C.V.Wigneswaran Hurts Christian Sentiments By Comparing Jesus Christ With Swami Premananda

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Northern province chief minister Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Wigneswaran who possesses a remarkable flair for getting embroiled in controversial issues is in the eye of a storm again. This time it is over some remarks made by him during the course of a media interview on April 14th 2017.Mr. Wigneswaran was interviewed by a Tamil website called “Thinappuyal” meaning “Daily Storm”. Well, the interview has certainly caused a storm centering around the Northern chief minister.

Swami Premananda & Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran

While responding to a question by the interviewer, Mr. Wigneswaran had referred to Jesus Christ and Swami Premananda in a manner that appeared to draw an analogy between both. This reference has hurt the sentiments of Christians who regard Jesus Christ as the “Son of God” and believe in him as their “Lord and Saviour”. Many are angry that the chief minister was comparing Jesus Christ to a “Swami” or “God man” who was convicted of rape and murder by the Indian courts.

The Youtube posted on the web by “Thinappuyal” showed the interviewer asking Mr. Wigneswaran about his being a Premananda devotee and whether it was correct to be a devotee of a man convicted as a criminal by the courts. The ex-supreme court judge responded to the question by saying Jesus Christ was convicted 2000 years ago but people were worshipping him now as God. Mr. Wigneswaran re-iterated his point about Jesus Christ by saying again in Tamil “Avar oru Kuttravaali. Avarukku Marana Thandanai Theerkkappattathu. Aen Innum Kireesthavargal Avarai Iraivanaahap Paarkkiraargal”?(He was a criminal. He was convicted and given a death sentence. Why are Christians still seeing him as God”? The point Mr. Wigneswaran was trying to make through his counter question seemed to be that like Premananda, Jesus Christ too had been convicted 2000 years ago.

Mr. Wigneswaran’s remarks and question about Christians regarding Jesus Christ as God touched a raw nerve among Christians of all folds – Catholics, Protestants and Evangelicals. It became a heated issue as the you tube was shared widely via Social media. Mr. Wigneswaran came in for heavy criticism for what was seen as a comparison between Jesus Christ and Premananda.Even several Tamil speaking Muslims took umbrage at this remark about “Eesaa Nabhi” as “Prophet” Jesus is referred in Islamic tenets.
Continue reading ‘C.V.Wigneswaran Hurts Christian Sentiments By Comparing Jesus Christ With Swami Premananda’ »

Sarath Fonseka Ready to Take Over Responsibility of “Disciplining”The Country if He is Given the Necessary Powers.

In the wake of a crippling petroleum strike and a wave of protests against the Government, Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne made a shock announcement yesterday that President Maithripala Sirisena had requested wartime army chief Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka to take over the military as commander or Chief of Defence Staff in order to bring “discipline” to the country.

Addressing the weekly Cabinet briefing last afternoon, Minister Senaratne said that a series of political motivated strikes and trade union action were disrupting public life with the aim of toppling the ruling Government. The former army commander turned politician and cabinet minister, Fonseka was the “best person” to control the situation, the Cabinet Spokesman added.

“A country without discipline can never develop. Everyone knows that Sarath Fonseka is a very disciplined official,” Senaratne added.

A room full of shocked reporters at the Government Information Department repeatedly requested clarification on the development.

Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka Ready to Take Over Responsibility of “Disciplining”The Country if He is Given the Necessary Powers.’ »

Indian Prime Minister Raises Concerns Over China and Hambantota Port in Direct Talks With the Sri Lankan Premier

By Paneetha Ameresekere reporting from New Delhi

China ranked high in Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s meeting with Indian Premier Narendra Modi, at Hyderabad House, New Delhi yesterday, official sources who didn’t want to be named told this reporter.

Reporters were not allowed to cover these meetings, with opportunities provided only for the taking of photographs and to be present when pleasantries were exchanged between Wickremesinghe and Indian officials, including Modi, before the beginning of talks, during the former’s various engagements in Delhi.

Wickremesinghe’s official engagements concluded yesterday.

Continue reading ‘Indian Prime Minister Raises Concerns Over China and Hambantota Port in Direct Talks With the Sri Lankan Premier’ »

Why is Prime Minister Wickremesinghe About to Give Away Trincomalee to India?

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka


“New Silk Road or New Great Game? India Developing New Sri Lanka Port to Combat China”
(Wayne Shepard, Forbes, April 21, 2017)

“Will they leave?” was the urgent question President Premadasa posed to me after having kept me behind as Varadarajah Perumal and the others left the meeting at Sucharitha in January 1989 when the new Chief Minister and Cabinet of the North-East Provincial Council met the newly elected President, Ranasinghe Premadasa for the first time.

I knew he was asking about the Indians and replied: “From what I gather, they hope to keep back two brigades in Trincomalee”.

Trincomalee was always the greatest prize but only Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and this Government are ready to give it to our neighbour, India. President Premadasa’s question remains relevant: “Will they leave?” With the solid commercial agreement that the PM is about to commit our country to, they probably will not, and it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get them to leave.

I am appalled that the JVP and FSP, which needlessly spilled Southern blood allegedly against Indian expansionism, including the FSP leader, who sincerely and bravely fought against foreign troops in Trincomalee, are not spearheading a nationwide mobilisation against this historic geopolitical and economic treachery.

Continue reading ‘Why is Prime Minister Wickremesinghe About to Give Away Trincomalee to India?’ »

Sarath Fonseka to Be Given Top Post in Defence Establishment With Powers to “Discipline” People Engaging in Protests.

Cabinet Co-spokesperson Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said today there was the possibility that Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka would be appointed to a post that would allow him to oversee all of the defense establishments in the country.

While the Cabinet Co-spokesperson declined to offer more details on the powers the post would be vested with, he did say the President has broached the subject with the Regional Development Minister, who had shown his acquiescence.

Continue reading ‘Sarath Fonseka to Be Given Top Post in Defence Establishment With Powers to “Discipline” People Engaging in Protests.’ »

Indian and Sri Lankan Prime Ministers Sign Memorandum of Understanding in New Delhi For “Cooperation in Economic Projects”Including Trinco.

By P.K.Balachandran

India and Sri Lanka on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on “Cooperation in Economic
Projects” during the on-going visit of the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to India. The MoU envisages joint ventures in several areas of development.

Wickremesinghe and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, welcomed the signing of the MoU and expressed satisfaction over the implementation of projects already agreed upon. They hoped that the various projects mentioned in the MoU would also be executed expeditiously.

Continue reading ‘Indian and Sri Lankan Prime Ministers Sign Memorandum of Understanding in New Delhi For “Cooperation in Economic Projects”Including Trinco.’ »

“Excess” Elephants from Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage to be Handed Over to Private Individuals and Religious Institutions.

Sri Lanka’s cabinet, on Wednesday granted approval to hand over some elephants from an elephant orphanage in the Central Hills of Pinnawala, to individuals and religious places under definite conditions.

The Government Information Department said the maintenance of the present number of 88 elephants in a restricted land area of 30 acres at Pinnawala had become a difficult task.

Accordingly, the proposal made by Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, to provide some elephants to individuals and religious places under definite conditions, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Continue reading ‘“Excess” Elephants from Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage to be Handed Over to Private Individuals and Religious Institutions.’ »

President Sirisena wants Sarath Fonseka to Resign as Cabinet Minister and Take Up Top Defence Post to Discipline the Country.

By

Ajith Siriwardana

Cabinet Spokesman Minister Rajitha Senaratne said today the President Maithripala Sirisena requested Minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka to quit the ministerial portfolio and take up the post of army commander or overall commander for two years to discipline the country.

He told the weekly Cabinet briefing that Field Marshal Fonseka was known as a well-disciplined character in the country and that he would expedite investigations over several issues as well.

Minister Senaratne said the Field Marshal had agreed to quit his ministerial portfolio and take up the post if he was given proper powers and responsibility.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena wants Sarath Fonseka to Resign as Cabinet Minister and Take Up Top Defence Post to Discipline the Country.’ »

Rehabilitated EX-LTTE Cadres Protest Against Army managed Farms Providing Jobs to Them Being Transferred to Northern Provincial Council

By Ananth Palakidnar

Several hundred rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres, both men and women, presently serving in the Civil Security Department (CSD), staged a demonstration yesterday against the handing over of Army-managed agricultural farms and pre-schools to the Northern Provincial Council.

The procession of ex-LTTE cadres, which commenced at the Kilinochchi Depot junction, on the A-9 highway, ended at the Kilinochchi District Secretariat.

A large number of rehabilitated former LTTE cadres, carrying placards went in the procession, chanting slogans demanding that their livelihood not be hampered by handing over the agricultural farms, managed by the Army, to the Northern Provincial Council.

Continue reading ‘Rehabilitated EX-LTTE Cadres Protest Against Army managed Farms Providing Jobs to Them Being Transferred to Northern Provincial Council’ »

India Gets to Develop Trinco Tank Farm in China Bay To Balance China Constructing Port City in Colombo

by Nirupama Subramanian

When the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a working lunch on Wednesday, an agreement for the development of the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm will be the hottest dish on the table.

Sri Lankan and Indian government sources said the two sides will finalise an MoU for a joint venture to develop the 99-tank storage facility, which is an extension of Trincomalee Port, ahead of Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka for the United Nations Vesak Day celebrations in the second week of May.

In Sri Lanka, news of the impending deal triggered a strike Monday by unions of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) to protest “the handing over of a national asset” to India. The strike created panic and chaos at petrol pumps, and massive traffic jams in Colombo.

Continue reading ‘India Gets to Develop Trinco Tank Farm in China Bay To Balance China Constructing Port City in Colombo’ »

Lankan PM Arrives in New Delhi to Sign Fast-tracked MOU’s While Opposition Protests Against Agreements with India


BY

Suhasini Haidar & Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday for official meetings expected to finalise an MoU on developing energy and infrastructure projects in Trincomalee, as well as fast-tracking negotiations for the upgraded Free Trade Agreement —the ETCA (Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement) — both of which face opposition in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Wickremsinghe, whose visit is also expected to confirm a number of agreements to be announced during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka next month, May 12-14, will meet with Mr. Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Trincomalee oil storage

MEA officials said they hoped to see the agreement on the Trinco Oil storage, which was first negotiated in 2003, as well as the development of infrastructure — highways, power plants, a refinery and an SEZ — around the key port town of Trincomalee to be wrapped up during Mr. Wickremsinghe’s talks on Wednesday.

Continue reading ‘Lankan PM Arrives in New Delhi to Sign Fast-tracked MOU’s While Opposition Protests Against Agreements with India’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in a National Election Can Re-unify the SLFP and Cut Into UNP Votes.

By Dr. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

The victory in Round One of the French elections and his highly probable election as the new President of France on May 7th, of Emmanuel Macron, the young outsider with a neo-Centrist or ‘Alt-Centrist’ stance, underscores that the global trend goes against conventional, traditional, established Governments and Oppositions, and favors unorthodox, out of the box, alternative personalities, outside the established party structures and system, with new political fusions/mixes, discourses and projects of Alt-Right, Alt-Left and Alt-Centre.

It was Albert Einstein who is said to have defined insanity as trying to do the same thing and expecting a different result. The Opposition, including its new wing the SLPP, is doing just that. It is expecting that the formula of a purely and exclusively Mahinda-centric,Centre-Left populist nationalism, which narrowly lost two national elections in 2015, can win in 2019-2020, without much change and solely on the basis of the unpopularity of the Government of the day.

This county was the victim of the same erroneous thinking on the part of an earlier version of the Opposition, led by Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike, which kept the UNP in office and the Opposition out for 17 long and bloody years, until a new factor was introduced into the equation- namely Chandrika, in 1992-1994.

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in a National Election Can Re-unify the SLFP and Cut Into UNP Votes.’ »

Politically Motivated Protests Against Chinese and Indian Projects May Affect Foreign Investments in Sri Lanka

By P.K.Balachandran

Agitations against major Indian and Chinese projects in Sri Lanka, trigged by a fear of domination by these powers, may adversely affect the investment climate in the island and reduce the flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) at a time when Sri Lanka desperately needs FDI to tide over a severe resource crunch.

Because of politically-inspired agitations by workers and political parties, work on the China-funded and built US$.1.4 billion Colombo Port City was stopped for nearly an year in 2015. Changes sought in the management system to run the China-funded and built US$ 1.4 billion Hambantota port after an opposition led agitation, created a major rift between Sri Lanka and China.

The sudden stoppage of work on the India-funded 500 mw power plant in Sampur caused dismay in India. And now, demands are being made for the retrieval of the 99 oil storage tanks in Trincomalee given to India through a bilateral agreement in 2003. This has upset India.

While both India and China will try to adjust to the unstable and unpredictable political situation in Sri Lanka given the strategic need to have a foothold in the island, Sri Lanka’s stock as a destination for FDI is bound to fall if policy instability induced by a volatile polity becomes endemic.

Continue reading ‘Politically Motivated Protests Against Chinese and Indian Projects May Affect Foreign Investments in Sri Lanka’ »

Our Provincial Councils are “White Elephants” Not Due to Lack of Powers But Due to Lack of Competent Persons to Run Them.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

The government is reportedly considering bringing garbage disposal under a centralized authority and to legislate a law on garbage recycling. In the meantime, untended rubbish is piling up by the road side.

Garbage is not funny business. A year or so back when rubbish piles heaped up in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon in the midst of a grinding power struggle that left the government rudderless, it was viewed as the most conspicuous sign of the state failure.

Perception is sometimes far more powerful than reality. We hope our government would manage to clear up the mess before people, perhaps prematurely, take it for a failure and react accordingly.

Continue reading ‘Our Provincial Councils are “White Elephants” Not Due to Lack of Powers But Due to Lack of Competent Persons to Run Them.’ »

Need for International Attention For Possible Justice and Accountability is an Element Uniting North and South of Sri Lanka.


By Tejshree Thapa

(The writer is a senior Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.)

The refrain I heard over and over again, travelling through Sri Lanka’s southern Sinhala belt, was this: “Politicians rise on the bodies of our dead children.”

Parent after parent, across political divides, repeated this phrase. Politicians, they said, promise justice and accountability only to win votes. But when the time comes to act on the tens of thousands of enforced disappearances, killings, cases of torture and sexual violence, and other grave human rights abuses by all sides during Sri Lanka’s nearly three decades of civil war, they all renege on their campaign vows.

The sense of despair is palpable, even as people cling to the hope of justice for their dead children.

Continue reading ‘Need for International Attention For Possible Justice and Accountability is an Element Uniting North and South of Sri Lanka.’ »

Corruption and Political Indifference Undermines Garbage Disposal Management in South Asia


By Frances Bulathsinghala

Concealed from privileged city dwellers, tucked away from posh tourist resorts and invisible to policy makers are the rubbish dumps in the cities of South Asia. But the thick wall of apathy cracked on April 14 when a 300 ft high mountain of garbage, allowed to build up for years in the low-lying Colombo suburb of Meetotamulla in Kolonnawa, came crashing, killing at least 33 persons, destroying 98 homes and displacing 600.

The local people saw this as ‘murder’ rather than accidental death. They had warned the authorities of such a disaster, had protested for years against the open dumping of garbage but the protesters were silenced by arrests and imprisonment.

Until the disaster struck, 1500 tons of municipal waste from the capital city were dumped in the Meetotamulla area occupied mostly by a low-income group. The fact that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had to wear a face mask when visiting the site to offer his condolences for the deaths that occurred, showed what the people had to endure for years.

Meetotamulla families were assured that no more garbage would be dumped in the area. But when garbage was taken to other areas like Kotikawatte, another Colombo suburb, people protested. As a result, a gazette notification was issued making garbage collection an essential service and prohibiting protest against garbage disposal.

Continue reading ‘Corruption and Political Indifference Undermines Garbage Disposal Management in South Asia’ »

Petroleum Coropration Strike Ends After Govt Agrees to Not Give Trincomalee Oil Tank farm to India

The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) trade unionists last night decided to call off their strike which had crippled fuel distribution throughout the country. Their decision to abandon trade union action came following an assurance given by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that he would not enter into an agreement with India on the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm.

Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to the Prime Minister, issued a letter that the Prime Minister had agreed to grant the three demands put forward by the warring unions.

