Tony Ranasinghe, the Greatest Character Actor and Romantic Lover in Sinhala Cinema


D.B.S. Jeyaraj

“Tony as an actor is the best character-based actor not even witnessed in the Indian screen. He has an actor within himself who emerges at the correct moment. Tony Ranasinghe is the best character actor in Asia” – Gamini Fonseka.

Tony Ranasinghe

Tony Ranasinghe

“Tony Aiya was a well-read man of wisdom. Not only as his co-star, but also as an outsider, I tremendously enjoyed watching Tony Aiya on the screen and to date I find him the most romantic lover we’ve had in our films. There will never be another Tony” Malani Fonseka.

Sinhala cinema began moving away from Indian “masala” influence and started coming into its own in the sixties and seventies of the last century. Four great male actors made their mark in that golden phase of Sinhala moviedom. They were, in alphabetical order – Joe Abeywickrama, Gamini Fonseka, Vijaya Kumaratunga and Tony Ranasinghe. Alas! All four famous thespians are no more now.


The first to depart was the youngest of them all, Vijaya Kumaratunga, who was born in 1945. His life was brutally snatched away in 1988. Vijaya who had begun engaging effectively in politics was assassinated. Gamini Fonseka, born in 1936, passed away in his sleep in 2004. Veteran Joe Abeywickrama, who was born in 1927, died four years ago in 2011. The last of the legendary four – Tony Ranasinghe – bade farewell to his numerous fans a few weeks ago on 16 June. He was born on 31 July 1937.
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Maithripala Sirisena Waves White Flag and Capitulates to Mahinda Rajapaksa

(Text of Editorial Appearing in the Colombo “Sunday Times” of July 5th 2015)

And so, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa threw his hat into the ring for the forthcoming Parliamentary elections with some pressure politics this week, the culmination of a long drawn-out, well-orchestrated campaign that saw his successor, President Maithripala Sirisena, eventually capitulate.

The timing of Mr. Rajapaksa’s announcement from his hometown of Tangalla on Adhi Esala full moon poya day was carefully crafted. It is unlikely he would have declared his candidature without a tacit understanding already reached that he was not going to be snubbed. He also got a jibe in; “Unlike others,” he said, “I never left the party”. The message was meant to resonate with faithful followers of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), whose current leader is Mr. Sirisena.

For months, the country has had nothing better to do than witness Mr. Rajapaksa stirring the pot; pulling strings within not just his own SLFP, but the broader coalition United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). He was able to garner their support with his presence and his perseverance.

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Battle Lines Drawn for 2015 General Elections Between Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mahinda Rajapaksa

General elections 2015: MR’s nomination ups the ante

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

The chips are down – the battle lines for the 2015 general election have been drawn between two key political personalities – Ranil Wickremesinghe, UNP leader and the party’s prime ministerial candidate, and Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former president whose nomination from the UPFA was confirmed by that coalition’s leadership at the eleventh hour, without naming him as prime ministerial candidate. Just how the innumerable variables in this contest will shift, combine and coalesce to produce a new parliament, will be the stuff of public debate and political movement in the two months ahead.

On Friday evening UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha issued a brief statement announcing the decision made at a party leaders’ meeting presided over by UPFA leader, President Maithripala Sirisena, where it was agreed that Rajapaksa would be given nomination. The surprise announcement was followed by a press conference at Abhayaramaya, Narahenpita, addressed by some of the former president’s main supporters including former MPs Dinesh Gunewardena (MEP), Vasudeva Nanayakkara (DLF), Wimal Weerawansa (NFF) and Tissa Vitarana (LSSP) along with former SLFP MPs G L Peiris and Dulles Alahaperuma.

The stalwarts behind the ‘bring-back-Mahinda’ project described the moment as a milestone in their long campaign to have Rajapaksa lead the UPFA to victory in the upcoming election. They evaded a journalist’s question as to whether he will be given the top spot in parliament in the event of a UPFA victory, referring instead to a remark by Sirisena that if the UPFA won, the choice of prime minister would be made by the elected MPs.

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UNP in Trouble as 19 Page COPE Report Makes “Charges” Against Arjuna Mahendran and his son in law Arjun Joseph Aloysius

UPFA leaders are busy preparing outlines for their polls campaign. As reported earlier, among the main issues they claim are “threats to national security.” This is the result of the Government’s talks with the Global Tamil Forum in London and related issues.

Another is the Central Banks Treasury Bond scandal. Details of this scandal have entered the public domain.

Here is how the issue played out in the past days. In the hours before dissolution of Parliament on Friday June 30, Communist Party leader D.E.W. Gunasekera, Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE), was very busy. He wanted to lay before the public the details of the issue at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) over the Treasury Bonds. Gunasekera had worked on the interim report by a Subcommittee which he had chaired. The draft was being finalised on Thursday night (June 30) for presentation to Parliament the next day, Friday (June 31).

Continue reading ‘UNP in Trouble as 19 Page COPE Report Makes “Charges” Against Arjuna Mahendran and his son in law Arjun Joseph Aloysius’ »

Maithripala’s Capitulation, Mahinda’s Brinkmanship and and Ranil’s Consternation


C.A. Chandraprema

The announcement on Friday evening by UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayanth to the effect that President Maithripala Sirisena has agreed to grant nominations to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was greeted with anguish and fury by the yahapalana types. Much of the anger may stem from the suspicion that had been rankling in the minds of some following the secret meeting held between Sirisena and Rajapaksa just before Parliament was dissolved. In any event, after Rajapaksa announced from Medamulana on July 1 that he would be contesting the forthcoming election, President Sirisena was faced with two choices. He could either field Mahinda and ensure that the UPFA puts up a good showing or he could force MR to contest separately and risk falling to a poor third.

Some weeks ago, President Sirisena tried his best to prevent the Mahinda group from having a separate May Day but he failed. To make things worse, he went ahead with his own May Day rally in Hyde Park which was a complete fiasco as described in this column at the time. If the SLFP/UPFA contested the parliamentary election without Mahinda, the result may have resembled the May Day outcome. As last week drew to an end, Sirisena may have seen signs of which way things would go if he did not allow MR to contest on the UPFA ticket. By Thursday, individuals who had been seen as middle of the roaders were openly declaring themselves for Mahinda.

One example was Chandima Weerakkody the former deputy speaker of parliament. Though he attended some of the bring-Mahinda-back rallies, his rhetoric was that of uniting CBK, Mahinda and Maithri and contesting the election together. He in fact spoke out against those who said that they will even follow MR out of the SLFP. But last Thursday, Weerakkody took a different stand and he said that they will make every effort towards maintaining unity but if that is not possible, he will opt to go with Mahinda.

Another seeming middle of the roader was Duminda Silva who was generally maintaining a low profile without openly identifying with Mahinda. So far as this writer can recall, he was not seen at any of the bring Mahinda back rallies. Furthermore, it was largely Duminda Silva who saved President Sirisena’s self respect last May Day. Duminda brought with him a large crowd which occupied the space available inside the Hyde Park grounds and remained at the meeting without disappearing. The crowds brought by other organizers simply walked off without even looking at the stage. Even with Duminda’s crowd in the grounds, the Hyde Park meeting was a fiasco, but without Duminda the speakers would have been addressing an empty playground.

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After Giving Nomination to Mahinda , Maithripala Keeps away from Birthday Celebration for Chandrika to Avoid her and Ranil

Six months ago they were political arch enemies. Like the saying goes, politics makes strange bedfellows. So it was.

Last Friday, President Maithripala Sirisena agreed to allow his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest the August 17 parliamentary elections.

Now, they appear to be not only chummy, but concerned of each other.

After the official announcement of Rajapaksa’s candidature, UPFA leaders, with the exception of Sirisena, met on Friday night at the official residence of Western Provincial Council Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga. It will be recalled that on an earlier occasion, it was he who floated the idea if the leadership of the SLFP itself should be called into question.

For moments the gathering took a formal air. They adopted a unanimous resolution thanking UPFA and SLFP leader President Maithripala Sirisena for nominating Rajapaksa as a candidate. They resolved that no statements detrimental to him (President Sirisena) should be made by any member of the Alliance. Then the mood took a festive air.

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President Maithripala Sirisena Surrenders to Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Giving him Nomination

Six months after being voted out of the presidency, Percy Mahendra Rajapaksa has bounced back to become a candidate for the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) at the August 17 parliamentary elections. He will choose from three different districts — Gampaha, Kurunegala or Ratnapura.

“I was willing to agree to anything that would not divide our party. We will ensure a victory and protect our country,” Rajapaksa told the Sunday Times. His successor, President Maithripala Sirisena, had earlier ruled out any role for him at the polls. The doors of the UPFA were thrown wide open to him on Friday. His close allies are now striving hard to persuade Sirisena to let Rajapaksa lead the campaign, though he has refused to name Rajapaksa as the prime ministerial candidate. They believe that is an issue to be tackled after the polls.

These developments saw dark clouds swallowing up the ‘rainbow coalition’ that emerged after the presidential election of January 8. Some 40 political parties and civil society organisations had led a turbo-charged campaign to ensconce Sirisena as the sixth Executive President of Sri Lanka. To say they were disappointed would be an understatement. They were livid. “It is unbelievable that such a thing could happen. In politics, nothing is impossible. We will have to wait and see,” said a shocked Minister Lakshman Kiriella, Leader of the House and Senior Vice President of the United National Party (UNP), after the UPFA decision was announced.

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Maithripala Sirisena has his way but Mahinda Rajapaksa wins the day……….

There are no permanent friends or foes in politics, it is said. The centre stage of politics wonders what’s happening behind the screen. Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalists did not give up the battle to seek nomination to Mahinda. While the centre stage was kept in suspense about the issue, Susil Premajayantha on Friday issued a letter stating that the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) has decided to give nomination to Mahinda and that the decision was taken at a meet presided over by President Maithripala Sirisena, the previous night. As it stands, the contents of this letter quoting Maithri had not been denied so far by him.

It stated that Mahinda would get UPFA nomination and there was no reference to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Mahinda is a Patron of the SLFP and the SLFP is the main constituent of the UPFA. Therefore, Mahinda would certainly have to get nomination from the SLFP to contest the elections as the SLFP does not give nominations to the constituent parties in the Aliance. The SLFP General Secretary, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa is yet to issue a statement endorsing Premajayantha’s letter which stated that the UPFA had decided to give nomination to Mahinda.

Mahinda loyalists had done hard work to ensure that Mahinda gets nomination. The team led by Dinesh Gunawardene, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Kumara Welgama and Wimal Weerawansa worked round the clock to convince the SLFP leadership towards achieving that task. As it stands now, they’ve been successful as Mahinda has won the day. In the recent days several moves took place regarding the issue of nomination to Mahinda. The initial move was to name Mahinda as the prime ministerial candidate of the UPFA.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sirisena has his way but Mahinda Rajapaksa wins the day……….’ »

Will Return of Mahinda Rajapaksa Change Sri Lankan Politics Again?


Former Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa announced that he would accept his loyal supporters demand to contest the forthcoming parliamentary election to be held on August 17. According to media reports, thousands of supporters who had gathered at his home ground in Medamulana cheered him when he said “I am not ready to reject the appeal you are all making.” He indicated that he would be rallying his supporters across all parties “for the sake of the country, for the sake of mother land, we must contest the upcoming parliamentary election.

Earlier president Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the parliament and set the date for the election. The announcements of both the incumbent and former presidents were not unexpected. Time was running out for Sirisena after he failed to hammer out a consensus within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on rejecting the loyalists’ demand for nominating Rajapaksa as the party candidate for prime minister. According to Sri Lanka columnists, President Sirisena’s secret talks with the former president also failed to persuade Rajapaksa not to contest the election to avoid a split in the party.

There were other compulsions for President Sirisena to dissolve the parliament. Already, Rajapaksa loyalists’s within the United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA) parliamentary party ranks had swelled to 80 plus. Any further delay could have not only eroded President Sirisena’s support within the party while enlarging Rajapaksa’s support base, but it would also help his detractors to push through the no confidence motion against Sirirsena’s political ally ruling alliance partner Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe pending before the parliament. Wickremesinghe leads the United National Party (UNP) traditional opponents of SLFP. With Rajapaksa loyalists bent upon splitting the SLFP votes, President Sirisena needs the UNP as an electoral ally to prevent Rajapaksa from coming back to power.

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President Sirisena “Betrays” Jan 8 Mandate by Aligning with Former Rival Mahinda for Parliamentary Elections ?


Dharisha Bastians

The pro-Rajapaksa faction of the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance claimed a major victory with the announcement yesterday that Mahinda Rajapaksa would receive a nomination on the coalition ticket, but there was radio silence from the President’s Office about the decision.

At about 3.30 p.m. yesterday, UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha issued a press statement announcing the decision to grant the former President a nomination on the party ticket.

“Based on the UPFA party leaders’ meeting chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena on 2 July, as discussed it has been decided to grant former President Mahinda Rajapaksa a nomination for the forthcoming parliamentary elections,” the release which was signed by Premajayantha said.

There is still no official reaction to the announcement by the UPFA General Secretary from President Sirisena’s office or his aides at the time of going to press. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party Central Committee is yet to make a final decision on the nomination for the ex-President, Daily FT learns.

President Sirisena also holds the title of UPFA Chairman and could still exercise his powers to withhold the nomination, highly placed sources told Daily FT.

But pro-Rajapaksa UPFA leaders, holding a press briefing at the Abhayaramaya Temple in Narahenpita shortly after Premajayantha released the statement, hailed President Sirisena for his decision.

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UPFA Announces it will Nominate Ex- President Mahinda Rajapaksa as a Candidate at the Forthcoming Parliamentary Elections.


Dasun Edirisinghe

The UPFA yesterday announced that it had decided to field former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the forthcoming general election. Addressing a packed media audience at Abhayaramaya yesterday, former minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that the district where the former President Rajapaksa would enter the fray would be announced shortly.

Gunawardena said that UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha had issued a statement yesterday afternoon that the party had decided to nominate Rajapaksa to contest the upcoming polls.

The MEP leader said that the struggle they had launched from Nugegoda had reached fruition as the UPFA leadership had realised that the SLFP had to stay united to defeat the UNP. “We welcome the UPFA decision and thank President Maithripala Sirisena for his decision,” Gunawardena said, adding that they would now start the journey proper to defeat the corrupt UNP government.

Asked whether former President Rajapaksa would lead the UPFA campaign, Gunawardena said that it would be announced after handing over of nominations on July 13.

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Maithripala Sirisena is now a Presidential Prop and Pin Up Boy.


Malinda Seneviratne

We don’t know if everyone who voted for Maithripala actually believed that Parliament would be dissolved in late April, i.e. when the much talked of and now hardly ever mentioned ‘100 Days’ came to an end. We don’t know if everyone who voted for Maithripala thought that he was capable of or interested in seeing electoral reform through (and, the Right to Information Act, Code of Conduct for MPs and other things that would have actually meant ‘real change’). We do know now that politicians of all hue knew that there would be elections, even if Parliament was not dissolved on the schedule printed in Maithripala’s manifesto.

This is why we’ve seen many worthies who ridiculed Mahinda Rajapaksa for his in-your-face, laughing-at-us cut-outs shedding all embarrassment to emulate that poster boy. Nominations have not closed. The parties haven’t picked candidates. But it looks like many have picked themselves as worthy of nomination and election.

Walls, poster-free for a long time, are tasting paapppa once again. And once again we have faces laughing at us at every turn. Some are known names. Some have been in Parliament or have been elected to lesser office. Some haven’t been elected but have contested often enough to enjoy some name-face recognition. Some are known in other circles. Some are unknown.

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Removing the Ban on Some Tamil Diaspora Organizations Listed as ” Foreign Terrorist”

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sri Lanka’s ebullient Foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera is currently in the forefront of a move to review and possibly remove the ban imposed on certain Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora organizations and individuals designated as “terrorist” under provisions of the United Nations Act No 45 of 1968. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) and 15 other organizations functioning on foreign soil were proscribed as foreign terrorist organizations by Gazette Extraordinary 1856/41 of March 21st 2014. Apart from these 16 entities , a further 424 individuals with suspected LTTE links who were living in 19 countries including Sri Lanka were also listed.


Foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera

The Gazette proclamation listing designated persons,groups and entities was done according to sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph (4) of the United Nations Regulations No. 1 of 2012 that was published in the Gazette Extraordinary No. 1758/19 of May 15, 2012.The designated Competent authority for establishing and maintaining the list with respect to natural persons, legal, persons, groups and entities was Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was then the Secretary, Defence and Urban Development ministry.
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“I will form a Govt that will take Forward the Development that has Stalled now” – Mahinda Rajapaksa

(Full text of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s speech at Medamulana on July 1st 2015)

It is with immense gratitude that I acknowledge your unwavering support for me and the national agenda I represent despite all the threats and intimidation in the period after the last presidential election. I warmly welcome all of you who have come here today to my home in my village. Today is Adhi Esala Poya day, the day on which the Buddha preached the Dhamma for the first time to his erstwhile companions the five ascetics. You have come here to invite me to contest the forthcoming parliamentary election. I left Temple Trees even before the Elections Commissioner had declared the final result.

