300 Including 23 Children Under 12 Years Identified Up To Jan 18 From Skeletons Excavated From Mass Grave In the Midst of Mannar Town

By Meera Srinivasan

From 10 feet away, it looked like a grin, the row of teeth stretching from ear to ear. Freshly dug out from many layers of soil, the mud-covered skeleton lay on its spine, awaiting a number.

“That would be 283,” says W.R.A.S. Rajapaksa. He is standing on an elevation inside the site, located at a busy junction in Mannar, an island town in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province. In his blue smock, the Consultant Judicial Medical Officer at Mannar District General Hospital looks like a surgeon, except that this operation is taking place under the sun, inside a messy soil pit. So he is also wearing a cap and rubber boots.

On a Monday morning earlier this month, at least four skeletons were clearly visible at the site, while parts of another were protruding from the soil. Where they lay — some piled one on top of the other and a couple to the side — it was at least two metres below ground level, says Rajapaksa, the chief investigator of the latest mass grave to be found in Sri Lanka.

As of Friday (January 18), 300 skeletons, including those of 23 children below the age of 12, have been identified. Members of his team that comprised fellow judicial medical officers, forensic archaeologists and analysts had resumed excavating the skeletons after a break for Christmas and the New Year. Wetting their brushes in a cup of water, they gently pried aside the soil deposits over the bones, making them visible, little by little, to the world they had left behind.

Continue reading ‘300 Including 23 Children Under 12 Years Identified Up To Jan 18 From Skeletons Excavated From Mass Grave In the Midst of Mannar Town’ »

President Sirisena Praises Philipines President Duterte’s Brutal War Against Drugs and Crime as an “Example to the World and Personally to me”.

By Hannah Ellis-Petersen South east Asia correspondent

Sri Lanka’s president has praised his Philippines counterpart Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, which has taken thousands of lives, calling it an “example to the world”.

In a speech during a visit to the Philippines this week, Maithripala Sirisena said he intended to replicate Duterte’s ruthless approach to tackling illegal drug use.

“The war against crime and drugs carried out by you is an example to the whole world, and personally to me,” said Sirisena. “Drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should follow your footsteps to control this hazard.”

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Praises Philipines President Duterte’s Brutal War Against Drugs and Crime as an “Example to the World and Personally to me”.’ »

Is the Sri Lankan Navy Conducting a Private War Against Indian Fishers Poaching In Our Waters While Spreading False Propaganda Through Newspapers to Evade Culpability ?

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Newspapers of 16 January report Indian poachers turning on our Navy. An earlier incident of 23 December where poachers really used violence was hardly reported. All this mis- and non-reporting raise questions of the veracity of our Navy and the irresponsibility of our press to us reader.

These newspapers have become willing propaganda tools of the Navy, spreading falsehoods that shield the Navy from any culpability. This article reports my best reconstruction of events.

Recall that early in the morning on 13 January (Sunday) in the northern seas a total of 28 Indian fishermen were interdicted on the charge of entering Sri Lankan waters without permission. This has been confirmed by the Navy, admitting that they, the Navy itself, had taken them into custody.

Seventeen fishermen from four boats were arrested in the Delft area and taken to the Kankesanthurai Navy Base, and a further 11 in seas in the proximity of Kilinochchi were interdicted, and taken to the Kiranchi Naval Base.

Accordingly, the 11 arrested in Kilinochchi were handed over to the Assistant Commissioner of Fisheries, Kilinochchi and charged. There is no controversy over the Kilinochchi arrests.

Continue reading ‘Is the Sri Lankan Navy Conducting a Private War Against Indian Fishers Poaching In Our Waters While Spreading False Propaganda Through Newspapers to Evade Culpability ?’ »

TNA Spokesperson MA Sumanthiran M.P. Tells MTV Directly That “They Will Be Taken To Task” for “Continuously Engaging In Dangerous and Deliberate False Reporting”

(Text of a communique released by the TNA Media office carrying excerpts from a speech made by Mr.MA Sumanthiran MP in Jaffna)

The media is busy reporting on what various individuals say about the draft Constitution, but don’t look at what draft itself says. The media is intent on reporting deliberately false and misleading news regarding the Constitution. There are many forces in the South that are hoping to prevent a new Constitution being passed, and the media that support such forces spread such false “news”.

“NewsFirst” is one of the worst offenders. They are here today. I hope they report this in full.

Continue reading ‘TNA Spokesperson MA Sumanthiran M.P. Tells MTV Directly That “They Will Be Taken To Task” for “Continuously Engaging In Dangerous and Deliberate False Reporting”’ »

D.A. Rajapaksa Museum Case Against Ex -Def -Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Six Others Will be Heard on a Daily Basis from Jan 22nd by a Special High Court Trial-at-bar Bench Comprising Judges Sampath Abeykoon (President),Sampath Wijeratne and Champa Janaki Rajaratne.

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Permanent High Court Trial at Bar has decided to hear the D.A. Rajapaksa Museum case against the former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa from January 22.

The case was taken up before the Special High Court three-judge bench comprising Judges Sampath Abeykoon, Sampath Wijeratne, and Champa Janaki Rajaratne this morning(Jan 17).

Continue reading ‘D.A. Rajapaksa Museum Case Against Ex -Def -Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Six Others Will be Heard on a Daily Basis from Jan 22nd by a Special High Court Trial-at-bar Bench Comprising Judges Sampath Abeykoon (President),Sampath Wijeratne and Champa Janaki Rajaratne.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Elder Brother and Hambantota District MP Chamal Rajapaksa Says He is Also Ready to Contest Presidential Elections Like His Younger Brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

By

Sujith Hewajulige

Hambantota District UPFA MP Chamal Rajapaksa speaking to the media yesterday said that he too is ready for the forthcoming Presidential Election.

He said further that Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that if the people are ready, he is also ready to contest for the Presidential poll. If I am also suitable for the post of President, I am also ready for it.

Courtesy:Daily Mirror

Was the Role Enacted by Jacqueline Fernandez in the film “According to Mathew” Present a True and Fair Portrayal of the Real Ms.Dalrene Ingram?

By

Rajitha Weerakoon

Was Dalrene Ingram guilty of killing her husband? Was she aware of Mathew Peiris’ criminal designs and the method of killing he carried out? Did she respond to his advances while her husband was still living?

The continuous stream of film goers heading to cinema halls to see “According to Matthew” seeks answers to many doubts that cloud their minds. Curiosity seems to have returned even after several decades, just as in the aftermath of the crime.

The filmmaker Chandran Rutnam may argue that it was not an Agatha Christie detective to provide answers, and that his job was not to exonerate anybody or pin the guilt, but to stick to facts. “According to Matthew” however, is based on a true story that rocked Colombo in the late 1970s.

Therefore, instead of going by the premise that Dalrene too was found guilty by a court of law and received the death penalty, it is only fair that the filmmaker gives a realistic portrayal of her and treated the role with understanding and sensitivity. For the reason that Dalrene was the motive of the double murder, could she be made a partner to the crime?

Continue reading ‘Was the Role Enacted by Jacqueline Fernandez in the film “According to Mathew” Present a True and Fair Portrayal of the Real Ms.Dalrene Ingram?’ »

Support pf All Party Leaders to Be Sought to Pass Motion in Parliament Enabling the Holding of Early Provincial Council Elections Under the Old Proportional Representation Voting System.

By

Sandun A Jayasekera

Non-cabinet Minister Ajith P. Perera yesterday said he would speak to Home Affairs, Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Vajira Abeywardana to see the possibility of presenting a motion in Parliament to hold PC polls under the old system as soon as possible.

The Non-cabinet minister who represented the UNF at party leaders meetings with the Elections Commission, told Daily Mirror that he was aware that the cabinet of the 51 day Rajapaksa government –though unconstitutional – agreed in mid-November to prepare a legal draft to hold PC polls under the Proportional Representation Electoral system.

“I believe the UNF Cabinet also can follow a similar approach to this issue and move a motion in Parliament and pass it with the support of all party leaders paving the way for early PC polls,” Minister Perera said.

However, Minister Perera said the UNF’s position was that elections to all 9 Provincial Councils must be held on a single day and not in a staggered basis.

Continue reading ‘Support pf All Party Leaders to Be Sought to Pass Motion in Parliament Enabling the Holding of Early Provincial Council Elections Under the Old Proportional Representation Voting System.’ »

British Prime Minister Theresa May Suffers Devastating Defeat as House of Commons Votes Against “Brexit Deal” By 432 to 202 .

By

Heather Stewart and Daniel Boffey

Theresa May has pledged to face down a vote of no confidence in her government, after her Brexit deal was shot down by MPs in the heaviest parliamentary defeat of the democratic era.

On a day of extraordinary drama at Westminster, the House of Commons delivered a devastating verdict on the prime minister’s deal, voting against it by 432 to 202.

The scale of defeat, by a majority of 230, was greater than any seen in the past century, with ardent Brexiters such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson walking through a packed division lobby cheek-by-jowl alongside passionate remainers.

As noisy protesters from both sides of the Brexit divide massed outside in Parliament Square, the prime minister immediately rose to accept the verdict of MPs – saying she would welcome a vote of no confidence in the government.

“The house has spoken and the government will listen,” she said. “It is clear that the house does not support this deal, but tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support.”

In a raucous Commons, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, confirmed he had tabled a formal motion of confidence in the government, backed by other opposition leaders, which MPs would vote on on Wednesday.

Continue reading ‘British Prime Minister Theresa May Suffers Devastating Defeat as House of Commons Votes Against “Brexit Deal” By 432 to 202 .’ »

Pseudo ‘Buddhist monks’ are the Primary Cause of the Morally Bankrupt Sinhala-Buddhist Laity of Sri Lanka.


By Sharmini Serasinghe

As a Sri Lankan first, as a member of the predominant ethnic community- Sinhalese, as a follower of the Buddhist philosophy and as a grandmother, I have taken it upon myself to address the youth and young adults of Sri Lanka, amongst them – the future leaders of Sri Lanka – through this open letter, as I consider it incumbent upon those of us now in our 50s and beyond to advise and do our utmost, to guide those of you who have obviously been misguided and led astray by the unethical and unpatriotic, with selfish and devious agendas.

Dear people, for 70 years, we as a people have been used, abused and made fools of by politicians, irrespective of the political party they represent. Today, you, your parents and even your grandparents are used, abused and fooled products of those self-serving politicians.

To start with, over the years, the quality of our sacrosanct free education system has been tampered with and made to deteriorate by successive governments to such an extent that it now focuses ONLY on academic qualifications. This defacing of the education system has been cleverly designed to produce academically qualified fools who are easily hoodwinked, brainwashed and are unable to think independently for him/herself. And those of you who have fallen victim to this phenomenon, are the primary manipulative tools of the devious politician.

Continue reading ‘Pseudo ‘Buddhist monks’ are the Primary Cause of the Morally Bankrupt Sinhala-Buddhist Laity of Sri Lanka.’ »

President Sirisena’s First Four Years in Office Were Most Transformative in Terms of Building Independent Institutions, Restoring Fundamental Rghts and Rolling back the Authoritarianism of the Past.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

The election of President Maithripala Sirisena four years ago on January 8 was a watershed moment in Sri Lankan politics. However, since then, it has lost its allure. This year’s anniversary was, by and large, abandoned by its early supporters. As he enters into his final year, the president himself looks as if he is destined to a single term. Yet, by any account, President Sirisena’s first four years count as one of the most transformative; in terms of building independent institutions, restoring fundamental rights and rolling back the authoritarianism of the past. Those developments were also not possible without the President’s actual commitment — and now his detractors, sizable number of whom are partisan acolytes, might want to ride roughshod over this assertion.

President Maithripala Sirisena was not the only president who promised a greater democratization as a key election pledge. Chandrika Kumaratunga rode to power on the promise of abolishing executive presidency, and completed her two terms and retired, and was subsequently forced out of active politics by her successor Mahinda Rajapaksa. There is nothing much to crow about her ten years in power, which were, by and large, a lost decade, economically, politically and militarily. The worst military casualties of the Eelam war were reported during that time along the highway of death as she sought, in a politically influenced ploy, to open a Main Supply Route (MSR) via Tiger infested Wanni.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s First Four Years in Office Were Most Transformative in Terms of Building Independent Institutions, Restoring Fundamental Rghts and Rolling back the Authoritarianism of the Past.’ »

British Labour Party Moves Vote of No Confidence Against Theresa May After She Loses Brexit Deal Vote by 230 Votes But British Premier Expected To Retain Confidence of the House

By

Peter Walker

After Theresa May’s huge defeat over her Brexit deal, parliament and the country face an uncertain next few days. On Wednesday, a no-confidence motion in the government will be debated. If the government loses there could be a general election. But even if she defeats the motion, the prime minister’s next steps are hazardous.

Why will there be a no-confidence vote?

Immediately after she lost the Brexit deal vote by 230 votes, May said that such was the “scale and importance” of the defeat that she would give time for such a motion if tabled by Labour, or even one tabled by a smaller opposition party. Jeremy Corbyn immediately confirmed Labour would do so.

What is the procedure for this?

Continue reading ‘British Labour Party Moves Vote of No Confidence Against Theresa May After She Loses Brexit Deal Vote by 230 Votes But British Premier Expected To Retain Confidence of the House’ »

“Thaippongal”a Traditional Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving is Now Celebrated Widely By Urbanised Tamils Disconnected with Soil and Nature while Rural Cultivators Face Hardship and Extinction.

By

M.Mahasenan

Can the boiling-over the ‘standardised-pasteurized’ milk on a corner of an apartment on a gas stove be considered Thai Pongal in its strictest meaning remains a troubling question for us today.

The Pongal sweet rice thus made is offered to the sun that beats down through the high rise window. You are lucky if you have an east-facing window.

One may argue that the festival should be celebrated as a ritual to keep alive the Tamil traditions-of course, a valid argument.

The Tamil festival of Thai Pongal is essentially a harvest festival, may be originating from the times when man started tilling land and settling down along river banks and fertile soils. Some historians trace harvest festivals to as far back as 5,000 years. Similar harvest festivals are found in almost all cultures across the world being a pastoral-agricultural festivals.

However, among Tamils across the world even today, Thai Pongal is celebrated. However, the festival that is celebrated today (that is January 15, 2019), is predominantly a Tamil cultural festival based on Tamil calendar system marking the first day of the Tamil month of Thai dedicated to the sun.

It is celebrated four-days annually in accordance with the Tamil calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, the dates range from January 14 to January 17.

“The day also marks the start of the sun’s six-month-long journey northwards (the Uttaraayanam). This also corresponds to the Indic solstice, when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac Makara or Capricorn. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation to the sun for a successful harvest. Part of the celebration is the boiling of the first rice of the season consecrated to the sun,” says Wikipedia entry on Pongal.

Continue reading ‘“Thaippongal”a Traditional Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving is Now Celebrated Widely By Urbanised Tamils Disconnected with Soil and Nature while Rural Cultivators Face Hardship and Extinction.’ »

“Since Eastern Province Has No Chief Minister, Ministers or Council, the Governor Can Take Over Powers of the Chief Minister, Ministers or Council To Solve Issues” Says New Eastern Governor MLAM Hizbullah.

By Mirudhula Thambiah

Newly-appointed Governor of the Eastern Province, M.L.A.M. Hizbullah, in an interview with Ceylon Today says, “I created a problem by being selected as the Governor of the East. I will find a solution very soon. I know how to tackle them. The protesters will be satisfied when they see my work. I will see that every community is satisfied within two or three months. I will prove it.”

Q: How do you view the ‘hartal’ that took place in the Tamil areas of the Eastern Province last Friday (11)? Why do you think those from the Tamil community are against your appointment?

A: When a Muslim is appointed Governor, some from the Tamil community are against it. This hartal was unsuccessful and most shops were open. The problem is only among a few people. Other than that, people from all three communities-the Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese opened their shops and did not support the hartal, so it was a failure.

However, I do not blame them, because this is the current situation in the Eastern Province. If a Tamil representative had been appointed as Governor, the Muslim community would have protested. They may not have confidence in a Tamil Governor.

With the powers vested in me as Governor, I will establish a Secretariat with immediate effect under the purview of the Provincial Council in the East. The duty of that Secretariat will be to check on each issue and try settling issues using our powers, so that unity among communities can be established.

The only solution for this situation is to build a relationship between communities rather than blaming each other. My duty is to build unity among
communities.

You say people in either community would have opposed the appointment of a Governor from the other community. You say that is the current situation in the East. Why do you say so?

A: Although the war is over, there are many unaddressed issues within the Tamil and Muslim communities in the post-war period. There are issues related to land, culture, schools, jobs appointments, development, which affects both communities. So far, nobody has taken action to resolve these issues. Every representative emphasises on unity, but we cannot expect them to live together without solving the issue.

How would you act as a mediator among all three communities in the East to ensure and create reconciliation?

