Should Sajin de Vass Gunawardena be “Absolved”of his Alleged Corruption Because he has Turned State Witness Against the Rajapaksas?

by Nirmala Kannangara

Should all crimes of a wharf clerk turned CEO Mihin be ignored just because he now turns state witness against the Rajapaksas?

Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, former Monitoring MP, External Affairs Ministry, who stands accused of mass-scale fraud, unpaid loans, criminality and unfulfilled promises during the Rajapaksa regime, is back in the spotlight, this time for enjoying ministerial privileges from taxpayers hard-earned money despite not being an MP, a minister or even a local government member.

Despite pledges being made by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe prior to the 2015 presidential election, that stern action would be taken against all those who siphoned public money and were involved in fraud and corruption, the ‘good governance’ government has provided Sajin Vass with police guard instead of taking legal action against him for the alleged large-scale corruption he was involved in.

Sajin Vass had come to an agreement with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to turn state witness in all investigations carried out against alleged Rajapaksa family corruption. In return, immediately after he was granted bail last year, the Defence Ministry provided Vass with security from the Ministerial Security Division (MSD) together with back-up vehicles.

Continue reading ‘Should Sajin de Vass Gunawardena be “Absolved”of his Alleged Corruption Because he has Turned State Witness Against the Rajapaksas?’ »

Nirmala Kannangara of “The Sunday Leader” Gets Thompson Foundation Best Investigative Journalist in Print Media Award

Nirmala Kannangara, Features Editor and Investigative Journalist of The Sunday Leader Newspaper, received the 2015 Inquirer Award for the Best Investigative Journalist in print media by the Thompson Foundation last evening at the Jubilee Hall, Galle Face Hotel, Colombo.

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How Mahinda Rajapaksa Went To Thailand And Met Udaya Weeratunga Who is Wanted in Sri Lanka For Questioning

By Sunday Times Political Editor From Bangkok

When Captain Kolitha Ekanayake took off on a SriLankan Airlines Airbus A 330-200 the previous Saturday morning to Bangkok, no one realised that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was on board, was flying into a serious controversy.

From a front row seat in the Business Class he watched television and sipped tea throughout the three hour flight. Seated next to him was former External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris. He pored over that day’s issue of our sister newspaper, the Lankadeepa, and was soon fast asleep with his head bowed down.

The only other politician to accompany Rajapaksa was Western Provincial Councillor Upali Kodikara. Interesting enough, both Peiris and Kodikara had called on President Maithripala Sirisena, soon after the January 2015 presidential election to ascertain whether they could join the United National Front (UNF) Government. They did not succeed. Now they are once again close allies of Rajapaksa.

Clad in a suit that has seen better days, Kodikara was in the Economy Class. When the curtain separating the Business Class from the Economy section was drawn during breakfast service, Kodikara moved it every now and then to keep a watch on Rajapaksa. He then briefed four bodyguards of Rajapaksa including a Gazetted officer, who were seated near him, of the well-being of the former President during the flight.

Continue reading ‘How Mahinda Rajapaksa Went To Thailand And Met Udaya Weeratunga Who is Wanted in Sri Lanka For Questioning’ »

Kirullapone May day Rally Will Enable Joint Opposition to Formalise Hold Over Opposition Space Being Occupied By Them.

By

C. A. Chandraprema

History will be made before the day ends today on May Day and we Sri Lankans will be seeing a phenomenon that no previous generation has seen hitherto. This will be the occupation of the opposition space by a new political entity.

There have been breakaway groups from the government earlier as well in 1951 when S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike broke away from the UNP to form the SLFP. However Bandaranaike was then going in as a newcomer into an opposition space then already occupied by the LSSP. It was the same when Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake broke away from the UNP in late 1991 to form the DUNF – they were going into an opposition that was then occupied by the SLFP.

In fact in the 1992 joint opposition May Day parade where the SLFP and the DUNF joined hands, one of the slogans shouted by the SLFP contingents was “megolloth den api passe.” The term ‘megollo’ referring to the UNP dissidents who had broken away to join the opposition who were marching in the opposition May Day parade.

This time however by holding a separate May Day rally, the Joint Opposition will be formalizing and consolidating their virtual monopoly of the opposition space which they had been occupying since last year. In this the parties and individuals who make up the joint Opposition have been fortunate. Their task is much easier than that which confronted Bandaranaike in the 1950s and the Lalith-Gamini duo in the 1990s.

Continue reading ‘Kirullapone May day Rally Will Enable Joint Opposition to Formalise Hold Over Opposition Space Being Occupied By Them.’ »

Basil Rajapaksa Engaged In “Poaching” Of SLFP Grass Roots Activists For Kirullapone May Day Rally

By

Rasika Jayakody

When President Maithripala Sirisena walked into a meeting with newspaper editors and media heads at the President’s House on Wednesday morning, he looked calm and confident.

The timing of the meeting was crucial as it fell four ahead of May Day – a day exploited by Sri Lankan political parties.

This year, the traditional muscle-flexing event has drawn more media attention as the UPFA rebel group, which calls themselves the ‘Joint Opposition’, will have their own May Day event. Obviously, they hope to poach some MPs from the SLFP’s May Day rally in Galle, chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena.
This has already caused a split in the blue camp. Some UPFA MPs, who are members of the SLFP, have already said they will attend the rebel group’s May Day rally in Kirulapone.

Some backbenchers of the SLFP, ardent supporters of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, openly claimed they would distance themselves from the party’s May Day event in Galle.

This situation compelled the SLFP to take measures to give more energy to the Galle rally. The SLFP instructed its seniors to hold press conferences almost on a daily basis to boost the enthusiasm of grassroots level supporters.

Poaching

The SLFP was aware of the fact that former Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, the former President’s campaign manager at the last Presidential election, was holding district level meetings to poach the SLFP’s grassroots level activists for their May Day rally in Kirulapone.

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65,000 Mittal Housing Project Must Be Rejected For The Right reasons And Not Be Accepted For The Wrong Reasons


By Prof. Mano Kumarasuriyar

Much has been said and written about the 65,000 houses programme being proposed by the Government. Its critics claim it to be an improperly conceived national expenditure with relatively high opportunity costs. On the other hand, its proponents, the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Resettlements, in particular, say those who criticise the project are ignorant of the reality and unaware of the ground conditions. It is, therefore, necessary to examine the project with the intention of facilitating sensible decisions since such a high profile matter is bound to impact significantly on many thousand households in the North and the East.

As at March 2016, some 70,000 odd war-displaced households have been settled thanks to several international donor-driven programmes implemented over the past six years. Another 3,000 more are to be settled within the next year. This, however, falls far short of the target of resettling all those who had been displaced by the war. The shortage has been estimated to be around 135,000, some of whom are still languishing in refugee camps while others have returned to their own lands to be sheltered in temporary shacks made mostly of material salvaged from refugee camps.

It is in this backdrop that the Government’s 65,000 houses programme is to be contracted out to a French company, ArcellorMittal. In this programme, each housing unit, made of steel frames, claddings and roofing, is said to cost Rs.2.1million. The basic houses constructed thus far with international donor assistance cost a maximum of Rs. 550,000 each. These conventional houses were built of cement blocks or clay bricks and clay tiled roofs with timber doors and windows. The recipients of these donor-funded houses may spend their own money to expand the houses and, may even add elements of luxury such as glazed tile floors or ornamental door sashes.

It has been speculated that the ArcellorMittal housing programme beneficiaries would also be receiving semi-luxury household furniture and furnishings, solar power assembly, gas cylinders and stoves for cooking, flat-screen TV, computers and Wi-Fi connections among other goodies. The total housing costs of the 65,000 houses are to be borne by the Government of Sri Lanka through a seemingly attractive financial package offered by ArcellorMittal. The US$1 billion (Rs.140 billion) low-interest loan is to be paid back over ten years with a grace period of one year.

On analysing the MIttal proposal it becomes evident that there are three specific aspects that may have influenced the Government to give the proposal serious consideration.

Continue reading ‘65,000 Mittal Housing Project Must Be Rejected For The Right reasons And Not Be Accepted For The Wrong Reasons’ »

How Can Samantha Power Describe Sri Lanka as a “Global Champion of Human Rights and Democratic Accountability”?

By Taylor Dibbert

On Thursday in Washington, the United States and Sri Lanka held an important meeting focused on trade, investment, and the broader direction of bilateral economic relations. Samantha Power, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, even flew in from New York City to attend the event. Power’s prepared remarks are as upbeat as ever.

Like the author of this piece, some readers may be wondering (quite reasonably) why Power was attending a meeting focused on economic issues. According to a media advisory note from the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Power’s participation would “highlight how the U.S.-Sri Lanka Joint Action Plan [the agreement inked Thursday] represents continued progress for human rights, as well as democracy and accountability, on the part of the newly elected Sri Lankan government.”

It’s no secret that the United States has been keen on resetting the relationship with Sri Lanka since Maithripala Sirisena won the presidency in January 2015. Nevertheless, the Obama administration’s rhetoric continues to be wildly out of step with reality. Let’s take a closer look at Power’s statement.

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Sri Lanka Has Since January 2015 Emerged As a Global Champion of Human Rights and Democratic Accountability Says Samantha Power

(Remarks made by Ambassador Samantha Power , US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at a United States-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council Meeting on April 28th 2016.)

There were two reasons that I flew down from New York at the crack of dawn this morning to join you. The first is that I fell in love with Sri Lankan food during my visits, and I was told there were going to be string hoppers, curries, and pol sambol here, but I was misled.

Fortunately, the second reason is much more important and it’s the same reason that our nation’s trade representative is dedicating so much of his time to this and why he and his team are spearheading these discussions. And that is because of the importance President Obama, himself, places on the United States’ bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka. More specifically, our commitment – and his commitment – to Sri Lanka’s continued progress, and our determination to support President Sirisena in his efforts to ensure that this progress delivers socio-economic benefits for the people of Sri Lanka.

Of course, the fact that we are all here in an incredibly positive atmosphere reflects just how much has changed in Sri Lanka since January 2015. That was the month where Sri Lankans cast their votes for a new era: one in which their leadership committed to seeking a durable peace, an accountable democracy, a new relationship with the outside world, and expanded opportunities for all.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Has Since January 2015 Emerged As a Global Champion of Human Rights and Democratic Accountability Says Samantha Power’ »

Sad Story of the Banda-Chelva Pact: How the B-C Pact was Formulated, Signed and Abrogated.

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The “Good Governance” Government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has embarked upon a historic exercise to enact a new Constitution for Sri Lanka. The consensual approach being adopted will see Parliament convening as a Constitutional Assembly as and when required to engage in Constitution making. The Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will preside over the Constitutional Assembly sessions.A steering committee headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has been appointed. Sub-committees for various aspects are also being set up.

The current Constitutional Assembly is a significant departure from the Constituent Assembly set up by the Sirima Bandaranaike led Govt to formulate the 1972 Republican Constitution. It is envisaged that the present Constitutional Assembly will in due course after consultation, debate and deliberation , draft a bill to enact a new Constitution and present it to Parliament.

PRIME MINISTER S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (left) and S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, leader of the Thamil Arasu Katchi, shake hands after signing what came to be known as the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact on July 26, 1957 (pic via: The Hindu ~ Also in pic: Symbols of JVP, UNP, SLFP & ITAK; and President Maithripala Sirisena

PRIME MINISTER S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (left) and S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, leader of the Thamil Arasu Katchi, shake hands after signing what came to be known as the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact on July 26, 1957 (pic via: The Hindu ~ Also in pic: Symbols of JVP, UNP, SLFP & ITAK; and President Maithripala Sirisena

Among the key objectives of the Constitution making process are the abolition of the executive presidency, bringing about electoral reforms and finding a durable political solution as an answer to the long standing Tamil national question. While the resolution of the first two issues do not seem to pose a problem at this juncture , the third issue namely a political settlement to the so called ethnic problem, could prove to be a challenge difficult to surmount. In fact there is a possibility that in a bid to achieve Sinhala majority consensus the legitimate aspirations of the long suffering Tamils could once again be short changed in Constitution making.
Continue reading ‘Sad Story of the Banda-Chelva Pact: How the B-C Pact was Formulated, Signed and Abrogated.’ »

TNA Demand For Federalism and N-E Re-merger is Ill-timed and Borders on Desperation

By Vishwamithra1984

“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it”.
~Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for the umpteenth time has resorted to its grand old tactic. At a time when the crying need, both from the greater majority of the ethnic groups, Sinhalese and Tamils, is for reconciliation and co-habitation with dignity and equality a divisive strategy would not pay any dividends.. How much of dignity and equality is forthcoming, especially from the Sinhalese side of the social spectrum is suspect and particularly from the leadership of the Sinhalese action and thought has proven to be blinkered and sometimes exceptionally harmful to a thriving nation grappling with centuries-old antagonisms.

Before we step into the examination of actions and events originated by the Tamil leadership of Sri Lanka that defined and shaped the current socio-political milieu, let us look into what the Sinhalese leadership have been engaged in since the turn of the Twentieth Century. In fact I have written many a column on the various aspects of this festering issue in the relationship between the two major ethnic groups.

Many accomplished historians such as Professors K M de Silva, G C Mendis and Jeyaratnam Wilson and social scientists of the caliber of Michael Roberts, Jayadeva Uyangoda, and Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke and many others, have written books and essays and delivered talks abundantly on this subject.

The political background at the dawn of the Twentieth Century was greatly different from the one that encompasses today’s polity. Under the aegis of the British colonial powers, Ceylon and her political leadership at the time, though well-educated all around unlike most of those who enter politics today, was quite alien to the nuanced underpinnings of the Colonial Office of the United Kingdom Government. The emergence of eminent Tamil leaders such as the Ponnambalam brothers and later G G Ponnambalam during the Legislative and State Council era and their ready cohabitation with the leaders of the Sinhalese majority at the time and considering the prevalent socio-econo-political conditions, an exchange of ideas and policy-stances by both parties assumed more of a sophisticated and nuanced shade rather than real-life experiences of the proletariat and middleclass of the two peoples- Sinhalese and Tamils.

Continue reading ‘TNA Demand For Federalism and N-E Re-merger is Ill-timed and Borders on Desperation’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Warns Of Impending Tax Increases And Calls Upon People To Rise Up Against It

(Text of Statement Issued by Former President and current Kurunegala District Parliamentarian Mahinda Rajapaksa)

No state can exist without taxes. A government needs revenue to carry out its functions and taxes are charged not only on the incomes of the rich but on goods and services used by the general population as well.

Even essential items such as fuel, telecommunications, electricity and food are often targeted for taxation because such goods and services will be bought regardless of the price and therefore guarantees revenue. However, taxes have to be justifiable and reasonable. It is in that light that we should examine the tax increases that are to come into effect from 2 May 2016.

The international prices of virtually everything that we import declined after this government came into power in January last year. In 2014 the average price of crude oil was 96 USD per barrel. Today it’s around 40 USD. Wheat which cost 230 USD per tonne towards the end of 2014 is now around 165 USD. Milk powder which was over 5000 USD per tonne in 2013/14 is now around 2000 USD. Sugar which was 414 USD per tonne in 2014 is now 334 USD. Steel which was 300 USD per tonne in 2014 is now around 90 USD or less. Urea fertiliser which cost 325 USD per tonne in 2014, is around 200 USD today.

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“Preventing Former Ruling Clan From Returning To Power Is My Priority” Declares President Sirisena

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday declared that his goal was to thwart his immediate predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bid to return to power.

