Google and Microsoft are Engaged in Systemic and Sustained Discrimination Against Tamils and the Tamil Language in Sri Lanka.


By

Sanjana Hattotuwa

Google in Sri Lanka now defaults to Sinhala. Whenever you access a Google Form, the interface by default is in Sinhala. Whenever you use Google Maps, road, place and now even names of famous buildings, are rendered in Sinhala. Search for Chunnakam, close to Jaffna, and Google Maps translates the place name, in Sinhala, to ‘Hunugama’ – wrong on so many levels. There is no Tamil place marker either. Jaffna gets a Sinhala label as ‘Yapanaya’, but no Tamil place name, whereas Nallur, just a stone’s throw away, does feature a Tamil place name.

Enter a destination – even in Colombo – on to Google Maps. See the driving instructions to get there. From where I live to get to a location in Colombo, for example, the instructions are often a bizarre mix of English and Sinhala – one road I am asked to go on is in English, and the instruction to turn to another is rendered completely in Sinhala. Users on social media who aren’t fluent in reading Sinhala script have expressed their frustration as to why this is the case, with no option to change language.

There appears to be no discernible reason or pattern behind what is a systemic discrimination across Google apps, services and platforms to give primacy to Sinhala, and with no option for the end user to switch to English or Tamil. And it’s not that Google is unable to accurately render Tamil and non-English scripts – just across the Palk Strait, in Tamil Nadu, all place names are in English and Tamil. Just North of this, in Bengaluru, the place names are in English and Kannada. Further up, in Hyderabad, it’s in English and Telegu and above that, in English and Hindi.

Someone at Google in India has taken the time and effort to render information in the language spoken the most in a region, as well as English. In Sri Lanka on the other hand, the language on Google Maps now defaults to only Sinhala and English across the island, with comparably just a few locations in the North and East available in Tamil.

Continue reading ‘Google and Microsoft are Engaged in Systemic and Sustained Discrimination Against Tamils and the Tamil Language in Sri Lanka.’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Sarath Fonseka and the Assassination Of Lasantha Wickrematunge

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his misguided astrological and numerological wisdom held the seventh presidential elections on January 8th 2015. When the date was announced most people yearning for a regime change in Sri Lanka noted the symbolic significance of January 8th in a different context. It was on January 8th 2009 that Lasantha Manilal Wickrematunge , the well known editor of “The Sunday Leader” was brutally assassinated in broad daylight while on his way to work. Many of Lasantha’s family,friends,colleagues and readers had been consistently demanding that justice be done for the murdered editor but to no avail. It was an open secret then that the hands of Rajapaksa regime were stained with the blood of Lasantha Wickrematunge. So when the presidential poll was fixed for Jan 8th 2015 there was an optimistic feeling in these circles that the Rajapaksa regime would be overthrown on the date of Lasantha’s death. If that happened it would have been truly an instance of poetic justice,it was felt then.

Grave site decorated with fresh flowers, and candles~Pic by: @DushiYanthini

The unexpected happened and on Jan 8th 2015 Maithripala Sirisena obtaining votes cutting across race,religion, class and regional differences was elected president. There was buoyant optmism in Sri Lanka as Sirisena became president and Ranil Wickremesinghe Prime Minister. A “good governance” Govt was set up. A 100 day program was drawn up. The country basked in the glow of a gloriously radiant dawn. Alas!that dawn has proved to be a false dawn!

There is disappointment on almost every front and the reasons are known to all. Disillusionment has set in. An important yardstick to measure the performance of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt is provided on Jan 8th. Even as the anniversary of President Sirisena’s electoral victory is celebrated on Jan 8th , the death anniversary of Lasantha Wickrematunge is also observed and mourned by those near and dear to the slain editor. An inevitable question arises on Jan 8th. Have the murderers of Lasantha Wickrematunge been charged in courts? The answer sadly is “NO”!
Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Sarath Fonseka and the Assassination Of Lasantha Wickrematunge’ »

Maithripala Sirisena is a Weak and Brittle President, but Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Would be an Infinitely Worse one, a Dictatorial Racist, a Deadly Cross Between Benito Mussolini and Donald Trump

By

Tisaranee Gunasekara

“…questioning honestly and reflecting upon the truth of what has been lived through, what has been done.”
– Nadine Gordimer (Living in Hope and History: Notes from our Century)

The 19th Amendment was the greatest achievement of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration. President Maithripala Sirisena played an active role in making it happen. He helped craft it and spearheaded it through a fractious parliament in a 12-hour marathon session. Without his committed and tireless efforts, the Amendment would not have garnered the SLFP’s support and would have failed to pass for that reason. It was the finest hour of the man, and of the new government he headed.

Had Mr. Sirisena reread the 19th Amendment, he would have recalled that the five-year presidential term applies to him as well. Had he casted his mind back to those stirring times, he would have remembered that was the way he wanted it, in 2015. He even said that his personal preference was for a four-year presidential term.

Those were the heydays of the new government, when hope was bright and good governance appeared semi-achievable. President Sirisena’s legacy seemed assured as a rare political leader who worked hard to reduce his own powers. When, three years on, the same man sought a court ruling extending his presidential term by one year, he caused grievous and needless harm to his image and his legacy.

But that incident also served a useful purpose. It revealed how far Sri Lanka has travelled since Mahinda Rajapaksa railroaded both the judiciary and the parliament into abolishing presidential term-limits and enhancing presidential powers via the 18th Amendment. In 2010 the judiciary was nothing but an appendage of an all powerful executive. Even the judges of the country’s highest court feared the wrath of the Rajapaksas. The fear was well-grounded, as the then Chief Justice discovered the first and the only time she dared to give a judgement displeasing to the Rajapaksas. Shirani Bandaranayake was hounded out of her position via an illegal and uncouth impeachment in 2013 for the crime of not giving a blanket approval to Basil Rajapaksa’s Divineguma Bill.

2018 is not 2010 or 2013; 2018 is a more democratic time when even the topmost men of the land have to abide by the law, mostly. Today the judiciary is not scared to rule against the manifest wish of a sitting president and can do so without fearing a tsunami of presidential wrath. Whatever President Sirisena’s private feelings, in public he has no option but to accept that ruling with as much good grace as possible. This is an indubitable improvement, an improvement worth preserving.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sirisena is a Weak and Brittle President, but Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Would be an Infinitely Worse one, a Dictatorial Racist, a Deadly Cross Between Benito Mussolini and Donald Trump’ »

Truly Sri Lanka is the Most Poignant Example of that Immortal Warning, ‘whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.’

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

An interesting pro-accountability exercise took place in Sri Lanka this week which went largely unnoticed due to political distractions.

These doltish distractions ranged from a ‘withdrawal of a withdrawal of’ a long forgotten excise notification forbidding women to buy liquor to ominous grandstanding by leaders of the coalition government even as details of the Central Bank bond scam came to light with the release of the Commission of Inquiry report.

The heavy ironies of the law

In what is perhaps the most riveting use of its authority since its establishment decades ago, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption (CIABOC) filed charges in the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court against former Chief Justice and former Attorney General Mohan Peiris, Court of Appeal Judge A.H.M.D. Nawaz and former LECO Chairman M.M.C. Ferdinando for offences falling under Section 70 of the Bribery Act (as amended).

The merits of the case will not be gone into here. But quite apart from the heavy irony of a former Chief Justice and a sitting Appeal Court judge being charged in the Magistrate’s Court for corruption, the substance of the charge is interesting. These were in connection with an investigation conducted by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) pertaining to ‘certain financial irregularities’ which had occurred in the Lanka Electricity Co. Pvt Ltd (LECO) during the Rajapaksa Presidency. Reportedly, two committees appointed to look into the misappropriation of funds at LECO amounting to Rs.260 million had recommended the institution of legal action against perpetrators under the Penal Code for misappropriation and under the Bribery Act for corruption charges.

Continue reading ‘Truly Sri Lanka is the Most Poignant Example of that Immortal Warning, ‘whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.’’ »

The SLFP now Seems Doomed to be the Junior Partner of Either the UNP or the JO-SLPP, Unless it is Able to Reunify the SLFP

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Who or what is the main political problem facing Sri Lanka today?

The answer you give will reveal where you are on the ideological spectrum, and will in turn have determined your answer. Here are the answers that form the political spectrum of our society:
1. The UNP is the main problem.
2. The current leadership of the UNP –Prime Minister Wickremesinghe–is the main problem.
3. The SLFP is the main problem.
4. The leadership of the SLFP- President Sirisena- is the main problem.
5. The UNP-SLFP alliance is the main problem.
6. The TNA as Opposition is the main problem.
7. The JO-SLPP led by Mahinda Rajapaksa is the main problem.
8. All of the above are the main problem.

The anti-UNP populist bloc, currently consisting of the JO-SLPP and the vote base of the SLFP, which regards itself as progressive and left-of-center, tend to feel that the rightwing UNP with its pro-western, anti-national policies, is the main problem. Their solution is that the UNP as a whole should be defeated and thrown out of office.

A subset within this bloc, and even some within the UNP, feel that it is not the UNP that is the main problem, but the current and longstanding leadership of the UNP, Mr. Wickremesinghe and his cronies, that constitute the main problem. While the JO leaders feel that a non-Ranil government of the SLFP and JO could provide a viable interim solution, the UNP dissidents feel that a reshuffle by the President and a substitution of Sajith or Thalatha for Ranil as the PM and/or leader of the UNP, will be adequate to set the country on the right path.

Continue reading ‘The SLFP now Seems Doomed to be the Junior Partner of Either the UNP or the JO-SLPP, Unless it is Able to Reunify the SLFP’ »

“We Have In This Country An Incompetent “Yahapalana” Government And An Equally Incompetent “Yahapalana” Opposition Comprising the JVP and TNA Says Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa


(Text of a media release issued by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on January 21st 2018 headlined “The role of the yahapalana opposition”)

There is a yahapalana government as well as a yahapalana opposition in this country. After the August 2015 parliamentary election, the UNP Speaker refused to recognize the Joint Opposition which had over 50 MPs as a part of the opposition, and gave the opposition leadership to the TNA which had 16 MPs. The JVP which had six MPs was given the position of chief opposition whip. Hence, we now have a situation in this country where the Joint Opposition which votes against the budget every year and opposes the government both inside and outside parliament, is not considered by the UNP Speaker to be a part of the opposition, while the TNA which always votes with the government at the budget and cooperates with them both inside and outside parliament is considered to be the main opposition party.

The TNA and the JVP were included in the all-powerful National Executive Council which was formed over and above the Cabinet to run the country immediately after the 2015 presidential election. When an Anti-Corruption Committee was formed under the leadership of the Prime Minister for the purpose of persecuting and jailing members of the previous government, the JVP and TNA were once again given prominent roles in this set up. For example, the Urgent Response Unit of this Anti-Corruption Committee was placed under the personal supervision of JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. In the first days of the yahapalana government, JVP cadres took over the functions of the police and raided various government and private premises searching for evidence of wrongdoing by the previous government.

Continue reading ‘“We Have In This Country An Incompetent “Yahapalana” Government And An Equally Incompetent “Yahapalana” Opposition Comprising the JVP and TNA Says Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Maithripala Sirisena vs Ranil Wickremesinghe: Who Has the Upper Hand In the Current Confrontational Crisis Of the UNP-SLFP Coalition Govt?

By

C.A.Chandraprema

The Supreme Court determination that President Maithripala Sirisena could hold office for only five years according to the 19th Amendment, was one of the most significant political developments to take place after the yahapalana government was formed in 2015. It appears that all this while, the President has been operating on the assumption that his term ends on 9 January 2021 even though the 19th Amendment shortened the presidential term to five years. The expectation was that just as the executive presidency was retained through the 19th Amendment which was brought for the ostensible purpose of abolishing it, the length of the president’s term also could be retained despite it having been shortened by the 19A. The SC determination prevented the 19th Amendment from being turned into a complete mockery. The question of the duration of the President’s term according to the 19th Amendment was first discussed seriously in The Island on 19 February 2017 in a lengthy article by Shamindra Ferdinando.

In response to a claim by Sirisena loyalists in the SLFP like Ministers Faiszer Musthapha and Dilan Perera that President Maithripala Sirisena was entitled to a term of six years regardless of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, The Island interviewed Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne, national list MP of the UNP and one of the principal architects of the 19th Amendment, Manohara de Silva, PC and senior lawyer Chrishmal Warnasuriya and all three of them dismissed the SLFP’s claim and drew attention to the transitional clause in Section 49 (1) (b) of the 19th Amendment which clearly states that “the persons holding office respectively, as the President and Prime Minister on the day preceding April 22, 2015 shall continue to hold such office after such date subject to the provisions of the Constitution as amended by this Act.” Thus legal luminaries from both sides of the political divide were very clear that the 19th Amendment had not only shortened the term of the presidency but also made it specifically applicable to President Sirisena.

In a statement issued on the day that nominations closed for the local government elections – 14 December 2017 – former President Mahinda Rajapaksa warned his supporters to look lively because the next presidential election had to be mandatorily held before 9 December 2019 according to the provisions of the constitution as amended by the 19th Amendment. When it became known that President Sirisena had written to the Supreme Court asking for a determination on his term, former minister Basil Rajapaksa had immediately contacted Prof. G.L.Peiris and appraised him of this development. Within a couple of hours, GLP had lined up a legal team to represent the various constituent parties of the Joint Opposition at the Supreme Court’s open hearing on the matter.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sirisena vs Ranil Wickremesinghe: Who Has the Upper Hand In the Current Confrontational Crisis Of the UNP-SLFP Coalition Govt?’ »

Special High Court With Three Benches Comprising Three Judges each to Be Set Up Under Article 105 Of Constitution To Expedite Hearings of Cases Involving Bribery,Corruption and Complex Financial Crimes.

By

Suresh Perera

With the government under flak for the inordinate delay in prosecuting persons accused of bribery and corruption and complex financial crimes, the establishment of a proposed special High Court to expedite cases relating to charges under the specified ambit is now on the cards with the draft legislation finalized, authoritative sources said.

In terms of the proposed legislation, the High Court will be empowered to hear cases, apart from charges relating to bribery and corruption, those also involving complex financial crimes, which include criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, money laundering, terrorist financing, organized crime and offences against public property and similar offences.

The proposed High Court to be set up under Article 105 (1) (c) of the Constitution, will have three benches of judges with each bench comprising three to hear trials on a daily basis. The judges will be nominated by the Chief Justice, the sources said.