Continue reading ‘“Since Eastern Province Has No Chief Minister, Ministers or Council, the Governor Can Take Over Powers of the Chief Minister, Ministers or Council To Solve Issues” Says New Eastern Governor MLAM Hizbullah.’ »

“We know there should be a Presidential election this year. I am ready if you are”:Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Indicates He Is Ready to Contest Forthcoming Presidential Elections on an Inclusive Nationalist “Jathikathwaya” Platform.

Giving the clearest indication yet of his intention to run in the upcoming Presidential elections, former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has said he is ready to take up the challenge when polls are called, possibly towards the end of 2019.

Speaking at a ‘Viyathmaga’ event at Water’s Edge on Saturday,Rajapaksa argued that he advocates ‘Jathikathwaya’ over ‘Jathiwadaya’. According to him, the former is defined as inclusive and egalitarian nationalism while the latter is divisive nationalism. He contended that Sri Lankans need to embrace ‘Jathikathwaya’ to develop the country, pointing out this message needs to be delivered to the masses ahead of a likely Presidential election later this year.

“We know there should be a Presidential election this year. I am ready if you are,” Rajapaksa said to a cheering crowd at the end of his speech. During the short address, Rajapaksa called on professionals to unite to build a common identity that could be embraced by all Sri Lankans.

“I wish a peaceful and prosperous New Year not just for you but for the entire country. This is because many are of the view that the country must be directed to a better path than the one it is on now.

Continue reading ‘“We know there should be a Presidential election this year. I am ready if you are”:Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Indicates He Is Ready to Contest Forthcoming Presidential Elections on an Inclusive Nationalist “Jathikathwaya” Platform.’ »

‘Thai Pongal’ the Harvest Festival of Tamils

By P. Krishnaswamy

After the Christmas and New Year festivities, the focus is now on the Pongal harvest festival, popularly known as Thai Pongal, celebrated in the first four days of the month of Thai in the Tamil-Hindu calendar.

Traditionally, it is the festival of farmers who depend on Mother Earth, the sun, rain, other natural elements and cows and buffaloes for a bountiful harvest of their staple food, rice.
Continue reading ‘‘Thai Pongal’ the Harvest Festival of Tamils’ »

Karthik Subbaraj’s “Petta” is Exactly what he Promised – a Tribute to Rajinikanth with the Director’s Trademark Twists.

By

Sowmya Rajendran

Before we see Rajinikanth on screen, we hear the song Vantha Naal Mudhal, Indha Naal Varai. It sets the framework for what we’re about to see – Rajinikanth from those days, until now. Karthik Subbaraj’s Petta is exactly what he promised – a tribute to Rajinikanth, with the director’s trademark twists. And like all of Karthik’s films, sparks fly in parts of it.

For fanboys and fangirls, Petta offers a fun spot-the-Rajini-film reference game. His name is Kaali (from Mullum Malarum – and the director of that film, J Mahendran, appears in a small role in Petta; the song ‘Raman andalum’ appears at a crucial juncture too), he has an origin story similar to that of Thalapathy, there’s an Anwar (Baasha) who plays an important role in his life, the ‘paambu’ joke, a Rajini staple, gets a nod, as well. A thread in the story develops along the lines of Thalapathy but is then subverted, Karthik-style, there’s even a ‘Muthu watches’ in the background in the fight scene before the interval.

The first half, in fact, suffers from acute Rajinitis, with Karthik unapologetically stuffing every frame with “mass” – or his interpretation of it. Rajini certainly looks stylish but you wish the director had given him something more to do other than alternating between flicking his sunglasses and hair, in between beating people up. We meet him as the temporary hostel warden at St Woods College and by the end of the film, I was still left dissatisfied by the flimsy explanation for why he was there in the first place.

Continue reading ‘Karthik Subbaraj’s “Petta” is Exactly what he Promised – a Tribute to Rajinikanth with the Director’s Trademark Twists.’ »

“Viswasam” Starring Ajith is no Classic but it Doesn’t Aspire to be Anything more than what it is – a ‘Family Rural Entertainer’

By Sowmya Rajendran

After touring Eastern Europe in Vivegam, which didn’t go so well, Siva brings Ajith back to Tamil Nadu and reinstates him in a veshti-white shirt. It’s a wise move, because Viswasam is familiar territory to the director and he appears more sure-footed of what he’s doing than in his previous ambitious venture.

One can even say that Siva has risen like his favourite phoenix bird from Vivegam. And flown to the land of Veeram and Vedalam which the bird knows all too well.

Oh the elements are still there. The hero has a pack of yes-men around him whose primary duty is to hail every move of his. As in times of royalty when the king’s arrival would be preceded by a minion reading out his titles and praises, so too in Tamil star vehicles.

These duties are fulfilled by Thambi Ramaiah, Robo Shankar, and Yogi Babu every time Ajith appears on screen. As Thookudurai from Theni, Ajith is quite comfortable bashing goons up and running a rice mill on the side.

He’s one of our few heroes who can pull off roles that require him to look sophisticated and also fit into a rustic character – as Thookudurai who displays a cheerful ignorance of English, he’s very likable indeed.

Continue reading ‘“Viswasam” Starring Ajith is no Classic but it Doesn’t Aspire to be Anything more than what it is – a ‘Family Rural Entertainer’’ »

Courts Order “Derana TV” to Hand Over Unedited Footage of Interview with Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa By Dilka Samanmali Aired on Aug 19 2007 to CID to Aid Investigations Into Murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge.

By

Anurangi Singh

The unedited footage of an interview with former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa aired on a private television channel over a year before Lasantha Wickrematunge’s assassination, was ordered into CID custody by the Mount Lavinia Magistrate’s Court last week, as friends and colleagues marked a decade since the senior journalist was assassinated in broad daylight.

OIC of the CID Gang Robbery Branch Police Inspector Nishantha de Silva made an application to court to obtain the original and unedited footage of an interview with former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa aired on August 19, 2007 from Derana TV’s News Manager.

Lasantha Wickrematunge was assassinated on January 8, 2009 as he was driving himself to work, at the Bakery Junction in Attidiya. Assailants on a tight formation of motorcycles intercepted The Sunday Leader Editor’s vehicle and stabbed him in the head and torso, delivering brutal blows that proved fatal. Wickrematunge succumbed to his injuries after undergoing emergency trauma surgery at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital in Kalubowila.

In a chilling portion of the interview aired by Derana TV in August 2007, about 16 months before Wickrematunge was murdered, the then Defence Secretary refers to journalists writing ‘filth’ about him then driving around alone in their cars, making driving gestures with his hands for the camera. This portion of the interview was shared widely on social media last week.

Continue reading ‘Courts Order “Derana TV” to Hand Over Unedited Footage of Interview with Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa By Dilka Samanmali Aired on Aug 19 2007 to CID to Aid Investigations Into Murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge.’ »

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa Should Call his Venomous Mouthpieces to Heel if he has a Smidgen of Political Good Sense Left in Him.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

White vans and ‘black media’ aside (which I will return to later), Sri Lanka has seen politicians insulting judges in Parliament under cover of parliamentary privilege in the past.

Staggering and scurrilous abuse

Each time, these attacks have been discomfiting, indicating the extent to which the ancient law of privilege can be abused for partisan political advantage. Even so and notwithstanding that unpleasant history, this week’s attack on particular judges by a Rajapaksa frontline supporter in the House on the basis that only judicial officers of a ‘Christian’ persuasion are promoted and that favouritism is shown to a selected few in the judicial service by the recommending body (the Constitutional Council) is by far, the most staggering if not scurrilous abuse that we have heard up to now.

It is direct intimidation of the judicial institution, once the Rajapaksas’ favourite plaything when they brought a sitting Chief Justice to Parliament to undergo a show impeachment, subjecting her to vulgar cross-talk. The fact that such allegations are made unabashedly and with a straight face says much for what Sri Lanka has become today, a seething pot of racist, religious and communal hatreds as opportunistic politicians stir the toxic brew with relish.

Continue reading ‘Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa Should Call his Venomous Mouthpieces to Heel if he has a Smidgen of Political Good Sense Left in Him.’ »

The Greatest Defenders of the Worst and most Unprincipled, Partisan Media come from Within Government.

by Sanjana Hattotuwa

The appointment of a new Army Chief of Staff. A fresh denial around the use of chemical weapons. The denunciation of a civil society protest against mainstream media supportive of the constitutional coup, not by members of the SLPP, but by those in the UNP and government. A photograph of a former President, the incumbent and the Prime Minister, comfortably seated next to each other, enjoying or at least at a musical show. Newspaper headlines and reports framing dire warnings by the former President, who true to form, relies on the capture of emotions over fact or principle.

In just the second week of January, we are presented with the template for what the year ahead holds. It is not looking good, but despite the obvious anxiety, I continue to maintain, is counter-intuitively rather beneficial. The greatest contribution of the constitutional coup to conversations around the grasp of Sri Lanka’s democratic potential was to place in the open and very clearly, who stood for what and where. This endures.

The closest I’ve personally got to Shavendra Silva was on a journey back to Sri Lanka from New York, where as dratted luck would have it, I sat next to him on both legs of the journey. I made it a point to not engage in any conversation.

A man barred from attending a UN committee on peacekeeping while serving as the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Sri Lankan Mission in New York, due to the allegations of war crimes which continue to stick and stain, was nevertheless found entirely fit by the President to be appointed as the new Army Chief of Staff. For a while now, the proclivity of the President to pander to populism was evident, manifest in statements that held the Army beyond reproach. Surprising of late is the degree to which those in the UNP, in a race to the depths of impunity, also express sentiments aimed at a constituency they never got the votes from, or secured any popularity in.

Continue reading ‘The Greatest Defenders of the Worst and most Unprincipled, Partisan Media come from Within Government.’ »

President Sirisena Offered Prime Minister Post to Sajith Premadasa on 71 Occasions; 61 Times After October 26th 2018 and 10 Times Before That.

by Zacki Jabbar

Deputy Leader of the UNP and Housing and Construction Minister Sajith Premadasa revealed that President Sirisena had offered him the post of Prime Minister on 71 occasions – ten times prior to October 26 and 61 times after that.

“However, I declined on a matter of principle as I opposed the President’s action of removing the legitimate Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and the unconstitutional dissolution of Parliament on November 9, which was subsequently reversed by the Supreme Court”, he said while addressing a welcome reception at Tangalle Town recently.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Offered Prime Minister Post to Sajith Premadasa on 71 Occasions; 61 Times After October 26th 2018 and 10 Times Before That.’ »

Sajith Premadasa Announces Construction of Four New Model Villages in Weeraketiya, Hambantota Named After Journalists Lasantha Wickrematunge, Upali Tennekoon, Keith Noyahr and Poddala Jayantha.


The Ministry of Housing development this week announced the construction of four new villages in honour of journalists who either lost their lives or were attacked in the line of duty.

Attending the ground breaking ceremony of four Uda Gammana villages to be created in Weeraketiya, Hambantota in remembrance of four veteran journalists – late Lasantha Wickrematunge, Upali Tennakoon, Keith Noyahr and Poddala Jayantha, the Minister of Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs, Sajith Premadasa said having Media freedom in a country only further strengthens its democracy.

Continue reading ‘Sajith Premadasa Announces Construction of Four New Model Villages in Weeraketiya, Hambantota Named After Journalists Lasantha Wickrematunge, Upali Tennekoon, Keith Noyahr and Poddala Jayantha.’ »

Expert Committee “Draft Constitution” Report Tabled in Parliament Abolishes Executive Presidency and Recommends Bi-cameral Legislature with 233 Member Patliament and 55 Member Second Chamber

By P.K.Balachandran

The Constitutional Expert Committee’s report, which was tabled in the Sri Lankan parliament on Friday abolishes the powerful Executive Presidency and replaces it by a Westminster style parliamentary system with a powerful Prime Minister and a ceremonial President.

As per the report which can be described as the “draft constitution”, the President will cease to be directly elected by the people and will instead be jointly elected by a bi-cameral legislature comprising a 233 member “Parliament” and a 55 member “Second Chamber”. The President will be elected by a majority of the whole membership of the two Houses.

This will make a huge difference to the moral authority of the President. Presently, the President enjoys an enormous sense of power because he is the only occupant of a high Sri Lankan office who is elected directly by the entire voting population of Sri Lanka. Others come through smaller constituencies (and also through parliament as in the case of the Prime Minister).

Thus, a directly elected President can legitimately claim that he is the quintessential repository of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. An indirectly elected President can make no such claims.

Continue reading ‘Expert Committee “Draft Constitution” Report Tabled in Parliament Abolishes Executive Presidency and Recommends Bi-cameral Legislature with 233 Member Patliament and 55 Member Second Chamber’ »

Remembering Lasantha Wickrematunge On The Tenth Anniversary Of His Assassination

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

‘Spotlight’ shines for the first time in the new year. Although devoted in principle to films, film personalities and film-related matters, the column will deviate in practice this week to focus on a renowned Sri Lankan newspaper Editor whose contribution to his country and people as a Watchdog of the Nation has been immeasurably immense.

Lasantha Wickrematunge Memorial-pics by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

An outstanding member of the Fourth Estate who was professionally qualified as a lawyer but instead preferred the vocation of journalism to give voice to the voiceless. A fearless scribe who dedicated himself to the task of speaking truth to power and remained unbowed and unafraid to the very end. A dynamic personality who was my friend, colleague, Editor and above all one of the most courageous human beings in Sri Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Remembering Lasantha Wickrematunge On The Tenth Anniversary Of His Assassination’ »

Abysmally Low Attendance by MP’s When Constitutional Assembly Convened on Jan 11: Only 28 From Govt, 17 UPFA, 9 TNA and 2 JVP Present When CA Commenced.

By Saman Indrajith

Poor attendance at the Constitutional Assembly (CA) meeting was noted yesterday with only 56 MPs being present when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presented reports pertaining to constitutional reforms.

The CA met, at 10.00 am at the Parliament chamber after a lapse of over a year. The meeting was convened to table five reports pertaining to the constitution making process following deliberations at the Steering Committee headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

Only 28 government MPs, 17 UPFA, nine TNA and two JVP MPs were present at the commencement of the meeting. The number of Government members increased to about 47 during the course of the debate. The CA comprises 220 MPs. The five parliamentarians of the National Freedom Front, led by Wimal Weerawansa decided to leave the CA in 2017.

Continue reading ‘Abysmally Low Attendance by MP’s When Constitutional Assembly Convened on Jan 11: Only 28 From Govt, 17 UPFA, 9 TNA and 2 JVP Present When CA Commenced.’ »

Time for Public to Demand That Legal action Be Taken Against Those Involved in Covering Up and Suppressing Evidence in the Assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge Case Like the JMO and Senior Police Officials!

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

We have just completed the tenth anniversary of the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge. A decade after this political brutality under a government with a bloody record of such violence against society, media freedom and democracy, we still await the killers of Lasantha, and those who wanted it done, caught in the clasps of the law.

The failure to bring the killers of Lasantha to justice is one of the biggest failures, or rather the largest political hoax, of the presidency and government elected in January and August 2015, with a huge promise to restore democracy and bring the violators of the law to justice. It is a crooked hoax for which all parties of the so-called yahapalanaya cannot escape responsibility.

There is good talk today about the presence of an independent judiciary, unlike what we had in the recent past. There is also a commendable initiative on provisions for the Right to Information, which need further improvement. But the continued failure to bring the killers of Lasantha Wickrematunge before the law raises serious doubts about this government’s trust in an independent judiciary and its deeper respect for the Right to Information.

This applies to the rival leaders of today’s government – President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Continue reading ‘Time for Public to Demand That Legal action Be Taken Against Those Involved in Covering Up and Suppressing Evidence in the Assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge Case Like the JMO and Senior Police Officials!’ »

JVP Flays Mahinda Rajapaksa For Spreading Misinformation and Hatred About a New Constitution and Says Ex-president Should be Ashamed of Himself.

By Saman Indrajith

Former President and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa was spreading hatred and circulating misinformation about the new Constitution among the people, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Parliament yesterday.

“Rajapaksa has now become an orb of hatred. He recently visited a temple and said that by April a new Constitution would be introduced and the country would be separated. He said the new Constitution would establish a Federal State. What lies are these? Why spread false information? We wouldn’t have minded if it was someone else who go around saying such things. But this is a Former President we are talking about. He was the President in this country for some good ten years. He should be ashamed of these actions.” Dissanayake said.

Dissanayake expressed his displeasure at Rajapaksa led group depending on racism and religious animosity to gain power. He urged Rajapaksa not to create uneasiness among the general public and to conduct himself as a responsible leader.

Continue reading ‘JVP Flays Mahinda Rajapaksa For Spreading Misinformation and Hatred About a New Constitution and Says Ex-president Should be Ashamed of Himself.’ »

Premier Ranil Asks Constitutional Assembly Members To Decide What to do Next as Neither Steering Committee Nor Experts Committee Reach Agreement on Draft Constitution.