Before I accept or reject your invitation, there is something that I have to say. After the last presidential election, I bowed my head to the verdict of the majority of the people. By taking that decision, what I proved was that I who entered the supreme legislature for the first time in 1970 as the youngest MP in that parliament and later served as a minister, leader of the opposition, prime minister and finally as president, have the highest regard for the principles of democracy. Many people who came to Tangalle have told me that many people in the country were surprised to see Mahinda Rajapaksa who had been labelled a dictator setting an exemplary democratic precedent in that manner.

The day after I came home, I summoned all our party leaders to Tangalle. I asked them about the fate of our party. They told me that with the release of the election results, our party members have had to face severe harassment at the hands of members of the United National Party. At that stage some were trying to set up an alternative Sri Lanka Freedom Party. On the 12th of January, I summoned our Central Committee and told them that in this crucial hour, we must safeguard our party. Thereafter at the request of the present executive president, I met him personally and handed over to him the leadership of the party. I handed over the party within seven days of the election. The party leadership has never changed hands earlier in that manner. After winning the presidential election of 2005, I had to wait for seven months to become leader of the party. I call upon the people to take note of the political significance of the decision I made to hand over the leadership of the party to the new president within seven days.

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Second Coming of Mahinda!Can Mahinda from Medamulana Rise Again?

By Dharisha Bastians in Medamulana

The monk’s voice booms through rustling coconut fronds, carrying on the soft breezes over lotus ponds and endlessly green fields of paddy.

“What is this title ‘former’ president? Is that how we refer to our ancient kings?”

On Esala full moon Poya day, the sleepy southern village of Medamulana is buzzing with activity, its narrow rural roads choked with traffic as people turnout in van and busloads, travelling through the night from Ratnapura, Divulapitiya and other far-off places. On every vehicle, stickers and banners feature a moustachioed man, wearing a wide grin and signature red shawl.

Ode to a moustache

As the final stragglers wend their way into the rambling gardens of the Medamulana Mahagedara , Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ancestral property in the Hambantota District, the monk breaks into a brief ode to this ‘jet-black’ moustache.

“When people are defeated, usually their physical appearance is also diminished. But look at you, you are looking better than ever. Look at that black moustache, how it adds to your strong personality!” the Buddhist priest waxed from within the house, his words carrying out to large crowds gathered under marquees set up in the garden and across the village roads on a public address system.

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Maithripala Sirisena has a Moral Obligation to see that his Promises are Delivered.


Malinda Seneviratne

President Maithripala Sirisena has reason to be grateful to Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP. True, gratitude-reason is a two-way street, but we are talking of the President, what he owes and to whom. He might owe something to former President Chandrika Kumaratunga too but probably not as much as the lady believes. Rajitha Senaratne also helped.

If getting things moving and getting message across count then he also owes a lot to Rev Athureliye Rathana Thero and Champika Ranawaka, and of course Rev Maduluwave Sobitha Thero. What checks were associated with this ‘support,’ their value, whether or not they were cashed and if cashed (in kind) what the benefits were only the transactors would know.

What we know is that gratitude is a virtue. The downside is that it is also associated with obligations, sometimes sanitized with the word ‘moral’.

If the President feels that he owes the UNP something (and he does!) he might have felt obliged to save that party and the august behinds of some of the top rankers. He might think that the morally upright thing to do is to use executive powers (not directly but by the threat of deployment in other context) and his position as the head of the SLFP to scuttle the no-confidence motions against Ravi Karunanayake and Ranil Wickremesinghe. He could have done that and stopped there instead of dissolving Parliament. He dissolved. He decided, the people and history will judge.

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“News 1st”to Launch new Political Show in the Mornings Hosted by Bandula Jayasekara and Chamika Roshan

Your mornings will never be the same again!

News 1st will launch a fresh, hard-hitting Morning Political Show ‘PRESS RELEASE’, hosted by former Diplomat , Editor and Presidential Spokesman Bandula Jayasekara and Chamika Roshan. The show will be aired every weekday morning at 6, on Sirasa TV. ‘PRESS RELEASE’will focus on the morning headlines, but also the main issues of the day. A viewer can expect an explosion of news, views and interviews!

Mahinda Rajapaksa Sets the Stage at his Hometown Medamulana for a Major Political Comeback


Dharisha Bastians in Medamulana

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, ousted from office in January, set the stage for a major political comeback in his hometown of Medamulana yesterday, with the announcement that he would lead a faction of the SLFP to contest in the 17 August parliamentary election.

A low drum-roll of firecrackers sounded in the distance, as thousands of supporters gathered in the leafy gardens of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Carlton House shortly before noon yesterday to hear the former President’s ‘special announcement’ about his role in the upcoming elections.

“I am not ready to reject the appeal you are all making,” he boomed, reading from a teleprompter in the sweltering midday heat, as supporters, about 6,000 strong, cheered madly at the sight of him.

“For the sake of this country, for the sake of the motherland, we must contest in the upcoming parliamentary elections,” Rajapaksa announced.

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“I will Contest General Election” Declares Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Medamulana

Ending days of speculation, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa today formally announced that he will contest the upcoming General Election.

Addressing a large crowd of supporters today at his home in Medamulana, the former President said he did not have the right to refuse the request made by them to stand for election again.

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“We will Contest at the Upcoming General Election for the Sake of the Party and Country” Announces Mahinda Rajapaksa


Lakna Paranamanna

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing a gathering at Medamulana this morning revealed that he would contest the upcoming general election.

“I will not ignore the requests that have been made to me by the people – I accept it wholeheartedly. . . Therefore we will move forward at the upcoming general election with this force of people – we have made preparations to move forward . . . We will contest at the upcoming general elections for the sake of the party and the country.”

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If Maithripala Surrenders to Mahinda Faction Another Bloc of 36 MP’s Backed by Chandrika May Split from SLFP


Rasika Jayakody

What President Maithripala Sirisena faces right now is nothing short of a conundrum. The President has come under serious pressure not only from the party rank and file, but also from the senior office bearers of the party to give nominations to former President Rajapaksa to contest the election under the SLFP ticket. It is still not entirely clear whether President Sirisena will be able to withstand this pressure for two more weeks, at least until the end of the nomination period.

The pro-Rajapaksa camp, which is keen on getting nomination from the UPFA, has already made alternate plans to contest separately fearing that President Sirisena may reject nomination at the last moment. Even the senior-most parliamentarians representing the party are confused over the present state of affairs in the SLFP.

There were various negotiations over the weekend to get President Sirisena’s consent to give nomination to the former President. The committee appointed by President Sirisena to promote cooperation in the party also held several rounds of discussion to recommend necessary measures to strengthen unity in the party. They met President Sirisena and former President Rajapaksa separately and obtained their viewpoints on the matter.

The committee has recommended that the former President should be ‘actively involved’ in the political campaign of the party at the forthcoming election. According to a member of the committee, the term ‘active involvement’ amounts to accommodating him at least as a mere candidate in the SLFP list.

Sources close to Presidents Sirisena told the Daily News on Monday night that the President had still not digressed from his position over granting nomination to Rajapaksa. He had expressed willingness to offer him a ‘distinguished position’ in the party and to give him a prominent post in the government. The prominent post however, is not the position of the Prime Minister. This is somewhat similar to the position held by former Singaporean President Lee Kuan Yew and former US President Bill Clinton after their retirement from office. But, many political observers, including several senior politicians, told the Daily News that President Sirisena was being pushed to the wall.

Continue reading ‘If Maithripala Surrenders to Mahinda Faction Another Bloc of 36 MP’s Backed by Chandrika May Split from SLFP’ »

Current Sri Lankan Political Situation is like the Kerensky Period in Russia After the 1917 Revolution


Dr.Vickramabahu Karunaratne

If we go by orthodox Marxist analysis we may classify the political stage we are going through as a Kerenskyan period. In Russia when the Czarist regime was overthrown in 1917 February there was a dual power situation. On one side imperial state was trying to survive by reforms, headed by liberal bourgeoisie; on the other hand masses were demanding full freedom and democracy; and they were represented by people’s assemblies formed throughout the country. Kerensky was the most important liberal leader who tried to secure parliamentary democracy by integrating the leadership of the mass assemblies with the reformed state structure.


He was a member of the Provisional Committee of the State Duma and was elected vice-chairman of the Petrograd Soviet, and simultaneously became the first Minister of Justice in the newly formed Provisional government. When the Soviet passed a resolution prohibiting its leaders from joining the government, Kerensky delivered a stirring speech at a Soviet meeting. Although the decision was never formalized, he was granted a de facto exemption and continued acting in both capacities. Thus he personally took steps to bridge the gap between the state and the soviet system of workers and peasants assemblies.

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Maithripala Offers “Conditional Nomination” to Mahinda but Refuses to Announce him as Party’s Prime Minister Candidate


Dharisha Bastians

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the main constituent in political coalitions that have ruled the country for the better part of 20 years looked poised to suffer a major split yesterday, as hopes for compromise between the Maithripala and Mahinda factions appeared to fade after hectic rounds of talks yesterday.

A great game of wits between feuding factions of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party reached crescendo, when President Maithripala Sirisena firmly refused to name his predecessor as the party’s prime ministerial nominee in a public statement, hours ahead of a major announcement scheduled by Mahinda Rajapaksa in Medamulana.

“Please be informed President Maithripala Sirisena has not accepted or declared former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to be the prime minister candidate of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party,” a statement from the Presidential Media Division released last evening read.

The statement noted that a decision on the appointment of the Prime Minister will be made in consultations with elected MPs in the event the SLFP-led UPFA wins the election.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Offers “Conditional Nomination” to Mahinda but Refuses to Announce him as Party’s Prime Minister Candidate’ »

If Defeated Ex-President Mahinda Wants to be Prime Minister then Undefeated Ex- President Chandrika will also Contest Polls

Not to be outdone by the antics of her presidential successor, former President Chandrika Kumaratunga threw her hat into the ring yesterday, vowing to contest in the 17 August parliamentary poll as the SLFP prime ministerial candidate.

Private Secretary to Kumaratunga, P. Dissanayake issuing a statement, said the former President would contest from the SLFP or the UPFA from the Gampaha District.

Continue reading ‘If Defeated Ex-President Mahinda Wants to be Prime Minister then Undefeated Ex- President Chandrika will also Contest Polls’ »

Uva Province UNP Chief Minister Harin Fernando Accuses President Sirisena of “Harbouring a Secret Agenda”

A Major strain in the relations between the United National Party (UNP) and President Maithripala Sirisena started to show yesterday when Uva Chief Minister Harin Fernando expressed doubts about the
President’s bona fides and accused him of harbouring ‘secret political agendas’.

Addressing a press briefing held at Sirikotha, Fernando asserted that UNP had obtained information about secret meetings held between President Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“President Sirisena and former President Rajapaksa said that once they met in Speaker’s house. However we believe that they have met in another secret place. Therefore the UNP has doubts about President Sirisena’s behaviour. If he did that, he should be ashamed of himself,” Fernando claimed.

Commenting further he alleged that if President Sirisena was trying to promote the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) for the upcoming election, UNP members would be deeply disappointed.

Continue reading ‘Uva Province UNP Chief Minister Harin Fernando Accuses President Sirisena of “Harbouring a Secret Agenda”’ »

If Maithripala wants to Stop Mahinda he will have to give Nomination to “Rogues” in the SLFP


Upul Joseph Fernando

When the election results were announced in the 1994 general elections, Chandrika Kumaratunge was in hiding at a secret location. She felt there were threats on her life. Only her confidantes were permitted to visit her. Those confidantes who were with her when the results were announced saw tears in her eyes. “See, having done such a massive campaign and the people’s swing towards us we’ve got only 105 seats in Parliament,” she lamented with deep pain of mind. She only wanted 113 seats to form a strong Parliament. She was then forced to seek the support of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC).

In 2001, Ranil Wickremesinghe spearheaded a massive campaign against Chandrika’s Government countrywide. He managed to grab many stalwarts in Chandrika’s Government that included SLFP General Secretary, S.B. Dissanayake. But when the election results were announced, Ranil was shocked as he obtained only 109 seats though he planned to get 113 seats. He too sought the support of the SLMC to form a government.

Chandrika toppled Ranil’s Government in 2004 with the support of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) having labelled Ranil as a LTTE (Tiger) supporter. Together with the JVP and Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), Chandrika launched a patriotic campaign against Ranil. With the sudden demise of Ven. Soma Thera the campaign turned out to be a Sinhala Buddhist campaign. However, Chandrika and the JVP could manage only 105 seats and Chandrika was forced to break up the SLMC to form a government.

In that backdrop of the pattern of elections under the proportionate representation system, how could the UNP dream of obtaining 113 seats in Parliament? Truly, the UNP obtained only 60 seats in 2010. It needs a further 53 to get the required 113 seats.

Continue reading ‘If Maithripala wants to Stop Mahinda he will have to give Nomination to “Rogues” in the SLFP’ »

36 MP’s from SLFP Tell President Sirisena it is Better to Lose with Honour Rather Than Contest along with Mahinda and Win

In the backdrop of frantic negotiations to unite warring factions of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), 36 MPs loyal to the incumbent President have strongly urged him to refrain from joining forces with his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa at the forthcoming parliamentary poll.

Daily FT learns that the group, many of whom hold ministerial portfolios in the now caretaker Government established after the presidential election in January, met President Maithripala Sirisena last Friday (26) to put their case across.

The group included several SLFP members who had crossed over to join the Common Candidate movement with President Sirisena as soon as presidential elections were declared in November last year.

The group of 36 strongly opposed the SLFP allowing the former President to contest on the party’s ticket at the upcoming election, highly placed sources told Daily FT.

Continue reading ‘36 MP’s from SLFP Tell President Sirisena it is Better to Lose with Honour Rather Than Contest along with Mahinda and Win’ »

A House in Jaffna for the Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture and Design


Smriti Daniel

Vimila Velthas lays out lunch on the table in the courtyard.

She has prepared a traditional Jaffna meal – yam, coloured orange with the heat of chillies and cooked till creamy, a spicy fish and eggplant curry served with fat grains of red rice. Velthas presses her guests to eat more and scoffs gently at the modest size of their servings.


In the job she has held for the last six months, the 60 year old’s many loves – books, theatre, art, food and people – are combined. Velthas is the librarian at the Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture & Design, and also supervises the running of the house in which it is lodged.


The place, I believe, is like no other in Sri Lanka. This is in part due to the focus of the collection (contemporary art, architecture and design) and in part due to the space it has carved out for critical discourse in a country recovering from 30 years of war.
Its location alone marks it out – there are few art galleries in the northern city of Jaffna. Those who want to peruse or purchase artwork usually travel to the southern capital Colombo, eight hours away by train.
Continue reading ‘A House in Jaffna for the Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture and Design’ »

GL Peiris Makes Insinuations Against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Gets Lambasted by Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran.


Shamindra Ferdinando

The Opposition yesterday alleged that the Governor of the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran had received instructions from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as regards change of established procedures in the run-up to the controversial bond issue and such interventions were contrary to existing regulations.

Prof. Peiris told The Island that CB Governor himself had admitted premier Wickremesinghe’s intervention when he appeared before the special parliamentary committee tasked to investigate the controversial bond issue. The former External Affairs Minister alleged that significant changes had been made in the established procedures in contravention of monetary regulations. He said that the Governor couldn’t have received instructions or advise as regards the bond issue, though the PM as the line minister in charge of CB had the authority to give directives pertaining to specific matters.

Prof. Peiris said PM Wickremesinghe had pushed for the dissolution of parliament to thwart release of parliamentary investigation report.

Continue reading ‘GL Peiris Makes Insinuations Against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Gets Lambasted by Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran.’ »

President Sirisena can Uphold or Betray Trust Placed in him by Us With Decision on Mahinda Rajapaksa – Arjuna Ranatunga

Dharisha Bastians

President Maithripala Sirisena is expected to make a crucial decision today as to whether he will offer his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa a slot on the SLFP ticket, and allow his party to contest with other constituent parties in the former ruling alliance that have been staunch critics of his six-month-old administration.

The SLFP Committee of Six, tasked with uniting the two warring factions of the SLFP, submitted its report to President Sirisena yesterday with their observations and recommendations.

President Sirisena also met with leftist parties and several other groups that made representations to him on the issue.

The Committee of Six was keen to get a compromise on a national list seat or elder statesman position for the former President in the absence of a nomination on the SLFP list, Daily FT learns.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena can Uphold or Betray Trust Placed in him by Us With Decision on Mahinda Rajapaksa – Arjuna Ranatunga’ »

If Mahinda Rajapaksa Becomes Prime Minister then he is only “One Gunshot”away from Becoming President Again


Thisuri Wanniarachchi

I first met President Rajapaksa when I was 11 years old. I had won a national short story competition and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs had taken me and several other winners to Temple Trees to see the President. He was a rare and skilled politician. He knew the game and he played it very well. He had a clever way of making people feel comfortable around him. He patted our heads spoke to us for a long time; asked us about school and home. We were infatuated. He had us hooked.

The other kids and I would go home and tell our friends and family what a great man he was. He was simple, loving, almost god-like. “He’s like a father, not a President,” the kid from Mahiyangana who was the winner of the Sinhala short story category said on our way out. Little did we know, that was all politics. Politics was all PR and propaganda; and Rajapaksa knew this very well.

I met him again when I was sixteen, when I won the State Award for the Best Novel of the year. By then I had read many books on democracy and governance, and I was starting to realize what Rajapaksa was up to. He was playing us. He was satisfying his electorates in every way he could, and ignoring the rest of his duties. By 2012 at least 30% of the people had noticed this, with the way he treated General Fonseka and his supporters, and by 2013 40% of the people were talking about the growing nepotism.