Continue reading ‘Special High Court With Three Benches Comprising Three Judges each to Be Set Up Under Article 105 Of Constitution To Expedite Hearings of Cases Involving Bribery,Corruption and Complex Financial Crimes.’ »

Ex-Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Accused of Misleading Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and of Knowigly Acting Improperly and Wrongfully” In Treasury Bonds Sales Commission of Inquiry Report

By Chandani Kirinde

The Commission of Inquiry into the Central Bank Treasury Bond issue has come down hard on the conduct of the Central Bank’s former Governor Arjuna Mahendran, accusing him of misleading the Prime Minister on the bond sale that took place in February 2015, as well as interfering with the decision-making processes at the CB’s Public Debt Dept (PDD).

“Mr Mahendran knowingly acted improperly and wrongfully, and interfered in the decision-making processes at the PDD and thereafter, at the Tender Board, and directed that, bids to the value of Rs. 10.058 billion be accepted at the TB Auction held on Feb. 27, 2015. With regard to the statement made in Parliament by the Prime Minister, on Mar. 17, 2017, wherein he states, inter alia, that, Mr. Mahendran had not interfered in the TB Auction, we have held that, the evidence establishes that, Mr. Mahendran and Deputy Governor Samarasiri, deliberately and mala fide, misled the PM and suppressed material facts, and misrepresented the factual position, when they reported the events relating to the TB Auction to the PM, and also when they submitted a Briefing Note to him, with regard to the events of that Auction,” the CoI said in its findings.

The Report of the CoI containing 1,153 pages was made public this week by the President‘s Office. Copies of the Report were also handed over to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. A date to debate on the findings of the CoI will be decided when Party leaders meet on Monday (22).

Continue reading ‘Ex-Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Accused of Misleading Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and of Knowigly Acting Improperly and Wrongfully” In Treasury Bonds Sales Commission of Inquiry Report’ »

President Sirisena Drops Bombshell By Announcing a “Take-over” of Economic Management Responsibility That Was Entrusted to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for the past Three Years.

President Maithripala Sirisena Saturday announced taking over economic management responsibilities which had been with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for the past three years.

In a surprise move that is certain to further sour relations between him and his coalition, Sirisena said he will manage and guide the economy through an special council he had set up three months ago.

“Although the UNP was allowed to manage the economy in the past three years, from this month, the President will take it over,” Sirisena’s office said in a brief statement.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Drops Bombshell By Announcing a “Take-over” of Economic Management Responsibility That Was Entrusted to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for the past Three Years.’ »

President Sirisena To Take Over Responsibility of Managing the Economy From the UNP and Wants Domestic Investors to rally Round Him and Strengthen the Economy.

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Siriisena said he is taking over the economy from this year, though for three years the United National Party of Prime Minister Rani; Wickremesinghe was allowed to manage in the latest escalation of tensions between the two.

Three months ago he had had appointed a National Economic Council for the purpose, President Sirisena told an election rally in Kegalle.

President Sirisena said he is taking over the responsibility of strengthening the economy and called upon domestic investors rally around to build the economy of the ‘motherland’, his office said in a statement.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena To Take Over Responsibility of Managing the Economy From the UNP and Wants Domestic Investors to rally Round Him and Strengthen the Economy.’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Brings About “Political Ceasefire” Between UNP and SLFP By Urging President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe To Rein In Both Sides



Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has intervened in a growing spat of angry outbursts among coalition partners – the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) – urging both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to rein in both sides on the eve of the local council elections next month.

This climaxed at this week’s Cabinet meeting when President Sirisena made a 40-minute-long address to the ministers and then walked out of the meeting, only to be coaxed to return and preside over the rest of the meeting’s agenda.Both sides have now reached a truce not to criticise each other after their stormy relations reached ‘explosive’ levels at last Tuesday’s weekly ministerial meeting.

This ‘political ceasefire’ had been holding since Tuesday with no broadsides by the partners against each other — until yesterday’s public meeting at Kegalle where President Sirisena slammed the UNP for the mismanagment of the economy during the past three years

Speaker Jayasuriya had noted that unity among the coalition partners of the National Unity Government was essential.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Brings About “Political Ceasefire” Between UNP and SLFP By Urging President Sirisena and Premier Wickremesinghe To Rein In Both Sides’ »

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne Gets Cabinet to Instruct Housing Ministry to Accept Unsolicited Proposal For Re-developing Torrington Flats by Sky Mount Holdings (Pvt) Ltd of Which his Younger Brother Maheel Senaratne is a Director


By Namini Wijedasa

On Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne’s request, the Cabinet has instructed the Housing Ministry to entertain an unsolicited proposal for the re-development of Torrington Flats on Thimbirigasyaya Road by a company in which Mr Senaratne’s younger brother is a director.

In November, the Housing Ministry put forward its own proposal to the Cabinet to re-develop the present site of the Torrington Flats “as a high-yield urban residential site, whilst ensuring the ownership rights of the present condominium owners”. Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa’s memorandum sought permission to designate the Condominium Management Authority (CMA) as the implementing agency for the project in terms of the CMA Law of 1973.

The memo also requested Cabinet sanction to direct the CMA to prepare the redevelopment plans in consultation with the relevant agencies subject to the final planning approval of the Urban Development Authority and the Colombo Municipal Council.

However, at a Cabinet meeting held earlier this month, Health Minister Senaratne requested that an unsolicited proposal for the project be considered. This is reflected in the minutes of the meeting. The company that put forward the bid is Sky Mount Holdings (Pvt) Ltd. Its directors are Minister Senaratne’s younger brother Maheel, Chrishantha de Silva and Shantha Herath.

Continue reading ‘Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne Gets Cabinet to Instruct Housing Ministry to Accept Unsolicited Proposal For Re-developing Torrington Flats by Sky Mount Holdings (Pvt) Ltd of Which his Younger Brother Maheel Senaratne is a Director’ »

Tilak Marapana Whose Brother Gamini Marapana Represented Perpetual Treasuries at Bond Commission Probe Appointed By Premier Wickremesinghe as Head of UNP Panel To Study Bond Commission Report and Recommend Action

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a panel to study the bond commission report, but the man put in charge of the initiative has triggered another unsavoury case of conflict of interest.

The man who was forced to resign his law and order portfolio after he defended the controversial Avant Garde company in parliament, Tilak Marapana, was put in charge of a United National Party panel to study the bond report.

Making a special statement on Thursday, the Prime Minister said the Marapana panel will recommend any action to be taken against party members implicated in the 1,154-page report written after an 11-month inquiry.

Continue reading ‘Tilak Marapana Whose Brother Gamini Marapana Represented Perpetual Treasuries at Bond Commission Probe Appointed By Premier Wickremesinghe as Head of UNP Panel To Study Bond Commission Report and Recommend Action’ »

Can Maithripala Sirisena Avoid Becoming a Lame Duck President?


By

Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

President Maithripala Sirisena’s emotional outburst and the subsequent storming out of the Cabinet meeting at Presidential Secretariat by earlier in the week, infuriated by the public criticism levelled against him by United National Party (UNP) Members of Parliament, is glaringly demonstrative of the increasingly heightened political conflict between the main partners of the National Unity Government. This was perhaps the first time an Executive President of Sri Lanka, presiding over the government’s Cabinet, walked out in protest of the behaviour of the MPs outside.

Subsequent reports revealed that President Sirisena had singled out several UNP MPs, named them and censured them for criticizing him unfairly, before declaring that a country could not be ruled in such a manner. He had said he was being attacked because some UNP MPs thought the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Bond Issuance of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka had been convened by him in order to target their party.

The President had remarked that it was better for members of the Cabinet to decide whether they should continue governing in that way or not before storming out. Reports said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and several senior ministers from both the main parties of government and visited him later and persuaded him to come back and chair the Cabinet meeting.

It is significant that this incident took place in the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court determination that President Sirisena’s official term was five years and would end on January 9, 2020. This determination was in response to the President seeking the Supreme Court opinion on whether he could serve up to six years. This, according to a statement from the Presidential Secretariat, was because President wanted to clear the ambiguity regarding to his term of office as differing opinions were expressed on the issue.

Continue reading ‘Can Maithripala Sirisena Avoid Becoming a Lame Duck President?’ »

TID and Mt.Lavinia Police Tried to Protect Killers of Lasantha Wickrematunge By Attempting To Destroy Evidence – CID Tells Court

By T. Farook Thajudeeen

The CID told the Mount Lavinia Magistrate that their investigations into the killing of journalist Lasantha Wickramatunge had uncovered an alleged attempt by the Mount Lavinia Police and the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) to destroy vital evidence of the killing,

Continue reading ‘TID and Mt.Lavinia Police Tried to Protect Killers of Lasantha Wickrematunge By Attempting To Destroy Evidence – CID Tells Court’ »

Govt Freezes 12 Billion Rupees Worth Financial Assets of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd and Will Recover Rs 9.2 Billion Undue Profits Made Through Treasury Bond Scam Announces Prime Minister Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in his address to the nation, said the government had frozen the financial assets worth Rs.12 billion of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd, and therefore the Rs.9.2 billion undue profit made by it in the bond transaction could be recovered from it.

He said the government would take steps to implement recommendations made by the Presidential Commission that investigated the controversial bond transaction of the Central Bank.

The Prime Minister said the Commission, in its report, mentioned that Perpetual Treasuries Ltd made an undue profit of Rs.9.2 billon.

However, he said the Central Bank, remaining under his purview, had frozen financial assets worth Rs. 12 billion belonging to PTL. Therefore, he said Rs.9.2 billion that was lost to the state could be recovered.

Continue reading ‘Govt Freezes 12 Billion Rupees Worth Financial Assets of Perpetual Treasuries Ltd and Will Recover Rs 9.2 Billion Undue Profits Made Through Treasury Bond Scam Announces Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’ »

Former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Provided “Inside Information” To Perpetual Treasuries Ltd Owned By His Son In Law Arjun Aloysius and Acted In Collusion with that Company – Bond Commission Report

The presidential commission of inquiry which probed Treasury bond scams has determined that the then CBSL Governor Arjuna Mahendran provided ‘inside information’ to Perpetual Treasuries Limited (PTL) owned by his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius and acted in collusion with that company.

The commission has recommended the Attorney General and other authorities consider whether PTL has used, gained and benefitted from ‘inside information’ at the Feb 27, 2015 bond auction and, if so, whether he should be prosecuted and twice the value of aforesaid sum of Rs 688,762,100 recovered from the PTL by way of fine in the event of a conviction.

The commission has determined that Mahendran’s intervention in the Treasury bond auction on Feb 27 2015, caused an avoidable loss of Rs 688,762, 100 to the state. Accordingly, the commission has recommended that action be taken against Mahendran to recover the loss.

The commission has recommended that the AG and other appropriate authorities consider whether if some of the then Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake’s evidence before the Commission was incorrect and, if so, criminal action should be instituted against him.

The three-member commission says in its report that evidence has established that Mahendran was not instructed or directed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to act unilaterally and immediately or stop direct placements on Feb 27, 2015.

Continue reading ‘Former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Provided “Inside Information” To Perpetual Treasuries Ltd Owned By His Son In Law Arjun Aloysius and Acted In Collusion with that Company – Bond Commission Report’ »

President Sirisena Instructs Attorney -General, Central Bank Governor and Bribery Commissioner To Take Immediate Action On Recommendations Made By Presidential Inquiry Commission.

By Gagani Weerakoon

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday directed the Attorney General, Jayantha Jayasuriya, the Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy and DG Bribery Commission Sarath Jayamanne and other officials to immediately act on the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the alleged Bonds scam.

The President’s meeting with the top law enforcement officials came as 26 copies of the report were sent to the Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya to be tabled before the House and copies distributed to individual Members of Parliament.

The Speaker also received copies of the report of the other Presidential Commission that examined seventeen cases of alleged major acts of corruption and fraud carried out during the regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This report in Sinhala stretches almost to 10,000 pages.

The much-awaited Bonds Commission report was also uploaded on the website of the Presidential Secretariat and the site of the President’s Media Division.

The Executive Summary of the report faults a number of people for the alleged Bonds scam. It lays the blame squarely on the shoulders of the former Governor of the Central Bank Arjuna Mahendran. It recommends that the losses suffered by the Government be recovered from Mahendran and his son-in-law and owner of Perpetual Treasuries Arjun Aloysius.

The report says, “We have determined that, the Government of Sri Lanka suffered an avoidable loss of Rs 688,762,100 as a direct result of Mr. Mahendran’s intervention in the Treasury Bond Auction held on 27th February 2015 and the instructions he gave to both the PDD and the Tender Board that Bids to the value of Rs. 10,058 billion must be accepted at the Auction and we have determined that, Mr. Mahendran is liable and responsible for this loss.”

The report says that the “appointment of Mahendran not a ‘Question of Law’ instead ‘Value judgment’ which had to be made by those who considered the wisdom of appointing Mr. Mahendran, who was not a Citizen of Sri Lanka, as the Governor of the CBSL.”

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Instructs Attorney -General, Central Bank Governor and Bribery Commissioner To Take Immediate Action On Recommendations Made By Presidential Inquiry Commission.’ »

President Sirisena May Have Gone To Answer a Call of Nature After Leaving the Cabinet Meeting Says Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera


by Zacki Jabbar

Denying that President Maithripala Sirisena had threatened to quit the National Unity Government at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Ministers Rajitha Senaratne and Dayasiri Jayasekera said yesterday that the President had only expressed displeasure at vilifying remarks against him by some UNP parliamentarians.

Fielding questions during the post cabinet Press Briefing at the Information Department, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne and Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera said in unison that at no stage did the President say that it would not be possible to continue in the National Unity Government, but was critical of some UNP parliamentarians who were slandering him.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena May Have Gone To Answer a Call of Nature After Leaving the Cabinet Meeting Says Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera’ »

Fact To Be Proved Is Whether Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Was Involved In The Bond Scam?

By

Hemantha Warnakulasuriya

President Maithripala Sirisena seems to be happy that unlike other Presidential Commissions which took several years to complete their probes and ultimately produced reports which were not worth the paper they were written on, the Bond Commission completed its task within a very short period of 10 months and produced a report, copies of which have been submitted to Parliament.