By Ashwin Hemmathagama

A report prepared by the Panel of Experts for the Steering Committee based on the Interim Report, six Sub Committee Reports, the Report of the ad hoc Sub Committee assigned to look into the relationship between the Parliament and the Provincial Councils were presented to the Constitutional Assembly yesterday.

As the Steering Committee was unable to reach common ground on most of the areas under discussion to prepare the proposed draft, the Steering Committee Chairman Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe wanted the members to decide the next step following the presentation of the reports.

The first report elaborates on Fundamental Rights and Freedom, Language Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy, which are the chapters proposed by the Sub Committee on Fundamental Rights. The chapter on Citizenship was reproduced from the present Constitution. Political party representations in the Interim Report of the Steering Committee and the comments and letters submitted by Members of the Panel of Experts are found as schedule I and II to the report, respectively. A subject-wise summary of the speeches made at the debate on the Interim Report of the Steering Committee at the Constitutional Assembly and the recommendations submitted by the Chief Ministers of the Provincial Councils were among the reports moved.

Moving the reports, the Prime Minister wanted the members of the Constitutional Assembly and the general public to read them all and take them up for discussion as per the decision taken by the Steering Committee on 25 October 2018.

Continue reading ‘Premier Ranil Asks Constitutional Assembly Members To Decide What to do Next as Neither Steering Committee Nor Experts Committee Reach Agreement on Draft Constitution.’ »

UNP Position is that Articles 2 and 9 of the Constitution Relating to Unitary Status and Position of Buddhism Should Remain the Same Declares UNP Leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.


By

Disna Mudalige, Camelia Nathaniel and Amali Mallawaarachchi

Drafting a Constitutional Bill depends on the support of the Constitutional Assemblyand any such draft requires the support of a two thirds majority, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

Addressing the Constitutional Assembly, the Prime Minister yesterday said public opinion is always respected in proceeding with Constitutional reforms.

The PM stressed that the UNP’s stance is that Articles 2 and 9, which deal with the unitary status and the status of Buddhism, should remain the same.

Continue reading ‘UNP Position is that Articles 2 and 9 of the Constitution Relating to Unitary Status and Position of Buddhism Should Remain the Same Declares UNP Leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.’ »

UNP Issues Special Statement Condemns “Black Media Mafia” Whose Real Faces Were Exposed While Appreciating Media Institutions which Accepted Letters Presented by Protesting Activist Groups.

By

Lahiru Fernando

The United National Party stressed it had no involvement in the protest carried out by a number of social activists’ groups opposite several media institutes in Colombo on Thursday.

Issuing a special statement yesterday, the party said the UNP is committed to promote and protect the freedom of media.

The statement also said another regrettable fact is that these media institutions are branding the participants of these peaceful and civilized protests as NGO members and conspirators while crowning those who stage protests violating laws and promoting violence as patriots.

Continue reading ‘UNP Issues Special Statement Condemns “Black Media Mafia” Whose Real Faces Were Exposed While Appreciating Media Institutions which Accepted Letters Presented by Protesting Activist Groups.’ »

Colombo Commercial High Court Orders NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa to Pay Rs.10 Million to JVP Gen -Secy Tilvin Silva as Compensation for Publishing and Distributing Book Titled “Neththa Venuwata Aththa” in Violation of Intellectual Property Act.


By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Colombo Commercial High Court yesterday ordered National Freedom Front Leader Wimal Weerawansa that compensation of Rs. 10 million be paid to JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva.

This is for publishing and distributing the book titled Neththa Venuwata Aththa in violation of provisions of the Intellectual Property Act.

In his judgment, Commercial High Court Judge Ruwan Fernando ruled that several articles contained in the concerned book have violated the publication rights, economical rights and moral rights coming under the Intellectual Property Act No.36 of 2003.

Meanwhile, the Commercial High Court further issued an order restraining Wimal Weerawansa from printing, publishing, selling and distribution of the book titled Neththa Wenuwata Aththa.

Continue reading ‘Colombo Commercial High Court Orders NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa to Pay Rs.10 Million to JVP Gen -Secy Tilvin Silva as Compensation for Publishing and Distributing Book Titled “Neththa Venuwata Aththa” in Violation of Intellectual Property Act.’ »

Centre for Policy Alternatives Urges President Sirisena to Immediately Review the Appointment of Maj-Gen Shavendra Silva as Sri Lanka Army Chief of Staff in the Light of Serious Allegations Levelled Against Him.

(Text of Media Release Issued by Centre for Policy Alternatives on Jan 11th 2019)

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is deeply concerned by the recent appointment of Major General Shavendra Silva as the Chief of Staff, Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and urges President Maithripala Sirisena to immediately review the appointment in light of serious allegations levelled against Major General Silva.

These are made in a context where the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) made significant commitments to address accountability and usher in reforms to end the culture of impunity. Inaction at this moment will demonstrate the unwillingness by the political leadership to move forward on its own commitments.

Continue reading ‘Centre for Policy Alternatives Urges President Sirisena to Immediately Review the Appointment of Maj-Gen Shavendra Silva as Sri Lanka Army Chief of Staff in the Light of Serious Allegations Levelled Against Him.’ »

Recent Signs Clearly Indicate Maithripala Sirisena Is Getting Ready to Contest the Presidential Elections Again

By

Kelum Bandara

That President Maithripala Sirisena desires to be the next presidential candidate surfaced once again when newly appointed General Secretary of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Dayasiri Jayasekara made some utterances to that effect early this week.

Jayasekara said that his party wished to field President Sirisena as the candidate for the next presidential elections.

The President has been harbouring such an ambition right throughout despite his pronouncement in the run up to the 2015 presidential elections that he would not seek re-election. On earlier occasions, his intention of contesting for the second term became obvious when he parried answers to the direct questions posed to him by the media with regards to his candidacy.

Continue reading ‘Recent Signs Clearly Indicate Maithripala Sirisena Is Getting Ready to Contest the Presidential Elections Again’ »

Sri Lanka Should have a Competent Ambassador Acceptable to the Russians, in Moscow Because the UNF government has Tilted its Foreign Policy in Favour of the West at the Expense of the Country’s Traditional Friends-The Island.

(Text of Editorial appearing in “The Island” of January 10th 2019 under the heading “The hunt begins?)

The JVP has torn into Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Russia Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, who, it says, backed the 26 Oct. government change. It has, however, stopped short of explaining how he did so. Is it referring to his political writings? There is no love lost between the JVP and Dr. Jayatilleka and, we believe, the former has sought to settle old scores.

There has been no formal complaint against Ambassador Jayatilleka as far as we are aware. He is no stranger to controversy and it is up to him to defend himself in case of charges being brought against him. But it is not clear from the allegation at issue against him whether he has done anything so serious as to warrant disciplinary action. However, a person had better prepare himself for serious trouble when the JVP flays him, for its diatribe is a harbinger of the government’s hostile action against him.

We have a government which won’t hesitate to bring back anyone from abroad save Arjuna Mahendran. Let those who are all out to hound Dr. Jayatillake from his job be told that Sri Lanka should have a competent ambassador, acceptable to the Russians, in Moscow, because the UNF government has, in its wisdom, tilted its foreign policy in favour of the West at the expense of the country’s traditional friends.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Should have a Competent Ambassador Acceptable to the Russians, in Moscow Because the UNF government has Tilted its Foreign Policy in Favour of the West at the Expense of the Country’s Traditional Friends-The Island.’ »

New Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa Says Sri Lanka Faces Three Major Dangers After the Change of Govt Four Years Ago on Jan 9 2015.

(Text of a media release issued by Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa on January 9th 2019 under the heading “Four years of misrule and the fate of future generations in this country”)

Sri Lanka faces three major dangers as we complete four years since the change of government on 9 January 2015. The first among them is the danger of the economy collapsing at any moment. In the past four years, the UNP led government has borrowed the equivalent of 50% of the total national debt that was outstanding as at the end of December 2014 from the loans taken in the six decades after gaining independence in February 1948. Even though the UNP claims to be taking loans to repay the loans taken by my government, if debt was being incurred only to pay off previous debts, the total outstanding debt in the country cannot increase. What has happened however is that while the total outstanding debt as at the end of 2014 has remained as it is, a sum equivalent to more than 50% of that total has been added on to the national debt in the past four years.

When we ruled the country between 2006 and 2014, there was a major war in the country in the first few years. We had to face a world food crisis in the middle of that in 2007. Between 2008 and 2009 came the worst global recession since the 1930s. Between 2006 and 2014, crude oil prices went up continuously in an unprecedented manner touching 140 USD per barrel. Despite all those challenges, in the entire nine years between 2006 and 2014, the Rupee depreciated by only Rs. 28 to the US Dollar. However over the past four years, without any of the crises that we had to face, the Rupee has depreciated by Rs. 53 to the US Dollar. The average growth rate of 7.4% that we maintained has plummetted to below 3%. Even though the President realised the danger of what was happening and tried to hold a general election and hand the running of the country back to us, that did not succeed. We are now in a situation where no one knows what will happen to the economy in the comming weeks and months.

Continue reading ‘New Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa Says Sri Lanka Faces Three Major Dangers After the Change of Govt Four Years Ago on Jan 9 2015.’ »

President Sirisena’s Newly Appointed Private Secretary Janaka Ranawaka Indicted at Colombo High Court For Allegedly Gaining Undue Access to the then Deputy Mayor of Kotte on July 13 2013

By Chitra Weerarathne

The indictment against Janaka Ranawaka the former Mayor of Kotte was read out to him yesterday in the High Court of Colombo.

He has been indicted with undue access to the computer of the then Deputy Mayor. The accused is on bail at present.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s Newly Appointed Private Secretary Janaka Ranawaka Indicted at Colombo High Court For Allegedly Gaining Undue Access to the then Deputy Mayor of Kotte on July 13 2013’ »

ENPGR Amarasekera, S.Thurairaja and Preethi Padman Surasena Sworn in as Judges of the Supreme Court by President Maithripala Sirisena.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed three judges to the Supreme Court, including two whose appointments were delayed following a constitutional coup.

Court of Appeal President Preethi Padman Surasena, S Thurairaja and E N P G R Amarasekera were sworn in before the president, his office said.

Continue reading ‘ENPGR Amarasekera, S.Thurairaja and Preethi Padman Surasena Sworn in as Judges of the Supreme Court by President Maithripala Sirisena.’ »

Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera Tells Parliament that Independent Television Network (ITN) is a “Den of Thieves” Which Needs Institutional Reform to Operate as a “Public Broadcasting Service”.


By

Disna MudaligeCamelia Nathaniel and Amali Mallawaarachchi

The Independent Television Network (ITN) is a ‘den of thieves’ and the best way to reform the institution is to operate it as a “public broadcasting service,” Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera told Parliament yesterday.

The minister was making a ministerial statement in response to a question by JVP Leader Anura Dissanayake.

“I am aware of the situation of the ITN since 1994. Almost all of the ITN workers have their own private agency and they receive commissions whenever they give an advertisement, teledrama or film to the ITN. The ITN has 358 agencies registered under it. We tried to stop these irregularities,” said Samaraweera.

Continue reading ‘Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera Tells Parliament that Independent Television Network (ITN) is a “Den of Thieves” Which Needs Institutional Reform to Operate as a “Public Broadcasting Service”.’ »

Maj-Gen Shavendra Silva Appointed as 53rd Chief of Staff of the Sri Lankan Army.


By

Camelia Nathaniel

Major General Shavendra Silva has been appointed as the 53rd Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army from yesterday.

Major General Silva is currently the Adjutant General and Colonel Commandant of the Gajaba Regiment. A proud product of the Sri Lanka Military Academy he was enlisted on the fifth of March 1984 to the regular intake 19. He has had an illustrious career from Second Lieutenant to Major General, covering all salient appointments in his military career.

He also served as the Ambassador and the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York from 2010-2015.

Continue reading ‘Maj-Gen Shavendra Silva Appointed as 53rd Chief of Staff of the Sri Lankan Army.’ »

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Will Table Expert Panel Reports Outlining Draft Constitution Proposals When Parliament Convenes as Constitutional Assembly on Friday Jan 11 Morning.

By Saman Indrajith

The Constitutional Assembly will meet, at 10.30 am tomorrow (11) with Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri presiding.

The expert panel report, which contains draft constitutional proposals, will be tabled by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during the sitting. The views of political parties are also given in the report and the report will be available in all three languages.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya is the Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly, but since he is out of the country, the Deputy Speaker will chair the sittings.

Once the report is tabled, the floor will be opened for party leaders to express their views. The Constitutional Assembly will continue till 12.30pm and Parliament will commence at 1.30pm.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Will Table Expert Panel Reports Outlining Draft Constitution Proposals When Parliament Convenes as Constitutional Assembly on Friday Jan 11 Morning.’ »

JVP’s Bimal Rathnayake Raises Concerns About Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Dayan Jayatilleka Saying “Dr.Jayatilleka May Have the Right Academic Qualifications but he acts more like a Political Campaigner than a Political Scientist”.

By Saman Indrajith

Concerns regarding the conduct of Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka had been raised during a recent meeting of the Committee on High Posts, JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake told Parliament yesterday.

Participating in the debate on Regulations under the Diplomatic Privileges Act, MP Rathnayake said that Dr. Jayatilleka’s conduct as an Ambassador was highly questionable.

“Dr. Jayatilleka may have the right academic qualifications., but he acts more like a political campaigner than a political scientist. His conduct clearly shows that. When his name was brought up before the Committee on High Posts questions were raised whether it was correct to appoint a person like him as an Ambassador. The Committee discussed whether he could fulfil his duties as a diplomat without causing a conflict of interest with his political campaigns.”

Continue reading ‘JVP’s Bimal Rathnayake Raises Concerns About Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Dayan Jayatilleka Saying “Dr.Jayatilleka May Have the Right Academic Qualifications but he acts more like a Political Campaigner than a Political Scientist”.’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Rules That the Judiciary and Not Legislature Should Decide on Issues Like Validity of Political Party Membership or Eligibility of an MP To Retain Parliamentary Membership.

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

Putting the issue of party membership before the Judiciary, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday said it was up to the courts to decide whether any Parliamentarian has resigned from his party membership and reaffirmed United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) lawmaker Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Leader of the Opposition.

In the absence of Speaker Jayasuriya, who had left the island to attend the Conference of Speakers of Commonwealth Countries in Malta, the Deputy Speaker and the Chairman of Committees J. M. Ananda Kumarasiri read out the Speaker’s ruling yesterday in Parliament.

According to Speaker Jayasuriya’s ruling, courts should decide whether the seat of a Member of Parliament has been vacated or not as per the law or the Constitution, and whether any Member of Parliament has resigned from OR lost his party membership.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Rules That the Judiciary and Not Legislature Should Decide on Issues Like Validity of Political Party Membership or Eligibility of an MP To Retain Parliamentary Membership.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Confirmed as Leader of the Opposition: Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri Informs Parliament that Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has Re-affirmed his Earlier Recognition of Kurunegala Dist MP as Opposition Leader.

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had reaffirmed the recognition of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Opposition Leader of Parliament, Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri told Parliament yesterday.

Speaker Jayasuriya is currently attending the Conference of Speakers of Commonwealth Countries in Malta and the Deputy Speaker read out the Speaker’s announcements to the House at the commencement of sittings.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Confirmed as Leader of the Opposition: Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri Informs Parliament that Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has Re-affirmed his Earlier Recognition of Kurunegala Dist MP as Opposition Leader.’ »

President Sirisena’s foreign policy thinking and practice shows a marked pivot towards Greater Eurasia, as the main axis of his Asia-centric Nonalignment.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

President Sirisena’s foreign policy, just as that of any other leader anywhere in the world, must be seen in relation to several factors. These are the success or otherwise of the policy he inherited, the character of his own foreign policy as it evolved, and most importantly, the ‘fit’ or otherwise of his foreign will policy with the national interests of the country in the external environment it finds itself in.

When President Sirisena came to office, he inherited a foreign policy from his predecessor President Rajapaksa that had been through two distinct stages, corresponding roughly to the two terms of that Presidency. In the first stage, that of the war, the foreign policy success was conspicuous in that the external environment was conceptualized, secured and managed in such a way as to obtain the necessary external support for the defeat of the most powerful terrorist militia anywhere in the world at that time; a militia which had a global network. President Rajapaksa was also able to neutralize and pre-empt and indeed win over those external actors who had earlier intervened to prevent a military victory on the part of the Sri Lankan state over separatist terrorism. The best empirical evidence of Sri Lanka’s diplomatic standing at the end of the war was the near two thirds vote obtained at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva for a resolution supportive of Sri Lanka, which pre-empted a resolution critical of Sri Lanka for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, and which sought an international probe.

In its second term, a deviation from that successful foreign policy failed to implement the crucial ‘devolution for accountability’ trade-off within the Sri Lankan Constitution that was made during wartime and gradually eroded the broad support base that Sri Lanka enjoyed in the international arena, starting with its neighbor and radiating out to the global South. The crisis in postwar Sri Lankan foreign policy was best evidenced in the dramatic reversals suffered by Sri Lanka in Geneva three years after its 29-12 victory. Sri Lanka lost three successive votes in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s foreign policy thinking and practice shows a marked pivot towards Greater Eurasia, as the main axis of his Asia-centric Nonalignment.’ »

“What ‘They’ Did To My Father and Why ‘They’ Did It”- Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa Writes of Her Father and his Assassination.

