Defence news analysis. Our aim is a secure, developed Sri Lanka where democracy, human rights including religious freedom, and civil liberties reign. We welcome dissent, but tolerate no malice.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Allow Maldivians to Settle in Sri Lanka If Rising Sea Levels Threaten the Atoll
When Australia offered refuge to Maldivians threatened by rising sea levels, some thought the Australians were very generous. They either didn’t know or didn’t want to know that the last thing Australia would do is to provide refuge to hundreds of thousands of people in their time of need! Australia has not done this even to closer neighbours. For instance, people who live in and around French Polynesia during French nuclear experiments, East Timor during the war, PNG during the war and a host of other islanders could have been shown the same kindness Australia is prepared to extend to Maldives even before the event! This strange “generosity” from a very unlikely nation must be looked at with suspicion. They would certainly not do it for humanitarian concerns. The sinister plan behind this is cruel than white colonization of Australia which completely subjugated real Australians.
Maldives, the Sixtieth Largest Nation! Maldives is a larger nation than Italy, Malaysia, Ukraine or Thailand. Although this may sound puzzling, it is true. In today’s terms, a nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone gets added to its landmass for all economic, political and military concerns. With close to 925,000 square kilometres, Maldives is no longer a small nation.
Without taking into account the strategic importance of the region, such a vast sea area is immensely valuable. It has tremendous fisheries, mining, tourism and other economic resource potential. This area is unexplored which means its true potential would be many times more.
Maldives has tremendous strategic and geopolitical significance.
Tremendous Geopolitical Significance Maldives rests between four very powerful regional power blocks and three global superpowers. USA and UK maintain a mammoth military establishment in the Diego Garcia Island that is forcibly occupied by these nations by evicting the natives. Diego Garcia has been a formidable and very safe platform for NATO military onslaughts on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and possibly Iran in future. The entire Middle East region comes under the direct and unhindered US strategic reach through Diego Garcia. Maldives with its Exclusive Economic Zone is the largest national boundary closer to it. For commercial reasons China is looking to safeguard its shipping routes in the region while India is projecting its military strength in the region as far as Madagascar by having listening stations.
Complexities will arise in defence matters if western powers creep into this peaceful region. All this will add a new hostile neighbour who cares nothing about well developed Asian values with civilisations spanning over 2,500 years. Further, given Australia’s power projection towards East Timor, Solomon Islands, PNG and Fiji, it will certainly try to interfere in political and defence affairs of neighbouring nations. Australia’s highly interfering friends don’t make it any better either, to say the least. For instance, during the final phase of the war, foreign ministers of a number of western nations including Australia requested Sri Lanka to halt the offensive allowing terrorism to survive. There was talk of a naval operation aimed at forcing a truce. However, it didn’t take place. Had there been a permanent navel presence in the region, these interfering nations would certainly have attempted it.
In short, western interferers will have a new cat’s paw in the South Asian region with a permanent physical navy presence. From a strategic point of view, it will be an extension of the Diego Garcia military base occupied by the Americans just south of Maldivian territory.
This is what the Australians are after! Having allowed residence to Maldivians in some remote godforsaken place in Australia, the entire Maldivian territory falls within Australian control. It is impossible for the Maldivians settled in some part of Australia to use their former territory. Australians and hence the Americans would have complete control of this vast territory. Using ships, submarines, underwater and above water structures, they would be able to essentially extend the Diego Garcia military power further into the Indian Ocean. This power would extend to India, Sri Lanka and the entire region where some analysts make out a geopolitical competition named the New Great Game. Now we have two new great games in the region!
Western strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region received a boost recently as the Exmouth top secret US navy and space facility in Australia was upgraded. Exmouth is located in the western most part of Australia. This is another strategic location for western powers to dominate the Indian Ocean.
What Can the Maldivians Expect inAustralia? Nothing better than what the aboriginals already have! Their culture and religion will not only be neglected, but also will be frowned upon. There will be absolutely no room to practice, use and nurture their unique language (Divehi) and culture. Their religious festivals will not have any government recognition let alone a single public holiday. For the record, Australia does not recognize any Hindu, Islam or Buddhist religious festival with public holidays.