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution was meant to scuttle his predecessor’s political project, the SLFP leader said.

President Sirisena was responding to a query by The Island at a media briefing at the President’s House. The President emphasised that he would achieve his objective through constitutional and legal means. Underscoring the pivotal importance of punishing those who had been found guilty of wrongdoings, the President said that he would take all possible constitutional and legal remedies to defeat corrupt as well as scheming elements.

The Independent Commissions established in accordance with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution would play a crucial role in ongoing efforts to create a righteous environment.

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TNA Rejects Allegations About Party Leader Sampanthan Forcing His Way Into a Military Camp In Kilinochchi

By Dharisha Bastians

Hitting out against the ‘camp controversy’ yesterday, the main opposition Tamil National Alliance rejected claims that its leader Rajavarothiam Sampanthan had forced his way into a military camp in Kilinochchi and said the Opposition Leader had complained to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that the army was illegally occupying land owned by private citizens in the area.

Addressing a media conference in Colombo yesterday, TNA Spokesman and Jaffna District Legislator M.A. Sumanthiran said TNA Leader Sampanthan had met with the Prime Minister at Temple Trees that morning to take up the issue.

The Prime Minister had promised to call for a report from the military regarding the property in question, he added.Sumanthiran said the army was in “illegal, forcible occupation” of the area.

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Maithripala Sirisena Concerned About Section of Media Supporting Authoritarian Rule of Mahinda Rajapaksa

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Alleging that a section of the media had thrown their weight behind his predecessor whom he described as an uncompromising and scheming person, President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday alleged that the media seemed to be wanting an authoritarian ruler again.

Addressing the proprietors, top management as well as journalists from both public and private media at the President’s House, the President said he was surprised and sorry about the way some media organisations had backed a scheming authoritarian ruler.

He recalled his predecessor lambasting journalists and television presenters over the phone in disparaging manner over the publication or telecast of offending news items.

The President reiterated a spate of allegations regarding attacks allegedly directed against various media organisations during his predecessor’s rule.

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TNA Leader Sampanthan Responds to Allegations About Entering an Army Camp in Kilinochchi Without Permission in Interview


By

Chathushika Wijeyesinghe

“Daily Mirror” Interviews Leader of the Opposition and Tamil National Alliance Leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan on Current Issues.

Excerpts from the Interview

Q. During the last few days the media was highlighting your visit to an Army camp and the fuss some sections of the Joint Opposition was making about it. There had been a complaint too about it. Is this true and what is your opinion about it?

I will tell you what happened exactly. I went to Kilinochchi where I addressed a meeting in the compound of the house of the MP for Kilinochchi. In the course of the meeting people raised several issues with me, particularly land issues. There were many who complained that their lands for which they held deeds had been acquired by the Army and that such lands had not been returned to them although the Army itself was not using those lands. After the meeting ended several women told me that the lands they complained about were on the other side of the road, meaning that they were opposite the place where the meeting was held. On the other side of the road there was a Murugan temple and they said their lands were behind that temple.

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Wigneswaran Sponsored Federalism Resolution By Northern Provincial Council is Both a Threat and an Opportunity


By

Malinda Seneviratne

Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Wigneswaran has a lot of opinions. To him, Veluppillai Prabhakaran is a hero. He is entitled to that view — after all some people swear by God and some by the devil. C.V. Wigneswaran is not thanking anyone for the fact that he can actually issue statements from Jaffna without getting them vetted by a hooligan. That is OK too.

He is probably the architect of the resolution titled ‘Final proposals for finding a political solution to the Tamil National Question’, and passed by the Northern Provincial Council, which he heads. The resolution (title and content both) could be called presumptuous, tendentious and even hilarious (to some), but then again it is expected, given Wigneswaran’s track record as well as that of moderate (sic) Tamil politicians and political parties. Moreover, it is a democratically expressed proposal and as such legitimate.

No doubt the document will be ripped apart for falsehoods, exaggerations and the absolute impractical nature of its proposals. The very fact that the Northern provincial entity assumes the right to speak for the people of the East itself indicates the land-grabbing intent that runs through the document and which of course has framed Tamil chauvinistic discourse for decades and which, let us not forget, is the bread and butter of politicians such as Wigneswaran.

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Northern Province Council Resolution Evokes Spontaneous Anti – Federal Response From SLFP, UNP, JVP and FSP

BY DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

As always Tamil nationalism has overreached; acted unilaterally and overplayed its hand. As always this overestimation based on (congenitally?) misplaced arrogance undermines its Sinhala moderate counterparts and negotiating partners.

This has been so for decades, from the anti-Sri campaign of 1957 which undermined the B-C Pact, through the Vardarajaperumal NEPC’s confrontational adventurism vis-à-vis Premadasa in 1989-’90 and the LTTE’s ISGA/PTOMS which rendered Ranil and Chandrika easy political targets, right down to the latest NPC resolution and the TNA’s attempt to gatecrash a military camp.

The NPC resolution spontaneously triggered an anti-federal reaction on the part of the SLFP (Mahinda Samarasinghe), UNP (Kabir Hashim, Ajith P. Perera), JVP (Vijitha Herath) and FSP (Pubudu Jagoda). This happened on prime time TV news within 24 hours and without a single word from Mahinda or Gotabhaya Rajapaksa– neither of whom was in the country when the story broke. They have yet to say something on the matter.

Thus the NPC resolution and the TNA’s federalist stance has already caused a programmatic and ideological fissure in the Jan 8th 2015 Yahapalana bloc.

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Cineplex Odeon Stops Screening of Tamil Movie “Theri” in Greater Toronto Area After Pepper Spray-Like Attacks On 3 Theatres

BY JENNY YUEN

TORONTO – A Tamil film has been pulled by big-wig movie theatre corporation Cineplex following three GTA attacks involving a pepper spray-like substance.

Theatres in Brampton, Scarborough and Mississauga were evacuated Friday night around 7:20 p.m. because of similar attacks during screening of the action movie Theri. A few people were treated by paramedics at the scene but no one was seriously injured.

“I can confirm that we did cancel the remaining run of the film, Theri, at our theatres across the GTA,” Cineplex spokesman Sarah Van Lange said Monday.

“The safety and security of our guests and employees is our top priority, and while each incident was localized to a single auditorium, in an abundance of caution we evacuated each of the theatres entirely,” she said. “Steps were taken immediately that evening to ensure the situation was addressed. We continue to take precautionary measures.”

Continue reading ‘Cineplex Odeon Stops Screening of Tamil Movie “Theri” in Greater Toronto Area After Pepper Spray-Like Attacks On 3 Theatres’ »

VIEWERS EVACUATED AFTER THREE SIMULTANEOUS ATTACKS ON THEATRES SCREENING TAMIL MOVIE “THERI” IN SCARBOROUGH, MISSISSAUGA AND BRAMPTON IN GTA, CANADA

BY

CHRIS DOUCETTE

Three GTA movie theatres were cleared out around the same time Friday night because of starkly similar attacks involving a pepper spray-like substance.

Both Toronto Police and Peel Regional Police are aware of the similar theatre scares that happened around the same time in neighbouring jurisdictions and say investigators are looking into any possible connection.

Whether the three attacks were coordinated by the perpetrators or the timing was only coincidental remains to be seen.

Peel police say theatres at Square One Shopping Centre, in Mississauga, and the Trinity Common Mall, in Brampton, had to be evacuated around 7:20 p.m. after patrons fell ill.

“We received reports that a noxious substance had been released in the theatres,” Const. Rachel Gibbs said Saturday.

Continue reading ‘VIEWERS EVACUATED AFTER THREE SIMULTANEOUS ATTACKS ON THEATRES SCREENING TAMIL MOVIE “THERI” IN SCARBOROUGH, MISSISSAUGA AND BRAMPTON IN GTA, CANADA’ »

With Income Decreasing and Expenditure Increasing , Central Bank Report Portrays Bleak Economic Scenario For Sri Lanka on Multiple Fronts

By P K Balachandran

A combination of international and domestic factors had resulted in the Sri Lankan economy seeing a decline in 2015 as compared to 2014, as per the report of the island nation’s Central Bank for the year 2015.

The report presented to President Mathripala Sirisena by Governor Arjuna Mahendran here on Tuesday, expressed dismay over runaway expenditure and decreasing income at home when the international economic situation was none too good.

Gross official foreign exchange reserves declined to US$ 7.3 billion from US$ 8.2 billion. The Balance of Payments deficit stood at US$ 1.4 billion and the Lankan rupee had depreciated 9.3 percent in relation to the US dollar.

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Ties Between the Maithri-Ranil Govt and China Were Brought about by an Economic Expert in Singapore


By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Subsequent to his defeat his first trip abroad was to Thailand. However, Mahinda had thought he could make his first overseas trip subsequent to his defeat to China. He had even set aside the dates for that trip, but he did not receive an invitation to tour China. From the day Mahinda was defeated, he showed the country that Sri Lanka cannot be developed without the help of China and that he was the only one who could get Chinese assistance.

Mahinda pointed out that, the present Maithri-Ranil Government cannot win over China and that development projects being implemented in Sri Lanka will not move forward without the assistance from China. However, during Ranil’s visit to China, the Chinese President told the Sri Lankan delegation including Ranil that China provides assistance to foreign countries not based on individuals, but on policies. We do not know whether this statement of the Chinese President targeted Mahinda or not.

However, some people say that this was a blow to Mahinda’s ear who said that China is still in his pocket. It is possible that the President of China would have wanted to convey the message that he is providing assistance to the people of Sri Lanka and to clear the doubt within the Maithri-Ranil Government that China has close ties only with the Rajapaksas.

Continue reading ‘Ties Between the Maithri-Ranil Govt and China Were Brought about by an Economic Expert in Singapore’ »

Bizarre Resolution Calling For Federalism Passed by Northern Provincial Council is Unconstitutional

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“…a submissive and supine professional elite must first recover its spirit and spine and then renew its commitment to nation and people.”

Mervyn de Silva, ‘Foreign Policy’, Sunday Observer October 14, 1990

Anyone has a right to call for federalism but not in every which way and anywhere they like. If the members of the Northern Provincial Council gathered as a collection of citizens and not as the official NPC, and held a seminar at the Veerasingham Hall endorsing federalism, then it would have been debatable as an idea, but legally and constitutionally unobjectionable.

The resolution of the Northern Provincial Council calling for federalism is way outside the constitutional framework of the PC, according to the 13th Amendment. No PC has the right to pass a resolution which calls for the fundamental change of an entrenched clause of the Constitution; one which concerns the very character and structure of the State. This act is profoundly unconstitutional. Most bizarre is the imminent presentation of the outrageously unconstitutional NPC resolution to the PM and the Speaker!

The irony mounts when one recalls that this very Government (a) is hounding its Southern political rivals who stand for a unitary State and have been consistently against the Tigers, while (b) it has installed as Leader of the Opposition, a gentleman who says that the cause behind the Tigers’ terrorist war was justifiable, and (c) takes no measures nor utters any criticism against a Provincial Council which has passed for the second time, a resolution against the Constitution (the first being the ‘genocide’ resolution). Obviously this Government sees threats only from, and has foes only in, the South — i.e. among the Sinhalese.

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MA Sumanthiran MP Refutes Allegations of TNA Led By Sampanthan Forcibly Entering Army camp in Kilinochchi on April 16th

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Strongly denying accusations regarding Opposition and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R. Sampanthan, MP and a group, forcibly entering an army camp at Kilinochchi on April 16, TNA spokesperson M.A. Sumanthiran yesterday called for an urgent review of public property still occupied by the military.

Jaffna District MP Sumanthiran insisted that Trincomalee District leader Sampanthan had gone there to inspect a cluster of houses occupied by the military for over six years after the conclusion of the conflict.

The Army captured Kilinochchi on January 1, 2009 following a four month battle.

Attorney-at-law Sumanthiran told The Island that the TNA leader accompanied by owners of some of those houses occupied by the military had visited the area situated east of the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road.

Continue reading ‘MA Sumanthiran MP Refutes Allegations of TNA Led By Sampanthan Forcibly Entering Army camp in Kilinochchi on April 16th’ »

Two Senior Ex-LTTE Eastern Leaders Among 11 Former Tigers Arrested After Detection of Arms Cache in Chavakachcheri Area

By Hemantha Randunu

The Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) yesterday took into custody former LTTE Trincomalee District intelligence head, Thillaiarasan, to question in connection with the explosives found in a house in Chavakachcheri last month.

Prior to his arrest another Tiger leader, known as ‘Ram’ was taken into custody. Ram was formerly commander of the Amparai region LTTE

TID sources said, Thaillaiarasan and Ram, close associates, had been engaged in a number of attacks the LTTE launched against the security forces and the police.

Continue reading ‘Two Senior Ex-LTTE Eastern Leaders Among 11 Former Tigers Arrested After Detection of Arms Cache in Chavakachcheri Area’ »

Adherence to Austere Agricultural Puritanism is Common to Both University Raggers and Political Leaders of Lanka

By

Gamini Akmeemana

Ragging is back in the news!

Several articles have appeared recently, including one by columnist Ranga Jayasuriya who wrote about his own experiences as a rag victim at university.

His experience vis-a-vis a Vice Chancellor rang a bell as I recalled, what a friend told me some time back.

As someone who graduated with a geology degree from the University of Peradeniya in the 1980s, he told me that the worst raggers usually became Vice-Chancellors. No wonder this epidemic continues to rage with increasing virulence not just in our universities but in almost all state-run institutions of learning, as well as many schools.

Several deaths have been caused by this, some by suicide and others just plain murder.

A first year Tamil engineering student died at the University of Peradeniya after being forced to do hundreds of dips in the 1990s, and a Sinhalese newcomer to a provincial technical college died a few years ago, when pressurized air from a compressor was forced into his rectum by his raggers.

Each year, an estimated fifteen students abandon their university dreams after brutal rags. I have seen a picture of ‘freshers’ doused with water being made to stand naked while seniors inspected them at the Law College hostel.

Male undergrads being forced to masturbate inside dormitories too, is a common practice. But the ‘tradition’ continues to thrive.

Continue reading ‘Adherence to Austere Agricultural Puritanism is Common to Both University Raggers and Political Leaders of Lanka’ »

If 3.5 Billion $ Debt is not Resolved Sri Lankan Airlines will Collapse Along with Tourism and National Eonomy Warns Ranil Wickremesinghe


By

Chathuri Dissanayake

The government is calling for proposals from interested parties to enter into a business venture with the national carrier SriLankan Airlines, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

The Finance Ministry has already been instructed to call for expressions of interest for investment in the national carrier or enter into a partnership.

The national airline has accumulated debt to the tune of $ 3.5 billion (Rs. 460 billion), an unbearable burden to the country’s economy, he said.

“If we don’t solve the issue of debt in SriLankan Airlines now, the airline will go bankrupt, the country’s economy will collapse, and our tourism sector will also collapse. This should not be allowed to happen,” Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said.

Continue reading ‘If 3.5 Billion $ Debt is not Resolved Sri Lankan Airlines will Collapse Along with Tourism and National Eonomy Warns Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Lankan Tamil Parties Ask Tamil Nadu Leaders Not To Use Sri Lankan Tamil Issue For Electoral Mudslinging

By P.K.Balachandran

Leaders of Sri Lankan Tamil political parties have appealed to Tamil Nadu leaders not to use the Lankan Tamil issue for mudslinging in the run up to the State Nadu Assembly elections.

