Patriotic Tamils Hail Mother Lanka as “Sri Lanka Thaayae” in Their Mother Tongue

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Sri Lanka Thaayae, Nam Sri Lanka, Namo, Namo, Namo, Namo Thaayae…” (Sri Lanka Mother, our sri Lanka, We Salute, Salute, Salute, Salute Thee) – Sri Lankan National Anthem in Tamil

Sri Lanka known as Ceylon gained Freedom from Britain on February 4th 1948. I was born six years later in Independent Ceylon on May 21st 1954. Ceylon became a Republic and changed her name officially to Sri Lanka on May 22nd 1972.Sri Lanka celebrated her 68th anniversary of Independence on Feb 4th 2016. The official commemorative event was held at the Galle Face Green. The highlight of the day was the singing of our national anthem in both Sinhala and Tamil.

SL NA

During the past decades I have seen many official commemorations of Independence day occur. However for the first time in my life I witnessed a scene via the internet which I thought would never ever happen during my lifetime. I saw and heard a youthful choir of boys and girls exuberantly rendering the Sri Lankan National anthem in my mother tongue –Tamil. It took 2 minutes and 32 seconds. The singers were students of Bambalapitiya Ramanathan Hindu Ladies College and Colombo Vivekananda College. They sang harmoniously with gusto and great fervour. After several decades the National anthem was being sung with official approval at the state sanctioned commemoration of Independence.

I was in a state of emotional ecstasy. I did something which I have not done before when Sri Lanka’s National Anthem was being played. I cried! I am not ashamed to say that!! I kept clicking replay to see the clip over and over again. My eyes turned moist and tears kept trickling down my cheeks. I even sobbed a few times involuntarily. It was with the greatest difficulty that I controlled myself. When the “Rupavahini” camera panned on the distinguished gathering, I saw those very important children of the Sri Lankan mother – most of them Sinhalese- standing respectfully erect as the words rang out clearly in Tamil. It was truly a defining moment!
Continue reading ‘Patriotic Tamils Hail Mother Lanka as “Sri Lanka Thaayae” in Their Mother Tongue’ »

“If Media Freedom is not Properly Used ANY Future Govt Could Curtail Media freedom Once again” Cautions President Sirisena

(Following is the full text of the speech delivered by President Maithripala Sirisena at the 68th Independence Day celebrations on Feb 4th 2016 at Galle Face, Colombo 3)

Today we all join together to celebrate the 68th anniversary of Independence Day with pomp and glory. Since we got independence from the British colonial rulers, we have been marking this momentous day of Independence every year and this is the 68th occasion.

When we consider the day like this in 1948 and today, in 2016, in our country as well as the in other countries in the world, there had been vast transformations in economic, political, social and cultural fields.

If we analyse or interpret the independence we gained, I believe that there is a vast difference in what our people expected in 1948 and what the people expect today, 68 years later.

I describe a child born in 1948 as a child of culture. Today, a child born in 2016 in the beginning of the 21st Century, we see as a child of technology. I believe that we should, collectively make efforts to build the nation by joining the child of culture born in the post 1948 era or early 1950s and today’s child of technology.

When we talk of the great freedom fighters who struggle valiantly to win freedom from the colonial rule, we can see very clearly that among the national heroes, there were Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim leaders who fought together, shoulder to shoulder in unity and brotherhood to win independence for the Motherland.

Continue reading ‘“If Media Freedom is not Properly Used ANY Future Govt Could Curtail Media freedom Once again” Cautions President Sirisena’ »

HMGS Palihakkara to Quit as Northern Province Governor; Reginald Cooray Tipped as Successor

By

P.K.Balachandran

Reginald Cooray, an acclaimed leftist liberal and a veteran Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) politician who had been Chief Minister of the Western Province twice, is most likely to be appointed Governor of the Tamil-majority Northern Province succeeding HMGS Palihakkara, who has expressed a wish to demit office at the earliest.

A source close to President Maithripala Sirisena told Express on Friday that Cooray was the front runner and his appointment will be announced “soon”.

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“We Have Completely Defeated LTTE But LTTE Remnants May Re-organize” Warns Ex – Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

By Shanika Sriyananda

The former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa urged the Government to strengthen the mechanism to monitor the hardcore LTTEers before releasing the remaining hardcore LTTE operatives in jails.

He said without strengthening surveillances with the assistance of the military intelligence agencies, releasing hardcore LTTE cadres will pose a grave threat to the country’s peace and security.

According to Rajapaksa, there were over 5,000 LTTE cadres, who had been arrested over the years by the military from different parts of the island, before the end of the war in May 2009.

Continue reading ‘“We Have Completely Defeated LTTE But LTTE Remnants May Re-organize” Warns Ex – Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’ »

Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera Invited to India to Find “Innovative Solution” to Problem of Indian Fishermen Poaching in Sri Lankan Waters

by

P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera will visit India at the earliest at the invitation of the Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the media was informed here on Friday.

Swaraj is now on a two-day visit to Lanka to co-chair the 9th meeting of the India-Lanka Joint Commission along with her Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera.

External Affairs Ministry Joint Secretary Renu Pall said that problems relating to fishing were discussed and both sides agreed to look at the issue from the livelihood and humanitarian points of view and come to an “innovative solution.”

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Indian Actress Asin Who was “Black listed” by Tamil Cinema for Being Sri Lanka Friendly Weds Rahul in Grand Style ♥ ♥

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

An adorable actress with lovely looks being swept off her feet into a grand wedding by an efficacious entrepreneur with dashing features is the romantic stuff modern fairy tales are made of. No wonder then that Indian newspapers were full of news stories last week about the wedding between the Punjabi Hindu Rahul Sharma and Malayalee Catholic Asin Thotumkal. Groom Rahul is co-founder of the successful enterprise Micromax while bride Asin is an actress who has starred in several Indian languages like Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi.

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It was popular Hindi film hero Akshay Kumar who played cupid in the Rahul-Asin romance. Akshay had co-starred in a few films with Asin Thotumkal on the one hand while being closely associated with Rahul Sharma as a friend on the other. Akshay had introduced Asin to Rahul initially. He had also helped promote the alliance in its early stage. After ardently wooing and courting the alluring Asin, the debonair Rahul proposed in Western fashion last year by going down on his knees. She said “yes” and he then slipped on her finger, a 20 carat diamond ring costing 60 million Indian rupees. The diamond solitaire was imported from Belgium. The letters “A” for Asin and “R” for Rahul had been engraved on the gold band under the solitaire. Asin has been flashing that sparkling solitaire for quite a while after the engagement.
Continue reading ‘Indian Actress Asin Who was “Black listed” by Tamil Cinema for Being Sri Lanka Friendly Weds Rahul in Grand Style ♥ ♥’ »

President Sirisena Allows the Singing of National Anthem in Tamil Also at Independence day Celebrations

By

P.K.Balachandran

Breaking a long-standing tradition of singing only the Sinhalese version of the Sri Lankan national anthem at official functions, President Maithripala Sirisena allowed the singing of the Tamil version at the Independence Day celebrations held at the Galle Face Green here on Thursday.

“Sri Lanka Thaaye”, the Tamil version of the anthem written by Pulavar Nallathambi of Vaddukkottai in 1951, and officially endorsed by the then government of Ceylon, was sung at the end of the military parade by students of the Ramanathan Hindu Ladies College. The Sinhalese version was sung at the beginning of the function.

President Sirisena took the decision to break the practice of singing the anthem only in Sinhalese, after the Cabinet Sub-Committee on National Coexistence unanimously recommended on January 27, that the anthem should be sung in Tamil also to promote post-war ethnic reconciliation.

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Ex – Tiger Operative Emil Kanthan Expected to Expose Details of Alleged Secret Deal Between Mahinda Rajapaksa and LTTE During 2005 Presidential Poll

The alleged deal arrived at with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) in 2005 by former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to win Presidential elections by getting the tigers to enforce a boycott of polls in Tamil areas in return for an enormous amount of money is expected to be exposed in great detail in the near future.

A key figure of the LTTE intelligence wing identified by the name Emil Kanthan who allegedly engaged with the Mahinda Rajapaksa camp in this exercise on behalf of the LTTE is now willing to return to Sri Lanka and reveal complete details about the alleged deal to Sri Lankan law enforcement and legal authorities.

The person known as Emil Kanthan who is resident in a western country at present is expected to return to Lanka and voluntarily surrender himself to court as part of an unofficial understanding reached with an influential component of the upper echelons of the Sirisena – Wickremesinghe” Government.

Continue reading ‘Ex – Tiger Operative Emil Kanthan Expected to Expose Details of Alleged Secret Deal Between Mahinda Rajapaksa and LTTE During 2005 Presidential Poll’ »

68 Years of Independence, Nation Building and the Future of Tamils in Sri Lanka


by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

image courtesy of: thelede.blogs.nytimes.com

image courtesy of: thelede.blogs.nytimes.com

Sri Lanka will Celebrate its Sixty-eighth Anniversary of Independence from the United Kingdom this Thursday. The country then known as Ceylon obtained full freedom from the British on February 4th 1948.Independent Ceylon/Sri Lanka / has faced many challenges and problems in the past 68 years. We have had military coup attempts, communal riots, pogroms, armed revolts, external military intervention, assassinations of heads of state, terrorist violence and above all a long secessionist war that threatened to tear apart the country.

What Sri Lanka can be proud of as Asia’s oldest Democracy is the fact that despite many formidable challenges and crises the country continues to be democratic.Flawed but Democratic!On January 8th this year the Sri Lankan people did the nation proud by voting out the incumbent executive president and bringing about effective regime change through the ballot amidst extremely difficult circumstances

The separatist war waged by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) was over in 2009 and the country was unified militarily but whether the nation has been united politically remains an unanswered question yet. A silver lining was visible in the 2015 presidential polls when voters cutting across racial and religious boundaries acted as one nation in electing their president.

Sunrise at Polhena, Matara, Sri Lanka. A place where we see both sunrise and sunset-Pic by: uditha wickramanayaka

Sunrise at Polhena, Matara, Sri Lanka. A place where we see both sunrise and sunset-Pic by: uditha wickramanayaka

It is however too early to state whether this act of unity can be the harbinger of hope for the future.
Continue reading ‘68 Years of Independence, Nation Building and the Future of Tamils in Sri Lanka’ »

Power Sharing Quest of Sri Lankan Tamils After Independence

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

SJV Chelvanayagam, Rajavarothayam Sampanthan & MA Sumanthiran

SJV Chelvanayagam, Rajavarothayam Sampanthan & MA Sumanthiran

The premier political configuration representing the Tamils of Sri Lanka in the Northern and Eastern provinces is the Tamil National Alliance(TNA). According to newspaper reports the TNA seems to be disappointed over perceived delay in setting up an appropriate mechanism to draft a new Constitution for Sri Lanka. It is also worried about what it sees as a potential dilution of the Constitution making exercise. Views have been expressed to this effect by TNA spokesperson and Jaffna district Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran at a press conference held last week at the office of the leader of the opposition.

The TNA’s concern over what it perceives as unnecessary delay and potential dilution of the Constitution –making exercise seems understandable when viewed against the backdrop of recent history in the Island where the Sri Lankan Tamils have consistently struggled to achieve equality through adequate power sharing arrangements.

Sadly these attempts to remedy the situation through Constitutional reform have not resulted in success from the Tamil point of view. The post –independence quest for power sharing of the Tamils of Sri Lanka has remained elusively unattainable.

Handing over of land in former High Security Zones-Mar 2015

Handing over of land in former High Security Zones-Mar 2015

Fresh winds of optimism started blowing in Tamil hearts and minds after the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Government came into power. The pledge of a Constitutional assembly to help draft a new Constitution opened up new vistas of hope. It was expected that a viable power sharing arrangement could be evolved by adopting a consensual approach in the Constitution making exercise. Recent intra-govt developments have brought about an inordinate delay in the process and has even raised doubts as to whether the Constitutional process would continue as envisaged. It is in this context that the TNA spokesperson Sumanthiran has expressed concern over the prevailing situation. He has in fact articulated the opinion of many Tamils in this respect.
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Crowing About an Ancient and Glorious Culture Without Upholding the Morals and Ideals of Such!


By- Sharmini Serasinghe

A 2500 year-old Culture that was!

The current wave of Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism/extremism/racism, and attempts to establish a ‘Sinhala-Buddhist Raj’ in Sri Lanka, if left unchecked will eventually lead, to fragmentation of Sri Lanka into separate states, of the minorities. It may not happen in the immediate future, but it’s a reality staring us in the face.

With the military defeat of the LTTE in 2009 Lankans as a people, were hardly afforded the chance to breathe a sigh of relief, before the Sinhala-Buddhist extremists, in the form of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), Sinhala Ravaya (SR) and Ravana Balaya (RB) emerged, waving the flag of Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism/extremism/racism, in the faces of the others.

Instead of nipping this sociological scourge in the bud, the then political administration gave succor to it. The endgame was to be, to juxtapose the majority Buddhists and the minority communities of this land, and classify the latter, as inferior. This caused and continues to cause, irreparable damage to the process of peace and reconciliation in post-war Sri Lanka.

The well-orchestrated Aluthgama riots by these extremists against Muslims in June 2014 bore, all the hallmarks of the dark days of the July 1983 riots targeting Tamils, but, on a smaller scale. In both instances, the law enforcement authorities looked on, while the carnage took places under their very noses. Why?

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Induction of Sarath Fonseka Into UNF Enhances Nationalist Credentials of UNP Govt in Combatting Rajapaksa Challenge

By P.K.Balachandran

The entry of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka’s Democratic Party (DP) into the United National Party (UNP)-led United National Front (UNF) on Wednesday, coupled with the distinct possibility of his being nominated to Parliament later this week, will add to the nationalistic credentials of the UNP ahead of the crucial local body elections in June.

Field Marshal Fonseka is an acclaimed war hero, having led the Lankan army to victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a no-holds-barred fight in the 2006-2009 Eelam War IV. His entry into the UNF as an ally of the UNP, will help the latter blunt the Rajapaksa group’s criticism that the UNP-led government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is not nationalistic and is dancing to the tune of the Western powers, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and India. It also helps divert attention from the Rajapaksa group’s taunt that Wickremesinghe had said that the war against the LTTE was unwinnable.

Continue reading ‘Induction of Sarath Fonseka Into UNF Enhances Nationalist Credentials of UNP Govt in Combatting Rajapaksa Challenge’ »

Sirisena Leadership Has to be More Like the Rajapaksas in Order to Defeat the Rajapaksas

by Dr. Kalana Senaratne

With days turning into weeks and weeks into months, President Maithripala Sirisena appears to have realized that power is ultimately the primary concern of politics and political leadership. What necessarily follows from this is also the realization that to sustain a ‘good government’ in trying times one has to engage in practices which are antithetical to the very idea of good governance. Ever a contradiction to the ordinary mind, this is an uncomfortable reality in politics.

But, in a democracy (unlike in any other system of governance), political realities can carry unpredictable consequences. Now with President Sirisena’s completion of the first year in power, the people are exposed to a leader and a government, confronted by daunting challenges, facing an uncertain future. Once considered a refreshing voice – and still the West’s newfound darling of South Asia – President Sirisena has begun to speak and act in old and familiar ways. This isn’t surprising.

As a political honeymoon (between a President and the people) slowly ends, the popularity wanes and the stains become more apparent, it would be natural for a leader to wonder how to retain power while protecting himself from his political enemies.

Continue reading ‘Sirisena Leadership Has to be More Like the Rajapaksas in Order to Defeat the Rajapaksas’ »

Arrest of Yoshitha Rajapaksa Sends Strong Signals to all Influential Sons,Daughters and Relatives of Politicians

By

Rasika Jayakody

Although Yoshitha Rajapaksa was never a politician like his father, brother and uncles, the junior Navy officer never failed to make headlines after his father fell out of power in January, last year.

Despite being a military officer, Rajapaksa addressed meetings organized by Tharunyata Hetak and Nil Balakaya, the youth wing of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa. All three sons of the former President were heavily involved in the affairs of these two organizations. Although Yoshitha Rajapaksa was not allowed to engage in activities related to politics, he was above the ordinary military law when his father was in power and no senior officer in the service had the audacity to initiate action against the young officer. That was one reason why Rajapaksa drew the attention of many circles, including civil society activists, who called for action against him.

In the Rugby sphere, the Sri Lankan Navy team, led by Yoshitha Rajapaksa, gained an unchallengeable position in local Rugby tournaments as the team wielded immense authority over the entire system. When the Rajapaksas led the team, the Navy rugby team was almost invincible. It was a Herculean task to defeat the Navy team in a local Rugby match when the Rajapaksas were in power. There was a strong sense of fear, not only among rival teams but also among referees, when the three Rajapaksa sons were on the field representing the Navy team. Such fears were justifiable in the light of what happened to certain prominent players who defied their authority, wittingly or otherwise, off the field!

