Jaffna Varsity Violence: What Really Happened and Why!

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sirima Bandaranaike

Sirima Bandaranaike

The United Front Govt of Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike set up a campus in Jaffna in 1974. Under the higher education set up at that time there was only one Sri Lankan university with several campuses at different places. When Mrs. Bandaranaike visited Jaffna to ceremonially open the campus, the Tamil United Front (TUF)opposed it and staged black flag demonstrations. The ordinary people of Jaffna welcomed the move. The “Sirithiran”magazine hailed it as “Valavukkul Valaaham” (Campus in the compound).
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“Events”Organized by Powerful Minister Along Route of Kandy -Colombo Protest March While Govt Denies Blocking “Pada Yatra”

BY SHAAHIDAH RIZA AND RATHINDRA KURUWITA

The government will not be a barrier to the Joint Opposition’s (JO) Pada Yathra; however they might self-impose a barrier and blame it on the government, said Cabinet Spokesperson and Minister for Health Rajitha Senaratne.

Addressing a media briefing yesterday he also denied that the government has not blocked any grounds in order to prevent them from having their event.

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Six SLFP Chief Ministers Warn of Disciplinary Action Against Party Provincial Councillors Participating in Protest March


By Dasun Edirisinghe

SLFP Chief Ministers of Provincial Councils yesterday asked their PC members not to participate in the Pada Yatra protest march organised by the Joint Opposition from Kandy to Colombo, starting today.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Colombo, six chief ministers from Western, Southern, North Western, North Central, Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces warned that the SLFP Central Committee would take disciplinary action against those attending the protest march.

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Mawanella Magistrate Orders Joint Opposition To Seek Alternative Route For Protest March to Avoid Mawanella Town

By Chaminda Jayalath and Kavindya Chris Thomas

Mawanella Magistrate L.K. Mahinda yesterday ordered the Joint Opposition (JO), which is set to start its march from Kandy to Colombo today, to use alternative routes circumventing the Mawanella town and its city limits.

The JO is set to kick off its much touted four-day protest march from Kandy to Colombo this morning and its first stop was to be at Mawanella town.

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Kandy Magistrate Issues Orders Keeping the UNP and Joint Opposition Activists Apart to Avoid Possible Breach of Peace

by Cyril Wimalasurendre

Kandy Magistrate Buddhika Sri Ragala after considering an application by the police ordered the organisers of the Joint Opposition’s protest march from Kandy to Colombo starting today to commence the march from outside the city limits.

The magistrate also ordered the membership drive organised by the United National Party (UNP) to follow suit this afternoon.

In the wake of the court ruling, the Joint Opposition yesterday announced that the Jana Satana Pada Yatra would begin from Getambe at 9 am. A senior spokesman said that they would go ahead with the protest campaign as planned.

The Magistrate stated that both groups could perform their religious observances in the morning.

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Kandy – Colombo Protest March by Joint Opposition Will Commence From Galaha Junction in Peradeniya at 9 am on July 28th

By

Ajith Siriwardana

The Joint Opposition said today that they would commence their scheduled Pada Yathra from Galaha Junction tomorrow morning while respecting the court order not to conduct the protest march within the Kandy city limits.

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Muttiah Muralitharan will be First Sri Lankan to be Inducted by International Cricket Council Into the ICC Hall of Fame

The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced today that Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan will be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

He is the first Sri Lankan to be accorded the honour.

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Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara Come Out In Defence of Former Team Mate Muttiah Muralitharan

Cricket heavyweights Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have come out in defense of former team-mate Muttiah Muralitharan, saying the spin-king need not defend his decision to coach the Australian team.

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Canadian foreign Minister Stephane Dion’s Official Visit to Sri Lanka takes Place After 13 years says Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry

Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion will arrive in Sri Lanka on an official visit , the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced .

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sri Lanka said:

‘This bilateral official visit to Sri Lanka by a Foreign Minister of Canada takes place after 13 years, and within less than a year since the formation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Government.’

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“Murali is a great Son of Sri Lanka who is free to coach anyone and does not need to defend himself ” – Kumar Sangakkara.

Former Sri Lanka cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara said that spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan doesn’t have to defend himself as ‘Murali is a great son of Sri Lanka’.

“Murali is a great son of Sri Lanka and he doesn’t have to defend himself. He love his country. He is free to consult or coach anyone,” Sanga tweeted.

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Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Does not want any Change to the Due Place Given to Buddhism in Constitution

By

Amaradasa Silva

The right status and respect deserved for Buddhism should remain intact in the constitution, Colombo’s Archbishop Rt. Rev. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said today.

He expressed this view while participating at a religious ceremony held under the patronage of Chief incumbent Ven. Daranagama Kusaladhamma Nayaka Thera at the Sri Sambodhi Viharaya in Colombo.

The ceremony was held to confer the honour on the new Mahanayaka of the Asgiri Chapter Most Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera and the Anunayaka Theras and the Secretary Thera of the Asgiri Chapter and the Chief Incumbent Thera.

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Instead of Getting Lankans Like Murali to Coach Young Spinners SL Cricket Board Prefers to bring white People from Abroad


Sri Lanka’s record-breaking spinner Muttiah Muralitharan launched a blistering attack Monday on his former bosses after they complained about his behaviour in his new role as a mentor to Australia.

After his former employers said Muralitharan was damaging his legacy, the 44-year-old accused Sri Lanka’s board of setting him up as a fall guy if the hosts lose a series to the visiting Australians.

And Muralitharan, the highest wicket-taker in Test history, then accused the board president of knowing nothing about cricket and angrily denounced any suggestion of being “a traitor”.

“If Sri Lanka loses, they (the board) will say it is because of Murali,” he said in a recorded statement which was sent to AFP.

Continue reading ‘Instead of Getting Lankans Like Murali to Coach Young Spinners SL Cricket Board Prefers to bring white People from Abroad’ »

Jaffna Varsity Student President Thankeswaran Sisitharan Assures “We will not Allow Such a Fracas to take Place Again”.

BY SULOCHANA RAMIAH MOHAN

It was just a another clash between two groups studying at the same campus, but this clash at the Jaffna University aroused much attention on 16 July onwards. The sudden outbreak of verbal abuse, pelting of stones and fisticuffs erupted over a matter that should have been solved on the previous night (15 July), says the President of the University of Jaffna Student Union Federation, Sisitharan Thankeswaran , a final year Management student hailing from Batticaloa.

Sisitharan agreed to talk to Ceylon Today, on condition that the writer would not misquote him, nor publish anything that could land him in trouble again. When queried over this attitude of his, he said that he had to surrender to the Police because most of the boys knew him well as the President of the Union and someone had lodged a complaint against him. “I was beaten up by them when I tried to push myself amidst an angry group of students to talk the groups to avoid confrontation, and then I had to be the one to surrender to the police, which was a very unfortunate situation,” he added.

Sisitharan explains, to begin with, the Sinhala students do not have a union of their own with whom they could sit and plan out, without interacting with everyone. On the 15th evening when everything was planned and the programme schedule was printed after prior approval from the relevant Deans and officers in charge, a group of Sinhala students suggested that the welcome parade should also have the Kandyan cultural dance. Immediately the student council that represents the Science Faculty informed the Union. I was told that the Sinhala students wished to have a Kandyan dance included in the welcome ceremony too.

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‘Kaanaa Inbam Kaninthathaeno’ – Splendid “Singing in the Rain” Song ♫

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs – 7

I love rain!

One of the things I loved to do as a boy and even as a young adult was to get soaking wet in the rain. If it started raining while I was on my way home from school I simply got wet instead of taking shelter. Fortunately I had loving parents who understood this as well as my other quirks. My mother even let me bathe in the rain at times if it showered heavily.

Sabash Meena SR

I would dance about happily as the raindrops fell on me. I would splash about in the puddles caused by the torrential downpour. Sometimes I would even sing in the rain. When we were small children the elder of my two younger sisters was also allowed to join me in the rain at times. My younger brother was not permitted a rain bath as he had asthma. My youngest sister was too small for a rain bath. Our neighbours would look on aghast at this unconventional spectacle of myself and my sister merrily bathing in the rain. The kids in the neighbourhood would watch us enviously as we enjoyed ourselves.Of course if there was thunder and lightning I/we would be summoned inside immediately.

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“Lion of Uduppiddy” M. Sivasithamparam was a Towering Political Leader of the Sri Lankan Tamils

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The finest phase in the history of peaceful political protest by Sri Lankan Tamils was in 1961. A non – violent “Satyagraha” campaign conducted by the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) virtually paralysed administration in the pre-dominantly Tamil districts of the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka at that time.Though the civil disobedience campaign was launched by the ITAK known in English as the Federal party, representatives from other political parties also cooperated in a show of broader Tamil unity. The high watermark of the protest campaign was in Jaffna where thousands of peaceful Satyagrahis engaged in a sit down strike throughout day and night in batches outside the premises of the Jaffna Kachcheri or administrative secretariat.

The Satyagraha that began in early 1961 continued for several weeks till mid – April. After her birthday on April 17th , the then Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike deployed the armed forces in large numbers to bring the campaign to an end. Soldiers cracked down on the unarmed peaceful protesters comprising men and women of all ages in the darkness of night. While ordinary volunteers were assaulted the frontline leaders were arrested. The military operation aimed at crushing a non – violent Satyagraha through force was commanded by Col. Richard Udugama.

A contingent of troops set their sights on the women Satyagrahi volunteers. Even as the soldiers moved menacingly towards the women a group of Tamil men attempted to block the soldiers from proceeding in a courageous and noble gesture to protect the women. The Tamil lawyer, S. Ponniah, writing in his book “Satyagraha”, observes thus, –

“As the soldiers were rushing at the women Satyagrahis who were sitting at the main entrance, a group of young Satyagrahis intervened between the women and the soldiers to prevent assault on them.One of these Satyagrahis was M. Sivasithamparam, MP for Udupiddy. A strapper himself, he stood in the way of the soldiers with both his hands stretched out horizontally. He was attacked by a number of them and lost his balance and fell on the ground. He sustained injuries on his face, shoulders and arms. He was unable to use his arms for days thereafter.”

Murugesu Sivasithamparam  (July 20, 1923 - June 5, 2002)

Murugesu Sivasithamparam (July 20, 1923 – June 5, 2002)

This bold act of defiance by Murugesu Sivasithamparam was perhaps the finest hour in the political career of the Tamil Political leader. Though elected from the rival All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) as MP for Uduppiddi in the 1960 elections, Sivasithamparam had shed party differences in 1961 and participated in the massive Satyagraha campaign launched by the FP. He was a member of the action committee that coordinated the campaign in Jaffna. When the “illegal” Tamil Postal Service was organised as part of civil disobedience, separate stamps and envelopes were printed. Sivasithamparam acted as one of the ‘postmen’ and delivered an ‘official’ letter informing the Jaffna police Supdt of the postal service.
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NPC Chief Minister Wigneswaran and Opposition Leader Thavarajah Want Commission of Inquiry to Probe Jaffna Varsity Violence

By P.K.Balachandran

C.V.Wigneswaran, Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil majority Northern Province, and S.Thavarajah, Leader of Opposition in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC), have together asked the Lankan government to set up a “full-fledged” Commission of Inquiry to conduct an in-depth probe into last Saturday’s clash between Tamil and Sinhalese students in Jaffna University saying that the fracas was a manifestation of deeper problems faced by the Tamils of North Lanka.

In a joint letter released on Wednesday, Wigneswaran and Thavarajah said that the incidents in question should not be viewed from a purely criminal law standpoint.

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“Our First Problem is that we Dont Know What Our Problem is” – Rauff Hakeem

(Following is the text of the 93rd Birth Anniversary memorial oration of Late Leader of Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) M Sivasithamparam at the Karaveddy, Thachchai Araneri School, Jaffna made by Leader, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and Minister of City Planning and Water Supply, Rauff Hakeem. ‘We need new remedies to old problems.)

Ladies& Gentlemen,

It is with heartfelt pleasure that I address you this evening in a lecture in memory of Murugesu Sivasithmapram. Indeed, I find it an exhilaratingly rewarding experience because this is the second time that I have been asked to be the principal speaker commemorating and celebrating his life and contribution to the public life in our country. Although he held strong political convictions, he was a moderate with friends on both sides of the political divide. He possessed a charming eloquence in both Tamil and English. Despite an imposing physical appearance, he was a gentle giant with brilliant communication skills that endeared him to both proponent and opponent.

93rd Birth Anniversary memorial oration of Late Leader of Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) M Sivasithamparam at the Karaveddy, Thachchai Araneri School, Jaffna made by Leader, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and Minister Rauff Hakeem

93rd Birth Anniversary memorial oration of Late Leader of Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) M Sivasithamparam at the Karaveddy, Thachchai Araneri School, Jaffna made by Leader, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and Minister Rauff Hakeem

He passed away on 5th June 2002, the year he returned to Parliament after an absence of three years. On 23rd January of that year he spoke in parliament on the overarching issues of the Tamil people and by a curious coincidence I followed him immediately after. His concluding line was I quote from the Hansard “While you go ahead with committees, please get together and find a way to live so that the people of this country the Tamils, the Sinhalese and Muslims – can live in peace, in freedom and as equals.”
Since those words in 2002 we have seen the end of a civil war and the dawn of peace. We have freedom and all citizens of this land stand equal. Yet we live in a time when these agreed parameters of the social contract need repetition and reiteration. That brings me to the title of my lecture today. ‘We need new remedies to old problems.’

The immediate inspiration for my title is the profound advice of Sir Francis Bacon who warned “he that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils…” Indeed, we do have two old problems. Our first problem is that we don’t know what our problem is. In order to find a solution we must first acknowledge that the problem exists. Once acknowledged we must define it. Then we must finally commit ourselves to solving the problem.

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“Maverick” C. Suntheralingam was the Muhammed Ali of the Tamil Community

By

Radhika Coomaraswamy

(C.Suntheralingam: – Grandfather’s Letters – Edited by Anjalendran – A Review by Radhika Coomaraswamy)

Before I say a few words about the book, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I must first position myself re Mr. Suntheraligam. I am a grand niece of his in the way Sri Lankans define grand nieces. The direct line is not that close but my father and uncle stayed with him while going to Royal College while my grandfather circled the country as a civil servant. For that reason, Mr. Suntheralingam treated us as his grandchildren, never afraid to tender advice when he wanted to.

C.  Suntheralingam (9 August 1895 - 11 February 1985)

C. Suntheralingam (9 August 1895 – 11 February 1985)

Mr. Suntheralingam was what you term a maverick, which according to the Oxford dictionary is someone who is “unbonded”. He never belonged to anyone or any party. He was always an independent. He made alliances according to his whims and principles but was apparently loved by many.

What are the signs of his maverick status? Here are some examples- He was against all the Tamil parties of his era The All Ceylon Congress of GG Ponnambalam and the Federal Party of SJV Chelvanayagam and in the 1940s, called them all “career communalists.” But after Sinhala Only Act and the riots, he wrote a Declaration asking Parliament to debate a motion calling for the division of the country and the separation of an area called Eelam- named by him, based on an 1803 map. Everyone blocked his efforts but since it seemed so out in left field at that time, people were more amused than angry.

Radhika Coomaraswamy

Radhika Coomaraswamy

Another example of his maverick status was that he was extremely religious, a die hard Hindu but he memorized the bible and was an admirer of the principals and teachers at St. John’s Jaffna and St. Joseph’s college Colombo where he got his education. Strongly anti colonial, he still managed to praise the school for encouraging him to get the University scholarship to Oxford. The colleges did not allow individuals to speak any other language but English but they recognized him as a star pupil and seemed to have put a lot of effort into helping him reach his ambitions.
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Procedures? Bungawewa! The Santa Claus Approach to Salawa Rehabilitation


By

Jolly Somasundram

“ Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must be silent”
– Ludwig Wittgenstein.

The front page of the “Island” of 13th July carried a media statement of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, on delays of rehabilitation by government, of those who suffered from the explosion of ordnance at Salawa. The statement “urged Government to waive red tape”, to get the job done. In the divide of spiritual God- secular Caesar, there is no secular power higher than the power of the People. By rendering unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, elected politicians and selected public servants implement secularism- as trustees- on behalf of the People.