“For God’s sake, please drop the Lankan Tamil issue during your highly charged election campaign. Let’s talk after elections,” tweeted Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), a party of Indian Origin Tamils, addressing leaders of Tamil Nadu’s political parties.

Ganeshan told Express that the Lankan Tamil issue should not be made an election issue and “used as a stone to be thrown at one’s rival.”

The Tamils’ problem is too serious a matter to be treated in a cavalier fashion, he felt.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Tamil Parties Ask Tamil Nadu Leaders Not To Use Sri Lankan Tamil Issue For Electoral Mudslinging’ »

The Inconvenient Truth About Sri Lanka’s North and East


By

Taylor Dibbert

People for Equality and Relief in Lanka (PEARL) has recently published a timely report. The document is based upon field research that was conducted in January 2016 and will be of interest to anyone trying to make sense of the new government’s performance since Maithripala Sirisena assumed the presidency in January 2015, especially as it relates to Tamil issues.

The report focuses on the current state of affairs in the country’s Northern and Eastern Provinces. It documents serious human rights violations that have occurred since the unexpected ouster of the island nation’s previous president, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘The Inconvenient Truth About Sri Lanka’s North and East’ »

No Action to be Taken Against TNA Group Led by MP’s Sampanthan, Sritharan and Sumanthiran For “Invading” Paravipanchan Army Camp on April 16

by Hemantha Randunu

Police investigations into a complaint that a group of more than 50 persons led by Opposition and TNA Leader R Sampanthan forcibly entering an army camp at Paravipachchan in Kilinochchi on April 16 have been stalled as the army has been ordered not to pursue the case.

Police said yesterday that officers of the Paravipachchcan camp had been summoned to Kilinochchi police to record their statements on the incident but the camp officers declined to cooperate saying that they had been instructed not to proceed with the case.

A group of more than 50 persons including opposition and TNA Leader R Sampanthan, TNA MPs S Sritharan, and MA Sumanthiran entered the Paravipachchan camp around 3.00 pm on April 16 without obtaining prior permission. They remained in the camp premises for several hours.

Continue reading ‘No Action to be Taken Against TNA Group Led by MP’s Sampanthan, Sritharan and Sumanthiran For “Invading” Paravipanchan Army Camp on April 16’ »

Frontline Socialist Party Warns Tamils not to be Deceived About a Federal North – East Set -Up by Tamil National Alliance

by Saman Indrajith

Tamils should not harbour any hopes of solutions for their problems through a federal set up in the North and the East, the Frontline Socialist Party said yesterday.

Propaganda Secretary of the FSP Pubudu Jagoda, addressing a press conference at the Centre for Society and Religion in Maradana, said the TNA was fishing in troubled waters.

“The TNA’s objective is clear. It is using its federalism demand to attract popular support and to swell the number of the supporters. We hope that Tamil people will not fall for such tactics.”

Continue reading ‘Frontline Socialist Party Warns Tamils not to be Deceived About a Federal North – East Set -Up by Tamil National Alliance’ »

Cabinet Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe Faults TNA Leaders For Entering Army camp Without Following Due Procedure

By Sirimantha Ratnasekera

Skills Development and Vocational Training Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe yesterday said nobody could enter an army camp without obtaining prior permission.

Addressing a press conference at the Department of Government Information, the minister said that there were procedures to be followed when someone entered an army camp.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe Faults TNA Leaders For Entering Army camp Without Following Due Procedure’ »

The Sinhalese, the Tamils or The Muslims Living In The Island Belong To a Common Stage Of ‘Civilization’

By Laksiri Fernando

“How is an antagonism to be resolved? By making it impossible.”Karl Marx

There is no mystery about ethnicity. Ethnicity is a product of social history and there is no eternity about it. Evolution of a language, sometimes a religion or religious beliefs, living together in a geographical proximity, development of a close customs and traditions, and political formations, if not states, are the forces that create ethnicities or ethnic communities. There are over 5,000 identifiable ethnic communities in the world, but all are not in conflict.

Most of the above attributes or forces have been present in the formation of the Sinhalese, the Tamil sor the Muslims in Sri Lanka. The formation of the Sinhalese ethnicity has primarily been within the confines of the island while the Tamil ethnicity in its formation has been overlapping with the developments in the adjacent subcontinent. Even the Sinhala formation cannot deny the influences of the subcontinent. The key factor in the Muslim ethnic formation undoubtedly is the religion, while migrant communities initiating the process.

None of these communities can claim complete homogeneity, while the differentiations with the others also being relative and overlapping. They all have evolved interacting with each other in their separate as well as combined developments.

Similarities and Differences

It may be true that the Sinhalese formation absorbed or assimilated more from the Tamil formation than the other way round. The reasons perhaps being (1) the predominance of the Tamil culture in the closest areas of the subcontinent, making inroads within the island since historical times, and (2) the Sinhala formation primarily being a ‘hybrid’ nature, based on proto-‘Aryan’ as well as proto-‘Dravidian’ groups in the initial or even latter stages. The ‘Aryan’ influence also cannot be denied in the formation of the vast Tamilian ethnicity/ethnicities in the subcontinent particularly in the case of religion and culture. The ‘Aryan’ and ‘Dravidian’ distinction here is made primarily based on language, however not without other attributes including ‘relatively racial’ characteristics.

Continue reading ‘The Sinhalese, the Tamils or The Muslims Living In The Island Belong To a Common Stage Of ‘Civilization’’ »

Lanka’s Ace Netball Shooter Tharjini Sivalingam Out of National Side Due to Problems with Current Netball Administrators and Coach.

By Harsha Amarasinghe

CT Sports: The Sri Lanka netball team is expected to take part in the Asian Championship in July with a fairly inexperienced and weak side sans any senior players. Sri Lanka Netball Association (SLNA) sent a similar side to the World Cup in Australia last year who ended up losing all their matches. Since then unfortunately nothing has changed for the country. Once again they are going to have a tough tournament.

Senior netball star Tharjini Sivalingam ruled out any chance of her returning to the national side in the near future with the current netball hierarchy in the country.

“I firstly want to say that whenever we played for Sri Lanka, we played because of our love for country. We never played for money or anything of that sort because we were never paid on contract basis, but still we gave our all to the country. With these present administrators and coach, I don’t want to play for Sri Lanka. We were the champions of Asia and there was a fear factor about us. During tournaments people will look at us and talk about us because we were that good, but now the national team’s standards have gone down drastically. I would play for my country, I would fight for the coach, only if it is worth it and it is not at the moment,” the giant netballer said.

The 33-year-old Seylan Bank goal shooter also insisted that Sri Lanka is running out of time even if the required changes are made before the Asian Championship.

Continue reading ‘Lanka’s Ace Netball Shooter Tharjini Sivalingam Out of National Side Due to Problems with Current Netball Administrators and Coach.’ »

Company Owned by Person Close to Central Bank Governor arjuna Mahendran Involved in Central Bank EPF Racket Alleges JVP

The JVP yesterday said a Central Bank racket had resulted in a huge loss to the Employee’s Provident Fund (EPF).

Addressing a press conference held at party headquarters former JVP MP cum convenor of the Anti-Corruption Voice, Wasantha Samarasinghe alleged that a company owned by a person close to the Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran was involved in the scandal.

Samarasinghe said losses incurred by the EPF due the scandal must be the biggest issue to be addressed on May Day. “Immediately after the change of government last year, the Central Bank advertised its intention to sell Treasury bonds worth Rs. 1,000 million and sold bonds worth Rs 10,000 million at a higher interest to a company owned by the present Governor’s son-in-law. When the racket was exposed President Maithripala Sirisena ordered that Central Ban Governor be removed. But, the Wickremesinghe government did not follow the presidential order. Now, a second scandal has taken place under the watch of the same Governor.”

Continue reading ‘Company Owned by Person Close to Central Bank Governor arjuna Mahendran Involved in Central Bank EPF Racket Alleges JVP’ »

“TNA Always Stood for Amalgamation of Northern and Eastern Provinces” says TNA Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) spokesperson M. A. Sumanthiran, MP yesterday told The Island that a resolution seeking the re-merger of the Eastern Province with the Northern Province adopted by the TNA-led Northern Provincial Council (NPC) on Friday (April 22) could be considered by the government as well as all other political parties represented in Parliament.

The TNA comprises the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi, the TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF.

Jaffna District MP and attorney-at-law Sumanthiran emphasised the need to take a look at the NPC’s proposal. It could be considered like any other proposal, Sumanthiran said.

Asked whether the TNA would throw its weight behind the NPC proposal for the re-merger of the Eastern Province with the Northern Province, MP Sumanthiran said that the TNA always stood for the amalgamation of the two provinces.

Continue reading ‘“TNA Always Stood for Amalgamation of Northern and Eastern Provinces” says TNA Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran’ »

“Extremists Asking for Federalism Must Be Ignored and Not taken Seriously” says Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella

By Cyril Wimalasurendre

Extremists were asking for federalism. Such moves should not be taken so seriously. They must be ignored, said Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella in Kandy on Saturday 23.

The Minister said the media should not should not use such demands to set the country ablaze.

Addressing the media, Minister Kiriella said there were extremists in all communities. There were Sinha
la extremists, Tamil extremists and Muslim extremists. But among the masses at least 95% were for peace.

Continue reading ‘“Extremists Asking for Federalism Must Be Ignored and Not taken Seriously” says Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella’ »

Udaya Gammanpila Challenges Pujitha Jayasundara to Arrest Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan and Prove IGP Has a Backbone.

By Harischandra Gunaratna and Dhammika Salawathura

Leader of Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, Udaya Gammanpila yesterday said that leader of the Tamil National Alliance R. Sampandan and some members of his party who threatened national security recently by trying to forcibly enter the army’s Gajaba detachment in Paravipachchan in Killinochchi and threatened the officers and thus obstructed their duties had not been arrested, though a complaint had been lodged with the police by the army.

Addressing a news conference at the Dr N.M. Perera Centre at Borella, Gammanpila said “This should be nipped in the bud before it reaches alarming proportions.”

Continue reading ‘Udaya Gammanpila Challenges Pujitha Jayasundara to Arrest Opposition Leader R.Sampanthan and Prove IGP Has a Backbone.’ »

Southern Nightingale S. Janaki and the Story of Her Popular ♫Singaara Velanae Deva♫ Song

By

D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Sishtla Sreeramamurthy Janaki popularly known as S. Janaki celebrates her 78th birthday on April 23rd. The well known Indian singer of film songs who is praised as the “nightingale of the South” was born on April 23rd 1938 during the British colonial period at Pallapatla in Repalle. The Repalle town is located in the Guntur district of present day Aandhra Pradesh state.

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Janaki hails from a Telugu Brahmin family. Her father Sishtla Sreeramamurthy was a teacher and native physician. In a splendid career spanning over fifty years Janaki has sung over 20,000 songs for films made in 16 different languages.

The Languages are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malyalam, Tulu, Konkani, Baduga, Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Sanskrit, Urdu, English, Japanese, German and Sinhala.
Continue reading ‘Southern Nightingale S. Janaki and the Story of Her Popular ♫Singaara Velanae Deva♫ Song’ »

Creating a Liberal Society in Sri Lanka May be Easier Than Creating a Liberal Culture in Our Universities

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for creating a liberal culture in our universities. A noble goal, indeed. Still better if he advocates a liberal society at large in this country. That would be much easier since his government has at its disposal a parliamentary majority to make laws and policy and to revoke discriminatory laws that put the vulnerable communities at harm. He can abolish those antiquated laws such as Penal Code Article 365 A, and launch a public advocacy against all evils such as xenophobia, bigotry and homophobia. Perhaps, doing that would be much easier than reforming universities where the rot runs deeper. Still, reforming university culture is worth a shot, though a long shot, it is .

A liberal society worth trying creating, it should feel more acceptable to minorities than a Dharmista society the late President J.R. Jayawardene pledged to create, since the latter, inadvertently contained a religious invocation that might have alienated followers of other faiths.

They say a liberal polity needs tolerance and respect for individual freedoms, which would be its corner stone. But, there is another prerequisite. A liberal society is possible only as long as the murderers are jailed, thieves are locked up, psychopaths are kept on medication and other delinquents have their freedom of action seriously contained. All the above are the responsibilities of the government which wields the monopoly of legitimate violence. It has to enforce the laws through its organs, no matter the circumstances and the context. After all, modern governments are ruled by laws, not by men.

Continue reading ‘Creating a Liberal Society in Sri Lanka May be Easier Than Creating a Liberal Culture in Our Universities’ »

Rajapaksa-led Joint Opposition Posturing Must Be Treated with Rightful Contempt It Deserves

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The regular posturing by the so-called Rajapaksa-led Joint Opposition calling for the upholding of democratic rights in Sri Lanka must be treated with the rightful contempt that it deserves.

Condemning hypocritical posturing

Even as sanctimonious hypocrisy drips off the tongues of these worthies when they speak with fervor on multifarious topics, ranging from the appointments of the Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police to contemplated tax increases, let us remind them of some salient home truths.

In truth, these are individuals who do not have even a smidgen of honesty or integrity to critique the performance of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Government, as problematic as that has become. These were the same hypocrites who stood idly by even as former President Mahinda Rajapaksa literally destroyed the remnants of institutional independence in this unfortunate country, rendering public officers and judges quivering like jellies as they responded to the crack of the Medamulana whip.

When the ugly tentacles of political and family patronage, the likes of which the public had never seen before, reached out to every nook and cranny and public funds were spent with impunity on Rajapaksa-projects that were monumentally useless, engineering much of the current economic crisis that we face, did these characters ever utter a whimper of protest?

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa-led Joint Opposition Posturing Must Be Treated with Rightful Contempt It Deserves’ »

Being Sidelined Under the Rajapaksa Regime Proved an Advantage to Pujith Jayasundara in Becoming IGP

By

Rasika Jayakody

Pujith Jayasundara, now a household name, made history last week as the first Sri Lakan Police Chief appointed by the Constitutional Council set up under the provisions of the 19th Amendment.

The Police Department, an efficient and a well-respected body at the time Sri Lanka received Independence from British rule, was systematically politicised over the past few decades and the Rajapaksa administration, in its ten-year rule, took this issue to a whole new level.

Sometimes, police officers were handpicked for certain positions in the department based on their ‘political loyalty’ and the willingness to go out of the way to pander to the needs of their political bosses.

Under the past administration, the Police Department was at the centre of some major controversies and the public considered it a mere tool in the hands of those in power.

It is in this backdrop that the Constitutional Council making a decision on the new IGP became an event of great significance.

Continue reading ‘Being Sidelined Under the Rajapaksa Regime Proved an Advantage to Pujith Jayasundara in Becoming IGP’ »

International Outcry urging Immediate release in Nepal of Prominent Journalist Kanak Mani Dixit Gathers Momentum

Editors and media figures as well as intellectuals and scholars from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, UK, US, Australia and Sri Lanka have called for the release of Himal editor and prominent Nepali journalist Kanak Mani Dixit who was arrested yesterday in Katmandu by anti-graft officials.

Kanak Mani Dixit, editor of Himal Southasian. File photo: K. Pichumani-pic courtesy: The Hindu

Kanak Mani Dixit, editor of Himal Southasian. File photo: K. Pichumani-pic courtesy: The Hindu

The following is the text of the statement:

It is with deep concern that we have learned of the arrest today of Kanak Mani Dixit, the widely respected founder-editor of Himal Media and a courageous voice for transparency, freedom of expression and democratic rights in Nepal and across South Asia. The charges are related to alleged corruption but Kanak Dixit says it is part of a vendetta pursued against him by people in Government.