Their other major area of passion was the sports broadcasting of the country. Carlton Sports Network was launched in March, 2011, nearly a year after former President Rajapaksa secured his second term. The name ‘Carlton,’ needless to say, is closely linked to the Rajapaksas. The house the Rajapaksa family occupied in Tangalle was known as the ‘Carlton bungalow’ and the pre-school former First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa formed also had the same name. Accidentally or not, the TV channel launched in March, 2011 happened to ‘Carlton Sports Network’.

Continue reading ‘Arrest of Yoshitha Rajapaksa Sends Strong Signals to all Influential Sons,Daughters and Relatives of Politicians’ »

Mahinda’s Son Yoshitha Rajapaksha Joined the Navy in 2006 but Never Fought in the War like Prabhakaran’s Son Charles Anthony.

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

A glance at a decade in the past records that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son, Yoshitha joined the Sri Lanka Navy in December 2006. When Yoshitha joined the Navy, Mahinda proudly announced that unlike other world leaders, he had given his son to fight the war to protect the country. The Maha Sangha was full of praise for Mahinda hailing him as a true patriot.

When Mahinda gave his son to the Navy, Prabhakaran’s son, Charles Anthony was already fighting the war against the Sri Lankan troops in the jungles of Vanni. Prabhakaran put his son into action when Mahinda launched a do or die battle following the breakdown in peace talks through Norway mediation. It was reported that Charles Anthony rendered yeoman service to the LTTE being in charge of LTTE air strikes.

According to a recent confession by Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP, Charles Anthony had spoken to KP and had requested him to take his father, mother, sister and the younger brother to a safe location overseas. Charles Anthony had reported to KP that his (Charles Anthony’s) father, Prabhakaran had turned down repeated requests by him (Charles Anthony) to leave the North and seek safety overseas.

However, Prabhakaran’s determination to stay in the battlefield in the face of defeat with his son Charles Anthony fighting the war demonstrated the commitment of Prabhakaran to his organization. Finally, the military found the body of Charles Anthony killed in the war.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda’s Son Yoshitha Rajapaksha Joined the Navy in 2006 but Never Fought in the War like Prabhakaran’s Son Charles Anthony.’ »

Will President Sirisena or Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Prevail in Leading the Country?

By
Dayan Jayatilleka

‘President Sirisena says his government will not act “in haste.” This is unacceptable.’
– New York Times Editorial, Jan 28, 2016.

“…there is no ethnic group called the Sinhalese.”

– Chief Minister Wigneswaran, Jan 19, 2016.

President Sirisena has followed up his important BBC interview on accountability with a lengthier one on Al Jazeera. The BBC interview evoked a swift, sharp reaction from Human Rights Watch, the Global Tamil Forum,the New York Times,and the US Ambassador to the UNHRC—as well as the Sri Lankan PM himself. Samantha Power took a swipe on missing persons and impunity. Ban-Ki-Moon weighed in, supporting international participation in the judicial mechanism. Zeid al Hussein, Human Rights High Commissioner, is due. Meanwhile the President reiterated his basic position at some length while facing gruelling questioning by Al Jazeera.

In the BBC interview the President restated and elaborated his stand on the accountability process. I say “restated” because he said as much, albeit far more briefly, to the BBC’s Sandeshaya on his trip to the UK last year, and to the New York Times in early Oct 2015.

The President told the BBC he was for a purely domestic inquiry mechanism without foreign judges or personnel, because he had faith in the Sri Lankan legal system and processes. This was a rebuttal of the position of the Zeid Report and the Geneva resolution that Sri Lanka did not have the capacity to inquire on its own, into its own recent history,and that any domestic mechanism required a significant “international element”, as UK Foreign Secretary Hugo Swire put it.

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The “Nikab”Veil and Increasing “Arabianization”of the Muslims of Sri Lanka

By

Hafeel Farisz

Girls too young to understand the essence of religion adorn the Nikab. Some forced due to cultural imposition, and others too young to know why. Madrasas spread across the island ignore history, art culture, literature and theology which form the core of religious education. Instead the focus is on rituals and taboos. Kattankudy, in the East, is but one example of cultural alienation and segregation.The effects of the alienation and archaic practices which the majority of Muslims in Sri Lanka are against and don’t adhere to have to face, day in and day out. Some 36 Muslims have left to fight for the IS (Islamic State), and we wonder why?

Following the opinion piece titled ‘ Sinhaley, Muslims and Fascim’ the response from the Sri Lankan Muslims has been overwhelming. Many have written to say that their fears were exactly the same as penned down and their oppositions were no different. Many others have written in to say that they have been left helpless and are merely bystanders witnessing the usurpation of a once vibrant culture, unique to Sri Lankan Muslims.However there has been a backlash of sorts.

On the one hand for which the crux stems from the reasoning given behind the face veil, a garment alien to Sri Lankan and South East Asian culture and its practices.A symbol of the radicalism among Sri Lankan Muslims. And on the other from those who espouse their fascist ‘Sinhaley’ agenda. They are but two sides of the same coin. For the purpose of this article, the focus will be on the former.

I am inclined to believe that the many who adorn the face veil and those who justify the wearing of such have based their reasoning on a practice that goes beyond the realms of logic and reasoning. I am aware that rationality would not prevail within their minds. The essay therefore is to provide the majority of Muslims in Sri Lanka a grounding through which they could withstand any further escalation of radicalism.

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Yoshitha Rajapaksa and Others Comprising the “Carlton Five” at Welikade Jail Allowed to get Meals from Home

By Norman Palihawadana

On a request made by the family members of the five suspects including former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Yoshitha charged under the money laundering Act, all their meals were allowed to be brought to the Welikade prison from home, Commissioner General of Prisons Nishantha Dhanasinghe said.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa says Govt may Arrest him next and then his Wife, Namal, Basil and Gothabaya.

By Cyril Wimalasurendre

KANDY: Former President Rajapaksa yesterday urged the government to hold local government elections. Else, legal action would be taken against it, he warned.

The ex-president was answering queries by the media after paying homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic at the Sri Dalada Maligawa.

Rajapaksa said the government did not seem keen to hold the LG polls. “During our administration we held elections one after the other. There were plenty of elections.”

The government which had pathetically failed to make good on its promises was maniacally focussed on harassing his family to cover up its failure, Rajapaksa said.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa says Govt may Arrest him next and then his Wife, Namal, Basil and Gothabaya.’ »

Teary-Eyed Mahinda Rajapaksa says Arrest of son Yoshitha is “Act of Revenge Against me”


By DHARISHA BASTIANS and GEETA ANANDJAN.

Sri Lankan authorities arrested a son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on money-laundering charges on Saturday, the government’s latest attempt to prosecute members of the previous administration, many of whom have been under investigation since Mr. Rajapaksa’s election defeat last year.

The police said Mr. Rajapaksa’s 27-year-old son, Yoshitha, a lieutenant in the Sri Lanka Navy, had been questioned for six hours by investigators from the Financial Crimes Investigations Division about allegations of misappropriation of funds at a television channel that is widely believed to be owned by the Rajapaksa family. The family has denied that it owns the channel.

The police said they had questioned Yoshitha Rajapaksa and four directors of the Carlton Sports Network, including its chairman, Rohan Welivita, who currently serves as the former president’s spokesman.
After the questioning, a magistrate rejected Lieutenant Rajapaksa’s bail application and ordered that he be detained for 14 days.

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Who is Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera the Face of Sinhala –Buddhist Ultra-nationalist “Terror”?


By

Rasika Jayakody

The Ven. Galagodaaththé Gnanasara Thera, a relatively unknown bhikkhu in the latter stages of the Rajapaksa administration, has now become the face of Sinhala-Buddhist ultra-nationalist ‘terror’ in the country’s political sphere.

Ven. Gnanasara Thera rose to fame in mid-2012 when he formed the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force) organization, a movement whose mis-behaviour was partly responsible for former President Rajapaksa’s defeat at the last Parliamentary election.

Ven. Gnanasara Thera and the BBS contributed to Rajapaksa’s defeat not by declaring war on his government, but by unconditionally backing Rajapaksa at a crucial moment. The BBS’ affiliation with the Rajapaksa drove away ethnic and religious minorities from the former President’s campaign in January, last year, depriving him of a vote-base of at least half a million.

Although the 41-year-old Buddhist monk only rose to fame recently, his involvement in the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist movement of the country has a longer history. Born in a remote village named ‘Galagoda-aththa’ near Karandeniya, Elpitiya, in the Southern Province, Gnanasara Thera became a Buddhist monk at the age of 14, in 1989, when the country was experiencing a violent uprising initiated by the Desha Vimukthi Janatha Vyaparaya, a political movement led by the JVP.

Continue reading ‘Who is Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera the Face of Sinhala –Buddhist Ultra-nationalist “Terror”?’ »

Bodu Bala Sena Chief Gnanasara Was Convicted for Drunken Driving in Case No 6315/2000 at Colombo Magistrates Court 15 Years ago


By

Don Manu

He may not have realised it yet, perhaps it may take some time for the light to shine through his burly, black, boorish brawn, but Bodu Bala Sena Chief Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera is, no doubt, the darling of the foreign missionaries who use his mug to portray the ugly face of Buddhism.

Neither may he have fathomed it yet, but he is also the pin up boy of the Tamil Diaspora who use his racist acts as the choreographed steps and his hate filled words as the heady music to dance their Eelam Rhapsody upon Lanka’s grave.

The more he attacked the Muslims in the name of singlehandedly protecting Buddhism in Lanka the more he became a Buddhist Ayatollah. The more he denigrated other races and other religions and threatened violence upon them, the more he turned Buddhism’s disciples to a fundamentalist Buddhist Taliban, ever ready to stain, without qualms, Buddhism’s saffron robe with blood.

Continue reading ‘Bodu Bala Sena Chief Gnanasara Was Convicted for Drunken Driving in Case No 6315/2000 at Colombo Magistrates Court 15 Years ago’ »

“Brahmin Class” in Media that went Hunting with “Maha Brahma” is Now Becoming Outcastes” says Ranil Wickremesinghe

by Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told Parliament that there was a Brahmin class within the media and that class was becoming vasalas (outcasts).

“The Brahmin class in the media was created by a Maha Brahma who is non-existant now. The so-called Brahmin class has become a vasala class. That Brahmin class used to dine and wine with the Maha Brahma. We have no use of that Brahmin class,” the Prime Minister said, making a ministerial statement.

“The so-called Brahmin class used to go hunting with the Maha Brahma. There are some journalists who actually fought for freedom of media. We are with them. It is those who engaged in their profession while others went on hunting with the Maha Brahma.

Continue reading ‘“Brahmin Class” in Media that went Hunting with “Maha Brahma” is Now Becoming Outcastes” says Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Second Son Yoshitha Arrested for Alleged Money Laundering and Remanded Until Feb 11th by Kaduwela Magistrate Dhammika Hemapala


Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second son was remanded in custody for two weeks after he was arrested and questioned yesterday under the Money Laundering Act, police and court officials said.

Navy officer Yoshitha Rajapaksa, 27, was questioned at length at the navy headquarters in Colombo and then arrested and taken before Kaduwela magistrate Dhammika Hemapala who ordered his remand till February 11.

The police Financial Crimes Investigation Division (FCID) had questioned four others, including Nishantha Ranatunga, who had been the chief executive officer of Yoshitha’s Carlton Sports Network (CSN), police said.

Former president Rajapaksa who was in court told reporters after his son was taken away in a prison bus that the arrest was to seek revenge from him.

Continue reading ‘Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Second Son Yoshitha Arrested for Alleged Money Laundering and Remanded Until Feb 11th by Kaduwela Magistrate Dhammika Hemapala’ »

Does President Sirisena Have an Underlying Motive in Undermining his Own Government?

By

C.A.Chandraprema

Sri Lanka is indeed a country like no other as the tourist brochures say. We have a president, a prime minister, a cabinet and a parliament where the PM commands a two thirds majority, but no functioning government. There is no sense of direction and no decisions are being made. An ambitious programme to promulgate a new constitution was inaugurated as the first major task for this year but it seems to have ground to a halt even before it began. At the SLFP executive committee meeting held last week, constitutional reform was one of the main items discussed and President Maithripala Sirisena’s view was that what was needed was not a new constitution but amendments to the present constitution to ‘reduce’ the powers of the executive presidency and for electoral reform.

President Sirisena now avoids the word ‘new’ when talking about constitutional reform and ‘abolition’ when it comes to the executive presidency. This was the line he toed at the SLFP executive committee meeting. What this means in effect is that the constitution making process of the UNP has effectively been derailed by Sirisena. This is not the first time that he did this. The 19th Amendment which purported to reduce the powers of the executive presidency was also sabotaged by him in just the same manner. Of course so long as he persists in this kind of sabotage, the UNP is not going to agree to electoral reform and there we will be stuck. It’s not just in the field of constitution-making that this cold war has intensified. Last week the president told the BBC that he is against foreign judges participating in the judicial mechanism to try our war heroes and soon afterwards the prime minister told Channel 4 that the participation of foreign judges has not been ruled out.

As always, Sirisena was trying to feign that he ‘did not know’ the contents of the UNHRC resolution that his government co-sponsored last March. It is of course a fact that for the first time we have a Head of State who is not proficient in English and he has no way of reading and understanding the UNHRC resolution that his government co-sponsored. However he has advisors who can read and explain to him the contents of what his government agreed to in Geneva and in any case former President Mahinda Rajapaksa highlighted the contents of the UNHRC resolution in Sinhala on several different occasions and that alone should have been enough to educate Sirisena as to what the actual contents of the UNHRC resolution were. The doubt that has entered the minds of many UNP types is whether Sirisena is trying to play the patriotic card as a cover for refusing to abolish the executive presidency.

Continue reading ‘Does President Sirisena Have an Underlying Motive in Undermining his Own Government?’ »

Why Was No Deterrent Action Taken by Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Coalition Earlier to Curb Bodu Bala Sena Monks and Their Unruly Leader?


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Several wickedly problematic tragi-comedies are playing on Sri Lanka’s political stage right now, none of which are to the benefit of the country.

Why was no deterrent action taken earlier?

The spectacle of mad monks running amok in the Homagama Magistrate’s Court abusing the magistrate, the lawyers and the wife of disappeared journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda during an ongoing court hearing this week was unprecedented, assessed even by the abysmal non-governance that prevailed during the Rajapaksa decade. No doubt, this was a well orchestrated drama. But the question remains as to why the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition did not take steps last year to bring the monks of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and their unruly leader to heel?

This would have been perfectly possible given their notorious history of incitement to racial hatred, including during the Aluthgama communal disturbances in 2014. The Government did not need new laws for this purpose. As pointed out previously in these column spaces, the Penal Code and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act (ICCPR Act, 2007) sufficed. But without actually employing what was available to send a clear message to saboteurs, wholly unwarranted amendments were sought to be made to existing laws. The amendments were then postponed on the floor of the House in considerable disarray after public protests that the clauses replicated provisions of the dreaded anti-terrorism laws.

Continue reading ‘Why Was No Deterrent Action Taken by Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Coalition Earlier to Curb Bodu Bala Sena Monks and Their Unruly Leader?’ »

Homagama Magistrate Has Acted in an Independent and Fearless Manner For Which he Must be Commended

By

Rashmin Tirimanne de Silva

On the 25th and 26th of January a group of monks came in to conflict with the law when Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero, General Secretary of the infamous Bodu Bala Sena stormed into Court and disrupted proceedings by giving a speech which led to the Homagama Magistrate issuing an arrest warrant in his name on charges of contempt of Court. The following day a group of people, including some monks, created an uproar outside the Court upon his arrest by the Homagama Police.

The imposters

The immediate response from any Buddhist when questioned about the eyebrow-raising behaviour of certain monks in Sri Lanka is that “They don’t stand for true Buddhism.” However, from Aluthgama to Homagama and everything in-between the nature of violence under the guise of religion and patriotism has been seen by everyone. This is not in anyway an abuse by Buddhism itself or by those monks who are devoted to the true principles of it but by a select few on a different agenda and may even come across to some as an abuse of the status that the religion itself holds in the country as the majority religion. We are proud to call ourselves a Buddhist country and celebrate our Poya days with gusto, all the while being okay with impostors using a religious garment for all the ‘benefits’ it brings.

Continue reading ‘Homagama Magistrate Has Acted in an Independent and Fearless Manner For Which he Must be Commended’ »

Gnanasara is the Only Bhikku in Sri Lanka to Plead Guilty in Court to Charges of Driving a Vehicle Under the Influence of Liquor.