By Ahimsa Wickrematunge

I first came to know of the MiG Deal in August 2007. I was living in Canada with family when my father called me from Colombo. He told me that The Sunday Leader had reported on a shady military contract involving Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Air Force. My father had just watched a television interview in which Rajapaksa had denied having any involvement in this “MiG deal”. My father rambled on with details about tender procedure, inter-Governmental contracts and credit letters, all of which flew well over my innocent little 16-year-old head, as I tried without success to move our conversation towards a more father-daughter wavelength. His eye was on the prize, however. All he could talk about was the follow up article he was planning.

A few days later, on Sunday, 2 September 2007, I logged on to The Sunday Leader website, as I often did, to see my father’s banner headline that the “MiG deal crash lands on Defence Ministry”. According to this reporting, the “MiG Deal” in which Gotabaya Rajapaksa had claimed to be uninvolved in on television, was orchestrated by his cousin, Udayanga Weeratunga, and began with a meeting between Rajapaksa, Weeratunga, the Air Force Commander and one of the Ukrainian masterminds of the deal.

That meeting with Rajapaksa, the Leader reported, took place on 6 February. It was only the next day, they said, that the Air Force suddenly developed a longing for MiGs and the Air Force Commander wrote a letter to the Ukrainian conspirator to ask for a proposal. I have seen this letter from the Air Force Commander Donald Perera to Ukrainian national Dimitri Peregudov, dated 7 February 2006. It was not even written on a letterhead. Typed in the same ‘Comic Sans MS’ scribble font with which kindergarten teachers printed posters for infants, it was little more than a childish cover-up.

This letter was supposed to belatedly transform the ‘unsolicited’ proposal that his boss’ cousin had shoved down the throat of the Air Force Commander the previous day in the Defence Secretary’s office into a ‘solicited’ one, so it could be considered under procurement rules. As far as I know, no one has to date asked Donald Perera why he suddenly asked for a proposal for MiGs, having written to the Defence Secretary barely two weeks prior that the Air Force needed to consider a broad number of options, not just MiGs, in choosing its new bomber aircraft.

My father’s reporting poked several more holes in the legitimacy of the MiG deal, from the circumvention of several standard procurement procedures, to exposing the ghost company through which the profits had been laundered, to shining a spotlight on the meddling of Udayanga Weeratunga, at every stage of the transaction.

The following month, on 18 October 2007, a lawyer for Gotabaya Rajapaksa wrote to my father threatening to sue him for defamation for causing Rs. 1 billion in damage to his character. I can’t imagine that there is any way that poor Gotabaya Rajapaksa could have realised at that time that he was walking into a carefully-baited trap set by the wily Editor of The Sunday Leader. In Rajapaksa’s letter of demand, he said that thanks to my father’s intrepid reporting, his “role of Defence Secretary,” “had been adversely affected thus creating adverse consequences to the war against terror in the battlefield”.

My father responded bluntly that if that were so, Rajapaksa “should forthwith resign from the post of Defence Secretary” in the interests of national security. My father threatened to counter-sue Rajapaksa for Rs. 2 billion if he were sued, on the grounds that he “has always remained in this country and worked for its betterment,” while Rajapaksa “has voluntarily left this country and migrated to the United States of America and taken citizenship in that country by swearing allegiance to that country”.

Continue reading ‘“What ‘They’ Did To My Father and Why ‘They’ Did It”- Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Daughter Ahimsa Writes of Her Father and his Assassination.’ »

‘Who is Lasantha?’ He’s just another murder,’ said the country’s former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa incredulously 10 years ago – Sunday Observer Editorial

(Text Of Editorial Appearing in the “Sunday Observer”of January 6th 2019 Under the Heading “Who is Lasantha?)

The words are still chilling, a decade later. “Who is Lasantha?” retorted a once all-powerful Defence Secretary angrily, when a BBC journalist dared to question him incessantly on the brutal murder of founding editor of The Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickrematunge who was killed on his way to work 10 years ago this Tuesday.

That was a vastly different time. The lights were going out in newsrooms around the country, as war raged far from the capital and an ugly nationalism was reaching fever pitch. A Government that brooked no nonsense from so-called unpatriotic sections of the media that questioned its execution of the war was at logger-heads with The Sunday Leader newspaper, virtually the last defiant voice in a darkening media landscape as Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Government approached the zenith of its power.

One might not fault Gotabhaya Rajapaksa for wondering why the world should care so much about one journalist killing, in the fog of war on a tiny island far away. Who indeed, was Lasantha Wickrematunge, this one man the world was mourning, and turning into a symbol of resistance against autocratic regimes seeking to silence the free press?

Continue reading ‘‘Who is Lasantha?’ He’s just another murder,’ said the country’s former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa incredulously 10 years ago – Sunday Observer Editorial’ »

Abducted and Tortured Ex-Associate Editor Keith Noyahr Breaks 11 Year Silence by Writing About Slain Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge to Denote 10th Death Anniversary.

By

Keith Noyahr

(In some ways, Keith Noyahr’s abduction and assault in May 2008 was the harbinger of the more brutal crime that was to follow. At the time of his abduction, Keith Noyahr was the most senior journalist to be attacked during that dark era for press freedom in Sri Lanka. That dubious honour was claimed by his friend ‘Lassie’ eight months later. Lasantha Wickrematunge and Noyahr were once colleagues at the Sunday Times. Both were acclaimed journalists. Both were hunted for their defiant writing in an oppressive climate for professional journalists. A decade later, investigators have found a thread running through both these attacks, connecting assailants in both cases to a shadowy military intelligence unit operating out of the Tripoli army camp, part of a sinister operation to silence dissenting voices during the height of the war. As Sri Lanka’s media fraternity marks the 10th Anniversary of Lasantha Wickrematunge’s assassination on January 8, Keith Noyahr, picks up his journalistic pen after 11 long years living in exile to write this tribute to his colleague Lasantha, fallen in the line of duty)

After a decade of hibernation, I wish to break my journalistic silence with a salute to the media giant of our time, Lasantha Wickrematunge– on his 10th death anniversary.

Months before his death, Lasantha sent word to me through a mutual friend Krishantha Cooray, “to open up now that I am safe in Australia”. I did not heed his call as I felt the time was not right and my inner wounds from torture were still fresh.

My friend, colleague and later competitor, Lassie, as he was fondly known, was butchered in broad daylight on January 8, 2009, in a manner that could be likened to the Hobbesian take on state of nature– “nasty, brutish and short”.

Lasantha was alive to his impending death.The timing, he reckoned, would be once a rebel stronghold fell and a military victory was in the offing. News of Elephant Pass falling was held back until the dastardly act of his assassins was carried out with impunity. The murder most foul was drowned in the euphoria of military success.

You can’t keep a good man down. Lassie, even in death, your words resonated far and wide as your famed editorial immortalised you. A swag of international awards was conferred upon you posthumously.

To restrict Lasantha’s courageous journalism to the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency would not do justice to the man who was a thorn in the flesh of Presidents Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranasinghe Premadasa. A sneak peek into these eras though would suffice.

Continue reading ‘Abducted and Tortured Ex-Associate Editor Keith Noyahr Breaks 11 Year Silence by Writing About Slain Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge to Denote 10th Death Anniversary.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Ably Supported by Sections of the Buddhist Clergy has Set the Course for the Sinhalese Buddhists of Sri Lanka to Self-destruct.


By- Sharmini Serasinghe

The leader of a nation is like a parent to one’s children. The children emulate the examples set by the parent, for better or for worse. The morally upright parent sets morally upright examples and standards and ensures the children abide by them.

What happens when the leader/parent is immoral, unethical and unprincipled? Obviously, the children/citizens, especially the young and impressionable will naturally follow the examples set by the leader/parent. And they too become immoral, unethical and unprincipled, just like their leader/parent.

This unfortunately is what has happened to an entire generation of the Sinhalese Buddhists of this country, including the academically qualified and some amongst the senior generations, as well as the Buddhist clergy, during and after the decade Mahinda Rajapaksa was the Parent of our Nation. An entire generation and more of Sinhalese Buddhists fell victim to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s self- serving political machinations and thus, on the path to self-destruct.

How did Mahinda Rajapaksa set about doing this?

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Ably Supported by Sections of the Buddhist Clergy has Set the Course for the Sinhalese Buddhists of Sri Lanka to Self-destruct.’ »

Strategic Importance of Trincomalee,Colombo and Hambantota Ports Have Seen 450 Naval Vessels From 28 Countries Visiting Lanka Since 2008: India Leads with 90 Visits; 65 Foreign Warships in 2017 Alone.

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

In the Great Game being played across the Indian Ocean, the U.S. Navy has its eye on Sri Lanka’s northeastern port of Trincomalee to serve as a logistics hub for South Asian waters churned by India, Japan and China.

Western diplomats in Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, noted an upping of the stakes when a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier from the U.S. 7th Fleet dropped anchor early this month at Trincomalee, the world’s second deepest natural harbor with great strategic value. The visit of USS John C. Stennis followed a Trincomalee port call in August by another 7th Fleet vessel and a unit of marines to assess logistical support for visiting U.S. ships.

“Trinco is a logical choice because it is the most important piece of strategic real estate in Sri Lanka,” a diplomat told the Nikkei Asian Review. “These are signs of new thinking in Washington regarding this part of South Asia, where over the past six years the Chinese presence has become so obvious and widespread.”

Continue reading ‘Strategic Importance of Trincomalee,Colombo and Hambantota Ports Have Seen 450 Naval Vessels From 28 Countries Visiting Lanka Since 2008: India Leads with 90 Visits; 65 Foreign Warships in 2017 Alone.’ »

Catholic Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Says if Sri Lanka Could Be Compared to a Tree then Buddhism is The “Stem” and Followers of Other Religions the “Branches”.

By Sawani Sheshadi

If there are issues and crises related to religious as well as ethnic co-existence in Sri Lanka, solutions can be solicited through the spiritual guidance taught in religions.

Hence, any unwanted foreign involvement should be frowned upon, said Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith attending the launching ceremony of the biography of Ven. Banagala Upatissa Thera.

Continue reading ‘Catholic Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Says if Sri Lanka Could Be Compared to a Tree then Buddhism is The “Stem” and Followers of Other Religions the “Branches”.’ »

Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa Gifted a Car ( Nissan -N16) to His Astrologer Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena in 2007 For Which Mihin Lanka Had Allegedly Paid 8.2 Million Rupees.

By

Yoshitha Perera

Mihin Lanka has paid a loan of Rs.8.2 million for a car (Nissan- N16) which was gifted to Astrologer Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the year 2007, Astrologer Abeygunawardana informed the SriLankan Airlines Commission yesterday.

He informed the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into irregularities at SriLankan airlines, SriLankan Catering and Mihin Lanka that in 2007 he had received a call from the ex-Chief Security Officer of former President Major Neville Wanniarachchi to collect the particular car from LOLC at Rajagiriya.

Continue reading ‘Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa Gifted a Car ( Nissan -N16) to His Astrologer Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena in 2007 For Which Mihin Lanka Had Allegedly Paid 8.2 Million Rupees.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa May Be Down But He Is Certainly Not Out Yet.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s attempt to seize power through the backdoor with the support of President Maithripala Sirisena has been roundly defeated by a courageous display of united resistance by concerned citizens in combination with decisive votes in the legislature and unanimous rulings by the Judiciary. After clinging on stubbornly from October 26th for 51 days, former president and Kurunegala district MP Mahinda Rajapaksa terminated his illegitimate tenure as purported Premier by signing a letter of resignation at his residence on Dec 15th. Thereafter on Dec 16th Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in by President Sirisena as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka again.

The rightful restoration of Ranil as Prime minister has been welcomed joyfully by all those adhering to principles of constitutional democracy both nationally and internationally. The undignified exit of Mahinda and triumphant re- entry of Ranil has a fairy tale ring to it and most fairy tales have an ending where everyone lives “happily ever after”. Unfortunately it is not so in real life. Similarly the Sri Lankan political crisis too has had a happy ending due to the defeat of the anti-constitutional or extra-constitutional coup. The celebratory mood therefore is understandable. However there is no room for complacency. The rightful return of Ranil Wickremesinghe is indeed most welcome but it cannot be regarded as a grand finale to the Political crisis which will certainly continue in new forms and ways in the days to come.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa May Be Down But He Is Certainly Not Out Yet.’ »

Rightfully Restored Premier Ranil Likely To Hold Early Parliamentary Elections

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The seven-week-long curse which blighted this beautiful and bountiful land from 26 October onwards ended over the mid-December weekend.

On Saturday 15 December former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa terminated his illegitimate tenure as purported Prime Minister by signing a letter of resignation at his residence amidst a gathering of acolytes, thereby demonstrating that he was relinquishing a post that was never rightfully his in the first place.

The letter was dutifully submitted to President Maithripala Sirisena who had capriciously removed “Prime Minister with a majority” Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with “Prime Minister without a majority” Mahinda Rajapaksa. Thereafter on Sunday 16 December at the auspicious time of 11:16 a.m. Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in by President Sirisena as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for the fifth time. Thus ended the 52-day-long political crisis that will go down as the darkest chapter in the constitutional history of Sri Lanka.

Incredible and unprecedented display of resistance

Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena did not call it quits gracefully. They did not change their stances willingly and step down. They were made to back off by an incredible and unprecedented display of resistance – to an unconstitutional, illegal act – on multiple levels in different forms. This resistance was demonstrated in Parliament as well as the public domain.

Never in the post -independence history of this nation has such a popular non-violent protest movement cutting across race, religion, caste, class or creed been witnessed. Substantial sections of the Sri Lankan population mobilised together as a united nation and rallied around a principled common cause. It was basically a case of the country and people defending constitutional democracy and resisting flagrant attempts to capture power through the backdoor.

People constantly maintained vigil at Temple Trees, picketing, placard waving, sit-in demos, pocket meetings, processions and mass rallies were held. Sections of the media as well as social media activists conducted a ceaseless barrage of criticism at those responsible for causing this anti-constitutional political crisis.

Continue reading ‘Rightfully Restored Premier Ranil Likely To Hold Early Parliamentary Elections’ »

With all its unpleasantness and political crudities 2018 demonstrated that Sri Lanka still has enormous civic resistance Which is something to be proud of

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

When chastened supporters of the Rajapaksa-led ‘Pohottuwa’ (lotus bud) Party bewail the December 2018 decision of the Supreme Court holding that the Presidential dissolution of Parliament was unconstitutional with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa having to step back from a contested Prime Ministerial seat and return to opposition ranks, a frequent lament is that they have ‘no other court’ to appeal to, against that decision.

Rich satisfaction in seeing political imprudence reprimanded

Coupled with rude admonitions by rash ‘Pohottuwa’ sidekicks seething with fury against the judges who handed down the decision, this amounts to disingenuous attempts to undermine the authority of the Court. Nonetheless, there is rich satisfaction in hearing such confessions of helplessness. These must not come easy to an authoritarian family dynasty accustomed to a cowed and intimidated judiciary.

Perhaps, and ironically so, if the 2006 Singarasa decision of ex-Chief Justice Sarath Silva (himself a vociferous defender of President Maithripala Sirisena’s actions) had not ridiculed the option that Sri Lankans had to appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in respect of rights violations, the disgruntled ‘Pohottuwa’ members might have exercised that option

But apart from these tongue-in-cheek asides, as irresistible as they are, ominous signs portend that 2019 will be a holding year where each and every slim gain that was won during then past four years will need to be defended by an active and vigilant citizenry with its backs literally to the wall. For more disconcerting than the ‘Pohottuwa’ fury are remarks made by President Sirisena impacting adversely on the judicial institution. These comprised remarks when the cases in the constitutional crisis were still pending in the superior courts that rulings by judges were similar to a head monk of a village temple dictating terms to the chief prelate of a chapter (meaning himself).

Continue reading ‘With all its unpleasantness and political crudities 2018 demonstrated that Sri Lanka still has enormous civic resistance Which is something to be proud of’ »

Air Force Officers Interviewed by FCID Have Made it Clear That There Would Have Been No MiG Deal Without Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Udayanga Weeratunga.

By

A ” Sunday Observer” Special Correspondent

In 2007, journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge published a series of exposes about a murky arms procurement that has since come to be known as the ‘MiG deal’. The articles resulted in Lasantha and his newspaper being sued for defamation over his reporting on the alleged involvement of then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the transaction involving mothballed MiG-27 bombers in Ukraine. Friends and family have long suspected that the reporting and legal battle may have cost the outspoken journalist his life.

