In the wake of criticism of his action of patting a woman journalist’s cheek after she posed a query at a recent press conference, Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit has said it was an “act of appreciation
King Ratnam’s ‘Komaali Kings’ is a recently released Sri Lankan Tamil movie filled with humour. The movie pleasantly surprised many, as 50 days later, it continues to be screened in theatres.
A man’s mundane life in Sri Lanka, takes a bizarre turn when a distant relative and his family decide to stay with him to attend a family wedding.
Based in Colombo, the movie dialogues are relatable to the Colombo Tamil who uses the type of slang and grammar spoken by the characters, with sentences mixed with Sinhalese, creating a distinctive style of communication.
The movie also highlights the lifestyle of the average Sri Lankan Tamil family who’ve migrated to the Western world.
Continue reading ‘New Tamil Film “Komaali Kings” Reveals Seven Things About Realities Within The Sri Lankan Tamil Community At Home And Abroad’ »
(Lester James Peries the doyen of Sinhala cinema celebrated his 99th birthday on 5 April 2018. This article published on April 8th 2017 in the Spotlight Column of “Daily Financial Times” is Being re-posted here with a slight update to commemorate the master filmmaker’s birthday)
IF I were to pose the question “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the best Lankan filmmaker of them all?” to my personal magic mirror, the answer would be in three words – Lester James Peries!
Though Sri Lanka has produced many brilliant film directors over the years – and I do enjoy their movies – I have always been of the firm opinion that the greatest director of Sinhala cinema is Lester James Peries. There was a time when my friends used to have fun at my expense by belittling Lester’s films as second-rate mediocre stuff. I would retort angrily and they would laugh gleefully.
The doyen of Sinhala cinema celebrated his 99th birthday on 5 April 2018. Celebrating the 99th birthday of any personality is indeed a joyful event. It is more so in the case of Lester James Peries. The ‘Spotlight’ column that was dimmed for several weeks shines brightly again to focus on the birthday boy as befitting the occasion.
This article is a birthday tribute to the nonagenarian Lester now basking in the serene, golden twilight of his illustrious life. I have already written many articles about the man and his movies in the past. Still, one does not tire of writing about a favourite subject again and again. Besides it always feels good when writing about Lester James Peries.
Meeting Lester and Sumitra
Let me begin on a personal note with a confession of sorts and an anecdote. Despite my enormous appreciation of Lester, I have met him (and wife Sumitra) only once in my life. Lester James Peries was someone whom I have always wanted to meet in person but never got the chance.
Continue reading ‘Lester James Peries, The Legendary Pioneer Of Authentic Sri Lankan Cinema’ »
In the seven decade long history of Independent Sri Lanka’s legislature there have been two no confidence motions and related debates that are unprecedented and unparalleled. The first was in 1981 when members of the then United National Party (UNP) Govt brought and passed a no confidence motion against the former leader of opposition Appapillai Amirthalingam. The No Confidence Motion (NCM)brought against the late Tamil United Liberation front(TULF) leader was farcically unique in the sense that members of the ruling party were sponsoring a no faith motion against the leader of the opposition.
The second such controversial no confidence motion was the recent NCM brought against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Govt by members of the opposition and sections of the same government headed by the PM. The tragi-comic aspect of this NCM was the fact that ministers were supporting a NCM against Wickremesinghe and Govt while serving in the same Govt under the Prime Minister.It was indeed amusingly saddening to witness the covert moves by President Sirisena to undermine and topple his own govt of which Wickremesighe was premier. Now the situation has been made even more facetious by the ministers who voted against the Prime minister stubbbornly clinging to their ministerial portfolios without having the basic self-respect or decency of resigning their posts
Continue reading ‘How And Why The TNA Helped Defeat The No Confidence Motion Against Premier Wickremesinghe’ »
Sri Lankan cricket is a mess because politicians have taken over, and with little or no knowledge of the game they are destroying the institution with every passing day, cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan said.
In an interview with Indian Economic Times, Muralitharan spoke about the changes in Sri Lankan cricket and why wrist spinners offer better dividends in good batting conditions.
What is wrong with Sri Lanka cricket?
If new Constitution process was stalled permanently, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP R. Sampanthan’s holding of Opposition leader’s post would be meaningless, Minister Mano Ganesan said today.
He said in a tweet that the issue between the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) had put the Constitutional process to back seat.
Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan said that he was prepared to face a no confidence motion, should one be moved against him by the Joint Opposition.
Addressing a press conference in Jaffna, Sampanthan said that the Joint Opposition might move a no confidence motion against him, accusing him for voting in favour of the no confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Now, it is all too clear that the real target of the No-Confidence Motion was not the Prime Minister, but the SLFP.
In that sense, the Joint Opposition, which sponsored it, won. The SLFP stands divided and 16 of its MPs, Ministers and Deputy Ministers, who earlier voted in favour of the No-Confidence Motion will now sit in the Opposition.
They resigned en masse from their portfolios last week. They will not sit with the Joint Opposition, at least till the time is ripe for a full-throttled pole-vaulting.
Till then, they will operate as a separate Opposition group in Parliament that is still loyal to the President.
All this could be a little bit confusing to an onlooker. How on earth, the President who claims to lead the Unity Government, also patronized a group that is opposed to the Government.
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Department of Homeland Security has prevented Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to the US, Jaliya Wickramasuriya, 57, from leaving the US to face court proceedings in Colombo in respect of alleged embezzlement of funds to the tune of USD 322,027.35 during his tenure as the Ambassador.
Wickramasuriya served as Sri Lanka’s top envoy in Washington from July 2008 to May 2014.
Wickramasuriya, in a brief interview with The Island over the phone yesterday morning spoke of efforts to leave the US to appear before Fort Magistrate’s court in respect of alleged misappropriation of public funds amounting to USD 322,027.35 out of USD 6.6 mn, allocated for the purchase of a building to house Sri Lankan mission in Washington.
Wickramasuriya said he had first realized restrictions placed on him when he tried to leave Atlanta for Chile late last year. “I got my boarding pass and was about to get in when Homeland Security personnel stopped me. They wanted to question me at the airport. I was taken to a room where they explained the reasons for to my detention.”
Wickramasuriya said that he hadn’t been able to leave the US though he was ordered to appear in court over the alleged embezzlement of funds. The former diplomat quoted Homeland Security officers as having told him that the government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) had wanted the embassy transaction probed.
Sri Lanka police is inquiring into the actions of an officer overseeing the area where a group of tourists were brutally assaulted and sexually harassed, officials said, which may point to a ‘mafia’ with political connections.
Sri Lanka’s tourism minister John Amaratunga said police had already arrested and remanded till April 19 for identification, and they were trying to bring back at least two tourists who had left the country.
“We want them to come back and identify them,” Minister Amaratunga said. “We want to know whether they are the real culprits or scarecrows (pambayo) put forward by the real culprits.”
Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority will bear all their expenses, he said.
Sri Lankan police Monday arrested a leading dissident within President Maithripala Sirisena’s party, deepening political tensions on the island after the head of state suspended parliament.
Mahindananda Aluthgamage, a former sports minister, was held over 39 million rupees ($260,000) that were allegedly misappropriated in 2014, police said in a statement.
He was accused of spending government money to buy sports goods, which were handed out in a bid to get support for former president Mahinda Rajapakse ahead of a national election. The items included 14,000 boards for the popular South Asian game of carrom.
Aluthgamage is a key figure in a faction that opposes Sirisena within his socialist Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). The party has been in an uneasy coalition with the right-wing United National Party of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe since 2015.
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Former State Minister for City Planning and Water Supply Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday alleged that those SLFPers who skipped the vote on No Confidence Motion (NCM) moved by the Joint Opposition (JO) on April 4 had brazenly violated a collective party decision to oust UNP leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Those who had defied the party decision remained ministers whereas the 16 MPs who acted in keeping with it had lost thier minsterial positions, Dr. Fernandopulle told The Island, in a brief interview yesterday.
The group elected and appointed on the UPFA ticket at the last parliamentary polls in August 2015 and still in the UNP-led government consisted of 25 members. The UPFA group comprised 23 SLFPers and two CWC members.
Milos Forman, a filmmaker who challenged Hollywood with his subversive touch, and twice directed movies that won the Oscar for best picture, died on Friday. He was 86.
His death in Connecticut was confirmed by Dennis Aspland, Mr. Forman’s agent, and by Vlastislav Malek, a representative of his hometown, Caslav, in the Czech Republic.
A native of what was then Czechoslovakia, Mr. Forman came to the United States in the late 1960s as a rebellious young filmmaker whose satirical bent was little welcomed at home in the wake of the 1968 Soviet invasion.
Just a few years later, Mr. Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” — a tragicomic story of revolt and repression in a mental institution — won five Oscars, including those for best director and best picture.
The film put Mr. Forman in the front rank of those who struggled to make big, commercial films with countercultural sensibilities. His sympathy for the odd man out was always apparent, even as his movies grew in scope.
Sarath de Alwis
It is our fate to live in this lost age of promise and hope. As the brilliantly blunt political satirist Art Buchwald put it, These are not the best of times or the worst of times but the only times we’ve got.
New Year festivals are measures of time. From our tribal days, we have relied on festivals and rituals usually linked to harvesting times as a device that offers a renewal of life. On this New Year, our nation is focused not so much in a renewal in life but to make sense out of chaos that surrounds us in life.
After a life and death struggle to free ourselves from a tyrannical autocracy which succeeded somewhat partially, we seem to be again blinking at the abyss, tottering at the top of the precipice of parochial prejudice.
A group of Marxist philosophers now known as the ‘Frankfurt School’ fled Hitler’s Germany and took refuge in Berkeley California.
In that Academic refuge, the leader of the group, Theodore Adorno edited a volume titled The Authoritarian Personality. It was a part of a larger project that covered what bothers us today. It was called “Studies in Prejudice”.
The thinkers led by Adorno dissected the ‘Authoritarian Personality.’ They used what was called the F scale- the Fascist scale. It identifies nine principal traits in the authoritarian personality.
by Gagani Weerakoon
At the close of two years, the National Unity Government (NUG) of Sri Lanka has failed to maintain the confidence and trust of the people it enjoyed during the first three months of its tenure. However, political crisis or instability in Sri Lanka remains unchanged. The NUG is likely to complete its full term, but it will not be a cakewalk. The strongest points of the Government, thus far, include the following: the political will of the President and the Prime Minister to continue the NUG till 2020; absolute majority in the Parliament; willingness of the Tamil parties to cooperate with the Government; and the goodwill of the international community. Maintaining this status quo will be the main challenge for the Government over the next three years, Gulbin Sultana, a researcher with the South Asia Centre at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) observed in her assessment on National Unity Government published in August 2017.
It was further observed that: “This discussion shows that at the end of two years, the Government has failed to maintain the confidence and trust of the people it enjoyed during the first three months of its formation.
There is no denying the fact that the Government has taken several positive measures keeping in mind the long-term interests of the country. Given its duration of just two years and the enormous complexities of problems facing the country, it is not easy for any government to resolve all the problems within such a short span of time. The opposition parties, particularly the UPFA (Rajapaksa loyalists) and the JVP, have, nevertheless, taken advantage of it and tried to mobilize the people against the Government.
by Maneshka Borham
All things considered, former Associate Editor of The Nation, Keith Noyahr was one of the lucky few. Abducted and tortured in May 2008 during a time when dissenting journalists were hunted with impunity, at least he made it out alive. Murdered editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge and Journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda who disappeared without a trace in 2010 and remains missing to this day, were much less fortunate. But the common factor that binds these deaths, disappearances and assaults together according to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Police is the connection of the country’s Military Intelligence to each of the cases. The assault on former Rivira Editor Upali Tennakoon and the abduction of journalist and activist Poddala Jayantha are also linked to the same shadowy military intelligence networks, run at the time by the country’s powerful former Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Last week’s CID breakthrough in the Keith Noyahr abduction case highlights this nexus between the Rajapaksa regime’s crackdown on dissent and the military intelligence networks.
Former Military Intelligence Director and Chief of Staff of the Army, Major General (Retired) Amal Karunasekara was arrested in connection to the Noyahr abduction on April 6, 10 years after the event took place. The arrest which was delayed several times happened on April 5, when Karunasekara was arrested at the Army Hospital for aiding and abetting the abduction of Keith Noyahr. But a question that remained on the minds of many was how this generally well-liked and respected military officer was connected to such a brutal crime.