The other demands are the renovation of the Sapugaskanda oil refinery and bringing Hambantota oil refinery under the CPC.

Continue reading ‘Petroleum Coropration Strike Ends After Govt Agrees to Not Give Trincomalee Oil Tank farm to India’ »

None Can Protest Against Govt Dumping Garbage at any Suitable Location says Rajitha Senaratne

By Norman Palihawadane

Health Minister and Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said that the government had the power to dump garbage at any location found suitable for the purpose and none could oppose that action.

Commenting on Colombo Bishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s warning to the government not to use police and security forces against the people protesting against government dumping garbage at their residential areas, the Minister said: “None could protest against this move by way of a solution to the garbage crisis in the capital. It is illegal. The government decision has been backed by the courts, too. The government has decided to dispose garbage collected in the city at several selected places. We have selected those places after studying the suitability of the locations for the purpose. Now, those with vested interests and working for their political survival cannot come and tell us that those places are not suitable.

Cardinal Ranjith on Monday pointed out that it would be counterproductive for a government to use police and military personnel to force the public to allow the dumping of garbage in their environs.

Continue reading ‘None Can Protest Against Govt Dumping Garbage at any Suitable Location says Rajitha Senaratne’ »

Govt Using Army and Police to Forcibly Dump Garbage Against People’s Protests Will Be Couterproductive Warns Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.


by Norman Palihawadane

Bishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has said it will be counterproductive for a government to use police and military personnel to force the public to allow the dumping of garbage in their environs, he said.

Continue reading ‘Govt Using Army and Police to Forcibly Dump Garbage Against People’s Protests Will Be Couterproductive Warns Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.’ »

Scientific Study Recommended Garbage Collected at Meethotamulla to be Taken by Train Daily to be Dumped in Disused Limestone Mine at Aruvaakkallu -Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

By P.K.Balachandran

A scientific study of garbage disposal in Colombo done by EML Consultants Pivate Ltd.,for the Central Environment Authority (CEA) had concluded that sanitary land filling would be the only practical way of disposing Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in Colombo, the Ministry’s former Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said here on Thursday.

Speaking to Daily Express, Rajapaksa said that the final report released by the Ministry of Urban Development in August 2015, had recommended that sanitary land filling should take place at Aruwakkalu in Puttalam district, 170 km from Colombo.

The garbage, collected and stored at Meetotamulla in the outskirts of Colombo, should be transported to Aruwakkalu by rail on a daily basis. Taking it by road was ruled out. At Aruwakkalu it was to be dumped in a disused limestone mine which was attached to the Holcim cement factory. The disused mine has a capacity of 4,700,000m

Continue reading ‘Scientific Study Recommended Garbage Collected at Meethotamulla to be Taken by Train Daily to be Dumped in Disused Limestone Mine at Aruvaakkallu -Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’ »

China,India and Japan in Great Game of Competing for the Harbours of Sri Lanka.

by Jeremy Luedi

Increased international interest in the Indian Ocean comes at a convenient time for Sri Lanka, as the country continues to recoup after the end of its decades-long civil war which ended in 2009. The island nation is being courted (and courting in turn) by various major powers, each seeking a stake in developing Sri Lanka’s strategic location midway between the Middle East and the Straits of Malacca. While opportunities present themselves, all this attention also comes with its own set of complications.

International actors, notably India and Japan have become increasingly concerned about the level of Chinese investment and influence in Sri Lanka. This has in turn set off a flurry of activity among all parties to secure Sri Lanka’s favours. On April 12th, Prime Ministers Abe and Wickremesinghe met to discuss furthering bilateral cooperation. This is PM Wickremesinghe’s second visit to Japan since coming to power in 2015, and his ninth overall. The meeting resulted in $410 million in Japanese loans for Sri Lankan infrastructure projects, as well as $9.2 million in grant aid for the development of the Trincomalee port.

Other recent developments include Japan’s decision to appoint a special representative to coordinate development in Sri Lanka, as well as a code sharing agreement between Sri Lankan Airlines and JAL which will help facilitate six new routes between Japan and South Asia, aiding trade and tourism ties between Colombo and Tokyo.

Continue reading ‘China,India and Japan in Great Game of Competing for the Harbours of Sri Lanka.’ »

Sri Lanka Offers Trincomalee to India to Counter Balance Giving Hambantota to China



By

Sachin Parashar

NEW DELHI: Sri Lanka may find it difficult to wriggle out of China’s clutches because of the massive debt it owes to Beijing but to balance things out, it is now set to allow India to jointly develop the Trincomalee port in northeastern part of the country.

Diplomatic sources said Sri Lanka has readied an MoU for joint development of the project and that it’s likely to be signed during PM Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to Colombo.

Official sources also confirmed that Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe would visit India this month to review bilateral ties.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Offers Trincomalee to India to Counter Balance Giving Hambantota to China’ »

Protest Launched in Mullaitheevu Against Further Expansion of “SLNS Gotabhaya” Naval Base by 617 Acres

By Manekshaw

The civilians in Mullaitivu have launched a protest against the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) expanding its presence in the Mullaitivu District by acquiring nearly 617 acres for the expansion of the Navy presence in the Mullaitivu District.

The civilian protest is led by the Wanni Electoral District, Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian, Dr. S. Sivamohan in the vicinity of the Navy base which was established in the Mullaitivu District close to the Nanthikadal lagoon in September 2013.

The SLN base has been named SLNS Gotabaya after former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa .

Continue reading ‘Protest Launched in Mullaitheevu Against Further Expansion of “SLNS Gotabhaya” Naval Base by 617 Acres’ »

Indo-Lanka Talks on Fishing Keep Dragging on While Tamil Nadu Trawlers Continue Destructive Poaching in Northern Waters

By

Meera Srinivasan

Although New Delhi and Colombo have expressed satisfaction over recent bilateral talks on the Palk Bay fishing conflict, northern Sri Lankan fishermen say a much-needed long-term solution remains elusive.

Following resistance from the fisherfolk and some efforts taken by the two governments, the number of Indian trawlers coming into Sri Lankan waters has reduced, observe fishermen. However, fully resolving the crisis requires greater political will from the two governments and sympathy from fisher leaders in Tamil Nadu, they emphasise.

“The talks are simply dragging without any major decision. This delay is only to the Indian fishermen’s advantage, because they somehow get the extension they wanted,” says Mannar-based fisher leader Mohamed Alam, referring to Tamil Nadu fisher leaders’ earlier demand for three more years to phase out bottom trawling, which Sri Lanka rejected.

Continue reading ‘Indo-Lanka Talks on Fishing Keep Dragging on While Tamil Nadu Trawlers Continue Destructive Poaching in Northern Waters’ »

Former “Virakesari” Editor-in-Chief K. Sivapragasam Passes Away Peacefully in Virginia

by

D.B.S. Jeyaraj

It is with great sadness that I write for the first time on my Blog after the advent of the April traditional new year “Hevilambi”! My first post for the new year is the last post for the Editor who first recruited me as a journalist.

K. Sivapragasam

Kandasamy Sivapragasam , Former Editor -in – chief of the “Virakesari” Group of newspapers published by the Express Newspapers (Ceylon)Ltd in Sri Lanka breathed his last on April 14th at the age of 81 in the USA. He passed away peacefully with his children and family members by his side on Friday April 14 just prior to noon EST in Fairfax, Virginia.

It was just a few days ago that I completed forty years as a journalist. I joined the Tamil newspaper “Virakesari” as a trainee journalist on April 11th 1977. It was K.Sivapragasam who gave me my first break in journalism and guided me as a reporter and feature writer during my formative years on the newspaper. I worked under him in the “Virakesari” from April 1977 to November 1981 until I moved away from Tamil journalism to English journalism by joining “The Island”edited by Vijitha Yapa.It is with much grief therefore that I write the news of his death here. I shall be writing an extensive tribute in due course.

Continue reading ‘Former “Virakesari” Editor-in-Chief K. Sivapragasam Passes Away Peacefully in Virginia’ »

What Prevents President Sirisena From Acting Before Tragedy Strikes and Lives are Lost?

BY

SANJA DE SILVA JAYATILLEKA

The dreadful tragedy of Meethotamulla has shocked even those who usually go about minding their own business, to spin around and look back at what could possibly have led to such needless waste of human lives. In a country that faced frequent terrorist violence in its main streets for decades and yet was resilient, Meethotamulla struck like a sharp knife in the collective gut of the country’s conscience. It’s a wound that’s refusing to heal until each of us finds answers.

Conversations with cab drivers, social media posts, speak to this need. Today, my cabbie told me that several thousand people come in to Colombo each day, and if they could bring their lunch in their own lunch box like he did, rather than wrapped in paper, tens of thousands of plastic papers could be eliminated from the city’s dustbins. Many people are trying to find ways of helping with the problem of garbage, taking individual responsibility for this enormous tragedy and resolving to do whatever they can to prevent a recurrence.

Continue reading ‘What Prevents President Sirisena From Acting Before Tragedy Strikes and Lives are Lost?’ »

134 Sri Lankan Soldiers Stationed as UN Peacekeepers in Haiti Abused 9 Children From 2004 to 2007 in Sex Ring


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) —
In the ruins of a tropical hideaway where jetsetters once sipped rum under the Caribbean sun, the abandoned children tried to make a life for themselves. They begged and scavenged for food, but they never could scrape together enough to beat back the hunger, until the U.N. peacekeepers moved in a few blocks away.

The men who came from a far-away place and spoke a strange language offered the Haitian children cookies and other snacks. Sometimes they gave them a few dollars. But the price was high: The Sri Lankan peacekeepers wanted sex from girls and boys as young as 12.

“I did not even have breasts,” said a girl, known as V01 — Victim No. 1. She told U.N. investigators that over the next three years, from ages 12 to 15, she had sex with nearly 50 peacekeepers, including a “Commandant” who gave her 75 cents. Sometimes she slept in U.N. trucks on the base next to the decaying resort, whose once-glamorous buildings were being overtaken by jungle.

Justice for victims like V01 is rare. An Associated Press investigation of U.N. missions during the past 12 years found nearly 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and other personnel around the world — signaling the crisis is much larger than previously known. More than 300 of the allegations involved children, the AP found, but only a fraction of the alleged perpetrators served jail time.

Legally, the U.N. is in a bind. It has no jurisdiction over peacekeepers, leaving punishment to the countries that contribute the troops.

Continue reading ‘134 Sri Lankan Soldiers Stationed as UN Peacekeepers in Haiti Abused 9 Children From 2004 to 2007 in Sex Ring’ »

Mahinda Govt Plan to Dump Meethotamulla Garbage in Puttalam was Stopped by Politically Connected Contractors

By

P.K.Balachandran

The landslide disaster at Meetotamulla within Colombo city limits last Friday, in which a 300 ft high mountain of garbage came down on hapless slum dwellers killing 26 and wrecking 84 houses fully and 36 partially, could have been averted if steps had been taken to remove the dump even as late as January 2016.

With 1500 tons of municipal waste from the capital city being dumped there everyday in a haphazard fashion, people living around the mound had been in constant fear of being buried under three million tons of muck, in case there were exceptionally heavy rains or an earth tremor.

They had approached the court and agitated on the street under the leadership of Attorney at Law Nuwan Bopage. But to no avail.

The Mahinda Rajapaksa government, which did a lot for urban development, had a plan to shift the dump to Aruwakkalu in Puttalam district and carry the garbage from Colombo by rail every day. But the shifting did not take place for want of environmental clearance. The people of Meetotamulla allege that politically connected contractors who collected and deposited garbage and the Municipal Council had a vested interest in a “non-change” policy.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Govt Plan to Dump Meethotamulla Garbage in Puttalam was Stopped by Politically Connected Contractors’ »

Civil Society Organizations Collective wants Govt to Probe War Crimes Allegations in Accordance with UN Resolution Co-sponsored by Lanka

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Collective of Civil Society Organizations has urged the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration to inquire into war crimes allegations in accordance with Geneva Resolution 30/1 co-sponsored by the government.

Addressing the media at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR), Maradana on Tuesday (April 18), Akalanka Hettiarachchi (Aluth Parapura) emphasized that all those who had perpetrated crimes during the war and post-conflict should be dealt forthwith.

Continue reading ‘Civil Society Organizations Collective wants Govt to Probe War Crimes Allegations in Accordance with UN Resolution Co-sponsored by Lanka’ »

Meethotamulla Tragedy Shows that Unless Country Buries this Govt in Electoral Avalanche First the Govt Will Bury Us

By DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

A few days after the Meethotamulla tragedy in Sri Lanka, a referendum was held in Turkey. The people of Turkey rejected Western liberal warnings and voted in favour of an executive presidency.

The Meethotamulla tragedy, which occurred utterly inauspiciously as it were during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year holiday, was symbolic. Two years into the neoliberal Yahapalana government (and a perennially UNP Municipal Council), at least 30 people died horribly, buried under an avalanche of a visibly growing mountain of garbage, neglected and deprioritised despite warnings (including from Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith) and protests by the residents.

It is eerily symbolic of this government’s policies and performance which taken together is a growing pile of dangerous neglect and toxicity, which will bury this country and its people under the collective and growing weight of its colossal callousness and incompetence.

It is clear. This country will have to bury this government under an electoral avalanche first, or this Government will bury us. Furthermore, it seems imperative to retain the Executive Presidency to put in place the kind of strong leader who has the foresight and ability to save us from yet another such catastrophe by timely and determined action. It would be fortunate if the country had the choice of a person who has proven successful in matters of conceptualizing and managing urban development and renewal, to work the same developmental miracle on a national scale, leaving no garbage dump, literal or metaphorical, uncleared. We need a man who strategized, organized, cut through red tape and managed to clear all ‘uncleared’ areas.

Continue reading ‘Meethotamulla Tragedy Shows that Unless Country Buries this Govt in Electoral Avalanche First the Govt Will Bury Us’ »

Trawling by Tamil Nadu Fishers in Palk Bay Causes Hardship for 25.000 Small Scale Fifing Families of Northern Sri Lanka

Politics, rather than science, is playing an important role in marine fisheries governance especially in South Asian countries, said Maarten Bavinck, a Dutch scientist, whose research projects include providing space for small scale fishers of India and Sri Lanka.

“The dispute between India and Sri Lanka over the fishing activities in the Palk Bay remain unsolved mainly due to political reasons, he said while delivering a lecture on ‘Tropical Marine Fisheries Governance: The Way Forward’, organised by the Marine Biological Association of India (MBAI) at the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) on Tuesday.

Bavinck, a professor at the University of Amsterdam in Netherlands said the Tamil Nadu Government should initiate steps to reduce its fishing fleets in the Palk Bay to resolve the conflict in the region.

“Trawling needs to be contained in the Palk Bay, where fishing activities across the international boundary line have been causing social and economic hardship for around 25,000 small scale fishermen and their families in Northern Sri Lanka. This has led to political tensions between the neighbours”, he said.

Continue reading ‘Trawling by Tamil Nadu Fishers in Palk Bay Causes Hardship for 25.000 Small Scale Fifing Families of Northern Sri Lanka’ »

“I Never Left The Fray”- Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa In An Exclusive Interview

By

Padma Rao Sundarji

Mahinda Rajapaksa was President of Sri Lanka from 2005 to 2015. He is a human rights lawyer by profession, but has been the butt of widespread outrage and criticism for alleged human rights violations by the Sri Lankan armed forces during the final stages of the 30-year long civil war against the armed separatist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which invented the “suicide bomb”, forcibly recruited child soldiers and used civilians as human shields. In his first global television interview since his election defeat in 2015, Rajapaksa spoke to WION’s senior international correspondent Padma Rao Sundarji for the “World Is One: Global Leadership” series at his residence in Colombo.

