Nine Cabinet Ministers and one state minister were re-allocated fresh ministerial portfolios in the morning of Monday May 22nd what was the first major re-shuffle since the formation of the current coalition Government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe took office in August 2015.
President Sirisena himself was the first to make the announcement that nine cabinet minister and a State minister had taken oaths before him after accepting their new portfolios.
President Sirisena like the US President Donald Trump took to Twitter and tweeted “Nine Cabinet Ministers and a State Minister took oaths in their new portfolios a while ago”.
The “new” re-shuffled and re-appointed nine Cabinet Ministers and one State minister are –
1. Mangala Samaraweera – Minister of Finance and Mass Media.
2. S.B.Dissanayake – Minister of Social Empowerment, Welfare and Kandyan heritage.
3. W.D.J Seneviratne – Minister of Labour, Trade Union relations and Sabaragamuwa Development.
4. Ravi Karunanayake – Minister of Foreign Affairs
Continue reading ‘Nine Cabinet and One State Minister Sworn In By President Sirisena: Changed Portfolios for Mangala, SB, Ravi and Arjuna etc | Tilak Marapana Back in Cabinet; Mahinda Amaraweera – State Minister’ »
Vesak festivity in Sri Lanka acquired an international dimension this year with the Island nation hosting the United Nations International Vesak day. The icing on this Vesak event cake was the participation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as chief guest in the celebrations. Even though President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe basked in the glow of Narendra Modi’s brief trip described officially as a “religious visit”, the political highlight of the Indian premier’s stay in Sri Lanka was the nocturnal rendezvous with former Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The meeting between Modi and Rajapaksa was held late at night on Thursday May 11th 2017. The meeting came as a surprise to many because it was not part of the original itinerary devised for Prime Minister Modi in Sri Lanka. Moreover the possibility of such a meeting seemed very remote as the political group headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa known as the “Joint Opposition” had been harshly critical of Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka. In fact one of the opposition leaders had called for the hoisting of black flags to protest against Modi in the presence of Mahinda Rajapaksa at a May Day rally. It was politically unlikely that the avowed leader of the Joint Opposition would have a “friendly”meeting with a Foreign leader who was being critically targeted by his loyalists.
Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Nocturnal Rendezvous With Narendra Modi’ »
Contrary to speculative reports in sections of the media that President Sirisena is acting on his own withoit consulting Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in the envisaged cabinet re-shuffle scheduled for Monday May 22nd 2017, it is learnt reliably that the important decision to bring about changes in the allocation of certain portfolios as well as re- designation of some departments coming under purview of particular ministries was not taken by the President alone.
Instead of being a unilateral decision of the President, the mini cabinet re-shuffle decision is a trilateral one taken together by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in conjunction with former President Chandrika Kumaratuga stated well-informed sources.
The sources also stated authoritatively that President Sirisena and Prime minister Wickremesinghe arrived at a joint decision after much discussion on re-allocating ministeria portfolios and departments which was endorsed by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga. There was no question of President Sirisena going ahead with the reshuffle against the wishes of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe or taking a decision without consulting him reiterated the sources Continue reading ‘Decision to Re-Shuffle Ministers Was Jointly Taken by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’ »
An operation was launched yesterday to apprehend those responsible for firing at a Police vehicle in Pallai, a senior police officer said.
Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (SDIG) Eastern Province and Acting SDIG Northern Province (NP), Sumith Edirisinghe said officers investigating Friday’s shooting at police officers in Pallai, Kilinochchi, have uncovered several vital clues, which they hope will lead to the speedy arrest of those responsible.
“Several pieces of evidence, including a pair of gloves allegedly used by the shooter, were located during the search. The authorities had also been given the number of a suspicious vehicle seen in the vicinity, prior to the attack,” he said.
Continue reading ‘Gunfire Targets Police Vehicle Between Pallai and Muhamaalai on A- 9 Road Some Hours Before Prime Minister and Senior Govt Ministers Arrive in Jaffna.’ »
The United National Party (UNP), the key party of the government, has finally consented to the proposed Cabinet reshuffle to be scheduled for Monday.
Initially, the UNP had opposed any changes to the portfolios assigned to its members.
However, the party leadership had given the green light for a change in the portfolios after a meeting with President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday.
Continue reading ‘Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake to be the New Foreign Affairs Minister While Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera Will Take Over as Finance Minister.’ »
Well-known Sri Lankan Journalist – activist Poddala Jayantha was in the news last week when he sent a letter to the Director-General of Information Dr. Ranga Kalansuriya who is also the Secretary to the Cabinet Sub Committee on granting measures of relief to media persons who were subjected to various types of harassment and oppression during the period 2005 – 2015. Media reports said that copies of the letter had also been sent to the respective cabinet ministers serving in the cabinet sub – committee.
Upon seeing the media reports, I contacted Poddala Jayantha now living in the USA to verify the contents of media reports and ascertain whether they were accurate. Jayantha affirmed that they were correct and confirmed that he had indeed sent the letter to the cabinet subcommittee. He was not very hopeful whether his missive would produce the desired results but was of the opinion that an attempt has to be made any way.
Continue reading ‘The White-Vanning Ordeal Of Journalist-Activist Poddala Jayantha’ »
On 27July 1975 the news of the assassination of former Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah had spread in the Peninsula like wildfire forecasting a darker era to unfold with untold misery.
Late Alfred Duraiappah who gave Jaffna a facelift with new infrastructure facilities remained a popular Mayor despite him being considered a ‘traitor’ in the Tamil political scene.
Although a Christian Duraiappah, who had married a niece of another political stalwart and legal luminary late G.G. Ponnampalam, a Hindu, had tremendous faith in Hinduism.
So it was on 27 July 1975 while he was coming out after worshipping the deity at the Varatharajaperumal Temple in Ponnalai, a hamlet which is in the Karainagar region, he was gunned down at point blank range by Veluppillai Prabhakaran who was a teenager at that time and known in his circle as ‘Thambi’ (brother).
Continue reading ‘From Ponnaalai To Mullivaaikkaal: Backfired Armed Struggle By LTTE Must Be Remembered Forever.’ »
BY S VENKAT NARAYAN
Is Tamil superstar Rajinikanth toying with the idea of entering politics to fill the vacuum in Tamil Nadu politics caused by actress-turned-politician Jayaram Jayalalithaa’s death six months ago?
Last Sunday (May 14), Rajinikanth met his fans after a gap of eight years. The biggest Tamil movie star since M G Ramachandran (MGR), the 66-year-old also utilised the event to speak about his entry into politics.
This is a subject that has been constantly discussed in the southern Indian state since 1996, when he extended his support to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) alliance. The combined promptly swept the assembly elections and dislodged Jayaram Jayalalithaa as chief minister.
Rajinikanth’s recent meeting with his fans, organised through the actor’s rasigar mandrams (fan clubs), promises to be an ongoing one, with more being scheduled in the next few days. This has predictably led to speculation that the ageing superstar may actually be thinking of plunging into politics in the near future.
Continue reading ‘Will Tamil Cinema Superstar Rajnikanth Become Chief Minister of India’s Tamil Nadu State?’ »
The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, has said that his administration would not like industries coming up in the province to use locally available resources and would want them to deploy resources procured or purchased from outside the province.
“In working out our industries we would prefer not to use our natural resources internally available, if alternatives from elsewhere could be procured or purchased,” he said speaking at a meeting on the economic development of Jaffna District in Jaffna on Friday.
Wignswaran said this in the presence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. .
Presumably , the Chief Minister said this with a view to preserving the Northern province’s natural resources .But one wonders whether other provinces would allow their resources to be depleted to preserve the resources of the Northern Province!
Continue reading ‘Chief Minister Wigneswaran Says He Wont Let North Be Used as a “Vassal Province For The Benefit Of Wayward Investors”.’ »
After 20 years in India, wearing a “refugee” tag that led her from one camp to another, it was only in December 2016 that Edward Selyn, 55, returned home. Until a few days ago, she was among a group of people seated under a tent in Mullikulam village in Mannar, in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, protesting in the scorching heat for a month, demanding that the Sri Lankan Navy release her land.
She was displaced in 1996 with her entire family, after the civil war broke out. Now, eight years after the war ended and months after her return, Ms. Selyn has not stopped feeling displaced. “I had all my documents and deeds, but still could not get back to the land where my home was. I did not think we would come back to such a situation,” she says.
Several thousand acres of formerly civilian-owned or occupied land across the conflict-affected Northern and Eastern Provinces remained with the Sri Lankan armed forces after the war ended in 2009, severely hampering post-war resettlement in Sri Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Apart From Grandstanding Internationally, Sri Lankan Govt Must Deliver at Home By Expediting Re-settlement of War Displaced People’ »
In an effort to boost the development drive in the North, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday called upon all local politicians and civil society activists to join the efforts of the Government to bring in investment to the Northern Province.
“We would like to start infrastructure development now. Rebuilding, resettlement and reconciliation is going on. Now let us look at growth oriented, job creating development in Jaffna. We must all get together to resolve the issues in the province because the lowest economic growth is coming from the Northern Province. We have to make a massive effort, and get big investments to Jaffna,” he said, adding that although some apparel sector factories have been established, no major investments have been made in the province.
In order to halt the growing unemployment numbers, the Premier promised 1,000 jobs to unemployed graduates in the two provinces in a bid to address the worsening employment issues there.
“Today, looking at the issue of unemployed graduates in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, we have decided to find vacancies for 1,000 graduates in development and teaching services in the two provinces,” he said.
The Prime Minister, who met with political leaders and civil society activists in the Jaffna Peninsula to discuss development issues and challenges, said that the former conflict zones needs special focus to drive economic development.
Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Asks Local Politicians and Civil Society to Join Govt Efforts to Promote Growth and Development In North.’ »
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public rally on May 12 with Sri Lanka’s hill-country Tamils, on the second day of his two-day visit to the country, was a success, if you went by conventional markers such as the crowd he drew or the cheers that arose from it. But its real outcome is rather limited compared to the wide-ranging needs of the historically neglected community.
That an estimated 35,000 people from in and around the central highlands converged on the small town of Norwood – many walking over 5 km since buses clogged the narrow roads — partly reflects the affinity the Tamils feel for India, from where their ancestors moved to Sri Lanka about 200 years ago. Moreover, hill-country politicians put in their might to mobilise workers, campaigning widely across the tea estates that employ a fourth of the over one million-strong community.
Mr. Modi’s visit to the region, the first by an Indian Prime Minister, was a strong affirmation of the community’s economic and political significance. In Sri Lanka’s key 2015 presidential elections, hill-country or Malayaha Tamils decisively voted for the President Maithripala Sirisena-Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe opposition combine that ousted the authoritarian Mahinda Rajapaksa regime.
Continue reading ‘Cruel Irony of Narendra Modi Quoting “Thirukkural” To Hard-working Yet Impoverished Plantation Tamils’ »
“Sunday Times” Political Editor
President Maithripala Sirisena, gave mixed signals, not unusually, when he vetoed his own demarche not to chair Cabinet meetings until he carries out a re-shuffle of Ministers. Last Monday morning, he directed the Cabinet Secretariat to summon the weekly ministerial meeting the next day, Tuesday. Officials hurriedly telephoned ministers to tell them the meeting which was indefinitely postponed, would take place at 10 a.m. at the Presidential Secretariat. It was just the week before that Sirisena refrained from formally choosing the date and time for the next meeting.
It came after he hinted to Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) ministers that no Cabinet meetings would take place until the reshuffle was made. He pointed out that he had already pledged that such changes would be made before Vesak Poya, which has now come and gone. This was on the basis that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed to such a reshuffle.
Since their meeting on May 9, the Cabinet Secretariat distributed to ministers different memoranda approved by the President, a prelude to these being discussed at Cabinet meetings. Though they were titled “AGENDA FOR THE NEXT MEETING OF THE CABINET OF MINISTERS,” in the preamble, the document made clear that “The Date, Time and Venue for the Next Meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers will be notified by the Secretary to the Cabinet in due course.”
On other occasions, the date, time and the venue form the preamble of the Agenda. For example, for the Cabinet meeting on May 9, it said “agenda for the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers to be held on 9th May, 2017 at 9.30 a.m. at the Presidential Secretariat.” Thus, the spate of telephone calls went out on Monday morning for the Tuesday meeting. That in itself was to give rise to speculation among ministers — would a reshuffle take place ahead of the meeting or would there be a statement of some sort. They were proved wrong.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Plans to Re-shuffle Cabinet Extensively on May 22nd Without “Consulting” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe?’ »
Amid speculation of a Cabinet reshuffle, UNP sources said yesterday party leader and Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe had informed President Maithripala Sirisena and former president Chandrika Kumaratunga that the portfolios assigned to the UNP should not be changed.
In such a scenario, any reshuffle, will only apply to portfolios held by Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members.
Continue reading ‘Ranil Tells Maithripala and Chandrika Not to Re-shuffle Ministerial Portfolios held by United National Party Members.’ »
The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tami-majority Northern Province, C.V.Wigneswaran, has said that the time is not far off when the Tamils will ask the Sri Lankan army, navy and air force, to quit the province.
Addressing the public gathered in Mulliwaikkal in the Northern Province on Thursday to commemorate the “genocide” which took place there in the closing stages of the war, Wigneswaran said he saw no reason for the Sri Lankan government to station 150,000 troops in the province when the war against the Tamil Tiger rebels had ended eight years ago.