We have known Kanak Dixit as a true professional, human rights defender and energetic journalist whose credentials are built on robust research and tremendous courage. Himal Media, a pioneer in South Asia journalism, has published Himal South Asia, Nepali Times and Himal Khabar Patrika (in the Nepali language). He has written extensively for international media including leading newspapers in India and is chairman of Sajha Yatayat, a state run transportation company, which he has been turning around from a loss-making entity.

Continue reading ‘International Outcry urging Immediate release in Nepal of Prominent Journalist Kanak Mani Dixit Gathers Momentum’ »

Why The Arrest of Fearless Journalist Kanak Mani Dixit in Nepal On Charges Of Corruption is absurd

By

Gouri Chatterjee

The year was 2001 but the twin towers in New York were still standing. We could afford to be interested in, no, fascinated by the story of one man’s fortitude in the face of extreme adversity, surviving a dangerous fall in the Himalayas, living not only to tell the tale but going back to his business of doing good with renewed vigour and energy.

That was my first introduction to Kanak Mani Dixit, already well regarded as the go to person in Kathmandu for all matters South Asian, whose ground-breaking news magazine Himal Southasian was held in high esteem by journalists and academics alike in all parts of the world. A fair, genial voice amidst strident, raucous, my-country-right-or-wrong experts that our subcontinent seems to specialise in.

I was with The Telegraph newspaper then and proudly, enthusiastically published Kanak Mani’s first-person account of his fall from a cliff whilst trekking alone in the Annapurna section of the Himalayas in August 2001, how he lay under an anthill for four days with severely damaged neck bones, how he had dug a little pit to collect drinking water and made a flag out of some scraps of plastic, of his deep despondency when he saw what he thought was his rescue helicopter fly away, how he was finally, found by a search party thanks to his cap that was caught on a tree, signalling his location.

Continue reading ‘Why The Arrest of Fearless Journalist Kanak Mani Dixit in Nepal On Charges Of Corruption is absurd’ »

Was President Sirisena Referring to Arjuna Mahendran and R.Paskaralingam in his Polonnaruwa Speech Criticising “Economic Experts”?

By

Gagani Weerakoon

President Maithripala Sirisenain at his home town Polonnaruwa addressing his people to greet them for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year said that he will not allow so-called economic experts to burden the public with increased taxes.

He added that some experts are not aware of the suffering of the people and he will ask such experts to go home. President was commenting on the media reports that the government plans to increase VAT, which is an indirect tax which affects you more if you belong to low income groups.

“I saw in the newspapers that there will be new taxes, especially the VAT which affects the average citizens. I will not allow any economic expert in the government to introduce taxes which adversely affect the poor. I know that some of these experts do not know the suffering of the people, but I will not allow them a free rein. I want to help the poor people and I want to improve their economy. The State’s policy should be geared to assist the people,” he said.

He further stated that he will fully commit himself with a firm determination this New Year to fulfil the aspirations of the people and will not keep any room for those forces that damaged the country, to regain power.

Just two days after Avurudu on 15 April, government announced that they will go ahead with the decision to increase Value Added Tax (VAT) by 15% as planned and with effect from 2 May, ironically the day after the May Day of the working community.

It seems, the President was kept in the dark about the recent tax increase even though it was indicated that VAT will be increased by 15% several weeks ago.

With President Sirisena’s New Year lash on economic experts, everyone’s attention was more on finding which economic expert had antagonized the President than on the burden the increased taxation put on the public.

Continue reading ‘Was President Sirisena Referring to Arjuna Mahendran and R.Paskaralingam in his Polonnaruwa Speech Criticising “Economic Experts”?’ »

“Federal Solution”Of Tamil National Alliance is Actually an Independent State in all but Name.

By

C.A.Chandraprema

As the political atmosphere in the South heated up with all the issues relating to May Day, another bombshell came from the north with the Northern Provincial Council adopting a resolution calling for a federal state for the north and east.

Though the government kicked off the constitutional reform process earlier this month, the cry for federalism coming from the north may throw the spanner in the works even before the process has begun.

A few days ago, the TNA leader R. Sampanthan also said that the Tamils were looking for a federal state.

This has serious implications for the political future of President Maithripala Sirisena because votes from the North and East were a major factor in his election victory. MR was ahead in the other provinces.

Continue reading ‘“Federal Solution”Of Tamil National Alliance is Actually an Independent State in all but Name.’ »

Harin Fernando Orders Sri Lanka Telecom Board to Keep Ministry Informed of all Transactions and Projects to Ensure Transparency by Telecom.

By Chris Kamalendran

Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando has directed the board of Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) to ensure that the ministry is kept informed of all transactions and projects ensuring transparency.

The directive came amidst growing differences between the minister and the board as to who was in charge of the multi-million rupee government controlled company and calls from trade unions for the resignation of the SLT chairman.

The directive was given at a meeting attended by SLT Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena and other board members.

The minister told the Sunday Times he summoned the meeting to resolve disputes on policy matters and had ordered that the ministry be informed promptly about board decisions.

Continue reading ‘Harin Fernando Orders Sri Lanka Telecom Board to Keep Ministry Informed of all Transactions and Projects to Ensure Transparency by Telecom.’ »

SLFP Maithripala Faction of SLFP and Mahinda Loyalists Combat Each Other Over May Day Rally

By

C.A.Chandreprema

Never in living memory has a May Day rally assumed such importance. From the time things began limping back to normal after the extended New Year holidays, the topic of discussion even in the news bulletins has been the May Day rally organized by the Joint Opposition.

Those who talk about May Day the most are not really members of the Joint Opposition but the Sirisena faction of the SLFP. It is to the latter that the planned Joint Opposition rally in Kirullapone has caused the most angst.

However, given the experience of the recent past, perhaps the Sirisena faction should be happy that Mahinda loyalists will be holding a separate May Day because all of them will be in Kirullapone that day and there would be no one to create disturbances at the Sirisena rally.

It was seen in the recent past that whenever the two factions came together at electoral balamandalaya meetings, there was hooting and unpleasantness.

The general secretary of the UPFA Mahinda Amaraweera has been trying to stop the Joint Opposition from having a separate May Day diplomatically, while others like SLFP general secretary Duminda Dissanayake have been taking a tough approach threatening disciplinary action against members of the SLFP including Mahinda Rajapaksa who do not attend the Galle May Day rally of the SLFP.

If the Joint Opposition cancels the Kirullapone meeting and decides to attend the Galle rally en masse, they will take over the meeting completely, hooting and jeering at all speakers of the Sirisena faction and cheering the speakers of the Mahinda faction.

The Sirisena faction knows that there is a very real danger in this happening, yet they are still trying to get the Joint Opposition to attend the Galle rally.

Continue reading ‘SLFP Maithripala Faction of SLFP and Mahinda Loyalists Combat Each Other Over May Day Rally’ »

Constitutional Council Accused of “Bluffing the People” Over Appointment of new Inspector – general of Police.

The Constitutional Council’s selection of a new IGP through a secret ballot carried out in the absence of two of the three civil society representatives was slammed Saturday as a “historic blunder.”

An activist group known as Decent Lanka 2015 which includes journalist Kusal Perera and lawyer Srinath Perera accused the CC chaired by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya of “bluffing” the people.

Jayasuriya did not vote when the Council met on Monday (April 18) in parliament to decide a nominee to be the new IGP from among three candidates — S. M. Wickramasinghe, Pujith Jayasundara and Chandana Wickramaratne.

Jayasundara, 56, was chosen through a secret ballot in sharp contrast to the procedure adopted in choosing the Attorney General in February by the same Council.

Continue reading ‘Constitutional Council Accused of “Bluffing the People” Over Appointment of new Inspector – general of Police.’ »

Prominent Journalist Kanak Mani Dixit Arrested and Detained in Nepal;SAHR Urges Nepal Govt to Release Dixit

The South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) organization has expressed deep concern over the arrest and detention of prominent Journalist and Human rights activist Kanak Mani Dixit in Nepal. SAHR has urged the government of Nepal to immediately release Mr. Dixit The text of a press release issued by SAHR is as follows –

SAHR urges the government of Nepal to take immediate action for the release of Mr. Kanak Mani Dixit
South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a network of human rights defenders based in seven countries in South Asia, is deeply concerned about the arrest and detention of Mr. Kanak Mani Dixit, an eminent journalist and pro-democracy and human rights activist, by the Commission of Investigation on Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on 22 April. Reportedly he has been detained for the alleged charges of illegally amassing property by abusing authority.

Continue reading ‘Prominent Journalist Kanak Mani Dixit Arrested and Detained in Nepal;SAHR Urges Nepal Govt to Release Dixit’ »

Northern Provincial Council Passes Resolution Calling for North -East Merger and Federalism Presented by Chief Minister Wigneswaran

By Dinasena Ratugamage

The Northern Provincial Council yesterday passed a resolution sponsored by the TNA to urge the government to introduce provisions to the proposed new constitution enabling the merger of the North and the East and granting federalism.

The TNA had appointed a special committee which met people and representatives of civil organisations in all districts of the Northern Province before drafting the resolution.

Continue reading ‘Northern Provincial Council Passes Resolution Calling for North -East Merger and Federalism Presented by Chief Minister Wigneswaran’ »

SLFP Intensifies Efforts to Sabotage Kirillapone May Day Rally Organized by Pro-Mahinda Opposition

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The SLFP yesterday announced plans to hold interviews next week to select electoral organisers in an obvious bid to discourage dissidents, particularly members of Provincial Councils from attending Joint Opposition May Day rally at Kirulapone.

SLFP General Secretary and Agriculture Minister Duminda Dissanayake yesterday said that the first round of interviews would commence next Tuesday (April 26).

Addressing the media at SLFP headquarters, Anuradhapura District MP Dissanayake said that a committee comprising senior SLFPers headed by former Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne would conduct the interviews at party headquarters.

Dissanayake succeeded Anura Priyadarshana Yapa soon after the conclusion of January 2015 presidential polls.

Asked by The Island whether the move was meant to intimidate dissidents thereby sabotage the Joint Opposition rally, Minister Dissanayake said elected members of the party couldn’t under any circumstances act contrary to the wishes of the party leadership.

Continue reading ‘SLFP Intensifies Efforts to Sabotage Kirillapone May Day Rally Organized by Pro-Mahinda Opposition’ »

Full Text of Agreement Signed by SWRD Bandaranaike and SJV Chelvanayagam on July 26th 1957.

Full Text of Bandaranaike – Chelvanayagam Pact, 1957

Part A

Representatives of the Federal Party have had a series of discussions with the Prime Minister in an effort to resolve the differences of opinion that had been growing and creating tension.
At an early stage of these conversations it became evident that it was not possible for the Prime Minister to accede to some of the demands of the Federal Party.

The Prime Minister stated that, from the point of view of the government, he was not in a position to discuss the setting up of a Federal Constitution, or regional autonomy, or take any step that would abrogate the Official Language Act.

The question then arose whether it was possible to explore the possibility of an adjustment without the Federal Party abandoning or surrendering any of its fundamental principles or objectives.

At this stage, the Prime Minister suggested an examination of the Government’s draft Regional Councils Bill to see whether provision could be made under it to meet, reasonably, some of the matters in this regard which the Federal Party had in view.

The Agreements so reached are embodied in a separate document.

Continue reading ‘Full Text of Agreement Signed by SWRD Bandaranaike and SJV Chelvanayagam on July 26th 1957.’ »

Sri Lankan Govt Sets The Record Straight On Much Criticised Arcelor Mittal 65,000 Houses Project in North

The Sri Lankan Ministry of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs has issued a statement in response to criticism levelled against the Govt approved project of constructing 65,000 houses for war affected civilians in the North through Arcelor Mittal owned by Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal

In the statement issued by the ministry the Sri Lankan Govt position on the controversial project is clearly stated.

The statement explains details of the approved project thus effectively responding to criticism against the project by the Tamil National Alliance


The full statement of the Ministry is given below:

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Govt Sets The Record Straight On Much Criticised Arcelor Mittal 65,000 Houses Project in North’ »

Sri Lankan Govt Defends Controversial Housing Deal With Indian Tycoon Lakshmi Mittal

By P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan Ministry of Resettlement on Friday defended its controversial decision to ask ArcelorMittal, owned by Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, to build 65,000 houses for the war displaced in the Tamil-speaking Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Among the bidders, only ArcelorMittal had the required financial wherewithal, and the houses which it is to build, will have far greater facilities than those proposed by its competitors, the ministry said.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran, and building experts, had accused the government of favouritism and slammed the bid to build environmentally unsuitable prefabricated steel and PVC houses at double the cost of building environmentally friendly brick and mortar houses.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Govt Defends Controversial Housing Deal With Indian Tycoon Lakshmi Mittal’ »

Clash of Titans on May Day in Sri Lanka will See Grandstanding like Hitler and Churchill During world war 2

By

Winston de Valliere

While Political parties and Trade Unions flex their muscles to observe May Day in just a week’s time, the enormity of the explosive emotions sizzling just beneath the surface of the two major political parties can be expected to manifest themselves in grandstanding such as that seen in the days of the Second WW by Hitler on the one side and Churchill on the other.

Make no mistake about it May Day in Sri Lanka is just an euphemism for venting political venom on one’s opponents with labour issues being exploited expressly for that purpose. That’s the moral low that Lankan political forces have got mired in. Funding will have come from numerous sources abroad to boost attendance at many rallies in this macabre show of force. Cash, food packets and drinks on the house is the name of the game.

This will be hailed as ‘proof’ of electoral popularity. One can logically, therefore, expect some disturbance of the peace on May Day of which I am not too far wrong in my assessment of the psyche of the masses at the lower spectrum of society who will comprise the majority of those attending some rallies.

Continue reading ‘Clash of Titans on May Day in Sri Lanka will See Grandstanding like Hitler and Churchill During world war 2’ »

President and Prime Minister Decide to Exempt Medicine, Water, Electricity and Essential Items From Value Added Tax Increase

By Chamodi Gunawardana

Following discussions at the Cabinet meeting, VAT exemptions have been made to several sectors, including essential goods, medicines and electricity, in an attempt to protect the public with taxes, the Government said yesterday.

The exemptions came after President Maithripala Sirisena urged the Government not to burden the public with taxes, State Finance Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena told the weekly Cabinet briefing.

His comments came after a Treasury official said last week VAT would be raised to 15% from 11% on 2 May to give a much-needed boost to public revenue.

“There is no VAT on all essential goods. There is no VAT on electricity and medicines. The President wants to ease the burden of the poor,” Abeywardena said. “But we have to increase the taxes. Out of total tax, only 4% is from the direct tax and the rest, 96%, is from indirect taxes. We can’t increase Government revenue without increasing indirect taxes.”

Continue reading ‘President and Prime Minister Decide to Exempt Medicine, Water, Electricity and Essential Items From Value Added Tax Increase’ »

Improved Human Rights Situation in South but not as much in North -East SriLanka States UK Report


By P.K.Balachandran

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has reported an improvement in the human rights situation in Sri Lanka since Maithripala Sirisena was elected President in January 2015, though people in the Tamil-speaking North and East continued to face some harassments reminiscent of the war years.