Padma Rao Sundarji:
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, it’s a pleasure to see you again. Thank you for receiving me and WION for this exclusive interview. I’ll start with India/China/Pakistan -the region. Sri Lanka is today steeped in external debt to China. The current government under President Maithripala Sirisena is under tremendous pressure. It is slated to give China up to 80% stake in the port of Hambantota and a 99-year lease on 15,000 acres of land nearby. Your critics say that it is your government that began the dependency on China, your supporters blame the present government in Colombo. Either way, India is not happy. Who is more responsible?

pic via: facebook.com/PresidentRajapaksa/ – April 7, 2017

Mahinda Rajapaksa:

They say we are responsible and we say the present government is responsible. Some even say India is responsible. We had decided to consciously re-orient our countries towards Asia, which, of course, means the two power houses India and China. We did this for more than one reason. Firstly, we identify ourselves as Asians and therefore we identify our destiny as part of that of the continent of Asia.
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Meetotamulla Is One More Tragedy of the Poor Underclass Being Victimised in the Name of Development


By

Iromi Perera and Vijay Nagaraj

On the afternoon of 14 April tonnes of garbage at Meethotamulla, one of the biggest dumping sites just outside Colombo, came crashing down destroying scores of homes. At the time of writing, the death toll was reportedly 26 but was expected to rise. There have been serious allegations made by the affected community that rescue efforts did not even begin in earnest till very late into the night owing to a lack of direction and the failure of authorities.

Meethotamulla Rahula Vidyalaya – via: facebook.com/MyCleanSriLanka/

According to Nuwan Bopage, a lawyer representing residents of Meethotamulla, people were left using shovels to get to those buried. “During that whole time we could hear the dying breath of those buried under the garbage,” he said at a media conference the next day.

Behind the tragedy is a litany of broken promises—including an assurance by the Prime Minister himself in 2015 of solving the problem within six months—and protests being met with tear gas or batons. A group of residents from Meethotamulla approached the Supreme Court in 2014 seeking to stop the dumping of garbage.
Continue reading ‘Meetotamulla Is One More Tragedy of the Poor Underclass Being Victimised in the Name of Development’ »

Meetotamulla Garbage Dump Landslide Tragedy was a Disaster Waiting to Happen


By P.K.Blachandran

Colombo, April 16: The landslide disaster at Meetotamulla within Colombo city limits on Friday, in which a 300 ft high mountain of garbage came down on hapless slum dwellers killing 24 and wrecking 145 houses, may have come as a surprise to the elite of Colombo who live in posh localities. But for the residents of run down Meetotamulla, it was a disaster waiting to happen for decades.

pic via: defence.lk

With 1500 tons of municipal waste from the capital city being dumped there everyday in a haphazard fashion, people were living in constant fear of being buried under three million tons of muck in case there were exceptionally heavy rains or an earth tremor.

Indeed, when the tropical storm ‘Roanu’ struck Colombo in May 2016, the storm waters mixed with a great deal of muck from the mound swamped their dwellings. It was reported that 60% of the population had become ill as a result of being in an exceptionally filthy environment at that time.

Unable to bear the constant stench, and apprehensive about diseases spreading, the residents of Meetotamula had, even prior to the floods, launched an agitation under the leadership of Attorney Nuwan Bopage.
Continue reading ‘Meetotamulla Garbage Dump Landslide Tragedy was a Disaster Waiting to Happen’ »

Lester James Peries, The Legendary Pioneer Of Authentic Sri Lankan Cinema

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj



The doyen of Sinhala cinema celebrated his 98th birthday on 5 April 2017.

Dr Lester James Peries-pic: daily news.lk

IF I were to pose the question “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the best Lankan filmmaker of them all?” to my personal magic mirror, the answer would be in three words – Lester James Peries!

Though Sri Lanka has produced many brilliant film directors over the years – and I do enjoy their movies – I have always been of the firm opinion that the greatest director of Sinhala cinema is Lester James Peries. There was a time when my friends used to have fun at my expense by belittling Lester’s films as second-rate mediocre stuff. I would retort angrily and they would laugh gleefully.

The doyen of Sinhala cinema celebrated his 98th birthday on 5 April 2017. Celebrating the 98th birthday of any personality is indeed a joyful event. It is more so in the case of Lester James Peries. The ‘Spotlight’ column that was dimmed for several weeks shines brightly again to focus on the birthday boy as befitting the occasion.

This article is a birthday tribute to the nonagenarian Lester now basking in the serene, golden twilight of his illustrious life. I have already written many articles about the man and his movies in the past. Still, one does not tire of writing about a favourite subject again and again. Besides it always feels good when writing about Lester James Peries.

Meeting Lester and Sumitra

The Writer in Conversation with Lester and Sumitra – pix – Marianne David

Let me begin on a personal note with a confession of sorts and an anecdote. Despite my enormous appreciation of Lester, I have met him (and wife Sumitra) only once in my life. Lester James Peries was someone whom I have always wanted to meet in person but never got the chance.
Continue reading ‘Lester James Peries, The Legendary Pioneer Of Authentic Sri Lankan Cinema’ »

“Stop Handing Trincomalee to India”Should be Key Slogan of Joint Opposition May Day Rally

By

Dr. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

“The correctness or incorrectness of the ideological and political line decides everything.”
(Mao)

UNP leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is mightily helped by the confusion in the ranks of the SLFP and Oppositional forces in general. The SLFP voters and the broader constituency of non-UNP (or non-hardcore UNP) voters are being sent three messages, all of which are wrong. The three messages come, NOT from Mahinda Rajapaksa but from President Sirisena, ex-president Kumaratunga and architect-strategist of the breakaway Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Sri Lanka People’s Front SLPF), Basil Rajapaksa.

Chandrika Kumaratunga wants a strategic alliance of the SLFP and the UNP, even under the UNP’s leadership. She seems willing to go as far as fusion, which means turning the clock back to pre-1951 and her father’s rupture with the UNP. The alliance she advocates is with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and the neoliberal globalism he represents, rather than with a populist-patriotic (‘neo-Premadasaist’) tendency of the UNP. Chandrika sees the UNP-TNA-SLFP-civil society liberals-West as a durable and desirable bloc.

President Sirisena sees the UNP-SLFP alliance not as strategic, and certainly not as a potential fusion, unless the UNP is led by an ideological co-thinker who is a centrist-populist. He is striving to cultivate such a constituency within the UNP. If not, or until that fructifies, the alliance with the UNP is tactical, not strategic. He is keeping open the January 2015 alignment and its possible recycling but that is not his Plan A, not least because he sees its exponentially growing unpopularity. He has his eye on the exits that are coming up but he hasn’t made up his mind. His main aim is to nurture a moderate, more youthful and modern, non-Rajapaksa/post-Rajapaksa SLFP which is ideologically progressive or even mildly social democrat. He hopes to use it to seize the hegemony within the existing Yahapalana coalition or lead it to victory as part of a new centrist alliance with compatible elements of the JO and the UNP.

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Has There Been Genuine National Reconciliation in Sri Lanka?

By Dr. Archana Arul

If there is considerable consternation in political circles in India over what took place at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva recently over a two-year extension for Sri Lanka to come to terms with issues of the post-conflict era, it is only understandable.

Once again the international community, led by the United States and Britain, have given one more chance to the powers that be in Colombo to put in motion a judicial and political process that squarely comes to term with the national reconciliation process.

That there has been constant huffing and puffing on how to go about the procedural aspects of substantive issues in the island nation has been conveniently glossed over — for now, there is another extension and in the name of a Consensus Resolution on which there was no vote.

In the event of a division, member-nations would have been forced to spell out their views leading to embarrassing moments in the fashion they were going to characterise their versions of the goings on in Sri Lanka.

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” Coalition Govt of Two Major Parties is a new Experience but I Will Lead The SLFP to Victory in Future Elections” -President Sirisena


By Udeni Saman Kumara

President Maithripala Sirisena in an interview with our sister paper Maubima said that people who elected him are still hopeful that the problems could be resolved through this government. “I like to unite and not to divide”, he said.

Q; This is the third year since you were elected as President. Half of the term of the government is already over. Are you satisfied with your performance in terms of establishing good governance?

I ask this question in the backdrop of some people alleging that there has been no development in the country since you took over.

A: The meaning in that statement, that no development is happening in the country is that compared to the development seen previously, not much seems to be happening now. That is one. Mega projects have not begun. Roads are not being built fast.

Based on such things, there is a view that the country is not moving forward. In fact, when we took over governance we inherited a set-up akin to an embellished celluloid doll. The country was hopelessly in debt. Had that development not been so much of a problem the former President might not have held elections two years in advance. He held the election because he was basically stuck and without the ability to move even another inch further.

Q;People expected a change because they had many problems over the previous government?

A: They were well aware and understood the enormity of the problems like the economic crisis, issues related to the Human Rights Council and the problems of the ruler’s family, when they went in for an election. We also could take more loans and carry out development just as they did. But we did not go down that path. The development projects they had carried out had many irregularities.

Continue reading ‘” Coalition Govt of Two Major Parties is a new Experience but I Will Lead The SLFP to Victory in Future Elections” -President Sirisena’ »

Current Western Outrage Over Syria Seems to be a “Set Up” as in the case of Sri Lanka’s War Against LTTE

By

SANJA DE SILVA JAYATILLEKA

It was not easy to watch the proceedings on Friday April 7that the UN Security Council’s emergency‘open session’ on Syria without thinking of Sri Lanka, although the actual circumstances of the UN’s engagement with the two countries are very different.

Only one thing seemed alarmingly similar. It seemed like a set up.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s dramatic gesture of holding up photographs of chemical-gassed children only served to bring to mind the now famous theatrical display of a vial of anthrax by US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the same venue to warn the Council of the imminent danger that lay before the world from WMDs in Iraq.

It was only a matter of time before one of the members would hold up a photograph of that particular shameful attempt, and so it happened at the hands of the Bolivian Ambassador/Permanent Representative Sacha Lorenty who proved that there are still good men left in the world, taking on every irrational argument by the West,and quoting his President Evo Morales’ condemnation of the US strike on Syria, even though Bolivia had no dog in this fight. He stood up for the principles that all those Security Council members had signed up to.

The Russian Deputy Ambassador inevitably referred to the 2003 ‘Anthrax episode’ as well, since the Security Council session’s target for verbal recriminations by US, UK and France was more Russia than Syria. He made it a point to warn Britain not to even try to get into a war in the Middle East because in that part of the world they remember, he said, Britain’s colonial hypocrisy.

Continue reading ‘Current Western Outrage Over Syria Seems to be a “Set Up” as in the case of Sri Lanka’s War Against LTTE’ »

Yu Zhengsheng Returns After 2 Day Lankan Trip Without Visiting Hambantota Harbour or Signing Port Agreement.


Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the fourth most important leader in China, visited Sri Lanka this week, he was pleasantly surprised to get a very warm reception.

“The warm hospitality I got was far beyond expectations,” Yu publicly declared on Thursday.

Yu had come on a two-day visit as head of an 80-member Chinese business delegation and had met President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to discuss the multi-billion dollar China-funded projects including the Hambantota port and the Colombo Port City.

While the US$ 1.4 billion Port City project has resumed after an year of suspension by the Sri Lankan government on charges of corruption, the Hambantota port project is held up over the division of stakes in a public-private sector joint venture to be established to run the port.

Continue reading ‘Yu Zhengsheng Returns After 2 Day Lankan Trip Without Visiting Hambantota Harbour or Signing Port Agreement.’ »

China Demands Full Control of Hambantota Harbour Without any Stake for Sri Lanka Ports Authority

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

The government appears to be in hot water these days as the Chinese have demanded the complete handover of the Hambantota Port to the China Merchants Port Holdings Company, without the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) having any stake in it. The Chinese, on seeing the new amendments put forward by the SLPA urging them to reduce the 99-year lease plan to a 33-year lease, are also in a quandary as to whether they should release the US$ 1.2 billion loan, obtained by the former government, in full or to give it in instalments, Ceylon Today learns.

It is also learnt that the top Chinese official, Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Yu Zhengsheng, who is also a member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful decision-making body in China, had arrived in Sri Lanka (6 to 8 April 2017), to put pressure on Sri Lanka to embark on the Hambantota Port project soon. The government, which was initially firm in going forward with the project, is now in two minds as the Chinese have demanded the complete control over the Hambantota Port.

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Yahapalanaya Regime – Lunacy,Idiocy or Plain Hubris?

by Anura Gunasekera

When absolute virtue is your launching pad, there is no way but down thereafter and that has been the sad story of the Yahapalanaya regime from its laboured birth.

Yahapalanaya is a collage of intrinsically incompatible points of view and an uneasy cohabitation between groups and individuals who would not, normally, bed with each other. Given its current state of incompetence and paucity of achievement, the union between a mare and a donkey, which produces the sterile mule seems an apt comparison. Briefly, and fortuitously for the nation, these disparate groups and individuals found a common objective; the ouster of a man who, in one narrow sense, may be described as the liberator of the Nation State of Sri Lanka, and from another point of view, will be seen as the man who decided that having freed it, that it belonged to him to do as he pleased with.

Yahapalanaya owes its existence, not to previous performance but to promises, some partly addressed and most others yet unfulfilled and simply languishing in the wish lists of those who voted for it. It must perform, and quickly, as it has no laurels to rest on to reinforce its bid for continued existence, or for that matter, for its legitimacy. At the maximum it has another year for productive action, before it is compelled to abandon even a pretence of service to the nation and the main protagonists start preparing for the next election; when all the actors and principals currently in action, as well as others presently side-lined but hopeful of a piece of future action, initiate the deals, alliances, the horse-trading, when yesterday’s sworn enemy becomes today’s friend and vice-versa; when it becomes politic to cast aside sanctimoniously enunciated principles, assurances and ethics in favour of the expediency of the moment.

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Famous Film Director Vasantha Obeyesekere, Who Immortalised Real Life Stories On The Silver Screen, Is No More

Multiple award-winning film director Vasantha Obeyesekere, whose adoption of real life stories onto the big screen made him one of the biggest names in the country’s film industry, passed away last morning at a private hospital in Colombo. He was 80.

Vasantha Obeyesekere

In a film-making career that spanned nearly five decades, Obeyesekere won several presidential awards and numerous other awards, nationally and internationally, while courting both fame and controversy over the years for his work.

Having passed out of the University of Ceylon in 1962, he dabbled in a teaching career before joining the editorial staff of Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited. His foray into cinema came in 1967 with the film Sath Samudura, on which he worked as an assistant director. His first film was Wes Gaththo, which Obeyesekere not only produced and directed, but for which he wrote the screen play and acted in too.

Continue reading ‘Famous Film Director Vasantha Obeyesekere, Who Immortalised Real Life Stories On The Silver Screen, Is No More’ »

Pre-fab Housing Project for North -East Slashed From 65,000 to 6,000 Houses Without Calling for Fresh Tenders

By Namini Wijedasa

If the Government intends to slash its original proposal of 65,000 prefabricated houses down to 6,000 houses for the war-displaced, it must call a fresh tender as many more contractors will qualify for the smaller project and offer better prices, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran said this week.

Despite sustained opposition to the project, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) last week granted approval for the construction of 6,000 prefabricated houses in the North and East by international steel giant ArcelorMittal. The proposal will go to Cabinet for ratification.

But the original tender, floated by the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Ministry, had been for 65,000 houses and not 6,000, pointed out Mr. Sumanthiran. The TNA has unanimously rejected prefabricated steel dwellings and called for the cheaper, culturally-suitable brick-and-mortar houses.

Continue reading ‘Pre-fab Housing Project for North -East Slashed From 65,000 to 6,000 Houses Without Calling for Fresh Tenders’ »

India Fails to Honour Pledges Made to Sri Lanka About Preventing Indian Fishermen from Poaching in Sri Lankan Waters

By Chris Kamalendran

Sri Lanka has expressed disappointment over the failure by the Indian authorities to honour the pledges made at the last round of joint Indo-Lanka talks on the fisheries issue.

Fisheries Ministry Secretary Rani Adhikari, who headed the Sri Lanka delegation at the talks held on Friday in Colombo, told the Sunday Times she requested the Indian delegation to implement the agreement reached during the previous round of talks to increase patrolling of the Palk Strait to prevent poaching.

The last round of talks was held in New Delhi in December last year.

Ms Adhikari said Sri Lanka also pointed out that though a hotline had been established between the Sri Lankan coastguards and their Indian counterparts, the action taken against cases of poaching was insufficient.

Sri Lanka had emphasised that the Government wanted to totally prevent poaching and not merely stop illegal fishing methods such as bottom trawling.

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Opposition Ferments in East Against Finance Ministry Approved W.M. Mendis Project of an Ethyl Alcohol Plant In B’caloa District

By Namini Wijedasa

Resistance is growing in the East to W.M. Mendis’s (WMM) proposed ethyl alcohol plant, approved by the Finance Ministry within 18 months of Maithripala Sirisena winning the presidency, on a platform that decried, among other things, “the ethanol mafia”.

The Batticaloa District Coordinating Committee met on March 27 and resolved to oppose the project. Members wanted it removed from the Batticaloa District and addressed a memorandum to President Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and other ministers.

“Everyone in the Batticaloa District, including ministers, MPs and members of Provincial Councils, are unanimous in their opposition to the project,” a local Government official said. A spokesman for the Excise Dept said this week that WMM–owned by Arjun Aloysius, son-in-law of former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran who is currently being investigated over the Bond issue–has not yet been issued a manufacturing licence for the plant. “They are still in construction stage,” the official said.

Meanwhile, WMM published notices in the local media stating that, the said plant will produce ethyl and is not a distillery. Ethyl is also known as ethanol, grain alcohol or, alcohol.

Continue reading ‘Opposition Ferments in East Against Finance Ministry Approved W.M. Mendis Project of an Ethyl Alcohol Plant In B’caloa District’ »

Sirisena Led “Official”SLFP’s Role as UNP Tail Will Result in Being Beaten to Third Place in Polls.


by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

What the upcoming round of sub-national elections (PCs and PSs) will decide is the respective strengths of the official SLFP and the JO/SLPP. I for one am pretty certain that the JO/Podujana Peramuna will beat the official SLFP into third place in the PS/PC elections—the reason being the official SLFP’s role as the UNP’s ‘tail’.

After the electoral outcome and on that basis, the two entities can either try vainly to eliminate the other politically and monopolize (not merely dominate) the space the rival occupies, or they can sensibly decide to reunite, perhaps not as a single party, but as a front or bloc, just as the LSSP and CP did when they came to their senses in 1968.

What would work in the short term is a post-electoral agreement to form non-UNP administrations at the PS and PC levels, in other words, flip over and thereby counterbalance the 2015 agreement the official SLFP leadership entered into with the UNP, to form a ‘unity’ government at the national level.

Continue reading ‘Sirisena Led “Official”SLFP’s Role as UNP Tail Will Result in Being Beaten to Third Place in Polls.’ »

Despite 3 Months Renovation Costing US 50 Million $ the Katunayake Airport Runway has not been Upgraded to Accommodate Large Aircraft

By Namini Wijedasa

Despite three months’ renovation work which disrupted airline schedules, the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) will not upgrade the Bandaranaike International Airport’s runway in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation-accepted classification for runways capable of accommodating new large aircraft such as A380s.

Notwithstanding its recent widening at a cost of US$ 50 million, the BIA runway will remain Code E or one that can facilitate aircraft with a wingspan of more than 52 metres but less than 65 metres. The A380 aircraft has a wingspan of more than 80 metres. This is because the width of the core runway at BIA is still 45m and it was only the “shoulders” on either side that were extended during the renovation work.

In media announcements, Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd bizarrely claimed that the BIA’s upgraded runway was a “modified Code F”. Such classification does not exist anywhere in International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) literature, which only refers to Code E or Code F runways. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has repeatedly said the BIA runway was capable of accommodating the A380.

Continue reading ‘Despite 3 Months Renovation Costing US 50 Million $ the Katunayake Airport Runway has not been Upgraded to Accommodate Large Aircraft’ »

Ravi Jayewardene Revealed His Character and Patriotism During the National Crisis of War

By

Hiranthi Wijemanne

It was Lao Tzu who said, “When a nation is filled with strife, then do patriots flourish.” This epitomizes Ravi Jayewardene, who in 1983 during the first manifestations of unprecedented violence and destruction, began a response to protect our motherland, threatened by separatist forces of immeasurable proportions.

Ravi became a catalyst for change during one of the most challenging period in Sri Lanka’s history, as brutal attacks of violence occurred by terrorist forces on unarmed, innocent, villagers, living in the border areas of the North Central Province, soon spreading to Batticaloa and Trincomalee in the eastern province, and occuring even in the highly populated capital city Colombo.

I visited these areas, met the families of men, women and innocent children killed in the most brutal of manner, and was aghast that any humans were capable of such brutality and inhumanity on people who were poor, innocent and unarmed, including children and even pregnant women.

It was in this national crisis that Ravi revealed his true character and patriotism, as he sensed with his keen military acumen that this was no ordinary war, but an insurgency of an immense and ruthless nature, which needed great skill, strong determination and immense courage to overcome.

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Challenges to Media freedom in Sri Lanka; The ‘New’ Government’s Performance

By Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena

A common view held by many across the Commonwealth that Sri Lanka holds out a beacon of hope to the world in reversing the tide of authoritarianism underscores darker and more complex realities.

Even in those early days when elation prevailed after the surprise election defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015, many of us instinctively knew that this was just the beginning of a long, hard road towards reversing systemic Rule of Law failures, much of which had predated Rajapaksa rule (2005-end 2014).

Journalists being briefed on the Right to Information Act

Two years later, the formidable challenges before us are very clear. During the previous decade, the abuse of power had been unprecedented, even when assessed against the country’s turbulent post-independence history after British colonial fetters were shaken off in 1948. Ordinary law and order had deteriorated to abysmal depths. State, economic and military powers were concentrated in the office of the Executive President. Corruption on the part of a ruling family cabal was rampant and ugly. Shaky at its best, the scales of the State tilted dangerously towards raw, naked authoritarianism. Editors and journalists were assassinated, beaten up and threatened. A decades-long secessionist war fought by the LTTE in the Northern peninsula was brought to a bloody end in 2009 but even after, terror continued to stalk the land.

Yet the stage for this departure from the democratic path had been set quite a while ago. Prolonged ethnic conflict and more sporadic but equally violent clashes between the majority Sinhalese government and rebellious Sinhalese youth in the South had paved the way for emergency law to become the norm. Checks and balances once holding arbitrary executive discretion in check became weaker. Under the Kumaratunga Presidency, a Supreme Court headed by her handpicked Chief Justice in 1999 became politicised with severe adverse impact on a once revered institution. Attacks on critical journalists waxed and waned with criminal defamation law being used to stifle dissenters until a vigorous media-led campaign resulted in its repeal.

Continue reading ‘Challenges to Media freedom in Sri Lanka; The ‘New’ Government’s Performance’ »

The SAITM Controversy: From Hippocrates to Hypocrisy


By
Asoka N. I. Ekanayaka
Emeritus Professor

I share with many millions of people in this country (who may not even know what the letters SAITM stand for) a certain indifference to the SAITM controversy that seems to be occupying so much media attention at this time. I have never been a teacher in that medical school and no child of mine ever been educated there. Having never done private practice in a lifetime as a health professional neither do I feel at all threatened that those who have actually been educated in a private medical school might in some way compete with me for a livelihood! Nor have my powers of critical thinking become hamstrung by blind servitude to antiquated leftwing ideology that has a lofty disdain for the private sector other than when it can make one rich personally. Therefore I have no vested interest in the outcome of the current controversy.

Nevertheless one cannot but be appalled by the self righteous hypocrisy and sanctimonious humbug surrounding the debate. The worst thing about fallen human nature is not so much the bad things people do or the wrong judgments they make, but the deceit of the heart that makes them hide their evil intentions in a cloak of righteousness, their selfish motives in a deceptive veneer of pretentious selfless commitment to some highfaluting principle. One observes something like this at play in the prevailing obsession with “standards of medical education” that seems to dominate the SAITM discussion where some alleged shortfall in the standard of training is the ammunition used by opponents of SAITM like the GMOA and SLMC and militant medical students to blast their quarry.

Only God knows the real motives in the minds of men whatever the outward posturing. In the present case to what extent real motives may have to do with politics, ideology, fear of market competition or plain envy is a matter of speculation. However there has been plenty of discussion about the inconsistency of those who are on the one hand ever so particular about shortcoming in the standard of training at SAITM, and on the other quite tolerant of the glaring shortcomings that continue to bedevil the quality of medical training in several existing medical schools in the island. It would seem that amidst all the pompous talk about standards of medical training there is in practice a sickening double standard! We need not here further embarrass those other medical schools whose own shortcomings and failures conveniently ignored by the medical establishment make a mockery of all the fuss about standards at SAITM.

Continue reading ‘The SAITM Controversy: From Hippocrates to Hypocrisy’ »

Hospitalised Wimal Weerawansa Miraculously Recovers from Illnesss and is Discharged from Hospital After Receiving Bail

National Freedom Front (NFF) leader Wimal Weerawansa has made a miraculous recovery and was discharged from the National Hospital less than four hours after being granted bail this morning.

Weerawansa was taken to the Colombo Fort Magistrate Court by ambulance this morning from the Colombo National Hospital.

He was admitted to the Colombo National Hospital from the Prison Hospital on March 29.
Weerawansa had engaged in a 9-day hunger strike previously in protest of his bail application being turned down twice.

Weerawansa was being held on charges he caused the government a loss of Rs. 90 million by misusing state-owned vehicles while he was Minister of Housing during the previous regime.

Continue reading ‘Hospitalised Wimal Weerawansa Miraculously Recovers from Illnesss and is Discharged from Hospital After Receiving Bail’ »

Govt Wants to Nationalise Neville Fernando Hospital but GMOA Rejects it Saying It Wants SAITM Shut down and not Govt take Over

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has rejected the solution offered by the government on the SAITM issue.

Speaking to the media this evening, GMOA Secretary Dr. Navin de Zoysa said they wanted the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) shut down, not taken over by the government.

He also promised that the GMOA would set up a branch within the newly nationalised Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital and continue their protest to have SAITM closed.

The government announced earlier today the Health Ministry would take over the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital.

Continue reading ‘Govt Wants to Nationalise Neville Fernando Hospital but GMOA Rejects it Saying It Wants SAITM Shut down and not Govt take Over’ »

Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) and 100 trade unions launch 24 hour strike against South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM).

By

Zahrah Imtiaz

The usually crowded waiting rooms of the Colombo National Hospital (CNH) were deserted yesterday as the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) and 100 other trade unions launched the 24 hour strike against the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM).

Thousands of patients seeking treatment at Government hospitals were left in the lurch. This comes in the wake of the AHINI outbreak and high Dengue prevalence in the Trincomalee and many other districts.
Patients caught unaware of the strike were turned away destitute and sent to private hospitals in the area.

“We came to the hospital at 10 a.m because my grandson is suffering from a very high fever. There is no one here to give us medicine so we are going to Nawaloka,” said W. Malani who had come to the National Hospital all the way from Wattala, not aware the doctors’ were on strike.

Hospital attendants and nurses at the National hospital were assigned to deal with patients and had to either turn patients away or dole out basic assistance.

Continue reading ‘Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) and 100 trade unions launch 24 hour strike against South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM).’ »

Thousands of Patients Faced Distress as Govt Hospital Doctors Led by GMOA Held One Day Token Strike

by Dilanthi Jayamanne

Thousands patients were inconvenienced by the doctors token strike yesterday.

Director of the National Hospital (NHSL), Dr Anil Jasinghe said the OPD was not functioning though emergency admissions were carried out. The scheduled clinics had been cancelled. The NHSL attended to approximately 3,000 to 4,000 clinic patients daily. Routine surgeries had been cancelled. However the ICU and wards and fever patients were being attended to. All emergency services were maintained, he added.

The Director of the Anuradhapura Teaching hospital was on leave and our efforts to contact his two Deputy Directors were in vain. However, sources said the doctors’ strike had crippled the hospital.

The Jaffna, Kurunegala and Kandy Teaching Hospitals were also affected by the strike.

Continue reading ‘Thousands of Patients Faced Distress as Govt Hospital Doctors Led by GMOA Held One Day Token Strike’ »

Prime Minister Wanting to Indianize and Tamil Naduize Sri Lanka is a Threat to the Nation


By

Dr. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

A country usually rolls out the red carpet for a visiting foreign dignitary but can a country turn into a carpet? Well, ours just did. We live in a time and a country in which a visiting celebrity from India can think nothing of openly criticizing and cautioning us against our old friend China while speaking at the launch of a biography of Sri Lankan Prime Minister, with the said PM and the President in the audience.

“Congress MP and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday flagged India’s concerns over China’s presence in Sri Lanka, pointing to “military intervention in the guise of trade” even in the earlier avatar of China’s Silk Road initiative. He was speaking at the launch of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s political biography, authored by Dinesh Weerakody.

Referring to Chinese admiral Zheng He’s explorations in the 15th century, Mr. Tharoor said they were not just initiatives to promote trade, but also “direct military intervention under the pretext of ushering in a harmonious world order under China’s emperor”.

Some in India wondered whether China’s interest in the Indian Ocean Region undermines India’s own historical links and cultural networks built over generations and centuries, said the former Minister of State for External Affairs echoing South Block’s apparent preoccupation with Beijing’s growing presence in the region.” (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/chinese-presence-in-sri-lanka-worries-tharoor/article17835070.ece)

Now this is suffused with unintended irony. The ancient chronicles of the largest community on this island one of the oldest nations in the world, are marked by references to military interventions from and occupations by India with the scantest reference to aggression from China. Determined doubtless by geopolitics, recent Sri Lankan memory also contains an episode of sponsorship of cross-border separatist terrorism capped by coercive intervention, while the only memories of China are those of consistent, unambiguous support in our thirty years war against separatist terrorism.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Wanting to Indianize and Tamil Naduize Sri Lanka is a Threat to the Nation’ »

Issue of Sri Lankan Tamils is an Emotional and Political Subject in India

By

Shashi Tharoor


(Following is the address delivered by keynote speaker, Indian MP and world-famous author Dr. Shashi Tharoor at the launch of Dinesh Weerakkody’s book ‘Ranil Wickremesinghe: A Life’ on 4 April 2017)

It is presumptuous for a second-term MP to congratulate a fourth-term PM, but I am emboldened by Ranil Wickremesinghe’s own graciousness and generosity to me. At one level, it can be claimed that nothing could be easier than speaking about India-Sri Lanka relations. After all, Sri Lanka is India’s closest neighbor, and the relationship between our two countries is more than 2500 years old. Indeed, both sides have built, and built upon, a long legacy of intellectual, cultural, religious and linguistic exchange.

Lanka features centrally in our sacred epic the Ramayana and, for that reason, is probably the one foreign country that has always had a place in our popular imagination. Then there are the old Sinhalese legends of Sri Lanka’s links to Orissa in India, which are of course manifest in the striking similarities of the Kandyan and Odissi dance forms. Add to this the fact that a significant Tamil minority on the island enjoys ties of kinship and cultural affiliation with India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, and the historical bonds only grow stronger.

In more recent years, our relationship has been marked by frequent and close contact at the highest political level, growing trade and investment, cooperation in the fields of education, culture and defence, frequent cricket matches, as well as a broad understanding on major issues of international interest.

And then there’s of course tea. Today you export twice as much as we do, largely because we drink 90% of what we grow. But an addiction to tea unites us. And now we can learn better marketing from you (Dilmah).

Continue reading ‘Issue of Sri Lankan Tamils is an Emotional and Political Subject in India’ »

Present Govt Continues With Last Govt Policy of Retaining Lands of the People in the North and East for the Security Forces and Development Purposes.

By Sajeewa Chamikara

One of the common practices of the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration, especially in the North and East of Sri Lanka after the end of the conflict, was the forceful encroachment of land that belonged to private owners, often from the most marginalized communities, to implement ‘development initiatives.’ According to the National Physical Plan 2011 – 2030, passed in 2007, large swaths of land in the North and the East were earmarked for development activities and at the end of the war those areas were taken over by the security forces instead of resettling those who were displaced. The present administration has also allowed this policy to continue.

The entire Walikamam North in the Jaffna District is held by the military and those who used to live and work in this area have been languishing in IDP camps or live on rented properties for seven long years. A 50-acre land that was inhabited by about 45 families in Iranamadu, Kilinochchi is now held by the Army and the Air Force. A similar situation prevails in the Malayalapuram North, Kilinochchi where a 20 acre land, which was the home to 20 families, is held by the Army. Meanwhile a 10 kilometre stretch of beach front, which was used by 300 fisher families along Punagari, Mulangavil and Iranativu areas are now being held by the Navy. Around 50 acres of Paraviyanpark, Kilinochchi which was used by about 75 families is now held by the Army. Ten acres of Thiruwaiaru, Kilinochchi are also being held by the Army.
A 525-acre land in Kopapilaw, Mullaitivu, which was used by 320 families is now declared as a high security zone and is controlled by the security forces. A 90-acre land, where 84 families used to live in Puthukudiyiruppu, is now controlled by the Navy.