Years later, FCID investigations have vindicated The Sunday Leader editor, proving his reporting was factually accurate down to the tiniest detail, even though the fearless reporter never got his long awaited day in court to face off against the country’s most powerful man

In 2000, the Chandrika Kumaratunga Government awarded two tenders for the purchase of six MiG-27 bombers to Singapore-based arms dealer DS Alliance, which was represented by its director ‘Lee Thian Soo’, who went by the name ‘T.S. Lee’.

Under the contracts between the Sri Lanka Air Force and DS Alliance, the latter would acquire the aircraft from Ukrainian state-owned arms exporter Ukrinmash and resell them to the Air Force, at a price of approximately US $1.2 million each.

Half these aircraft were ill-fated. One crashed, months after it was acquired, in August 2007 near the Katunayake airport, killing its Ukrainian pilot. A second was damaged, and a third destroyed, when the LTTE attacked the Katunayake airport in 2001.

By January 2006, the Air Force Commander, Air Vice Marshal Donald Perera had placed on record that the air force should give up on MiG-27 aircraft and modernise its fleet by considering options available from several other countries, including the United States and Israel.

The following month, however, the Commander was to make a u-turn, following a sudden meeting summoned by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

That meeting, held at the Defence Ministry on February 6, 2006, was for Rajapaksa’s cousin, Udayanga Weeratunga, and his business associate Dmytro Peregudov of Ukraine, to pitch MiG-27 aircraft to the air force once again.

Continue reading ‘Air Force Officers Interviewed by FCID Have Made it Clear That There Would Have Been No MiG Deal Without Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Udayanga Weeratunga.’ »

Continuing Character Assassination Without a Factual Basis of Arjuna Mahendran by Certain Political Operatives and Why the Ex- Central Bank Governor Unlikely To Get a Fair Hearing in the Current Political Set-up in Sri Lanka.

by C. Mahendran

I spent my entire professional life from 1957- 2004 representing the Sri Lankan government’s interests abroad, heading our diplomatic missions in China, Japan, South Korea and the UN mission in New York. I have worked with Sri Lankan politicians from different parties implementing different policies.

So I have watched with bemusement the drama that has unfolded in the past four years around my son, Arjuna Mahendran. A trained economist, he took up the job of central bank governor since a central banker’s job has to be the most interesting and important job for a professional economist. I advised him not to give up his financial sector job outside Sri Lanka because I was worried that the so-called yahapalanaya coalition government would be overly politicized, given the fragile alliance between the two coalition parties. Just as Troy’s Princess Cassandra’s warnings were not heeded, my warning was ignored as being pessimistic. What have we now?

In classical Rome, during certain imperial wars, the statesman Cato the Elder had a habit of ending all his speeches saying Carthago delen daest – Carthage must be destroyed. Similarly, certain political operatives and their media backers have spent the past four years using Arjuna Mahendran as the mantra to impose a shroud of corruption on one party while deflecting attention from the misdeeds of the other party. So what are the facts and why is Arjuna not willing to trust that he will get a fair hearing in the current political set-up in Sri Lanka?

Continue reading ‘Continuing Character Assassination Without a Factual Basis of Arjuna Mahendran by Certain Political Operatives and Why the Ex- Central Bank Governor Unlikely To Get a Fair Hearing in the Current Political Set-up in Sri Lanka.’ »

The Yearning for Democracy in Sri Lanka is Real But The Question Is Can The Non/anti-Rajapaksa Parties Understand This Mood and Respond To It?

By

Tisaranee Gunasekara

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”
– HP Hartley (The Go-Between)

The Iliad begins when the Trojan War is in its ninth murderous and exhausting year. In between trying to breach the famed walls of Troy, the Greeks raid nearby settlements for booty, material and human. Chryseis was taken captive in such a raid. Her father, a priest of the god Apollo, arrives in the Greek camp, “carrying gifts beyond count,” in exchange for his daughter. The bargain is a good one, and the Greeks are willing. Only one man opposes it, Agamemnon, who ‘owns’ the enslaved Chryseis. Agamemnon is the commander-in-chief of the Greek host, their topmost leader. Against his obdurate will, his blind desires, his unenlightened self-interest, the wishes of the entire Greek army amount to nothing. They can have their say, but the way will always be his.

Agamemnon refuses to ransom Chryseis in the most insulting terms, believing himself to be above human retribution. But the affronted father has a higher authority to appeal to – the gods, specifically Apollo. Apollo sends a plague, striking down both animals and men. As ‘corpse fires’ burn, Calchas, the blind seer, reveals the reason for the plague. Achilles, backed by the entire host, demands that Agamemnon release Chryseis. This time they prevail against their commander-in-chief, because they have a god on their side.

Looking back from a democratic age, Agamemnon’s destructive and self-destructive conduct can be read as a morality tale on the dangers of absolutism. He places his personal needs above the interests of the Greek cause, and endangers the common enterprise by his tyrannical conduct. Yet no mortal can stop him, because this is a time constitutions are unknown, and the ruler’s will is the law. To obtain even a modicum of earthly justice, the victims need gods.

In modern democracies, especially those ascribing to the principle of separation of powers, when elected leaders (presidents or prime ministers) ride roughshod over constitutions to amass more power, the judiciary is expected to intervene. Theirs is the role once reserved for gods – that of the ultimate arbiter, the final guarantor of earthly justice.

Continue reading ‘The Yearning for Democracy in Sri Lanka is Real But The Question Is Can The Non/anti-Rajapaksa Parties Understand This Mood and Respond To It?’ »

Those most volubly against the President and Rajapaksa, were those who were not card-carrying supporters of the UNP or Mr. Wickremesinghe.

By

Sanjana Hattotuwa

New Year. Old problems. Those who have taken a medium or long haul flight in recent years know the feeling. You are promised hundreds of channels of the best entertainment, more than enough to last the length of the flight. In reality, the films and shows are those you have seen before, the music isn’t to your taste and the quality of either isn’t very good. It is the illusion of choice, forcing you to watch reruns because there’s no other option, or switch off and sleep. Sri Lanka’s mainstream politics also, periodically, offers the promise of meaningful change and renewal, but in fact only ever offers dramatic re-enactments of a tired script with the same actors, made up badly to look differently. Some in fact, just play themselves. One is reminded of a quote from Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s classic novel ‘The Leopard’, where a character – an Italian aristocrat – notes that “If we want things to stay the way they are, things will have to change”.

Weeks after Mr. Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Prime Minister again, despite evidence in the public domain, those responsible for the coup – from President downwards – go about their lies and lives with impunity. Individuals appointed during the coup to key positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Information Department and other Ministries, continue in their service. Ambassadors who supported the coup, actively and openly, continue to hold their posting. Members of Parliament responsible for unprecedented, wanton violence on the floor of the house and the destruction of public property, have not yet been held accountable. Individuals who convinced the President that his actions were constitutional, as noted by the President himself, haven’t been identified and dealt with. The President is on record requesting that those appointed to state media during the coup, including ITN, Rupavahini and Lake House, aren’t removed from their positions. The Minister has complied.

Continue reading ‘Those most volubly against the President and Rajapaksa, were those who were not card-carrying supporters of the UNP or Mr. Wickremesinghe.’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Must Summon President Sirisena Before The Bar of Parliament To Account For His Repeated and Intentional Violations of the Constitution.


By

Dr Nihal Jayawickrama

Article 33A of the Constitution states that the President “shall be responsible to Parliament for the due exercise, performance and discharge of his powers, duties and functions under the Constitution and any written law”. Parliament, therefore, has a constitutional duty to call upon the President to account for his actions, especially if it appears that he has acted outside and beyond his powers. Having done so, Parliament may, by a resolution passed with a majority vote, decide to censure him, or request his resignation. A self-respecting President will know how to respond to such a resolution. Alternatively, Parliament may remove the President from office, but only if two-thirds of its membership so resolve, following a determination of the Supreme Court that the President has been guilty of intentional violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, misconduct, corruption or an offence involving moral turpitude.

Last month, seven Judges of the Supreme Court unanimously held that the President had acted in violation of the Constitution when he purported to dissolve Parliament. That is an impeachable offence. His defence that he is “not a lawyer”, and that he acted “on the advice of eminent President’s Counsels” is unacceptable because the language of the Constitution could not have been clearer: “The President shall not dissolve Parliament until the expiration of a period of not less than four years and six months from the date appointed for its first meeting”. Therefore, Parliament is entitled to ask the President whether he was indeed incapable of understanding the meaning of that simple sentence.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Must Summon President Sirisena Before The Bar of Parliament To Account For His Repeated and Intentional Violations of the Constitution.’ »

President Sirisena Appoints MLAM Hisbullah, Azath Sally,Maithri Gunaratne, Sarath Ekanayake and Peshala Jayaratne Bandara as Governors of Eastern,Western, Central, North -Central and North -Western Province Governors.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

President Maithripala Sirisena has named UPFA MP M.L.A.M. Hisbullah, Colombo Municipal Councillor Azath Sally, who is also the leader of the National Unity Alliance (NUA) and leader of the United National Freedom Front (UNFF) Maithree Gunaratne as Governors of the Eastern, Western and Central Province, respectively.

Hisbullah was accommodated in parliament on the National List following the 2015 August parliamentary polls. President Sirisena’s move will create a National List vacancy.

President Sirisena last week directed Governors to quit by Dec 30, 2018.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Appoints MLAM Hisbullah, Azath Sally,Maithri Gunaratne, Sarath Ekanayake and Peshala Jayaratne Bandara as Governors of Eastern,Western, Central, North -Central and North -Western Province Governors.’ »

Graveside Memorial Service to mark 10th Anniversary of Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Assassination On 8 January 9 a.m. at Borella Kanatte

The 10th anniversary of the assassination of The Sunday Leader founder Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge, which falls on 8 January, will be marked with a service at his graveside.

Family, friends, former colleagues and others, including those from political and diplomatic circles, will gather at Borella Kanatte at 9 a.m. to mark the anniversary and remember Lasantha.

This year’s memorial will also feature a tribute to other journalists slain in the line of duty, acknowledging that Lasantha’s story wasn’t the only one.

Continue reading ‘Graveside Memorial Service to mark 10th Anniversary of Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Assassination On 8 January 9 a.m. at Borella Kanatte’ »

‘10 Years After Lasantha: Whither Investigative Journalism in Sri Lanka?’ Forum on 8 January

A forum titled ‘10 Years After Lasantha: Whither Investigative Journalism in Sri Lanka?’ will be held on 8 January at the Lighthouse Auditorium, No. 24, Horton Place, Colombo 7, from 4 to 6 p.m.

The speakers will comprise –

The Sunday Morning Editor and former The Sunday Leader Editor Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema,

Sunday Observer Editor and former The Sunday Leader journalist Dharisha Bastians,

AFP Sri Lanka and Maldives Bureau Chief Amal Jayasinghe,

Nikkei Asian Review Regional Correspondent and former The Sunday Leader Features Editor Marwaan Macan-Markar

and Groundviews Editor and former The Sunday Leader journalist Raisa Wickrematunge.

A panel discussion will follow.

Slain in the line of duty, The Sunday Leader Founding Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was one of Sri Lanka’s leading journalists and his paper led the charge in investigative journalism in the country.

Entrance is free and all are welcome

46 Year Old Sri Lankan Woman Sasikala Says she was Stopped by Police From Worshipping at the Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple Shrine in India But Kerala StateChief Minister’s Office Claims She did Enter Temple Precincts.

The Kerala Chief Minister’s Office on Friday claimed that a 46-year-old woman from Sri Lanka entered the Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala last night to offer prayers. The woman, however, said that police had stopped her from entering the temple despite her reaching close to the 18 sacred steps that lead to the shrine.

The Chief Minister’s Office said it has released CCTV footage from the temple to confirm that the woman had entered it. According to The Times of India, CCTV visuals showed the woman, Sasikala, walking around the sannidhanam or temple complex. The footage showed the woman carrying the irumudikettu (sacred offering) and a man accompanying her leaving the sanctum sanctorum. They were seen around the sannidhanam around 10.45 pm, according to the time stamp on the footage.

Continue reading ‘46 Year Old Sri Lankan Woman Sasikala Says she was Stopped by Police From Worshipping at the Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple Shrine in India But Kerala StateChief Minister’s Office Claims She did Enter Temple Precincts.’ »

Civil Servant With Distinguished Service Record Dr.Devanesan Nesiah Officially Returns the “Deshamanya” Award Conferred on Him in 2017 In Protest Against President Sirisena’s Chaos Creating Recent Action.

BY
Yohan Perera and Sheain Fernandopulle

Former civil servant Devanesan Nesiah officially returned the “Deshamanya” award conferred to him by President Maithripala Sirisena today.

Dr. Nesiah and his daughter handed it over to the Presidential Secretariat last evening.

Talking to journalists, Dr. Nesiah said he decided to return the award as he was disappointed with the recent actions of the President which created chaos in the country.

Continue reading ‘Civil Servant With Distinguished Service Record Dr.Devanesan Nesiah Officially Returns the “Deshamanya” Award Conferred on Him in 2017 In Protest Against President Sirisena’s Chaos Creating Recent Action.’ »

First Baby Born in the Year 2019 at St.Philip Neri Hospital in Rome To Parents of Sri Lankan Origin Prasad Bandara and Madubashini Yapa Named Italo Bandara in Honour of Italy.

A Sri Lankan couple living in Rome had the honour of being the parents of the first baby born in the New Year.

The baby had been born ten seconds after the dawn of the New Year at St. Philip Neri’s Hospital in Rome.

Continue reading ‘First Baby Born in the Year 2019 at St.Philip Neri Hospital in Rome To Parents of Sri Lankan Origin Prasad Bandara and Madubashini Yapa Named Italo Bandara in Honour of Italy.’ »

Signboards in Chinese Funded Development Projects Exclude Tamil Language and are Only in Chinese,English and Sinhala: Official Languages Minister Mano Ganesan Takes Up Issue With Chinese Embassy.

By

Yohan Perera

Minister of National Integration, Official Languages and Social Progress Mano Ganesan requested the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka to ensure the inclusion of Tamil language in signboards erected at Chinese funded development projects.

He said the signboards had been written in Chinese, English and Sinhala only.

Continue reading ‘Signboards in Chinese Funded Development Projects Exclude Tamil Language and are Only in Chinese,English and Sinhala: Official Languages Minister Mano Ganesan Takes Up Issue With Chinese Embassy.’ »

The Cuban Revolution Unlike All Other Revolutions “did not devour its own children”.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

January 1st 2019– 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution

Jan 1st marks the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution; 60 years of the revolutionary Cuba that we have known. The Cuban revolution was a pure revolution, the purest revolution we have seen. By pure I do not mean a revolution that was marked by purges and internal bloodletting in the name of a fanatical, fundamentalist revolutionary purity. By ‘pure’ I mean that the Cuban revolution was the most ethical revolution in the world.

It was a revolution that triumphed through a revolutionary guerrilla war and urban armed actions, but consciously and conspicuously avoided the targeting of civilians and even hitting targets at times and places where there would be civilian casualties.

It was a revolution that was conspicuous in its treatment of captives; of captive soldiers, who were almost always released by the Rebel Army. This went hand in hand with the execution of known torturers, murderers, and rapists. The Revolution, during its guerrilla war was both tough and scrupulous in its dispensation of justice.

It was a revolution that unlike all other revolutions “did not devour its own children” as Fidel remarked, in an allusion to the myth of Saturn which had devoured its own children. Even in its most radical phase in the 1960s, the Cuban revolution’s process of radicalization did not entail the ‘terror’ that had marked all revolutions since the French Revolution itself. The Cuban Revolution was Jacobin, even Bolshevik, without the Great Terror.

Continue reading ‘The Cuban Revolution Unlike All Other Revolutions “did not devour its own children”.’ »

The Rise and Fall of Mahinda Rajapaksa Within a Period of Six Weeks

By

Don Manu

If the year 2018 began with a bang for Mahinda Rajapaksa when his ghost-led Pohottuwa party swept the local polls in February, the year ended for him with a whimper stuck in the sinking sands of his fluctuating political fortunes.

Whatever his royal astrologer may have predicted of the rosy things to come for Mahinda Rajapaksa — that he will realise his dream to be once more in the saddle of power late October — he may, perhaps, have forgotten to mention, at least in passing, that the planets would not be too kind to him in November; and that December would be worse, that their benevolence would turn to wrath and they would unseat him from his high horse and ground him once more in the dust.

Also good old Sumana, the old faithful star gazer who is supposed to have advised him to go to the polls well before the shelf date in January 2015 when Saturn traversed Scorpio and Jupiter took residence in Cancer, may have been a wee bit off the mark this time as well when Saturn is in Sagittarius and Jupiter is in Scorpio today.

For consider the rise and fall of Mahinda within a matter of six weeks. On October 26, the UPFA withdraws from the coalition government and Sirisena hails it as an excuse to remove Ranil Wickremesinghe from his premiership. That same night, the nation learns that Sirisena who had on many occasions said he will never appoint Mahinda as his prime minister, has anointed Mahinda as his prime minister, even though both knew that Mahinda does not have the numbers to command the confidence of the House.

