Abduction and Killing of “Bhai” Billionaire Mohammad Shakeeb Sulaiman of Bambalapitiya

By Gihan Kamalesh Weerasinghe

The Police Colombo Crimes Division (CCD) has begun probing the strong likelihood that billionaire businessman Mohammad Shakeeb Sulaiman of Bambalapitiya was brutally done to death by irate business competitors stemming from a dispute arising from a soured business deal or arising from debts owed to Sulaiman by some businessmen.

Police sources said that preliminary investigations had revealed that the slain businessman was considered a tough business opponent who was allegedly not averse to employing violence to further his business interests.

However, it is yet to be confirmed that his killing was the direct outcome of a business dispute or merely to extract ransom from his family. Police are following other leads also so as to not miss other probabilities linked to his killing with the objective of bringing his killers to book.

Sulaiman was an ethnic Bhai who was engaged in the wholesale textiles trade. Sulaiman and his family members imported and distributed clothing and textiles from India, China and Indonesia. His central trade operations were carried out at a well-established shop down Third Cross Street, Pettah.

Continue reading ‘Abduction and Killing of “Bhai” Billionaire Mohammad Shakeeb Sulaiman of Bambalapitiya’ »

Rajapaksa Loyalists in SLFP to Form Own Party With Mahinda As Their Leader


Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) dissidents are to form their own party with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as their leader.

However, a decision is yet to be made on the name which may be similar to the SLFP. The decision to form their own party was taken on Thursday when the committee named by Mahinda Rajapaksa to study matters arising out of the suspension of his loyalists met at their office in Nelumpokuna Road, Battaramulla.

The committee comprises Basil Rajapaksa, Dullas Allahapperuma, Pavithra Wanniaratchchi, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, G.L. Peiris and Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Loyalists in SLFP to Form Own Party With Mahinda As Their Leader’ »

India Unwilling to Agree to Conditions Imposed by Sri Lanka in Relation to Formulating Economic and Technical Co-operation Agreement(ETCA)

By

P.K.Balachandran

Indian Minister of State for Commerce, Nirmala Sitharaman, who was to come here on August 25 for a short visit at the invitation of the Sri Lankan Minister of International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama, cancelled her visit on account of pressing engagements in New Delhi, reliable sources told Express on Saturday.

It is learnt that she had to present in New Delhi at an important meeting on trade and economic affairs to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and also to prepare for the Indo-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue in which US Vice President John Kerry is to participate.

Contrary to the impression in Sri Lanka, Sitharaman’s cancelled visit was at no time linked to the on-going negotiations between India and Sri Lanka on the controversial Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA).

Continue reading ‘India Unwilling to Agree to Conditions Imposed by Sri Lanka in Relation to Formulating Economic and Technical Co-operation Agreement(ETCA)’ »

Office of Missing Persons Bill and the Interplay Between “Finding the Truth” and “Securing Justice”.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The contradiction was clear if not absurd. Even at the very moment in time that I was being sent unsolicited messages by Colombo’s non-governmental ‘twitterati’ delighting in self-congratulatory chest-thumping over the turbulent passing of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill, that euphoria was distinctly missing in the Northern peninsula, among the very people for whom this piece of legislation was (primarily) intended.

Failure to draw in core constituencies of victims

Let us be clear about this. The fate of the South’s ‘disappeared’ during the state brutalities of the eighties had not been the motivating factor for this Government’s headlong rush into ‘solutions’ despite the colorful intertwining of state excesses against the Sinhalese during the eighties to justify the effort.

Rather, it was the plight of the ‘disappeared’ in the North and the East which was the central international pressure point necessitating this mad scramble by the coalition Government and its allies, including the North’s Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Logically therefore, the constituencies left to struggle in the face of continuing state surveillance and apathy in the former war theatre should have been directly drawn into Sri Lanka’s much trumpeted exercise of ‘transitional justice.’ But that is not the case, if we leave aside the familiar spectacle of the North’s political representatives claiming to ‘speak for the people.’ And the anger thereof is searing.

Continue reading ‘Office of Missing Persons Bill and the Interplay Between “Finding the Truth” and “Securing Justice”.’ »

Visiting UN Secy –Gen Ban Ki Moon Wont Have Separate Meeting With Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran During Jaffna Trip

By P.K.Balachandran

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will do his bit to reconcile conflicting interests in Sri Lanka during his three-day visit to the island beginning on August 31.

From his program it appears that he will press for unity and cooperation between the majority Sinhalese and the minority Tamils; between the predominantly Tamil North and the predominantly Sinhalese South; and between Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran and the leaders of the Tamils’ main party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

To convey to the Sinhalese majority that the UN is not merely an advocate of Tamil rights but is interested in the welfare of the Sinhalese too, Ban will visit Galle on September 1 to address a conference on: Reconciliation and Coexistence: Role of Youth. During his last visit to Sri Lanka in May 2009, he visited Vavuniya in the North , flew over Mullaitivu, where the heaviest fighting had taken place, and talked to refugees in a Northern camp. He did not visit any place in the Sinhalese South.

Continue reading ‘Visiting UN Secy –Gen Ban Ki Moon Wont Have Separate Meeting With Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran During Jaffna Trip’ »

Fresh Action Must be Initiated Against the Alleged Corruption of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the “Helping Hambantota” Affair.


by Vimukthi Yapa

The eleventh anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami came and went on December 26 last year with hardly a mention of Helping Hambantota, the scandal that, if not for the timely intervention of the Supreme Court, would have torpedoed the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa before it even began.

A review of the scandal during Rajapaksa’s term would arguably have called for more courage than even the most intrepid of Sri Lanka’s reporters could muster. After all, more than a dozen journalists including our own founding editor Lasantha Wickrematunge either perished or disappeared on Mr Rajapaksa’s watch, with Sri Lanka sinking to No. 165 out of 180 countries in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders. Besides, as the ordeal of former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake attests, any judge swimming in such treacherous waters would have to be very brave indeed.

All that, however, has now changed. President Maithripala Sirisena was elected largely on his repeated promises of good governance and there is no gainsaying that a new aura of freedom has swept not just the media but also the country at large. Sri Lankans can once more hold their heads high, not cowed by fear of the once dreaded white vans, stray bullets or spikes through the head. This government, in seeking to evict Chief Justice Mohan Silva, resorted not to threats of impeachment or prosecution on trumped-up charges, but to effete inducements in the form of plum diplomatic assignments, though hardly the stuff of ‘yaha-palanaya’.

Having been elected on a mandate to restore order and rule of law to the country, it behoves the new government to revisit the Helping Hambantota case and ensure that the injustice it entailed is at last put to right.

Continue reading ‘Fresh Action Must be Initiated Against the Alleged Corruption of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the “Helping Hambantota” Affair.’ »

Boycott of Northern Province Investor Forum by C.V.Wigneswaran Reflects Badly on the Chief Minister.

By

Rasika Jayakody

The Northern Province Investor Forum, held last week, was a landmark event for the Jaffna peninsula for many reasons.

It was the first time the business and financial community gathered in Jaffna to support the region’s economic development. Coming out of a three-decade long war and years of military occupation, such an event, needless to say, was a great opportunity for Jaffna to reinvent itself as a potential economic hub.

The investor forum also coincided with the famous Nallur festival – a major attraction for local and foreign tourists visiting the peninsula. The event was a clear indication that the authorities were swiftly moving away from the Colombo-centric business mentality, which restricts the country’s business and economic gains to the capital city and suburbs.

Another objective of the forum was to attract the Tamil diaspora to invest in the economic prospects of Jaffna. Since the end of the last stage of the war, a section of the Tamil diaspora always wanted to ‘give back’ to the province but never really got a chance from the previous administration, which looked at them with a modicum of suspicion.

Continue reading ‘Boycott of Northern Province Investor Forum by C.V.Wigneswaran Reflects Badly on the Chief Minister.’ »

85 Senior Finance Ministry Officials Serving on Boards of 280 Public Corporations Resign From Their Ex-Officio Director Posts


By

C.A.Chandraprema

Last Wednesday, the same day on which the Australian media broke the story about President Sirisena, 85 officials of the ministry of finance serving as ex-officio directors on the boards of 280 public corporations resigned from their directorships saying that they will not resume their duties unless steps were taken to ensure their future security and professional respect. They had stated that the Chairmen and CEO’s appointed to the bodies in which they served as representatives of the Treasury were political appointees and that they too have had to face investigations and have been arrested and remanded due to the actions of these political appointees and that therefore serving in these public bodies or in tender boards and technical evaluation committees would be inimical to their wellbeing.

They had pointed out that the representative of the treasury will have to bear greater responsibility for any decision taken by these bodies. The Prime Minister’s cryptic response to this mass resignation has been to say that these officials will not be reappointed to those positions and that new persons will be appointed.

Continue reading ‘85 Senior Finance Ministry Officials Serving on Boards of 280 Public Corporations Resign From Their Ex-Officio Director Posts’ »

US Military Footprint Takes Shape in Sri Lanka

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

The Joint Opposition must surely be faulted for having neglected to challenge the constitutionality of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill in the Supreme Court during the time available to do so. The JO’s theatrics in the well of the House on the day the Bill was passed, amidst chaos, hardly compensate for this lapse. The OMP is the first of the so-called reconciliation mechanisms being implemented by the government in compliance with the 2015 Geneva resolution. Before the Bill was taken up in parliament, critics had already expressed serious misgivings about aspects of it they said bypassed the law of the land and potentially undermined sovereignty.

The OMP needs to be seen as part of a larger process whereby the architecture of Sri Lanka’s institutions will undergo radical transformation – a transformation not of its own making but carried out at the behest of western powers. It is increasingly clear that introducing new legislation is a key element in the strategy. In the absence of a system of judicial review it becomes a matter of paramount importance for Sri Lankans to scrutinise proposed new Bills relating to the Geneva commitments, and challenge them in court if necessary, before it is too late – as it has become, in the case of the OMP. Once the groundwork is laid in the form of new laws, western meddling will be protected by law and very difficult to reverse, by any means short of a popular uprising.

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President Sirisena ‘Concerned’ about Corruption Charge in Australian Media but Doubts Credibility of Sri Lankan Agent Source

By P K Balachandran

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is “concerned” about the charge made by Fairfax Media that in 2009-2011, when he was Minister of Agriculture, an Australian company was asked to give a donation to his political party to get contracts for World Bank-funded sewerage and dam projects.

On Thursday, the President ordered the Attorney General to investigate the charge even as he issued a statement denying that he had ever indulged in corruption in his political life or encouraged any one to indulge in it.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena ‘Concerned’ about Corruption Charge in Australian Media but Doubts Credibility of Sri Lankan Agent Source’ »

State Sector Top Employees Resigning Their Posts Due to Fear of Being Probed by Financial Crimes Investigations Division(FCID)

By Saman Indrajith

The Joint Opposition (JO) alleged yesterday in Parliament that the Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) had become a danger to not only the state sector employees, but those in the private sector.

JO member Bandula Gunawardena raising the issue of the FCID proving public officials said that state sector employees were submitting their resignations in fear of being investigated and questioned by the FCID and called on the government to reinstate such individuals.

“Nobody will be able to get anything done from the Public sector if state employees continue to resign out of fear of being investigated. We urge the government to reinstate them.”

Continue reading ‘State Sector Top Employees Resigning Their Posts Due to Fear of Being Probed by Financial Crimes Investigations Division(FCID)’ »

Ex-“Rivira”Editor Upali Tennakoon and wife Identify Military Intelligence Official Premananda Udalagama as their Attacker on Jan 23rd 2009.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Former Rivira editor Upali Tennakoon and his wife Dhammika, at an identification parade held at the Gampaha Magistrate’s Court, yesterday identified Warrant Officer 1 Premananda Udalagama of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) as the person who had assaulted them on the morning of January 23, 2009 at Imbulgoda, Gampaha,

Tennakoon was on his way to office when four men on motorcycles blocked their path and attacked them.

The suspect had been in remand custody following his arrest on August 15, this year in connection with the killing of The Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga on the morning of January 8, 2009. Gampaha Additional Magistrate Lalith Kannagara remanded the suspect till August 29 in connection with the assault case.

Tennakoon, formerly the editor of Divaina and Mrs Tennakoon, who fled the country after the attempt on their lives, returned to the country in view of the case.

Continue reading ‘Ex-“Rivira”Editor Upali Tennakoon and wife Identify Military Intelligence Official Premananda Udalagama as their Attacker on Jan 23rd 2009.’ »

Ex-tiger Rasaiyah Anandarasa who Complained of Infection After Being Injected with a Drug Escapes from Jaffna Prison Hospital

By

Romesh Madushanka

An ex-LTTE cadre who was undergoing treatment at the Jaffna Prison Hospital while being remanded at the Jaffna Prison has escaped from hospital on Wednesday.

The inmate, who was transferred from the Anuradhapura Prison to Jaffna , had been remanded under charges of possessing of illegal weapons.

Continue reading ‘Ex-tiger Rasaiyah Anandarasa who Complained of Infection After Being Injected with a Drug Escapes from Jaffna Prison Hospital’ »

“Tamil National Alliance Controlled Northern Provincial Council is Obstructing Reconciliation “Charges UPFA National List MP Angajan Ramanathan


by Dasun Edirisinghe

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) controlled Northern Provincial Council would obstruct President Maithripala Sirisena’s reconciliation programme by advancing its own agenda, UPFA MP Angajan Ramanathen alleges.

Addressing the weekly press briefing at the SLFP headquarters, he said the Buddhist temples could be in the Northern Province like kovils, mosques and churches situated all over the country.

Answering a query that NPC’s resolution banning the construction of Buddhist temples in the Northern Province, Ramanathen said it was TNA’s stance and not that of the Tamils, but it certainly was an obstacle to reconciliation.

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Finance Minister’s Knowledge of Basic Economics is Negligible and is Clueless about Plantation Industry says Vidura Wickramanayake MP

by Harischandra Gunaratna

Kalutara District Parliamentarian Vidura Wickramanayake on Thursday said the country’s Finance Minister was clueless about the plantation industry and his knowledge of basic economics was negligible.

Speaking to journalists at a Joint Opposition news conference at the Dr. N. M. Perera Centre, Borella, the SLFP stalwart said, “The once flourishing tea industry in Sri Lanka which produced the best teas in the world popularly known as ‘Ceylon Tea’ had received a paralysing blow with the transferring of its Cess fund to the Treasury.