Anti-Islamic activities in Iraq, Afghanistan and even within Australia which include unclothing Muslim women in courthouses and sometimes even in public, racism and counter racism allegations against them and continued police surveillance of Islamic places of worship will be something novel for Maldivians, to say the least.
What Can Maldivians Expect inSri Lanka? In contrast Maldivians already consider Sri Lanka their second home! Tens of thousands of rich Maldivians study, work and live in Sri Lanka. There is debate over global warming and its implications. If at all sea level is to rise, Sri Lanka must offer all Maldivians the right to settle in the island. No other nation can protect the Maldivian language, culture and tradition than Sri Lanka. In fact the closest language to Sinhala anywhere in the world is Divehi. All Maldivian religious events are already recognised in Sri Lanka. Even the Maldivian national anthem has Sri Lankan input.
If Sri Lanka comes forward to help the Maldivians it would not be to rob their economic resources but to continue with a millennia old strong relationship.
Maldivians in Sri Lanka would be able to visit, use and even patrol their territory due to the very close proximity.
How CanSri Lankawith Own Population Problems Accommodate More? One big argument is how can Sri Lanka accommodate hundreds of thousands more when there are own population density related problems. If sea level is to rise, it will shrink Sri Lankan landmass as well. The answer is rather simple. If continued illegal immigration from South India which brings nothing but problems, can be arrested, accommodating own relatives would not be difficult at all. Between Tamil Nadu and the Maldives, Sri Lankans are much closer to the latter than the former. Maldivian rulers treat Sri Lankan counterparts with respect, not with rowdy receptions. Sri Lankans don’t get assaulted in various ways in the Maldives as it happens in Tamil Nadu regularly. Territorial disputes are swiftly and amicably settled between the two friendly peoples unlike in the case with Tamil Nadu. On top of it, today’s Tamil Nadu illegal migrants add no economic worth to the nation. If these illegal migrants can be stopped, there is still plenty of room for worthy and legal migrants. The total Maldivian population is about 2% of Sri Lanka’s population.
Why the North? The north with many islands, shallow seas and large fishing fields provides ideal conditions for Maldivians. They don’t have to change their life style at all. At the moment large fisheries resources in the north are plundered by illegal Tamil Nadu poachers. There is plenty to go around and no one loses anything. The north has an excellent infrastructure of schools, hospitals, banks, telecom facilities than most districts in the country.
Following the large mass migration out of the north internally and externally, a vast swath of land has become vacant. At the moment the Tamil Diaspora members invite and allow illegal Tamil Nadu migrants to live (not own) in their houses for free. A practice that only adds problems. These vacant lands can be better utilized. Divehi language based administration can be regionalised to ensure this unique language and culture which is the twin of the main Sri Lankan language and culture is protected. It is close to travel to their former Maldivian territory too.
Settling Maldivians in the mono ethnic Tamil only north will be a valuable deterrent against racist separatist agendas of Tamil Elamists. Maldivian majority areas may be turned to semi-autonomous region following a model similar to Hong Kong. Tamil Elamists in Sri Lanka and other separatists shouldn’t have this privilege because they claim territory already owned by Sri Lanka without adding any!
The huge sea stretch owned by the Maldives will be highly valuable for all Sri Lankans while special privileges must be assured for Sri Lankans of Maldivian origin. With the development of shipping and trading activities in the region, the sea stretch currently owned by the Maldives will become invaluable. Absence of foreign interference and hostile military presence will be an added benefit.
Old fashioned thinking, complacency and racial homelands are not the way for the future. Sri Lanka must assert its friendly influence in the region not to exploit what belongs to others, but to share what little Sri Lanka has with closest relatives, not illegal immigrants, separatists, interfering agents, war mongers and terrorists.
Considering all these factors, Sri Lankan government must seriously consider providing refuge to Maldivians in case rising sea levels threaten their island nation. Things should not be left to chance as it will leave Sri Lanka to unofficially put up with the Maldivians without any reciprocal benefit while Australia benefits from the economic resources of the atoll!
In doing so Sri Lanka is not only securing its own interests but also the security of its neighbourhood. Such a move would frustrate western elements desperately seeking to have a foothold in the Asian region. As a by-product it will enhance Sri Lanka’s strategic and geopolitical clout which can be leveraged for the betterment of the nation and its interests. Two developing nations can defend their existence from mighty challenges by working together.