When he asked a former local military commander as to why so many troops were deployed eight years after the war, the commander said that they had come to know that some Tamil Tiger activists in France and Norway had made phone calls to persons here about re-starting terrorism. When asked whether so many troops needed to be deployed on the basis of some phone calls, the commander said that they had to be here to meet any eventuality.
Continue reading ‘“Go Back Army”,”Go Back Navy”,”Go Back Air Force”- Tamils Will Soon Demand Withdrawal of Army,Navy and Air Force From North Predicts Chief Minister Wigneswaran.’ »
Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages Mano Ganesan has posted the following tweets on his twitter about his “Meeting” with Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara
Mano Ganesan has tweeted as follows about his meeting with Ven Gnanasara Thero-
@BBS chief @gnanasaraven walked into my ministry impatiently & noisy but I conducted myself according the teachings of Lord @Buddha. #lka
Continue reading ‘Bodu Bala Sena Chief Gnanasara Thero Walks “Impatiently” Into National Co-existence Minister’s Office but Mano Ganesan Says he Followed Lord Buddha’s Teachings’ »
Town Hall and Viharamahadevi Park turned into a mini-battlefield yesterday when the police attempted to prevent the Inter-University Students’ Federation protest approaching the University Grants Commission, with over 21 students admitted to hospital and another 10 arrested following the clash.
The IUSF was protesting the Government’s inaction on their demand to take the controversial private medical faculty, the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) under State control.
Continue reading ‘21 Hospitalised and 10 Arrestred as Police Clash with Inter-University Students Federation Protesters at Viharamahadevi Park.’ »
By S.S. Selvanayagam
The Supreme Court yesterday (17) re-fixed for support on 12 July the petition filed by retired Army Officer and former Southern Provincial Councillor Ajith Prasanna challenging the appointment of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka as a Member of Parliament.
The bench comprised Chief Justice Priyasath Dep and Justices Sisira J. De Abrew and Nalin Perera.
The petitioner had sought an order in the nature of a Writ of Quo Warranto declaring that Democratic Party leader Field Marshal Fonseka was disqualified and not entitled to be elected as a Member of Parliament of the United National Party and thus not entitled to hold office as a Member of Parliament.
Quo warranto (‘By what warrant?’) is a prerogative writ which asks the person to whom it is directed to show by what authority he or she exercises a right or power which he or she claims to hold.
Continue reading ‘Writ of Quo Warranto Sought From Supreme Court to Unseat Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka From M.P. Post.’ »
Two rebel SLFP/UPFA North Central Provincial Councillors who switched their allegiance to President Maithripala Sirisena have been appointed ministers.
Sarath Illangasinghe and Sampath Sri Nilantha have succeeded H. B. Semasinghe and R. M. P. B. Ratnayake. SLFP sources told The Island new appointments were meant to strengthen the group loyal to President Sirisena.
On Tuesday, rebel Susil Gunaratne deserted the group loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to join the NCP board of ministers.
A Provincial Council can appoint five ministers including the Chief Minister.
Continue reading ‘Maithripala Retains Hold on North Central Provincial Council by Appointing Two Pro-Mahinda Men as Ministers.’ »
(Ernest Corea, one of Sri Lanka’s most distinguished journalists and diplomats, died on May 11, 2017 after a long illness)
On December 13, 2005 the highly respected former Editor in Chief of The Ceylon Daily News (1966- 1970) and a former High Commissioner to Ottawa and former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Washington , Ernest Corea wrote to me following my appointment as the Editor in Chief of the Daily News. “Bandula: Please accept heartfelt congratulations from my wife Indra and myself, both “Daily News” alumni, on your appointment as editor-in-chief of our old paper. I hope you will be able to raise its standards, improve its writing, and broaden its perspectives. I have just returned from a conference in Morocco, and am fighting off a bad cold. I will write again as soon as I am fully recovered. Meanwhile … go to it! – Ernest Corea”
I got to know late Corea thanks to the introduction given by our permanent man (I say permanent because the Sri Lankan government Reps come and go but, he continues) seated inside a glass house in New York, the evergreen Thalif Deen. Like Thalif, Ernest became an inspiration to me. He continuously sent me emails giving me ideas to work on. On two occasions, Ernest Corea sent me books, one was on development journalism and another book he had purchased from the World Bank Bookshop in Washington. His emails were full of encouragement and guidance. I wonder how many other Daily News Editors had that privilege. Ernest Corea wrote to me when I was wronged (I know Thalif use to brief him) by the Media Minister at the time, Anura Yapa. There were times when he called me and told me to continue with the good work and to be fearless and careful.
Continue reading ‘Ernest Corea – Editor, Diplomat par Excellence – A Humble Tribute’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Indian Premier Narendra Modi declared in Colombo on Friday (May 12) that the biggest challenge to sustainable world peace today might not be necessarily from conflict between the nation states.
Addressing international Vesak Day celebrations, at the BMICH, Modi asserted: “It is from the mindsets, thought streams, entities and instruments rooted in the idea of hate and violence. The menace of terrorism in our region is a concrete manifestation of this destructive emotion (emphasis mine) Sadly, these ideologies of hate and their proponents, in our region, are not open to dialogue and hence only open to causing death and destruction.”
Modi’s visit took place close on the heels of India and Sri Lanka signing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a range of projects, including one on Trincomalee oil tank farm.
Obviously, Hindu nationalist Modi has conveniently forgotten how India caused regional crisis by destabilizing Sri Lanka to such an extent to compel the then JRJ government to accept deployment of the Indian Army in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. India caused massive destruction in the predominately Tamil Northern and Eastern districts. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) responded by assassinating former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in May 1991. The LTTE struck in Tamil Nadu over a year after the Indian Army pulled out of Sri Lanka at the request of the then President Ranasinghe Premadasa.
India caused further mayhem when New Delhi established the Tamil National Army months before its withdrawal. The LTTE decimated the Tamil National Army with the tacit understanding with President Premadasa whose 14-month long honeymoon, with the LTTE, ended in June 1990.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Security Concerns and Interests are Different of that of India’ »
India appears to be in the process of re-shaping and re-orienting its policy on the Sri Lankan ethnic question once again. This was evident during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to Sri Lanka from May 11 to 12, Modi found time for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), a group of Sri Lankan Tamil parties, only at the fag end of his visit. The appointment was given only at the eleventh hour, and the meeting which took place at the airport lounge just before Modi’s departure, lasted just 15 minutes.
This sharply contrasted with his engagement with the Indian Origin Tamil (IOT) estate workers and their leaders in the Central Highlands of the country. He opened a hospital for them, addressed a mammoth public meeting and had talks with their leaders.
Modi’s visit showed that India’s emphasis has noticeably shifted from the Sri Lankan Tamils’ issue to issues of the Indian Origin Tamils (IOT) – ie. from the indigenous Tamils of Sri Lanka to Tamils who were taken from India to Sri Lanka by the British to work in British-run coffee, tea and rubber plantations between 1823 and 1939.
Continue reading ‘Indian Policy on Sri Lanka Will Shift From Emphasis on Sri Lankan Tamils to Focus More on Sinhalese and Indian Tamils’ »
by Shamindra Ferdinando
One of the rebel SLFP North Central Provincial Councillors, Susil Gunaratne, has switched his allegiance to President Maithripala Sirisena within hours of signing an affidavit requesting the immediate removal of Chief Minister S. M. Peshala Jayaratne Bandara, a staunch Sirisena loyalist.
The rebel group comprising 17 members loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa demanded CM be replaced with S.M. Ranjith, who had recently given up transport, sports, youth affairs, cooperative, trade and Food and industrial development portfolios in protest against President Maithripala Sirisena dismissing Minister K.H. Nandasena.
President Maithripala Sirisena has rewarded Susil Gunaratne with portfolios previously held by Ranjith soon after directing Governor P. B. Dissanayake not to accept affidavits furnished by the rebel group.
Former External Affairs Minister and top Joint Opposition spokesman Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday quoted Governor Dissanayake as having told the rebel group that he was directed not to accept affidavits.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Breaks Pro-Mahinda Group of North Central Provincial UPFA Councillors with Portfolio Offer.’ »
Professor Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka
(Emeritus Professor ( University of Peradeniya )
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo
It is to be hoped that the government will treat Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s recent call for retrogressive anti conversion legislation with the contempt it deserves. It is a foolish and dangerous attempt to revive a defunct proposal that was thankfully shelved some years ago. While the Cardinal’s opinion is repugnant to non – Roman Catholic Christians in Sri Lanka, it is evident from his own admission that it is a personal view that may not even be shared by the Catholic Bishops Conference. That he should be in a minority is not surprising considering the awful irony that what the Cardinal is asking for is the very thing that is being demanded by religious fanatics who are hostile to the Christian Church !
It is sad to see the stark contrast between the attitude of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and saintly bishops like the late Bishop Frank Marcus Fernando who in his lifetime was a redoubtable fighter against all anti – conversion legislation. Amongst my most cherished correspondence is a hand written letter dated July 6th 2004 from the beloved Bishop ( even though he did not know me personally and I am not a Roman Catholic ), conveying his congratulations for what he termed an “excellent” article titled “ Legislation Driven by Conversion Phobia” in the “Island” newspaper of 5th and 6th July 2004. Bishop Frank Marcus concluded his appreciative note by saying “At our level we are doing our best to stop this foolish and dangerous legislation” – wise words which are a devastating though posthumous indictment of the measures being proposed by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.
It is on record that in 2011 the Cardinal made a similar suggestion to the previous regime with which he seems to have had a cordial relationship. Wiser counsel having prevailed then the Cardinal’s attempt to flog a dead horse now with the present regime, seems like a burst of episcopal megalomania by an arrogant prelate who is out of touch with reality. The Cardinal’s call for what he termed “new laws to put an end to the issue of forcible conversions and preserve religious harmony” is invalid on several counts.
Continue reading ‘CARDINAL SIN: A Critical Reaction to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s Call For Legislation Banning “Forcible Conversions”’ »
By Ayesha Zuhair
It was a rousing welcome befitting a celebrity. Tamils of recent Indian origin lined the streets of Dickoya in Sri Lanka’s central hills on Friday (12 May) to catch a glimpse of that Indian tea boy who rose to become the Prime Minister of ‘Mother India’ to almost all of them.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed as he arrives to attend a function in Dickoya.
ption, tweeted: “On the road in Sri Lanka… overwhelmed!”DFT-18-7
It was Narendra Modi’s second visit to Sri Lanka since his election in 2014 as India’s Prime Minister, but more significantly, it was the first visit by an Indian leader to the Central Province, where Up-country Tamils or Tamils of recent Indian origin are concentrated. No other Indian leader has visited the hill country since indentured labour was brought from south India by the British colonial rulers (initially for coffee, and then for their tea and rubber plantations) in the 19th century.
In the past, Indian leaders have considered a visit to the north of the island as an essential part of their itinerary, their attention primarily focused on the Tamil community in the northern and eastern parts of the island. This, of course, was induced by pressure from Tamil Nadu on the Indian Central Government to persuade Colombo to address the ethnic issue.
Continue reading ‘Narendra Modi’s Hill Country Visit Brings Joy to Tamils of Recent Indian Origin’ »
By spurning China’s invitation to be part of the multi-billion dollar, multi-continental One Belt One Road (OBOR) project on an issue of “sovereignty” India has completely isolated itself from Asia, and even its immediate neighborhood, South Asia, over which it claims exclusive influenceAll countries of South Asia, except India’s fiefdom of Bhutan, attended the OBOR summit at Yangqui Lake in the outskirts of Beijing being held on May 14 and 15.
The Maldives had joined the OBOR in 2014, and Bangladesh had signed up in 2016. Sri Lanka automatically became part of OBOR after the construction of the Hambantota port in 2010. Pakistan too had become a part of it as a result of the construction of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). And Nepal signed up this month.
Even countries which have complained of China’s hegemonic tendencies like Japan and Vietnam, had sent high level delegations to the meeting. The anti-Chinese Trump administration in the US had also sent a high level delegation headed by White House Advisor Matt Pottinger. From Nepal came its Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara. Sri Lanka was represented by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Minister of Strategic Development Malik Samarawickrama.
China has been consistently calling upon India to set aside political differences including long standing sovereignty issue over Pakistan-held Kashmir and join the OBOR for the sake of the long term economic development of South Asia and the world.
Continue reading ‘India Isolates Itself From Rest of Asia By Staying Away From China’s OBOR Project’ »
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Last week has been eventful. And I was conflicted on whether to write about the Sri Lankan visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more specifically his attitude and signalling during his visit to Dickoya, home to a large concentration of Indian origin Tamils or about China’s One Belt – One Road initiative.
India has always meddled in our internal affairs, given its geographical location and aspiration to be the dominant regional power.
I would be surprised if they didn’t, and it has always leveraged its ‘connection’ to the Tamil population to influence Sri Lankan Governments.
Continue reading ‘Will India Attempt to Use Indian Origin Tamils to Counter – balance Chinese Influence in Sri Lanka?’ »
During the last weekend, President Xi Jinping unveiled his pet project, presented in a rather confusing jargon, ‘One Belt One Road’, in Beijing. The next door communist neighbour, North Korea in a quirky brotherly fashion greeted the guests with fireworks. Test firing a missile, which it boasted as capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, Pyongyang stole headlines from Mr. Xi.
But the caravan went on. By the end of the day, Mr. Xi announced an additional US $ 120 billion of Chinese commitment for the New Silk Road. China’s New Silk Road which was first mooted by Mr. Xi in 2013 and presented to delegates of 65 countries, including 29 heads of states and governments, last Sunday envisaged to build a network of modern infrastructure and port facilities across the land and sea lanes that stretched from mainland China to Europe and Africa.
By any account, China’s new initiative will be a money spinner. Some Chinese observers tend to draw a parallel with the Marshal Plan, the American initiatives to aid the recovery of post- war Western Europe. However, in some counts, the Marshal Plan fails in comparison, if the full scale of the Chinese ambitions is materialized.
The Marshal Plan provided US $ 13 billion assistance ( US $ 160 billion in 2016 value) during its four years of operation. Whereas, Credit Suisse in a recent report estimated that as much as US $ 502 billion in infrastructure development assistance would be splashed out in 65 countries during the next five years under China’s Belt and Road initiative.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Failure to Exploit Her Strategic Location is Like the Virginity of Victorian -era Women’ »
North Central Governor P. B. Dissanayake yesterday declined a request by a group of provincial Councillors loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to replace Chief Minister of the North Central Province S.M. Peshala Jayaratne Bandara with S.M. Ranjith.
Of the 22 member UPFA group, 17 have backed the rebel move.
The UPFA-run NCP comprises 33 members.
The rebels made their move in the wake of Ranjith quitting his ministerial post in protest against President Maithripala Sirisena dismissing provincial minister K. H. Nandasena. President Sirisena named Herath Banda as Nandasena’s successor.
Continue reading ‘North Central Governor Thwarts Move by Majority of Provincial Councillors to Replace Chief Minister Jayaratne Bandara With SM Ranjith.’ »
By Chitra Weerarathne
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court yesterday by a majority decision granted leave to appeal with the Application of Appeal filed by Geetha Kumarasinghe against the Court of Appeal judgement of Jan. 31, 2017.
The Supreme Court extended the interim relief granted earlier in favour of the appellant Kumarasinghe.
The interim relief suspended the operation of the Court of Appeal Judgement dated January 31, which disqualified Kumarasinghe from being a Member of Parliament, on the basis she was a dual citizen at the time of nomination.
The appeal will be argued in the Supreme Court on September 25.
Continue reading ‘Supreme Court will Hear Geetha Kumarasinghe Appeal on Sep 25th: Suspension of Quo Warranto Writ Disqualifying Galle Dist MP Extended Further’ »
DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
As the Indian TV station WION’s program ‘Gravitas’ correctly reported, “Modi Reshapes Sri Lanka Policy”. What a reshaping it was and what a shape it has now taken! It has to be analyzed in all its dimensions and implications.
Though my old teacher of international relations, Prof Shelton Kodikara, would surely have traced Modi’s ‘Vesak discourse’ in Colombo back to the Indian Ocean-centric theories of KM Panikkar and thus posited a conceptual continuity, I would add or attribute two new reasons for the Modi doctrine.
Firstly, the competition with a rising China in the Indian Ocean has led Modi to attempt a downward thrust of India’s power, extending its sphere of influence southwards, hardening and transforming it from a sphere of influence to a domain of secure possession, acquiring Sri Lanka or at least its North and East which contains Trincomalee.
Secondly, Mr. Modi’s ideological lineage and mindset make it easier than it would be for a Congress leader, to think in terms of a Greater India, a quasi-empire—which extends to and incorporates the island of Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Narendra Modi Wants to Change Sri Lanka From Sovereign Independent Country to a Federal State of the Indian Union.’ »
(Dr. A. S. Chandrabose is a Senior Lecturer in Social Studies at the Open University of Sri Lanka)
However, housing crisis (comprising backlogs, evictions, removals and inadequate housing, amongst others) is still a reality in the country. South Africa is still faced with a “critical nationwide housing backlog.” 5 In June 2013, the housing backlog reportedly stood at 2.1 million units (affecting over eight million people).6 In 2012, 54.5 per cent of households were living in informal settlements.7 In terms of achieving a non-racial integrated society, South Africa is still seen as a “grossly unequal society in which the (overwhelmingly black) poor majority population is disproportionately denied adequate housing opportunities and basic amenities.” 8 It has been reported that despite the government’s commitment to realize housing rights through the range of policies and programmes, “many poor households remain unable to access some form of adequate housing, often having to live in difficult conditions in informal settlements and inner city ‘slum buildings’ and subject to the constant risk of eviction.” 9
Continue reading ‘House Ownership for Plantation Workers in Sri Lanka’ »
For the past four decades, terrorism has been an important factor in India’s foreign policy. Long before the 9/11 attacks spurred the United States into announcing a “global war on terror”, India was fighting its own battles: in Kashmir and Punjab, and with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam both internally, as well as internationally, where action on terrorism was a key component of bilateral relations.
A consistent stance
While there were countries where terror groups trained or were funded, such as Pakistan, or Bangladesh (pre-2008), there were still others such as the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada where groups sympathetic to these extremists supported their activities. Through these decades, India’s bilateral relations with these countries have been closely aligned to their actions on terror. At the UN in 1996, much before the phrase “global war on terror” gained currency, it was India that first introduced the concept, proposing a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that it still hopes will be adopted by all members. India’s message is simple: each country must adopt a zero tolerance policy to all violent ideologies that threaten ordinary citizens. India’s position has become more strident, with a push for the UN designation of terrorist groups as well as raising the issue of Pakistan-based terrorists at international fora including the G-20, BRICS and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was among the speakers at the 2017 Khalsa Day Parade.
Pic Courtesy of: Martin Trainor-CBC
Given that position, it is surprising that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) chose to react meekly to the decision by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to attend the “Khalsa Day” parade organised by the Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwara Council in Toronto on April 30. The images of pro-Khalistani militants are often brought out at these parades, as many of the marchers call for the establishment of a separate Khalistan, and this year was no exception. India had worked to ensure that Stephen Harper, Mr. Trudeau’s predecessor, didn’t attend the same event, and it wasn’t coincidental that Prime Minster Manmohan Singh (2010) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (2015) visited him during his tenure as a result. That Mr. Trudeau chose to make his appearance in a year he plans to visit India is all the more startling.
Continue reading ‘Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Presence at “Khalsa” Event In Toronto Is Troubling.’ »
By the “Sunday Times ” Political Editor
President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe decided on Friday night that the much-talked-of Cabinet reshuffle will take place upon the latter’s return from China.
The meeting came just ahead of the Premier travelling to the airport to board a Singapore-bound flight en route to Beijing.
President Sirisena also directed him not to deal with any matters relating to the Hambantota Port project with a Chinese firm until a number of outstanding issues are resolved.
The Premier had proposed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding incorporating the different agreements with Chinese authorities. A Framework Agreement is also on the cards.
The Cabinet reshuffle turned out to be a sore point in the United National Party-Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) relations. SLFP ministers who met Mr. Sirisena on Monday night were to say they would sit as an ‘independent group’ in Parliament from August if the current disturbing political situation is not addressed.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe Decide to Re-shuffle Cabinet to Avoid UNP -SLFP Crisis.’ »
Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
Only the naïve would believe the rosily repeated plea by the European Union (EU) that ‘the implementation of twenty seven international conventions is the only criterion for regaining’ the GSP Plus trade facility for Sri Lanka.
Posing infinitely greater harm
Repetition does not make what is false, true though this is a well accepted propaganda strategy historically. Regardless, repeating a patently false claim is generally shrugged off as an unavoidable part of doublespeak. Similarly, when international realpolitik results in no more damage than the continuation of an existing state of affairs, only casual concern may be warranted.
For instance this may have hypothetically been the case if negotiations with the EU had (merely) resulted in the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) continuing, albeit in all its disreputable glory. If so and the Government took pride in announcing that it had secured GSP Plus as it did for the umpteenth time this week, this may have only merited an aggrieved comment here or an annoyed observation there, as the case may be.
But, the situation is very different when doublespeak and realpolitik, masked in the comforting cloak of adherence to international law, poses infinitely greater harm for Sri Lankans. This is precisely the storm that a proposed Counter Terrorism Act (CTA) approved by Sri Lanka’s Cabinet has brought down on the hapless shoulders of the EU, as hard albeit unconvincingly as it may try to justify itself.
Continue reading ‘Draft Counter Terrorism Act (CTA) Shows The “Middle Finger” Contemptuously to the Sri Lankan Constitution.’ »
In his speech welcoming the Indian Prime Minister, Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages, Mano Ganeshan stated that the people assembled to hear him speak were the most recent segment of people to arrive from India in the 1800s.
Pic via: Facebook/
Ministry of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Languages
“But our loyalty to our Motherland Sri Lanka, is not a divided loyalty,” he insisted. “We are in a position of being a bridge between our two nations, and also, we make the relationship between our countries more meaningful,” the Minister opined.
Continue reading ‘“Our Loyalty Is Not a Divided Loyalty. We are a Bridge Between our Two Nations” – Mano Ganeshan’ »
By Namini Wijedasa
“India beats in your hearts,” visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared to jubilant Sri Lankans at the Norwood grounds on Friday, moments after declaring open a multi-specialty hospital in Dickoya built with Indian funds.
pic via: twitter/
Alluding to them as “Indian-origin diaspora”, Mr Modi told the estimated 30,000-strong crowd that their progress was India’s pride. “We take much joy from your accomplishments in various walks of life,” he said. “We rejoice at the success of the Indian-origin diaspora as they leave a mark across the world, near and far.”
Thousands of Indian origin Tamils—all of them now Sri Lankan citizens—climbed into buses early Friday morning and were driven to the Norwood grounds to hear Mr Modi speak. Villages were festooned with orange, white and green streamers, the colours both of the Indian national flag and the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC).
Continue reading ‘Over 30,000 Sri Lankans of Indian Origin at Norwood Cheer as Indian Prime Minister Modi says “India Beats In Your Hearts”.’ »
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of his humble beginnings as a tea boy (Chai Boy) when he addressed tens of thousands of tea plantation workers of recent Indian origin at Norwood in the Nuwara Eliya district Friday.
Opening ceremony of Dickoya hospital
Becoming the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the tea growing central region of Sri Lanka, Modi said he and the vast majority of plantation Tamils had something in common – tea.
“You and I have something in common,” he said. “As some of you may have heard, I have a special association with tea,” he said in a clear reference to his days as a Chai Boy, or tea seller at his father’s modest tea stall at a railway station in the Gujarat state of India.
He said it was a tremendous honour to be the first Indian Prime Minister ever to visit the region which is home to nearly one million Tamils of recent Indian origin.
Continue reading ‘“Chaiwallah” (Tea Boy) Narendra Modi Uses “Teacup Diplomacy”to Reach out to Tamil Plantation Workers of Indian Origin’ »
Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal unseating Geetha Kumarasinghe could lead to a major shift in the balance of power with the United People’s Freedom Alliance possibly losing at least 11 seats in the 225-member parliament.
The May 3 decision of the court held that Kumarasinghe, a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and Switzerland, was unqualified to be a candidate at the August 2015 parliamentary election and thus she should be removed from parliament.
Apart from removing the 61-year-old former actress-turned-politician from the legislature, the court decision has far more serious repercussions for the entire UPFA list for Galle and Matara districts which returned six and five MPs for the party respectively. The future of those MP’s is now in question.
Continue reading ‘11 UPFA Southern MP’s From Galle (6) and Matara (5) Districts Face Risk Of Being Unseated Due to Effect of Appeal Court Ruling on Geetha Kumarasinghe’ »
The visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday played the “ancient Buddhist link” card with aplomb in a bid to give a firm historical and cultural foundation to his plea that Sri Lanka should accept India as a reliable development partner, Glorifying the teachings of the Buddha and pointing out their relevance to addressing the problems of the crisis-ridden modern world, Modi said that Vesak day is a day for rejoicing as well as reflection on the “timeless truth of the Dhamma” which the Buddha preached.
He was in Colombo as the Chief Guest at the UN-backed International Vesak Day Celebrations at the invitation of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. Vesak marks the birth, enlightenment and mahaparinibbana (liberation or death) of the Buddha.
The Buddhist Dhamma’s call for the inculcation of generosity, proper conduct, wisdom, energy, tolerance, truthfulness, determination, loving kindness and equanimity is of great relevance to the conflict-ridden present day world just as it was in Buddha’s time, Modi said. He quoted the Buddha to say that the Dhamma is the greatest gift one can bestow.
Continue reading ‘Narendra Modi Plays the “Buddhist Link” as Winning Card to Make Sri Lanka Accept India as Reliable Development Partner.’ »
DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
Prime Minister Modi’s two day visit to Sri Lanka was supposed to be non-political. Yet, in his address to the International Vesak Conference at the BMICH, he laid out the Modi doctrine for Indo-Lankan relations and more especially for Sri Lanka.
His message was hardly non-political, or purely cultural and civilizational, being far more Kautilyan than Dharmaashokan. With the country’s top leadership– Government and Opposition– present, he prescribed the limits of this country’s sovereign existence.
This is what he says, on economics and security/strategy which are facets of the same thing: power relations between states:
Continue reading ‘Modi Doctrine of “Indivisible Mutual Security” With India is Unacceptable for Sri Lanka’s National Interests.’ »
After having run into difficulties with the Sri Lankan Tamils of the North and East over issues of devolution of power, alleged human rights violations during Eelam War IV, and post-war economic development, the government of India is now turning its attention away from the North-East Tamils to the Tamils of Indian Origin in the plantation areas of Central Sri Lanka
“Crowds on way to Dickoya to welcome PM @narendramodi ” poc via: twitter.com/
It is therefore very significant that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not only inaugurating the 100-bed India-built modern hospital in Dikoya but also meeting the Indian Origin Tamil leaders and addressing a gathering of Indian Origin people.
Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minster to visit see the Indian Origin Tamil plantation labor in situ, though the government of India has had a long history of involvement with their lives.
Continue reading ‘Modi Visit Indicates Indian Govt Focus is Shifting From North – Eastern Tamils to Tamils of Indian Origin in Up Country Areas.’ »
In a “very friendly and cordial” half an hour’s meeting here late on Thursday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa completely skipped politics and spoke about forging close economic relations between the two countries, a well-placed source said.
pic via: facebook.com/
Contrary expectations, Rajapaksa did not voice any concerns about the recent economic agreements with India which had created a political storm of sorts in the island.
On the other hand he dwelt on the deficiencies in the economic policy of the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government and regretted that the projects that his government had launched were stalled. The government ought to generate “investor confidence,” he stressed.
Rajapaksa added that he is all for economic cooperation with India. Continue reading ‘Ex-Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa “Shapes Things” In Cordial and Friendly 30 Minute Meeting with Indian PM Narendra Modi’ »
On May 1, while thousands gathered at Sri Lanka’s Galle Face Green, to attend the May Day rally organised by forces loyal to Mahinda Rajapakse, one of the former President’s closes aides made a controversial call.
He took to the microphone and urged the public to raise black flags when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in the country on May 11, to protest the Indian leadership’s visit to the island country.
This call was made by non other than Wimal Weerawansa, who has a history of being a ‘drama king’ in the Sri Lankan political arena. While Weerawansa went on with his rants, former President Mahinda Rajapakse stood on the stage, saying nothing.
Weerawansa further went on to say that Modi and the Sri Lankan government were discussing a deal on Trincomalee which he told the public, must be opposed. Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Calls For Protest Against Narendra Modi Visit but Mahinda Rajapaksa Has Cordial Meeting with Indian PM.’ »
Claiming India’s commitment to Sri Lanka’s economic prosperity, visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday stressed that whether it was on land or in the waters of the Indian Ocean, the security of India and Sri Lanka was indivisible.
Modi declared that his conversations with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had reinforced India’s will to join hands in achieving their common goals.
The Indian leader was addressing the International Vesak Day event at the BMICH in Colombo.
Excepts of Modi address: Continue reading ‘Be it Land or Water the Security of India and Sri Lanka is Indivisible says Indian PM Narendra Modi’ »
by A Special Correspondent
Galle district parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe was recently declared to be disqualified from being a member of parliament by the Court of Appeal on the basis of a provision introduced to the Constitution via the 19th Amendment, disqualifying dual citizens from becoming MPs. This provision was tagged on to Article 91, which lists the disqualifications to be elected or to sit in Parliament. Article 66 of the Constitution says that an MP’s seat will become vacant if among other things, he becomes subject to a disqualification under Article 91.
Section 115 of the Parliamentary Elections Act (No. 1 of 1981) states that disqualification under any written law for election or for sitting and voting as a Member, whether before or after the election of the Member, of any person or persons nominated by a recognised political party or independent group for election at that election, shall not invalidate or in any way affect the nomination paper of that party or group, and, accordingly, the candidature or election of any other person nominated by the party or group on that nomination paper shall not be invalidated by reason only of the fact of the death, withdrawal or disqualification of such person or persons.
The government appears to be relying on the above provisions in the law to restrict the disqualification of Kumarasinghe just to her, leading to her surgical removal from Parliament to be replaced by Piyasena Gamage. Following the verdict of the Court of Appeal, the Secretary General of Parliament has already written to the Elections Commission, that her seat has fallen vacant. The matter is now before the Supreme Court. Continue reading ‘If Geetha Kumarasinghe’s Unseating as MP is Upheld the Entire List of Galle District UPFA Candidates Including MP’s Could be Disqualified.’ »
Mahinda P. LiyanageGalle
Southern Provincial Councilor Jayantha Jayaweera told the media that he was going to initiate legal action in the Court of Appeal challenging the legal validity of the entire list of candidates who contested the 2015 Parliamentary election under the United People’s Freedom Alliance ticket inconsideration of the legal postulations following the Court of Appeal(CA) order issued on May 3 declaring that Galle district Parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe was disqualified to be a Member of Parliament.
“According to the election law, in case of a candidate of a list is disqualified following a court order or any other lawful objection, the same directive applies all other contestants of the respective list. Hence, according to the Court of Appeal decree unseating Geetha Kumarasinghe from her Parliamentary membership the whole of the UPFA list under consideration is also legally invalid, Councilor Jayaweera argued. Continue reading ‘Validity of Entire List of Galle District UPFA Candidates for Aug 2015 Parliament Elections to be Challenged Consequent to Geetha Kumarasinghe Being Disqualified as MP.’ »
The Supreme Court today issued an Interim Order until May 15, staying the operation of the judgment made by Court of Appeal which declared that Geetha Kumarasinghe disqualified as Member of Parliament and thus not entitled to hold this office.
However, President’s Counsel J.C. Weliamuna appearing on behalf of two Galle district residents informed Court that his clients and other respondents were yet to receive notices and thereby raised objections for any hearing into matter.
Through an appeal petition, Galle District UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe sought an order to set aside the judgment dated May 3, 2017 by Court of Appeal.
A three-judge-bench comprising Justice Buwaneka Aluvihare, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena and Justice Anil Goonaratne decided to fixed the matter for support on May 15 and directed the respondent-petitioner to serve notices on respondents before next support date. Continue reading ‘No Action to Remove Geetha Kumarasinghe as MP until May 15th Orders Supreme Court’ »
Kumara Vidugalage Dona Geetha Samanmalee Kumarasingha popularly known as Geetha Kumarasinghe is in the eye of a politico-legal storm. The glamorous actress turned politician who was elected to Parliament in August 2015 from the Galle district on the United Peoples Freedom Alliance(UPFA) ticket has been unseated by an Appeal court ruling.
Pics courtesy of: fb/pg/GeethaSamanmaleeKumarasinghe & facebook.com/FCASLANKA
According to newspaper reports the Court of Appeal on May 3rd 2017 issued a Writ of Quo Warranto disqualifying the UPFA Member of Parliament from holding office as an MP because Ms. Geetha Kumarasinghe was holding dual citizenship at the time of seeking nomination to enter Parliament. She was a citizen of Switzerland as well as Sri Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Geetha, Gotabhaya And The Political Implications of Dual Citizenship’ »
By Philip Fernando
Ernest Corea, one of Sri Lanka’s distinguished newspaper editors and accomplished diplomats passed away yesterday in USA after a long bout with diabetes. He was editor of The Daily News and Sunday Observer and later headed the embassies in Canada and USA. He was awarded the Deshabandu Class 1 National Day honour for meritorious diplomatic service. He was a stout defender of the freedom of press.
Earnest was the last of the long stream of editors that Esmond Wickremesinghe raised at Lake House during its heyday: Cecil Graham, Tarzie Vittachi, Denzil Peiris, Harold Peiris and M A de Silva, just to name a few. Those of us who were privy to have seen them at close range carried away memories that stuck with us for good.
News is sacred, comment is free, was their credo.
Continue reading ‘Ernest Corea, Distinguished Editor and Esteemed Diplomat Passed Away’ »
Versatile Film Director and Script Writer Vasantha Obeysekere breathed his last on 8 April. Vasantha, born on 29 December 1937, was 79 years of age when he passed away peacefully in Colombo.
In a creative career that spanned nearly five decades, Vasantha made 13 feature films and several documentaries. He won many accolades and awards at multiple levels for his films. Most of his creations were commercial successes too – satisfying both the connoisseur as well as the common rasika. More importantly, Vasantha was an intrepid and innovative director who went off the beaten track and ventured into new vistas of filmmaking. His films possessed distinctive hallmarks indicative of his unique directorial style.
The landmark movies made by Vasantha Obeysekere comprised a baker’s dozen. His films in chronological order are ‘Vesgaththo’ (Masked Men), ‘Valmathuwo’ (Lost Ones), ‘Diyamanthi’ (Diamonds), ‘Palangetiyo’ (Grass Hoppers), ‘Dadayama’ (The Hunt), ‘Kedapathaka Chaya’ (Reflections in a Mirror), ‘Maruthaya’ (The Storm), ‘Dorakda Marawa’ (Death at the Doorstep), ‘Theertha Yathra’ (Pilgrimage), ‘Salelu Warama’ (Web of Love), ‘Asani Warsha’ (Wrath & Rain), ‘Sewwandi’ (Chrysanthemum) and ‘Aganthukaya’ (The Outcast).
Continue reading ‘Vasantha Obeysekere, his House on Lauries Road and the Film “Dadayama”’ »
The European Union has formally restored the GSP+ concessions to Sri Lanka seven years after key beneficiary access to the country’s biggest export market was suspended.
The Government’s Information Department said last night that the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council had approved GSP plus for Sri Lanka.
The Department said the EU approval completes the three procedural requirements for Sri Lanka to receives GSP Plus status. “The official notification on the entry into force will be finalised next week,” it added.
Sri Lanka last month secured a crucial vote at the European Parliament in Brussels and Sri Lanka’s application was referred to the 28-member European Union Council of Ministers for approval.
Continue reading ‘European Union Formally Restores GSP+ Concessions Denied to Sri Lanka 7 Years Ago During Rajapaksa Rule.’ »
Sri Lanka has rejected China’s request to dock one of its submarines in Colombo this month, given “India’s concerns,” said a government official.
Sri Lanka last allowed a Chinese submarine to dock in the capital of Colombo in October 2014, a move that triggered fierce opposition from its northern neighbour India, which worries about growing Chinese activity in a country it has long viewed as part of its area of influence.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Sri Lanka on Thursday for a two-day official visit.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Refuses to Let Chinese Submarine Dock in Colombo this Month Due to Indian Sensitivity Over China’s Influence.’ »
In an unscheduled, late night meeting, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo on Thursday May 11th 2017
The meeting was at the ex-president’s request, Indian High Commisioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu told reporters here.
The meeting comes ten days after a parliamentarian close to Mr. Rajapaksa called for a black flag protest around Mr. Modi’s visit.
Mr. Rajapaksa has earlier blamed India for his defeat in the January 2015 presidential polls, but in a recent media interview said that he admired Mr. Modi.
Continue reading ‘Narendra Modi Has Unscheduled Meeting in Colombo With Mahinda Rajapaksa at Ex-Sri Lankan President’s Request’ »
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Colombo on Thursday evening on a two-day visit to participate in the UN Vesak Day celebrations, amid elaborate security arrangements.
While New Delhi and Colombo have termed the visit as primarily a “religious” engagement, while emphasising that no agreements will be signed, Prime Minister Modi on his official Facebook page said: “This will be my second bilateral visit there in two years, a sign of our strong relationship.”
Continue reading ‘Indian PM Narendra Modi Arrives in Sri Lanka on a “Religious Engagement” Visit; Wont sign Any Agreement’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Joint Opposition on Tuesday (May 9) strongly denied that it had purposely voted for the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, knowing that the Rajapaksa brothers, Basil and Gotabhaya would be debarred from contesting future elections.
The 19th Amendment debarred Sri Lankans holding dual citizenship from contesting polls. Parliament adopted the new law in late April 2015.
The media took up the issue at a briefing called by the JO at Punchi Borella to comment on the latest Central Bank annual report and the alleged government-Parliament conspiracy to oust Galle District UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe on the basis of a Court of Appeal ruling on her dual citizenship.
Continue reading ‘Why Did Joint Opposition MP’s Vote for 19th Amendment Knowing it Debars Basil and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa From Contesting Polls?’ »
On his first visit to Sri Lanka in March 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a South Asian icon to be looked up to and emulated. His rise from being a humble tea boy to be the Prime Minister of a gigantic country like India, was the stuff of dreams and a beacon of hope among the disadvantaged in the entire region.
His avowed South Asian regional orientation and his “Look East” declarations gave hope of a fresh deal for India’s smaller neighbors, including Sri Lanka. No wonder Modi got a breathtaking reception in Colombo and Jaffna with manifest and spontaneous popular participation on his first visit.
But there has been a sea change since then. Two years down the line, as Modi arrives here on May 11 for a two-day visit, Sri Lankans are wary about Modi and his government, wondering whether New Delhi’s recent brazen moves on Sri Lanka have a hidden agenda to interfere with and abridge Sri Lanka’s right to choose its friends, economic partners and defense allies.
Sri Lankans wonder if India plans to arrogate the island’s strategic national assets in the guise of “joint development” of such assets.
New Delhi’s seemingly high handed bid to thwart China’s inroads into Sri Lanka through a large number of agreements such as the Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) and the recent MoU on economic projects, has made Modi’s “Neighborhood First Policy“ suspect in the eyes of Sri Lankans.
Continue reading ‘Sinhalese Anxious,Tamils Indifferent and Muslims Disdainful About Narendra Modi Visit to Sri Lanka’ »
by Shamindra Ferdinando
The Joint Opposition yesterday accused Parliament of depriving actress turned UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe of her Galle District parliamentary seat at the behest of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration.
The JO flayed the government and the parliament for acting hurriedly to oust an elected MP loyal to former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa. The JO said that Kumarasinghe had earned the wrath of the SLFP for steadfastly being a Rajapaksa supporter.
Former External Affairs Minister and top JO spokesman Prof. G. L. Peiris said the Secretary General of Parliament had informed the National Election Commission (NEC) on Tuesday (May 9) of the Galle District vacancy in Parliament in the wake of the Court of Appeal ruling pertaining to her eligibility to be an MP due to her being a dual citizen.
Addressing the media at Punchi Borella, the former law professor alleged that Kumarasinghe had been denied the opportunity to move the Supreme Court within 42 days against the Court of Appeal ruling given on May 3.
Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Accuses Parliament For Hurried Ouster of Galle District MP Geetha Kumarainghe at the Behest of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt’ »
By Annie Gowen
Members of a Hindu far-right organization called Arogya Bharati say they are working with expectant couples in the country to produce “customized” babies, who, they hope, will be taller, fairer and smarter than other babies, according to a report in the Indian Express newspaper.
The group’s health officials claimed that their program — a combination of diet, ayurvedic medicine and other practices — has led to 450 of these babies, and they hope to have “thousands” more by 2020, the report said.
“The parents may have lower IQ, with a poor educational background, but their baby can be extremely bright. If the proper procedure is followed, babies of dark-skinned parents with lesser height can have fair complexion and grow taller,” Hitesh Jani, the group’s national convener, told the newspaper.
Jani explained that the program consists of a “purification of energy channels” and body before a pregnancy, and mantra-chanting and “proper food,” such as meals rich in calcium and vitamin A, after the baby is born.
Continue reading ‘India’s RSS Inspired “Arogya Bharati” Launches Project to Produce “Customized” Babies who are “Fairer,Smarter&Taller”.’ »
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and the Secretary General of Parliament had been forced to annul the MP post of Geetha Kumarasinghe, the Joint Opposition yesterday alleged.
Addressing a press briefing, MP Wasudeva Nanayakkara said the JO has no doubt that Ms. Kumarasinghe’s removal was a result of a political revenge and alleged that the Attorney-General had forced the House to inform its decision to the Election Commission.
He said Parliament has violated the privileges of it’s members by not giving a sufficient time to appeal against the court ruling.
Continue reading ‘Removal of Geetha Kumarasinghe From MP Seat Without Giving Time for Appeal is act of Political Revenge Charges Vasudeva Nanayakkara’ »
by Chitra Weerarathne
UPFA Parliamentarian for Galle district Geetha Kumarasinghe, yesterday, filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against a recent Court of Appeal judgement, which disqualified her from holding office as a Member of Parliament on the grounds that she was a dual citizen at the time of handing over nominations.
Some residents of Galle have filed a writ application in the Court of Appeal complaining that Kumarasinghe is a dual citizen of Switzerland and Sri Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Geetha Kumarasinghe Lodges Appeal in Supreme Court Against Writ of Quo Warranto Issued by Court of Appeal.’ »
UPFA General Secretary and Minister, Mahinda Amaraweera said today he would nominate former minister Piyasena Gamage to fill the vacancy created by former MP Geetha Kumarasinghe being disqualified.
He said this while responding to a question asked by a journalist at the weekly Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) media briefing.
Continue reading ‘UPFA Will Nominate Ex-Minister Piyasena Gamage as Galle District MP to Fill Vacancy caused by Geetha Kumarasinghe’s Disqualification’ »
Secretary-General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake has informed the Chairman of the Election Commission that the MP post of UPFA Galle district Parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe has been annulled in line with the Court of Appeal verdict.
The Court of Appeal on Wednesday (3) ruled that Ms. Kumarasinghe was disqualified to be a Member of Parliament on the basis that she holds dual citizenship
Meanwhile Geetha Kumarasinghe has filed an appeal at the Supreme Court against the Appeal Court’s decision which disqualified her as a parliamentarian.
Continue reading ‘Parliament Secy -Gen Annuls Galle District MP Post of Geetha Kumarasinghe Even as she Files Supreme Court Appeal.’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Following the Court of Appeal disqualifying UPFA MP Geetha Kumarasinghe to be a member of parliament due to her dual citizenship the Joint Opposition member Udaya Gammanpila has requested Controller of Immigration and Emigration to name all those MPs with dual citizenship.
UPFA MP and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya leader Gammanpila has sought information in accordance with the Right to Information (RTI) Act adopted by ruling coalition.
Attorney-at-law Gammanpila has told the Controller of Immigration and Emigration that information pertaining to those holding dual citizenship is available with the latter’s department and failure to furnish correct information or failure to provide it is a punishable offence under the RTI Act.
Continue reading ‘Udaya Gammanpila Uses Right to Information Act to Seek Names of MP”s who are Dual Citizens from Controller of Immmigration and Emigration.’ »
It is not just New Delhi or Washington that is worried about Colombo’s proposed deal to sell a deep-sea port in Hambantota to a Chinese company. Sri Lanka’s port authority has “fundamental concerns” over the proposed deal, its Chairman Dammika Ranatunga said.
While the Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA) appreciates the importance of foreign investment, it would only “go by the book”, Mr. Ranatunga told The Hindu.
“We took a careful look at the [draft] agreement — it violated the SLPA Act, and the terms were not conducive to us,” he said, adding that even after 10 revised drafts of the agreement, factoring in some of SLPA’s observations, many concerns remained.
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Port Authority Chairman Dammika Ranatunga Worried About Govt’s Hambantota Harbour Deal With Chinese Company’ »
By Aruni Mallawaarachchi
Joint Opposition MP Geetha Kumarasinghe says defeated politician Piyasena Gamage wants to pull her down. “He was behind all this. He is waiting eagerly to occupy my seat in Parliament,” she said.
What will happen next?
I am waiting until I am delivered justice. I am a strong woman. I will not give up politics even if someone tries to drag me down. My decisions were in accordance with my conscience. I never went after money and the people of this country know that Geetha Kumarasinghe is a woman with genuine policies who speaks boldly. I am in their hearts and no one can change it. No one can buy it too.
Who are you alluding to when you say someone is trying to drag you down?
I am not alluding. I directly say that the defeated politician Piyasena Gamage wants to pull me down. He was behind all these. He was waiting eagerly to occupy on my seat in Parliament. He received 20,000 votes less than me. He was rejected by the people.
Do you have evidence to accuse former Minister Piyasena Gamage?
Who else wants to do this? The four who filed petitions against me are his supporters.
Can you prove this charge?
Yes. One is the brother-in-law of the defeated minister. Another one is the person who was doing the minister’s contracts. Third owns a quarry which has a legal problem. The minister has promised him to resolve it. The fourth is a person who has worked in cooperatives. He was the arch rival of Piyasena in the past but now close friends.
Continue reading ‘“Bigwigs In this Govt Offered to Take Care of my Case and Make me a Deputy Minister but I Refused”- Geetha Kumarasinghe’ »
Former Army Major – General Kamal Gunaratne is under investigation over the murder of an employee at the Sri Lankan embassy in Brazil, foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera told parliament today.Gunaratne, who was sent to Brazil as deputy ambassador by then defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, murdered an embassy employee Nimal Rupasinghe with the support of two other embassy staff members, the minister said.
“Those two were given a promotion and sent to the United States from Brazil,” the minister said.
He did not say what motivated Gunaratne to kill Rupasinghe, but the victim’s family has lodged a complaint with the foreign ministry that he was forced to wash clothes of Gunaratne and his wife.
Rupasinghe was hit on the head and killed as he tried to get a transfer back to Colombo as he could not bear Gunaratne’s cruel and degrading treatment, the family has said.
Retired major general Gunaratne was rewarded with a diplomatic posting after his role in the final phase of the war against the Tamil Tigers who were crushed by May 2009.
Continue reading ‘Major-General (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne Under Investigation For Alleged Murder of Employee at Brazil Embassy Discloses Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.’ »
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera revealed that the Island nations’s former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s spouse Shiranthi Rajapaksa, had spent Euros amounting to 25 million Sri Lankan rupees to watch Vesak from the Presidential Suite of the King George V hotel in Paris and for a quick luxury limousine ride to Lourdes for a Catholic pilgrimage .
Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera disclosed details of former first lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa’s Paris visit in May 2014 costing Sri Lankan tax payers 41,650 euros for the hire of two limousines that were used to transport her around Paris and to Lourdes.
Samaraweera also divulged that Shiranthi’s stay in the presidential suite of King George V Hotel run by the super luxury Four Seasons group cost 63,945.50 euro from May 20 to 24 without breakfast.
Shiranthi Rajapaksa was representing Sri Lanka at the 2014 Vesak celebrations organised by the UNESCO in France
Continue reading ‘Shiranthi Rajapaksa and “Daisy Aunty” Spent 137,396 Euro(Rs 25,000,000) for 4 Days in May 2014 to Watch Vesak In France’ »
The Court of Appeal yesterday issued summons on the President of the Government Medical Officers’ Association Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya to appear before the court on May 22 and show cause as to why he should not be punished for contempt of the Court of Appeal for having caused an affront to the dignity of the court by making abusive public statements consequent to the Court of Appeal judgement dated Jan. 31, 2017. By that judgement the Court of Appeal ordered the Sri Lanka Medical Council to provisionally register the MBBS graduates of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine, Malabe (SAITM).
The bench comprising Justices Vijith K. Malalgoda (President/CA) and S. Thurairaja issued an interim order restraining and/or preventing him from committing, making and/or publishing further contemptuous statements/articles scandalising the Court of Appeal until the conclusion of the case.
Convener of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMS) Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya and Co-convener of the Puravesi Balaya (Citizens’ Power) Gamini Viyangoda filed the contempt application against Dr. Padeniya.
Continue reading ‘Court of Appeal Summons GMOA President Anuruddha Padeniya for Contempt of Court and Restrains Him From Scandalising Courts Further.’ »
The president of Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya while leading an Island wide Govt doctors strike that affected the treatment of patients in the Island has been minting money by engaging in channelled practice seeing patients at a private hospital while the strike was on. While numerous people from the poorer sections of society were unable to get proper medical treatment due to the strike by Govt hospital doctors the head of the GMOA has been making money through private practice . He has granted appointments to see at least six patients at Nawaloka hospital on Friday May 5th when his union GMOA was engaged in an island wide strike demanding the closure of private medical college.
Deputy Minister of Social Empowering and Welfare Ranjan Ramanayake on Thursday (May 04) has made an appointment to see Dr. Padeniya, a pediatric neurologist, at the Nawaloka Hospital in Colombo. The appointment was given to see Dr. Padeniya on Friday, May 05 at 4:05 pm and the deputy minister was listed as the 6th patient. The minister, who obtained the appointment to demonstrate the duplicity of the GMOA, produced the receipt issued for his appointment in parliament. It listed Doctor Padeniya’s charge for a consultation as Rs. 1000.
Parliament was shown the receipt for an appointment Padeniya, a paediatric neurologist, had given a patient on the night of Thursday the 4th of May 2017 at a time when the trade union he leads had already announced the strike for 24 hours from 8.00 am on Friday.
Ranjan Ramanayake obtained the appointment to consult Padeniya just to expose the duplicity of the striking doctors who want a private medical college shut in the name of protecting free health care, but have no qualms in engaging in private practice while in state service.
Continue reading ‘GMOA President Dr.Padeniya Engaged in Private Practice On Friday While Govt Hospitals Were Affected Due to Doctors Strike’ »
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is “deeply concerned over Cabinet approval for a policy and legal framework relating to the proposed Counter-Terrorism Act”. The TNA says “We have not been consulted on the terms of the draft framework, which has recently appeared in the press and appears to be a Cabinet memorandum approved on 25th April 2017”.
The TNA in a hard-hitting statement urges the Govt to urgently re-formulate some of the provisions in the framework. The TNA says “-We urge the Government to reconsider and urgently reformulate its proposals in light of the fundamental need to avoid torture and enforced disappearance, prevent abuse and effectively investigate actual threats to terrorism. The proposed framework neither ensures the security nor the liberty of Sri Lankans. Instead, it represents an attempt to enlarge the scope of unchecked executive power over the citizen, stifle freedom of speech and diversity, and provide the necessary loopholes for continued torture and abuse. We wish to reiterate that the protection of the rights of our citizens–particularly given the legacy of horrific past abuses–should not be sacrificed on the altar of trade concessions”.
Continue reading ‘TNA Concerned Over Provisions of Proposed Counter Terrorism Act as an “Attempt to Enlarge Scope of Unchecked Executive Power Over the Citizen”.’ »
Popular actress and Galle district MP Geetha Kumarasinghe said yesterday that she would file a case in the Supreme Court against the Appeal Court’s ruling which deprived her from her seat in Parliament.
The Court of Appeal yesterday (May 3 2017) ruled that Galle District UPFA Parliamentarian Geetha Kumarasinghe was not entitled to hold the post of a Member of Parliament as she had contested the election while being a dual citizen.
She said she hoped to continue as an MP until a decision was given by the Supreme Court following her petition.
“I’m not criticising the Court ruling but I regret it. I hope justice will prevail one day. I will seek further judicial assistance in this regard,” she added.
The Court of Appeal on May 3rd 2017 issued a Writ of Quo Warran to disqualify UPFA Member of Parliament from holding office as an MP as she had held a dual citizenship at the time of seeking nomination to enter Parliament.
Justice Preethi Padman Surasena with Justice Vijith Malalgoda (President/CA ) agreeing also directed the State to recover the cost from her as the debt to the State for the each day she sat in the Parliament knowing that she was a dual citizen and being disqualified to be a Member of Parliament.
Continue reading ‘Geetha Kumarasinghe Unseated by Appeal Court Through Quo Warranto Writ as Galle District MP on Dual Citizenship Issue : Actress Turned Politico to go to Supreme Court’ »
The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi(ITAK) known also as the Federal Party has resolved to formally induct into party folds former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) who have undergone a process of rehabilitation. The path breaking party decision was taken unanimously at the ITAK central Committee sessions held in Batticaloa on April 29th 2017.
The ITAK is the chief constituent of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA)which is the premier political configuration representing the Sri Lankan Tamils. The TNA contests under the ITAK symbol of House. Senior Jaffna district MP “Maavai”Senathirajah is the ITAK president while Eastern Provincial minister S.Thurairajasingham is the party secretary. Leader of the Opposition Rajavarothayam Sampanthan is the TNA leader.
The proposal to absorb rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres into ITAK party folds was put forward by Jaffna district parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran. According to ITAK sources the move to induct ex-LTTE militants into party ranks in a formal manner was welcomed with great enthusiasm by party stalwarts at the Central committee meeting. Even before the decision was taken a large number of rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres were already involved with the ITAK and engaged in party activities. These youths were mostly the children, siblings or close family members of senior ITAK activists. What is now being envisaged is the granting of formal or official party membership .
Continue reading ‘Rehabilitated Ex- LTTE Cadres to be Given Membership in ITAK the Chief Constituent Party of the TNA’ »
By B. Anton Jeyanathan
Patabandi Don Nandasiri Wijeweera known to the world at large as Rohana Wijeweera–pic: JVPSriLanka.com
(The writer is a retired Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of the Police.)
The 5th of April dawned and passed without much concern or notice by the majority of the present generation who were born after the 1970′s and 1980′s, as they never experienced the atrocities committed by members of the JVP under the propaganda of a revolution. The 5th of April every year from the year 1971, is a day which any policemen of the Sri Lanka Police could not overlook or forget. It was on the 5th of April 1971 the JVP mounted an attack on the Wellawaya Police Station, and commenced their so called revolution. It was the start of a series of attacks on various police stations throughout the island, mostly in the Southern, Western and North Western provinces, the killing of policemen, ransacking of police stations and removal of firearms.
The attack on the Wellawaya Police Station took place on 5 April 1971 and continued throughout April. One of the five lessons the JVP inculcated in the minds of youngsters was “how to grab arms and ammunition by attacking police stations”. The JVP did not have much arms to boast about, except maybe some homemade shot guns and some side arms which they had stolen or obtained from underworld characters. They needed firearms to attack the police stations and kill the policemen.
In their master plan to revolutionarily grab power from the “capitalist bourgeois” they had been conducting classes on “marxism”, “Indian expansionism”, “grabbing of arms and ammunition from police stations” etc. Altogether they had five lessons. They had a well knit network throughout the island, especially among university students, unemployed and under employed youth, and they held such classes clandestinely in various areas under cover. Even some of their frontline comrades visited government departments and held such classes during the lunch hour or after hours. They had also infiltrated to recruit members of the armed forces, specially from the air force and navy.
Continue reading ‘How The Attempt by The JVP in April 1971 To Rescue Rohana Wijeweera From Prison in Jaffna Ended in Failure’ »
Veteran Tamil film actor Vinu Chakravarthy, who regaled fans with his commanding screen presence in over 1,000 films, including Annamalai and Guru Sishyan, breathed his last on April 27th 2017 evening around 7 pm. He was 71. He was ailing for the past few years. Besides being diabetic, he had high blood pressure.
Vinu Chakravarthy (December 15, 1945 – 27 April 2017)
Vinu Chakravarthy has made over 1,000 films in four South Indian languages – 900 in Tamil, 30 in Malayalam, 5 in Telugu and one in Badaga language. He has also written scripts and directed movies on his own. The 2007 released Tamil movie Muni was his landmark 1000th movie.
Chakravarthy was born on December 15, 1945, in Usilampatti to Adimoola Thevar and Manjuvani Ammal. He studied at Wesley School, Royapettah and graduated in commerce from A. M. Jain College. He was eldest son among other 3 sons and a daughter.
On completion of his education, Chakravarthy worked as a Reserve Sub-Inspector at the Ice House police station for six months before joining the Southern Railways where he worked for four years.
Chakravarthy was working as a script writer for Kannada director Puttanna Kanagal when he was noticed by film producer Tiruppur Mani who, in 1977, gave him a role in the Kannada film Parasangada Gendetimma which was later remade into Tamil.
A regular in Rajinikanth films, the actor had worked with leading stars including Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan, and Vijayakant among others. He was considered a lucky charm for the superstar with whom he had shared screen space in 25 films.
Continue reading ‘Vinu Chakravarthy With His Vibrant Voice and Emphatic Delivery Played Comedian,Villain and Character Actor Roles in Over 1000 Films’ »
Northern province chief minister Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Wigneswaran who possesses a remarkable flair for getting embroiled in controversial issues is in the eye of a storm again. This time it is over some remarks made by him during the course of a media interview on April 14th 2017.Mr. Wigneswaran was interviewed by a Tamil website called “Thinappuyal” meaning “Daily Storm”. Well, the interview has certainly caused a storm centering around the Northern chief minister.
Swami Premananda & Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran
While responding to a question by the interviewer, Mr. Wigneswaran had referred to Jesus Christ and Swami Premananda in a manner that appeared to draw an analogy between both. This reference has hurt the sentiments of Christians who regard Jesus Christ as the “Son of God” and believe in him as their “Lord and Saviour”. Many are angry that the chief minister was comparing Jesus Christ to a “Swami” or “God man” who was convicted of rape and murder by the Indian courts.
The Youtube posted on the web by “Thinappuyal” showed the interviewer asking Mr. Wigneswaran about his being a Premananda devotee and whether it was correct to be a devotee of a man convicted as a criminal by the courts. The ex-supreme court judge responded to the question by saying Jesus Christ was convicted 2000 years ago but people were worshipping him now as God. Mr. Wigneswaran re-iterated his point about Jesus Christ by saying again in Tamil “Avar oru Kuttravaali. Avarukku Marana Thandanai Theerkkappattathu. Aen Innum Kireesthavargal Avarai Iraivanaahap Paarkkiraargal”?(He was a criminal. He was convicted and given a death sentence. Why are Christians still seeing him as God”? The point Mr. Wigneswaran was trying to make through his counter question seemed to be that like Premananda, Jesus Christ too had been convicted 2000 years ago.
Mr. Wigneswaran’s remarks and question about Christians regarding Jesus Christ as God touched a raw nerve among Christians of all folds – Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals. It became a heated issue as the you tube was shared widely via Social media. Mr. Wigneswaran came in for heavy criticism for what was seen as a comparison between Jesus Christ and Premananda.Even several Tamil speaking Muslims took umbrage at this remark about “Eesaa Nabhi” as “Prophet” Jesus is referred in Islamic tenets.
Continue reading ‘C.V.Wigneswaran Hurts Christian Sentiments By Comparing Jesus Christ With Swami Premananda’ »
BY GAGANI WEERAKOON
President Maithripala Sirisena appeared to have stirred the hornets’ nest by suggesting a top military post to Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who is also a Cabinet minister in Maithri-Ranil Unity Government of Yahalapanaya. While factual clarity of this ‘suggestion’ remain unconfirmed with various members of the same Cabinet issuing contradictory remarks, it is clear that Minister Rajitha Senaratne’s official statement made in his capacity as the Cabinet Spokesman led to all hell break loose. Even though, many opinions have been already expressed on the matter, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is more experienced in governance than President Sirisena by serving in the same office on two previous occasions, remains silent or rather has not issued any statement on the issue. This also leads to question the clarity of the suggestion vis-a-vis the said appointment.
President Sirisena who was under apparent influence of certain ministers who demanded that government take tough action against ‘unruly’ trade unions (TUs) had proposed a special Subcommittee headed by Minister Fonseka to make recommendations on how best to deal with emergency situations triggered by incidents such as disruption of the power supply, port activities and fuel distribution.
The idea was mooted against the backdrop of the disruption caused to fuel distribution by petroleum workers launching an indefinite duration strike against the move to lease the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm to an Indian Oil Company. The strike was called off on Monday night after an assurance given by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who left for India for talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
Continue reading ‘Trade Unions Mount Pressure on President Sirisena in the Same Way as What Happened to Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike in 1956-59.’ »
By Paneetha Ameresekere
Three things came out of Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to India last week.
Those were India’s concerns over the leasing out of the Hambantota Port to the Chinese in a debt swap, India’s interest in the Trincomalee oil tank farm to counter the Chinese threat and Wickremesinghe’s keenness in getting Indian aid to develop certain northern roads linking up with the East and the’South’ of the country in a tourism promotional ‘putsch’.
Nonetheless, what figured, vis-à-vis the outcome of these New Delhi talks which Wickremesinghe had with the Indian hierarchy headed by Premier Narendra Modi was that the last thing that India would want, already surrounded by hostile neigbours, such as Pakistan to the North-West, China to the North-East , an uneasy relationship with Bangladesh to the East, to also have their southern flank comprising Sri Lanka, to be a launching pad for Chinese influence, thereby completing the encirclement of India. To India’s west and to a greater part of its eastern flank is the Indian Ocean.
India fought a border war with China in 1962 and lost thousands of square miles of territory to the latter. Meanwhile, since independence in 1947, India has also fought four wars with Pakistan, i.e. in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. All three warring neighbours, India, Pakistan and China, are also nuclear armed.
Continue reading ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe Plays Politico-economic Chess With the Chinese Dragon,Indian Tiger and Trade Union Hyenas.’ »
“Sunday Times”Diplomatic Editor
Some say India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi neatly cajoled his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe into swinging by New Delhi, making what was to be a private visit to attend a wedding into a one-day ‘working visit’– and then got him entrapped to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Others rubbish such a theory, but it seems that someone tipped off Ceylon Petroleum Corporation trade unions and wound them up to threaten a strike if the Sri Lankan Premier signed an MOU in New Delhi. The MOU, inter-alia, would hand over some of the oil tanks in Trincomalee to the Indian Oil Company.
It was a known fact that Petroleum Minister Chandima Weerakkody was against the move. He said so publicly and wanted an appointment with President Maithripala Sirisena to lodge a protest together with the trade unions. But the story goes that the President had not granted him an appointment on the basis that the Prime Minister was adamant in going ahead with the project and that it was in the premier’s hands. What followed was trade union action that caused havoc in and around petrol sheds in the country and traffic snarls from last Sunday night.
Wickremesinghe assured the trade unions thereafter that he would not sign any agreement with India in New Delhi without consulting the petroleum workers. But he had Strategic Development and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama do so in New Delhi. The MoU was not made public either.. They were both in the Hindi and English languages, with the English version to be considered in case of any interpretation issues.
Continue reading ‘Ranil Assured Trade Unions he Wont Sign MOU with India Without Consulting them and Got Malik Samarawickrama to do so in New Delhi’ »
BY DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA
While the Ramayana narrative makes clear that a land link between India and Lanka was of decisive and devastating strategic consequence for the island of Lanka, the Romans and the British made it clear that the building of roadways was an essential part of annexation and empire building. What is true of imperialismsgone by is true of contemporary regional sub-imperialisms. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has discussed a highway linking India and Sri Lanka, and more accurately Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, in his meeting with Indian Minister of Highways Nitin Gadkari. The PM has also invited India to build highways in Sri Lanka’s North and East, linking Mannar and Vavuniya, and Mannar and Trincomalee.
DS Senayaka used the British connection – and the contentious Citizenship acts–to balance off India and minimize Indian influence on the island. SWRD and Sirimavo Bandaranaike sought to dilute Indian influence by immersing Sri Lankan in Afro-Asianism and the Non Aligned Movement. JR Jayewardene played North India off against Tamil secessionism and Tamil nadu. Premadasa played Tamil secessionism against Indian expansionism/annexationism. Lakshman Kadirgamar and then Mahinda Rajapaksa strove to “Look East”, and use China to balance off India and the US.
What was common to all of Sri Lanka’s leaders was to rightly regard as the worst case scenario, a nexus between India, Tamil nadu and Sri Lanka’s Tamil North. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has overturned all that. He has openly called for Sri Lanka’s economy to be linked with five South Indian states Indian states including Tamil nadu, and he is giving India a large foothold in Trincomalee and the island’s North in general, through highway building and economic projects. He is also hell-bent on signing ETCA which will allow greater penetration of the whole Sri Lankan economy by India.
Continue reading ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Act of Treachery is Comparable to that of Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam.’ »
In what seemed an otherwise bhai-bhai friendship between the two countries, the sour point was the nagging, continuing issue of poaching in Sri Lankan waters by southern Indian fishermen. The crisis is causing an estimated Rs. Five billion loss annually to Sri Lanka.
Premier Modi said on March 13, 2015, addressing Sri Lanka’s Parliament: “The world sees India as the new frontier of economic opportunity. But, our neighbours should have the first claim on India. And I again repeat, the first claim on India is of our neighbours–of Sri Lanka”. And again, “Sri Lanka’s success is of great significance to India”. His “Neighbourhood First Policy’ is based on “Sabka Saath; Sabka Vikas” (Together we progress).
The Sri Lankan Fisheries Ministry, to its credit has kept pressing the poaching issue. Not only are the northern Sri Lankan Tamils being deprived of their livelihood, but the entire maritime resources of the Palk Bay/Gulf of Mannar area is being raped. Mindful of this, the Modi Government seems to move the Tamil Nadu state Government to take action together with the Central Government.
Continue reading ‘New Delhi Assures Colombothat Measures are being taken to Wean Tamil Nadu Fishermen Away from Poaching in the Territorial Waters of Sri Lanka’ »
If Sri Lankans are wondering how many times Sri Lanka has won approval for a renewed duty concession to the markets of the European Union (EU) under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus, they may be excused.
This week, there was another huge hurrah for having defeated the EU parliamentary vote on a resolution sponsored by a section of MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) to prevent Sri Lanka obtaining GSP+ concessions. GSP Plus was revoked in 2011 during the Mahinda Rajapaksa Administration, ostensibly on negative human rights factors but, what many would concede, were on more political or diplomatic grounds.
A few months ago, both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced publicly that the EU had restored GSP+ to Sri Lanka and hailed it as a major victory for the new National Unity Government’s foreign policy. It was a premature announcement, as is this week’s defeat of a parliamentary putsch by a group of MEPs (heavily lobbied by the anti-Lankan Diaspora).
The outcome of the vote — there was a substantial margin of 436 votes against the resolution, 119 for and 22 abstentions — is not to be downplayed. It shows a major shift in approach to Sri Lanka by the EU Parliament, and that is clearly a change in attitude towards the nearly-new Government in Colombo. But there are still more steps along the way before Sri Lanka officially gets GSP+.
Continue reading ‘Anti-Lanka Resolution on GSP Plus Defeated in the European Parliament but Hurdles Still Ahead for Full Restoration’ »
Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
In the chaotic merry-go-round characterizing the drafting of Sri Lanka’s proposed Counter-Terror Act (CTA), the periodic surfacing of one version followed by another has given rise to unexpected horrors. Each time that a new draft emerges or should I rather say, is ‘extracted’ with great pain out of a process gripped by skullduggery and secrecy, its devious drafters conceive new and ingenious ways to confound scrutiny.
Legal clauses to mask and deceive
Even as one objection is taken to categorically dangerous definitions of proposed offences, these are whipped away, soothing the unwary. Yet later, they emerge, clothed in chameleon colours to mask and deceive. Nothing proves this point better than the CTA draft that went before the Cabinet of Ministers this week. This contains hasty revisions made on the cusp of a suddenly suspenseful vote in the European Parliament seeking a rejection of the EU GSP Plus facility which was defeated.
Ostensibly, its contents were supposed to have been improved. Yet what we see is not reassuring. The draft reeks of bad faith and is extraordinarily contradictory. Indeed and outrageously so, it contradicts explanations for drafting positions taken by the drafters themselves. Two glaring examples will suffice for the moment. The initial CTA version leaked to this newspaper last year had included the offence of espionage. Following public concern, this was removed in a later version. As formally recorded, the reason given for this removal was because this offence would more properly belong in a separate National Intelligence Act.
Continue reading ‘Secrecy and Skulduggery By Devious Drafters to Confound Scrutiny of Proposed Counter Terror Act’ »
By Namini Wijedasa
The Counter Terrorism Act policy framework approved by the Cabinet this week has reintroduced offences originally listed under “espionage”– whilst merely removing the word “espionage” from the document.
As such, the draft makes it an offence to voluntarily engage in any illegal, unlawful or unauthorised act for the purpose of gathering any ‘confidential information’ — or directly gather confidential information — “for the purpose of supplying such information to a person who is conspiring, preparing, abetting, or attempting to commit terrorism or any terrorism related offence or any other offence contained in this Act.”
It is also an offence to provide to another person any confidential information, knowing such information will be used by such other person to conspire, abet, attempt or commit terrorism or a terrorism-related offence or any other offence contained in the Act.
Continue reading ‘New Counter Terrorism Law Undermines Right To Information Law’ »
By Kasun Warakapitiya
Foreign workers, both with and without work visas, are arriving in Sri Lanka with the country facing an acute labour shortage, a cabinet minister said yesterday.
Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka told the Sunday Times that an estimated 200,000 strong foreign labour force was in Sri Lanka.
He said the Government should have strict immigration regulations to check the influx of foreign workers.
The minister said a majority of the foreign workers were Indians, Bangladeshis and Maldivians. “We are facing a labour shortage even for simple tasks such cleaning up a well or harvesting, thereby creating a market for foreign labour. But we need to strictly regulate their arrival and departure,” he said.
Continue reading ‘Over 200,000 Foreign Workers From China, India, Bangladesh and Maldives in Sri Lanka With and Without Visas’ »
By Namini Wijedasa
Cabinet approval on a Resettlement Ministry paper to award 6,000 prefabricated houses to the war-affected of the North and East, was held up this week, after President Maithripala Sirisena sought further clarification.
Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan has been promoting the initiative of steel giant ArcelorMittal since 2015. Its logistics partner is Kumarca Engineering & Management (Pvt) Ltd, owned by controversial businessman Ravi Wettasinghe.
The Cabinet paper submitted on Tuesday by Minister Swaminathan mooted setting up 6,000 prefabricated steel frame houses, down from the initial 65,000 houses. Despite sustained opposition from civil society groups and the TNA, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEM) recently approved the amended proposal.
When it came before Cabinet on Tuesday, however, President Sirisena wanted to see the report of a Cabinet Appointed Negotiating Committee (CANC) that examined the terms and conditions of the project. The CANC, as previously published in the Sunday Times, has rejected the ArcelorMittal proposal and recommended that fresh tenders be called.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena seeks Further Clarification on Resettlement Ministry’s 6,000 Prefabricated Houses Project for N-E’ »
by Rajan Philips
“My legs have carried me for 90 years. Now they have earned their well-deserved rest”, he would tell his visitors at the Jesuit House in Akkara Panaha, Negombo, where he spent the last years of his life confined to his bed and a wheel chair. Now his entire mortal coil has earned its rest. Fr. Paul Caspersz, a priest of the order of the Society of Jesus for 65 years, died last Wednesday at the age of 92. His funeral was in Kandy, where he lived for over 40 years, and he was laid to rest at the Lewella Jesuit cemetery.
Fr. Paul Caspersz
It was difficult to see Fr Paul unable to walk, although he was otherwise his usual self. Tall and handsome, he was well proportioned in physical appearance. He was equally well adjusted in his character and in his bearing. He was inspired as a teenager to become a Jesuit and to go to Oxford as a Jesuit “after reading a page or two about Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits in the context of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation”, in the unlikeliest of sources: ‘A History of England’ by T.F. Tout. He accomplished both and remained true to his faith, his celibate life, and the fierce commitment of Jesuits to the first cause that inspired them. Fr. Paul was much more.
Continue reading ‘Celebrating the life of a Socialist Jesuit Priest: Fr Paul Caspersz, SJ (1925-2017)’ »
India and Sri Lanka have arrived at a compromise on the sensitive and problematic issue of the Trincomalee oil tanks, with both sides climbing down from their earlier positions but gaining some ground at the same time.
As per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation of Economic Projects signed in New Delhi on April 25 in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe, India has agreed to the Sri Lankan proposal to refurbish and use the 99 giant oil tanks as a “Joint Venture” between the Lanka Indian Oil Corporation (LIOC) and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).
Previously, by the tripartite agreement signed in 2003, the tanks were to be refurbished and used entirely by the LIOC on a 35 year lease, though there was a provision for the Sri Lankan government to use the tanks for “national and security” purposes when needed.
The Sri Lankan government had mooted the idea of developing and running the tanks as a Joint Venture in 2016 because it felt that it needed a certain number of tanks (the number varied from time to time) under its control to store fuel for power generation during an expected drought.
There were also proposals for a wholesale takeover of the tanks from the LIOC on the grounds that the 2003 agreement was legally flawed and also that India had developed only 17 of the 99 tanks since taking them over.
Continue reading ‘India and Sri Lanka Reach Mutually Beneficial Compromise on Problematic Issue of Trincomalee Oil Tanks’ »
What though the spicy breezesBlow soft o’er Ceylon’s isle; Though every prospect pleases, And only man is vile – Anglican Bishop Reginald Heber
Old Parliament with Secretariat behind, 1930s (Plate & Co.)
The British gave us a nation that was respected regionally and globally. In an earlier article, I stated that the leading companies in Sri Lanka today bear British names and were started by them. The Ceylon Civil Service was exemplary in the region. The universities were top class. Even the legendary Father of Singapore looked to Ceylon as an example of what Singapore could be. How ironic!
Today, students go to Singapore to study and leaders in business and government go to Singapore for almost everything, even medical treatment. Today, we look to Singapore to learn how to run a civil service, hotels, universities and hospitals. I could go on and on.
What have we done in the last 60-plus years? What has happened to Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans? Was the good Bishop right as early as the 18th Century? I know he angered a lot of people with this observation. Would he be right today?
I am a Sri Lankan-born American who left the then Ceylon at the age of 10. My late father Emmanuel Muttukumaru, a lawyer and agriculture expert, served in the United Nations with some of the legends of Sri Lanka. They include one of the stars of the then Ceylon Civil Service Andrew Joseph, one of Asia’s most respected journalists Varindra Tarzie Vittachi, Gamani Corea and Raju Coomaraswamy. They were contemporaries and very good friends. My father and the eighth Speaker of the Ceylon Parliament Shirley Corea, were both lawyers in Chilaw and Chairmen of the Planters Association. What has happened today to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka?
What I see should disturb every Sri Lankan today, especially the comfortable and complacent elite and those in positions of leadership and power in business and government. How many times have we heard the phrase, “with great power comes great responsibility”?
Continue reading ‘What Has Happened to Ceylon and to the Ceylonese?’ »
Emily Jane Fox
A group of young boys on bicycles stopped in their tracks outside of a pizza shop as Ivanka Trump drove by in a tan S.U.V., in the middle of a flashing motorcade on her trip to Germany in her new role.
Throngs of police officers and Secret Service officers wove through the 2,711 concrete rectangles arranged in a grid outside of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Through each pillar, officers were hurrying the scores of smartphone-wielding revelers and members of the international press away as they buffered Trump to walk through.
Continue reading ‘US First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s First Official Visit to Germany Was a Success Until She Began Defending Her Father.’ »
To make up for lost time and avoid delays in the execution of joint projects, India and Sri Lanka have agreed on a tight time table in respect of each of the projects mentioned in the MoU signed in New Delhi on April 25 in the presence of Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Informed sources in New Delhi told newsin.asia that the two countries agreed that projects will be executed by “Joint Ventures” between Indian and Sri Lankan entities, and that the first moves in respect of each will be made between May and July.
The sources stressed the Joint Ventures aspect of the MoU to allay fears in Sri Lanka that India is out to gobble up Sri Lanka’s resources by executing projects unilaterally.
Continue reading ‘India Involved Projects in Sri Lanka Will Be Developed As Joint Ventures to Allay Fears in Island of Indian Expansion.’ »
By K. Ratnayake
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has called upon Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka to resign from the government’s ministry and return to the position of army commander. In a bid to “discipline the country,” Fonseka would be head of the country’s three armed forces for two years.
Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne announced the president’s request at a media conference on Wednesday. His statements revealed extensive discussions in the previous day’s cabinet meeting over how to suppress mounting strikes, protests and unrest among workers and youth, and prevent any disruption to state-run entities or the operations of the corporate elite.
The immediate incident that rattled the government was a strike on Monday at the state-owned Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, which halted fuel supplies in the entire country.
The proposal made to Fonseka is a warning that the government of Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is planning an escalating assault against workers, the poor and young people.
Continue reading ‘Sirisena’s Proposal to Fonseka is a Warning that Govt is Planning an Escalating Assault Against Workers, Young Persons and the Poor.’ »
By Charumini de Silva
The Government yesterday expressed confidence that the country will regain the GSP plus trade concession by 15 May and called on the business community to make this a ‘turning point’ in the economy to increase the country’s exports to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio over 100%.
“Sri Lanka overcame the biggest hurdle to secure GSP+ trade facilitation on Thursday by defeating a motion to deny us the trade concession at the European parliament. It has now been forwarded to the 28 member European Union Council of Ministers for approval. There are some procedural matters that need addressing, after which I am confident we will get GSP+ by 15 May,” Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha De Silva told journalists in Colombo yesterday.
With the regain of GSP+, he said, some 6,600 products could enter European Union (EU) markets without any tax, which he called a ‘massive scope’ that Sri Lanka needs to now exploit for economic prosperity.
Continue reading ‘Govt is Confident Sri Lanka will Regain the GSP Plus Trade Concession From EU by May 15th.’ »
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday listed a litany of wrongs that President Maithripala Sirisena had committed against the party since becoming its leader and vowed to give leadership to the opposition forces to defeat the ineffective government.