Physical rehabilitation is a subject devolved on Caesar. If there is failure by the trustees, it is the politician and the public servant who will pay, none can usurp that role. Physical rehabilitation is a secular activity which does not fall within the spiritual remit of God or that of His job description. Civilians are free to advice, encourage and review secular performance.

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Tamil – Sinhala Undergraduate Clashes Result in Indefinite Closure of Jaffna University

By P K Balachandran

A violent clash between Tamil and Sinhalese students of Jaffna University last Saturday has led an indefinite closure of the university, the only institution of higher learning in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province.

Four Sinhalese students were injured, one of them seriously, when students belonging to the two communities attacked each other following a sharp difference of opinion over allowing Kandyan dancing in a function to welcome new entrants to the Science Faculty.

As per the time-honored tradition, the Tamils in the Science Faculty wanted to welcome freshers with “mela thaalam” (traditional nadaswaram and thavil music). But the Sinhalese students insisted that Kandayan dancing, which is performed in welcoming ceremonies among the Sinhalese in South Sri Lanka, be included.

While the Sinhalese students based their demand on the fact that they form a significant proportion of the student body in the Faculty, the Tamil students insisted that tradition must be followed, especially as Jaffna is a Tamil majority area.

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President Sirisena Calls Upon Sinhalese to Acknowledge That the People in the North Have a Problem to Solve.

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday appealed to the Sinhalese-Buddhist majority in the island nation to realize that the minorities have a problem and solve it if they want to live happily.

“The Sinhala Buddhist community in this country will be able to live happily only after solving the issues pertaining to other communities in the country and the first step in this regard is to acknowledge that the people in the North (Tamils) have a problem to solve,” Sirisena said in Kilinochchi, while inaugurating a German Training Institute.

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“Marikkar” Ramdas: The Brahmin Artiste who Transformed Into a Muslim Character

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Marikkar” Ramdas has passed away!

Sadness spread among numerous fans of Sri Lankan origin scattered widely in different parts of the globe as news of the demise of the popular artiste reached them.

Sathyavaageeswara Iyer ("Marikkar")  Ramdas

Sathyavaageeswara Iyer (“Marikkar”) Ramdas

S. Ramdas, known as “Marikkar” Ramdas was a radio, stage and screen actor cum writer who was a household name in Tamil speaking homes of the island during the last quarter of the 20th century. He had been inactive as an artiste for more than a decade now but was not forgotten by the public which he entertained once. One could recognise genuine grief and a heartfelt sense of loss as people came to know that the man known to them as “Marikkar” Ramdas had passed away.

Sathyavaageeswara Iyer Ramdas was a Hindu Brahmin. Yet he was widely known as “Marikkar” Ramdas. This was because his most famous and popular role as an actor was that of a Muslim named Marikkar. Ramdas portrayed the Muslim character excellently speaking perfectly the dialect of Colombo Muslims. (There are different dialects in different regions)
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Military Intelligence Officer Premananda Udalagama Arrested by CID over Assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge Founding Editor of “The Sunday Leader”

by Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on Friday (15) night took in to custody Warrant Officer 1, Premananda Udalagama from the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) in connection with the murder of The Sunday Leader founding Editor, Lasantha Wickrematunge.

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♥ “Singara Velanae Deva”- S.Janaki’s Superb Solo with Nadaswaram Accompaniment ♫

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs – 6

Sishtla Sreeramamurthy Janaki popularly known as S. Janaki is widely praised as the “Nightingale of the South” .In a splendid career spanning over fifty years Janaki has sung over 20,000 songs for films made in 16 different languages.The Southern nightingale has won four national awards and 31 state govt awards in India during her illustrious career.

Gemini Ganesan & Savithri ~ “Konjum Salangai” (kissing anklets) in Technicolour

Gemini Ganesan & Savithri ~ “Konjum Salangai” (kissing anklets) in Technicolour

The solo which catapulted Janaki to fame overnight was in the film “Konjum Salangai” released in January1962. Although she had no formal training in carnatic or Hindustani music Janaki rendered the classical”Singara Velanae Deva”song magnificiently.She reached the upper octaves admirably for the soulful song based on the carnatic raga Abheri. In Hindustani music the raga Bhimpalasi is said to resemble Abheri closely.
Continue reading ‘♥ “Singara Velanae Deva”- S.Janaki’s Superb Solo with Nadaswaram Accompaniment ♫’ »

SLFP Maithri Faction and UPFA Joint Opposition Are Both Against UNP Over Value Added Tax(VAT) Issue

By The Sunday Times Political Editor

Storm clouds are building over Government’s main partners on the impact of the Value Added Tax (VAT) which has dealt a blow to a large segment of Sri Lankans.

The pro-Maithripala Sirisena Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), or the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), segment is unhappy over the political fallout from this exercise. The issue has been the main subject of conversation during informal meetings. At a dinner this week at the Colombo residence of a Galle District parliamentarian, their UNP counterparts came in for bitter criticism. The reason, they said, was the embarrassment caused to them and the damage to their party. It was a recipe, they noted, for their certain defeat at next year’s planned local government elections.

The UPFA position was articulated by Minister Mahinda Amaraweera who is the General Secretary. He told the Sunday Times later; “We are of the opinion that the VAT, introduced in May, should be amended in such a way as to provide relief to those worst affected. The manner in which the tax was increased was wrong. There should have been a process to educate the public before it was enforced.”
Amaraweera said just like the public, “we too have issues with the VAT. As members of the Government we have to face the people. You cannot introduce such measures by force.” He said in the next two weeks, members in the Government would meet President Sirisena and frankly express their views on the many implications of introducing VAT. “We need to keep the President informed about the impact, particularly at a time when we are facing a local government election,” he added.

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Ravi Karunanayake Predicted Arrest of Namal Rajapaksa One Day Before It Happened.

By

Rasika Jayakody

A few weeks before the release from prison of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, in 2012, MP Namal Rajapaksa, one of the most influential members of the previous government, made a very interesting statement in an brief interview with a vernacular newspaper.

The parliamentarian, who did not hold any official ministerial or deputy ministerial portfolio under the previous administration, said the former Army Commander would be pardoned if he wrote a letter to the former President.

This statement, not so surprisingly, raised many an eyebrow as it explicitly showed the authority the former parliamentarian wielded under the previous administration. The parliamentarian enjoyed such an authority in the previous government not because he received a mandate from the people. The unrestricted executive powers enjoyed by his father elevated him to an unchallengeable position in the Rajapaksa government, allowing him to operate seemingly above the country’s legal system.

Four years down the line, the same parliamentarian was summoned to the Police Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID), last Monday, to record a statement with regard to alleged misappropriation of Rs. 70 million belonging to Indian real estate company, Krrish Group, granted for development of rugby in Sri Lanka. This time, his father did not have excessive executive powers and the young politician had no option but to comply with the ongoing Police investigation.

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Maithri- Ranil Govt Faces Decision Making Problems as Constituent Partners Pull in Different Directions

By

C.A. Chandraprema

That this government has tied itself up in knots not only locally but internationally as well became apparent last week, when the former head of state Mahinda Rajapaksa – now the central personality of the opposition – was the only important to politician to send a proper letter congratulating the newly appointed Prime Minister of Great Britain Theresa May. President Maithripala Sirisena has sent only a twitter message. It is certainly true that Sirisena ran a jazzed up presidential election campaign designed to appeal to the younger generation with his name written as ‘My3’ – sms fashion. Yet, need this be taken so far as for an incumbent head of state to congratulate an incoming head of government with a twitter message? However he at least sent a twitter message. All we heard from the prime minister about the appointment of a new Conservative Prime Minister in Britain was a deafening silence.

The UNP especially is supposed to have a special relationship with the British Conservative Party both being members of the International Democratic Union – the global brotherhood of centre-right political parties. As such, for the UNP not to send a letter congratulating the new Conservative PM of the UK borders on deliberate rudeness.

This is a direct result of the Sri Lankan government needlessly getting involved in the internal politics of foreign countries. The present government sent a special ministerial team comprising of ministers of both the UNP and the SLFP to Britain to canvass among Sri Lankan expatriates on behalf of the ‘remain’ campaign. Even Suren Surenthiran of the Global Tamil Forum had the good sense to avoid getting involved in the Remain vs Exit controversy, giving their supporters the freedom of choice probably because they had a better awareness of the ground realities in Britain. Now with David Cameron, one of the foreign patrons of this government gone, there is an awkward silence on the part of the Sri Lankan government not knowing how to react to the new powers that be in Britain whose internal and external policies will be quite different to that of their predecessors.

Continue reading ‘Maithri- Ranil Govt Faces Decision Making Problems as Constituent Partners Pull in Different Directions’ »

Exploring the World Through Social Media is not as Good as it May Seem


By

J. Angelus

Rarely does a day pass by without the clicks, scrolls and stares of social media. Among the 3.4 billion people around the globe who access the internet, nearly 2.3 billion are found active on social media sites. Specially, youngsters seem to have developed an unbreakable bond with them. Social media provides different forms of interaction. They provide a wide range of expressive tools and audience to almost any user.

Nationally, statistics reveal that nearly 2.8 million Sri Lankans are active on social websites, and 2.2 million of them use their mobile devices to update or get updated. The number has increased by a staggering 53% in the past 2 years and is certain to continue so in the future. So, we arrive at a point where it is necessary to outlook the impact of these social networking sites.

While the fact that “our world has more mobile phone users than people who use toothbrushes” may amuse you, I doubt whether you would object, if I say ‘social media’ is just another word for ‘Facebook’ in Sri Lanka. Stats confirm this statement, showing that more than 90% of social media activity by Sri Lankans has been on Facebook for the past couple of years.

Continue reading ‘Exploring the World Through Social Media is not as Good as it May Seem’ »

Inside Story About Indrajit Coomaraswamy Becoming Central Bank Governor

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“All changed,changed utterly” – The memorable lines from Irish poet Yeats came true on the morning of July 2nd 2016 for Dr.Indrajit Coomaraswamy after he received a telephone call at 6. 30 am. The early caller was none other than Malik Samarawickrama the minister of Development Strategies and International Trade.Indrajit Coomaraswamy was functioning as a senior adviser to the ministry. However it was not a ministry related matter that the minister was calling about. It was a far more serious and important issue affecting the welfare of the nation.

President Maithripala Sirisena greeting Dr. Indrajit Coomarswamy-pic via: twitter.com/MaithripalaS

President Maithripala Sirisena greeting Dr. Indrajit Coomarswamy-pic via: twitter.com/MaithripalaS

Samarawickrama informed Coomaraswamy that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had decided to appoint the 66 year old economist as the 14th Governor of the Central bank of Sri Lanka. It was Samarawickrama’s task to persuade Coomaraswamy to accept the offer. Malik and Indrajit go back a long way being old Royalists and fellow ruggerites playing for the Ceylonese Rugby and Football Club(CR&FC) at one time.

Malik Samarawickrama knew that making Indrajit Coomaraswamy consent to becoming Central bank Governor would be an uphill task. Despite his many creditable achievements and accomplishments, Indrajit Coomaraswamy was not an ambitious go-getter type of guy. He belonged to that dying breed of public servants who never hankered after office but carried out whatever duties entrusted to them efficiently and loyally. Though Indrajit was now a retiree , he was still active with many irons in the fire.
Continue reading ‘Inside Story About Indrajit Coomaraswamy Becoming Central Bank Governor’ »

UN Urges Sri Lanka to Stick to Its Commitments on Accountability According to Agreements with International Community

The United Nations has urged Sri Lanka to stick to its commitments on accountability.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General on Tuesday responding to a question posed on Sri Lanka, recalled that there were agreements between Sri Lanka and the international community and Sri Lanka should stick to those agreements.

“There are issues between the international community and Sri Lanka and agreements to ensure accountability. And we hope those are followed,” Dujarric said according to the Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General posted on the UN website. The post is a near-verbatim transcript of July 12th’s noon briefing by Dujarric, the web said.

Continue reading ‘UN Urges Sri Lanka to Stick to Its Commitments on Accountability According to Agreements with International Community’ »

Northern Provincial Council Must Pussyfooting and Take Firm Stand against Poaching by Indian Fishermen

(Text of Editorial Appearing in “The Island”of July 14th 2016 Under the heading “Of that Piscatorial issue”)

Finding a solution to the problem of illegal fishing in Sri Lankan waters has become a Sisyphean task owing to the wrong remedies being applied. It looks as if the process of solving the piscatorial issue would drag on till hell freezes over.

Northern fishers took to the streets on Tuesday and held a demonstration opposite the Northern Provincial Council (NPC), calling for action to prevent their Indian counterparts from poaching in Sri Lankan waters. It is time the NPC stopped pussyfooting around and took a firm stand on the issue affecting the livelihood of thousands of fishers in the North.

The central government of India has chosen the path of least resistance; it is busy trying to resolve the issue through diplomatic means to appease the Tamil Nadu politicians instead of plucking up the courage to stand up to Jayalalitha et al and tackle the issue.

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government is too timid to tell India what needs to be done for obvious reasons.

Continue reading ‘Northern Provincial Council Must Pussyfooting and Take Firm Stand against Poaching by Indian Fishermen’ »

Sinister Moves by Vested Interests to Close down the Dehiwela Zoo Alleges Movement for Protection of National Zoo

By Harischandra Gunaratna

The Movement for the Protection of the National Zoo (MPNZ) yesterday said that there were moves by certain elements with vested interests to have the Dehiwala Zoological Garden closed.

Media Co-ordinator for the movement Shantha Jayaweera said the objective of those elements was to reduce the size of the present Zoological Garden on a 21-acre plot to around 2-3 acres.

Addressing a news conference in Colombo, Jayaweera said, “A newly formed foundation which claimed to be fighting for animal rights in Sri Lanka is spreading falsehoods claiming that animals in the Dehiwala Zoo were subjected to cruelty and some of the photographs they have posted on the Internet have been taken overseas. It has obtained 15,000 signatures from the public urging the government to close down the zoo.”

Continue reading ‘Sinister Moves by Vested Interests to Close down the Dehiwela Zoo Alleges Movement for Protection of National Zoo’ »

US Policy on Sri Lanka Lanka policy Moves away from Emphasis on war crimes Probe towards Focus on Economic Development

By P.K.Balachandran

COLOMBO: In a perceptible shift of emphasis from human rights and war crimes accountability to economic development, the United States on Tuesday asked Sri Lankans to eschew divisive politics and work for the economic development of all on the grounds that democracy and post-war reconciliation can be brought about only through equitable economic development.

This was stated clearly by US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Biswal, and the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights, Tom Malinowski, at a media briefing after talks with the Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera here on Tuesday.

Biswal said that US-Lanka relations are on a “tremendous trajectory of partnership” for economic development and livelihood creation in the island nation. Among the areas she listed for cooperation are agriculture, health and education.

Continue reading ‘US Policy on Sri Lanka Lanka policy Moves away from Emphasis on war crimes Probe towards Focus on Economic Development’ »

Exclusive Interview with Famous writer Salman Rushdie by Hafeel Farisz for Sri Lanka’s “Daily Mirror”.

World renowned author, winner of the Booker Prize and the 13th greatest English novelist according to the TIME Magazine, Salman Rushdie sits down with Hafeel Farisz of the “Daily Mirror” for his first interview with the Sri Lankan media. Rushdie, currently a Professor and Distinguished Writer at the New York University, speaks of his controversial novel The Satanic Verses, his childhood, his views on religious and political freedom among others in this exclusive interview

Excerpts of the Interview


Q: You have been very vocal about the idea or notion of the freedom of expression. Where does this voice in you toward the need for unfettered freedom of expression come from?

A: I have lived in places where there were a serious attempts to repress speech. I remember, it was at the time I began to write ‘Midnight’s Children’, being in India during the emergency, when press censorship was very heavy. People were put in jail for expressing their opinion, including members of Indira Gandhi’s own family. I’ve had family in Pakistan all my life.-Because of the partition my family was almost split down the middle. Half my family lived in Pakistan, and the other half in India. I had cousins, aunts and uncles in India, and I would go there quite often as a young person. To be in Pakistan during various dictatorships — the Ayub Khan period, the Zia Ul-Haq period– was to experience first-hand the stifling effect of censorship. Not just censorship, but the fear of saying what you thought.