The President has forwarded one copy to the Central Bank, another to the Bribery Commission, and one to the most important of institution, the Attorney General’s Department. The Central Bank has already decided to implement, not a recommendation of the report but an observation the Bond Commission made about the period which is prior to the mandate given to them by the President. Ranil Wickremasinghe & Co were jubilant about these remarks and were referring to the massive frauds committed by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Government during Ajith Nivard Cabraal’s tenure as the Central Bank Governor. This also enabled them to point accusing fingers at the former regime and the result was converting Parliament to the Mustang’s tent of sorts.

The Central Bank announced they are seeking expert advice from professionals in the world who specialize in forensic audit with a digital footprint. But, what they would do to prevent recurrence of such a massive scam is yet to be known by the public.

On the other hand, the Bribery Commission has notified they have appointed five senior officials of the Bribery Department to study the recommendations of the Commission and to indict the officials and anyone else against whom a corruption charge could be maintained.

I believe Sarath Jayamanne, the Director General, will not let down the masses of this country by postponing action he ought to take and at least find the people whose names were mentioned and are indicted in the High Court.

It is also interesting to note whether the Prosecutors would hold the members of the United National Party, who were directly involved in the Bond Scam and whose names were mentioned at the Commission, responsible for striving to scuttle the publication of the Commission’s Report.

Continue reading ‘Fact To Be Proved Is Whether Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Was Involved In The Bond Scam?’ »

President Sirisena May Soon Be Viewed As a Lame Duck -The Economist

AT THE time, it was seen as an astonishing victory. In retrospect, it was also something of a Pyrrhic one. Few expected Maithripala Sirisena to defeat the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential election of 2015. After all, Mr Rajapaksa, although increasingly authoritarian, had presided in 2009 over the defeat of the separatist Tamil Tigers, ending Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war.

Mr Sirisena was merely a rebellious member of the president’s own Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). To win and then to govern, Mr Sirisena relied on the support of the SLFP’s main rival, the United National Party (UNP). As Sri Lankans prepare to vote in local elections on February 10th, that alliance has come to haunt him.

In theory, the alliance between the UNP and Mr Sirisena’s faction of the SLFP ended in December. But this is a polite fiction necessitated by the campaign. In practice, neither group has sufficient numbers in parliament to govern without the other. Mr Rajapaksa, who is backing a new outfit called the Sri Lanka People’s Front, has called on voters to treat the poll as a referendum on the government.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena May Soon Be Viewed As a Lame Duck -The Economist’ »

Kandy-born Actor-Politico “MGR” Reigned Supreme in Tamil Nadu Cinema and Politics

MGR T

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

There was a time when the magical initials MGR were a household name in the Tamil-speaking homes of countries with a substantial population of Tamils, including India and Sri Lanka. The initials referred to swashbuckling actor M.G. Ramachandran, who starred as an action hero in over 100 Tamil films. MGR, as he was popularly known, had a huge following of fans in Sri Lanka during the time he sparkled on the silver screen. Among his fans in the island were a large number of Sinhalese and Muslims too.

MGR whose full name was Marudur Gopalan Ramachandran had a Sri Lankan connection! He was born in Sri Lanka! Though MGR was an actor of Malayalee ethnicity who made a name for himself in Tamil Nadu, he was born in Hantane, Kandy. His father, a native of present day Kerala state in India, was at that time teaching in an estate school in Kandy. MGR, the youngest child, was born at home in Hantane on 17 January 1917. He grew up in Kandy till he was two. In 1919 the family returned to India.

Rags to riches tale

It is indeed remarkable that MGR born in Kandy to Malayalee parents later made a name for himself as an actor in Tamil films and followed it up by becoming the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu state.

MGR who started acting in minor roles from 1936 got his major break as lead actor in 1947. Thereafter for 30 years till 1977 he was the uncrowned king of Tamil cinema as the biggest box office attraction of them all. He also took to politics and was first elected as a member of the Legislative assembly in 1967.
Continue reading ‘Kandy-born Actor-Politico “MGR” Reigned Supreme in Tamil Nadu Cinema and Politics’ »

President Sirisena Begins “Operation Number Two ” On Bond Commission Report By Instructing Attorney -General To Proceed With Legal Action Based On Report.

President Maithripala Sirisena said in Elpitiya that operation number two has begun on the bond commission report as he instructed the Attorney General and other stakeholders to proceed with legal action based on the report.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Begins “Operation Number Two ” On Bond Commission Report By Instructing Attorney -General To Proceed With Legal Action Based On Report.’ »

President Sirisena Will Contest Next Presidential Poll as SLFP Candidate if Present Constitution Remains Unchanged and Executive Presidency Is Not Abolished.

By

Chaturanga Samarawickrama

President Maithripala Sirisena will definitely contest at the next presidential election in the event the executive presidency is not abolished and the constitution is not changed, State Minister of Finance, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said today.

He told the weekly Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) news briefing that President Sirisena would definitely be their presidential candidate and when asked whether it was ethical for him to contest again, the state minister said yes and pointed out that the President was the most suitable candidate to contest for the presidency for a second term.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Will Contest Next Presidential Poll as SLFP Candidate if Present Constitution Remains Unchanged and Executive Presidency Is Not Abolished.’ »

Ranil Tells UNP Ministers and MP’s to Stop Statements Against President Sirisena but Take on SLFP Ministers Directly and Settle Whatever Issues They Have.

By

Yohan Perera

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had instructed UNP Ministers and MPs not to make controversial statements dragging President Maithripala Sirisena anymore.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had given the instruction at the UNP Working Committee meeting at the party headquarters Sirikotha this morning.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Tells UNP Ministers and MP’s to Stop Statements Against President Sirisena but Take on SLFP Ministers Directly and Settle Whatever Issues They Have.’ »

Artiste Samanalee Fonseka and Ten Other Women File Fundamental rights Petition in Supreme Court Against Re-imposition by Govt of Ban On Women Purchasing Liquor or Work in Liquor Stores.

By

Thilini de Silva and Ranjan Katugampola

Artiste Samanalee Fonseka and ten other women yesterday filed a Fundamental Rights (FR) petition in the Supreme Court against the government’s decision to withdraw the gazette issued to lift the ban prohibiting women to purchase liquor or to work in liquor stores.

The petitioners sought a court order declaring Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera or Ministry Secretary R.H.S. Samarathunga had no legal authority to re-impose the ban on the instructions of the President.

Continue reading ‘Artiste Samanalee Fonseka and Ten Other Women File Fundamental rights Petition in Supreme Court Against Re-imposition by Govt of Ban On Women Purchasing Liquor or Work in Liquor Stores.’ »

Cabinet Decision to Ban Women from Purchasing Liquor is Unconstitutional States Think Tank “Verite Research”

The independent think Tank “Verite Research” has stated that the recent cabinet decision of not permitting women in Sri Lanka to purchase liquor is unconstitutional as it basically violates Article 12 of the constitution. The Colombo based think tank in a statement has pointed out that the Constitution guarantees that all persons are equal under the law and are entitled to equal protection under the law. Furthermore it states no citizen shall be discriminated on the grounds of sex. As such the Think Tank says aggrieved parties are entitled to petition the Supreme Court that their rights are being infringed or infringement is imminent.Verité Research is an interdisciplinary think tank that provides strategic analysis and advice to governments, international organisations and the private sector in Sri Lanka and Asia.


The text of the statement issued by Verite Research is as follows –

Women are permitted to purchase liquor.

On 10 January 2018, the Minister of Finance and Mass Media issued Excise Notification No. 02/2018 under the Excise Ordinance, No. 8 of 1912 (as amended). The new Notification amends Excise Notification No. 666 of 31 December 1979, and removes the ban on the sale of liquor to women ‘within the premises of a tavern’. A tavern is usually defined as ‘a place of entertainment…[or] a house for the retailing of liquors to be drunk on the spot’. Women are therefore entitled to purchase liquor under Sri Lankan law as at 10 January 2018.Moreover, Excise Notification No.666 does not appear to prohibit women from purchasing alcohol in premises that do not constitute a tavern (e.g. supermarkets).

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Decision to Ban Women from Purchasing Liquor is Unconstitutional States Think Tank “Verite Research”’ »

“Why are you Attacking Me?Are You Instructing Them To Attack Me? – President Sirisena Asks Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Directly at Cabinet Meeting

By Chathuri Dissanayake

An emotional President yesterday walked out of the Cabinet meeting after voicing disappointment over criticism levelled against him by some United National Party lawmakers.

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told the Cabinet that he was not an “ungrateful or inhuman” person who has forgotten the help he received during the presidential election. The President was referring to some of the criticism levelled at him on various political stages in the run-up to the Local Government elections.

Singling out several UNP MPs by name including S.M. Marrikkar, Minister Harin Fernando, Nalin Bandara, Sidney Jayarathna, State Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe and Chaminda Wijesiri, President Sirisena told the Cabinet ministers present that he never intended to attack the UNP and was disappointed that he had been severely criticised on election stages, a senior Minister told the Daily FT.

“Why are you attacking me? Are you instructing them to attack me?” President Sirisena had reportedly asked the Prime Minister.

Continue reading ‘“Why are you Attacking Me?Are You Instructing Them To Attack Me? – President Sirisena Asks Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Directly at Cabinet Meeting’ »

President Sirisena Makes 35 Minute Emotional Speech About UNP Members Attacking Him at Cabinet Meeting , Tape Records It and Storms Out


By

Sandun A Jayasekera and Ajantha Kumara Agalakada

A deeply dejected and disappointed President Maithripala Sirisena stormed out of the Cabinet meeting this morning after making an emotional speech over the personal attacks levelled at him by the certain members of the UNP, a senior Cabinet Minister said.

President naming those UNP Parliamentarians, who are making statements against him, had also said that a country cannot be ruled in this manner.

He has informed the Ministers present that the Presidential Commission was established by him not to attack the UNP, but to punish the thieves and requested the Ministers to state whether they agree to punishing the thieves or not.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Makes 35 Minute Emotional Speech About UNP Members Attacking Him at Cabinet Meeting , Tape Records It and Storms Out’ »

UNP Colombo District Parliamentarian SM Marikar Calls Sirisena a “Pickpocket President” Who is Trying to Backstab the UNP in the same Way he let down Mahinda rajapaksa After Sharing a Hopper Meal.

Colombo district UNP MP S.M. Marikar today slammed President Maithripala Sirisena and even described him as a ‘pickpocket President’.

Addressing a meeting in Colombo, he said the President had let down former president Mahinda Rajapaksa after partaking in a hopper meal with him. The MP charged that the same conspiratorial activity was being mooted to fix the UNP.

“The President accused us of being thieves. We call him the pickpocket President. We are asking him not to back-stab the UNP like what he did to Mahinda Rajapaksa,” he said.

Continue reading ‘UNP Colombo District Parliamentarian SM Marikar Calls Sirisena a “Pickpocket President” Who is Trying to Backstab the UNP in the same Way he let down Mahinda rajapaksa After Sharing a Hopper Meal.’ »

Attorney -General’s Interpretation of 19th Constitutional Amendment Before Supreme Court is “Rather Odd” and Confuses Me Says CPA Executive -Director Dr.Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu.

By Dharisha Bastians

President Maithripala Sirisena has continued to be at the receiving end of strong criticism, even after the Supreme Court put an end to speculation about the duration of his term on Sunday (14).

The Presidential Media Division confirmed that the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court which held a public hearing on the question posed by President Sirisena about whether his term would end in five or six years, had communicated its decision to the President that he could hold office for a period of five years according to the Constitution.

The decision resulted in widespread relief after fears that the President was seeking the opinion of the country’s apex court to stretch his term of office – changed to five years through the 19th Amendment – to six years. The Attorney General’s interpretation that President Sirisena assumed office before the passage of the 19th Amendment and was therefore entitled to serve a six-year term; and his argument that reducing his term to five years would be an infringement of the sovereignty of the people and the franchise, appeared to have been rejected by the Supreme Court which appeared to hold that the current President was also subject to the provisions of the 19A.

Continue reading ‘Attorney -General’s Interpretation of 19th Constitutional Amendment Before Supreme Court is “Rather Odd” and Confuses Me Says CPA Executive -Director Dr.Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu.’ »

Ex-Minister Ravi Karunanayake Says UNP Will Protect President Sirisena From The Advisers Who Are Misleading him

President Maithripala Sirisena was surrounded by advisers who would lead him to his own destruction but the UNP would never let those sinister forces to achieve their goal, UNP Assistant Leader MP Ravi Karunanayake said yesterday.

Addressing the media after declaring open a UNP office in Mattakkuliya, the former minister said that it was sad to observe that the President was being manipulated by some forces.

“We will not leave the President at this hour of need. We will protect him. It is the duty of the UNP to protect the President. There are forces dreaming of a break-up of the UNP-SLFP unity government. That will not happen as there is a clear understanding between our leader Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Sirisena.”

Continue reading ‘Ex-Minister Ravi Karunanayake Says UNP Will Protect President Sirisena From The Advisers Who Are Misleading him’ »

Cabinet Headed By President Gazettes Decisions But Sirisena Cancels same Gazette To Fool the Masses Says Mahinda Rajapaksa

By Norman Palihawadane

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that a recent government decision to extend the business hours of bars and allow women to buy liquor and a subsequent presidential directive reversing it were aimed at duping the masses.

“The gazettes lifting the ban came with the approval of the Cabinet of ministers headed by President Maithripala Sirisena. Then President Sirisena cancels the same gazette so as to lionise himself.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Headed By President Gazettes Decisions But Sirisena Cancels same Gazette To Fool the Masses Says Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Supreme Court “Five Years Only” Ruling Will Impact Adversely On President Sirisena’s Long Term Plans to Undermine Ranil and Mahinda while Strengthening His SLFP.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirsena’s bid to get another year in office through a Supreme Court interpretation of the relevant clauses of the 19 th. Amendment (19A) of the Constitution, has failed.

The court has told him that there is a five year constitutional cap on his term.

In a letter to Chief Justice Priyasath Dep dated January 8, Sirisena had sought the court’s opinion on whether there is a constitutional bar on his continuing in office for six hears instead of five. The President had asked for a response to be submitted to him on or before January 14.

Constitutional Provision

Those against the grant of an extra year, like the Center for Policy Alternatives (CPA), told the court on January 11, that Art 30 (2) of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, passed on May 15, 2015, had clearly stated that: “The President of the Republic shall be elected by the People and shall hold office for a term of five years.”

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court “Five Years Only” Ruling Will Impact Adversely On President Sirisena’s Long Term Plans to Undermine Ranil and Mahinda while Strengthening His SLFP.’ »

Supreme Court Five Judge Bench Ruling Shatters Maithripala Sirisena’s Hopes Of Being President for one More year up to 2021.