According to the evidence produced by the CID to the Courts in the form of phone use analysis reports, it was revealed that following a call placed by the Former Editor of The Nation newspaper, Lalith Allahakkoon to the Former Secretary of Defence, Gotabaya Rajapaksa on May 22, 2008 to inform him of Noyahr’s abduction, Rajapaksa at 11.36 pm in turn makes a call to the then Inspector General of Police Jayantha Wickramaratne who has also been linked to the incident surrounding the death of Wickrematunge by the CID. According to the CID the Defence Secretary was also found to have called Former Intelligence Chief Retired Major General Kapila Hendawitharana at 11.39 pm on the very day.
Continue reading ‘Telephone Call Trail Leads to Uncovering Of Incriminating Evidence About Defence Top Brass Involvement in Torture of Abducted “The Nation” Associate Editor Keith Noyahr in Malwana.’ »
The rebellion of 16 Members of Parliament belonging to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, has forced him to try re-structuring the SLFP’s relations with its coalition partner, the United National Party (UNP) headed by the controversial Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Informed sources said on Friday that Sirisena has appointed a committee headed by Dr.Sarath Amunugama to discuss with all stake holders and UNP leaders, all aspects of the relationship including the question of continuing or discontinuing the alliance.
The system of governance has been deeply flawed since the National United Government came into being in early 2015.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Appoints Committee Headed By Dr.Sarath Amunugama To Re-structure UNP-SLFP Relationship With the View of Coaxing 10 of 16 SLFP Parliamentarians Who Quit Govt Ranks To Return to Govt Folds Again.’ »
The 16 rebel Members of Parliament belonging to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, are on the way to forming an alliance with the Joint Opposition and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Quitting the government and sitting with the opposition are preliminary steps towards the goal, which is to become part of the anti-government group led by Rajapaksa.
Explaining the rationale, a reliable source said on Friday, that formally quitting the SLFP and joining an opposition party would lead to their being unseated.
They would therefore remain in the SLFP officially but would, in reality, function as part of the opposition currently led by Rajapaksa (albeit not officially).
Continue reading ‘16 SLFP Anti-Ranil MP’s Will Sit in Opposition Under The Pretence of Being “SLFP Independents” To Avoid Being Unseated as “Crossover MP’s” and Join the SLPP Officially Before Parliament Elections are Held’ »
The optimism that accompanied the Yahapalana government in 2015 has evaporated. We simply seem to have exchanged the misguided and dictatorial regime of Rajapaksa for the misguided and weak government of Sirisena/Ranil. There is a confluence of factors – political, economic, financial, inter-ethnic relations and international that are converging and will cause a major crisis within two years.
My title is a nautical term – The Perfect Storm. It refers to the convergence of gale force winds, strong tidal forces and huge waves that takes place in the Southern Atlantic in winter months. It is feared by seafarers as no ship could withstand it. This is a good analogy for what we as a nation face now. This is after experiencing a Storm in a Teacup (the No Confidence motion that was defeated in Parliament).
The coalition between the UNP and Sirisena’s wing of the SLFP (a brilliant piece of political engineering by Chandrika Kumaratunga) was fragile in the first place as it brought together disparate elements united only by their liking for the perks of power with no common ideology. The only way they could hold together was if the leadership had quickly implemented the Joint Manifesto – an excellent and rational policy document- so that the coalition could continue to win future elections. The main points were to eliminate corruption and bring those responsible for industrial scale corruption in the previous regime to justice, privatize loss making government corporations, foster National Reconciliation and Justice, attract FDI by providing a benign investment environment and bring down the cost of living.
Instead this is what actually happened.
Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
Some weeks ago, a ruling party politician in the Gampaha District was captured on national television becoming incandescent with rage on being asked to produce his identity card by a police officer. Working himself up to a veritable frenzy, that worthy representative of the people blustered and protested.
His fury boiled over as he spluttered to his equally furious supporters in pithy Sinhalese that, he could give his identity card but then, ‘he would not be able to walk among the people with any clothes on.’
A question of identity
There is, of course, more to this story. The fracas had occurred during an event marking the opening of a bridge when loudspeakers were used and the police had come to the scene to question as to whether correct authorization had first been obtained. The politician, whose speech was rudely interrupted in consequence, alleged that the disturbance was at the behest of local Rajapaksa ‘pohottuwa’ supporters. Granted an element of ‘pohottuwa’ provocation, the commonsensical response by the politician and his cohorts should surely have been to produce both the identity and the relevant loudspeaker use permit, neatly turning the tables on their political opponents, so to speak. But such dignified behaviour was far from evidenced.
So why do politicians maintained with tax payers’ money believe that they are exempt from legal requirements imposed on citizens? It was reported this week that the offending policeman had been transferred, reportedly with immediate effect following a complaint filed to the police senior command.
Assuming that this is not an ordinary transfer but a step arising from the incident in question, is such a consequence warranted? Is the National Police Commission, tasked with ‘the appointment, promotion, transfer, disciplinary control and dismissal of police officers other than the Inspector-General of Police’, (Article 155G (1) (a)) aware of this fact?
By the Political Correspondent of the “Sunday Times”
President Maithripala Sirisena, leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) took the unprecedented step of urging ministers of his own party to boycott last Tuesday’s weekly Cabinet meeting – perhaps a first such move in a practising democracy.
In doing so, he was cushioning a feared fallout from a widespread call by members of the Central Committee, the party’s policy making body, to quit the coalition or “the national unity Government.” They were to take a final decision at a second CC meeting on Wednesday but Sirisena, though he promised, did not summon one. He may not have wanted to be thrust with a decision to quit the coalition. He told the UNP ministers that most wanted to quit the Government. Thus began a tense political drama that continued throughout Wednesday and Thursday.
Sirisena believed that the boycott would be enough of a tit-for-tat for a letter Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had written to him last week. It had conveyed a decision by the UNP parliamentary group and the Working Committee not to sit together with the anti-Wickremesinghe SLFP ministers at cabinet meetings in particular.
President Maithripala Sirisena has prorogued parliament for almost a month giving himself more time even as more MPs were due to ditch his faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and strengthen the Joint Opposition (JO) led by his nemesis Mahinda Rajapaksa.
In a surprise move, Sirisena ordered last night that parliament be put off till May 8 when a new session will be called when standing committees will have to be appointed afresh.
The near one-month period also delays a formal break-up of the SLFP in parliament. Rajapaksa has the support of a majority of SLFP legislators in parliament and his JO has been trying to secure the leader of the opposition post in parliament.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Prorogues Parliament Till May 8th to buy time to Manouere and Prevent His SLFP Parliamentarians From Joining the Mahinda Rajapaksa Led UPFA Opposition or Ranil Wickremesinghe led UNP Govt’ »
Dr Reeza Hameed
Some commentators have persistently advanced the proposition that,notwithstanding the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the President’s power to remove the Prime Minister is intact.It is a view that relies on a literal reading of the Sinhala text of Article 48(1) in which the phrase “removal from office” appears.
I have, in my previous intervention on this subject, analysed the provisions of the Constitution as amended bythe Nineteenth Amendmentand expressed the view that the President no longer has this power.
That interpretation has been questioned on the basis that the words “removal from office” appear in the Sinhala text of Article 48(1);and because the Sinhala text should prevail in the event of an inconsistency, it must follow that the Presidentmay remove the Prime Minister.
I disagree with this conclusion for the reasons I have given below.
The looming political crisis in Sri Lanka, especially in parliament, has forced President Maithripala Sirisena to prorogue parliament till May 8.
A gazette notification issued by the President on Thursday said: “By virtue of the powers vested in me by Article 70 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, I, Maithripala Sirisena, President, do by this Proclamation, prorogue Parliament with effect from the midnight of the Twelfth day of April, Two Thousand Eighteen, and fix the Eighth day of May, Two Thousand Eighteen, as the date for commencement of the next session of Parliament.”
The prorogation came as a surprise, as only hours earlier, the President had sworn-in four cabinet ministers to partially fill vacancies created by the defection of 15 ministers, both senior and junior, to the opposition.
Continue reading ‘Faced With the Prospect of his SLFP Splitting Into Three Factions When Parliament Convened On April 19th Beleaguered President Sirisena in a Sudden Move Prorogues Parliament Till May 8th’ »
Having accepted the resignations of six SLFP ministers, President Sirisena yesterday allocated additional ministerial portfolios to four ministers, temporarily, pending a Cabinet reshuffle after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
Special Assignment Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama received skills development and vocational training portfolios in addition to science and research subjects, which were previously under Chandima Weerakkody and Susil Premjayantha.
Continue reading ‘Portfolios Of Six SLFP Cabinet Ministers Who Resigned After Voting for NCM Temporarily Allocated by President Sirisena To Four Ministers Pending cabinet re-shuffle After April new year’ »
by Nirupama Subramanian
Last Wednesday, parliamentarians debated a no-confidence motion moved by Opposition MPs. The debate began at 9.30 am and by the time the vote was counted, it was 9.30 pm. All the government’s shortcomings were discussed threadbare. Ruling party legislators gave as good as they got. After heated speeches both ways, and a division by name, the prime minister comfortably won the day. In Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is not the world’s biggest democracy, and has plenty of well-documented failings, but on April 4, it was an inspiring example of democratic parliamentary practice in South Asia. In India, meanwhile, the Budget Session would wind to a dismal end two days later, on April 6, going down in history as the least productive session of Parliament in the world’s largest democracy. Four parties had submitted no-confidence motions against the NDA government, but the Speaker never took them up on grounds of a daily ruckus in the House.
Sixteen members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party who voted in favour of the No-Confidence Motion brought against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have stepped down from all governmental posts effective from midnight.
Former State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene said President Maithripala Sirisena approved the letters of resignation following a meeting held at the President’s official residence last night (11 April).
The Former State Minister said they handed over letters of resignation to the President on the day following the NCM vote, which was approved last night.
By Maheesha Mudugamuwa
The government has given the go-ahead for Pacific White Legged Shrimp (Litopenaeus Vannamei) farming in Mannar, but environmentalists warn of the potential negative impacts of the new project and demand to know what methods will be used to ensure that the new activity is bio-secure.
Environmentalist and Senior lawyer Jagath Gunawardana told The Island that risks had to be taken into consideration as the potential environmental impact of L. Vannamei shrimp farming was significant.
According to the National Aquaculture Development Authority (NAQDA), the new species has already been imported to Sri Lanka for a pilot project to be carried out by a private company in the Mannar District.
Continue reading ‘Govt Allows Private Company To Start Shrimp Farm in Mannar with Imported Pacific White -Legged Shrimp (Litopenaeus Vannamei) But Environmentalists Oppose the new Project’s Potential Negative Impact’ »
By Saman Indrajith and Rathindra Kuruwita
President Maithripala Sirisena, yesterday, accepted the resignation letters tendered by 15 SLFP ministers, including six Cabinet members, and the Deputy Speaker, who voted for the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week. Their resignations would take effect from midnight yesterday, former State Minister of Public Enterprise Development Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said.
The UNP called for the resignation of the SLFP ministers who had turned against their leader and PM. Co-Cabinet Spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne told the media yesterday that a new Cabinet would be appointed shortly without the SLFP ministers who had voted against the PM.
Continue reading ‘16 SLFP Parliamentarians Including 6 Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Speaker Who Voted Against Their Prime Minister and Coalition Govt Will Finally Cross To the Opposition and Remain “Independents” for the Time Being.’ »
President Maithripala Sirisena had informed Cabinet of his intent to make a reshuffle before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
The President had made an indication that the subjects of ministries would be re-organised in a scientific manner during the Cabinet reshuffle.
A Cabinet minister, who took part at the meeting yesterday, told the Daily News that there are proposals to merge several ministry subjects to bring all relevant institutions under one arm. Accordingly, it has been proposed to amalgamate the Education, Higher Education and Skills Development and Vocational Training Ministries.
By Norman Palihawadane
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, yesterday, said that the SLFP MPS, including six ministers, who voted for the no-faith motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week, would cross over to the Opposition when Parliament met again.
Rajapaksa said they would give up their portfolios and join the Opposition on April 19, when Parliament is scheduled to meet next.
“Frantic efforts are being made to keep them within the government ranks. While the UNP backbenchers are demanding the sacking of 16 SLFP ministers who voted against Wickremesinghe, some SLFP leaders try to keep them in the government. But, they will definitely join forces with us.”
The Joint Opposition group has 52 seats in the 225-member parliament.
SLFP Ministers Susil Premajayantha, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Dilan Perera, John Seneviratne, Lakshman Wasantha Perera, Dr Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Tharanath Basnayake, Susantha Punchinilame, Anura Yapa, S B Dissanayake, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Chandima Weerakkody, Anuradha Jayaratne, T. B. Ekanayake and Sumedha Jayasena voted for the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for his alleged involvement in treasury bond scams and failure to act promptly to contain ethnic violence in Ampara and Kandy.