I remember visiting my cousins in Karachchi, and we were just spending an evening in somebody’s house. I can’t remember what I asked, but it was a political question regarding what was happening in the country. My cousin who was sitting across the table from me kicked me from under the table. Because I wasn’t born yesterday, I changed the subject and asked something about cricket. About 20 minutes later my cousin said to me, “It’s okay now”. I asked, “What do you mean it’s okay?” And what he said was that the person who left the room was one whom they had identified as an informer, and now that he had left the room it was okay to talk. So I asked them why they would invite him if they knew he was an informer?

And they said, If we didn’t invite him we wouldn’t know who the informer was, and somebody else would be sent along”, and that “it was better to know who the informer was than not”. So I have lived in times of censorship and I’ve had a very strong reaction against it : the moment one starts to express one’s view of the world, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, in my case it’s predominantly been fiction, there are plenty of people who won’t want you to do that. Indira Gandhi at one point wanted to take me to court. The case disappeared because unfortunately she was murdered. But it’s not unusual even for imaginative writers to run up against the power structure. If you look at literature, you see this happening in country after country. Writers trying to say ” I think it’s like this” run up against people who try to prevent them saying that. In the Soviet Union of course many writers had their lives destroyed by trying to speak up against Soviet power. At this moment in China it’s very much the case. Journalists and creative writers are oppressed and disappearing, and living in a very precarious way. For me it seemed natural that one should object to that.

Actually the first great writer I met was the Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. I knew him as a child because he was a very close friend of one of my aunts, and he became like an extra uncle to me. His work fell into two kinds. On the one hand there were ‘Gazzals’ – beautiful poetry, much of which was love poetry, and much of which of course was set to music and became popular, and made him such a popular figure. Then on the other side, there was poetry which was political. He directly engaged with the big subjects of his time, partition being the biggest. He quite naturally moved between those two worlds — the world of the public and the world of the private. And I just thought. “Oh that’s what you as a writer are supposed to do”; that you engage both with the public subject and the private subject. I have tried to do that, and of course you know, like everyone else who does that, you run up against people who don’t want you to do that.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Interview with Famous writer Salman Rushdie by Hafeel Farisz for Sri Lanka’s “Daily Mirror”.’ »

Three Senior US Officials Arrive in Colombo to “Encourage” Govt to Speedily Implement the Resolution it Co – sponsored at the UN in Geneva

by Zacki Jabbar

With the government sending conflicting signals on the use of foreign judges in the proposed domestic war crimes tribunal, three senior American officials arrived in Colombo yesterday.

The UNHRC, U.K. and the U.S have emphasised that the credibility of investigations into allegations of war crimes against government forces and the LTTE especially during the final stages of the war which ended on May 19 , 2009 would depend on foreign judges being drafted into the domestic mechanism that was to be established.

Diplomatic sources said that the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal , U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Tom Malinowski and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for South Asia Manpreet Singh Anand were quickly back in Colombo due to a perception that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government having Co-Sponsored the UNHRC resolution on accountability issues appeared to be dilly dallying with regard to implementation.

Continue reading ‘Three Senior US Officials Arrive in Colombo to “Encourage” Govt to Speedily Implement the Resolution it Co – sponsored at the UN in Geneva’ »

Mahinda Samarasinghe Dismisses Statement Allegedly made by MA Sumanthiran in Washington as “Irrelevant”.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe yesterday dismissed as irrelevant a statement made by Jaffna District MP M. A. Sumanthiran at a recent Congressional hearing on behalf of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in respect of foreign judges in a judicial mechanism to inquire into war crimes.

Minister Samarasinghe was responding to a query raised by The Island at a special media conference held by the President’s Office at the Information Department to explain President Maithripala Sirisena’s stand on Western intervention in Arab countries and proposed judicial mechanism to probe accountability issues here.

The Island pointed out that TNA spokesperson had declared that there was a tripartite understanding involving the government of Sri Lanka, the US and the TNA to adopt Geneva Resolution 30/1 to pave the way for foreign judges.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Samarasinghe Dismisses Statement Allegedly made by MA Sumanthiran in Washington as “Irrelevant”.’ »

Namal Rajapaksa Arrested and Remanded till July 18 Over Corruption Charges Related to Krrish Group and Carlton Sports Network

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Namal Rajapaksa was arrested by the police Financial Crimes Investigations Division (FCID) yesterday and remanded till 18 July.

Namal Rajapaksa was asked to appear before the FCID on Monday to make a statement over some missing funds. He was questioned over the misappropriation of funds amounting to Rs. 70 million.

A statement from the police noted that Indian company Krrish Group which was given a $ 650 million project under the previous Government headed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had given Rs.70 million to the Carlton Sports Network as sponsorship for a rugby tournament.

Continue reading ‘Namal Rajapaksa Arrested and Remanded till July 18 Over Corruption Charges Related to Krrish Group and Carlton Sports Network’ »

Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa asks Govt Whether it is Happy after Arresting his son Namal Rajapaksa MP.

By

Chaturanga Pradeep

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today said he had to ask the government whether it was now happy after arresting his son Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa,

Mr. Rajapaksa who was arrested by the FCID today over an inquiry of allegedly misappropriating Rs. 70 million worth of funds belonging to ‘Krish Company’, was later remanded by Fort Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne till July 18.

Continue reading ‘Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa asks Govt Whether it is Happy after Arresting his son Namal Rajapaksa MP.’ »

Supreme Court Issues Interim Order Preventing Implementation of Value Added Tax Increases Until Parliament Passes Necessary Legislation

By Uditha Jayasinghe and S.S. Selvanayagam

A Supreme Court order suspending VAT increases delivered yesterday created confusion among the private sector and left the Government rushing to provide explanations ahead of ensuring that the relevant legislation is passed in Parliament next week.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe released a statement just hours after the verdict assuring that the legislation, which has BUP_DFTDFT-1-01already been tabled in Parliament, would be passed on 20 July. However, under the verdict traders cannot charge the VAT increase from consumers till 20 July but once the revisions are implemented they will be retrospectively applicable from 2 May, creating confusion among the public.

The Supreme Court issued an interim order on Monday preventing the implementation of the recent revisions made to the Value Added Tax (VAT) and the Nation Building Tax (NBT) until the relevant legislation was passed in Parliament.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court Issues Interim Order Preventing Implementation of Value Added Tax Increases Until Parliament Passes Necessary Legislation’ »

Shadow Cabinet of Joint Opposition Dissolves Into a Joke Before It took Off

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

The Joint Opposition last week appointed a 50-member ‘shadow cabinet.’ Alas, even before the ink dried in appointment letters, its members thought it was a big joke. Many wanted out, and ‘Shadow Urban Planning and Water Supply Minister’ Lohan Ratwatte (of Joel Pera fame) resigned. Thus the grand plan flopped before it was launched.

It was not clear why some distanced themselves from this latest political manoeuvre, least because no one was sure who made the appointments in the first place. After all, the ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa, and now the ‘shadow Prime Minister’ had little interest in parliamentary traditions when he was in power. In his good times, he made Parliament a rubber stamp, concentrated powers of the state around him and his family. He promoted a new breed of young MPs, who conducted themselves as mindless sycophants relishing in the leader’s attention, and shouting dissident voices in and out of Parliament.

Lohan Ratwatte was quoted as saying in this newspaper last week, that the ex- president himself was unaware of the appointment of a showdown cabinet with him at its helm. Thus the shadow cabinet sounds like an in- your-facefarce, no less than those independent commissions of MR presidency.

Continue reading ‘Shadow Cabinet of Joint Opposition Dissolves Into a Joke Before It took Off’ »

Armed Forces are now ” Encircled ” in the same way the LTTE was in April 2009

By

C.A.Chandraprema

After the talks on VAT with the representatives of regional chambers of commerce broke down earlier this week, anti-VAT hartals broke out in the Ratnapura and Hambantota and it appears as if things will build up into a countrywide showdown if the government does not take a step backwards. In places like Ja-ela and Ampara town, the governing parties had tried to use their influence (and muscle) to blunt the campaign by persuading some shopkeepers to keep their establishments open. Such instances were however few and far between. Last week Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera was desperately trying to justify the VAT with the argument that it was necessary to collect increased taxes to provide better services for the people. Perhaps the point that the government seems to have missed is that it would have been impossible to motivate whole towns to put up their shutters if the VAT was not hitting the retailers really badly.

Another bombshell due this week is the impending increase in bus fares. This too is related to the government’s tax policy because the private bus owners started demanding an increase in bus fares following the changes to the government’s tax policy for vehicle imports. The likelihood is that the government will increase the fares. The choice is between surrendering after the private bus owners go on strike or surrendering before they go on strike. The government is likely to choose the latter option this week which will of course mean that the people will have to bear the brunt of the bus fare hike.

In the middle of all this, the prime minister made an intervention in parliament last Thursday which has given rise to much speculation. This was the request made by him to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to overrule the Supreme Court determination given in Nallaratnam Singarasa v Attorney General in 2006 which stated that Sri Lanka’s accession to Optional Protocol I of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) needed a two- thirds majority of Parliament and approval by people at a referendum in order to become law. The prime minister had referred to it as ‘a perverted interpretation of the Constitution’.

Continue reading ‘Armed Forces are now ” Encircled ” in the same way the LTTE was in April 2009’ »

“Neeyay Unakku Endrum Nigaraanavan” ~ Sparkling Song by TM Soundararajan ~ MS Raju ♫

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs – 5

“Neeyay Unakku endrum Nigaraanaavan” is a sparkling song from the old Tamil film “Baley Pandia” produced and directed by B.R.Panthulu in 1962.Sung by maestro TM Soundararajan(TMS) and “Konnakol”expert M.S.Raju(not to be confused with the Telugu film producer) the song was picturised in the film on actors Sivaji Ganesan and M.R. Radha singing with K. Balaji playing the “Ghatam”.

"Nadigaverl" M. R.Radha & Sivaji Ganesan ~ "Neeyay Unakku Endrum Nigaraanavan"

“Nadigaverl” M. R.Radha & Sivaji Ganesan ~ “Neeyay Unakku Endrum Nigaraanavan”

The remarkable highlights of “Baley Pandia” were the triple roles played by Sivaji Ganesan and the double roles played by M. R. Radha. Sivaji the hero also acted as a scientist and the sidekick of the villain. Radha was the villain as well as the father of the heroine played by Devika. There is much confusion caused by the similar looking appearances of Sivaji in this three roles and radha in his dual. A lot of humour is provided in the scenes. It is basically a feel good film.
Continue reading ‘“Neeyay Unakku Endrum Nigaraanavan” ~ Sparkling Song by TM Soundararajan ~ MS Raju ♫’ »

President Sirisena Rules out Once Again the Participation of Foreign Judges In war Crimes court

By P K Balachandran

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday reiterated his opposition to the appointment of any foreign judge in the Judicial Mechanism that is to be set up to try war crimes cases as per the October 1, 2015 resolution of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Presidential Secretariat sources told Express.

Speaking at the higher ordination ceremony of the Ramanna Maha Nikaya in Panadura, the President had said: “ Though various views are being expressed in various places regarding the bringing of foreign judges and establishing of foreign military courts to take action against the so called human rights violations during the period of war, I will not allow any national or international activity which challenges the freedom, independence and territorial integrity of the country.”

Sirisena was compelled to clarify his position on employing foreign judges because Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had told the media that government is considering all options, including the appointment of foreign judges, and that the final decision on this will be taken after consulting all stakeholders including the Tamil victims of the alleged war crimes.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Rules out Once Again the Participation of Foreign Judges In war Crimes court’ »

Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem Faces Political Challenges in East

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The Central bank Governor crisis has been dominating the political landscape at a national level for the past few weeks. However other issues too have surfaced at sub – national level. For instance the question of Muslim political leadership has been causing much controversy at a regional level in the Eastern province. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress(SLMC) is the acknowledged premier political party of the Eastern Muslims. Rauff Hakeem – minister of City planning and water supply – is the accredited leader of the Muslim Congress. In recent times fresh political challenges have emerged in the East against the Muslim Congress chief’s leadership.

Rauff Hakeem -  Minister of City planning and water supply

Rauff Hakeem – Minister of City planning and water supply

Political challenges to his leadership are nothing new to Rauff Hakeem. He has had to face much treachery and many conspiracies from the time he donned the mantle of Muslim Congress leadership after the untimely demise of SLMC co-founder and leader the charismatic MHM Ashraff in 2000. Hakeem has successfully weathered such revolts and intrigues in the past and ultimately triumphed. A significant difference this time is the fact that Hakeem is without two of his most trustworthy and dependable lieutenants at the present juncture. Furthermore a substantial portion of the present problems faced by the Muslim congress chief have been directly or indirectly caused by these two SLMC stalwarts who were at one time devoted Hakeem loyalists.
Continue reading ‘Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem Faces Political Challenges in East’ »

✿ “Roja Malarae Rajakumari” ♛ ♥ ~ Popular Song by PB Sreenivas – P.Susheela Duo ♫

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -4

“Ruritanian Romance” is a genre consisting of stories, novels, dramas and films set in a fictional country. Anthony Hope’s novel “Prisoner of Zenda” based in the imaginary state of Ruritania was the pioneering novel that spawned this popular genre. Literature, theatre and films of this genre are generally about romances between Royalty and commoners occurring in a fictional country with the melodramatic backdrop of plots, intrigues, action and adventure.Many films have been made in many parts of the world that could be categorised as belonging to the “Ruritanian Romance “genre.

"Veerathirumagan"

“Veerathirumagan Aanandhan ♥ Sachu”

“Veerathirumagan” was a Tamil film belonging to the Ruritanian romance genre, It was released in India on May 3rd 1962.The film was screened some months later in Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon. Even before the film hit the screens , the songs in the movie popularised by Radio became runaway hits. The Tamil commercial service of “Radio Ceylon”played a big role in this. In those days “Radio Ceylon” or “Ceylon Radio “ as it was known in India, was most popular over the air waves in Tamil Nadu.
Continue reading ‘✿ “Roja Malarae Rajakumari” ♛ ♥ ~ Popular Song by PB Sreenivas – P.Susheela Duo ♫’ »

“Proper Inquiry Needed to Clear the Sri Lankan Military Over Alleged Battlefield Excesses” says Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Acknowledging that there had been divergent views in respect of having foreign judges in a domestic judicial mechanism to probe alleged war crimes, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday emphasised that a solution acceptable to the majority of stakeholders could be reached.

Minister Samaraweera said the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) wanted foreign judges on the proposed judicial mechanism whereas others opposed it. But, there could be an alternative, Minister Samaraweera said, adding that consultations were taking place, both here and abroad in that regard.

Jaffna District TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran told Congressional hearing in Washington on June 14 they expected foreign judges as agreed during talks involving the government of Sri Lanka and the US in the run-up to the Geneva sessions last October.

Addressing the media at Foreign Ministry auditorium, Minister Samaraweera said there was no need to act hastily.

Continue reading ‘“Proper Inquiry Needed to Clear the Sri Lankan Military Over Alleged Battlefield Excesses” says Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera’ »

Joint Opposition Appoints Shadow Cabinet of 50 Ministers with Mahinda as Prime Minister cum Defence Minister and son Namal as Foreign Minister

The Joint Opposition group of MP’s loyal to Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa today appointed a shadow cabinet of 50 ministers.

The shadow cabinet is led by ex-president and Kurunegala district MP Mahinda Rajapaksa who has been appointed shadow Prime Minister and also given the shadow portfolios of Defence, Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs.

Dinesh Gunawardane was appointed National Policies and Economic Affairs Minister, while Chamal Rajapaksa was appointed Transport and Aviation Minister.

Namal Rajapaksa has been named Foreign Affairs Minister and Udaya Gammanpila has been named Minister of Law and Order.

Some of the other appointments to the ‘Shadow Cabinet’ were:

Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Appoints Shadow Cabinet of 50 Ministers with Mahinda as Prime Minister cum Defence Minister and son Namal as Foreign Minister’ »

President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe have Become Closer and Friendlier after Central bank Governor Issue says Rajitha Senaratne

By

T.Ramakrishnan

The episode of the exit of former Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka Arjuna Mahendran and the appointment of his successor Indrajit Coomaraswamy has not created any bitter feeling between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Cabinet spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said on Wednesday.