It was a daring diabolical gamble which, if it had paid off, would have spelt the end of democracy in the land and the beginning of rule by dictatorial fiat.

Continue reading ‘The Rise and Fall of Mahinda Rajapaksa Within a Period of Six Weeks’ »

Does Mahinda Rajapaksa Have “Dual Membership” By Being Both a De-jure Member of the UPFA and a De-facto Member of the “Pohottuwa” Party?

By Gamini Weerakoon

It may be good times for some people and bad times for others. But, undeniably, it is interesting times for most of us watching antics of politicians though not necessarily a blessing.

Close on the heels of the rowdy Sri Lankan parliamentary ‘comedies’ that brought this island into focus in the international media, followed a news report on Boxing Day which made a Sri Lankan wag to define a Sri Lankan Ambassador as ‘one who sells off his embassy’.

This was a cynical way of looking at a deal that could have a perfectly good explanation, it was pointed out by a Pohottuwa supporter who argued that ambassadors the world over have been defined as ‘those who lie abroad for their country’ or even as ‘those who sell their country’ – for reasons such as promotion of tourism. So what’s wrong in selling the embassy… never mind the exact objective, he held.

These days our diplomats, like our politicians, seem to be breaking out into new ground such as selling off embassies or even selling armaments—gun running and buying fighter planes. This maybe in keeping with the line of thought that our diplomats should be engaged in doing business for the country and not wasting time on high faluting foreign policy matters. Others may claim that the Foreign Service is sticking to orthodox traditions of diplomacy and only political appointees are doing business quite often not for the country but for themselves.

Perhaps these are phases of evolution of Sri Lankan politics and diplomacy.

Continue reading ‘Does Mahinda Rajapaksa Have “Dual Membership” By Being Both a De-jure Member of the UPFA and a De-facto Member of the “Pohottuwa” Party?’ »

US Authorities Disclosed Details of Legal Cases Against Ex-Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya to Prevent Purported Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Restoring Cousin’s Immunity to Avoid Prosecution.

Sri Lanka’s October coup that brought former president Mahinda Rajapaksa briefly back to power may have backfired on a close relative, ex-ambassador to Washington and fugitive from justice, Jaliya Wickramasuriya.

The prospect of a Rajapaksa government in Colombo prompted justice authorities in Washington to publicly disclose money laundering and visa fraud charges against Wickramasuriya, a first cousin of the former president, and ensure he is swiftly prosecuted.

The man who served as Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Washington for six years till 2014 will now become the first Rajapaksa relative to be prosecuted abroad and face a possible lengthy jail term following five counts of charges ranging from wire fraud to immigration offences.

Official sources said the test case could leave the door open to several other very high profile prosecutions shortly. Foreign ministry sources said thatit was the first time that a Sri Lankan ambassador was being prosecuted in the country he was posted to.

US Justice department documents show the authorities were keen to ensure that the very serious nature of charges against Wickramasuriya were made public to prevent a Rajapaksa administration in Colombo restoring his diplomatic immunity to avoid prosecution.

Continue reading ‘US Authorities Disclosed Details of Legal Cases Against Ex-Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya to Prevent Purported Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Restoring Cousin’s Immunity to Avoid Prosecution.’ »

Political expediency is a peculiarly bitter sauce which, if tolerated for the gander, must equally be so for the goose.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

As a foreboding New Year by way of the Gregorian calendar dawns for Sri Lankans, the choices before us (at least, politically) are not felicitous by any stretch of the imagination.

Atavistic demons conjured up by opportunists

A cynic may question, ‘when were the choices ever felicitous during the past five decades or more?’ That query has a sting of truth to it. Even so, what faces this country in 2019 portends a special tinge of darkness, touched with fears of rampant racism.

Increasingly we hear politicians closely associated with the political camp of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa chanting ‘open sesame’ to seething primal hatreds. These are atavistic demons, never satiated but always thirsting for more blood, conjured up from time to time by opportunists when the democratic cards are stacked against them.

Some of this ugliness came out in the open following the surreal October turbulence when Sri Lanka had (initially) two contenders for the post of Prime Minister and then, for a period, no Prime Minister at all and when the Speaker was besieged in the House by parliamentary ruffians. As the challengers retreated, nursing their wounds with little good grace following reprimands by the Supreme Court for the constitutional trespass committed, they resorted to open communalistic rhetoric which bodes ill for Sri Lanka.

So while one battle may have been won, this is not the end of it. True, civic minded citizens resisted the extra-constitutional attempt to capture power as a result of profoundly unwise machinations of an abominable coterie of men surrounding President Maithripala Sirisena. We may heave a sigh of relief as the Courts (from the highest to the lowest) demonstrated their independence.

Indeed, the breathing of new life into moribund institutions, most crucially, the judiciary, may be the signal achievement of this doomed ‘yahapalanaya’ marriage of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP).

Continue reading ‘Political expediency is a peculiarly bitter sauce which, if tolerated for the gander, must equally be so for the goose.’ »

Well-Entrenched Democracy Restored in Sri Lanka After Violation of Constitution by President Maithripala Sirisena.

By P.K.Balachandran

Colombo, December 28: Sri Lanka saw cataclysmic political events in 2018. Democracy, which was introduced way back in 1931 and was thought to be well and truly entrenched in Sri Lanka, was put in danger in October-November when President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed Prime Minister Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and dissolved parliament in brazen violation of the country’s constitution.

Wickremesinghe was sacked on October 26, even though he was enjoying the support of the majority in parliament. And parliament was dissolved on November 9, in violation of the 19 th. Amendment of the constitution which had removed the discretionary power of the President in this matter in 2015.

However, after 50-odd days of continuous but peaceful struggle led by the media and civil society, a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court restored democracy by unanimously nullifying the sacking of the Prime Minister and the dissolution of parliament.

Continue reading ‘Well-Entrenched Democracy Restored in Sri Lanka After Violation of Constitution by President Maithripala Sirisena.’ »

Armed Forces Win Hearts and Minds of People in the North By Rescuing Thousands of Families Affected by Incessant rains and Resultant Floods.

BY RAJITHA JAGODA ARACHCHI & RASULA DILHARA GAMAGE

Continuous rains in the northern part of the country during the past few days inundated large areas of Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar and Jaffna.

Overall, 123,178 people belonging to 39,669 families were displaced by the bad weather. Meanwhile, 474 houses had been fully damaged and another 4,522 houses partially damaged due to the floods.

However, the reported number of deaths is two, one each from Jaffna and Kilinochchi.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also visited the flood-hit areas, last week. Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray, Ministers Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Daya Gamage, Harsha de Silva, Rishad Bathiudeen, J.C. Alawathuwala and Wijayakala Maheshwaran, MPs M.A. Sumanthiran, Mavai Senathiraja and Selvam Adaikkalanathan, District Secretary of Kilinochchi, Suntharan Arumainayagam, District Secretary of Mullativu, Rupawathi Keshishwaran, the IGP and senior military officers also accompanied the Prime Minister.

Continue reading ‘Armed Forces Win Hearts and Minds of People in the North By Rescuing Thousands of Families Affected by Incessant rains and Resultant Floods.’ »

President Sirisena Retaining Control of the Police By Bringing it Under Defence Ministry Likely to Cause Friction With the Commonwealth of Nations.

President Maithripala Sirsiena has allocated all state media institutions to the ministry of Finance and Media ending speculation that he may keep some of them under his direct control as the country heads for an election year.

In an Extraordinary Gazette notification dated December 24, but published Saturday, the President listed the two state television stations as well as Lake House under the ministry headed by Mangala Samaraweera.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Retaining Control of the Police By Bringing it Under Defence Ministry Likely to Cause Friction With the Commonwealth of Nations.’ »

Five of my Favourite Christmas Carols – How they Originated and Became Widely Popular

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year Friends!

Nativity scene at St Augustine’s church, South Brunswick, NJ, 2018 💒

It’s Christmas season again!

An integral part of Christmas is the singing of Christmas carols in churches as well as at events celebrating Christmas.

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The Many Faces of Christmas – Shaped Wooden Puzzle from Sri Lanka ~ Photographed at an exhibit of over 900 nativity scenes hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Eugene, Oregon, USA-pic-by Mary Harrsch

There was a time when carolling was an important part of Christmas. ‘’Carol parties” including someone dressed as Santa claus would visit the homes of church members during night and sing carols.Refreshments would be served at each and every home. A few firecrackers too would be lit.

Nativity scene-Near Central Park, NY-Dec 2015

Nativity scene-Near Central Park, NY-Dec 2015

This practice of carolling has become near extinct but happily the tradition of conducting special carol services and carol festivals continue. Most church services relating to Christmas feature the singing of carols.Christmas dinners and parties too witness loud carol singing though not tuneful at all times.
Continue reading ‘Five of my Favourite Christmas Carols – How they Originated and Became Widely Popular’ »

Mahinda’s Hurried Backdoor Power Grab and the Gotabhaya Factor

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Former President and current Kurunegala district MP Mahinda Rajapaksa was interviewed regarding the present political situation by Kelum Bandara of the “Daily Mirror” last week. One of the questions posed to Mahinda in the interview was – “There is perception among some that you took over the Government entering through the backdoor despite your ability to win elections in the future. What is your view? Mahinda’s somewhat defensive response was as follows –

Pics via: @GotabayaR

“There is no such thing called capturing power through the backdoor. A political party is not meant to be in the opposition forever. It should try to become the ruling party on the very first occasion made available to it. We vowed to topple the Government after two Vesak Poyas. One Vesak Poya is over. We toppled the Government before the next Vesak Poya. Our duty is to topple the Government if it is possible. It is actually in the greater interests of the country. The previous Government alienated the national assets. If it continued, there would be nothing left in the country for posterity. We reversed the move to introduce a separatist Constitution. Otherwise, it would also have been declared as adopted by voice vote in Parliament. (Ekath Aye Uye gala sammatha karai)”

“In that context, we have taken a correct decision in the interests of the country. We also faced a similar problem with regards to the Free Trade Agreements at that time. The previous Government did not think of the country. They acted in their personal interest and the interests of foreign countries”.
Continue reading ‘Mahinda’s Hurried Backdoor Power Grab and the Gotabhaya Factor’ »

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Many of us fought like hell to give you the second chance you got, but you don’t seem to have learnt your lesson.

By

Sharmini Serasinghe

Sri Lanka is politically bankrupt!

The two main players in Sri Lanka’s political arena – the UNP and the SLFP – have outlived their lifespan. Further, each time they form new coalitions and their identities and symbols are changed more frequently than their underwear, the average voter is left so utterly confused, they don’t know who the hell they are voting for anymore, because the UNP and the SLFP have vanished into oblivion. In fact, I had to do a Google search to locate the original SLFP symbol.

The JVP is still gasping for breath trying to recover from its notorious bloodthirsty reputation earned in the late 80s for which their egos to date, have prevented them from apologising to the Sinhalese they threatened, targeted and massacred. The TNA has no chance in hell of ever forming a government. Hence like a game of chess and it’s your turn to move, whichever way you look the alternatives are sorry losers. At every single election the voter is faced with a Hobson’s choice. The youth – the future of Sri Lanka – are so fed up they don’t bother to vote at any election anymore.

Eran Wickramaratne, Mangala Samaraweera, Harsha de Silva, and M. A. Sumanthiran, you gentlemen are our ONLY saviours. The time has come for you to break away from the politically bankrupt parties you belong to, and become NOT the 3rd force but the first and MAIN political force in Sri Lanka. If you do, you can be assured that the crème de la crème of patriotic professionals with integrity who have so far refrained from entering the currently vile political arena will not hesitate to join you. We the patriots of Sri Lanka will back you to the hilt. That, we assure you!

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Many of us fought like hell to give you the second chance you got, but you don’t seem to have learnt your lesson.’ »

How Is Maithripala Sirisena Able To Continue as Executive President after The Supreme Court Found Him Guilty of Intentionally Violating the Constitution and Fundamental rights Sri Lanka’s Citizens?

By

Don Manu

Today on the presidential throne of Lanka, there sits a man who gambled with the nation’s heirloom of democracy and endangered the people’s sovereign inheritance, who gambled with the nation’s economy and imperiled it, on Manuwho gambled with the nation’s international image and sullied it, who placed his bets and waged his all on his bizarre belief that he could transgress chapter and verse of the nation’s legal bible with impudence and could escape being found guilty of sinning against it, one who gambled reckless with the people’s rights, with the people’s money, with the people’s reputation, with the nation’s stability and lost, and lost badly.

A man who became the spendthrift of a people’s mandate and squandered the trust and confidence of over six million who had voted for him four years ago in the belief he would not violate their faith. Nor dishonour his oath.

Did he think on that fateful October 26th night when he embarked on a mad excursion that took him beyond the ambit of the constitution’s parameters and, in the cover of darkness and secrecy, appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister displacing Ranil who commanded the confidence of the House; and then nonchalantly went on to dissolve Parliament itself though the supreme law forbade it unless two thirds of its members requested its dissolution before four and a half years of its five year expiry date, that he could give play to his pipedream and violate the constitution at his whim and fancy without any backlash from the legal guardian deities of Lanka’s justice?

Maithripala Sirisena has a lot to answer for taking the nation on a hell-raising roller coaster ride not in pursuance of the people’s interest but purely to advance some diabolic agenda of his own that finally hit the buffers and came a cropper.

The only question that remains to be answered is why it’s still Christmas for him? Why is the man still here, draped in purple, wearing the crown and holding scepter and orb of presidential office?

Continue reading ‘How Is Maithripala Sirisena Able To Continue as Executive President after The Supreme Court Found Him Guilty of Intentionally Violating the Constitution and Fundamental rights Sri Lanka’s Citizens?’ »

Ranil Nominates 36 Names Cabinet Ministers But Maithripala Reduces it to 28 Only; Six Names Dropped are UNF’s Palitha Range Bandara, Ravi Samaraweera, D.M. Swaminathan and Sarath Fonseka and SLFP’s Piyasena Gamage and A.H.M. Fowzie

By the “Sunday Times”Political Editor

President Maithripala Sirisena has rejected a request by the United National Party (UNP) to re-activate the onetime ‘National Government’ with the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and thus enlarge the Cabinet of Ministers.

It was made on Saturday night by a four-member UNP delegation led by the then Prime Minister designate Ranil Wickremesinghe. He was sworn in the next day (Sunday). They met Sirisena at his Mahagamsekera Mawatha residence. Early this week, Wickremesinghe rejected a move by his party seniors to forge a rather unusual alliance with the only Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) parliamentarian, Ali Zahir Mowlana, as exclusively revealed in these columns last week. That was also to enhance the number of ministers.

Mowlana was a close ally of the then Tiger guerrilla eastern commander Karuna alias Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharn and helped him flee to Colombo from the battlefields in the east after he broke ranks with his leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. Mowlana served in the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington DC during the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration and had a request for asylum rejected by US authorities. This was on the grounds that he was on the diplomatic staff and was thus not qualified. He represents the SLMC from the Batticaloa District, though his party leader Rauff Hakeem and others were elected at the August 2015 parliamentary elections on the UNP ticket.

This move was strongly criticised by those within the UNP and even their passive ally the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). Aandu krama viyasthaavey hil hoyanna epa or don’t look for loopholes in the Constitution, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Wickremesinghe. Some civil society groups backing the new government were also not in favour. They said it went against the spirit of the Constitution.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Nominates 36 Names Cabinet Ministers But Maithripala Reduces it to 28 Only; Six Names Dropped are UNF’s Palitha Range Bandara, Ravi Samaraweera, D.M. Swaminathan and Sarath Fonseka and SLFP’s Piyasena Gamage and A.H.M. Fowzie’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Political Fate Regarding Parliamentary Membership and Leader of the Opposition Post Hang in the Balance as Speaker Jayasuriya Facing Conundrum Seeks More Time.

By a “Sunday Observer” Staff Reporter

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa found himself in another political conundrum this week when his new appointment as the Opposition Leader was challenged in Parliament and his parliamentary membership too appeared to be at risk.

While the country grappled with a prolonged political deadlock since October 26 following Rajapaksa’s appointment as the Prime Minister he eventually stepped down from the post on December 14 after a seven-week long standoff with the United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe whom he replaced.

Defeated through two no-confidence motion votes Rajapaksa next set his sights on the position of Opposition Leader as the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) became the largest group in the opposition. As a result on Tuesday, Rajapaksa was named as the Opposition Leader by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya while MP Mahinda Amaraweera of the UPFA was named the Cheif Opposition Whip.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Political Fate Regarding Parliamentary Membership and Leader of the Opposition Post Hang in the Balance as Speaker Jayasuriya Facing Conundrum Seeks More Time.’ »

President Sirisena Refers Appeal Court Judges Deepani Wijesundara and Kumudini Wickramasinghe to the Constitutional Council(CC) To Be Appointed as Supreme Court Judges After CC Had Already Approved Justices Gamini Amarasekara and S. Thurairajah fir the Two Vacancies in SC

By

Anurangi Singh

President Maithripala Sirisena had referred two other names to the Constitutional Council (CC) seeking approval to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

The CC has been called upon to consider the names of two Court of Appeal judges, Deepali Wijesundera and Kumudini Wickremasinghe for the vacant posts in the Supreme Court.