Continue reading ‘Finance Minister’s Knowledge of Basic Economics is Negligible and is Clueless about Plantation Industry says Vidura Wickramanayake MP’ »

Maithripala Sirisena Betrayed the SLFP at the January 2015 Presidential Polls – Kanchana Wijesekera MP

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Matara District UPFA MP Kanchana Wijesekera yesterday said that the SLFP shouldn’t have accepted ministerial portfolios in UNP-led government under any circumstances.

Had those elected on the UPFA ticket at the August 17, 2015 parliamentary polls remained in the Opposition, the SLFP wouldn’t be in a sorry state today, the former Southern Provincial Council member told The Island.

MP Wijesekera alleged that the party had suffered a debilitating setback due to a section of the parliamentary group accepting ministerial portfolios at the behest of President Maithripala Sirisena.

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75% of Container Traffic Through Colombo Harbour is Trans-shipment cargo from Indian Sub-Continental Region – Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga

Sri Lanka is seeking a partner from the Indian subcontinent to develop a port designed to be its deepest and accommodate the world’s largest container vessels, Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said on Thursday.

The Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA) is looking for a foreign investor with about USD 400 million to complete the half-built East Container Terminal at the Colombo port, Ranatunga said.

Continue reading ‘75% of Container Traffic Through Colombo Harbour is Trans-shipment cargo from Indian Sub-Continental Region – Shipping Minister Arjuna Ranatunga’ »

Taranjit Singh Sandhu who was Political Counsellor in Colombo from 2000 -2004 Will be the Next Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.

By P K Balachandran

Taranjit Singh Sandhu will be the next Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka succeeding Y.K.Sinha who has completed his term. An old Sri Lanka hand, Sandhu was Political Counselor in the Indian High Commission in Colombo between 2000 and 2004, which covered the 2002-2004 Norway-brokered peace process in Sri Lanka.

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Born on January 23, 1963, he did his schooling at The Lawrence School, Sanawar, and graduated with History Honors from St. Stephens’ college, Delhi. He then took a post graduate degree in International Relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University and joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1988.

He served in the former Soviet Union (Russia) from 1990 to 1992 as Third Secretary (Political) and Second Secretary (Commercial). Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, he was sent to open a new Embassy in Ukraine. He served as Head of Political and Administration in Embassy from 1992 to 1994.

Continue reading ‘Taranjit Singh Sandhu who was Political Counsellor in Colombo from 2000 -2004 Will be the Next Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.’ »

When a Tamil Catholic Priest went Missing in Jaffna Ten years Ago

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Exactly ten years ago on August 20th 2006 a member of the Catholic Clergy along with a member of the Catholic Laity went missing in the north.The clergyman was Fr.Thiruchelvam Nihal Jim Brown who was serving as a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Jaffna.The Layman was Wenceslaus Vimaladhas a social worker.

Fr. Nihal Jim Brown with other Catholic priests during mass

Fr. Nihal Jim Brown with other Catholic priests during mass

The day in question was a Sunday. Fr.Jim Brown had assisted in the morning mass at the Kayts Church.He left Kayts at 12.30 pm on a red coloured motor cycle NPGO 6486 with Wenceslaus Vimalathas riding on the pillion. 40 year old Vimalathas was the father of five children.Both went to Jaffna town where Fr. Jim Brown made some telephone calls .Thereafter they proceeded to Allaipiddy via the Pannai causeway leading to the Kurikadduvaan pier. 34 year old Fr.Jim Brown was the parish priest at Allaipiddy.
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♥’Kaatriniley Varum Geetham’-Melodiously Sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi in/as “Meera”♫

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs – 8

Madurai Shanmugavadivu Subbulakshmi known as MS Subbulakshmi or more popularly as ‘MS’was a sublime singer who ruled the Indian classical music world for over five decades.Blessed with a divine voice,immeasurable talent and ethereal beauty she captivated the hearts and minds of innumerable fans. MS was acknowledged at the time of Indian Independence as the “Nightingale of India”. Former Indian premier Jawaharlal Nehru once paid her a huge compliment saying ‘Who am I a mere Prime minister before a Queen, the Queen of Music’?

MS Subbulakshmi

MS Subbulakshmi

MS Subbulakshmi was born on September 16th 1916 in the southern city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The current 2016 is her birth centenary year. Subbulakshmi whose pet name in childhood was Kunjamma trained in Carnatic music under Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and learnt Hindustani music from Pandit Narayanarao Vyas. Subbulakshmi’s mother Shanmugavadivu Ammaal was a Veena exponent hailing from the “Isaivaelalar” community. Her father Subramania Iyer was a Brahmin lawyer. She married Thiyagaraja Sathasivam known as “Kalki”Sathasivam who co – founded the popular Tamil weekly magazine “Kalki” and remained at its administrative helm for many decades.
Continue reading ‘♥’Kaatriniley Varum Geetham’-Melodiously Sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi in/as “Meera”♫’ »

“White –Vanning Culture” and the Lucrative Industry of Abducting Tamils for Ransom

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

August 11th 2016 was a day of well-deserved pride for the people of Sri Lanka. The Island nation’s parliament on that day passed legislation to set up an office of missing persons(OMP) in the country. Sri Lanka’s Foreign Affairs minister Mangala Samaraweera hailed the passage of the OMP bill as “historic”. Addressing a press briefing soon after the Bill had been ratified, Minister Samaraweera said the new law would give relief to the loved ones of thousands from the north and south of the country who had disappeared. “This is the first step towards rectifying the mistakes during the past 68 years,” said Samaraweera

President Mahinda Rajapaksa & Foreign Affairs minister Mangala Samaraweera

President Mahinda Rajapaksa & Foreign Affairs minister Mangala Samaraweera

who has a long history of championing the cause of persons made to go missing through enforced disappearances.

In a public statement issued in early August the Foreign Minister explained basic details about the envisaged Office of Missing Persons bill.Samaraweera in that statement said – “The Bill outlines four main functions for the OMP: (i) searching and tracing of missing persons, (ii) clarifying the circumstances in which such persons went missing and their fate, (iii) making recommendations to relevant authorities in order to reduce incident of missing and disappeared persons, (iv) identifying proper avenues of redress. As such, it is not a law-enforcement or judicial agency but a truth-seeking investigative agency”.

Sri Lankan activists of the ‘Dead and Missing Person’s Parents’ organisation hold placards as they take part in a demonstration outside the United Nations offices in Colombo on May 10, 2016.
Continue reading ‘“White –Vanning Culture” and the Lucrative Industry of Abducting Tamils for Ransom’ »

Govt Should Heed Opposition Call to Investigate Serious Allegations Made Against President Sirisena in Australian Newspapers – “The Island”.

(Text of an Editorial Appearing in “The Island” of August 26th 2016 Under the Heading “Of that bombshell”)

The government usually loses no time in denying reports it considers false or detrimental to its interests. But, it, for some reason, did not act promptly regards reports in the widely circulated Australian newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) and The Age, on a very serious allegation against President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday. The President’s Office took more than twenty four hours to issue a denial.

The reports, based on the subject of an Australian Federal Police (AFP) probe involving Snowy Mountains Engineering Company (SMEC), could not have come at a worse time for the government, which has gone into overdrive to have its opponents arrested, hauled up before courts and remanded for months on end over unproven corruption charges.

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“Yahapalanaya”Govt Threatens Legal Action Against Those Raising Bribery allegations against President Sirisena.

by Dasun Edirisinghe

The government yesterday said it would take legal action against those who levelled bribery allegations against President Maithripala Sirisena, claiming he asked for money before signing an agreement with an Australian company to build a dam when he was the Minister of Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services in 2009.

Addressing the media at the SLFP headquarters, State Minister of Finance Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said legal action was being processed.

According to a media report, published on The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers in Australia on Wednesday (24), President Maithripala Sirisena and his coordinating secretary allegedly demanded a political “donation” to be paid by Snowy Mountains Engineering Company (SMEC) when Mr Sirisena was a Cabinet minister.

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Joint Opposition Wants Impartial Inquiry Into Allegation About Maithripala Sirisena Soliciting 27,000 Dollar Bribe from Australian Company When he was Agriculture Minister.

By Harischandra Gunaratna

The Joint Opposition yesterday urged the government to hold an impartial inquiry into the story that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age of Wednesday (24) that President Maithripala Sirisena had solicited a bribe of 27,000 Australian dollars from the Australian company Snowy Mountain Engineering company. when he was Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services Development Minister in 2009.

Addressing journalists at the Dr N. M. Perera Centre at Borella, Ampara District UPFA parliamentarian Wimalasairi Dissanayake said the alleged bribe had been sought to award a contract to build a dam here and added that the Austrlian media had gone viral on the issue.

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TNA Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran Explains the Rationale Behind Issuance of a “Certificate of Absence” for Missing Persons

By

Saman Indrajith

TNA Parliamentarian M.A.Sumanthiran told the House yesterday that the certificate of absence was a mere acknowledgment by the government that the person concerned was not around.

Joining the second reading debate of Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment) Bill, MP Sumanthiran said that the certificate of absence did not extinguish the right to have an inquiry into the fate of a missing person.

“This amendment addresses the issue of the family knowing the fate of the missing person. If there is no evidence or if it is ascertainable as to what happened to that person, you still have the certificate of absence, the legal incidence of which will enable you to continue to move forward in life.”

MP Sumanthiran said several people had obtained death certificates unwillingly. There was a mechanism in place with regard to the missing persons and a new law had been enacted. Through that amendment, there was an option to accept a certificate of absence instead of a certificate of death. Even those who had obtained death certificates unwillingly could obtain certificates of absence so that investigations could be conducted into the disappearance of the persons concerned.

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Sri Lanka wants Indian companies-led consortium to build and get business for Colombo port’s third terminal

By

By P.K.Balachandran

In a bid to balance India and China, Sri Lanka appears to be in favor of an Indian companies-led consortium to build the Third Terminal at Colombo port and secure business for it. China has already been deeply involved in port development in Sri Lanka, having built a modern container terminal in Colombo and a full-fledged port from scratch in Humbantota.

The Minister of Ports, Arjuna Ranatunga, told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association here on Thursday, that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is keen that the consortium be led by companies from the Indian sub-continent. Those companies could be from either India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, the Minister said. However, it was apparent from the Minister’s presentation that Sri Lanka has India and an Indian company-led consortium in mind.

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Abducted Bambalapitiya Businessman’s Body Found in Mawanella;Travel ban Imposed on 5 Persons from Dematagoda and Wellawatte

The body of the businessman abducted in Bambalapitiya , Mohamed Sakeem Sulaiman, was found on the Hemmathagama Road in Rukulagama in Mawanella yesterday evening.

The victim whose face had been disfigured with serious injuries, believed to have been made by a blunt instrument, was in identified after several police teams including a special team from Colombo had reached the scene last evening.

Colombo Additional Magistrate Nishantha Peiris today issued a travel ban order on five individuals, who are alleged to have been involved in the abduction of the Bambalapitiya businessman whose body was found in Mawanella last night.

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President Sirisena Denies that he or his Adviser Demanded a “Political Donation”from the Australian Snowy Mountains Engineering Company.

President Maithripala Sirisena today rejected the news report that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald website that he and his adviser allegedly demanded a political “donation” to be paid by the iconic Snowy Mountains Engineering Company (SMEC) when he was the Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian services in 2009.

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President Sirisena as SLFP Chairman has been Trying to Wrest Control of the Party for 18 Months

By

Dharisha Bastians

As the Government of ‘national unity’ celebrated the completion of its first year in office last week, President Maithripala Sirisena was grappling with a problem that preceded his presidency.

For nine years, while Mahinda Rajapaksa held the party reins and the presidency, the SLFP was in quiet crisis. Party seniors were sidelined and increasingly disgruntled. The SLFP brand had become synonymous with the Rajapaksa brand. In the Rajapaksa-SLFP the ruling family occupied all the space, all the resources and all the limelight. Fully aware of the growing discontent among party seniors, the former President drew his family in closer. His circle of trust included the party’s newer faces, a vast majority of them former UNP members who had switched allegiances during the Rajapaksa presidency.

That simmering discontent erupted into full-scale rebellion when Sirisena, a member of the party’s old guard, allegedly dined on hoppers with the former President on the night of 20 November 2014 and quit his Government the next day. Barely 24 hours after President Rajapaksa declared snap presidential elections the Opposition had pulled off a coup, stealing the incumbent President’s own Health Minister and party General Secretary to run as main challenger. Five other Government MPs quit the ruling coalition, precipitating a spate of defections and erosions of support from within the parliamentary coalition and at grassroots level. Many SLFP MPs promised to follow in Sirisena’s wake, in a bid to weaken the former President during his re-election campaign.

After the first shock of the defections however, the Rajapaksa family rallied, launching hectic negotiations led by former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, to convince party members to stay. In the final tally, the UPFA lost hundreds of local Government representatives to the Sirisena campaign, many of whom worked with the UNP to ensure an Opposition victory. But most SLFP Parliamentarians got cold feet and cast their lot with the incumbent.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena as SLFP Chairman has been Trying to Wrest Control of the Party for 18 Months’ »

Did Maithripala Sirisena with his Adviser Demand a Donation from Australian SMEC Firm to Give a Dam Construction Contract When He was a Cabinet Minister in Mahinda Govt?

By

Nick McKenzie, Emmanuel Freudenthal, Michael Bachelard, Richard Baker

Two Australian companies are embroiled in bribery scandals that reach into the offices of the presidents of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Congo, as the firms sought to secure multi-million dollar contracts.
Alleged bribery by Australian companies of foreign governments remains a serious issue at the centre of international business. The man in charge of catching these businesses, AFP Commander Peter Crozier, says we need to encourage companies potentially implicated in such behaviour to come forward. Vision courtesy ABC.

Coming in the wake of foreign bribery allegations implicating Tabcorp, Leighton Holdings and BHP Billiton, the revelations will put pressure on the Turnbull government to reform Australia’s failing anti-corruption framework.

Continue reading ‘Did Maithripala Sirisena with his Adviser Demand a Donation from Australian SMEC Firm to Give a Dam Construction Contract When He was a Cabinet Minister in Mahinda Govt?’ »

Is Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Against the Search for Truth About Missing Catholic Priests?

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Senior Journalist D. B. S. Jeyaraj had written an article to a weekend English newspaper. The article was based on the disappearance of Father Thiruchelvam Nihal Jim Brown from a Catholic church in the North. At a moment when laws have been prepared to establish an office to inquire into disappeared persons, it was stated in this article that it was the responsibility of the Maithri-Ranil government to look into the disappearance of this clergyman as well. On the very same day Jeyaraj had written this article, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith had given an interview to a Sunday Sinhala newspaper.