Answering questions of THE HINDU at the weekly press briefing, Dr. Senaratne said there was no “SLFP (Sri Lanka Freedom Party)-UNP (United National Party)” dimension to the issue. “In fact, after this issue, they [Mr Sirisena, who also heads the SLFP, and Mr Wickremesinghe, the UNP chief] have become closer and friendlier”

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe have Become Closer and Friendlier after Central bank Governor Issue says Rajitha Senaratne’ »

Revelation About Tripartite Agreement Between the Govt, TNA and US on Foreign Judges in War Crimes Court

By

Shamindra Ferdinando

The four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Friday (July 1) welcomed a hard-hitting statement, issued by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, in respect of war time and post-war accountability issues in Sri Lanka. The Human Rights HC reiterated the call for international participation in the proposed war crimes probe, on the basis of Resolution 30/1, adopted on Oct 1, 2015.

The TNA comprises the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) and three former terrorist groups namely TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF formed by the government of India in the ‘80s. The TULF, too, had been part of the grouping at the onset of the LTTE-TNA relationship, though it subsequently quit. TULF, leader V. Anandasangaree, told the writer, some time back, that he quit the alliance as he didn’t want to contribute to the LTTE’s despicable strategy.

In a statement issued on the afternoon of July 1, TNA declared: “We reiterate that justice for crimes committed, in the past, by both sides, is a necessary precondition to meaningful reconciliation. In this regard, we reiterate the importance of the full implementation of operative paragraphs 6 and 7 to ensure trust and credibility.”

The TNA didn’t include the two operative paragraphs in its statement.

Continue reading ‘Revelation About Tripartite Agreement Between the Govt, TNA and US on Foreign Judges in War Crimes Court’ »

UNP Members in COPE try to Exonerate Former Central Bank Governor arjuna Mahendran in Probe on Treasury Bond Sale Issue


By Saman Indrajith

Parliamentary watchdog committee (COPE) meeting yesterday turned tense as UNP members tried to exonerate former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran from the Treasury bond sale scandal, while others spoke against it.

Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe and two other senior members of the Auditor General’s Department made a presentation to the COPE members of their findings from their investigation into Treasury bond sale scandal, COPE sources said.

The UNP members in the COPE who attended a meeting held by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on the previous day on the same issue argued that Mahendran was not responsible for the massive loss from Treasury bond sale. They argued that Mahendran was only implementing a policy decision of the government.

The JVP members counter argued and demanded to know, which office had made that policy decision. They also pointed out that such a policy decision should be approved by the Monetary Board and there was no such approval but only Mahendran’s instructions to go for private placements in bond sales.

Continue reading ‘UNP Members in COPE try to Exonerate Former Central Bank Governor arjuna Mahendran in Probe on Treasury Bond Sale Issue’ »

Beyond Even Singapore, China is the Closest I have Encountered to Plato’s Republic


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

One belt, one road’, China’s blueprint to tie together Asia and Europe into one vast trading network, could reshape geopolitics and the world economy
The Economist (UK), June 30, 2016

One gets a different perspective watching the global and national scenes, while on a ‘hybrid’ trip to China with my wife -a courtesy call on an old friend in a high place in the Chinese Government; a discussion with the Vice President of the oldest think tank in China founded, when Premier Zhou Enlai was Foreign Minister; much sightseeing from the swanky modernity of waterfront Shanghai to awe inspiring artifacts from millennia before Jesus and the Buddha; and the best food in the world (Including Beijing duck at the restaurant where Zhou hosted Kissinger).

With the UK leaving the EU and Scotland threatening to leave the UK, Greece and France wracked by street protests against austerity measures, two national elections within months and no stable majority in Spain, and an ideologically polarising presidential campaign in the USA, the West seems locked in a tightening crisis.

By contrast, China is a picture of calm confidence and cohesion. While Premier Li Ke Quiang’s address to the Summer Davos, shows that its leadership is acutely aware of the macro-economic challenges, China under the stewardship of the Communist Party (Plato’s Guardian class) has an achievement, which is quite unique: that of three decades of uninterrupted growth, devoid of depressions and crashes, and a rising standard of living for a vast swathe of humanity, 1.4 billion people.

On the external track China is the only country that is offering macro concepts that are non-military and are in the material interests of those nations and peoples. The US offers, for instance, the Pivot to Asia, which is at best a military-strategic counterweight for those of us who want one.

Continue reading ‘Beyond Even Singapore, China is the Closest I have Encountered to Plato’s Republic’ »

“It is our Job to Convince our Politicians that Good Economics is Good Politics” – Indrajit Coomaraswamy

(Full text of the speech by Central Bank Governor Dr Indrajit Coomaraswamy when he addressed employees of the Central Bank on July 4)

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka is one of the great institutions in this country and I am acutely aware that a primary responsibility, arguably the primary responsibility of the Governor is to uphold its reputation and credibility. And I can assure you that I will do my utmost to do so at all times. Of course, I can’t do this on my own. I need the cooperation of each and every one of you to maintain this as one of the great institutions in the country.

My parents went abroad when I was about eleven years old so I had much of my secondary and university education abroad. But as I was doing my degree and thinking of what I should do in the future – of course I had been abroad for many years, but I did come back every year for my summer holidays so I kept in touch with Sri Lanka – and there was no doubt in my mind as to what my career should be and that was to be as a staff member of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

The Central Bank had such an awesome reputation. This was in the 70s. If you think of the iconic figures who have been on the Central Bank staff, they were legendary figures in this country. I don’t want to mention any names because I might miss some out but you just look back through the history of the Central Bank and you see some great names, people who have made massive contributions to this country.

Continue reading ‘“It is our Job to Convince our Politicians that Good Economics is Good Politics” – Indrajit Coomaraswamy’ »

Indrajit Coomaraswamy Promises to “give his absolute best shot” as new Central Bank Governor

By Uditha Jayasinghe

A confident Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy yesterday promised to “give his absolute best shot” to restore the institution’s credibility, increase transparency in the bond market and stabilise macro-economic fundamentals to achieve growth in Sri Lanka.

Giving his evaluation on Sri Lanka’s post-independence economic fortunes, Dr. Coomaraswamy noted that for the first time in 50 odd years Sri Lanka did not have a “drag” in terms of a conflict or regressive policies on its economy.

As Sri Lanka is poised for a fresh leap of development, the new Central Bank Governor insisted it was the responsibility of his institution to provide the foundation for the country to leverage its geographical location and strong relations with other nations to attract investment to foster stronger growth.

“Sri Lanka has the potential to make a great leap forward in terms of its development trajectory. If you look at the last 50 years, you can argue that this is probably the best chance we have had,” he said, adding, “we have excellent relations with all countries now and we have an excellent opportunity to leverage our strategic location to our advantage.”

Continue reading ‘Indrajit Coomaraswamy Promises to “give his absolute best shot” as new Central Bank Governor’ »

President Sirisena Appointing Indrajit Coomaraswamy as Central Bank Governor is a Victory for Prime Minister Wickremesinghe

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy was appointed as the Governor of the Central Bank on Saturday. A number of my friends, who campaigned for the removal of former Governor Arjuna Mahendran, have convinced themselves, and are now trying to convince others, that the new appointment was a victory of President Maithripala Sirisena.

According to their narrative, President Maithripala Sirisena realizing that the Central Bank staff had divided themselves into two camps, one supporting Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe, the most senior CB Deputy Governor and his (the President’s) favourite and P. Samarasiri, a loyalist of Mahendran and that appointing either Weerasinghe or Charitha Ratwatte, nominated by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would lead to a serious political crisis, decided to appoint Coomaraswamy, who is well respected and is close to Wickremesinghe.

However, it is a well-known fact that the President was adamant that Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe should have been appointed as the Governor of the Central Bank. It was Weerasinghe whom he had in mind when he Tweeted that he would appoint a new Governor, last Wednesday (29). The President’s decision was well known to the ministers and that is why State Minister of Finance Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena stated, speaking at the Cabinet press briefing on the same day, said that someone ‘experienced’ will be appointed; Nandalal Weerasinghe is the most senior Deputy Governor. The President declined to appoint the Premier’s nominee for the post of CBSL Governor, Charitha Ratwatte, twice and until Friday afternoon; a number of close associates of the President told me that the President will definitely appoint Weerasinghe.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Appointing Indrajit Coomaraswamy as Central Bank Governor is a Victory for Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’ »

New Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy Lists Integrity, Technical Excellence and Professionalism as Guiding Principles for Central Bank

The Central Bank’s new Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy yesterday pledged to lead by example and listed three guiding principles for his staff while sending a clarion call to politicians that good economics is critical for their and country’s success.

Speaking to Central Bankers after accepting the letter of appointment from President Maithripala Sirisena, Dr. Commaraswamy for whom it was indeed a “home coming” of sorts, gave three thoughts on what Central Bankers in his view should be imbued with “One is clearly integrity; two is technical excellence and three is professionalism.”

He said that he would like those three concepts to be the guiding principles “for all of us, as we go forward.”

“And if any of you think that I am not living up to those principles, please find your way to getting that message to the 15th floor that I personally am not living up to those three principles,” the 14th Governor told Central Bankers.

Continue reading ‘New Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy Lists Integrity, Technical Excellence and Professionalism as Guiding Principles for Central Bank’ »

Indrajit Coomaraswamy has Never shown sympathy to the Tigers, Separatism,Tamil Diaspora Activism or Tamil Nationalist Ideology


By

DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

The issue of the appointment of Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy as the Governor of the Central Bank is a defining one. It is an issue on which one has to stand up and be counted. It is a moral issue; one which concerns the kind of Sri Lanka one wishes to have. It is also a larger issue of values; of what values one holds higher than others. It is an issue of ethics, of how one should or should not conduct oneself; of whether or not fair-play counts. Finally it is an issue of common decency.

If there is any one thing that has been wrong with this country, it is the deviation from the principle of sheer merit, i.e. of sheer expertise and ability. The principle of merit itself is only a reflection of a more important criterion, that of fair play and natural justice. Going by the criterion of merit, Indrajit is ahead of the competition, with Saman Kelegama running a fairly close second.

While the de facto Leader of the Parliamentary Opposition, Dinesh Gunawardena, has demonstrated his typical civility and decency by welcoming and commending Arjuna Mahendran’s replacement by Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, some elements of and around the Opposition have attacked the appointment in tones that cannot but be described as raucous if coded racism. Vidura Wickremanayake and Vasudeva Nanayakkara have taken the same stance as Dinesh. All of them have impeccably anti-UNP, progressive, radical and anti-imperialist records.

It may be true that in a deplorable lapse of judgment, Indrajit was associated with Raj Rajaratnam’s company, and Raj Rajaratnam was indubitably a financier of the LTTE apart from being a crook. He was a worthy successor of Emil Savundra.

I didn’t know of the rumored Galleon connection, and I trust Indrajit will issue a full clarification about that ill-advised relationship and/or be grilled about it in parliament, but being the “honorable schoolboy” (to borrow Le Carre’s phrase) that Indrajit has always been, he was probably suckered because of his naiveté.

Continue reading ‘Indrajit Coomaraswamy has Never shown sympathy to the Tigers, Separatism,Tamil Diaspora Activism or Tamil Nationalist Ideology’ »

Sri Lanka Has so far Fulfilled only 11% Of Pledges Made to the UN in Sep 2015 says Study by “Verite Research”

By

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka has fulfilled only 11 percent of the pledges it had made to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in September 2015, and only 20 percent of the commitments it had made to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) in 2011, according to a study by the Colombo-based think tank Verite Research.

Of the commitments made to the UNHRC, the report says: “Overall, the implementation is slow. Of the 36 commitments made in regard to Resolution 30/1, only four have been fully implemented. Progress in the implementation of a majority of commitments – 22 commitments – has been poor.”

In 61.1 percent of the cases, progress has been “poor”. In 25 percent of the cases there has been “partial progress”; and in 2.8 percent of the cases there has been “no progress”. The government has met its commitments in 11.1 percent of the cases.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Has so far Fulfilled only 11% Of Pledges Made to the UN in Sep 2015 says Study by “Verite Research”’ »

Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Welcomes Apppointment of Indrajit as Central Bank Governor but Gammanpila and Weerawansa Attack Coomaraswamy over Raj Rajaratnam Issue

BY SHAAHIDAH RIZA

Cracks have already begun to appear in the Joint Opposition camp over the appointment of Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy as the new Governor of the Central Bank.

Calling the new Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy a Tamil separatist, United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP, Udaya Gammanpila questioned the wisdom of allowing such a person to handle the country’s economy. Coomaraswamy, who was appointed on Saturday (2) as the Central Bank Governor, has the capacity to hold the post, however he is lacking in integrity and loyalty to the country.

Speaking to Ceylon Today yesterday (3) Gammanpila said, “Coomaraswamy had been a senior advisor to the Galleon Fund, which was managed by Raj Rajaratnam who is serving an 11-and-a-half year prison sentence on charges of insider trading. Raj Rajaratnam was an LTTE financier.”

The common factor between Arjuna Mahendran, who was embroiled in controversy pertaining to treasury bonds and Coomaraswamy is that they are both close friends of Raj Rajaratnam who had LTTE connections, Gammanpila stressed.

Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition Leader Dinesh Welcomes Apppointment of Indrajit as Central Bank Governor but Gammanpila and Weerawansa Attack Coomaraswamy over Raj Rajaratnam Issue’ »

President Sirisena Seems to have acted more Sensibly in the Central Bank Governor Issue than Prime Minister Wickremesinghe


By

RangaJayasuriya

President Maithripala Sirisena finally brought a stalemate between him and the Prime Minister to an end, appointing respected economist Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy as the Governor of the Central Bank. His decision would have averted potential uncertainty in the financial market as it opens today (Monday).

Making the appointment, the President has called the shots, and sent strong signals that he is in control. But his choice of the appointee, Dr. Indrajith Coomarawamay who has a proven track record, earlier as a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank and then at the Commonwealth Secretariat suggests, he did so in a sensible and constructive way, a stark contrast from his predecessor, who preferred to stooges over anyone with professional competence. Also, the

President seemed to have acted in a more sensible way than his own Prime Minister, who insisted on the continuation in the office of Arjuna Mahendran, the outgoing governor who was engulfed in a controversy over previous bond sales and allegations of insider dealings.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Seems to have acted more Sensibly in the Central Bank Governor Issue than Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’ »

How Dr.Indrajit Coomaraswamy Got Appointed as Central Bank Governor by President Maithripala Sirisena

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday appointed Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy a renowned diplomat and economist, as the Governor of the Central Bank — ending weeks of speculation over who will take the post.

The move which climaxed a behind-the-scenes drama this week had pitted the two key players of the Government – the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) — on a virtual collision course.

The first intimation of Dr. Coomaraswamy’s appointment came in the President’s twitter account. It said: “After consulting all parties relevant, I appointed Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy to head the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.”

Ahead of the appointment, Sirisena met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema last morning. He conveyed his decision to appoint Dr. Coomaraswamy. The Premier agreed and Minister Samarawickrema also agreed to release Dr. Coomaraswamy who was serving as Advisor in his Ministry.

Premier Wickremesinghe told the Sunday Times: “Dr Coomaraswamy is a capable person. He comes in at a time when there will be a new Foreign Exchange Act, a Financial and Business Centre (at the Colombo Port City), and measures to strengthen Bank Regulations.” He said the country needed a person who could interact with the international community “when we are opening ourselves to the outside world.”

Continue reading ‘How Dr.Indrajit Coomaraswamy Got Appointed as Central Bank Governor by President Maithripala Sirisena’ »

New Central Bank Governor’s only “Blemish” is his Earlier Association with Raj Rajaratnam’s Galleon Group


By

C. A. Chandraprema

As we go to press, the multiple crises in the country were threatening to spill out onto the streets with the private bus services due to launch a countrywide strike tomorrow (Monday) demanding a hike in bus fares and several health sector unions led by the GMOA going on strike the same day protesting against ETCA and the private medical college in Malabe. This is coming on top of the hartals that we have been seeing in towns all over the country. The government seems incapable of containing the situation or even thinking of solutions for the issues raised. The system is now in danger of experiencing creeping paralysis. The various factions in the government were holding meetings late into the night not to discuss what was happening on the streets but to sort out disputes among themselves.

The drama surrounding the appointment of the Central Bank Governor ended yesterday with the appointment of Indrajith Coomaraswamy to the position by the president obviously as a compromise candidate. Last week we saw the unedifying sight of the President and the Prime Minister sitting together in the premises of the Central Bank in what was clearly a turf war. There was probably no instance at any time in our history when the President and Prime Minister were both present in the premises of the Central Bank unless it was for a really important ceremonial occasion. It was certainly not a sign of unity – it was a clear sign of disunity. Even while sitting together they were obviously unable to agree on a candidate for the post of Governor. Both of them came to the Central Bank, sat together, spoke to the staff and then left leaving the position of Governor still vacant. What kind of message does that send to the public?

Continue reading ‘New Central Bank Governor’s only “Blemish” is his Earlier Association with Raj Rajaratnam’s Galleon Group’ »

Dr.Indrajit Coomaraswamy Appointed as Central Bank Governor by President Maithripala Sirisena Will Assume Duties on July 4th

imagePresident Maithripala Sirisena has appointed Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy as the Governor of Central Bank, President’s Media Division announced

Coomaraswamy, a former central banker and economic affairs director at the Commonwealth Secretariat, was picked after “consulting all parties relevant”, President Maithripala Sirisena said on Twitter.

A tweet by President Maithripala Sirisena also stated as follows – “After consulting all parties relevant, I appointed top economist Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy to head the Central Bank if Sri Lanka”.

Dharmasiri Ekanayake, media spokesperson at the President’s Office, told media on Saturday that the new Governor will assume duties on Monday, July 4.

The new governor will probably be in office for a year, following which the government will “reconsider,” junior Finance Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena has earlier said on June 29.

Continue reading ‘Dr.Indrajit Coomaraswamy Appointed as Central Bank Governor by President Maithripala Sirisena Will Assume Duties on July 4th’ »

“Arjuna Mahendran Cannot be Removed From Central Bank Governor Post as Charges Against Him have never been Proved” States Ranil Wickremesinghe


By Dharisha Bastians

A political tug-o-war over the appointment of the Central Bank Governor continued yesterday, with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe making a public statement that the controversial incumbent Arjuna Mahendran could not be removed from office since the charges against him had never been proved.

“We are not protecting anyone. If the charges are proved I will do the needful,” Wickremesinghe said on State-owned ITN yesterday.

The Premier’s announcement came one day after President Maithripala Sirisena tweeted from his official Twitter account that he would be appointing a new Governor for the Central Bank over the “next few hours,” a sign that the rift between the two leaders on the appointment was widening.

In an interview with the Independent Television Network which was aired yesterday morning, Premier Wickremesinghe directly contradicted President Sirisena with his remarks that he would act only if charges against Mahendran were proved.

Continue reading ‘“Arjuna Mahendran Cannot be Removed From Central Bank Governor Post as Charges Against Him have never been Proved” States Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Deputy Minister Palitha Thewarapperuma Tries to Commit Suicide by Hanging Himself on a Class room Ceiling Fan at Matugama Primary School

by Norman Palihawadane

Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs Deputy Minister Palitha Thewarapperuma was admitted to Meegahatenna Hospital after an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide yesterday.

The Deputy Minister who had been protesting opposite the Matugama Zonal Educational Office as ten students had been denied admission to Grade 1 of the Matugama Meegahatenne Primary School suspended the agitation and went to the school and tried to hang himself from a ceiling fan in a Grade One class.

Continue reading ‘Deputy Minister Palitha Thewarapperuma Tries to Commit Suicide by Hanging Himself on a Class room Ceiling Fan at Matugama Primary School’ »

Landmark Judgement Against Govt in the National Interest by Supreme Court Over Irregularities in Coal Tender Case

By C. A. Chandraprema

In this country, a court case rarely attracts much attention unless it has to do with something like murder or rape – preferably both. In a nation that has been discussing matters of corruption and graft and illegal money making, it is certainly surprising that a court case involving irregularities in the country’s biggest tender could goes virtually unreported in the media.

What is even more surprising that even the landmark determination given by the Supreme Court in this regard hardly got any publicity at all. It’s true that ordinary folk would not be interested even in sleaze if it happens to be technically complicated. But, then how does one explain the wide publicity that the Central Bank bond issue got? That, too, was a technically complicated matter.

The difference of course is that in the case of the bond matter, the loss to the country has already occurred whereas in the case of the coal tender the Supreme Court has stepped in to shoot a tainted tender down.

The Fundamental Rights case Noble Resources International Pte Limited vs Minister of Power and Renewable Energy et al, is a landmark case because the Supreme Court heard it as a matter of national interest even in a situation where the government contended that the Petitioner did not have the locus standi to invoke the jurisdiction of the court.

The SC observed in delivering their judgement last week that the Court had granted leave to proceed in this case even though the Additional Solicitor General, appearing on behalf of the government raised the issue that the Petitioner did not have locus standi to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court because the Petitioner is a Company registered in Singapore which has petitioned the SC without a local representative.

Continue reading ‘Landmark Judgement Against Govt in the National Interest by Supreme Court Over Irregularities in Coal Tender Case’ »

Who Will Succeed Arjuna Mahendran as Central Bank Governor of Sri Lanka?

By

Dharisha Bastians

President Maithripala Sirisena announced from his official Twitter account yesterday that a new Central Bank Governor would be appointed over the next few hours, ending weeks of suspense and political deadlock about the potential reappointment of the controversial incumbent, Arjuna Mahendran.

But the announcement only sparked more drama and hectic guessing games, as social media and political circles buzzed with speculation about the new appointee and anti-corruption activists celebrated the news as a major victory in their battle against Governor Mahendran, whose 18 months in office have been plagued by scandal and mounting allegations of corruption.

The dramatic day ended with no final announcement on the next Governor of the Central Bank, with Mahendran’s tenure formally set to end today and news of a ‘stalemate’ on the appointment emerging again by late evening. Tweeting from a meeting to raise awareness on chronic kidney disease in Badulla last morning, President Sirisena said: “I will appoint a new Governor to the Central Bank in the coming hours.”

A shortlist of contenders for the position of Governor emerged from sources within the ruling administration throughout the day. High level sections of the UNP were also strongly advocating the appointment of Former Treasury Secretary Charitha Ratwatte as Governor even as late as last night, sources said. President Sirisena was strongly favouring either former Deputy Governor W.A. Wijewardane or current senior most Deputy Governor at Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe. Top economists Prof. Lalith Samarakoon and Dr. Saman Kelagama were also names that were being tossed about as potential candidates for CBSL Governor, highly placed sources said.

Continue reading ‘Who Will Succeed Arjuna Mahendran as Central Bank Governor of Sri Lanka?’ »

“Sri Lankan Military Will Release all Lands Seized from Civilians by 2018” – Mangala Samaraweera Tells UN

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, told the 32 nd. session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Wednesday, that the Lankan armed forces will release, by 2018, all lands they had seized from civilians during the 30 year war.

“Last week the military released another 701 acres of land to the District Secretary of Jaffna, out of which, 201.3 acres were handed over to their original owners on 25th June.

The Government has clearly instructed the military that all the land obtained from civilians must be released latest by 2018, and that the owners of whatever land that may be required for national installations or development purposes would be fully compensated,” Samaraweera said.

Continue reading ‘“Sri Lankan Military Will Release all Lands Seized from Civilians by 2018” – Mangala Samaraweera Tells UN’ »

Fishing Dispute Cannot be Resolved while Indian Fishermen Continue Trawling Relentlessly in Sri Lankan Waters

By

M. A. Sumanthiran M.P.

The issue of poaching by Indian trawlers in Sri Lankan waters has over the years become an increasingly contentious one, seriously threatening the livelihood of Sri Lanka’s fishing community. Fishers being among the poorest communities in both Sri Lanka and India, it is an issue of national concern to both countries.

Indian fishermen practise bottom trawling, which entails scraping the seabed. This not only adversely impacts our marine ecosystem but also has a direct implication for the lives of fisherfolk in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. Sri Lankan fishermen are often forced to stay ashore for fear that these trawlers will damage their nets, their primary asset for livelihood. There have even been incidents of fishermen suffering physical injuries while attempting to save their nets from being damaged by Indian trawlers.

At least 200,000 people in the Northern Province are dependent on the fisheries sector. Most of them are still struggling to rebuild their lives after a brutal civil war. Many of them were displaced, lost members of their family, and lost their homes during the bitter conflict. It is only now that they have a chance to get back to the sea. But their small boats cannot take on the massive, mechanised Indian trawlers.

Continue reading ‘Fishing Dispute Cannot be Resolved while Indian Fishermen Continue Trawling Relentlessly in Sri Lankan Waters’ »

Mangala Samaraweera Tells UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that Sri Lanka is Following Policy of “Festina Lente”(Making Haste Slowly)

(Text of Statement by Mr. Mangala Samaraweera,Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka & Leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation during the presentation of the Oral Update on the Implementation of the HRC Resolution A/HRC/RES/30/1 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council on 29 June 2016 at Geneva)

Mr. President
High Commissioner for Human Rights
Excellencies
Distinguished delegates

At the 30th Session of this Council last October, Sri Lanka, by co-sponsoring the Resolution 30/1, ‘Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka’, broke away from the years of disengagement, self-isolation, and confrontation that preceded the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in January 2015.

Sri Lanka, hailed at Independence in 1948 as a potential “Switzerland of the east”, was now ready to come to terms with the many tragedies we have had to face as a nation in the past, and move forward as a brave new country in order to harness the peace and prosperity that our people truly deserve.

President Sirisena, in his Address to the Nation on the 68th Independence Day anniversary on 4th February this year, reiterated his commitment to fulfil the provisions of Resolution 30/1, in working out the contours of a new Sri Lanka.

He said that Sri Lanka is committed to implement the Resolution to protect the dignity of our State, our People and our Security Forces and that we will implement the proposals with patience, discipline and restraint. It will be freedom, democracy and reconciliation that will be reinforced by implementing the provisions of the resolution.

When Sri Lanka’s unity Government marks its first year in office in August this year, there will be many achievements to look back on, with a certain sense of satisfaction.

While consolidating many of the democratic changes achieved within the first 100 days, we have begun taking action on all fronts related to strengthening good governance and the rule of law; promoting and protecting human rights; fostering reconciliation; and achieving economic development; while engaging and working closely with the international community in a constructive manner that benefits the people of our country:

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera Tells UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that Sri Lanka is Following Policy of “Festina Lente”(Making Haste Slowly)’ »

“Organized Groups are Slinging Mud Against me and My Son in Law in Unfair Political Game” – Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran in Interview

By
Asoka Jayasinghe

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran has become a controversial figure in the recent past. Many Opposition parties made several allegations against him and demanded that he should be replaced. The following is a translation of an interview given by Mr. Mahendran to the Sunday Lankadeepa. The English translation is reproduced here from the “Daily Mirror”


Excerpts.

Q:
Who are you, a parachutist to the country?

I am not a parachutist. My father is Charley Mahendran, who served in the Sri Lanka Foreign Service from 1957 to 1998. I was born in1959 when my father was serving at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington and I studied at Royal College in Colombo.

I passed my Advanced Level Examination in 1977. I got a scholarship to Oxford University in England based on my performance. There I read Economics and Philosophy and was awarded a First Class. Many opportunities were available to me for good jobs in foreign countries. But I returned to Sri Lanka with the hope of serving my country. In 1983 I joined the Central Bank of Sri Lanka as an official in a higher grade. In 1984 I married a Sri Lankan woman – the daughter of Mr. Nadesan, who was the Secretary of the then Prime Minister, Sir John Kothalawala. My father-in-law was a senior official at the Sri Lanka Civil Service. I served for 10 years in Central Bank from 1983 to 1993.


Q:
Are you a Sri Lankan citizen at present?

No. But I was a Sri Lankan citizen by birth and continued to be so till 2006. Even today I consider Sri Lanka as my country despite the documentary citizenship. However, I was compelled to leave Sri Lanka for Singapore as we had to face many difficulties as members of a minority community during the Rajapaksa Government. During this period Tamil Parliamentarians, journalists, intellectuals and many others were killed.

Security and a good employment were what I sought in leaving Sri Lanka. In 2005 Jeyaraj Fernandopulle criticised me in Parliament alleging that I was supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) through Malaysia. I don’t know whether it was said to create a background to harm me.

Q:
Is Ranil Wickremesinghe your friend? Is that why you were offered the post of Governor of the Central Bank?

Continue reading ‘“Organized Groups are Slinging Mud Against me and My Son in Law in Unfair Political Game” – Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran in Interview’ »

UN Human Rights Commissioner Re-iterates International Participation is Necessary for Accountability Mechanism to Guarantee Independence and Impartiality

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, prior to his oral report that is to be released today (29), said he ‘remains convinced’ that international participation in the accountability mechanisms would be a necessary guarantee of the independence and impartiality of the process in the eyes of victims, as Sri Lanka’s judicial institutions currently lack the credibility needed to gain their trust.

In his advanced oral report made yesterday, at the 32 session of the UNHRC in Geneva, the UN Rights Commissioner said Sri Lanka must keep in mind that the magnitude and complexity of the international crimes alleged, which the OHCHR investigation discovered, could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity and he remains convinced that international participation in the accountability mechanisms would guarantee an independent and impartial probe process.

He also called for an impartial and independent probe on new evidence that emerged recently on the use of cluster munitions towards the end of the conflict by the government Forces and recalled that the OHCHR investigation report also had mentioned the use of cluster bombs.

He noted that in late May 2016, it was reported that Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had in an address to a large group of senior military officers again ruled out international participation in a domestic Sri Lankan justice mechanism – but he remains convinced that international participation guarantees independence and impartiality.

Continue reading ‘UN Human Rights Commissioner Re-iterates International Participation is Necessary for Accountability Mechanism to Guarantee Independence and Impartiality’ »

When Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala Dismissed Central Bank Governor N. U. Jayawarena for on Corruption Charges

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

When Sir John Kotelawala was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, he arranged a banquet for the British Bank Governor at the Temple Trees for which the Central Bank Governor at that time N.U. Jayawardena was also invited. While the dinner was in progress, Sir John suddenly flew into a rage at N.U. Jayawardena, and said, “I say, I am informed that you are earning a lot from the Central Bank monies”. This made NU’s face to turn red. “You’d better understand I can probe your foreign assets under the Foreign Exchange Act,” NU yelled at Sir John.

It was on that day Sir John decided to appoint a Commission to investigate into NU’s corruption and frauds. After the Commission was appointed, and NU was found guilty, J. R. Jayewardene went to meet Sir John and had discussions on behalf of NU. JR advised Sir John, as NU’s caste representation was most essential to the government and the party, to re consider the decision. JR and NU were intimate friends. Sir John chased JR away. It was based on the Commission’s decision NU was dismissed.

Continue reading ‘When Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala Dismissed Central Bank Governor N. U. Jayawarena for on Corruption Charges’ »

Tamil National Alliance Becoming Increasingly Critical of Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt

By

T.Ramakrishnan

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), till recently seen as friendly towards Colombo, is now turning increasingly critical of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government.

After R. Sampanthan and Mavai S. Senathirajah, another prominent TNA leader, M.A. Sumanthiran, has raised criticism against the government.

Mr. Sumanthiran, who was in the U.S. early this week, told the Congressional caucus on ethnic and religious freedom in Sri Lanka that the initial euphoria among Tamils was “now turning into disappointment”.

He slammed the government for being slow in the release of private land by the security forces, demilitarisation and repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance Becoming Increasingly Critical of Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt’ »

Sri Lanka Seeks Closer Economic Ties with India,China and Other Asian Countries After UK Exit from EU

By PK Balachandran

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU),much to the disappointment of Sri Lanka, has forced the Lankan government to seek closer economic ties with India, China and the rest of Asia.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced in Galle on Sunday, that the Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama, would be going to New Delhi next week for talks on the proposed Indo-Lanka Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA).

The Prime Minister said that with the British leaving the EU, the EU might be considerably weakened.

This in turn would adversely affect Lanka because the EU presently accounts for 40 per cent of Lanka’s exports. It is therefore imperative that Lanka enters into Free Trade Agreements or strengthens existing FTAs and other economic pacts with Asian countries like India and China, he said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Seeks Closer Economic Ties with India,China and Other Asian Countries After UK Exit from EU’ »

Malik Samarawickrama Will Fly to New Delhi to Speed up Negotiations on Signing ETCA Agreement with India

by

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka is to send this week its Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama, to New Delhi to speed up negotiations on the proposed Indo-Lanka Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA).

This announcement was made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickemesinghe as part of his package of measures to meet the crisis created by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU). The package includes Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China and other Asian countries and also a stand alone agreement with UK.

Lanka has been having an FTA with India since 2000 but has had difficulty in entering into one with China and Pakistan despite years of effort.

Continue reading ‘Malik Samarawickrama Will Fly to New Delhi to Speed up Negotiations on Signing ETCA Agreement with India’ »

COPE Chairman Sunil Handunnetti Threatens to quit if COPE Investigation on Central Bank Governor is Manipulated to Whitewash Arjuna Mahendran

by Saman Indrajith

Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises Sunil Handunnetti (JVP) threatens to resign from the post if he feels the members of the committee are being influenced by outside forces trying to clear Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran of wrongdoing in the alleged bond scams.

Handunnetti told The Island on Friday that he would resign as COPE chairman if there were attempts by the committee members to delay the report containing the findings of the committee’s investigation into Mahendran’s alleged involvement in the bond scams which resulted in a colossal loss to the national economy.

“The process of compiling the report has reached its final stage. Most probably there would be a vote as regards the issue. If I feel there is political manipulation, I will resign from the post of COPE chairman.”

He said the JVP would never whitewash Mahendran or let the COPE be manipulated.

Continue reading ‘COPE Chairman Sunil Handunnetti Threatens to quit if COPE Investigation on Central Bank Governor is Manipulated to Whitewash Arjuna Mahendran’ »

Govt Rattled as “Conscience Shocked”Supreme Court Strikes Down 60 Billion Rupee Coal Tender in Landmark Judgement

By

C.A.Chandraprema

In a landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court last Friday, the country’s highest court shot down a disputed coal tender with it being said in open court that the ‘conscience of the court was shocked’ by the conduct displayed by certain individuals involved in the process. The Norochcholai power plant requires 2.25 million tonnes of coal per annum and the practice is to award tenders for a three year’s supply – the biggest tender in the country worth over Rs. 60 billion. A dispute arose about a tender floated June 2014 to procure 6.75 million tonnes of coal with one of the bidders saying that the criteria had been changed after the bids had been opened. They went to the procurements Appeal Board which held that the criteria had indeed been changed after the bids had been opened and they recommended that the tender be cancelled and fresh bids called. (A detailed description of this dispute and accusations and counter accusations made appeared in The Sunday Island of Nov 7, 2015 and in the daily Island of 10 May 2016.)

However, instead of calling for fresh bids, a cabinet paper was presented in September 2015 by the Minister of Power and Renewable Energy recommending that cabinet award the contract to a certain party overriding the ruling of the Procurements Appeal Board. One of the bidders Messrs Nobel Resources of Singapore petitioned the Supreme Court saying that its rights had been infringed. The government of Sri Lanka argued that the petitioner had no standing (locus standi) to petition the Supreme Court because it was a Singapore based company which was not incorporated in Sri Lanka. The three member bench comprising Chief Justice K Sripavan, and Justices Priyasath Dep and Upali Abeyratne wanted the petitioner and the respondents to make written submissions as to whether the court can ignore wrongdoing by a public authority due to objections raised on the basis of the locus standi of the petitioner and if there is a misuse of public funds, whether the law requires the court to protect the public interest or to ignore all that on an argument of locus standi? It was after considering these two questions that the Supreme Court gave their landmark judgment last Friday.

Continue reading ‘Govt Rattled as “Conscience Shocked”Supreme Court Strikes Down 60 Billion Rupee Coal Tender in Landmark Judgement’ »

Mangala Samaraweera’s Optimistic Upbeat Speeches and Prevailing Reality in Sri Lanka

By

Taylor Dibbert

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera recently spoke at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs in Oslo. Mr. Samaraweera has again presented a very optimistic assessment of the current state of affairs in the war-torn island nation.

The foreign minister is right to note that recent political developments have presented the country with an unforeseen opportunity. And he, importantly, highlights the passage of the 19th amendment to the constitution, which trimmed presidential powers and reintroduced term limits for the presidency.

Here’s more from Mr. Samaraweera:

“In fact again as some of you may know, we have achieved a considerable amount, many victories, in a short period of time in the area of democratization. Within the first one 100 days itself, President [Maithripala] Sirisena pruned down many of his executive powers as much as he could without going through a referendum as the Supreme Court requested. He reintroduced term limits for the Presidency. He again took away all institutions like the Judiciary and the Public Service Commissions, the Corruption Commissions all out of the grip of Presidential rule and independent commissions are now functioning again and also committed himself for a new Constitution, not merely Constitutional Amendments, a new Constitution”.

With the 32nd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) currently underway, let’s consider Colombo’s transitional justice agenda in more detail.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera’s Optimistic Upbeat Speeches and Prevailing Reality in Sri Lanka’ »

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran is Optimistic that the On – Going COPE Investigation Would Clear his name

by Saman Indrajith

Expressing optimism that the ongoing COPE investigation will help clear his name, Central Bank Governor, Arjuna Mahendran said that he returned from overseas to serve his motherland, and the President would decide whether he should continue in his job or not.

He confirmed that he has decided not to seek an extension of his term until COPE clears his name. “The COPE is the best forum I could prove my innocence. I am waiting for the COPE report. It is very important for my reputation”

In an interview with The Sunday Island, the Oxford trained economist and banker laughed when asked about allegations of his extravagant lifestyle and that he stayed in a suite at the JAIC Hilton.

Continue reading ‘Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran is Optimistic that the On – Going COPE Investigation Would Clear his name’ »

P.Samarasiri Likely to Become Central Bank Governor as Incumbent Arjuna Mahendran Decides not to Seek Re-appointment

By Chandani Jayatilleke

A senior Deputy Governor currently serving in the Central Bank is likely to be appointed to head the bank, as incumbent Governor Arjuna Mahendran has decided not to seek a re-appointment until the conclusion of investigations.

Deputy Governor P. Samarasiri is currently the front-runner for the post, top Central Bank sources told the Sunday Observer, on Saturday. The appointment is to be announced by President Maithripala Sirisena, next week.

Mahendran, last Friday, informed the Monetary Board at its meeting that he would not be seeking reappointment as Governor of the Central Bank when his term finishes on June 30, 2016 until the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) makes its findings known on issues related to the issuance of Treasury Bonds in the years 2015 and 2016.

Continue reading ‘P.Samarasiri Likely to Become Central Bank Governor as Incumbent Arjuna Mahendran Decides not to Seek Re-appointment’ »

“Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal”-Magnificient Singing by T.R.Mahalingam ♫♥

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -3

“Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal”is perhaps the most popular song sung on screen by the magnificient singer and actor of Tamil cinema – Thenkarai Ramakrishnan Mahalingam generally known as T.R.Mahalingam. He sings this number in the film “Maalayitta Mangai”produced in 1958 by poet and film lyricist “Kavignar” Kannadasan who also penned the words of this immortal song. The melody was composed by the “monarchs of light music” Viswanathan – Ramamoorthy. The song is picturised in the film on TR Mahalingam, actress Mainavathi and a troupe of dancing girls. Mainavathi is the sister in real life of actress Pandari Bai who also acts in the film.

TR Mahalingam (1923–1978)

TR Mahalingam (1923–1978)

The song “Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal, Nilaavena Sirikkum Malark Kodiaal” has been one of my favourite film songs since childhood. I first heard it on radio and later saw it being sung on the screen when “Maalayitta Mangai” was screened at the Vel theatre in Chavakachcheri. The Vel theatre was an asbestos, aluminium and tin structure with a single projector. So there were two intervals. The theatre screened old Tamil films every two or three days. I would frequent this theatre regularly when I was home for the school holidays. It was at “Vel” seated on the gallery last bench, munching peanuts that I first saw and heard TR Mahalingam sing “Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal” on screen. In later years I got a DVD of the film and CD of the songs that I watch and listen to very often.
Continue reading ‘“Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal”-Magnificient Singing by T.R.Mahalingam ♫♥’ »

Sri Lanka’s “Textile Revolution” Ushered in by Ukku Banda Wijekoon

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Kollanta Pavement, Kellanta Garment” was a humorous saying frequently repeated during the days of former President Ranasinghe Premadasa. It was an allusion made in lighter vein about the proliferation of garment factories employing girls in most parts of the country during President Premadasas’s rule. The inference was that while young women were being gainfully employed at the garment factories, the young men left unemployed were loitering on the pavements.

Ukku Banda Wijekoon

Ukku Banda Wijekoon

Though aimed as a critical barb at the Premadasa regime the reference to “Kellanta Garment” was in actuality a huge compliment to the Govt headed by Ranasinghe Premadasa. The prevailing reality in those days was that of thousands of young women literally walking to work at garment factories opened in their neighbourhoods. The credit for implementing Premadasa’s policy directive went to his textile industries minister at the time U. B. Wijekoon who set an overall target of opening 200 garment factories and succeeded in setting up 155 establishments during his ministerial term.

The modest and unassuming UB Wijekoon who brightened the lives of thousands of girls seeking employment in the by gone years passed away last week at the Kandy hospital after a brief illness. 79 years old UB Wijekoon’s remains have been handed over – at his request – to the Peradeniya university medical faculty by his family(Sri Lanka’s ace badminton player Niroshan Wijekoon is his son).
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s “Textile Revolution” Ushered in by Ukku Banda Wijekoon’ »

Sri Lanka Needs India Policy with Multi – track Strategy Instead of Relying on Economic Diplomacy alone

By

Sudharshan Seneviratne

(Complete text of speech titled “IMAGING INDIA AND STRATEGIZING INDO-SRI LANKA SYMBIOSIS” delivered at the India-Sri Lanka Relations in the 21st Century seminar. BCIS. Colombo, 16th June 2016 .Sudharshan Seneviratne is a – Former Professor of Archaeology (Peradeniya), Former Director General Central Cultural Fund and Former High Commissioner to India )

Having returned from India after a premature recall as High Commissioner, I am pleased to make my first public talk at the BCIS. Yet, it is also associated with a sad memory. We had a final meeting at this very hall at a ceremony to launch the journal on International Affairs edited by Tissa Jayatilleke for BCIS published by Sage India. After most guests departed, Lakshman Kadirgamar along with Tissa, myself and Her Excellency Nirupama Rao had a pleasant chat. At that time he revealed plans for the Rajive Gandhi Centre at the BCIS with JNU links. That night Kadirgamar was assassinated. I avoided any official functions here and this is my first visit to the BCIS since then.

Kadirgamar viewed the Indian dimension as a political and cultural imperative and reality. He also had a very personal affection for India and trusted her goodwill. The cultural imperative had a wider scope and a mutually dependent dynamic. To him it was a natural continuum of our legendary and historical relationship with India. This relationship was galvanized through several binding factors. Under his able guidance BCIS became a hub for an India orientation.

In the last three years of his life, a galaxy of Indian academics, military personnel and other specialists in the field of economics and international relations converged at high profile seminars and conferences chartering joint policies on security, conflict resolution, economics and culture. He fine tuned that relationship. It is up to you to decide how much of that dream and vision is alive today or have we lost our way in the Indian Ocean! We need statesmen with wisdom and not mere politicians. Such statesmen are those who passionately love his or her country and who do not compromise national interest. That was Kadirgamae’s valued vision and personality.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Needs India Policy with Multi – track Strategy Instead of Relying on Economic Diplomacy alone’ »

Fisticuffs in Parliament: “Action Hero” Ranjan Ramanayake Thrashed by Mahindananda Aluthgamage in Brawl Between the UNP and SLFP MP’s.


In what seemed like a scene from a Sinhala film two “honourable” members of Parliament entered into fisticuffs within the “hallowed”precincts of the house by Diyawanna Oya on Tuesday June 21st.

Joint Opposition Kandy District MP Mahindananda Alutgamage and UNP Gampaha District parliamentarian and deputy minister Ranjan Ramanayake not only exchanged blows in Parliament but also slandered each other in raw filth, reliable parliament sources said. Both hurled choice epithets at each other insulting both their mothers in the process.

Though Ranjan Ramanayake known as “One –Shot” is a leading actor in Sinhala films and has a larger than life an action hero image, it appears that the portly Mahindananda Aluthgamage had fared better in real life fisticuffs.

Aluthgamage boasted to media personnel that he had hammered Ramanayake while Ramanayake refuted it claiming that he had come out on top in the Aluthgamage vs. Ramanayake. However Ramanayake’s bruised face suggested that Aluthgamage’s blows had inflicted much damage.

Continue reading ‘Fisticuffs in Parliament: “Action Hero” Ranjan Ramanayake Thrashed by Mahindananda Aluthgamage in Brawl Between the UNP and SLFP MP’s.’ »

Anatomy of Anti-Muslim Violence: How “Bodhu Bala Sena” Mobs Caused Mayhem in Aluthgama and Beruwela TWO Years ago.

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Two years have passed since violence was unleahed by Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS)instigated goons against the Muslims of Aluthgama and Beruwela on Sunday June 15th 2014. This article was written by me shortly after the incidents in the ensuing week in 2014.It is being re-posted without any changes to denote the second anniversary of the Anti-Muslim violence in Aluthgama and Beruwela……………DBS Jeyaraj)

A curfew was clamped down in the Aluthgama and Beruwela Police divisions of Kalutara district in the Western Province of Sri Lanka following an outbreak of communal violence on Sunday June 15th 2014 that was triggered off by the “Ethno Religious Fascist” Organization the Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS).

BBCA061714A

“If they come in thousands….we have no way..we have no way to answer..so only thing, we have to die..that’s all..” fearful resident tells the BBC

Preliminary reports indicate that the violence was sparked off by a protest rally conducted by the Bodhu Bala Sena – meaning “Buddhist Power Force” – in Aluthgama where provocative anti-Muslim speeches were made by prominent BBS leaders condemning an incident on Poson day (June 12th) in Aluthgama where a verbal altercation occurred between some Muslim youths on the one hand and a Buddhist monk and his vehicle driver on the other.

Bodhu Bala Sena General Secretary Ven.Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero delivered a provocative speech full of racist venom in which he asserted that the Police and military were Sinhala and that no Muslim or Tamil or anyone else could harm a Sinhalese and get away with it. “This country still has a Sinhalese Police, this country still has a Sinhalese Army. It will be the end of all if someone at least lays a finger on a Sinhalese,” Gnanasara Thero said.He also said he was prepared to be called racist for speaking out on behalf of Sinhalese.Gnanasara Thero called upon all Sinhalese to unite regardless of political differences.He also wanted the Muslim dominated area called Dharga Nagar or Dharga town renamed.

Gnanasara Thero made several references to incidents in Aluthgama involving Muslims and criticised the Govt for the elaborate security arrangements in Aluthgama. Gnanasara Thero also was critical of President Rajapaksa saying “Mahinda Mahathaya” should be aware of how the minorities are empowering themselves at the expense of the majority community.The singer Madhumadhava Aravindha also appeared on the BBS platform and sang emotional songs in Sinhala that were highly inflammatory.At least 900 Policemen were on duty in the vicinity when the BBS rally was in progress.

Continue reading ‘Anatomy of Anti-Muslim Violence: How “Bodhu Bala Sena” Mobs Caused Mayhem in Aluthgama and Beruwela TWO Years ago.’ »

“Dingiri Dingaaley Meenatchi, Dingiri Dingaaley”- Rocking “Baila”-Type Song ♫♥

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -2

“ Dingiri Dingaale Meenatchi Dingiri Dingaale, Ulagam Poara Poakkaip Paaru Thangamay Chiillaaley” was a song that rocked Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon in 1958-59 and the years after. The rhapsodic song from a Tamil film “Anbu Engey?”was widely popular during my childhood days. It was released in Sri Lanka in 1959.No sing song or dance at a party was complete without it. Even at children’s parties this song would be sung or played with every one dancing. Singing Dingiri Dingaaley and dancing to the song was a regular feature of life in those years

"Music has its own language! Linguistic conflicts cannot undermine the universality of music."

“Music has its own language! Linguistic conflicts cannot undermine the universality of music.”

Years later after I entered journalism I found myself being asked to sing “Dingiri Dingaaley” frequently by my Sinhala colleagues in the media. Ethnic relations had not deteriorated badly in the years before “Black July 1983”. Fellow scribes of all communities had cordial relations with each other. When “spirits” were high the journalistic fraternity would engage in a sing- song whenever possible. At such raucous gatherings where many, many songs were sung there would always be a request from Sinhala friends for two Tamil songs. One was “ Adi Ennadi Raakkammaa” from the film “Pattikkaada Pattanamaa?”. The other was of course “Dingiri Dingaaley”. Both were sung in films by the popular play back singer T. M. Soundararajan known generally as TMS.
Continue reading ‘“Dingiri Dingaaley Meenatchi, Dingiri Dingaaley”- Rocking “Baila”-Type Song ♫♥’ »

Southern Skylark Susheela Soars To ‘Record’ Heights In Singing Film Songs ♫♥

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

“Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass… how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘Ode to a Skylark’

An indispensable feature of Indian language films are the song sequences. The songs are usually picturised on actors or actresses who lip-synch them on screen. The voices we hear belong to off-screen singers known generally as playback singers.

P. Susheela with official certificate from the well-known Guinness Book of World Records-PTI poc-Courtesy: The Hindu

P. Susheela with official certificate from the well-known Guinness Book of World Records-PTI poc-Courtesy: The Hindu

The songs sung by these playback singers are pre-recorded for movies. Fortunately for these playback singers they are given credit in the film titles as well as the soundtrack albums. Film songs therefore are identified by the singer who actually sings them and not the actor who lip synchs on screen. Indian movie playback singers have gained much popularity and many, many fans over the years by their singing.
Continue reading ‘Southern Skylark Susheela Soars To ‘Record’ Heights In Singing Film Songs ♫♥’ »

Terrible Massacre of a Four Member Family in Vankaalai Ten Years Ago


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(A family of four in the North – western town of Vankalai in Mannar district was brutally massacred on June 8th 2006. The persons responsible for the cruel act are yet to be brought to justice. I wrote a detailed article about the incident under the heading”Vicious Violence Wipes Out family of four in Vankalai” for “The Morning Leader”of June 13th 2006. I am reproducing the article without changes on my blog to denote the 10th anniversary of the horrible incident- DBSJ)

Vicious Violence wipes out family of four in Vankalai

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

13 June 2006

The on going ethnic fratricide in Sri Lanka has seen brutal violence on several occasions. The savagery shown in the slaying of a family of four in the North – Western village of Vankalai last Thursday (June 8th 2006) was perhaps bestiality at its worst. Even the most hardened eyes would have turned moist at the terrible sight of the four victims killed so cruelly by persons who can only be described as barbarians.

Gruesomely graphic photographs of the four victims have been displayed in various sections of the Tamil media. The father, daughter and son were hanging dead in one room while the mother was dead on the floor in another room. The intestines of the seven year old boy are seen protruding. The vaginal area of the twenty – seven year old mother and nine year old daughter were extremely bloody. It appears that the killers have sadistically tortured their victims including the thirty – eight year old father.

The scene of this terrible massacre was in a village called Vankalai in the North – Western district of Mannar. Vankalai is situated north by north – west on the mainland . It is four and a half miles away from Thallaadi military base.. It is about six miles to the South – East of Mannar town.

In recent times the people of Vankalai had been retiring to the St. Annes and other churches during nightfall. Staying at home during night was not safe due to the security situation. The victimised family too used to do that. The family had been absent from Church on Thursday night. When relatives and neighbours checked on the following morning they found the entire family dead. The victims had been hacked, beaten, tortured and hung. The mother and daughter seemed to have been violated sexually.

The brutal massacre has resulted in much tension. Though there are no eyewitnesses to the actual killing or torture the people of Vankalai suspect members of the security forces as being responsible. The state and its media have denied security force responsibilty . There has been a counter charge that the tigers were responsible. Few people in Mannar believe that. The Catholic Bishop of Mannar Joseph Rayappu has stated that those responsible for security were behind the massacre.

Continue reading ‘Terrible Massacre of a Four Member Family in Vankaalai Ten Years Ago’ »

“Armed Forces Will Enthusiastically Support President Sirisena if he Gives Gotabhaya a Responsible Position”-Rajiva Wijesinha

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Former National List MP and Prominent Academic – Author Rajiva Wijesinha has a reputation for speaking out forthrightly on issues affecting the nation at large. In this exclusive interview with the “Daily Mirror” Prof.Wijesinha responds to questions on a number of matters including the track record in governance of the present Govt, ethnic reconciliation, internal politics of the SLFP, Maithri- Mahinda relations, Leader of the opposition,resentment in the armed forces and the future role of ex – defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa).

Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

Excerpts From the Interview –

Q:
You were one of the few MP’s who crossed over with Mr. Maithripala Sirisena in November 2014. You supported him at the January 2015 Presidential poll. He was elected president and you were made a state minister. Subsequently you resigned from that Govt but remained supportive of President Sirisena. However after the August 2015 Parliament elections you were not appointed a national list MP. Why do you think that happened and where does it leave you now?

Rajiva Wijesinha

Rajiva Wijesinha

A;
I suspect I fell victim to the internal warfare between supporters of President Sirisena and President Rajapaksa. I took seriously the President’s decision to give his predecessor nomination, since that was the best way of promoting a SLFP / UPFA victory, and ensuring indeed that the party was not decimated.

But those around the President panicked him with stories of what a Rajapaksa led SLFP victory would mean for him, while in turn this was fueled by the latter’s supporters claiming that they would be revenged on the President if they won. Neither side took note of the reality that the party was not likely to win an absolute majority, and that even if it did, there were enough solid supporters of the President to ensure that the Prime Minister would be someone he chose (though it would of course have had to be with his predecessor’s support).
Continue reading ‘“Armed Forces Will Enthusiastically Support President Sirisena if he Gives Gotabhaya a Responsible Position”-Rajiva Wijesinha’ »

“Neela Vannak Kannaa Vaadaa” – Uplifting Lullaby Sung By Balasaraswathi Devi ♥ ♫

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -1

This article is the first in an on going series about film songs I have come to love over the years.Watching Tamil movies on screen and listening to Tamil film songs over radio was an integral part of life for me as a child growing up in Colombo. The Tamil ‘Varthaga Oliparappu’ or Commercial service of ‘Radio Ceylon’ was a treasure trove of film songs.

NV

Apart from broadcasting the latest Tamil film songs even before the films concerned were screened in India, the commercial service also aired specific programs about films being currently shown in theatres in the island. Popular radio announcer Mailvaganam conducted these programs where film songs were featured regularly. Thus one was able to keep abreast of contemporary Tamil film music courtesy ‘Radio Ceylon’ in those wonderful days of yore.
Continue reading ‘“Neela Vannak Kannaa Vaadaa” – Uplifting Lullaby Sung By Balasaraswathi Devi ♥ ♫’ »

An ‘affair’ of the mind between a nubile undergrad and her ageing professor

By D.B. S. Jeyaraj

Asoka Handagama’s latest film ‘Let Her Cry’ is currently being shown in theatres on a limited run from 13 May to 10 June. The director apparently preferred to utilise the gap in between already-scheduled releases and screen his film rather than wait for 16 more months in the queue to get a release. The 104-minute-long film’s title in Sinhala is ‘Ege Esa Aga,’ which means ‘The corner of her eye,’ but the filmmaker seems to have opted for ‘Let Her Cry’ as the official title in English.

Rithika Kodithuwakku  & Dhritiman Chatterjee ~ 'Let Her Cry'

Rithika Kodithuwakku & Dhritiman Chatterjee ~ ‘Let Her Cry’

Asoka Handagama has a track record and reputation for causing controversy through his cinematic creations. The ace filmmaker has the temerity and ability to wade into unchartered territory where few have dared to venture before and explore explosive issues in an unconventional manner. Each one of his earlier feature films – seven in all – are unparalleled cinematic achievements resulting in passionate debate and heated discussion. ‘Ege Esa Aga’ seems to be no exception.
Continue reading ‘An ‘affair’ of the mind between a nubile undergrad and her ageing professor’ »

AIADMK Leader “Amma” Jayalalithaa Has Tamil Nadu At Her Feet Again

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Jayalithaa “Amma” has done it again! The supreme leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIADMK)has triumphed at polls held for the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Elections were conducted on May 16th 2016 for 232 out of 234 Constituencies in the state legislature known as the Legislative Assembly. The elections commission rescinded polls for two electorates due to irrefutable evidence of pre-poll malpractices.

Newly elected Chief Minster J.Jayalalithaa at at the State Legislature ~ May 25, 2016

Newly elected Chief Minster J.Jayalalithaa at at the State Legislature ~ May 25, 2016

Unlike Sri Lanka ,there is no proportional representation scheme in India. The Tamil Nadu poll was held under the first past the post winner system where the winner takes all regardless of the percentage of votes polled.The AIADMK with a few miniscule allies contested in all 232 electorates as a single entity under the party symbol of twin leaves and obtained 134 seats.

[After presenting a bouquet to greet his leader, J. Jayalalithaa, on her victory O. Paneerselvam, seeks her blessings at her Poes Garden residence, Feb 2002]

[After presenting a bouquet to greet his leader, J. Jayalalithaa, on her victory O. Paneerselvam, seeks her blessings at her Poes Garden residence, Feb 2002]

The AIADMK got 131 while its allies also contesting under the two leaf symbol got 03. The chief opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) got 89 while its allies won 09. Of the DMK ally tally , the Indian National Congress got 08 and the Indiam Union Muslim League 01.
Continue reading ‘AIADMK Leader “Amma” Jayalalithaa Has Tamil Nadu At Her Feet Again’ »

When “The Da Vinci Code” Film was Banned in Sri Lanka by the Rajapaksa Regime 10 Years Ago

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

( Dan Brown’s best selling novel “The Da Vinci Code”published in 2003 created much controversy. Ron Howard’s block buster film based on the novel with the same name was also equally controversial. “The Da Vinci Code” starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou was banned in Sri Lanka in May 2006 by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the Catholic Bishops Conference appealed to him. I was then critical of the action and stated so in an article written for “The Sunday Leader” under the heading “A Christian perspective on the da Vinci Code movie ban” in which I also questioned the conduct of the Catholic church leaders on the question. I am now re-producing the article written 10 years ago without any changes to denote the tenth anniversary of the ban on “The Da Vinci Code”film – DBSJ)

DVC P

President Mahinda Rajapakse has ordered the Public Performances Board to ban the screening of the movie ‘The Da Vinci Code’ in local cinemas and on local television channels. Apparently the Catholic Bishops Conference made the appeal through an epistle .”The decision to ban the film was taken on an appeal by the Catholic Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka” , President Rajapaksa reportedly told the Daily News.
The film directed by Ron Howard starring Tom Hanks is based on the novel written by Dan Brown. The book has remained on the best seller’s list for three years at a stretch since it was first published in 2003. It has been translated into 44 languages and has sold 52 million copies so far. 40 million copies were sold in North America and at least 100 million Americans are estimated to have read the book. The film released two weeks ago grossed the highest box office sales for North America the first week and shows signs of being a Hollywood block buster.

The ” Da Vinci Code” (DVC) has raked up a controversy. There is no doubt that the Controversy has contributed tremendously to its sales. Now the film too seems destined to be a hit due to the same. Banning the movie in some Countries will no doubt lead to a boom in pirated VHS or DVD’s. This is what will most probably happen in Sri Lanka. Even as I write this article there comes news that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi has ordered the movie banned in that state too.

The Catholic Bishops of Sri Lanka as well as leaders of the Christian Clergy in Tamil Nadu have sought and obtained a ban on the movie. They seem grateful to the rulers for adhering to their wishes. I have seen the movie twice so far and intend seeing it again. The first time was for entertainment. The second ( possibly third ) viewing is due to a spirit of inquiry. While understanding the reasons which prompted these Christian Clergymen to request a ban I want to state after seeing the film that I am not in agreement with them on this.

The request for and decision taken to ban the film can be critiqued for at least four reasons.. Firstly it can be condemned on the basis that it infringes upon the right to free _expression and artistic freedom. Secondly it can be criticised for its abuse and misuse of power. A decision to ban a film can only be taken by the Public Performances Board. In this case the President has imposed his decision arbitrarily. Thirdly it can be seen as an unwarranted overreaction. A sledgehammer has been used to swat a fly. Fourthly it can critiqued as an affront to the Christian faith. The Catholic Bishops are supposedly acting in the interest of Christianity but the end result of this initiative would actually be insulting to Christians.

It is the fourth aspect that I wish to amplify further in this article.Let me state at the outset that I write this piece in my personal capacity as a Christian and not in my professional capacity as a Journalist.This piece is written primarily from a Christian perspective as I believe fervently that Bishops, Moderators, Presidents and Chairpersons of the Christian Religion cannot decide unilaterally on what films should be viewed or not viewed by the faithful flock.

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Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) “the Greatest Heavy Weight Boxer of All time”, Passes Away at Hospital in Phoenix


By
Jon Schuppe

MA

Muhammad Ali, the silver-tongued boxer and civil rights champion who famously proclaimed himself “The Greatest” and then spent a lifetime living up to the billing, is dead.

Ali died Friday at a Phoenix-area hospital, where he had spent the past few days being treated for respiratory complications, a family spokesman confirmed to NBC News. He was 74.

“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening,” Bob Gunnell, a family spokesman, told NBC News.

Retired boxing champion Muhammad Ali waves after he received the Liberty Medal for his humanitarian work, during a ceremony at the National Constitution Center, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Retired boxing champion Muhammad Ali waves after he received the Liberty Medal for his humanitarian work, during a ceremony at the National Constitution Center, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Ali had suffered for three decades from Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive neurological condition that slowly robbed him of both his legendary verbal grace and his physical dexterity. A funeral service is planned in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Even as his health declined, Ali did not shy from politics or controversy, releasing a statement in December criticizing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” he said.

FILE - Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali exclaims "Why me?" when informed his draft board in Louisville, Ky., had reclassified him 1-A in the draft, Feb. 17, 1966. Ali surrounded himself with youngsters from his neighborhood as he told of his feelings in-pic courtesy of: AP

FILE – Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali exclaims “Why me?” when informed his draft board in Louisville, Ky., had reclassified him 1-A in the draft, Feb. 17, 1966. Ali surrounded himself with youngsters from his neighborhood as he told of his feelings in-pic courtesy of: AP

The remark bookended the life of a man who burst into the national consciousness in the early 1960s, when as a young heavyweight champion he converted to Islam and refused to serve in the Vietnam War, and became an emblem of strength, eloquence, conscience and courage. Ali was an anti-establishment showman who transcended borders and barriers, race and religion. His fights against other men became spectacles, but he embodied much greater battles.

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Gunning Down in Broad Daylight of “Virakesari” Journalist Aiyathurai Nadesan in Batticaloa Twelve Years Ago

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj


(Aiyathurai Nadesan serving as Batticaloa correspondent of the Tamil daily ”Virakesari” was shot dead in broad daylight in the heart of Batticaloa town by assassins belonging to the Eastern breakaway faction of the LTTE on May 31st 2004. His killer was believed to be none other than Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan who was later to become the first chief minister of the Eastern Provincial council. I am reproducing without any changes the article I wrote then for “The Sunday Leader”, to commemorate Aiyathurai Nadesan’s 12th death anniversary)

The death of any member of the journalistic fraternity is distressing. More so when a scribe is gunned down in broad daylight by ‘unknown’ assassins for the ‘crime’ of writing something that displeases people with pretensions of power.

The sadness is even more acute when the journalist was some-one known to you for more than 25 years and was immensely helpful as a source of accurate news and stimulating views.

Aiyathurai Nadesan was shot dead on May 31 at about 9:35 a.m. in Batticaloa. He was riding his motor cycle to work when the assailants shot him dead at point blank range on Boundary Road. Leaving his home on Lake Road, Batticaloa at 9:20 a.m. Nadesan had followed his usual practice of picking up his Virakesari copy from the boutique next to the Virakesari office on Central Road.

Continue reading ‘Gunning Down in Broad Daylight of “Virakesari” Journalist Aiyathurai Nadesan in Batticaloa Twelve Years Ago’ »

“One-eyed Sivarasan” The Mastermind Behind Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Rajiv Gandhi (August 20, 1944-May 21, 1991)

Rajiv Gandhi (August 20, 1944-May 21, 1991)

Rajiv Ratna Gandhi – India’s Prime minister from 31st October 1984 to December 2nd 1989 – was assassinated at Sriperumbudur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu exactly twenty – five years ago on May 21st 1991. Rajiv Gandhi as he was generally known was in Sriperumbudur to address a propaganda meeting in support of Congress party candidate Ms. Maragatham Chandrasekhar. The 47 year old Indian ex – premier was then immersed in a hectic political campaign to win the Indian Parliamentary elections.