Continue reading ‘Present Govt Continues With Last Govt Policy of Retaining Lands of the People in the North and East for the Security Forces and Development Purposes.’ »

Haggling Over Joint Opposition Demand for Allocation of More Time in Debate Ends in Cancellation of UNHRC Debate and Adjournment of Parliament.

By Saman Indrajith

Parliament sittings were limited to 55 minutes as the Joint Opposition (JO) MPs disrupted sessions demanding more time for them to participate in a debate on the UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka. MEP leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena said that it was unfair to allocate only 31 minutes of the 210 minutes long debate to the JO. The issue dragged on for 55 minutes without a solution.

JO Leader Gunawardena: We submitted this motion for the debate on the Geneva resolution a month ago. Then it was decided to allocate a full day for the debate. Out of the time allocated for the debate only 31 minutes have been given to the Joint Opposition.

Speaker Jaysuriya: We have additional 34 minutes. You can take that, too.

MP Gunawardena: We have no issue with the attempts made by you to give us more time. But, there are 52 MPs in the Joint Opposition Group. We are to debate an issue which is very critical and it matters most for the country’s future. In such an important debate we are given only 31 minutes and 180 to others. How can that be justified? I need at least one hour for the purpose of presenting this motion.

Chief Government Whip and Parliament Affairs and Mass Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilaka: Today is a special day. Cremation of Most Ven Davuldena Gnanissara is scheduled for this evening. We have agreed to end the sessions at 3 pm. None opposed it.

Speaker Jayasuriya: Can’t we reach an agreement since we have additional 34 minutes that can be given to the Joint Opposition?

Continue reading ‘Haggling Over Joint Opposition Demand for Allocation of More Time in Debate Ends in Cancellation of UNHRC Debate and Adjournment of Parliament.’ »

Concerns About Chinese Interests in Sri Lanka Undermining Historical and Cultural Links with India -Shashi Tharoor

By P.K.Balachandran

Colombo, April 5 (newsin.asia): Former Indian junior Minister for External Affairs and UN Under Secretary General, Dr.Shashi Tharoor, has warned Sri Lankans that the Chinese, in the guise of promoting economic relations with Sri Lanka, may well end up interfering in the internal affairs of the country as the legendary Chinese Admiral Zheng He did in the 15 th.Century.

“There are some concerns in India if China’s interests here undermine our own historical and cultural links built over generations,” Tharoor said in his keynote at the launch of a political biography of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe authored by Dinesh Weerakkody here on Tuesday.

“China ‘s ambitions in the South China Sea have extended well into the Indian Ocean and the prospect of an emerging superpower casting its shadow has caused anxiety in a number of states that have been looking to India as an alternative security provider,” the Congress Member of Parliament said.

Referring to China’s latest push, the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative, he said it must be remembered that the older silk route at that time carried serious geopolitical tensions too.

“India has been better at projecting soft power in the region than hard power but there are concerns that we are gradually being strangled by China’s string of pearls around our oceanic neck,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Concerns About Chinese Interests in Sri Lanka Undermining Historical and Cultural Links with India -Shashi Tharoor’ »

Chinese Companies Given Preferential Treatment Over Indian Companies to Invest in Sri Lanka Insinuates Indian MP Shashi Tharoor.

By
Meera Srinivasan

Congress MP and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday flagged India’s concerns over China’s presence in Sri Lanka, pointing to “military intervention in the guise of trade” even in the earlier avatar of China’s Silk Road initiative.

He was speaking at the launch of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s political biography, authored by Dinesh Weerakody.

Referring to Chinese admiral Zheng He’s explorations in the 15th century, Mr. Tharoor said they were not just initiatives to promote trade, but also “direct military intervention under the pretext of ushering in a harmonious world order under China’s emperor”.

Continue reading ‘Chinese Companies Given Preferential Treatment Over Indian Companies to Invest in Sri Lanka Insinuates Indian MP Shashi Tharoor.’ »

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Tells Parliament Navy Camps in Mullikkulam and Silaavathurai Wont be Removed.

By Saman Indrajith

The government would not remove the Navy camps at Silawathura and Mullikulam as they were necessary for curbing arms and drug and human smuggling operations, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday.

In answer to a question raised by SLMC MP MHM Salman, who demanded that the removal of the Navy base at Silawathura and release of land to civilians, the Prime Minister said that a Navy Base had been established in Silawathura Grama Niladhari Division of the Musali Divisional Secretariat Division of the Mannar District. The location of this Navy base was strategically important for the national security.

“It is an important location in terms of preventing illegal migration and illegal transportation of goods too,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Tells Parliament Navy Camps in Mullikkulam and Silaavathurai Wont be Removed.’ »

Attempts to Undermine Rajavarothayam Sampanthan’s Positive Leadership of the Tamil National Alliance.

By Harim Peiris

In Sri Lanka’s ethnically polarized political society, the political discourse of both the Sinhala and Tamil polity is sadly limited and largely restricted to being within their own respective communities, with occasional broadsides against each other. There is insufficient dialogue and engagement between the different political views, especially on the issues of reconciliation. Within that context, it was interesting to note recently the call by two former Members of Parliament for the Jaffna District, V. Anandasangaree and Suresh Premachandra, for TNA and Opposition Leader R. Sambanthan resign as Leader of the Opposition. They accused him of using the Opposition Leader’s position to defend the government and the reconciliation process, which they claim has not addressed the needs of the Tamil community.

Continue reading ‘Attempts to Undermine Rajavarothayam Sampanthan’s Positive Leadership of the Tamil National Alliance.’ »

Sri Lankan Environmentalists Demand Protection for Wilpattu Forest Reserves From Unlawful Actions of a Rapacious Cabinet Minister.

By Harischandra Gunaratna

Environmentalists are calling for action against a powerful Cabinet Minister from the Vanni electoral District for going ahead with what they call unlawful settlements in the forest reserves in and around Wilpattu in defiance of President Maithripala Sirisena’s orders.

Dineth Mallikarachchi, leading environmentalist, addressing journalists at a news conference organised by the National Joint Committee at the National Library Services at Colombo-07 on Tuesday (April 4) to protect the country’s forest cover and fauna and flora from rapacious ministers.

Mallikar-achchi flayed Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and National Unity Alliance leader and former Colombo Deputy Mayor Azad Sally for making false statements that the government was planning to evict those who were already settled. “They are working with selfish and vested interests and their bogus claims would only lead to racial tensions,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Environmentalists Demand Protection for Wilpattu Forest Reserves From Unlawful Actions of a Rapacious Cabinet Minister.’ »

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s Strong Stand Against Religious Fundamentalism and Forcible Conversions.


By

Ephrem Fernando

The golden age of humanity was the era of the Antonines, especially that of Marcus Aurelius the second Antonine emperor. He admired the changelessness of the Roman Church.

In my daily paper The Island of March 30, I read a piece which by far was the most Interesting news for me. It was the stand taken by Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith against the Fundamentalists, whom he accused of forcible conversions and urged the government to pass laws to prevent such conversions.

Continue reading ‘Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith’s Strong Stand Against Religious Fundamentalism and Forcible Conversions.’ »

Rajapaksa Govt Agreements with China Over Hambantota Port Unfavourable to Sri Lanka Says Ranil Wickremesinghe

By Saman Indrajith

Those who built the Hambantota Port had expected all ships going past Sri Lanka to stop there for refuelling, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament yesterday.

“They thought that ships would come there the way the vehicles come to the petrol shed at the Alexandra Place in Colombo for refuelling.

The agreements they entered into with China over the Hambantota port were not favourable to our country, Wickremesinghe said.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Govt Agreements with China Over Hambantota Port Unfavourable to Sri Lanka Says Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Ravi Jayawardene’s Life Must Be Celebrated for his Self-effacing nature and Lifelong Contempt for Sycophants.

By Sarath de Alwis

An otherwise obvious cliché needs to be reframed to draw out the lessons from the life of Ravi Jayewardene who passed away at the age of eighty whose obsequies will be held on Thursday 6th April.

Ravi Jayawardene

It is not enough to say that he was the only son of President J. R. Jayewardene. It cries out for far more precise qualification.

He was the humble, fearless, bold and wise son of President J. R. Jayewardene, who did many things right and a few things not quite right. The mortal remains of his only son lie at ‘Wijayanthi’ the stately ancestral home of the Jayewardene family, where he was born.

The point needs emphasis. Giving to the nation is a dying art in this age when duty free sports utility vehicles are a must for the practice of the sport called politics.

Today, it is the Library and Museum of the Jayewardene Center. That it is now in a state of disrepair in the custody of the state is a commentary on our indifference to our recent history as a civic nation and our preoccupation with the mythic history of the Sinhala tribe.

Continue reading ‘Ravi Jayawardene’s Life Must Be Celebrated for his Self-effacing nature and Lifelong Contempt for Sycophants.’ »

Prime Minister Praised for his Patience at Launch of a Biography on Ranil Wickremesinghe

By Nisthar Cassim

The launch of a biography on Ranil Wickremesinghe last night at the BMICH saw praised being heaped on the Prime Minister, who credited patience for his success but said that it was time to ensure victory for Sri Lanka by uniting for peace and development.

pic via: facebook.com/ranil.wickremesinghe.leader/- March 31, 2017

“There are many who helped me but it is time for all of us to unite for lasting peace and equitable development,” the Prime Minister told a packed audience at the BMICH comprising political leaders, clergy, diplomats, business leaders, civil society members and public servants.

“We all, including the main Opposition and other opposition parties, must discuss and move forward jointly. This will be a great victory. Let us all spend the time ahead of us on this challenge and within the next five years create a new political culture, a good Sri Lankan identity and a prosperous economy,” the Prime Minster said during his brief speech.
He said Sri Lanka needed to forge ahead by recapturing opportunities lost to the 30-year war. “For this we need unity,” the Prime Minister said, recalling how all parties put forward Maithripala Sirisena as a common presidential candidate and formed a national government for at least five years, which was a key achievement.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Praised for his Patience at Launch of a Biography on Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Indian MP Sashi Tharoor Expresses in Colombo the Concerns of his Country Over China’s Presence in Sri Lanka and Growing Influence.

Indian lawmaker Dr. Shashi Tharoor yesterday voiced his country’s concerns about China’s presence in Sri Lanka as well as its growing influence in the Indian Ocean.

“There are some concerns in India if China’s interests here undermine our own historical and cultural links built over generations,” Tharoor said in his keynote at the launch of a political biography of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe authored by Dinesh Weerakkody.

Dr. Tharoor said that China ‘s ambitions in the South China Sea have extended well into the Indian Ocean and the prospect of an emerging superpower casting its shadow has caused anxiety in a number of states that have been looking to India as an alternative security provider.

Continue reading ‘Indian MP Sashi Tharoor Expresses in Colombo the Concerns of his Country Over China’s Presence in Sri Lanka and Growing Influence.’ »

Military Personnel Allegedly Involved in Crimes Will Not Be Exempted from Investigations Emphasises Police Spokesperson Jayakody.

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Denying the Joint Opposition’s allegations that law enforcement authorities had been targeting military personnel as well as the police over several high profile cases, police headquarters yesterday emphasised that they couldn’t be exempted from investigations.

Police spokesman DIG Priyantha Jayakody said that those who believed people could be excused as they were members of the military or the police should have their heads examined.

Jayakody was addressing the media at police headquarters.

Continue reading ‘Military Personnel Allegedly Involved in Crimes Will Not Be Exempted from Investigations Emphasises Police Spokesperson Jayakody.’ »

Eran Wickramaratne Discloses Details About Alleged Misuse of Public Funds by Gamini Senarath ,Ex-Chief of Staff of Mahinda Rajapaksa

Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Development Eran Wickramaratne yesterday told Parliament that no action had been taken to investigate allegations over the misuse of public funds by Gamini Senarath, the Chief of Staff of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Piyadasa Kudabalage, who functioned as Directors of the companies associated with controversial Canwill Holdings Ltd.

The Minister, responding to a question raised by JVP MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa, said: “Piyadasa Kudabalage has been paid a considerably large allowance of Rs. 600,000 on a monthly basis. During the period March 2012 until January 2015 he was paid a total of Rs. 20.8 million.”

According to the Minister, both Gamini Senarath and Piyadasa Kudabalage have only invested Rs. 10 million each in the company, which started in December 2011, to receive a high allowance in return. The other investors of the company included Sri Lanka Insurance, which invested Rs. 5 billion, Litro Gas Rs. 450 million and the Employees Provident Fund Rs. 2.5 billion. Helanco Hotels and Spa Ltd. and Sino Lanka Hotels and Spa Ltd. are subsidiaries of Canwill Holdings. Helanco Hotels and Spa Ltd. was involved in constructing the Hambantota Hyatt while Sino Lanka Hotels and Spa Ltd. started construction of the Kollupitiya Hyatt.

Continue reading ‘Eran Wickramaratne Discloses Details About Alleged Misuse of Public Funds by Gamini Senarath ,Ex-Chief of Staff of Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Allegation That Ranil Wickremesinghe Does not Have Support of Traditional Sinhala Buddhists is a Shattered Myth – Rajitha Senaratne

By

Zacky Jabbar

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had won over people not by changing his attire or religion, but by his royal conduct and breeding, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday in Colombo.

Senaratne , speaking at the launch of the book “Ranil Wickremesinghe – A Political Biography” by Dinesh Weerakkody at the BMICH, attended by a representative gathering including President Maithripala Sirisena, said that Wickremesinghe had the strength of character to be who he was – a liberal humanist, who did not just follow the herd.

In an obvious reference to Royal College Colombo 7 , where the Prime Minister had his early education and learnt of books and men and learnt to play the game, Senaratne said that Wickremesinghe had displayed his “Royal Breeding” by not getting swayed in the populist Sinhala only campaign, but embraced all communities and religions in a bid to establish a One Sri Lanka.

The allegation that Wickremesinghe did not have the support of the traditional Sinhala Buddhists ,was a myth which had been shattered, Senaratne added.

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Legendary Lodestar of Sri Lankan Cinema Lester James Peries Celebrates 98th Birthday Today (April 5th)

(Text of Editorial Appearing in “The Island” of April 5th 2017 Under the Heading “Lester, the Lodestar”)

Lester James Peries -pic courtesy of: ljpspfoundation.org

Today is a special day; internationally acclaimed icon of the Sri Lankan cinema, Lester James Peries, turns 98. He, in our book, is a national hero in that he almost single-handedly led the freedom struggle of the Sri Lankan cinema and liberated the local movie industry from the clutches of foreign ‘invaders’. The living legend is a national treasure!

Lester, with his Rekawa (Line of destiny), premiered in the mid 1950s, ended the ennui of a cinematic winter Sri Lankans had been facing for years. The country had got Independence, but its cinema hadn’t. With that super flick, which not only warmed the cockles of viewers’ hearts but also changed the course of the local cinema, began the marathon innings of the filmmaking genius. Lester has since inspired and guided generations of filmmakers and stars besides gifting numerous creations to the nation; some of these talented men and women have won international recognition.

Lester James Peries


Continue reading ‘Legendary Lodestar of Sri Lankan Cinema Lester James Peries Celebrates 98th Birthday Today (April 5th)’ »

Where is the Pressure for Prosecutions by a Hybrid Court Coming From?


By

Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

After the UN Human Rights Council 34th session ended in Geneva, the US said it introduced three resolutions that were adopted with ‘broad cross regional support.’ The list included Resolution 34/1 on Sri Lanka.

The statement says that ‘Sri Lanka was one of the 47 co-sponsors’ of Resolution 34/1. This assertion is extremely disingenuous, if it is made on the basis that the resolution was adopted without a vote in the 47-member HRC. How could any member state of the HRC or friend of Sri Lanka be expected to raise its voice against the resolution when Sri Lanka itself had submitted to co-sponsoring it?

Interestingly the other two resolutions led by the US at the 34th session, on South Sudan and North Korea, relate to HRC mandated exercises to collect evidence that can be used in future ‘accountability mechanisms.’

Continue reading ‘Where is the Pressure for Prosecutions by a Hybrid Court Coming From?’ »

Ultra- Nationalist Sinhala Politicians Becoming Political Dinosaurs


By Rathindra Kuruwita

The red pill and its opposite, the blue pill, are popular cultural symbols representing the choice between embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red pill) and the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue pill).

Last week, National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader Wimal Weerawansa drank a cup of milk and gave up his hunger strike, if you can call that a hunger strike because the man was on saline from day two. And I can’t say that a lot of people were surprised, or cared about his ‘hunger strike’ at all, which is a good thing because it shows that most of those who voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015 have been red-pilled.

Continue reading ‘Ultra- Nationalist Sinhala Politicians Becoming Political Dinosaurs’ »

Wimal Weerawansa Arrested For Misappropriation is a Small Fish Who Could Raise the Question “WHY ME?”


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Wimal Weerawansa is a destructive politician. After Anagarika Dharmapala, he is probably the most effective rabble rouser who could manage to send a sizeable portion of the population to an ethnic frenzy through his gifted oratory. His leader for a short while, Rohana Wijeweera was also a provocative orator, however, though he was a closeted bigot, Wijeweera spent most of his speaking prowess to promote a class struggle.

The most eventful individual on the other end of the ethnic divide, Velupillai Prabakaran was a coy trigger-happy mass murderer. He mesmerized a much larger section of Tamils at home and abroad through his resort to untrammeled violence directed against Sinhalese, Muslims and dissidents of his own community.

What all those men had in common was their ability to exploit fault lines in our society and the limits of our state, then and now. Anagarika Darmapala exploited liberal leanings of the Colonial British to espouse his border line racism. He would not have survived had it been the French, the Dutch, Belgian or any other colonizer.

Rohana Wijeweera mobilized two generations of Sri Lankan youth, who were in fact the product of a baby-boom propelled by successive governments’ welfare policies, to wage a war against the very state. He was stopped on both occasions, but it was too late and too costly.

Both Prabhakaran and Wijeweera thrived in the perceived and often hyperbolic grievances of a segment of people and exploited the limits of coercive power of the state to advance their myopic ends. If Sri Lanka- which invested all its fortune to maintain a bloated welfare state, which over time became too big for the limited government revenue to maintain- allocated a fraction of its budget on its internal security, both of them could have been stopped a long way before they unleashed their carnage.

Continue reading ‘Wimal Weerawansa Arrested For Misappropriation is a Small Fish Who Could Raise the Question “WHY ME?”’ »

2 Novels, 1 Short Story Collection and Two Books of Poetry Short Listed for 2016 Gratiaen Prize

By Harischandra Gunaratna

The much-awaited short list of Gratiaen Prize 2016 was announced at the British Council auditorium yesterday evening at a simple ceremony.

The short listed works are:

1. “Introspection”(poetry) by Jean Arasanayagam

2. “The Memory of Loss”(novel) by Rizvina Morseth de Alwis

3. “Short eats” (short stories) by Shehan Karunatilaka

4. “Stories” (novel) by Charulatha Abeysekera Thewarathanthri, and

5. “Borrowed Dust a collection of poems” by Vivimarie VanderPoorten

Continue reading ‘2 Novels, 1 Short Story Collection and Two Books of Poetry Short Listed for 2016 Gratiaen Prize’ »

Sri Lankan Workers Protest Outside Colombo Indian High Commission in Solidarity With Maruti Workers Convicted by New Delhi Court


By

Meera Srinivasan

Expressing solidarity with their counterparts across the Palk Bay, Sri Lankan trade unions on Monday protested against the “attack” on Maruti workers.

Members of Sri Lankan Trade Unions protesting outside the Indian High Commission in Colombo. | Photo Credit: Photo credit: Meera Srinivasan

With posters displaying slogans in Sinhala, Tamil and English asking the Indian State to stop “prosecuting” workers, leaders and members of different unions here gathered outside the Indian mission’s premises on Colombo’s sea-facing Galle Road.

Observing that workers in India and Sri Lanka faced similar challenges, Anton Marcus, Joint Secretary of the Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union said that often, imprisonment was used to intimidate working people and to discourage them from unionising in future. “That is what we are seeing in this case involving Maruti workers. It is important that we stand in solidarity in times like these,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Workers Protest Outside Colombo Indian High Commission in Solidarity With Maruti Workers Convicted by New Delhi Court’ »

Tamil Nationalist Politics and the Process of “Traitorization” in Sri Lanka

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Rajavarothayam Sampanthan

Octogenarian leader of the opposition Rajavarothayam Sampanthan in a hard hitting Parliamentary speech made four weeks ago drew attention to the prevailing practice of persons being condemned as Traitors (Drohi/Thurogi) within the sphere of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalist Politics. The Trincomalee district MP who is also the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentary group leader made specific reference to the recent attacks on TNA Jaffna district MP Mathiaparanam Abraham Sumanthiran by defeated political rivals. Here are a few excerpts from Sampanthan’s speech during the adjournment motion debate on February 22nd 2017 –

“My Friend Mr. Sumanthiran has been accused of being traitorous by some Tamil Leaders who have been resoundingly rejected at the last Parliamentary Elections, some persons whose party polled around 15,000 votes. Mr. Sumanthiran got four times that number of votes in Jaffna.I have got the particulars with me. That whole party did not poll 15,000 votes. Mr. Sumanthiran polled four times that vote by himself – preference votes. Today, he is being called a “traitor” because he is working with the Government. We look upon Mr. Sumanthiran as a very useful Member of Parliament performing valuable service on behalf of the people, and we want that to be recognized. But, he is being attacked. He is being attacked because these persons who were resoundingly rejected by the people in 2015 are using your failure to do what you must do by the people as the ground for attacking people like Mr. Sumanthiran and me and others too, even Mr. Senathirajah”.

M A Sumanthiran MP

“There has been a report filed by the police in the Kilinochchi Magistrate’s Court where they have definitely stated that there was an attempt at assassination of Mr. Sumanthiran. That is a matter of record, nobody can deny that. Some people are calling him “Drohi”. It is a very unbecoming word. It is a word that is inciting violence. Why are you calling him “Drohi”. Is it because he is working on our Constitutional Proposals along with me and others?”

“Tamil people are not protesting in support of you? Tamil people are protesting on account of wrongs being done to them by the Sri Lankan Government. They want that to stop. These jokers who could not even win one seat, could not come even close to one seat. They came long after us, we polled 200,000 votes, they polled 15,000 votes. They came after the EPDP; they came after the UNP and they came after the UPFA. They were totally rejected by the Tamil people.”
Continue reading ‘Tamil Nationalist Politics and the Process of “Traitorization” in Sri Lanka’ »

Rishad Bathiudeen to Present Cabinet Paper Rescinding 4 Gazettes Declaring Muslim Settled Lands as Forest Reserve.

Four gazettes reportedly impacting the Northern Muslim resettlement process in Wilpattu proximity are to be rescinded.

“I informed the officials that I will present a Cabinet Paper to do way with the gazettes affecting resettlement of Northern Muslim IDPs.” said Minister of Industry and Commerce and Vanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen on 31 March in Colombo.

Minister Bathiudeen was speaking to some members of the press shortly after meeting a team of government officials led by Secretary to the President P. B. Abeykoon at the Presidential Secretariat.

Continue reading ‘Rishad Bathiudeen to Present Cabinet Paper Rescinding 4 Gazettes Declaring Muslim Settled Lands as Forest Reserve.’ »

Classic Howlers Caused by Faulty Usage of the English Language in Sri Lanka and India.

By

R.S. Karunaratne

I still follow a piece of advice given to his students by T. Max Perera who ran an English institute at Horana way back in the 1950s. One day he advised us to read advertisements published in newspapers and name boards to learn good English. Since then I have been reading advertisements and name boards including marriage proposals in order to learn the language. Some habits you cannot give up easily. As a result even as a septuagenarian, I still read advertisements although I have stopped applying for jobs and responding to marriage proposals.

A few decades ago I applied for the post of English teacher at a prestigious international school in Colombo.

I attended the interview, but later I changed my mind.

I remembered the day I was interviewed by its principal who spoke flawless English. However, when I saw an advertisement inserted by the same international school for the “Post of Vice Principle,” I did not know whether to laugh or cry. How can anyone excuse such a major blunder appearing in a Sunday newspaper? For the post of “Vice Principle”, the candidate was required to possess an excellent command of English!

Continue reading ‘Classic Howlers Caused by Faulty Usage of the English Language in Sri Lanka and India.’ »

Govt in Beijing Demonstrates Serious Intent by Intervening Directly to “Unite”Chinese Companies Competing for Hambantota Port Control.

By Nisthar Cassim

In an emphatic move, Beijing has brought together two competing bidders for the Hambantota Port to work together, reinforcing China’s serious intent on Sri Lanka though the latter is still grappling with differences of opinion on the crucial $ 1.4 billion public-private partnership (PPP) project.

The Daily FT learns that the Beijing administration had asked China Merchants Port Holdings Company Ltd. (CMPort), the chosen party by the Lankan Government, and China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd. (CHEC), the other Chinese Government-controlled entity and failed bidder, to work together by forming a Joint Venture between them for the way forward on the Hambantota Port.

The Beijing-initiated move is seen as a strong signal from China that it means “serious business” as far as the Hambantota Port is concerned. As per the Beijing agreement, CMPort will own the controlling 51% stake in the Joint Venture to be formed between them which in turn will own 80% stake initially in the PPP with the Sri Lanka Ports Authority for the Hambantota Port.

Continue reading ‘Govt in Beijing Demonstrates Serious Intent by Intervening Directly to “Unite”Chinese Companies Competing for Hambantota Port Control.’ »

Only 600 Acres of Land with Muslim Settlers Gazetted as North Wilpattu Forest Reserve says Dayasiri Jayasekera

by Zacki Jabbar

The government says that only 600 acres of state land and not 100,000 acres from Muslims settled close to the northern border of the Wilpattu Forest Reserve, have been acquired by the President’s March 24, Gazette notification.

Acknowledging the crucial contribution of the Muslim community to electing Maithripala Sirisena as President, Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera said at a news conference on Friday, that some Muslims had distorted the facts about Wilpattu.

Jayasekera claimed that Muslim settlements including places of religious worship and private lands had been protected by the said Gazette pertaining to 600 acres and not 100,000 acres contrary ot claims made by some Muslim organisations.

Continue reading ‘Only 600 Acres of Land with Muslim Settlers Gazetted as North Wilpattu Forest Reserve says Dayasiri Jayasekera’ »

The War of Words Between Sarath Fonseka and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa About a Death Squad Run by Military Intelligence


By

Don Manu

Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka fired the first shot. When CID detectives, probing the daylight killing of former editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, came to question him in January and obtain his testimony, he laid the blame squarely at the doorstep of former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He claimed that a ‘death squad’ run by military intelligence but who took their orders from Gotabaya was responsible.

Last Monday, the CID presented his explosive testimony in a Mount Lavinia court room and stated that their investigations, solely on the strength of Field Marshall Fonseka’s testimonial to them, had been carried out by a special group, operating under military intelligence and that the same group had been responsible for the attacks on journalists, Keith Noyah and Upali Tennekoon and abducting several other media persons.

The revelation in open court implicating Gotabaya Rajapaksa by claiming he directed a top secret death squad that targeted journalists and dissidents was picked by the international TV news channel the Qatar-based Al Jazeera and the French news agency AFP and presented to the world as another instance of the Rajapaksa regime’s ruthless crackdown on the media.

Continue reading ‘The War of Words Between Sarath Fonseka and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa About a Death Squad Run by Military Intelligence’ »

Sri Lanka and India to Sign Memorandum of Understanding for “Cooperation in Economic Projects” With Spotlight on Trincomalee

Sri Lanka and India will jointly make investments to develop the Trincomalee Port and establish a petroleum refinery and other industries there. They will also encourage Indian companies to invest in a Container Terminal in the Port of Colombo.

These are highlights of a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed this year between Sri Lanka and India for “cooperation in economic projects.”

For Sri Lanka, the “focal points for effective implementation,” the MoU notes will be the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade. The Indian counterpart is yet to be identified.

The final draft of this MoU has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) which is chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. It now awaits the formulation of a ‘road map’ for implementation by an official committee. The MoU reaffirms the “traditionally close and friendly relations between the two countries and their continuing endeavours to enhance bilateral relations through increased economic, investment and development co-operation for the mutual benefit of their people.”

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka and India to Sign Memorandum of Understanding for “Cooperation in Economic Projects” With Spotlight on Trincomalee’ »

Some Provisions in the Revised Draft of New Counter Terror Act (CTA) Are More “Terrifying” than the old Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Assessed even with the kindest eye, the potential of the proposed (and revised) new Counter-Terror Act (CTA) to legally validate intrusive acts of state officers is most worrying.If this version has been sent to the Legal Draftsman’s Department for conversion into the form of a Bill as we are informed, one can only hope for intervention of a peculiarly divine kind to prevent this draft being passed into law.

Old and worrying language continues

As analysed last week in these column spaces,terrifyingly familiar language echoes in the CTA’s classification of ‘terrorism related offences.’ This prohibits ‘words either spoken or intended to be read or by signs’ etc which ‘causes or intends to cause the commission of acts of violence between different communities or racial or religious groups. The prohibition is coupled with intent to cause harm to the ‘unity, territorial integrity or sovereignty of Sri Lanka or the peaceful coexistence of the people.’

Journalists and dissenters were imprisoned in the past precisely under these very same provisions in the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Its proposed replacement CTA continues this trend with the importation of additional references to ‘unity’ and ‘peaceful coexistence.’ These prohibitions are contrary to the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information.

Continue reading ‘Some Provisions in the Revised Draft of New Counter Terror Act (CTA) Are More “Terrifying” than the old Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA)’ »

Sri Lankan Airlines Embroiled in Another Legal Battle -This Time with Duty Free Partners (DFP)

By Namini Wijedasa

SriLankan Airlines has been slapped with fresh litigation, just days after dodging an expensive legal battle with a company through which it extended leases on three A330-200 aircraft. Duty Free Partners (DFP), supplier of SriLankan’s onboard duty free products, on Friday took out an enjoining order preventing the national carrier from terminating its contract. DFP’s operation with SriLankan was due to end on March 31 this year. However, the agreement contained provision for a two-year extension at the consent of both parties.

But SriLankan Airlines directors — one of whom is himself involved in the duty free supplies business — exercised the company’s right not to renew the contract. In November last year, SriLankan called fresh tenders for the provision of products to be sold on board. These included perfumes, jewellery, timepieces, liquor and tobacco.

The contract with a new supplier was to have started in this month and continued for the next five years. On Friday, DFP took the matter to the Commercial High Court of Colombo saying Sri Lankan Airlines had “failed to give to the client the right of first refusal”. An enjoining order was granted and the case is being heard.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Airlines Embroiled in Another Legal Battle -This Time with Duty Free Partners (DFP)’ »

GMOA is Treating the Poor People of Sri Lanka as Expendable Civilians like the LTTE and ISIS.


by Dr A.C.Visvalingam

Towards the end of its war to establish an independent state, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) did not allow civilians to move out of those areas from which it was attacking the Sri Lanka Army. It has been accused of deploying these hapless fellow citizens as human shields so as to discourage the security forces from firing in their direction or dropping bombs in their vicinity. The LTTE took advantage of the fact that the government was bound by its inherent obligations to its own people and in line with international humanitarian law. The net effect was that the LTTE treated the lives of the residents of the North as an expendable commodity in the prosecution of its political and military aims.

The ISIS has been doing something similar, but even worse, particularly in the city of Mosul in Iraq. It has effectively compelled the residents of Mosul not to move out of their homes and has then booby-trapped nearby static structures and vehicles of every kind. If a bomb or gunfire from the government side hits one of these booby-trapped locations, the explosives installed by ISIS blow up and multiply the devastation caused by the incoming missile. The ISIS, like the LTTE, is playing fast and loose with the lives and limbs of defenceless men, women and children in its determination to resist the advance of state troops.

Whenever the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) calls upon its members to strike, the painful reality is that it is the poorest sections of our society who are subjected to inhuman hardship. Anyone who has seen (on TV) the impotent resignation on the faces and in the words of those suffering patients who had had to travel long distances, in pain, after waking themselves up during the darkest hours before dawn, and spending for their travel from the meagre resources available to them, cannot but fail to be disgusted by the heartless members of the GMOA, who think nothing of depriving these desperate fellow citizens of the medical care which is owed to them in terms of the Hippocratic oath, ordinary humanity and the deep debt that these professionally-qualified ingrates owe to the public of Sri Lanka for having given them free education from the age of 5-6 years until they graduated and completed their training.

Continue reading ‘GMOA is Treating the Poor People of Sri Lanka as Expendable Civilians like the LTTE and ISIS.’ »

Dr.Jeeves Fernando of Sri Lanka Hailed as Hero in Britain for Attending to Persons Injured in London Terrorist Attack.

By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London

Jeeves Wijesuriya, a Sri Lankan junior doctor from London, was hailed as a hero as he was the first physician to attend to those injured following the Westminster parliament terrorist attack last week.

Dr. Wijesuriya who specializes in General Practice was not on duty at the time, but was nearby and rushed to the scene when he heard about the attack.

“I heard the screaming and ran to help those injured”, he told Buzzfeed News.

Continue reading ‘Dr.Jeeves Fernando of Sri Lanka Hailed as Hero in Britain for Attending to Persons Injured in London Terrorist Attack.’ »

Prasanna Vithanage’s “Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka” (With You Without You) Makes A clean Sweep at 18th Presidential Film Awards

By Revata S. Silva

Prasanna Vithanage

World renowned director Prasanna Vithanage’s ‘Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka’ bagged all major awards at the 18th Presidential Film Awards held on Friday evening at the BMICH.

In this year’s Awards, held after a lapse of eight years, taking 24 films screened in the year 2015 into consideration, Vithanage’s film won the awards for the Best Film (Lasantha Navarathna and Mohammed Adamally), Best Direction (Vithanage), Best Actor (Shyam Fernando) and Actress (Anjali Patil).

President Maithripala Sirisena, Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilake and Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam gave away the main awards.

“Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka” (With You Without You)

‘Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka’ also won four other key awards; Special Jury Award for Best Sound Designer (Thapas Nayak), Best Script Writer (Vithanage), Best Music Direction (Lakshman Joseph De Sarem) and Best Editor (Sreekar Prasad).

Continue reading ‘Prasanna Vithanage’s “Oba Nathuwa Oba Ekka” (With You Without You) Makes A clean Sweep at 18th Presidential Film Awards’ »

Wimal Weerawansa Makes a Mockery of Hunger Strikes that were Undertaken Honourably By Mahatma Gandhi.

By

Rasika Jayakody

Hunger strike is the ultimate political weapon for any activist in the democratic political stream. There are many activists across the world who have used this weapon quite effectively to resist oppression and achieve their desired goals, from time to time.

In the context of international politics, Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and Nelson Mandela made use of this weapon quite effectively, in their freedom struggles.

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India’s freedom fight, carried out 17 hunger strikes, during the period between 1913 and 1947. Hundreds of thousands of people hailed him as a hero for enduring hunger, demanding peace, justice and democracy for his own people.

But, there is one man, in the Sri Lankan political sphere, who has made a mockery of the terms ‘hunger strike’ and ‘fast unto death’.

He is none other than Wimal Weerawansa, the UPFA Parliamentarian and the Leader of the National Freedom Front, who is currently in remand for misusing state vehicles and distributing them among his family, friends and political supporters.

Continue reading ‘Wimal Weerawansa Makes a Mockery of Hunger Strikes that were Undertaken Honourably By Mahatma Gandhi.’ »

“By Saving the Whales From Extinction Ultimately We Are Saving Ourselves” – Asha De Vos


By Madushka Balasuriya

“Save the cheerleader, save the world,” proclaimed the hit 2006 TV series Heroes. “Save the whales, save the world,” proclaims Asha de Vos in 2017. While the former ended up with an unsatisfactory turn of events leaving avid fans of the show asking whether it was ever necessary to save the cheerleader, Asha’s rallying call might just have a little more substance.

Asha is of course, arguably, the foremost authority on blue whales in the country if not the region. Her work has been featured in leading scientific journal Nature, National Geographic, as well as several other local and international publications, while she’s also a TED Fellow sharing her work in the field of marine biology.

As she addresses a hall quite literally packed to the brim – extra chairs had to be smuggled in, such was the demand – with people of all ages latching on to her every word, Asha scarcely gives the impression of a woman who has given this speech a thousand times before.

She spends a large chunk of her lecture simply filling in the audience on the exact nature of climate change, her goal being to create as holistic an understanding of the challenges the world is facing at present. This is especially important in light of the younger members in the audience – the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) of Sri Lanka’s monthly lecture series usually brings in a wide array of participants, however Asha’s mix of youth and exuberance lends itself particularly well to the younger generation.

“It’s my favourite kind of audience, a lot of friendly faces I’ve known all my life. I’m also really excited to look around and see all these kids in the audience. I’m grateful to many of you, who haven’t come here on your own but brought a friend, a cousin, a grandparent, a child, a colleague, you are creating change just by doing that.

“We need to be having more conversations about what’s going in our oceans and the planet and that’s only possible if we have a community to talk with. And by bringing people into these spaces you are creating that community that is going make change.”
Continue reading ‘“By Saving the Whales From Extinction Ultimately We Are Saving Ourselves” – Asha De Vos’ »

Gazetting of Forest Reserves North of Wilpattu by President Sirisena Will not Affect Muslim Villages and Settlements in the Vicinity – Dayasiri Jayasekera


By

Zahrah Imtiaz

Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara yesterday denied reports that the gazette notification which created the ‘Mavillu Conserved Forest’ in the North of Wilpattu affected Muslim settlements or villages in the vicinity.

Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Faiszer Musthapha in the meantime added that President Maithripala Sirisena would not be revoking his gazette, contrary to certain media reporting it so.

“The President in his Gazette of March 24 brought together the forest reserves of Mavillu, Weppal, Karadikkuli, Marichchikadi and Vilaththikulam under one ‘Conserved Forest’ which will give it more legal protection. It has no impact on settlements”, Minister Jayasekara explained.

Continue reading ‘Gazetting of Forest Reserves North of Wilpattu by President Sirisena Will not Affect Muslim Villages and Settlements in the Vicinity – Dayasiri Jayasekera’ »

3080 Acres of Land Cleared by Rishad Bathiudeen for Settlement Not Included in the Forest Reserve North of Wilpattu Lands Gazetted by President Sirisena


by Maheesha Mudugamuwa

A leading environmentalist on Thursday lashed out at President Maithripala Sirisena for what he called misleading the public by changing the names of the forest reserves instead of fulfilling his promise to bring the threatened forest reserve under the Wilpattu National Park.

Environment Conservation Trust (ECT) Director Sajeewa Chamikara told The Island that five forest reserves encompassing 40,030.525 hectares at the northern end of the Wilpattu National Park, namely Mawillu, Marichchikaddi, Karadikkuli, Wilaththikulam and Periyamurippu, had been merged and declared the Mawillu Forest Conservation on March 24, 2017 by the gazette notification No: 2011/34.

But, a total of 3,080 acres of forest initially included in forest reserves cleared for illegal settlements, along with reforestation areas and coastal area, had been removed from the Mawillu Forest Conservation gazetted last Friday (24), Chamikara said.

Continue reading ‘3080 Acres of Land Cleared by Rishad Bathiudeen for Settlement Not Included in the Forest Reserve North of Wilpattu Lands Gazetted by President Sirisena’ »

Former Lankan Skipper Kumar Sangakkara Wants Domestic Cricket Structure in Sri Lanka to be Totally Re-vamped to Achieve Long Term Success

By Anjana Kaluarachchi

Sri Lanka cricketing great Kumar Sangakkara has called for a total revamp of the domestic cricket structure if Sri Lanka is to achieve success in the long term at the highest level without fading away when the greats of the game retire.

The Sri Lankan team is presently going through a period of turmoil as they were whitewashed both in the Tests and ODIs in South Africa, before facing an embarrassing Test defeat from the youngest Test playing nation Bangladesh recently, who are also leading the ongoing ODI series 1-0, with Sri Lanka facing the prospect of a series defeat if Bangladesh wins today’s game.

Continue reading ‘Former Lankan Skipper Kumar Sangakkara Wants Domestic Cricket Structure in Sri Lanka to be Totally Re-vamped to Achieve Long Term Success’ »

Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Accuses Govt of Concealing Irrefutable Evidence Favouring Sri Lanka From the UN Human Rights Council.


Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday issuing a communique titled, ‘The great betrayal in Geneva’ accused the government of deliberately hiding from UNHRC irrefutable evidence in favour of Sri Lanka given by six of the world’s foremost experts in the law of armed conflict.

Instead of presenting the written opinions about the allegations and purported evidence against Sri Lanka given by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Desmond de Silva QC, Rodney Dixon QC, Professor David M. Crane, Prof. Michael Newton and Maj. Gen. John Holmes, which were all in Sri Lanka’s favour, the yahapalana government accepted without a murmur, the OHCHR report on Sri Lanka which accused us of committing every war crime imaginable. They had, through two co-sponsored resolutions at the UNHRC, agreed to implement the recommendations in that biased and tainted report, the ex-President said.

The text of President Rajapaksa’s statement:

Continue reading ‘Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Accuses Govt of Concealing Irrefutable Evidence Favouring Sri Lanka From the UN Human Rights Council.’ »

Lyca Group Demands Rs 250 Million as Damages From TNA Wanni MP Charles Nirmalanathan over Indian TV Interview


The Lyca Group yesterday announced that it had issued a legal notice to I. Charles Nirmalanathan MP for making false allegations on South Indian-based TV station Puthiya Thalaimurai.

The Lyca Gnanam Village was constructed by Lyca’s Gnanam Foundation to provide permanent housing for 150 families that had previously been living in a refugee camp in Vavuniya for 30 years. The village, located in Sinnnaadampan and Puliyankulam in the Vavuniya District of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, contains a community centre and 150 houses, each with two bedrooms, a kitchen and a toilet.

An event to hand over the deeds of the newly-built houses to the 150 families was due to be held on 9 April in Jaffna. Celebrated South Indian actor Rajinikanth was invited to take part in this charity event and he readily agreed, considering this an opportunity to meet the Tamil people and, in his words, “share his love for them”.

Continue reading ‘Lyca Group Demands Rs 250 Million as Damages From TNA Wanni MP Charles Nirmalanathan over Indian TV Interview’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Though Undecided Yet on Entering Active Politics is Studying Donald Trump as Possible Role Model

Denying the corruption and war crimes allegations against him, Sri Lanka’s former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday hinted at a possible entry into active politics in the future, The Hindu newspaper reported.

“I have not decided yet,” he told foreign correspondents in Sri Lanka, without ruling out the option. A few of his supporters have been floating the idea of his presidential candidacy in 2020.

“If I can do something for the country, I will do that. I have that capability and I have proved it — whether during the war or in urban development. I did what nobody had done,” said the brother of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who led the armed forces against the LTTE.

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Though Undecided Yet on Entering Active Politics is Studying Donald Trump as Possible Role Model’ »

“Disappeared”Journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda’s Wife Sandhya Receives “Woman of Courage”Award from US First Lady Melania Trump.

The US Department of State has presented Sandya Ekneligoda with the US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage award for 2017, after choosing her as one of 13 women from across the globe to be honoured with the accolade.

Washington, DC: US first lady Melania Trump presents the 2017 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award to Sandya Ekneligoda in Washington, DC. The award honours women who have demonstrated exceptional courage, strength and leadership in acting to improve the lives of others – Getty Images/AFP – via Daily FT

Each year the US Department of State recognises the exceptional courage and commitment of women who serve as advocates for human rights, justice, peace and gender equality.

First Lady Melania Trump and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon presented the award to Ekneligoda for her tireless pursuit of justice for her husband, and on behalf of missing families from across Sri Lanka’s diverse ethnic and religious communities.

Continue reading ‘“Disappeared”Journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda’s Wife Sandhya Receives “Woman of Courage”Award from US First Lady Melania Trump.’ »

President Sirisena Says He Will Not Make War Heroes Suspects In War Crime Cases

By P K Balachandran

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday categorically stated that he will not make any “war hero” a suspect in cases of alleged war crimes.

Speaking at the opening of the newly constructed building at the Defense Services School in Kurunegala, the President said that it is the responsibility and duty of the government to protect war heroes who fought for the motherland.

He assured that that he would always fulfill his responsibility as the President and Defense Minister.
Sirisena said that there is “unprecedented goodwill” for Sri Lanka in the international community today but many people wonder as to what benefit Sri Lanka would derive from this.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Says He Will Not Make War Heroes Suspects In War Crime Cases’ »

Singular Focus on International Intervention is Killing Once Vibrant Human Rights Movement in Sri Lanka

By

Ahilan Kadirgamar

From the time Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in 2009, international actors have infused narratives of the war with stories of human rights abuses. Eight years since, it has only become clear how irrelevant current human rights campaigns are to the war-torn people and their struggles.

This is not for the lack of inhuman wrongs done by the state and others — there are plenty of them in Sri Lanka as in the rest of the world. Rather, it is the singular focus on international human rights intervention that is killing a once-vibrant local human rights movement in the country.

Continue reading ‘Singular Focus on International Intervention is Killing Once Vibrant Human Rights Movement in Sri Lanka’ »

President Sirisena Says He Wont Protect “Those who are Guilty of Killing Media Persons or Sportsmen”.

By

Meera Srinivasan

In a thinly-veiled reference to Sri Lanka’s former first family — allegedly linked to the murder of a journalist and a rugby star — President Maithripala Sirisena said he would not protect “those who are guilty of killing media persons or sportsmen”.

He was speaking at a defence services school in Kurunegala, 100 km north-east of Colombo, and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s electoral district. While assuring soldiers that he would take “fullest responsibility on behalf of war heroes”, Mr. Sirisena said he was unable to protect those found guilty of acts that were not connected to national security.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Says He Wont Protect “Those who are Guilty of Killing Media Persons or Sportsmen”.’ »

Tamil Cinema Super Star Rajnikanth Thanks Sri Lankan Tamils for Their Love and Affection After Cancelling Visit to the Island

Actor Rajinikanth on Wednesday thanked Sri Lankan Tamils for their love and affection, days after he cancelled his visit to the island nation following opposition from pro-Tamil outfits.

“I came to know your love for me through the media. I have no words to thank you. Let us think good and only good things will happen,” he said in a statement.

Originally on April 9, Mr. Rajinikanth was scheduled to hand over 150 new houses built in Jaffna for Tamils by Gnanam Foundation of Lyca Group, a Tamil film production house.

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UN and West Backed Investigation into Sri Lankan War Crimes Will Exacerbate Ethnic Differences Warns Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

War crime investigations backed by some Western countries and the United Nations will exacerbate the differences between Sri Lanka’s two main ethnic groups instead of uniting them, former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa said on Monday.

As Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the brother of former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, oversaw the defeat of the separatist, predominantly Hindu Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) by the Government military in a 26-year war.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the most influential Government officer in the Rajapaksa Government, has been accused of committing war crimes in the final weeks of the conflict ended in May 2009. He has denied all the allegations against him.

A UN panel has said around 40,000 people, mostly ethnic minority Tamils, were killed in the war’s final phase. Families in the former northern war zone still complain of thousands of enforced disappearances during that time.

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Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe If Made Party Leader Can Turn Out to be Saviour of the United National Party.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

I’ve spotted the personality who can save the UNP, either as Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition or Presidential candidate, in whichever order, but most certainly as a viable leader of the United National Party, be in in Government or Opposition. I had made this observation in passing on television many months ago, but after his most recent, courageous and principled parliamentary speech last week, I am almost certain that he is the man for the job.

The UNP is the country’s largest single party and is vital to Sri Lanka’s future as a democracy and a market economy. Therefore the fate of the UNP is of concern to all of us, including those like myself, who are from and are on, the other side of the politico-ideological divide (in my case, with the crucial exception of the Premadasa Presidency).

The present leadership of the UNP is highly likely to take the party down to its lowest strength ever, at the next set of Presidential and Parliamentary elections (in that order) in late 2019-2020. A dreadful practice which we witnessed in 1970 is almost certain, namely post-election violence against the deposed regime.

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“Premaya Nam….” (Love is……) Directed by Kalpana and Vindana Ariyawansa is an Extraordinary Film That is Technically Flawless

By

Carlo Fonseka

Brothers Kalpana and Vindana Ariyawansa, who jointly created and directed this extraordinary film, have called it “Premaya Nam…” which means, “Love is…”. Thus the name of the film promises a definitive insight into the nature of this thing called love. Truth to tell, the film finally gropes towards that goal and therefore delivers what it promises. Even so, the actual stuff of the film, the record of events experienced by the central character, who happens to be a young man suffering from the mental disorder called, “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” or “OCD”, imposes on it the appearance of a documentary. Particularly is this so, because a Consultant Psychiatrist Dr. Kapila Ranasinghe, has served as technical advisor and the bulk of the film has been shot at our National Institute of Mental Health, giving the viewers a surreal perception of real life.

As it happened, my much-lamented friend Senior Lecturer in Psychology at London University, Dr. Padmal De Silva wrote a book on OCD. From him I learnt that OCD has two elements, an obsessive and compulsive. The obsessive element is an unstoppable recurrent thought and the compulsive element is an irresistible behavior. In the film, the recurrent thought that plagues the protagonist Vishwa (insightfully played by Shyam Fernando) is a revulsion towards his own urine. The compulsive repetitive behavior is an imperative felt need to cleanse himself with a full body bath every time he passes urine. Predictably this obsessive thought and repetitive behavior have a devastating impact on his family, work and social life. All concerned are fellow-sufferers but the worst affected turns out to be his newly-wedded wife Samadhi (empathetically and beautifully played by SamanaleeFonseka). She did have more than an inkling of Vishwa’s problem before marrying him, and she believed that she could help him to overcome his mental disorder. Intellectually Vishwa is smart and part of his attraction for Samadhi was his demonstrated capacity for mathematical computation in his head, faster than Samadhi could manage with her electronic calculator.

Vishwa’s OCD was so unmanageable, however, that Samadhi finally became — not as often happens — divorced or separated, but estranged. She goes back to her parents.

Continue reading ‘“Premaya Nam….” (Love is……) Directed by Kalpana and Vindana Ariyawansa is an Extraordinary Film That is Technically Flawless’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Intrigued by India’s Silence Over Govt’s Dangerous Transaction with China Over Hambantota Port


By P.K.Balachandran

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s obsession with China led to India’s working for a regime change in Sri Lanka in 2014, the island nation’s former Defense Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association here on Monday.

He said that the Congress-led government had been very supportive of Sri Lanka as revealed in “Choices”, former Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon’s “very good book”.

But as soon as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power and Ajit Doval became NSA, the China issue was brought to the fore. Gotabaya said that Doval had twice asked him to cancel the China-funded Colombo Port City project and take back the southern container terminal at the Colombo port from the Chinese.

Gotabaya said that China has been a bee in the bonnet for Doval since his early days in the intelligence service. While Menon looked at things as a diplomat, Doval looked at them as a “intelligence man”, the former Sri Lankan Defense Secretary said.

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Ex Def -Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Denies the Existence of Top Secret Death Squads During his Term of Office


By Meera Srinivasan

Denying the corruption and war-crime allegations against him, Sri Lanka’s former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday hinted at a possible entry into active politics in future.

“I have not decided yet,” he told foreign correspondents here, without ruling out the option. A few of his supporters have been floating the idea of his presidential candidacy in 2020.

“If I can do something for the country, I will do that. I have that capability and I have proved it — whether during the war or in urban development. I did what nobody had done,” said the brother of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who led the armed forces against the LTTE.

He was willing to work with a leader whose policies were agreeable, he said.

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Too Clever by Half!has Sri Lanka Trapped Itself in Geneva?


By

Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

It’s been 8 years since the war, and Sri Lanka just signed off in Geneva on a resolution that said Zaid al Hussain, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights should play a strengthened role in Sri Lanka. He might as well sit in Cabinet!

The new resolution, having praised Sri Lanka for its ‘positive engagement’ with the Office of the High Commissioner, which then should sit back with a sigh of relief and let this cooperative government do its obedient thing, actually adds a paragraph, specifically for the purpose of instructing Zaid to strengthen his advice and technical assistance.

Usually when a country is ‘in compliance’ as they say, no further strengthening is included in subsequent resolutions. All assistance is covered in a general statement of obtaining technical assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner. So what exactly does ‘strengthening’ imply?

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Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Espionage Agency RAW are Being Criticised for Their role in Dislodging the Rajapaksa Regime in Sri Lanka

By C. A. Chandraprema

The Indian press carried anxious commentaries about the recent visit of Chinese Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan to Sri Lanka. India Today observed that this visit took place amidst warnings issued by the Chinese media to the effect that Beijing will fight back if New Delhi tries to interfere in China’s relations with other South Asian countries. The New Indian Express speculated that the purpose of the Chinese Defence Minister’s visit could be to re-establish military ties with Colombo. What we are now seeing is the unravelling of all the plans that India had for Sri Lanka after the change of government in January 2015. In the Modi government, it is not the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who has the most influence in shaping Indian foreign policy, especially towards India’s immediate neighbours but the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

The outspoken Doval openly describes himself as a security man, not a diplomat. He has quite a following in India where he is seen as a ‘real life James Bond’. During his career as an intelligence officer, he is said to have been involved in spying on Pakistan, in countering insurgencies in Kashmir, Mizoram, and the Punjab, in handling over a dozen hijackings of Indian airplanes and even in negotiating safe passage for Indian nurses from ISIS custody. His most recent exploit according to the international as well as the Indian media was the dislodging of the Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka. In the wake of the 8 January 2015 change of government, Reuters reported that Doval had been instrumental in getting Ranil Wickremesinghe to stand down in favour of a common candidate, persuading Maithripala Sirisena to defect, and uniting the Opposition and the minorities against Mahinda Rajapaksa.

‘The Citizen Bureau’, which styles itself as India’s first online newspaper spoke of a ‘coup’ and ‘a classic Doval covert operation’ in Sri Lanka and stated that in late November 2014, Doval was in Colombo to confirm support for Sirisena through meetings with him and his backers. Despite the crucial role that Doval played in Sri Lanka, his name is not known to most Sri Lankans outside the circle of decision makers in this country. One of the reasons for this is probably that Doval is used to being under the radar especially when he is at work. His training is that of a spy, not a public servant or diplomat. Another reason is that from very early on after the change of government in Sri Lanka, things started to go wrong for the Indians – which would have acted as an added incentive for Doval to maintain a low profile.

In 2014, Doval tried to prevail upon the then Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to stop the Port City project saying it was a threat to India’s security. At that time, the Hambantota Port was not an issue because the Rajapaksa government did not have any plans to sell or lease it to the Chinese. The immediate cause for Doval’s decision to help overthrow the Rajapaksa government was the docking of a Chinese submarine at the Colombo Port without Colombo informing the Indians first. Doval swung into action, the Rajapaksas were got rid of and the Port City project was stopped even though it had been inaugurated by the Chinese President himself. Prime Minister Modi made a triumphant visit to Sri Lanka and for a time it appeared as if Doval’s plan had worked and Sri Lanka was now firmly in India’s orbit. However, things began unravelling soon afterwards.

Though Maithripala Sirisena had won convincingly in the North and East, his popularity in the rest of the country was in doubt. Sirisena had won the Puttalam, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, Badulla, Colombo and Gampaha districts, but outside the North and East, Mahinda Rajapaksa had well over 200,000 more votes than Sirisena. If the new powers that be were to win the parliamentary election which was due in a few months, they would need to do something to win over the Southern electorate. The strategy that the Sirisena government adopted in this regard was to dole out unprecedented salary hikes for state sector workers and reduce fuel, gas, electricity and commodity taxes to win over the public. Increasing government expenditure while reducing government revenue, forced the government to resort to heavy borrowing.

Unable to attract investment from either the West or India to maintain foreign exchange inflows to service their debt, the new government was forced to agree to allow the Chinese to resume building the 1.4 billion USD Port City. As the politically induced economic crisis spiralled out of control, leaders of the yahapalana government was forced to go even further and offer the Hambantota Port under a long lease to China. The Hambantota Port comes with a precinct of 5,000 acres. In addition to this, the government that Doval helped bring into power, agreed to lease out a further 15,000 acres of land to a Chinese company.

Waterloo on the horizon

This is a total area of 20,000 acres which works out to 80 square km. This is an area larger than the Vatican State, Monaco, Gibralta, Cocos Islands, Nauru, Spratly Islands and Macao all put together. Once the Chinese have a harbour and a land mass bigger than seven small states put together, what is going to stop the Chinese from bringing their nuclear submarines into Hambantota? Even if clauses are written into the lease agreement that no military use can be made of the Hambantota Port, who’s going to enforce such an agreement? The Sri Lankan government most certainly will have neither the capacity nor the interest to enforce such a provision and the Indian government most certainly will not be able to prevent the Chinese from doing just as they please in Hambantota.

These processes that have been taking place in Sri Lanka after Doval’s RAW operation to change the government have not yet come to the attention of the opposition and the general public in India. The Port City is still being built and the Hambantota Port has not yet been leased out to the Chinese. But once the Port City is completed and the Hambantota Port leased out along with a territory bigger than the seven independent states mentioned earlier, the people of India will suddenly become aware that Doval’s schemes has exploded in his face and that the security of India has been threatened to a much greater extent than under a government of the Rajapaksas. No one has heard Doval saying anything about Sri Lanka in recent days. Thanks to Doval’s ill conceived interference in Sri Lanka, the Chinese are now more powerful than they ever were, having both the government and the opposition in Sri Lanka with them.

The Joint Opposition protested at the inauguration of the 15,000 acre industrial park project in Hambantota but they were protesting against the government, not the Chinese. The difference is that the Rajapaksas followed a sustainable policy towards China, trying to win a good deal for Sri Lanka while the yahapalana government is unable to take such a considered view of things. Theirs is a desperate quest for money giving anything to anybody to overcome the immediate crisis. The Chinese are not unreasonable negotiators. Two Chinese owned companies made rival bids to take the Hambantota Port on a 99-year lease. The China Harbour Corporation put in a bid that was favourable to Sri Lanka and China Merchant Co put in a bid that was not so favourable. The Chinese government obviously expected the Sri Lankan government to accept the China Harbour Co bid and they may have been quite surprised when the less favourable bid was accepted.

Earlier, under the Rajapaksas, both these rival bidders China Harbour Co and China Merchant Co jointly signed up to run the container terminal at the Hambantota Port for 40 years on terms very favourable to Sri Lanka. So, the Rajapaksas are very much with the Chinese, but they do better deals than the present government and, therefore, their deals are more sustainable. Be that as it may, the point is that the Chinese now have both the Rajapaksas and the Yahapalana coalition on their side while India has ended up with nothing! An article by Rohan Venkataramakrishnan on the Indian website Scroll, just days after the change of government in Sri Lanka on 19 January 2015 had the telling title “Why even the murmur that India’s RAW interfered in Sri Lanka’s elections is dangerous: India can’t afford to be seen as the meddling big brother”.

Venkataramakrishnan argues that if any influence RAW had had on the Sri Lankan election becomes publicly known, it would have had the opposite effect to that intended; he takes the example of Nepal where RAW interfered in local politics and this resulted in a situation where the local population have turned against any leader seen to be close to New Delhi. Everybody in Sri Lanka believes India manipulated the election in Sri Lanka and this combined with the bitter memory of Indian intervention the 1980s makes it plain that there will be a popular backlash against India that Venkataramakrishnan was talking about. So, while turning the Sri Lankan public against India, Doval has at the same time lost control over the government that he helped bring into power. Doval is said to have brainwashed a Kashmiri terrorist leader by the name of Mohammad Yusuf Parray to become a counter terrorist fighting on behalf of the Indian government, but he could not prevail upon either Sirisena or Ranil Wickremesinghe to halt either the Port City project or the Hambantota port lease.

When RAW leads foreign policy

The Pakistani website ‘thenews.com’ carried an essay which said that opinion was growing within the BJP that Doval’s approach to foreign policy was becoming in itself a threat to India’s national security. An article by Ali Ahmed a former Indian army officer in the Indian website The Wire, speaks of a grand strategy having being ‘hijacked’ by the intelligence arm of the Indian government. Another article also in The Wire by Harish Khare on 17 July 2015 titled “The Doval Doctrine, from High Definition to Low Yield” argued that the ‘Doval doctrine’ tends to neglect the traditional tools of diplomacy and instruments of statecraft. Doval’s regime change misadventure in Sri Lanka is the second great Indian debacle in this country after Rajiv Gandhi’s fiasco of the 1980s.

In the 1980s, it was not due to Tamil Nadu’s influence that the Indian central government supported Tamil separatism in Sri Lanka but as a means of bringing the pro-Western government of J. R. Jayewardene to heel. The process ended with India suffering its worst ever military defeat at the hands of the LTTE, making a tail-between-the-legs exit from Sri Lanka, followed by Rajiv Gandhi himself being assassinated by a vengeful LTTE. In India’s 1980s misadventure in Sri Lanka, the Indian army lost 1,155 lives with 36 rendered permanently disabled. India has not suffered that many casualties in any of the wars that it fought with China or Pakistan. The crowning ignominy of that whole disreputable episode is that for two decades, the Indian central government dared not commemorate the Indian soldiers who lost their lives in Sri Lanka for fear of inflaming public opinion in Tamil Nadu.

In 2014, too, it was not due to the influence of Tamil Nadu that the Indian central government got involved in the regime change project in Sri Lanka but due to India’s dissatisfaction with the good relations that the Rajapaksa government maintained with China. In the late 1980s as well as today, it is India’s own proxies in Sri Lanka who finally turned against India. In the 1980s, the Indian trained and equipped LTTE turned against them. Today, the very government that India is said to have helped bring into power is engaged in conceding to the Chinese much more than the Rajapaksa government ever gave them. Desperate attempts by India to salvage their self respect by bringing Sri Lanka into their orbit through ETCA, has only worsened matters by helping to crystallise popular opposition to India among all sections of the Sri Lankan general public.

So, we see that Doval, by doing what he did in 2014, has damaged India’s interests much more than if he had simply done nothing and not got involved in regime change projects in Sri Lanka. Doval’s reputation built over a lifetime as a spy is now on the line. The only way he can salvage his self respect would be by getting the Chinese Port City project and the lease of the Hambantota harbour to the Chinese stopped – which is next to impossible. What all this makes plain is that the Indian establishment will have to formulate a different policy towards Sri Lanka. The approach taken by Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s and by Doval in 2014 has produced results exactly opposite to those expected. RAW operations cannot be a substitute for diplomacy and statecraft.

Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country that looks to India as ‘Jambudeepa’ the birthplace of the Buddha. The cultural proximity of the two nations is plain. Yet, why is India unable to maintain friendly relations with Sri Lanka? The need of the central government to placate Tamil Nadu was not the reason for India’s two great debacles in Sri Lanka as we pointed out earlier. In both instances, it is the Indian central government that is squarely to blame for their foreign policy debacles in this country. The lesson that the Indians should learn from this is that unleashing RAW on her neighbours is not the best way to safeguard Indian interests in this region.

Courtesy:The Island

The Most Radical Political Leader and Political Party in Sri Lanka are Ranil Wickremesinghe and the United National paty.

By Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Mao Zedong once famously chided a group of young loyalists, saying, “You say you want to make a revolution, but you don’t know where the bourgeoisie is! The bourgeoisie is in the party!” Similarly, I have long wanted to see an “anti-systemic” movement and struggle (to use my old professor, the iconic Immanuel Wallerstein’s concept) but have not known where the most “anti-systemic” element is, in this country. That is until now. But I have changed.

I have had an epiphany. It has dawned on me that the most radical political leader in the country is not Kumara Gunaratnam or KD Lal Kantha, but Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the most dangerously radical political party is not the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) or the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) but the United National Party (UNP). Is green the new red?

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