The Cardinal had criticized the Bill on the opening of an office to inquire into disappeared persons, during this interview. He had criticized the manner in which this Bill had been passed. It is a puzzle as to why the Cardinal is opposed to a mechanism being established to inquire into the disappearances of Catholic civilians as well as clergy who belonged to the Catholic Church of which he is the leader. While D. B. S. Jeyaraj, the journalist, was trying to get justice done for the Catholic Father who had disappeared, it is a joke that the Cardinal defines, establishing of an office to inquire into disappearances of individuals as bending down to foreign countries.

Continue reading ‘Is Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Against the Search for Truth About Missing Catholic Priests?’ »

“Both Sinhala and Tamil Should Have Been Given Their Rightful Places Together in 1956 Instead of only the Language of the Majority” – Chandrika Kumaratunga

By

Ajith Siriwardana

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga yesterday said her father had brought in the Sinhala only Bill in 1956 not as a racist move but as a means of giving back to the country its identity after 450 years of subjugation by foreign rulers.

“After eight years of independence, the Sinhala people, who accounted for around 75 per cent of the population, felt that they were being discriminated against, not by the Tamil or Muslim people but by the white rulers and they felt they needed to express their identity by regaining an important place for the Sinhala people. What better way to give people an identity than to elevate the status of their language?,” she asked.


Ms. Kumaratunge said both the languages should have been given rightful place without giving its rightful place to the language of the people who made up the majority of the population.

“We only gave the language of the majority its rightful place. We should have given both languages their rightful place,” she said.

Continue reading ‘“Both Sinhala and Tamil Should Have Been Given Their Rightful Places Together in 1956 Instead of only the Language of the Majority” – Chandrika Kumaratunga’ »

Security Forces Building Buddhist temples and Placing Statues under Bo-trees in the North – East Have Negated Reconciliation Efforts -Dr.Rajitha Senaratne


By

Sandun A Jayasekera

Government Spokesman and Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne said building Buddhist temples, placing Buddha statues under Bo-trees and at junctions by the security forces after defeating the LTTE in the North-East had not done any good other than to negate the government’s reconciliation efforts.

Continue reading ‘Security Forces Building Buddhist temples and Placing Statues under Bo-trees in the North – East Have Negated Reconciliation Efforts -Dr.Rajitha Senaratne’ »

Attorney – General to Review 78 Cases of Tamils Detained Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act by Sep 15th Discloses DM Swaminathan


By P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan Minister of Resettlement and Prison Reforms, D.M.Swaminathan, has reported steady progress government is making in reviewing and following up cases of Tamils detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

Answering a question put by R.Sampanthan, Leader of the Opposition and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in parliament on Tuesday, Swaminathan said that the Attorney General is to submit a review of 78 PTA case trials by September 15.

The review will consider the number of detainees who can be subjected to lesser sentences and the number of those who could be sent for rehabilitation.

He said that the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) will soon be replaced by the “Counter Terrorism Act”, and that trials currently pending under the PTA, will come under the Counter Terrorism Act (CTA) when CTA comes into being.

Continue reading ‘Attorney – General to Review 78 Cases of Tamils Detained Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act by Sep 15th Discloses DM Swaminathan’ »

Actress Jacqueline Fernandez Planning to Open Another “Kaema Sutra” type Restaurant in India’s Mumbai City

By
Jigar Shah

Jacqueline Fernandez turned restaurateur two years ago, when she teamed up with chef Dharshan Munidasa to open an eatery called Kaema Sutra in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The actor is now contemplating expanding her restaurant business. A source says, “Jacqueline spends most of her time in India due to her acting assignments. So, she feels it makes sense to have a restaurant here as well.”

KS JF

Kaema Sutra is Colombo’s frontrunner in contemporary Sri Lankan fine dining restaurants, created and co-owned by Sri Lankan– Japanese self-trained chef, Dharshan Munidasa and Sri Lankan actress, Jacqueline Fernandez, Kaema Sutra, celebrated its 2nd year anniversary the 18th of July 2016 ~ pic: facebook.com/KaemaSutra

pic via: facebook.com/AsliJacquelineFernandez

pic via: facebook.com/AsliJacquelineFernandez

The Roy (2015) star, who is currently busy promoting her upcoming film, A Flying Jatt, says, “Sri Lankan cuisine is my favourite. My restaurant there is doing really well, and I would love to bring Sri Lankan food here. But I don’t know if there is a market for such a niche cuisine in India.”

Continue reading ‘Actress Jacqueline Fernandez Planning to Open Another “Kaema Sutra” type Restaurant in India’s Mumbai City’ »

“Sinha Le”and “Ekama Le”: Time to Stop Quibbling With Bloody slogans and Leave BLOOD alone

By Prof. Susirith Mendis

I have been intrigued by the reactions to the slogan “Sinha-Le” used by some group or other. Gradually, it has become a point of intensive debate and controversy.

I write this piece today because I saw a clip on TV News about a fracas that occurred between two groups. One group who claimed no political affiliations had a peaceful demonstration on the theme ‘Different yet Equal’ – “Ekama Le” recently. This group was led by the controversial politician Azad Sally who thrives on controversy and publicity. He is otherwise politically bankrupt. However controversial or bankrupt the group-leader is, he and his group had every democratic right to express their views to the public.

I believe that Azad Sally’s underlying motives were successfully realized. I believe that they were two-pronged: (i) to gain as much attention and publicity to himself as he is usually in search of; and (ii) to rile the ‘Sinha-Le’ group or any other Sinhala nationalist group who could be baited into a provoked reaction. Both were realized. There were others in that group who, I am sure, had altruistic and bona fide motives for a better Sri Lanka.They were demonstrating peacefully and that is to be admired and appreciated.

Continue reading ‘“Sinha Le”and “Ekama Le”: Time to Stop Quibbling With Bloody slogans and Leave BLOOD alone’ »

Only Hardcore Mahinda Supporters will Break away from SLFP to Form new Political Party

By

Rasika Jayakody

In politics you either eat the baby or you are the babyHouse of Cards

President Maithripala Sirisena used the national unity government’s first anniversary celebration in Matara as an opportunity to give the party’s rebel group cozying up to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa a strong warning.

“They are talking about forming new political parties. I have to say only one thing. Let them do and deal with the repercussions. If they take that path, I will reveal some stunning political secrets that we have kept under wraps, so far. When we reveal those secrets, they will have to roam the streets every day,” the President told the cheering crowds, at the event to mark the first year anniversary of the government.

Although ‘good governance’ and undisclosed political secrets are akin to oil and water, it is important to understand the context in which the President issued this warning:

A few days before the event, the President decided to appoint 40 new electorate organisers to strengthen the grassroots level activities of the party. As part of the same process, he expelled a number of Joint Opposition MPs from their party positions.

Continue reading ‘Only Hardcore Mahinda Supporters will Break away from SLFP to Form new Political Party’ »

“We Will Not Allow Outsiders to Rule Over Us or Loot Our Resources” Declares Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran


By P K Balachandran

The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, on Tuesday outlined the economic goals of his largely rural province and set the parameters within which economic development projects should be conceived.

Addressing a conference of international donor agencies, organized by R.Paskaralingam, Adviser to the Ministry of Policy Development and Implementation, Wigneswaran said that first and foremost, any plans for the economic development of his province will have to be discussed with first with his administration and should be based on a scientific survey of the province’s resources and felt-needs.

He observed that due to the 30 year war, officials in the provincial administration have acquired the habit of following the diktats and decisions of the Central government without bothering to give their own inputs based on local experience. It is time they learnt to operate in an era of democracy in which there is an elected government in the province, he said.

The Chief Minister pointed out that officials even manipulate surveys to suit the wishes of the Central government. In a survey of war widows, officials told the widows not to say that their husbands had died due to the war but of some natural cause.

Continue reading ‘“We Will Not Allow Outsiders to Rule Over Us or Loot Our Resources” Declares Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran’ »

Caller from Telephone Booth in Kegalle Demands Rs 20 Milion Ransom for Abducted Bambalapitiya Businessman Mohammed Sulaiman to be Deposited in a Bank.

By Premalal Wijeratne

Police have launched a probe into an unidentified phone call received by family members of abducted millionaire businessman Mohammad Sulaiman, at Kothalawela Avenue on Monday, in which the caller had demanded a ransom of Rs 20 million for his release.

Police said the unidentified phone call had been received on the land line at Sulaiman’s residence around 9 a.m. on 22 August.

The caller had said he would notify them of the name of a bank which the ransom deposit was to be paid into and abruptly ended the call.

Police sources said teams probing the incident had discovered that the phone call had been made from a public phone booth in Kegalle.

Continue reading ‘Caller from Telephone Booth in Kegalle Demands Rs 20 Milion Ransom for Abducted Bambalapitiya Businessman Mohammed Sulaiman to be Deposited in a Bank.’ »

China Wants 15000 Acres in Hambantota for Proposed Industrial Park Instead of Presently Allocated 3000 Acres

By Gagani Weerakoon and Skandha Gunasekara

China has insisted on 15,000 acres of land from the proposed industrial park to be set up in Hambantota which at the moment has only 3,000 acres, identified as land made available for the special zone.

Announcing this in Parliament yesterday Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said……the Industrial Park abutting the Hambantota Port would be controlled under a new mechanism in which the BOI will also be included.

Continue reading ‘China Wants 15000 Acres in Hambantota for Proposed Industrial Park Instead of Presently Allocated 3000 Acres’ »

UPSACOM Launched “Operation Pacific Angel” in Jaffna Concludes After 7 Days of Providing Medical Care to 4000 Persons and Renovating 6 Schools.

The multinational team led by U.S. Pacific Command concluded their week-long assistance program yesterday in Jaffna, providing general medical care for approximately 4000 people and renovating six schools that serve a total of 1100 students, according to a US embassy statement dated August 23.

US Ambassador Atul Keshap was quoted as having said: “I want to thank all the members of Operation Pacific Angel for not just improving lives of Jaffna-area residents through better schools and free access to health care, but also on strengthening U.S.-Sri Lanka ties.”

Approximately 70 participants from the U.S. Pacific Command and military experts from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Maldives joined with the Sri Lanka Air Force during the project. Free medical assistance for dental procedures, physical therapy, general care, and optometry were held at Idaikkadu Maha Vidyalayam (August 15-17) and Punguduthivu Sri Subramaniya Vidyalayam (August 19-20).

Continue reading ‘UPSACOM Launched “Operation Pacific Angel” in Jaffna Concludes After 7 Days of Providing Medical Care to 4000 Persons and Renovating 6 Schools.’ »

Discriminatory Policies of BOI About Land Leasing ,Deters Entrepreneurs Intending to Invest in the North

BY SULOCHANA RAMIAH MOHAN

Investors attending the Jaffna Investors Forum (JIF) held Monday (22) were perturbed when they were informed at the panel discussion that any projects undertaken in the North would be allowed 30 years leasing, only of the land.

It is said local politicians in the North had been quoting a range of land leasing arrangements; between 29 years to 35 years, leaving the investors shocked beyond words.

Flabbergasted over this 30 years lease policy, and the lack of time the Board of Investment (BoI) grants, investors attending the forum had questioned the officials present ‘why not 99 years leasing as is given to other projects by the government in the South’.

The main investors warned the officials, “If you can’t change the policies, then don’t expect us to bring investors and we will direct them to other countries.”

Continue reading ‘Discriminatory Policies of BOI About Land Leasing ,Deters Entrepreneurs Intending to Invest in the North’ »

“I Listened to Tape of Intercept Of LTTE Message from Nilgris in Tamil Nadu Ordering the “Dumping”of Rajiv Gandhi

By

Col. R.Hariharan

Saturday, August 20th was the late Rajiv Gandhi’s birthday. Rajiv Gandhi’s political career was barely seven years; it started with the assassination of his mother Ms Indira Gandhi in 1984 and ended with his own assassination. But within those years, he made a mark by doing things differently from the traditional political class. Had the charismatic leader not become the victim of a LTTE suicide bomber on 21 May 1991, the Congress party’s fortunes might have been scripted differently.

Neena Gopal’s latest book “The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi” has once again brought the focus on the sordid episode of the nation’s failure to protect its former prime minister. I have always found Sri Lanka fascinating particularly after serving as the head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka from 1987 to 1990.

The author, during the course of writing the book, had long conversations with me on the situation leading up to Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. I have not read the book yet; but I find from the published extracts the book contains some of my recollections.

Rajiv Gandhi served as prime minister from 1984 to 1989; he had no political experience but his exuberance to get things done and impulsiveness and impatience to get results endeared him to the masses. He attempted to end longstanding conflicts facing the country during his term. While some of them like river water sharing in Punjab and ending Bodo insurgency in Assam were partly successful, many other such attempts did not live up to the expectations.

When Rajiv came to power India- Sri Lanka relations were in a mess. Mrs Gandhi had given sanctuary to a motley collection of Tamil separatist insurgent groups who had fled the island nation along with thousands of Tamils in the wake of Sri Lanka’s infamous July 1983 pogrom against Tamils. The Tamil insurgent groups became a potential threat to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. So Sri Lanka had little option but to accept Indian counsel, particularly after talks with Tamil groups failed to yield results.

Rajiv Gandhi signed the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord 1987 with President JR Jayawardane to ensure Sri Lankan Tamils got a degree of autonomy within a united Sri Lanka, while India underwrote the disarming of Tamil militants. The Accord was hastily conceived and hurriedly executed in typical Rajiv Gandhi style of trying to resolve problems in double time, often defying political wisdom. Though the implementation of the Accord cost Rajiv Gandhi his life, it is an anachronism that both the countries never allowed it to reach its logical conclusion.

Continue reading ‘“I Listened to Tape of Intercept Of LTTE Message from Nilgris in Tamil Nadu Ordering the “Dumping”of Rajiv Gandhi’ »

Rajapaksa Family Save For a Few Exceptions has come to be the Shameful Badge of South Asian Politics.

By

Ravi Perera

Namal Rajapaksa, Member of Parliament, the eldest son of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was interviewed recently on television. By and large, the tone of the lengthy interview, nearly two hours in duration, was defensive, an attempt at validating a period characterised by the most vulgar form of family rule seen in this country since independence. Unlike what was the norm when his father ruled, the panel of interviewers, considering that before them was one of the most powerful as well as controversial men of that era, were fair, but probing. But the young Rajapaksa was unperturbed, glib and facile.

There is the language of politics; so well mastered even at this young age. Every allegation is parried with such flippancy that his father’s regime may well have been a shining example of public rectitude. They are in politics only because of their overflowing affection for the people. Those older than him are invariably elder brother (Aiya) or elder sister (Akka) and if younger, referred to as younger brother/sister (Malli, Nangi) or if much younger, even son or daughter.

Any one of an older generation becomes an uncle or aunty, if not “father” or “mother”, in reference to the person’s role in his/her own family. Coming from our young member of parliament, this is a cynical joke, because the Rajapaksas proved during their reign that they have no difficulty in identifying who their real family are, own brothers, cousins, nephews, uncles and so on, and the difference between them and the rest, if it can be measured with access to money, to be counted only in Billions of rupees. For the rest, there is always the concession, “brother, sister, father, mother…. listen”

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Family Save For a Few Exceptions has come to be the Shameful Badge of South Asian Politics.’ »

Central Bank Governor Coomarswamy Says “Best Favourable Set of Circumstances for Growth Before Sri Lanka for First Time Since Independence”

By Nisthar Cassim

Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy last night made a strong case for the private sector to step up their investments emphasising that Sri Lanka’s best opportunity for growth was before them.

Delivering the keynote address at the CIMA Sri Lanka Business Leaders Summit, the Governor said due to a host of factors the “best and most favourable set of circumstances were before Sri Lanka for the first time” since independence.

In that context, he urged the private sector to be spirited and develop the appetite to make fresh investments, which he said were going to be critical in the next 12-24 months.

Noting that the Government was committed to building a private sector-led competitive social market economy, Dr. Coomaraswamy said there was greater focus on export development and luring more foreign direct investments. “A new development or growth model is taking shape,” he said, at the inauguration of the CIMA Business Leaders Summit at which Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama was the Chief Guest.

Continue reading ‘Central Bank Governor Coomarswamy Says “Best Favourable Set of Circumstances for Growth Before Sri Lanka for First Time Since Independence”’ »

Muslim Multi-millionaire Textile Businessman Abducted in Front of His Residence at Kotelawela Avenue,Bambalapitiya.

by Hemantha Randunu

A multi-millionaire textile businessman was abducted by an unidentified gang opposite his Kotelawela Avenue residence in Bambalapitya on Sunday night.

Continue reading ‘Muslim Multi-millionaire Textile Businessman Abducted in Front of His Residence at Kotelawela Avenue,Bambalapitiya.’ »

“Nobody Has a Right to Prevent the Formation of New Political Parties ” Declares Mahinda Rajapaksa

by Oruwala Sarath de Silva

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said nobody had a right to prevent the formation of new political parties.

Rajapaksa, addressing the Samurdhi officers at their 19th annual convention at the Samurdhi hall, Battaramulla said that it did not mean that he was planning to form a new party. However, threats and intimidation should not be directed against those who wanted to form new parties.

He said the government had become a pawn of the western powers and was bent on privatising state ventures and suspending the development projects launched by the previous administration.

“It is also deviating from Bandaranaike policies,” he said.

Continue reading ‘“Nobody Has a Right to Prevent the Formation of New Political Parties ” Declares Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Human Rights Commission Welcomes Establishment of the Office of Missing Persons and Suggests Proposals for Greater Legitimacy.

The Human Rights Commission yesterday, while welcoming and commending the adoption of Office on Missing Persons (Establishment, Administration and Discharge of Functions) Act, noted that the legal framework of the OMP would have had greater legitimacy if it had been enacted after the on-going public consultations process so that the insights and concerns of the affected families could have been incorporated.

“We reiterate the importance of ensuring future mechanisms incorporate and reflect the concerns and insights of victims and affected persons, and urge the government to undertake a transparent and inclusive process to establish these mechanisms.”

While the text of the Act is not yet available with the amendments, Commission Chairperson Dr. Deepkia Udagama took the opportunity to reiterate a number of important elements that had to be given serious consideration if the OMP was to be victim-centred and function effectively to provide redress to families of the disappeared.

Continue reading ‘Human Rights Commission Welcomes Establishment of the Office of Missing Persons and Suggests Proposals for Greater Legitimacy.’ »

Chief Minister Wigneswaran Boycotts the International Investment forum Organized for Northern Province by Governor Reginald Cooray


By P.K.Balachandran

The Chief Minister of the Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, boycotted the International Investment Forum organized by the Northern Province Governor Reginold Cooray in Jaffna on Monday.

In a letter written to Cooray last week, Wigneswaran objected to the Governor’s organizing the forum without consulting him. He said that the elected representatives of the people of the Northern Province ought to have been consulted on the needs of the province before inviting investors. The proper way was to have conducted a survey to find out what kind of investment people in the war-affected province want and then gone on to invite the right kind of investors. The Govenor did nothing of that sort.

Continue reading ‘Chief Minister Wigneswaran Boycotts the International Investment forum Organized for Northern Province by Governor Reginald Cooray’ »

Sri Lankan Airlines Stewardess Nithya Senani Samaranayake and Hambantota District Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa

By

Rasika Jayakody

UPFA Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa, in May, this year, appeared in a television show where he was asked about the SriLankan Airlines stewardess working for the Presidential Secretariat, under the Rajapaksa administration.

It was widely alleged that the stewardess, namely Nithya Senani Samaranayake, worked for the young Parliamentarian, while receiving a salary from SriLankan Airlines.

During the TV show, the Parliamentarian, who, at one point, was the head of the SLFP youth wing, came up with a very ‘loose’ explanation.

“Firstly, I must tell you that I never had an office at the Presidential Secretariat. But I know that sister (Akka). I have spoken to her a few times. She worked at Temple Trees. She was assigned to Temple Trees under the powers of the Presidential Secretary. I was introduced to her after she started working at Temple Trees,” Rajapaksa said, explaining his association with the stewardess.

The story of the SriLankan Airlines (SLA) stewardess being released to work at Temple Trees surfaced during the inquiry carried out by a panel led by senior lawyer J.C. Weliamuna. The report of this Board of Inquiry (BoI) was popularly known as the ‘Weliamuna Report on SriLankan Airlines’.

Explaining the questionable transfer of the stewardess, the Weliamuna Report made the following observations:

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Airlines Stewardess Nithya Senani Samaranayake and Hambantota District Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa’ »

High Tension at Tirumala Temple as President Sirisena’s Driver Causes delay by Leaving Vehicle Unattended to Enter Precincts for Worship

A major security lapse came to the fore during the visit of Sri Lanka president Maithripala Sirisena to Tirumala on Sunday. He was forced to wait for 12 minutes for his car after a darshan atop the Tirumala hill, giving jitters to the staff of the Tiruumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), especially the security. An inquiry has been ordered into the lapse. SiriSena reached Tirumala late on Saturday night for a two-day pilgrimage.

Upon arrival, the Sri Lanka president was received by TTD chairman Chadalwada Krishnamurthy, executive officer (EO) Sambasiva Rao, Tirupati joint EO Pola Bhaskar and other officials. He made a night halt at the Sri Padmavathi guesthouse and arrangements were made for a visit to the temple of Venkateshwara at Tirumala early Sunday morning.

At 3 am Sunday, the president along with his wife Jayanthi Pushpa Kumari Sirisena, son Daham Tharaka and other family members attended the Suprabhata Seva. When they came out of the sanctum sanctorium, the driver of their car was not in the seat.

Continue reading ‘High Tension at Tirumala Temple as President Sirisena’s Driver Causes delay by Leaving Vehicle Unattended to Enter Precincts for Worship’ »

Office of Missing Persons Act is Only the First Step in the Long Hard Road to Reconciliation.

By

Don Manu

If those ultra chauvinists who thump the ‘Sinhala only’ drum, do so out of a genuine concern that a separate state of Tamil Eelam will sooner or later be established on Lankan soil if measures are not taken now to prevent its inevitability, they should be amongst the first to hail the establishment of the Office of Missing Persons as a powerful tool in any Sinhala dominated government’s arsenal to thwart future calls for a utopian Tamil Eelam.

First they must understand why there is a need for reconciliation, why there is a need to swallow false pride and compromise. For without it, reality dictates that intransigent Lanka will soon be standing on the brink of being torn asunder.

They should realise that jingoism cannot prevent it, will only precipitate it.

They should realise that an appeal to the power of numbers and thereby, on the strength of it, to espouse that the majority Sinhala race are entitled to special rights, notably the one to trample upon the rights of the minorities, will only fuel calls for Eelam and hasten its creation.

Continue reading ‘Office of Missing Persons Act is Only the First Step in the Long Hard Road to Reconciliation.’ »

Issue of the “Missing”is of Crucial Import to all Sri Lankans Across All Ethnicities

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

A revealing comment was made to me by an infuriated social justice activist last week in relation to disturbing trends that have surfaced in public debate. As he said caustically; ‘when we raise criticism of government policy in discussion, the immediate response within some civil society groups is that of unmitigated fury.’ We are asked immediately; ‘do you want the Rajapaksas to come back?’

Rejecting unacceptable choices

The question that he posed thereafter was as follows; ‘choosing between keeping quiet in face of what may be disastrously wrong and wanting the former regime to come back should surely not be the stark alternatives before us?’ And as my conversationalist remonstrated; ‘why should compromised groups which clearly have an agenda in riding along on the ‘yahapalanaya’ bandwagon as it were, be allowed to drive these debates?’

Here, the discussion concerned the earlier maligned Port City, now renamed in the optimistic eyes of its proponents as the ‘Colombo International Financial City.’ Despite the official trumpeting that all concerns have been dealt with, the quality and content of the environmental protection process commissioned thereto remains contested.

Continue reading ‘Issue of the “Missing”is of Crucial Import to all Sri Lankans Across All Ethnicities’ »

No Details Forthcoming From CV Wigneswaran After Accusing Govt of Injecting Poison into Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres

By

P.K.Balachandran

The Tamil politicians’ allegation that the Sri Lankan army had injected a poisonous drug into former Tamil Tiger combatants while the latter were in detention or undergoing rehabilitation in camps run by it, is likely to lose steam because those who have made the charge are unable to come up with any names of those who had supposedly died or are gravely ill because of the injections.

The Minister of National Dialogue, Mano Gneshan, told Express on Saturday, that he had asked the Chief Minister of the Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, to collect and give the names and other details of the dead and the sick so that he could take it from there. But till date, Wigneswaran or anyone else in the Northern Provincial Administration had replied to his request, Ganeshan said.

Continue reading ‘No Details Forthcoming From CV Wigneswaran After Accusing Govt of Injecting Poison into Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres’ »

People in the North want Navy to Remain in Order to Prevent Poaching by South Indian Fishermen Discloses Mano Ganesan.

By

Yohan Perera

The people in the North want the Navy to remain there in order to prevent the South Indian fishermen from encroaching into Sri Lankan waters, a Tamil politician said today.

Minister of National Integration, Reconciliation and Languages Mano Ganesan, who was the chief guest at the launch of the Sinhala translation of International Human Rights Charter by Hemachnadra Pathirana in Colombo said the Northern people whom he met recently had informed him that they want the Navy to remain in the North.

“When I visited the North recently the people there want the Navy to remain. When I asked them why they said this is because the Navy could prevent the South Indian fishermen from stealing fish from Sri Lankan waters,” the Minister said.

“I think the country should be aware of these sentiments of the Northern people,” he added.

Continue reading ‘People in the North want Navy to Remain in Order to Prevent Poaching by South Indian Fishermen Discloses Mano Ganesan.’ »

All SLFP Joint Opposition MP’s to resign From District and Electoral Organizer Posts Wihin the Next Few days

By

Disna Mudalige

All Joint Opposition MPs attached to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) will step down from their district and electoral organiser ranks within the next few days, MP Keheliya Rumbukwella said.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Rambukwella said the resignation letters would be sent to the Party Leadership shortly.

MPs Dullas Alahapperuma and Bandula Gunawardena announced their decisions to resign from organiser posts, stating that the resignation letters would be sent to President Maithripala Sirisena today.

Rambukwella said the rest of the JO members would also follow the same line.

Continue reading ‘All SLFP Joint Opposition MP’s to resign From District and Electoral Organizer Posts Wihin the Next Few days’ »

Cabinet Minister DM Swaminathan States Firmly thar Existing Buddhist Temples and Buddha Statues in North will not be Removed

By Pradeep Samarakoon and Chaminda Silva

Prisons, Rehabilitation and Re-settlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan has said that under no circumstances will anyone be allowed to remove the existing Buddhist temples or statues in the North, and Buddhist monks and devotees had the right to build temples and statues in any part of the Northern Province.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Minister DM Swaminathan States Firmly thar Existing Buddhist Temples and Buddha Statues in North will not be Removed’ »

President Sirisena Seeks Blessings from Lord Venkateswara at Thiruppathi to Counter Political Challenge of Mahinda Rajapaksa.


By P.K.Balachandran

Facing a major challenge from former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to his authority as the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), a challenge which could affect his chances in the crucial local bodies’ elections to be held early next year, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena went on a two-day pilgrimage to Tirupathi, which concluded on Sunday.

Sirisena visited the shrine of Lord Venkateswara twice, accompanied by his wife Jayanthi and son Daham.

The President who had spent Saturday night in the hill town, took part in the Suprabhatha Seva performed at 3 am on Sunday. He visited the shrine again later in the day at the time set apart for Very Very Important Persons. The President was accompanied by his wife Jayanthi Pushpa Kumari and and son Daham Tharaka, all three clad in white as per the Sri Lankan Buddhist custom.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Seeks Blessings from Lord Venkateswara at Thiruppathi to Counter Political Challenge of Mahinda Rajapaksa.’ »

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Rejects Proposal by Defence Ministry Senior Official to Ban Muslim Women Wearing the |Burqa” or “Niqab” in Sri Lanka.


Believe it or not! The National Security Council (NSC) recently considered a proposal by a top Defence Ministry official to impose a ban on Muslim women in Sri Lanka wearing the burqa or niqab. The burqa is the full body dress, usually black, with a mesh cover over the eyes. This is worn by some more traditionally minded Muslim women. The niqab is similar with only an opening over the eye area.

The MoD official’s proposal, a well informed source said, was based on the recommendations by a controversial top sleuth running one of the country’s intelligence agencies of a service arm. The person has been serving in that top position under the previous Government, too.

The top sleuth had made the recommendation in the belief that radicalisation in the Muslim community has gone beyond control — a point he has been articulating at different security meetings. The MoD official’s proposal to the NSC came thereafter.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Rejects Proposal by Defence Ministry Senior Official to Ban Muslim Women Wearing the |Burqa” or “Niqab” in Sri Lanka.’ »

Mahinda Loyalists to Form New Political Movement Instead of Starting a New Political Party for the Present

By The Political Editor of “Sunday Times”

After the religious rituals ended on Nikini Poya day (on Wednesday August 17), President Maithripala Sirisena, who was at his Paget Road residence found time to read the day’s newspapers.

His attention was drawn to a report of a news conference the ‘Joint Opposition’ leaders had given on the Office for Missing Persons law. They were voicing their protests over the Government “rushing through” the Bill in Parliament without hearing their views or the amendments they wanted to move. Sirisena telephoned one of the participants, Kandy District parliamentarian Keheliya Rambukwella. A onetime Media Minister, Rambukwella is a strong supporter of the Mahinda Rajapaksa faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

“I spoke at the news conference about the dangerous consequences from the Office for Missing Persons. I said we strongly believe it is in conflict with the Constitution,” Rambukwella told the Sunday Times. “The next day President Sirisena telephoned me”, he said. He told me that he had read my remarks in the newspapers. The President wanted to have an “independent opinion” about the new Act. I told him that I would consult other members of the ‘Joint Opposition’ and formulate one. Thereafter, he had proposed to discuss the matter with different groups including those from the ‘Joint Opposition’. Rambukwella said they had hoped to send their views by tomorrow and nominate a representative for discussions with Sirisena thereafter.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Loyalists to Form New Political Movement Instead of Starting a New Political Party for the Present’ »

Human-Elephant Conflict Should be Converted to Human-Elephant Co-Habitation

by Randima Attygalle

“If we humans are supposed to be the most evolved species, we should be understanding other animal species and work around them. On the contrary, we do our development work assuming that elephants (in this case) will work around us. So we get the bright idea of fixing an electrical fence and driving out these creatures and carrying on with the development project.

Elephants B DrP

They return and find smart ways of breaking the fence and the conflict starts. This is an old story and still recurs,” points out Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya, onetime Lead Environmental Specialist for South Asia in the World Bank and the former Director General Wildlife who bemoans that as a country we have failed to understand the ‘scientific means’ of addressing the human-elephant conflict.

“We have only been looking for quick-fix, ad hoc solutions,” laments the independent researcher on elephant behavior presently working in the Yala and Uda Walawe National Parks. In an interview with Sunday Island, the Environmental Specialist elucidates on ways and means of championing human-elephant co-existence.

“We are basically fire-fighting,” reflects Dr. Sumith Pilapitiya who reiterates that human-elephant conflict (HEC) is a phenomena which needs to be comprehensively studied starting from the point of fathoming ‘why do we have an elephant problem and what are we going to do and what are the constraints of not been able to do so’.
Continue reading ‘Human-Elephant Conflict Should be Converted to Human-Elephant Co-Habitation’ »

One Year After Winning August 2015 Parliamentary Elections the Govt is on track Politically and Straying Economically

by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“If the ‘development’ of a country goes hand in hand with the worsening of the living conditions of the people, for whom or for what is that development? A developed country for a malnourished people – is this not an insanity? Must the people of the country gaze at highways like a child looking yearningly at an empty ice cream cup?
– A student-participant of the 2007 essay competition to commemorate President Premadasa

In 1994, when South Africa was readying for its first democratic election, Nelson Mandela came up with an unusual idea – to lower the voting age to fourteen. Despite his iconic status, part-hero, part-saint, the proposal didn’t go far. It was abandoned due to strenuous opposition from the ANC’s National Executive Committee.

In making such a drastic proposal, Mr. Mandela might have been motivated by the critical role played by school-age children in the anti-Apartheid struggle, especially the legendary Sweto Uprising. Whatever his reasons, the proposal was not a sensible one, as Mr. Mandela himself realised – admitted. While the ANC’s top decision-making body was flaying his proposal, he jotted down every criticism in a notebook, and wrote at the end that his proposal was ‘a grave error of judgement’

ii. That was democracy, at its best and most effective.

Had Nelson Mandela’s neighbour Robert Mugabe come up with a similar idea, it would have probably become law, amidst a cacophony of praise by an unending string of acolytes.

In governance, speed is a virtue, only if the path is the right one. Non-democracies might move faster than democracies, but more often than not the movement is in an erroneous direction. Democratic leaders are not infallible, not even leaders of Nelson Mandela’s calibre, but the checks and balances present in democracies often prevent countries from hurling themselves down precipices.

The less space there is for dissent, the more room there is for bad decisions.

Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration’s VAT imbroglio is symbolic both of what is right and what is wrong in today’s Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘One Year After Winning August 2015 Parliamentary Elections the Govt is on track Politically and Straying Economically’ »

Chief Minister Wigneswaran is the Bottleneck and Constraint for Reconciliation and Development

By

Kanthar Balanathan

The Northern Province population of 993,741, is 31.92% of the total population of 3,113,247 Tamils in the island. The remaining 68.08% of Tamils live outside the Northern Province.

The population composition of Tamils by district is:

Jaffna -577,745 -18.56% of total Tamil population

Mannar – -80962 – 2.6% -do-

Vavuniya -142,561 – 4.58% -do-

Mullaitivu -81,263 – 2.61% -do-

Kilinochchi -111,210 – 3.57% -do

Probability of merging of Eastern Province with the Northern Province is zero. Current Chief Minister of the Eastern Province is a Sri Lankan of Muslim origin. Sri Lanka does not wish to have another separatist war to give a provincial administration to the Muslims. It is wise that the Tamils accept the current level of provincial administration – Northern Provincial Council (NPC), and live socially integrated and humanely with the majority Sinhala people in the North. The Eastern Province should practise democracy, and live socially and humanely with the Tamils and the majority Sinhalese in the East. Muslims of Sri Lanka are not fools to be charmed into your foolish diplomacy and sneaky plans. They would like to administer the East as Sri Lankans. Therefore, please stop promoting your supporters around the globe to attract Muslims, by giving them media assistance etc.

It is strongly advised that Mr. CV Wigneswaran concentrate on developing the North, and look forward to modelling the North as an intellectually and technologically advancing province, instead of chattering gobbledygook politics. Mr. Wigneswaran: You are not young enough to understand 21st century modern politics and democracy and, therefore, you should step down and give the position to a younger person.

Continue reading ‘Chief Minister Wigneswaran is the Bottleneck and Constraint for Reconciliation and Development’ »

Higher Education Minister Kiriella Besieged in Canteen Gives Written Assurances Under Duress to Escape From Eastern Varsity Undergrads

by Saman Mallawarachchi

Undergraduates of the Eastern University yesterday held Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella incommunicado for hours till he agreed to give them a written assurance that he would solve the problems they were faced with.

The minister arrived at the university around 9.30 am to declare open several buildings, but the students stopped his car at the entrance to the university, demanding that their grievances be redressed. The students surrounded the minister and shouted slogans condemning the government for not attending to the problems of the undergraduates. They threatened that they would not allow the minister to attend the ceremonies scheduled for yesterday unless he agreed to solve their problems.

When the beleaguered minister agreed to listen to their problems the students accompanied him to the students’ canteen.
Continue reading ‘Higher Education Minister Kiriella Besieged in Canteen Gives Written Assurances Under Duress to Escape From Eastern Varsity Undergrads’ »

US Embassy Says USAF Medical Team is not Equipped to Investigate Allegations About Poisoning of Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres.


By P K Balachandran

The United States has backed out of an undertaking to medically examine former combatants of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who had allegedly been injected with a poisonous drug when they were in detention or undergoing rehabilitation in camps run by the Sri Lankan army.

The Chief Minister of the Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, had told the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) that he had requested the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Atul Keshap, to get the US Air Force medical team camping in Jaffna to examine the suspected cases of poisoning. Upon this, the Ambassador said that the team would look at the cases and decide what to do next.

Following this, about 30 former cadres of the LTTE expressed a desire to be examined by the USAF team.

Continue reading ‘US Embassy Says USAF Medical Team is not Equipped to Investigate Allegations About Poisoning of Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres.’ »

FSP Leader Kumar Gunaratnam’s Australian Citizenship Can be Revoked only if Sri Lankan Citizenship is Guarenteed by Govt.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The Australian government has told the breakaway JVP faction, the Front-line Socialist Party (FAP) that it could revoke its leader Kumar Gunaratnam’s Australian citizenship only if Sri Lanka guaranteed he would be given Sri Lankan citizenship again

FSP spokesperson Pubudu Jagoda said that their leader wanted to revert to Sri Lankan citizenship though he obtained Australian citizenship during the previous administration. Jagoda was responding to a query by The Island at a media briefing at Rajagiriya on Friday.

Jagoda said that Australia required an assurance in writing from the government of Sri Lanka to proceed.

Continue reading ‘FSP Leader Kumar Gunaratnam’s Australian Citizenship Can be Revoked only if Sri Lankan Citizenship is Guarenteed by Govt.’ »

President Sirisena Threatens to Reveal Secrets of SLFP Rebels if Attempts are made to form New Political Party.

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday threatened to reveal it all if the SLFP rebels formed a new party. He said the SLFP-UNP coalition would continue till 2020 and what it planned to do next would be disclosed at that time.

The president was addressing a large gathering in Matara to mark the first anniversary of the government.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera were among the leaders present on the occasion

The President vowed that opponents would not be allowed to disrupt their programme.

Warning the Joint Opposition against forming a new political party, the president said that in such an eventuality he would reveal all their secrets, which he had not disclosed so far.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Threatens to Reveal Secrets of SLFP Rebels if Attempts are made to form New Political Party.’ »

Defence State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene Dismisses Claims of Tamil Politicians that Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres were Poisoned by Govt.


State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene has dismissed the claims by the Tamil politicians in the North that the rehabilitated members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been poisoned by the Government when they were undergoing rehabilitation at Government camps.

Sri Lanka’s Tamil politicians have alleged that 105 former LTTE members have so far died mysteriously, after being injected with a drug when they were undergoing post-war rehabilitation in Sri Lankan army run camps.

“It is sad to hear some politicians in the North making false allegations when the Government is making a genuine effort to resolve the issue of the Northern people,” the State Minister was quoted as saying in a report in The Hindu.

Continue reading ‘Defence State Minister Ruwan Wijewardene Dismisses Claims of Tamil Politicians that Rehabilitated LTTE Cadres were Poisoned by Govt.’ »

FCID Informs Colombo Magistrate That Sujani Bogollagama Got Admitted to National Hospital Paying Ward to Avoid Being Arrested

The Financial Crimes Division (FCID) of the Police today informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate, that Sujani Bogollagama, a director of N.R Consultant and Govers Corporation had admitted herself to the paying ward of the National Hospital, to avoid arrest.

The Colombo Fort Magistrate ordered to the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) to examine the suspect Sujani Bogollagama and hand over a full report on her state, on August 22.

Continue reading ‘FCID Informs Colombo Magistrate That Sujani Bogollagama Got Admitted to National Hospital Paying Ward to Avoid Being Arrested’ »

Jaffna Investment Forum May Become An Issue Between Governor Cooray and Chief Minister Wigneswaran

By P.K.Balachandran

The Governor of Sri Lanka’s Tamil majority Northern Province, Reginold Cooray, is organizing an international investment forum in Jaffna on August 22, and is planning to set up a One-Stop Shop at the Jaffna Secretariat to help persons wanting to invest in the war-devastated Northern Province.

But this move could become an issue between the Governor, representing the Central government in the province, and the elected Chief Minister of the province, C.V.Wigneswaran. By organizing the forum unilaterally, the Governor may be intruding into the domain of the Chief Minister, his Board of Ministers and the Northern Provincial Council (NPC), political observers said.

Asked at a press conference here on Thursday, if he had taken the Chief Minister on board, and whether the CM and the NPC were involved in the organization of the event, Governor Cooray said that when the Chief Minister came to see him on some other matter, he had told him about the investment forum and invited him to it. “The Chief Minister had no objection to it,” Cooray said.

Continue reading ‘Jaffna Investment Forum May Become An Issue Between Governor Cooray and Chief Minister Wigneswaran’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Wants Maithripala Sirisena to Take Responsibility for Splitting Sri Lanka Freedom Party

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa said today that President Maithripala Sirisena must take responsibility for the spilt within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

He also said the President was conspiring to give the UnIted National Party (UNP) the upper hand.

He was referring to the President’s decision to remove members of the Joint Opposition from organizing posts in the party.

‘This persecution has effectively caused a split in the party,’ the former President claimed, in a statement.

‘Such changes are designed to weaken the SLFP and give the UNP the upper hand when it comes to an election.’

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Wants Maithripala Sirisena to Take Responsibility for Splitting Sri Lanka Freedom Party’ »

Cabinet Approves National Policy on Durable Solutions for Conflict-affected Displacement Presented by DM Swaminathan

The proposal by D.M. Swaminathan, Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs, to accept the national policy on durable solutions for conflict-affected displacement, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

The policy was prepared with the consultation of ministries, national, provincial and district level stakeholders, UN agencies, Civil Society organisations, and displaced communities.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Approves National Policy on Durable Solutions for Conflict-affected Displacement Presented by DM Swaminathan’ »

Northern Governor and BOI will hold Investment Forum in Jaffna on Aug 22 with President, PM and CB Governor Participation

By Uditha Jayasinghe

The Government is hoping for a leg up for the Northern Province from an investment forum that targets key segments of the local economy and hopes to attract fresh investors to the job-starved region.

Organised jointly by the Northern Governor Reginald Cooray and the Board of Investment (BOI), it is expected to be held in Jaffna on 22 August with the participation of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy is also expected to address the gathering.

Continue reading ‘Northern Governor and BOI will hold Investment Forum in Jaffna on Aug 22 with President, PM and CB Governor Participation’ »

Four elephants Including a Calf Killed by Speeding Mail Train Between Chettikulam and Madhu in Vavuniya District


By P.K.Balachandran

In a tragic incident early in the morning on Wednesday, four elephants, including a calf, were killed when they got in the way of a speeding train near Madu in North West Sri Lanka.

The elephants were crossing the track when the Colombo bound night mail train dashed against them, police said.

The accident occurred between Madhu and Chettikulam in Vavuniya district. The police in Parayanankulam and the Wild Life Department have launched investigations into the incident.

Continue reading ‘Four elephants Including a Calf Killed by Speeding Mail Train Between Chettikulam and Madhu in Vavuniya District’ »

Northern CM Wigneswaran Asks US Envoy Atul Keshap to let USAF Medical Team to Examine Ex -LTTE Cadres in Jaffna

By

P.K.Balachandran

The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, has said that US Air Force’s medical team, currently in the province on a goodwill visit, will examine former Tamil Tigers combatants who had fallen sick allegedly because they were injected with poisonous substances by the Sri Lankan armed forces when they were undergoing detention or rehabilitation after surrender.

In the past few weeks, Tamil politicians and the media have been highlighting the death of 104 ex-combatants who had allegedly been given injections as part of an “inoculation program”. Some others had complained of physical debility after release from detention or rehabilitation.

Chief Minister Wigneswaran told the NPC on Tuesday that he had mentioned the plight of the former combatants in his conversation with the US Ambassador, Atul Keshap, when the latter was in Jaffna to inaugurate a five-day program of the USAF’s Operation Angel medical team there, and asked if the USAF team could examine them and give an independent report.

The US envoy said that the USAF could examine select patients and decide what to do next. Therefore, a few of the cases will be referred to the US team, the Chief minister said.

Continue reading ‘Northern CM Wigneswaran Asks US Envoy Atul Keshap to let USAF Medical Team to Examine Ex -LTTE Cadres in Jaffna’ »

Relationship Between the People of Jaffna and America Stretches Back Over 200 Years to 1813 Says US envoy Atul Keshap in the North

(US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap’s Remarks at the Reception Held in Jetwing Hotel, Jaffna
August 15, 2016)

Thank you so much for joining us on this beautiful rooftop on an absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous evening here in Jaffna. I have a few prepared remarks.

The first thing I want to say – and I know I am going to get points off for pronunciation – is Vanakkam. And the second important thing I want to say is Ayubowan. And the third thing I want to say is Assalaamu alaykum. But most importantly, from my heart, I want to say good evening and greetings to all of you.

I am extremely honored and grateful that my distinguished and learned friend, the Honorable Leader of the Opposition Mr. Sampanthan, is here tonight. And that we also have so many members of the Northern Provincial Council here, and members of Parliament from across the political spectrum, and all of you cherished guests who can join the women and men, not only of the American Embassy in Colombo who are here today, but also the women and men of the United States Pacific Command who have come all the way from Honolulu, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Nevada, California, and so many other places to be here tonight for this reception.

It is a delight to be looking out over this beautiful city of Jaffna to see her churches, her temples, her beauty, the ocean that is very nearby, and to celebrate with you the enduring ties between the people of the United States and the people of Sri Lanka. And friends, it gives me particular pride and happiness to know that the relationship between the people of America and the people of Jaffna stretches back over two hundred years to 1813, with the arrival of American missionaries who established durable institutions of learning.

I have visited Jaffna several times and have heard the painful memories of how the people of the Northern Province suffered so greatly during the many years of war. While truth telling, reconciliation, and accountability are essential, these will not bring back the lives lost and lives destroyed. However, this island now has an opportunity to remember the past while focusing on the future. This reception gathers us to reinforce the ties that bind our people, and serves as a continuation of the Embassy and the United States Government’s outreach to all Sri Lankans, in every part of the country, as you tread the path of meaningful, national reconciliation and heal the wounds of war.

Continue reading ‘Relationship Between the People of Jaffna and America Stretches Back Over 200 Years to 1813 Says US envoy Atul Keshap in the North’ »

How the Pro-Mahinda Opposition was Outwitted by the Govt in Getting the Office of Missing Persons Bill Passed by Parliament

By

Dharisha Bastians

“The Report of the 1994 Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Disappearances of Persons noted that its investigations echoed the common yearning; Never Again”
– Dr. Vasuki Nesiah, Clarifying the Past & Commemorating Sri Lanka’s Disappeared

It all happened in a flash of black and the terrifying sound of shots fired in the dark. It was 10 December 1989, the height of the Government’s counterinsurgency against the violent 1987 Marxist uprising.

Shantha Pathirana watched helplessly as his twin brother Sudath was dragged out of his Borella home by pistol-wielding men dressed all in black. Shantha and Sudath looked remarkably alike. The abductors were taking no chances. They wanted the ‘insurgent’ in the family.

“They couldn’t tell us apart, so they demanded to see our national IDs first. Once they identified Sudath it happened in a flash,” Shantha recalls. “They dragged him out and shut the door. My mother was screaming and crying. To drown out her cries they shot twice into the air. That was the last time I saw my brother.” Untitled-1

The gunshots fired into the night skies had not only put an abrupt end to the women’s weeping. It also ensured curious neighbours stayed well away from the scene of the abduction.

Sudath Pathirana was a trade union activist at the Jayewardenepura Hospital, working for the Nawa Sama Samaja Party (NSSP) then led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara. A fellow activist, Somaweera was also abducted from his home at the same time on 10 December 1989. Neither has ever been heard from again.

Disappearance is an invisible crime; there are no bodies, no graves and no traces of abuse. There is only silence. And trauma relived day after day by families who have watched loved ones being snatched away, never to be seen again.

For the Pathirana family, the search that began in 1989 has never ended.

Shantha’s father Wijeyadasa Pathirana joined the ranks of thousands of families of the disappeared that were being mobilised by Nanayakkara and his erstwhile activist colleague, the SLFP MP Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘How the Pro-Mahinda Opposition was Outwitted by the Govt in Getting the Office of Missing Persons Bill Passed by Parliament’ »

President Sirisena Appoints 24 District and 16 Electoral Organizers in SLFP after Stripping Mahinda Loyalists of their Posts

By Gagani Weerakoon

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday handed over letters of appointment to forty new District and Electoral Organizers of the SLFP after stripping many of the former stalwarts, who are now openly supporting the Joint Opposition, off their posts.

Accordingly, 16 Electoral Organizers and 24 District Organizers received their appointment letters at the President’s Official Residence last morning.

Former ministers, who are now aligned with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, under the ‘Joint Opposition’ banner, Keheliya Rambukwella, Gamini Lokuge, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, C.B. Rathnayake and Pavithra Wanniarachchi are key organizers who have been stripped off their positions.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Appoints 24 District and 16 Electoral Organizers in SLFP after Stripping Mahinda Loyalists of their Posts’ »

Referendum on New Constitution Would be the “Stalingrad Battle” of Sri Lanka

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“We all remember the horrors of the past, the violence of three decades and the anti-democratic governments. Compare that situation to today. Civil society groups are flowering and members are key advisors in governmental task forces and decision making.”

– US Ambassador Athul Keshap, ‘US Air Force strengthens historic American ties with Jaffna’,Daily Mirror, Aug 15th 2016

Affable Ambassador Athul Keshap has confused “liberal” with “democratic” or Sri Lanka with some of America’s best friends. Even during three decades of war, this country always had elected democratic, albeit intermittently illiberal, governments — unlike some of the best buddies of the US, then and now. The US ambassador’s statement does not once mention (suicide bombing) terrorism, leave alone secessionism. Terrorism and not “governments” was the most “anti-democratic” phenomenon we faced for thirty years, while it was successive elected governments that protected the fundamentals of a functioning democracy.

Today we’ve graduated from Ambassador Keshap’s “anti-democratic governments” to “anti-democratic Oppositions”. The TNA with a third of the seats of the joint opposition, is seated as the parliamentary opposition while the JVP is the Chief Whip. This disenfranchisement of the Southern opposition which has more seats than the TNA and the JVP combined, and exceeds the number of SLFPers in the ‘National government’, only serves to erode the legitimacy of the political order.

We now have

(1) A political system that is de-centred; devoid of a middle ground and a shock absorber, in that it lacks the centrist SLFP as opposition

(2) A political structure rendered less stable by the abolition of the two-party system

and (3) A game de-legitimized by a numerically much smaller party being accorded the official oppositional space. The Government is legitimate—having more seats–but the official Opposition is not.

A legitimate government cannot be replaced by extra-parliamentary means but insofar as the Opposition is illegitimate, so too to some degree is the political status quo, and such a warped, illegitimate status quo can be legitimately contested and replaced by exceptional, even extra-parliamentary, non-violent means.

Continue reading ‘Referendum on New Constitution Would be the “Stalingrad Battle” of Sri Lanka’ »

The SLFP is now Moving in a Different Path Declares President Maithripala Sirisena in Interview

By

Ajantha Kumara Agalakada

This interview with President Maithripala Sirisena appearing in the “Daily Mirror” covers the controversial issues of the Paada Yathra,VAT Bill, Port City project and plans to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP). The President shared his views with the “Daily Mirror’s sister paper ‘The Sunday Lankadeepa’

Excerpts:

Q:The Joint Opposition (JO) staged a walk in protest of your government. What is your idea about the large crowd that took part?

Do you mean the crowd that walked? The figures produced by the organizers were all fake. The entire country knows how the crowd was brought in and what the actual figures were. It is pertinent to evaluate what the reasons were for this walk; the issue lies there. If there is an election around the corner, then there should be a purpose for such protest walk. Similar walks and protests are held all over the world to make political gains. What was the political end in this walk? When you take this entire group into account, the masses would seriously consider how clean the group involved were. Most of the organizers and leaders are facing serious charges on acts of corruption, frauds and illegal activities. Investigations are continuing.

Some have already been indicted before Courts. The main aim of this protest was to cause fear psychosis to the officials who handled those investigations, that means “we will be coming to power in the future, and the support of the masses amply demonstrate” This was their main aim and there is no second thought about it. If they had actually brought the crowd which they said they had, we can also bring double that crowd. At the beginning they wanted Hyde Park as this venue was normally chosen by those who were politically weak and it is a fact known to everyone. As it was not available, they opted for Lipton Circus knowing very well that even a small crowd could block the roads and create a traffic snarl. However, the people did not accept it as a success and they didn’t approve it. The organizers used their entire strength and force to bring in the crowds. They visited every electorate and spent lavishly in view to achieve this. This clearly shows what support they have at the grass-roots levels, and they showed how many out of the total population of 21 million were with them. Their main aim was to influence the police and the investigating officers and not to show patriotism.

Continue reading ‘The SLFP is now Moving in a Different Path Declares President Maithripala Sirisena in Interview’ »

Buddhist Monks from “Singha Le Jathika Balamuuwa” Try to Disrupt “Singha Le,Ekama Le” Unity Demonstration Held on Bauddhaloka Mawatte

By

Nushka Nafeel

A tense situation erupted during the campaign of ‘Different yet Equal’ close to Baudhaloka Mawatha yesterday.

A group of monks representing the “Singha Le Jathika Balamuluwa” disrupted the unity campaign claiming that the campaigners cannot use the term “Singha Le” during their demonstration. The ‘Different yet Equal’ refuted it saying that “Singha Le, Ekama Le”.

“The motive of the ‘Singha Le’ organisation was to create a tense situation and to spread their racist ideology, Azad Sally said.

Continue reading ‘Buddhist Monks from “Singha Le Jathika Balamuuwa” Try to Disrupt “Singha Le,Ekama Le” Unity Demonstration Held on Bauddhaloka Mawatte’ »

Bold Support by JVP for OMP Bill Indicative of Party’s Political Turnaround on the Ethnic Issue

By

Rasika Jayakody


“Future generations are not going to ask us what political party were you in. They are going to ask what did you do about it, when you knew the glaciers were melting”
Martin Sheen

The centre-left Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, a party that pushed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to a path of war in 2006, made a bold political move by supporting to the bill to establish an Office of Missing Persons in Sri Lanka, last week.

The JVP’s position on the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) should be analysed in the context of its approach to the Tamil issue in the North and East, which crippled the country’s politics, since 1956.
The JVP, in 1983, explaining the party’s solution to what they termed the ‘national question’, firmly said it did not accept the Tamil people’s right to self-determination.

A booklet published by the party at the time, was considered the ‘bible’ of the JVP rank and file when it came to matters relating to the issues in the North and East and other related problems.

When Rohana Wijeweera, founder of the JVP took a seemingly hard line on the Tamil struggle and their right to self-determination, a group led by its former General Secretary Lionel Bopage, defected from the political movement. As a result, many traditional leftists dubbed the JVP a ‘pro-nationalist’ political force.

It was quite clear that the JVP, since its inception, did not have a real working class base. Its membership consisted of university students, the unemployed youth, a section of rural youth and lower middle class workers. These groups, despite their ‘circumstantial’ leftist leanings, constantly looked for opportunities for upward social mobility and nationalism seemed to be a palatable idea to them. In this context, many Leftist activists were of the view that the JVP was a petit bourgeois movement with a Marx-Leninist mask.

Continue reading ‘Bold Support by JVP for OMP Bill Indicative of Party’s Political Turnaround on the Ethnic Issue’ »

Nithya Senani Samaranayake Remanded for Alleged Involvement in Money Laundering Case Involving Namal Rajapaksa


By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

Nithya Senani Samaranayake who functioned as a director of two companies owned by Hambantota district MP Namal Rajapaksa was ordered remanded till August 22 by a Colombo Court for her alleged involvement in money laundering amounting to Rs.45 million.

On Monday (15) MP Namal Rajapaksa and Sudarsha Bandara Ganewatta who were arrested for their alleged involvement in laundering money to the amount of Rs.45 million in two companies owned by Namal Rajapaksa, were also ordered remanded till August 22 by Colombo Additional Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne.

The suspect Nithya Senani Samaranayake was arrested on the charge of aiding and abetting to commit this offence, being a director of NR Consultation Private Ltd and Gowers Corporation Pvt Ltd.

She was ordered remanded till August 22 on the grounds that the prosecutors were yet to conclude their investigations.

Continue reading ‘Nithya Senani Samaranayake Remanded for Alleged Involvement in Money Laundering Case Involving Namal Rajapaksa’ »

Bond Between President Maithripala sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Must Be Strengthened further

By

Vishwamithra1984

It was reported last week that President Maithripala Sirisena would be the chief guest at the 70th Anniversary celebrations of the United National Party (UNP).

Maithripala Sirisena is not only the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; he is the current leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), in the last six decades the SLFP has been the chief political nemesis of the UNP.

Any student of Sri Lanka’s post-Independence political history would know that the SLFP, even though has always been reckoned as an alternative to the UNP, drew its major portion of membership from the left-oriented Sinhala-speaking, Swabhasha-educated electorate.

Continue reading ‘Bond Between President Maithripala sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Must Be Strengthened further’ »

Northern Provincial Council Deputy Chairman Jeyanathan Flings Microphone Angrily at Opposition Leader Sampanthan at Party Central Committee Meeting

Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) Leader and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan is reported to have had a microphone thrown at him by Northern Provincial Council Deputy Chairman Antony Jeyanathan during an argument over the appointment of a national list Parliamentarian.

Continue reading ‘Northern Provincial Council Deputy Chairman Jeyanathan Flings Microphone Angrily at Opposition Leader Sampanthan at Party Central Committee Meeting’ »

“Peeping Through the Window Darling What will People say, if you want to Marry me Darling Come the Proper way!

By

Somapala Gunadheera

The recent gimmicks seen at the passing of the “Office of Missing Persons Bill” (OMP), reminded me of a couplet I used to hear often in the heyday of ‘Thuppahi Culture’. It ran, “If you want to marry me darling, come the proper way – Peeping through the window darling what will people say?”

According to the Government, the OMP had been tabled three months back. No one had raised objections against it in Courts or in the House. The debate on the Bill had been fixed at a meeting of all Party leaders and a two day schedule for a debate thereon, had been mutually agreed. In that background, it is difficult to understand why some MPs, inclusive of prominent politicians who had held prestigious office in the past, resorted to an ugly show of canker and abuse on the aisle of the House that is universally accepted to be hallowed ground. The public did not see any obstruction, repression or sleight of hands on the part of the Government that could have justified such behaviour.

Continue reading ‘“Peeping Through the Window Darling What will People say, if you want to Marry me Darling Come the Proper way!’ »

“Opposition MP’s Led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Geetha Kumarasinghe Raised Slogans,Sang Songs and Even Danced in Parliament”-Mano Ganesan

By Shaahidah Riza

If there was any bad precedent in passing the Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) Bill, the Joint Opposition MPs were responsible for it, said Minister for National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages, Mano Ganesan.

Continue reading ‘“Opposition MP’s Led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Geetha Kumarasinghe Raised Slogans,Sang Songs and Even Danced in Parliament”-Mano Ganesan’ »

Systematic Sealing by Customs of Businesses Owned by Traders in the Forefront of Anti – VAT Increase Demonstrations.



The government is using intimidatory tactics to stifle dissent ahead of reintroducing the new VAT amendment Bill in parliament traders’ told The Island.

On the 8th of August the shops of three traders in Pettah who had taken part in the anti-VAT hartal were sealed by the Customs Department. Asian Traders, Anglo Shirts and Romax all on Keyzer Street were the first three shops to be sealed.

These were small establishments two of them being approximately 10X8, 10X15 and Asian Traders being the largest – a 10X15 three storied shop. Customs officers had arrived, and apparently checked the stocks and taken an inventory and asked for the documentation relating to the goods all of which had been provided, but they had sealed the shops anyway.

Continue reading ‘Systematic Sealing by Customs of Businesses Owned by Traders in the Forefront of Anti – VAT Increase Demonstrations.’ »

“Writ will be Sought in Courts Against the Office of Missing Persons After it Commences Operations” Announces Vasudeva Nanayakkara

By Chamodi Gunawardana

The Joint Opposition yesterday said it planned to seek court intervention to issue a Writ Order against the Office of Missing Persons to be established by the Government in the next few weeks.

Speaking to the media, Democratic Left Front General Secretary Vasudeva Nanayakkara and a vehement supporter of MP Mahinda Rajapaksa said they would go before court after the office had commenced their operations in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘“Writ will be Sought in Courts Against the Office of Missing Persons After it Commences Operations” Announces Vasudeva Nanayakkara’ »

DIFFERENT YET EQUAL:Come and Stand With us For a Free, Equal and Peaceful Sri Lanka,

DIFFERENT YET EQUAL

Come and stand with us for a free, equal and peaceful Sri Lanka, at 4.30pm, on 15th August (Monday) 2016, on Bauddhaloka Mw (past Arcade near the traffic lights leading to Independence turn-off).

WE ARE… Sri Lankan citizens from diverse backgrounds unified in our desire for a just and democratic country. We represent ourselves here as concerned, responsible citizens committed to building a society in which our different ethnic, cultural, and religious identities are celebrated equally.

WE BELIEVE… All individuals are equal and have an equal place in a plural and democratic Sri Lanka. We can and must contribute to making this a reality for all.
We denounce the incitement of racial or ethnic hatred, which is also often sexist and homophobic, by any group or individual and stand in solidarity with all those so targeted.

WE WANT… Each and every one of us, as well as politicians and political parties, religious and educational authorities and institutions, and the media, to take responsibility for creating an environment conducive for respect, healing and reconciliation.
We want the government, especially the judiciary and law enforcement officers, to promote equality and unity in diversity, act against those responsible for the incitement of hate, and take concrete steps to prevent the recurrence of these acts in the future.

WE GATHER…

– To show our solidarity as people of all identities who stand together in the spirit of unity, equality and peace.

– To denounce any statements made, by any individual or community that incites intimidation, hate, and violence against other individuals or communities.

– To further comradeship and goodwill towards building a just and democratic Sri Lanka for all.
Bring your friends, family, colleagues, and others to show your support for an equal and peaceful Sri Lanka.


Come and stand with us!

Australia’s Statistics Bureau Gives Option of Declaring “Tamil Eelam” as “Country of Birth” in Answering National Census Query

By Namini Wijedasa

Angry protests from Sri Lankans domiciled in Australia and the High Commission there forced the withdrawal of Australia’s Bureau of Statistics (ABS), giving an option, particularly to those of Tamil origin, to declare whether they are from ‘Tamil Eelam’ when responding to a query on their “country of birth”. This is for a national census now under way.

The Government agency has taken the step despite Canberra placing a ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Once the details of the survey appeared on the ABS website, Sri Lankans of different nationalities bombarded the High Commission with e-mails and telephone calls seeking an immediate removal of the offending reference.

Continue reading ‘Australia’s Statistics Bureau Gives Option of Declaring “Tamil Eelam” as “Country of Birth” in Answering National Census Query’ »

No Political Leader,President or Prime Minister Can Proclaim Innocence on the Issue of Disappearances and Missing Persons

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The raucous commotion in Parliament this week with the passing of the Office of Missing Persons Bill without a vote is reflective of our utterly degenerate political culture. Even now, there is no clear idea of the numbers mustered on the floor to ensure the passage of this enormously significant legislation.

No politician can profess innocence

Sri Lanka’s disappeared number in their thousands. These unfortunates are not confined to one ethnicity. Indeed, the fate of the ‘missing’ is the most powerful common factor uniting the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims down the ages. Many years ago, before unscrupulous politicians co-opted the Mothers Front of the South and the North, this was the one civil rights mass movement which had the potential to force the political command to come to a reckoning as to what happened to their sons and daughters.

So let us be quite clear on this. No political leader in this country, President or Prime Minister can wash his or her hands, Pontius Pilate fashion, and proclaim ‘I am innocent of that blood.’

Continue reading ‘No Political Leader,President or Prime Minister Can Proclaim Innocence on the Issue of Disappearances and Missing Persons’ »

Joint Opposition Attempt to Sabotage Passage of Office of Missing Persons Bill Through Boisterous Conduct Backfires on Them

By Chandani Kirinde

Thus far, members of the Joint Opposition (JO) group have managed to grab more than their fair share of attention, mainly due to their boisterous behaviour within Parliament, than for their role in enriching the legislative business. However, this week they got bogged down in a situation they themselves created by attempting to sabotage Government attempts to enact an important piece of legislation.

This miscalculation by the JO helped the Government to rush through the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill, with amendments, in less than an hour, from what was to have been nearly 13 hours of debate and discussion on a Bill that enables the creation of a seven-member permanent Commission to assist families of missing persons.

JO members who came to the Chamber on Thursday wearing black arm bands and satakayas, to show their disapproval of the Bill, initially, raised objection on the grounds they needed more time to debate it. The Government agreed to a full day’s debate on Thursday and half-a-day on Friday, but the JO was not agreeable to this arrangement and chose disruption over debate, walking to the Well of the House, shouting slogans and likely hoping Speaker Karu Jayasuirya would buckle under pressure and adjourn the House.

But it was obvious this time around, the Government was not going to allow the JO to usurp proceedings like they have done many times in the past year and hence, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera got on his feet and introduced the Bill to the House, amidst the din created by the protesting lawmakers. Much of his speech was inaudible to those inside the Chamber, but surrounded by Government MPs, he made it through his speech. He was followed by TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran and JVP MP Bimal Ratnayaka, both of whom extended their support to the Bill.

Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Attempt to Sabotage Passage of Office of Missing Persons Bill Through Boisterous Conduct Backfires on Them’ »

“Dont do in the Dining Room What you do in the Toilet” – MP’s Admonished by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya

by Saman Indrajith

Incidents during the debate on the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill in the House on Thursday had caused huge damage to the dignity and decorum of Parliament and both the government and the Opposition should be ashamed of it, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said yesterday.

Jayasuriya said the Joint Opposition MPs were entitled to stage protests but they had to be mindful of when and where they should do so. “Politicians may be rebellious when staging protests. But such protests should be held at appropriate places like the Lipton Circus and the Hyde Park not in the Well of Parliament. They should act with some restraint when registering their protest against something in Parliament.”

“The MPs should not choose the dining room to do what they are supposed to in a lavatory (vesikiliye karana de kema kamaraye karranna epa),” the Speaker said.

Continue reading ‘“Dont do in the Dining Room What you do in the Toilet” – MP’s Admonished by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’ »

“Achilles Heel”of Yahapalanaya Govt is Lack of Credible Economic Plan


By

Razeen Sally

Expectations were high after the January and August elections last year. The incoming Government promised a new era of political liberalism, good governance, ethnic reconciliation and a balanced foreign policy. Not least, it stirred hopes of a more market-oriented economic policy that would, finally, make Sri Lanka achieve its long-heralded potential. What has changed in the last year-and-a-half?

To begin with credits: The political atmosphere is freer; the 19th Amendment and a new constitution in the works promise more checks on arbitrary power. Corruption is smaller-scale and less brazen than it was under the Rajapaksas. Ethnic tensions are much lower; the right symbolic overtures have been made to the minorities. Foreign policy has been rebalanced.

Despite initial bumps, China remains a firm friend, but relations have been repaired with India and the West. That said, there is no Yahalpalanaya: corruption and nepotism have returned to pre-Rajapaksa levels; they remain rife. And tangible solutions to inter-ethnic fissures – justice for human-rights abuses, land restitution, demilitarisation, devolution of power – remain some way off.

But the Government’s chief debit – its Achilles Heel – is the economy. Here expectations have been dashed, indeed given a good kick in the stomach. Regime change offered the best opportunity since 1977 to reform the economy, and to renew Sri Lankan society more generally. So far this opportunity has been squandered, following a dismal pattern since independence.

Continue reading ‘“Achilles Heel”of Yahapalanaya Govt is Lack of Credible Economic Plan’ »

Sri Lanka to Create International Financial City With China in Colombo Where people can “Park their Money”

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka has come to an agreement with China to create a Colombo International Financial City (CIFC) which will not only be an international financial services center, but a place where people can park their money, the Minister in Charge of the Megapolis project, Patali Champika Ranawaka said here on Friday.

Speaking to the media after the Ministry of Megapolis, the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and the China Harbor Engineering Company (CHEC) signed a Tripartite Agreement to set up the CIFC, Ranawaka said that parliament will soon enact the Colombo International Financial Center Law to create an “International Financial Zone” in the 269 hectares of land to be reclaimed from the sea by the CHEC.

The zone will be earmarked for international and local banking and financial service companies and will be governed by its own laws as per international best practices. The zone will provide Sri Lankans high paid service sector jobs. Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had said earlier that British laws would be established in the zone and that a British team will come to advice on this.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka to Create International Financial City With China in Colombo Where people can “Park their Money”’ »

State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe Reprimanded for Behaving Disgracefully at COPE Session Probing Central Bank Bond Issue

By Saman Indrajith

State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe’s conduct in the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) came under severe criticism from his fellow COPE members yesterday evening for his attempt to intimidate and threaten witnesses of the controversial Central Bank bond issue, a senior COPE member told The Island.

The state minister threatened and tried to extract information in a manner harmful to the ongoing COPE investigation on former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s involvement in bond scam when the senior most staff members of the Central Bank including its incumbent Governor and all Deputy Governors had been summoned before the parliament watchdog committee last evening.

Content of a report by the Auditor General on controversial bond issue was taken for the discussion at yesterday’s meeting.

Continue reading ‘State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe Reprimanded for Behaving Disgracefully at COPE Session Probing Central Bank Bond Issue’ »

Sri Lanka woos the US, India and China Simultaneously for a Quantum Leap in Development

By P.K. Balachandran

Undeterred by the clashing interests of the US, India and China in the South and East Asian region, Sri Lanka is assiduously wooing these countries to achieve a quantum leap in economic development making up for 30 years of stagnation brought about by an ethnic conflict and a brutal war.

While the US is being placated by the implementation of the resolution on Sri Lanka passed by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on October 1, 2015, the Sri Lankan government is doggedly pursuing an Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India, despite strong local opposition; and is allocating huge infrastructure projects to China setting aside some serious reservations which existed till last year.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka woos the US, India and China Simultaneously for a Quantum Leap in Development’ »

“Those who went Missing and Those Who Grive For Them are all our Citizens” – Mangala Samaraweera

(Text of Statement on the Bill on the Office on Missing Persons tabled in Parliament by Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Foreign Affairs, MP, on 11 August 2016)

Hon. Speaker,

The Office on the Missing Persons’ Bill, which we will be debating today in this House, I believe heralds a new beginning, a new era of peace and reconciliation for our long suffering country.
68 years after Independence, two youth insurrections, and a 26 year old war, Sri Lanka is now ready to commence the healing process of our wounded and fractured nation, coming to terms with the tragedies of our past, so that we could harness the potential of our great nation and its people to pave the way for the future our country truly deserves.

As Lee Kuan Yew, in his memoirs – “From Third World to First” wrote –

Ceylon was Britain’s model Commonwealth country. It had been carefully prepared for independence. After the War, it was a good middle-sized country with fewer than 10 million people. It had a relatively good standard of education, with two universities of high quality, a civil service largely of locals, and experience in representative government starting with city council elections in the 1930s.

When Ceylon gained independence in 1948, it was the classic model of gradual evolution to independence.

Alas, it did not work out. During my visits over the years, I watched a promising country go to waste.
It is sad that the country whose ancient name Serendib has given the English language the word ‘Serendipity’ is now the epitome of conflict, pain, sorrow and hopelessness.

Today, however – 7 years after the end of the brutal war and the defeat and the demise of LTTE terror, Sri Lanka is now ready to win the peace and heal the scars of conflict, sorrow and pain. This Bill is the first step in healing our own nation and its people so that we could face the challenges of the future as a united nation; unity in diversity!

Hon. Speaker,

This is a very special day for all of us in this House, irrespective of the political parties, the colours, symbols and ideologies that we represent.

Today is a day that seeks to unite us as human beings. A day for each of us in this House to pause for a moment, reach deep within our hearts, speak to our conscience and demonstrate through action, that we are guided by peace, compassion, empathy and brotherhood, noble principles which the four main religions in our country – Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam – teach us.

Hon. Speaker,

As you know, there is no corner of this blessed and beloved country of ours, that has not been drenched by the tears of mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children who have wept and continue to weep, not knowing where their loved ones are, or what happened to them. They only know that they are missing. They don’t know whether they are dead or alive.

Continue reading ‘“Those who went Missing and Those Who Grive For Them are all our Citizens” – Mangala Samaraweera’ »

Govt Outmanoeuvres Mahinda Loyalists and Passes Bill to Set up an Office of Missing Persons Without Taking a Vote

By Dharisha Bastians

The National Unity Government passed landmark legislation to help thousands of families trace missing loved ones after skillfully outmanoeuvring the pro-Rajapaksa Joint Opposition, which launched a sustained effort to obstruct proceedings and prevent the bill’s passage in Parliament yesterday.

The Office of Missing Persons Bill was passed with amendments and without a vote after a debate that lasted less than an hour amidst a constant stream of disruptions by Joint Opposition MPs.

As the Joint Opposition screamed and railed against the establishment of the OMP in the Well of the House, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya put the bill to Parliament. Supported by the Coalition Government and the two recognised opposition parties, the TNA and the JVP, the OMP legislation was enacted into law.

“Today is a historic day. It is a day when we take the very first step towards righting the wrongs of 68 years,” said Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, who shepherded the legislation through Parliament, amid howls of protest by the Joint Opposition that denounced him as a traitor to the nation.

History would judge the true traitors, the Foreign Minister said during a press conference convened after the bill was enacted into law.

The Office of Missing Persons to be incorporated by an Act of Parliament as a permanent independent body with wide-ranging powers to investigate disappearances and trace missing persons is the first mechanism of a four-pillared structure for truth-seeking and justice in post-war Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘Govt Outmanoeuvres Mahinda Loyalists and Passes Bill to Set up an Office of Missing Persons Without Taking a Vote’ »

Govt Rushes Through Office of Missing Persons Bill in Patliament Within Two Hours Amidst Joint Opposition Protests

By Saman Indrajith

The Joint Opposition’s protest enabled the government to rush the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) Bill through parliament yesterday.

The Bill was passed with amendments amidst shouting and chanting of slogans by Joint Opposition against the government.

When the time came for Notice of Motions and Orders of the Day, Leader of the House Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella moved the Office on Missing Persons (Establishment, Administration and Discharge of Functions) Bill for the second reading.

MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardena said that the Joint Opposition would not agree with the government’s to change the session plan to hold the debate on the OMP for two days – Thursday and Friday) and to have the vote in Friday evening to advance the voting at 11 am on Friday. He said that shortening the time of debate would deprive the Opposition MPs of their time to speak in Parliament leading to the deprivation of their privileges.

Continue reading ‘Govt Rushes Through Office of Missing Persons Bill in Patliament Within Two Hours Amidst Joint Opposition Protests’ »

Amended Bill to Establish an Office of Missing Persons(OMP) Passed by Parliament Without Vote Being taken

The draft Bill to establish an Office on Missing Persons (OMP) was passed with amendments in Parliament without a vote.

The Bill was adopted despite objections raised by the joint opposition which alleged that the Bill will betray the military.

The government had earlier said there have been strong requests for providing true information on disappeared or missing persons to their relatives to know their actual fate.

“It will enable such families to be reunited, closure with regard to such disappearance, or granted with reparations and other relief and support,” the government said.

Continue reading ‘Amended Bill to Establish an Office of Missing Persons(OMP) Passed by Parliament Without Vote Being taken’ »

Shelton Ranaraja: Principled Politician was Conscience-Keeper of the Nation

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Let me begin this article with a few paragraphs excerpted from William Mcgowan’s book about Sri Lanka “Only man is Vile” –

“The Kandyan jungle seemed so at peace just after dawn on that October morning in 1989. In the twisted thicket of palms, bamboo and bougainvillea that blanketed the hotel, a handful of iridescent parrots screeched cheery greetings to the first rays of sun as they splintered into a forest of prisms through the morning dew”.

“A narrow ribbon of road cut through this ancient heart of Buddhism, deep inside a paradisiacal island so spectacular in its beauty it was once nicknamed Serendip. To the right, just five miles away from the hotel entrance, lay one of Buddhism’s holiest shrines of pilgrimage, the Temple of the Sacred Relic, with its gold cask containing the wisdom tooth of Lord Buddha”.

“But we turned left that morning, and we hadn’t driven even a mile when we saw our first body–a headless corpse, hands bound behind its back, blocking the road like a fallen tree. A few hundred yards farther, there were three more, then two more, then four more, all with their heads neatly severed at the shoulders”.

“The jungle road turned up then, into a rich, verdant hillside, and as we approached a bridge over a cascading waterfall, we found the severed heads. There were a dozen or so in all, each carefully placed at 10-foot intervals on the bridge culvert, like horrible mileposts to the civil war that has become Sri Lanka’s living nightmare”.

“That night, in his modest home near the Temple of the Sacred Relic in downtown Kandy, one of the island’s parliamentarians spoke with quiet frustration of the trauma that this awful era has caused his island paradise and its 14 million people–“We wake up in the morning, and we know tomorrow will be worse than today”–and he tried to square the living death with the religion that had taught them from birth the sacredness of all life”.

“We’re not to kill even an animal or an ant,” Shelton Ranaraja said that evening, his body shaken and broken from the horrors that abounded in the peaceful jungle around him. “I don’t understand why this is happening. I cannot explain it.”

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Shelton Ranaraja was the tormened soul whose agonized cries are recorded by Mcgowan in his book. The lawyer who represented Senkadagala constituency in the Sri Lankan Parliament for more than fifteen years was arguably the conscience –keeper of the Nation in his own modest way. The excerpts referring to Shelton Ranaraja bear testimony to this. “Shelly Aiya” as he was called by many passed away on August 11th 2011. Shelton Ranaraja was a courageous and principled politician for whom I have had the greatest respect. This article is intended to honour and pay tribute to his memory on the occasion of his fifth death anniversary.
Continue reading ‘Shelton Ranaraja: Principled Politician was Conscience-Keeper of the Nation’ »

“Missing” Persons in Sri Lanka: A New Government Tries To Give Certainty To Grieving Relatives – The Economist

SEVEN years ago, at a busy crossroads in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest city, armed men in an unmarked white van abducted Stephen Sundararaj. He was going home, his three children snuggled up against him, after idling for weeks in a police cell. Mr Sundararaj, then a 39-year-old project manager at a local human-rights group, had been detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, a draconian law permitting arrests without warrant for “unlawful activities”. He challenged the move in court and would have pursued the case, had he not been hauled away mere hours after his release. He was never charged with a crime. He has never been found.

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Such horrifying tales are common in Sri Lanka, where 26 years of ethnic conflict ended with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009. In the past century the country has also experienced two Marxist insurgencies in the south, and several anti-Tamil pogroms. In May Mangala Samaraweera, the foreign minister, admitted that it had one of the world’s largest caseloads of missing people. The armed forces, the Tamil Tigers and other insurgents are all to blame.

Continue reading ‘“Missing” Persons in Sri Lanka: A New Government Tries To Give Certainty To Grieving Relatives – The Economist’ »

From “Paada Yaathra 1992” to “Paada Yaathra 2016”: Decline and Fall of Human Rights Crusader Mahinda Rajapaksa

By

Dharisha Bastians

The Paada Yaathra in March 1992 led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, the 47-year-old SLFP Parliamentarian from Hambantota, was epic. Over 17 days, the marchers travelled 280 kilometres from Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo to Kataragama, in the deep southern heartland that the Rajapaksa family calls home.

The trajectory of the 1992 Paada Yaathra intentionally cut through Sri Lanka’s Southern Province, once a hotbed of Marxist activity, where the JVP ran its training camps and hideouts for insurgents. In the ensuing UNP Government crackdown on the JVP insurgency in 1988-89, thousands of young people disappeared from remote villages in the districts of Matara and Hambantota, on suspicion of being Marxist insurgents.

For politicians like Mahinda Rajapaksa and his former SLFP colleague Mangala Samaraweera who represented the Matara District, the issue of disappearances was much more than only a question of human rights and state terror; the ‘missing’ were also their constituents. Mahinda Rajapakasa’s Paada Yaathra in 1992 was a campaign to pressure the UNP regime into investigating enforced disappearances during the JVP insurgency.

Twenty-four years ago, his slogans were against state oppression, privatisation of state resources and ironically, demanding a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict. Joining him on the historic march from Colombo to Kataragama were leftist politicos Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Wickremabahu Karunaratne.

Continue reading ‘From “Paada Yaathra 1992” to “Paada Yaathra 2016”: Decline and Fall of Human Rights Crusader Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Wasim Thajudeen Murder Mystery Continues to be Unsolved While Conflicting JMO Reports Contradict Each Other

By

Kamanthi Wickramasinghe

Wasim Thajudeen, a talented rugby player, a friend to all and a man full of smiles, was brutally murdered and his body was left in a charred state at Narahenpita, four years ago.

After much investigation, many breakthroughs and dead-ends, the case is yet to be solved. Although nothing was heard of the incident during the previous regime, quite surprisingly the matter emerged as soon as the ‘Good Governance’ regime saw light on January 8 last year.

So far, much has been revealed about the matter but even after four years, the alleged perpetrators are still free. The body was exhumed on August 10, 2015, exactly one year ago and according to the ex-JMO, surprisingly, some of the remaining body parts too have gone missing.

The Judicial Medical Officer’s (JMO) reports have become the highlight of this investigation due to the failure to establish a conclusive cause of death initially.

Today the Daily Mirror sheds some light on the JMO’s reports, which were submitted to establish the cause of death.

Continue reading ‘Wasim Thajudeen Murder Mystery Continues to be Unsolved While Conflicting JMO Reports Contradict Each Other’ »

Sri Lanka Woman Director Presents Her Debut film “The House of my Fathers” at 69th Locarno Open Doors showcase

By
Emilio Mayorga

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Courtesy of Suba Sivakumaran

LOCARNO — Suba Sivakumaran’s has been presenting her debut project “The House of My Fathers,” at the 69th Locarno Open Doors showcase, devoted this year to national cinemas from South Asia region.
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“We Will not Sack the Chief Justice or Bring Impeachment Motion Against him for not Giving us a Favourable Ruling” Says Ranil Wickremesinghe

By
Sandasen Marasinghe and Disna Mudalige

A large number of Bills were passed and became law during the last decade in the same manner following the procedure which has been followed in respect of the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill, although the latter had been treated differently, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.

He also requested Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to discuss with party leaders and deliver a ruling on those laws passed and Parliament could follow one procedure in the future in moving a Bill before Parliament.

The Prime Minister also said it was the responsibility of the Speaker to decide if the standing orders have been followed by Parliament while Parliament also has the power to suspend its standing orders as well. The Premier made these observations after the Speaker made his announcement on the Supreme Court order on the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill.

He said that in reference to the judgement of the Supreme Court order, the government will table the Bill in the House later.

“There are a large number of Bills which have become law in Parliament, last Parliament and the Parliament before, following the procedure which has been followed in respect of the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill,” the Premier said.

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How Mahinda Rajapaksa Betrayed the Country and War Heroes in 1989 on the Issue of Missing Persons.

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Former British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka David Gladstone, speaking to BBC Sandeshaya related a wonderful story on 2 July 2008.

“During the government of President Premadasa, present President Mahinda was a very good friend of mine. He came often to meet me. On occasions he met me, he told me to influence the government to search for youth who had gone missing in the North and the South. He told me that he would establish an association comprising parents and children of the missing persons in order to enable them to tell the world of their suffering. He requested me to speak of this to the UN and the Amnesty International”

David Gladstone related this incident. However, when the Maithri-Ranil government is attempting to open an office to search for missing persons, Mahinda said last week, it is a betrayal of the country and betrayal of the war heroes, issuing a statement.

So then, when Mahinda talks about missing persons, is it not a betrayal of the country and the war heroes?

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Supreme Court Rules Value Added Tax(Amendment) Bill Unacceptable as it has not Adhered to Due Process of a Financial Bill

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday informed Parliament that the Supreme Court had determined that the Value Added Tax (Amendment) bill was unacceptable as it had failed to adhere to due process a financial bill should follow.

Making a special announcement the Speaker said: “The Court has determined that the provisions contained in Article 152 of the Constitution and Standing Order 133 are imperative in character and the failure to follow them render the subsequent proceedings nullity.

“Since the due process had not been compiled with in terms of Article 78(2) and 152 in the Constitution before the bill was introduced in Parliament, the Supreme Court has made in terms of Articles 120 and 121 read with Article 123 and 152 of the Constitution, that no determination would be made at this stage on the ground of challenge raised by the petitioners.”

He then directed the determination of the Supreme Court be printed in the official report of the proceedings.

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Jaffna Varsity Violence: What Really Happened and Why!

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Violence reared its ugly head again in the Northern city of Jaffna on Saturday July 16th 2016 when student groups fought each other within the Jaffna varsity precincts in Thirunelvaeli known generally as Thinnaivaeli. It was basically a confrontation between two undergraduate factions of the University of Jaffna. There was also an ethnic dimension to the incident as one of the clashing factions was Sinhala and the other Tamil. The Government for very commendable reasons downplayed the ethnic factor and referred to the incident as factional strife while others for their own reasons played the communal card and described it as a racial conflict. However the truth as in most matters of this type lies somewhere in between.

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Degree Award Ceremony ~ March 2016 ~ Pic via: University of Jaffna

The past few days has been quite hectic for me in contacting a wide range of sources in Sri Lanka from Canada. I was able to speak on the telephone or communicate through electronic mail with a cross section of Tamil and Sinhala undergrads, members of the Jaffna varsity academic staff, law enforcement authorities, political leaders and informed residents of Jaffna and gather much information about the incident and its aftermath. My column therefore will focus on this sensitive topic and attempt to share as much information as possible in this regard .

"Violence reared its ugly head again in the Northern city of Jaffna on Saturday July 16th 2016"

“Violence reared its ugly head again in the Northern city of Jaffna on Saturday July 16th 2016”

It is necessary to delve briefly into the historical background of the Jaffna University in order to understand the genesis of the current clash better. A University for Jaffna had been the desire of Northern Tamils for several years.

Sirima Bandaranaike

Sirima Bandaranaike

The United Front Govt of Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike set up a campus in Jaffna in 1974. Under the higher education set up at that time there was only one Sri Lankan university with several campuses at different places. When Mrs. Bandaranaike visited Jaffna to ceremonially open the campus, the Tamil United Front (TUF)opposed it and staged black flag demonstrations. The ordinary people of Jaffna welcomed the move. The “Sirithiran”magazine hailed it as “Valavukkul Valaaham” (Campus in the compound).
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