By C. A. Chandraprema

The scenes outside the Homagama Magistrate’s court highlights more than ever the need for the speedy passage of the Kathikawath Bill that is before parliament. Registered bhikku Ven. Galagodatte Gnanasara Thera was arrested and remanded in relation to several charges including contempt of court amidst chaotic scenes outside the courthouse with unruly monks staging a sit down protest and one even threatening to set himself on fire unless Ven. Gnanasara was released. Not that the scene outside the Homagama magistrate’s court was totally out of the ordinary.

We have been seeing such scenes over the past four years and in contrast to what preceded it, the Homagama episode was quite mild. Bhikku Gnanasara was the monk who singlehandedly destabilised the Rajapaksa government with his anti-Muslim campaign which was orchestrated after a trip to Norway.

Norway was the Western nation that first realised the need to obtain the involvement of Buddhist monks, if the Sinhalese were to be destroyed from within. They started making friends among the monks by helping rebuild temples in the South in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami. This may have given certain conspiratorial powers an insight into how easy it is to buy over monks and to get them to do what external powers can never hope to do.

When registered bhikku Galagodaatte Gnanasara first burst in upon the scene in 2012, nobody had heard his name. He had reached middle age and become the nayaka monk in his temple without his name being known to anybody. When his name first began appearing in the newspapers, journalists were confusing his name with that of Ven. Galaboda Gnanissara – so unknown was this monk who has now become a household name for the wrong reasons.

Continue reading ‘Gnanasara is the Only Bhikku in Sri Lanka to Plead Guilty in Court to Charges of Driving a Vehicle Under the Influence of Liquor.’ »

Monsignor Rayappu Joseph: “Controversial” Catholic Bishop Emeritus of Mannar Diocese

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

A news report from the Vatican Information Service(VIS) datelined January 14th 2016 stated that His Holiness Pope Francis has accepted the resignation presented by Bishop Rayappu Joseph upon reaching the age limit, from the pastoral care of the diocese of Mannar, Sri Lanka.The VIS report further said that Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Joseph Kingsley Swampillai, Bishop emeritus of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, as apostolic administrator of the Mannar diocese.

Rev Rayappu Joseph

Rev Rayappu Joseph

On the same day the Vatican Radio announced that the Holy Father has accepted the resignation presented by Monsignor Rayappu Joseph, from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Mannar, in Sri Lanka, in accordance with canon 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law and has appointed Mosignor. Kingsley Swampillai retired bishop of Trincomalee, as Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Mannar, Sri Lanka.

Both the Vatican information service news report and Vatican Radio announcement about Bishop Rayappu Joseph were extensively quoted and reproduced in various media organs of Sri Lanka. The news about the Mannar Bishop retiring was not a surprise to many for two reasons. Firstly Monsignor(msgr)had reached the retiring age of 75 for a Catholic Bishop last year. The second and more important reason was his physical health as the prelate was suffering from serious health issues.

Bishop Rayappu Joseph had suffered a stroke on May 3rd 2015 in Colombo that afflicted his right hand and right leg badly.After undergoing treatment at the Intensive care unit of Colombo National Hospital he was taken to the De La Salle Brother Residence at Modera and placed under medical care. Thereafter he was taken to Singapore in August for surgery to have a blood clot in his brain removed. The surgery was successful and the prelate returned to the Bishop’s House in Mannar where he is now recovering gradually. He also has diabetes and chronic asthma.

pic via: facebook.com/pages/Madhu-Church

pic via: facebook.com/pages/Madhu-Church

Against this backdrop, Msgr. Rayappu Joseph relinquishing his duties of Pastoral care as Mannar Bishop was inevitable.With Pope Francis accepting his resignation the former Mannar Bishop would now be Bishop Emeritus of Mannar. Though recuperating the Bishop emeritus receives a steady stream of visitors ranging from simple parishioners to self – serving politicians. Having served as Bishop for over two decades in Mannar the prelate is immensely popular with his flock and fellow shepherds. Moreover the outspoken Bishop has endeared himself to the Tamil people at large by speaking out courageously on issues affecting the community.
Continue reading ‘Monsignor Rayappu Joseph: “Controversial” Catholic Bishop Emeritus of Mannar Diocese’ »

Ranil Wickremesinghe Names and Shames Mainstream Media Organizations and Journalists in Hard Hitting Speech in Parliament

By Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday, in Parliament, lashed out at the media, accusing them of promoting racism.

“You don’t talk big because your hands are not clean. What are all doing with regard to racism? I mean all newspapers. I am asking the electronic and print media. What do you have to say about the incident at the Homagama Court? Write an editorial, if possible, on the Homagama incident.”

The Prime Minister was participating in a debate at the time of adjournment of the House on the recent incidents in Embiliptiya and issues involving the police.

Text of The Prime Minister’s statement:

“There are problems as regards police the world over. Following police shooting in Ferguson in the US, people took to the streets against it. Similar incident happened in England last year. Police have to maintain law and order.

Recently, we saw such problems here. Embilipitiya incident is only one of them. The other incident was with regard to the conduct of officers at the Kotadeniya Police station. That has been investigated and courts of law have been moved. If the police have done anything wrong, we have no intention of covering up their wrongdoings. We all came here after fighting for the need for restoring the rule of law. The British instituted the police here. Within 30 years of establishing the police in Britain, they established the police here. It is not only the police who are involved in maintaining law and order. Courts of law, the police and the media are needed for that purpose.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe Names and Shames Mainstream Media Organizations and Journalists in Hard Hitting Speech in Parliament’ »

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Lashes Out at Mainstream Newspapers Spreading Racism and Calls Upon Media to Decide Where it Stands.

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday lambasted the media, accusing mainstream newspapers of turning a blind eye to racism and conducting a witch-hunt against the Police Department.

Issuing a scathing statement in Parliament, the Prime Minister charged that the media was hailing the Embilipitiya courts while condemning the Homagama courts, for their actions.Wickramasinghe

“We don’t want a media who would applaud the Embilipitiya court and undermine the Homagama courts. How many editorials are there preventing racial hatred? Have you ever written an editorial about Homagama courts? Those who supported Mahinda have no right to talk about Buddhism,” the Prime Minister charged.

Naming several Sinhala language newspapers, the Premier said that not a single one of them had written an editorial about the unruly behavior outside the Homagama Magistrate’s Court, when Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara was arrested and remanded by the court.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Lashes Out at Mainstream Newspapers Spreading Racism and Calls Upon Media to Decide Where it Stands.’ »

Bodu Bala Sena Leader Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Emerges Out of the Shadows Again.


By

Dharisha Bastians

He’s back!

After a year in the shadows, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the controversial monk who leads the radical Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena, is front and centre of the news cycle again. He is storming into courtrooms, insulting Government lawyers and threatening, allegedly in foul language, the woman who has been searching for her missing husband for the better part of six years.

Sandhya Eknaligoda, the wife of disappeared journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, has pursued a lengthy legal process to find the whereabouts of her husband or learn the facts pertaining to his disappearance. Her Habeas Corpus petition is being investigated by the Homagama Magistrate’s Court. Since the defeat of the Rajapaksa administration one year ago, the Eknaligoda investigation has gathered steam, with police sleuths linking his disappearance to an army camp in Giritale, in the Polonnaruwa District. As evidence continues to surface that links the military to Prageeth Eknaligoda’s disappearance, the army begans to close ranks. Frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the military, CID sleuths complained to the Homagama Magistrate, who threatened to issue notice on the Army Chief Chrishantha De Silva unless his forces cooperated with the investigation into Prageeth’s disappearance.

In a country where the conviction of a soldier who was found guilty of the murder of eight persons including two children as in Mirusuvil Jaffna 16 years ago, is perceived as being high treason and a betrayal of the heroes of war, the implication of the military in the high profile disappearance of a dissenting journalist is causing ripples in the ultra-nationalist fringe. These fringe groups paint Prageeth as a double-dealing LTTE spy, thereby justifying his alleged detention by the military that is currently under investigation.

Continue reading ‘Bodu Bala Sena Leader Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Emerges Out of the Shadows Again.’ »

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Says President Sirisena has not Ruled out Foreign Involvement in War Crimes Investigation


Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said that the government hadn’t ruled out foreign involvement in the proposed war crimes investigation.

The PM said so in answer to a Channel 4 News query. Asked whether there wouldn’t be any foreign involvement as declared by President Maithripala Sirisena last week, Wickremesinghe said the President had not ruled it out.

President Sirisena has said that as the local judiciary was capable of handling the inquiry there was no need for a hybrid mechanism.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Says President Sirisena has not Ruled out Foreign Involvement in War Crimes Investigation’ »

President Sirisena Faces Challenge of Retaining his “Authenticity” Image For a Long Time

By
Vishwamithra 1984

Leadership in politics has been a subject many psychologists and social scientists have attempted to analyze, dissect and write about over and over again. These analysts and writers have ascribed strong leadership in politics to many a politician and history alone stands as the sole judge as to the validity and legitimacy of those claims.

However, when leadership is challenged, when it is questioned and probed, those who come out as deserving and great are those who have taken unparalleled risks under most trying conditions and come out on top to the wonder and amazement of many pessimists and skeptics.

Furthermore, one must guard oneself against reading too much into the simplicity of a persona of a leader, for more often than not, simplicity could be a shield, or a false façade against a more complex and sinister character that a leader tries to conceal. Yet a majority of people fall for that outer veneer and take that as the authentic nature of a leader whom they long to emulate and look up to as a messiah of sort.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Faces Challenge of Retaining his “Authenticity” Image For a Long Time’ »

Police Ordered to Arrest Bodu Bala Sena led Mob Causing Mayhem at Homagama Courts;37 Miscreants Identified.

By Sarath de Silva

Homagama Magistrate Ranga Dissanayae yesterday ordered Officer-in-Charge of Homagama Police to arrest those who had been involved in unruly protests at the court premises as well as outside on Tuesday over the remanding to Ven. Galabodaatte Gnanasara thera on a charge of contempt of court.

Continue reading ‘Police Ordered to Arrest Bodu Bala Sena led Mob Causing Mayhem at Homagama Courts;37 Miscreants Identified.’ »

Maithri and Ranil Prevent Arrest of Gotabaya Rajapaksa the “Crown Prince” of Sinha Le Organization

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

The Sinha Le organization organized an Adhishtana Pooja recently opposite the Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic). The media reported that those present at this pooja carried a National Flag sans the symbols that signify the minorities in this country. Earlier, the distorted content of the National Nlag surfaced when former Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was summoned before the Bribery Commission. Those opposed to the summoning of Gotabaya before the Bribery Commission waved those distorted National Flags to lodge their protests. They claimed it was the Sinha Le flag. That happened in April last year. Gotabaya addressed that group of persons who held the distorted National Flag in their hands.

The Cinnamon Gardens Police complained to the Colombo Chief Magistrate about the distorted version of the National Flag and the Magistrate directed the Police to submit video clips of that flag. Despite public agitation over the distortion of the National Flag, the government failed to act against the production and possession of such flag. The fate of the complaint made by the Cinnamon Gardens Police to the Magistrate is yet unknown.

Continue reading ‘Maithri and Ranil Prevent Arrest of Gotabaya Rajapaksa the “Crown Prince” of Sinha Le Organization’ »

STF Uses Batons to Disperse Bhikku led Mob Obstructing Gnanasara Thera Being Remanded; Two Monks Injured- Damminda Thera Attempts Self-immolation

by Dasun Edirisinghe

A tense situation prevailed near the Homagama Magistrate’s Court yesterday over the remanding of Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera for contempt of court.

Hundreds of Buddhist monks accompanied by laymen surrounded the court asking for the release of Ven. Gnanasara Thera.

They attempted to storm the court premises only to be prevented by the police. Two monks injured in a confrontation with the police were hospitalised. The STF brought the situation under control.

Continue reading ‘STF Uses Batons to Disperse Bhikku led Mob Obstructing Gnanasara Thera Being Remanded; Two Monks Injured- Damminda Thera Attempts Self-immolation’ »

US Envoy to UN in Geneva Keith Harper Says Mechanism Probing War Crimes in Sri Lanka Must Have Foreign Involvement

By

P.K.Balachandran

The involvement of foreign judges, prosecutors and investigators is a must for a credible Sri Lankan probe into war crimes charges, said Keith Harper, US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

In a terse but strong tweet on Tuesday, Harper said: “Credibility of any accountability mechanism requires involvement of foreign judges etc. That has not changed and will not change.”

Continue reading ‘US Envoy to UN in Geneva Keith Harper Says Mechanism Probing War Crimes in Sri Lanka Must Have Foreign Involvement’ »

“Govt will Investigate Whether Laymen Wearing Bhikku Robes Participated in Homagama Courts Demonstration” – Ranil Wickremesinghe

By Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday told Parliament that his government would not leave room for the making of any more Bhikkus like Talduwe Somarama or Mapitigama Buddharakkthitha.

The Prime Minister, participating in a debate on agreements Sri Lanka entered with several other nations at the time of adjournment, condemned the conduct of Ven Galagodaththe Gnanasara Thera at the Homagama Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

The Prime Minister said he had instructed the police to have a full scale investigation into the conduct of Ven. Gnanasara thera and submit the report to Mahanayakes of the Malwatte and Kotte Chapters for further action against the monk.

Continue reading ‘“Govt will Investigate Whether Laymen Wearing Bhikku Robes Participated in Homagama Courts Demonstration” – Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

President Sirisena says that Idea Behind Proposed War Crimes Investigation is “not to punish Security Forces Personnel”,

By

P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has told Lankan security forces personnel that Lanka was answerable to the international community regarding charges of human rights violations during Eelam War IV, and that any attempt to dodge the issue would lead to the country’s isolation from the rest of the world.

But while saying so, the President assured the troops that the idea behind the proposed war crimes investigations was “to find out the truth and not to punish security forces personnel.”

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena says that Idea Behind Proposed War Crimes Investigation is “not to punish Security Forces Personnel”,’ »

TNA Concerned More About Power Sharing Proposals in Constitution Than in “Unitary” and “Federal” Labels says MA Sumanthiran MP

By Dharisha Bastians

The Tamil National Alliance yesterday expressed disappointment over the delays in formulating a mechanism to draft a new constitution for Sri Lanka, and urged the Government and all Sri Lankans to seize the historic opportunity to change the country’s Governance culture.

Addressing a media briefing at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo yesterday, TNA Spokesman and Jaffna District Legislator M.A. Sumanthiran said the Tamil party did not want to see a dilution of the constitution- making exercise, even as the President sought consensus on the mechanism to draft the new supreme law.

“The whole constitution making exercise is aimed at changing the governance culture in Sri Lanka. It is important that this change happens,” Sumanthiran told reporters.

Continue reading ‘TNA Concerned More About Power Sharing Proposals in Constitution Than in “Unitary” and “Federal” Labels says MA Sumanthiran MP’ »

STF Escorts Gnanasara Thera to Welikada Prison While Unruly Mob of Buddhist Clergy -Laity Tries to Prevent Arrest

By Dharisha Bastians

Pandemonium reigned outside the Homagama Magistrate’s Court yesterday, after the court ordered the arrest and remand of controversial Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galagodaththe Gnanasara Thero on contempt of court charges.

Gnanasara Thero was escorted to the Welikada Remand prison under Special Task Force (STF) protection, after riot police squads were deployed to control an unruly mob of monks and lay people trying to prevent his arrest.

Saffron-clad monks attempted to scale the courtroom wall and lay down under the tyres of the prison bus trying to prevent the vehicle from leaving the court premises. Screeching obscenities and threats at prison officials and lawyers and threatening to self-immolate, the mob created chaos outside the courtroom for hours, preventing judges and court officials from leaving the premises.

Continue reading ‘STF Escorts Gnanasara Thera to Welikada Prison While Unruly Mob of Buddhist Clergy -Laity Tries to Prevent Arrest’ »

Yoshitha Rajapakse Taken Into Navy Without GCE OL Qualification and Promoted as Lieutenant:Govt Spent Rs.22.23 Million For His Training in UK and Ukraine From Jan 2007 to Aug 2010

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

The Government informed Parliament yesterday that Yoshitha Rajapaksa the son of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had been inducted into the Sri Lanka Navy bypassing mandatory educational qualifications of the GCE Ordinary level and had been sent for extensive training in the United Kingdom and Ukraine at state expense.

Chief Government Whip Gayantha Karunathillake said that even though Yoshitha Rajapaksa had failed to obtain minimum results at his ordinary level exams after two sittings, a mandatory qualification to enroll in the Sri Lanka Navy, he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant soon afterwards.