With the additional 16 seats the Joint Opposition strength would be increased to 68, parliament sources said.
JO MP Bandula Gunawardena said that they were eagerly waiting to welcome their colleagues.
The government has set up a hotline (1956) for public to report incidents of religious and ethnic violence, Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Languages, Mano Ganesan says.
The Ministry will also establish reconciliation committees at the village level. Members of these committees are required to identify potential incidents and take preventive measures, Ganesan added.
By Rathindra Kuruwita
The SLFP Central Committee, following a stormy session last night, resolved that all SLFP ministers boycott today’s Cabinet meeting. It, however, didn’t take a final decision on whether to remain in the unity government or not.
President Maithripala chaired the meeting at the President’s House, Colombo 01.
Minister Anura Priyadashana Yapa proposed that the SLFP leave the government with Minister S. B. Dissanayake seconding his proposal. Ministers Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene and Chandima Weerakkody also spoke in favour of the proposal.
By Maheesha Mudugamuwa
President Maithripala Sirisena now has another serious problem to contend with as the UNP is all out to oust the SLFP ministers who voted for the no-faith motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week. UNP Deputy General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, yesterday, said all those who had voted against UNP leader and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, on April 4, would cease to be ministers when the next Cabinet reshuffle takes place before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.
Addressing the media, at his Colombo 7 official residence, Kariyawasam said that the UNP would ensure that the 16 SLFPers (Ministers, State Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MP) would not hold ministerial portfolios after the reshuffle.
The following UPFA MPs, representing the SLFP, voted in favour of the motion: Susil Premajayantha, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Dilan Perera, John Seneviratne, Lakshman Wasantha Perera, Dr Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Tharanath Basnayake, Susantha Punchinilame, Anura Yapa, S B Dissanayake, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Chandima Weerakkody, Anuradha Jayaratne, T. B. Ekanayake and Sumedha Jayasena.
Continue reading ‘All 16 SLFP Ministers, State Ministers and Deputy Ministers Who Voted For No Confidence Motion Will Lose Their Portfolios in Cabinet Re-shuffle Before April New Year -Akila Viraj Kariyawasam’ »
by Shamindra Ferdinando
Top JO spokesman Bandula Gunawardena, MP, yesterday faulted President Maithripala Sirisena for the last minute collapse of the move to oust PM Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Sirisena had caused the defeat by not pledging his support to the move publicly, Gunawardena alleged. Had Sirisena, in his capacity as the leader, taken a clear stand, the entire UPFA group comprising 96 members would have voted against the PM, Gunawardena said, appreciating the JVP contribution.
The six-member JVP parliamentary group voted for the NCM.
Gunawardena said that Sirisena had scuttled the whole UPFA operation and, thereby, discouraged the dissident UNP group from voting for the motion.
When the House was debating the 47th No-Confidence Motion in the Sri Lankan Parliament’s history and the third against a Prime Minister last Wednesday (4) lots of other dramas were taking place on the corridors, in committee rooms and at the lobby.
One such took place in a committee room in Parliament where the weekly Cabinet media briefing took place.
Co-Cabinet spokesmen Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka were seen engaged in an animated discussion minutes before the press conference with Government Information Director General Sudharshana Gunawardena also being present.
The crux of the matter was not known to many until an apparent unintended video went viral on social media and other news websites
The video recorded shows the two Ministers having a private conversion not knowing what they were saying was being recorded as the mikes in the room were switched off.
Continue reading ‘Sirisena Warns UNP That He May Consider Proposal To Find 113 MP’s and Form New Govt Comprising Joint Opposition and SLFP With Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister if No Faith Motion Is Brought Against SLFP Ministers Who Voted For NCM’ »
Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
A crude bid to capture national political power by the so-called Joint Opposition, disgracefully aided and abetted by a section of President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) failed this week. Given the political configurations on the floor of the House, perhaps this failure was inevitable but nothing is certain after all, in this dirty, rotten game of scoundrels beating their chests like patriots, as they say.
If this plot had succeeded, the consequences for national stability are too catastrophic to contemplate. In the wake of the defeat, the United National Party (UNP) has promised wide ranging reforms, internally as well as in respect of its chaotic governance processes. There is, of course, huge skepticism in the public preception of these promises which the UNP must recognise as natural, given the umpteen times that such attempts have failed.
Sports journalists, who write previews about matches, be it cricket, rugby or football, often predict the outcome of such matches by stating that on paper side A or B should win but qualify their prediction by stating that the outcome would finally be determined by the actual performance of the teams on the day of the match.
The same cliché could well have been applied prior to the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister in Parliament last week. On paper, the Prime Minster should have been assured of pulling through on the basis of the numbers the UNP could command (even without the four or five MPs who had openly sounded rebellious). He had the backing of his Cabinet colleagues from the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the All Ceylon Muslim Congress, the United Progressive Alliance, the Jathika Hela Urumaya as well as the Tamil National Alliance – parties which backed the Good Governance agenda of President Maithripala Sirisena on January 8, 2015.
Yet reflecting the glorious (or more correctly the inglorious) uncertainties of Sri Lankan politics, very few could have predicted the outcome in advance with certainty.
Finally, however, the no-confidence motion (NCM) was defeated comfortably and its supporters who were so cocky as to predict a victory for themselves by a minimum of seven and a maximum of more than 50 had to eat humble pie.
“A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen dwelt. Many a time he tried to attack them; but they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone. The Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.”
– Aesop (The four oxen and the lion)
A stable and safe democracy requires a democratic government and a democratic opposition. Sans either, a democracy is never stable, never safe.
Before the Presidential election of 2015, Sri Lanka had a strong anti-democratic government and a weak democratic opposition. After the electoral upheaval of January 2015, Sri Lanka got a weak democratic government but its oppositional space fell under the thrall of anti-democratic forces, unrelenting and virulent in their pursuit of power.
The potency of that anti-democratic opposition would have waned, had the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration fulfilled its main electoral promises. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s hunger for power is a visceral thing; he wouldn’t have retired irrespective of how many times the electorate rejected him. But with good and effective governance, his capacity to dominate the oppositional space and dictate the terms of Southern political engagement could have been negated. From being a game-changer, the Rajapaksa factor in Lankan politics could have been reduced to a minor – albeit vocal – irritant.
But the Rajapaksas were not defanged and the guilt belongs to both Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe. Mr. Wickremesinghe is the guiltier one since he protected the Rajapaksas from prosecution in the hope of dividing the SLFP and benefitting from that division. His tactic backfired. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s SLPP did what the SLMP of Vijaya Kumaratunga and Chandrika Bandaranaike and the DUNF of Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake tried to do and failed – overtake and replace the parent party. The SLPP did not divide the SLFP; it decimated the SLFP and reduced it to the status of a politico-electoral featherweight.
Sarath de Alwis
There are lessons to be learnt from the debate and the final vote count on Wednesday, April 4. There were three responses during the count. Pakshai , Virudhai; and Absent. The word ‘absent’ is now in the Sinhala vocabulary.
Staying away is now a form of political statement. It is more than that. It is subterfuge and deceit at its most eloquent.
Our problem is our inability to understand how politicians see the road ahead. They don’t use a rear view mirror. They don’t need to watch where they are headed to. They don’t remember where they have been.
If the reader understands this bit of convoluted wisdom, he or she would have no problem in deciphering the expositions of Susil Premjayanth and S.B. Dissanayake the two outstanding trapeze artists of last Wednesday’s circus.
Amidst so many stories about the ever – exciting twists and turns in the crisis faced by our Government, we seem to ignore so many other significant political questions. One such question is: what is happening in Sri Lanka’s political parties? As visible from the unfolding power struggles, Sri Lanka’s two main parties – the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) – are in crisis, awaiting a re-invention for their survival. Meanwhile, a new party — Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) – has emerged, posing a serious existential threat to the SLFP and even showing signs of becoming the next ruling party, pushing the SLFP into a new phase of survival challenge.
Political parties are the main players in the game of democracy. Since parliamentary democracy is the only political game in town, changes within and in the relations among political parties have a tendency to redefine the nature of democratic politics as well. While Sri Lanka is in a phase of transition, so are the political parties. The parties are thus facing a new set of challenges, for both survival and transition. As the turbulent events during the past few weeks amply demonstrated, it is now testing time for the country’s political parties.
Let us begin with the uncertainties the UNP is facing in a time of transition.
“Our Party is like ‘amoeba’, we have had many opinions on this and we have accommodated them all.”
– SLFP Minister Vijith Vijithamuni Soysa, media interview after the NCM vote.
The much ballyhooed No Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister has come and gone. In the end, it was not even close. The 46 vote victory for the Prime Minister is a massive blow to the small minds behind this silly sideshow.104 of the 106 UNP/UNFMPs, including the former Minister of Justice, stood solid in voting against the No Confidence Motion (NCM). With the TNA venturing to take a stand and not sit on the fence, and joined by the SLMC and the EPDP (now TNA’s local government ally in the Peninsula, against third generation Ponnambalam side show in Jaffna), the no-vote swelled to the impressive 122 votes. On the yes side, 54 JO MPs were joined by the JVP (6) and 16 two-timing SLFP ministers and deputy ministers. The real story of the day was the 29 MPs who abstained or kept away from the vote. 23 of them are SLFP ministers, deputy/state ministers and MPs. One of them, Minister Sarath Amunugama, had already dismissed the NCM effort as a “silly side show.” Three other Ministers, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Vijithamuni Soysa, gave a revealing media interview after the vote. It was there that Minister Soysa delivered the SLFP-deprecating quip that I have quoted above.
While embarrassed by the 16 SLFPers who voted for the NCM, the three ministers were quite critical of the Joint Opposition for launching the NCM diversion without formally consulting the SLFP or its Central Committee, and without any plan as to who will replace Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister. The latter was also the concern of the former Minister of Justice Wijeydasa Rajapakshe.The SLFP ministers contended that the NCM was not at all about the bond scam, or even about the Prime Minister, but all about splitting the SLFP. In their view, it is illogical to be part of a government and to vote for a no-confidence motion against the government. As for their 16 colleagues who voted ‘illogically’ for the NCM. However, Minister Soysa conceded that no disciplinary action was possible against the ‘dissenters’ because President Sirisena had made it a free vote for the SLFP group.
It was the President who decided to sit on the fence and allow a free vote for his MPs. Until then he had been jumping from one side to the other and found neither side overly receptive. He tried in vain to find an alternative to Ranil Wickremesinghe from within the UNP. On the other side, the President didn’t realize he and his SLFP mediators were being taken for a ride by the SLPP. In the end, he chose to sit on the fence and allow a free vote. A free vote is no less illogical and now the President has to deal with ‘his ministers’ who voted against ‘his government’. There is nothing new in all this, except that the post-vote statements by the three SLFP ministers confirm what many have been surmising about the rise and fall of the no confidence motion.
by Anura Gunasekera
Once again, Ranil the survivor has emerged from another political maelstrom, certainly not unbowed and unafraid, bloodied and bruised perhaps, but with the old image intact; unappetizing, unlovable and uncaring but still durable and still in the saddle.
The days of frenzied political maneuvering which preceded the debate, culminating in the Nimal Siripala – a Prime Ministerial aspirant – led request for RW to resign, suggested that instead of relying on a certain majority support for the motion in Parliament, that the anti- Ranil forces preferred to bulldoze a capitulation, rather than to test their mettle on the floor of the House.
The motion itself was based on allegations and accusations, by implied linkages to wrong-doing- specifically the CB Bond Scam – but short on specifics and lacking in concrete evidence. True, great financial loss has been caused to the country – the degree varies from financial expert to financial expert- by the nexus between Arjuna Mahendran and his son-in-law, Arjun Aloysius. Mahendran was Ranil’s creature, appointed, nurtured and protected by him. But that does not prove that Ranil was party to the fraud, unless the accusation is supported by legally admissible evidence.
By Shandra Ferdinando
President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday said that the current dispensation would continue with UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister.
SLFP leader Sirisena asserted that the failed attempt to oust Wickremesinghe through a tripartite No-Confidence Motion (NCM), moved in parliament couldn’t be an impediment to the continuation of the unity government.
Sirisena said so at a special media briefing called at the President’s House to explain the circumstances that had let to the vote on the NCM on April 4.
The President was flanked by Secretary to the President Austin Fernando and presidential media advisor Sarath Kongahage.
By Saman Indrajith
Deputy Speaker and National List MP Thilanga Sumathipala has received death threats from Minister Navin Dissanayake for voting for the no-faith motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday night, parliament was told yesterday.