By 2014, he had resorted to creating internal conflict within religious communities to distract the people from the economic menace that the country was in due to mishandling of state resources; bad move on his part, and his opposition grew to 50-55%. His propaganda was no longer effective and come 2015 elections, he is defeated.

Continue reading ‘If Mahinda Rajapaksa Becomes Prime Minister then he is only “One Gunshot”away from Becoming President Again’ »

Will President Sirisena Nominate Mahinda Rajapaksa as the SLFP Prime Ministerial Candidate?


Dharisha Bastians

Forty-eight hours after President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved Parliament paving the way for fresh elections, the question of whether he will grant his predecessor a nomination continues to dominate in political circles.

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party chaired by President Sirisena will have swift decisions to make ahead of a 13 July deadline for nominations, regarding a spot for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the party’s nominations list.

Former Transport Minister and Rajapaksa loyalist Kumara Welgama insisted yesterday that President Rajapaksa would definitely contest the 17 August Parliamentary election.

He said a decision would be made by Tuesday as to which party the former President would be contesting under.

Continue reading ‘Will President Sirisena Nominate Mahinda Rajapaksa as the SLFP Prime Ministerial Candidate?’ »

Reflecting on Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and her Politics of Peace

By Harim Peiris


In 1994, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, at the age of 49 years, was elected the youngest and first ever female President of Sri Lanka. Twenty one years later, in June 2015, as she celebrates her 70th birthday, it is appropriate to look back at the legacy of this amazing lady, who has so significantly impacted and helped shape the contemporary history of our nation.


The epilogue to the politics of President CBK, is surely her single-handed leadership in crafting the politics and creating the rainbow coalition of the National Democratic Front, which defeated her successor and one time Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his bid for an unprecedented third term, in January 2015.

As President Rajapaksa changed the Constitution via the 18th Amendment to run for unlimited terms of office and prepared to call early elections on the advice of his astrologers, diviners and magicians, CBK realised that defeating Rajapaksa’s dynastic and dictatorial political project required a divided government and a unified Opposition. Both seemed impossible at that time. Mahinda Rajapaksa was firmly entrenched with an iron grip on power and the political Opposition deeply divided, both within the UNP and amongst the other smaller opposition political parties. It was the unique political trust that all anti Rajapaksa forces reposed in CBK, from the factions of the UNP, to the JVP, including General Fonseka, the SLMC and the TNA, which enabled the winning formulae of the Common Candidate, President Maithripala Sirisena. Her political credibility two decades after leaving office, was epic in proportion and history changing in impact.

Continue reading ‘Reflecting on Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and her Politics of Peace’ »

Gotabaya Rajapaksa Rejuvenated Colombo by Clearing City of Street Vendors


Ranga Jayasuriya

That the current administration is sacrificing the economic future of the country for party political considerations is not just an allegation; it is increasingly becoming a fact.

There is enough evidence to this effect in the suspended mega development projects and their adverse economic fallout, as evident in the downgrading of this year’s economic growth forecasts (From 8 per cent to 6.9 per cent).

Given this context, one would not have expected the government to give more ammunition to its critics and, worse still, to undo one of the most visible achievements of the former regime: ban on pavement hawking.

Though Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s move to ban street vendors would appear a trivial matter for an uninitiated, it was a decision taken at an immense political cost. It was a decision that none of the predecessors of Mahinda Rajapaksa had the guts to take, given its potential adverse political fallout. It was also a decision that signified a long-term vision for the city and a political will to work decisively to achieve that end.

However, UNP Mayor of Colombo A.J.M Muzammil, who last week allowed pavement hawkers back on city streets, in a decision which he himself has admitted was taken due to ‘political considerations’, has now threatened to reverse that progress.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya Rajapaksa Rejuvenated Colombo by Clearing City of Street Vendors’ »

Absence of Vanity is one of the Greatest Attributes of Chandrika Kumaratunga

By Prof Carlo Fonseka, Chairman, Wijaya Kumaratunga Memorial Hospital, Seeduwa

According to the Christian Prayer Book, “the days of our age are three score years and ten” but on the 29th of June 2015, President Chandrika Kumaratunga transcends that limit with a bang. Physically, she is as fit as a fiddle. And her mind is like a razor’s edge. Upanishadic wisdom is that “the sharp edge of the razor is difficult to pass over”. So it has been proved in President Kumaratunga’s mind.


By birth, Chandrika, daughter of SWRD and Sirimavo Bandaranaike, both Prime Ministers of the country, inherited the best known Sinhala family name the world over. In 1962, Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike, a leading light in the Non-Aligned Movement, made a signal contribution to the settlement of a Sino-Indian border conflict. World renowned philosopher Bertrand Russell also intervened in the conflict by addressing letters directly to Mr Chou-En-Lai and Mr Jawaharlal Nehru.

In Russell’s book Unarmed Victory (a Penguin Special, published in 1963), he says that “…the efforts of the conference in Colombo and Mrs Bandaranaike’s mission to both the Indian and Chinese governments may soften the present impasse…” (page 102). To my knowledge, Mrs SB is the only leader of our country, if not the only Sinhalese, that Bertrand Russell has referred to by name, in his vast body of writings on all matters under the sun. This makes Bandaranaike the globally best known Sinhala family name.

In 1978, on marrying the film idol and charismatic politician Wijaya Kumaratunga, when CB chose to change her illustrious and famous family name for Kumaratunga, she demonstrated that absence of vanity is one of her attributes. I recall that Nelson Mandela believed that “absence of vanity” is an important attribute of a great politician.

Continue reading ‘Absence of Vanity is one of the Greatest Attributes of Chandrika Kumaratunga’ »

UNP Rejects COPE Report Finding Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran “Guilty” as Biased and Seriously Flawed

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Alleging that Chairman of Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) D. E. W. Gunasekera, had unfairly used unsubstantiated information available to a Special Parliamentary Investigation Committee that probed alleged insider trading and favouritism in a recent mega treasury bond issue to undermine the UNP, Deputy Justice Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe insisted the report couldn’t be presented in Parliament for want of a unanimous agreement.

Colombo District MP Senasinghe, who represented the UNP in the 13-member committee, said that he had strongly objected to the tabling of the report due to serious flaws therein.

Polls Chief Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday said that those who held portfolios retained them in spite of the dissolution of Parliament.

Continue reading ‘UNP Rejects COPE Report Finding Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran “Guilty” as Biased and Seriously Flawed’ »

“The Ten Years I Worked with President Chandrika Kumaratunga was an Enjoyable Period”.


Chandra Wickramasinghe

(Former Prime Minister and President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga who was born on June 29th 2015 Celebrates her 70th Birthday today)

My very first encounter with President Chandrika Kumaratunga, (which was somewhat fortuitous) goes back to the early 1970s when she was functioning as Additional Director, Youth Employment.

Fresh from her studies at Science Po at Sorbonne, her mother who was the Prime Minister at the time, may have thought it best to initially put her daughter through her paces in the public service by getting her to work with a veteran administrator like K.H.J.Wijeyadasa who was functioning during this period as Land Reform Commission chairman.

I happened to drop in to see my good friend Wije and could not help noticing this vivacious young lady occupying a table in a corner of his room.

While chatting with me Wije, asked me slyly, whether I knew who the nice looking lady was. I said that although I had not met her before, I could guess who she was.

I enquired from Wije whether it caused him any embarrassment to have the Prime Minister’s daughter sitting and working in a corner of his room. While replying in the negative,Wije said that she never attempted to throw her weight around but was on the other hand shy and self –effacing in her demeanour.

Wije said she was a real busy body, always on the move visiting the numerous youth camps islandwide. He said she leaves early in the morning and returns late in the evening looking quite tired and worn out. She goes home and gets her sleep and is off again, like a prayer, the next morning on her islandwide circuits.

Wije asked me whether I had noticed the out sized satchel which was on her table. It was of course there, for all to see. He said it was a rather cavernous bag where she put all her knick-knacks and paraphernalia and had it slung on her shoulder whenever she went out. I looked at her closely and thought that she looked demure and composed, answering exactly to Wije’s description of her.

Wije then asked me whether he should introduce me to her, but before he could get up, I stood up and left receiving from her a dazzling smile,while passing her table. My first impressions of her could not have therefore, possibly been anything other than, most favourable!

Continue reading ‘“The Ten Years I Worked with President Chandrika Kumaratunga was an Enjoyable Period”.’ »

“Secret” Meeting Between Maithripala and Mahinda Took Place at the Official Residence of the President on Wijerama Mawatte

The latest Sirisena-Rajapaksa talks are the outcome of a committee of six named at a meeting of SLFP parliamentarians, provincial councillors and local councillors on June 16. They were tasked to bring about peace within the party. The committee urged Sirisena to take Rajapaksa on board. Instead Sirisena, as revealed in these columns last week, offered a “Sambhavaneeya Thanathurak” or a distinguished position.

The committee conveyed this to Rajapaksa on Wednesday, but the former President rejected the offer. He declared that it was a move to take him away from the people. The task of conveying Rajapaksa’s response to Sirisena fell on the Chairman of the Committee, Ratnapura District parliamentarian John Seneviratne. He continued the dialogue with Sirisena. It had culminated on the need for another meeting.

This meeting on Thursday night, it turned out, was to coincide with another event. Western Province Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga was playing host at a working dinner to all UPFA MPs with the exception of those holding portfolios in the Government. That was at his Green Path official residence. The event had earlier been planned at Water’s Edge in Battaramula. When the management learnt Rajapaksa was going to address an event at the venue, it turned down the booking.

This is the same way those in the Rajapaksa administration did when they were in power. Eighty seven UPFA parliamentarians turned up. Rajapaksa, who made a brief speech, noted that he was used to winning and losing elections. President Sirisena had sought the leadership of the SLFP and he had readily heeded the request.

Continue reading ‘“Secret” Meeting Between Maithripala and Mahinda Took Place at the Official Residence of the President on Wijerama Mawatte’ »

Power Moves by Political Parties as Country Gets Ready for Another Parliamentary Election


Rasika Jayakody

It was on Friday afternoon that President Maithripala Sirisena signed the much awaited gazette notification with regard to dissolution of Parliament, ending weeks of speculation. By order of the President, the gazette was issued by Secretary to the President, P.B. Abeykoon,. Shortly after signing, the gazette was sent to the Government Printer for immediate issuance.

The gazette notification, however, was unusual for one reason. In addition to dissolution of Parliament, it also referred to the period of nomination, the exact date of the Parliamentary election and the date to convene the new Parliament. The gazette said,

“a) Dissolve Parliament, with effect from midnight today and summon the new Parliament to meet on the first day of September, two thousand and fifteen.

b) Fix the seventeenth day of August, two thousand and fifteen as the date for the election of Members of Parliament:

c) Specify the period beginning from the sixth day of July two thousand and fifteen and ending at twelve noon on the thirteenth day of July two thousand fifteen as the nomination period during which nomination papers shall be received by the returning officers”

While the United National Party was eagerly waiting for the dissolution of Parliament, the SLFP group supporting President Maithripala Sirisena and the Jathika Hela Urumaya attempted their best to delay it, citing the importance of passing the 20th Amendment. Lengthy negotiations took place between President Maithripala Sirisena and his non-UNP supporters such as Rajitha Senaratne and Patali Champika Ranawaka on dissolution and the passage of the 20th Amendment in Parliament.

Continue reading ‘Power Moves by Political Parties as Country Gets Ready for Another Parliamentary Election’ »

Dissolution of Parliament at this time is Third Greatest Betrayal by Maithripala Sirisena.



The long awaited dissolution of parliament has taken place at last. After the executive presidency was established, parliamentary elections generally lost their importance and became the legislative extension of the presidential election. Since 1978, it was always the presidential election that would determine which side has won and would be calling the shots. An exception to this was the parliamentary election of August 1994 which ended the 17 year rule of the UNP. That was the only occasion in which a parliamentary election determined which way the cookie would crumble. However, even the August 1994 parliamentary election was only a stepping stone to the presidency a couple of months later and CBK ruled the country as president.

The 2001 December parliamentary election also saw political power changing hands but, unlike in 1994, the change of government of December 2001 did not translate into a stable UNP government. Even though the UNP did form a government in December 2001, they lost the parliamentary election of April 2004. So what we had was a 30-month blip in the two decade long rule of the PA and UPFA. Thus we may say that with the single exception of 1994, a parliamentary election has never resulted in a decisive shift of power from one party to another after the executive residency was installed. The parliamentary election that has now been announced however may well be the most important parliamentary election since 1977. Even though the executive presidency has not been abolished, for the first time since 1978, the prime minister has a defined role in the constitution.

According to the 19th Amendment, the cabinet of ministers will be charged with the direction and control of the government. When deciding on the subjects to be assigned to the various ministers, the president may, if he deems it necessary, consult the prime minister. Once the ministries have been decided on, the president will have to appoint parliamentarians to those ministries on the advice of the prime minister. The word used here is ‘shall’ which denotes a mandatory requirement. The president may at anytime change the assignment of functions to ministers (which is to say that he can reshuffle the cabinet that he appoints on the advice of the prime minister.) These provisions may not amount to much, but earlier, the prime minister did not have any role at all. And in the event that the president and prime minister are from different political parties, these provisions will be very useful to the party that holds parliamentary power.

What makes this election the most important parliamentary election since 1977 is that whoever gets a majority in parliament this time will rule the country. Maithripala Sirisena was not elected by the people as a president to rule the country. He was supposed to be the president who ends the executive presidency and hands over power to the prime minister and cabinet and then steps down. After being elected into power, however he changed his mind and tried to consolidate himself by taking over the SLFP (which was offered unsolicited to him by MR and the party hierarchy) but that attempt failed miserably. Thus we have a president who is nominally the head of the SLFP but who does not have the allegiance of his party. In fact the only visible opposition to the government formed by Sirisena comes from within the party which he is supposed to be leading. It is this clearly visible but still unnamed opposition force and the UNP led coalition that will be battling it out for supremacy in parliament.

Continue reading ‘Dissolution of Parliament at this time is Third Greatest Betrayal by Maithripala Sirisena.’ »

Large Number of SLFP Parliamentarians Likely to Join Mahinda Rajapaksa Camp After Susil Premajayantha Crosses Over

by Uditha Kumarasinghe

UPFA General Secretary Susil Premajayantha is expected to join the pro -Rajapaksa group tomorrow, the Sunday Observer reliably learns. Party insiders worry that this expected move by a party stalwart could precipitate a wholesale shift by a number of parliamentarians to the Rajapaksa camp thereby creating a major split in the party.

The UPFA General Secretary, who left the country before the dissolution of Parliament, is presently in the US. Premajayantha is expected to return to the country tomorrow. Immediately after his return, Premajayantha is expected to align himself with the campaign supporting former President Rajapaksa.

This development comes as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) grapples with the role it could give to former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa for upcoming general elections. The party leadership is divided whether to offer nominations to Rajapaksa to contest the forthcoming parliamentary. In doing so, the party also must decide whether or not to recognize him as the party’s Prime Ministerial candidate, party senior vice president W.D.J. Seneviratne told the Sunday Observer.

Continue reading ‘Large Number of SLFP Parliamentarians Likely to Join Mahinda Rajapaksa Camp After Susil Premajayantha Crosses Over’ »

“Disgraceful” 14th Parliament of Sri Lanka is Dissolved Unlamented and Unsung


Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

As agonizing suspense finally ends with the dissolving of the 14th Parliament of Sri Lanka, unlamented and unsung as well it ought to be, a palpable sigh of relief palpitates through the land.

Hypocrisy at its height

This was a House that had far outlived its time, even as school children nervously balked from visiting its galleries with unprecedentedly crude verbiage echoing in its chambers. This was moreover an assembly where a majority stamped its infamy by insulting a sitting Chief Justice in thinly veiled filth during a farcical impeachment process.

Heinously, this Parliament willingly oversaw its own decline with its groveling subservience to the Rajapaksa Presidency. Financial oversight and legislative leadership was thrown to the wayside. Instead, we had the 18th Amendment, manifestly Sri Lanka’s most obscene post-independence constitutional amendment with a compliant Court obediently approving it.

This was under the direction of the very judge who later, as that wrongly impeached Chief Justice, had to face the ugliness which surfaces when judges play games of political chance. Now we endure an erstwhile Professor of Law turned Minister turned agile political opportunist who once applauded that process preaching on the Rule of Law from the opposition benches.

This is hypocrisy at its height, equaled only by the antics of ‘yahapalanaya’ advocates who have unflinchingly profited in the post January 2015 government, regardless of compromising the struggle itself. We saw this sorry spectacle in 1994 when the members of the democracy movement who swept Chandrika Kumaratunga into power were co-opted into office thus losing their credibility and (more importantly) leaving a dangerous vacuum when the Kumaratunga Presidency lost its way.

Caught like a nut between two crackers

But this is to digress. All in all, very few Sri Lankans would be sorry to see the end of this particular legislative assembly. Yet what will its successor be like? The possibilities are dolorous. From the South comes the Rajapaksa force once again, capitalizing on the mistakes made by its opponents, fiercely embittered at its humiliation and with little genuine contrition for the grievous harm that it has done to the country. Instead, there is only determination to take back power by hook or by crook, even if it means stirring up racial and communal hatreds, the hallmarks of that Presidency.

On the other side, there are the voluble peacocks of the current government, basking in the reflected glory of the Sirisena win. Caught like the proverbial nut between these two crackers, (the apposite Sinhala idiom not lending itself very well to translation), the majority electorate need to have little doubt about its option of choice, warts and all. Certainly to bring back the Rajapaksas so soon after their defeat and with so much yet undone would be the makings of a disaster, let us be clear about that.

Correcting the post January 2015 missteps

But there will not be a repetition of that same rapturous enthusiasm which captured the national mood in the Presidential election where the son of a Polonnaruwa farmer, ridiculed as being unremarkable and mediocre, unseated the Medamulana family cabal gone mad with power.

There was a clean edge to that opposition campaign and a quiet resolve about the challenger which was impressive precisely because it was understated and in complete contrast to the strutting arrogance of the then incumbent. That gloss has worn off, not so much in a personal sense as the new President has tripped over himself only infrequently though this criticism may become more unforgiving as time lapses. Yet the same cannot be said about the immediate missteps of the partner United National Party Government and the tinsel performances of its once strident good governance voices.

The latest frivolity is the ad hoc appointing of committees to probe irregularities of the previous regimes. Thus must be distinguished from the appointment of Commissions of Inquiry under a particular law with specific guarantees of fairness in inquiry. These are not idle safeguards. For example, disappearances commissions of the 1990s referred the names of those implicated under confidential cover to the government for further investigation without subjecting them to media trials. That nothing happened thereafter spoke to the absence of political will, not to the absence of legal legitimacy of those bodies.

A small measure of justice

This week, two legal victories are celebrated. First is the sentencing of the murderers of Gerald Perera, an unassuming cook at the Colombo Dockyard who was arrested by the police after being mistaken for a known thief and subjected to torture. Angered thereafter by a successful legal battle in the Supreme Court, which had not yet undergone the terrible convulsions that would grip it in later years, the perpetrators then killed him days before he was due to give evidence at the High Court trial under the Anti-Torture Act. This columnist was personally involved with the legal struggle to bring Gerald Perera’s murderers to account and must acknowledge the jubilation that arises at this outcome.

Second was the conviction and death sentence given to a Sinhala soldier for the brutal killing of Tamil civilians in Mirusovil fifteen years ago. In both instances, while the result is a small measure of justice, the process is testimony of the frailty of our Rule of Law systems. This is a question that will be dealt with in more detail later in these column spaces, given its fundamental importance.

For now, it needs to be said that the proper working of the investigative, the prosecutorial and the judicial agencies should have been the first task of the new government. Failure to do this has remained its most spectacular lapse. For instance, what has happened to the findings of the investigation by the Criminal Investigation Department into that alleged constitutional coup in January 2015? We are told that this has been referred to the Department of the Attorney General but the silence on the matter is deafening.

Undoubtedly these are questions that will be exploited to the full in the coming election campaign even as the unprepossessing circus of panting hopefuls impatiently waiting for their chance in the political sun comes to town again.

Courtesy:Sunday Times

COPE Parliamentary Committee Finds CB Governor Arjuna Mahendran “Guilty”of Direct Intervention on Behalf of Son-in – Law Aloysius in Treasury Bond Issue

by Shamindra Ferdinando

A Special Parliamentary Investigation Committee that probed the alleged insider trading and favoritism in a recent mega treasury bond issue has established Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s direct intervention on behalf of his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius owned Perpetual Treasuries, sources familiar with the COPE process said yesterday.

The 13-member Committee named by Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa has obtained direct, documentary as well as circumstantial evidence to prove Mahendran’s role in the flawed process. The entire investigation took place in the presence of the Auditor General to ensure legitimacy to the process at the highest level these sources said.

The Auditor General is expected to prepare his own report on the parliamentary investigation.

The subject of the probe was a 30-year bond auction for Rs.1 billion on February 27. The CB received 36 offers amounting to Rs. 20 billion, it has been found. This enabled the Central Bank Governor to accept Rs. 10 billion. Earlier CB officials had given an indicative rate that interest rates of 9.5 per cent would be taken into consideration with such pre-auction advice being the usual practice.

Continue reading ‘COPE Parliamentary Committee Finds CB Governor Arjuna Mahendran “Guilty”of Direct Intervention on Behalf of Son-in – Law Aloysius in Treasury Bond Issue’ »

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Reveals the Art of “Treasury Bondage”

by Maheen Senanayake

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Friday detailed the mechanics of artificial price depression and how bonds, private placements and artificial interest rate manipulation alleging that these are all linked to the previous government’s efforts at economic control.

The Governor, who has been accused by the opposition of having made a bad call with respect to a Treasury Bond auction in February said, ” There are two allegations – one that I unnecessarily raised Rs. 10 bn. Instead of the advertised Rs. 1 bn. on February 27 as a result of which I purportedly raised interest rates in the country resulting in a loss to the government. The second is that my son-in-law was given priority.”

Mahendran insisted that his son-in-law had resigned from his company even though he retained a shareholder position when Mahendran took up office as Central Bank Governor and said that Arjun Aloysius (the son-in-law) was not involved in operations of the company.

Continue reading ‘Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Reveals the Art of “Treasury Bondage”’ »

European Union to send Election Observation Mission to Sri Lanka after ten years

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

The European Union has indicated it is keen to send an Election Observation Mission to monitor the August 17 parliamentary election. Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka David Daly met Elections Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya at the Elections Secretariat in Rajagiriya for discussions in this regard on Saturday (27). The Extraordinary Gazette notification announcing the dissolution of parliament and the date of the 2015 parliamentary election was released on Friday (26).

The EU team will be deployed at the EU’s own expense according to informed sources. At a forum with election authorities in April Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had expressed interest in inviting the EU to send an election observation team for the upcoming election, it is learnt. The international election observers invited by the Elections Commissioner are, the Forum of Election Management Bodies of South Asia (FEMBOSA), Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA) and the Commonwealth’s election monitoring team. These are the same international groups that monitored the January 8th presidential election. The EU team however will monitor the August election at its own cost and submit a report, sources said.

Continue reading ‘European Union to send Election Observation Mission to Sri Lanka after ten years’ »

Parliament Dissolved;Elections on Aug 17;Nominations – July 6-15;New Parliament Meets on Sep 1


Dharisha Bastians

Ending months of uncertainty and political deadlock, President Maithripala Sirisena issued a proclamation dissolving Parliament last night, paving the way for fresh elections that will be a tightly-fought contest between his SLFP and the minority Government led by the UNP.

The life of Sri Lanka’s 14th Parliament came to an abrupt end at midnight yesterday, after a term of five years and two months, with the presidential proclamation declaring snap elections on 17 August reaching the Government Printer last evening.

According to the Gazette Notification effective from midnight, nominations for the 2015 Parliamentary poll will be held from 6-15 July. The new Parliament will convene on 1 September, fulfilling a pledge made by President Sirisena to media personnel and international partners that a new Government would be installed by September this year.

The dissolution comes two months after President Sirisena’s self-imposed deadline based on his presidential election manifesto which expired on 23 April. His 100-day Government, ushered in after the 8 January election in which he defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was originally established to push through key constitutional reforms to curb presidential powers and grant the public an economic relief package. Its term was to have ended once the crucial 19th Amendment was enacted by the House.

Continue reading ‘Parliament Dissolved;Elections on Aug 17;Nominations – July 6-15;New Parliament Meets on Sep 1’ »

President Maithripala Sirisena and Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Hold Secret Meeting


Dharisha Bastians

In a bid to unite warring factions of the SLFP ahead of elections, President Maithripala Sirisena met with his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa late Thursday, although the President’s office denied the meeting.

Authoritative sources told Daily FT that the pair met at President Sirisena’s residence at Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 07 on Thursday night.

The move is aimed at uniting the Mahinda and Maithripala factions of the SLFP, to ensure the UNP does not gain an electoral advantage from the split, the sources said.

Continue reading ‘President Maithripala Sirisena and Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Hold Secret Meeting’ »

Tamil Progressive Alliance and the Tamils Living Outside the North-East

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

An event of great significance occurred within the sphere of minority community politics in Sri Lanka on June 3rd 2015. Three political parties representing sections of the Tamil people living outside the Tamil dominated Northern province and Tamil majority Eastern Province announced at a media conference held at the Taj Samudra Hotel in Colombo that they had forged a new configuration called the Tamil Progressive Alliance(TPA).The new alliance comprises the Democratic Peoples Front (DPF)National Union of Workers(NUW) and Up Country Peoples Front(UCPF)led by Mano Ganesan, Palany Thigambaram and Velusamy Radhakrishnan respectively. The TPA’s name in Tamil is “Tamil Mutpoakku Kootani”.

pic via:

pic via:

DPF leader Manoharan Ganesan known popularly as Mano Ganesan will function as the leader of the TPA.Palany Thigambaram of NUW and Velusamy Radhakrishnan of UCPF will be the joint deputy leaders of the new alliance.A.Lawrence , the UPFA Secretary has been appointed as the General Secretary of the TPA. A special advisory committee will be set up to aid the new alliance. A memorandum of understanding was also signed by the Ganesan-Thigambaram – Radhakrishnan triumvirate.
Continue reading ‘Tamil Progressive Alliance and the Tamils Living Outside the North-East’ »

President Sirisena Ready to Ditch UNP and Break his Election Pledges to Prevent Return of Mahinda Rajapaksa


Dharisha Bastians

After a disastrous meeting at the Parliamentary Complex in early May, President Maithripala Sirisena and his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa had a chance encounter last week, under less official, slightly pleasanter circumstances.

High-profile Kahawatte Gem Merchant W. Vinil invited both politicians to sign as witnesses when his daughter was married at a lavish ceremony at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo last Thursday (18).

Both men arrived in their customary national suit, but the ex-President wore a cream-coloured silk version and completed his outfit with emerald studded cuff-links and his signature red shawl. President Sirisena, who arrived a few minutes after his predecessor, wore his regular white tunic and sarong with simple slippers, looking as ordinary and inconspicuous as ever.

But not even the happy occasion and chance social meeting could break the ice between the incumbent and his predecessor, as political tensions continue to simmer six months after Sirisena ousted the Rajapaksa administration in a major election upset.

The two leaders barely acknowledged each other. Video of the registration ceremony showed them sitting across each other and avoiding eye contact. President Rajapaksa was twirling his golden talisman anxiously and repeatedly in his hand. More popularly known as the ex-President’s ‘vashee bole’, the ritual object Mahinda Rajapaksa is always pictured grasping is a vajra, weapon of the God Indra in Hindu mythology, said to symbolise indestructibility and irresistible force.

Soon after the signing ceremony, both politicians posed for a quick picture with the couple and their families at the hotel, before President Sirisena rushed off since he had a second wedding to sign at 20 minutes later. President Rajapaksa mingled for about 40 minutes, posed for selfies with several eager supporters before leaving the function.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Ready to Ditch UNP and Break his Election Pledges to Prevent Return of Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

US Report About LTTE Global Network is Cause for Concern for both Sri Lanka and India.


N. Sathiya Moorthy

The American acknowledgement and confirmation of the continued existence of LTTE’s global network of sympathisers and finances should be a cause for concern as much for neighbouring India as much for Sri Lanka. In ways, it should also be a source of concern and embarrassment for Western nations, including the US.

“The LTTE used its international contacts and the large Tamil diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funding, and other needed supplies,” the 2014 annual report of the US State Department’s Counter-terrorism Bureau said. Whoever rules from Colombo – and administers Jaffna – and whatever the domestic political conditions and electoral compulsions, Sri Lanka cannot be silent after the US has referred to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) procuring weapons.

If ‘2+2’ can only be ‘4’, then weapons procurment indicates the continued existence of the LTTE despite the hopes and assurances to the contrary, both within and outside Sri Lanka. The US report itself says in plain lanugage that the LTTE is still around. What Sri Lanka is going to do about it, and how the world is going to help Sri Lanka in the matter is however a matter of distress and dispute at the same time.

Continue reading ‘US Report About LTTE Global Network is Cause for Concern for both Sri Lanka and India.’ »

Mangala Samaraweera is Wrong in Embracing the Anti-Sri Lankan Element of the Tamil Diaspora.


As usual Sri Lanka’s cosmopolitan liberals have it wrong and that includes its most prominent personality, Minister of External affairs Mangala Samaraweera. His embrace of the Diaspora is wrong, not because the Diaspora is diabolical but because Mr. Samaraweera’s embrace is indiscriminate.

Sri Lanka must welcome its Diaspora or Diasporas (plural). This is true of us as a country as well as of the Government of Sri Lanka. But the Diaspora is not a homogenous entity. I do not mean that the Sinhala Diaspora is good and the Tamil one is bad. What I do mean is that there are extremists in both the Tamil and Sinhala Diasporas, just as there are moderates. The Government and the country should open its doors and roll out the red carpet for the moderate, enlightened currents of both Tamil and Sinhala Diasporas.

The Government should go beyond that and strive to promote a truly Sri Lankan, i.e. Tamil and Sinhala Diaspora, by building bridges between the moderates, the progressives, of both sides. (Indeed this is the policy I practiced with some success when I represented Sri Lanka in France.) Instead, what Mr. Samarawera has done is to embrace the anti-Sri Lankan element of the Tamil Diaspora.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera is Wrong in Embracing the Anti-Sri Lankan Element of the Tamil Diaspora.’ »

JVP Today is like the Wagging Tail of the UNP Dog and the Echo of Ranil’s Voice


Malinda Seneviratne

First there was the Left. It was still ‘Left’ even though those bunched at that end of the political spectrum disagreed vehemently and took turns at calling each other Running Dogs of Imperialism and other lovely names. Then came the JVP.

Originally the product of a split, the JVP dis/relocated itself in ideological and methodological ways that made common lumping tough. Sure, they too were called bad names from others who considered themselves ‘Left’ but the JVP was also called ‘CIA agents’ and their politics described as ‘an infantile disorder’.

One thing is agreed upon by all. The JVP was different. It was so different than an adjective was required to differentiate the party from the Communist Party or rather ‘parties,’ the LSSP and the other claimants to be the Sri Lankan branch of the ‘4th International’. That’s how we got the broad separation ‘Old’ and ‘New’. The JVP was ‘New’. The rest were ‘Old’. In time the ‘new’ was dropped, but the ‘old’ remained. The JVP, since it was never categories with those other left parties was not considered part of the ‘Old Left’. So there was the Old Left and there was the JVP.

Continue reading ‘JVP Today is like the Wagging Tail of the UNP Dog and the Echo of Ranil’s Voice’ »

Spectacular display of dispersing clouds at Sundown

Colours of and patterns of nature are never the same and they don’t repeat.

Such a spectacular sundown display of dispersing golden clouds after a torrential downpour amidst the steamy evening rush hours of Tuesday June 23rd, trended the timelines of media spaces for several hours after.

West Windsor, NJ-June 23, 2015

West Windsor, NJ-June 23, 2015

The sky with golden clouds  and the earth down below felt like in dome of orange flood lights

The sky with golden clouds and the earth down below felt like inside a dome filled with orange flood lights

Pictures were taken along Route 1 in West Windsor, New Jersey. (Pics: K. Thirukumaran)

“Sending Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa Home was a Great Mistake”-Rauff Hakeem Drops Bombshell in Parliament


Sandasen Marasinghe, Irangika Range and Disna Mudalige

Urban Development Minister Rauff Hakeem yesterday said in Parliament that there was a dictatorship of a small group within the Cabinet of Ministers that prevails against minor and minority parties.

Participating in a debate on electoral reforms taken at the time of adjournment of the House, the Minister said the country was being run by a ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ of close associates of the President.
The small group is led by a minister aspiring to become the President of this country.

“That group does not permit our voice in the Cabinet. Despite many wrong doings in the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, such heavy handedness of individual ministers did not prevail in the Cabinet. The former President permitted us to express our opinions. Today the situation has changed,” he said.

Continue reading ‘“Sending Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa Home was a Great Mistake”-Rauff Hakeem Drops Bombshell in Parliament’ »

Maithripala Sends Message Through JHU That he is Ready to “Save” Gotabhaya and Mahinda from Corruption and War Crimes Charges IF…………….

Upul Joseph Fernando

Like how the activities of the diplomatic missions of the West during the Sri Lanka presidential election on 8 January burgeoned, at the presidential elections in the Maldives in 2008, the activities of the diplomatic missions here in charge of the Maldives and Sri Lanka too intensified.

It is the western countries that united the split opposition when the presidential election was held in the Maldives in 2008 which restored democracy in that country. At that time the Diplomatic Mission of the West here in charge of the Maldives nursed great hopes of a political change in the Maldives. Nasheed, the common presidential candidate of the Maldives also visited Sri Lanka frequently at that time with a view to securing assistance of the diplomatic missions of the West.

It is following the 30 years rule of Abdul Gayoom, Nasheed became the President of Maldives in 2008.That marked the victory of democracy for the Maldives. The main contributors to that victory were the western countries led by America. However, within a short period, the Government of Nasheed was plunged in crises, with one or two of his ministers tendering their resignations eventually leading to the resignation of Nasheed.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sends Message Through JHU That he is Ready to “Save” Gotabhaya and Mahinda from Corruption and War Crimes Charges IF…………….’ »

Prof G.L.Peiris Concerned Over Pronouncements by DM Swaminathan,CV WigneswaranWijeyakala Maheswaran and MA Sumanthiran

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris has urged what he called the minority UNP government to explain its stand on a recent US State Department report that dealt with post-war fund raising activities undertaken by the LTTE as well as several other contentious statements attributed to Rehabilitation Minister D.M. Swaminathan, Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, Deputy Minister Wijeyakala Maheswaran, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran.

Prof. Peiris said that post-war stability and prosperity had been at stake due to the new administration’s failure to take tangible measures to counter the threat posed by the LTTE rump.

Quoting the Country Report on Terrorism released by the US Counter terrorism Bureau, the State Department alleged last Friday that the LTTE’s financial network of support had continued to operate throughout 2014 in spite of its battlefield defeat in May 2009.

The lawmaker accused the government of dismantling post-war counter terrorism structure built by the then Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘Prof G.L.Peiris Concerned Over Pronouncements by DM Swaminathan,CV WigneswaranWijeyakala Maheswaran and MA Sumanthiran’ »

“Dilly –Dallying” Maithripala Gets Increasingly Alienated From Chandrika and UNP


Rasika Jayakody

There was a time when President Maithripala Sirisena appeared as if he would make himself eligible for the Nobel peace prize this year. There were several international groups who were willing to nominate President Sirisena for the Nobel Prize for changing the trajectory of a country that was gradually leaning towards dictatorship. Sirisena came to power in the garbs of a national leader who would stay above day-to-day mundane ‘politics’ and take the country towards a new phase of development in terms of freedom, democracy, good governance and human rights. Many dubbed him as a leader who had the potential of becoming the Sri Lankan equivalent of Nelson Mandela or Abraham Lincoln.

Today, four months down the line, President Sirisena is drifting away from his status as the non-partisan national leader of the country. He is working laboriously to resolve the internecine power struggle within the SLFP, which emerged as a result of pro-Rajapaksa “tendencies” among certain sections of the party. It looks as if President Sirisena is hell-bent on drawing the support of the SLFP group who have already aligned themselves with the former President. The SLFP has also given strong indications that it is not willing to go for Parliamentary election with a section of party MPs and grassroots level activists campaigning on behalf of the Rajapaksas.

As President Sirisena assumed duties, there was a solid platform for him to consolidate his power in the SLFP. The President and the UNP had a tacit agreement to work together at least for two years within the framework of a national unity government. The President had a plan to bring about party reforms within this interim period while freeing the party from the specters of the Rajapaksa rule. As there was an agreement for a national unity government, the SLFP, under Maithripala Sirisena, was going to remain as a stakeholder of the ruling coalition for two years, without confining itself to the ‘opposition’. An arrangement of that nature would not have allowed anybody to claim that Maithripala Sirisena plunged the SLFP into the opposition.

Continue reading ‘“Dilly –Dallying” Maithripala Gets Increasingly Alienated From Chandrika and UNP’ »

UNP Severely Castigates SLFP and Issues Ultimatum to Withdraw No Confidence Motions Against Ranil and Ravi


Dharisha Bastians

The United National Party, main stakeholder in the present minority Government, made its position on the 20th Amendment to the Constitution on electoral reform official, with a blistering statement from its General Secretary Kabir Hashim in Parliament.

Hashim, also the Minister of Highways in President Sirisena’s cabinet, launched a scathing attack on Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala De Silva and the rest of the SLFP, which he said was suddenly very enthusiastic about electoral reform.

“Yet it stuns me that despite this avid interest, it stuns me that the present opposition leader and his party men who were in the Governing party for 20 years never brought up the 20th Amendment. An electoral reform act was not introduced to this House even when his party had a two thirds majority,” Hashim charged during his statement before the House during an Adjournment Debate on 20A which began yesterday.

Continue reading ‘UNP Severely Castigates SLFP and Issues Ultimatum to Withdraw No Confidence Motions Against Ranil and Ravi’ »

Jaffna St. Johns College Principal C.E. Anandarajan: Reflections of a Son 30 Years After his Father’s Death


Rev.Dev Anandarajan

It is 30 years since the death of my beloved father who was killed by the LTTE on June 26th 1985.

Many things have happened since then and I hope we can contemplate on the violent path taken by the LTTE and the unconditional support given by most of the Tamils to address their grievances against the Sri Lankan state.

C.E. Anandarajah (January 31, 1932 - June 26, 1985)

C.E.Anandarajan (January 31, 1931 – June 26, 1985)

I wonder if we have a collective maturity as citizens of Sri Lanka (Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers and other minorities) and Sri Lankan Diaspora to learn the lessons from the violent path from both sides and what that has led us to.
Continue reading ‘Jaffna St. Johns College Principal C.E. Anandarajan: Reflections of a Son 30 Years After his Father’s Death’ »

Mangala and Ranil Deviate From “Kadirgamar Doctrine”of Continuity,Engagement and Change Towards China,India and US Led West



The title of the news story which broke in the Japanese media last week was entitled “FM: Sri Lanka to dilute dependence on China.” Any credible, substantive contradiction of the content of this report (and not just its title) by our Foreign Ministry must not take the form of remarks to the local press but a formal contradiction/correction seeking publicity in the (respected) Japanese media giant, the NHK, which carried the original story. The story says:

“Sri Lanka’s foreign minister says the country will review its China-dependent foreign policy and boost ties with other nations. Mangala Samaraweera held an interview with NHK on Thursday. He is visiting Japan for the first time since the current government was launched under the new president, Maithripala Sirisena.

Sirisena won a presidential election in January by defeating the incumbent, Mahinda Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa promoted a foreign policy that relies on China. Foreign Minister Samaraweera referred to Sri Lanka’s relations with China. China overtook Japan as Sri Lanka’s biggest source of assistance in 2009.

He indicated that Chinese aid led to rampant corruption under the previous government. He said the Sri Lankan government has suspended a project to improve port facilities in the nation’s largest city, Colombo, and is now reviewing it. He added the project may not have followed appropriate procedures…” (

Going by their pronouncements during the election campaign and in office, Messrs. Wickremasinghe and Samaraweera are clearly unaware of or incapable of understanding, among other things, the difference between “dependent” and “reliant” i.e. between a satellite and an ally. If Sri Lanka tilted to China rather than the US or India, Mr. Samaraweera must know why that was, when it took place or began, and who the architect of that policy was. He must realize that such a reliance or ‘tilt’ was consonant with Sri Lanka’s vital national interests. He obviously does not know any of this.

Continue reading ‘Mangala and Ranil Deviate From “Kadirgamar Doctrine”of Continuity,Engagement and Change Towards China,India and US Led West’ »

“Foreign Ministry Lied About Me” Says Udayanga Weeratunga – Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia


Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

Breaking his silence over allegations that he supplied weapons to pro-Russian separatist rebels in Ukraine, Sri Lanka’s former ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga has said the story that President Petro Poroshenko’s government had complained to the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry about him is a ‘complete lie.’

Udayanga Weeratunga-pic: courtesy of The Hindu

Udayanga Weeratunga-pic: courtesy of The Hindu

Weeratunga said on Sunday that he had a certificate from Ukrainian authorities proving that he was not under investigation for any crime in Ukraine. He further asserted that the Ukrainian Ambassador to India (who is also accredited to Sri Lanka) has informed the Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Foreign Secretary Chitranganie Wagiswara that the allegations against him are false.

“I live at present in Kiev the capital of Ukraine and if I had been supplying arms to rebels fighting the Ukrainian government I would not be able to live there” he said in a press release. Alleging that members of the government he served were being subjected to ‘harassment and victimisation’ by the present government, Weeratunga said he has no intention of returning to Sri Lanka at this time.

Continue reading ‘“Foreign Ministry Lied About Me” Says Udayanga Weeratunga – Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia’ »



16th Death Anniversary of Mervyn de Silva – June 22

(Excerpted from the multi-part ‘Politics Today’ think-piece “1956: The Cultural Revolution That Shook the Left” and “The Left Awakens from Romance to Reality”, full-page articles published in the Ceylon Observer Magazine Edition, May 16th & 23rd, 1967, Mervyn de Silva’s essay was a retrospective of 1956, a prefiguration of the broad anti-UNP center-left Opposition front of 1968 and a prospective signal of the fall of the rightwing pro-western government in 1970, three years after its publication. A critical reconsideration of postcolonial society, it was also a pioneering auto-critique of the Westernized elite and English-educated cosmopolitan intelligentsia of the Right and Left by one of the most discerning intellects and striking personalities of that milieu. It contained the suggestion of a possible synthesis, a third politico-cultural and intellectual sensibility and stance. At the time, Mervyn was 37 years old.—D.J.]


In the national process, 1956 is the crucial turning point. What was the historical nature and content of this event? The 1956 movement, spearheaded by the rural middle classes and the Sinhala Buddhist intelligentsia was an anti-privilege impulse directed against the English educated establishment. It had a dual character: culturally revivalist (languages, religion, customs, dress, etc.) and economically radical, or it is loosely termed now, “socialist’. An historical oddity, it did not come as in many other colonial countries as an integral part of an independence or national liberation struggle.

The singular characteristic of a genuine mass movement is not only that it becomes the physical expression of the mass mind in action but that the popular will continuously impresses itself on the leadership, pushing and patterning it to the often inarticulate though feverish needs of the masses. In India there was such an active commerce between the people and their leaders; a constant flow of sympathy between the masses and the upper classes which provided leadership; a unity forged on the anvil of mass action.


Mahinda Rajapaksa Refuses President Sirisena’s Offer to give him a “Distinguished Office” if Ex-President Quit Politics.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has rejected an offer by his successor Maithripala Sirisena to appoint him to a ‘distinguished office’ if he quits politics.The offer was made by President Sirisena to a six-member Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on Friday.

The committee, named at the SLFP’s National Executive Council meeting chaired by Mr Sirisena on Tuesday, was to evolve ways and means of bringing about unity in the party. The same night the six-member Committee met in Colombo and decided to ask Mr Sirisena to take Rajapaksa on board for the parliamentary election campaign among other matters.

They conveyed their decision to Sirisena on Friday afternoon. The President said Rajapaksa would not be made the Prime Ministerial candidate nor appointed on the National List. He said he would offer him a Sambhavaneeya Thanathurak or a distinguished office. When the message was conveyed to Rajapaksa by the Committee members, Rajapaksa rejected the offer and declared that the people wanted him to serve them. He is expected to issue a detailed statement.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Refuses President Sirisena’s Offer to give him a “Distinguished Office” if Ex-President Quit Politics.’ »

Why is Chief Minister Wigneswaran who Never Blamed Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Past now Severely Criticising Maithripala Sirisena?

by Kumar David

An editorial in the Tamil newspaper Valampuri of 6 June said in translation: “We observe recent speeches of the CM are unusual . . . he has a habit of severely criticising President Maithiripala Sirisena . . . the CM has already spoilt his relationship with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe . . . why does the Chief Minister, who never blamed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in this way, blame President Maithiripala Sirisena? Is this stand for the purpose of supporting Vasudeva Nanayakara, who wants to bring back Mahinda Rajapaksa?” The CM in question is CV Wigneswaran (CV for short), Chief Minister of the Northern Province elected by a hefty majority, and co-father-in-law with Nanayakara – their two children are married but this is of no political significance. I do however agree that both want to undermine the Sirisena-Ranil (S&R) administration and incite racial animosity; with Nanayakkara it is deliberate design, in CV’s case it supplements complex ambitions discussed below.

Why do I doubt CV’s motives? His actions are irrational (what good will it do Tamils to bring back Rajapaksa?) and there are goings-on in the TNA that add credence to negative interpretations. Here is a paragraph from a recent e-mail typical of what many are saying: “I have been concerned by CV’s behaviour of late. I gather he is interested in succeeding Sampanthan as TNA leader on the latter’s retirement. Sampanthan wants to hand over to the younger and more dynamic Sumanthiran, but CV and diehard sections in Jaffna are bad-mouthing Sumanthiran as Colombo-based-and-born, and a Christian to boot! This is the primordial and tribal gibberish that mars our national and regional outlook”. Add to this personal jealousy of Sumanthiran – he is a very good lawyer, speaks Sinhalese and is growing internationally alongside Sampanthan. Tiger-rump websites are also publishing material to the effect that TNA MPs (but not CV and his supporters are massively on the UNP payroll). CV too has nurtured a good reputation in the past, so it is disturbing that when good men fall: “Oh, what a fall was there my countrymen! Then I, and you, and all of us fell down”.

Continue reading ‘Why is Chief Minister Wigneswaran who Never Blamed Mahinda Rajapaksa in the Past now Severely Criticising Maithripala Sirisena?’ »

President Sirisena Tells SLFP Senior Leaders that he will not Nominate Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Ministerial Candidate

by Zacki Jabbar

President Maithripala Sirisena, breaking his silence for the first time, has told SLFP seniors that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot be nominated as the UPFA’s prime ministerial candidate because he had been rejected by the people for running  a lawless and corrupt government.

“How do you expect me to nominate Mahinda as our prime ministerial candidate when the vast majority of people have voted against him for not adhering to good governance, rule of law and the unprecedented corruption that prevailed under his rule,” the president had asked Rajapaksa loyalists pushing the “Bring Back Mahinda” line, informed sources said yesterday.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Tells SLFP Senior Leaders that he will not Nominate Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Ministerial Candidate’ »

Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran Wants TNA Parliamentarians who got Money from Govt to Admit their “Guilt ” Openly.


Shamindra Ferdinando

Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran is on a collision course with four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leadership for allowing some of its parliamentarians to receive government funding for projects in the NP, thus bypassing his administration.

The TNA secured 14 seats, including one on the National List at the last general election in April 2010. One of them subsequently, switched his allegiance to the SLFP-led UPFA.

Retired Supreme Court judge Wigneswaran has alleged that some members of the TNA parliamentary group had been receiving funds directly from the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration.

Well informed sources told The Island that Wigneswaran had called for an immediate end to the practice and for those who had received funds to admit their guilt publicly.

Sources said that the situation had deteriorated further since Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) leader Mavai S. Senathiraja, MP, seeking an explanation from CM Wigneswaran as regards his accusations.

Continue reading ‘Northern Chief Minister Wigneswaran Wants TNA Parliamentarians who got Money from Govt to Admit their “Guilt ” Openly.’ »

Appeasement of LTTE Diaspora by Maithri-Ranil Govt Paving the way for a Tiger Awakening.


Udaya P. Gammanpila

Minister of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, D.M. Swaminathan had tabled a wonderful Cabinet paper at the last Cabinet meeting. He had sought Cabinet approval to pay compensation for terrorists who died and injured during the war. If the proposal was approved, it would be a bad precedence in encouraging terrorist activities. No nation has paid compensation for terrorists. The USA did not pay compensation for the Al Qaeda terrorist who attacked the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. Similarly, India did not pay compensation for Kashmir Guerillas who blasted bombs in Mumbai in 2008.

Compensation typically means payment of money as a recompense for loss, injury or suffering. It contains an element of admission of guilt. The government pays compensation for victims of a bomb blast as they suffered as a result of government’s failure to provide security for the general public. Have we committed any crime on the terrorists to pay them compensation using our tax money? Although terrorists have committed crimes against us, we have done no wrong to them. Hence, the government must release all prisoners in prisons before payment of compensation for the terrorists as nobody has committed grave crimes worse than those of terrorists.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera met leaders of Global Tamil Forum (GTF) including Fr Emmanuel and Suren Surendran in London. S. Sumanthiran of the TNA, Eric Solheim, special peace envoy of Norway and representatives of South African government joined him in the discussion. According to unofficial sources, the subjects of the discussion were introduction of a federal model and investment of funds of Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘Appeasement of LTTE Diaspora by Maithri-Ranil Govt Paving the way for a Tiger Awakening.’ »

Northern CM Wigneswaran Accuses TNA Parliamentarians of Procuring Funds Directly from Colombo Govt

By Manekshaw

Northern Provincial Council (NPC) Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran is currently up in arms over the allocation of funds to the Northern Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarians from the Central Government.

Wigneswaran’s accusation of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarians from the Northern Province obtaining funds from the Central Government and on the negligence of the Central Government in allocating adequate funds for the Northern Provincial Council has turned into a prime issue in the Northern political scene in recent days.

Continue reading ‘Northern CM Wigneswaran Accuses TNA Parliamentarians of Procuring Funds Directly from Colombo Govt’ »

Tony Ranasinghe Played Monumental Role in Sinhala Film Industry with his Unique Acting Talent


Prasad Gunewardene

Gentleman actor, Tony Ranasinghe is no more. When I had a long chat with him over the phone, a few weeks ago, Tony was relaxing and I never dreamt that his exit would occur so early though he continued to suffer from a spine ailment over a period of time. The death of Tony brings the curtain down on the legendary trio of the golden era in the Sinhala film industry: Gamini Fonseka, Joe Abeywickreme …and Tony Ranasinghe. Gamini and Tony were bookworms. Their knowledge on many subjects other than the film industry was outstanding.


I associated with Tony closely to exchange views on many subjects. I educated myself much on the local and international film industry talking to my uncle Gamini Fonseka and Tony Ranasinghe. After Gamini’s demise, it was Tony who at times spent over an hour with me over the phone to enlighten me on the present pathetic state of the Sinhala film industry. He would in his own inimitable style dragging the words to say, “You know Prasad… the root cause of all evil in our society is dirty politics”. He was very forthright and never feared to tell the truth. That was why he was the most trusted lieutenant of film doyen Gamini Fonseka.

Continue reading ‘Tony Ranasinghe Played Monumental Role in Sinhala Film Industry with his Unique Acting Talent’ »

Global Narcotics Trade and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

by G. H. Peiris

According to a report published in the 10 June 2015 issue of The Island, the Hon. C. V. Wigneswaran, Chief Minister (CM) of the Northern Province, has asserted that the presence of Sri Lanka’s Army in Jaffna (peninsula) has contributed to a rapid spread of narcotics in the area, and that narcotics was never a problem during the war when the LTTE was around.

The Chairman of the ‘National Dangerous Drugs Control Board’, Dr. Chamara Samarasinghe, has effectively refuted the CM’s accusation, adding the caveat that in the turbulent conditions that prevailed in the North it was not possible to monitor drug addiction in that part of the country throughout the Eelam War.

There is, indeed, no doubt that narcotics was never a problem in the north under the Tiger hegemony to those who were at the vanguard of the secessionist campaign and even to its beneficiaries in mainstream politics. That heroin might have been a serious health hazard even during the early stages of the war, however, is suggested by the fact that a team of doctors serving in Jaffna (Subramaniam, Arasaratnam, Somasundaram & Mahesparam, 1989) found it significant enough as a subject of clinical research.

The present article is intended to indicate to the honourable CM and others of similar persuasion that the entire Eelam campaign was intimately linked to trade in narcotics, and to prevent The Island readership from being misled by the CM’s claims.

There is, in fact, grounds to speculate that the Tiger high command might have employed drug addiction as a modality for recruiting and training its elite ‘Black Tigers’ to condition them for their suicide missions; and even more importantly, that the increased penetration into Sri Lanka’s territorial waters by ‘fishing fleet’ from Tamil Nadu witnessed in the recent years could well be the main reason for increased drug addiction in Jaffna, if there is such a trend.

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Fond Memories of the “old” Fountain Cafe Owned by Elephant House


Bandula Jayasekara

Once upon a time, I worked down Vauxhall Lane in Colombo 2. Travelling from Ratmalana, I used to get down at Galle Face Court and walk to my office. There was a reason for it; to have breakfast at Elephant House’s Fountain Cafe, followed by a fresh glass of milk.

I would then make a second trip there around midday to have lunch. Going to Fountain Café was a part of my daily routine. Owned by Elephant House, the food served at this bustling café was fresh and the best in town. I enjoyed every meal I had there. Not only was the food of best quality, the staff was well mannered and attentive to customer needs. They knew and understood their customers. Fountain Café was a place where people met. Families enjoyed a meal while young couples whispered over food.

Fountain Café was famous for short eats – rolls, cutlets and patties – and of course their sauce, which was something else. No sauce today can match it. The Elephant House hot dog served with that sauce was much sought after and a favourite of many. Their rice and curry was also very reasonable.

Continue reading ‘Fond Memories of the “old” Fountain Cafe Owned by Elephant House’ »

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



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Sir Christopher Lee: Legendary movie villain played Dracula, Fu Manchu, Scaramanga, Saruman and Dooku


There was a time when I was afflicted by the supernatural in the form of ghost stories and horror movies. Being terrified by terrible tales of ghosts, devils, vampires and monsters was an enjoyable type of agony then.It was a self-inflicted period of craze for the macabre. This phase in my life began in my childhood and continued through my teenage years lasting till my early thirties. I do see an occasional scary movie now and then but reading such books has ended.

Sir Christopher Lee  (May 27, 1922 -  June 7, 2015)

Sir Christopher Lee (May 27, 1922 – June 7, 2015)



While referring to reading books causing dreadful fright, an experience that I recall now with amusement is reading Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. The novel written in 1897 by the Irish author was a Gothic horror cult classic. It is about the human vampire Count Dracula who relocates to England from Transylvania.
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Ananthy Sasitharan in the Eye of a Controversial Publicity Storm Again

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

“Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife, If once I be a widow, ever I be a wife!………” The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

– William Shakespeare :Hamlet Act 3,Scene 2.

Politicians are a breed thriving on publicity –negative or positive. Their preference is to bask in the limelight always. They crave attention almost all the time and love to be the cynosure of all eyes. It is said in lighter vein that politicians want to be the bride in a wedding, baby in a baptism and the corpse in a funeral!

Ananthy Sasitharan

Ananthy Sasitharan

The most common method used by politicians to generate publicity is to engage in political stunts. Time and again politicians say or do unusual things that capture widespread attention. Once upon a time in Sri Lanka, one parliamentarian came in an “Amude” to Parliament to protest the rise in prices of textiles. Another MP smuggled in a wreath to the house to signify the death of democracy. Some snatch the mace and run away. Others fling objects around like hand guided missiles. In recent times a group of MP’s inclined towards Ex –President Mahinda Rajapaksa took over the house by Diyawanna Oya nocturnally – wining, dining and reclining!
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EPRLF Deputy Leader Thambirajah Subathiran alias “Robert” was Slain in Jaffna by a LTTE Sniper 12 Years ago

By D. B. S. Jeyaraj

Thambirajah Subathiran alias “Robert” was assassinated in Jaffna by a sniper of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Twelve years ago on June 14th 2003 while the Norway facilitated ceasefire between the Sri Lankan Government led by then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the LTTE was in force. “Robert “was the deputy leader of the Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front(EPRLF)faction led by former North –Eastern chief minister Annamalai Varathaajapperumal at the time he was killed. Two articles about Robert and his killing were written by me then for “The Sunday Leader” in June 2003. I am reproducing both articles without any changes in one post under a new heading on my blog to mark the 12th anniversary of his death,This is the first of the two articles ~ D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Subathiran Thambirajah-poc: courtesy: The Hindu

Subathiran Thambirajah-“Robert”-pic: courtesy: The Hindu

Thambirajah Subathiran alias Robert was shot dead on Saturday, June 14 at about 6. 15 a.m. in Jaffna. Subathiran generally known by his nom de guerre Robert was the deputy leader of the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) faction led by Annamalai Varatharaja Perumal, former chief minister of the North-Eastern Provincial Council.

The rival faction is led by Suresh Premachandran. The two groupings are described in the media as Suresh Faction and Varathan Faction respectively. With Perumal living in India for reasons of security the actual de-facto leader of the Varathan faction was Subathiran. In terms of ground reality, it deserved to be called EPRLF Robert faction because it was Robert who provided day to day leadership in the north-east for the party.

Robert was staying in the EPRLF party office premises on Hospital Road in Jaffna.The two storeyed building was in the vicinity of Vembadi Girl’s High School. It was daily routine for Robert to exercise every morning on the balcony. He was exercising as usual on that fateful day while two of his comrades stood by watching. Suddenly there were three or four “plops” in succession. A bleeding Subathiran collapsed. He was rushed to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital nearby. Despite the close proximity Robert died before admission. A postmortem revealed later that bullets piercing his shoulder and chest had hit his lungs, arteries and ribs.

The firing had come from a room in a three-storeyed building in the southern area of Vembadi School. A rifle of the ‘sniper’ variety, presumably fixed with a silencer had been used. The assassin or assassins had fired in a south-eastern direction from a distance of approximately 200 metres. The class room was not in use and was usually kept locked. It was found that a square aperture had been made in the wiremesh covering the window to facilitate ‘sniping.’ A table had been dragged to the window and two small sandbags were mounted on it to help place perhaps the rifle. The colour of the sand indicated that it had come from Vembadi school grounds.

Continue reading ‘EPRLF Deputy Leader Thambirajah Subathiran alias “Robert” was Slain in Jaffna by a LTTE Sniper 12 Years ago’ »

Vidhya Sivaloganathan’s Family in Pungudutheevu is Waiting for Justice


Thulasi Muttulingam

Vidhya Sivaloganathan’s family remembers her as sensitive and soft. She had recently cried when her mother said they would have to sell the family’s goat because they couldn’t afford to keep it anymore. “No amma. She’s part of the family now. We’ll reduce our meals and share with her what we eat. Please do not give her away,” she had begged. Every evening as soon as she returned home from school, she would go straight to her ‘pets.’

Vidhya Sivaloganathan

Vidhya Sivaloganathan

“We reared the livestock –the goat, the cow and the chickens for eggs and milk but Vidhya always treated them like personal friends,” recalls her mother Saraswathi Sivaloganathan. “I often scolded her over it because she was always cuddling them and getting her white uniform dirty. She would cuddle them before going to school and then cuddle them as soon as she returned from school too. Kutty the goat would beckon with her horned head to Vidhya for more cuddling when she left for school. She would laugh and say, ‘I’ll pet you more, as soon as I get back Kutty.’ That was their ritual. As soon as she returned, all the animals would go to greet her including Chella Mani the hen, clucking all the way. She would pick the hen up, pretend that she could understand its seemingly indignant clucking and say, ‘Oh is that right Chella Mani? Amma hasn’t fed you properly today? How mean of her, here have some biscuits.’


“She would then feed the hen securely tucked under one of her arms, pieces of biscuits with her other hand while still in her school uniform,” recalls her mother tearing up at the memory. “It used to annoy me no end but now all those memories are so bitter-sweet to us. It is who she was. If I ever scolded her for talking to dumb animals as equals, she would say, ‘amma they are not dumb animals. They are intelligent sentient beings without a voice. We have to be extra kind to them.’”

“The animals knew,” says her brother Nishanthan (22). “It was finally the dogs who led us to her body. On the days leading up to her funeral and at the funeral itself, the dogs and goat acted half-crazed against certain individuals, wanting to head-butt or bite them. We thought they had become unbalanced with grief just as we had and tied them up. But it turned out the individuals the animals had been reacting against, were Vidhya’s rapists and murderers. They had had the nerve to show up repeatedly at our house to offer their sympathy until the police caught them.”

Continue reading ‘Vidhya Sivaloganathan’s Family in Pungudutheevu is Waiting for Justice’ »

Constitutionally Nothing Prevents President Sirisena From Ditching UNP and Forming SLFP Govt to govern till April 2016


Dharisha Bastians

A strange revelation was made this week, after President Maithripala Sirisena appointed four new Deputy Ministers in his continued efforts to consolidate power within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

SLFP MPs Sanath Jayasuriya, Thilanga Sumathipala, Wijaya Dahanayake and Eric Weerawardana were sworn in as Deputy Ministers by President Sirisena last Wednesday, two days ahead of a massive rally in Matara calling for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s return as Prime Minister.

The new additions raise the SLFP tally of portfolio holders in the Sirisena Administration to 36, against the UNP’s 35. Nine other Ministers and Deputy Ministers hail from other political parties in the ‘rainbow’ coalition that ushered President Sirisena to power in January. President Sirisena, who expressly pledged to limit his Cabinet to 25 members in his election manifesto, now presides over a whopping 80 Cabinet Ministers, State Ministers and Deputy Ministers, batting not too far below the average of his predecessor.

In a topsy-turvy political twist, it now transpires that the President has drawn his biggest ministerial cadre from the party which strove hardest to defeat him in the January election. Put another away, the party leading the Opposition in Parliament now commands the most number of ministerial portfolios in the ruling Government.

In the past week, the SLFP has managed to assume a majority in the Sirisena administration and set the legislative agenda on electoral reform. The President’s proposal for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution which replaces the current electoral system based on district Proportional Representation (PR) with a purported hybrid between First-Past-the-Post and PR systems, recommends the increase of Parliamentarians to 237, after the SLFP insisted on more MPs to be elected on the First-Past-the-Post system.

Despite UNP misgivings and opposition, and crying foul by minor parties, including the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, it is this version of the draft amendment that was gazetted yesterday by the Government Printer. The SLFP-led UPFA has the numbers in Parliament to pass this amendment independent of UNP or minor party support.

Continue reading ‘Constitutionally Nothing Prevents President Sirisena From Ditching UNP and Forming SLFP Govt to govern till April 2016’ »

President Sirisena “Rests” on top of Political Volcano Threatening to Erupt


Rasika Jayakody

President Maithripala Sirisena is resting on the crest of a volcano nearly two months after the end of his 100 day programme.

The main stakeholder of his ruling coalition, the United National Party, has exerted pressure on the President to dissolve Parliament immediately to seek a fresh mandate for a government. The UNP is likely to write a letter to the President requesting him to make a quick decision in this regard.

The letter comes as a result of the UNP’s Working Committee meeting where the WC members unanimously agreed to go for an immediate dissolution, without waiting for the passage of 20th Amendment in the present Parliament.

The other stakeholders of the government, including the SLFP group supporting President Maithripala Sirisena and the Jathika Hela Uurumaya, are pushing for the postponement of Parliament’s dissolution.

The main justification behind their demand is the 20th Amendment to the constitution, which is yet to be gazetted. They stress that the 20th Amendment should be passed in the present Parliament in which the UNP does not wield a majority.

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President Sirisena Appoints SLFP Committee to Promote “Cooperation”Between Himself and Ex- President Mahinda Rajapaksa


Chaminda Perera

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) appointed a committee yesterday to promote “cooperation” between President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The committee, appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena, is comprised of John Seneviratna, Dilan Perera, T. B. Ekanayake, Kumara Welgama, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Susil Premajayantha. The committee will primarily do a coordinating job between President Sirisena and former President Rajapaksa, highly placed party sources told the Daily News yesterday.

The SLFP also decided to put in place an action plan to promote closer cooperation between the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the incumbent President.

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Reconciliation Between Maithripala and Mahinda is Essential and Inevitable

By Rohana R. Wasala

The overwhelming success of the Matara rally has demonstrated beyond any doubt that the pro-Mahinda forces have decisively turned the tide against the status quo. It is not against the presidency of Mr Maithripala Sirisena. He is secure as president for the next five years, but at present he has to work with a group of allies who are at cross purposes with each other – the more powerful (by default) among them being his competitors rather than collaborators in the so-called yahapalanaya project, propped up by a few stragglers from the SLFP that he is supposed to be leading.

This situation will continue until after the conclusion of the general election that is due. The election will give the people of Sri Lanka the chance to make their independent choice between the UNP and the SLFP. The smaller parties will be in a position to tip the scales in favour of one or the other in case there is no clear winner.

Though the Rajapaksa government put an end to terrorism and initiated normalization through evenly distributed development with appreciable success, it failed to deflect or neutralize (mostly false) allegations of corruption, nepotism, and cronyism, abuse of power, etc sufficiently convincingly. Some shortcomings emanated from the personality of Mr Rajapaksa himself.

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If President took Disciplinary Action Against MP’s Attending then, all Pro-Mahinda Rallies will stop-Hirunika Premachandra


Ajith Siriwardana and Indika Sri Aravinda

Western Provincial Councillor Hirunika Premachandra said yesterday that if President Maithripala Sirisena had taken disciplinary action against those who had participated in the Nugegoda Rally which was held to promote former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Prime Ministerial candidature, similar rallies would not have been held elsewhere later.

Ms. Premachandra said at a news conference in Battaramulla that senior politicians in the party were setting a bad example to junior politicians like her by promoting someone who had been defeated at an election and was attempting to conspire against the one who had won the election. She said that it should be stopped.

She said if Mahinda Rajapaksa actually loved the party, he would not go to temples and hold meetings with politicians of other political parties but would instead join the party as a patron and advise the juniors to rectify their errors.

Continue reading ‘If President took Disciplinary Action Against MP’s Attending then, all Pro-Mahinda Rallies will stop-Hirunika Premachandra’ »

Why US is Helping Maithri-Ranil Govt to Trace Hoarded “Black Money”Given by China to Rajapaksas.


Upul Joseph Fernando

After Maithripala Sirisena won the presidential election, he made his first visit to India to meet Indian Premier Narendra Modi. At that meet, Maithri appealed to Modi to assist him to recover monies stolen by certain Sri Lankan politicians of the previous administration hidden in other countries. He also asked Modi to help set up a financial intelligence unit in Sri Lanka.

He told Modi that he had information that such stolen funds had been deposited in St. Martin’s Island, Hong Kong and Seychelles. He also informed Modi that investments had been done in Dubai, Uganda and Kenya with stolen funds from Sri Lanka. In addition, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera visited United States and appealed to Washington to help detect stolen funds deposited overseas by top figures in the Rajapaksa Government.

When US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Colombo recently, he agreed to train officers in the Sri Lankan Intelligence Unit to detect such stolen funds deposited overseas. That followed an expert team of officials on the subject visiting Sri Lanka a few weeks later. Mangala told the media that billions of rupees belonging to Mahinda Rajapaksa were deposited in overseas banks. Mahinda refuted that claim and even threatened to sue Mangala.

Last week former President Chandrika Kumaratunga visited Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s ministry and said the Rajapaksa Government had obtained a commission of Rs 15 billion from the Chinese Government to set up the Norochcholai Power Plant. Similarly, when Maithri assumed office as President, he halted the Chinese funded Colombo Port City Project stating that massive financial corruption was seen in that deal. It could be that America and India are assisting Sri Lanka to set up a financial intelligence unit to trace commissions made from Chinese deals.

Continue reading ‘Why US is Helping Maithri-Ranil Govt to Trace Hoarded “Black Money”Given by China to Rajapaksas.’ »

Superstition Played a Naked Role in Sri Lanka Under Rajapaksa Rule

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“If we can’t think for ourselves, if we’re unwilling to question authority, then we are just putty in the hands of those in power” Carl Sagan (The Demon – Haunted World)

In 2011, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a verbal directive banning its employees from using the phrases ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’i. The State’s new Governor Rick Scott was then a Tea Party darling; denying anthropogenic climate change was a key axiom of their common political creed. Governor Scott obviously did not want one of his own departments to speak about the connection between Florida’s climatic woes and environmental degradation. The bizarre order may have helped Scott politically and electorally but it has not saved Florida voters from being battered by killer storms and rising sea levels and may doom Miami to eventual inundationii.

In 2011, five-year-old Lama Ghamdi died, after being admitted to a Saudi hospital with a broken back, a crushed skull, severe burns and multiple rapesiii. Her father Fayhan al Ghamdi, a popular preacher who often warned about the dangers of immoral behaviour on Saudi television, was arrested and confessed to subjecting his little daughter to multiple rapes because he doubted her virginityiv.

According to Aziza al Yousef, computer science lecturer at King Saud University, “there is no specific law that bans child abuse or protects children from child abuse”v; and men convicted of murder generally get a light sentence if the victims are their own wives or children. So Al Ghamdi did not suffer the same fate as our own Rizana Nafik, beheaded in 2013 in this medieval paradise, after being convicted of murder via a highly-questionable judicial process (incidentally the Lankan Government refused to pay the lawyers who lodged the appeal against the death sentence). He was sentenced to eight years (two years less than recent sentences given to a rights activist and a blogger). Subsequent reports indicate that he was released in 2013vi.

When ignorance, religious superstition and power (political/societal/familial) intertwine, basic common sense, basic compassion and basic decency are banished and outlawed. It is a condition we in Sri Lanka too are afflicted with.

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Sri Lanka’s Test Team – My Potential List for the Cricket Match in Galle


Michael Roberts

The retirement of Jayawardene and Dilshan from Test cricket and the impending departure of Sangakkara render the future of Sri Lanka’s cricket team as worrying as intriguing.

In chatting with Michael de Zoysa in Colombo early in June we touched on future possibilities and just yesterday a long Skype-chat with Andrew Fidel Fernando in Colombo was extremely enlightening. His prospective Eleven for the Pakistan series worked within the limits of the XV chosen for the series by the SLC Selection Committee.

However, I intervene first with my choice of XI, guided in part by Fernando — but adding my own twist.

The twist arises from the fact that the match is being played at Galle. This background links up with my reasoning that bowlers win matches and that one must enter a match with one’s three or four best bowlers. With Eranga out of contention because of injury and Lakmal in question and without match practice, I hold that our best three bowlers for the sort of conditions that are likely to prevail at Galle are Rangana Herath followed by Dilruwan Perera and Tharinda Kaushal at level pegging.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Test Team – My Potential List for the Cricket Match in Galle’ »

Chief Minister Wigneswaran is Working in a Crafty and Diabolical Manner to Please the LTTE Dregs and Diaspora.


Edward Gunawardena

Chief Minister Wigneswaran hell bent on getting rid of the Armed Services from the North has arrived at the perverted conclusion that the post-war deployment of the military in the North has contributed to the rapid spread of narcotics. He has further stated that narcotics had never been a problem during the war when the LTTE was around.

Wigneswaran has made this statement without any conclusive proof. He has not cared to discuss the possibility of the existence of such a problem with the Chairman of the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) who knows best. The latter has categorically stated that Narcotics is not a problem in the North and that the government has not been able to carry out a proper survey in the North for obvious reasons until last year.

Continue reading ‘Chief Minister Wigneswaran is Working in a Crafty and Diabolical Manner to Please the LTTE Dregs and Diaspora.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa is Trying to Make us Believe that only his Autocratic ways can Bring Political Stability

By Ranga Jayasuriya

In a mature democracy, a government (Or for that matter, a Prime Minister) cannot and should not be impeached simply because the Opposition can do so or garner enough votes to do so.
The elected representatives of the people are expected to act with responsibility and restraint; that is more so, when a new government, even a minority one, has its legitimacy underwritten by 6.2 million voters in a recent election.

The composition of the incumbent Parliament, which is dominated by the old-guard, does not erode the legitimacy of the new Government, which has a more recent mandate given to the President.

The president appointed the new government as part of an election promise, in order to usher in a series of democratic reforms, he pledged in his election manifesto. When the Opposition, or the regressive elements within it, obstruct this process of democratic reforms by exploiting constitutional loopholes, or as in our case, resorting to the distorted composition in the current Parliament, they are, in fact, trying to pull off a constitutional coup.

The composition of the current Parliament is a distorted reflection of the original mandate of people in the 2010 general elections and was achieved by the ex-president, who facilitated crossovers from other political parties in return for pecuniary benefits extended to the MPs.
There again, what we are experiencing is the residual effects of shoddy political practices of the former regime.

To witness the disturbing repercussions of such insidious manoeuvrings, we do not need to look further than our neighbour, the Maldives, which sometime back underwent a constitutional coup hatched by the Old-Guard and now has its former president in jail and democracy rolled back.

That is exactly what the Rajapaksa cronies in the Opposition are trying to achieve. But, their chances of success could well be limited.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa is Trying to Make us Believe that only his Autocratic ways can Bring Political Stability’ »

The Seven Deadly Political “Sins” Allegedly Committed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe


Don Manu

If you need to get a pretty good idea of how donkeys behave in the wild breathing freedom’s intoxicating air, look no further than to the unbridled antics of a privileged few who make regular visits to Delft Island, where, deaf and blind to the pressing needs of those whose interests they claim to represent, they selfishly indulge in asinine romps that cause near irreparable damage to the fragile ecosystem and threaten the well being of its inhabitants.

It is patently clear that the Rajapaksa rebels, enjoying the freedom of the wild ass without fearing the lash of the party whip, have now come to dominate the largest opposition group in Parliament — the SLFP; and President Sirisena’s tenuous hold on the party as its president has not been able to stem the rising tide. They have been lured, one by one, into serving the insidious aims of this odious Rajapaksa Caucus and today they have it in their power to topple the UNP-led Maithripala government.

It is not because they love Sirisena less, but because they owe their allegiance to Rajapaksa more. The powers, the privileges, the perks they lavishly enjoyed at public expense under that corruption-tainted regime and the newfangled fantasy of reliving those halcyon days with all sins swept under the carpet still serve to prop hope and act as an umbilical cord which is hard to sever. Even as Mahinda Rajapaksa repeatedly emphasises to television cameras in political clichés made on temple ground after attending Bodhi poojas that the ‘Rajapaksa are not rogues’, the men and women who slaved as ministers and MPs during his long double innings in office, perhaps wish to demonstrate they are not ingrates.

Last Friday the SLFP and its UPFA bedfellows handed over to the Secretary General of Parliament a motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe expressing that they have no confidence in his abilities to discharge the duties of his office. It is allegedly signed by 112 of its parliamentary members. If it is taken up and successfully passed, it will result in the immediate dissolution of the entire Maithripala Cabinet and Ranil Wickremesinghe’s brief five-month tenure as the nation’s prime minister for the third time will come to a premature end.

Continue reading ‘The Seven Deadly Political “Sins” Allegedly Committed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Transparency on trial: Was Udayanga Weeratunga story ‘sexed up?’

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

Nobody can be blamed for being confused about what’s going on in government these days. The debate has mostly revolved around two issues – the 20th amendment for electoral reform, and the dissolution of parliament. All political factions would seem to be in support of the 20th amendment, going by the statements made. Similarly, all political factions (including Dinesh Gunewardena’s pro-Mahinda group) say they are ready for the dissolution of parliament and, by implication, ready to face elections – going by the statements made. Yet neither of these two projects seems to be progressing with any great speed..

Much instability has arisen from the peculiar circumstance of a minority government trying to push through various reforms in a legislature dominated by the Opposition. And that Opposition seems to be discovering, with every passing day, that it has more leverage than it initially thought, owing to its overwhelming superiority in numbers.

Continue reading ‘Transparency on trial: Was Udayanga Weeratunga story ‘sexed up?’’ »

District by District Analysis of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Political Strength in the Forthcoming Parliament Elections


C. A. Chandraprema

The crowd at the pro-Mahinda rally held in Matara last Friday was even larger than the crowd in Nugegoda. The number of parliamentarians on the stage was variously mentioned as 76, 77 and 78. As far as the pro-Mahinda camp is concerned, there is nothing more to be said, no more points to be made.

Matara has six UPFA parliamentarians and of them, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, Hemal Gunasekera, Sanath Jayasuriya and Vijaya Dahanayaka hold portfolios in the government and did not attend the meeting. Indeed the last two were given portfolios days before this rally, with a view to bolstering support for Sirisena. There were only two parliamentarians from Matara on the stage – Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene and Chandrasiri Gajadeera. Dullas Alahapperuma who played a major role in organising the meeting is a national list MP.

Despite four UPFA parliamentarians in the district keeping away, the rally was a phenomenal success. In the opinion of this writer no other political party can organise a meeting like that in Matara – certainly not the Sirisena faction of the SLFP, and the UNP is not strong in the Matara district to begin with. What should worry the government even more than the crowd or the number of parliamentarians on the stage is the fact that this was not just a pro-Mahinda crowd, it was an opposition crowd.

Mahinda Rajapaksa himself turned up to take a peek at the meeting from the rampart of the Matara Fort. The crowd went wild on seeing him. But he left after a few seconds. It was clear that this was an unscheduled appearance. If he was going to make an appearance and it was advertised beforehand, the crowd turning up would have been even bigger. What should worry the government is the fact that after Mahinda came and went, the meeting continued as if nothing had happened. Nobody left the meeting because MR left.

Nobody in the crowd asked “How come Mahinda came and left so soon?” “How come he did not make a speech?” Nobody was upset by the fact that their hero had come and gone without getting on to the stage. The crowd remained just as it was, and Udaya Gammanpila soon resumed his speech which was disrupted by MR’s appearance.

What that shows is that while the outward form of this movement is that of a personality cult, it is in reality an opposition movement which is barreling forward on a momentum of its own quite regardless of MR’s physical presence or absence. Signs of the personality cult of course, were everywhere. About 300 meters away from the meeting, near the Matara Bodhi was a large cut out of Mahinda resting on the pavement.

Continue reading ‘District by District Analysis of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Political Strength in the Forthcoming Parliament Elections’ »

Jaffna Turning into Liquor Paradise:Rapid Rise in Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

A five-fold increase in the consumption of alcoholic beverages in 2013, in the Jaffna Peninsula, underscores the higher level of alcoholism gripping the North.

According to informed sources there has possibly been a two to three-fold increase in alcoholism according to estimates at the beginning of this year alone.

R. Jeyasegaran, President of the Jaffna Chamber of Commerce, said alcohol consumption was rapidly increasing after the war ended in 2009 and cautioned the public to be careful about this trend.

According to the Excise Department, beer consumption scaled 4,056,999.25 litres in 2013 compared to 762,610 litres in 2009.

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Jacques Audiard’s Film “Dheepan” About Three Tamil Refugees in France Wins Golden Palm at Cannes

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Cannes is a city on the picturesque French Riviera-Mediterranean coast in South-Eastern France. It is classified as a French commune which is an administrative division roughly equivalent to a municipality.

The pride of Cannes in contemporary times has been the annual international film festival held in the city. Known as the Cannes Film Festival in English, it is regarded as the most prestigious film festival in the world. Competing at Cannes, let alone winning an award, is a feather in the cap for a filmmaker.

Anthonythasan Jesuthasan (Shobasakthi),  Kalieaswari Sreenivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby and Jacques Audiard

Anthonythasan Jesuthasan (Shobasakthi), Kalieaswari Sreenivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby and Jacques Audiard

The 68th annual Cannes film festival was held this year from 13 to 24 May. The highest prize awarded for a film at Cannes is the ‘Palme d’Or’ (Golden Palm). The Golden Palm this year was won by renowned French Film Director Jacques Audiard for his film ‘Dheepan’.
Continue reading ‘Jacques Audiard’s Film “Dheepan” About Three Tamil Refugees in France Wins Golden Palm at Cannes’ »

Continuous Delay in Dissolving Parliament Gives Rajapaksa Camp a “Winning”Advantage


Dharisha Bastians

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, arguably the previous regime’s most powerful man, may be under fire from a plethora of investigations into procurements and dealings during his tenure as chief accounting officer for the Ministry of Defence. But nearly six months after his brother’s stunning election defeat rendered him jobless and without immunity, some of the bravado appears to be returning. The former President’s favourite younger brother is stepping out of the shadows again, as the former ruling family’s political machinery kicks back into gear for another crucial election battle.

Colombo’s ranking by the MasterCard Global Destinations Index 2015 as the world’s fastest growing city for tourism led to a series of postings on the ex-official’s official Facebook page. “Over the next few weeks, I look forward to sharing some thoughts on this site about the urban development work carried out by the previous Government between the end of the conflict and January 2015,” the former Defence Secretary said in his Facebook posting.

A few days ago, looking casual in a t-shirt at his Nugegoda residence, with a large portrait of President Rajapaksa and a bronze sculpture of Avalokatheshwara at his side, Gotabaya Rajapaksa spoke to a private television station that was highlighting the achievement. During the interview, he warned against squandering the development successes in Colombo by the failure to maintain his parks, jogging tracks and shopping precincts that best serve the capital’s upper middle classes.

The Rajapaksa brothers, who held Sri Lanka in authoritarian thrall for nine long years, fancy themselves great statesmen. Gotabaya Rajapaksa speaks with rehearsed eloquence about the defeat of terrorism and his efforts to transform Colombo into a modern and liveable city. The reality is much darker. Like all Rajapaksa regime ‘good works’, the development of the capital, under the former Defence Secretary’s watchful eye, had an ugly underbelly.

Continue reading ‘Continuous Delay in Dissolving Parliament Gives Rajapaksa Camp a “Winning”Advantage’ »

Why did UN Secy-Gen Ban Ki-moon “Suddenly” Telephone Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena?


Upul Joseph Fernando

The diplomatic circles in Colombo were buzzing last week as to why the United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki-moon, suddenly telephoned President Maithripala Sirisena.

Though Ban Ki-moon had reportedly praised Maithri’s Government over the phone, the UN Chief’s main idea has been to confirm whether an election would be held before the UNHRC sessions in September. It was reported in the media that Maithri had told the UN Chief that he would attend the next UNHRC sessions with the representatives of a new government. That indicated that Maithri and Ban Ki-moon had discussed the issue of a general election.

Earlier, United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, during his visit to Colombo stressed the need to hold a general election before the next UNHRC sessions. Prior to his departure Kerry making an indirect reference to a possible general election recalled the Colombo promise in the following manner:

“We simply offer our support to help you in any way that we can on this effort of capacity building and the challenge of restoring the tradition that you have always had with respect to the fullness of your democracy. We want to help support you in the upcoming electoral processes. Timely elections will be yet another sign of the government following through on its commitments.”

Continue reading ‘Why did UN Secy-Gen Ban Ki-moon “Suddenly” Telephone Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena?’ »

Maheshini Colonne: Sri Lanka’s First Female Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Brings Breath of Fresh Air


Bandula Jayasekara

Everyone likes the wind. Everyone, at some point, likes the winds of change, something new and different in any arena. A breath of fresh air! That is exactly what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sri Lanka has done with the appointment of a new and a competent Spokesperson, Mahishini Colonne and the weekly press briefings held every Wednesday.

pic via:

pic via:

She is also the first female Spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, that, too, without holding the position of Director General of Public Communications at the Ministry. It is a real change and a first.

This is something new to Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Though many countries including our neighbour India has similar type of press briefings, Sri Lanka has taken a long time to adopt that practice. Having once served as the Director General Public Communications /Spokesman at the Foreign Ministry, Presidential Spokesman and the Spokesman for International Federation of Red Cross based in New Delhi, I found Mahishini to be excellent and a breath of fresh air.

Continue reading ‘Maheshini Colonne: Sri Lanka’s First Female Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Brings Breath of Fresh Air’ »

Ranil and the UNP Must Help Maithripala and the SLFP Overcome Mahinda and his UPFA Cronies


Ranga Jayasuriya

Now, that the UNP is in the government, it is easy to forget the existential problems the Green Party had barely few months ago.

During those not so distant days, the UNP made headlines not for Opposition political activism, but for an inner-party power struggle. Ranil Wickremesinghe faced with a leadership challenge, clung miserably to the leadership.

The main opposition party had been relegated to political irrelevance by the Rajapaksa juggernaut. And if Mahinda Rajapaksa won the January 8 presidential election, that would have meant the last nail on Wickremesinghe’s party leadership.

Mr Wickremesinghe’s overbearing sense of entitlement to the UNP leadership was, of course, a problem.

However, equally disturbing was that there had been no desirable alternative, perhaps sans Karu Jayasuriya, who challenged and lost in a leadership vote. The other contender Sajith Premadasa was more or less a Rajapaksa impresario.

Sri Lanka already had enough of one Rajapaksa and whether we need another at the helm of the main Opposition is a moot point. And Premadasa relied too much on cheap populism, and his support emanated chiefly from the most politically regressive category of the UNP’s traditional vote base: the green blooded rural and urban poor, whose allegiance to the party is no different from that of medieval serfs to the feudal knight.

Continue reading ‘Ranil and the UNP Must Help Maithripala and the SLFP Overcome Mahinda and his UPFA Cronies’ »

Cabinet Approves Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s Proposals for Elections Reform Through 20th Constitutional Amendment

Bringing an end to an impasse, the cabinet of ministers, during a special session held last night, approved Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s proposal for the election of legislators under the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe proposed that the 20th Amendment to the Constitution introduce provisions for 125 members of a 225-member legislature to be elected through the First-Past-the-Post (FPP) or majoritarian system, with 75 members elected based on proportional representation (PR).

Premier Wickremesinghe proposed that 25 MPs enter Parliament through the national list.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ajith P. Perera said Cabinet had approved the Prime Minister’s recommendations during last night’s special session.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Approves Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s Proposals for Elections Reform Through 20th Constitutional Amendment’ »

Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa can be Arrested for Offences Except Those Included in FR Petition Interim Order

The Supreme Court yesterday said that former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa could be arrested if there were allegations except the ones included in the Fundamental Rights petition filed by him. The Supreme Court further said other than those respondents mentioned in the petition viz IGP, Director CID and Director FCID, other officials could arrest him.

The above statements were made by Justice Eva Wanasundara and Justice Sarath de Abrew with a view to clarify the interim order issued earlier preventing the arrest of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Thus, other than the allegations mentioned in the petition, namely, the Avant Garde floating armoury, providing aero planes to Mihin Lanka, transaction of shares of Lanka Hospitals and purchasing MIG aircraft. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa could be taken into custody for investigations into other allegations.

The Supreme Court further stated that the Interim Order given by the Court did not apply to other investigations which are due to be carried out against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

The petition submitted by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was due to be taken on October 6. But in view of the motion submitted to courts by the Attorney General, the Supreme Courts called this petition on Monday June 8.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa can be Arrested for Offences Except Those Included in FR Petition Interim Order’ »

Responding to Dinesh Gunawardene MP in Parliament Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Valiantly Defends Central bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran.

(Following are excerpts from reports in Colombo newspapers about questions raised by Dinesh Gunawardene MP in Parliament on the appointment of Singapore national Arjuna Mahendran as Central bank Governor and the strong reply in the House by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on June 3rd 2015)

Statement and Questions Raised by Mr. Dinesh Gunawardene M.P. in Parliament on June 3rd 2015-

“ It is a matter of great regret that no effective action has been taken, either by the Government or by this House, for more than three months, to deal with the consequences of one of the most colossal frauds perpetrated on the people and the economy of our country.

Quite apart from the conduct of the Governor of the Central Bank and those going to incredible lengths to cover up this fraud, grave doubts have now arisen with regard to the legality of the appointment of Arjun Mahendran and his capability to lawfully perform the functions of the office of Governor.

The Governor of the Central Bank is, by law, entrusted with powers and responsibilities which have a vital bearing on the sound performance of the economy of Sri Lanka. He is also the ex officio Chairman of the Monetary Board. His functions include deciding and changing the par value of the LKR, determining monetary policy, taking action to preserve monetary stability, ensuring international stability of the LKR and determine the rates at which foreign exchange is bought and sold by the Central Bank.

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“Megenath Sithanna: Pakshaya Rekaganna” (Think About this and Protect the party)-English Summary of Booklet Issued by the SLFP Media Unit

(The Sri Lanka Freedom Party Media Unit has released a booklet under the heading”Megenath Sithanna:Pakshaya Rekaganna” meaning”Think about this and protect the party”.It was reportedly written by cabinet minister S.B.Dissanayake and published by Thilanga Sumathipala M.P. The following is a summary of the booklet translated into English and published in “The Island”newspaper.)

The pamphlet starts off by comparing the election campaigns of Mahinda and Maithripala and asserting that in comparison to the former, the latter had no campaign going; yet contrary to all expectations, MS won.

Despite all the efforts of those who supported Mahinda, Maithripala prevailed. After the defeat, the party wanted Mahinda to be the opposition leader and a national list MP was even persuaded to resign and MR also agreed to sit in parliament and be the opposition leader. But the next day he backed out saying that his family was dead against it. After that the SLFP central committee met and removed MS, Rajitha, MKDS and Duminda from the party. By that time MS had become president and he could not be punished or lawfully removed from the party. Yet MS was sacked from the party and MR was confirmed in the position of Chairman. In terms of the constitution of the SLFP, a member of the party who becomes president automatically becomes president and his predecessor automatically becomes a patron of the party. Then our MPs began to join the newly elected president in groups. In order to prevent a split in the party, a meeting was arranged between MR and MS.

At this discussion, MR agreed to hand over the party to MS and the latter was even given the go ahead to appoint his own officials. The SLFP CC was convened and the sacked members reinstated and MS formally made the chairman. MS promised the CC that he will do his utmost to bring the SLFP back to power and stated that he loves the party. MS did not make major changes in the party. Those appointed by MR to the CC, the executive committee and the All Island Working Committee were not removed and he did not exercise his power to appoint 23 members of the CC and 25 and 50 members respectively, to the other two bodies.

Continue reading ‘“Megenath Sithanna: Pakshaya Rekaganna” (Think About this and Protect the party)-English Summary of Booklet Issued by the SLFP Media Unit’ »

“Kaatriniley Varum Geetham” Sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi in “Meera” is a Classic Among Tamil Film Songs.

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

A perennial classic in the sphere of Tamil film songs is ‘Kaatriniley Varum Geetham’ based on the Sindhubhairavi raga.It is sung by the nightingale of India MS Subbulakshmi in the film ‘Meera’ where she plays the title role.This song was a favourite of one of my aunts who would be singing snatches from it frequently. As a kid I used to tease her by bursting into this song as soon as I saw her but with the passage of time the song cast a magical spell on me too.

MS Subbulakshmi In "Meera"

MS Subbulakshmi In “Meera”

I have been fortunate in seeing the film on the big screen twice and several times on the small screen through DVD.Gradually I became more aware of its finer points and learnt to appreciate the songs more.

Continue reading ‘“Kaatriniley Varum Geetham” Sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi in “Meera” is a Classic Among Tamil Film Songs.’ »

Alleged Acts of Sexual Violence Against Tamil Women by Members of the Armed Forces During the War


D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(The brutal gang rape and murder of 18 year old schoolgirl Vidya Sivaloganathan in the Northern Island of Pungudutheevu has resulted in widespread revulsion and condemnations. It has drawn attention to the burning issue of sexual violence against women in general and Tamil women in particular. This is a recurring phenomenon with different dimensions. There was a time during the war between the Sri Lankan armed forces and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) where many instances of sexual violence against Tamil women were allegedly committed by members of the armed forces. In most instances the alleged perpetrators got away with impunity. It is in that context that I am re-posting an article I wrote fourteen years ago for “The Sunday Leader”. It was published on July 8th 2001 under the heading” Sexual Violence Against Tamil Women”………..DBSJ)

Eleven minority community political parties in Sri Lanka called for a protest demonstration held on Friday, 6 July 2001. Five of these parties represent the Sri Lankan Tamils and another five the Tamils of Indian descent while the eleventh is a Muslim Party. The objective of these parties in organizing this demonstration is to protest and draw attention to the disturbing rise of sexual violence against Tamil speaking women by personnel attached to the Armed Forces, Police and Para Military Outfits. Even though the political parties concerned are by no means the premier representative organizations of the people they claim to serve, the call for a protest was however enthusiastically received due to the serious timeliness of the issue at hand.

As a result, the protest was a near total success in the North and East with shops remaining closed, Schools being empty and transport at a standstill. The undergrads and senior students in the N- E spearheaded the campaign though few of them support the parties that called for it. The Hill Country saw Plantation workers keeping away from work for two hours and holding protest meetings. Black flags dotted the estate landscape. In Colombo there was a lunch hour demonstration. Several shops and businesses remained closed for a short period. According to a spokesperson from a Tamil political party, the protest was an overwhelming success because of popular people support.

The phenomenon of Tamil women being sexually assaulted by defence personnel “claiming to fight and uphold the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka” is nothing new. Complaints and protests have been raised in various foras. Several International Organizations, Tamil Politicians and Newspapers have highlighted these happenings very often. Although the 1996-98 period saw a lot of such incidents being reported, 1999 and 2000 had registered an all time low. This does not necessarily mean that such violence had ceased but was nevertheless, an indicator that it was on the decline. Some even attributed it to the intensive Human Rights Education being imparted to the Defence Personnel. This complacent mood however was shattered by events of the past week when the spectre of sexual assaults on Tamil women was resurrected again in Colombo.
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♬ P. Leela, ‘Forgotten’ Singer Who Sang Unforgettable Songs In Tamil Cinema ♥

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

I was pleasantly surprised this week when a South Indian journal asked me to revise an article I had written earlier about the singer Porayathu Leela – popularly known as P. Leela. The request for an article to denote Leela’s birthday was most unexpected as she had passed away 10 years ago on October 31st 2005.Her once successful career as a Play back singer of film songs in Tamil cinema had virtually ended decades before her demise. Leela, born on 19 May 1934, was ethnically a Malayalee who resided and died in the Tamil Nadu state capital of Chennai.

Porayathu Leela (P. Leela)

♥♬ Porayathu Leela (P. Leela) ♬♥

The present generation of film song fans may have never heard her or even heard of P. Leela. She was the uncrowned queen of song in the realm of Tamil films during the fifties and sixties of the last century. P. Leela has sung about 5,000 film songs in South Indian languages such as Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada and even in Bengalee and Sinhala. Her Tamil renditions may number around 1,000. She was a household name in those days.
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Gotabaya Rajapaksa Built a National Security State that Turned Jaffna into an Unhappy Place of Simmering Discontent


Ranga Jayasuriya

What serves the long term peace and security in Sri Lanka: high-handed national security state of the former regime or more nuanced judicial approach of its successor?

The contrast of these two approaches was in display last two weeks after the tragic rape and murder of an 18-year-old student in the Punguduthivu island, Jaffna. Protestors enraged by the perceived delay in producing suspects before the court, hurled stones at the court house. 130 protestors were arrested and later remanded. Under the previous regime, those would be rioters would not dare take to the streets. And if they ever did, ‘justice’ could more likely have been meted out by white vans.

The fundamental difference between the incumbent administration and its predecessor in the north is at least partial restoration of the rule of law in the region.

Then President Maithripala Sirisena made an unannounced visit to the peninsula and met the parents of the victim. After a day of protests, Jaffna town returned to normalcy. And that normality was achieved not by the use of brute force.

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Special Presidential Commission Comprising 4 High Court Judges to Probe Corruption Under Rajapaksa Regime to Hold Public Hearings at BMICH..

By Shamindra Ferdinando

A Special Presidential Commission investigating major cases of corruption is gearing for public hearing at a special court established at the BMICH this month.

A spokesperson for the Commission yesterday told The Island that public hearing would get underway in about three weeks. “We are mandated to summon anyone, even a former President,” the official said.

Responding to a query, the official said that a special police team headed by an ASP had been tasked to investigate about 50 cases out of about 600 petitions received by the commission. Acknowledging the contribution made by the investigation team, the official said that the commission was seeking additional personnel with required experience to undertake investigations.

The likely dissolution of Parliament within the next few weeks wouldn’t affect the commission, the official said, adding that it was in the process of finalising work meant to commence public hearing. ‘We are working overtime to meet the deadline. Of course, the commission suffered an initial setback due to some of those who had been appointed to the commission quitting it at the outset of the inquiries.”

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Prime Minister Ranil Charges Ex-President Mahinda of “Pilfering” 28 Billion Rupees as Finance and Highways Minister

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Saturday alleged that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Highways Minister had obtained a Rs. 55 billion loan from the National Savings Bank to construct 28 public roads in 2014.

“But the report handed over to me informing the details of the road construction work says that Rs. 28 billion had been spent on other work within the Highways Ministry,” he said.

“The former President was both the Finance Minister and Highways Minister. He should inform as to what happened to the Rs. 28 billion taken to construct the said roads. Why did he waste that amount of money, he should reply. When he replies, I am ready to respond to him,” the Prime Minister said.

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“I don’t know why I should resign when I have done nothing wrong”.-Central bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran

by Rasika Jayakody

Breaking his silence over the controversial Treasury bond issue, Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran claimed he was not involved in the decision-making process with regard to the Bond issuance.
In an interview with the Sunday Observer, Arjuna Mahendran said, he was willing to cooperate with any investigation to ascertain the truth and to clear his name.

Following are excerpts from the interview

Q: Your role in the Central Bank’s Treasury bond issue on February 27 has come under serious criticism from various quarters. This is the first time you are making a public statement on this matter. What was your involvement?

Continue reading ‘“I don’t know why I should resign when I have done nothing wrong”.-Central bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’ »

President Sirisena Tells UPFA Leaders That he Cannot Work Together With Mahinda Rajapaksa

by Rasika Jayakody

When President Maithripala Sirisena held a special discussion with party leaders of the UPFA following the weekly Cabinet meeting last week, it was quite clear to everyone that he was hell-bent on shooting down the General Election ‘hopes’ of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“There is no one who knows more about Mahinda Rajapaksa than I do. There is no way we can work together. My political journey is not with him. So, don’t talk about his candidature,” President Sirisena told the party leaders of the UPFA at the meeting.

This remark came when they argued that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa should be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the UPFA coalition at the forthcoming Parliamentary election.

Some party leaders stated that the UPFA should join the electoral fray with the sole intention of defeating the UNP which was instrumental in making Maithripala Sirisena, the present leader of the UPFA, the President of the country.

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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Keeps Postponing Parliamentary Elections

By K. Ratnayake

Amid a deepening political and social crisis, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has repeatedly postponed the calling of a general election. As part of his “100-day” program, announced during the campaign for the January 8 presidential election, Sirisena promised to dissolve parliament on April 23 and hold a parliamentary election.

Last week, at a meeting with media executives and owners, Sirisena declared that he expected to install the next government by September, but refused to say when he intended to end the parliamentary session and set the date for a poll.

Sirisena, who was health minister under former President Mahinda Rajapakse, defeated Rajapakse in the January 8 poll, with the support of the pro-US United National Party (UNP) and several other parties.

Behind his election was a regime-change operation instigated by the Obama administration, which wanted to scuttle Rajapakse’s relations with Beijing as part of its aggressive “pivot to Asia” to confront China.

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Usage of the “P*ka” Word in Parliament and the Vasudeva Nanayakkara -Bandula Gunewardena ” Partnership”.


Lucien Rajakarunanayake

My good friend Vasudeva Nanayakkara has been unapologetic about his use of a “P” word in the recent heated argument with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, in Parliament.

Vasudeva seems to be still reeling with anger, with whatever happened about his Point of Order issue with the Prime Minister. In any event he is not one who needs to be taught the meaning of words in the Sinhala language. He is a fluent orator in Sinhala, a good writer in the language, and very knowledgeable about proper use of the language; which has nothing to do with his having been the Minister of National Languages.

What surprises me is that it required Bandula Gunewardena, former Minister of Education and a tuition master with vast experience in the generation of wealth through tuition, to teach this country, and especially the Sinhala speaking people that the “P” word uttered and angrily repeated by Vasudeva is not an expletive, but part of good and wholly acceptable language.

Yes, it is in the Sinhala dictionary. Let’s refer to it as the p*ka word – usually an expletive for the penis. As Gunewardena has correctly explained, it means a fruit, a mature fruit. Very simply said “P*ka is also “pala”. What Gunewardena has shown with his explanation is that the Speaker was ignorant of this aspect of “p*ka” use when he cautioned Vasu that there were schoolchildren in the galleries of Parliament.

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19 Reasons as to why I Would Rather be From Sri Lanka Than Anywhere Else


Kasturi Saikia

“Old Ceylon”
is lovely, chilled out and surreal beyond explanation. One small patch of land, nicknamed as the ‘teardrop of India’ perhaps has the sweetest people on earth and its landscapes diversified from hilly terrains to sandy beaches.

Why would we prefer living anywhere else when we are blessed to be from Sri Lanka?


So, here are 19 reasons why we Sri Lankans love belonging here.

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“Dheepan” Film Telling Tale of Three Tamil Refugees in France Starring Ex- Tiger cum Writer Shoba Sakthi Wins the Top Film Award Palme d’or at Cannes Film Festival

The 68th Cannes Film Festival ended on Sunday May 24th with Jacques Audiard’s Sri Lankan refugee drama “Dheepan” taking the festival’s coveted top honor, the Palme d’Or.

The film relating the story of three Sri Lankan Refugees surviving as refugees in France has a former LTTE child soldier Anthonythasan Jesuthasan starring in the lead role.Jesuthasan writing under the nm de plume Shoba Sakthi is a well -known writer in Tamil. He lives in Paris.

French director Jacques Audiard (C) poses on stage with French actress and member of the Feature Film jury Sophie Marceau (L), Sri Lankan actress Kalieaswari Srinivasan (2ndL) and Sri Lankan actor Jesuthasan Antonythasan after being awarded with the Palme d'Or from his film "Dheepan" during the closing ceremony of the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 24, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT-via:

French director Jacques Audiard (C) poses on stage with French actress and member of the Feature Film jury Sophie Marceau (L), Sri Lankan actress Kalieaswari Srinivasan (2ndL) and Sri Lankan actor Jesuthasan Antonythasan after being awarded with the Palme d’Or from his film “Dheepan” during the closing ceremony of the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 24, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANNE-CHRISTINE

The win for “Dheepan” comes at a time when Europe is particularly attuned to the experience of immigrants, following the recent deaths of hundreds crossing the Mediterranean, seeking Italian shores. Jury members, though, said “Dheepan” was chosen for its overall strength as a film, rather than any topicality.

“We all thought it was a very beautiful movie,” said Ethan Coen, calling the decision “swift.” ”Everyone had some high level of excitement and enthusiasm for it.”
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