Continue reading ‘Yoshitha Rajapakse Taken Into Navy Without GCE OL Qualification and Promoted as Lieutenant:Govt Spent Rs.22.23 Million For His Training in UK and Ukraine From Jan 2007 to Aug 2010’ »

300 Police Summoned to Control Bhikkus Storming Homagama Court Premises as Bodu Bala Sena’ Gen Secy Gnanasara Thera is Remanded till Feb 9th


Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera was remanded till February 9 by Homagama Magistrate’s Court a short while ago on Tuesday January 26th.He was arrested this morning when he surrendered to the Homagama Police.

The Homagama Magistrate issued an arrest warrant against Gnanasara Thera yesterday on three charges including threatening a state official, obstructing the court proceedings and contempt of court. He addressed the court yesterday immediately after the case on the disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda was taken up.

The incident which led to the arrest warrant occurred immediately after the court proceedings were concluded on the Eknaligoda case. Gnanasara Thera started addressing the court, alleging that the arrest of Army Intelligence officials regarding the Eknaligoda disappearance was illegal.

Pointing to Senior State Counsel Dileepa Peris, he claimed that they should be arrested for urging for the “illegal arrests” of military officers.

Continue reading ‘300 Police Summoned to Control Bhikkus Storming Homagama Court Premises as Bodu Bala Sena’ Gen Secy Gnanasara Thera is Remanded till Feb 9th’ »

“I Have a Problem With Anyone Who is Shoving His Political, Religious or Cultural Fascism Down My Throat”

By

Hafeel Farisz

I am not a Sinha-Ley Muslim. Won’t ever be. I had no problem with the concept of being a Sinhala-Muslim during my childhood. In-fact I often used to think Ven. Mahinda Thera included us — the minorities, in his poems and Anagarika Dharmapala in his, what I assumed were, anti colonialist speeches.

That was why, during many of the Sinhala speech contests I took part in as a teenager, I chose the topic ‘Jaathiyata Diridun Lak Doo Puthun’ (Those who gave life to the nation) or a deviant close to it.

I remember ending them with the poem.


“Be iwasannata Be iwasannata ammeni pembara Lanka
Ma sitha ginnehi loo lunu men pupuranneya kopa vikaren
E sanasannata Sinhala Ley athi Sinhala kolleku ayyo
Dan upadinnema nadda Upulwan dev rajune Laka Rakna”

All the while thinking, we also fit the criteria of a ‘ Sinhala Ley athi Sinhala kollek’. After all even the writer of the poem was not from the ‘Sinha-ley’ clan.

Then I remember reading Kumarathunga Munidasa as well, when he said ‘nuwanath hela, niwanath hela’ – ‘hela’, to me, meant nothing more than the Island. More recently, when Desmond de Silva sang in ‘ Yanna Rata Watey, Enna maa priye’, the verse ‘ Sinhala Polawa mage mey’ I didn’t find anything odd. In fact it is one my favourite songs. So is C.T Fernando’s Hela Jathika Abhimane.

I have no problem with the concept. Never did.

Continue reading ‘“I Have a Problem With Anyone Who is Shoving His Political, Religious or Cultural Fascism Down My Throat”’ »

Appeal Court Issues Interim Order Against Megapolis Minister Champika Ranawaka Preventing Acquisition of Land Owned by UNP Minister Daya Gamage

By

Stanley Samarasinghe & Shahida Riza

Court of Appeal yesterday (25) issued an interim order against Minister of Megapolis Champika Ranawaka, preventing him from acquiring a plot of land owned by Minister Daya Gamage.

President of Court of Appeal Vijith Malalgoda and Justice Devika de Livera took this decision after considering an appeal by Gamage and three others. Minister Ranawake and three others have been accused.

Speaking to Ceylon Today, Gamage said that the former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had acquired many of his lands, the Ampara garment factory in particular where 4,000 people worked, which the UDA at that time got a Court Order to demolish. The previous government acquired land as and when they wanted for development, he said and went on to say that Ranawaka was also doing the same.

Continue reading ‘Appeal Court Issues Interim Order Against Megapolis Minister Champika Ranawaka Preventing Acquisition of Land Owned by UNP Minister Daya Gamage’ »

President Sirisena Needs to Understand that International Participation in War Crimes Tribunal is not a Vague Promise to the UN – Human Rights Watch

(Text of Media release Issued by Human Rights Watch)

(New York) – The Sri Lankan government should fulfill its commitments to the United Nations Human Rights Council by ensuring that foreign judges and prosecutors play a significant role in the mandated accountability mechanism for wartime abuses, Human Rights Watch said today.

On January 21, 2016, President Maithripala Sirisena told the BBC, contrary to Sri Lanka’s council commitments, that he will “never agree to international involvement,” saying “[w]e have more than enough specialists, experts and knowledgeable people in our country to solve our internal issues.”

Human Rights Council member and observer countries that backed the consensus October 2015 resolution, should make clear that foreign participation in a war crimes tribunal was already decided by the council and is not subject to renegotiation. After adoption of the resolution, Sri Lanka told the council that it was pleased to join as a co-sponsor “as a further manifestation of Sri Lanka’s commitment to implement the provisions of the resolution, in a manner that its objectives are shared by the people and all stakeholders in the country, for their benefit.”

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Needs to Understand that International Participation in War Crimes Tribunal is not a Vague Promise to the UN – Human Rights Watch’ »

“Apartheid” Practised by Mirissa Hoteliers in Refusing to Serve Locals is Blatant Violation of the Constitution

By
Ranga Jayasuriya

Last week, this newspaper reported that some hotels in the Mirissa Bay area were refusing to serve Sri Lankans on the purported ‘uncivilized’ behaviour of local visitors. The report quoted a humiliated customer as complaining of being turned away from several places, when he ordered a simple cup of coffee.

Since people don’t get high over a cup of coffee, those are not preventive measures to wade off alcohol fuelled idiosyncrasies. What we are talking about is a clear cut case of apartheid, in which, Sri Lankans as a whole are being reduced to second class citizens in their own land, ironically at the hand of some folks in Mirissa, who before the trickle of tourists there, survived on the very locals they now refuse to serve.

Second, whatever those hoteliers may claim as the pretext, a blanket ban on the locals is patently unconstitutional. The Sri Lankan Constitution prohibits the discrimination on race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth. Article 12.2 states: “No citizen shall be discriminated against on the grounds of race, religion, language, caste, sex, political opinion, place of birth or any such grounds.”

However, no Constitution is worth the paper it is written on unless its guarantees are implemented; and they cannot be implemented when those who are entrusted to enforce them are ignorant and regressive in thinking, in the same way the folks who refuse to serve locals in Mirissa are. Since the Sri Lanka Tourism authorities who are meant to regulate the industry have so far failed to act, it seems we have plenty of those sorts in high places.

Continue reading ‘“Apartheid” Practised by Mirissa Hoteliers in Refusing to Serve Locals is Blatant Violation of the Constitution’ »

President Sirisena Calls Upon Northern Province Residents to Curtail Excessive Alcohol Consumption.

By

Chandeepa Wettasinghe

In his continuing campaign for abstinence, President Maithripala Sirisena called upon the residents of the Northern Province to stop consuming alcohol. “There is more alcohol distributed here in the North than elsewhere in the country.

Alcohol is worse than weapons of war. It destroys lives,” he said, at the ceremonial opening of the Hirdaramani Group’s latest apparel factory in Puthukudiyiruppu, Mullaitivu.

Noting that a majority of the factory workers were young, he had a directed his words at the young people. “Young minds get distracted fast by one thing or another. But the solution to that is not alcohol,” he said.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Calls Upon Northern Province Residents to Curtail Excessive Alcohol Consumption.’ »

Allegations of Kidney Transplant Racket by Indian Media is Conspiracy to Prevent Indians Coming to Lanka for Surgical Operations – GMOA

by Dasun Edirisinghe

The government has lent credence to a non-existing human organ racket here and deprived the country of foreign exchange by imposing an ill-conceived, blanket ban on kidney transplant operations on foreigners in Sri Lanka, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) says.

GMOA Secretary Dr. Nalinda Herath said the end result of the government ban served the purposes of Indian doctors and medical industry to block a large number of Indians coming here for kidney transplant operations.

The ban was the result of a well-orchestrated media campaign in India against the Sri Lankan doctors. Kidney transplant operations in India had attracted many Indians and obviated the need for the Sri Lankan kidney patients to go to India, Dr. Herath said.

Continue reading ‘Allegations of Kidney Transplant Racket by Indian Media is Conspiracy to Prevent Indians Coming to Lanka for Surgical Operations – GMOA’ »

President Sirisena in Unpublicised Meeting with Namal Rajapaksa Invites Ex-President Mahinda’s son to Work With him

The National Government’s move to fast track the process for a new Constitution for Sri Lanka has been placed on temporary hold. A debate on the resolution for this purpose, moved by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, due in Parliament on Tuesday, January 26 has been cancelled. A new date is yet to be fixed and House Leader Lakshman Kiriella did not propose one when Speaker Karu Jayasuriya chaired a meeting of party leaders last Tuesday. As revealed last week, the delay is because Premier Wickremesinghe wants to discuss amendments moved by different political parties to his resolution.

One such amendment by the Mahinda Rajapaksa-backed ‘joint opposition’ has sought to include provisions that the entire House sit as a committee. In the original resolution reference is made only to the establishment of a Constitutional Assembly. Another is the exclusion of the word “new” from the original resolution. Talks are to begin after Wickremesinghe returns from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland today.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena in Unpublicised Meeting with Namal Rajapaksa Invites Ex-President Mahinda’s son to Work With him’ »

President Sirisena Keeps Dodging the Issue of Abolishing Executive Presidency Despite Swearing Over Sobitha Thero’s Dead Body to do so.

By

C.A.Chandraprema

When the party leaders met last Tuesday, it was decided not to hold the debate which was scheduled for January 26 (Tuesday this week) on the prime minister’s resolution to set up a Constitutional Assembly until the prime minister returns from his trip to Davos.

It is to be hoped that this postponement is to amend the resolution as recommended by the Joint Opposition and to proceed with the constitution making process under the standing orders of parliament, the same way the previous 19 Amendments to the constitution were made.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has gone on record suggesting that the constitution making process be split up into manageable parts by bringing in the abolition of the executive presidency and the reform of the electoral system first, before going onto other matters.

The example he had taken is the way the executive presidency was first created as an amendment to the 1972 constitution which was later incorporated into the 1978 constitution.

This suggestion has much merit to it because the last parliament also debated the 19th amendment to abolish the executive presidential system and the 20th Amendment for electoral reform separately. The reason why the 19th and 20th Amendments failed last time was because the SLFP Maithripala group sabotaged the 19th Amendment and the UNP cold shouldered the 20th Amendment in retaliation.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Keeps Dodging the Issue of Abolishing Executive Presidency Despite Swearing Over Sobitha Thero’s Dead Body to do so.’ »

We are yet to see Significant Domestic Course Correction on the Part of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Coalition

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

As former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa emerged smiling into television cameras this week following summons issued by Sri Lanka’s Presidential Commission on Serious Fraud et al (PRECIFAC), his jibes were clear. ‘So there were rogues in our time’ he said, ‘…there were rogues in the past as well and rogues also, in the present.’


Disinclination to change the impunity culture

The storm clouds that are gathering amidst rumors of a new Rajapaksa political grouping may not be directly over us as yet. Yet their appearance on the horizon is quite discernible as ultra-nationalism raises its monstrous head again as typified by slogans of ‘Sinha-le’ (blood of the lion) defacing vehicles and walls of houses in Colombo.

In the North, nationalist sentiment is also on the rise as buttressed by the castigation of the Government in appearing to renege on its promises to secure justice for war time abuses. Central to nationwide dissatisfaction is the retreat from the high moral ground on which the Sirisena Presidency had defeated the Rajapaksa juggernaut.

This retreat was entirely predictable as seasoned observers were quick to note early on. The catapulting of compromised flag bearers of the old regime into the fledging interim administration early last year created considerable disquiet. These were good warning signals.

Continue reading ‘We are yet to see Significant Domestic Course Correction on the Part of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Coalition’ »

“Though Less-Educated Ex-tiger Pillaiyaan was a Better Chief Minister of East Than Ex-Judge Wigneswaran is of the North now” Says Dr.K. Vigneswaran

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Wartime Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, recently evoked memories of India’s disastrous intervention in Sri Lanka. Gandhi reiterated unsubstantiated war crimes accusations at an event to mark President Maithripala Sirisena’s first year in office. Gandhi was in Colombo a few days before Indian Foreign Secretary, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, arrived, in Colombo, for consultations. Jaishankar had served the Indian High Commission in Colombo during the turbulent 1988-1990 period as the First Secretary, Political Affairs.

Against the background of Gandhi’s pronouncements, The Island interviewed Dr. Engineer K. Vigneswaran, Secretary to the North-East Provincial Council, during EPRLF heavyweight Varatharaja Perumal’s tenure as its Chief Minister, in the late 80s.

Having conducted the NEPC polls, on Nov 19, 1988, India named Perumal as its first Chief Minister. Perumal received the appointment on Dec 10, 1988. The then President Ranasinghe Premadasa dissolved the Council, on March 1, 1990, immediately after Perumal made an unilateral declaration of independence. The announcement was made about three weeks before India pulled out her Army from Sri Lanka.

In a wide-ranging interview with the writer, Vigneswaran, former EPDP National List member, discussed contentious matters, including the ongoing battle between Northern Province Chief Minister, C.V. Wigneswaran, and the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA), a clandestine arrangement between the then UPFA presidential candidate, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the LTTE, ahead of Nov. 2005 polls, a UNP project to sabotage the then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga’s bid to change the constitution, in 2000, and serving Indian Army officers thwarting Tamil Nadu administration from arresting him. Vigneswarana also recollected his contacts with Jaishankar.

Vigneswaran said that those who had been involved in Perumal’s administration earned the wrath of the LTTE, therefore top officials were given an opportunity to leave for India ahead of the departing Indian Army. Having received information regarding a possible attempt on his life, by the LTTE, in Colombo, Vigneswaran had sent his wife, and two children to Colombo. “I stayed in Trincomalee while members of my family took a flight to Tamil Nadu. The LTTE stepped-up pressure as the Indian Army gradually reduced its presence here. Perhaps, over a week before the last Indian contingent left Trincomalee, I was given an opportunity to join my family in Tamil Nadu.”

Continue reading ‘“Though Less-Educated Ex-tiger Pillaiyaan was a Better Chief Minister of East Than Ex-Judge Wigneswaran is of the North now” Says Dr.K. Vigneswaran’ »

President Sirisena Rejects UN Human Rights Council Demand For Foreign Involvement in Mechanism Investigating War Crimes

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has rejected the UN Human Rights Council’s demand for foreign involvement in the judicial mechanism to be set up to investigate and try war crimes charges against the Lankan armed forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“I will never agree to international involvement in this matter. We have more than enough specialists, experts and knowledgeable people in our country to solve our internal issues,” Sirisena told the Sinhalese service of the BBC on Thursday.

“This investigation should be internal and indigenous, without violating the laws of the country,” he explained.

Asked when the court might be set up, he said: “These things cannot be done instantly or in a hurried manner. We will certainly reach our target but it’s a process.”

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Rejects UN Human Rights Council Demand For Foreign Involvement in Mechanism Investigating War Crimes’ »

Muslim Congress Wants a North-East Muslim Majority Council Based On India’s Pondicherry Model

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

For more than two decades the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress(SLMC) has remained the foremost political party of the Sri Lankan Muslims. The SLMC co-founded and led by the legendary MHM Ashraff is headed by Rauff Hakeem who succeeded him as party leader after Ashraff’s demise in 2000. In recent times the dominant position held by the SLMC among Muslims is being challenged by the All Ceylon Makkal (Peoples) Congress (ACMC) led by Rishad Bathiudeen. Both Hakeem a lawyer and Badiutheen an engineer are members of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe cabinet. While the former is minister of City planning and Water supply the latter is Industry and Commerce minister.

'First Round round of talks of TNA & SLMC leaders on Tamil & Muslim aspirations in proposed Sri Lanka constitutional changes '

‘First Round round of talks of TNA & SLMC leaders on Tamil & #Muslim aspirations in proposed Sri Lanka constitutional changes ‘

The SLMC in recent times has been besieged with a number of inner –party contradictions and intra- party squabbles.Events before and after the Parliamentary polls of August 2015 has caused a re-configuration within the party. While some party stalwarts have deserted the SLMC some from other parties have joined it.Rauff Hakeem’s political stratagem of promising national list seats to different regions in a bid to harvest votes has led to a situation where demands have far,far exceeded supply. Hence Hakeem has been constrained to appoint a Malay community representative as well as his own brother as national list MP’s. It is said to be a temporary measure to contain dissent . This has caused further resentment and discontent within the SLMC.Complicating the situation further is the growing estrangement among “Thalaiver”(leader) Rauff Hakeem, “thavisaalar”(Chairman)Basheer Segu Dawood and “Seyalaalar” (Secretary) MT Hasen Ali.
Continue reading ‘Muslim Congress Wants a North-East Muslim Majority Council Based On India’s Pondicherry Model’ »

CV Wigneswaran’s Accusation About TNA 2015 Manifesto Abandoning Right of Self-Determination Proved Completely False.

By

P.K.Balachandran

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has refuted Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran’s contention that it has reneged in its commitment to secure for the Tamils of Sri Lanka the right to self determination.

Wigneswaran had told TNA members in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) earlier this week, that the TNA had pledged itself to securing for the Tamils self determination in its manifesto for the 2013 NPC elections, but it had not mentioned it in its manifesto for the August 2015 Lankan parliamentary elections. He was insinuating that the TNA’s leadership had struck a cozy relationship with the Sinhalese leaders in Colombo to the detriment of the Tamils.

Refuting this contention at a meeting of members of the TNA in the Northern and Eastern Provincial Councils held at Kilinochchi on Thursday, the party’s leaders said that the manifesto for the August 2015 parliamentary elections had clearly stated self determination as a goal.

Continue reading ‘CV Wigneswaran’s Accusation About TNA 2015 Manifesto Abandoning Right of Self-Determination Proved Completely False.’ »

What will Happen in a Situation Where Cattle Slaughter is Totally Banned in Sri Lanka and not a Single Cow is Killed?


By

Zahrah Imtiaz

Imagine a scenario where no one in the country would be allowed to slaughter a cow. With religious fervour firing the imagination of many to call for such a ban, this could very likely be the scenario in the near future.

The issue here however is not religious and more to do with basic economics. With government announcing its vision to be self sufficient in milk production by 2016, the local dairy industry is geared up for major expansion which also means there would be many more cows in its future. A possible ban could not only leave us with a lot of old cows to deal with, but it could also be detrimental to the economics of all farmers, be they small or large.

Furthermore, letting cattle simply roam free as a solution for the farmer not having to look after the cows, when they are not profitable, could create serious damage to local flora and fauna as competition for food resources increase between cattle and wildlife. Unrestricted grazing is also known to cause serious damage to the environment. Then, there is also the question of public nuisance. Are we to become like India, where local cows compete with traffic on main roads?

Continue reading ‘What will Happen in a Situation Where Cattle Slaughter is Totally Banned in Sri Lanka and not a Single Cow is Killed?’ »

Investigation Into War Crimes Allegations will be Internal and Indigenous Without International Involvement, President Sirisena Tells BBC.

By Azzam Ameen
BBC Sinhala, Colombo

The president of Sri Lanka has said foreign judges and prosecutors should not be involved in an investigation into allegations of war crimes.

In a BBC interview, President Maithripala Sirisena said the country did not need to “import” specialists.
Both the army and the Tamil Tiger rebels are accused of atrocities in the civil war that ended in 2009.
The government previously backed a UN resolution calling for a war crimes court supported by foreign judges.

But on Thursday the president said: “I will never agree to international involvement in this matter.”
“We have more than enough specialists, experts and knowledgeable people in our country to solve our internal issues,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Investigation Into War Crimes Allegations will be Internal and Indigenous Without International Involvement, President Sirisena Tells BBC.’ »

An Interview with Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka For “Frontline” by T.Ramakrishnan in Colombo


An Interview with Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka
BY T. RAMAKRISHNAN in Colombo

IT was a Sunday afternoon, and the 64-year-old Maithripala Sirisena was in no mood to relax. He had a series of meetings earlier. After his appointment with Frontline in a hall of his official residence sporting the portraits of Marx, Lenin and Mahatma Gandhi, the President had some more meetings scheduled for the day. He appeared relaxed during his interaction with this correspondent, which was originally meant to be brief but lasted nearly one hour. He listened to the questions closely and patiently and replied mostly in Sinhala.

Excerpts from the interview.

How would you rate your performance in the last one year—good, very good, excellent?

[Smiles] Very good.

Have you finished what you had planned to do in the first year of your term?

No. But I have begun to carry out. It [last year] was the entry point.

Has your relationship with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was in the rival camp until November 2014, grown closer? How do you feel about working with him?

Very close. [I am] extremely satisfied.

What is your response to the criticism that a number of amendments made to the 2016 Budget have revealed that the United National Party (UNP)-Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) coalition government is not functioning cohesively?

It was a very good Budget. The proposals were excellent. The criticism arose when concessions to public servants and people of the country were reduced. If these [the concessions] are withdrawn, we need to inform the people in advance and explain why we are taking them back. In this instance, the people were not properly informed. That was our fault. This was why we had to make certain changes.

Continue reading ‘An Interview with Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka For “Frontline” by T.Ramakrishnan in Colombo’ »

President Sirisena’s SLFP Together with Ex-President Mahinda Loyalists Obstruct UNP Premier Ranil’s Move to Draft New Constitution

By

P.K.Balachandran

President Maithripala Sirisena’s own party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), in conjunction with the breakaway Joint Opposition Group (JOG) led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has stalled Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s move to change the country’s constitution.

On January 9, the JOG stopped parliament from debating and voting on Wickremesinghe’s resolution to change the constitution, saying that they needed to move amendments. To everyone’s surprise, when the resolution was taken up again on January 12, the SLFP, which is part of a coalition government headed by Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), itself moved amendments. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) sought time to move its amendments, forcing the Speaker to put off the debate to January 26. This week, it was postponed indefinitely.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s SLFP Together with Ex-President Mahinda Loyalists Obstruct UNP Premier Ranil’s Move to Draft New Constitution’ »

Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran Accuses TNA of Abandoning Commitment to Right of Self-Determination for Tamils

By

P.K.Balachandran

Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran on Wednesday strongly denied that the Tamil Makkal Peravai (TMP), which he heads, is a political organization in competition with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). But at the same time he pointed out that the TNA has reneged on its commitment to securing for the minority Tamils the right to self-determination.

Speaking at a meeting of members of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) belonging to the TNA in Jaffna, Wigneswaran said that there was a marked difference between the TNA’s manifesto for the NPC elections in October 2013 and its manifesto for the August 2015 Lankan parliamentary elections. While in the 2013 manifesto, the TNA had pledged to fight for the Tamils’ right to self determination, in the 2015 parliamentary polls manifesto, this was conspicuously absent.

Wigneswaran recalled that he had been given an advance copy of the 2015 manifesto on a Friday with a request for his comments. But before he could give his comments, the TNA officially released its manifesto on Saturday morning.

Continue reading ‘Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran Accuses TNA of Abandoning Commitment to Right of Self-Determination for Tamils’ »

Ranil Tells Investment Forum in Davos to Base Operations in Sri Lanka and Make it Hub Serving South Asia and Beyond

By Nisthar Cassim in Davos, Switzerland

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday urged participants at a forum in Davos in Switzerland to base their operations in Sri Lanka to serve South Asia and beyond.

Speaking at an investment forum held in Davos ahead of the World Economic Forum, the Prime Minister acknowledged that 2016 would be a difficult year globally but there would be bright spots and Sri Lanka would be one of those.

“Sri Lanka has political stability and is pursuing both political and economic reforms which will be far-reaching,” the Premier added.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Tells Investment Forum in Davos to Base Operations in Sri Lanka and Make it Hub Serving South Asia and Beyond’ »

SB Dissanayake and Basil Rajapaksa Planning to “Unite” Maithripala and Mahinda for Local Govt Poll and Topple Ranil Govt

by Upul Joseph Fernando

Former Minister Basil Rajapaksa suddenly broke silence last week and emerged into the scene through the media. Giving interviews to the media, Basil stressed the need to establish a new political party. As a prelude to his future dream or plan, both Basil and his brother Mahinda participated at a meet last week of Kurunegala District UPFA Local Government members. It was the first time that the two brothers were seen together at a political meet following the last general election. Earlier, Basil surfaced to the political scene in a discussion to unite Mahinda and Maithri.

Basil who deserted politics after Mahinda’s defeat at the presidential election travelled to the United States. On his return he was arrested and remanded. After being released on bail, Basil decided to be silent for some time. He re-emerged onto the political scene when talks began to unite Maithri and Mahinda prior to the last general election.

People who are aware of those talks know that S.B. Dissanayake was in the forefront to unite Maithri and Mahinda assisted by a few others. SB was among those who pressurized Maithri to unite with Mahinda. It was SB who wanted to use Mahinda to win the general election for the UPFA and urge Maithri not to give the Premiership to Mahinda. SB used that agenda with the view to feed Maithri with the need to offer the Premiership to another instead of Mahinda. In the end SB’s strategy boomeranged on him. What actually happened was that the UPFA lost the election with SB himself unseated and many Maithri confidantes losing their electorates.

Continue reading ‘SB Dissanayake and Basil Rajapaksa Planning to “Unite” Maithripala and Mahinda for Local Govt Poll and Topple Ranil Govt’ »

22 Out of 30 TNA Northern Provincial Councillors Revolt against Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran’s Political Conduct

CV Wigneswaran

CV Wigneswaran

Twenty –two out of a total Thirty Tamil National Alliance Northern provincial Councillors have revolted against what is perceived as the duplicitous political conduct of Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran. The 22 Councillors including two provincial ministers are signatories of an urgent letter sent to Mr. Wigneswaran that he should present himself for an important meeting with TNA members of the NPC.

Two crucial issues are to be raised at the meeting scheduled for January 20th 2016 where an ultimatum is expected to be issued to the TNA chief minister by TNA councillors.

Continue reading ‘22 Out of 30 TNA Northern Provincial Councillors Revolt against Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran’s Political Conduct’ »

Indian Actress Asin Marries Micromax Founder Rahul Sharma With Actor Akshay Kumar Playing Cupid

Actress Asin Thottumkal on Tuesday exchanged wedding vows with electronics company Micromax founder Rahul Sharma in a closely-guarded ceremony.

The couple married as per Christian rituals at the Dusit Devarana hotel here in the morning, and another celebration is in the pipeline later in the day.

Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, the best man and the groom’s close friend, was present for the wedding, which was attended by only close family members and friends of the couple.

Continue reading ‘Indian Actress Asin Marries Micromax Founder Rahul Sharma With Actor Akshay Kumar Playing Cupid’ »

Resolution on the Making of a Constitution and Causes for Concern

By

Prof.G.L.Peiris

The Resolution on the making of a Constitution for our country, moved in Parliament by the Prime Minister on 9th January, has given rise to public debate on a wide range of issues which need to be addressed in earnest if the professed objectives are to be attained.


I.Causes for Concern

(a) Absence of Cabinet Approval

Incredible as it may seem, the 6-page Resolution, setting out in detail the Government’s plans for drafting a basic law intended to govern our country for several generations, was presented to Parliament without the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers. It is an essential requirement that all legislation brought to Parliament as government business, is discussed at Cabinet and moved in the Legislature by the relevant minister with the consent of his colleagues in keeping with the principle of collective responsibility.

The Resolution in question dealt with no ordinary legislative business; it related to no less than the formulation of the Constitution of the Republic. And yet, almost defying belief, it saw the light of day, unbeknown even to the body charged with direction of the Government–the Cabinet of Ministers–let alone the general public.

Continue reading ‘Resolution on the Making of a Constitution and Causes for Concern’ »

President Sirisena’s Moderate Sinhala Buddhism and Idealistic Liberal Reformism Will be Undermined by the Tamil National Alliance


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“What Sri Lanka’s national crisis—and it is clear that the unresolved ethnic issue is the core of that crisis—has ultimately achieved is that it has compelled us to come to terms with our identity.”


–Mervyn de Silva, (Marga lecture, 1985, in ‘Crisis Commentaries’ p.72)

The crucial and challengingly complex task facing Sri Lanka remains the resolution, or successful management and containment, of the ethno-national question.

What is the National Question or Nationalities Question? It is one of our composite and politically contending collective identities. More fundamentally it entails the existential questions: What is Sri Lanka and how can a better Sri Lanka come into being?

How must we structure the State in order to become Sri Lankan?

Though he didn’t get everything right (e.g. on the Presidential system and in his tangential PTOMS allusion) President Sirisena’s speech in Parliament on January 9, commencing the process of constitutional change, showed statesmanlike courage in saying what he did on the North-South question. As a non-patrician, non-cosmopolitan, he projected an organic,“homegrown” Sinhala Buddhist pluralist-liberalism, with echoes and inflections of DS Senanayake, President Premadasa and Vijaya Kumaratunga.

If certain conditions are fulfilled and obvious blunders avoided, could this discourse be a platform for a pluralist-progressivism and a new centrist consensus and convergence?

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s Moderate Sinhala Buddhism and Idealistic Liberal Reformism Will be Undermined by the Tamil National Alliance’ »

Sri Lanka On the Way to Becoming Key Naval Hub in the Indian Ocean due to its Strategic Location


By

P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka is on the way to becoming a maritime security hub in the Indian Ocean, as regional and extra-regional naval powers eye the island nation for striking partnerships to ensure their maritime security.

Lanka itself has signaled its wish to acquire a Blue Water navy to exploit its strategic position in the Indian Ocean and to participate in international maritime security operations.

No wonder Colombo harbor has been attracting naval ships of key players with great frequency. Despite India’s objections to the visit of a Chinese nuclear submarine in 2014, three Chinese naval vessels, Liuzhohu, Sanya and Qinghaihu, are currently in Colombo having “passage exercises” with the Lankan navy.

Not to be outdone, the Indian aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, will be here this week.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka On the Way to Becoming Key Naval Hub in the Indian Ocean due to its Strategic Location’ »

President Sirisena’s Cabinet Paper to Extend Colombo – Kandy Highway Up to Polonnaruwa Rejected by Finance Minister Karunanayake Because it Lacked Transparency.

By

Gagani Weerakoon

Soured relationships between the top echelons of the Executive reached highest levels recently with Head of the State President Maithripala Sirisena calling off his participation in two important events in the penultimate hour.

The discomforts, if there were any, were not made obvious by President Sirisena or Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for the past twelve months, yet the things seem to slip from the grip as two parties made their animosity obvious on few occasions recently. The first such that gave out this developing remorse to the outer world was during the much talked about visit of George Soros to the economic summit.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe making a special statement in Parliament on 5 November 2015 said billionaire businessman George Soros would be invited to visit Sri Lanka and this drew protest by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Joint Opposition.

The JVP pointed out that Soros, the Hungary born US businessman, is accused of being responsible for the financial crisis that occurred in Eastern Asia in the ’90s.Former President of Malaysia Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had publicly accused him of bringing down economies of countries in Eastern Asia by instantly withdrawing money invested in these countries.

In his native Hungary, Soros is accused of supporting illegal migration. Soros also wants more power for groups such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. A large part of Soros’ multibillion-dollar fortune has come from manipulating currencies. In Thailand he was called an ‘economic war criminal.’

They also said Soros, known as ‘The Man who broke the Bank of England,’ initiated a British financial crisis by dumping 10 billion sterling that forced the devaluation of the currency.

While their protest was made public, what was not known to many was that half of the Cabinet of Ministers, were also having their doubts about inviting Soros to the country and his would be involvement in the country’s economic matters.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s Cabinet Paper to Extend Colombo – Kandy Highway Up to Polonnaruwa Rejected by Finance Minister Karunanayake Because it Lacked Transparency.’ »

Tamil Leaders Opposed When Sinhalese Leaders Proposed Federalism

S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, G.G. Ponnambalam and S.J.V. Chelvanayagam

S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, G.G. Ponnambalam and
S.J.V. Chelvanayagam

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“A thousand and one objections could be raised against the system, but when the objections are dissipated, I am convinced that some form of Federal Government will be the only solution’” – S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike in 1926.

“We suggest the creation of a federal state as in the United States of America” – Kandyan National Assembly in 1927.

Political developments in Sri Lanka during the post –independence years has devalued the concept of power sharing through the federal idea. Each major ethnicity has viewed the question suspiciously through its particular prism. Sri Lankan Sinhala “patriots” think the introduction of federalism will ultimately lead to division of the Country.Tamil Eelam Tamil “patriots” think federalism is a ruse to weaken Tamil nationalist aspirations for a separate state. The Muslims particularly from the North – East are worried about their place in a federal situation. Against this backdrop of contending insecurities, federalism has become the “F- word” in Lankan politics.Even devolution is being turned into a “dirty” word by some.
Continue reading ‘Tamil Leaders Opposed When Sinhalese Leaders Proposed Federalism’ »

President and Prime Minister Must Not Dilute Their Promise of a New Constitution Due to Political Expediency.

By Dr.Jayadeva Uyangoda

Sri Lanka has once again entered the uncertain path of drafting and adopting a new constitution. Not surprisingly, political opinion is becoming increasingly divided and even acrimonious over a variety of issues. The most contentious at present is the process of constitution making. The content of the new constitution is next in line.

Debate

Intensification of the political debate, polarization of views and contestations among diverse positions need to be expected when what is usually understood as the ‘supreme law of the land’ is set to be revised. There are two main reasons for this. First, constitutional reform is about the reorganization of state power. It entails questions such as the nature, role and place of the state in the political life its citizens. It seeks to alter the existing framework, structures and organization of state power. It is always the case that there is a multiplicity of incompatible views and approaches to clash with each other at moments of reforming the state.

The second reason is tied up with the fact that in a plural society like ours, there are many and often competing stakeholders who make claims to the state. They are primarily stakeholders representing the interests of ethnic communities, social groups and political formations. None of them wants to be a loser in the competition for what it views as its legitimate share of state power. Since these claims have the character of being zero-sum political games, state reform debate in plural and deeply divided societies can even run the risk of making compromises difficult and even unattainable. Sri Lanka’s past experience tells us that constitutional reform in a deeply divided society is an objective necessity, yet a most difficult goal to reach.

Continue reading ‘President and Prime Minister Must Not Dilute Their Promise of a New Constitution Due to Political Expediency.’ »

“Tamil Peoples Council is a Creation of People Marginalised at Elections” Says TNA Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran

by P. Krishnaswamy

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Spokesman and Jaffna District Parliamentarian, M. A. Sumanthiran is of the view, given the fact that Tamils have repeatedly given overwhelming mandates to the party to work for a just solution to their problems, it would be appropriate that a lasting solution to the issue comes from the TNA. In an interview on constitution making with the Sunday Observer, the Parliamentarian who is also a respected Human Rights lawyer says the TNA proposals to the Constitutional Assembly would be drawn from the Mangala Moonesinghe recommendations, the three proposals of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and from Mahinda Rajapaksa’s APRC expert committee report.

MA Sumanthiran MP accepts "Living Hero" award on behalf of TNA leader R. Sampanthan at Canadian Tamil Congress Thai Pongal event in Toronto-Jan 16, 2016

MA Sumanthiran MP accepts “Living Hero” award on behalf of TNA leader R. Sampanthan at Canadian Tamil Congress Thai Pongal event in Toronto-Jan 16, 2016

Excerpts:

Q: The Third Republican Constitution is in the making to resolve the ethnic problem. What are the salient features of the TNA proposal on the Tamil problem to be presented to the Constitutional Assembly?

A: We have articulated our position regarding the Constitution. That is well-known to the people and the government. When we held talks with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2011, we came to an agreement that this could be solved on the basis of the former governments proposals -the Mangala Moonesinghe proposals, the three proposals of President Chandrika Kumaratunga and President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s APRC expert committee report. Our position today is the same. Ever since the 13th Amendment was identified as being insufficient to meet the aspirations of the Tamil people, there have been various efforts. All these documents that I mentioned came as government proposals. These were not our proposals and we are willing to resolve the issue on these proposals.

Q: Do you think you will get the consensus of all ranks within the party?

A: Our party has a clear position on settlement, because at the 2010 General Election we articulated that position. In the Provincial Council election too we confirmed it and in our manifesto for the August 2015 election, too we expressed the same desire. Right from the start, our people have given us an overwhelming mandate to pursue that solution. The consensus was arrived at within the ranks of the TNA.

Continue reading ‘“Tamil Peoples Council is a Creation of People Marginalised at Elections” Says TNA Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran’ »

TNA Chief Minister Wigneswaran Raises Demand for “Shared Sovereignty” While Premier Ranil Re-iterates “Unitary” Nature of Constitution

By

P.K.Balachandran

The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’ Tamil-majority Northern Province has called for a new constitution which will be based on the principle of shared sovereignty between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority within a united Lanka.

Giving the keynote address at a seminar on constitution making in multi-ethnic societies in Jaffna on Monday, Wigneswaran said: “The principles and specific constitutional provisions that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) considers to be paramount to the resolution of the national question relates mainly to the sharing of the powers of governance through a shared sovereignty amongst the peoples who inhabit this island.”

“ And devolution of power on the basis of shared sovereignty shall necessarily be over land, law and order, socio-economic development including health and education, resources and fiscal powers,” he added.

Continue reading ‘TNA Chief Minister Wigneswaran Raises Demand for “Shared Sovereignty” While Premier Ranil Re-iterates “Unitary” Nature of Constitution’ »

New Constitution Wont Change Unitary Status of Country assures Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

By

Gandhya Senanayake

Making a statement regarding the formation of the new Constitution in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today stated that the new Constitution would not change the unitary nature of the country. He further added that some were alleging that the foremost place given to Buddhism and the unitary nature of the Constitution are being negated, he stated and that this was not true.

Moreover the Prime Minister stated that such comments were being made by parties that wanted to use this opportunity to create fear or mistrust among the people for political reasons.

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Abolishing Executive Presidential System, Electoral Reform and Constitutional Change

By

Mahinda Rajapaksa

(Text of a speech made by former President Mahinda Rajapksa at the Abeyarama Temple in Narahenpita)

pic via: mahindarajapaksa.lk

pic via: mahindarajapaksa.lk

Venerable members of the MahaSangha, clergymen of other faiths, party leaders, members of parliament and local government institutions, and other distinguished guests,

Steps have been taken by the government to initiate the process of promulgating a new constitution for Sri Lanka. Since this is a matter that will touch the lives of all Sri Lankans, this process should receive as much public participation as possible.

Controversies have emerged about the procedure to be adopted in making changes to the constitution. The opposition has suggested that the process of constitutional change should be within the provisions of the present constitution and the standing orders of parliament. I believe the government will be flexible on this matter. This is not the first time that changes have been made to the present constitution. By keeping matters within the available parliamentary mechanisms, everybody will be able get on with the task at hand.

My manifesto for the 2015 presidential election “Mahinda Chintana lowa dinana maga” also pledged to take steps to formulate a new constitution for Sri Lanka. Earlier in 2011, my government had appointed a Parliamentary Select Committee under the chairmanship of Hon. Nimal Siripala de Silva to look into the changes that need to be made to the constitution including changes relating to the executive presidential system. That responsibility now lies with the present government. The single most important pledge on which the present government was elected into power was the abolition of the executive presidential system. The 19th Amendment to the constitution passed last year purported to reduce the powers of the presidency, but the executive powers of the president still remain intact.

The preamble of the resolution introduced in parliament last Saturday by the prime minister repeatedly stressed that the main objective of the new constitution would be to abolish the executive presidential system and to institute electoral reform. These objectives should receive our fullest support. The executive presidential system was mired in controversy from the beginning. The SLFP opposed it even when it was first instituted. Now when the very UNP that created this position is putting forward proposals to abolish it, we in the SLFP cannot oppose it. Furthermore, it’s a nephew of J.R.Jayewardene, the founder of this system who is putting forward proposals to abolish the executive presidential system.

I must stress that this should not be another attempt to hoodwink the masses. If the intention of the government is to simply deflect public attention from the myriad problems facing the country by making loud noises about constitutional change and abolishing the executive presidential system, such an attempt will not succeed. People are now tired of the lies and deception of this government. It is only because the President publicly made a solemn oath over the body of the late Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero that the executive presidential system will be totally abolished that I felt that perhaps the government is serious about constitutional change this time.

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Ranil Wickremesinghe Must Transform Politically Controlled State Media Into Becoming Truly Independent

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Prime Minster Ranil Wickremesinghe has criticized the media over its conduct during the Rajapaksa regime. In other words, is blaming the victim for the rape. At the Thai Pongal festival in Jaffna, he accused the media of ‘going shopping’ for the infamous 18th Amendment and warned the media not to spoil the ongoing constitutional process. There is little evidence that the media, save the State-owned ones supported the 18A. Perhaps, the Sinhala media which caters to the largest segment of the audience could have been a little more aggressive. But, that could well have got a few more journalists white-vanned.

The difference between Mr. Wickremesinghe and the majority of journalists who disliked the former regime is that unlike the latter who as the then Opposition Leader enjoyed the protection from the excesses of the State, journalists did not have immunity from intimidation, abduction and state-orchestrated arbitrary sackings.

Journalism under the Rajapaksa regime was a Kafkaesque nightmare; with the omnipresent danger sugar-coated with Rajapaksa charm and hearty hopper meals he shared with newspaper editors. Mr. Rajapaksa, who was largely tolerant of media scrutiny, used to tell reporters, to criticize him, but not his younger brother Gotabaya and the first family.

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How Astrolgical Prediction is Preventing Mahinda Rajapaksa From Occupying Colombo Mansion Owned by Liyanage


By

P.K.Balachandran

Astrology and occultism have been a double-edged sword for former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Belief in them has led him to heights of success as well as depths of disaster.

Currently, an astrological prediction is threatening to deny Rajapaksa the Colombo mansion he is desperate to occupy because astrologers had predicted that his political fortune, now at its nadir, would soar if he occupied the house.

To Rajapaksa’s dismay, ASP Liyanage, a big time real estate dealer who owns the house, wants to back out of the deal to give it out on rent to Rajapaksa. Liyanage’s soothsayer had predicted that he would not be able to get the house back from Rajapaksa.

The realtor is on the horns of dilemma. On the one hand, he owes a lot to Rajapaksa, who had made him Lanka’s Ambassador to Nigeria. But on the other hand, he is loath to sever links with the river-side 18-room mansion surrounded by an acre of fruit trees, because its construction had been a labor of love.

Continue reading ‘How Astrolgical Prediction is Preventing Mahinda Rajapaksa From Occupying Colombo Mansion Owned by Liyanage’ »

President Sirisena “Betrays” Premier Wickremesinghe By Sabotaging Govt attempt to Abolish Executive Presidency

By

C.A.Chandraprema

The much anticipated constitution making process was kicked off the Saturday before last by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with a resolution presented in parliament for the appointment of a Constitutional Assembly to draft a new constitution. What would have been cause for some hope that this attempt at constitution making would be more successful than the 19th Amendment was that in addition to Wickremesinghe, Nimal Siripala de Silva and Champika Ranawaka, were also co-sponsors of this resolution. The latter two played a major role in sabotaging the 19th Amendment. But any hope that no fraud would be perpetrated on the people for a second time was to be rudely shattered even before the resolution was read out in parliament. The Sirisena faction of the SLFP raised objections to the resolution presented to parliament by the PM. The preamble to the resolution that the Prime Minister presented went as follows:

WHEREAS there is broad agreement among the People of Sri Lanka that it is necessary to enact a new Constitution for Sri Lanka;

AND WHEREAS the People have at the Presidential Election held on 08th January, 2015 given a clear mandate for establishing a political culture that respects the rule of law and strengthens democracy;

AND WHEREAS His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has clearly expressed his desire to give effect to the will of the People expressed at the aforesaid Presidential Election by enacting a new Constitution that, inter alia, abolishing the Executive Presidency;

AND WHEREAS it has become necessary to enact a new Constitution that, inter alia, abolishes the Executive Presidency, ensures a fair and representative Electoral System which eliminates preferential voting, strengthens the democratic rights of all citizens, provides a Constitutional Resolution of the national issue, promotes national reconciliation, establishes a political culture that respects the rule of law, guarantees to the People’s fundamental rights and freedom that assure human dignity and promotes responsible and accountable government.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena “Betrays” Premier Wickremesinghe By Sabotaging Govt attempt to Abolish Executive Presidency’ »

Establishing Independent Commissions Alone Without Political Will and Accountability Will Not Correct Systemic Abuses

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

One year into the appealing rhetoric of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration, it is heartening to see Sri Lanka’s artistes and scholars, whose peoples’ movements were pivotal to the change of power last year, becoming increasingly stern in their tone and tenor.

Critical voices to be heard

This critical approach must not be limited to optics or to a few dramatic speeches for public consumption. Instead, politicians who protest that they are upholding good governance but act completely in contrast must be berated on public stages to street corners and teashops.

True, our politicians are seldom ashamed. This is illustrated by the audacity with which former President Chandrika Kumaratunga holds forth on judicial integrity despite the stubborn fact that the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka commenced its venture into the ‘political thicket’ with her connivance if not complicity at the time. Executive decisions were taken quite deliberately by that Presidency to ‘tame’ courageous judges and reward others who eagerly responded to the crack of the political whip.

The Rajapaksas only developed this further, stamping their distinctive mark of crudity on the process. So when a critique is made of the judiciary, the accusatory finger must be turned inwards. The issue is very much systemic rather than limited to a particular Presidency, Jayawardene, Kumaratunga or Rajapaksa as the case may be.

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Agrarian Festival “Thaip Pongal” Has Now Become An Ingrained aspect Of Wider Tamil Culture

by Thulasi Muttulingam

TP1

Thai Pongal, the agrarian festival of the Tamils, will be in full flow around the country today. It is a festival celebrated not only in Sri Lanka and India, but all over the globe where Tamil populations are concentrated. It is essentially a festival of thanksgiving by farmers after their first harvest of paddy, but has become an ingrained aspect of the wider Tamil culture now. Most cultural Tamils in Sri Lanka, whether they be Hindus or Christians celebrate Thai Pongal, as it is viewed as a cultural festival, not a religious one.

Nevertheless, having its roots in early pagan nature worship of our forefathers, the festival (as it is practised mainstream) incorporates several aspects of nature worship. To the farmer whose main festival this essentially is, it must be remembered that nature in her manifold avatars serve to either make or break him. The sun’s heat is needed – but it shouldn’t be too hot nor too prolonged. The rain’s soothing downpours are needed – but at the right time in the right amounts. Too much would lead to floods and too little to drought. Both would wreak havoc on the crops – as the average Sri Lankan farmer very well knows.
Continue reading ‘Agrarian Festival “Thaip Pongal” Has Now Become An Ingrained aspect Of Wider Tamil Culture’ »

‘Thai Pongal’ the Harvest Festival of Tamils

By P. Krishnaswamy

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

Traditionally, it is the festival of farmers who depend on Mother Earth, the sun, rain, other natural elements and cows and buffaloes for a bountiful harvest of their staple food, rice.
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Liberal Pluralism, Tamil People’s Council and the New Constitution

by Mahendran Thiruvarangan

More than six years after the war’s end, a particular line of thinking has come to the forefront in Tamil nationalists’ defence of their politics around national self-determination. I would broadly describe this philosophy as liberal pluralism. Predicating the politics around state re-formation primarily, if not solely, on ethnicity or culture, it tends to build a one-to-one relationship between cultural identities, territories and the state. It is not an entirely new phenomenon as far as Tamil politics in Sri Lanka is concerned. It has been the bedrock of political reforms proposed as solution to the national question by a wide variety of actors in the country and in the diaspora ranging from liberal intellectuals based in Colombo to sections of the Leninist left to the old Federal Party, sections of today’s Tamil National Alliance, the bi-nationalist Tamil National People’s Front, journalists and various militant groups and organizations like the Trans-national Government of Tamil Eelam and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the latter would not settle for anything less than a separate Tamil state in the north-east of the island.

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Mangala Samaraweera’s Proposal to Shut Down Sri Lankan Embassy in Baghdad Meets With Stiff Resistance in Cabinet

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera faced strong resistance from his cabinet colleagues towards his proposal to shut down Sri Lanka’s diplomatic mission in Bagdhad at the weekly ministerial meeting yesterday, Daily FT learns.

After heated exchanges during the meeting, President Maithripala Sirisena decided to defer the decision to shut down the Lankan Embassy in Baghdad pending further review, sources told Daily FT.

Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen raised major objections to Minister Samaraweera’s cabinet proposal, saying Iraq was the fifth largest importer of Ceylon tea and had a demand for skilled migrant labour.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera’s Proposal to Shut Down Sri Lankan Embassy in Baghdad Meets With Stiff Resistance in Cabinet’ »

If Not For Norway Mediation LTTE Would Have Captured Jaffna and Declared a Separate State

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Southern extremists are now attempting to gain undue political advantage of the recent visit by the Norwegian Foreign Minister who was on a brief visit to Colombo. These extremists used anti-Norway slogans in 2004 and 2005 elections to gain victory. Norway was invited to mediate in the Sri Lankan peace process in 2000 by the Chandrika Kumaratunga administration.

However, in 2002 she extended her support to the anti-Norway moves to topple Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Government. Mahinda Rajapaksa who was the Opposition Leader in 2002 had close and cordial relations with Norway. But after winning the 2005 presidential election, Mahinda turned his back to Norway. Later in the same year he tried to befriend Norway to get round Velupillai Prabhakaran. Former Norwegian Foreign Minister Erik Solheim disclosed this fact at the launch of Mark Slater’s book on the Norway’s peace affairs. Solhiem disclosed that Mahinda was ready to give self-rule to Prabhakaran without holding an election to rule the North and the East.

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“Scandalous Behaviour”of Sri Lankan Cricket Team in New Zealand Including Late Night Drinking Parties and Squabbling To be Probed by Sports Minister

Sri Lanka’s demoralised cricket team faces an investigation into alleged “scandalous behaviour” during its dismal tour of New Zealand, including drinking parties and squabbling, the sports minister said on Tuesday.

Dayasiri Jayasekera said he had been handed photos of national players attending all night parties just before crucial matches against hosts New Zealand, who achieved a virtual clean sweep in the just-ended tour.

“There was scandalous behaviour,” the minister told AFP. “They have not only attended drinking parties till three and four in the morning, but there was a lot of tension and friction among members.”

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Is President Sirisena Planning to Kick Out Ranil as Prime Minister and Form His Own SLFP Govt with help of 20 UNF MP’s?

By

C.A.Chandraprema

Summing up President Maithripala Sirisena’s first year in power, Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said at a Ports Authority function that he (Sirisena) formed a government and has had no peace thereafter; and that he has not seen another leader as beset by problems as President Maithripala Sirisena. Minister S.B.Dissanayake speaking at the SLFP’s first press conference for the New Year described the past one year as a period during which no decisions could be made or a proper programme of work implemented – a government in a ‘gandabba’ state. He further stated that the UNP and SLFP are two different parties with different ideologies and that they can’t run a government together for long and that if they do stay together for a long time, extremist forces will emerge as political alternatives. That was the assessment of the first year of yahapalanaya by ministers of the government.

Minister S.B.Dissanayake’s misgivings about the SLFP-UNP marriage of convenience were confirmed by an incident at the 49th Anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation held last Thursday under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena. The SLFP trade union had with the concurrence of the chairman and director general of the SLBC put up a banner welcoming MS in his capacity as the president of the country and the president of the SLFP. The UNP unions had objected saying that it was the UNP that had voted for Maithripala Sirisena and that the SLFP had voted against him and therefore they had no right to put up banners welcoming him. The UNP unions had forced the SLBC chairman and director general to order the banner to be removed. The SLFP unions had refused to take down the banner but then the chairman under pressure from the UNP union ordered the security guards to take it down. Resentment within the UNP at the SLFP getting a free ride on their shoulders is boiling to the surface.

The government is in a state of paralysis. The cabinet reshuffle that was due early this year was put off for fear that it may give the opposition a boost if the affected ministers raise objections to changes in their portfolios. Earlier the local government elections were put off. The government is postponing, prevaricating canceling and sidestepping as a way of getting over the problems that crop up. If the government is in the doldrums, so is the opposition. After an election, the people usually become politically apathetic and that could be seen in relation to the anniversary celebrations of the yahapalana government. Even though the government asked the people to hoist the national flag to celebrate the first anniversary of the so called ‘rainbow revolution’, not a single national flag was to be seen anywhere. JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake was to comment that it appeared as if even the national flags that were on sale in shops had been taken off display!

Continue reading ‘Is President Sirisena Planning to Kick Out Ranil as Prime Minister and Form His Own SLFP Govt with help of 20 UNF MP’s?’ »

Political Settlement Based on the “Federal Idea” in a “New” Sri Lanka

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The new year has dawned on a note of hope and optimism for Sri Lanka! On January 9th 2016 President Maithripala Sirisena is scheduled to present a resolution in Parliament that proposes to convert Parliament into a Constitutional Assembly. The envisaged Constitutional Assembly is different to the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1972 Republican Constitution. The political vision of the Sirisena –Wickremesinghe Govt is to enact a new Constitution differently. A Consensual approach would be adopted.A steering committee comprising representatives of all political parties would help “guide” the Constitutional assembly in drafting a new Constitution. This would be approved by cabinet and thereafter presented in Parliament. It would be passed with a two-thirds majority in Parliament and by a majority at an Island wide referendum.

pic: pic via: facebook.com/maithripalas-in Sampur-Nov 2015

pic: pic via: facebook.com/maithripalas-in Sampur-August-2015

A key objective of the new Constitution would be that of ethnic amity and national reconciliation. A pre-requisite in this regard would be inter-racial justice and equality. In that context a suitable power sharing arrangement on pluralistic and egalitarian lines needs to be established. More importantly this power sharing arrangement has to be endorsed by the vast majority in the Country cutting across race,religion and region.
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Lasantha Wickrematunge’s Killers Must Be Brought To Justice Under This Government

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge and I were colleagues at The Island in the eighties of the last century. We were also residents of Kotahena then. Later I was for many years a columnist at The Sunday Leader writing from Canada. Above all “Lassie Boy” as I called him was a friend in every sense of the word. How I miss him! With the passage of time I realise more and more what a huge personal loss his death has been.

LW 7

Lasantha was a controversial and larger-than-life character whose journalism evoked different reactions in various people. Some loved him, some hated him, some admired him, and some condemned him. But the real Lasantha Wickrematunge was totally different to the “image” many had of him due to negative perceptions. He was friendly and easy to get along with. He was an amiable person with a tremendous sense of humour. As a friend, he was one who could be counted on to stand by his pals. It was indeed my privilege and good fortune to be closely associated with him for many years.
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Ranil Wickremesinghe was Leader of the Political Struggle Which Brought About the Peoples Victory of Jan 8 2015


By Krishantha Prasad Cooray

Victory never falls from the sky. In politics victories are produced when the conditions for meaningful and effective struggle mature and more importantly those who struggle are empowered by single minded determination, unity of purpose, coherence, coordination and synergy in action, and visionary leadership. It is said and not without cause that victory begets a thousand fathers and that defeat is always a foundling. Indeed victory is not only fathered severally it is interpreted severally as well. The result of the Presidential Election held on the 8thof January 2015 is no exception.

It can be argued that corruption, wastage, abuse of state power, political patronage, absence of law and order and all the other factors that had seen discontent rise after the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009 were not attributes specific to the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. However, a lot that was forgiven, ignored or even considered inevitable due to the war were expected to be rectified in the post-war scenario. This did not happen. Instead it was perceived that not only was there an absolute disinterest in reining in corruption and wastage, these things were encouraged and worse, indulged in, by the then incumbent. Arrogance and cronyism pervaded all spheres.

The fact that the executive presidency was useful in executing the military offensive against the LTTE dulled the objections, but the treatment of Sarath Fonseka after his failed bid to oust Rajapaksa, the removal of Chief Justice Shiranee Bandaranayake, the 18th Amendment and a myriad of other moves clearly showed that it had outlived its usefulness.

It was clear that the entire system needed to be overhauled. In political terms this had to begin with constitutional reform. For that, Mahinda Rajapaksa had to be defeated since it was apparent by this time that no reform was possible unless this was done. He was standing in the way of the re-democratization that the country sorely needed. He had to be removed.

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Is Mahinda Rajapaksa Seeking Assistance From China to Topple the Maithri-Ranil Govt?

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

When the then Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe lost the Local Government elections in 2014, he proceeded to America to study at a university and also to deliver lectures. Before he left to United States Ranil told a media conference in Colombo that he was going over there to learn tactics to topple governments. He studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for one month and returned. Without wasting time, he started a dialogue to unite with Sajith Premadasa. At the Uva Provincial Council elections the duo came on stage. The UNP lost the election by a slender margin. When Mahinda called an early presidential election, Maithri emerged to contest Mahinda.

Now Mahinda is getting ready to fly to China for two weeks. Earlier he said the trip would last one month. The reason behind his tour is yet to be disclosed or revealed. Some say he is embarking upon a holiday to China. It is not clear whether Mahinda is heading to China to seek assistance to topple the Maithri-Ranil Government.

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How Indian Ex-Finance Minister Chidambaram Advised Chief Minister Wigneswaran to Work with Govt for Permanent Solution

By

Harsha Gunasena

I have been a columnist for the Sinhala monthly publication Samabima. In early 2013, I along with the fellow columnists, were criticised by a Buddhist monk that we were writing against the Sinhala extremism but not against Tamil or Muslim extremism. I have responded to the criticism by stating that we were against all forms of extremism irrespective of whether those were Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim. However, at that time the dominant ideology was Sinhala extremism and as a result, all the other communities were marginalised. We were against that situation which was the need of the hour and it did not mean that we were in favour of Tamil or Muslim extremism.

The time has come to write about Northern politics. When C.V. Wigneswaran’s name was nominated as the chief ministerial candidate by Sampanthan, according to columnist D.B.S. Jeyaraj, none of the party leaders of TNA was in favour. Instead, they proposed the name of Senathirajah, a fellow ITAK member of Sampanthan. Finally Sampanthan was able to get the approval of other party leaders. Jeyaraj himself was not in favour of Wigneswaran, based on the tone of his articles written at that time. After winning the election, Wigneswaran came to Colombo along with Sampanthan to take oaths in front of President Rajapaksa although it was not mandatory. In an article written to this paper, I praised Wigneswaran and Sampanthan for this political gesture.

Continue reading ‘How Indian Ex-Finance Minister Chidambaram Advised Chief Minister Wigneswaran to Work with Govt for Permanent Solution’ »

Former Attorney – General Shiva Pasupathy Rejects Invitation by Ex –Judge Wigneswaran to Join Tamil Makkal Paeravai Sub –committee as his Nominee

By P.K.Balachandran

Former Sri Lankan Attorney General and constitutional expert, Shiva Pasupathy, has “rejected outright” Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran’s invitation to join the Tamil Makkal Peravai (TMP) as his personal representative on the sub-committee on constitutional reform, sources close to Pasupathy told Express on Monday.

Australia-based Pasupathy, who had gone to Jaffna on a private visit last week, was contacted by Wigneswaran over the phone and requested to be his representative on the sub-committee. But Pasupathy told him bluntly that he did not think that forming a separate outfit like the TMP was “appropriate” at a time when serious attempts were being made to find a solution to the Tamil question within Lanka and Tamil unity was the need of the hour. Wigneswaran doggedly persisted, but Pasupathy was unyielding. Finally, Wigneswaran hung up in a huff, sources said.

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Murder Most Foul of a Tamil MP In Church During Christmas Worship

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Blessings of Christmas are once again upon us all!Even as we immerse ourselves in this universal season of peace and great joy, my thoughts hark back to a terrible incident which marred the spirit of Christmas and sanctity of a Church a decade ago. It was an instance of murder most foul being committed within the hallowed precincts of a Catholic Cathedral in front of the Diocesan Bishop and congregation during midnight mass on Christmas. It happened ten years ago in 2005.

Joseph Pararajasingham (November 26, 1934 - December 25, 2005)

Joseph Pararajasingham (November 26, 1934 – December 25, 2005)

Though several persons including the MP’s wife were injured in the incident the primary victim was Joseph Pararajasingham the benign Tamil parliamentarian from Batticaloa.He was the target of the assassins.The 71 year old politician was shot dead at the St. Mary’s Cathedral in Batticaloa at 1.10 am on Christmas.
Pararajasingham was attending the Christmas midnight mass conducted by Bishop Kingsley Swampillai, the Catholic prelate for the Trincomalee -Batticaloa Diocese. He was returning to his pew after partaking of Holy Communion at the hands of the Bishop when the assassins walked forward and opened fire. While Joseph was killed his wife Sugunam and seven others were injured in the firing.
Continue reading ‘Murder Most Foul of a Tamil MP In Church During Christmas Worship’ »

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

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year Friends!

It’s Christmas season again!

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

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

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

Nativity scene-Near Central Park, NY-Dec 2015

Nativity scene-Near Central Park, NY-Dec 2015

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

How Will The TNA Resolve The Problem Posed By Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran?

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

CV Wigneswaran

CV Wigneswaran

“How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find the word that means Maria?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!”
“Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her Many a thing she ought to understand But how do you make her stay and listen to all you say How do you keep a wave upon the sand?”
“Oh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?” – Oscar Hammerstein in “Sound of Music”.

Veteran Indian Journalist P.K.Balachandran who has been resident in Sri Lanka for many years has over the years acquired a remarkable insight into the politics and politicians of the Island known once as the pearl of the Indian ocean . “Bala” as he is known filed a perceptive news report in the “New Indian Express” last week about Northern province chief minister C.V.Wigneswaran that also quoted a few lines from the article written by this columnist in the “Daily Mirror” of December 12th 2015. The relevant news report reproduced from the New Indian Express is as follows –

“Super Power United States as well as Regional Power India are none too happy with the political conduct of C.V.Wigneswaran, the Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province.

US and Indian envoys have directly conveyed to him their concern that his unhelpful and radical posturing could jeopardize the Lankan government’s bid to find an amicable solution to the long-standing Tamil question.

Last Thursday, Indian High Commissioner Y.K.Sinha met Wigneswaran and urged him not to split the moderate Tamil National Alliance (TNA) but instead cooperate with the leaders of the TNA such as R.Sampanthan, M.A.Sumanthiran and Mavai Senathirajah in engaging the Lankan government to find a solution to the Tamil problem when there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Wigneswaran told Sinha said that differences within the TNA could be solved through talks, but it was apparent that the gap was wide, if not unbridgeable.

He vehemently justified his opposition to the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government and to the TNA leadership’s reposing faith in it.

Earlier on November 23, Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN, met Wigneswaran in Jaffna and trashed his argument that the new regime in Colombo has not done anything for the Tamils. According to D.B.S.Jeyaraj, Wigneswaran had to revise his stand somewhat after Power demolished his case with an 11-point rebuttal. After the meeting, Power tweeted: “Urged Jaffna Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran to help reinforce precious moment for reconciliation and re-building.”

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pic via: twitter.com/AmbassadorPower

Power’s tweet after meeting TNA chief Sampanthan was of a noticeably different kind. She described the moderate Tamil leader as a “passionate voice of Tamil rights seeking results by building national consensus.”
Continue reading ‘How Will The TNA Resolve The Problem Posed By Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran?’ »

“Nagaichuvai Mannan” Nagesh: Monarch of Humorous Actors in Tamil Movies

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

An intergral part of the Tamil Film tradition has been humour. While a few films have been devoted to comedy alone the bulk of Tamil movies have had actors playing out amusing roles evoking mirth and laughter. These roles are generally supplementary to the main roles of the hero and heroine. The actors enacting comic roles are referred to as comedians.

NageshDFT

The world of Tamil cinema has produced a galaxy of stellar comedians over the years. From actors of yesteryear such as S. S. Koko, Kaali. S.Ratnam and N. S.Krishnan to present day comedians like Santhanam,Vadivle, Vivek and Soori many actors have made indelible imprints on the Tamil silver screen. Arguably the greatest comedian ever seen in Tamil cinema was Nagesh. This legendary actor known as “Nagaichuvai Mannan Nagesh” (King of Comedy – Nagesh)ruled the comic roosts of Tamil cinema as an uncrowned monarch for many many years.At his zenith , Nagesh had a huge following of fans in Sri Lanka from all ethnicities. Several Sri Lankan actors tried to model themselves on Nagesh.
Continue reading ‘“Nagaichuvai Mannan” Nagesh: Monarch of Humorous Actors in Tamil Movies’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Consults Astrologer at Abhayarama About Forming his own Govt iAfter 2016 April New Year

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Recently Mahinda Rajapaksa had called an astrologer to Abhayaramaya Temple and inquired about the horoscope of Maithripala Sirisena. Mahinda is of the view that a bright time would dawn on him by April 2016 to form a government.

He has related his future dream to all his friends and members in the joint Opposition. So, all of them are eagerly waiting till Mahinda forms a government in April. Maithri had got wind of Mahinda’s dream about the future. In response Maithri told in public that Mahinda’s camp was planning to form governments by reading his horoscope to be sure about his death.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Consults Astrologer at Abhayarama About Forming his own Govt iAfter 2016 April New Year’ »

West Wants Sri Lankan Regime To Midwife a “Tamil Kurdistan “ To Serve As Permanent Proxy.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Three speeches last week revealed our future. Each concerned an aspect of this island’s fate.Together they show the whole. The Prime Minister announced that the country will have a new political system next year. That change has to be understood within a geopolitical and geo-strategic context signalled in two speeches, by an Indian Minister and a senior US official.