Listing Sri Lanka among the “Human Rights Priority Countries”, the report for 2015 released on Thursday said: “Reversing the downward trend of recent years, the government of Sri Lanka took positive steps to improve freedom of expression (including the media) and freedom of movement, reduce inter-community tensions, and restore the independence of institutions such as the Human Rights Commission.”

Continue reading ‘Improved Human Rights Situation in South but not as much in North -East SriLanka States UK Report’ »

European Commission to Propose Lifting of Ban on Fisheries Exports from Sri Lanka to European Union

By Uditha Jayasinghe

The European Commission yesterday decided to propose the lifting of the ban on fisheries exports from Sri Lanka to the European Union, after over a year of engagement with the Government.

Sri Lanka’s proposal on Thursday will be discussed by the European Union (EU) Fisheries Council at the next available opportunity; the European Commission said in a statement, adding if the Council agrees with the proposal, the ban will be lifted with immediate effect.

Continue reading ‘European Commission to Propose Lifting of Ban on Fisheries Exports from Sri Lanka to European Union’ »

Filmmaker D.B.Nihalsinghe of “Welikathara” Film and “Dimuthu Muthu”Telefilm fame Passes Away

One of Sri Lanka’s foremost filmmakers, D. B. Nihalsingha passed away yesterday afternoon after a brief illness. He was 77. Nihalsingha was the only Sri Lankan to be honoured with the title, ‘Professor in Cinema and Television’

Having made several award winning movies including Welikathara, Maldeniye Simion, Ridee Nimnaya and Kelimadala Nihalsingha made the country’s first tele serial ‘Dimuthu Muthu’ and followed it up with ‘Rekha.’ The cinema veteran was the founding CEO and General Manager of the National Film Corporation from 1972 to 1978.

Continue reading ‘Filmmaker D.B.Nihalsinghe of “Welikathara” Film and “Dimuthu Muthu”Telefilm fame Passes Away’ »

Persecution of Christians in Sri-Lanka Continues Unabated Under The New Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt

Attacks against Christians in Sri Lanka have continued following the change of government in 2015, according to a leading human rights lawyer. A growing number of cases are now linked to local government officials. And Buddhist monks continue to be at the forefront of the persecution.

Officials have been closing churches and prayer meetings. There has also been an increase in the number of Christians being denied burial in public cemeteries.

‘Miriam’ is a human rights lawyer in Sri Lanka. Her real name is being withheld for her protection.

She says: ‘Persecution continues in Sri Lanka, despite the newly-elected government. We have documented more than 120 incidents since the election in 2015. A growing number of incidents are being instigated or carried out by local government officials. This is very concerning.’

Continue reading ‘Persecution of Christians in Sri-Lanka Continues Unabated Under The New Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt’ »

Buddhist Extremists Block Sri Lankan Christians From Using Public Cemeteries


By

Lorraine Caballero

Sri Lankan Christians cannot bury their dead in public cemeteries because Buddhist monks are stopping them from doing so, charity group Release International says.

The persecution of Sri Lankan Christians has now reached the level where Buddhist monks have joined forces with nationalists and prevented Christians from burying their dead in public cemeteries. Local government officials have also been shutting down churches and prayer gatherings in the country.

A prominent human rights lawyer, who spoke under conditions of anonymity, recalled one occasion wherein a Christian burial was interrupted by Buddhist monks. She said the monks suddenly began shouting that Christians cannot bury their dead in that location. The villagers around the public cemetery then came in with the police and drove the Christians out, telling them that they can bury their dead in a faraway place.

The said lawyer also told of an incident when two Buddhist monks interrupted a prayer meeting and began shouting and threatening the pastor leading the gathering. When the pastor filed a formal complaint with the police, he was told that it was his fault.

Continue reading ‘Buddhist Extremists Block Sri Lankan Christians From Using Public Cemeteries’ »

More Than 120 Anti-Christian Incidents Documented in Just Over a Year Since Sirisena was Elected as Sri Lanka President

By

Harry Farley

Sri Lanka has a turbulent history. From multiple invasions and colonial rule to growing nationalism and ethnic conflict, the small island nation has seen it all.

The country’s ’30 year war’ saw violence between the majority Sinhalese ethnic group and the minority Tamil Tiger rebels. However, after the Tamil’s final defeat in 2009, Christians are the new target.

Miriam* (*false name given to protect identity) is a religious liberties lawyer in Sri Lanka who works to defend the Church against increasing levels of persecution. She spoke to Christian Today about her work and the struggles Christians face.

“We thought we were going to see a change for the better after a new government came in in 2015,” she said. The previous administration was heavily influenced by Buddhist extremism and Christians were regularly subject to very violent attacks.

The arrival of new president Maithripala Sirisena bought hope to embattled Christians.

However, in just over a year since Sirisena was elected, more than 120 incidents against Christians have been documented by Miriam’s organisation. Indeed, the number of attacks on Christians has risen.

Continue reading ‘More Than 120 Anti-Christian Incidents Documented in Just Over a Year Since Sirisena was Elected as Sri Lanka President’ »

President Sirisena Gets Govt to Exempt Electricity, Water and Essential Items from Value Added Tax(VAT) Increase From May 2nd

by Zacki Jabbar

The proposal to increase Value Added Tax from 11 to 15 percent would not be imposed on essential items, the government said yesterday.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday that there was no difference of opinion between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister

Ranil Wickremesinghe on maintaining welfare measures for the masses. No other government had provided so much relief to the people in such a short time, he said.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Gets Govt to Exempt Electricity, Water and Essential Items from Value Added Tax(VAT) Increase From May 2nd’ »

“Stateswoman” Sirimavo Made History As World’s First Woman Prime Minister

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

A 44 year old Kandyan Sinhalese widow of aristocratic “Radala” lineage gained global fame for her country in 1960 when she became the world’s first woman prime minister. She was none other than Sirimavo Bandaranaike who was sworn in as Prime minister of Sri Lanka known then as Ceylon on July 21st 1960. It is said that the British press had to coin a new description “Stateswoman” instead of the usual statesman after she assumed office. The next woman prime minister was Indira Gandhi who became premier of India on January 24th 1966. Israel’s Golda Meir became the world’s third female Prime minister when she took her oaths on March 17th 1969. This article is to commemorate the birth centenary of Sirima Bandaranaike which is to be celebrated next week.

Sirima Bandaranaike

Sirima Bandaranaike

Apart from being the first female premier Sirimavo Bandaranaike has also been her country’s longest serving prime minister. Her first term was from 1960 to 1965. Her second Prime ministerial term was from 1970 to 1977. During these terms of office Sirimavo as prime minister was head of the govt and effectively ruled the country as the executive presidential system had not been introduced then. In later years she functioned as Prime minister under an executive presidency from 1994 to 2000. Altogther she has served as PM for a total of 18 years. No other has been premier for so many years in Sri Lanka. In addition to being Prime minister, Sirimavo also called Sirima has been Leader of the Opposition during 1965-70 and 1989-1994.
Continue reading ‘“Stateswoman” Sirimavo Made History As World’s First Woman Prime Minister’ »

Is Nephew Ranil Now Doing to China What His Uncle JR Earlier Did to India?

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

There is an amazing similarity between the trip to Sri Lanka by Rajiv Gandhi to sign the Indo-Lanka Agreement in 1987 and the visit to China by Ranil to escape from the Chinese Debt Trap. Ranil’s uncle JR agreed to sign the Indo-Lanka Agreement in 1987 because there was nothing else to do to escape from the Eelam War, India set as a trap to Sri Lanka. JR had set the trap himself. During the 1977 general election, JR ridiculed the former Prime Minister of India and her son politically.

The reason was the Government of Indira which was in power was helping beyond diplomatic limits Madam Bandaranaike’s Government which was in power in Sri Lanka at that time, to secure their political powers. Then Opposition Leader JR knew very well that the strength required by Prime Minister Bandaranaike to suppress JR and his opposition was being provided by Indira. JR predicted that, similar to the loss experienced by Indira-Sanjaya mother-son couple at the 1977 elections in India, the Sirima-Anura mother-son couple would also lose at the general election in Sri Lanka. JR mocked Indira thus, thinking that she would not come back to power. However, before long she did come back to power.

At that time her friend Madame Bandaranaike was in the Opposition. Madame Bandaranaike knew that Indira had something against JR in her mind and sought Indira’s assistance to destroy JR. She pointed out that the foreign policy of the JR Government which was American friendly was a threat to Indira’s India which was friendly towards the then Soviet Republic. Indira’s Government decided to help the Tamil militants in the North and East of Sri Lanka to destabilize JR’s Government and to destroy JR. The war which was created in the North under the blessings of Indira succeeded in destabilizing JR’s Government.

Continue reading ‘Is Nephew Ranil Now Doing to China What His Uncle JR Earlier Did to India?’ »

Pro-Rajapaksa SLFP Group Defies Party Leader Sirisena Again By Holding Separate May day Rally

By

Rasika Jayakody

“Power is given only to him who dares to stoop and take it … one must have the courage to dare.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky –“Crime and Punishment”

Sri Lanka Freedom Party, headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, is now running into a fresh issue with the pro-Rajapaksa group deciding to hold a separate May Day rally, distancing themselves from the May Day event organised by the party.

Non-SLFP partners of the UPFA coalition, including the National Freedom Front, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya, are the main organisers of the Rajapaksa group’s May Day rally. In addition, a group of MPs representing the SLFP rebel camp are likely to attend the event. The ‘demographics’ of the participants are not so difficult to figure out as it is the same group who supported Rajapaksa after the Parliamentary election in August, last year.

The SLFP rebels said in no uncertain terms that they would attend the May Day rally organised by the pro-Rajapaksa group, irrespective of any decision by the party Central Committee. They also said former President Mahinda Rajapaksa too would attend the May Day rally, without fearing any disciplinary action by the party.

It is quite evident that the SLFP’s decision-making bodies are now suffering from the ‘cry wolf’ syndrome. When a group of party MPs defied the Central Committee order and attended an anti-ETCA rally organized by the ‘joint opposition’ last month, the party failed to take any disciplinary action, despite numerous threats by party seniors during press conferences held before the rally. Now, pro-Rajapaksa rebels consider the Central Committee’s claims as mere ‘empty threats’. It has plunged the party into a situation where it cannot control the actions of the rebel group anymore.

When a section of party MPs defied the Central Committee decision, some prominent members of the party, including former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, pushed for immediate action against them. During the internal meetings of the party, they repeatedly stressed the need for tough action against those who breached party discipline. However, some members supporting President Sirisena including Minister S B Dissanayake, said jumping into action in haste would further jeopardise the party’s strength. This ongoing debate, however, prevented the party from adopting quick measures to instill discipline among party members.

Continue reading ‘Pro-Rajapaksa SLFP Group Defies Party Leader Sirisena Again By Holding Separate May day Rally’ »

Public Perception of the Government’s Commitment to Eradicating Corruption is Worrying

By

Dr.Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

In the transition from the populist authoritarian recent past to government conducted with governance, public trust and confidence in institutions and processes of government is pivotal. That trust and confidence is what provides the oxygen for the transition and the reform it entails – a diminution of it constituting a warning sign of displeasure and disquiet and therefore one to be taken seriously. At the same time, an increase underpins and sustains optimism.

The recent survey by the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) where I work is in this regard revealing. The following responses have been thrown up in the recent (late February – March) CPA Democracy Survey on public perceptions and expectations of democracy. True enough, survey results shift and are not carved in stone.

Furthermore, the public can be notoriously fickle. Surveys do however provide an indication at least of trends in opinion and enduring concerns. Sign posts in the storm, perhaps…..?

Public perceptions of faith, trust and confidence in politicians and political parties should be better since they are key players in ensuring the reinstitution of governance in our government. No doubt, the experience of coalition government over the last 15 months and the fight over the heart and soul of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has had its toll on public perception and opinion.

The point may well be made too, that this is a global problem, even one peculiar to long established electoral democracies, as the debate in the US presidential election attests to. As is the case in that election, there needs to be a public debate here too as to the structure and functioning of political parties, their funding and the calibre of candidates they nominate for election.

Neither the March 12 Movement or the Speaker’s attempt to institute a Code of Conduct for MPs will necessarily succeed without the parties themselves recognizing the importance of the issue for the well-being of electoral democracy in the country. This is something that must follow constitutional reform.

Continue reading ‘Public Perception of the Government’s Commitment to Eradicating Corruption is Worrying’ »

People Getting Impatient Over Political Administration Dragging its Feet In Bringing Corrupt Elements of Past Regime to Justice

The

By Vishwamithra1984

“There is no den in the wide world to hide a rogue. Commit a crime and the earth is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge, and fox, and squirrel.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

They call themselves the Joint Opposition. They are a twice-defeated, once at the Presidential and then at the parliamentary elections, lot of parliamentarians and two or three-time Ministers, who ransacked the country’s economy and its invaluable assets of youth and school children. Instead of taking these avaricious political parasites one by one and decimating them to pieces, the writer would prefer to deposit them into one bunch and tear the fabric apart so that the thread that holds all of them would give way.

A majority of those who identify themselves as major players in this irreverent ‘tent’ are facing very grave charges of corruption, nepotism and political mayhem; they have been alleged to have abused their political power to enrich themselves and their kith and kin; some have even been alleged to have committed criminal deeds such as possessing multiple passports; names of a few have been mentioned in murder charges. Whatever may be proven in a court of law, they surly have desecrated every grain of soil they claim to worship. They are a stain on the nation’s past and present. Whatever they were capable of, they indeed have proven to be very able sinners.

Armed with a ‘self-righteousness’ shield, they opined that the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) was absolutely owing to them and them alone. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary soldiers, corporals, lieutenants, captains, majors and colonels of the Army, and first responders and other fighting units of the Navy, Air Force and Police forces were completely ignored and forgotten. Even the then Army Commander, General Sarath Fonseka was discarded as non-consequential (his subsequent incarceration is another story altogether).

That self-righteousness obsessed the first family and the resultant arrogance and vanity shielded them and played a pivotal role as armor to hide behind and resort to all sorts of illegitimate, undemocratic and illegal activities. Opposition to this wild behavior was brutally suppressed; whether one comes from the fourth estate or a rural village, dissent of any degree could not be tolerated by the members of the first family. While violating every precept of fair governance, they became immune to the slightest of criticism and public judgment.

Continue reading ‘People Getting Impatient Over Political Administration Dragging its Feet In Bringing Corrupt Elements of Past Regime to Justice’ »

Constitutional Council Has Lost Trust of the People After IGP Appointment says Udaya Gammanpila

By Harischandra Gunaratna

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila yesterday said, according to article 41(C1) of the country’s constitution, when the President recommends someone for a post to the Constitutional Council (CC), the job of the CC was to either endorse it or reject it.

A few months ago, Gammanpila recalled that the President sent names of three persons to the CC for the post of Attorney General, the CC informed the President that he only had to recommend one person and the CC could not select a person from among three names.

Thereafter the President named Jayantha Jayasuriya for the post.

But within a short period of three months he had forgotten the constitutional requirement and once again sent three names to the CC for the post of IGP, the PHU leader pointed out.

Continue reading ‘Constitutional Council Has Lost Trust of the People After IGP Appointment says Udaya Gammanpila’ »

Having Lunch in New York With the Transnational Tamil Eelam Prime Minister Rudrakumaran

Visuvanathan Ruthirakumaran

Visuvanathan Ruthirakumaran

by Sarah Stodder

When I step out of the rain and into the restaurant, Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran is already waiting for me. Though I’m seven minutes early, I arrive to find the exiled Sri Lankan lawyer, known to his compatriots as Rudra, sitting at a corner table and peacefully watching the deluge outside.

We’re within walking distance of several Sri Lankan restaurants, but we meet at Rudra’s suggestion at Saravanaa Bhavan, a South Indian eatery on Lexington Avenue and 26th Street. This corner of Manhattan, affectionately called “Curry Hill,” is peppered with restaurants boasting the regional cuisines of India and its neighboring countries. Saravanaa Bhavan specializes in the cuisine of Tamils, an ethnic population with large numbers in India and in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, the teardrop-shaped island off India’s Coromandel Coast.

Rudra is Tamil; for culinary, linguistic, and political reasons, he would prefer to eat at the Indian Saravanaa Bhavan than at a Sri Lankan place, which would serve the cuisine (and, potentially, the politics) of Sri Lanka’s ethnic majority, the Sinhalese. The minority Tamils, led by the militant separatist Tamil Tigers, fought for 26 years for an independent homeland, dubbed Tamil Eelam, in Sri Lanka’s north and east. The Tigers’ tactics, including the invention of the suicide vest, made them a formidable rebel force and landed them on over 30 countries’ terrorism lists. But the Sinhalese-run military finally ended the war in 2009 by annihilating the Tigers’ top leaders—and some 40,000 Tamil civilians, according to the UN—in a final battle around the coastal town of Mullaitivu.

Though he has lived in New York for over 30 years, Rudra has stayed intimately connected to Sri Lanka’s civil war and its ongoing aftermath. During the war, he served as a legal advisor to the Tamil Tiger boss, Vellupillai Prabhakaran. Now, he is Prime Minister of the Provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), the first government of its kind in the world. Headquartered in New York, the TGTE continues to peacefully assert what the Tigers asserted violently: the right to a Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s north and east.

I first heard of Rudra during the year I spent as a Fulbright Scholar in Trincomalee, a majority-Tamil town on Sri Lanka’s eastern coast. My Sinhalese friends saw him either as a terrorist or as the foolish figurehead of a lost cause. My Tamil friends revered him. I sat down with Rudra at Saravanaa Bhavan to learn what motivates him as Tamil Eelam’s current standard-bearer, and to try to understand what drew him, a lawyer and naturalized American citizen, to aid an organization his adopted country labels “terrorist.”

Continue reading ‘Having Lunch in New York With the Transnational Tamil Eelam Prime Minister Rudrakumaran’ »

GMOA Gen-Secy Dr. Nalinda Herath’s Anti-Indian “Malaria” Remarks are Racist,Xenophobic and Bigoted


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) spokesperson wound up the year on the Sinhala calendar in an ugly style. A day before the ‘Parana Avurudda’, Dr. Nalinda Herath, the GMOA’s General Secretary took cheap advantage of a reported detection of a malaria patient, who happened to be an Indian worker in Sri Lanka and advised the public “to be cautious if Indians are around them”.

His logic is no less skewed than if Indian medics ever thought of telling their countrymen to be cautious of Sri Lankan docs, since some of the latter, of course, a few bad apples indeed, are now accused of being part of a kidney racket. (A counsel appearing on behalf of Indian victims earlier told the Colombo Chief Magistrate that over 1,200 Indians have their kidneys removed in Sri Lanka)!

Dr. Herath’s fear-mongering has no statistical value. He is referring to one out of over 300,000 Indian tourists who visited Sri Lanka last year and a few thousand workers who are living here. You are more likely to be killed in a road accident (eight fatalities are reported daily) or die while being transported in a rickety three-wheeler after a heart stroke. GMOA has also vehemently opposed a pilot project for an ambulance service since Indians are involved.

The latest remarks are not just ignorant bunkum, they are racist, xenophobic and bigoted; all the evils that we, as a nation try not to repeat. That an esteemed professional body of the country could stoop to such a low is unprecedented. The only convincing explanation is that morons have hijacked the governance of those organizations, perhaps because saner individuals in the trade are not simply interested in.

That is however sad since those organizations are meant to contribute constructively to the national discourse and policy.

Continue reading ‘GMOA Gen-Secy Dr. Nalinda Herath’s Anti-Indian “Malaria” Remarks are Racist,Xenophobic and Bigoted’ »

President Sirisena will send home Officials and Economic Experts Recommending Measures such as Increasing Value Added Tax

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday vowed not to allow any tax increases that would burden the general public.

Addressing a ceremony at Polonnaruwa to mark the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, the President said there were media reports that the government was preparing to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) on essential commodities. But, he would not allow additional burdens to be heaped on poor masses, according to the President’s Media Unit.

“If there are any officials or economic experts who recommend measures such as increasing VAT aggravating the suffering of people, I am not ready to listen to them; I will send them home,” the President has said.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena will send home Officials and Economic Experts Recommending Measures such as Increasing Value Added Tax’ »

President Sirisena Stands by his Solid Adherence to the Rajapaksa Government during the War and is Opposed to the Western Witch Hunt

By

Prof.Rajiva Wijesinha

(Text of a presentation by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha at the ‘Afkar-e-Taza: Rescuing the Past, Shaping the Future’ Seminar held in Lahore on April 3rd 2016)

The world seems to be at boiling point at present given the increasing impact of terrorist activity. Civilian populations are subject to ruthless attacks in Africa, the Middle East and now both Europe and Asia. Typically, there is much less attention to what happens in our part of the world, which I believe may explain why there seems no adequate response to deal with the menace. Western powers engage in long distance operations that result in more civilian deaths, in the less developed world, and the occasional claim that an identified terrorist has been killed. But the reach of the terrorist organizations seems only to grow in the face of such operations.

There has indeed in recent years been only one unquestionable success in dealing with terrorism. In 2009 Sri Lanka defeated a terrorist movement that had pioneered suicide killings, with responsibility for several incidents where the victims had been numbered in hundreds. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam had also killed two heads of government and destroyed several leading moderates of the ethnic group which it claimed to be liberating, namely the Tamils of Sri Lanka (Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India, President Ranasinghe Premadasa of Sri Lanka, Messers Amirthalingam, Yoheswaran, Sam Tambimuttu, Neelan Tiruchelvam, Lakshman Kadrigamar, Mrs Sarojini Yoheswaran, Ketheswaran Loganathan, Alfred Duraiyappa, etc).

And yet, far from this achievement being recognized, and efforts made to replicate it, Sri Lanka became the object of relentless persecution by the Western bloc at the United Nations. While the Sri Lankan government certainly blundered in not dealing firmly with allegations against it, and also in failing to address comprehensively the problems that had created the terrorist movement, the manner in which it has been hounded deserves careful analysis. Not least, one needs to examine the role of the Obama administration, in playing to a public gallery of bleeding hearts whilst continuing a far more ruthless war on those it feared than had been engaged in by previous American Presidents.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Stands by his Solid Adherence to the Rajapaksa Government during the War and is Opposed to the Western Witch Hunt’ »

TNA Leader Sampanthan wants President Sirisena to Review Govt Initiative to Build 65,000 Houses for War Displaced in North


Tamil National alliance Leader and Leader of the Opposition Rajavarothayam Sampanthan has expressed concerns over the envisaged project by arcelor Mittal to construct 65,000 houses for war displaced families in the north and has urged the Government to urgently review the proposed govt initiative.

Sampanthan in a letter sent to President Maithripala Sirisena has acknowledged that the housing situation is dire for 137,000 homeless families in the north but seeks a review of the current initiative to build 65,000 houses due to several concerns needing to be addressed

The Trincomalee district Parliamentarian has also sent a letter in similar vein to Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also


The full text of the letter sent to President sirisena is reproduced below –


18th April 2016

His Excellency President Maithripala Sirisena
Presidential Secretariat
Galle Face
Colombo 01

Your Excellency,

Initiative to construct 65,000 Houses for Conflict-affected Families in the Northern and Eastern Provinces

I write consequent to a unanimous decision of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentary Group to raise very serious concerns in respect of the above matter.

The housing needs of the North and East are indeed dire. It is estimated that 137,000 houses are necessary to meet the housing needs of the North and the East following the devastation of the war. This issue must be addressed. The TNA thus welcomes the Government’s recognition of this, and its resolve to initiate a project to provide housing for conflict affected families.

However, the serious concerns relating to the initiative in question repeatedly raised by a wide ranging group of civil society activists, professionals, and politicians cannot be ignored. This includes the recent report of experts of the University of Moratuwa on the suitability of the abovementioned steel houses.

Continue reading ‘TNA Leader Sampanthan wants President Sirisena to Review Govt Initiative to Build 65,000 Houses for War Displaced in North’ »

“Stop The Proposed Bridge Over Palk Strait Before It’s Too Late” – An Open Letter to the President, and the Prime Minister


By
K. Godage


An Open Letter to the President, and the Prime Minister

Your Excellencies,

Tamil Nadu appears determined to annex Sri Lanka. This news is certainly not the most auspicious note on which to commence our New Year. The Indian Union Minister Radhakrishnan had said this week that the Centre was firm in its proposal to build a bridge across the Palk Strait, connecting Dhanushkodi, the eastern tip of Rameshwaram island and to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka.

Talking to reporters in Tamil Nadu he had said that the project was in the preliminary stages but the Indian Government was firm in going ahead with it and realise the dream of Mahakavi Bharathi.
He has also said that the Sri Lankan Government was expected to give its nod for the project, we do hope that this is most definitely NOT TRUE for that would, without doubt, spell the end of our National Unity Government.

Radhakrishnan has further stated that once the project was executed, Danushkodi, which became a ghost town after the 1964 cyclonic storm, would flourish and the extension of a four-lane highway from Paramakkudi to Rameshwaram and later to Lanka, would be automatically implemented!

Continue reading ‘“Stop The Proposed Bridge Over Palk Strait Before It’s Too Late” – An Open Letter to the President, and the Prime Minister’ »

Legendary 93 Year old Hindi Film Actor Dilip Kumar Admitted to Mumbai Lilavati Hospital for respiratory Problems

BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

Veteran Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar, aged 93, has been admitted to Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai.

“Dilip Kumarji was admitted to Lilavati hospital at 2am on Saturday with respiratory problems. He’s not in ICU (Intensive Care Unit),” Dr Jalil Parkar of Lilavati hospital told ANI news agency.

“Doctors are keeping a close watch on Dilip Kumar,” he added. The actor’s family said there is no cause for alarm.

The legendary actor was born in Peshawar (now in Pakistan) in pre-partition India as Mohammad Yusuf Khan but adopted the screen name of Dilip Kumar. Critics have acclaimed him as one of the greatest actors in the century-old history of the Hindi cinema.

Continue reading ‘Legendary 93 Year old Hindi Film Actor Dilip Kumar Admitted to Mumbai Lilavati Hospital for respiratory Problems’ »

India and Sri Lanka May Finalise Agreement to Build Bridge Linking Both Countries Discloses Indian Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari

India and Sri Lanka could soon finalise an agreement for building a bridge connecting both the countries, Indian union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday.

“The project is under consideration, it is under discussion. But nothing has been finalised,” Mr Gadkari told journalists at the Foreign Correspondents Club in New Delhi.

He said discussions have been held on the issue with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe.

The Sri Lankan side is also “interested” in the project, he said, adding that even the Asian Development Bank has made a recommendation to that effect.

Continue reading ‘India and Sri Lanka May Finalise Agreement to Build Bridge Linking Both Countries Discloses Indian Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari’ »

Rajapaksas Conspire To Create Split Between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

An unscheduled meeting that took place last week between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President, MP Mahinda Rajapaksa managed to create ripples in political circles, especially among members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). The Rajapaksas have now resorted to the latest conspiracy of trying to drive a wedge between the Prime Minister and President Maithripala Sirisena.

Divide and rule has been the policy of the Rajapaksas that was clearly witnessed during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s first term in office. Rajapaksa ensured that divisions and political defections plagued the main political parties enabling him to create an environment where he could rule as he pleased with minimal opposition.

The Rajapaksa clan is once again trying to create a division and this time around, the targets are Wickremesinghe and Sirisena.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksas Conspire To Create Split Between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt in Practice Directly Contradicts Its Good Governance Rhetoric

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

There is a view taken by some who are engaged in the process of constitutional reform that a new or radically revised constitutional document for Sri Lanka will be the proverbial panacea for many if not all the country’s ills.

This is however dangerously misleading. The question is simple. If provisions of the existing Constitution, (including amendments with their warts and all) are not adhered to properly, what possible faith can citizens have in a new document, the beautiful gloss of which will be limited to the paper that it is printed on?

Government doing itself a disservice

This question becomes relevant in light of practice by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition government which directly contradicts its good governance rhetoric. As pointed out in these column spaces on many occasions, the standard at which observance of the Rule of Law ought to be measured is most emphatically not by comparison to the Rajapaksa years.

Continue reading ‘Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt in Practice Directly Contradicts Its Good Governance Rhetoric’ »

Low and Middle Income Groups Will Be Hit Hard By Govt Decision to Increase Value Added Tax (VAT) To 15% From May 2nd

Low and middle income groups will be worst hit by the Government’s move to raise Value Added Tax (VAT) to 15 percent from May 2.

Set to rise are their telephone, water and electricity bills. This is on top of their having to pay more for consumer items, medical bills and even private education.

The budget 2016 had proposed a two-band VAT rate – 8 and 12.5 percent instead of a single rate of 11 percent. This was, however, not implemented. In March, the Cabinet of Ministers accepted a recommendation from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to raise it to 15 percent.

Continue reading ‘Low and Middle Income Groups Will Be Hit Hard By Govt Decision to Increase Value Added Tax (VAT) To 15% From May 2nd’ »

Preliminary Report of Moratuwa University Experts Finds Many Flaws in Arcelor Mittal 65,000 Housing Project For North

By Namini Wijedasa

The proposed steel houses for the war-affected have inadequate foundations, insufficient roof support, are at risk of corrosion, are poorly ventilated and have no hearth and chimney, Moratuwa Universtiy experts have found after a detailed technical study.

The controversial dwellings — erected by the Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal — also have poor or non-existent capacity for extension or repair, a much shorter life span than block wall houses, are unlikely to create a sense of ownership, unlikely to foster the local economy and generate employment and are at least double the cost of a block wall house, the experts have warned.

These conclusions were published in the preliminary report of Prof. Priyan Dias and Dr Rangika Halwatura (both engineers) and Architect Varuna de Silva. They spent two days in the Jaffna Peninsula comparing the model steel houses erected by ArcelorMittal with block wall houses of which more than 50,000 houses have been constructed over the past five years.

Continue reading ‘Preliminary Report of Moratuwa University Experts Finds Many Flaws in Arcelor Mittal 65,000 Housing Project For North’ »

Kitchen Blowtorch in Luggage of Sri Lankan Chefs Returning from Culinary Exhibition in Singapore Caused Security Scare For Sri Lankan Airlines Flight UL 309

A kitchen blowtorch in the checked-in luggage of a team of Sri Lankan chefs returning after a culinary exhibition in Singapore led to the recall of a SriLankan Airline flight soon after it had taken off from the Changi International Airport on Thursday.

The drama unfolded when five Sri Lankan chefs were returning to Colombo after they participated in FoodAsia2016, an International Exhibition of Food and Drinks. They were initially detained for interrogation by the authorities there before the flight departed on the night of April 14.

However, shortly after takeoff, UL flight 309 was instructed to return to Changi Intentional Airport due to “security reasons”. Upon its return, the Singapore Police’s airport division had requested that all check-in luggage be subject to screening once more and also interviewed a few passengers, a statement from SriLankan Airlines said.

Continue reading ‘Kitchen Blowtorch in Luggage of Sri Lankan Chefs Returning from Culinary Exhibition in Singapore Caused Security Scare For Sri Lankan Airlines Flight UL 309’ »

Pragmatic India Prepared to Compete With China Where It Must and Co-operate Where It Can

by C. Raja Mohan

As the Indian public discourse on China continues to oscillate between unmitigated romanticism and unreasonable hostility, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has settled down to a pragmatic engagement with Beijing.

The NDA government’s three-way dialogue with the Chinese leadership next week, involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, is likely to reflect some of this new realism.

The UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh struggled to overcome many of the traditional weaknesses of India’s China policy — the temptation to mask real differences, hide deep resentments in soaring rhetoric on friendship, pretend great convergence on global issues, and resist the natural expansion of India’s economic cooperation with China.

Modi has begun to turn this policy on its head. Delhi now acknowledges the enduring contradictions between the interests of the two countries at the bilateral, regional and global level, seeks to manage those responsibly, refuses to limit its relationship with other countries by looking over its shoulder at Beijing, and rolls out the red carpet for Chinese capital.

Continue reading ‘Pragmatic India Prepared to Compete With China Where It Must and Co-operate Where It Can’ »

Will India Revive Relations With Rajapaksas to Teach Maithri – Ranil Govt a Lesson ?

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

India maintained strict silence on Ranil’s visit to China. Only India is aware of the secret behind that silence. Subsequent to Mahinda’s defeat, his brother former Defence Secretary Gotabaya said at a conference that Indian Defence Adviser Ajit Doval had told him to halt the Colombo Port City (Chinese) Project. Gotabaya said, his brother’s government got involved in problems with India because of the decision the government took not to halt this project. If Doval had told Gotabaya to halt the Colombo Port City Project then there is no reason for them not to tell the same thing to either Maithri or Ranil.

However, during his tour of India it was reported that India had given their approval for the project.
The maintenance contract for the roundabout close to the Colombo Port City Project at the Galle Face had been handed over to the Kingsbury Hotel located nearby during the period of the Rajapaksa Government.

Recently when the Kingsbury Hotel expressed their willingness to hand over the maintenance to another institution, the Indian Oil Company (IOC) expressed their desire to take over the contract of maintenance.

Continue reading ‘Will India Revive Relations With Rajapaksas to Teach Maithri – Ranil Govt a Lesson ?’ »

“Yahapalanaya” Govt of Maithri-Ranil in Stunning Policy Turnaround on Budget Provisions and China Relations.

By

C.A.Chandraprema

Sri Lanka entered the traditional New Year with the yahapalana government literally standing on its head. The present government described its first mini-budget in January last year as a Robin Hood budget where the rich were robbed to give concessions to the poor. Indeed there was no doubt that in the early days the government did both – robbing the rich as well as giving concessions to the poor. They introduced several one off taxes such as the ‘Super Gains Tax’ of 25% on all entities that had profits of over Rs. 2,000 million in the 2013 tax year, the one billion rupee levy on casinos, the one billion rupee levy on satellite TV operators having more than 50,000 subscribers, the Rs. 250 million levy on all mobile telephone operators, the special levy of Rs 250,000 on every bar and liquor sales outlet were among many such measures to ‘rob’ the rich.

This was followed by unprecedented concessions given to the poor. The salaries of public servants were increased by Rs. 10,000 per month – a feat that no previous government would have even dreamed of carrying out. They reduced fuel prices, the price of electricity and gas and at least for a while brought down the prices of several foodstuffs. Samurdhi welfare payments were increased. For several months, things went well, the rich were robbed and the poor were pampered but now the bubble has burst. The rich can no longer be robbed but the poor have to be pampered so the emphasis has now shifted from robbing the rich to pamper the poor to robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Continue reading ‘“Yahapalanaya” Govt of Maithri-Ranil in Stunning Policy Turnaround on Budget Provisions and China Relations.’ »

Will India Not Go Ahead With Colombo Proposed Indo-Sri Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperative Agreement (ETCA) as a “Warning” To Sri Lanka?

By

Gagani Weerakoon

The Yahapalana Government lead by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, seems to have taken a complete U-turn in its foreign policy adopted over a year ago, with the latter taking up his maiden visit to China last week to negotiate inking several strategic economic agreements.

Upon reaching China, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe received a right royal welcome by Chinese counterparts on Wednesday after which the two countries signed few strategically important agreements.

Sri Lankan delegation that arrived in China was warmly welcomed at the Beijing International Airport by Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Kon Suang Yu of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Sri Lankan Ambassador in China Dr. Karunasena Kodithuwakku. Thereafter, they were carried in a special motorcade to the China World Hotel, where they stayed.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe during his tour conducted talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Chairman of the Chinese National People’s Congress Committee Yang Jan.

In what seemed to be an attempt to clear the air between the two countries, Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke highly of the long-term friendship between the two countries, and their support to each other on issues of core interests and major concern.

Continue reading ‘Will India Not Go Ahead With Colombo Proposed Indo-Sri Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperative Agreement (ETCA) as a “Warning” To Sri Lanka?’ »

Sri Lankan Airlines Flight UL 309 Ordered to Return While in Mid- Air to Changi Airport by Singapore Authorities For Security reasons

SriLankan Airlines flight UL 309 was instructed to return to Changi International Airport by the Singapore authorities due to security reasons soon after it was airborne to Colombo on April 14.

The flight later arrived in Colombo at 0042 hrs on April 15, 2016 with a total delay of 3 hours.
Issuing a statement, the SriLankan said that “upon its return to Singapore, the airport division of the Singapore Police Force requested that all check-in luggage was screened once more and also interviewed a few passengers.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Airlines Flight UL 309 Ordered to Return While in Mid- Air to Changi Airport by Singapore Authorities For Security reasons’ »

Finance Ministry Announces 15 % Increase in Value Added Tax(VAT) from May 2nd 2016


The Value Added Tax (VAT) is to be increased to 15% with effect from May 02, 2016, the Finance Ministry announced.

Accordingly, VAT will also be imposed on supply of telecommunication services, import or supply of telecom equipment or machinery, high tech equipment including copper cables for telecom industry and supply of healthcare services.

Continue reading ‘Finance Ministry Announces 15 % Increase in Value Added Tax(VAT) from May 2nd 2016’ »

Megapolis and Western Development Ministry Consultant Vidya Amarapala Resigns Due To “Panama Papers” Exposure Controversy


Megapolis and Western Development Ministry today said though there was a concerted effort by certain interested parties to link Ministry Consultant Vidya Amarapala to the so-called black money scandal ‘Panama Papers’ he had never been involved in such illegal transactions and added, Mr. Amarapala had decided to resign from his post to facilitate any possible inquiry.

The attention of the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry has been drawn to the listing of the name of Ministry consultant Vidya Amarapala in the Panama Papers exposure.

Panama is considered a haven for high-end tax dodgers in the world.

The tax evaders and holders of slush fund accounts have used company ‘Mossack Fonseca’ as a front to stash away their ill-gotten lucre.

Continue reading ‘Megapolis and Western Development Ministry Consultant Vidya Amarapala Resigns Due To “Panama Papers” Exposure Controversy’ »

“Arcelor Mittal Given Tender Because Local Contractors or Investors Are Incapable of Undertaking Project to Build 65,000 Houses “Explains Cabinet Minister DM Swaminathan

The construction of 65,000 houses for conflict affected families in the North-East will begin in the next two months and the selection of beneficiaries is being carried out by District and Divisional Secretaries of the two provinces right now, a senior Cabinet Minister said.

Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M.Swaminathan speaking exclusively to Daily Mirror from India yesterday said there would be no calling of new tenders or revisit of the tender offered to Arcelor Mittal Construction in France or call tenders afresh as requested by the Joint Opposition.

Continue reading ‘“Arcelor Mittal Given Tender Because Local Contractors or Investors Are Incapable of Undertaking Project to Build 65,000 Houses “Explains Cabinet Minister DM Swaminathan’ »

Construction of China Funded Colombo Port City Project Likely to Commence in May 2016.

Work on the Colombo Port City Project will begin in May this year, State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Niroshan Perera said.

The Minister said that all agreements had been finalized. “Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who handles the subject of National Polices and Economic Affairs had finalized all agreements during his recent State visit to China and therefore it would be possible to begin the project in May this year.

Continue reading ‘Construction of China Funded Colombo Port City Project Likely to Commence in May 2016.’ »

The Difference Between Uncle” Juius Richard Jayewardene and “Nephew” Ranil Wickremesinghe

By Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Sp economic reality dawned and the UNP leadership had to eat humble fortune cookie. China is back in the game in a major way, which is a good thing because it partially and temporarily stabilizes the economic crisis while re-balancing the island’s recently lopsided external relations. Ironically, the restored Chinese footprint may eventually be larger than it was under the Rajapaksa administration.

The China re-set was inevitable, and only proves the crass unrealism of the Yahapalana ideologues who went on an anti-Beijing binge. The Rajapaksas have been proven right in their strategic assessment that Sri Lanka’s destiny lay in Asia, and that China was Sri Lanka’s most indispensable and valuable friend. But they were wrong in putting all their eggs in the Beijing basket in the postwar second term.

Instead of a policy of multi-polar balancing a Lakshman Kadirgamar (and of course SWRD and Sirimavo Bandaranaike), the UNP-led Government has adopted a policy of multiple and multiplying dependence, lurching drunkenly in one direction and another. With its chronic political dysfunctions and developmental disability, it will beg, borrow and steal, and is parcelling off and selling as much of the country to as many buyers as it can beckon. It is external players rather than the Sri Lankan people and state who will be the biggest shareholders of the country and controllers of its destiny.

Post-Beijing, the Government is likely to overcompensate other external players who scramble to offset the Chinese return. An ethnically bipolar Sri Lanka with (I) its strategic Northern and Eastern border zone constitutionally converted into a mini-Tamil Nadu — a self-governing federal enclave and penetrable state let and (II) the ‘Hanuman Bridge’ which establishes contiguity with Tamil Nadu and encourages and enables irredentism, are likely give-aways.

Continue reading ‘The Difference Between Uncle” Juius Richard Jayewardene and “Nephew” Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

If Dudley Senanayake Had Said “Yes” To Marriage Proposal, Sirima Ratwatte May Not Have Wedded SWRD Bandaranaike

By Charnika Imbulana

Today (13 April 2016) marks the 43rd death anniversary of Dudley Shelton Senanayake, the second Prime Minister of our country, then Ceylon.

On this date every year as a tribute to this gentleman politician, his life is reminisced. I have in these columns for many years on such occasion given details of many aspects of his life and times – some researched, some I have experienced myself, and others quoting first-hand accounts of what was related to me – all worthy of putting pen to paper all the same.

The current and future generations must surely know. Yes, there lived political leaders who are worthy of being spoken of in volumes. Yes there lived such politicians when politics was conducted in the way it should be. It was then more the norm than the exception, although today it is the contrary.

When Dudley Senanayake departed unexpectedly from this world, he was not the Premier, nor a leader of the Opposition but yet an unprecedented crowd, estimated at well over one million, thronged to Colombo for his funeral in 1973. An aerial snapshot taken by Daily Newspapers of Independence Square at the time of Dudley’s cremation shows a sea of heads as far as the eye can see – this itself was testimony to how he was regarded by the nation.

Born on 19 June 1911 to Molly Dunuwila and Don Stephen Senanayake, Dudley was the eldest of their children, two sons and a daughter. Dudley was identified as the mischievous one. Both Dudley and his brother, Robert received their secondary education at the prestigious S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia where their illustrious father D.S. Senanayake (the first Premier of Ceylon) also studied from 1892 to 1902. Dudley excelled in his studies and sports.

Continue reading ‘If Dudley Senanayake Had Said “Yes” To Marriage Proposal, Sirima Ratwatte May Not Have Wedded SWRD Bandaranaike’ »

The story of a weeping island… Sri Lanka’s lamentable limp towards progress


By Vishwamithra1984

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
~George Bernard Shaw

The roads look narrower than they really are. It’s the optics. Not that they have shrunk in their measure; the traffic has increased to such a choking level, once broad-looking motorways can no longer accommodate the daily-increasing numbers of vehicles, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four-wheelers are all competing for the same narrow space. Honking kills you and the congestion chokes every breathing person in or on these moving wheels; humanity’s busy schedules keep getting busier and the roadways resemble more like parking lots. The effects of the free-market economy are taking their toll.

When one adds the expansion of the human population into the mix, the choking process assumes its own destructive dimensions. Nobel laureate Pearl S Buck said “when man demands no more the earth too shall die”. Of course, Buck expressed this in the context of the suffocating effects the Chinese policies had, both on the economy and society, at the time. Nevertheless, the latter part of the Twentieth Century and the last one and half decades of this Century in Sri Lanka have proven beyond doubt that an unregulated market place, if left alone to the vultures of the capitalist class of businessmen, would be disastrous to a country as well to its majority of citizens.

What was ushered in 1977 by the J R Jayewardene Government was a brutal necessity. The ’70 to ’77 Government of Sirimao Bandaranaike along with the left parties ran the Sri Lankan economy to the ground. Instead of expanding the size of the economic ‘cake’ so that more pieces could be cut, the leftist polices of the ’70 to ’77 Government virtually shrank the economy and started cutting smaller pieces. Populist economic policies carried the day during the 1970 election campaign (rice from the Moon proclamation by Mrs. Bandaranaike etc.); once in power, the obsolete Marxist economic policies and doctrinaire approach to the country’s burning issues overtook any rational and realistic adoption of policies and principles. The great experimentations of the ‘Double Doctor’ aka N M Perera failed miserably.

Continue reading ‘The story of a weeping island… Sri Lanka’s lamentable limp towards progress’ »

Muted Role Of Main Opposition TNA Deprives Itself From Integrating With National Level Politics


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

It has been a long time since we last heard from the Opposition, I mean the TNA-led main Opposition. Even when there are occasional isolated voices, such as by the National List MP M.A. Sumanthiran, they too appear to be too little, too late.

Last time the Opposition Leader Rasavarodhayam Sampanthan spoke out was several months back, about the release of Tamil inmates incarcerated under terrorism related charges, that too was after a hunger strike launched by the prisoners.

Recently, MP Sumanthiran raised concerns over the tender procedure adopted for the construction of 65,000 houses for the war-affected families in the North-East. His remarks (though belated) follow similar concerns raised by the local construction industry, civil society and even the Northern Chief Minister C. Wigneswaran.

They all noted the lopsided tender procedures, which have favoured the Indian multinational Arcelor Mittal at the expense of local construction companies, concerns over inflated prices of the housing units and the absence of secondary benefits to the local communities. MP Sumanthiran has echoed those concerns.

But, it is rather unusual for the TNA to take so long to raise a matter which has acute implications for its constituency in the North.

Continue reading ‘Muted Role Of Main Opposition TNA Deprives Itself From Integrating With National Level Politics’ »

If Corrective Action Is Not Taken To Change Worrisome Trajectory Of This Govt a Rajapaksa-Return May Occur

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

From a strategic point of view, it was a great sleight of hand for this Government to have successfully ‘packaged’ the 19th Amendment to the Constitution as a notable constitutional gain for Sri Lanka, despite its many problematic provisions.