The CC headed by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and represented by nominees of the other political parties and civil society had already approved the names of Justices Gamini Amarasekara and S Thurairajah for the vacant posts.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Refers Appeal Court Judges Deepani Wijesundara and Kumudini Wickramasinghe to the Constitutional Council(CC) To Be Appointed as Supreme Court Judges After CC Had Already Approved Justices Gamini Amarasekara and S. Thurairajah fir the Two Vacancies in SC’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Seeks More Time to Decide On Who Should be Recognized as Leader of the Opposition.

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday postponed his decision on whether MP Mahinda Rajapaksa would be Opposition Leader despite the request for the appointment of a Parliament Select Committee.

Extending the period to deliver his decision, Speaker Jayasuriya informed the House he has received letters from a group of lawmakers seeking a committee to be appointed to investigate the matter.

United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera earlier this week wrote to the Speaker in support of MP Rajapaksa while MP M.A. Sumanthiran and Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella raised objections to his appointment.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Seeks More Time to Decide On Who Should be Recognized as Leader of the Opposition.’ »

From Molamure to Jayasuriya: “Honourable” Speakers of Sri Lanka

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Parliamentary proceedings of Sri Lanka known formerly as Ceylon have been the focus of my interest from a fairly early age. It began when I was in the Upper-fourth D class (Grade seven) at St. Thomas’ College Mt.Lavinia in 1966. Our English teacher Mrs. Fernando advised us at the beginning of the year to regularly read and comprehend the Parliamentary proceedings published in newspapers . She said by reading the views expressed and exchanged during Parliamentary debates and discussion, we as students could improve our English and enhance our general knowledge about important contemporary issues.

I dutifully followed her advice. In those days the “Daily News” would publish pages and pages of Parliamentary proceedings. Parliamentary speeches delivered mainly in English by the Parliamentarians of yore would appear in full in the paper. So too would English translations of speeches made in Sinhala and Tamil. I started reading those pages of speeches (some were dreary and dull) with the aid of a Chambers school dictionary presented by my Parents. In the beginning I could not understand a lot of what was said and I would ask my Father for further explanations. As time went on and I too grew in years I began understanding and even relishing those speeches fully.
Continue reading ‘From Molamure to Jayasuriya: “Honourable” Speakers of Sri Lanka’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s Heroic Defiance of Maithripala and Mahinda

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“The Speaker represents the House. He/she represents the dignity of the House, the freedom of the House and because the House represents the nation, in a particular way, the Speaker becomes a symbol of nation’s freedom and liberty. Therefore that should be an honoured position, a free position and should be occupied always by persons of outstanding ability and impartiality”
– India’s first Prime Minister Jawarhalal Nehru

The Sri Lankan Legislature has witnessed many controversial happenings over the years. The august assembly’s humdrum existence and insipid routine has often given way to bursts of excitement by the unusual, irreverent conduct of its members.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya

A former Prime Minister once tried to enter the House clad in “amude” (loin cloth) to draw attention to the price rise in clothes. Opposition Party members drove bullock carts into the premises to protest the rise in fuel prices. A Trotskyite firebrand now turned Rajapaksa lackey smuggled in a wreath to symbolise the death of democracy. MPs have marched into the Well of the House shouting slogans. “Satyagraha” has been conducted. MPs have at times run off with the symbolic mace in a bid to disrupt proceedings. Members of Parliament, despite bearing the prefix “Honourable” have heckled, hooted at, punched and kicked their fellow MPs and thrown improvised missiles at each other. Some of the miscreants were named, shamed and evicted from the House. Parliament has also been adjourned abruptly due to the conduct of MPs on more than one occasion.
Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s Heroic Defiance of Maithripala and Mahinda’ »

Three Non – Cabinet Ministers Along With Seventeen State and Seven Deputy Ministers Sworn in Before President Maithripala Sirisena.

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday appointed three non-Cabinet Ministers, 17 State Ministers, and seven Deputy Ministers at a ceremony held in the Presidential Secretariat in the evening.

United National Party Parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva was appointed as the Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, while Ajith P. Perera was appointed as Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, and Sujeewa Senasinghe was appointed Science Technology and Research Minister.

Eran Wickramaratne was assigned his former portfolio as the State Minister of Finance while Vijayakala Maheswaran took oaths as the State Minister of Education.

Ranjan Ramanayake was sworn in as the new State Minister of Highways and Road Development, while Ruwan Wijewardena was appointed as the State Minister of Defence.

Continue reading ‘Three Non – Cabinet Ministers Along With Seventeen State and Seven Deputy Ministers Sworn in Before President Maithripala Sirisena.’ »

Tamil National Alliance Makes Written Submissions to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Outlining Several Reasons as to why Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa Should not be Recognized as Leader of the Opposition.

(The Tamil National Alliance has made written submissions urging the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya not to recognize Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa as Leader of the Opposition. The TNA Outlining several reasons fir taking up yhis position has requested that a Parliamentary Select Committee be appointed to go into the matter and arrive at a final decision. The full text of the submidsion sent on behalf of the TNA by Jaffna district MP and party spokesperson M.A. Sumanthiran PC is reproduced here)

December 19, 2018

Hon Speaker,
Parliament,
Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte.

Hon Speaker,

Post of Leader of the Opposition

I write with reference to the above matter and thank you for affording me the opportunity to make representations in writing.

1. There is no dispute that the Leader of the political party in Opposition with the most number of seats in parliament ought to be recognized as the Leader of the Opposition. However the question that now confronts us is whether the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) is a party in Opposition.

2. According to established parliamentary tradition a party in Opposition, is one that does not participate in the government. The UPFA cannot be considered as a party in Opposition since the Leader of the UPFA is the Head of Government and the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers. In addition he also holds portfolios of Defence, Mahaweli Development and Environment. Presently HE Maithripala Sirisena holds the Ministries of Law and Order and Media also. In this context where the chairman of the UPFA is not only the Head of government but also a minister in the Cabinet with at least five ministries under him, the UPFA cannot be considered to be a party in the Opposition.

3. Three members of the UPFA crossed over to the government ranks yesterday. Previously another three members did the same. The Cabinet of Ministers, State Ministers and Deputy Ministers are yet to be appointed and I have information that at least two of the above six MPP have been named in the lists of Cabinet Ministers nominated by the Hon. Prime Minister. It is probable that more UPFA MPP will be accommodated as State Ministers and Deputy Ministers. There can also be more cross-overs of UPFA MP’s to the government in the coming days.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance Makes Written Submissions to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Outlining Several Reasons as to why Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa Should not be Recognized as Leader of the Opposition.’ »

Two Naval Intelligence Officers Sitting Among Litigants at Fort Magistrates Courts While Being Supposedly on Duty at Welisara Base Were Arrested By Police On Suspicion of Conspiracy to Murder Chief Investigator Nishantha Silva the Key Witness in Case Against Navy Personnel on Ransom and Murder Charges.

Sri Lanka’s police detained two navy intelligence officers at the Fort magistrate’s court Wednesday amid fears of a threat to the life of a key detective investigating the abduction and killing of several people allegedly by navy officers.

Police spotted two navy men identified as N. M. W Janaka (38190) and A.S.N. Tony (103183) sitting among litigants and were reported to the magistrate who ordered their questioning.

The men were duly detained and their statements were recorded at the police post within the courts complex, a court official said adding that a report was expected from the police.

Continue reading ‘Two Naval Intelligence Officers Sitting Among Litigants at Fort Magistrates Courts While Being Supposedly on Duty at Welisara Base Were Arrested By Police On Suspicion of Conspiracy to Murder Chief Investigator Nishantha Silva the Key Witness in Case Against Navy Personnel on Ransom and Murder Charges.’ »

Twenty -nine Cabinet Ministers Headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Sworn in Before President Maithripala Sirisena at the President’s Office on December 20th.

Twenty -nine ministers headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were sworn in as members of the new cabinet on Thursday December 20th .The new Ministers took their oaths before President Maithripala Sirisena at the President’s office in the morning.


The list of Ministers and portfilios are :

01. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe – Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison reforms, Northern Development, Vocational Training, Skill Development and Youth Affairs.

02. John Amaratunga – Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs.

03. Gamini Jayawickrema Perera- Minister of Buddha Sasana & North Western Province Development.

04. Mangala Samaraweera – Minister of Finances and Media


05. Lakshman Kiriella-
Minister of Public Enterprise Development, Upcountry Heritage and Kandy Development

06. Rauff Hakeem – Minister of Town Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education

07. Tilak Marapana – Minister of Foreign Affairs

08. Rajitha Senarathne – Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine

09. Ravi Karunanayake- Minister of Power and Energy and Business Development

10. Vajira Abeywardhane- Minister of Internal & Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government

11. Rishad Bathiudeen- Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Resettlement and Cooperative Development

12. Patali Champika Ranawaka-
Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development

13. Naveen Dissanayake- Minister of Plantation Industries

14. P. Harrison- Minister of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs and Animal Husbandry Development.

Continue reading ‘Twenty -nine Cabinet Ministers Headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Sworn in Before President Maithripala Sirisena at the President’s Office on December 20th.’ »

Leader of the Opposition Rajavarothayam Sampanthan Raises Issue of Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Eligibility to Remain as a Member of Parliament Due To Leaving the Party Through Which he was Elected and Joining a new Party.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Following a crisis marked by two competing claims to the office of the Prime Minister, R. Sampanthan — Leader of Opposition since 2015 — on Wednesday challenged the Speaker on his naming of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the position.

Referring to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s announcement on Tuesday, following a request made by the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) led by President Maithripala Sirisena, Mr. Sampanthan said the decision was made without removing him from the post.

“Consequently, it would seem that there are two persons holding the position of the Leader of the Opposition in the current Parliament. The question arises as to whether you lacked the conviction to remove me from the post of the Leader of the Opposition,” the senior legislator said.

Continue reading ‘Leader of the Opposition Rajavarothayam Sampanthan Raises Issue of Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Eligibility to Remain as a Member of Parliament Due To Leaving the Party Through Which he was Elected and Joining a new Party.’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Appointing Mahinda Rajapaksa as Leader of the Opposition is Challenged by Rajavarothayam Sampanthan Who Says He is the Opposition Leader Unless Speaker Decides Otherwise and Removes Him.


By Ashwin Hemmathagama

The appointment of MP Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Opposition Leader was challenged yesterday in parliament by ITAK MP Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, who held that he is the Opposition Leader unless the Speaker decides otherwise and removes him.

According to MP Sampanthan, the Speaker will have to remove him from the post before appointing a new Opposition Leader, regardless of the UPFA membership issue hovering around MP Mahinda Rajapakse. Speaker recognised MP Sampanthan as the Opposition Leader in September 2015 and in August 2018.

MP Sampanthan held that there is no need to recognise another person as the Opposition Leader in haste in a situation where Cabinet is not yet appointed, and Government is not yet formed.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Appointing Mahinda Rajapaksa as Leader of the Opposition is Challenged by Rajavarothayam Sampanthan Who Says He is the Opposition Leader Unless Speaker Decides Otherwise and Removes Him.’ »

Newspaper Report Published on Nov 12th 2018 States Mahinda Rajapaksa Formally Left the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Joined the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna to Contest Elections Scheduled for January 5th 2019:31 Other MP’s Followed Suit.

( The following news item was published in the “Daily Financial Times” of November 12th 2018 under the heading “MR takes SLPP membership” relating to the joining of SLPP By Mahinda Rajapaksa,Namal Rajapaksa and 31 others from the SLFP-UPFA. There was also a picture of a smiling Mahinda with SLPP chairman GL Peiris and SLPP secretary Sagara Kariyawasam. This is being re-posted here in the context of the current situation where it is argued by the UNP, TNA and SLMC in Parliament that the Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa has forfeited his MP seat by joining the SLPP a month ago.)


“MR takes SLPP membership”

Namal follows father, triggers about 31 other crossovers from SLFP
Ananda Aluthgamage leaves UNP for SLPP
At least six more crossovers likely in the next few days


By Nuwan Senarathna

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday formally left the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and joined the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to contest a likely General Election, which is scheduled to be held on 5 January 2019.

Rajapaksa and as many as 30 other SLFP members joined the SLPP at the event held at Rajapaksa’s official residence at Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo.

Responding to questions on the questionable constitutionality of the dissolution of Parliament and the early call for general elections, Rajapaksa insisted that it was all above board in his view.

Continue reading ‘Newspaper Report Published on Nov 12th 2018 States Mahinda Rajapaksa Formally Left the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Joined the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna to Contest Elections Scheduled for January 5th 2019:31 Other MP’s Followed Suit.’ »

Kalutara District MP Kumara Welgama Wants Maithripala Sirisena to Resign Immediately Because the Supreme Court has Ruled That the President has Violated the Constitution.

By Sirimantha Ratnayake

SLFP Vice President and Kalutara District MP Kumara Welgama says that President Maithripala Sirisena should resign from his post immediately.

“The Supreme Court has found that President Sirisena violated the Constitution. One who has acted in contravention of the Constitution should not hold that position. He can be impeached any moment and more than that he should be aware that continuing to hold that post by a person who violated the constitution can give rise to numerous other problems,” MP Welgama told The Island.

Continue reading ‘Kalutara District MP Kumara Welgama Wants Maithripala Sirisena to Resign Immediately Because the Supreme Court has Ruled That the President has Violated the Constitution.’ »

Have Mahinda Rajapaksa and son Namal Along with Over 40 SLFP/UPFA Parliamentarians Who Joined the SLPP a Month Ago, Forfeited Their MP Seats According to Article 99 (13) (a) of the Constitution?


By

Disna Mudalige, Camelia Nathaniel and Amali Mallawaarachchi

Questions were raised in Parliament yesterday over the appointment of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Opposition Leader.

The Speaker, listening to arguments of both sides of the House, said he will give his ruling on the Opposition Leader’s post on Friday.

At the commencement of the House, Speaker Jayasuriya announced that former President Rajapaksa will be given the Opposition Leader’s post according to Parliamentary traditions. He observed that the UPFA MPs have withdrawn from the national government and assumed their seats in the Opposition.

The Speaker also announced that UPFA MP Mahinda Amaraweera has been appointed as Chief Opposition Whip and UNP MPs Lakshman Kiriella and Gayantha Karunathilake have been re-appointed as Leader of the House and Chief Government Whip respectively.

TNA Leader R.Sampanthan was seen seated on the chair allocated to the Opposition Leader of Parliament since the commencement of sittings.

Former President Rajapaksa, who entered the Chamber after the sittings commenced, took the seat next to Sampanthan.

Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella, taking the floor, contended that former President Rajapaksa and his fellow MPs ceased to be Members of Parliament as one month has lapsed since they vacated the SLFP and obtained membership of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

Continue reading ‘Have Mahinda Rajapaksa and son Namal Along with Over 40 SLFP/UPFA Parliamentarians Who Joined the SLPP a Month Ago, Forfeited Their MP Seats According to Article 99 (13) (a) of the Constitution?’ »

Eyebrows Raised Over Basil Rajapaksa’s Recent Declaration that More than 50 MP’s from SLFP/UPFA Including Mahinda Rajapaksa Who Took SLPP Membership After Nov 9th Have Not Been Given Party Membership Yet.


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Many an eyebrow has been raised over former Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa’s recent declaration that SLFP/UPFA lawmakers hadn’t received Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) membership.

Addressing a gathering at Maharagama over the last weekend, the chief architect of the SLPP claimed that the party was yet to take SLFP/UPFA lawmakers to its fold.

Among those present on the occasion were SLFP/UPFA lawmakers who had recently taken SLPP membership along with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

About 50 SLFP/UPFA lawmakers took SLPP membership soon after the dissolution of parliament on Nov 09.

A smiling Basil Rajapaksa said that the SLPP would be cautious in giving membership.

SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam declined to comment on the issue at hand.

Continue reading ‘Eyebrows Raised Over Basil Rajapaksa’s Recent Declaration that More than 50 MP’s from SLFP/UPFA Including Mahinda Rajapaksa Who Took SLPP Membership After Nov 9th Have Not Been Given Party Membership Yet.’ »

It Was Satisfying For Many To Watch The Lushly Mustachioed Former Strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa Exit The Stage With a Scowl Having Failed To Usurp The Premiership – The Economist

ALL’S WELL that ends well, or so Shakespeare would have it, when a seeming tragedy turns into a heart-warming story of persistence and redemption.

Such was the relief that Sri Lanka felt on December 16th, as seven weeks of political turbulence ended like a summer squall. After a period when the country had first two bickering governments and then no government at all, Ranil Wickremesinghe returned to office as prime minister just as suddenly as he had been tossed out in October.

It was reassuring to see democracy prevail. After much suspense, the legislative and judicial branches joined forces to contain a dangerous lunge by President Maithripala Sirisena to expand executive power.