“India’s Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari informed Lokh Sabha yesterday that India will construct a bridge and tunnel linking Rameswaram in India with Sri Lanka…The project was also discussed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his counterpart during the latter’s recent visit, Gadkari said”.
(The Hindu, Dec 17, 2015)

Senior US official Thomas Shannon revealed in his Kadirgamar Institute lecture, the factor animating Washington’s Lanka policy: “To put it simply, stability and prosperity of the entire world is dependent on the stability of these vital energy and trade routes. And Sri Lanka is at the centre of this.”

The 2016 Constitution must be located at this intersection of Indo-US perspectives. It envisages the most drastic disruption of the Sri Lankan State formation arguably since 1833. The rupture would change the very type of State, implanting a new political matrix. We are being constitutionally reshaped to be integrated as a ‘chip’ into the Indo-US grand strategic matrix.

Continue reading ‘West Wants Sri Lankan Regime To Midwife a “Tamil Kurdistan “ To Serve As Permanent Proxy.’ »

Fate of Ravi Karunanayake as Finance Minister Hangs in the Balance as Relationship with Ranil Wickremesinghe Sours

BY Gagani Weerakoon

The internal clashes in Maithri-Ranil Yahapalana Government has reached a point where it has put the fate of Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake hangs in the balance with several senior Cabinet colleagues openly criticizing him. In addition, it proved that every effort taken by Karunanayake to pacify his party colleagues have backfired adding salt to the wounded relationship between him and Premier Wickremesinghe.

This column last week reported the clash between Ministers Kabir Hashim and Ravi Karunanayake leading to a Cabinet reshuffle.

This political saga started unfolding after the new government was elected following the 17 August general election.

Clash deepens

Following elections, a committee led by Wickremesinghe was appointed to decide on the boards of directors and heads of institutions. Thus Wickremesinghe issued a directive to all directors and chairmen to resign from their respective posts paving the way for nominees of the committee to be appointed.

However, there were no changes suggested for institutions headed by reputed people like Hemaka Amarasuriya, but suggested new members to the board of directors in each institution.

Even though others took this order seriously, it seemed those who were appointed by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake were deaf and blind to the order despite several reminders from the top. These institutions included the People’s Bank, Litro Gas Company, Hotel Hilton, Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and Hotel Taprobane.

Continue reading ‘Fate of Ravi Karunanayake as Finance Minister Hangs in the Balance as Relationship with Ranil Wickremesinghe Sours’ »

The Ranil Wickremesinghe factor in 2016 and beyond

By Krishantha Prasad Cooray

One year ago, around the time of Christmas, there was tension in the country. The people were about to vote in a Presidential Election which would decide the destiny of the country, one way or the other. Today, one year later, we are celebrating Christmas and enjoying the festive season without any of these tensions.

A few weeks from now, we will see President Maithripala Sirisena complete one year in office. The anniversary will no doubt prompt many to step back and assess; promises made will be re-visited. The achievements will be listed. The tasks not attended to or those over which there was palpable stumbling will be noted. These analyses will be coloured by political loyalties. The more detached commentators will consider the contexts and their changing nature. Priorities as well as available resources will be factored in. In any event it is a necessary exercise for both the analyser and the analysed.

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TNA Chief Minister Wigneswaran Forms New Organization in First Step Towards Splitting TNA

By P K Balachandran

The Chief Minister of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province has formed a new “non-political” organization which observers see as the first step towards splitting the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which he represents in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC).

The outfit, christened Tamil Makkal Peravai or Tamil Peoples’ Assembly (TPA), was formed after a four-hour meeting at the Jaffna Public Library on Saturday.

Estimates of the number of people who attended vary from 15 to 30. But the significant thing is that only one TNA member of the NPC, and not a single TNA MP attended.

It was a closed door meeting into which the media were not allowed. After the meeting, Wigneswaran refused to brief the media, but individual attendees spoke to the press.

Continue reading ‘TNA Chief Minister Wigneswaran Forms New Organization in First Step Towards Splitting TNA’ »

Monopolistic Cabal Has Taken Entire Country Hostage Under Guise of Protecting Free Education or Free Health Care


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) threw a tantrum when the government proposed to abolish duty free duty vehicle permits granted to certain categories of public servants. After the threat of a strike by the doctors, the government backtracked. Since there is hardly any link between doctors’ duty free car permits and patients’ welfare, the GMOA’s trade union action was one purely driven by pecuniary interests of its members.

On the other hand, professionals in the government sector, including doctors, are paid abysmally low salaries (though, doctors on their part have opportunity to make money through private practice, a luxury most other professionals don’t have ).

Like we, the journalists (who are equally underpaid) say, bylines cannot buy groceries, professional esteem alone won’t help in an increasingly materialistic world.

However, the same GMOA has been up in arms against private medical universities, with their self serving logic being that the provision of medical education, or for that matter any other university level education, should be the monopoly of the state.

Continue reading ‘Monopolistic Cabal Has Taken Entire Country Hostage Under Guise of Protecting Free Education or Free Health Care’ »

Tamil Peoples Council (TPC) Launched in Jaffna as Political Alternative to Tamil National Alliance (TNA) with Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran at the Helm

A new political front has been launched in Jaffna on Saturday December 19th 2015 with Northern Province chief minister Canagasabapathy Visvalingam Wigneswaran at the helm. The new front known as “Thamil Makkal Paeravai” in wamil and “Tamil Peoples Council” in English is viewed as a political alternative to the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) which is regarded as the premier political configuration of the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

Suresh Premachandran, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and CV Wigneswaran

Suresh Premachandran, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and CV Wigneswaran

Around 25 to 30 persons including the Chief minister CV Wigneswaran who was elected to office on the House symbol of Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), Ex –parliamentarians Kandiah Premachandran(Suresh) of the EPRLF, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam of ACTC, Senior ITAK vice –president Prof. S. Sittambalam, Northern province councillor Sivanesan alias Bavaan of PLOTE,Dr. Poopalan Lakshman of the Jaffna Hospital,Batticaloa civil society secretary T. Vasantharajah and N.Vijayasuntharam Editor of “Valampuri”newspaper published in Jaffna were present at the inaugural meeting of the Tamil Peoples Council (TPC).Among others who participated in the meeting were religious leaders, professionals, academics ,NGO personnel and political civil society activists.

Continue reading ‘Tamil Peoples Council (TPC) Launched in Jaffna as Political Alternative to Tamil National Alliance (TNA) with Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran at the Helm’ »

Rajapaksa Henchman “Capt Tissa” Allegedly Linked to Murders of Ruggerite Thajudeen,IUSF Student Activists and Assault on JSC secretary Thilakaratne

By

Rasika Jayakody

‘Captain Tissa’, a chauffeur of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was not an unknown figure to the upper rungs of the previous government because of the strong link he had with the former first family.
When ‘Captain Tissa’ constructed a house near Medawelikada Road, Rajagiriya, some years ago, the former President, along with some ministers of his government, visited his place to attend a family function. It demonstrated that ‘Captain Tissa’ had a position of authority under the previous government due to his close association with certain top echelons of that regime.

According to sources in the former President’s camp, ‘Captain Tissa’ hails from a remote village in Laggala, Matalé. His father had worked as a driver attached to the Ministry of Irrigation. ‘Captain Tissa’ had first worked as a driver under Monty Gopallawa, former MP for the Laggala electorate. Gopallawa had a close relationship with former President Rajapaksa who later hired Tissa to work under him.

It is still not entirely clear as to how the driver joined the Army and won his officer cap. It is widely believed that ‘Tissa’ joined the Army as a trooper and was elevated to the rank of Captain after Rajapaksa became the President. There were rumours that Tissa the trooper left the Army at one point and was re-instated with officer ranking after the former President came to power.

Whatever his military origins, ‘Captain Tissa’ became a long-standing member of the security detail of the former President. During the last few years of the Rajapaksa rule, he was often seen with Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa and Lieutenant Yoshitha Rajapaksa, two sons of the former President. Even after the former President and his family fell out of power in January, this year, ‘Captain Tissa’ chose to remain with the Rajapaksas.

‘Captain Tissa’ linked?

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Henchman “Capt Tissa” Allegedly Linked to Murders of Ruggerite Thajudeen,IUSF Student Activists and Assault on JSC secretary Thilakaratne’ »

From Abuse of Power Under Mahinda to Incoherence in Power Under Maithripala?

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Close to one year since the change in political leadership in Sri Lanka, glaring peculiarities of bad law-making decisions have begun to cling to this Government much like an unpleasantly persistent odor.

Almost without exception, each and every draft law presented to the House displays a manifest lack of clear-headedness. Such laxity may be excused in respect of a singular instance or two. But when this becomes a matter of general habit, it is exceedingly worrying even with all the good will displayed towards an administration inheriting a decade of Rajapaksa misrule as an unenviable legacy.

Interjection of bad laws into the mix

And when confusion is evidenced in relatively uncomplicated matters, more complex processes of accountability attract greater doubts. Even as the Minister of Foreign Affairs talks winningly of special judicial mechanisms ensuring justice for war-time abuses, the dissatisfaction of the Northern polity increases day by day. The Witness Protection law remains largely confined to theory. Policy makers have expressed little willingness to amend its more obvious flaws, such as the lack of independence of its Protection Division. In the alternative, it is a mystery as to how one can talk of effective truth and reconciliation processes?

Beset on all sides, the fear is that before long, this Government will be caught pincer-like between the rumbling discontent in the North and the seemingly dormant but simmering Rajapaksa-tide in the South, with much of the ‘peoples’ power’ movement being diluted through the co-option of its members into government ranks.

The interjection of bad laws into this unhappy mix, conceived of without public consultation by a few misguided spirits makes matters even worse. I must stress that this concern is not confined to the Government’s proposed hate speech amendments to the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, though that example is bad enough. Tabled in the House by the Government with grandiose ceremony this week, the amendments were hastily postponed immediately thereafter with far less grace. The spectacle of a government presenting and postponing Bills with the disconcerting rapidity of a boomerang is not a pleasant sight.

Attracting unlikely partners in dissent

The storm of protests provoked by the Bills included incongruous partners, each on the extreme far end of Sri Lanka’s religious and ethnic divide. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the radical Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) protested unsurprisingly from directly divergent perspectives. The TNA expressed strong concern that the proposed amendments replicated feared provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) under which journalists, politicians and dissenters had been summarily jailed through a subversion of the judicial and legal process. The fact that the Bills would have permitted arrests without a warrant in respect of new offences buttressed these concerns.

On its own part, the BBS objected to the proposed laws evidently fearing their impact on inflammatory statements inciting religious and racial hatred which it excels in. The point, of course, is that sufficient legal provision, including the Penal Code and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act (ICCPR Act, 2007) exists to quell such incitement. The BBS was allowed to dance unrestrained under the Rajapaksa Presidency not due to the lack of law but according to a political decision of that Presidency to use hate mongers for political gain. In any event, the ICCPR Act has been virtually unused since its enactment in regard to its other provisions as well.

In the midst of the melee, constructive interventions took place through an exceptionally well timed statement by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) as well as a letter signed by members of the public, drawing attention to the ill wisdom of these amendments.

Greater coherence needed in government

The fact that the parliamentary debate on the Bills was postponed could perhaps be taken positively in that it is responding to public scrutiny. But a larger and far more obstinate question looms large. Why is greater care not taken before such laws are presented to the House in the first place? Indeed, it is a mystery as why the Government insists on cluttering up Sri Lanka’s statue book even as prevalent law is treated as if it is non-existent to all intents and purposes.

Undeniably there must be greater coherence in government as well as in law-making. The draft Right to Information (RTI) law, approved by the Cabinet this month, is perhaps one exception to what is fast becoming a general rule of ‘yahapalanaya’ (good governance) law-making disarray. But those associated with the drafting process will be aware of the difficulties that emerged when it was sought to bring the draft into consonance with modern RTI standards in the region and across the world.

Even so, the drafters of the 19th Amendment, now a part of the Constitution, included a retrograde constitutional provision on RTI which significantly contradicted the RTI Bill, also being drafted in parallel processes at the time. Ironically even though government lawmakers congratulated themselves in enacting a constitutional RTI, the simple fact was that this detracted from the strength of the separate RTI law. Denials to information in the constitutional RTI provision were archaic, overbroad and vague, as pointed out editorially in this newspaper and these column spaces.

If this constitutional provision is not amended, a conflict may well emerge in the interpretation of dual RTI regimes. Lacunae in other respects in the 19th Amendment have been dissected at length. At that point, the excuse was that an uncertain interim government was in power. But the sympathetic leeway which one gives a honeymoon coalition is fast yielding to a far harsher assessment that does not bode well for the future.

These should not be choices before us

Where former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was concerned, one did not expect such niceties. The Bills presented during that time were pushed through with the force of a sledgehammer, directly or indirectly aggrandizing his stranglehold on power. Then we had abuse of power. Now we appear to have what some may uncharitably label as incoherence in power.

It may be debated by those inclined towards the nonsensical that incoherence in government is better than abuse of government.

Certainly however, these should not be the choices put before us by a Presidency and a Government elected to office on vastly different expectations.

Courtesy:Sunday Times

Protest Attempt by UNP Badulla Disrict MP Vadivel Suresh to Set Himself on Fire in Parliament Prevented by Police

Police yesterday thwarted an attempt by Parliamentarian Vadivel Suresh to carry two cans of kerosene into Parliament, allegedly to carry out his threat to set himself on fire in protest against the Government’s failure to address the plantations sector wage dispute.

Continue reading ‘Protest Attempt by UNP Badulla Disrict MP Vadivel Suresh to Set Himself on Fire in Parliament Prevented by Police’ »

TNA Leader Sampanthan, Chief Minister Wigneswaran and the Crisis of Tamil Political Leadership.

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel.Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar lov’d him!This was the most unkindest cut of all;For when the noble Caesar saw him stab, Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,Quite vanquish’d him: then burst his mighty heart” – William Shakespeare “Julius Caesar”(Act 3 Scene 2)

RS CVW TNA

Political tensions prevailing within the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) underwent a dramatic transformation last week. In an unexpected twist , Leader of the opposition and TNA leader , Rajavarothayam Sampanthan, declared in Batticaloa that he was prepared to step down in favour of Northern province chief minister Canagasabapathy Visvalingam Wigneswaran if the “Katchi”(party) and “Makkal”(people) wanted it. By doing so , the veteran Tamil politician from Trincomalee not only brought out the simmering internal crisis in the TNA into the open but also issued an indirect challenge to Wigneswaran who is being promoted by diverse elements as contender to Sampanthan’s leadership.

Sections of the Tamil media had extensive reports last week about a meeting held at the Batticaloa office of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi(ITAK) which is the chief constituent of the TNA. The premier political configuration of the Sri Lankan Tamils currently consists of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi(ITAK), Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization(TELO), Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front(EPRLF) and Peoples Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE). Earlier Tamil parties such as the Tamil United Liberation Front(TULF) and All Ceylon Tamil Congress(ACTC)had also been part of the TNA. The TNA by itself is not registered as a political party. It contests elections under the house symbol allocated to the ITAK.

Several party members had raised questions during discussions held at the ITAK office in Batticaloa. Senior eastern politician and former Batticaloa district MP Pon. Selvarajah had reportedly asked Sampanthan about the recent “dispute” between Northern provincial council chief minister C.V.Wigneswaran and TNA Jaffna district parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran. Critical references were also made about the controversial conduct of Wigneswaran in recent times and the sinister conspiracy being hatched to supplant Sampanthan with Wigneswaran as the leader of the Sri Lankan Tamils. The Batticaloa component of the ITAK was greatly angered by the conspiracy to replace Sampanthan with Wigneswaran. According to reports in Tamil newspapers and websites Sampanthan had responded in a frank and forthright manner to the concerns raised.
Continue reading ‘TNA Leader Sampanthan, Chief Minister Wigneswaran and the Crisis of Tamil Political Leadership.’ »

As Outgoing President, Barack Obama May Visit Myanmar and Sri Lanka Next Year as “Pair of US Foreign Policy Success Stories”.

By Taylor Dibbert

There was another high-level U.S. visit to Sri Lanka this week. State Department Counselor Thomas Shannon visited the island nation from December 14-16.

The highlight of his trip seems to have been the formal announcement that the first “U.S.-Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue” will be held in Washington this February.

The dialogue will focus on four broad areas: governance, development cooperation, and people-to-people ties; both economic and security cooperation; and global and regional affairs.

Shannon’s remarks after his meeting with Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, were very optimistic. Here’s part of what he said:

Continue reading ‘As Outgoing President, Barack Obama May Visit Myanmar and Sri Lanka Next Year as “Pair of US Foreign Policy Success Stories”.’ »