years away from our mundane minds. That is why a resolution instead of a solution of the issues should be our primary and final goal. Many pundits have written many a column and book on this issue of religious tolerance and ethnic harmony. But as I stated at the very outset, human nature has not changed. It will continue in its unending journey of attempting to reach a dynamic equilibrium between right and wrong, just and unjust, plain and nuanced. It could be very exciting and enthralling to a wise man. But at the same time lethal to the unwise and avaricious. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara may have a message. But he should not be made a martyr.

The writer can be contacted at  vishwamithra1984@gmail.com 

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Venerable rabble

Venerable rabble
01“If the field was not fertile, the crop would be poor, and the farmer must naturally be unhappy about it. If the Sangha was impure, the charity bestowed on them would bring poor results, and the donors must naturally be unhappy about it. This was one reason why kings and the people were so anxious about the unblemished purity of the Sangha” – Venerable Dr. Walpola Rahula Thero 

logoWednesday, 28 June 2017

The Asgiriya statement is an unambiguous manifesto of Sinhala Buddhist clerical fascism. It is an ecclesiastical indenture of priestly cunning packed with parochial hubris.

The demands made therein contradict all ethical requirements of a modern democratic society. A priestly class that considers itself privileged and above the law is irreconcilable with moral and social imperatives of contemporary times.

It is the duty and responsibility of all of us, Buddhists, to stop these bullies in their tracks. They have dealt a blow to our democracy. Instead of deceiving ourselves that the bully has got bloody knuckles, we must amputate the vile arm of the bully. We must unravel the politics behind this putsch of pietism – the Asgiriya power play.

The Government was taken unawares. It was a secretly-hatched, cleverly-choreographed theatre that made the Government look foolish and inept. Its purpose was to clear the way for the Monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara who was evading arrest, to surrender to court on the next day and to be released immediately thereafter. As evidenced by unfolding events it was a successful stratagem.

Political power play

The Asgiriya exercise is also a political power play. Its caption is a mailed fist at the elected Government. “We the Karaka Sangha Sabah in our devotion to the Sasana serve this kind notice on the Government.” It has defied the Government’s rights to legislate. Don’t enact legislation that we do not endorse.

This clerical revolt would have never occurred under Mahinda Rajapaksa – the redeemer of the Sinhala Buddhist people. The Sangha had a Faustian compact with him. As head of a patrimonial state, he assiduously cultivated a patron client relationship with the ‘Sangha’. They were saffron-robed ‘squires’ in the court of not a charismatic leader but an iconic leader. They recognised his capacity for coercive persuasion but were immensely appreciative of his efforts to win allegiance by distributing fiefs and benefits in return for loyalty.

The genius of Mahinda Rajapaksa was his perfection of a medieval order of governance in the 21st century during the five post war years of his presidency. Absolute rule and patrimonial politics complimented each other. There emerged a court etiquette that the Sangha observed with religious care.

The saffron robe was once regarded as a declaration that the wearer has embarked on the path from home to homelessness. Mahinda provided them with a comfortable hostel in-between. The Asgiriya monks demand that Maithree and Ranil extend their stay in Mahinda’s hostel.

Alas, the two Upasakas – Sirisena and Wickremesinghe – are made of lesser stuff. Their mistake was to interpret their successful 8 January 2015 revolt as an accomplished revolution. They are now in a deadly struggle to consolidate their achievements. They have a problem. The two are not agreed on what their achievements are. They are equally confused and do not know, if they have achieved anything at all.

Call it what you may. Protest, statement, edict or whatever. Its contents indicate that it is a backlash against modernity. Knowing their capricious nature it is both predictable and understandable.

It is not often that a society has to grapple with rabble demanding to be addressed as venerable. As a Buddhist, though not perfect in practice but with a clear grasp of what the Buddha preached and an utter contempt for what some of the Sangha practice, this writer wishes to address this issue of the sanctity of the robe and the depravity of the wearer.

Present day Sangha

Despite the grand rhetoric concerning their antecedents, the present day Sangha institution took shape during the reign of Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1747-82). He revived Buddhism in the hill kingdom by reestablishing higher ordination and appointing Venerable Welivitiya Saranakara as the first Sangharaja who is the source of all authority that the two monasteries claim today.
02
When Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe ascended the throne, the vast majority of the Buddhist priestly class led a quasi-religious life style. They were known as “ganinnanse” or semi-monk. A title that aptly fits the monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara now in the eye of the ecclesiastical storm.

The restoration of Buddhism involved the transfer of huge economic assets in the form of land grants from the king to temples. To this day these economic assets are jealously guarded by priestly cabals whose membership are confined to a few Kandyan families in the Central Province and mostly from the Matale District.

The two monasteries Asgiriya and Malwatte are prototypical feudal remnants resisting modernity with militant piety. That said, we ignore them at our peril.

Dr. Rajitha Senaratne elected from Kalutara promised a considered response to the Asgiriya encyclical. In stark contrast S.B. Dissanayake defeated in Kandy and nominated in the National List offered abject surrender. “If the Maha Nayake Theros and the highest of clergy in the Sangha Council are frustrated in any sense with the Government, I humbly seek their apology.” Biting the dust at the last election, his ear seems glued to the ground.

Pervasive religious influence 

Religion is deeply rooted in predominantly Buddhist countries such as Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka. In these societies religious influence is pervasive and therefore priestly influence impacts all institutions.

The priests have over time, developed their own survival modes that have no relevance to pristine religious teachings. Instead they are mostly focused on worldly affairs and entitlements of the Sangha order.

Under monarchs they were advisers to royals. They were power brokers in court. They were feudal landlords who owned and managed huge tracts of vast wealth. Celibacy was observed in the breach. A common custom among the powerful monks is to ordain the offspring of their sisters and brothers to ensure the succession to temple property remain in the family. The possibility of offspring in the guise of nephew is not to be ruled out. It is corrupt to its core but manages to keep a lid on its villainy.

Venerable Dr. Walpola Rahula in his book ‘ History of Buddhism in Ceylon’ provides a succinct description of the beginnings of Buddhism and how it became the national ethos, and the State religion of the island.

“Buddhism began as an intellectual and ethical movement in the sixth century B.C., with the first sermon preached by the Buddha to the five ascetics at Isipathana near Banaras. It spread gradually during the lifetime of the Buddha along the Gangetic valley and found its way into several kingdoms in North India between the Vindhya Mountains and the Himalayas. Kings and Ministers, Bankers and Merchants, Brahmins and Peasants became the followers of this new teaching which was a revolt against some of the accepted theories and practices of the day.”

Present day conundrum

Dr. Rahula proceeds to explain the roots of our present day conundrum. Asoka was the first king to adopt Buddhism as the State religion two centuries after the death of the Buddha. Asoka did so by edicts that prescribed Buddhist practices. It was Buddhist governance by an enlightened monarch. But in Sri Lanka, it became the State religion from the day of its introduction to the island.

Then he points to our march of folly. “We have to admit that from the day that Buddhism was adopted as a state religion, it began to lose its original spirit of renunciation and simplicity, and gradually developed in to an ecclesiastical organisation with its numerous duties, religious, political and social. It is impossible for any religion, when it becomes an organised body, to continue in its original form. It has to change with the times if it is to maintain its power and prestige. ‘Adapt or perish’ is nature’s inexorable imperative.”

Who will adapt? Who will perish? 

Professor Yasmin Gooneratne in her book ‘Relative Merits; A personal memoir of the Bandaranaike Family’ has an interesting anecdote. SWRD tells his cousin Samuel about the most Venerable Budharakkitha: ‘He fasts by day and feasts by night.’

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

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Senile Carlo’s time is over ! SL Medical Council to get a new president.

Senile Carlo’s time is over ! SL Medical Council to get a new president.

LEN logo(Lanka-e-News – 27.June.2017, 11.30PM)   The ‘expiration time’ of Professor Carlo Fonseka’s term  who is  the current president of SL Medical Council  is due  on 30 th of this month, and Professor  Colvin Gunaratne who was appointed as a member of the Medical Council since 2011 is to replace him , based on reports reaching Lanka e news.
Professor Gunaratne is a reputed general medical specialist for all diseases  . At the last national awards ceremony he was one of those who received the ‘Deshamanya’ award among just ten others for the service he has rendered to the country so far.
The SL Medical council has designed to establish a useful and purposeful medical service for the country with a view to  safeguard the standard of the state and private medical services ;  sustain the  loftiness  of the educational and professional values of those  in the medical service ; and inculcate discipline and  lofty traditions.
Dr .Duncan Walker was the first president of this council after it was established legally by the white imperialist rulers  in 1924  , and he was an European .

The present Medical council is comprised of 25 members , out of which ten members are made up by  the deans of the 8  medical faculties of the country , a dean of the Dental medical faculty , and a director of the Health service . That is  they constitute ten of the 25 members of the council and they are appointed officially .  (The deans of the faculties are appointed based on the votes of the administrative boards of the relevant Universities ) . Of the remaining 15 members , ten are appointed on the votes of the Medical specialists association . There  are specialists in private practice too among those selected.  The president of the Council and four remaining members are appointed by the minister of health. In other words only six members can be appointed politically. The majority  are independent appointments based on votes at various levels. In the circumstances there isn’t a need at all to make a fresh request to safeguard the independence of the Medical council,  or  from politics.

Leaders Padeniya and Soysa along with those of  the lower rung of the GMOA trade union which staged strikes in the recent past had an unofficial discussion with president on the 24 th , when a request was made by them to keep back Carlo Fonseka whose term is ending .  When the  president inquired from the GMOA leaders when his term was ending , the latter replied it is on 30 th of June. The president at once exclaimed ‘ then there is a lot of time for that ,‘ in order to dodge the issue.
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by     (2017-06-27 22:08:46)
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Holistic social intervention The crying need for waste management

Holistic social intervention The crying need for waste management

BY LIONEL BOPAGE-2017-06-27

In an environment where affluent families are dominant, garbage becomes waste though it may then become an important source of income for some of the poor people living in urban areas. It is said that in countries such as Sri Lanka, one per cent of the urban population (that is at least nearly 150,000 people) survive by separating what can be reused from the waste that others dispose of.

In areas like Bloemendhal and Meethotamulla where garbage has been piled up into mountainous heaps, and in areas proposed such as Ekala where garbage is to be re-stacked, some people survive by finding something beneath these mountains of garbage to sell or eat. The people, who go through these garbage mountains are subject to poisoning and toxic smoke and face various kinds of diseases. When considering waste management in any country, the betterment of the lives of such people needs to become part of that management process.

In the subject curriculum of environment used in many schools, waste management can also be included. Creating awareness of students from kindergarten upwards and their parents and neighbours through educational activities conducted at their homes and providing them with the necessary facilities is an important part of a waste management programme. A national programme of waste management can be launched using such school-based activities on waste management as well as the activities that can be practised in day to day life as a model.

Contribution to the tragedy

Meethotamulla is not the first garbage mountain that has collapsed. Unless conscientious measures are adopted to prevent such situations from occurring in the future, it will not be the last. One cannot talk about this garbage mountain without mentioning the fact like everywhere else in the world, Lankans also live in a consumer society, in which investors act to maximise their profits at the cost of human life, regardless of the moral or legal consequences. Bribery, corruption, bloodshed and murder are recurring motifs of such an inequitable society, as evidenced by the repressive measures the Lankan State used against protest campaigns by the communities living near this garbage mountain carried out for the last several years.

All successive governments, politicians and the bureaucracy who have not considered or disregarded these issues and all those people who have not paid attention about this issue have directly or indirectly contributed to this tragedy. Until the end of the nineties, many in Lanka used ceramic ware, banana or lotus leaves to consume food and drinks. Local authorities at the time arranged waste collection and disposal operations successfully, though such operations became defunct at a later stage.