Some of these seemingly progressive but actually deadening provisions include bringing back the 17th Amendment’s Constitutional Council (CC) but without its majority of independent members. The failure of the current politically constituted CC to announce transparent procedures regarding the nomination of persons to constitutional commissions and key posts is a case in point. The 19th Amendment’s inclusion of a retarded Right to Information clause which is directly at odds with the Right to Information Bill is another illustration.

Frolicsome antics of the animal kind

Also unacceptable is a crafty constitutional allowance permitting a bloated number of ministers under the euphemism of a ‘national government.’ Lest we forget, this was exactly the criticism that was leveled against the Rajapaksa regime, without the convenient cover of a ‘national government’ at the time.

Continue reading ‘If Corrective Action Is Not Taken To Change Worrisome Trajectory Of This Govt a Rajapaksa-Return May Occur’ »

Evolving Sri Lanka Foreign Policy Recognizes Country Cannot Ignore or Trifle With Dominant China Even At Risk of Antagonizing India

By

Don Manu

There is no such thing as a free Chinese takeaway; and, if the visiting Lankan high powered delegation led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe fancied otherwise, the Chinese hosts made pretty certain the guests got the message crystal clear when the fortune cookie, opened after the diplomatic feast of niceties was over, revealed the thumping bill of fare.

In a special report published in China’s state owned Global Times on Thursday, the article warned that Pakistan could no longer provide China a strong foothold due to its “calamitous state” of security and ominously stated that, as a result, Lanka was of great strategic importance to China.

“Currently, the China-funded constructions in Pakistan cannot serve as a strong foothold for China, given the calamitous state of Pakistan’s security. Sri Lanka can be of great importance for China in the security strategic layout in the Indian Ocean. It will not only provide security assurances for nearby navigation channels, but will also promote the 21st Maritime Silk Road,” the Globe Times stated on the day the Lankan Prime Minister was to kick of his begging mission in Beijing where he was expected to ask the Chinese government to waive off certain loans and restructure some of the $8 billion Chinese debt.

Continue reading ‘Evolving Sri Lanka Foreign Policy Recognizes Country Cannot Ignore or Trifle With Dominant China Even At Risk of Antagonizing India’ »

Move to Give President Sirisena’s Brother and SL Telecom Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena a 725,000 Rupee Housing Allowance Challenged by Minister Harin Fernando


A decision reportedly taken by the Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) board to approve a huge monthly housing allowance of Rs. 725,000 for its Chairman P.G. Kumarasinghe Sirisena has been challenged by Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando.

The minister told the Sunday Times yesterday that he had told the Prime Minister that the figure approved for the housing allowance was too high and a review was needed.

“I am responsible to Parliament as the SLT comes under the purview of my ministry. I cannot change a decision taken by the board as its chairman has been appointed by the President,” he said.

Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena is the brother of the President.

Continue reading ‘Move to Give President Sirisena’s Brother and SL Telecom Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena a 725,000 Rupee Housing Allowance Challenged by Minister Harin Fernando’ »

Will Sri Lanka Become a Puppet Regime of the US Like Philippines And Many Others?


By

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

The red-carpet welcome accorded to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Beijing on his just-concluded official visit, and the understandings reached, send a reassuring signal that China continues to be an all-weather friend to Sri Lanka.

This is in spite of the uncertainties that characterized the relationship during the 2015 presidential election campaign when the yahapalana camp engaged in anti-China rhetoric and Chinese-funded projects came in for some flak.

Alongside reports of renewed goodwill, what do we make of the Prime Minister’s remarks at a naval officers commissioning ceremony in Trincomalee days before his departure to Beijing? In this speech he calls on the SL Navy to ready themselves to ‘protect international trade routes from the Maldives to the Straits of Malacca’ – clearly aligning himself with US strategic interests in the region.

The position he articulated here cannot be viewed as being politically neutral. The US’s policy of re-balancing its forces (‘Pivot to Asia’) involves a shift of the US’s strategic focus in order to contain the rise of China. During his visit to Colombo in May last year US Secretary of State John Kerry asserted that “the United States is already providing leadership on maritime security in the Indian Ocean in association with close friends and allies across the region.” And the UNP-led government is eager to fall in step, it appears. Given the huge disparity in power between the two navies it’s obvious who would be calling the shots in any envisaged cooperation.

Continue reading ‘Will Sri Lanka Become a Puppet Regime of the US Like Philippines And Many Others?’ »

Is Fourth Coming of Mahinda An Effort to Save His Country Or His Degenerate Family From The Laws Of The Land?


By

Gomin Dayasri

Look around and pick a leader capable of pulling the country fallen into an awful rot; landingin the bin is a responsibility shared. To reach a level of sensibility is the initial task-not to touch greatness, bespoken on political platforms. It discounts politicians that enjoyed/s power – in past and present tense. Virtually impossible based on their past performances. Don’t be nihilistic-think differently. Make an effort to retract the slide downhill, before climbing an anthill. Hit ground level and take stock of the findings on soil. Descend from dizzy heights to unaccustomed reality, difficult for an over inflated nation after defeating terrorism.

The ‘glory men’ are at the cleaners.

All is not lost. There are a few in every political party, hibernating in a year around winter unwanted by the leadership; making it near impossible to find a footrest to touch rank.

They speak their minds unguardedly to the leaders. When desperation strikes, they are the coming men.

Wait in hope for that day, Sri Lanka is not a losers’ paradise.

Continue reading ‘Is Fourth Coming of Mahinda An Effort to Save His Country Or His Degenerate Family From The Laws Of The Land?’ »

“Colombo Port City And Megapolis Projects Are Opportunities For Everyone To Make Money” – Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said his government has addressed India’s security concerns over the newly-modified US$ 1.5 billion Colombo Port City project.

Addressing a press conference in Beijing before wrapping up his four-day visit to China, the Prime Minister ruled out chances of an India-China clash to gain control of the Indian Ocean.

“There is no question of a security problem. The Indian security issues have been addressed by us. There will be further discussions with India,” PTI quoted Wickremesinghe as saying.

Responding to media queries about US$ 8 billion Chinese investments including the Port City project made during former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime, which sparked off security concerns in India, the Premier said Sri Lanka has discussed the concerns with India and was prepared to discuss further.”Port city and Megapolis is not a threat to anyone. It’s an opportunity for everyone to make money,” he said.

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Colombo Wants Beijing to Invest $ 8 Billion Owed By Sri Lanka To China for Equity In Infrastructure Projects


Sri Lanka has asked China to swap some of the $8 billion it owes Beijing for equity in infrastructure projects and offered to sell stakes in its companies to Chinese ones, Colombo officials said on Saturday.

The ouster of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who steered Sri Lanka toward China until his 2015 election defeat, was a setback for relations as his successor has reviewed projects to check if they were fair and legal.

Now President Maithripala Sirisena’s government, faced with falling foreign reserves, a balance of payments crunch and few, if any, alternative investors, is heading back into China’s embrace, albeit asking for better terms.

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Krishantha Prasad Cooray Assumes Duties As New Chairman Of Hotel Developers (Lanka) Plc,- The Owning Company Of Hilton Colombo.

Krishantha Prasad Cooray has finally assumed duties as the new Chairman of Hotel Developers (Lanka) Plc, the owning company of Hilton Colombo.

Cooray is a private sector executive counting years of experience in the corporate sector and an academic background in Political Science and Law. He also serves on the Board of DFCC Bank.

His appointment to Hilton Colombo’s owning company was announced late last year but subsequent events forced a delay in him assuming duties.

Apart from Cooray, several others have been appointed to the Hotel Developers new Board along with a few re-appointments from the previous Board, which was constituted by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake when Hotel Developers came under Finance Ministry during the interim Government’s cabinet.

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Cabinet Minister D.M.Swaminathan Answers Doubts Raised In Interview About Arcelor Mittal Northern Construction Project for 65,000 Houses.

Cabinet Minister D.M.Swaminathan

Cabinet Minister D.M.Swaminathan

By

Zahra Imtiaz


Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Affairs Minister, D. M. Swaminathan who is currently at the centre of the controversy surrounding the 65,000 housing project insists that the hype is more to do with the politics of the North rather than a lack of transparency in its tender procedure.

Excerpts:

Q. What is the current status of the housing project in Jaffna?

A. It was taken up in the cabinet meeting this week and a special committee comprising of the President, the Prime Minister and myself was appointed to review issues of land in the project. There has been no stoppage in the project. Only a land issue.

Q. It was reported that a special committee headed by the President and the Prime Minister were reviewing the project? And that they were to reconsider who they would award the project to?

A. No. The President said that there was no problem with the construction, only an issue with land.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Minister D.M.Swaminathan Answers Doubts Raised In Interview About Arcelor Mittal Northern Construction Project for 65,000 Houses.’ »

“Current Predicament Due to Bad Economic Policies Of Successive Govts” Says Economist Dr. Arusha Cooray

Dr Arusha Cooray

Dr Arusha Cooray


“Mirror Business” conducted an email interview with Dr. Arusha Cooray, the Lankan born Professor of Economics at the Nottingham University Business School (Malaysia), over the current economic situation of Sri Lanka. Dr. Cooray’s work is widely published and she is one of the leading academics in the field of economics Sri Lanka has produced.

Sri Lanka’s economy is currently undergoing extremely testing times amid depleting foreign reserves, an unsustainable debt pile and a looming balance of payment (BoP) crunch. The bad economic policies of successive governments are at fault for the current predicament the country is in, but the present global economic developments also haven’t been in favour of the US $ 82 billion economy.

Following are the excerpts of the interview.

Q:
What is your opinion of the current status of the Sri Lankan economy?

Continue reading ‘“Current Predicament Due to Bad Economic Policies Of Successive Govts” Says Economist Dr. Arusha Cooray’ »

Successful Outcome of Ranil’s China Visit is a Big Blow to Indian Foreign Policy Machinations in Sri Lanka.

By

C.A.Chandraprema

The fact that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe went to China at all reveals many things. Many believe that the Indian intelligence outfit RAW played a major role in bringing the present government into power by organizing the minorities. However it appears that the Indians don’t have as strong a hold on their supposed protégé’s as first thought.

The halting of the Chinese Port City project was a constant and plainly stated Indian demand when the Rajapaksa government was in power. Now the present government too has given the Chinese the go ahead to build the Port City and are trying to negotiate further Chinese involvement in Hambantota.

The Chinese may now in fact be better off than they were before, because earlier it was one political party seeking Chinese involvement in Sri Lanka – now both the main political parties are seeking Chinese involvement in Sri Lanka. Earlier the Indians had at least one major political party that would toe its line against the Chinese; now it has none.

One reason the government is keen to sign at least an ETCA framework agreement with India would be to placate the obviously furious Indians. As far as Indian foreign policy goes this is yet another fiasco like the involvement of the IPKF in the north and east in the late 1980s. The Indians tried to impose their will on Sri Lanka by sending troops to this country and at the hands of the LTTE, they faced more casualties than they had ever sustained even in the wars with China and Pakistan.

They had to leave SL with their tails between their legs and to make matters worse, for two decades the Indian central government never dared commemorate the Indian soldiers who had died in Sri Lanka for fear of rubbing Tamil Nadu on the wrong side. What has now happened to the Indians is even worse. The very government that they helped bring into power is opening the doors for China to come in. This is truly the land of Ravana as far as the Indians are concerned. Whatever they touch in this country blows up in their faces.

Continue reading ‘Successful Outcome of Ranil’s China Visit is a Big Blow to Indian Foreign Policy Machinations in Sri Lanka.’ »

The Right To Care And The Responsibility To Protect Belong To All Sri Lankans Irrespective Of Ethnicity Or Religion.

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.”
Fredrick Douglassi

The Panama Papers reveal a truth which is timeless and universal. Power and corruption are conjoined twins. The 148 politicians implicated so far, by the 11.5 million files from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, span every divide, starting with race, religion and ideological persuasion. They have one common denominator – the possession of power; and a willingness to use that power to their own financial advantage.

The Panama Papers is a reminder that no country, no political class is immune to corruption. But in a functioning democracy there is a slight chance of achieving a degree of accountability, however minute or ephemeral; in a non-democracy no such possibility exists.

The Icelandic Prime Minister didn’t admit to any wrongdoing, didn’t want to resign. But he was forced to ‘step down’ due to an outburst of popular anger. No such fate is likely to befall Russian President Vladimir Putin, implicated in the scandal through close associates. Mr. Putin’s spokesman condemned the Panama Papers as a conspiracy, hatched to destabilise Mr. Putin before the upcoming election.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is in hot water, trying desperately to answer questions about his father’s offshore fund and persistent tax avoidance. Families of several top Chinese politicians, including the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping, are implicated in the scandal. Beijing’s reaction was to dismiss the leaks as ‘groundless’ and ensure that Chinese citizens cannot search the internet for information about their leaders’ kleptocratic practisesii.

Pakistani President has promised an independent investigation about the offshore accounts of his children. The Saudis and the Emirates haven’t turned a hair, even though the Saudi king is among those implicated in the scandal.

(Amongst those mentioned in the Panama Papers are three Lankan clients, though their names are yet to come to light.)

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Indian Security Concerns Have Been Addressed Over Chinese Investments in Sri Lanka Says Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in Beijing

BEIJING: Ruling out chances of India-China clash to gain control of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today said his government has addressed New Delhi’s security concerns over the newly- modified USD 1.5 billion Colombo Port City project.

“There is no question of security problem. The Indian security issues have been addressed by us. There will be further discussions with India” on this, Wickremesinghe told the media here wrapping up his four day-visit during which he held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

“We have discussed with India also. We are prepared to discuss it further,” he said answering a volley of questions about USD eight billion Chinese investments including the Port City project made during former Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime, which sparked off security concerns in India.

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Many Prominent Sri Lankans “Near and Dear” to Past and Present Political Leaders Named in “Panama Papers” but no Politician Directly Involved.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Contrary to speculation Sri Lankan politicians are not among those named in Panama Papers (a vast collection of documents pertaining to massive secret investments in far-flung tax havens).

However, among those Sri Lankans who had been named in the Panama Papers are in a range of lucrative sectors mainly among captains of private industries including leisure, tourism promotion, travel industry, health care, capital market promotion, power generation for the state sector, state procurement, and major automobile importer and at least one former head of cash-strapped state enterprise.

Informed sources identified some of those named as near and dear to politicians, both past and present.

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Sri Lanka Signs Comprehensive Implementation of Investment, Economic and Technological Agreement (CIIETA) With China During Prime Minister Ranil’s Tour


Chinese President Xi Jingping yesterday commended the decision by the Sri Lankan Government to restart the port city project and pledged to encourage financing and investment of future projects as well as appointing a three member committee to oversee future ventures.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe met with Xi during a State ceremony presided over by the Chinese President on Friday where the two had discussions on future engagement between the two countries. Xi also commended efforts by the Sri Lankan Government to convert the $1.4 billion port city project into a larger financial hub as outlined by the Budget last year, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“The Chinese president also praised Sri Lankan efforts to establish a free trade zone for Chinese companies in Hambantota and agreed to encourage Chinese companies to start projects in Sri Lanka. President Xi also predicted that such a move would result in significant technology transfer and economic development for Sri Lanka,” the statement said.

President Xi Jinping also said China only considers policies and people of Sri Lanka when supporting and not the individuals or political parties.

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