Chandrasekharam pillai Packiachandran alias Sivarasan

Chandrasekharam pillai Packiachandran alias Sivarasan

It was then that a Sri lankan Tamil girl known by the name of “Dhanu” got close to Rajiv Gandhi and gave him a sandalwood garland. The be – spectacled girl in an orange and green churidar then bent down respectfully to touch Rajiv’s feet. She set off a concealed explosive device that was strapped to her body. Rajiv Gandhi, the assailant Dhanu and at least 18 others were killed in the blast instantly. 42 were seriously injured.

A few of the injured also succumbed to their wounds in hospital later on.The “human bomb” assassination that was soon to become a hallmark of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organization rocked India and shocked the world.
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Remembering Rajiv Gandhi on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of his Death

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Twenty – Five years ago on this day (May 21st) Rajiv Gandhi was killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil eelam(LTTE). The date of Rajiv Gandhi’s death has poignant significance for me personally. May 21st is the date of my birth. My birth and his death, which happened thirty – seven years later, are inter-twined in my consciousness. Rajiv’s memory looms large on each birthday. Some people who wish me regularly on my birthday remind me of this. I think of him very often on my birthday. It is hard to believe that twenty-five years have passed since Rajiv’s death.

Signing of the Accord-1987

Signing of the Accord-1987

Initially I had welcomed the Indo-Lanka accord of July 1987 but soon became critical of India after fighting broke out in October 1987. As time went on my thoughts about the Indian role and Rajiv Gandhi too began to change. Looking at the predicament of the Tamils I felt that the Indo – Lanka accord with all its short – comings would have been much better for Tamils in particular and Sri Lanka in general if it had been allowed to be implemented fully from the time it was signed.

Political Achievement

The Indo-Lanka accord signed on July 29th 1987 by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J.R.jayewardeneI is the only tangible political achievement gained by Sri Lankan Tamils in the sphere of ethnic relations in post-Independence Sri Lanka. It is against this backdrop that I think of Rajiv Gandhi and all what had transpired in the aftermath of the accord in a contemplative mood. I write pensively therefore of Rajiv, his death and its aftermath and also of his legacy the 13th Amendment and would be relying to a great extent on some of my earlier writings as I walk down memory lane.
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Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, The “Pithala Handiya” Explosive Attack And Sarath Fonseka

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

GR032213

Former Sri Lankan army commander Sarath Fonseka came out with a bombshell statement some days ago in Parliament. The ex –army chief now a Cabinet minister in the Sirisena – Wickremesinghe Government accused his erstwhile comrade -at – arms and former Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of having “stage managed” an assassination attempt on himself nearly ten years ago in order to win sympathy for his family the Rajapaksas. Fonseka who was serving as army commander at that time was referring to the incident on December 1st 2006 in which a suicide bomber belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) tried to ram an explosive laden three –wheeler into the vehicle in which Defence secretary Rajapaksa was travelling in.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa


Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, The “Pithala Handiya” Explosive Attack And Sarath Fonseka’ »

How Kandiah Ulaganathan Alias “Col” Ramanan of the LTTE was Killed by a Sniper in the East 10 Years Ago

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(This is an article written and posted by me ten years ago on May 26th 2006 under the heading “Life and Times of Kandiah Ulaganathan – (“Col” Ramanan)”. It is being re-posted here to denote the tenth anniversary of Ulaganathan alias Ramanan’s death)

Kandiah Ulaganathan known to the world as “Col” Ramanan of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was killed on Sunday May 21st 2006 . Ramanan fell victim to a sniper or hidden gunman as he was inspecting the forward defence lines (FDL’s)at Vavunatheevu in the region known as “Paduvaankarai” (Shore of the setting sun) on the west of Mattakkalappu Vaavi or Batticaloa lagoon.

Ramanan was a senior commander serving with the tigers since 1986. Rising from the ranks he has held many different positions within LTTE folds during the course of his tumultous career as freedom fighter. It was only a few weeks ago that Ramanan was made Lt. Col and nominated as deputy – military commmander of Batticaloa – Amparai LTTE by tiger supremo Velupillai Pirapakaran.

“Col’ Bhanu from Ariyalai in the North ern Province is in overall charge for Batticaloa – Amparai districts as Special Commander. Senior tiger leader Nagesh had been appointed military – commander for both districts with Ramanan as his deputy. Both Nagesh and Ramanan are sons of the Eastern soil. In addition to being deputy military commander Ramanan was also supervising the intelligence wing in the region with Keerthy running day to day affairs.

Ramanan had been on an inspection tour of LTTE positions along the lagoon shores from noon that Sunday 26th. He was almost winding up that evening when he reached Vavunatheevu. He was chatting merrily with tiger cadres manning the frontline outposts when an accurate bullet from a sniper’s rifle smashed into his skull.

Continue reading ‘How Kandiah Ulaganathan Alias “Col” Ramanan of the LTTE was Killed by a Sniper in the East 10 Years Ago’ »

How 13 Tamil Civilians Were Killed By the Navy and EPDP in Allaipiddy – Velanai on May 13th 2006

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(This is an article written and posted by me ten years ago on May 16th 2006 under the heading “Navy –EPDP Kill Thirteen Civilians in Allaipiddy – Velanai”. It is being re-posted here to mark the tenth anniversary of the killings. No one has been prosecuted or convicted for the killings so far)

Thirteen Tamil civilians including two women and two children were killed in three incidents of violence on the night of Saturday May 13th 2006 in the Allaipiddy and Velanai islets off Northern province’s Jaffna peninsula . Another man and woman were seriously injured while at least eleven businesses including a telecommunication centre were destroyed through deliberate arson. Personnel in civils from the Sri Lankan Navy and cadres of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) were suspected of being responsible.

Those of us who read English poetry of an earlier vintage may recall ” The Cottar’s Saturday Night” by Robert Burns. Scotland’s national bard had written a masterpiece about the calm ,serene life of a humble cottar as he settled down for the night peacefully with his family in his cottage. It was however a different night of deadly violence that lay in store for the victims of an extended family in Allaipiddy on Saturday May 13th 2006.

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Tragedy Descends Upon Pallebage as Parts of “Saamasaara Kanda” Mountain Crumble and Fall.

By Dharisha Bastians in Aranayake

pic courtesy of: DailyFT

pic courtesy of: DailyFT

The wails of Prema Adikari, 58, mingle with the howls of a small brown dog as they both stare at the muddy remains of a collapsed house on the hill through sheets of rain falling in the area again Thursday morning. A red collar made of twisted string is still fastened to the dog’s neck, a sign that he once belonged to someone in the landslide hit area. Villagers in Pallebage, say the dog has been howling for two days, when parts of the mountain crumbled and fell, crushing small settlements that lay upon its slopes.

Prema Adikari says her brother and his family of three lived in the house on the hill. “The neighbours had shouted for them to leave but I don’t think they heard over the gushing waters of the canal nearby during the rain,” she explains sobbing.

Behind her, a team of elite army commandos rushed up the slippery mountain to dig through the rubble in an effort to recover three bodies residents claimed were buried in the landslide debris. Adikari was convinced they were the remains of her family that was crushed by the mudslide on Tuesday evening.
Continue reading ‘Tragedy Descends Upon Pallebage as Parts of “Saamasaara Kanda” Mountain Crumble and Fall.’ »

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Counters Allegations Against Him In Interview

By C. A. Chandraprema

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s term of office ends in June this year. There have been calls from opposition politicians as well as good governance activists for the government to investigate alleged malpractices in the issuance of treasury bonds during his tenure before reappointing him for another term. One of the bond issues was investigated by the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) but parliament was dissolved just before the day on which the report of the COPE sub-committee headed by D. E. W. Gunasekera was to be tabled inP. In this exclusive interview with The Island, Governor Mahendran contests the allegations against him.

Q. If you look at the front page of The Island today (Wednesday), Mr D. E. W. Gunasekera has called for an investigation into what he refers to as the ‘bond scams’ before your term is extended in June this year. He calls this the biggest scam in Sri Lankan history. Aren’t all these problems due to the fact that you started going in for bond auctions instead of direct placements as was the earlier practice?

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58 Killed, 132 Missing Due to Lanslides:414,827 Persons Affected by Rains and Floods with 43 dead and 28 missing- Over 300,00 Evacuated as Kelani River Rises by 10 feet

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The death toll from the Aranayake landslide in the Kegalle District could rise to 135, Disaster Management Centre (DMC) Media Spokesman Pradeep Kodippili told The Island yesterday. He, however said the figure had not been confirmed officially.

According to the latest figures issued by the Disaster Management Centre (DMC): disaster have left 58 persons dead; 132 are missing

The Officer-In-Charge of Aranayake Police confirmed only 11 deaths from massive landslide and said 135 remained missing. “Search operations are still going on.”

The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) yesterday declared another 170 landslide prone areas in six districts and called for immediate evacuation of residents from those areas.

In addition a total of 43 people had been confirmed dead due to floods and related disasters across the country since last week.

Continue reading ‘58 Killed, 132 Missing Due to Lanslides:414,827 Persons Affected by Rains and Floods with 43 dead and 28 missing- Over 300,00 Evacuated as Kelani River Rises by 10 feet’ »

Canada Ready to Help Sri Lanka set Up Robust Accountability Mechanism With Foreign and Commonwealth Investigators,Prosecutors and Judges.

Canada is willing to assist the Sri Lankan Government to set up a robust accountability mechanism to investigate and address serious violations of international law during the war, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Issuing a statement on the seventh anniversary of the end of the war in Sri Lanka, the Canadian Prime Minister said he is encouraged by the Sri Lankan Government’s commitment to seek accountability.

Continue reading ‘Canada Ready to Help Sri Lanka set Up Robust Accountability Mechanism With Foreign and Commonwealth Investigators,Prosecutors and Judges.’ »

Similarities and Differences Between Jayalalithaa “Amma” of Tamil Nadu and Mamata “Didi” Of West Bengal.

BY RONOJOY SEN

May 19 decided the fate of two of the most powerful women politicians in India: Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee. While Mamata expectedly returned to power in West Bengal, albeit by a larger margin than expected, Jayalalithaa became the first chief minister in Tamil Nadu in three decades to buck anti-incumbency.

Though there are striking similarities between Jayalalithaa and Mamata, the differences are equally stark. The way they ran their campaigns in the 2016 elections offers a clue. Mamata crisscrossed West Bengal for nearly 60 days addressing some 200 rallies; Jayalalithaa on the other hand was present at only 30-odd election meetings.

But first the obvious similarities. Both Jayalalithaa and Mamata are undisputed leaders of their respective parties, the AIADMK and the Trinamool Congress. The two parties are virtually identified with the two women leaders and theirs is the last word in the party. Both Jayalalithaa and Mamata are larger than life though the very fact that the former is known as Amma (mother) and the latter as Didi (elder sister) point to subtle differences on how they are not only seen by the public, but also on how they want to project themselves.

Continue reading ‘Similarities and Differences Between Jayalalithaa “Amma” of Tamil Nadu and Mamata “Didi” Of West Bengal.’ »

With Clear Lead in Over 125 out of 234 Seats , Jayalalithaa led AIADMK Poised for Historic Victory in Tamil Nadu.

Poised for a successive term in office with her party establishing clear leads in over 125 seats, AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday said her party had managed the “historic” win despite absence of an alliance and hailed people’s faith in her.

Making a victory speech from her Poes Garden residence amid a steady stream of visitors, including top officials, she thanked the voters for choosing her party and vowed to work with a new found energy for the welfare of people of Tamil Nadu.

“I am overwhelmed by the resounding victory the people of Tamil Nadu have given us. My party and I are indebted to the people of Tamil Nadu for giving this historic victory,” a beaming Ms. Jayalalithaa said even as hundreds of supporters swarmed her house.

Continue reading ‘With Clear Lead in Over 125 out of 234 Seats , Jayalalithaa led AIADMK Poised for Historic Victory in Tamil Nadu.’ »

“I Call Upon the Entire Nation to Remember on May 19th the Brave Armed Forces Who Sacrificed Their Lives”

By

Mahinda Rajapaksa

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a hard hitting statement yesterday blasted the authorities for releasing hardcore LTTEers numbering a few hundred, while armed forces personnel were being arrested and held continuously without bail.

“My government did not try to exact revenge from LTTE cadres captured at the end of the war. We rehabilitated and released more than 11,000 LTTE combatants. It was only around 200 to 300 of the most dangerous terrorist operatives who were kept in detention with a view to taking legal action against them for various crimes,” he explained

The full text of President Rajapaksa’s statement:

On 19 May 2016, we mark the 7th anniversary of the victory of our armed forces over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam which had officially been designated by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation as the world’s deadliest and most effective terrorist organisation outranking even Al Qaeda. This was a victory that captured the imagination of the whole world. I consider it a privilege to have been able to give political leadership to the armed forces to enable them to achieve this feat which has become an inspiration to all countries beset by terrorism.

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40 People Killed and Over 100 Missing Due to Floods and Landslides Created by Torrential Rains in Sri Lanka

by Maheesha Mudugauwa

Mudslides set off by torrential rains rushed down rain-soaked hills in two districts, sweeping away scores of houses and killing at least 40 people in three villages during the past two days, Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said yesterday. More than 100 others are missing.

Sixteen people were killed by a landslide at Kalupahanawatte in Bulathkohupitiya and the bodies of 16 people killed by a landslide in Elangapitiya village in Aranayake in the Kegalle District have been recovered. Another landslide occurred at Kadugannawa, killing six people on Monday.

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President and Constitutional Council Must Thoughtfully Reflect Before Extending Term of Central bank Governor in June.

By

Chandra Jayaratne

Civil Society breathed a sigh of relief post “January 8th 2015 Change” and looked forward to commitments of Transparency, Good Governance, Rule of Law and Ethical Conduct of Leaders, returning, being respected and strictly complied with in governance.

The resignation midterm of the last Governor was indeed good news. The expectations were high upon the new appointee to serve the balance term being an ex- Central Banker, with requisite experience to give leadership to this important public institution. This view prevailed, despite Civil Society urging the consideration of a more recently retired Central Banker to be the choice.

In any event, the civil society expected greater transparency, focus on delivering core accountabilities, assurance of effective macroeconomic governance, financial stability, effective disclosure, independent and integrity driven decision making and policy directives, coupled with giving independent advice to the government to be the core values driving the Central Bank. These expectations were to supplement assuring an end to the use of the Central Bank and its resources and policy making powers, to further political and personal objectives and seeing an end to conflicts of interest driven pump and dump style management of public resources of the EPF and suspect practices in long term bond issues.

Civil society, reflecting on the outcomes of Central Bank governance over the past 15 months can only conclude that their hopes have been dashed and that the governance platform and results realized are no better than under the previous regime. The new Governor must take total responsibility for this situation, as he has failed to live up to expectations of society.

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My Reasons for not Wanting to Climb Sri Pada Mountain Again.

By

Bandula Jayasekara

For whatever reason, I never wanted to climb Siri Pada better known as Samanala Kanda (Butterfly Mountain/Peak). I wouldn’t call it Adams Peak because it was Robert Knox who called it that. Knox could have called it Butterfly Peak instead, because Adam was nowhere near this peak. I once went to climb it with three German and Danish friends and decided not to climb it when I saw the mayhem and commercial like activities at Nallathanni. However, this time I climbed it in the interest of the viewers of Sirasa TV Pathikada. In a way I am glad I climbed it, because I can share with you with my views and thoughts, and tell you why I will not climb it again. It is up to you, if you want to climb it.

It is true, we call it Samanala Kanda. But, I hardly saw butterflies there. Even the butterflies have left the Butterfly Mountain because it has become a disgusting environmental disaster. I saw more filthy hotels and traders and more polythene rather than the nature I expected until I climbed to the peak. It was filthy, smelly, dirty and full of garbage. I pity the innocent village folks who climbed it with faith and devotion to the Buddha. None of them cared. They accepted things as it were. I don’t think the Buddha ever wanted innocent people full of devotion to climb a peak like that. I regret very much, I didn’t find the climb serene and peaceful as it should be. Many who I spoke to agreed. They told me they were helpless and only could share their thoughts with me.

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