MEP leader and Joint Opposition parliamentary group leader Dinesh Gunawardena yesterday briefed Parliament on the alleged incident involving Sumathipala and Dissanayake in Parliament.
Sumathipala has, in a letter to Speaker Jayasuriya complained that Dissanayake threatened him near the elevator on the second floor while he was leaving Parliament after the vote on no faith motion. Sumathipala has also lodged a complaint with the police.
“As MPs we have a responsibility to ensure the Deputy Speaker can discharge his duties without interference,” Gunawardena said.
By Saman Indrajith
UNP national list MP Prof Ashu Marasinghe handing over the no-faith motion on SLFP parliametarians who voted for the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.
A group of UNP backbenchers yesterday evening handed over seven no-confidence motions against National List MP and Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala and six SLFP cabinet ministers to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.
The ministers are SB Dissanayake, Dayasiri Jayasekera, Susil Premjayantha, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Chandima Weerakkody and W. D. J. Senevirtne.
Addressing the media soon after handing over the no faith motions, UNP MPs Mujibur Rahuman, Sydney Jayaratne and Ashu Marasinghe said that those 16 SLFPers, including six ministers, who had voted for the no confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the government should be expelled from the cabinet and government. The UNP accused them of violating collective responsibility.
Though Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has convincingly defeated the No-Confidence Motion brought against him in parliament by the Joint Opposition led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the challenges he faces are far from over. But Wickremesinghe is an old hand at dealing with them, having been beset with trials and test since he took over the leadership of the United National Party (UNP).
That he has been able to continue to remain a principal player in Sri Lankan politics, is a measure of his political acumen. And the deftness with which he surmounts each challenge can only be deemed a riddle in Sri Lankan politics.
It is not uncommon for political leaders to face revolts within the party. History is pockmarked with such revolts. But in Sri Lankan politics, there has been perhaps no other political leader who had faced so much of rebellion from within his own party as has Ranil Wickremesinghe. Conversely, there has also been no other leader who has so efficiently and shrewdly overcome the challenges and safeguarded his leadership position.
The long-delayed arrest of the head of the military intelligence directorate has led to a breakthrough in solving the Keith Noyahr abduction case which is directly linked to several other attacks, police said Friday.
Retired major general Amal Karunasekera was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) as he was undergoing treatment at the army hospital, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.
Gunasekera said Karunasekera, who was the director of the military intelligence was taken in in connection with the May 22, 2008 abduction and assault of Noyahr who at the time was an editor of the Nation newspaper.
However, official sources said the former head of the DMI was under investigation for the Noyahr abduction as well as several other connected cases, including the assassination of Sunday Leader founding editor Lasantha Wickrematunga.
Continue reading ‘Ex- Military Intelligence Chief Maj-Gen Amal Karunasekera (retd) Is Being Investigated Over Several Cases Including Assassination of “Sunday Leader”Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and Abduction of ” Nation”Associate Editor Keith Noyahr.’ »
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party which came out divided after Wednesday night’s No Confidence Motion (NCM) against the Prime Minister is of the view that the sole purpose of the NCM was to divide the SLFP and not remove the Prime Minister.
“The official stance we agreed on was to abstain,” said SLFP Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe yesterday.
He was addressing a media briefing at SLFP Headquarters along with Ministers Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Vijith Vijithamuni Soysa.
All three of them chose to abstain from voting. The SLFP had 16 of its members voting in favour of the NCM while 23 abstained.
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) yesterday claimed that it had unanimously decided to abstain at the voting on the No Confidence Motion (NCM) against PM Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday (April 4) following its failure to persuade him to quit.
The SLFP alleged that a section of its parliamentary group in the UNP-led government, in contravention of a collective decision taken at a meeting chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena, had voted for the Joint Opposition’s NCM against the PM.
Seventy six voted for the motion, 122 against and 26 abstained and they included 23 SLFPers loyal to President Sirisena.
By Rathindra Kuruwita
Slave Island Police are investigating some incidents where a group of persons threw firecrackers and stones at the MTV/MBC Head Office in Braybrook Street, following the defeat of the no-faith motion against PM Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday night.
The Police Media Unit said: “We have received a complaint regarding the alleged incidents. There is no evidence that an attack was carried out. We have only found out that firecrackers were thrown into the premises.”
Continue reading ‘UNP Colombo Municipal Councillor Allegedly Led Mob Which Threw Lit Crackers and Stones On the MTV/MBC “Sirasa” head Office On Braybrooke Street After No Confidence Motion Against Ranil was Defeated.’ »
Former, Army Chief of Staff Major General (retired) Amal Karunasekara was taken into custody by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the Army hospital last night in connection with the abduction and assault of senior journalist Keith Noyahr.
The Mount Lavinia Magistrate earlier directed Major Gen. Karunasekara to appear before the CID to record a statement. However, Major Gen Karunasekara yesterday admitted himself to the army hospital with complaints of giddiness and nausea. The army, later informed the CID that he has been admitted to the army hospital.
The CID, having visited the army hospital placed Major Gen. Karunasekara under arrest.
The UNP will submit a No Confidence Motion to the Speaker today against 16 SLFP Ministers who voted in favour of the no confidence motion against the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, MP Mujibur Rahman said.
He said that the UNP has requested the Speaker to have the debate on the no confidence motion against all 16 Ministers on the same day.
By Saman Indrajith
Five out of the six SLFP ministers who voted for the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have informed the UNP that they would quit their ministerial portfolios.
Ministers Chandima Weerakkody, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Susil Premjayantha, and John Seneviratne have conveyed their decision to the UNP.
However, SLFP Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera hadn’t so far indicated what he intended to do, sources said.
By Maheesha Mudugamuwa
SLFP ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers who voted in favour of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe moved by Joint Opposition (JO) in parliament on Wednesday (04) are ready to resign from all ministerial portfolios if President Maithripala Sirisena takes a decision to that effect.
Addressing a special media briefing held at party headquarters in Colombo, Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara stated that the PM Wickremesinghe could not take any decision regarding the removal of ministers, Deputy Minister or State Minister.
Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s legislator son Namal fathered the failure to topple Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on President Maithripala Sirisena, hours after a humiliation in the national parliament.
“President Sirisena’s habit of betrayal proven again at the no confidence motion. First he encouraged SLFP members to support it and then backs off. He has betrayed both the SLFP and the UNP,” a livid Namal Rajapaksa tweeted after the vote.
The Joint Opposition (JO) led by Mahinda Rajapaksa had hoped to topple Wickremesinghe at Wednesday’s no-confidence vote after Sirisena had asked his faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to vote in favour of the resolution to oust the PM.
However, the Sirisena faction broke apart with 22 of his loyalists and absenting themselves at the time the vote was taken on Wednesday night. Even if they had voted for the motion, Wickremesinghe had a comfortable majority to defeat the motion.
By Skandha Gunasekara and Ashwin Hemmathagama
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe yesterday emerged victorious after he managed to decisively defeat the much anticipated No-Confidence Motion with a comprehensive majority of 46 votes and will meet President Maithripala Sirisena today to decide the future of the government.
At the conclusion of a full day debate of nearly 12 hours Speaker Karu Jayasuriya moved the House for a vote on the motion. The motion against Prime Minister Wickremesinghe received 122 votes in favor and 76 votes against at a division by name. The division was called by Leader of the House Minister Lakshman Kiriella. A total of 26 MP were absent for the vote. Among them were two signatories to NCM Nishantha Muthuhettigama and Karder Musthan.
The UNF voted against the motion in a show of strength, backing the Premier with even dissident MP Wijedasa Rajapakse closing ranks unexpectedly. The minority parties led TNA, SLMC ACMC, Mano Ganesan and P. Digambaram (TPA), who are part of the UNF, bolstered the support for the Prime Minister by voting against the No-Confidence motion. There was eleventh hour change of heart from vocal State Ministers Wasantha Senanayake and Palitha Ranga Bandara as they voted against Motion.
However, as promised, the six members of the JVP voted in favor of the motion. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was absent during the debate, voted in favor of the motion, along with his brother MP Chamal Rajapaksa and son MP Namal Rajapaksa.
Independent MPs Athureliya Rathana Thero and Arumugam Thondaman were absent for the vote.
The SLFPers who voted in favor of the motion included Parliamentarians Susil Premajayantha, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Dilan Perera, John Seneviratne, Lakshman Wasantha Perera, Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Tharanath Basnayake, Susantha Punchinilame, Anura Yapa, S. B. Dissanayake, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Chandima Weerakkody, Anuradha Jayaratne and Sumedha Jayasena.
Continue reading ‘No Confidence Motion Against Ranil Defeated 122 to 76 With 26 Absent at Voting: TNA, SLMC,AIMC,DPA JHU Support PM; Cabinet Re-shuffle Imminent After Axing of 14 SLFP Ministers and MP’s Who Voted for NCM.’ »
By Dinasena Ratugamage
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Vanni District MP Selvam Addaikalanathan yesterday said that UNP leader and PM Ranil Wickremesinghe had accepted ten of its proposals in return for the group’s backing for him to defeat the No Confidence Motion (NCM) moved by the Joint Opposition.
The TELO MP, representing the TNA, said that there had been a heated argument and tension when PM Wickremesinghe at the onset of the meeting between the UNP and the TNA turned down those proposals.
Addikalanathan said that they had been able to reach a consensus on ten proposals subsequently.
The following are the TNA proposals accepted by PM Wickremesinghe:
By Saman Indrajith, Rathindra Kuruwita and Revata S Silva
The no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, for his alleged involvement in treasury bond scams and failure to act promptly to contain ethnic violence in Ampara and Kandy, was defeated in Parliament yesterday with a majority of 46 votes.
At the end of a full day debate from 10 am to 9.30 pm Speaker Karu Jayasuriya moved the House for a vote.
The motion against Prime Minister Wickremesinghe received 76 votes in favour and 122 votes against while 26 MPs were absent at the division taken by name. Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dassanayake read out the names of 224 MPs (Speaker Jayasuriya not included), and each of them present was asked to state ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Voting started at 9.30 pm and ended around 10 pm.
Continue reading ‘Sirisena Led SLFP Fractured Due to No Confidence Motion Against Prime Minister:25 SLFP MP’s Absent From Parliament for Vote:15 SLFP Ministers and MP’s who Voted Against Ranil Refuse To Resign From Govt.’ »
In a comical turn of events – not entirely unanticipated – the Sri Lanka freedom Party (SLFP) faction under the purported leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena did a complete political volte -face by deciding to abstain from voting in the no confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on April 4th 2018.
An announcement to this effect was made by senior cabinet minister A.H.M. Fowzie even as the no confidence motion debate got underway as scheduled when Parliament commenced sittings at 9.30 am on Wednesday April 4th.
It is learnt that the SLFP decision came about as a result of President Sirisena getting cold feet at the last minute through the belated realization that his treacherous move of joining forces with the Rajapaksa -led SLFP faction and joint opposition members to remove Ranil Wickremesinghe from the post of prime minister was doomed to fail as neither Mahinda nor Maithripala were able to cobble together the required number of MP’s to get the no confidence motion passed.
The no confidence motion was submitted to the speaker with 51 Joint opposition MP’s and 4 SLFP MP’s in the Coalition Govt signing it. Thereafter Some leading lights of the SLFP within the government openly revolted against their prime minister with the covert backing of Sirisena. Chief among these were ministers Sushil Premajayantha, Nimal siripala de Silva, SB Dissanayake,Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena and Deputy speaker Thilanga Sumathipala.
Continue reading ‘Realising Ranil Has a Majority in Parliament, Maithripala In a Political “U” turn gets Fowzie to Announce that SLFP Would Abstain From Voting for No Confidence Motion but Lakshman Yapa and Dilan Refute It Saying Party will Vote for NCM’ »
A faction within President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party announced it will abstain from the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the opposition failed to muster the numbers required to topple him.
After failing in their attempts to pressure Wickremesinghe to step down, the Sirisena-faction was in two pieces – one supporting the no-confidence resolution and the other opposing it.
SLFP state minister A. H. M. Fowzie who is in the “no-camp” opposing any moves to topple the government, told reporters that “they”, meaning the rebels within Sirisena faction, will abstain from voting allowing the premier to win by a big margin.
Shortly after Fowzie dropped the bombshell announcement, two SLFP Sirisena faction stalwarts, Chandima Weerakkody and Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said they will vote against Wickremesinghe.
However, from the start, it was clear that the opposition did not have the required majority to oust Wickremesinghe, but Sirisena attempted pressure tactics, hoping he could engineer defections from the United National Party (UNP).
Continue reading ‘Several SLFP Ministers In Govt Like Premajayantha, Nimal Siripala,Dayasiri Jayasekera and Lakshman Yapa Will Be Forced To Resign Or Be Removed From Sirisena- Wickremesinghe Govt as No Confidence Motion Against Premier Fizzles Out’ »
With the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) split on the No Confidence Motion (NCM) against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Joint Opposition’s bid to oust Wickremesinghe seems to be doomed.
The Sri Lankan parliament is currently debating the NCM moved by the Joint Opposition (JO) led by former President Mahnida Rajapaksa on Wednesday. The vote is to take place at 9.30 pm.
As of now, the JO simply does not have the numbers to win the vote.
Under the best circumstances the JO would have got only 101 (54 from its own ranks, 41 from the SLFP, and six from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna) making a total of 101.
The United National Party (UNP) and the United National Front (UNF) headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe would have got 112 (106 of its own ranks plus 16 from the Tamil National Alliance).
The UNP/UNF combine had been streets ahead of the JO and SLFP right from the start.
On this Easter Sunday morning as the world celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe finds himself tied to the cross, branded a thief. Below him, he can see the Joint Opposition mob frantically searching for 113 nails to crucify him. And guess who’s offering them the hammer to drive the nails home?
This April 4, parliament will rise to debate and vote on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wicremesinghe. It’s a motion born out of the joint opposition’s elation in having garnered the popular vote at February’s local government elections. They know they are bound to lose it. But are they worried? No, no.
Its real purpose is not to win it but to put the shivers into government ranks, create a leadership crisis within the UNP and show the masses on what taught tightrope this coalition government precariously walks the walk today; and on what tremulous strands of coir it perilously balances its act. And that it’s doomed to fall. And it realises that, after having thrown the seeds of dissent, bringing down both the UNP and the SLFP before 2020 is nothing more than child’s play. In fact, the puerile way the Government has reacted, the joint opposition’s determined campaign is akin to stealing candy from a kid.
For both parties in the coalition Government have taken the bait and are doing the joint opposition’s bidding, dancing to its music and acting in accordance with the Mahinda script which has devised a tragedy at its ending. It’s not the prime minister’s scalp they are after. The no-confidence motion is to drain the lifeblood of this coalition Government and render it moribund — for the nation not to resurrect the corpus come 2020 but to puke upon it.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is almost certain to survive the ouster move which is backed by President Maithripala Sirisena, but their coalition government is headed for deeper turmoil after tomorrow’s parliamentary vote.
Sirisena’s faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is making a last ditch attempt to pressure Wickremesinghe into stepping down, but the Prime Minister has made it clear he is no pushover, party officials said.
Sirisena had also warned the United National Party (UNP) that it would be political suicide for Wickremesinghe to defeat the no-confidence resolution by getting the votes of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
Leaning on the main minority Tamil party would alienate the nationalist vote of the Sinhalese majority, Sirisena had argued, only to be told that he too had won the January 2015 election thanks to the minorities, including the Tamils.
The No-Confidence Motion against the Prime Minister is not just against him. In its practical implication it is about the government as a whole. This is not about how it is interpreted constitutionally, but how it would work out, practically, if it wins.
It states, “This Parliament resolves that it has no confidence in Ranil Wickremesinghe’s ability to function as Prime Minister and as a Minister of the Cabinet, and as well as the Government in which he holds the office of Prime Minister, any longer.”
In purely constitutional terms, the government could well go on under a different prime minister even if Mr Wickremesinghe is ousted by the No Confidence motion. But, how practical is that? If this one wins, this is the beginning of a very rapid end. The UNP and the government will be effectively headless and anyone who succeeds Mr Wickremesinghe as the prime minister would be at the mercy of a jubilant joint opposition and is more likely to be a stop- gap prime minister until either the next general election or the JO appoints one of its own.
However, most likely, the Joint Opposition will lose the number game. As ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa has implored, “we have delivered the signatures of all MPs on our side. It is up to President Sirisena now to carry through the rest. We await this.”
Jaffna is the capital city of the predominantly Tamil speaking Northern province of Sri Lanka. It was at the time of independence from Britain, the second largest city in the Island, next only to Colombo. Jaffna gradually declined in the post-independence years dropping to fourth place at the 1981 census. Thereafter with the escalation of the ethnic conflict, Jaffna along with many other places in the Northern and Eastern provinces got drastically affected by the war. Disruption of the economy and mass migration saw Jaffna drop to 14th place when an Island wide census was taken in 2012. In fact there are more Sri Lankan Tamils living in Colombo,London and Toronto than in Jaffna now.Nevertheless Jaffna known as “Yaarlpaanam” in Tamil and “Yahapanaya” in Sinhala continues to retain its glory as the cultural capital of the Sri Lankan Tamils.
In that context the recently concluded elections to local authorities in February saw the municipal elections in Jaffna assuming great political significance . Winning the Jaffna municipal poll and electing its candidate as Mayor became a prestigious political party battle. Seven political parties or groupings were in the race for the Jaffna municipal stakes comprising 45 seats(27 wards and 18 PR.) The contenders were the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) contesting under the Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) symbol of house.The TNA comprises the ITAK, PLOTE and TELO; the Tamil National Peoples Front(TNPF) contesting under the Ahila Ilangai Tamil Congress(AITC) symbol of cycle; the Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front(EPRLF) contesting under the Tamil United Liberation Front(TULF) symbol of Sun along with the TULF;the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party(EPDP);the United National Party(UNP);the Sri Lanka Freedom Party(SLFP) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna(JVP).
Continue reading ‘TNA Captures Jaffna, Point Pedro and Chavakachcheri By Defeating Tamil Congress in Skilful Political Operation’ »
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will face a crucial no-confidence vote in Parliament on Wednesday, but legislators from his United National Party (UNP) have thrown their weight behind the Premier, vowing to defeat the motion.
With 107 seats, the UNP is the single-largest group in the 225-member Parliament but with some dissidents within, who are expected to vote against their leader, and frantic negotiations on Tuesday among legislators on both sides, Mr. Wickremesinghe will likely need the support of minority parties in order to scrape a win.
Veteran film director CV Rajendran passed away in Chennai on Sunday after a prolonged illness. He was 81.
The director had worked with several big names in the film industry, such as Sivaji Ganesan, Jaishankar, Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan, among others. His first directorial was in 1967 with the Tamil film Anubavam Pudhumai starring R Muthuraman.
by Rajan Philips
“What an anomalous position! The Prime Minister and other Ministers are collectively responsible to Parliament except one member of that Cabinet, the chief whose policy the whole Cabinet is carrying out. The Prime Minister and the other Ministers can be pilloried and thrown out for no fault of theirs, but the fountain-head of the faults and deficiencies in question will escape scot-free immunized by the Constitution itself.”
– N.M. Perera, 1979. Critical Analysis of the New (1978) Constitution
Today is April Fools’ Day. For Christians, it is also Easter Sunday. Skeptical wags will relish the coincidence, which occurs only three or four times a century. Here at home, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe may have been wishing the Joint Opposition’s No Confidence Motion (NCM) to be nothing more than an April Fools’ prank, or, failing that, in the week of the risen lord he (PM) too could rise from the near-death ordeal that he has been going through over two months and as many moons. Alas, there is no April Fools for PM. The NCM is no prank or pickle. The man is in a real predicament. Nor can Easter save him. The Christian message of Easter is that – one who sacrifices one’s life for one’s faith will live on even when dead. In politics and in public life, if you sacrifice your honesty for ill-gotten gains, you are spiritually dead even if temporally alive.
The Prime Minister already stands injured and insulted, by his co-executive’s Gazette Extraordinary. With the stroke of the presidential pen, Maithripala Sirisena has gutted the PM’s portfolio, removing the Central Bank and all matters economic and financial from the PM and relocating them in the Finance Ministry. That is where they have always been since the government of Prime Minister DS Senanayke and his Finance Minister JR Jayewardene. That is where they must always be. The younger forces in the UNP must reflect hard and realize that how positively differently the yahapalanaya government could have unfolded if Ranil Wickremesinghe did not commit the cardinal blunder of usurping the Central Bank and handing it over to his baby-boy governor and his wheeler-dealing UNP cabal.
1956 was the last time Easter fell on April Fools’ Day. In Sri Lankan politics, that was a particularly bad year for the UNP and one that may seem to fit chronological extrapolation by a frequent political commentator to reach 2018 from 1953, 1956, 1964 and 1970. Never mind, predictions based on chronological extrapolation are no less flawed than astrological prognoses in electoral politics. The Prime Minister’s predicament is all post-2015 and nothing pre-1977. Leaping over decades to imagine linkages, and creating narratives spiced with familial connections, is self-serving political commentary. However, it is possible to see a continuous curve in the way Ranil Wickremesinghe has been conducting politics throughout his political career starting from 1977. However, blaming his parents for his political failings is as pathetic as praising one’s parents to sell one’s political wares.
Yet, it cannot be said that the Prime Minister is not without an escape door, morally and politically. Morally, the opportunity for redemption is the fundamental condition of transformative justice, just as it is the essence of Christian teaching based on the New Testament. ‘Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth’, on the other hand, is Old Testament thunder. Politically, Ranil Wickremesinghe will still have life in the UNP either as a beleaguered PM (if he wins the vote), or as an elder statesman of consequence (if he loses). It is the President who will have nowhere to run if the PM wins, and will become the sole scapegoat for blame against the government, if he loses. Either way, the President would have got his well- deserved comeuppance.
The unanimous decision by the Working Committee of the UNP to defeat the no-confidence motion against the UNP Prime Minister has offered some relief to the beleaguered Ranil Wickremesinghe but he is not out of the woods yet. Indeed he will not be safe until the vote is taken and it is established that he is through. As D-day nears and the SLFP still has not taken an official position on the no confidence motion, the likelihood increases that most of the SLFP members in the government may keep away on the day of the debate and the vote. The toughest statement that the SLFP has officially made so far is that they ‘cannot oppose’ the no confidence motion. That is a far cry from the rhetoric that we heard being spewed forth on the stage by President Sirisena who painted the UNP in the darkest colours and tried to portray his faction of the SLFP as being more anti UNP than the SLPP. Today those roars of defiance have subsided into barely audible mutterings.
Unless the Sirisena faction shows a lively leg and comes out strongly against the UNP by being present on April 4 in Parliament and votes en masse against the UNP, the biggest casualty of the no confidence motion after Ranil Wickremesinghe is going to be Sirisena. In the past few days, he weakened Ranil’s position further by abolishing the Cabinet Subcommittee on Economic Management comprising of some of Ranil’s closest cronies, and assigning institutions like the Central Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission which had hitherto been under the Prime Minister to the Finance Minister without consulting anyone in the UNP. However that will not compensate for any lack of resolution that the Sirisena faction may display on the day of the vote. If the SLFP group in the government shows any signs of being undecided at the moment of truth when the vote is taken, the Joint Opposition is going to be shouting from the rooftops that Sirisena has deceived the people once again.
At the recently concluded local government elections, the votes that the Sirisena faction of the SLFP got were anti-UNP, and even anti-government votes because Sirisena tried to portray himself as the real opponent of the UNP, not the SLPP. His whole campaign was pitched at the opposition and anti-UNP voter, portraying the UNP as a rougues. In hindsight, one wonders what President Sirisena expected to get out of such a strategy. Even if he did manage to deceive quite a number of opposition types to vote for his candidates, still it was only a matter of time before he would stand exposed before the anti-government voter who would see him continuing the coalition government with the UNP. That in fact is what is happening now. The Sirisena faction is no doubt acutely aware of the trap they are in as can be seen from the reaction to the news that a meeting had been held between RW and MS at Minister Rajitha Senaratne’s house to iron out differences.
Sarath de Alwis
Should Ranil stay and face the motion of no confidence or avoid confrontation and go before it is taken up? The question was never an issue. It is a media manufactured, media packaged, and a media distributed yarn – an irrelevant essential.
Ranil should stay and face the floor test. That is what democracy is all about. Democracy is not about a megalomaniac media magnate philandering unearned and undeserving monopoly access to airwaves, spewing venom on a politician that he has taken a dislike to.
Is there a low – cost way out from the present crisis boiling within the Maithripala Sirisena – Ranil Wickremesinghe administration? During the past few days, a number of well – wishers of the present government posed this question to me in personal conversations. All of them are people who have contributed in a variety of ways to the political change of January 2015. They are now deeply worried about the inevitable disintegration of the yahapalanaya regime, with two other inevitabilities – rendering irrelevant the reform mandate of 2015 and the returning to power of the unreformed Rajapaksa camp with a plainly authoritarian political agenda. Still there are no signs of a new option emerging, embodying the democratic and humanistic ideal of our society.
In these conversations, I have also been repeatedly reminded of a bitter political truth. We as citizens who are seriously committed to social and political change may bring politicians of various hues into power through the democratic process. That we do with the hope that politicians and their parties would be truthful to the mandate we, and our fellow citizens, frame and give them. In power, they pay no heed to the concerns of the citizens who authorized them to rule. With scant regard for the popular trust placed on them, the politicians have the habit of running away with political power. At times, they might even get into self-destructive power fights among themselves, as it is happening now, fully ignoring why the people placed their trust on them. Worse still, they show no understanding of why they have been entrusted with political power to begin with. This is the stuff that causes disillusionment with democracy.
Kishali Pinto Jayawardene
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, now busily wrapping the reformist garb of a changed political persona around him, has had the audacity to complain this week that the underworld is now more active than during his Presidency.
Criminals and the Rajapaksa ‘project’
But the truth is that the underworld was ‘managed’ and ‘used’ at the time to protect the Rajapaksa political project. Those inconvenient to the family in power were disposed of while ‘favorites’ were nurtured for use whenever the occasion presented itself. Discomforting details of involvement of senior police officers in the assassinations, assaults and underworld activities fostered with state patronage during the last five years of Rajapaksa rule (2010 – 2014) are now emerging into the harsh light of current-day realities.
These are not casual discoveries that can be shrugged away by a genial smile or hypocritical protestations under the Rajapaksa ‘satakaya’. These atrocities were not brought before the public much earlier due to the power games of the (dis) unity ‘yahapalanaya’ alliance, which have now become the butt of ribald jokes in the popular imagination. Wherever the relativities of the blame may lie for this, President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil must shoulder joint responsibility for squandering the richness of the public trust placed in them in 2015. That much is clear.
By Dr. Nirmala Chandrahasan
The outcome of the local government elections this year has made one fact evident. Whatever may be the reasons attributed it clearly shows the Peoples’ disappointment with the performance of the present government and the parties in power both in the North and in the South. In the North the TNA lost ground because it was perceived by the voters as not having achieved more in solving the problems of the Tamil people. I would submit that these problems have less to do with the delays in Constitution making or non implementation of the transitional justice mechanisms, but are more related to the existential needs of the people.
This is particularly evident in the districts of Mannar, Killinochchi and Mullaitivu where there was a marked decrease in the TNA’s vote. These are districts in which the people are primarily engaged in agriculture and fishing and where livelihood opportunities and possession of land to cultivate are more important considerations than academic controversies and nationalist theories.
The decrease in the votes in the above mentioned districts also indicates that the voters are not satisfied with the performance of the TNA administered Provincial Council. While admittedly the Provincial Councils are ham strung by Central interference, lack of coordination between Central agencies and provincial agencies, the Governor’s powers over finance etc, all matters which could be remedied by Constitutional adjustments, nevertheless the Provincial Council could have done more to promote the concerns of the people, as in promoting Agriculture and Fisheries, increasing employment opportunities, building up the Cooperative sector which in earlier times had been an effective institution, and focusing on primary education in the province through provision of adequate teachers in Science and mathematics, as well as providing travelling facilities by opening up of additional bus routes for children to easily access the schools, these being some of the concerns of the people. These are all matters which come within the purview of the Provincial Administration, under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Having Earned The Gratitude Of The Sinhala People By Ending the War and Establishing Peace Must Now Earn the Gratitude of the Tamils and Muslims By Supporting a Political Solution.’ »
(Well-known Sri Lankan Filmmaker Dharmasena Pathiraja born in 1943 would have celebrated his 75th Birthday on March 28th were he alive today. This article was fist published on Feb 10th 2018 following Pathi’s passing away on Jan 28th 2018.It is being re-posted here to denote Pathi’s 75th Birthday)
Renowned Sri Lankan film maker Dharmasena Pathiraja breathed his last on the morning of January 28th 2018 at the Lakeside hospital in Kandy. The 74 year old academic cum film director refered to as “Pathi” by almost everybody he interacted with, had been ailing for sometime.
It was only last year that the information department organized an event “Pathita Panahai”(Pathi at 50) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his artistic life. Pathi who lived a full life as a free spirit according to his own rules had wanted a swift and simple funeral sans speeches and religious rites. .His wishes were adhered to.The funeral of Dharmasena Pathiraja took place at the Mahaiyawa cemetery in Kandy on the evening of Jan 28th itself. He leaves behind wife Malani Kusumalatha and two children Sumedha and Milinda.
Continue reading ‘Dharmasena Pathiraja The Master Movie Maker’ »
by Channa Wickramasekera
(Renowned Sri Lankan Film Maker Dharmasena Pathiraja passed away n January 28th 2018 exactly two months before his Birthday which falls on March 28th. If Pathi were alive today he would have celebrated his milestone 75th birthday)
Dharmasena Pathiraja (Pathi) is best known in Sri Lanka for his movies. In Melbourne where he studied for his PhD. he is also known for his courageous activism. I came to know Pathi in 1997. I had known his movies long before that and had greatly admired them. But I never had privilege of meeting their director. And when I finally met him it was in a way that had a lasting impact on my life.
I came to Australia in 1990, to study. Most of my undergraduate years at uni were spent in struggling to survive financially and complete my academic work. There was no time for socialization. I knew only a few people, all Sri Lankans including some friends from school in Sri Lanka.
Then, when I started my postgraduate studies my horizons broadened, suddenly. This was not because my financial constraints were eased by a scholarship. I still remained focused on my studies, spending my time between the library, lecture theatres and home. Life was monotonous, boring and plain.
But then I met Pathi.
It was the mid-nineties and we were at a postgraduate seminar on South Asian studies. Pathi was one of many South Asian post graduate students who attended the seminar. He simply introduced himself as Dharmasena Pathiraja and the name itself meant little to me at the time without the association of his movies. It was left to someone to explain that he was actually Dharmasena Pathiraja the director of Ahas Gawwa and Bambaru Ewith. Needless to say I was thrilled to have met, in the most unexpected way, one of my idols. I told him so too and Pathi seemed mildly amused!
Response of Muslim politicians, religious organizations and even civil society to the failure of the government to prevent violence against Muslims in the central hills early this month is deeply disturbing.
The senseless destruction of Muslim owned property and their commercial establishments, striking at their very survival, is enough for any Muslim politician with an iota of self-respect to leave the government as a mark of protest against its failure.
However, it is wishful thinking. Muslim parliamentarians prefer positions and perks to the security of the community. The Sinhala leadership was aware that Muslim parliamentarians would cling on to the government, whatever the harm, and however much insult they cause to the community.
True to this image, some Muslim parliamentarian accompanied President Sirisena in his visit to Pakistan this week, helping to cover up the crime against Muslims in the central hills and hoodwink the world. They included S. M. Marikkar, Hisbullah, Ishak Rahim, Mastan Cader and Ali Zahir Moulana.
They are so shameless and willing tools serving the government that Minister Faiszer Mustapha gladly went to Geneva this week to defend Sri Lanka at the 37th UNHRC session. As a Muslim, did he speak a word about the misery caused to the Muslims in Sri Lanka?
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The UNP yesterday warned President Maithripala Sirisena and the SLFP that the no-confidence motion (NCM) moved against UNP leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would boomerang on them.
Addressing a media briefing at Sirikotha, Galle District MP and Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena said the SLFP shouldn’t take political advantage of the Joint Opposition-led NCM at the expense of the UNP.
Abeywardena said the SLFP had violated the 2015 mandate received by President Sirisena by throwing its weight behind the JO move aimed at causing political instability and uncertainty.
Abeywardena said that an unprecedented crisis could lead to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya being entrusted with wide powers till issues were sorted out.
Continue reading ‘Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena Warns Sirisena That He May Lose His Presidential Powers Temporarilyy to Speaker Jayasuriya if No Confidence Motion Against Prime Minister and Govt is Passed.’ »
by Zacki Jabbar
The government yesterday identified a member of Parliament, being questioned by the Police in connection with the recent mob attacks on Muslims in Ampara and Digana, as a member of the Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Opposition.
Asked at the weekly Cabinet press briefing in Colombo, why the MP said to be involved in the riots had not been identified as yet, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne replied, “A member of the Joint Opposition led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.”
By Rathindra Kuruwita
President Maithripala Sirisena has removed the Central Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s purview. A gazette extraordinary announcing the Presidents decision was issued yesterday, a week before the no-confidence motion against Wickremesinghe is to be taken up. The two institutions have been brought under the Ministry of Finance.
Besides, President Sirisena has put on hold some draft bills, proposed amendments, resolutions, orders etc, which Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was to present to Parliament, in his capacity as the Minister of National Policies & Economic Affairs. The amendments were to be moved to the Monetary Law Act, No. 58 of 1949, Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka Act, No. 35 of 2002, Exchange Control Act, No. 24 of 195, Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka Act, No. 36 of 1987, National Youth Service Council Act, No. 69 of 1979, Youth Corps Act, No. 21 of 2002, Children and Young Persons Ordinance, No. 48 of 1939 and National Insurance Trust Fund Act, No. 28 of 2006.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Undermines His Prime Minister Further By Transferring Central Bank and Securities Exchange Commission From Ranils Purview to The Finance Ministry Through Extraordinary Gazette:’ »
The arrest of fugitive former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga has been confirmed by highly placed government sources as reported exclusively in yesterday’s Daily News.
Weeratunga has been arrested in the United Arab Emirates, following an Interpol Red Notice secured by the Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID) in connection with the alleged 2006 ‘MiG Deal’.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) has the majority required, at least in theory, to defeat a no-confidence motion against him, but a vote could backfire on the instigators too.
The Joint Opposition (JO), whose de facto leader is former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, has secured a debate on the no-trust resolution on April 4 and thereafter a vote that could decide not only Wickremesinghe’s political future but of those in the opposition.
The proposed resolution has already caused fissures within the coalition government as well as the JO which is also divided on the timing of the move to topple Wickremesinghe, according to highly placed party sources.
(Text of Media Release Issued by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Chairman Prof.G.L.Peiris on Behalf of the Joint Oppostion)
Sections of the international media have continued to amplify and broadcast the Sri Lanka government’s propaganda that the Joint Opposition or the Sri Lanka PodujanaPeramuna was responsible for the recent Sinhala-Muslim disturbances in Kandy. In a story datelined March 25. 2018, Reuters has stated that “Police and politicians backed by the country’s former strongman President MahindaRajapaksa joined anti-Muslim riots that rocked Sri Lanka’s Kandy district this month…” This article is based on allegations made against the SLPP by the Law and Order Minister and the Cabinet Spokesman. The latter is quoted as having stated that one SLPP local government representative named Samantha Perera was under investigation for ‘attacking Muslim-owned shops and mosques with stones’.
The Reuters article stated that CCTV footage shows Perera, pointing at the higher floors of a building opposite a mosque, and that according to the Cabinet Spokesman, another SLPP local government representative had been arrested for ‘setting fire to a mosque’. Samantha Perera has informed us that he had been trying to control the crowd and send them away and that there isCCTV footage to prove it. The wife of GaminiRajapakshe, (no relation of the Rajapaksas who lead the SLPP) the SLPP local councilor who has been arrested, informs us that her husband had been arrested near the Narampanawa junction about 100 to 150 meters away from the Menikhinna mosque when he was returning home from his workplace. There is an obvious attempt to frame members of the SLPP.
“Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.”
~Henrik Tikkanen, Finnish Author
American students took to the streets to defy gun violence. It was more to defy those politicians who were financially backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), the infamous Non-Government Organization (NGO),whose aim was only more sales of weapons of destruction, guns and more guns.
On March 24, the kids and families of ‘March For Our Lives’ took to the streets of Washington, DC and in 800+ other locations in US.
Their message is clear. Theirs is succinct; theirs is angry; theirs is direct and theirs is legitimate and precious.
High school students made their case in the court of public opinion. Their rhetoric and the accompanying facial expressions sounded authentic; their determination and devotion to a cause looked stoic; their organizational skills looked almost unreal and the adults who followed them looked even humble and patient.
The power of youth was on display most vibrantly and dazzlingly. America’s gun culture definitely took a turn; I hope for the better, that no person of their parent generation thought possible.
A sophisticated democracy showed what a sophisticated movement could achieve just in one day.
Eight hundred plus rallies all over the United States of America may not have shaken her democracy at her foundations, yet it surely may have sent a series of ripples along a brittle existence of a society bent on ‘safeguarding’ an unsophisticated 2nd Amendment behind which the notorious ‘gun lobby’ was hiding.
When youth take up an issue and decide to run with it, it is unlike a movement or event, which is usually organized by adults.
Nuanced approaches are ignored; analytical methods are discarded and a direct attack on the base of the issue is being adopted-Not-looking-beyond-the-obvious-methodology seems to be paying lucrative dividends.
How can Sri Lankan youth be galvanized into action? When were they galvanized last? By whom and for what cause are the questions that need to be answered before we discuss the possibility of sending our schoolchildren and youth below 35- years to a worthy cause.
‘WHY PRABHAKARAN WILL LOSE’ was the title of an article by me that was published in newspapers and websites (e.g. The Island, Asian Tribune) on October 17, 2004.
That was over a year before Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was appointed Secretary/Defence and Gen. Sarath Fonseka made Army commander.
Note that the title did not read ‘Why Prabhakaran can be defeated.’ It was more inflexibly definite: ‘Why Prabhakaran will lose.’ I cannot think of anyone, local or foreign, who made that prediction and that early.
That was a tough one to call. The prediction I am making now is far easier: “Why this government will lose the next election”.
A more specific title would be “Why the UNP will lose the next election.”
Prime Minister RanilWickremesinghe is facing a no-confidence motion submitted by the Joint Opposition and signed by some of the ministers in his own government. He may survive the vote, but the wrangling between the UNP and SLFP in the unity government would continue till the remainder of its term, or more likely till the President gets his chance to dissolve the government. That would be one and a half years from now, by when the current Parliament completes four and a half years. (According to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the President cannot dissolve Parliament until four and a half years into its term unless a resolution is passed with two third majority in Parliament for its dissolution.)
The joint opposition and the SLFP Ministers who cherish the memories of the good old days of the Rajapaksa regime would escalate political destabilization during the next 18 odd months, so that it would be easier for the President to dissolve Parliament and hand himself into the Rajapaksa cronies as part of a usual behind the curtain deal.
The problem with cohabitation governments in this country is that politicians have little desire to cohabitate. Such arrangements are usually a pretext for binding time for the opportune moment. This government has so far been saved from the fate of UNP’s co-habitation government with President Chandrika Kumaratunga thanks to the 19th Amendment. However, constitutional provisions cannot save the country from all acts of political opportunism.
Michael Safi and Amantha Perera
The biggest game changer in 100 years’: Chinese money gushes into Sri Lanka
Little disturbs the serenity of Guan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion, as her statue sits in contemplation at the centre of Mattala Rajapaksa international airport.
The last flight from the airport departed at 7.50am. The next is scheduled for 7.50am tomorrow. In the meantime check-in counters are empty, car rental desks deserted, and the only sign of life a handful of staff laughing around an information desk who disperse when a visitor arrives.
Built to handle one million passengers each year, Mattala Rajapaksa saw just over 50,000 people in 2017. Since it opened four years ago the gleaming facility in Hambantota district, on Sri Lanka’s south coast, has become known as the emptiest international airport in the world.
It is a symbol of the promise and peril of a fierce contest under way in south Asia. While most international attention has been focused on the South China Sea, on its western border China has been aggressively expanding its presence in the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – rattling the regional kingpin, India, and watched warily by the west.
“China’s penetration of south Asia is the biggest game changer in 100 years,” says Constantino Xavier, a fellow at the thinktank Carnegie India. “The Russians tried, the Americans tried. This is the first time since at least world war two you have a massive power contesting the Indian state.”
Namal Rajapaksa, 31, is former Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s eldest son. An MP and a rugby player, Namal was arrested in July 2016 on charges of money-laundering in a crackdown on members of the previous administration. Namal spoke to The Indian Express from Colombo, before catching a flight to Russia as an independent observer in the presidential polls.
You are seen as the next-generation politician from the family. How do you foresee your political future?
It depends on my destiny. Because modern-day politics doesn’t work on a dynastic background… Dynasties are part of Asian culture, but at the end of the day, what matters most is who is going to get into leadership.
Existence in politics is all about how you behave, how you work, how you spend time with people in your constituency… I will definitely continue in politics and see where it takes me.
There has been conflict between minority communities and the majority Sinhalese Buddhist communities. How do you view this communal face of Sri Lanka?
By Damith Wickremasekara
Using mobile phones of their parents, some school children have been involved in spreading hate speech against ethnic groups and religions, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has found.
A senior CID officer said detectives had found that a number of school children had formed social media groups and were spreading hatred or promoting violence against other communities and religious groups. In addition to five cases where children were directly involved in promoting hatred, a number of others were involved in similar activities, he said.
The CID officer said that under existing laws, action could be taken against persons above the age of eight if they were involved in spreading hatred against other ethnic groups and religions. Those found guilty could be sentenced to seven years in jail.
Continue reading ‘CID Probe Uncovers Disturbing Evidence of Sri Lankan Schoolchildren Forming Social Media Groups to Spread Hatred and Promote Violence Against Other Communities and Religious Groups.’ »
Project Management, Youth Affairs and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayka said the government, over the past three years, has launched over 55,000 development projects in various part of the country and it has spent over Rs. 1 million on each project.
“It’s tragic that we have failed to communicate this effectively to the public. Development communication must be at the heart of the government propaganda,” Ratnayaka said today (26), addressing a meeting on developing infrastructure in rural areas.
Continue reading ‘Govt Has Launched Over 55,000 Development Projects in Various Parts Of the Country in the Last Three Years But Has Failed To Convey This effectively to the People Laments Project Management Minister Sagala Ratnayake.’ »
By Skandha Gunasekara
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) yesterday (26 March) rejected allegation that they were involved in the recent ethnic riots that occurred in some parts of the country, and called on authorities to reveal the names of politicos involved.
Addressing a media briefing held at the Party headquarters yesterday, JHU General Secretary Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said that investigations had proved that the JHU had no involvement in the communal unrest. “Police investigations have exonerated us from any allegations that we were involved in the recent communal violence. We had nothing to do with it. It is those ‘pohottuwa’ members who make these allegations that are really behind the riots,” he said.The Minister went on to say that a majority of those responsible for the communal violence were supporters of former President Rajapaksa. “The ‘pohottuwa’ supporters have a violent past. They are the ones responsible for this. Now they are trying to hide their bloody past by wearing ties and coats. The people will not be fooled.”
The Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) yesterday lodged a complaint with the permanent Office of Missing Persons (OMP) seeking its immediate intervention to find out the whereabouts of former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran.
PHU leader Madumadawa Aravinda yesterday told the media at its Pita Kotte office a thorough inquiry was needed to locate the missing Singaporean.
Continue reading ‘Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) Leader Madumadawa Aravinda Wants Newly Established Office of Missing Persons(OMP) To Trace The Whereabouts of Former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’ »
by Jayadeva Uyangoda
Sri Lanka’s ‘unity government’ of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe has been in a serious crisis of unity for the past several weeks. Although Sri Lanka’s constitution, after its 19th Amendment passed in 2015, does not have provisions for the government’s replacement till the end of 2019, deep divisions between the President and the Prime Minister have pushed the entire government into a state of paralysis.
The recent anti-Muslim violence mounted by a few Sinhalese-Buddhist racist groups two weeks ago also occurred in the context of this crisis of governance. The apathy and disinterest initially shown by the police, the military, the bureaucracy, and even the political leadership to immediately act in order to bring violence under control can also be seen as reflective of this unusual crisis.
The most disquieting outcome of this deepening crisis of Sri Lanka’s unity government is the fact that its promising reform agenda has become its first victim. Post-war peace building, corruption-free governance, and constitutional reform have been the three central components of the government’s reform promise since it came into power in 2015. All are now stuck, unable to move forward, because they are at present bereft of leadership or political direction from either of the two leaders.
Police and politicians backed by the country’s former strongman president Mahinda Rajapaksa joined anti-Muslim riots that rocked Sri Lanka’s Kandy district this month, according to witnesses, officials and CCTV footage reviewed by Reuters.
Scores of Muslim mosques, homes and businesses were destroyed as mobs ran amok for three days in Kandy, the central highlands district previously known for its diversity and tolerance. The government declared a state of emergency and blocked social media platforms for a week to control the unrest.
The role of police and some local Buddhist politicians suggests the Sri Lankan government lost control of elements of its security forces, and that the violence was more than a spontaneous outbreak fuelled by fringe Buddhist extremists and hate-speech spread on social media.
Continue reading ‘Politicians Backed By Mahinda Rajapaksa Participated In Recent Kandy District Anti-Muslim Violence Alleges Reuters Report But Ex-President Denies he or His Party Leaders were Involved.’ »
General Secretary of Bodu Bala Sena Ven. Galagodatte Gnanasara has visited Anuradhapura prison over the weekend to inquire after the health of Mahason Balakaya leader Amith Weerasinghe and other activists held there over their alleged involvement in recent attacks on Muslims in the Kandy District.
Ven. Gnanasara, who had been overseas recently, visited those in custody immediately after his return.
Continue reading ‘Gnanasara Thera Returns After Attending President Sirisena Event in Japan and Visits Anuradhapura Prison to Inquire After Health of Amith Weerasinghe and Other “Mahasohon Balakaya” Members Detained for Alleged anti-Muslim Violence.’ »
Celebrated writer, multi-faceted artiste and activist Dr Sumathy Sivamohan’s latest film ‘Puththu Saha Piyavaru’ (Sons and Fathers- Thanaiyarum Thanthaiyarum), won the BEST FILM, JURY award at the World Indian Film Festival in Hyderabhad, last week.
The film competed with internationally acclaimed and accomplished films like ‘My son is gay’ (India), by Lokesh Kumar, ‘Teen Aur Aadh’ (Three and a half, India), directed by Dar Gai and produced by Anurag Kashyap and Dheer Momaya, ‘The Best of All Worlds’ (Austria) directed by Adrian Goinginger and others.
Besides being a filmmaker Dr. Sivamohan is an academic, poet, translator and actress, she is currently the Professor of English at the University of Peradeniya.
Puththu Saha Piyavaru (Sons and Fathers), Sumathy’s second feature film is about two generations of Tamil musicians in the Sinhala film industry. It takes a hard look at the phenomenal social changes sweeping across the country at the end of the last century and transforming the lives of its people. The film works with new comers, S. A. Vinoj and Ranil Jithendra ( two accomplished musicians in their own right), and Amavasya Sirisena, alongside experienced actors like Bimsara Premaratne, Niranjani Shanmugarajah and others.
Continue reading ‘Sumathy Sivamohan’s Film “Sons and Fathers” (Puththu saha Piyavaru- Thanaiyarum Thanthaiyarum) Wins Jury Award for Best Film at the World Indian Film Festival in Hyderabhad.’ »
By Namini Wijedasa
A multimillion dollar Chinese-funded water supply project has run into controversy with former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga openly demanding its suspension and an inquiry on the grounds that it is overpriced. In August 2016, the National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) awarded a contract to China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) for the Gampaha, Attanagalla and Minuwangoda Integrated Water Supply Scheme. The project cost is US$ 229.5mn (Rs 35.8bn). It is 85 percent funded by a China Development Bank (CDB) loan while the Bank of Ceylon will lend the Government 15 percent of the contract price or US$ 34mn (Rs 5.3bn) as local funding.
The Treasury has already disbursed US$ 8.77mn (Rs 1.3bn) as insurance and management fees. But Ms Kumaratunga, who played a key role in the formation of the incumbent Government, is now calling for all payments to CMEC to be halted and for the conduct of an investigation.
Some form of patrolling of social media is necessary to prevent the spread of hate speech in the country, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe insisted yesterday.
Speaking at the ceremony to induct U.R. de Silva, P.C. as the 24th president of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL), Premier Wickremesinghe said this was necessary following the recent communal unrest in Gintota, Ampara and Kandy.
“Unfortunately, the last few years have seen the emergence of a hate culture. A hate culture that is being spread via social media, in which the Muslims have been targeted,” he stressed.
In the wake of the violence in Kandy, the Government is now seriously looking at legislation to take action against the spread of hate speech through social media. “The Attorney General’s Department and we are talking on this,” he added.
by Arun Janardhanan
At the peak of the war against the LTTE, then defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the most feared and powerful man in Sri Lanka. The UN Human Rights Council had asked Sri Lanka to probe war crimes in which Gotabaya was accused. Nearly a decade later, the 68-year-old is being talked about as a possible presidential candidate, with brother Mahinda Rajapaksa not able to contest again due to the constitution’s upper limit of two terms. He lives in a small two-storey house in Colombo, guarded by not more than two security personnel.
In this interview Gotabaya spoke about the geopolitical situation in the region, the changing character of Indian diplomacy, the meaning of peace, and his own role in the war:
India helped Sri Lanka during the war, but there is a feeling that Colombo is betraying India by moving closer to China.