He also openly defied the threats made by the SLFP’s current leadership and urged everyone to attend the anti-government rally at Galle Face on May Day.
The text of Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s statement is as follows –
“In January 2015, a new leader took over an undivided SLFP. I made no attempt to retain the leadership of the SLFP at that time because of the need to preserve the unity of the party through which all of us had engaged in politics. Both I and the party rank and file believed that no harm would befall the party under the leadership of an individual who had been a party member for four decades and its General Secretary for 13 years. Even though many members of the opposition felt we should have contested the 2015 Parliamentary election separately, we contested that election under the SLFP and the UPFA because of our desire to protect the party. Even at that time, we did have serious misgivings about the new SLFP leader’s conduct”.
“The moment he became president, the present leader of the SLFP gave the Prime Ministership to the UNP which had only 43 Members of Parliament. Though this sent shock waves through the membership of the SLFP, there was the expectation that things would change once he became the leader of the SLFP. But that too did not happen”.
Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Provides List of Wrongs Committed by Maithripala Sirisena against SLFP’ »
Robert Jonathan Demme, film director, born 22 February 1944; died 26 April 2017
Jonathan Demme, who has died aged 73 from complications from cancer, rose from his colourful if tawdry beginnings under the aegis of the exploitation maestro Roger Corman to become one of the most eclectic, delightful and original film-makers in Hollywood. He also happened to be one of the nicest: the compassionate sensibility that lent his work its warmth and musicality was no put-on. Plainly put, he loved people.
Even his darkest work, such as the hit thriller The Silence of the Lambs (1991), which gave him his first taste of box-office success nearly two decades into his career and also brought him a best director Oscar, had a beguiling tenderness about it. For all that film’s gruesome frights, it was the connection between the FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) and her macabre mentor, the serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), that lent the film its emotional bite.
His movies could be bewilderingly diverse – he made the innovative concert film Stop Making Sense (1984), the uproarious screwball thriller Something Wild (1986), the Aids drama Philadelphia (1993) and a remake of The Manchurian Candidate (2004) – but they were united by their colour and vim, as well as a deep-seated sense of conscientiousness and community. Demme cared deeply about what he put on the screen.
Continue reading ‘Jonathan Demme Who Directed Films Like “The Silence Of The Lambs” and “Philadelphia” Dies at 73 of Cancer Complications’ »
Sudha G Tilak.
Vinod Khanna, who has died aged 70, belonged to the second wave of Punjabi heroes who ruled Bollywood – known as “Partition Punjabis”.
His family hailed from Peshawar in Pakistan and had moved to India in 1947 when the country was divided.
The heroes on screen then were all swashbuckling heroes known for their strapping good looks, cultivated on screen mannerisms and individual styles.
He embodied all that but also brought all the panache of 1970s cinema to his acting.
Continue reading ‘Vinod Khanna The Villain Turned Hero Actor With Muscles and Good Looks Passes Away at 70’ »
Sri Lanka’s north and east shut down on Thursday following a hartal call by protesters demanding an answer from the government to questions about their missing relatives. Shops remained closed all day and transport services were minimal, media reports said.
Over the last few months, families have been protesting in different places across Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority areas, voicing concern over the allegedly enforced disappearances of their relatives during the three-decade war and the years that followed.
Amnesty International estimates that since the 1980s, there have been at least 60,000 and as many as 100,000 cases of enforced disappearance in Sri Lanka, including Tamils, who went missing during and after the war, and Sinhalese, who were disappeared around the time of the JVP youth uprisings.
Continue reading ‘Shops Closed and Transport Curtailed as Hartal is Observed Successfully in Sri Lanka’s North and East’ »
The main left front of the Joint Opposition (JO), the Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CPSL), indicated a break with the JO and that they will conduct a separate May Day rally and meeting at the Viharamahadevi Open Air theater on May Day instead of participating in the May Day rally of the JO, which will be held at Galle Face Green on the same day.
Continue reading ‘Communist Party Unhappy With Joint Opposition Political Agenda Will Hold Separate May Day Rally at Viharamahadevi Open air Theatre’ »
(POWER SHARING IN SRI LANKA -S.J.V. Chelvanayagam Memorial lecture– delivered by Dr.Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine on 26thApril 2017)
S.J.V. Chelvanayagam Memorial lecture-2017-pic via: @TNAmediaoffice
When we were political cubs, we knew of Chelvanayagam as one who was the “father” figure of Tamil Nationalism.He was one Tamil political leader who was affectionately called “Thanthai” – meaning‘Father’ –Chelva. Samuel James Velupillai Chelvanayagam dominated Tamil politics in the first 03 decades in post independent Ceylon.
I would say that Chelvanayagam was fortunate. He did not live to see the agony of the Tamil people and of Sri Lanka that got dragged into a long brutal war. He was fortunate that he was not there to shoulder the heavy responsibility that his most favoured political recruit, R. Sampanthan, is burdened with now as leader of TNA.
Chelvanayagam was a man of principles. He never compromised on his convictions and principles.He differed with leaders like G.G.PonnambalamaSnr. in the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) and C. Suntheralingam on the issue of disfranchising the Indian origin Tamil labour. He stood by their rights consistently, as Prof. RatnajeevanHoole had recently confirmed.
Continue reading ‘SJV Chelvanayagam Was Fortunate He Did Not Live to See the Agony of the Tamil People in Sri Lanka.’ »
President Maithripala Sirisena today appointed 25 senior lawyers including TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran, J. C. Weliamuna, Upul Jayasuriya and Nizam Kariapper as President’s Counsel.
A statement from the President’s office said these lawyers were appointed in recognition of their professional integrity and diligence.
Continue reading ‘25 Senior Lawyers Including JC Weliamuna,MA Sumanthiran and Nizam Kariapper Appointed as President’s Counsel by President Sirisena’ »
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Former Ceylon Bank Employees Union President and civil society activist Rusiripala Tennakoon yesterday urged the ruling Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition and the Joint Opposition to state their position on alleged moves to impose a staggering 28 per cent tax on Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
Pointing out that the JVP, which had worked overtime to oust the Rajapaksa administration, had accused the yahapalana rulers of planning to tax the EPF, Tennakoon said that move had to be condemned, opposed and thwarted.
The trade union activist said that the entire private sector was in a dilemma over the government move and expected a clear statement from it in that regard. Responding to a query, Tennakoon emphasised that all political parties and trade union organizations should address the EPF issue on May Day this year.
Continue reading ‘Public Outcry Against Govt Proposal to Impose 28% Tax on Employees Provident Fund(EPF)’ »
In the wake of a crippling petroleum strike and a wave of protests against the Government, Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne made a shock announcement yesterday that President Maithripala Sirisena had requested wartime army chief Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka to take over the military as commander or Chief of Defence Staff in order to bring “discipline” to the country.
Addressing the weekly Cabinet briefing last afternoon, Minister Senaratne said that a series of political motivated strikes and trade union action were disrupting public life with the aim of toppling the ruling Government. The former army commander turned politician and cabinet minister, Fonseka was the “best person” to control the situation, the Cabinet Spokesman added.
“A country without discipline can never develop. Everyone knows that Sarath Fonseka is a very disciplined official,” Senaratne added.
A room full of shocked reporters at the Government Information Department repeatedly requested clarification on the development.
Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka Ready to Take Over Responsibility of “Disciplining”The Country if He is Given the Necessary Powers.’ »
By Paneetha Ameresekere reporting from New Delhi
China ranked high in Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s meeting with Indian Premier Narendra Modi, at Hyderabad House, New Delhi yesterday, official sources who didn’t want to be named told this reporter.
Reporters were not allowed to cover these meetings, with opportunities provided only for the taking of photographs and to be present when pleasantries were exchanged between Wickremesinghe and Indian officials, including Modi, before the beginning of talks, during the former’s various engagements in Delhi.
Wickremesinghe’s official engagements concluded yesterday.
Continue reading ‘Indian Prime Minister Raises Concerns Over China and Hambantota Port in Direct Talks With the Sri Lankan Premier’ »
“New Silk Road or New Great Game? India Developing New Sri Lanka Port to Combat China” (Wayne Shepard, Forbes, April 21, 2017)
“Will they leave?” was the urgent question President Premadasa posed to me after having kept me behind as Varadarajah Perumal and the others left the meeting at Sucharitha in January 1989 when the new Chief Minister and Cabinet of the North-East Provincial Council met the newly elected President, Ranasinghe Premadasa for the first time.
I knew he was asking about the Indians and replied: “From what I gather, they hope to keep back two brigades in Trincomalee”.
Trincomalee was always the greatest prize but only Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and this Government are ready to give it to our neighbour, India. President Premadasa’s question remains relevant: “Will they leave?” With the solid commercial agreement that the PM is about to commit our country to, they probably will not, and it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get them to leave.
I am appalled that the JVP and FSP, which needlessly spilled Southern blood allegedly against Indian expansionism, including the FSP leader, who sincerely and bravely fought against foreign troops in Trincomalee, are not spearheading a nationwide mobilisation against this historic geopolitical and economic treachery.
Continue reading ‘Why is Prime Minister Wickremesinghe About to Give Away Trincomalee to India?’ »
Cabinet Co-spokesperson Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said today there was the possibility that Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka would be appointed to a post that would allow him to oversee all of the defense establishments in the country.
While the Cabinet Co-spokesperson declined to offer more details on the powers the post would be vested with, he did say the President has broached the subject with the Regional Development Minister, who had shown his acquiescence.
Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka to Be Given Top Post in Defence Establishment With Powers to “Discipline” People Engaging in Protests.’ »
India and Sri Lanka on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on “Cooperation in Economic
Projects” during the on-going visit of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to India. The MoU envisages joint ventures in several areas of development.
Wickremesinghe and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, welcomed the signing of the MoU and expressed satisfaction over the implementation of projects already agreed upon. They hoped that the various projects mentioned in the MoU would also be executed expeditiously.
Continue reading ‘India and Sri Lanka Sign Memorandum of Understanding in New Delhi For “Cooperation in Economic Projects”Including Trinco.’ »
Sri Lanka’s cabinet, on Wednesday granted approval to hand over some elephants from an elephant orphanage in the Central Hills of Pinnawala, to individuals and religious places under definite conditions.
The Government Information Department said the maintenance of the present number of 88 elephants in a restricted land area of 30 acres at Pinnawala had become a difficult task.
Accordingly, the proposal made by Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, to provide some elephants to individuals and religious places under definite conditions, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.
Continue reading ‘“Excess” Elephants from Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage to be Handed Over to Private Individuals and Religious Institutions.’ »
Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne said today the President Maithripala Sirisena requested Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka to quit the ministerial portfolio and take up the post of army commander or overall commander for two years to discipline the country.
He told the weekly Cabinet briefing that Field Marshal Fonseka was known as a well-disciplined character in the country and that he would expedite investigations over several issues as well.
Minister Senaratne said the Field Marshal had agreed to quit his ministerial portfolio and take up the post if he was given proper powers and responsibility.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena wants Sarath Fonseka to Resign as Cabinet Minister and Take Up Top Defence Post to Discipline the Country.’ »
By Ananth Palakidnar
Several hundred rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres, both men and women, presently serving in the Civil Security Department (CSD), staged a demonstration yesterday against the handing over of Army-managed agricultural farms and pre-schools to the Northern Provincial Council.
The procession of ex-LTTE cadres, which commenced at the Kilinochchi Depot junction, on the A-9 highway, ended at the Kilinochchi District Secretariat.
A large number of rehabilitated former LTTE cadres, carrying placards went in the procession, chanting slogans demanding that their livelihood not be hampered by handing over the agricultural farms, managed by the Army, to the Northern Provincial Council.
Continue reading ‘Rehabilitated EX-LTTE Cadres Protest Against Army managed Farms Providing Jobs to Them Being Transferred to Northern Provincial Council’ »
by Nirupama Subramanian
When the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a working lunch on Wednesday, an agreement for the development of the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm will be the hottest dish on the table.
Sri Lankan and Indian government sources said the two sides will finalise an MoU for a joint venture to develop the 99-tank storage facility, which is an extension of Trincomalee Port, ahead of Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka for the United Nations Vesak Day celebrations in the second week of May.
In Sri Lanka, news of the impending deal triggered a strike Monday by unions of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to protest “the handing over of a national asset” to India. The strike created panic and chaos at petrol pumps, and massive traffic jams in Colombo.
Continue reading ‘India Gets to Develop Trinco Tank Farm in China Bay To Balance China Constructing Port City in Colombo’ »
Suhasini Haidar & Meera Srinivasan
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday for official meetings expected to finalise an MoU on developing energy and infrastructure projects in Trincomalee, as well as fast-tracking negotiations for the upgraded Free Trade Agreement —the ETCA (Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement) — both of which face opposition in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Wickremsinghe, whose visit is also expected to confirm a number of agreements to be announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka next month, May 12-14, will meet with Mr. Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Trincomalee oil storage
MEA officials said they hoped to see the agreement on the Trinco Oil storage, which was first negotiated in 2003, as well as the development of infrastructure — highways, power plants, a refinery and an SEZ — around the key port town of Trincomalee to be wrapped up during Mr. Wickremsinghe’s talks on Wednesday.
Continue reading ‘Lankan PM Arrives in New Delhi to Sign Fast-tracked MOU’s While Opposition Protests Against Agreements with India’ »