“I Come From Jaffna And Am Very Proud Of It”

By S.Ratnajeevan H.Hoole

The Older version of He Comes from Jaffna

It was in the 1960s that my parents took me to see the play at the then-new Veerasingham Hall in Jaffna. A key attraction was that producer Ernest MacIntyre and his sister Evelyn had been living within a hundred yards of our home down Chemmany Road with their aunt Mrs. “Engineer Chinnappah” nee MacIntyre, a former teacher at Chundikuli Girls’ College.

I do not remember too much of the play from then except where Durai, the man from Jaffna, came to Colombo with drumsticks, and that scene where to evade a visitor the householder sends his wife to tell the visitor that he is busy in the toilet. And then the visitor insists on waiting. After a long fruitless wait, he remarks that he hears no noise from the toilet. The wife then tells him in a stilted Colombo sing-song accent “No, no. He is in the bathroom next to that bathroom.”

I remember going home happy, listening to contented comments exchanged by my parents. So, when the play was staged 15-17 February 2019 at the Lionel Wendt as the first version had been, I had to go with two of my daughters.

Continue reading ‘“I Come From Jaffna And Am Very Proud Of It”’ »

CID Names Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda as 14th Suspect in Abduction and Murder Of Youths For Ransom by Navy case After Attorney-General Recommends Charges Under Sections 199,200,296 and 338 of Penal Code be Filed Against the Ex – Navy Commander.

By

Anurangi Singh

The Controller General of Immigration and Emigration has been ordered to prevent former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda from leaving the country, after CID sleuths informed court on Friday (22) that the Admiral was a flight risk.

Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake issued the order after OIC, CID Gang Robberies Branch Nishantha Silva filed a B report saying that Admiral Karannagoda had evaded summons to be present at the CID for questioning on Thursday (21).

Notice had been sent to Admiral Karannagoda’s Polhengoda address through the Kirulapone police, but was returned on the basis that the former Navy Chief did not reside on the premises, the CID informed Court. A person identifying himself as the Admiral’s brother had told the police officer that the former Navy Chief was residing in Pitakotte. However, there had been no one at the premises in Baddegana, Pitakotte when police visited to deliver the notice. IP Silva told Court that attempts were made to contact the former Navy Commander on his mobile telephone, but the service has been disconnected.

The CID has written to the Navy’s Legal Division, seeking their assistance to locate the former Commander in a letter dated February 21, 2019, but had not received a reply yet, IP Silva told the Fort Magistrate.

Continue reading ‘CID Names Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda as 14th Suspect in Abduction and Murder Of Youths For Ransom by Navy case After Attorney-General Recommends Charges Under Sections 199,200,296 and 338 of Penal Code be Filed Against the Ex – Navy Commander.’ »

Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda’s Passport Impounded By Colombo Fort Magistrate After CID Informs Court The Former Navy Commander is a Flight Risk as Notices Delivered to Addresses Have Been Returned.

Former Navy Chief Wasantha Karannagoda’s passport was impounded by the Colombo Fort Magistrate last Friday (22), after the CID named him as the 14th suspect in the high profile abduction and murder of 11 young men in 2008-2009 and told Court that the Admiral was a flight risk.

The CID told Court that the Attorney General was planning to indict Karannagoda and 13 others on a slew of charges, including the conspiracy to murder.

Continue reading ‘Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda’s Passport Impounded By Colombo Fort Magistrate After CID Informs Court The Former Navy Commander is a Flight Risk as Notices Delivered to Addresses Have Been Returned.’ »

President Sirisena’s Likening of the 19th Amendment to a ‘legitimate child’ Born Under his Authority who was Thereafter Deformed and Abused is Deplorable, both in Language and in Content.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The admixture of sanctimony and sheer hypocrisy in the condemnation of Sri Lanka’s Constitutional Council (CC) and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution by President Maithripala Sirisena and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Parliament this week is unmistakable.

President Sirisena’s likening of the 19th Amendment to a ‘legitimate child’ born under his authority who was thereafter deformed and abused (presumably) by his warring erstwhile coalition partner, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party, is deplorable, both in language and in content.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s Likening of the 19th Amendment to a ‘legitimate child’ Born Under his Authority who was Thereafter Deformed and Abused is Deplorable, both in Language and in Content.’ »

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa Sidelining TNA Tries to Appoint EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda to the Constitutional Council But Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Refuses to Give His Approval.

A major rift has emerged regarding the composition of the Constitutional Council with Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa insisting on appointing EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda as his nominee on the Council, sidelining the Tamil National Alliance which is the third largest party in the Legislature.

Since Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ruled that former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa will take over as Leader of the Opposition, the TNA has had no representation on the Constitutional Council. Former Speaker and Hambantota District MP Chamal Rajapaksa, who was the nominee of former Opposition Leader and TNA Chief R. Sampanthan, has resigned his seat on the Council, to pave the way for Mahinda Rajapaksa’s CC nominee. However, it is learnt that Chamal Rajapaksa’s resignation is yet to be accepted by President Maithripala Sirisena.

Continue reading ‘Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa Sidelining TNA Tries to Appoint EPDP Leader Douglas Devananda to the Constitutional Council But Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Refuses to Give His Approval.’ »

There Seems to be a Vast Growing Unbanked Economy in Sri Lanka Along With a Grotesque Display of Wealth Showcasing cash.

By

Sanjana Hattotuwa

.

Over lunch with Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda last week, the conversation meandered into anecdotal capture of Sri Lanka’s new capitalism. We talked about snapshots of wealth and its generation, along with its public display through material goods, as distinct from even just a few years ago.

Prof. Uyangoda spoke to what he thought were salient features of this new crass class, and their deep ties with higher echelons of political power.

I shared a few stories with him, which inspired me to pen a column around what I’ve seen and heard in just over a month after returning to Sri Lanka briefly.

Going from Ratmalana to office on a working day, on average, takes around half an hour to just under forty minutes. Office is approximately twelve kilometers away, or slightly more if I choose to take a route that avoids the worst of the congestion at rush hour. Every day for the past month, I’ve kept a rough record of high-end luxury vehicles I’ve seen on the road, aside from the chance encounters – to the delight of my son – of two Aston Martins on weekends in Colombo.

Continue reading ‘There Seems to be a Vast Growing Unbanked Economy in Sri Lanka Along With a Grotesque Display of Wealth Showcasing cash.’ »

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa Urges Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to Stop CID Investigations Into Unruly Violence Unleashed byUPFA MP’sin Parliament in November 2018.

By Saman Indrajith

The UPFA MPs, led by Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, yesterday, urged Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to stop CID investigations into the unruly incidents in the Chamber on Nov 14, 15 and 16 on the basis lawmakers were protected by the parliamentary privileges.

The UPFA appealed to Speaker Jayasuriya after the latter had tabled the report of the Special Parliamentary Committee that investigated the incidents. The report was forwarded to the Parliament Ethics and Privileges Committee.

The UPFA MPs expressed their displeasure at handing over the investigations into the incidents to the Police. However, Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella declared that the law of the land couldn’t be suppressed by parliamentary privileges. He dismissed the UPFA’s arguments against proceeding with the police inquiry.

Continue reading ‘Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa Urges Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to Stop CID Investigations Into Unruly Violence Unleashed byUPFA MP’sin Parliament in November 2018.’ »

Mahinda and Maithripala’s Fight To Reverse the 19th Constitutional Amendment is the Battle to Restore the Autocracy of the Rajapaksas

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

Nineteen is the last of the teen years, and many think that moving to 19 was still being a teenager and not an adult.One had to hit 20/21 for that.

We are caught in a different number issue. Today, 19 is the stuff of crooked political debate. Those who were most active in supporting the move to 19 from 18, in the Constitution, are showing they wish to take a huge step back.

Yes…back to 18. The fight is led by movers of the two amendments to the Constitution, Mahinda Rajapaksa who removed 17 and brought 18, and Maithripala Sirisena, who brought 19 as a pledge given to the people.

Those who worry about being 19, a gap year in life before hitting the responsibilities of adulthood, also know there is no turning back. But it is different with our fight against 19.

What is being promoted, without being said, is to move from the progressive milestone of 19 to the millstone of 18. Take a huge stride back in democracy from the 19th Amendment to the 18th Amendment; a move to restore the autocracy of the Mahinda Rajapaksa Regime.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda and Maithripala’s Fight To Reverse the 19th Constitutional Amendment is the Battle to Restore the Autocracy of the Rajapaksas’ »

Though Enabling Legislation To Exercise Devolved Powers Was Drafted by TNA Nothing was Done Because Former Northern Chief Minister Believed that it Must be Shown that Nothing Positive may be Obtained from the 13th Amendment – M.A. Sumanthiran MP

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

The status of Sri Lanka’s new Constitution is generally subject to several misconceptions, besides confusion over whether it is good or bad, and necessary or not. To clarify these doubts, the Anglican Archdeacon for Jaffna, The Ven. Fr. Sam Ponniah, on behalf of the Church’s Regional Board of Social Responsibility, invited MP M.A. Sumanthiran, and heir-apparent to the TNA MP Rajavarothiam Sampanthan to speak to all priests and Church officials of the Archidiaconate on its merits. In attendance were leaders from Jaffna, the Vanni, Trinco and Batticaloa.

Fr. Ponniah had also invited Justice C.V. Wigneswaran or lawyer K. Guruparan to give a response. The latter two kept stalling, so finally he went ahead to have only Sumanthiran on Saturday 16 February, to speak at the Church of St. John the Baptist, Chundikuli, with the promise to have the Opposition on another day should they ever “find time.”

I am merely making a limited paraphrased record of the 2-hour event, as a Member of the Election Commission with the duty to educate the public on their right to franchise. However, as it is also my duty to promote the franchise of the people, I disclose that I am uncompromisingly for devolution, since it gives everyone the right to a say in his affairs. The meeting-record follows with what Sumanthiran first said, and the questions raised and the answers he provided.

Continue reading ‘Though Enabling Legislation To Exercise Devolved Powers Was Drafted by TNA Nothing was Done Because Former Northern Chief Minister Believed that it Must be Shown that Nothing Positive may be Obtained from the 13th Amendment – M.A. Sumanthiran MP’ »

A Visit to Mali in Africa Where Sri Lankan Soldiers Serving as UN Peacekeepers Were Killed and Injured in an Improvised Explosive Device Attack by a Rebel Group

By

Bandula Jayasekara

There is an element of fire and risk in all of us combined with excitement. That was aroused when an invitation was extended by the Sri Lanka Army, to Sirasa TV News 1st, to visit Mali. As we were making preparations for departure, Mali was in the news, again. Captain HWD Jayawickrema and Corporal Samantha Wijayakumara were killed and several others injured, in an attack by a rebel group using an IED (Improvised Explosive Device).

Everyone who cared, asked me to be careful knowing that Mali was the most dangerous place for UN Peacekeepers. We decided to go ahead with our plan. We wanted to see how Sri Lankan peacekeepers carrying out their duties against all odds. It was also time to reconnect with one of my long lost friends, the very unassuming and gentle Suren de Silva, the ‘Rambo’ cameraman.

Preparations had to be made by getting vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Cholera, Malaria and Meningitis, and more. We knew it was going to be a long flight and transit of about 30 hours from Colombo to Doha to Casablanca to Bamako the capital of Mali, and where the Sri Lanka UN peacekeepers were stationed.

Continue reading ‘A Visit to Mali in Africa Where Sri Lankan Soldiers Serving as UN Peacekeepers Were Killed and Injured in an Improvised Explosive Device Attack by a Rebel Group’ »

Three Former Commanders of the Army,Navy and air Force Express Concern Over Alleged Attempts to Take Ex -Navy Chief Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda Into Custody Over Probe Into War Time Disappearances Allegations.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Three retired service commanders, Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetileke), Admiral Tisara Samarasinghe and General Daya Ratnayake, yesterday, alleged the war winning military was being penalised in terms of the Geneva Resolution co-sponsored by the government, in Oct 2015.

They requested President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, to intervene to ensure those who risked their lives were treated with dignity and honour.

Goonetilleke, who also served as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) after the conclusion of the war emphasised that post-war national reconciliation couldn’t be achieved at the expense of the armed forces.

Retired service chiefs called a special media briefing at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) to bring to public attention what they called a relentless campaign directed against some individuals.

Continue reading ‘Three Former Commanders of the Army,Navy and air Force Express Concern Over Alleged Attempts to Take Ex -Navy Chief Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda Into Custody Over Probe Into War Time Disappearances Allegations.’ »

Board of Investment Targets Jaffna District For Development Through Foreign Investment and Promoting Regional Industrialization.

The Board of Investment has made a significant impact in developing local economies, by implementing the Government’s objective to promote regional industrialisation.

There has been considerable employment generation, boosting of exports, new technology transfers as a result of Foreign Direct Investment inflows.

The Jaffna District is one of the main districts in the Northern Province which the BOI has targeted for development through Foreign Direct Investments.

Continue reading ‘Board of Investment Targets Jaffna District For Development Through Foreign Investment and Promoting Regional Industrialization.’ »

Attacks on Judiciary, Constitutional Council and Speaker Because Rajapaksas Have Realized Their Greatest “Enemy” is the Independence Shown By These Institutions and Fearlessness of Karu Jayasuriya – Mangala Samaraweera in Parliament.

(Text of Speech made by the Minister of Finance and Media, Hon. Mangala Samaraweera during the adjournment debate on the Constitutional Council in Parliament on 21st February 2019)

Hon. Speaker,

• If my memory serves me right, I cannot recall an occasion in Sri Lanka’s recent history when the Executive and the Legislature of Sri Lanka drew as much praise and applause as they did, both from our own citizens and the international community, than on the occasion of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

• It is perhaps the single greatest achievement of this House in recent times, and it stands as President Sirisena’s single greatest achievement since his election to office in January 2015. When, at some point in the future, Sri Lanka pauses to reflect on its history, this piece of legislation will perhaps stand as a milestone, and the beacon that heralded change in Sri Lanka towards good governance and strengthening of democratic institutions that facilitated our nation’s advancement as a strong, vibrant and stable democracy and prosperous and peaceful nation.

• The 19th Amendment that was signed into law on 15 May 2015 by the then Speaker of the House, Hon. MP Chamal Rajapaksa, after being voted in favour by nearly every single Member of this House, was not the result of a personal agenda of an individual or a group of individuals. This was the realization of the vision and the will of the majority of our people who are pro-democratic and progressive minded. It was the result of a movement to which people of our country including the late Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thero, politicians, civil society activists, human rights defenders, students, religious leaders, academics, journalists, artists breathed life and gave momentum.

Continue reading ‘Attacks on Judiciary, Constitutional Council and Speaker Because Rajapaksas Have Realized Their Greatest “Enemy” is the Independence Shown By These Institutions and Fearlessness of Karu Jayasuriya – Mangala Samaraweera in Parliament.’ »

Opinion Piece About Sri Lanka by British Politician Lord Naseby is Inundated With False and Misleading Claims and Provides an Incorrect Portrayal of the War.

By Taylor Dibbert

Sri Lanka’s civil war ended tragically in May 2009. Ten years on, the wounds of war remain unhealed. That has significant implications for the country’s future trajectory and ensures that, absent some big changes, a return to violence at some later date cannot be ruled out. Besides, victims and their family members deserve justice.

Unfortunately, a recent opinion piece by Lord Naseby, a British politician, is inundated with false and misleading claims. Naseby incorrectly describes how the war ended. He also paints a misleading portrayal of the current state of play. Moreover, his suggestion that the country no longer warrants international scrutiny is just plain wrong. I won’t rebut all the misinformation in Naseby’s piece, but let’s look at some key issues.

Continue reading ‘Opinion Piece About Sri Lanka by British Politician Lord Naseby is Inundated With False and Misleading Claims and Provides an Incorrect Portrayal of the War.’ »

“The Man Who Would Be King”: Remembering Anura Bandaranaike On His 70th Birth Anniversary

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

‘The Man Who Would Be King’ is the title of a long tale written by Rudyard Kipling in 1888. This very popular story was made into a successful film starring Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer by the well-known director John Huston in 1975.

Anura Priyadarshi Solomon Dias Bandaranaike~(February 15, 1949 – March 16, 2008)

The objective of this article however is not to write about the story or film but to focus on a man who had always wanted to be king but was never able to mount the throne. A man who was the son of two Sri Lankan Prime Ministers and was often referred to as the “Crown Prince” within the context of Sri Lanka’s dynastic politics. A man who held many high posts but was never the prime minister or president of this country and in that context was termed “the Crown Prince who was not crowned king”. I write of Anura Bandaranaike, known generally as Anura, whose 70th birth anniversary was commemorated on Feb 15th.
Continue reading ‘“The Man Who Would Be King”: Remembering Anura Bandaranaike On His 70th Birth Anniversary’ »

Marie Colvin: Courageous Journalist Who Lost an Eye in Sri Lanka and Her Life In Syria.

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Journalists in the line of duty are required to write about different people from all walks of life but it is very rarely that they write about themselves or fellow journalists. It is accepted as part of a scribe’s lot in life. As far as the fourth estate is concerned it goes with the territory. Sadly if at all we do write about a journalist it is only after he or she passes away. It is against this backdrop therefore that I write this week about a woman journalist who was regarded as the greatest war correspondent of her generation. I am of course referring to Marie Colvin who paid the supreme price seven years ago while covering the fighting in Syria.Some years before that she lost an eye while reporting in Sri Lanka.

Marie Catherine Colvin (January 12, 1956 – February 22, 2012)

Marie Catherine Colvin the respected war correspondent of Britain’s “Sunday Times” was targeted and killed on February 22, 2012 by Syrian forces as she reported on the suffering of civilians in Homs, Syria. At the time of her death, Marie Colvin was reporting from the Baba Amr Media Center, a makeshift broadcast studio run by Syrian media activists in a secret facility located in a residential building. The rocket attack also killed acclaimed French photographer, Rémi Ochlik, and injured British photographer Paul Conroy, Syrian translator Wael al-Omar, and French journalist Edith Bouvier.A Syrian photo journalist was also killed in the attack.
Continue reading ‘Marie Colvin: Courageous Journalist Who Lost an Eye in Sri Lanka and Her Life In Syria.’ »

Despicable Onslaughts on Judges on the Floor of the House by Rajapaksa Supporters are Part of a Well Orchestrated Plot to Undermine Even the Constitutional Minimum That we Have Now

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

It is a matter for raucous entertainment when Sri Lanka’s opposition Members of Parliament, some with the proud boast of associating with known racketeers and jumping from one party to another while others are taped offering bribes to legislators to cross the floor, accuse the country’s Constitutional Council (CC) of being ‘biased’ and ‘corrupt’.

The reality of a constitutional compromise

It is also no coincidence, as emphasised last week, that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his salivating faithful, along with President Maithripala Sirisena, have been launching ferocious frontal attacks at the CC since the frustration of their extra-constitutional coup late last year. These attacks have increased in intensity this week, necessitating an objective rebuttal with the expending of energy better spent on more productive matters.

That apart, this is no dewy-eyed defence of the CC as some would prefer. Equalizing the CC under the 19th Amendment with its predecessor under the 17th Amendment is a farcical exercise. Those who attempt it, though fully knowing better, should be ashamed of themselves. Under the 17th Amendment to the Constitution (2001) piloted by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), the CC comprised of a majority of non-political members which by itself, distinguished that body from the pale shadow that came into being under the 19th Amendment.

Yet as realists would argue, (and I am differentiating these from the witless few who protest ostrich-like that the 19th Amendment has no flaws), this was a compromise brought about by the degenerative political environment in which that amendment was passed in haste. The fact that it contained inherent contradictions, ranging from a clumsily framed right to information to confused executive powers vis a vis the legislature as we saw all too well recently, was inevitable.

Continue reading ‘Despicable Onslaughts on Judges on the Floor of the House by Rajapaksa Supporters are Part of a Well Orchestrated Plot to Undermine Even the Constitutional Minimum That we Have Now’ »

CID has not yet Sought to Arrest Former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda Despite Having Reported Significant Evidence of his Possible Involvement in the Murders to the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court.

By

Maneshka Borham

Investigators of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) are closing in on a former top aide of former Navy Commander, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda in connection with the Navy abduction for ransom racket. According to sources, the aide, now a wanted suspect currently serving as a Chief Petty Officer in the Naval intelligence is believed to have been part of the abduction for ransom gang accused of kidnapping 11 youth from 2008 – 2009.

The suspect was summoned to the CID for questioning on February 6. Responding to the CID, a Deputy Solicitor General attached to the Navy had said that the officer cannot be produced to the CID for ‘national security’ reasons until after February 25. According to a Defence Ministry official the Navy has been asked to produce the suspect, escorted by a senior Navy officer, to the CID on February 26.

Karannagoda is now getting ready to file a Fundamental Rights petition to prevent his arrest by the CID in connection with the eleven murders, according to a prosecutor. A senior police officer said the CID has not yet sought to arrest the former Navy Commander despite having reported significant evidence of his possible involvement in the murders to the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court.

The former Navy Commander last year denied allegations that he had advance knowledge of the murders or had sanctioned them. Karanagoda made these denials after multiple witnesses including his former Naval Secretary, Rear Admiral Shemal Fernando, provided evidence of these allegations to the CID.

Continue reading ‘CID has not yet Sought to Arrest Former Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda Despite Having Reported Significant Evidence of his Possible Involvement in the Murders to the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court.’ »

Confrontation Between Executive Presidency and Constitutional Council Has Resulted in Another Constitutional Crisis Where There is no Constitutionally Established Court of Appeal.

By

J.C.Weliyamuna PC

Sri Lanka today faces another constitutional crisis. At the centre of the crisis is the dynamic between the Constitutional Council, a creation of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, and the executive presidency, itself a creation of the 1978 Constitution. Both the executive powers of the President and the powers of the Constitutional Council are the laws of the land, set into stone through our country’s cherished democratic process. It is a grave threat to the foundations of our very democracy that several seasoned parliamentarians and lawyers, who should know better, are trying to trick the country into believing otherwise.

To understand the Constitutional Council and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that created it, one must understand the dynamic that prevailed between the executive, legislative and judiciary branches of government before the 19th Amendment was signed into law on May 15, 2015 by Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, after being voted for by nearly every single Member of the 225-strong Parliament, including all but one MP of the UPFA.

Before this landmark piece of legislation became law, it was the case that the President of Sri Lanka enjoyed sweeping powers to unilaterally appoint and promote all judges, police officers, prosecutors and public servants in the country. The co-called Parliamentary Council acted as merely a rubber stamp for Mahinda Rajapaksa, who took control of Parliament, emasculated to the 17th Amendment and enacted the 18th Amendment with three specific objectives.

The first was to remove the two-term limit on the executive presidency so that he could effectively become President for life. The second was to abolish all authorities that could have acted as a check on the President’s power to make constitutional appointments. The third and final objective was to bring the entire executive branch of the Government on its knees to the executive president, who with almost royal prerogative had control over their appointments, promotions, transfers and welfare.

Continue reading ‘Confrontation Between Executive Presidency and Constitutional Council Has Resulted in Another Constitutional Crisis Where There is no Constitutionally Established Court of Appeal.’ »

If DA Rajapaksa Museum Trial Starts as On Feb 22 the Public Will Be Exposed For the First Time to Evidence In a Court of Law Alleging Illegal Conduct by ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

By

Manoj Colambage

If the D.A Rajapaksa Museum trial starts as scheduled on Friday (22), it will mark the first time the public will be exposed to evidence in a court of law, alleging illegal conduct by the former Defence Secretary after his lawyers spent years trying to stall criminal proceedings against him through a slew of investigations

An unanimous ruling last Monday (11) by the three-judge Bench of the Permanent High Court Trial, dismissing objections filed by President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva against the court’s jurisdiction to proceed with the trial of Gotabaya Rajapaksa and six others for charges including criminal misappropriation of Rs. 33 million of public funds for the construction of a mausoleum for Rajapaksa’s parents, may be the turning point for the former Defence Secretary’s nearly four-year-long effort to forestall various criminal proceedings against him.

While Gotabaya Rajapaksa has staked the most overt claim to a presidential candidacy of all his kin, by drawing attention to his discipline, patriotism and bravery, he remains the only member of the Rajapaksa family to shy from arrest and indictment. He sought and received superior court orders to block five different criminal proceedings against him over the last four years. Neither Namal nor Yoshitha Rajapaksa have sought residency or citizenship abroad, nor expressed the slightest hesitation to answer the charges against them in open court, notwithstanding the serious criminal charges they face.

The Criminal Investigation Department opened an investigation into the Defence Ministry’s complicity in the floating armouries of Nissanka Senadhipathi and Avant Garde Maritime Services. The new Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID) began an investigation into the 2006 ‘MiG Deal’, and the Bribery Commission began investigating share price manipulation at Lanka Hospitals PLC, where Rajapaksa served as Chairman in his official capacity.

In March 2015, the Galle Magistrates Court ordered that the passports of Rajapaksa and four others be impounded, and their foreign travel barred, in connection with the floating armoury investigation underway by the CID.

On May 11, 2015, Gotabaya Rajapaksa filed Fundamental Rights Petition SC FR 163/2015 with the Supreme Court, seeking an order from the Supreme Court barring what he called his “imminent arrest”, which he characterized as an “imminent violation” of his Fundamental Rights. The case was heard on May 13, 2015 before a two-judge bench chaired by Justice Eva Wanasundera. Romesh de Silva PC and A. Sabry PC appeared for Rajapaksa. One judge, Buwenaka Aluwihare, recused himself from hearing the case.

Continue reading ‘If DA Rajapaksa Museum Trial Starts as On Feb 22 the Public Will Be Exposed For the First Time to Evidence In a Court of Law Alleging Illegal Conduct by ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’ »

Kusal Perera Scoring 153 N.O Puts on Unbeaten Last Wicket Partnership of 78 Runs With Vishwa Fernando Enabling Sri Lanka To Register Sensational One-Wicket Victory Over South Africa in Durban.

Kusal Perera carried Sri Lanka to a sensational one-wicket win on the fourth day of the first Test against South Africa at Kingsmead on Saturday as he hit a career-best 153 not out.

Perera and Vishwa Fernando put on an unbeaten 78 in a last-wicket partnership to secure Sri Lanka’s second win in 14 Test matches in South Africa.

Victory seemed unlikely when the ninth wicket fell with the total on 226, with the tourists chasing a target of 304.

Continue reading ‘Kusal Perera Scoring 153 N.O Puts on Unbeaten Last Wicket Partnership of 78 Runs With Vishwa Fernando Enabling Sri Lanka To Register Sensational One-Wicket Victory Over South Africa in Durban.’ »

The Main Choice at the Next Presidential Election will be Straightforward – Does Sri Lanka Return to Authoritarian Rajapaksa Rule or not.

By

Tisaranee Gunasekara

“We were on the Titanic and everyone knew it was hitting the iceberg”
– Eric Hobsbawm (Interesting Times)

In a few months, we, the Lankan voters, will be asked to make a choice that history may well term tragic. The UNP, the SLFP, the SLPP and the JVP have all expressed an interest in entering the presidential race. President Sirisena, if he is insensible enough to contest, will find himself in the ignominious position of vying with the JVP for the third place. At the next presidential election, the real battle will be between the nominees of the UNP and the SLPP.

A Rajapaksa victory will return Sri Lanka to the authoritarian path. Familial rule will be restored, alongside Rajapaksa-led militarisation of civil spaces. The freedoms gained in the last four years will either be rolled back (19th Amendment) or retained only as facades (the Right to Information Act). Extremism will become the norm (monk Galaboda-Atte Gnanasara will be as free as a bird) and violence the preferred solution to most problems (starting with dissent). Civil liberties will be undermined in the name of restoring discipline while Rajapaksa acolytes run riot with total impunity. It is instructive to remember that during the previous Rajapaksa rule, the monitoring MP of defence and his cohorts gunned down a presidential adviser in broad daylight; and a hand-picked head of a local council and his cohorts gang-raped a Russian tourist and murdered her British fiancé. That was how the haven of discipline worked in reality.

The main choice at the next presidential election will be straightforward – does Sri Lanka return to Rajapaksa rule or not. And it will be presented so by the two main contending formations – the SLPP as a promise and the UNP as a threat. The SLPP will use the ‘Mahinda magic’ to enthuse true believers into voting for a candidate who is not Mahinda Rajapaksa. The UNP will use the ‘Rajapaksa threat’ to recreate the moment and the mood of January 2015. The way the political landscape is today, the SLPP’s chances of success are substantially greater than that of the UNP.

Continue reading ‘The Main Choice at the Next Presidential Election will be Straightforward – Does Sri Lanka Return to Authoritarian Rajapaksa Rule or not.’ »

“When there is a war situation, there are certain things you must do. When the war ends, you do not repeat the same. You cannot judge a person by what he did during a war situation” – “ Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in “Daily Mirror” Interview

By
Kelum Bandara

Since the defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa four years ago, there has been speculation in the political circles that his brother and Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, known as an efficient administrator, would come forward as the next Presidential candidate.

His Viyathmaga movement was seen as a launching pad in this direction. Recently speaking at one of its meetings he publicly stated that if the people were ready for a Presidential election he was ready too.

The following are excerpts of an interview done with him for “Daily Mirror”

Q
You said that if the people were ready you were ready for the presidential elections. Is it an indication that you will contest the Presidential election at the end of this year?

A;
The most important person to decide on it is Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. However, many requests have been made from me and that is why I said so.

Q
Many people are talking about your US citizenship which is a barrier to contesting the Presidential Elections. Have you renounced it?

A;

That is finalised. No worry about it.

Q

In case, you become the candidate, what are your plans for the country?

Continue reading ‘“When there is a war situation, there are certain things you must do. When the war ends, you do not repeat the same. You cannot judge a person by what he did during a war situation” – “ Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in “Daily Mirror” Interview’ »

Hangman Rope Trick Masterminded by Maithripala Sirisena for his “Ellungass Senakeliya” (Hangman’s Carnival) May Beat all Rope Tricks of Indian Magicians

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

The debate about the Indian rope trick described as the world’s greatest illusion continues. But we have now moved to our own Rope Trick age. President Sirisena is showing signs of possibly beating all those Indian magicians by making a big performance of his own Rope Trick.

He cannot trust a Sri Lankan rope for his trick, with a possible May Day performance. It has to be imported – guess from where – India or China. There is a lot of rope in today’s dealings with those countries.

It is not any rope that is needed for this show of political chicanery. It has to be the Hangman’s Rope. He is no more satisfied with the ‘kaduva’ or sword against crime or corruption, about which he boasted a while ago. Whatever he has left of Yahapalana thinking, because most of it has now gone to ‘yamapalana’, now requires nothing less than the hangman’s rope.

Continue reading ‘Hangman Rope Trick Masterminded by Maithripala Sirisena for his “Ellungass Senakeliya” (Hangman’s Carnival) May Beat all Rope Tricks of Indian Magicians’ »

Depending Upon Toxicology Reports , the Singers Amal and Son Nadeemal Perera Along With 15 Others Are Likely to Be Released With a Fine and Ordered To Be Deported to Sri Lanka When Case Is Taken Up Before Courts in Dubai on Feb 27 Say Lawyers

By
Rukshana Rizwie

Singers Amal and his son Nadeemal Perera who were arrested at Makandure Madush’s son’s birthday party in Dubai are likely to be released on conditional bail. This is upon a settlement of a fine along with 15 others who would be deported to Sri Lanka once the case is taken up on February 27, lawyers told the Daily News.

“We spoke at length with Bur Dubai Police and the Public Prosecutor (PP). Nadeemal and Amal wish to return to Dubai for performances so we have requested that their visas not be revoked. Their visit was sponsored for by a third party and the duo did not have any knowledge that it was a party for Madush’s son. They have no links to any of the criminals who are under arrest,” lawyer Shabdika Wellappili told the Daily News from Dubai. “The Public Prosecutor has agreed that depending on the toxicology results, a lenient sentence would be passed and the duo with 15 others are to be deported.”

Continue reading ‘Depending Upon Toxicology Reports , the Singers Amal and Son Nadeemal Perera Along With 15 Others Are Likely to Be Released With a Fine and Ordered To Be Deported to Sri Lanka When Case Is Taken Up Before Courts in Dubai on Feb 27 Say Lawyers’ »

USA Should not Emphasise Human Rights and Democracy too Much When Working in Sri Lanka Says Ex-Navy Commander Dr.Jayanath Colombage to Visiting US Officials at Round Table Discussion.

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Former Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Admiral Dr. Jayanath Colombage, yesterday, told American officials including Assistant Secretary to the US Department of State Thomas L. Vajda that the United States should not place too much emphasis on human rights and democracy when working in Sri Lanka. He said so at a roundtable discussion on the Indo-Pacific Region held at the Taj Samudra in Colombo.

“Sri Lanka is in a dangerous situation. We have never been in this kind of situation before. Our economic growth is slightly above that of Afghanistan. This is worse that during the 30 years we had the war; even during the war the economy grew, Colombage said, stressing the need for significant US engagement with Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘USA Should not Emphasise Human Rights and Democracy too Much When Working in Sri Lanka Says Ex-Navy Commander Dr.Jayanath Colombage to Visiting US Officials at Round Table Discussion.’ »

While Many Lawyers Went To Dubai to Watch Interests of Arrested Persons , No Representative of the Police Has Gone to Monitor Investigations and Legal Action Against Makandura Madush in Dubai.

by Hemantha Randunu

Police have not sent a single representative to Dubai to monitor legal action against notorious underworld criminal Makandure Madush, Police sources claim.

However, several lawyers have gone to Dubai to represent the suspects and are feeding the media with wrong information, a senior police officer said, adding that the police should have immediately sent a representative to monitor the investigations in that country.

Continue reading ‘While Many Lawyers Went To Dubai to Watch Interests of Arrested Persons , No Representative of the Police Has Gone to Monitor Investigations and Legal Action Against Makandura Madush in Dubai.’ »

Two Individuals Were Behind Assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge, Disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda and Abduction -Assault of Keith Noyahr Says Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa::: Is Gota Referring to Sarath Fonseka and Champika Ranawaka?

Former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said two individuals were behind the assassination of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, the assault on journalist Keith Noyahr and the disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Mr. Rajapaksa said he was not involved in any of these things including the disappearance of Ekneligoda.

“We did not want to do such things. These were done purely for personal reasons by two individuals. I do not want to name them. Immediately after Lasantha’s killing, the then Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and former MP Joseph Michael Perera categorically said in parliament that it was the work of the then army commander. After that when the army commander joined hands with them and decided to contest elections in 2010, they did not talk about it. Thereafter, they put the blame on me,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Two Individuals Were Behind Assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge, Disappearance of Prageeth Ekneligoda and Abduction -Assault of Keith Noyahr Says Ex Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa::: Is Gota Referring to Sarath Fonseka and Champika Ranawaka?’ »

Ranil Takes Potshots at Maithripala by Saying that Bankrupt Politicians Cant Come To Parliament and Make Baseless Statements Criticising Independent Commissions and Attacking The Judiciary Like a “Football”.


Criticising independent Commissions as well as attacking the independent Judiciary will weaken the control and eradication of narcotics, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday.

Speaking at an event in Maligawatte today, the Premier said bankrupt politicians cannot be allowed to use the Judiciary as a “football”, and if they come to Parliament and make baseless statements, the people will ultimately suffer the consequences.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Takes Potshots at Maithripala by Saying that Bankrupt Politicians Cant Come To Parliament and Make Baseless Statements Criticising Independent Commissions and Attacking The Judiciary Like a “Football”.’ »

SWRD Bandaranaike Was Lanka’s Pioneering Proponent Of Federalism

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Constitution reform or Constitution making process appears to be at a standstill. Apart from the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) all other political parties represented in the Constitutional Assembly do not seem keen on taking the process forward at this juncture. The chief reason for this lethargy seems to be real and imaginary concerns over impending elections in the near future. The presidential elections are definitely due this year. At the same time Parliamentary and/or Provincial council elections too cannot be ruled out. With prospective elections looming large across the political horizon – our political parties who seldom display positive political courage – are reluctant register forward movement on the Constitutional front.

SWRD Bandaranaike

This does not mean that the Constitutional journey has come to an end.It only means that there is a pause or respite. Even though Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is playing his characteristic word games , it is indeed a fact that the “first draft of a draft Constitution” has been formulated. It requires fine-tuning and finalization. This does not seem possible at this juncture. What is required now is not an abandoning of the constitutional process but to put it on hold for a while. In any case there is very little choice in the matter and in a sense the emphasis on patience being the need of the hour amounts to making a virtue out of necessity. Besides it is better to let the Constitutional process be temporarily dormant and preserve it. Attempting to fast track it in a not so conducive environment may prove counter productive.
Continue reading ‘SWRD Bandaranaike Was Lanka’s Pioneering Proponent Of Federalism’ »

STF or Sri Lankan Police Officials Had Nothing to do with Arrest of Makandure Madush and Others Done by Dubai Police Alone Says Lawyer Udul Premaratne Representing Singer Amal Perera and son Nadeemal.

Attorney-at-law Udul Premaratne, now in Dubai to represent singer Amal Perera and his son Nadeemal Perera, who are under Bur Dubai Police custody with the notorious organised criminal and drug smuggler Makandure Madush, claimed that the raid was not a joint collaboration between Dubai and Sri Lankan law enforcement authorities, but only carried out by the Dubai Police.

“They carried out a well-organised raid on a tip off and there was no connection with the Sri Lankan Police or STF to raid the suspects at the party,” Premaratne, who is scheduled to meet the Prosecution Officer (PO) of the Bur Dubai Police Station, told the Daily FT.

He said that he didn’t find any proof that any Sri Lankan law enforcement official joined from Sri Lanka to assist the Dubai Police officials who carried out the unexpected raid.

“They have carried out the operation on a tip off given by their intelligence agents,” he said, adding that he was able to talk to Amal Perera and his son in custody on Monday.

Continue reading ‘STF or Sri Lankan Police Officials Had Nothing to do with Arrest of Makandure Madush and Others Done by Dubai Police Alone Says Lawyer Udul Premaratne Representing Singer Amal Perera and son Nadeemal.’ »

PHU Leader Udaya Gammanpila MP Defends UPFA Parliamentarian Niroshan Premaratne Saying There is no Basis for Allegation that the Matara District MP Had Laundered Money or Invested Funds on Behalf of Drug Kingpin Mkadure Madush.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader and UPFA member Udaya Gammanpila, yesterday, claimed that so far there was no basis for allegations that UPFA Matara District MP Niroshan Premaratne had laundered underworld kingpin Makadure Madush’s drug money.

Those who accused MP Premaratne of money laundering owed an explanation as to how they had arrived at that conclusion, attorney-at-law Gammanpila said. The Colombo District MP said so when the media sought his views on the allegations against MP Premaratne, at the weekly PHU media briefing.

National Freedom Front (NFF) member, Premaratne, a former employee of the state-run ITN, contested the last parliamentary election on the UPFA ticket.

Continue reading ‘PHU Leader Udaya Gammanpila MP Defends UPFA Parliamentarian Niroshan Premaratne Saying There is no Basis for Allegation that the Matara District MP Had Laundered Money or Invested Funds on Behalf of Drug Kingpin Mkadure Madush.’ »

No Narcotics Offence Related Case Has Been Filed Against Drug Kingpin Makandure Madush in Sri Lankan Courts So Far: Only Implicated in Two Pending Cases of Killing a Politician and Mass Muredr of Rival Gangsters

By Hemantha Randunu

No cases have been filed against the underworld leader Makandure Madush regarding the sale of narcotics, Police sources say.

Although Madush had been involved in drug dealing the police had no evidence to prove his drug links, sources said. “He has been doing narcotic business from Dubai so the police have failed to arrest him.”

Continue reading ‘No Narcotics Offence Related Case Has Been Filed Against Drug Kingpin Makandure Madush in Sri Lankan Courts So Far: Only Implicated in Two Pending Cases of Killing a Politician and Mass Muredr of Rival Gangsters’ »

Makandure Madush and 30 Others Arrested In Dubai Have Not Been Produced in Courts So Far but Toxicology Reports Have Been Filed as part of Preliminary Investigations:INTERPOL Not Involved In Case.

By

Rukshana Rizwie

Wanted criminal Makandure Madush and 30 others who were arrested as part of a sting operation have not been produced before Dubai courts. This is only because the preliminary toxicology reports have been furnished and the group is to be produced courts later this week officials said.

“The arrested individuals have not been produced before courts, only the toxicology reports were filed last week, which is part of the preliminary investigation. The group is expected to be produced this week,” sources said.

Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization have ruled out any involvement in the case adding that the arrests of individuals on their wanted lists are “done by the respective member countries in accordance with national legislation.”

Continue reading ‘Makandure Madush and 30 Others Arrested In Dubai Have Not Been Produced in Courts So Far but Toxicology Reports Have Been Filed as part of Preliminary Investigations:INTERPOL Not Involved In Case.’ »

Basil Rajapaksa Vetoes Maithripala Sirisena Indirectly by Re-iterating that Next Presidential Election Candidate Will Be Member of SLPP Contesting Under Pohottuwa symbol.

By Nuwan Senarathna

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) national organiser Basil Rajapaksa yesterday said the Party members will not support anyone outside the party as a Presidential candidate under any circumstance, and the candidate would have to contest under the Party’s flower bud symbol.

Rajapaksa expressed these views during a meeting held at Party headquarters between Gampaha District Local Government members of SLPP.

SLPP commenced a series of meetings between Local Government members of the Party from 5 February. The meetings were held based on the Districts.

During Monday’s meeting, Local Government members raised their concerns over the Presidential candidate and the statements of certain Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) MPs over the possibility of naming President Maithripala Sirisena as the Presidential candidate.

Continue reading ‘Basil Rajapaksa Vetoes Maithripala Sirisena Indirectly by Re-iterating that Next Presidential Election Candidate Will Be Member of SLPP Contesting Under Pohottuwa symbol.’ »

Colombo Permanent High Court -at-bar Issues Ruling That It has Jurisdiction to Hear the DA Rajapaksa Museum Case and Rejects Two Preliminary Objections Raised By Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s Defence Counsel


By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Colombo Permanent High Court-at-Bar yesterday overruled preliminary objections raised by former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and six others in the D.A. Rajapaksa Museum case.

While, overruling the preliminary objections raised by the defence, the Trial-at-Bar Bench comprising High Court Judges Sampath Abeykoon (President), Sampath Wijeratne and Champa Janaki Rajaratne held that the Permanent High Court-at-Bar has jurisdiction to hear this case and thereby rejected the two preliminary objections raised by the defence.

The Permanent High Court-at-Bar observed that Permanent the High Court-at-Bar was established through the provisions of Judicature (Amendment) Act, No. 9 of 2018 and the indictments have been filed with the approval of the Chief Justice.

Continue reading ‘Colombo Permanent High Court -at-bar Issues Ruling That It has Jurisdiction to Hear the DA Rajapaksa Museum Case and Rejects Two Preliminary Objections Raised By Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s Defence Counsel’ »

“There is only one Country that is Joined by Destiny with Sri Lanka, and that is India” Says Indian Envoy Taranjit Singh Sandhu

In an apparent message to China and pro-Sino lobbies, Indian High Commissioner Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Sunday highlighted how supportive his country has been to Sri Lanka and urged the nation to benefit from the giant neighbour’s success story by virtue of destiny.

Speaking at the a reception to commemorate the 70th Republic Day of India and 71st Independence Day of Sri Lanka on Sunday at the Taj Samudra, Taranjit was emphatic that Sri Lanka is special for India.

“If there is one country which has built 47,000 houses free in Sri Lanka, it is India. We will construct another 16,000 houses all over Sri Lanka. If there is one country which has completed 71 development projects in all part of Sri Lanka in almost sectors under grants, it is India. If there is one country which has gifted its crown jewel Buddhism to this island, it is India. If there is one country which has responded with men and material within hours of been struck by natural disasters, it is India,” reiterated the Indian envoy.

Continue reading ‘“There is only one Country that is Joined by Destiny with Sri Lanka, and that is India” Says Indian Envoy Taranjit Singh Sandhu’ »

Neelan Tiruchelvam’s Absence Felt In The Making Of a New Constitution

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sri Lanka approaching her seventy-first anniversary of gaining freedom from the United Kingdom is presently in the midst of an interesting politico-legal phase. The Island nation is engaged in formulating a new Constitution. The country from the time of Independence has had three Constitutions so far. The current exercise if successful would result in Lanka getting a fourth Constitution. At a facetious level this would re-invigorate the old joke about a bookseller who told a prospective customer that he does not sell “periodicals” when asked for a copy of the Sri Lankan constitution. On a more serious note the frequent unmaking and making of Constitutions in Lanka reminds one of Dr. Rohan Edirisinghe’s pithy observation about “Constitutions without Constitutionalism”.

Neelan Tiruchelvam (January 31, 1944 – July 29, 1999) – Portrait held during a Memorial Lecture in his honour – pic by: Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Even as these Constitution formulating efforts go on a great feeling of sadness envelopes me. I cannot but help thinking of a man whose passion was for Constitutional reform who is no more with us today. A man who could have rendered a very great service and provided a positive sense of direction to the current Constitutional project were he alive today. A man whose loss is acutely felt by the Sri Lankan Tamils in particular and Sri Lanka in general at this juncture when Constitutional history is being made. The man for whom I have the greatest regard and affection is Dr.Neelakandan Tiruchelvam known as Neelan Tiruchelvam whose 75th Birth anniversary will be celebrated this week.
Continue reading ‘Neelan Tiruchelvam’s Absence Felt In The Making Of a New Constitution’ »

Seventy Years Of Independence and the Tamils of Sri Lanka

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(This article published to denote the 70th anniversary of Ceylon/Sri Lanka’s independence from British rule is being re-posted without any changes to mark the 71st Independence day on Geb 4th 2019)

Three score and ten years have passed since Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon gained Independence from Britain on February 4th 1948. The Island nation has been under colonial bondage for a very long period. Portugese rule came first in 1505,followed by Dutch rule in 1658.Finally came British rule in 1796 that lasted until 1948. It was the British who unified the Island under a single administration in 1833. They also introduced universal franchise and electoral representation through the State Council in 1931.

Event at Galle Face, Feb 4, 2018-pic via: facebook.com/maithripalas/

The Queen congratulates Sri Lanka on 70 years of independence

via: http://royalcentral.co.uk/other/the-queen-congratulates-sri-lanka-on-70-years-of-independence-95709

Sri Lanka will celebrate her seventieth anniversary of Independence tomorrow February 4th 2018. Completing 70 years of freedom is indeed a significant milepost.Independent Sri Lanka or Ceylon has faced many challenges and problems in the past 70 years. We have had military coup attempts, communal riots, pogroms, armed revolts, external military intervention, assassinations of heads of state, terrorist violence and above all a long secessionist war that threatened to tear apart the country.
Continue reading ‘Seventy Years Of Independence and the Tamils of Sri Lanka’ »

Investigations Reveal Details of 80 Politicians Comprising Pradeshiya Sabha Heads, Provincial Councillors and MP”s from Different Political Parties With Alleged Links to Arrested Drug Kinpin Makandure Madush.

State intelligence units have uncovered details of eighty (80) politicians who had links with the underworld gang leader Makandure Madush.

Police sources say that the PS chairmen, provincial councilors and members of parliament of different political parties are in this list.

This information has been revealed when interrogating some leading criminals including Madush, who were arrested in Dubai.

Continue reading ‘Investigations Reveal Details of 80 Politicians Comprising Pradeshiya Sabha Heads, Provincial Councillors and MP”s from Different Political Parties With Alleged Links to Arrested Drug Kinpin Makandure Madush.’ »

President Sirisena Attempts Again To Claim Credit for Recent Police Action Against Members of the Underworld and Drug Mafia in Dubai and Sri Lanka.


President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday made another attempt to get credit for the current STF operations against drug kingpins and underworld criminals.

Addressing a function in Polonnaruwa, President Sirisena said he had started “polishing” the Police service, and went on to question what the ministers in charge of the Police service did over the last 25-30 years.

“Three months after I took over the Department of Police, there is an all-out war against drugs and the underworld. None of the other ministers who overlooked the Police service before, allowed it to function as an effective law enforcement unit,” Sirisena said.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Attempts Again To Claim Credit for Recent Police Action Against Members of the Underworld and Drug Mafia in Dubai and Sri Lanka.’ »

16 More Including Drug Smuggler Angoda Lokka Arrested by Dubai Police; Drug Dealers Andarawatte Chamara and Shanaka Madhushan Alias “Olu Mara” Arrested in Mattakkuliya and Wennappuwa: Group of Makandure Madush Associates Nabbed in Matara.

By

Wijayani Edirisinghe, Rakshana Sriyantha and Lahiru Fernando

The Dubai Police yesterday had arrested drug smuggler Angoda Lokka, an associate of Makandure Madush who fled the scene when Dubai Police arrested Madush and another 16 suspects last Tuesday.

He has been arrested by the police when he was hiding at another hotel in Dubai, Police Special Task Force (STF) said. The blood samples had revealed Angoda Lokka was under the influence of Hashish.

Meanwhile, Makandure Madush and other suspects who were arrested earlier were produced before the Dubai Courts yesterday morning.

Continue reading ‘16 More Including Drug Smuggler Angoda Lokka Arrested by Dubai Police; Drug Dealers Andarawatte Chamara and Shanaka Madhushan Alias “Olu Mara” Arrested in Mattakkuliya and Wennappuwa: Group of Makandure Madush Associates Nabbed in Matara.’ »

Downfall in Dubai of Sri Lanka’s Most Wanted Drug Dealer Kingpin Samarasinghe Arachchilage Madush Lakshitha infamously alias Makandure Madush a.k.a. Ajith Avanka Wickramasinghe

By

Maneshka Borham

Notorious criminal and Sri Lanka’s most wanted drug kingpin Samarasinghe Arachchilage Madush Lakshitha infamously known as Makandure Madush, was arrested by Dubai law enforcement officials in an extraordinary raid this week.

At the time of his arrest, Madush had been on the run for over two years, evading the Sri Lankan Police successfully while living a comfortable life in Dubai and carrying out his criminal activities from the Middle Eastern country.

However, now his crime spree appears to have been ended by friends turned foes who tipped off the Dubai Police, leading to his unexpected arrest.

In a remarkable turn of events, the Dubai Police not only arrested Madush but also a host of other suspects now identified as prominent members of the Sri Lankan underworld.

While Dubai Police have commenced investigations into the group and their activities, according to informed sources it was a devious plan hatched by yet another group of underworld figures that led to Madush and his gang’s eventual arrests.

Continue reading ‘Downfall in Dubai of Sri Lanka’s Most Wanted Drug Dealer Kingpin Samarasinghe Arachchilage Madush Lakshitha infamously alias Makandure Madush a.k.a. Ajith Avanka Wickramasinghe’ »

Timing and Pattern of Attacks on Constitutional Council and Human Rights Commission by President Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa Supporters Are Neither a Co-incidence Nor Random.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

It is no matter for jest when the President of a country publicly singles out national oversight institutions for ferocious censure. And without a doubt, it is even worse when that institution happens to be a national human rights institution.

By the very nature of the work that it does and the statutory mandate on which it is obliged to act, it is perhaps the most vulnerable of oversight agencies and needs support by the political constituency as well as by the public.

Profoundly unclear logic in the criticism

This week, betraying all these cautions, President Maithripala Sirisena went for the jugular of Sri Lanka’s National Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, alleging among other things, that the deaths of two Sri Lankan peacekeepers in Mali would have been avoided if the Commission had not delayed clearances of members of the military selected for peacekeeping activities overseas.

Put politely, the logic, if any, in the President’s allegation remained profoundly unclear. It appeared that his thinking was that, if the clearances had been accelerated by the Commission, the two soldiers would have returned to Sri Lanka earlier and thus, not have been put at risk. This is, of course, an astoundingly far-fetched claim at best and utterly farcical at worst.

Continue reading ‘Timing and Pattern of Attacks on Constitutional Council and Human Rights Commission by President Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa Supporters Are Neither a Co-incidence Nor Random.’ »

“Many politicians claim that the draft put forward by the expert panel is the final version of the Constitution, which it is not”- Dr.Jayampathy Wickramaratne

By

Anurangi Singh

Getting bogged down with language in the draft constitution should not become an insurmountable hurdle to enacting a new Constitution, one of the key pledges of the January 8, 2015 platform for change, legal experts said last week.

Speaking at a seminar organised by civil society at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for Strategic Studies last Friday (8), President’s Counsel Dr Jayampathy Wickremaratne said the tussle over the words óttriachchi (one Government) or orumittanadu (one country) need not become a sticking point, since a better word may be suggested, especially by those who criticise the draft report.

Continue reading ‘“Many politicians claim that the draft put forward by the expert panel is the final version of the Constitution, which it is not”- Dr.Jayampathy Wickramaratne’ »

Investigations Show 12 MP’s were Stuck in the Parliament Lift for Only 10 and not 25 Minutes: Video Reveals the Trapped MPs Were Not Suffocating Without Oxygen as Alleged by Weerawansa But Were Instead Merrily Sharing Jokes and Taking Selfies During Their ‘Ordeal’.

By

Uditha Kumarasinghe

The hysterics by UPFA MP Wimal Weerawansa and several others who were trapped in an elevator for a few minutes in the Parliamentary complex, became a high point in Parliament this week, even though other important House businesses should have dominated the sessions.

Next Tuesday, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will receive a report about how 12 MPs were trapped in an elevator last Thursday, and he is expected to announce the findings of the report when Parliament reconvenes on February 20.

The “incident” is still being investigated by Parliamentary authorities. OTIS Elevator Company staff which inspected the lift yesterday will continue to do so today. OTIS will provide its report on the technical aspects of all nine lifts installed in Parliament to be annexed to the principal report, Sergeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

Continue reading ‘Investigations Show 12 MP’s were Stuck in the Parliament Lift for Only 10 and not 25 Minutes: Video Reveals the Trapped MPs Were Not Suffocating Without Oxygen as Alleged by Weerawansa But Were Instead Merrily Sharing Jokes and Taking Selfies During Their ‘Ordeal’.’ »

Since Social Media Captures our Attention by Providing Fields of View that Feed our Bias the Risk Over Time is that Communal or Prejudiced Opinions Either Tend to get Strengthened or go Unquestioned by Others.


By

Sanjana Hattotuwa

A presentation of my doctoral research to colleagues at CPA afforded the chance to talk and think about what social media means for those not on and the least aware of it. Conversations and commentary over 2018 posit to social media powers, responsibilities and roles that grossly simplify more complex, dynamic relationships. For the readers of this newspaper, from a demographic who hears more about social media than actually uses it, it is important to understand how the millions using these platforms daily, creating in the aggregate a mind-boggling wealth of content, shape society, polity, governance, institutions and electoral processes.

At scale and at present, occasionally violent but always vigorous social media dynamics anchored to just Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, constitute the warp and woof of how a demographic between 20 to 40 perceives and engages with politics. This is important, because what’s called platform affordances – what a user can and cannot do depending on what social media platform they choose to use – in turn defines how they interact with political frames. Negotiating difference, countering ideas, civil engagement, social currency, proposing alternatives, encouraging others, showing partiality, engineering dissent, showing solidarity, masking or making identity, envisioning a better future, analyzing the present, holding others accountable, championing a cause or person, soliciting votes, expressing the love of or opposition to individual or idea, debating difference or celebrating diversity – the many affordances of social media provide frames through which a larger world is perceived, captured or rejected.

Social media platforms are both inter-dependent and often self-referential. This is hard to understand, but a gardening metaphor can help. One’s own garden, weeded and well-tended, is a space that others can be invited into and cannot otherwise gain access. A walled-garden is not unlike Facebook, where communities of users congregate around or are invited into specific groups, where the conversations of like-minded individuals reinforce norms, attitudes and practices. One looks around and anchors conversations to what’s around or proximate. You can catch glimpses of other groups, but they often only serve to reinforce the belief, trust in and love for groups one is already part of or party to. And yet, Twitter for example points to content on Facebook, which in turn can also host content off YouTube. Responses to a single piece of content often span multiple platforms. A phenomenon called going viral – when content is spread, promoted and featured widely over a very short-span of time – is now a feature of any political moment or process.

Continue reading ‘Since Social Media Captures our Attention by Providing Fields of View that Feed our Bias the Risk Over Time is that Communal or Prejudiced Opinions Either Tend to get Strengthened or go Unquestioned by Others.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Urges Revival of War-time Troika to Manage India- Sri Lanka Relations

Mahinda Rajapaksa, Leader of the Opposition in the Sri Lankan parliament and a former Sri Lankan President, has strongly urged the governments of India and Sri Lanka to revive the “Troika” system which managed relations between the two countries during the crucial final phase of the war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Speaking on India-Sri Lanka relations at “The Huddle 2019” organized by The Hindu in Bengaluru on Saturday, Rajapaksa said: “You would recollect that a novel mechanism was in place during our time in government and in particular when we, as a country, fought against the most cruel terrorist organization in the world. The Troika, as it was known, helped in no small measure to build a bridge between the leaderships and the associated thought processes of our two countries and thus prevented any misunderstandings when Sri Lanka was engaged in a crucial war against terrorism.”

The relationship in the Troika was “friendly and casual” and that produced the desired outcome, Rajapaksa said.

“I say without any hesitation, that India’s deep understanding of our government’s motive was a key factor that helped us eradicate terrorism. The respective leaderships were consistently and continuously briefed by the relevant Troika thus promoting the high level of understanding that was required to keep the relationship dynamic,” he added.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Urges Revival of War-time Troika to Manage India- Sri Lanka Relations’ »

80 % of Lanka’s Top Underworld Kingpins Were In Dubai at the Time of Two Raids by Police: Among Those Arrested 31 Including Makadure Madhush Have Been Tested Positive For Using Cocaine.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Authoritative sources said that of those arrested in two separate raids in Dubai early this week, 31 had been tested positive for cocaine.

Sources said that United Arab Emirates mounted the operation following exhaustive investigations undertaken by Sri Lankan law enforcement authorities.

Responding to a query, sources said that Sri Lankan artistes who were taken into custody had been aware they were being sponsored by Makadure Madush, a notorious underworld kingpin.

Continue reading ‘80 % of Lanka’s Top Underworld Kingpins Were In Dubai at the Time of Two Raids by Police: Among Those Arrested 31 Including Makadure Madhush Have Been Tested Positive For Using Cocaine.’ »

Ranil is Showing that the United National Party is a Party United in Bringing About a National Disaster in the Name of What Is Claimed to be a National Govt

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

It was Aristotle who said “All Earthquakes and Disasters are warnings; there’s too much corruption in the world.” We are on the road to show the truth of this thinking, especially with regard to a coming disaster.

Ranil Wickremesinghe and the United National Party are keen to show us that disaster is their path of politics today. It is a party that is united in paving the way for a National Disaster, in the name of what is claimed to be a National Government.

The forces of civil society that helped bring the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government to power in 2015, and stood strongly behind the UNP and Ranil during the ‘constitutional coup’ in October last year, must think of new slogans to prevent the overall defeat of their call for a fight against corruption.

The National Government that we had till October 2018 was certainly not in keeping with the promises and pledges given to the people. From President Sirisena’s complete mockery of all the pledges he gave when seeking election, to the contempt that the UNP and Ranil have shown to the call for democracy and honesty, are the threats that pro-democratic society has faced through the past four years.

Continue reading ‘Ranil is Showing that the United National Party is a Party United in Bringing About a National Disaster in the Name of What Is Claimed to be a National Govt’ »

5383 Hectares in the Vicinity of Sinharaja Rain Forest Is Being Acquired for Road Development Project Announces State Minister of Environment Ajith Mannapperuma in Parliament.

By Saman Indrajith

A controversial road development project, which, enviornmentalists, say is in the Sinharaja forest, would be carried out as scheduled, Mahaweli Development and Environment State Minister Ajith Mannapperuma told parliament yesterday. He said the forest would suffer no damage.

Responding to JVP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the UNPer said the road leading to the Sinharaja rain forest from the Ratnapura, Kudawa, Doranegala had been in a dilapidated condition.

“There are two entrances to the Sinharaja forest, one from Ratnapura, Kudawa, Doranegala and the other from Matara, Pitadeniya. For those entering from the Ratnapura, Kudawa, Doranegala entrance, they should use a 1,600 metre path to get to the forest. It was used by timber racketeers to transport tree trunks and located outside the forest. In 2004, this path of around four feet wide was renovated with bridges and culverts. Thereafter, it had been in a state of disrepair. Many local and foreign tourists use this path when they visit the Sinharaja forest, including schoolchildren. In fact, there have been instances where tourists broke their limbs by falling into deep ruts on the road. Therefore, steps were taken to renovate the road, but it will not be widened.”

Continue reading ‘5383 Hectares in the Vicinity of Sinharaja Rain Forest Is Being Acquired for Road Development Project Announces State Minister of Environment Ajith Mannapperuma in Parliament.’ »

SLHRC Chairprson Dr. Deepika Udagama “Educates His Excellency ” About the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission’s Mandate,Duties and Functions In a Hard -Hitting Response to President Sirisena’s Unjust and Ignorant Criticism.

(Text of letter written by the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission chairperson Dr.Deepika Udagama to President Maithripala Sirisena in response to his criticism of the Commission for many alleged faults)

His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Presidential Residence
Paget Road
Colombo 07

Your Excellency,

Re: His Excellency the President’s Statement in the Parliament about the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka

We have been made aware of Your Excellency’s statement in the parliament on 06 February 2019, through media reports and relevant video recordings. We observed that You Excellency mentioned the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka among others. The Commission expresses its deep concern about the said statement and wishes to present to you the correct facts regarding the matter.

1. Regarding the deployment of the Special Task Force to Angunakolapelessa Prison

One of the main functions of the Commission is to monitor the welfare of detainees and protect their rights according to the recognized laws. As per Article 28 (2) of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Act No. 21 of 1996, the Commission has been granted the power to enter and monitor any place of detention, police station or prison. Inquiring into the safety of detainees, their basic needs, sanitary facilities, rehabilitation process is included in monitoring places of detention. Guidelines recognized by national and international laws are used for such monitoring of places of detention.

While carrying out this mandate, the Commission must properly inquire into and investigate the complaints of detainees. Detainees and their family members have lodged complaints to the Commission regarding the recent deployment of the Special Task Force and various other issues stemming from the deployment, it is the duty of the Commission to clarify matters related to such issues. Therefore, the Commission’s Inquiries and Investigations Division sent a letter to the Commanding Officer of the Special Task Force requesting information regarding the matter. The Commanding Officer has given an explanation as a reply to that letter. We must remind ourselves of the fact that many detainees have a reasonable fear of the deployment of external armed officers due to the violent series of events that took place in 2012 resulting in the murder of 27 detainees. Therefore, we would like to point out that in this instance, the Commission has undertaken its lawful mandate in a fair manner.

Continue reading ‘SLHRC Chairprson Dr. Deepika Udagama “Educates His Excellency ” About the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission’s Mandate,Duties and Functions In a Hard -Hitting Response to President Sirisena’s Unjust and Ignorant Criticism.’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Makes Special Statement in Parliament Refuting “Unjust” Critical Allegations Made By President Sirisena Against the Constitutional Council and Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission

(Text of Special statement made by the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya at the Commencement of Parliament in Response to the criticism and False accusations levelled by President Maithripala Sirisena against the Conduct of the Constitutional Council and Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission)

I made a statement before this August Assembly even on 25th January 2019 regarding the activities of the Constitutional Council.

I informed on that occasion that I had tabled on 08.12.2016 in Parliament a report containing the guidelines followed by the Constitutional Council in submitting nominations for appointing members to the Independent Commissions laid down in Article 41 (b) of the Constitution and in approving the nominees sent to us by the President for appointing persons to positions stipulated in Article 41 (c) of the Constitution as stated by me. In addition to that, the report containing the aforesaid guidelines will be tabled in Parliament tomorrow for the information of Hon. Members.

It shall be mentioned that seniority, integrity, independence and impartiality of persons are considered in addition to the said guidelines in appointing persons to respective positions.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Makes Special Statement in Parliament Refuting “Unjust” Critical Allegations Made By President Sirisena Against the Constitutional Council and Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission’ »

Enraged Maithripala Sirisena Rants and Raves Against the Constitutional Council for Displaying Independence in Judicial Appointments and the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission for Protecting the Human Rights of Prisoners and Alleged Drug Criminals

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

Refusing to back down on his stance to carry out the death penalty, President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday criticised the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka for what he termed as interference in Government decisions to establish law and order, and the Constitutional Council for disregarding his recommendations on promotions of judges.

Sirisena, addressing the Parliament, criticised the human rights institution for standing up for the rights of the prisoners and the criminals with drug convictions. Commending the Special Task Force of the Sri Lanka Police, which is under the President, Sirisena attacked the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) for questioning the deployment of STF in the Angunakolapelessa prison.

“The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka is appearing for whom? Special Task Force is a highly capable unit. So, we have extended the tenure of the STF Commandant, Senior Deputy Inspector General M. R. Latheef by a year. I am happy the Cabinet stood together to make this unanimous decision. STF supports us taking action against the drugs and the underworld. But the Human Rights Commission is questioning us why we have used the STF in the Angunakolapelessa Prison, sending us a long list of questions,” he said.

He also passed the blame for the two Sri Lankan army personnel killed recently in Mali while serving the United Nations peacekeeping mission to HRCSL.

Continue reading ‘Enraged Maithripala Sirisena Rants and Raves Against the Constitutional Council for Displaying Independence in Judicial Appointments and the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission for Protecting the Human Rights of Prisoners and Alleged Drug Criminals’ »

Makandure Madush Arrested in Dubai Will Be Prosecuted Under Laws of that Country First While Deportation to Sri Lanka will be Decided By United Arab Emirates Courts States Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament


By Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, yesterday, told Parliament that Makandure Madush, a notorious underworld drug kingpin who was arrested in Dubai on Tuesday would be prosecuted under the laws of that country first.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that the courts of United Arab Emirates would decide whether Madush would be deported to Sri Lanka.

He said so in answer to a question raised by JVP Kalutara District MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa.

Continue reading ‘Makandure Madush Arrested in Dubai Will Be Prosecuted Under Laws of that Country First While Deportation to Sri Lanka will be Decided By United Arab Emirates Courts States Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Parliament’ »

Mangala Samaraweera Praises Re-instated Customs Director -General as an’ “Iron Lady”: Sarojini Charles Says She Needs a Littele Time To Bring in Reforms at the Customs Dept.

By Chathuri Dissanayake

Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera lauded reinstated Customs Director General Sarojini Charles with praise yesterday, expressing full confidence in her abilities to bring the ‘business mafia’ operating in the Port to book, with new systems set to be introduced in the Department.

“She is an iron lady,” Minister Samaraweera said, praising Charles.

“But I saw that even for her, who faced Prabhakaran fearlessly, the Mafia in the Ports Authority was a challenge. That is why I decided to take her into the Ministry and appoint a former Navy Officer to the post,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera Praises Re-instated Customs Director -General as an’ “Iron Lady”: Sarojini Charles Says She Needs a Littele Time To Bring in Reforms at the Customs Dept.’ »

Notorious Lankan Underworld Kingpins Makandure Madush, Keselwatte Dinuka, Kachipani Imran Along With Popular Singer Amal Perera and son Nadimal Among 20 Persons Arrested in Dubai

By

Darshana Sanjeewa

Notorious underworld drug kingpin Makandure Madush and several other Sri Lankans were among a group of 20 suspects reportedly arrested in Dubai during a joint raid carried out by the law enforcement authorities today.

Sources said popular Sri Lankan singer Amal Perera, his son Nadimal and underworld criminals identified as Keselwatte Dinuka and Kachcipani Imran were among those arrested.

Continue reading ‘Notorious Lankan Underworld Kingpins Makandure Madush, Keselwatte Dinuka, Kachipani Imran Along With Popular Singer Amal Perera and son Nadimal Among 20 Persons Arrested in Dubai’ »

Govt Re-instates Sarojini Charles as Customs Director -General For 3 Months Due To “Work to Rule”Protest Campaign by Customs Union;Mangala Claims He was Unaware of Probes Being Conducted by the Customs D-G.

By Chathuri Dissanayake

Under pressure from unions and importers, the Government yesterday reinstated Director General of Customs P.Sarojini .M. Charles, who was to be replaced by a retired Navy officer.

Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera yesterday withdrew the proposal presented to the Cabinet to remove Charles and appoint retired Rear Admiral Shermal Fernando to the job following protests and a week-long work to rule campaign by Customs officials in the country.

“The Director General was given a three-month extension and Minister Mangala Samaraweera told the Cabinet that he was not aware of the investigations she was conducting as claimed by the unions. He said she was removed due to poor performance and hoped that she would continue the investigations and present the reports to him,” Cabinet Minister Mano Ganesan told Daily FT.

Continue reading ‘Govt Re-instates Sarojini Charles as Customs Director -General For 3 Months Due To “Work to Rule”Protest Campaign by Customs Union;Mangala Claims He was Unaware of Probes Being Conducted by the Customs D-G.’ »

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa Criticises Govt For Removing Customs Director -General PSM Charles and Replacing her with a retired Navy Officer


By Ashwin Hemmathagama

Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa held the Government responsible for the trade union action taken by Sri Lanka Customs and related other services which went on for seven days.

Based on the removal of the Department of Customs Director General P.S.M. Charles, the employees started a work to rule campaign which was joined by different organisations, including traders in Pettah who closed all shops yesterday in support.

Continue reading ‘Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa Criticises Govt For Removing Customs Director -General PSM Charles and Replacing her with a retired Navy Officer’ »

“Cultural Content that Informed Sinhala Nationalism from Independence is Changing – What we Consider Authentic now may be very Different in the Years and Decades to Come” – Dr. Harshana Rambukwella

By

Gihan de Chickera

Dr. Harshana Rambukwella is an academic with an interest in literary history, postcolonial theory and sociolinguistics. Bringing these disciplines together, he recently authored the book ‘The Politics and Poetics of Authenticity’ (UCL Press, 2018), which examines the unfolding of Sinhala nationalism through the life and work of Anagarika Dharmapala, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Gunadasa Amarasekara. The book, which is now available in major bookstores, has been hailed for the “marshalling of sources available in the Sinhala language that are usually ignored in scholarly work on contemporary Sri Lanka,” (Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda), and as a work that “guides the reader with compassion through the cultural and political whirlwind of colonial and postcolonial Sri Lanka,” (Prof. NiraWickramasinghe).

Dr.Rambukwella, who is the Director of the Post Graduate Institute for English at the Open University, and has served on many national English and Sinhala literary committees, spoke to Daily mirror on his book and theimpact of Sinhala nationalism on the political, social and cultural life of Sri Lanka.

Q
Let’s begin with the book title. Why is it called ‘The politics and poetics of authenticity’?

A;

The title refers to the central theme of the book. It is primarily about why we think certain cultural practices are more authentic than others. How do such ideas come about?And what are the political implications of such notions of authenticity and what are the cultural and aesthetic implications of these notions as well?The poetics in the title refer to the second aspect of culture and aesthetics.

Let me try and unpack this a little more. When we think something is authentic it gains a certain social and political value. We try to enshrine it, protect it and preserve it for posterity. We also begin to believe it is an inalienable part of our identity – of who and what we are.What the book tries to demonstrate is that these things we consider authentic – whether it’s music, art, the food we eat, how we dress, etc., – have specific and contingent histories. They are not timeless things we have inherited but the outcomes of various debates, trends and ideas that emerged at certain times in history – some more recent and others more distant.

I also try to demonstrate how such notions of what is authentic and inauthentic have become part of nationalist politics. Because of this political dimension these are not just questions about individual taste or cultural preference, but questions with serious political implications. For instance, why do most of our politicians wear the white ‘national dress’ though this is not something that existed before the 1920s?

Continue reading ‘“Cultural Content that Informed Sinhala Nationalism from Independence is Changing – What we Consider Authentic now may be very Different in the Years and Decades to Come” – Dr. Harshana Rambukwella’ »

“How Ethical Is It To Establish a National Govt by Enlisting the Support of a Single MP? – President Sirisena Raises Question Publicly in his Independence Day Address.

President Maithripala Sirisena, addressing the Independence Day Ceremony, yesterday, said he was opposed to the efforts being made by the UNP to form a national government.

“How ethical is it to establish a national government by enlisting the support of a single MP? I am opposed to this proposal. The people don’t want more ministers and the only reason why some want to establish a national government is to increase the number of ministers.”

Continue reading ‘“How Ethical Is It To Establish a National Govt by Enlisting the Support of a Single MP? – President Sirisena Raises Question Publicly in his Independence Day Address.’ »

Duplicity and Doublespeak About The US Military Logistics Hub in Sri Lanka


By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

While Sri Lankans were distracted by a power struggle between the president and prime minister in December, the world’s superpower pulled off a heist in terms of extending its military footprint in Sri Lanka and, by extension, in the Indian Ocean.

Between 24– 29 January, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet for a second time carried out what it called a ‘temporary cargo transfer initiative’ in Sri Lanka using the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), to move supplies on to the US aircraft carrier USS John C Stennis, located off Sri Lankan waters. During the previous December operation involving the same aircraft carrier, the US had set up what it called a ‘logistics hub’ in Sri Lanka “to receive support, supplies and services” for US Navy ships operating in the Indian Ocean. The BIA was used for US military planes to bring in supplies, and for aircraft aboard the John C Stennis to fly in, load, and ferry them back.

The government has been tightlipped about how, when and why it entered into such a defence agreement. The attitude raises questions over its apparent lack of concern about sovereignty – reminiscent of the unprecedented manner in which it co-sponsored a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in 2015.

The planes that gained entry to Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), which is a commercial airport, were military craft. They do not come under Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). It remains unclear whose jurisdiction these military craft would come under, while in Sri Lankan airspace and on Sri Lankan soil. Who would adjudicate if an accident or crime involving US aircraft or personnel takes place causing death or injury to Sri Lankans, or damage to property? Opposition MPs have alleged that Sri Lanka Customs, Police and Military have no control – e.g. power to inspect cargo. There is no information on whether duties or charges are levied for services.

Continue reading ‘Duplicity and Doublespeak About The US Military Logistics Hub in Sri Lanka’ »

Lasting Solution in Sri Lanka Requires Transcending of the Politics of Ethnic Nationalism and of Neo-liberal Technocracy.


By

Kanishka Goonewardena

“In the name of God, go!” Rarely have these words of Oliver Cromwell been recycled with such farce and frequency as during Sri Lanka’s recent political crisis, not least by parliamentarians addressing rivals. As far as crises go, however, it was a remarkably peaceful affair outside of parliament and unrelated to any kind of revolution. Everyday life continued as usual even in Colombo despite extra-bold newspaper headlines, which were greeted in the distant North by “near silence.”

Yet there was no shortage of drama and spectacle. In the early days of turmoil, parents were advised to cover their children’s eyes when footage appeared on TV from parliament, where proceedings were disrupted by MPs engaged in fistfights, flinging furniture, drawing knives, and throwing chili pepper at ostensible opponents in the chamber. Curious foreign journalists, seasoned diplomats, and local NGOs minding human rights rushed to warn of an impending “bloodbath.” In such wishful thinking, one could be forgiven for sensing a yearning for “external intervention.”

The crisis seemed to appear out of nowhere on the evening of Friday, October 26, 2018 when President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party (UNP) from office and appointed in his stead the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Sirisena himself had defeated Rajapaksa in the last presidential election on January 8, 2015, having defected in late 2014 from a senior position in Rajapaksa’s United People Freedom Alliance (UPFA) regime to become the surprise but successful candidate of the United National Front (UNF) opposition.

Over the last weekend of October, a new cabinet, too, was haphazardly sworn in, with the promise of a caretaker government. This was to be composed of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by the new Prime Minister Rajapaksa and President Sirisena’s loyalists of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and its coalition in parliament, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) — a part of which had collaborated with the multiparty UNF “national government” of “good governance” led by Wickremesinghe’s UNP since the parliamentary elections of August 2015.

Sirisena’s re-alliance with Rajapaksa — which immediately gathered predictable populist-nationalist enthusiasm as well as liberal-cosmopolitan opprobrium —eventually proved to be methodologically flawed. This was especially so in light of the December 13 Supreme Court ruling against the president’s dissolution of parliament, once it became apparent to Sirisena that Rajapaksa would not secure the parliamentary majority needed to form a new government. Much to the delight of the “international community,” if not a majority of Sri Lankans, normal service has resumed more or less in the island after nearly two months of political chaos and juridical suspense.

Wickremesinghe was sworn in again as prime minister for a record fifth time on December 16, albeit with a new cabinet limited (by the constitution) to thirty ministers, about half the number of the profligate “national government” preceding it — amounting to significant savings in public coffers. Although the crisis in the most immediate sense is now over, how it was precipitated and played out remains instructive for students of Sri Lankan politics.

During the brawling in parliament — while Wickremesinghe still claimed to be prime minister and refused to vacate official premises — the Sirisena-Rajapaksa wager hinged on securing the support of at least 113 of the 225-member legislature, by offering inducements to MPs from other parties to cross over to their new coalition.

It is no secret that such machinations have long been a staple of Sri Lankan realpolitik, practiced by all aspirants to state power; but typically they have occurred away from the public eye, rather like bribes, though perfectly legal according to successive constitutions, even after the latest Nineteenth Amendment (2015) famed for “good governance.”

In a stunning TV interview on December 7, however, Sirisena broke the taboo of revealing this public secret, divulging with admirable candor what had gone awry with his Plan A with Rajapaksa: even though ministerial posts and other attractions in the region of five hundred million rupees were offered to prospective “crossovers,” they did not budge.

It would be naïve to ascribe the inertia of MPs so courted to an ethic of “good governance.” As many commentators have noted, they were in all probability offered more to remain in their seats than to cross the aisle. At previous elections, Western-oriented Colombo liberals have accused the Chinese government of financing the Rajapaksa regime’s electoral campaigns; now it was the more far-flung Rajapaksa supporters’ turn to point the finger at Western powers for funding Wickremesinghe’s soiled grip on power.

These allegations and counter-allegations poured more fuel on the already flammable awareness that Sri Lanka is a strategic node of global geopolitical-economic contestation involving the United States, European Union, Japan, and especially India on one side, with China on the other. That China financed several signature development projects of the Rajapaksa regimes (2005–2010, 2010–15) in line with its own New Silk Road initiative — to the visceral discomfort of India and Western powers — is well known.

Against this backdrop, it did not help Wickremesinghe’s cause that his first publicized meeting after October 26 — held in Temple Trees, the prime minister’s official residence — was with predictable foreign emissaries. While critics asked if Wickremesinghe’s real constituents resided in Washington and Delhi, Palitha Kohona and Tamara Kunanayakam, former Sri Lankan ambassadors to the UN, accused foreign diplomats in Colombo of violating the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The “follow the money” principle proved even more damaging to Wickremesinghe’s waning “good governance” reputation given his role in the notorious “bond scam” (“Great Bank Robbery” in Sinhala) of 2015 and 2016 — a high-class act of “so-called original accumulation” involving central bank bonds that directly robbed Sri Lankan public institutions to the tune of $11 million.

Estimates of the total loss to the government, the public, and the economy due to cascading consequences of interest-rate increases caused by this “meticulously planned, multi-faceted, and far-reaching” bond scam are works-in-progress, but the overall damage may well exceed $5 billion according to the most rigorous of projections. A significant portion of that is being borne by middle-class and poorer Sri Lankans living on borrowed money — on top of the austerity measures meted out by the “good government,” especially to peasant communities.

The prime suspect of this crime — presently in Singapore, avoiding an arrest warrant from the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court — is Arjuna Mahendran, who was controversially appointed governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka by Wickremesinghe in 2015, over Sirisena’s objection. Sirisena is now threatening to name politicians connected to Wickremesinghe who benefited from this white-collar swindle, lending credence to the widespread suspicion that money generated from the bond scam was deployed in the election campaigns of “good governance” MPs — and most recently against the Sirisena-Rajapaksa bid for power. A Facebook satirist captured the mood concerning the absurdity of this electoral political economy, by urging the putative government to reduce, along with the cost of living, the price of MPs.

Apparently outbid in the marketplace for MPs, the Sirisena-Rajapaksa Plan B was to dissolve parliament immediately, twenty-two months ahead of schedule, with a view to an election in early January 2019. But the president’s gazette notification of November 9 to this effect was promptly challenged by the UNP and other parties at the Supreme Court, which granted petitioners leave to proceed.

In further bad news for the attempted new government, on December 4 the Court of Appeal issued an interim order restraining the new prime minister and cabinet, on the basis of a no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa passed in parliament with 122 signatures, with support from the main ethnic minority parties: the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC).

In the weeks leading up to the anxiously anticipated Supreme Court ruling, while the country was without a prime minister and cabinet, legal and non-legal pundits hogged newspaper columns, debating the constitutionality of the dissolution of parliament. Their collective exercise exposed the ambiguities in the Nineteenth Amendment — a rapidly written document open to various interpretations.

At this juncture, much of the opposition to the Sirisena-Rajapaksa plan to dissolve parliament and hold elections found expression in ethico-juridical terms. The president and his judicially restrained prime minister were depicted by adherents of the status quo ante as conniving architects of a “constitutional coup” — lumpen populists with no regard for sacrosanct liberal institutions of “good governance,” such as those embodied in the Nineteenth Amendment. The real intent of the authors of the latter was to fully abolish the executive presidency, which would present Wickremesinghe with the prospect of becoming the head of state in the next election by virtue of being the leader of UNP, without having to be directly elected by the people.

It was indeed a populist move on Sirisena’s part, too, to align himself again with what appeared to be still the most popular politician in the country. Rajapaksa remains a figure like Vladimir Putin or Narendra Modi in his unsurpassed ability to mobilize a “nationalist-popular” will in the ethnically divided theater of Sri Lankan electoral politics — with deep support as well from the laboring classes, especially in the smaller towns and villages, which have suffered most from Wickremesinghe’s austerity measures.

This was amply demonstrated in the island-wide local government election on February 10, 2018, when Rajapaksa’s SLPP coalition scored a landslide victory, capturing power in 231 of 340 local authorities, reducing UNP’s share to 34. Though ridiculed as “village idiots” by Colombo elites, both Sirisena and Rajapaksa with their provincial sensibilities knew better than them that populist also means popular.

Hence the conviction with which they presented their case to the people — to place the fate of the country in the hands of fifteen million voters rather than with 225 overvalued MPs, a thin majority of whom were still propping up a massively delegitimated government, at an unbearable and unwarranted cost to the nation.

While Sirisena’s rhetoric here could well bear the name “provincializing Colombo,” the decisive political question of the hour pitted democracy against liberalism. Due respect for liberal political-juridical institutions held in high esteem by Colomboans connected to the “international community” was countered by a duo of peasant stock with a direct appeal to the popular will of the people.

Though hardly unanimous, the general feeling in the streets disgusted with career politicians on all sides seemed largely to favor an election as the best way out of the crisis. In contrast, the liberal opposition to the populist Sirisena-Rajapaksa initiative pinned all hopes on the judiciary, which eventually ruled in its favor on December 13, forcing Rajapaksa’s resignation and Wickremesinghe’s return as prime minister.

In this context, there is irony in the “democratic” claims of those anti-populist authors of the Nineteenth Amendment who threw their support behind Wickremesinghe as much as against the strategically ill-advised Sirisena-Rajapaksa plot. After being surprised by local government election results, in the wake of the bond scam and other betrayals, the Wickremesighe-led UNF took diligent care to postpone indefinitely the overdue provincial council elections on the basis of a procedural pretext, undermining not only the letter and spirit of democracy, but also the proper functioning of the key state institution entrusted to devolve political power to the provinces and especially ethnic minorities. It was the respected retired civil servant Jolly Somasundram who best summed up the Orwellian liberal logic that carried the day: “No elections: democracy is saved.”

Constitutional Struggles

Wickremesinghe’s fear of elections and Sirisena’s eagerness for them in league with Rajapaksa — this contradiction contains the key to Sri Lanka’s current political-economic-juridical landscape. For a rapid sketch, it will be helpful to recall that the present constitutional and other disputes go back at least to the watershed year of 1978, when Wickeremesighe’s uncle, Prime Minister Junius Richard Jayewardene, replaced the Westminister-style republican Sri Lankan constitution of 1972 with one centered on an executive president, combining selected features of the French, German, and US models.

The concentration of executive power in the president’s office, away from parliament, was of course self-serving to the UNP strongman, whose historical accomplishment was the introduction of neoliberal economics to Sri Lanka and squashing left opposition by any means necessary. This project, as has been the case elsewhere, needed not democracy but “political will,” which President Jayewardene supplied in abundance as he ruled with an iron fist by invoking the infamous Prevention of Terrorism Act.

The PTA also proved handy in attending to a couple of other matters: the Tamil Tigers fighting for a separate state carved out of the northern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka; and the second insurrection of the People’s Liberation Front (JVP) in the South that resulted in fifty thousand to eighty thousand extra-judicial killings, mostly by the state.

Given the “Marxist” label attached to the JVP militants, no audible outcry about their liquidation emerged from the “international community” concerned with human rights. Instead, Jayewardene was feted in Washington by Ronald Reagan and praised as an example for the rest of the Cold War world; a suitably self-orientalized Yankee Dickie returned the favor by gifting the Gipper a Sri Lankan baby elephant on the White House lawn.

The office of the executive president — to which prominent Marxists such as Dr Colvin R. de Silva vehemently objected in the 1970s — drew no memorable ire from liberal Colomboans, mostly allied with Jayewardena and his political progenies, until it was occupied in 1994 by the more nominally social-democratic and avowedly majoritarian-nationalist SLFP, after seventeen years of UNP rule marked by what Edmund Burke would readily have called Terror (“Bheeshanaya”). But the uneven development of neoliberalism in Sri Lanka was accompanied by a rise of virulent nationalism, both of the Sinhala majority and the Tamil minority, which drastically reduced the scope for political solutions to Sri Lanka’s increasingly violent ethnic conflict.

Under these circumstances, no Sri Lankan president since 1978 from either of the two main national parties seriously contemplated abolishing the executive presidency, least of all Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose Eighteenth Amendment to the constitution in 2010 got rid of the two-term limit on the most powerful office of the country. To be sure, it was he who deployed its full force more effectively than any other incumbent, to militarily defeat the Tamil Tigers in 2009, amid allegations of alarming numbers of Tamil civilian deaths in the final stages of war, subsequently reported to be in the region of forty thousand or more according to UN and other incriminating — and disputed — estimates.

Influential efforts have been and still are under way to hold accountable those responsible for such deaths and disappearances, both internationally and in Sri Lanka, supported by the Tamil diaspora and NGOs. These, however, played only a marginal role in Rajapaksa’s surprise defeat in the 2015 presidential election, after he had won a second term in 2010 by easily prevailing over the challenge mounted by his former army commander General Sarath Fonseka, who was recruited to run as the common opposition candidate with UNP support because Wickremesinghe knew he had no chance.

Having won the war, the Rajapaksa regime shot itself in the head. Drenched with power, and with an opposition in tatters, it squandered the opportunity to reach an agreeable political settlement with minority communities. Instead of sublating majoritarian nationalism, moreover, it encouraged the most deplorable elements of extreme Sinhala-Buddhist ideology such as the Bodu Bala Sena to run riot —adding to its postwar repertoire a series of Islamaphobic pogroms against the Muslim community.

Enamored with modernization, the Rajapaksas viewed the ethnic problem not as political but economic — one that could be solved by development, on the basis of large-scale infrastructure projects involving late-capitalist highways, airports, ports, and Haussmannian urban planning. While all that no doubt buttressed unprecedented GDP growth, thanks to special contributions from China, the expected trickle-down to the masses fell well below expectations, especially in the North and the East, amid impatient cries of corruption — amplified by the regime’s nepotistic surplus.

It was not radically different from previous UNP governments in handling dissenting views, but compared to Jayewardene’s tactics in the pre-Internet era of two TV channels, the Rajapaksa regime’s efforts to control public opinion had far more limited — and negative — effect. With news of media repression appearing all over the media, the objective conditions and the subjective timing for Rajapaksa’s defeat by Sirisena on January 8, 2015 were set mostly by the president himself and his astrologer.

So it was Rajapaksa who dictated the script for the “good governance” manifesto of Sirisena’s election campaign orchestrated by the UNP, unwittingly enabling Wickremesinghe to plot his own “constitutional coup” to assume power by way of the Nineteenth Amendment while branding it as an exercise in democracy. The electoral calculus of Sirisena’s presidential campaign was straightforward: to win a sufficient minority of the disaffected Sinhala majority vote, together with virtually the entire minority vote comprehensively alienated by the Rajapaksa regime.

It worked, arithmetically. Logically, however, astounding political amnesia was required to think that Wickremesinghe and his cabal would deliver on their promise of “good governance,” given their track record. It is unlikely that a politician of Sirisena’s experience really believed the “good governance” discourse to begin with; it is more likely that he saw in it the opportunity for presidency unlikely to arise for him from within the nepotistic Rajapaksa clan.

Yet he may have conjectured plausibly — with a majority of the voters — that the worst of “good governance” would be better than the best of Mahinda Chinthanaya. In the definitive rejection of that hypothesis following the Bond Scam, local government elections and other misdeeds — in conjunction with Sirisena’s own ambitions for a second term — lay the origins of the crisis.

Whereas the Supreme Court resolved the crisis by judicial fiat, it was Sirisena who acted out its political denouement. Upon Wickremesinghe’s unceremonious re-appointment as prime minister behind closed doors at the presidential secretariat, the crème de la crème of the new government were assembled around a conference table. There, seated at the head, with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe immediately to his right, President Sirisena delivered a forty-minute lecture that will be etched in memories of Sri Lankan politics.

Speaking without notes to ashen-faced power brokers, he rehearsed the orrery of errors that was the “good governance” government since 2015, detailing the proven and alleged crimes, and promising an extended version of all that and more in his memoirs to be published in early 2019. Wickremesinghe in particular was singled out for neoliberal economics, obstruction to justice, and being out of touch with the culture and pulse of the people. Enunciated in eloquent Sinhala, it sounded like a village schoolmaster admonishing an ill-reputed gang of English-speaking Colombo kids caught with their pants down.

Yet the final nail in the coffin of “good governance” may have been hammered by the prime minister himself, by re-inviting to his new cabinet a disgraced former finance minister, one centrally implicated in the bond scam and forced to resign from his last cabinet appointment. Even diehard liberal supporters of “good governance” are wondering: what kind of influence does Ravi Karunanayake exert over Wickremesinghe in order to regain a ministerial post, against every conceivable expectation?

In Sri Lanka now, the political class — and perhaps more worryingly, politics itself — is roundly despised. With the betrayal of “good governance,” progressive voters are scrambling for a choice in the forthcoming provincial (overdue), presidential (2019/2020) and parliamentary elections (2020). The responsibility for this state of affairs lies not solely with the CEOs of “good governance.”

Also questionable is the wisdom of the liberal intelligentsia that lined up — gullibly or hypocritically — behind Wickremesinghe’s power trip. True, honorable egalitarian spirits were present in the liberal protest against the Rajapaksa regime, even in Colombo. But not even vulgar Hegelian intelligence is needed to see how it served in reality as no more than the ruse of robber baron reason. Its ideologues would have done better to note that without addressing the pernicious Sri Lankan fusion of feudalism in politics and neoliberalism in economics, the “good governance” project was from the start as good as dead.

The Chinese Communist Party has always been far more democratic in its internal operations than the archaic UNP under anyone, and the record of other traditional parties is not better. No reform in Sri Lankan party-political monoculture is imaginable without a revolution in the constitution of political parties, which is evidently beyond the brains of the authors — the present government and its NGO subcontractors — of the promised Twentieth Amendment.

From a left perspective, the dangers of the present conjuncture in Sri Lanka are clear enough. These in essence are not different from those of other countries with failed neoliberal projects, and ripe with conditions for right-wing and xenophobic forces. The inability of political liberalism to address them in Sri Lanka is also overdetermined by ethnic conflict and attendant nationalisms.

Surveying this situation with characteristic élan, Dayan Jayatilleka, Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Moscow and admirer of both Rajapaksa and Putin, prescribes as the appropriate response to it a “left populism,” with a gracious nod to Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s reading of Antonio Gramsci’s notion of the “national-popular.” How this is to be distinguished from the all too prevalent nationalist-populism of his current political role models, however, requires elaboration, along with sober reflection on the recent trajectories of “left-populism” in Laclau’s home continent.

Approaching the same neoliberal dead-end from a quite different perspective, Gunadasa Amarasekara, the most articulate advocate of “National Ideology” (Jathika Chinthanaya) in Sri Lanka, has advanced the notion of a “civilizational state” — the symbiosis of an “ethical life” and a state form — as the necessary antidote, appropriating his key terms from Samuel Huntington and Martin Jacques rather than Hegel.

In Civilizational State and Socialist Society, the Marxist political-economist Sumanasiri Liyanage argues that Amarasekara’s conception could usefully be historicized and actualized by way of dialectical critique, in alignment with Gramsci’s theorization of the “integral state” as an articulation of political society with civil society. While this contention, too, needs to be properly differentiated from the hegemonic claims of majoritarian nationalism, theoretical-political debates asking us to reread Gramsci offer an immense improvement over the Colomboan discourse of dead but dominant liberalism.

Better with than without Gramsci, then, the crimes of cosmopolitan Colombo may be most rewardingly viewed from the provincial Tamil capital of Jaffna. Especially pertinent in the context of what Jayatilleke announced on Facebook as “our October Revolution” — before conceding that “we’ve lost the battle but won the war” — are Ahilan Kadirgamar’s perspicuous reflections from the North on the local government election. In a close reading of election campaigns and results of a multitude of parties and independent groups, he underlines the losses recorded in February 2018 by the TNA — more adept at exchanging high-level favors with the UNP in parliament than connecting to Northern grassroots — and the corresponding ascent of two opposed tendencies.

One is the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF), with its “virulent Tamil nationalist politics” mirroring extremist Southern tendencies and even welcoming them, as nothing nourishes one suicidal ethno-nationalism more dependably than another. The other has emerged from “pockets of progressive politics which have eschewed narrow Tamil nationalism,” by engaging in impressive anti-caste mobilizations, social development initiatives, and projects of economic democracy — under the auspices of Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) and some who have broken away from it, the Social Democratic Party of Tamils (SDPT), the New Democratic Marxist Leninist Party (NDMLP), and a few independent groups.

In their theoretical visions beyond nationalism, democratic organizational efforts, and local-electoral successes — matching or exceeding the much older TNA in several electorates — Kadirgamar finds “hope to re-chart Tamil politics.” What’s left of the Left in the South too would do well to follow the example of these comrades — and the refreshing radicalism of Tamil estate workers in the plantation sector of the Hill Country — rather than old pyramids of patronage maintained by the political status quo.

For only a constellation of emancipatory left forces from the South as much as the North, liberated from ethno-nationalist temptations and neoliberal delusions, would be qualified to tell the ruling gang of Sri Lankan feudal lords and liberal technocrats: “In the name of God, go!”

****

(The writer of this article Kanishka Goonwardena was trained as an architect in Sri Lanka and now teaches urban design and critical theory at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Future of Planning at the End of History.This article appeared in Jacobinmag.com)

Sarojini Charles Was Removed From Customs Director -General Post by the Govt Because She Tried To Conduct Fresh Inquiry Into Falsified Invoice Fraud in Importing 1675 BMW Vehicles Alleges Lawyer Nagananda Kodituwakku.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Attorney-at-law Nagananda Kodituwakku, yesterday, alleged that government sacked Director General of Customs Mrs. P.S.M. Charles (Sarojini Charles) as she continuously resisted political interference.

Kodituwakku pointed out the government sacked Mrs. Charles soon after celebrating the International Customs Day, in Colombo.

Kodituwakku said that the UNP proved again that honest and efficient public servants were at the mercy of powerful corrupt elements in the government.

Responding to a query, Kodituwakku said that Mrs. Charles earned the wrath of the government for not giving in to illegal directives.

At the time Mrs Charles received the vital appointment she functioned as the Government Agent, Batticaloa.

Mrs Charles succeeded Chulananda Perera.

Continue reading ‘Sarojini Charles Was Removed From Customs Director -General Post by the Govt Because She Tried To Conduct Fresh Inquiry Into Falsified Invoice Fraud in Importing 1675 BMW Vehicles Alleges Lawyer Nagananda Kodituwakku.’ »

Plantation Worker Agitation For 1000 Rupee Daily Wage Will Persist a Fair Income Cannot be anything less Amidst Rising Cost of Living.

By

Meera Srinivasan

‘LKR 700 (Rs. 275) it is,’ said Sri Lanka’s plantation companies earlier this week, fixing tea estate workers’ new basic daily wage. It is 300 rupees lesser than the LKR 1,000 that the workers demanded, but the negotiating trade unions concurred with the employers, and signed a collective agreement.

While employers have since been proclaiming the 40% rise as a significant step, the matter is far from resolved. The workers’ protest for a 1,000-rupee basic wage, which began in 2016, is bound to persist. Not because they are fixated on the number 1,000, but because they know for a fact that a fair wage can’t be anything less, that too amid spiralling living costs. Even LKR 1,000 is some 100 rupees lesser than what a 2018 study, done by the Institute of Social Development in Kandy, found as the necessary minimum living wage.

The issue of wages paid to the tens of thousands of workers employed in Sri Lanka’s famed tea estates has been a recurrent one in the sector that is known for the historic exploitation of its tea-pluckers, most of whom hail from Sri Lanka’s Malayaha Tamil community. Withstanding colonial-era exploitation — their ancestors were brought down by the British from India — that spilled over into post-Independence decades when the state and later private companies managed tea production, the workers toiled in the estates, steadily building Sri Lanka’s economy, through crucial foreign exchange. However, every time the workers sought a wage hike, the employers and their sympathisers were quick to brand the call unreasonable.

Continue reading ‘Plantation Worker Agitation For 1000 Rupee Daily Wage Will Persist a Fair Income Cannot be anything less Amidst Rising Cost of Living.’ »

Govt Allocates Rs 8 Billion for Building 7000 Pre-fab Houses in East by Ravi Wethasinghe’s Recently Incorporated “Yapka” Construction(pvt) Ltd While Prime Ministers Office Informs UN Habitat-led Consortium and UNOPS that Treasury Wont Allocate Money For Long Overdue 25,000 Brick Houses Project in North.

By Namini Wijedasa

The Prime Minister’s Office has notified a consortium of humanitarian agencies led by UN-Habitat and The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) that the Treasury cannot allocate money for their long-overdue initiative to build 25,000 brick houses for the war displaced in the North and East.

The Government will, however, set aside around Rs 8bn in the forthcoming budget to fund 7,000 prefabricated concrete houses in the East. These will be built by a recently incorporated local entity, Yapka Construction (Pvt) Ltd.

The company was set up by Ravi Wethasinghe, who has campaigned to build prefabricated houses in the North and East, since late 2015. He is backed by former Resettlement Minister D.M. Swaminathan. Mr. Wethasinghe’s project to permeate the North and East with steel prefabricated dwellings from ArcelorMittal failed, however, owing to widespread concerns about suitability.

Continue reading ‘Govt Allocates Rs 8 Billion for Building 7000 Pre-fab Houses in East by Ravi Wethasinghe’s Recently Incorporated “Yapka” Construction(pvt) Ltd While Prime Ministers Office Informs UN Habitat-led Consortium and UNOPS that Treasury Wont Allocate Money For Long Overdue 25,000 Brick Houses Project in North.’ »

A Pardon, a Penalty and a Populist: Political Pointers Towards the Arrival of a Truly Dystopian Future.

By Gehan Gunatilleke

There are things that have political currency in Sri Lanka – free education and healthcare, a reduced cost of living, and anti-corruption are usually among these things. Apart from this usual inventory, there are stranger things that can gain currency in this country. Their value is often difficult to see or measure. But it is possible to observe – like one observes a gentle wind in the rustling of leaves. Likewise, the actions of politicians can reveal what else has gained in political currency. Their rustlings tell us of a breeze. And it is chilling.

The pardon

The Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera, General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), is a figure of great enmity today. His words have poisoned his followers to commit acts of grave violence in the name of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism. Then, somewhat unexpectedly, an emboldened judiciary spoilt his campaign of hate when it incarcerated him for contempt of court. Although he continues to enjoy impunity for inciting violence, his imprisonment is important for two reasons: As a matter of principle, it signals that he is not totally above the law; as a matter of pragmatism, it physically restrains him from inciting further violence.

Despite the principled and pragmatic reasons for his continued internment, some Sri Lankan politicians indulge and endorse calls for a presidential pardon. President Maithripala Sirisena recently granted the BBS an audience, and it is reasonable to speculate that the thera’s pardon was on the meeting’s agenda.

Last week, Buddha Sasana Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera formally endorsed a request for such a pardon. Some members of parliament also called for his release citing logic-defying reasons, such as his value to promoting inter-religious harmony.

These politicians have an instinct for changing winds – a nose for detecting a certain kind of political currency in calling for the thera’s pardon. They understand that investing in this currency gives them a share of political capital, which they hope to convert into popular legitimacy, and electoral gain.

Continue reading ‘A Pardon, a Penalty and a Populist: Political Pointers Towards the Arrival of a Truly Dystopian Future.’ »

New Counter -Terrorism Bill With Expansive Aspects in Dealing with Counter-terror Needs to be Rigorously Examined Before it is Passed by our Legislators.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Amidst the political turmoil that took place in late October 2018, it was wholly predictable that Sri Lanka’s Counter-Terrorism Bill approved by the Cabinet just the month before, quietly slipped past public scrutiny. At a time when the country’s constitutional order itself had been shaken to its (albeit not entirely steady) foundations, the Bill was the least of anyone’s concerns. However now that we are back at the mundane business of every-day life with its quota of typical government dysfunction, this Bill deserves to be focused on given some of its problematic contents.

A bill having a colourful past

It may be recalled that the Bill has had a colourful past. Promised as an option to replace the oft critiqued Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), its initial formulations led to fears that the proposed cure would be worse than the disease. Disguised as a policy framework on counter-terror, it emerged from time to time in leaked versions to the media in many shapes and sizes, somewhat like the deceptive chameleon, masking the same worrying clauses in different language, bringing in espionage and vaguely defined offences under the broad cover of terrorism offences.

At a point, it became a test to see as to what deceptive tactics would be indulged in at each and every time that the draft was amended. Writing in these column spaces in late 2016, I ruminated that reading through these drafts risked exposing oneself to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 11 of the Constitution (see More (Legal) Horrors of Sri Lanka’s Counter-Terror Draft’, Focus on Rights, November 6th 2016) given the draft’s atrociously wide reach of acts classified as offences. If taken on board at that time, virtually the entire range of democratic activity in Sri Lanka would have been within the scope of being classified as a ‘terrorist activity.’

Continue reading ‘New Counter -Terrorism Bill With Expansive Aspects in Dealing with Counter-terror Needs to be Rigorously Examined Before it is Passed by our Legislators.’ »

China’s Conduct in Sri Lanka and Maldives Would Indicate how India-China Relations Would Shape up in the Future and Impact the Security Environment Not Only in the Two Island Nations but the Indian Ocrean Region as Well.

By

Colonel R Hariharan

Introduction

Recently India’s Indian Ocean neighbours – Sri Lanka and Maldives – witnessed political crises after heads of state attempted to tinker with constitution to suit their political ends, plunging the country into chaos and uncertain future. This was due to fractious and personality driven domestic politics practiced in both the countries. However, they have managed to defuse the crises through democratic process, thanks to their own internal political dynamics and external pressure, mainly from the US and the European Union.

Both the island nations are important partners in India’s national and Indian Ocean security template. So it becomes imperative for India to understand the external influences, notably China, which played a part in the crises situation.

Sri Lanka political crisis and its aftermath

President Maithripala Sirisena in a dramatic move on October 26, 2018 installed former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, and sacked his coalition partner PM Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the United National Party (UNP), although it was the support of Wickremesinghe and the UNP that enabled him to, defeat Rajapaksa in the presidential election. The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition had created the signature brand ‘Yahapalana’ (good governance) for their government to restore good governance and bring the perpetrators of corrupt acts during the Rajapaksa regime to book. So the President’s action was condemned as a betrayal of the people, who voted him to power.

Continue reading ‘China’s Conduct in Sri Lanka and Maldives Would Indicate how India-China Relations Would Shape up in the Future and Impact the Security Environment Not Only in the Two Island Nations but the Indian Ocrean Region as Well.’ »

How Rohitha Rajapaksa Proposed To Tatyana Jayaratne On the Top of Mt.Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Married Her by the side of a Pond at Weeraketiya in Sri Lanka.

(Excerpted from the “Sunday Times” of January 27th 2019)

Standing atop the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, he proposed to her. The three dormant volcanoes, after which the mountain is named, did not erupt but his love for her had peaked. With a smile, she accepted.

From the highest mountain in Africa (4900 feet), the romance transcended further to the hinterland of Beliatte in southern Sri Lanka. At his ancestral home in Medamulana, Rohitha Rajapaksa married his long time sweetheart,Tatyana Jayaratne, on Thursday morning.

The third son of former President and now Opposition Leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Rohitha the space enthusiast, rose to newer heights. The wedding ceremony, which was attended by everybody who is somebody in Sri Lanka and the people of the area, had an estimated guest count of well over 5,000 — easily the largest in the past many decades. Father Rajapaksa had invited a member of every household from the village. An emissary of his went from house to house to invite them.

Continue reading ‘How Rohitha Rajapaksa Proposed To Tatyana Jayaratne On the Top of Mt.Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Married Her by the side of a Pond at Weeraketiya in Sri Lanka.’ »

Sri Lanka Freedom Party Unanimously Resolves To Nominate Maithripala Sirisena as the Party Candidate at the Forthcoming Presidential Elections.

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Anuradhapura Convention has nominated President Maithripala Sirisena as the party’s candidate for the forthcoming presidential election, sources said.

SLFP sources said the nomination was approved unanimously.

“The candidate for the next presidential election will again be Maithripala Sirisena,” Parliamentarian Duminda Dissanayake told the media..

“No other name will be nominated,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Freedom Party Unanimously Resolves To Nominate Maithripala Sirisena as the Party Candidate at the Forthcoming Presidential Elections.’ »

“Independence Day is a Reminder that we are One nation Under One Flag and we are Free to Allow our Diversity to be the Uniting Factor of our People”- Mahinda Rajapaksa

(Text of Independence Day Message Issued by the Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa on Feb 3 2019)

71 years ago, a group of remarkable men decided that enough was enough. Sri Lanka had all the strengths it needed to gain autonomy, govern its own jurisdiction and rule under its own mandate. We, a nation that has always had to juggle its diversity and often been at the negative end of that battle produced these men who made up a literal interpretation of our glorious flag and displayed it through their own diversity. They volleyed, they fought and above all stood together to gain independence and prevailed.

Having been a young boy when it happened and growing up watching our country’s growth, I can’t help but reflect on our journey as a people. I feel overjoyed and yet, sympathetic as I have seen our nation rally together in the darkest times and at the same time, tear itself up from within.

Continue reading ‘“Independence Day is a Reminder that we are One nation Under One Flag and we are Free to Allow our Diversity to be the Uniting Factor of our People”- Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Seven Decades After Independence a New Wealth is Here Along with its Attendant Mindset and Value Where Everything Else From Respecting Nature to Civil Nurture is Dispensable.

By

Sanjana Hattotuwa

The lines snaked their way past and around the calm Buddha, who in Chinese before Tamil, greeted one to Sri Lanka. The visa on arrival counter was clearly marked by a throng of very tired looking foreigners, some with families seated on the floor, because there’s no seating in that area. A man, magically and out of nowhere, appeared behind me, placing himself in front of a foreign couple without so much as a glance or apology. I introduced him to the concept of a line and the virtue of patience, asking him to return to wherever he first came from. The foreign couple expressed their thanks, and I apologized on behalf of the country, expressing the hope the rest of their holiday would be as they had expected it.

The airport security I smiled and spoke briefly with guided me in the direction of a line he had observed moved faster than others. I asked him what he thought of the scene that lay before us. At least three hundred people, mostly foreigners, in various stages of fatigue and frustration, lined up like cattle. He shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said in Sinhala that he and I, being small men, had no power to change anything. I wasn’t inclined to disagree.

I eventually encountered an immigration official whose moustache held, as evidence of a large pot belly’s sustenance, a small remnant of dinner or a midnight snack.

He was completely disinterested in everything and everyone. My passport was handed back with a barely covered yawn. Looking around, I couldn’t see a single improvement in the Arrivals Hall since the last time I was in it, a year ago. A leading bank’s poster, inviting the Chinese to bank with it because staff spoke fluent Mandarin, was a reminder of how much Sri Lanka was indebted to footfall from one country. Downstairs, the staccato movement of the luggage carousels, unchanged for over a decade, ejected some lighter pieces of luggage on to the floor. The airport staff didn’t seem bothered.

Continue reading ‘Seven Decades After Independence a New Wealth is Here Along with its Attendant Mindset and Value Where Everything Else From Respecting Nature to Civil Nurture is Dispensable.’ »

Westminster Courts Chief Magistrate Revokes Arrest Warrant Against Ex-Military Attache Brig.Priyanka Fernando and Adjourns Case Until Mrch 1st to “Further Discuss Immunity Issue” and Determine Whether ” Action Constitutes Public Order Offence”.

By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London

Chief Magistrate of Westminster Magistrate’s Court, Emma Arbuthnot tendered an apology for the ‘administrative mishandling’ of former Sri Lankan military attache, Brigadier Priyanka Fernando’s public order offence case, when hearing resumed on Friday.

She has revoked the previous arrest warrant saying that she did not know how such a sensitive case went to trial without it “ever coming across to my desk”.

Continue reading ‘Westminster Courts Chief Magistrate Revokes Arrest Warrant Against Ex-Military Attache Brig.Priyanka Fernando and Adjourns Case Until Mrch 1st to “Further Discuss Immunity Issue” and Determine Whether ” Action Constitutes Public Order Offence”.’ »

UNP Wants to Pass Substantive Motion For Setting up a “National Govt” With 48 Cabinet Ministers and 45 Non -Cabinet Ministers.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The UNP has sought to increase the number of ministers to 48 and non-cabinet ministers to 45 on the basis of the formation of a national government in accordance with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Parliament enacted the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on 2015 April 28.

Public Enterprise, Kandyan Heritage and Kandy Development Minister and Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella, on behalf of the UNP, has handed over a ‘substantive motion’ to Secretary General of Parliament W. B.D. Dasanayake that the parliament decided in terms of 46 (4) of the Constitution the number of Cabinet ministers and non-Cabinet ministers shouldn’t exceed 48 and 45, respectively.

Continue reading ‘UNP Wants to Pass Substantive Motion For Setting up a “National Govt” With 48 Cabinet Ministers and 45 Non -Cabinet Ministers.’ »

Formation of a National Govt to Facilitate Appointment of More than 30 Cabinet Ministers Has Nothing To Do with Celebrating 71 Years of Freedom From British on Feb 4?


By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

What has Freedom to do with having more Cabinet Ministers?

I ask this because just three days before the 71st Independence Commemoration Day, the proposal has been made to have a ‘National Government’, which means more than 30 Cabinet Ministers.

Those who brought the 19th Amendment to restrict the number of Cabinet Ministers to 30, going down from the huge numbers allowed by the JRJ 1978 Constitution, are using their own trick of a so-called ‘ National Government’ to beat the people in the Cabinet race.

There is nothing national in having more Cabinet Ministers, with all the costs, crookedness and rising corruption it would involve. Can’t we just think of the real needs of Freedom, when we think of celebrating Independence?

Continue reading ‘Formation of a National Govt to Facilitate Appointment of More than 30 Cabinet Ministers Has Nothing To Do with Celebrating 71 Years of Freedom From British on Feb 4?’ »

233 Individuals and 19 Organizations Sign Petition Urging President Sirisena not to Pardon Convicted Prisoner Bodu Bala Sena Gen -Secy Gnanasara Thero on Feb 4 Independence Day.


(Text of a petition signed by 233 Individuals and 19 Organizations Urging
President Sirisena not to issue a Presidential pardon on February 4th Independence day to Convicted prisoner Bodu Bala Sena Gnanasara Thero)

We, the undersigned civil society organisations and individuals are increasingly concerned by reports that Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara thero (hereinafter Gnanasara thero) may be granted a presidential pardon in view of Independence Day celebrations on 4th of February 2019 on the request of a few powerful politicians and religious leaders. Presidential pardons must be granted on objective criteria, including the remorse shown by the convict, the time already served, the circumstance of the case and the crime that has been committed. Without objective criteria, the use of the Presidential pardon to release convicts could seriously undermine the independence of the judiciary and rule of law in the country.

Gnanasara thero is presently incarcerated after being convicted by two different courts for separate offences of contempt of court and criminally intimidating Sandya Ekneligoda, a woman human rights defender and wife of a disappeared journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda. His absolute lack of respect for the judiciary is evident from his conduct. In this, his vitriolic display of hate towards Sandya Eknaligoda, in the vicinity of the Magistrate’s Court when she was attending hearings into the disappearance Prageeth Eknaligoda. His lack of remorse has also been specifically commented on by the President of the Court of Appeal in his 56-page judgment.

Continue reading ‘233 Individuals and 19 Organizations Sign Petition Urging President Sirisena not to Pardon Convicted Prisoner Bodu Bala Sena Gen -Secy Gnanasara Thero on Feb 4 Independence Day.’ »

“When I met George Fernandez Aboard a New Delhi Bound Indian Airlines Flight in 1998, He was Travelling Alone Without Bodyguards Though he was India’s Defence Minister Then”

By

Bandula Jayasekara

George Fernandez, one of India’s former defence ministers and socialist leader, died on Tuesday. It brought back memories from 1998, when I flew with the Defenceless Defence Minister of India. This article, written re that chance encounter in August 1998, is reproduced as a tribute to the fallen socialist leader.

I was traveling on Indian airlines, flight IC 539 from Madras to New Delhi. My seat number was 20 E. Half an hour before the plane took off, a tall, lean man a familiar figure, dressed in a light green Kurta and a white pyjama, with only a shoulder bag accompanied by a lone, Indian airlines ground assistant, boarded the flight. The man gently walked passed me and sat on seat 25 A, economy class. I couldn’t believe it. This was the man who recently challenged China and created a stir. This was the man who was leading India’s nuclear front and in charge of the Indian Defence Forces. The socialist firebrand, India’s controversial Defence Minister, George Fernandez. He sat and started to read a book. Cover of the book was revolutionary red.

Continue reading ‘“When I met George Fernandez Aboard a New Delhi Bound Indian Airlines Flight in 1998, He was Travelling Alone Without Bodyguards Though he was India’s Defence Minister Then”’ »

Court of Appeal Acting President Deepali Wijesundara Declines To Hear Petition Seeking Quo Warranto writ Disqualifying Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe From Remaining a Member of Parliament.


By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

Court of Appeal (acting President) Justice Deepali Wijesundera yesterday declined to sit on the Bench regarding a writ petition filed challenging UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Parliamentary seat. The petition was deferred for today (01) to fix for a support date.

This petition had sought an order in the nature of a writ of quo warranto declaring that UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is disqualified to be a Member of Parliament and thus the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as a Member of Parliament void and that he has no right to continue to hold office as a Member of Parliament.

Continue reading ‘Court of Appeal Acting President Deepali Wijesundara Declines To Hear Petition Seeking Quo Warranto writ Disqualifying Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe From Remaining a Member of Parliament.’ »

Deputy -Solicitor-General Appreciates Conduct of Ex-Def-Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa For Respectfully Refusing to make Statements to the Media Within Court Premises.

By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Colombo Permanent High Court-at-Bar Bench yesterday appreciated the prompt reaction by the parties concerned to ensure a conducive environment for witnesses.

The judges urged all parties involved in the D. A. Rajapaksa Museum case, to act themselves in a manner that secures the respect of their professions inside court.The Trial-at-Bar Bench comprising High Court Judges Sampath Abeykoon (President), Sampath Wijeratne and Champa Janaki Rajaratne made this request following an observation by Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris

On January 22, Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris appearing for the Attorney General raised objections into the highly ‘militarised’ environment around the Colombo Permanent High Court-at-Bar.

Continue reading ‘Deputy -Solicitor-General Appreciates Conduct of Ex-Def-Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa For Respectfully Refusing to make Statements to the Media Within Court Premises.’ »

Order Regarding Preliminary Objections Challenging the Colombo Permanent High Court-at-Bar’s Jurisdiction to hear the D.A. Rajapaksa Museum case Fixed for February 11.

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The order regarding the preliminary objections raised by former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and six others challenging the Colombo Permanent High Court-at-Bar’s jurisdiction to hear the D.A. Rajapaksa Museum case was yesterday fixed for February 11.

The Trial-at-Bar Bench comprised High Court Judges Sampath Abeykoon (President), Sampath Wijeratne and Champa Janaki Rajaratne.

Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Dileepa Peiris appearing for the Attorney General yesterday provided answers to the arguments presented by defence counsel who challenged the court’s jurisdiction to hear this case.

DSG Peiris submitted to court that Permanent High Court-at-Bar was established through the provisions of Judicature (Amendment) Act, No. 9 of 2018 and the matter was extensively debated at the Supreme Court.

‘The decision to establish this court cannot be reversed now. Even the defence has already accepted its legitimacy by invoking its jurisdiction to temporarily revoke their travel ban.

Continue reading ‘Order Regarding Preliminary Objections Challenging the Colombo Permanent High Court-at-Bar’s Jurisdiction to hear the D.A. Rajapaksa Museum case Fixed for February 11.’ »

Appeal Filed by Attorney – General Seeking a Re-trial into Murder of Former TNA MP Nadaraja Raviraj, Fixed for April 4 by the Court of Appeal

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

An appeal filed by the Attorney General seeking a re-trial into the murder of former TNA MP Nadaraja Raviraj, was fixed for April 4 by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

A Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justice Deepali Wijesundara and Justice Achala Wengappuli decided to differ the application consequent to a request made by Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, an accused respondent that he be given two months to retain a counsel.

Continue reading ‘Appeal Filed by Attorney – General Seeking a Re-trial into Murder of Former TNA MP Nadaraja Raviraj, Fixed for April 4 by the Court of Appeal’ »

Court of Appeal Orders Re-issuance Notice on Chaminda Hettiarachchi alias “Navy Sampath.


By S. S. Selvanayagam

The Court of Appeal fixed the appeal filed against the High Court Order in the Former MP Raviraj murder case to be mentioned for April 4 yesterday, and directed to re-issue notice on Chaminda Hettiarachchi, alias Navy Sampath.

The Bench comprised Justices Deepali Wijesundera (Acting President/CA) and Achala Wengappuli.

Court had already granted Leave to Appeal to the Petition filed by the wife of deceased MP Nadarajah Raviraj, against the order of the Colombo High Court in her husband Raviraj’s murder case, on 2 August 2018.

Continue reading ‘Court of Appeal Orders Re-issuance Notice on Chaminda Hettiarachchi alias “Navy Sampath.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Loyalist MP Kumar Welgama Makes Waves By His Persistent Opposition to the Presidential Bid of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa .

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Kumar Welgama, Member of Parliament from Kalutara is a colouful personality. Recently, he is in the limelight due to a revelation by the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) that 18 buses which had been given to the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) had gone missing during his tenure as the Minister of Transport. Earlier, he was indicted in a separate case of financial misappropriation for allegedly creating a non- existent position of vice chairman at the SLTB in order to employ a crony and paying Rupees 3.2 million to him as salaries.

However, Mr. Welgama is also making waves due to a different reason: his persistent opposition to the presidential bid of Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Interestingly, despite being a loyalist of ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mr. Welgama made his opposition known even while Gotabaya was testing waters through a showpiece event of Viyath Maga.

Now that the former defence secretary has publicly announced his desire to run for the presidency, Mr. Welgama’s protestations are getting louder and also more pinpointed. Recently, the Kalutara MP argued that political parties should not promote as presidential candidates individuals who would kill everyone who disagrees with him or her.

Whether Mr. Welgama’s opposition to Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is driven by principles or by self- interest is open to question. (He is reportedly nursing presidential ambitions, some say). Whatever his motives, he has a point: the prospect of Gotabaya’s presidency is alarming. It does not necessarily mean that former defence secretary would reign from a skull island. But, even a milder form of Gotabaya styled government is bound to reverse current democratic gains.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Loyalist MP Kumar Welgama Makes Waves By His Persistent Opposition to the Presidential Bid of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa .’ »

Coining of New Words and Phrases Relating to Technological Terms in Tamil Imperative in Order to Keep up With World Developments

By

Megha Kaveri

When the movie Ko released in 2011, the internet went berserk about the word ‘Kuviyamilla’ which had featured in a song. It was an unfamiliar word that a big chunk of Tamil Nadu’s population was hearing for the first time. Debates raged on social media, discussing the meaning of the word. Finally, it was lyricist Madhan Karky who revealed the meaning of the word that he’d penned – it means ‘out of focus’.

Tamil, one of the richest and oldest languages, is constantly evolving. If not by itself, the language is being pushed to newer boundaries every day, thanks to the progress of science and technology. It’s become imperative that words and phrases that refer to technology are coined in order to keep up with the world.

Despite being at least a thousand years old, Tamil, as a language does not have a standard lexicon which is used uniformly across regions. In fact, Tamil Nadu is known for its dialects of Tamil spoken across the state, in Sri Lanka and even other parts of the world. This being the case, how are new words created in Tamil and who is behind this?

While new age lyricists like Madhan Karky and Thamarai do play a role in this, the field is open to all.

Continue reading ‘Coining of New Words and Phrases Relating to Technological Terms in Tamil Imperative in Order to Keep up With World Developments’ »

Announcement of Appointments to top Posts Under Tourism Ministry Cancelled Suddenly Due to Minister John Amaratunga Getting Approval From President Sirisena Alone Without Sending Names For Approval by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Planned new appointments to the boards of Sri Lanka’s state tourism agencies were delayed Tuesday pending approval of Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe, a minister said.

“The President had approved the appointments,” Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga said.

“However, Prime Minister said he also has to approve.”

Continue reading ‘Announcement of Appointments to top Posts Under Tourism Ministry Cancelled Suddenly Due to Minister John Amaratunga Getting Approval From President Sirisena Alone Without Sending Names For Approval by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.’ »

Commercial High Court Issues Enjoining Order Restraining the Screening or Telecasting of Sinhala Film “Sujatha” Produced by K. Gunaratnam of Cinemas Ltd in 1953.

By S.S. Selvanayagam

The Commercial High Court issued an Enjoining Order restraining telecasting, exhibiting, displaying or showing the film ‘Sujatha,’ produced in Sri Lanka in 1953.

High Court Judge Ashan Marikar issued this order pursuant to an Intellectual Property litigation initiated by G.R. Pathmaraj, son of K. Gunaratnam. Court issued notices returnable for 7 February.

Plaintiff cited Tissa Nagodawithana and Movie Producers and Importers Ltd. as Defendants.

Continue reading ‘Commercial High Court Issues Enjoining Order Restraining the Screening or Telecasting of Sinhala Film “Sujatha” Produced by K. Gunaratnam of Cinemas Ltd in 1953.’ »

New Linguistic Study States Tamil Has the Longest Literary Tradition Among 4000 -4500 Year Old Dravidian Languages and Retains Continuity Between Its Classical and Modern Forms.

The Dravidian language family’s four largest languages — Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu — have literary traditions spanning centuries, of which Tamil reaches back the furthest, researchers said.

The Dravidian language family, consisting of 80 varieties spoken by nearly 220 million people across southern and central India, originated about 4,500 years ago, a study has found.

This estimate is based on new linguistic analyses by an international team, including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, and the Wildlife Institute of India in Dehradun.

The researchers used data collected first-hand from native speakers representing all previously reported Dravidian subgroups. The findings, published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, match with earlier linguistic and archaeological studies.

Continue reading ‘New Linguistic Study States Tamil Has the Longest Literary Tradition Among 4000 -4500 Year Old Dravidian Languages and Retains Continuity Between Its Classical and Modern Forms.’ »

Speaker Jayasuriya’s Ruling Has Enabled The Maithripala-Mahinda Duo Working in Partnership To be in Control of Both the Government and Opposition Simultaneously.


By Jehan Perera

The issue of the Leader of the Opposition’s position once again came to the fore when it was brought up in parliament last week by TNA leader R Sampanthan. This issue seem to have been resolved when Speaker Karu Jayasuriya issued a ruling earlier this month that the UPFA’s Mahinda Rajapaksa would be the opposition leader. Parliament, the media and majority opinion seem to have taken this decision in their stride as the right and proper one. Certainly the UPFA is much larger in numbers than the TNA, both in parliament and outside parliament, and more vociferous in their opposition to whatever the government is doing.

However, until the breakdown of the UNP-SLFP national government in October last year it was the TNA leader who held the opposition leader’s position. During the three years in which Mr Sampanthan held that position, the UPFA which included SLFP members was much larger than the TNA and more vociferous in its opposition. But during those three years, Speaker Jayasuriya ruled that the UPFA could not hold the Leader of the Opposition position as its main component party, the SLFP, was participating in a national government.

It was the breakdown of the UNP-SLFP national government that changed the equation for Speaker Jayasuriya. With the SLFP no longer in government he awarded the position of opposition leader to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who was nominated to that position by the UPFA. But what may seem to be the correct decision to some, even though they be a majority, can be challenged as incorrect by others who may be in a minority. TNA leader Sampanthan’s speech in parliament points to the need for solutions to be found.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Jayasuriya’s Ruling Has Enabled The Maithripala-Mahinda Duo Working in Partnership To be in Control of Both the Government and Opposition Simultaneously.’ »

Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya States He will Resign Post If Long Delayed Provincial Council Elections are Not Held Before Presidential Elections.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

National Election Commission (NEC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya, yesterday, vowed to quit his post in case the powers that be blocked Provincial Council polls ahead of presidential polls later this year.

Pointing at N.J. Abeysekera (Commission member) and Prof. Rathnajeevan Hoole (Commission member) seated at the head table, Deshapriya said that one of them could replace him.

Continue reading ‘Elections Commission Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya States He will Resign Post If Long Delayed Provincial Council Elections are Not Held Before Presidential Elections.’ »

Plantation Workers Demanding 1000 Rupee Daily Wage Denounce Collective Agreement Signed by Trade Unions for Rs 700 as a “Sell Out”:Angry workers Block Traffic on Hatton – Colombo Highway for Several Hours.

By M. Thevarajah and W.A. Sunil

Thousands of plantation workers in Sri Lanka’s Central Hills district held strikes and protests yesterday in opposition to a sellout wage deal signed by the trade unions and the plantation companies, with the backing of the national government.

Plantation employees, who are one of the poorest sections of the Sri Lankan working class, have conducted a protracted struggle for a 100 percent daily wage increase. The union-brokered agreement mandates pay rises of just 40 percent.

The collective agreement was signed at Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office on Sunday by the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), representing the plantation companies, and Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) leader Arumugam Thondaman and Lanka Jathika Estate Workers Union (LJEWU) secretary and state minister Suresh Vadivel.

Continue reading ‘Plantation Workers Demanding 1000 Rupee Daily Wage Denounce Collective Agreement Signed by Trade Unions for Rs 700 as a “Sell Out”:Angry workers Block Traffic on Hatton – Colombo Highway for Several Hours.’ »

Why Mahinda Is Reluctant To Endorse Maithripala As Presidential Election Candidate For 2019 Polls

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The greatest political surprise or upset in Sri Lankan politics last year was the political re-alignment of President Maithripala Sirisena and Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In a bizarre political twist Maithripala joined forces with his ex-leader to launch an unconstitutional and undemocratic attempt to remove Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replace him with Mahinda Rajapaksa as Purported Prime Minister. The backdoor bid to grab power failed miserably. The reasons for the debacle are well known.

Deepavali Celebrations-Nov 2018-via: @PresRajapaksa

What is of interest now is the prevailing state of political relations between President Sirisena and the recently recognized Leader of the opposition Rajapaksa.The tactical alliance formed last year to oust Ranil Wickremesinghe is yet functioning but recent straws in the wind seem to indicate that all is not well in the opportunistic union. While Maithripala Sirisena wants the “October 26 partnership” of Prime Minister Mahinda and President Maithripala to continue as planned the “pohottuwa”camp does not appear to be very keen about perpetuating the Sirisena-Rajapaksa political arrangement.
Continue reading ‘Why Mahinda Is Reluctant To Endorse Maithripala As Presidential Election Candidate For 2019 Polls’ »

59 MP’s Comprising UPFA -54,UNP – 4 and JVP -1 Found Responsible for Disorderly Conduct in Parliament on Nov 14,15 &16 2018: Highest No of Charges Against UPFA Parliamentarians Prasanna Ranaweera and Johnston Fernando.


By Ajith Alahakoon

The Parliamentary Committee, appointed to conduct an investigation into the disorderly conduct of MPs in parliament on November 14, 15 and 16 last year has found that 59 MPs acted in violation of the provisions of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, sources said yesterday.

Among those 59 MPs there were 54 UPFA MPs, four UNP MPs and one JVP member, sources said.

The committee handed over their report to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya last week.

The report has been compiled on the basis of video footage obtained from the CCTVs in Parliament and from TV stations, which covered parliamentary proceedings.

Continue reading ‘59 MP’s Comprising UPFA -54,UNP – 4 and JVP -1 Found Responsible for Disorderly Conduct in Parliament on Nov 14,15 &16 2018: Highest No of Charges Against UPFA Parliamentarians Prasanna Ranaweera and Johnston Fernando.’ »

Sinister Attempts at Hatemongering by Rajapaksa Pointmen Using Parliamentary Privileges to Attack Recent Appointments in the Judiciary Must be Stopped Immediately.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

The ongoing war of words in Parliament over the appointment of judges to the superior courts has an increasingly sinister dimension to it that must not be underestimated.

Eerily familiar signs

Taken together with the push by some politicians and supportive monks to seek a presidential pardon for General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara who is now serving a jail term for insulting the judiciary, the cumulative impact is highly inimical to the continued functioning of an independent judiciary.

The signs are unmistakable and eerily familiar. This is precisely the manner in which judges who acted as the Constitution’s guardian were brought to heel in the past. Then too, parliamentary privilege was used to personally attack judges. Little by devastating little, the edifice of an independent judiciary crumbled. Once upon a time, it would have been inconceivable for a judge to express partisan views from a political platform after retirement. But we began to shrug our shoulders and turn away. The repercussions of those years still rebound as this week, a former Chief Justice was noticed for contempt of court by the Supreme Court. Such a development would have been unheard of two decades ago.

Continue reading ‘Sinister Attempts at Hatemongering by Rajapaksa Pointmen Using Parliamentary Privileges to Attack Recent Appointments in the Judiciary Must be Stopped Immediately.’ »

“Independence Day” on February 4th Should Actually be a Day of Mourning for us Sri Lankans.


By

Sharmini Serasinghe

An Open letter to Minister Mangala Samaraweera by Sharmini Serasinghe on behalf of the Voiceless & Faceless Citizens of Sri Lanka

Dear Minister Mangala Samaraweera,

Hope you don’t mind me not referring to you as Hon. Mangala Samaraweera because those of us who know you are honourable don’t need a reminder. Also, many of your colleagues – MPs – also referred to as Hon. bla bla bla are extremely dishonourable dolts, hence it is more of an insult to you than an honour.

The reason I decided to appeal to you on behalf of the Voiceless & Faceless Citizens of Sri Lanka is because unlike our Prime Minster who appears to have his head permanently in the clouds, and that shameless man who continues to masquerade as our ‘Chief Servant’, you my friend have your head screwed on right and above all, you have a conscience. Hence my utmost faith in you to do what is right by the people of our country.

So, here goes!

Next week, Sri Lanka will be “celebrating” 71 years since the British fled our shores for their dear lives. And, for 71 years since then we the people of this country have been led down the garden path by our noses, by successive governments of the two dominant political parties who used us, fooled us, abused us and now, driven our country down into the debt-ridden dark hole it is in today. You, as the Minister of Finance know exactly how deep and dark that hole is.

Continue reading ‘“Independence Day” on February 4th Should Actually be a Day of Mourning for us Sri Lankans.’ »

Heavy “Security”Presence in Colombo Permanent High Court Premises During “D.A.Rajapaksa Memorial” Trial Revives Memories of Court Environment During Ex-Def -Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s Defamation Case Against “The Sunday Leader” Some Years ago.

By

Anurangi Singh

A heavy security presence in the courtroom as Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ‘D.A. Rajapaksa trial’ kicked off at the Special High Court this week, caused serious concern for State attorneys and witnesses appearing in the case, but lawyers recalled the tactic has been used before very successfully by the former Defence Secretary, when he was still holding office.

The Colombo Permanent High Court at Bar is to make an order this week regarding an application made by Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peeris pertaining to private and STF security personnel, (not attached to the court security) remaining within and outside of the Court premises.

On Friday, the three judge bench of the Special Court had to warn a witness for the prosecution, (Geological Survey and Mines Bureau Chairman W.M.A.S. Iddawela), to behave himself in Court, after the state witness stood up to shake the hand of the former Defense Secretary when the trial began last Tuesday (22).

DSG Peeris told Court that the witness had been summoned for the purpose of recording evidence and not to engage in cordial discussions with the accused to show respect.

Continue reading ‘Heavy “Security”Presence in Colombo Permanent High Court Premises During “D.A.Rajapaksa Memorial” Trial Revives Memories of Court Environment During Ex-Def -Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s Defamation Case Against “The Sunday Leader” Some Years ago.’ »

SLFP’s Duminda Dissanayake and UNP’s Gamini Jayawickrama Perera Engage in Shameful Exercise of Procuring Presidential Pardon From Maithripala Sirisena for Convicted Bodu Bala Sena Gen -Secy Gnanasara Thero on Feb 4 Independence Day

By

Rajitha Jagoda Arachchi

Calls are mounting for controversial Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galagodaaththe Gnansara Thera to be granted a presidential pardon ahead of independence day.

The requests have come largely from religious quarters, with all four chief prelates of the four Buddhist monastic orders writing separate letters to President Maithripala Sirisena, urging him to pardon the trouble-making bhikkhu who has been at the forefront of inciting intimidation and violence against ethnic minority communities.

SLFP strongman Duminda Dissanayake, a close confidant of the President, told the media last week that there was a possibility that the bhikkhu would receive a pardon.

Under Article 34 of the Constitution, the President has the power to grant pardon to convicted offenders. In the recent past, S.B. Dissanayake, who was convicted and sentenced to RI for contempt of court, the same offence the BBS bhikkhu has been jailed for, and journalist J.S. Tissanayagam who was convicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act were among those who obtained their freedom from court imposed jail sentences through Presidential pardons.

Late last week, UNP MP and Minister for Buddha Sasana Gamini Jayawickrema Perera wrote to President Sirisena, drawing his attention to the multiple requests from senior bhikkhus about a pardon for Gnanasara Thero. In this letter, he stated that all Maha Nayakas of the three chapters, Diyawadana Nilame Pradeep Nilanga Dela and President of the Hindu Congress Nara T. Arukkanth had separately requested the release of Gnanasara thera in writing.

Continue reading ‘SLFP’s Duminda Dissanayake and UNP’s Gamini Jayawickrama Perera Engage in Shameful Exercise of Procuring Presidential Pardon From Maithripala Sirisena for Convicted Bodu Bala Sena Gen -Secy Gnanasara Thero on Feb 4 Independence Day’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe Defend Commposition and Conduct of Constitutional Council In the Face of Criticism in Parliament.

By Saman Indrajith

The Constitutional Council (CC) considered not only the seniority of nominees but also the recommendation of the Chief Justice and their recognition in the field when appointing superior court judges, CC Chairman and Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said yesterday.

The Speaker, making a special announcement in Parliament, at the request of the CC, said the CC had always been impartial, transparent, fair and independent in all its decisions.

All the CC members were allowed to freely express their opinions on the appointments to independent commissions and high posts and a final decision was arrived impartially after evaluating all of the opinions, Jayasuriya said.

“Certain criticisms of the MPs may lead to public misunderstanding on the conduct of the CC. When approving names for the independent commissions we use the same criteria stipulated in the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. However, we requested proposals from the MPs if any revision to those criteria is needed in 2016, but to-date we have not received a single proposal. I tabled a report in December, 2016 including the criteria being followed by the CC.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe Defend Commposition and Conduct of Constitutional Council In the Face of Criticism in Parliament.’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Makes Special Statement Rebutting Issues Raised by Rajavarothayam Sampanthan MP About Issues Related to the Leader of the Opposition Position in Parliament.

by Saman Indrajith

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, yesterday, referring to the argument that Mahinda Rajapaksa could not hold the Opposition Leader’s post as he (Rajapaksa) and President Maithripala Sirisena belonged to the same party, told Parliament that there had been precedents.

The Speaker said so making a special statement in response to a statement that had been made earlier in the day by TNA leader R Sampanthan.

The speaker’s statement: I would like to inform the House that R Sampanthan MP made a written request to me to allow him to raise a Point of Order in respect of the matter that I had made a ruling on Jan 08, 2019 which was delivered to this House by Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri on my behalf pertaining to the Leader of the Opposition.

As this Point of Order was raised by R Sampanthan MP today in the House let me inform the House my position in respect of the matters raised.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Makes Special Statement Rebutting Issues Raised by Rajavarothayam Sampanthan MP About Issues Related to the Leader of the Opposition Position in Parliament.’ »

Armoured Vehicle Carrying UN Peace Keeping Troops From Sri Lanka Comes Under Remote-Controlled Explosive Devise Attack in Douentza in Mali: 2 Including a Capt Killed;3 Injured.

One Sri Lankan Army Captain and a trooper were killed and three others were injured when their convoy came under an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack in Mali today, the Sri Lanka Army said.

An armoured vehicle, WMZ carrying Sri Lankan Peacekeeping troops on patrol in the general area of Douentza in Mali, came under the remote-controlled IED attack around 6.30 am local Mali time.

Continue reading ‘Armoured Vehicle Carrying UN Peace Keeping Troops From Sri Lanka Comes Under Remote-Controlled Explosive Devise Attack in Douentza in Mali: 2 Including a Capt Killed;3 Injured.’ »

TNA Leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan Raises Questions of Public Importance On “The Position of the Leader of the Opposition in the Sri Lankan Parliament”


Honorable Speaker
Parliament
Jayewardenepura Kotte

Sir,

I seek your leave to raise the following questions relating to a matter of public importance “The Position of the Leader of the Opposition in the Sri Lankan Parliament”

1. You made a statement in Parliament on 18th December 2018, pertaining to the position of Leader of the Opposition. In the course of the said statement you mentioned that you had received a letter from the Secretary of United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) which claimed to have the second largest number of members of Parliament and requesting that Hon Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa be appointed as Leader of the Opposition. You also stated that you were acceding to the request as the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had the second largest number of members of Parliament.

2. Some Hon Members of Parliament raised questions in regard to this matter on the said date and stated Firstly, that though the UPFA indisputably had the second largest number of Members of Parliament they could not hold the post of the Leader of the Opposition as they were a part of the Government. Secondly, that Hon Mahinda Rajapaksa the appointee to the post of Leader of the Opposition, under Article 99 sub section 13A of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialistic Republic of Sri Lanka. subsequent to he having become a member of the Podu Jana Peramuna a political party distinct and different from the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) on whose nomination paper Hon Mahinda Rajapaksa’s name appeared at the time of the election and 30 days having lapsed from the date on which he ceased to be a member of the UPFA had ceased to be a Member of Parliament and could not therefore be the Leader of the Opposition. You stated that you would respond to these questions on a later date.

3. I made a Statement in Parliament on 19th December 2018, in the course of which I myself referred to the aforesaid two matters mentioned in para 2 above. In the course of the said statement I stated that in September 2015 as the Leader of the Illankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) the second largest party in opposition in the Sri Lankan Parliament you recognized me as the Leader of the Opposition. Further, in August 2018 as the Leader of the Illankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) the second largest party in Parliament you once again recognized me as the Leader of the Opposition. On both these occasions you recognized the Leader of the second largest party in Parliament as the leader of the Opposition for the reason that the largest party in opposition in Parliament the UPFA was also represented in Government.

4. The Hon Deputy Speaker on your behalf made a statement in Parliament on 8th of January 2019, where he stated your position in regard to the aforesaid matters. In the course of the said statement there is no reference whatsoever to the UPFA also being represented in Government and therefore not being entitled to serve as the official opposition. You have thereby failed to refer to the crucial reason stated by you when recognizing me the Leader of the second largest party in opposition as the Leader of the Opposition twice: first in September 2015 secondly in August 2018.

5. In regard to the aforesaid two matters I consider it my duty to place on record the following matters for your information and necessary appropriate action.

Continue reading ‘TNA Leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan Raises Questions of Public Importance On “The Position of the Leader of the Opposition in the Sri Lankan Parliament”’ »

Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha Summons British High Commissioner James Dauris and Protests Strongly Against Legal Action Being Taken by Magistrate’s Court in London Against Former Lankan Defence Attache Brigadier Priyankara Fernando Despite Enjoying Diplomatic Immunity

The Sri Lankan government yesterday strongly protested against British legal action in respect of Brigadier Priyankara Fernando, one-time defence attache with the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK.

Well informed sources told The Island that at a meeting held at the Foreign Ministry yesterday afternoon between Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha and British High Commissioner James Dauris, the former raised the issue at hand.

Sources said that the BHC was summoned in respect of the summons by the Magistrate’s Court of Westminster, and the arrest warrant without bail on Brigadier Priyanka Fernando.

Continue reading ‘Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinha Summons British High Commissioner James Dauris and Protests Strongly Against Legal Action Being Taken by Magistrate’s Court in London Against Former Lankan Defence Attache Brigadier Priyankara Fernando Despite Enjoying Diplomatic Immunity’ »

190 Officials Working at Loss -making Sri Lankan Airlines were Drawing Monthly Salaries of over One Million Rupees Each Reveals COPE report.

By Saman Indrajith

There were 190 officers at SriLankan Airlines, each drawing a monthly salary of over one million rupees, and they were one of the reasons why the airline suffered a 40,000 mn-rupee loss during the last nine months, parliament was informed yesterday.

Chairman of the parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti, presenting the first report of the Committee on Public Enterprises for the period from July 7, 2017 to Sept 9, 2017 to Parliament said that SriLankan Airlines had recorded a loss of Rs. 40,000 million for the last nine months.

Continue reading ‘190 Officials Working at Loss -making Sri Lankan Airlines were Drawing Monthly Salaries of over One Million Rupees Each Reveals COPE report.’ »

Buddha Sasana Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera Will Request President Sirisena to Grant Pardon to Bodu Bala Sena Gen-Secy Gnanasara Thero Serving Prison Sentence for Contempt of Court Offence.

By

Indika Sri Aravinda

Buddhasasana Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera today said that he will discuss with President Maithripala Sirisena to secure a pardon for Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera as soon as the President arrived in the country.

Continue reading ‘Buddha Sasana Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera Will Request President Sirisena to Grant Pardon to Bodu Bala Sena Gen-Secy Gnanasara Thero Serving Prison Sentence for Contempt of Court Offence.’ »

President Sirisena Cannot Pardon and Release Convicted Prisoner Gnanasara Thero Without Calling For Justice Ministry Report First Points out Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena.

By Chaminda Silva

Internal and Home Affairs and Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Vajira Abeywardena yesterday said if Ven Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera serving a prison term was to be offered a presidential pardon, it was not a task that could only be performed by the President alone.

The UNP Minister said so in response to a query whether the government was planning to pardon the controversial monk on Feb. 04. Abeywardena said it was not something that the President could do on his own.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Cannot Pardon and Release Convicted Prisoner Gnanasara Thero Without Calling For Justice Ministry Report First Points out Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena.’ »

US Navy Undertaking Cargo Transfer Operation at Katunayake International airport as Part of Plan to Make Sri Lanka a Military Logistics Hub Due to Island’s Strategic Location.

The United States Navy is doing a cargo transfer operation at Sri Lanka’s main international airport under a plan to use the island’s location to make it a military logistics hub, the U.S embassy in Colombo said.

Under the initiative, several U.S. naval aircraft are scheduled to land and depart from the Bandaranaike International Airport outside Colombo, a commercial airport, bringing in a variety of non-lethal supplies, a statement said.

The supplies will be transferred between planes and then flown to the U.S.S. John C. Stennis aircraft carrier at sea from January 21 to 29.

Continue reading ‘US Navy Undertaking Cargo Transfer Operation at Katunayake International airport as Part of Plan to Make Sri Lanka a Military Logistics Hub Due to Island’s Strategic Location.’ »

Sri Lanka’s Longest Road-side Protest Nears 700 Day Mark as Displaced Residents of Kaeppaapilavu in Mullaitheevu District whose Homes Were Seized by Army Continue Agitation Demanding Release of Their Lands

By

Meera Srinivasan

As Sri Lanka’s longest road-side protest nears the 700-day mark, agitating residents of Keppapilavu village in the northern Mullaitivu district say they will soon reclaim and occupy their lands, currently held by the military, if the authorities fail to ensure their return by Friday.

“Why must we live in model villages like refugees, when we can live on land that belongs to us? Why must the Army hold our land for a decade after the war has ended?” asked resident-activist Selvi Sivapragasam Ariyakala, at a media conference in Colombo on Tuesday.

Facilitated by the NGO People’s Alliance for Right to Land (PARL), the press briefing was part of the Keppapilavu people’s efforts to “reach out to the people of the island’s south” on their ongoing struggle to take possession of ancestral lands from where they were displaced during the civil war years.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Longest Road-side Protest Nears 700 Day Mark as Displaced Residents of Kaeppaapilavu in Mullaitheevu District whose Homes Were Seized by Army Continue Agitation Demanding Release of Their Lands’ »

Army Returns Private Lands Converted Into Farms In North Back to Owners But Employed Tamil Civilian Workers Earning Monthly Incomes Face Uncertain Economic Future.

By

Camelia Nathaniel

Releasing of land is one of the main areas in the reconciliation process and the military is in the process of releasing the lands held under them since the end of the war. However, some of these lands which have been converted to farms, providing employment to many rehabilitated ex-LTTE members and civilians alike, pose an array of other issues if released without a proper plan.

During a visit to Jaffna, Killinochchi and Mullaitivu last week, the Daily News visited several of these farms and spoke to these workers. One might expect to see them elated regarding the releasing of lands held by the military, as it is a demand that Tamils have been wanting over the past 10 years. But, on the contrary, almost all of the Tamil workers employed at these farms were worried and unhappy about these farmlands being released as these farms are their bread and butter.

No farm, no income

As for 26-year-old S. Damayanthi, a resident of Ganesapuram, Vellankulam, she has been working on the farm for the past four-and-a-half years. She had joined the farm with the first 25 recruits and has been working there to date.

“When we joined, there were only a few females, but today there are 10 females and 21 males. We have to tend to the vegetables, and during the cashew season, we have to pick the cashew. We pick over 300 kg of cashew per day during the season. Each of us is given different duties. We grow pumpkin, beans and other vegetables here too. The farm spans around 600 acres. For me, I live nearly two kilometres away from the farm and it is easy for me to travel here.”

Continue reading ‘Army Returns Private Lands Converted Into Farms In North Back to Owners But Employed Tamil Civilian Workers Earning Monthly Incomes Face Uncertain Economic Future.’ »

“We are Seeking a Solution Within a United, Undivided. Indivisible Country” – TNA Leader R.Sampanthan Re-iterates to British Officials at Colombo Meeting in Westminster House.

(Text of Press Release Issued by the Tamil National Alliance Media Office on Jan 23rd 2019)

A meeting was held between Mr Fergus Auld, Head of South Asia Department and India Coordinator, and Mr Sampanthan the Leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) yesterday (22.01.2019) at the Westminster House in Colombo. The meeting was also attended by Mr M.A. Sumanthiran Member of Parliament and the Spokesperson of the Tamil National Alliance.

Briefing on the current political situation Mr Sampanthan recalled the mandate given by the people in 2015 January and August elections to both President and Prime Minister and emphasized the need for both of them to work together in order to fulfil the promises given. Further briefing on the recent political crisis Mr Sampanthan said, “we will stand against anything unconstitutional and illegal. We may have not satisfied everyone in this process, but we had to make certain decisions based on principles without giving much attention to other matters.

Continue reading ‘“We are Seeking a Solution Within a United, Undivided. Indivisible Country” – TNA Leader R.Sampanthan Re-iterates to British Officials at Colombo Meeting in Westminster House.’ »

” We will be Putting Forward our own Proposals at the next National Election to seek a Direct Mandate from the People for Constitutional Reform” Declares Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa.

(Text of a media release issued by Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa on 23 January 2019 titled “A draft constitution to destroy Sri Lanka”)

At the recent meeting of the Constitutional Assembly, the Prime Minister tabled a 187 page report prepared in the form of a draft constitution. Thereafter the PM has been going around the country claiming that there is no constitution or even the draft of a constitution. At the same time we also hear the Prime Minister and other members of the UNP stating that under the proposed new constitution, Sri Lanka will remain an ‘indivisible’ and ‘united’ country and that Buddhism will not be denied the special place it has hitherto had. The people should be mindful about these moves being made to promote a new constitution in the midst of multiple crises including an unprecedented pest invasion in the agricultural sector and a looming debt crisis.

When the present rulers came into power in 2015, the only constitutional agenda they had was to abolish the executive presidency and to change the system of elections so as to ensure stable parliamentary governments. The draft constitution does have provisions to abolish the executive presidency, which we will not oppose. However, the new system of elections that has been proposed is another ‘pure proportional representation’ system like the systems that were introduced at the local government and provincial council levels in 2017 with disastrous results. Even those who voted for that elections system in 2017 now want it scrapped. If the system of elections is to be changed so as to ensure stable governments, what should be introduced is the hybrid 70%-30% ‘first past the post/proportional representation’ system proposed by the Parliamentary Select Committee headed by Mr. Dinesh Gunawardene after years of careful study from 2002 to 2007 under both UNP and UPFA governments.

Continue reading ‘” We will be Putting Forward our own Proposals at the next National Election to seek a Direct Mandate from the People for Constitutional Reform” Declares Leader of the Opposition Mahinda Rajapaksa.’ »

Dep- Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris Objects to “Militarized Environment” Prevailing in and Around Colombo Permanent High Court Hearing DA Rajapaksa Museum Case Involving Gotabhaya Rajapaksa To Create Fear Psychosis Among Witnesses

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris appearing for the Attorney General raised objections into the highly militarised environment around the Colombo Permanent High Court-at-Bar yesterday.

Peiris appearing for the prosecution in the D. A. Rajapaksa Museum case told the Colombo Permanent High Court-at-Bar that this would adversely affect witnesses expected to testify before court in due course.

Taking into consideration the facts, the Trial-at-Bar Bench comprising High Court Judges Sampath Abeykoon (President), Sampath Wijeratne and Champa Janaki Rajaratne announced that they would make an appropriate order on the next hearing date.

Continue reading ‘Dep- Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris Objects to “Militarized Environment” Prevailing in and Around Colombo Permanent High Court Hearing DA Rajapaksa Museum Case Involving Gotabhaya Rajapaksa To Create Fear Psychosis Among Witnesses’ »