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has shot down any prospect of President Maithripala Sirisena staying on in office for a year longer officials said Monday.

A five-judge bench in a unanimous decision ruled that the President’s term was limited to five years by the 19th amendment to the constitution that he himself initiated after winning the 2015 elections.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Priyasath Dep told President Sirisena that he had only five years in office as a result of the 19th amendment although he was elected initially for a six year term.

Continue reading ‘Supreme Court Five Judge Bench Ruling Shatters Maithripala Sirisena’s Hopes Of Being President for one More year up to 2021.’ »

Will Tamil Film Hero Rajinikanth Become Tamil Nadu Chief Minister?

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

In the May 2014 Indian General elections the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) led by Narendra Modi swept the poll in many states to form a government with a stable majority in New Delhi. However Tamil Nadu was one of the few Indian states to resist “Modimania” with the Jayalalithaa Jayaram led All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIADMK) getting 37 of 39 Lok Sabha seats allocated to the state. Jayalalithaa’s resonating challenge at the 2014 hustings “Modi or Lady”resulted in the Lady routing Modi on her home turf. The BJP could not make headway in Tamil Nadu even during the 2016 Assembly polls. The AIADMK and chief opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham(DMK)swept the polls.

The BJP was not the only National party of India that failed dismally in Tamil Nadu. Even the Congress party of the Gandhis and Nehrus which ruled in Tamil Nadu for 20 years after Independence from 1947 to 1967 has been unable to regain power in the South Indian state for the past 50 years. The “Dravidian” political ideology has been ruling the roost in Tamil Nadu. Either the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham(DMK) or its Alter Ego the All India Anna-Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham(AIADMK) has been enjoying power in the state.Currently the AIADMK is in the saddle though Jayalalithaa herself passed away in December 2016.

In a not so subtle bid to gain politically in Tamil Nadu the BJP currently at the helm in New Delhi has been making several overtures to a popular Tamil film actor. 67 Year old Rajinikanth or ”Superstar” as he is known is still the single most popular mass figure among actors in Tamil cinema. Prime minister Narendra Modi paid a courtesy call to Rajinikanth when he visited Tamil Nadu for the polls campaign in 2014. Rajinikanth was invited as a special guest for Modi’s inauguration as PM the same year. BJP’s Tamil Nadu state leader Dr.Thamizhisai Soundararajan has been calling on the actor several times. The lady doctor has even been cultivating the superstar’s spouse Ms.Latha Rajinikanth.The BJP has been trying very hard to entice Rajinikanth into its Saffron folds and utilise him as the vehicle to reach its destination of capturing state power in Tamil Nadu.
Continue reading ‘Will Tamil Film Hero Rajinikanth Become Tamil Nadu Chief Minister?’ »

‘Thai Pongal’ the Harvest Festival of Tamils

By P. Krishnaswamy

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

Traditionally, it is the festival of farmers who depend on Mother Earth, the sun, rain, other natural elements and cows and buffaloes for a bountiful harvest of their staple food, rice.
Continue reading ‘‘Thai Pongal’ the Harvest Festival of Tamils’ »

Could Right-thinking People of Sri Lanka be Blamed for Asking Themselves as to Whether no one will rid us of these Troublesome Politicians?


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Could right-thinking people of Sri Lanka be blamed for asking themselves as to whether no one will rid us of these troublesome politicians following this week’s depraved fisticuffs on the floor of the House? Is this where the ‘Sovereignty of the People’ resides, as mandated by Articles 3 and 4 of the Constitution?

As national legislators assaulted each other, (some unpardonably boasting about this later) and shouted obscenities with others fainting in the well of the House, two questions become paramount.

Why indeed are citizens trooping to the polls to elect members to local government bodies in a few weeks when the apex legislative assembly conducts itself in such an ugly manner? Of what use are massive public funds extracted from taxpayers being expended to maintain these assemblies, central, provincial and local when minimum decency cannot be observed in their deliberations?

Continue reading ‘Could Right-thinking People of Sri Lanka be Blamed for Asking Themselves as to Whether no one will rid us of these Troublesome Politicians?’ »

Time For President Sirisena To Make Transition From Politician To Statesman


( The “Sunday Times” Column On Presidency

Sometimes, politics is all about being in the right place at the right time. Since Sri Lanka embraced a presidential system of government forty years ago, three of our six Presidents have been elevated to the highest office in the land by being in the right place at the right time.

Dingiri Banda Wijetunga was rewarded for his loyal service to the United National Party by being appointed as the Governor of the North Western Province where he was to spend his retirement. He was then summoned by Ranasinghe Premadasa, perhaps with an eye on the future, to contest the 1988 general election. He returned to Parliament, was appointed Prime Minister and was suddenly sworn in as President when Premadasa fell victim to a suicide bomber on May Day in 1993.

After her husband Vijaya was assassinated. Chandrika Kumaratunga fled the country and was living in Britain. Her brother, Anura Banadaranaike, was bearing the brunt of the United National Party (UNP)’s domineering tactics under Premadasa. However, by the time the next elections were called Bandaranaike had crossed over to the UNP, Kumaratunga had returned and with her charming smile, an important double-barrelled surname, was catapulted from having never held public office to being President within a short span of eighteen months.

A few months prior to November 2014, in most people’s opinion, Maithripala Sirisena was destined to be a faithful servant of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), in much the same way Wijetunga was loyal to the UNP. He too could have aspired to spend his retirement as a Governor, or if he so wished, even as an ambassador overseas. However, at the insistence of Maduluwave Sobhitha Thera and Kumaratunga, he took the plunge and decided to contest Mahinda Rajapaksa. The rest is recent history.

Sri Lanka’s three other Presidents had earned their titles the hard way. J.R. Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa and Mahinda Rajapaksa all toiled long and hard, endured long years in the Opposition and overcame plots and backstabbing within their own political parties to reach the top. Did this equip them better to deal with the tests and travails of a Presidency and as a result did they perform better?

JR, for all the vilification he endured, engineered economic and constitutional revolutions which survive to this day. Premadasa is still remembered as the leader who did some tangible work in the few years he presided while at the same time despatching Indian troops from the country and crushing the second Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) insurrection. Rajapaksa, no matter what he does in the future, will be remembered gratefully for annihilating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Their performances beg the question as to whether those who stumbled upon the Presidency by happenstance didn’t perform that well when they had the opportunity to chart the destiny of the nation. Wijetunga was more or less a caretaker President whose greatest achievement was ensuring a transition of power after over a decade and a half of UNP rule and in Kumaratunga’s 11-year Presidency it is difficult to recall a significant achievement during her tenure other than, maybe, winning back control of the North from the LTTE and some positives on the foreign policy front. Now, after completing three years at the helm last Monday, Maithripala Sirisena is in danger of being categorised under ‘mediocre’ rather than ‘great’ or “good”.

Continue reading ‘Time For President Sirisena To Make Transition From Politician To Statesman’ »

Maithripala Sirisena has finally decided to do what he was elected to be – President of the Republic.

By Sarath de Alwis

“Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”

– George Orwell, 1984

Who made Maithripala Sirisena, President of our republic? Was it Ranil who claims that he made a great sacrifice by deciding not to contest as the UNP’s candidate? Is it the executive committee of the UNP that decided to endorse Maithripala Sirisena as the common candidate that the party should support? Or did the majority of people who voted for the common candidate make him our President?

Let us cut to the chase. Let’s avoid obfuscation. Let’s get to the point. This missive is in praise of Maithripala Sirisena’s handling of the Bond Commission Report.

And further, more specifically, it is in praise of his unhesitant referral to the Supreme Court for a precise ruling on his current tenure in office.

This writer is relieved to discover the new bold and decisive ‘Sirisena’, who has abandoned his ‘little Bo peep has lost her sheep’ demeanour. One hopes he will gradually shed his ‘Apey Hamuduruwane’ – ‘upasaka’ mask and also his ‘Ranaviruwas have done no wrong’ disorder as well, in his remaining years in office.

The immediate purpose of this dispatch is to congratulate him on his discovery of the precise mandate he received on 8 January 2015. The people did not vote for him to replace Mahinda Rajapaksa in office.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sirisena has finally decided to do what he was elected to be – President of the Republic.’ »

Maithripala’s Frantic Bid To Seek Further Extension Of Term Was Triggered Off By Mahinda’s Statement About Presidential Elections in 2019.

by C.A.Chandraprema

President Sirisena’s request for a determination from the Supreme Court as to whether he could remain in power for six years even after the 19th Amendment reduced the term of the President to five years has caused consternation in the pro-yahapalana camp and quiet glee among their opponents. One of the pioneers of the yahapalana project, university lecturer Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, has reproduced on his facebook page the Colombo Telegraph report of Sirisena asking the SC whether there is any impediment to his remaining in power for six years with a cryptic message in Sinhala suggesting that they (the yahapalanites) were now completely naked before the people. Among those who made representations in the Supreme Court against Sirisena was the Centre for Policy Alternatives and the elections monitoring outfit CAFFE which were firmly within the yahapalana camp.

The President’s query addressed to the Supreme Court left no doubt as to what he had in mind. The query went as follows: “Whether, in terms of Provisions of the Constitution, I, as the person elected and succeeding to the office of President and having assumed such office in terms of Article 32(1) of the Constitution on 09 January 2015, have any impediment to continue in the office of President for a period of 6 years from 09 January 2015, the date on which the result of my election to the office of President was declared”. In the wake of the caterwaul of protest that this evoked, the President’s Media Office issued a statement claiming that the President was only trying to clear the confusion surrounding this matter by asking for a SC determination on the subject, but the wording of the query implies otherwise.

This is a very clear attempt on the part of the President to extend his term to six years once again after it was reduced to five years by the 19th Amendment. The 19th Amendment was brought for the purpose of abolishing the executive Presidency as Sirisena had promised at the 2015 Presidential election. When Jayampathy Wickremeratne and others took to the newly elected President Sirisena the original draft of the 19th Amendment, the President had barked at them “Mawa pambayek karannada hadanne?” (Are you trying to turn me into a scarecrow?) and he had chased them away. Thereafter, Sirisena and the JHU whittled down the 19th Amendment until there was nothing left except the establishment of the constitutional council to recommend appointments to key state posts and this reduction of the term of the President from six to five years. It was the JHU that surreptitiously included in Sirisena’s manifesto a clause saying that he would agree to constitutional changes only to the extent that a referendum would not be necessary.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala’s Frantic Bid To Seek Further Extension Of Term Was Triggered Off By Mahinda’s Statement About Presidential Elections in 2019.’ »

“Moovaenthar” Sivaji Ganesan, MG Ramachandran And Gemini Ganesan Were The Three Kings Of Tamil Cinema Heroes

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

‘We Three Kings of Orient Are’ is a popular Christmas carol written and set to music by Rev. John Henry Hopkins Jnr in 1857. This is about the wise men mentioned in the Bible who came to Bethlehem with the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to pay homage to the newborn infant Jesus.

Oral tradition gradually transformed the wise men of the east into three kings from the Orient. Western Christian tradition regards the three Kings as Melchior – a king from Persia,Balthasarr– a king from Arabia, and Gaspar – a king from India.

‘We Three Kings’ is one of my favourite Christmas carols.The “three kings” referred to in the carol keep ringing in my ears and provides the inspiration for this post-Christmas ‘Spotlight’ column. Only this article will be about three cinematic kings and not the mystical kings of the orient.This latter-day trio of kings were actor-heroes who reigned supreme as monarchs of Tamil movies during the latter half of the 20th century.

Sivaji Ganesan, M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) and Gemini Ganesan comprised the triumvirate that dominated Tamil movies from the fifties to the seventies of the 20th century.The top thespian trinity of that vintage in Tamil cinema were Sivaji, MGR and Gemini. They ruled the roost in ‘Kollywood’ as the Tamil Nadu film industry is referred to in lighter vein.
Continue reading ‘“Moovaenthar” Sivaji Ganesan, MG Ramachandran And Gemini Ganesan Were The Three Kings Of Tamil Cinema Heroes’ »

Scintillating Sri Lankan Actress Jacqueline Fernandez Is Sparkling Jewel of Hindi Cinema

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

‘Spotlight’ shines again after many weeks to focus on a luminous Sri Lankan star of Sri Lanka who has been illuminating the Hindi cinematic firmament for several years. A beauty queen turned film actress who possesses a flair for promoting culinary commerce as well as retaining a penchant for espousing social and humanitarian causes.

An attractive personality who remains rooted to Sri Lanka despite flying high as a successful film star with millions of fans in India and all over the world. Jacqueline Fernandez is Sri Lanka’s most charming unofficial ambassador to India in recent times and the lovely lady has proved to be a credit to the island nation by winning the hearts and minds of millions there.
Continue reading ‘Scintillating Sri Lankan Actress Jacqueline Fernandez Is Sparkling Jewel of Hindi Cinema’ »

Move To Raise Funds and Set Up Tamil Chair at Harvard University Is Ruse To Exploit Tamils and Hegemonize Tamil Culture and History Alleges Tech Guru Dr.Shiva Ayyadurai.


By Prakash M Swamy

U.S. Senate Candidate, inventor of e-mail and tech guru Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai has exposed Harvard University’s attempt to pilfer trillions of dollars worth of indigenous artifacts through the sale of a “Harvard Tamil Chair” professorship.

Harvard sought to collect $6 Million from the Tamil Diaspora worldwide, who had no idea of Harvard’s business model of selling professorships to fund its $35 Billion hedge fund investments. Tamil is the oldest surviving language with the richest body of poetry, art, and literature known to humankind, along with hundreds of thousands of sacred artifacts codified in palm leaf manuscripts embodying the scientific, technological and medical knowledge spanning at least 5,000 years of the Tamilians, the indigenous people of the Indian subcontinent, who today primarily reside in Tamil Nadu in India.

According to Dr. Ayyadurai, “The fundraising effort in the name of setting up a Tamil Chair is a ruse that exemplifies Harvard’s habitual exploitation of indigenous people. This is an egregious example akin to a burglar asking you to pay money to buy a rickety ladder to rob your own home. Harvard is asking Tamilians to pay $6 million for a professorship that will be used to rob their own historic artifacts worth trillions of dollars representing the ‘Holy Grail’ of the world’s most highly-prized indigenous knowledge.” Harvard will then proceed to use access to those artifacts to rewrite and hegemonies Tamil history, an unfortunate and recurrent process that Harvard has done for far too long to many indigenous cultures.

Harvard’s financial statements reveal that the university is fundamentally a tax-exempt Wall Street hedge fund with cash and investments of nearly $35 Billion. In 2016 alone, Harvard’s capital marketing campaign raised $7 Billion, with its hedge fund in 2017 yielding $2 billion in gross profits. The operating budget further reveals that professors and administrators effectively serve as business development staff to attract wealthy donors to fund Chairs and professorships that finance their lucrative hedge fund. In 2017, as the Boston Globe reported, Harvard’s seven top hedge fund managers earned a total of nearly $58 million in compensation.

Continue reading ‘Move To Raise Funds and Set Up Tamil Chair at Harvard University Is Ruse To Exploit Tamils and Hegemonize Tamil Culture and History Alleges Tech Guru Dr.Shiva Ayyadurai.’ »

Some of the Sirisena led SLFP Candidates Contesting Local Polls in Jaffna Display Prabhakaran Images and Play LTTE Songs In Election Campaign

By Dinasena Rathugamage

A chaotic situation prevailed in Jaffna after some SLFP candidates contesting the forthcoming local government elections played some songs of the now defunct LTTE.

Number of politicians in Jaffna had complained to the Election Related Violence Centrers about the conduct of some politicians who had used the liberation songs of the Tigers in their campaigns when the elections commissioner had strictly instructed not to use such songs during the run-up to the local government election.

Continue reading ‘Some of the Sirisena led SLFP Candidates Contesting Local Polls in Jaffna Display Prabhakaran Images and Play LTTE Songs In Election Campaign’ »

How the “Ceylon” Tamils From Sri Lanka Contributed to Singapore Over The Years


By
Ajit Kanagasundram

The world today is desperate to attract foreign talent. Thirty percent of Silicon Valley startups are by Indians, and the same percentage is true of Microsoft employees, NASA employees and US physicians. Canada and Australia have long had a point system to attract talent and the US and the UK are thinking of adopting a similar system in place of their current family re-union system. Even Germany has a special Visa quota for software professionals from India.

Singapore preceded all these countries by being open from the inception to foreign talent as it knew that they were required for it to meet its ambition to become a regional and then global hub for trade, manufacturing and finance.Lee Kwan Yew openly alluded to the fact that he depended on Jaffna Tamils as a resource to build up Singapore in the early years. This article will try and describe their significant and unique contributions spanning the five decades of Singapore’s existence as an independent nation.

The Jaffna Tamils hail from the arid North of Sri Lanka and the only advantages they had was their native intelligence and an excellent education system set up by American missionaries. The Jaffna Tamils valued education above all else and the education system the missionaries set up emphasized the English Language and mathematics.The British valued this education and The Jaffna Tamil propensity for hard work and recruited them for the minor government positions such as clerks and station master both in colonial Ceylon and in the Federated States of Malaysia and Singapore.

It was said that in the 1930s you could travel by train from Singapore to the Thailand border and every station master enroute would be a Jaffna Tamil! It was their descendants who were to play such a significant role in the history of Singapore as an independent nation. The contribution of the Ceylon Tamils were in four main areas – politics and government, law, medicine and sports and I will describe each separately.
Continue reading ‘How the “Ceylon” Tamils From Sri Lanka Contributed to Singapore Over The Years’ »

Maithripala Sirisena Once Hailed as a Modern Day Sri Sangabo Should Hang up His Boots After Completing Five Years as President -The Island

(Text of Editorial appearing in “the Island” of January 12th 2018 under the heading “Whither yahapalanaya?”)

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC), in response to a question posed by President Maithripala Sirisena, is deliberating whether he can serve a six-year term. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution has reduced the presidential term to five years. We refrain from commenting on it out of deference to the apex court.

Co-Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne has told the media the President is right in having consulted the SC to clear some doubts about the duration of his term. One cannot but agree with the minister on this score. The President can seek opinions from the SC. But, the issue at hand is different from other constitutional ambiguities in that the public was given to understand that President Sirisena had voluntarily reduced his term by one year. He was expected to leave office after serving a five-year term. He earned admiration of the general public and some political commentators went so far as to call the President a modern-day Sirisangabo (a king who ‘donated’ his head to a stranger according to legend). President used to boast that he was the only head of state in the world to have his term shortened. The yahapalana camp has been flaunting his ‘sacrifice’ to boost its image. But, owing to his question to the Supreme Court at issue he has come to be seen as yet another politician who can’t bring himself to let go of power.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sirisena Once Hailed as a Modern Day Sri Sangabo Should Hang up His Boots After Completing Five Years as President -The Island’ »

Constitution Bars Sirisena from Getting Extra Year in Office, Centre for Policy Alternatives Tells Supreme Court


The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) told the Sri Lankan Supreme Court on Thursday that the 19 th. Amendment of the constitution makes it very clear that the term of the President, including the incumbent Maithripa Sirisena, is five years and not six.

“CPA’s position on the 19 th. Amendment to the Constitution is very clear. The Amendment makes express provision that the President’s term is limited to five years: Article 30(2) of the Constitution says that the President of the Republic shall be elected by the People, and shall hold office for a term of five years,” the think tank said in its intervening submission.

“Further, the Amendment’s transitional provisions explicitly state that this five-year term limit applies equally to the sitting President. Section 49(1)(b) of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution says, “for the avoidance of doubt it is hereby declared that … the persons holding office respectively, as the President and Prime Minister on the day preceding April 22, 2015 shall continue to hold such office after such date, subject to the provisions of the Constitution as amended by this Act.”

Continue reading ‘Constitution Bars Sirisena from Getting Extra Year in Office, Centre for Policy Alternatives Tells Supreme Court’ »

Maithripala Sirisena Can Continue As President For Six Years Argues Attorney – General Jayantha Jayasuriya Before Supreme Court


By S.S. Selvanayagam

Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya yesterday (11) contended that President Maithripala Sirisena could continue his term of office as President for six years, even as a five-judge bench of the country’s highest court heard interventions on a knotty and politically charged question put before them by the incumbent President himself.

Making submissions in a packed courtroom, the Attorney General, appearing with Additional Solicitor General Murdu Fernando and Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle, submitted that the incumbent President Maithripala Sirisena had sought the opinion of the Supreme Court on whether there was any impediment to him continuing his terms of office for six years as President as amended in Article 31 of the 19th Amendment.

He stated that the presidential election was held on 8 January 2015 and incumbent President Sirisena was elected and assumed duty on 9 January 2015.

The Attorney General argued that the President had been elected on 9 January for a term of office of six years.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sirisena Can Continue As President For Six Years Argues Attorney – General Jayantha Jayasuriya Before Supreme Court’ »

Counsel Argue For and Against Six Year Term For President Maithripala Sirisena Before Five Judge Bench Of Supreme Court

By Chitra Weerarathne

President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva said in the Supreme Court yesterday that Parliament had not said that the incumbent President Sirisena could hold office for six years when it passed the 19th amendment to the Constitution in May 2015; it had only said the term of the President should be five years and not six years. Under the operative law President Sirisena could not go beyond five years, he argued

The five-member bench comprised Chief Justice Priyasarth Dep, Justice Eva Wanasundera, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Sisira De Abrew and Justice K. T. Chitrasiri.

President Sirisena has sought a clarification from the Supreme Court whether the 19th Amendment has any effect on the six-year duration of his term.

At the outset, the Attorney General President’s Counsel Jayantha Jayasooriya said the people had exercised their franchise and elected the incumbent President on January 8, 2015.

Continue reading ‘Counsel Argue For and Against Six Year Term For President Maithripala Sirisena Before Five Judge Bench Of Supreme Court’ »

Will Superstar Rajinikanth’s foray into politics make a dent in established parties such as the AIADMK and the DMK?

By

Colonel R Hariharan

The two-decade long wait of thousands of fans of Tamil cinema’s superstar Rajinikanth ended on New Year eve when he announced his entry into politics is certain. To the roaring approval of thousands of fans attending the six-day interaction with the Thalaiva (as they lovingly call him), he added, “I will form my own political party and contest from all 234 seats in the next assembly election.”

As the news spread, Tamil Nadu’s political parties went into a tizzy. They have strong reasons to worry – many of their youthful party cadre were also members of Rajini fan clubs across the state. Responding to their Thalaiva’s call, there is a fear that they may shed their party affiliations to join his party.

Officially, there were 50,000 registered Rajini fan clubs in the state in 1995-96, when registration was stopped. Incidentally, there is a fan club in far-off Tokyo! According to a media estimate, now there are 80,000 fan clubs in all. In his speech, Rajinikanth said “I have several thousand fan clubs, in villages and cities all across the state. The unregistered ones are twice as many.” Rajinikanth said that uniting them all would be the first task. Moreover, there are thousands of fans in all age groups outside the fan clubs also. It is these formidable numbers that worries the political parties.

Continue reading ‘Will Superstar Rajinikanth’s foray into politics make a dent in established parties such as the AIADMK and the DMK?’ »

Can Superstar Rajinikanth Be Another “Puratchi Thalaiver” MGR?

By

Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

“My entry into politics is certain.This is the compulsion of the times. In the upcoming state assembly polls, I will start my own political party, and contest in all the 234 constituencies in Tamil Nadu.” With those words, Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, idolized as Rajinikanth the larger than life superstar of the Tamil movie world, entered the political arena on New Year’s Eve, bringing to an end two decades of vacillation over the move.

Declaring that the time for political change has come, the superstar pronounced his politics would be spiritual and devoid of religion or caste orientations, but purposefully refrained from spelling out any ideological position or political program.

As to forming his own party, Rajinikanth has emerged pragmatic, saying there isn’t time to get organized to contest the local body polls, likely to be held in few months, and as for the 2019 parliamentary elections, he would decide when the time comes. However, the superstar who has been extremely critical of political events in Tamil Nadu in the past year, is said to have urged his fans not to talk politics or about him and not to criticize other political leaders and parties until his party is launched, to face a democratic challenge.

Ever the charismatic superstar, Rajinikanth used his formidable stage presence to get the message of his political ambitions to fans all over Tamil Nadu. Clearly, he has his eye on the state assembly elections in 2021, with the Chief Minister post as the ultimate goal.

Continue reading ‘Can Superstar Rajinikanth Be Another “Puratchi Thalaiver” MGR?’ »

Parliamentarian Brawl: Marikkar Punches Lokuge Who Slaps Marikkar Who Hits Lokuge From Behind; Chaminda Wijesiri Tears Prasanna Ranaweera’s Shirt:Johnston Fernando Punches Chaminda Wijesiri and Hector Appuhamy;Prasanna Ranatunga Hits Wijesiri and Runs Away: Ranjith Soyza Assaulted:Kavinda Jayawardene Faints;Ranjan Ramanayake Records Fracas On Mobile Phone

By Skandha Gunasekara and Ashwin Hemmathagama

Parliamentary proceedings descended into fisticuffs and name-calling yesterday when a brawl erupted in the House after the Speaker failed to obtain and table the bond report in Parliament.

United National Party (UNP) and Joint Opposition parliamentarians clashed yesterday soon after the Joint Opposition invaded the Well of the House.

The chaos began when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was making his statement despite the Joint Opposition (JO) invading the Well, displaying placards and chanting slogans. The serjeant-at-arms Anil Parakrama Samarasekera and his deputy Kushan Jayaratne held the Mace in the bracket when the JO parliamentarians tried to grab it

As the Prime Minister continued, the UNP MPs too stepped into the Well of the House and began shouting at the JO in retaliation. Once the Premier wrapped up his speech Speaker Karu Jayasuriya suspended sittings for 10 minutes at around 11.00 a.m.

Continue reading ‘Parliamentarian Brawl: Marikkar Punches Lokuge Who Slaps Marikkar Who Hits Lokuge From Behind; Chaminda Wijesiri Tears Prasanna Ranaweera’s Shirt:Johnston Fernando Punches Chaminda Wijesiri and Hector Appuhamy;Prasanna Ranatunga Hits Wijesiri and Runs Away: Ranjith Soyza Assaulted:Kavinda Jayawardene Faints;Ranjan Ramanayake Records Fracas On Mobile Phone’ »

Why Maithripala Sirisena Wants To Extend His Presidential Term Of Office From Five To Six Years

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirsena’s bid to get another year in office through a Supreme Court interpretation of the relevant clauses of the 19 th. Amendment (19A) of the Constitution, stems both from a lack of clarity in the clauses and Sirisena’s own pressing need to stay in power a little longer.

In a letter to Chief Justice Priyasath Dep dated January 8, Sirisena had sought the court’s opinion on whether there is a constitutional bar on his continuing in office for six hears instead of five.

What Sirisena asked in his letter was: “Whether, in terms of Provisions of the Constitution, I, as the person elected and succeeding to the office of President and having assumed such office in terms of Article 32(1) of the Constitution on 09th January 2015, have any impediment to continue in the office of President for a period of 6 years from 09th January 2015, the date on which the result of my election to the office of President was declared”.

President Sirisena had asked for a response to be submitted to him on or before January 14, 2018.

Continue reading ‘Why Maithripala Sirisena Wants To Extend His Presidential Term Of Office From Five To Six Years’ »

Central Bank Issuance Of Treasury Bonds Through Private Placements Without Monetary Board Approval Between 2008 to 2014 Must Be Investigated Declares Prime Minister Wickremesinghe In special Statement.


By Saman Indrajith

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said in Parliament that there had been no transparency in treasury bonds issued during the period of 2008 and 2014 and they too should be investigated.

Making a statement he said that the majority of the bond issuances during the period 2008 to 2014 were done as direct private placements.

“There was absolutely no transparency. During this period bonds to the tune of Rs. 5,147,751,210,000 had been issued while of this amount bonds to the tune of Rs. 4,702,232,210,000 had been issued as direct private placements. None of these transactions had received the approval of the Monetary Board.”

The Prime Minister’s statement is as follows –

The final report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Bond Issuance of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka during the period from February 01, 2015 to March 31, 2016, was handed over to President Maithripala Sirisena on December 31, 2017.

Continue reading ‘Central Bank Issuance Of Treasury Bonds Through Private Placements Without Monetary Board Approval Between 2008 to 2014 Must Be Investigated Declares Prime Minister Wickremesinghe In special Statement.’ »

Fisticuffs Break Out In The House Following Speaker’s Failure To table Bond Scam Probe Commission Report In Parliament.

By

Saman Indrajith

Brawls marred yesterday’s special parliamentary sitting as the UNP and the Joint Opposition (JO) MPs resorted to fisticuffs after the Speaker failed to arrange for the tabling of the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that investigated the Treasury bond scams.

The JO MPs invaded the Well of the House protesting against the government’s failure to honour its promise to table the report.

When the House commenced sittings, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, said that the Presidential Secretariat had informed him that the bond commission report and 34 reports of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges (PRECIFAC) would be made available to Parliament after one week. The Secretary to the President had also informed the Speaker that copies of the bond commission report had been referred to the Attorney General, Central Bank and the Bribery Commission.

Continue reading ‘Fisticuffs Break Out In The House Following Speaker’s Failure To table Bond Scam Probe Commission Report In Parliament.’ »

Politics of Mistrust Prevails Between The Tamil And Muslim Communities Of Sri Lanka


By

Dr. Ameer Ali

Since the first parliamentary elections in 1947 Tamil-Muslim political relations in Sri Lanka has been dominated by mutual mistrust. Even though the Chelvanakam’sFederal Party and Ponnampalam’sCeylon Tamil Congress included the Muslims under the rubric Tamil-speaking people whenever they addressed public rallies, and similarly, even though Muslim political leaders talked tirelessly of the Tamil language and the proverbial ‘pittu and coconut” to underline the two communities’ inseparable coexistence, these were in reality utterances reiterated more for reasons of political correctness than out of any genuine concern for each other’s political, economic and cultural development and well being.

This historical fact cannot be glossed over any more and should be openly confronted, admitted and removed because Sri Lankan politics has reached such a critical juncture where particularly after 2009 majoritarian politics, consumed overwhelmingly by ethnic and religious chauvinism,has created an existential crisis for both minorities.

Past strategies of playing politics of opportunism on the part of Muslims and of separatism on the part of Tamils have passed their use by date, and new strategies have to be thought out for the two communities to live and prosper with equality and dignity in a globally connected but locally undivided Sri Lanka.

One would have thought that after the end of the 25-year bloody civil war Colombo leadership would have come to its senses to sort out the minority issue quickly and seriously and avoid international agencies to intervene in a purely domestic matter. One would have also expected the two minority communities to have realised that their future survival, dignity and development cannot be achieved through mutual suspicion and mistrust but through unity built on frank admission of past mistakes, openness in dialogue and justice in objectives.

No doubt that a united plural Sri Lanka with all its naturally endowed and humanly created resources is a match to any country in the world. Yet and tragically, what has happened over the last nine years was deliberate procrastination by successive governments leading to further deterioration of national unity, increasing economic hardship to many and encroaching foreign influence in the country.

Continue reading ‘Politics of Mistrust Prevails Between The Tamil And Muslim Communities Of Sri Lanka’ »

UNP MP’s Form Cordon To Protect Prime Minister From Opposition Attacks While Chanting “Hora,Hora,Mahinda Hora”(Thief,Thief, Mahinda Thief)

The inquiries into a controversial bond auctions by the parliament and presidential commission showed that rule of law was once again working in Sri Lanka but people still find it to be unusual Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament.

He said an inquiry initiative by him by three lawyers had recommended a further investigation and then the parliaments’ Committee on Public Enterprises had also examined the issue, showing that the assembly had control over the country’s finances.

Wickremesinghe said he had presented the report to the Attorney General and the Central Bank Governor had also frozen 12 billion rupees of assets of Perpetual Treasuries which is alleged to have made illegal profits.

Continue reading ‘UNP MP’s Form Cordon To Protect Prime Minister From Opposition Attacks While Chanting “Hora,Hora,Mahinda Hora”(Thief,Thief, Mahinda Thief)’ »

Joint Opposition MP Gamini Lokuge Started Fight In Parliament By Attacking Govt MP Marikkar Charge Hirunika Premachandra and Harsha De Silva

Many UNP MPs claimed that UPFA Parliamentarian Gamini Lokuge started the fistfight in Parliament, this morning.

Parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra said it was Lokuge who started the fight by attacking S.M Marikkar in the isle of the House.

It was confirmed by Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva who said he saw how Lokuge started the fight.

Continue reading ‘Joint Opposition MP Gamini Lokuge Started Fight In Parliament By Attacking Govt MP Marikkar Charge Hirunika Premachandra and Harsha De Silva’ »

Speaker Suspends Sittings As Violence Erupts In Parliament After Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Is Hit By an Object While Making Special Statement On treasury Bond Scam

A tense situation erupted in the Sri Lankan Parliament on Wednesday as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe read a special statement to the House over a Treasury bond scam committed at the Central Bank.

Opposition legislators, loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapakse, launched a protest in the middle of the House as Wickremesinghe read his statement, calling for the Speaker of Parliament to divulge the details of the Treasury Bond scam which had been probed by a special presidential commission.

The situation soon turned violent when an object was hurled at the Prime Minister.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya suspended sittings for 10 minutes in order to restore normalcy.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Suspends Sittings As Violence Erupts In Parliament After Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Is Hit By an Object While Making Special Statement On treasury Bond Scam’ »

Maithripala Asks Supreme Court Whether He Can Remain as President For a Period of Six Years From Jan 9th 2015 Onwards

by Chitra Weerarathne

President Maithripala Sirisena, who publicly proclaimed several times, that he had voluntarily agreed to get his term of office reduced from six years to five through the 19th Amendment passed in April 2015, making it a world record by a sitting leader, has now asked the Supreme Court whether he can complete the original six year term.

A source close to the President yesterday confirmed that the Head of State had, in fact, asked the highest court for its opinion on the matter.

President Sirisena has asked the Supreme Court “Whether, in terms of Provisions of the Constitution, I, as the person elected and succeeding to the office of President and having assumed such office in terms of Article 32(1) of the Constitution on 9th January 2015, have any impediment to continue in the office of President for a period of six years from 9th January 2015, the date on which the result of my election to the office of President was declared”.

Consequently, Supreme Court Registrar Mrs M.M. Jayasekera has written to the President/Secretary of the Bar Association yesterday stating “I have been directed by His Lordship the Hon Chief Justice to inform you that His Excellency the President, in terms of Article 129(1) of the Constitution, has referred to this court (regarding the above) for its consideration and for an opinion to be submitted to His Excellency on or before 14th January 2018.

“I shall be pleased, if you could inform to the membership that the above mentioned reference will be listed on 11th January 2016 at 11:00 am in the Supreme Court.”

The Bar Association Secretary in turn yesterday sent notices to its membership to make their observations to the court tomorrow as requested by it as per ‘Supreme Court Reference 01/2018’.

The Island learns that the SC Registrar has made a similar request to the Attorney General.

Courtesy:The Island

Separate Tamil State Demand Abandoned By DMK After 16th Constitutional Amendment Bans Secessionism In India

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Thamizhan Illaathaa Naadumillai. Thamizhanukkendroru Naadumillai”
(There is no country without Tamils. There is no country for the Tamils) is a saying in Tamil that vividly illustrates the angst felt by the more nationalist sections of Tamils about the lack of a country of their own – an Independent sovereign self-governing Tamil state! The Tamils who speak one of the most ancient living languages in the world boast of a distinct civilization and vintage heritage. Tamils live in almost every country on the global map and are substantially concentrated in many of those including India, Sri Lanka,Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, South Africa, Fiji, Mauritius,Trinidad etc. Tamils have been elected to office in different local bodies and legislatures of many countries and have served as councillors, mayors, Senators, Ministers, Prime ministers and heads of state. Yet the Tamils have no country to call their own, exclusive homeland.

The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu meaning Tamil Land or Tamil Country is home to more than 60 million Tamil speaking people. It stands to reason therefore that if the Tamils do want to establish a separate state of their own, the best and correct choice would be for Tamil Nadu to declare independence and secede from the Indian union. However that has not happened so far. Although there was a flourishing Tamil secessionist movement in India at one time , the Tamil separatist demand is now virtually extinct in India. The primary factor which contributed to this state of affairs was the pragmatic conduct of the Dravida Munnetrak Kazhagham(DMK) which abandoned the secessionist demand when separatism was banned through the 16th Amendment to the Indian Constitution. How this state of affairs came about provides a fascinating glimpse into Indian politics in general and Tamil (Indian) politics in particular.
Continue reading ‘Separate Tamil State Demand Abandoned By DMK After 16th Constitutional Amendment Bans Secessionism In India’ »

President Sirisena Desiring To Extend His Term of Office For One More Year May Result In Major Confrontation With Prime Minister and UNP

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena has asked the Supreme Court if he can remain in office for six years despite having reduced his tenure to five through a constitutional amendment, officials said Tuesday.

The move to seek an interpretation to the 19th amendment to the constitution which among other things reduced the term of office to five years will put Sirisena on a collision course with his senior coalition partner.

The United National Party-led government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was hoping for a presidential poll by January 2020, six months ahead of the next general election.

Sirisena’s letter to the Supreme Court seeking an interpretation suggests he wants to remain in power for another year despite having repeatedly claimed he voluntarily shortened his tenure.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Desiring To Extend His Term of Office For One More Year May Result In Major Confrontation With Prime Minister and UNP’ »

Angelo Mathews Appointed Capt for ODI and T 20 National Cricket Team

Angelo Mathews has been appointed as the ODI and T20 captain of the Sri Lanka national team, the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) announced short while ago.

SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala officially announced the decision at a press briefing being held in Colombo.

The Sri Lanka Cricket Selection committee has decided to appoint Mathews as the captain following a discussion held with newly appointed head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe.

Courtesy:Daily Mirror

‘Name The Underworld Figures Of Colombo North We Have Supposedly Nominated For Local Govt Elections” – Ex-Minister Ravi Karunanayake Urges Cabinet Minister Mano Ganesan

By

(Chaturanga Pradeep Samarawickrama and Indika Sri Aravinda

UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake yesterday denied the claims made by Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) leader Minister Mano Ganesan that underworld figures had been nominated for the upcoming local government (LG) elections to represent the Colombo North.

Responding to a question raised by a journalist when MP Karunanayake visiting the grave site of slain newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, on his 9th death anniversary at the Borella Cemetery in Colombo, said, if ‘members of underworld’ can stay in the government what would be the problem.

“I cordially invite all media personnel to visit Colombo North and to investigate over the claims made by Minister Mano Ganesan. We are walking freely but that minister is walking with special security,” he said.

Continue reading ‘‘Name The Underworld Figures Of Colombo North We Have Supposedly Nominated For Local Govt Elections” – Ex-Minister Ravi Karunanayake Urges Cabinet Minister Mano Ganesan’ »

President Sirisena Swings His Sword To Cut Off a Good Deal Of The UNP’s Vital Parts

By
Ranga Jayasuriya

Last week, President Maithripala Sirisena swung his ‘sword’ that he recently vouched to use. The UNP had a good deal of its vital parts cut off. It would be nursing those wounds throughout the local government election campaign, which it was earlier expected to win hands down.

The president in his much awaited statement on the report of the Presidential Commission appointed to investigate the alleged irregularities in the Central Bank bond deals delivered a damning censure against the former Central Bank governor Arjuna Mahendran, his son-in-law and Perpetual Treasuries Ltd., owner Arjun Aloysious and former finance minister Ravi Karunanayake.

He assured that legal action would be taken against those implicated by the Commission and to implement the Commission’s recommendations that involve an overhaul of the Central Bank’s bond department, introducing a new Monetary Law and replacing the Registered Share Market Act with a new law.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Swings His Sword To Cut Off a Good Deal Of The UNP’s Vital Parts’ »

Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa wants Voters To Register Their Protest Against “This Corrupt,Incompetent Govt” On Feb 10th

(Text of MEDIA RELEASE Issued by Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the “Third anniversary of the incompetent government responsible for the worst debt crisis in Sri Lankan history”)

On 9 January 2018, the so-called yahapalana government completes three years in office. During this short period they have created numerous crises running through virtually every sector in Sri Lanka. The main subject of public discussion today is the bond scam and the attempts being made by the yahapalana leaders to sweep it under the carpet. We are awaiting the release of the full report of the Bond Commission. The bond scam is only one of the many disasters brought upon this country by the yahapalana government. As this government marks its third anniversary, I wish to draw the attention of the public to another danger they have brought upon this country.

During the short period of 36 months that this government has been in power, they have borrowed over USD 14.6 billion in foreign currency loans alone, the breakdown of which would be as follows – USD 7.2 billion through the issue of Sri Lanka Development Bonds from January 2015 onwards, USD 3.6 billion from sovereign bonds issued in 2015 and 2017, USD 2.2 billion through currency swap arrangements with India in 2015 and 2016, USD 1.7 billionthrough syndicated loans arranged through several international banks in 2016 and 2017 and USD 1.5 billion from the IMF Extended Fund Facility in 2016. No previous government has borrowed so much money through foreign currency loans in such a short period of time.

Even though 14.6 billion USD would suffice to build five Norochcholai power plants, five Hambantotaharbours with enough money being left over to build two more Southern Expressways, the yahapalana government has not built even a culvert with that money. I have made reference so far only to foreign currency loans. From January 2015 to date, the yahapalana government has borrowed well over Rs. 5.7 trillion in Rupee loans as well, through the issue of treasury bills and treasury bonds.The government commissionedthe Moragahakanda project and opened the Rajagriya flyover to coincide with its third anniversary so as to answer the critics who say that the yahapalana government has not built anything tangible despite massive foreign borrowings. However, the Moragahakanda project was planned, financial allocations were made and construction commended under my government way back in 2007 in accordance with the 2005 MahindaChintanaprogramme. Likewise the Rajagiriya flyover was planned and money was allocated for its construction by my government. Cabinet approval was granted to call for bids to select contractors for the construction of the flyovers in Rajagiriya, Polgahawela and Ganemullaat the cabinet meeting held on 4 December 2014.

Continue reading ‘Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa wants Voters To Register Their Protest Against “This Corrupt,Incompetent Govt” On Feb 10th’ »

Slain Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga’s Brother Lal Asks Govt at 9th Death Anniversary “What About Bringing The Perpetrators To Book”?

(Following is the statement by Lal Wickrematunge, brother of slain The Sunday Leader Founder Editor-in-Chief Lasantha Wickrematunge, on the ninth anniversary of his murder. It was read out by Lal’s daughter Minal at the memorial gathering held on 8 January at Lasantha’s graveside)

Nine years have passed since Lasantha was done to death in the most dastardly fashion. Nine years have passed and justice has not been done. Murder, not restricted to Lasantha but of other journalists, was carried out with impunity at a time when apathy reigned amongst the people.

At present there is a sense of hopelessness at the manner the present administration is handling investigations. Should political authorities be guiding murder investigations, one may ask. Some may argue that it is the duty to do so since the very same murders have been used to garner votes at election time. Presently, the murders are used to remind people of how brutal a regime was when they occurred. But what about bringing the perpetrators to book?
Continue reading ‘Slain Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga’s Brother Lal Asks Govt at 9th Death Anniversary “What About Bringing The Perpetrators To Book”?’ »

Ranil Challenges Media to Debate Ten Trillion Rupee Loss Caused By Irregular Sale OF Four Trillion Rs Treasury Bond Sales From 2008 to 2015 During Rajapaksa Regime.

Kicking campaigning for the upcoming Local Government elections into a new gear, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday said the Government would have to pay a whopping Rs. 10 trillion over the next 25 years due to allegedly irregular bond sales of Rs. 4 trillion from 2008 to 2015 without the Central Bank’s Monetary Board approval.

Attending a special Convention at Campbell Park yesterday accompanied by stalwarts of the United National Party (UNP), including Deputy Leader Ravi Karunanayake and General Secretary Kabir Hashim, the Prime Minister spoke in detail about the bond report and its repercussions. As the bond report had recommended an audit on alleged irregularities in bond sales from 2008-2015, Wickremesinghe insisted the Government was committed to beginning investigations into these allegations “as soon as possible.”

Continue reading ‘Ranil Challenges Media to Debate Ten Trillion Rupee Loss Caused By Irregular Sale OF Four Trillion Rs Treasury Bond Sales From 2008 to 2015 During Rajapaksa Regime.’ »

“Nowhere In The World Has A Central Bank Been Robbed In This Manner” Says Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa

By Anura Balasuriya

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa says the loss caused by treasury bond scam was much bigger than the amount stated in the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the bond scam.

Addressing the Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna’s inaugural rally in Kadawatha on Saturday, the former President said that he had serious doubts about the amount of loss mentioned in the report and was sure that the country suffered a very much larger loss than the amount mentioned by the commission.

The former President demanded to know from the government whether the profit earned by investing the funds obtained from the selling of treasury bonds too would be recovered from those responsible for the scam.

Continue reading ‘“Nowhere In The World Has A Central Bank Been Robbed In This Manner” Says Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

“Neither the Prime Minister Nor I Have Committed Anything Wrong” – Ex-Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.

Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake has said that revelations made by the final report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry which investigated the treasury bond issuance of the Central Bank are false.

Addressing a UNP meeting in Colombo, on Saturday, the former Finance Minister said that he had requested a copy of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry report on the Central Bank bond scams.

Karunanayake said that he would make a detailed comment on the report once he secured a copy of it.

Continue reading ‘“Neither the Prime Minister Nor I Have Committed Anything Wrong” – Ex-Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake.’ »

Govt Remains Committed To Goal Of Ensuring Justice For Killers Of Lasantha Wickrematunge and Other Media Personnel”States Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Prime Minister Ranil Wickreme-singhe yesterday stated that he was proud to reflect on the many hurdles overcome so far by the yahapalana government since January 08, 2015.

In a statement issued to mark the 70 th anniversary celebrations of the UNP, the PM said:

“When President Sirisena and I embarked on the campaign for yahapalanaya on November 21, 2014, we were responding to a nationwide outcry to lift Sri Lanka out of the shackles of nepotism, and into the spotlight as a proud and independent member of the community of nations.

“Our promise to the people was that should they elect us to right the course of our country on January 8, 2015, we would rescue the economy, put an end to state-sponsored extra-judicial violence, and restore the independence and respectability of our law enforcement and criminal justice systems. While our journey together has much more to accomplish, I am proud today to reflect on how many hurdles have been overcome so far.

“In the three short years that we have been at the helm of the state, the unity government has implemented the 17th amendment to the constitution and given life to the Constitutional Council and independent commissions that allow the police, judiciary and public service at large to act according to their conscience and not the whims of their political masters of the day.

Continue reading ‘Govt Remains Committed To Goal Of Ensuring Justice For Killers Of Lasantha Wickrematunge and Other Media Personnel”States Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Sirisena Not Showing Bond Commission Report To Wickremesinghe Suggests Prime Minister May Have Lost The Confidence Of The President



By The “Sunday Times” Political Editor

President Maithripala Sirisena chose to reveal highlights of the story behind the Central Bank bond scam on Wednesday – part of the findings of the Commission of Inquiry.

That it came unusually in a pre-recorded 21-minute address to the nation gave it the status of a “national” issue. Yet, it was one that had drawn greater public attention countrywide. Even in villages where there was less literacy and the word ‘bond’ was only associated with James Bond movies, there was sufficient awareness of the alleged plunder of public funds. They were only oblivious to the nitty-gritties of bond auctions but most long believed there was something rotten in the entire episode.

The address did considerably boost Sirisena’s popularity. It had taken a strongly downward slide after his efforts to reunite the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) failed miserably. How much this will impact at the local polls remains to be seen. The SLFP is now having small pocket meetings in some areas. This is ahead of major rallies which Sirisena will address in every district. The main campaign is to be launched next week.

This is one of the rare occasions when a Government in power has appointed a Commission to probe its own activities. Most others have been directed at their predecessors. Sirisena is still livid that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had not kept to the ‘assurances’ he held out about uniting the party. He was in fact in favour of the move but remarks by Prasanna Ranatunga (UPFA – Gampaha District) at a meeting that they (the Joint Opposition) had taken Sirisena ‘for a ride’ had angered him more. Earlier, Sirisena did blame Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) principal strategist Basil Rajapaksa who stoutly opposed any reunification.

And now, what is equally shocking, if not more, is the fact that he has placed his Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s (SLFP) relationship with its coalition partner, the United National Party (UNP), on a razor’s edge. The carefully crafted delivery, the contents of which were perhaps expertly done, seemingly had an eye on the local polls on February 10. It was pregnant with many serious political nuances. That helped him regain some prestige.

It was only a week earlier that he pledged to wield the sword to deal with those whom he perceived as bribe takers or the corrupt and took a few swipes. Those who were scarred, those who are yet to be when the Commission’s report becomes public and the related disclosures all point in the direction of the UNP, the main coalition partner.

Continue reading ‘Sirisena Not Showing Bond Commission Report To Wickremesinghe Suggests Prime Minister May Have Lost The Confidence Of The President’ »

Serious Crisis Of Public Confidence In Presidency,Prime Minister and Government After Release Of Treasury Bond Inquiry Commission Report

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Auspicious times or not, Sri Lanka certainly rang in 2018 singularly inauspiciously as damning revelations of the monumental financial scam right in the bowels of the nation’s Central Bank were revealed to a badly shell-struck public even as the New Year had scarce been allowed to draw its breath.


Fairy tales on battling corruption

The contrast could not be more grotesque. On the one hand, grizzled farmers stood in the scorching sun, pitifully roaring that they were being reduced to beggars as they could not farm their paddy lands without fertilizer. On the other hand, Colombo became the epicenter of a perfect example of how millions can be plundered by slick crooks in immaculate suits and designer watches.

Even as the revelations unfolded, who could be blamed for being cynical regarding promises to recover the loot of the Rajapaksas stashed away in foreign banks? What credibility, the reform of the law couched in abstract if not esoteric terms when even existing laws on gross corruption are deliberately undermined in order to serve selfish political agendas? Who believes these fairy tales?

Those in power may bluster that they will continue to hold on to power till 2020. But they have frittered away an enormous amount of goodwill with which the Government was elected into power. As each crisis unfolds on top of another, the cumulative impact is disastrous.

Continue reading ‘Serious Crisis Of Public Confidence In Presidency,Prime Minister and Government After Release Of Treasury Bond Inquiry Commission Report’ »

Despite Bombastic SLFP Rhetoric Arousing Expectations, President Sirisena’s Treasury Bond Scam Statement Turns Out To Be a Damp Squib.


by C.A.Chandraprema

The ‘special statement’ on the bond commission report made last Wednesday by President Maithripala Sirisena was, all things considered, the only statement that could have been made in the circumstances. To have expected anything else was unrealistic. The yahapalana project is something that goes beyond the President, the SLFP which he controls, and the UNP which is in an uneasy alliance with him. This is a project with many stakeholders both local and foreign and it is not easy for any one partner in the yahapalana coalition to make arbitrary decisions even if his personal political future depends on it. The rhetoric of SLFP Ministers during the hearings of the bond commission and while its final report was pending was such that the expectation created in the country was that the President will go all out against the UNP once the report is out. SLFP ministers probably salivated at the prospect of being able to do the UNP in and win a larger slice of the yahapalana vote.

However, all that fell by the wayside with the President’s tepid statement on the bond commission report. For months members of the JO, SLFP and JVP had been vying with one another to portray all those even remotely involved in the bond matter as rogues and the bond issues themselves as the biggest frauds ever perpetrated in this country or even the South Asia, Asia and even the whole world. SLFP State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene went on record saying that the loss from the bond scam was over one trillion rupees. When he was questioned about this figure he told reporters, “Trust me, I was in the banking sector once, the loss is over one trillion rupees.” One of the most outspoken SLFP figures in this regard was Minister Susil Premajayantha who explained all the cloak and dagger stuff that went into the bond transactions in dramatic detail in parliament.

After months of such posturing, the President’s special statement on the final report of the bond commission was a damp squib to say the least. One thing that this showed was that there is an obvious mismatch between what the President is prepared to do to improve the SLFP’s prospects and what the SLFP ministers and MPs in the government thinks should be done to improve the prospects of the party. This mismatch largely stems from the fact that the SLFP President was voted in by a largely UNP voter base while all his followers in the SLFP government group were elected on the SLFP vote – a vote base that was opposed to everything that the yahapalana government stood for. So the SLFP ministers always sought to pander to their base by attacking the UNP at every opportunity they got. The President too allowed this to happen probably because he was trying to build a party base apart from the UNP.

Continue reading ‘Despite Bombastic SLFP Rhetoric Arousing Expectations, President Sirisena’s Treasury Bond Scam Statement Turns Out To Be a Damp Squib.’ »

Bitter Reaction of the USA and India to the Hambantota Port Deal With China is a Warning to Sri Lanka


By Saman Gunadasa

The Sri Lanka government formally handed over Hambantota Port to China Merchant Port Holdings (CMPH) on December 9, after almost two years of negotiations. The port is located on the country’s southern coast, close to some of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

Addressing the ceremonial hand-over, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared that Sri Lanka was “on its way to being the hub of the Indian Ocean.” Its port facilities—in Colombo, Hambantota and Trincomalee—were “part of the modern maritime silk route.”

China’s Xinhua news agency reported that Sri Lanka had “joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)” through the Hambantota Port joint venture.

Continue reading ‘Bitter Reaction of the USA and India to the Hambantota Port Deal With China is a Warning to Sri Lanka’ »

President Sirisena’s Statement On Bond Commission Report Amended To Remove Critical References To Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

President Maithripala Sirisena’s office has put out several versions of his bond commission statement in an apparent attempt to soften the blow to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his party.

The first English translation of the President’s Sinhala statement was reasonably close to the original, but a subsequent version — Bond Report V3 final.docx — took the sting out.

It removed all references to Wickremesinghe and the then finance minister Ravi Karunanayake.

The President’s website carried the first translation and later swapped it with the new version which was once again amended bringing back references to Ravi Karunanayake but without including Wickremesinghe’s name.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s Statement On Bond Commission Report Amended To Remove Critical References To Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

♥’Kaatriniley Varum Geetham’-Melodiously Sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi in/as “Meera”♫

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs – 8

Madurai Shanmugavadivu Subbulakshmi known as MS Subbulakshmi or more popularly as ‘MS’was a sublime singer who ruled the Indian classical music world for over five decades.Blessed with a divine voice,immeasurable talent and ethereal beauty she captivated the hearts and minds of innumerable fans. MS was acknowledged at the time of Indian Independence as the “Nightingale of India”. Former Indian premier Jawaharlal Nehru once paid her a huge compliment saying ‘Who am I a mere Prime minister before a Queen, the Queen of Music’?

MS Subbulakshmi

MS Subbulakshmi

MS Subbulakshmi was born on September 16th 1916 in the southern city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. The current 2016 is her birth centenary year. Subbulakshmi whose pet name in childhood was Kunjamma trained in Carnatic music under Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and learnt Hindustani music from Pandit Narayanarao Vyas. Subbulakshmi’s mother Shanmugavadivu Ammaal was a Veena exponent hailing from the “Isaivaelalar” community. Her father Subramania Iyer was a Brahmin lawyer. She married Thiyagaraja Sathasivam known as “Kalki”Sathasivam who co – founded the popular Tamil weekly magazine “Kalki” and remained at its administrative helm for many decades.
Continue reading ‘♥’Kaatriniley Varum Geetham’-Melodiously Sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi in/as “Meera”♫’ »

Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Prepared To Face Forensic Audit on Treasury Bond Scam Allegedly Committed By His Govt During 2008 to 2015.

By Norman Palihawadana

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was happy about the decision taken by the government to conduct a forensic audit on alleged bond scams under the UPFA government from 2008 to 2015.

Continue reading ‘Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa Prepared To Face Forensic Audit on Treasury Bond Scam Allegedly Committed By His Govt During 2008 to 2015.’ »

President Sirisena Has Cleared the Good Name Of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe In His Statement About Central Bank Bond Scam says Jint Opposition MP Namal Rajapaksa

By

Kalathma Jayawardhane

Joint Opposition MP Namal Rajapaksa yesterday said President Maithripala Sirisena had cleared the good name of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe through his Wednesday’s statement on the Central Bank bond scam.

Addressing the media following an event held in Colombo, MP Rajapaksa said that accordingly, now the wrongdoer was former Central Bank Governor Arjun Mahendran.

“In President Sirisena’s statement, he has cleared the good name of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. The wrongdoer is Mahendran, not the person who had appointed him or the person who was going to appoint him,” he added.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Has Cleared the Good Name Of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe In His Statement About Central Bank Bond Scam says Jint Opposition MP Namal Rajapaksa’ »

Since President Sirisena Appointed Arjuna Mahendran as Central Bank Governor ,He Too Must Bear Responsibility for Treasury Bond Fraud States Prof G.L.Peiris

By

Kalathma Jayawardhane

In the wake of President Maithripala Sirisena’s statement on the Central Bank bond scam, the joint opposition today said President Sirisena should also be held responsible for the fraud as he was the appointing authority of Arjuna Mahendran as the Central Bank Governor who cleaned out the Treasury.