It was also, for many, satisfying to watch the lushly mustachioed former strongman, Mahinda Rajapaksa, exit the stage with a scowl, having failed to usurp the premiership that Mr Sirisena had tried to seize for him.

Yet as every Sri Lankan knows, the events of the past few weeks represent only one act in a much longer play.

Continue reading ‘It Was Satisfying For Many To Watch The Lushly Mustachioed Former Strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa Exit The Stage With a Scowl Having Failed To Usurp The Premiership – The Economist’ »

Wijayamuni Zoysa, Lakshman Seneviratne and Indika Bandaranayake Cross Over In Parliament From SLFP -UPFA to the Govt Complaining of Step Motherly Treatment Under President Sirisena.


By Ashwin Hemmathagama

UPFA lawmakers Gamini Wijith Wijayamuni Zoysa, Lakshman Senewiratne, and Indika Bandaranayake crossed over to join the Government soon after Parliament was convened yesterday for the first time after UNP MP Ranil Wickre-mesinghe was reappointed as Prime Minister.

Explaining the reasons which compelled the three of them to leave the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and join the UNP, MP Zoysa complained of step-motherly treatment under President Sirisena and said the country was heading in the wrong direction due to the unwarranted constitutional crisis.

Continue reading ‘Wijayamuni Zoysa, Lakshman Seneviratne and Indika Bandaranayake Cross Over In Parliament From SLFP -UPFA to the Govt Complaining of Step Motherly Treatment Under President Sirisena.’ »

Speaker Nominates Mahinda Rajapaksa as Leader of the Opposition But May Appoint Select Committee Following Protests to Ascertain Whether the Kurunegala District Parliamentarian is Eligible to Remain as Opposition MP


By Ashwin Hemmathagama

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya nominated MP Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Leader of the Opposition soon after Parliament convened yesterday, but responding to protests from Parliamentarians, said he would decide whether to appoint a Select Committee to look into the validity of the appointment.

Filling three other important positions in Parliament, Speaker appointed United National Party (UNP) MPs Lakshman Kiriella the Leader of the House and Gayantha Karunatileka Chief Government Whip. United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP Mahinda Amaraweera was appointed as the Chief Opposition Whip. According to the Speaker, UPFA is no longer a part of the coalition Government, and can hold the Opposition Leader and Chief Opposition Whip positions.

When the Speaker’s decision was announced in Parliament, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M.A. Sumanthiran made the observation that 49 members of Parliament, including Rajapaksa himself, who had contested on the SLFP ticket, had in writing resigned their membership when switching to Rajapaksa’s camp during the Constitutional crisis.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Nominates Mahinda Rajapaksa as Leader of the Opposition But May Appoint Select Committee Following Protests to Ascertain Whether the Kurunegala District Parliamentarian is Eligible to Remain as Opposition MP’ »

Mano Ganesan, Rishad Bathiudeen and Malik Samarawickrama Accede to Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Request and Volunteer Not to Become Cabinet Ministers to Help Prime Minister Limit Cabinet to 30 Ministers.

By Chathuri Dissanayake

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday made an open request to United National Party Parliamentarians to voluntarily give up Ministry portfolios, in a bid to limit the Cabinet to 30 members.

Initially, only Party senior Malik Samarawickrama offered to step down, but seeing there were no volunteers, Party leaders who form the United National Front, All Ceylon Makkal Congress Party leader Rishad Bathiudeen and Tamil Progressive Alliance Leader Mano Ganesan offered to step down.

Ganesan later wrote on twitter to say: “At #UNF group meeting today; PM opined to keep number of cabinet ministers at 30 & solicited cabinet aspirants to voluntarily stay out of cabinet. Myself & #Rishad said “we will stay out w/out any cabinet portfolio, if u so wish, to keep it at 30” #lka”

However, Parliamentarians Eran Wickramaratne and Dr. Harsha De Silva, along with UNP National Organiser Navin Dissanayake, spoke against a decision to keep the two minority party leaders out of Cabinet, noting that the duo has stood by the UNP in times of trouble, sources present at the meeting told Daily FT.

Continue reading ‘Mano Ganesan, Rishad Bathiudeen and Malik Samarawickrama Accede to Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Request and Volunteer Not to Become Cabinet Ministers to Help Prime Minister Limit Cabinet to 30 Ministers.’ »

Speaker Recognizes Mahinda as Leader of Opposition But UNP,TNA and SLMC Raise Questions About the Legality of Rajapaksa Being Opposition Leader and MP and Describe him as “Stranger in the House”.

By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday informed Parliament that he recognised Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Leader of the Opposition. He also recognised UPFA MP Mahinda Amaraweera as the Chief Opposition Whip.

However, UNP and TNA opposed the recognition of Rajapaksa as the Opposition Leader and called him the leader of a group of strangers in the chamber.

Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella said that as per the Standing Orders, those who were not MPs or Parliament employees could not come to the chamber and such strangers should be removed forthwith. “Today, we have a group of strangers sitting in the seats of the Opposition. If any MP resigns from the party from which he entered Parliament, he or she loses the MP post. Such person cannot be considered an MP. Those who resigned from the SLFP cannot occupy the seats allocated for that party. That matter does not need to go before court. Their MP posts would come to an end at the lapse of one month after leaving the SLFP.”

The Opposition MPs shouted at the statement made by the Leader of the House.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Recognizes Mahinda as Leader of Opposition But UNP,TNA and SLMC Raise Questions About the Legality of Rajapaksa Being Opposition Leader and MP and Describe him as “Stranger in the House”.’ »

Tussle Between President and Prime Minister Delays Cabinet Formation with Wickremesinghe Resisting Sirisena’s Demands that Media and Law and Order Ministries be Allocated to Him.

Sri Lanka’s reinstated Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe marked his first day back in office Monday with a hostile president resisting his nominations to a new cabinet.

Party officials said Wickremesinghe was battling to form a government as Maithripala Sirisena insisted that he wanted to retain media and the law-and-order portfolios. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) was against giving the key portfolios to Sirisena.

“The President wants to keep law-and-order and media portfolios, but the prime minister disagrees,” a party official said adding that the tug-of-war led to the delay in forming a cabinet.

Continue reading ‘Tussle Between President and Prime Minister Delays Cabinet Formation with Wickremesinghe Resisting Sirisena’s Demands that Media and Law and Order Ministries be Allocated to Him.’ »

Formation of New Cabinet Delayed as President Sirisena Wants The Police Dept and Two State Media Institutions to be Under His Direct Purview.

Triggering a fresh controversy, President Maithripala Sirisena has demanded state media institutions, making the negotiations over the appointments of a new Cabinet even harder.

Sirisena has reportedly informed the UNP that he would place two state media institutions under his direct purview.

Continue reading ‘Formation of New Cabinet Delayed as President Sirisena Wants The Police Dept and Two State Media Institutions to be Under His Direct Purview.’ »

Ranil Wickremesinghe Addressing Mammoth UNF Rally at Galle Face Unveils Plans to Form New Alliance Named National Democratic Front To Contest Elections Seeking Two-Thirds Majority to Abolish Executive Presidency

By Uditha Jayasinghe and Nuwan Senarathna

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday led from the front by calling on the public to give a two-thirds majority to a coalition led by the United National Party (UNP) at the next general election to abolish the Executive Presidency and outlined plans to form a new coalition titled the National Democratic Front (NDF),insisting the constitutional crisis had shown that no other major party could be depended on to implement the changes needed to protect democracy in Sri Lanka.

Fresh from a seven-week battle with the Executive and taking oaths as Prime Minister for the fifth time, Wickremesinghe addressed a packed rally organised by his party at Galle Face Green. A visibly cheerful Wickremesinghe cracked a few jokes before detailing future plans amidst firecrackers and cheering supporters. He pledged to establish a broad coalition to promote democracy and said the proposal would be presented to the UNP Executive Committee as early as this Friday.

“I have no doubt the proposal will be accepted. We will call it the National Democratic Front (DNF).

This coalition is needed to promote and protect democracy. I ask everyone here and the public at large to give us a two-thirds majority at the next general election. It is clear we cannot depend on anyone else to abolish the Executive Presidency. We need to have the capacity to do this ourselves. There are still many laws that undermine the independence of our institutions, hinder the development of human rights and prohibit the expansion of democracy in this country. We need to change this,” he said.

Wickremesinghe also insisted the UNP and its coalition parties remained committed to reconciliation and a political solution to the ethnic issue but these would be achieved within a united Sri Lanka. Wickremesinghe thanked pro-democratic elements including opposition political parties, civil society and the public that supported the UNP during its tussle with the Executive and emphasised that he was grateful for their backing.

“This is the people’s power. No one can defeat this,” he said while gesturing at a packed Galle Face Green.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe Addressing Mammoth UNF Rally at Galle Face Unveils Plans to Form New Alliance Named National Democratic Front To Contest Elections Seeking Two-Thirds Majority to Abolish Executive Presidency’ »

“If People Including NGP Persons and some MP’s want to Assassinate me I will Order the Army and STF to Go away and Open the Gates Myself For them to Come and Burn me and my House Down” – Says President Maithripala Sirisena.

(Text of Speech Made by President Maithripala Sirisena to a Gathering of UNF representatives after swearing in Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister on December 16th 2018)

The January 08, 2015 Presidential election was an extraordinary people’s victory achieved through a challenging election campaign. In that victory, the people of the country had many of their hopes and expectations. As of now, with completion of almost four years, we have had several achievements as a government that have a significant place in history. At the same time, there were many disastrous acts, corruption and disturbing incidents as well.We are pleased that we fulfill some of the aspirations of the people during this period. At the same time we could not take the country to the level the people expected us to take. Now, I do not know how far we will be able to achieve those expectations.

From the date of the victory of 2015 election, the promises of our election manifesto have floundered since the date of the swearing-in of the Cabinet of Ministers. According to our Election Manifesto, ministries had to be allocated on a scientific basis. Not only that, a team of experts had been appointed for that responsibility and necessary document was prepared. But, I do not know, if that document was even looked at.

In the past, most of us have witnessed most unfortunate situations. When it comes to progressive results, I see the establishment of democracy in the country and the freedom of the people, the 19th amendment and the establishment of independent commissions. I see only those steps as progress in the country. On the other side, today I only see a huge political crisis. It is a uncertain to me whether the appointment of independent commissions and selection of some persons to positions under the 19th Amendment to Constitution were done impartially. The Constitution Council has to appoint the Chief Justice, the Attorney General and the Inspector General Police.The main thing I noticed was when the names of senior most judges were submitted for the judiciary appointments, they were rejected.

There is an allegation among the judges in the judiciary service that I do not give appointments in accordance with seniority.I should clearly state that I have sent every single name of those who level those charges against me, but the Constitutional Council has rejected those names. In that situation, there has been injustice to those who hold seniority in the field of judiciary. Therefore, the question arises as to how impartial the Constitutional Council has been when appointing of Judges.

Continue reading ‘“If People Including NGP Persons and some MP’s want to Assassinate me I will Order the Army and STF to Go away and Open the Gates Myself For them to Come and Burn me and my House Down” – Says President Maithripala Sirisena.’ »

Beginning of UNP’s Undoing Could Happen Very Soon and Very Rapidly if “Tainted” Ravi Karunanayake is Appointed Finance Minister.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

After an uphill battle by the people,who are not necessarily the fans of the United National Party, a good deal of activism by the civil society, lawyers and online chatter; and finally an unanimous Supreme Court verdict that ruled the dissolution of Parliament as illegal and ultra-vires, Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the prime- minister on Sunday.

Now the state media believes that the people of this country owe him for being the prime minister. “The people who cherish democracy owe an eternal debt to PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was sworn in last morning as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, for walking the gauntlet all the way in achieving for them this victory,” a front line newspaper clamoured in a front page editorial. That is the sycophancy of the highest order. And cutouts of Mr. Wickremesinghe have been put up outside many state institutions.

There is a good deal of probability that the UNP and Ranil would squander the political capital that it accumulated over the past 50 days, say probably, within the next 50 days. The sudden change of fortune of the UNP had nothing to do with its acumen and hard work. Leading up to President Sirisena’s sacking of the government on October 26, the UNP was so unpopular- and it knew that- that it had been shying away from provincial council elections- which have been postponed, under the pretext of delay in delimitating electoral wards.

However, the President, coherence of whose policies in political judgments are receding the day by the day, decided to hit his own goal. An impatient Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is reportedly worried about the upcoming court cases against his family- many of his cases would go to trial in the first Q of 2019 – momentarily lost his political machiavellism. Premier Wickremesinghe won without doing anything. Now, the UNPers and many others would expect him not to blow away that political capital. Here are a few ways how he would probably do exactly that.

Continue reading ‘Beginning of UNP’s Undoing Could Happen Very Soon and Very Rapidly if “Tainted” Ravi Karunanayake is Appointed Finance Minister.’ »

New Govt in Formation to Seek Parliamentary Approval for Vote on Account as Interim Measure First and Follow It Up By Presenting Full Budget in January 2019.


Sri Lanka will prepare an interim budget to keep the government ticking from January 2019, after a new cabinet of ministers is appointed, United National Party legislators said.

“We expect to appoint a cabinet of ministers within 48 hours,” UNP legislator and former state minister for finance Eran Wickramaratne said.

“We will talk with party leaders and go for a debate or one or two days and seek approval.”

Harsha de Silva, a for state minister for economic affairs said to save time, standing orders in the parliament can be suspended to seek approval for the vote on account.

Continue reading ‘New Govt in Formation to Seek Parliamentary Approval for Vote on Account as Interim Measure First and Follow It Up By Presenting Full Budget in January 2019.’ »

Intense Internal Struggle Between Mangala Samaraweera and Ravi Karunanayake To Become Finance Minister May Result in Ranil Wickremesinghe Retaining Portfolio Himself Or Allocating it to Another Person.

Heavyweights Mangala Samaraweera and Ravi Karunanayake are alleged to be fighting over the key Finance Ministry portfolio whilst political analysts claim it would not be a surprise if either fails to secure it.

Karunanayake is keen to regain the once lost portfolio though he also briefly held the Foreign Minister title.

Given the speculation, sections of civil society have been strongly opposed to returning the Finance Ministry portfolio to Karunanayake.

Continue reading ‘Intense Internal Struggle Between Mangala Samaraweera and Ravi Karunanayake To Become Finance Minister May Result in Ranil Wickremesinghe Retaining Portfolio Himself Or Allocating it to Another Person.’ »

President Sirisena Re-appoints Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister and then Tells him and UNP that in his Opinion Ranil Should Not Have Been Appointed Premier Again.

President Maithripala Sirisena, yesterday, told newly appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other UNP MPs at a meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, that he was still of the view that Wickremesinghe should not have been appointed Prime Minister.

A media statement issued by the President Secretariat, yesterday quoted President Sirisena as having said: “When I said that I would not appoint Wickremesinghe PM even if all 225 MPs supported him that was my personal opinion. That hasn’t changed. But as someone who respects parliamentary traditions and democracy I have decided to appoint him Prime Minister. Neither Parliament nor courts, to my knowledge, can tell me who should be appointed PM.”

The President said that his decisions to appoint Mahinda Rajapaksa Prime Minster, prorogue Parliament and dissolve it had been taken after obtaining expert legal opinion,”I did so in good faith.”

The President said: “I took those decisions in the national interest and not with the intention of violating the Constitution. I believe that the best way to end the crisis is to go for an election. The 15.5 million Sri Lankan voters are more important than all the MPs in Parliament. Placing the matter before people is the best way to respect their sovereignty and I wanted to let the people decide.

“Establishing independent commissions was a positive of the 19th Amendment, but it also created a political deadlock.”

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Re-appoints Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister and then Tells him and UNP that in his Opinion Ranil Should Not Have Been Appointed Premier Again.’ »

“We will have discussions with the Tamil National Alliance and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna to bring about a political solution in which all citizens can live in harmony in a unitary state” – Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

(Text of special Ststement Issued by recently removed and subsequently re-appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesighe after being worn in by President Maithripala Sirisena)

The full statement is reproduced below:

Special Statement made by the Hon. Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

16th December 2018

It is a pleasure to me to address you once again as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

You all know that the basic law of our country is the Constitution. Now we have passed 87 years after we gained franchise. During this whole period the people of this country protected the Constitution. They protected fundamental rights. Whenever there was a threat to the constitution and to the fundamental rights, they came forward to protect them.

Same thing happened in the Presidential Election in 2016. You all joined hands to end an era in which the Constitution and the rights of the people were suppressed. It is with this intention that we adopted the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in order to protect the rights of the people more and more. I would like to emphasize that democracy will not be strengthened by acting against the constitution.

The Prime Minister of the Country should have the maximum confidence of the Parliament. Without a majority support a Prime Minister cannot bring forward the Country. Similarly,the Prime Minister and the Ministers should vacate their posts when a no confidence motion was passed in Parliament against them.

Continue reading ‘“We will have discussions with the Tamil National Alliance and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna to bring about a political solution in which all citizens can live in harmony in a unitary state” – Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »