Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Foreign Think Tanks influence Sri Lanka: Mont Pelerin Society – ADVOCATA – Institute of Policy Studies

When population is increasing, not only is there scarcity of resources there is a hurry to grab resources & secure its ownership. Privatization is a means to advance this goal. Corporates are steadily transferring power to itself from political power. Politics has been corrupted to justify people to shift away from people’s representation via Parliamentary system. This is why politicians are seen sitting on corporate boards no sooner they retire/resign from office. This is the great “reset” being plotted where national assets & resources fall into private hands & they decide who gets what, when, how and at what price. People & Government are likely to be things of the past.

We again return to the days of haves & havenots – and the “kalu suddas” are the coolies tasked to carry out the task of hand over.

The suddas came to “civilize” the “uncivilized” of Asia & Africa, though they enjoyed greater & richer civilizational history. Most of their riches have been pilfered & plundered and history expunged.

The “civilizing” part is tasked to UN/INGOs & then locally outsourced to NGOs and Civil Society, think tanks, universities, paid journalists/media. The tools used are “responsibility to protect” “reconciliation” “multiculturalism” etc.

Increasing legislation for “discipline” is meant to keep dissenters in check and prevent people who begin to realize the gameplan from objecting – for this purpose mass surveillance and incarceration and curtailing of privacy as well as behind the screen filtering of mobile phones, internet searches and social media sites are deployed.

Economic sovereignty is undermined using international monetary lending agencies, insurance companies, foreign financial firms, international legal experts & foreign consultants etc. Notice how corporates are taking governments to court & even winning. IMF-WORLD BANK are part of the neoliberal economic democracy

Media fell into the hands of billionaires who also funded think tanks & universities. The aim was to subjugate the masses with information controlling.

Entities like Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institute, CATO Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Centre for Policy Studies, Institute of Economic Affairs, Adam Smith Institute-UK, Soros Open Society Foundation are tasked to create the policies and ‘thinking’ for an one world government.

The one world government is part of a neo-liberal project.

25 companies make more money than GDPs of these 25 countries 

Spotify (Mauritania), Netflix (Malta), Tesla (Albania), Visa (Bosnia), El Corte Inglés (Libya), Starbucks (Trinidad & Tobago), McDonalds (New Guinea), Mercadona (Nepal), BBCA (Estonia), Inditex (Paraguay), Walt Disney (Bulgaria), Banco Santander (Panama), Telefónica (Luxembourg), Johnson & Johnson (Ethiopia), Microsoft (Slovakia), Nike (Cameroon), Coca Cola (Bolivia), Iberdrola (Ivory Coast), Facebook (Serbia), Repsol (Lebanon), Alphabet, Google’s parent company (Puerto Rico), Amazon (Kuwait), Apple (Portugal), Volkswagen (Chile), Walmart (Belgium)

Companies are becoming richer than countries and taking ownership of resources in countries.

How are companies taking ownership of resources in countries?

Influencing political affairs of sovereign states indirectly through their governments or NGOs or indirectly by employing government officials & getting participating in national policy committees as well as making political contributions and at times even bribing

Atlas Network a member of Mont Pelerin Society wanted to repeal law making voting compulsory & withdraw funding to trade unions, free wifi was a ruse to subtly remove entities challenging oligarchs

Mont Pelerin Society & Sri Lanka

Mont Pelerin Society Sri Lanka Members

  • Ranil Wickremasinghe – held a special Mont Pelerin meeting in Kandalama in 2004
  • ADVOCATA Sri Lanka (Atlas Network) & members – Razeen Sally & Suri Ratnapala

Atlas Network (previously Atlas Economic Research Foundation)

Founded in 1981 by Sir Anthony Fisher (student of Mont Pelerin Society founder von Hayek)

A bevy of think tanks emerged all functioning as lobbyists for whatever government came to power. Majority of these merged with the Atlas Network.

Atlas Network closely associates with the Mont Pelerin Society.

Think tanks play a role similar to that of old Rotary, Freemasons, Opus Die, Knights of Malta in the Catholic world.

Atlas Network is part of US foreign policy & plays a key role in destabilizing & regime change. The Atlas Network comprises 450 foundations, NGOs and think tanks with an operating budget of some US $5 million https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/08/31/the-atlas-network-against-latin-america/

Atlas Network is mostly funded by Koch Foundation, ExxonMobil, MasterCard, John Templeton, Donors Trust, and the US government.

What is important to understand is that the Mont Pelerin Society sits as an umbrella over all these organizations.



Atlas Network & its associate think tanks & NGOs are discretely funded by US State Dept & National Endowment for Democracy. Their success include:

  • Military coup against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras
  • Toppling President Christine Kirchner of Argentina using “corruption’ theme
  • Supporting a handful of military to overthrow President Hugo Chavez in 2002
  • Diverting public anger against leading politicians in Brazil (similar to what is being done in Sri Lanka)

Atlas Network finances a variety of organizations that seek to influence the public and promote capitalist ideas.

How is Atlas Network connected to NED?

  • Judy Shelton of Atlas Network was Advisor to President Trump & she chairs NED.
  • Matt Warner President of Atlas Network is a fellow of NED.
  • NED & USAID grants Atlas Network of think tanks & NGO initiatives (ADVOCATA is a member of Atlas Network & receives NED/USAID funding)

Advocata Institute 

ADVOACATA Sri Lanka is a member of the Atlas Network which in turn is linked to the Mont Pelerin Society. Formed in 2016 at the Lakshman Kadiragamar Centre.

An interesting set of people make up its Board

Fredrik Erixon – Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) think tank co-founded with Razeen Sally in 2006. Erixon was an Adviser to the British government.

Nishan de Mel – Verite Research agents for promoting MCC in Sri Lanka. He was Executive Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies and the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute.

Rohan Samarajeewa – LirnAsia

Prof Suri Ratnapala – member of Mont Pelerin Society, appointed by PM Ranil himself a Mont Pelerin Member to advise the Steering Committee chaired by the PM drafting a new Constitution

Atlas Network / ADVOCATA – Linda Whetstone (passed away in Dec2021)
Atlas Network was founded by Linda Whetstone’s father – Sir Anthony Fisher

ADVOCATA was formed by Linda Whetstone.

Linda Whetstone was also the President of the Mont Pelerin Society & Board Member & Advisor of the Institute of Economic Affairs as well as Chairman of Atlas Network.

Atlas Network hosts Asia Liberty Forum annually.

The Asia Liberty Forum was co-hosted by the Advocata Institute and Atlas Network in February 2019.

Speakers were Dr. Nishan de Mel (Executive Director, Verite Research)
Ravi Ratnasabapathy (Resident Fellow, Advocata Institute),
Suresh Shah (Director, Carson Cumberbatch PLC),
Thilan Wijesinghe (Chairman, National Agency for PPPs) and
Malathy Knight (Senior Economist).

Institute for Policy Studies

Sri Lanka’s Economic Policy Think-Tank established by Act of Parliament in 1988

Executive Director – Dushni Weerakoon / Chairman Prof. Razeen Salley

How ‘independent” is Institute of Policy Studies.

Is it independent of the GoSL but dependent on foreign think tanks & foreign funding?

Is IPS under influence of foreign-funded think tanks

What is the point in having a government think tank that is dependent on western governments & international funding? IPS is co-financed by the Dutch Govt & run by a Resident Coordinator from Dutch Institute for Social Studies.

DISS is funded by the Dutch Govt to train intellectuals & policy makers from former Dutch colonies.

How ‘independent’ is IPS’s OWN ‘Endowment Fund’ if Sri Lankan state does not know its funding sources?

How ‘autonomous’ is IPS, Sri Lanka’s supposed to be economic think tank if its donors are UK,, US Corporations, banks & equity funds (Hewlett Foundation/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Netherlands, Canada and Norway?

They do not give money free without some agenda!

IPS is directly connected to Mont Pelerin Society via its member Prof. Razeen Salley who is now IPS Chairman. Sally is Adjunct scholar of Cato Institute a neoliberal think tank, he is founder director of Cato-related European Centre for International Political Economy a neoconservative entity linked to CIA connected Brookings Institution.
IPS drafted Vision 2025 and organized the Sri Lanka Economic Forum in 2016 that invited George Soros ‘colour revolution architect & his Open Society Foundation to Sri Lanka. Open Government Initiative that proposes to include civil society into Parliament subtly to replace elected politicians.

At this forum Ricardo Hausmann of the Harvard Centre was directly associated with the PM’s office, the BOI and Ministry of Development Strategy & International Trade. This same Harvard Teams’ did the land privatization Bill linked to the MCC Land take over.

Do we need economic experts if the only solution they give is to sell public assets and privatize all state owned enterprises?

The Chairman of IPS Razeen Sally who was Senior Advisor to Minister Mangala Samaraweera in 2017 was 24×7 advocating selling State enterprises and even suggested a deceitful strategy to handle country-wide opposition – first partially privatize state enterprise by putting such into a holding company (SL Airlines, Mihin Air, SLTB etc) and then gradually increase private sector stakes & work towards complete private ownership.

Sally’s proposition for public utilities (petroleum, water, electricity etc) was to replace Board members of the Public Utilities Commission with ‘independent directors’ obviously foreign ones or locals working for foreigners!

Indrajit Coomaraswamy Central Bank Governor from 2016-2019 was also on board of the Institute of Policy Studies

Dr. Sarath Rajapatirana, Economic Advisor to President Sirisena was also on board of the Institute of Policy Studies is a visiting scholar of American Enterprise Institute a neoliberal think tank and had been working for World Bank from 1975 to 1999.

M. Rafeek – Secretary to the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affair (Ranil’s Ministry) is on the board of Institute of Policy Studies

S S Mudalige Director General National Planning Department was also on the Board of IPS

In April 2019 Eran Wickramaratne also took part in closed-door discussions at the Heritage Foundation in Washington

Dr. Arvind Subramanian, the Chief Economic Adviser of the Government of India was keynote speaker at Sri Lanka Economic Summit 2017. Subramanian is also Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics a neoliberal US think tank.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, sister of Indrajit Coomaraswamy – is a member of Open Society Justice Initiative, Served as Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission during Ranil Wickremasinghe’s Govt in 2003 and then served again under his government as Constitutional Council member in 2015.

Former Foreign Minister Samaraweera addressed the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (US foreign affairs think tank) in February 2015, immediately after the regime change in January 2015. Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam embroiled in controversy for his salary payment by US was also a speaker at the same think tank in September 2015.

IPS & Advocata are both connected to US Govt and Mont Pelerin Society

Advocata was launched in May 2016 at the Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute together with a report “State of State Enterprises” (a report made before Advocata was created) showcasing 55 state-owned enterprises making major losses between 2006-2015 and recommended the Govt decide which to shut down, which to privatize and which the govt should continue to keep. If a report emerged before Advocata was created it should be no surprise when Advocata is quoted by Malik Samarawickrema promoting “far-reaching privatisation plans”

Advocata is promoting privatization in Sri Lanka.

Advocata proposed the privatization of Sri Lankan Airlines.

In June 2016 Cabinet approved PM’s proposal to hire US firm McKinsey & Co for $2.3m to establish a Central Program Management Unit inside Temple Trees to monitor projects under new Development (Special Provisions) Bill. A foreign firm is paid to monitor Bills passed in Sri Lanka!

Advocata in November 2016 recommended that the Sri Lanka Budget 2017 reactivate 987,000 acres in the Land Reform Commission. They categorized schools, government ministries, military occupied buildings etc as ‘prime real estate’ and claimed they ‘outweighed their economic value’ and wanted them shifted! So the hue & cry to downsize the military is part of this larger objective! What excuse will they give to remove schools? Is the decision to remove 25,000 slums in Colombo City by 2020 part of this bigger objective? Will they soon remove residential housing too?

The Central Bank outlined new laws and institutional reforms to establish a land bank as part of a move to remove ‘archaic’ laws

Prof. Hausmann Director of Harvard Centre & foreign experts from neoliberal think tanks, economists etc claim to be knowing what is good for Sri Lanka and they want Sri Lanka to privatize ocean-related activities, shipping, statutory bodies, liberalize free trade and investment, liberalize land sale, remove restrictions for foreign ownership including in freight forwarding and shipping and all these are being plugged into some rosy proposal known as Public-Private Partnership.

Have people thought what would happen if foreigners are given access to the entry and choke points into and out of Sri Lanka?

ADVOCATA’s upcoming conference –REFORM NOW – Aug 5-6, 2022 “Let’s Reset Sri Lanka’

– bringing international experts, thought leaders, civil society to discuss reforms

– reforms in taxation, state-owned enterprises, social safety nets, trade policy, land policy

– Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob (former Governor Bank of Thailand)

– Prof. Premachandra Athukorala – ADVOCATA board member


As can be seen there is a formidable force influencing decision-making in Sri Lanka from multiple angles. How far these “experts” have national interest in mind against what the entities they represent require them to serve can be seen in the proposals they make aligned to the aims & objectives of the entities they represent & the role they are hired to do.

How far the State apparatus can keep to national policies against the plethora of people and proposals pushed with foreign funding insisting foreign governments do their bidding is an issue that citizens of Sri Lanka have yet to comprehend.

Every time a national program is kickstarted – foreign funding will come to either stop it or divert GoSL to another project that will subtly nullify that national project.

How can we face these challenges?

Shenali D Waduge

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