The situation changed in this century with plastic being used in day to day life as a very common and inexpensive raw material.

Due to the short life span of plastic products, an enormous amount of garbage started piling up in our environment. Lankans began using disposable plastic ware and bags, as well as polythene wraps to pack and consume their food and drinks and then dumping that plastic rubbish everywhere. This waste started being piled up plenteously, not only in the surrounds of Colombo, but also in faraway villages.

Global waste generation

This garbage crisis is not a problem confined only to Sri Lanka. Many countries that celebrated the World Earth Day on 22nd April last, find waste management escalating into a dangerous issue. When the amount of garbage thrown out around the world is taken into consideration, only less than half of the world’s population enjoy the privilege of systematic and regular waste collection.

According to the estimates the World Bank had made in 2011, cities around the world generate about 1.3 billion tons of waste every year [1]. The amount of waste is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tons in the year 2025 and to 4 billion tons in 2100.

The highest waste generating countries of the world are the United States of America, China, Brazil, Japan and Germany. During the past decade, Australia’s waste generation has increased by 170 per cent [2].

Mega cities in Asia are facing a serious challenge of disposing waste. Smokey Mountain with a population of about 13 million in the city of Manila in the Philippines is one of the largest lands refilled with waste. Thousands of people who live here and use the waste become victims of toxic smoke every day. Mumbai in India with a population of about 12 million find it difficult to locate land to refill with waste. The city of Jakarta in Indonesia with a population of around 11 million is overflowing with waste. The city of Bangkok in Thailand with a population of around 10 million was covered with smoke for weeks due to waste mountains catching fire recently. These situations leading to environmental pollution are not only harmful to the health of the general public, but may also lead some developing countries to a state of desolation covered almost entirely with toxic poisonous gases.

Waste Zero

The chairperson of the ‘Waste Zero’ initiative in the USA states that we do not consider waste management as an issue so long as we cannot see that waste. It cannot be so in Sri Lanka as waste has been piled up everywhere for everyone to see. Compared to electricity, water and gas, there is no price to be paid for waste disposed of, and this is said to be one of the factors influencing less emphasis on waste. It is also said that when arrangements are made to efficiently dispose of waste, we are influenced to put away garbage even more.

As such some experts say that measures are to be taken for each household to pay a fee according to the weight or the size of waste that household puts away [3]. It is said that due to the ‘WasteZero’s’ support for charging a fee for every bag of waste disposed at a waste collection centre, waste recycling has increased two-fold and waste disposal has reduced by 44 per cent. However, for many Lankans, who are already paying a heavy tax out of their small income, this will become another burden on them. Obviously, it can become a burden that they could not bear.

Waste generation and management in Sri Lanka

Lanka generates less than 15 million tons of waste annually. Nevertheless, many local authorities find managing even this amount of waste a huge burden. A substantial part of revenue of these authorities is spent on disposing rubbish. Due to increasing urbanization, industrialization and consumerism with population growth, not only the amount of waste generated is rising, but also the constitution of waste (for example, electronic waste: e-waste) is also changing. When compared with the land size and the population density of the country, this is a worrying development. For managing the existing and the future exponential increase in waste, there are no signs of a timely policy platform or a clear programme, except for the great vocabulary of politicians.

For such a plan, some key elements for consideration would be the facts that the composition of waste is changing; the amount of waste is accelerating, the collection of waste is more expensive than waste disposal, and in particular, the collection of waste remains mostly inefficient. Despite many people thinking that this issue could be avoided by taking the waste mountains in their surrounds elsewhere, the outcome of such a step would be to impose this issue on people living in another area. Some others think that by burning garbage in the open or using incinerators, this issue could be solved. Even though such measures can be used as part of the solution, one step for a real solution to the problem is to make arrangements to collect waste efficiently.

However, a holistic solution for waste management cannot be achieved without social participation, working to change the cultural attitudes and behavioural patterns of people.

Around the year 1970, I remember seeing some households in Nuwara Eliya using human excreta during their agricultural work.

Being harmful to public health and putrid gases released, this process would have come to a standstill. In the villages and surrounds of the cities, some of those engaged in agricultural work make mixed fertilizer from waste, and even using vermin.

Rural people in India and Nepal very cleverly engage in this type of activities. Without dumping decaying garbage on street corners, they use barns, boxes and concrete pits for this purpose. They sell mixed fertilizer to nurseries and farmers. They separate plastic parts from garbage and sell them. Remaining garbage is buried, or burned.

Yet, in locations where population density is high, it is difficult to carry out such activities. Government intervention is necessary to develop technological facilities needed for the management of waste being collected in cities. If this cannot be done, then such waste needs to be moved to appropriate, less populated areas. For this, after negotiating with local authorities, arrangements could be made to launch on a national scale a programme that is based on a scientific analysis.

Importance of Genuine Good Governance

When a country lacks genuine good governance; government administration becomes weak. Politicians become misled as they do not receive from a passive, poorly disciplined and unprincipled bureaucracy appropriate advice for social development. Political commitment to implement the pledges they made to the people when they came to power, has vanished. Policy platforms, mechanisms and programmes needed for good governance are nowhere to be seen. When such a situation prevails, it is not surprising that the outcome is that the public service becomes inefficient and local authorities are unable to maintain essential services.

In such circumstances, those who wield power and those who are close to them come forward, as they choose, to achieve their personal objectives. The result of this inefficiency will be soaring ‘peoples’ protests. Through such protests people themselves come forward to take initiatives to address such social issues. Making communities aware of and training them in waste management cannot be an arduous task. What is needed is to make a positive change in people’s attitudes relating to putting away waste and generate the attitude among them that waste is something that can be used as a resource.

Society towards waste management

The recycling behavioural patterns that can be employed at households can be positively influenced by means of a school based practical waste management education model utilising the experiences and inspirations found among the generations. By this, knowledge and understanding of primary school students can be developed significantly; thus, the message of “reducing, re-using and recycling” of waste can also be carried over to their families and friends. When good actions are observed, they can be motivated to use such actions again and again. By doing so, it will be possible to link them to a sustainable waste management process.

Urban waste management is a crucial factor in maintaining our ongoing relationship with the environment around cities. Efficient and sustainable waste management depend on several factors, including the existing development trends, the socio-economic composition and the commitment of the government and society. Therefore, it is a unique challenge that we are faced with in this epoch.

It was reported recently that because waste found in Sri Lanka is highly moist, such waste cannot be used for recycling and power generation, sanitary land filling methods should be used for wet waste management, an area in the Puttalam district had been selected for this purpose, and China was willing to assist with this project. In some countries of the world, for example, in China and Singapore, management of such wet waste is carried out.

Experience of China

In the past few decades, Chinese people have moved in vast numbers from rural areas to urban areas. Because of this, there had been a rapid increase of population in the cities and a huge change in lifestyles. Enormous changes in the consumerist lifestyle of nearly 1.4 billion people generated a massive flood of waste. As such, the not so developed general waste management services have been severely affected. In urban waste management, China appears to be relying on a formal government administered system and an informal system that is not under the control of the government.

About 300 million tons of garbage generated annually; a huge amount of this waste is generated in the cities. The common waste management service that exists is to collect unsorted urban solid waste for land filling in suburban areas or their surrounds, or as close as possible to the countryside, or for burning using incinerators. Despite the allocation of containers for separating recyclable waste, the government’s waste management service does not have the capacity to implement such a recycling methodology. It is also said that a large amount of electronic waste passes through a shadow market.

We know that the waste management in the cities of China has adversely affected the lives of people living there. It is said that the weak infrastructure used in the collection of garbage and the lack of investment and enforcement in waste management are consolidating the social inequalities of the people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who migrate to the city from the village.

Reclamation of land for refilling with waste and installation of incinerators for burning waste close to the suburbs where poor immigrants are inhabiting not only bring in toxic gases, but among some of the disturbances include pollution of sound, soil, water and air caused by trucks transporting that waste. Thus, the interior of prosperous cities remains relatively clean, while the environmental pollution the garbage of the residents in those cities is exported to small towns and poor communities, who have been politically and economically marginalized from the city. [5]

China has tried various methodologies to overcome the challenges urban waste has caused. A few years ago, China tested certain advanced theoretical technologies capable of mechanically separating urban waste material, and convert bio-degradable components into compost material, for making mixed fertiliser. However, the toxic sediments produced were not only unusable; those sediments also became a health hazard. The unsorted waste containing organic matter is not an efficient burning fuel. Due to the large amounts of additional fuel that were needed, it became a loss-making exercise.

Regulation of waste incineration in China is also unsatisfactory. The environmental pollution the toxic gases emitted from burning waste has become one of the most pressing environmental and health issue for the needy communities living around the edges of cities. The interest the Chinese central government has shown in recent years about the use of anaerobic digesters to decompose organic waste can be viewed as a positive step. It is reported that now China has launched several large scale pilot projects that use anaerobic digestive agents.

Experience of Singapore

In the year 2000, Singapore generated around 7,600 tons of waste per day. There was no further land available in the mainland to dispose of waste by landfill. Singapore could take rapid effective measures to overcome the growing waste management crisis because of the political commitment of its government and leaders, it being a small country, and its economy being a strong one. In 2001, Singapore launched a programme to raise the waste recycling ratio. A landfill was built on the island of Semakau on land reclaimed from the sea.

Singapore introduced waste sorting and recycling process for its residents and a system of waste collection. Schools, offices, shopping malls and factories were brought under the recycling programme. By the end of 2005, 56 percent of the Singaporean households had been contributing to the recycling process. Thus, Singapore could reduce the volume of waste going into landfills and produce power. By employing modern innovative waste disposal methodologies, about 38 percent of Singapore’s solid waste materials is used for power generation, about 60 percent is recycled and about 2 percent is used for land filling. Its four plants generating electricity from waste, which is tantamount to about three percent of the country’s electricity needs.

According to the Executive Director Eugene Tay of Singapore’s WasteZero-SG agency, megacities of Asia can learn many lessons from Singapore. He thinks that these cities need to take a step backward, and after emphasising on the aspects of “reducing” and “reusing” of the waste management cycle, need to look at waste disposal as the last resort. [6]

Initial steps of waste management

The initial step of a programme of waste management in Sri Lanka needs to make arrangements to change the habits and behaviour of people towards waste. Key aspects that need to be in such a plan include minimising the use of material that leads to the generation of waste, motivating them to separate waste and reuse whatever items that can be reused, recycling and encouraging them to regularly dispose of waste.

Funds or loans received from the government or international bodies can be used for implementing a waste management process.

Nevertheless, if a local body cannot cover the costs needed for the daily activities required for this, it will not be able to maintain waste management on a regular basis. It is possible to reduce the per capita ecological footprint in Colombo and other cities by introducing a socially more reasonable approach in the use of resources towards urban waste management. This is crucial in reducing the ecological impact due to urbanisation. Using the resources in a fairer manner, our cities can be maintained in a more sustainable manner. Addressing the ecological injustices of the currently existing waste management system will also be a step towards alleviating the social inequalities that exist among all those who live in and use our cities.

For effective implementation of the methodology that will be used for waste management as designed, the following need to be satisfied: Local authorities need to have the knowledge and ability required to monitor and assess the work that is expected from a private service provider engaged in waste management; The methodology used to collect waste needs to match with the needs and intentions of the residents in the local authority; Taking steps necessary for waste management only after consultations with those who manage and handle waste; and not to impose those measures on them.

Otherwise, the waste management system will neither be embedded in society nor be regularly maintained.

Experiences of other countries have shown that the use of some very sophisticated technologies for power generation from waste does not go together with certain facts. Therefore, in determining an appropriate technology for waste management in Sri Lanka, it will be important to consider the following:

*Is the proposed technology compatible with the composition of the waste generated in the country?

*Is that technology compatible with the existing or futuristic recycling needs?

*Is it possible for the people resident in the local authority to sustainably maintain that technology?

*Is the methodology the local authority use advanced enough to properly utilise that technology?

For every unit of waste reduced, reused, or recycled, it is not necessary to spend on collecting or safely disposing that unit of waste. What is important for cities that do not currently engage in waste management would be to identify simple, appropriate and affordable solutions that can be gradually implemented.

Doing so can provide the best affordable solution to the people. As the first step, collection of waste can be expanded to include the whole city; and locations where garbage is openly piled can be taken under the control of the local authority and make those locations into waste disposal centres. Creating an environment for the public sector including local authorities, citizens, private sector including businesses to work together, the cycle of reducing, reusing and recycling waste can be taken forward while safeguarding public health, and the environment.

(Endnotes)

1. Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director, Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice, World Bank.

2. MRA Consulting 2016, State of Waste 2016 – current and future Australian trends, at https://blog.mraconsulting.com.au/2016/04/20/state-of-waste-2016-current-and-future-australian-trends

3. For example, see Waste & Recycling at the town of Turtleford, UK, at http://townofturtleford.com/town_office/waste_management.html

4. Baldé, C.P., Wang, F., Kuehr, R., Huisman, J. (2015), The global e-waste monitor 2014, United Nations University, IAS SCYCLE, Bonn, Germany.

5. See Beijing Besieged by Waste, a documentary directed by Wang Jiuliang

6. Yep, E. 13 September 2015, Singapore’s Innovative Waste-Disposal System, Wall Street Journal, at https://www.wsj.com/articles/singapores-innovative-waste-disposal-system-1442197715

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Are Ministers deities devoid of tax burden?

Are Ministers deities devoid of tax burden?

2017-06-28
At a time when the country is facing a debt burden, Ministers should play a key role in securing the people’s money. But they seem to care less. While they get to enjoy most perks and benefits, many of them seem to be surviving the tax game as well. The Daily Mirror learns that the statutory allowance for any individual, whether a resident or not is Rs. 500,000. This is a tax-free allowance given to all citizens of Sri Lanka. Therefore in order to charge income tax an individual should have an income amounting more than Rs. 500,000. But when it comes to Ministers this is not the case. While they are being blessed with many perks and benefits, they are also not taxed in most instances.   Speaking to the Daily Mirror  a few individuals expressed their concerns regarding this matter.

Ministers don’t pay tax in a legitimate manner Lacille de Silva

“This is one major problem that this country has,” says Lacille de Silva, former Secretary to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Serious Acts of Frauds and Corruption. “Tax officers chase after ordinary people but if we look at these Ministers, they make huge profits. They sell their permits and live lavishly. Some of these Ministers have even failed to show their annual declaration of assets as well. If the tax officers chase after these Ministers they don’t have to burden the public. I think most of these tax officers have gathered money illegally. They don’t seem to be executing the tax law as said. Most of these Ministers don’t pay the tax in the legitimate manner.”
Tax officers chase after ordinary people but if we look at these Ministers, they make huge profits. They sell their permits and live lavishly

Not all Ministers have been taxed – Ivan Dissanayake

Inland Revenue Department Deputy Commissioner General, Ivan Dissanayake said that not all Ministers have been taxed. “Their job is quite different and if we take a Minister in Matara, they will have to go and do most work on the field. Therefore they are not taxed from their salary. Some time back there were discussions to get Ministers to pay income tax according to the formula. In the case of an ordinary person, they are given a limit of Rs. 500,000 and this is common to all. Those who are paid more than Rs. 500,000 will be taxed. There are no separate rates for Ministers and ordinary citizens but it applies to all.”
Those who are paid more than Rs. 500,000 will be taxed. There are no separate rates for Ministers and ordinary citizens but it applies to all

Vehicles and VIP Politicians

Recently, the government once again sought parliamentary approval for a supplementary estimate to cover Rs. 330 million for the purchase of vehicles for three cabinet ministers, three state ministers, a Provincial Governor and a Secretary to the Prime Minister. Contrary to what has been said or done, the present regime seems to be treating themselves to luxuries.
During the recent floods, another supplementary estimate of Rs. 369 million was proposed to the Parliament, this time to allocate money for vehicles to be given to lawmakers and to renovate their official residences.
Therefore the total amount allocated to buy vehicles mainly for ministers, deputy ministers and senior public officials summed up to Rs. 1,200 million. Yet, fortunately, although the aforementioned amount was then suspended due to the disaster situation, it has already been approved as in most instances.
During the recent floods, another supplementary estimate of Rs. 369 million was proposed to the Parliament for vehicles

The people in this country have been misled – Nagananda Kodituwakku

In his comments, Attorney-at-law Nagananda Kodituwakku said that these elected representatives have given a pledge to work in accordance with the Constitution. “They have pledged to be faithful to the citizens who came forward to elect them. Everybody from those in the Cabinet to lawyers, judges and other government officials should work according to the Constitution once elected to office. But from what I see, the people in this country have been misled. Vehicles have been given to ministers to perform their duties and work efficiently. But this doesn’t mean that they should be buying and selling permits at their own will. From what I found, although it was said that 45 vehicles were imported on tax-free permits another 46 of them have arrived. So the count goes up to 91. This shows that ministers are given tax-free permits to make money.
45 vehicles were imported on tax-free permits another 46 of them have arrived. So the count goes up to 91. This shows that ministers are given tax-free permits to make money
Prices of essential goods are being increased and people are unable to bear the high cost of living. If someone gets down an ordinary car from India, the tax is Rs. 2 million. In Sri Lanka, the tax on a motor vehicle is 300% more than that in Britain and this keeps increasing every year. So where does the democracy in this country stand? Even those MPs who say that they haven’t used their perks and benefits seem to be doing the opposite. Therefore our officials lack honesty, integrity and loyalty.”
Please refer to the 2015/16 breakdown of tax rates given in graphs:

President and PM don’t seem to be ashamed of misusing money – Wasantha Samarasinghe

Speaking to the Daily Mirror, JVP politburo member Wasantha Samarasinghe said that the President and the Prime Minister don’t seem to be ashamed of misusing money in this way. “The people displaced and affected by the Meethotamulla tragedy were given a small compensation and they spent Rs.330 million to bring down vehicles. This is ridiculous. They are misusing people’s money. Many luxury vehicles were brought down during the CHOGM event and nobody knows what happened to those vehicles. It is shameful to see such abuse of power and misuse of people’s money.”
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Pilots Guild Accuses SriLankan Airlines Board Of Gifting CEO Ratwatte A Flying Scholarship – Cost To Tax Payer Around US $ 50,000

Pilots Guild Accuses SriLankan Airlines Board Of Gifting CEO Ratwatte A Flying Scholarship – Cost To Tax Payer Around US $ 50,000

The Airline Pilots Guild of Sri Lanka has accused the entire Board of Directors of SriLankan Airlines of violating company procedures and awarding CEO Capt. Suren Ratwatte, complimentary training and rating to the fly the Airbus 320 aircraft which is now costing the tax payer approximately US $ 50,000.

In a hard hitting letter addressed to Capt. Rajind Ranatunga the Head of Flight Operations, the ALPGSL President Capt. Venura Perera, raised many questions regarding this unprecedented move taken by the Board of Directors.
The submission of the letter triggered due to the interference caused by the CEO into his own ongoing training, is where he got down Ground School Instructors to his office at the World Trade Center to conduct theory lessons for him in private and more importantly hand picking Capt. Ranga Amadoru to be his Line Check Pilot for his initial Line Check Flight scheduled for 12th of July 2017.
However the letter further elaborates as to how the Board of Directors have also violated company procedures in facilitating what the Pilots Guild deems as a scholarship granted to CEO Capt. Ratwatte.
The Pilot Guild in their letter states: “At this juncture we wish to remind you that the CEO was accepted into the coveted Tech Crew cadre of SriLankan Airlines beyond protocol: without him having to face the rigorous intake procedure that all Captain’s face irrespective of their skills and expertise elsewhere. Needless to say the company has recruited many Captains with superior flying capabilities and better track records, all of whom have gone through this process as it is the accepted standard by the company. It is also noteworthy that the Tech Crew trained by the company is bonded or the trainee bears the training costs whereas this appears to be a scholarship offered to the CEO. In which case may we kindly know for what merit or on what grounds he has been offered such an opportunity? It would have been worthwhile and productive if this opportunity had been offered to a young pilot”‘.
Meanwhile Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that prior to CEO hand picking Capt. Ranga Amadoru as his own Line Check Pilot, he had also handpicked two Ground Training Captains Pujitha Jayakody Jnr and Rakhitha Wijeratne. Further the CEO Capt. Ratwatte had also obtained the services of Capt. Mohan Pragasam to conduct his Simulator Training and Capt. Nimal Rambukwella to conduct his Simulator Check.
As the CEO Capt. Ratwatte has not flown for the last two years it has been made mandatory that he completes the full conversion course to enable him to fly the smaller single aisle A320 aircraft.
A member of the Pilots Guild speaking on condition of anonymity as he is barred from speaking to the media said “The entire Board of Directors has violated the mandate used in the recruitment of Pilots and for no value have wasted tax payers monies. Even the Non-Executive Directors Rajan Brito, Rakhita Jayawardena, H.C De Silva and H.K. Balapatabendi, who recently portrayed to be the good cops on the board, when they leaked a letter addressed to Chairman and copied it to the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Enterprise Development are also guilty in this case, as they collectively awarded this scholarship to the CEO. Will he be a productive flyer and complete the required minimum 70 to 80 flying hours per month? With no bond signed, how will the company recover the money spent on his training if in the event he quits his job or is fired tomorrow? He was recruited as a CEO and is being paid Rs 3.5 million a month according to what our Chairman Ajith Dias declared to the Cabinet Ministers. We need him to be making good operational decisions in his current capacity as the CEO and not be warming the cockpit seat. Is this the change we really wanted when we voted the Yahapalanaya government into power? I certainly dont think so”.
However with many blatant flaws now exposed into how this scholarship has been accorded to the CEO and the manner of how the training has been conducted, it may necessitate the Ministry of Public Enterprise to conduct a thorough investigation as was similarly done when the former first son Namal Rajapksa was accused of cheating during the final Law College examinations.

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Namal – Yoshitha Top 20 shareholders in listed companies 

Namal – Yoshitha Top 20 shareholders in listed companies 

Namal -  Yoshitha Top 20 shareholders in listed companies
Jun 27, 2017
FCID is currently investigating how NAMAL and yoshitha amassed funds to purchase shares in ascot lanka plc a listed company on the Colombo stock exchange.
The interim financial statement indicates that the two brothers are within the top 10 shareholders of the company
FCID should obtain details from the the CSE and examine there share transaction and question them as to how such transactions were funded
Many Revalations are expected in the near future
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Former prisoners say payments end as PA comes under US pressure

Former prisoners say payments end as PA comes under US pressure


A protest in solidarity with Palestinians held in Israeli jails, in front of Red Cross office in Gaza City on 5 June.Mohammed AsadAPA images

Charlotte Silver-27 June 2017

Two days after Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas reportedly refused Israeli and American demands that he stop paying families of Palestinian prisoners, his security forces in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah raided a protest camp of former political prisoners who no longer receive their salaries.

On Monday, Ma’an News Agency reported that 277 former political prisoners abruptly stopped receiving their stipends at the beginning of June.

The development comes as Israel and the US are pressuring the PA to stop paying prisoners, calling it a form of incitement.

During Abbas’ meeting with Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, on 23 June, Kushner demanded the PA stop paying monthly salaries to the 600 Palestinian prisoners serving life sentences in Israeli prisons.

Abbas reportedly rejected the demand, calling it a pretext for Israel to avoid negotiations.

But the former prisoners who have stopped receiving their payments believe they are casualties of mounting pressure on the PA from Israel and the US.

The 277 former prisoners were reportedly all released during the 2011 prisoner exchange Israel negotiated with Hamas, which saw more than 1,000 Palestinians released from Israeli prisons in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier.

While the PA has not made any official statements, one former prisoner told Ma’an that a PA representative confirmed to protesters that an agreement had been made to cut their salaries.

Former long-term prisoner, Abdullah Abu Shalbak, told media, “today we are here, but tomorrow we might be inside (Palestinian) jails on criminal charges for bounced checks or defaulted loans that we cannot pay because our salaries were cut off.”

Sunday’s protest refuted initial reports that the pay cuts were exclusively affecting former prisoners in the occupied Gaza Strip, most of whom appear to be affiliated with Hamas.

The PA has been intensifying its pressure on Hamas authorities in Gaza to capitulate by cutting the salaries of people there and dramatically reducing electricity payments and medical supplies.

Held without charge

Meanwhile Israel is indefinitely holding approximately 500 Palestinians without charge, according to prisoners rights group Addameer, including prominent writers, journalists and activists.

Several Palestinians have launched hunger strikes to protest their unjust detention.

Prominent Palestinian writer Ahmad Qatamesh has remained in administrative detention since his arrest on 14 May during an Israeli military raid on his home.

On 13 June, an Israeli military judge ordered Qatamesh held for three months of administrative detention – imprisonment without charge or trial. The military can renew administrative detention indefinitely every six months.

According to Addameer, the judge determined that Qatamesh had participated in activities with an “illegal organization,” though no specifics were revealed.

Most Palestinian political groups are banned by Israel.

The judge also claimed that Qatamesh had been exploiting his position as an academic to incite political activities and promote his political beliefs, Addameer said in a press release.

Qatamesh founded the Munif Barghouti Research Center in the School of Humanities at Al-Quds University.

An Israeli military court also renewed the administrative detention of 26-year-old journalist and human rights defender Hassan Safadi until December 2017. Safadi was working as the media coordinator for Addameer at the time of his arrest.

Safadi was arrested on 1 May 2016, as he crossed into the occupied West Bank from Jordan, returning home from a human rights conference in Tunisia.

He was held incommunicado for the first 10 days of his 40-day interrogation in Jerusalem, during which he was deliberately deprived of sleep and placed in stress positions, according to Addameer.
Safadi was allowed to see a lawyer after 10 days of interrogation, but Israel concealed news of his arrest with a gag order, allowing prosecutors to hold closed hearings.

An Israeli judge initially ordered his release on 10 June after his family paid bail, but defense minister Avigdor Lieberman signed an administrative detention order the same day, preventing Safadi’s release.

This month, the Israeli military also renewed the administrative detention of prominent activist Hassan Karajah, who was first detained on 12 July 2016.

Karajah is an activist with the Stop the Wall Campaign and a leader in the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

New hunger strikes

Two Palestinian prisoners and former long-term hunger strikers have launched new hunger strikes.
Muhammad Allan entered his 20th day on hunger strike on Monday, while Thaer Halahleh entered his 10th.

Allan spent a year under administrative detention and was released in November 2015 after he waged a 66-day hunger strike.

Allan launched his hunger strike on 8 June, the same day he was rearrested during an early morning raid on his home near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

Allan’s father accused the Israeli military of wanting to “take revenge” on his son since the day he had been released. According to his father, Allan was charged with “incitement” on Facebook.

Thaer Halahleh launched his hunger strike on 18 June to protest the assault and transfer of three detained leaders of the Palestinian movement Islamic Jihad.

Halahleh is demanding they be returned to Ofer prison, according to Samidoun, a Palestinian prisoners support group.

Two days after Halahleh launched his hunger strike, he was put in solitary confinement.

Allan is also being held in isolation in Megiddo prison, according to Samidoun.

Halahleh, 35, was arrested on 28 April, and is being held without charge. The 36-year-old has spent 12 years of his life in Israeli prisons, the majority without charge or trial.

In 2012, Halahleh spent 77 days on hunger strike, winning an agreement from Israel that it would not renew his administrative detention. Though he was released, he has been arrested three times since.

Palestinians have increasingly been targeted for their social media activity by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In April, the Tel Aviv-based newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel and the PA have together arrested approximately 800 Palestinians for their social media activity over the last year.

Israel has expanded its monitoring of Palestinian activity on social media, according to Haaretz, and often shares information with the PA.

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Ukrainian military intelligence officer killed by car bomb in Kiev

Ukrainian military intelligence officer killed by car bomb in Kiev

Col Maksim Shapoval, who was head of a special forces unit, killed and passersby injured in terrorist act, government says

Investigators in Kiev analyse the wreckage of the car bombing that killed Maksim Shapoval, a high-ranking military intelligence official. Photograph: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

 in Moscow-Tuesday 27 June 2017

A high-ranking Ukrainian military intelligence official has been killed by a car bomb in Kiev in what authorities are calling an act of terrorism.

An explosive device destroyed the Mercedes being driven by Col Maksim Shapoval at 8.15am local time, police said.

The car’s bonnet was blown open and its roof and driver side door almost completely destroyed, video footage from the scene showed.

“The picture of the crime looks like it was a planned act of terrorism,” interior ministry spokesman Artem Shevchenko told local media. The military prosecutor said his office would lead an investigation.

Police said a female passerby with shrapnel wounds to her legs received medical treatment after the explosion, as did an elderly man who suffered shrapnel wounds to his neck.

According to the defence ministry, Shapoval was a colonel in military intelligence. The Ukrainian Pravda newspaper quoted law enforcement sources saying he had headed a special forces unit.

Yury Butusov, editor of the Censor.net news website, said in a Facebook post that Shapoval’s unit had fought in eastern Ukraine, where a conflict with Russia-backed separatists that broke out in 2014 has killed more than 10,000 people. He claimed Russian intelligence could have killed Shapoval.

Shapoval’s death comes almost a year after prominent journalist Pavel Sheremet was killed by a similar explosion in Kiev as he drove to work. A documentary film released last month revealed evidence suggesting that Ukraine’s spy agency may have witnessed the planting of the car bomb that killed Sheremet. No one has been brought to justice in the murder case.

A number of other public figures have also been assassinated in and around Kiev in recent years. Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian MP who fled to Ukraine, was shot dead in central Kiev in March. Pro-Russian journalist Oles Buzina was shot in a drive-by in 2015, and lawyer Yuri Grabovsky, who had represented a Russian soldier captured in Ukraine, was found dead with a gunshot wound in 2016.

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Poll shows U.S. tumbling in world’s regard under Trump

Poll shows U.S. tumbling in world’s regard under Trump

President Trump has alarmed citizens of the nation’s closest allies and others worldwide, diminishing the standing of the United States in their eyes, according to a wide-ranging international study released Monday.

But in the survey of 37 countries, Russia is a bright spot for Trump. As beleaguered as the president is at home, a majority of Russians say they have confidence in him. And Russians’ attitudes toward the United States have improved since Trump took office.

Elsewhere, though, and with remarkable speed, Trump’s presidency has taken a toll on the United States’ image abroad.

The international survey by the Pew Research Center found that favorable ratings of the United States have decreased from 64 percent of people across all countries surveyed at the end of Barack Obama’s presidency to 49 percent this spring. The new figures are similar to those toward the end of the George W. Bush administration.

The president himself has fared even worse: A median 22 percent are confident that Trump will do the right thing in global affairs, down from 64 percent who had confidence in Obama.

From Chile to Italy, from Sweden to Japan, majorities consider the president arrogant, intolerant, unqualified and dangerous. On the flip side, most view him as a strong leader. And many expect their country’s relationship with the United States to withstand his presidency.

It is perhaps unsurprising that a man who campaigned on a pledge to put American interests first would generate backlash in other parts of the world. Nor is it surprising that the negative reaction would carry over to opinions about the United States itself. Particularly in Europe, “that’s almost a reflex,” said Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state for European affairs.

What is surprising, said Frank G. Wisner, a former diplomat who served under Democrats and Republicans, is the degree to which Trump has scorned principles the United States has not only long espoused but also helped to define in the previous century. These include democratic governance, free markets, collective security, human rights and the rule of law — commitments that together, Wisner said, delineate the liberal international order.

Heads of state from around the world are reacting to President Trump’s decision to remove the United States from the Paris climate agreement. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)

“America’s image has taken hits in recent years, from the decision to invade Iraq to the events of 2007 and 2008, when the American financial model took a huge hit,” he said. “But the most consequential is the ascent of Mr. Trump to the Oval Office.”

Global popular opinion matters, Wisner said, in part because it defines how foreign leaders engage with American interests.

The depths of disapproval registered abroad suggest that Trump has undone the progress Obama made in burnishing the American brand. It took Bush eight years, and the quagmire in Iraq, to notch such dismal ratings overseas, according to Pew. It has taken Trump six months.

His unpopularity is the result of a mix of disagreement with his signature policy objectives, such as building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and distaste for his character, according to Pew’s analysis of poll results.

Among other world leaders studied by Pew, German Chancellor Angela Merkel receives relatively high marks. The share of people who report little or no confidence in her, a median of 31 percent across 37 countries, is less than half that for Trump, at 74 percent. The survey found that 59 percent lack confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin and 53 percent in Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trust in the American president plummeted most in some of the United States’ closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as in the countries it borders, Canada and Mexico. In only two countries, Russia and Israel, does Trump receive a higher score than Obama.

Since 2002, when Pew began examining the United States’ image abroad, perceptions of the United States have run in parallel with judgments about the country’s president. Opinions of the United States have improved in Russia, as confidence in the president rose from 11 percent toward the end of Obama’s two terms to 53 percent under Trump, which is among his best ratings — along with figures for Israel, Nigeria and Vietnam.

There is no directly comparable number for Americans, as approval ratings and confidence questions employ different wording, although public polls have found that majorities of Americans disapprove of Trump’s overall job performance and his handling of foreign policy.

Germans hold some of the most negative opinions of the United States, with 62 percent viewing the country unfavorably and 87 percent lacking confidence in Trump.

Germany joins more than half of the 37 countries surveyed where approval for the United States fell by double digits this year. In Mexico, positive views of the United States have been cut in half, from 66 to 30 percent. Women tend to see the United States more negatively than do men in 10 of the countries surveyed, and in 16 countries, older people are more distrustful than the young.

At the same time, affinity for Americans remains intact, as does the popularity of American popular culture, Pew found. Most people think Washington respects the personal freedoms of Americans, yet there is growing doubt about American-style democracy, in France and Germany, among other countries. With Asia a notable exception, more people disapprove than approve of the spread of American ideas and customs to their countries.

The complexity was on display recently in a classroom at the Free University in Berlin. The topic was “Democracy and the State in the U.S.”

One of the professors, Christian Lammert, said his students represent the first living generation to come to political consciousness with the United States’ position on the global stage in doubt.

American democracy, in the students’ eyes, had proved imperfect, not least owing to the treatment of racial minorities. With their own country, Germany, playing a newly authoritative role, they are learning how fundamentally geopolitics could shift over the next decades, Lammert said.

In Britain, a country seized by political uncertainty as it sorts out its relationship to Europe, “there’s incredulity about Trump,” even among many who supported the Brexit referendum, said Michael Borio, a local council member in London.

Nicholas Guyatt, an American historian at the University of Cambridge who has written about the waning of American power, attributed Trump’s low favorability abroad not just to the spectacle of bedlam in Washington but to a deeper disconnect between the American president and the rest of the world.

Abroad, Guyatt said, people see that Trump’s vision of American greatness is a relic.

“We’re in an uncertain place, because if the U.S. is no longer playing this role in a particular vision of world order, what’s the substitute? A different vision? Chaos?” he said.

The Pew Research Center survey was conducted from February to May among national random samples of 852 to 2,464 interviews in each of the 37 countries. The margin of sampling error for each country ranges from plus or minus 3.2 to 5.7 percentage points.

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