Trincomalee. Prima factory in the distance.
I’m on tour bus near Ibbagamuwa but the Dialog 3G still connect. Travelling with this Business For Peace group to see development opportunities in Trinco. Passing through Kurunegala also met a young man who’s excited about the chance to develop the soil of mother Lanka. Into red clay tiles. There is business just burgeoning to happen, and I think that is the best hope for peace. Not security or stability, but peace. Met some guys from the Jaffna and Vavuniya Chambers of Commerce yesterday and they’re more wary. Perhaps because transport to Jaffna is very difficult (restricted A9) and most of Vavuniya’s Wanni customers are in IDP camps. But hopeful still. Guy from Matale thinks tourism is going to pick up. Dude from Kandy thinks they can sell more fabric. I think so too. Without terrorism Sri Lanka will grow. Even without real political resolution of the underlying ethnic issues. That is, within the Chinese model, growth without freedom. There’s obviously a better way, but I don’t think it’s possible without getting more people to the economic level where they can truly participate in democracy. And, frankly, I don’t think the freedom and growth model deserves to win if it doesn’t deliver results. Ties of trade and mutual interest can also bind more strongly than written pacts. I recently heard about something called Sitamu, a mangement structure with directors from the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities. So they can shape stuff up with powers and groups from different regions. And do more business. Think that’s around Trinco. Personally, I’ve lost faith in Colombo macroeconomic mandarins, internationally mediated mores and trickle down from politicians. I think we need to invest in small business and education and hope that in a generation true peace will emerge from prosperity. There’s more detail on this in the next Sunday Leader. On, uh, Sunday.