If you read Shivshankar Menon’s book (Choices — Inside the making of India’s foreign policy), the former Indian National Security Adviser has categorically said that Sri Lanka had given India assurance and shown that it was concerned about any threats to Indian security concerns. Our government never allowed Sri Lankan soil to be used by any foreign country against India… Diplomacy is an art of reciprocity, it is about engagement, conversations and mutual trust. In diplomatic relationships, you cannot replace empowered diplomats with intelligence officers. India has to come out of this ‘China phobia’ with regard to its relationship with Sri Lanka.
But will India’s concerns lead to a change in your approach?
* About 200 Youths From “”Diga Kalliya” (Group of Diga)Unleashed Violence(Diga derived from Digamadulla)
* Sinhala Hardliner Ex-MP Had Meetings With youths and Police officials in Amparai Before Violence
* Mosque and Office, 3 Eateries,1 Grocery Store, 8 Vehicles Damaged in Night of Terror in Amparai Town
* 35 Persons From Mob Identified;5 Surrender;6 Arrested &4 Remanded;Police File Six Cases
* Crowd Numbering 2000 Including 200 Bhikkus Gather At Courts To Protest Legal Action
* Ampara Muslims Pressured to Refrain From Legal Action if they Want to Continue Living There Peacefully
* Alleged “infertility Pills” In “New Cassim Hotel” Beef Gravy Found To Be Lumps of Flour By Govt Analyst
Sri Lanka struggling for long to recover from the debilitating effects of a protracted civil war and progress resolutely along the road to economic prosperity suffered a tremendous set back in the last days of February and early days of March with the outbreak of organized anti-Muslim violence. Ethno-religious neo-fascist elements formed themselves into mobs and unleashed a terrible spree of violent attacks targeting Mosques, Muslim owned busineses ,shops, houses and vehicles in Amparai town and different parts of Kandy district.
The anti-Muslim violence erupted first in Amparai town on Feb 26th/27th night and was followed by attacks in Digana,Kandy on March 4th .Thereafter it spread to other areas in Kandy district like Teldeniya,Pallekalle,Katugastota and Akurana etc. The damage in Amparai is very much less when compared to the destruction in Kandy. In Amparai one mosque and adjacent structures , Three Muslim owned eateries, one grocery store and eight vehicles were attacked and damaged. A few Muslim dwellings were stoned but no families were harmed as most had taken shelter in neighbouring homes or fled to shrub jungle areas. All this happened within a few hours on one night in Amparai. In Kandy the situation was different.
Continue reading ‘“Wanda Pethi”, “Digakalliya”and the Anti-Muslim Violence In Amparai Town’ »
by C.A. Chandraprema
The no confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has taken the political centrestage. In normal circumstances, this no confidence motion need not have been taken seriously at all. The UNP has 106 MPs and their allies the TNA has 17 and that alone would have sufficed to render the no confidence motion redundant even before it was taken up for debate. But this no confidence motion was not presented in parliament under normal circumstances. The Joint Opposition which submitted the motion has only 52 MPs. The SLFP group in the government which may support it, another 44, bringing the total number of those who may vote for the motion to a maximum of 96. It is certain that not all in the SLFP group will vote for this no confidence motion even if President Sirisena asks them to vote for it. There is a very strong possibility that up to ten SLFP members may vote against the no confidence motion.
Going by those numbers, this motion should be dead in the water from the moment it was handed in but it is not. The reason why it has become a major issue is the ever increasing possibility of a revolt within the UNP itself. This revolt is not necessarily due to the due to the inherent merits of the no confidence motion but due to a long standing need within the UNP to get rid of their leader. The Joint Opposition realising that this is the most effective sales pitch for the no confidence motion, has been plumbing that line for all they are worth. Some of the posts that appeared during the past few days on facebook pages sympathetic to the JO went as follows:
“This is not against the government. It’s against Ranil.”
“If you keep Ranil on as leader you will have to field an outsider as presidential candidate again. Are you going to remove Ranil and have a proper UNP candidate contesting the presidency the next time at least? The choice is yours!”
“Ranil has been your leader since 1994 and you have been defeated 30 times. He used Sirisena and managed to win once, but then Sirisena used and deceived you. If you don’t get rid of Ranil at least this time, your party will have no future until he dies”.
“Are you going to have Ranil as the party leader until he dies or are you going to get rid of him while you have the chance to do so? It’s up to the UNP to decide”.
“Even though you thought Ranil was a master brain (molaya), you now realize he is just a potato (alaya) incapable of doing anything. He has destroyed the economy, the country and your party as well and created a situation where people retch at the mention of the UNP. At least now shall we see whether he can be removed, and the party leadership given to some capable person?”
(Excerpts from “Sunday Times” Political Column)
Obathumaatath mekeng sweep ekak vedenna puluwang or you also can win a sweep ticket through this, remarked ‘Joint Opposition’ parliamentarian Wimal Weerawansa as Dinesh Gunawardena handed a copy of the No-Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.
Jayasuriya was not too pleased with the remark that hinted that he could become Prime Minister ousting Wickremesinghe. Mama oya sweep ticket walata kadera nehe or I am not greedy for those sweep tickets, he extorted.
Gunawardena, leader in Parliament of the ‘Joint Opposition’, handed over the motion signed by 55 MPs, four of them from the SLFP, on Wednesday afternoon. Present to grace the occasion was the de facto leader of the ‘JO,’ former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and a group of parliamentarians who are his supporters.
“We are confident of having the motion passed in Parliament,” Gunawardena told the Sunday Times. He said the motion, the contents of which were revealed in these columns last week, has received wider support.
“Though I did not sign for it expressly at the request of the party, I propose to vote for the motion. In the past, I have not done so in respect of any other similar motion in Parliament,“ Mahinda Rajapaksa told the Sunday Times. Yet, there are growing indications, despite optimism amongst select SLFP Ministers, the motion is doomed to fail. How enthusiastic Rajapaksa himself was on this motion being filed is also a matter of speculation. Finger pointing on responsibility for such an imminent debacle has begun.
Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s “Special Assistant” has quit after launching a savage attack ahead of next month’s no-confidence motion.
The once powerful Sudath Chandrasekara announced the resignation after 33 years of service in a seven-page letter tearing into Wickremesinghe and making a series of allegations ranging from arrogance, indifference, cronyism and incompetence.
Continue reading ‘Ranil’s “Man Friday” of 33 Years Sudath Chandrasekara in Backstabbing Move Resigns Special Assistant Post After Releasing 7 Page Letter Attacking Wickremesinghe While PM Faces No Confidence Crisis.’ »
By Gagani Weerakoon
In what appears like rubbing salt on the wound the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress indicated it is running out of patience with the coalition partner United National Party (UNP) of which, leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is facing a threat of losing party reins due to increasing demand within the party for him to step down in addition to being threatened with a No-faith Motion in Parliament challenging his Premiership,.
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader, Minister of City Planning and Water Supply, Rauff Hakeem, after swearing in Local Government members elected from his Party at the Party’s Headquarters Darussalam on Friday evening (23) has said that he will be compelled to respond in a serious manner if the UNP continue to breach agreements reached before Local Government (LG) polls.
Kishali Pinto jayawardene
There is a cheery though dangerously complacent view articulated by senior Muslim politicians, (and echoed by others),that the recent communal violence in Ampara and Kandy was perpetrated through organised attacks by ‘outsiders’ on Muslim residents of those areas.
Only part of the truth
As is often the case, this explanation is only part of the truth. Certainly thugs masquerading as monks and racist organisations wrapping the banner of ‘Sinhala Buddhist militants’ around them, (surely an oxymoron if there ever was one) engaged in illegal hate speech and were responsible for bringing organized mobs to attack innocent people. The Government has assured that the ringleaders have been arrested but more needs to be seen than mere arrests.
The legal system must be allowed to work unhindered and at its fullest strength. Convictions must ensue for hate speech and for incitement to violence as well as the committal of violence on persons and property under existing laws that are more than sufficient for the purpose. As importantly, members of the police and the Special Task Force (STF) complicit in the violence either though acts of omission or commission need to be severely dealt with in terms of the criminal law. That needs to be yet seen.
Continue reading ‘Despite Buddhist Monks Spewing Race Hatred as Captured on TV Cameras and recordings There is Little Action Taken by the Senior Clergy Other than the Belated Issuing of Statements.’ »
One fascinating dimension of the current political developments in Sri Lanka is the maturing power struggle between three groups of the Sinhalese political class. They are led by three prominent political personalities, President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The last local government election, held a few weeks ago, marked the first occasion presented to these three groups to compete with each other in the public arena for popular support. The post-election days saw the intensification of their contradictions. Developments around the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister, proposed by the Joint Opposition in Parliament, will be crucial to understand the emerging trajectories of this three-cornered power struggle. The forthcoming provincial, presidential, and parliamentary elections beginning the end of next year, might lead to some sort of resolution of it. We still cannot speculate its shape and consequences. Nevertheless, Sri Lankan politics is obviously heading for some interesting times.
This essay seeks to shed some light on the sociology and political economy of this intra-elite power struggle currently unfolding in the country. Before that, some preliminaries are in order.
Continue reading ‘Unfolding Power Struggle Between Three Groups of the Sinhala Political Class Led By President Maithripala sirisena, Premier Ranil wickremesinghe and Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Respectively.’ »
by Arun Janardhanan
Three years after he was swept out of office, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s former President, thinks he is in with a chance to return to power. Last month, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), the party loyal to him, made a stunning comeback with a massive win in local body polls. And early this month, Rajapaksa’s rival and successor President Maithripala Sirisena had to declare a state of emergency for more than a week after Buddhist-Muslim clashes left the island-nation reeling.
Although elections are not due in Sri Lanka until 2020, these developments have prompted Rajapaksa to press for early elections. In an interview to The Indian Express, Rajapaksa spoke on the possibility of his return to power, his role in the next presidential polls, the economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the Chinese debt trap.
Excerpts from the interview:
You had a massive victory in the local body polls. What does this mean for the party loyal to you?
It is quite clear that people of Sri Lanka want to see us return to power. They want to see an end to the chaos that has reigned in this country since January 2015.
Have you started talks with potential allies? Are new political equations emerging? How do you hope to reassure your critics such as civil society and human rights groups?
We have been approached by some ministers and MPs from the ruling coalition. Some crossovers may take place in future. You referred to civil society groups and human rights groups. In Sri Lanka, most of these so-called civil society groups are not real civil society groups but NGOs funded by Western nations. Such groups support only those who promote the agenda of their paymasters. In India, I believe things are very different.
Continue reading ‘“Ours has always been a very united family. We have never had any falling out among ourselves” – Mahinda Rajapaksa About His Brothers Gotabhaya and Basil in Interview with “Indian Express”’ »
The No Confidence Motion (NCM) submitted by the Joint Opposition (JO) against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appears to be doomed to failure because Wickremesinghe’s party and alliance, namely, the United National Party (UNP) and the United National Front (UNF), are almost fully with him.
And the UNP-led UNF is the single largest grouping in parliament with 106 out of a total House of 225 members.
Over 80 MPs out of the 106 UNF members signed a motion expressing confidence in Wickremesinghe at a meeting here on Thursday.
Parliament is to debate the NCM on April 4.
By Saman Indrajith
The JVP yesterday demanded to know how a person accused of corruption by a Presidential Commission of Inquiry had been to Japan as a member of President Maithripala Sirisena’s entourage.
JVP MP Bimal Rathnayake said his erstwhile colleague Piyasiri Wijenayake, accused of corruption as per the PRECIFAC report,had accompanied President Sirisena during the latter’s state visit to Japan.
President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday directed IGP Pujith Jayasundera to immediately deploy the Special Task Force (STF) to prevent the destruction of Muthurajawela marsh and sanctuary.
President Sirisena also directed that police road blocks be established at entry and exit points as part of measures to stop what he called environmental destruction.
A spokesperson for the presidential secretariat told The Island that President Sirisena had issued directives to the police and other relevant authorities following an on-site visit yesterday morning in the wake of media disclosure of large scale destruction there.
Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Orders Deployment of Police and Special Task Force To Prevent Massive Scale Environmental Destruction of Muthurajawela Wetlands Sanctuary By Private Construction Company.’ »
More than 80 UNP MPs have signed a letter expressing their confidence in Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by yesterday evening, Law and Order and Public Administration Minister Ranjith Maddumabandara said.
Continue reading ‘Over 80 UNP Parliamentarians Sign Letter Expressing Confidence in Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Counter Move Against No Confidence Motion Against Him; More To Sign this Week.’ »