Addressing a news conference on behalf of the joint opposition, former minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said President Sirisena had only appointed Mr. Mahendran. He also said yesterday’s President Sirisena’s statement was merely to distance himself from the fraud which had caused a whopping loss of Rs. 11 billion to the state.

Continue reading ‘Since President Sirisena Appointed Arjuna Mahendran as Central Bank Governor ,He Too Must Bear Responsibility for Treasury Bond Fraud States Prof G.L.Peiris’ »

Ranil Wanted Attorney-General in DEc 2016 To Take Action on COPE Report On Treasury Bonds Scam But A -G Dept Has Not Done So Far.


Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday maintained that, on his instructions they had already referred the findings of the COPE Committee headed by parliamentarian Sunil Handunnetti that probed the Treasury bond scams to the Attorney General on October 31, 2016. President Maithripala Sirisena forwarded the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the scams also to AG recently.

The PM, has in a media statement, said he had also requested the AG in December 2016 to take suitable legal action against the responsible officers for the controversial bond dealings and to straighten out the issuance of bonds.

“We have been able to reinforce the yahapalana national government’s democratic and law abiding programme by such actions. Now we expect the AG’s Department to take suitable follow up action” he has said.

Continue reading ‘Ranil Wanted Attorney-General in DEc 2016 To Take Action on COPE Report On Treasury Bonds Scam But A -G Dept Has Not Done So Far.’ »

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe “Hopes” Attorney – General Will Act on Presidential Commission of Inquiry Report on Treasury Bond Scam

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister’s office expressed hope that the Attorney General will act on a report by President Commission of Inquiry, though no action has been taken on a parliamentary report which was handed over more than a year ago.

The Prime Minister’s office said a report by the parliament’s Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) was referred to the AG as far back as October 31, 2016.

“The report on the Presidential Commission on bond issues has been referred by the President to the Attorney General,” the statement said.

“The report of the COPE Chaired by Sunil Handunetti was referred with instructions from the Prime Minister on October 31 to the Attorney General.”

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Wickremesinghe “Hopes” Attorney – General Will Act on Presidential Commission of Inquiry Report on Treasury Bond Scam’ »

Bond Commission Report Enables Maithripala Sirisena To Hold Whip Hand Over Ranil Wickremesinghe As Well As Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The report of the Sri Lankan Presidential Commission which probed a massive illegality in the issue of Treasury Bonds by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) in 2015, serves the political interest of President Maithripala Sirisena.

The report on the multi billion rupee scam, the main contents of which were revealed to the country by Sirisena on Wednesday, helps him keep the coalition with the United National Party (UNP) going despite sharp differences and moves within to scuttle it.

By only mildly ticking off UNP leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for going by the false assurances given by the erring bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran, the report helps Sirisena safeguard his relations with his Prime Minister, who heads the single largest party in parliament.

By saying that similar scams had taken place when Mahinda Rajapaksa was President, and his man Ajith Cabraal was CBSL Governor, and that the bonds issued between 2008 and 2015 should also be investigated and legal action taken, the report helps put Joint Opposition leader and carping critic Rajapaksa and his henchmen in the dock.

With Sirisena saying that he has asked the Attorney General to begin the legal process, the Rajapaksa camp will have cause to worry in the run up to the crucial local bodies elections in February.

Continue reading ‘Bond Commission Report Enables Maithripala Sirisena To Hold Whip Hand Over Ranil Wickremesinghe As Well As Mahinda Rajapaksa.’ »

Sri Lanka to enact new monetary law to prevent corruption at Central Bank following Bond Scam

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, in a special statement to the nation on Wednesday said that the government would adapt a new Monetary Law Act in the island country to avoid any malpractices in the Central Bank in the future.

Sirisena made the statement following the conclusion of probe by a special Presidential Commission into one of the country’s biggest treasury bond scams committed at the Central Bank during the period of the former Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran.

The country’s treasury is said to have lost Rs,11,145 million due to treasury bond scam and other malpractices committed allegedly under the watch of the former Central Bank Chief and some bank officials.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka to enact new monetary law to prevent corruption at Central Bank following Bond Scam’ »

President Sirisena says Commission of Inquiry Report Recommends Legal Action Under Penal Code Against Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena said a Presidential Commission which probed Sri Lanka’s biggest securities scam has held former central bank governor Arjuna Mahendren responsible for leaking market sensitive information and also recommended legal action against former finance minister Ravi Karunanayake.

Making a special statement to media on the Presidential Bond Commission report, Sirisena said they had recommended legal action against all those responsible for the scam.

The commission of inquiry probed a series of rigged bond auctions conducted by the central bank under then Governor Arjuna Mahendran where his son-in-law’s company Perpetual Treasuries bought securities at low prices (high yields).

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena says Commission of Inquiry Report Recommends Legal Action Under Penal Code Against Former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake’ »

“Perpetual Treasuries Has Earned Profits Through Illegal Means With the Involvement of Arjuna Mahendran, Central Bank Officials and Some External Parties” – President Sirisena

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday revealed to the public recent incidents of corruption and bribery over the issuance of Treasury Bonds as well as serious acts of fraud and abuse of power and state resources, backing key recommendations from specialists tasked with an independent probe.

In a much-awaited prerecorded televised address to the nation, the President detailed the incidents, several of which were criminal in nature, and named the culprits, among whom were the former Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, the Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and his son-in-law Arjun Aloysius along with other officials and private sector personnel.


Full Text oftThe Official translation of President Sirisena’s speech released by the President’s Office is as follows –


May the Triple Gem Bless You!

First of all, I offer my best wishes for the New Year.

As the people of the country are eagerly waiting with high interest, I wish to make a statement on the final report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Issue of Treasury Bonds of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, which was appointed by me taking into consideration the opinion of the people regarding allegations of corrupt practices and misdeeds during the period 2015 and 2016. Its report was handed over to me on December 30, 2017.

The Commission was mandated to inquire into the issuance of treasury bonds during the period from 1st February 2015 to 31st March 2016 to find out actual facts and to make recommendations as to the steps to be implemented in the future.

I thank the Supreme Court Judges and former Auditor-General who functioned as members of the Commission and its Secretary and the staff, and those who assisted the work of the Commission, Attorney Generals Department, Police Department and other relevant organizations and individuals.

The Commission is of the opinion that similar incidents as revealed in the Commission Report had happened even in 2008. The Commission recommends that the Central Bank of Sri Lanka should first conduct a forensic audit with regard to the alleged fraud and corrupt practices from 2008 onwards, and based on such findings, legal actions should be taken.

Commission states that funds of the Employment Provident Fund (EPF) were lost mostly during that period.

The Commission has submitted a full report covering the period 2015 and 2016, comprising 1257 pages and it is not an interim report. The Commission has taken 10 months for this task.

I have already submitted this report to Attorney-General and the Commission recommends that the criminal and civil court action must be taken through the Criminal Investigations Department and the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption.

The Commission has clearly stated the structure of the Central Bank, Public Debt Department, direct issuance of Treasury bonds and the pros and cons of the system of issuance of bonds as well as bond auctions. The report stated that the Perpetual Treasuries Limited has earned profits through means that are not legal, with the involvement of Mr Arjuna Mahendran, Bank officials and some external parties.

Continue reading ‘“Perpetual Treasuries Has Earned Profits Through Illegal Means With the Involvement of Arjuna Mahendran, Central Bank Officials and Some External Parties” – President Sirisena’ »

Nine Politicians Named For Role in Treasury Bond Scam in Presidential Inquiry Commission Report Say Unconfirmed reports;Strong Indictments against Arjuna Mahendran and Arjun Aloysius;Further Probe Recommended Into Ravi Karunanayake’s “Monarch” Apartment Affair

By

The “Sunday Times” Political Editor

(Following are excerpts from the political column appearing in the “Sunday Times” of December 31st 2017)

The three-member Commission of Inquiry to probe the Central Bank bond scam handed over its report to President Sirisena last afternoon at his Paget Road residence in Colombo. During a nine month period, the Commission held 117 days of sittings into what is easily the biggest, single financial scam in Sri Lankan history. It was headed by Supreme Court Justice Kankanithanthri T. Chitrasiri and includes Supreme Court Justice Prasanna Sujeewa Jayawardena, and retired Deputy Auditor General Vellupillai Kandasamy.

With local polls due on February 10, the contents of the report will be the cynosure of the public – if it is made public. More so when the proceedings of the Commission where startling disclosures surfaced, sharply contrasted with what transpired before a parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE). This has drawn greater public attention. Questions were raised on the veracity of many assertions. Similarly, it also brought into question the findings of an official committee and the remarks UNP MPs made in Parliament based on them. In essence, the overarching question at issue is how much the Commission’s findings would contrast with the UNP claim that there was ‘no wrong doing.’

Continue reading ‘Nine Politicians Named For Role in Treasury Bond Scam in Presidential Inquiry Commission Report Say Unconfirmed reports;Strong Indictments against Arjuna Mahendran and Arjun Aloysius;Further Probe Recommended Into Ravi Karunanayake’s “Monarch” Apartment Affair’ »

Only Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna With The Lotus Bud Symbol Has The Right To Print My Photograph on Election Campaign Posters Declares Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa

by Anura Balasuriya

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that though many wanted his photograph to be printed on their campaign posters for the forthcoming election campaign, only the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which had the lotus bud as its symbol had a right to do so.

Rajapaksa said so, addressing the candidates contesting the forthcoming local government elections on the SLPP ticket, at the Sugathadasa Indoor stadium.

Continue reading ‘Only Sri Lanka Podu Jana Peramuna With The Lotus Bud Symbol Has The Right To Print My Photograph on Election Campaign Posters Declares Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Political fallout of Local Government Polls in Sri Lanka


By

Col R Hariharan

Sri Lanka is expected to hold the nation-wide local government (LG) elections on February 10, 2018. Usually, local body elections are low key affairs. However, this election is important as a mid-term appraisal of the performance of President Maithripala Sirisena- Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe government. It would also provide an indication of the future developments likely to affect the fortunes of political parties and their leaders.

Over 15.8 million people will be exercising their votes on a single day to elect 8293 member to 24 municipal councils, 41 urban councils and 276 divisional councils is undoubtedly major challenge for the government. Sri Lanka’s past experience in conducting elections is a mixed bag of good, bad and the ugly. It ranged from misuse of government machinery and state media, use of both muscle power and money power to disrupt rival party’s election campaigns and even fisticuffs between contestants ending in killings.

The sheer size of the elections, with over 70,000 candidates in the fray, makes the administration’s job of conducting free and fair elections even more difficult. Will the political parties and people rise up to the occasion to make it a success? Probably, this is the question haunting the minds of elections officials and police administration.

Continue reading ‘Political fallout of Local Government Polls in Sri Lanka’ »

Future of Coalition Govt Lies in the Balance of Political Power Between UNP and SLFP, as well as Between President Sirisena and Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

2018 should be the year Sri Lanka finally prioritises on economy and evolves a political cohesiveness that supports economic development. However, there is an acid test: the future of the UNP-SLFP unity government. The memorandum of understanding between the two parties lapsed on December 31; the SLFP says a decision will be taken after the local government elections.

The UNP-SLFP joint arrangement during the past two years had been chaotic, yet it prevented the country from falling into a crippling political contention of a worse kind. Imagine the plight of a minority UNP government in power amidst all these daily protests and strikes. And there would also have been organised efforts of sabotage and run rings around the government. But now, should the SLFP decide to part ways, the UNP will be forced to run a minority government, that would be at the mercy of the TNA and JVP. Sri Lanka cannot afford that political uncertainty and resultant instability. Current zigzagging of the government policy on almost everything has already made prospective investors scratching their heads. More political confusion would rob this country another couple of years of economic growth.

Economic growth for the past year is likely to be below 4 per cent. Slow growth rates in the past three years could be compensated for only if the government evolves a sound micro-economic base that would support a long-term holistic growth. However, good economics is bad for politics. A minority UNP government would forfeit long-term economic goals in order to somehow cling to power – this is exactly what it did by its mini-budget presented prior to the general election of 2015, which resulted in the government recurrent spending skyrocketing due to increased salaries and subsidies and worsened the balance of payment problem.

While some ministers close to the president want to stick with the unity government, others want to get out and reorganise for the next general election. Some are disgruntled at being ignored by the UNP, others want their fingers in the honey pot, which can be best accomplished being in the government. However, the SLFP does not have numbers to form a government, which would mean, their role would be in the opposition, trying out the usual tactics of obstructionism. A minority government is more susceptible to an acute obstructionism.

Continue reading ‘Future of Coalition Govt Lies in the Balance of Political Power Between UNP and SLFP, as well as Between President Sirisena and Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa.’ »

Tamil Film Superstar Rajinikanth Entering Politics Will Help the BJP Led “Hindutva” Forces To Flourish In Tamil Nadu


By

P.K.Balachandran

As 2017 ended on Sunday, Tamil filmdom’s superstar Rajinikanth made the much expected announcement of his entry into Tamil Nadu politics.

The star of over 160 films, many of them hits, had been toying with the idea of entering politics as per a tradition in Tamil filmdom in which successful actors end up trying their luck in politics. But unlike other matinee idols M. G. Ramachandran (MGR) and Jayalalithaa, “Rajini” did not have the required self-confidence to actually take the risk.

However, when two decades of dilly dallying ended finally, his enormous fan following was delighted, and forces which have been keen on riding piggy back on his popularity, were relieved.

The forces hoping to ride piggy back are the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the allied Sangh Parivar comprising Hindu nationalist organizations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Hindu Munnani (HM).

It is therefore not surprising that only the leadership of the BJP in Tamil Nadu welcomed Rajini’s announcement on Sunday. Both Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan and state-level leader Tamilisai Soundararajan came out with public statements.

Continue reading ‘Tamil Film Superstar Rajinikanth Entering Politics Will Help the BJP Led “Hindutva” Forces To Flourish In Tamil Nadu’ »

The “Wanna-be UNP” Sinhala Far Right is “Anti -UNP” Only Because the UNP Is Multi-ethnic.

By
Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka


“What is a Nation?”
(“Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?”) Ernest Renan (1882)

“I have been in the belly of the beast and I know its entrails.”Jose Marti

The resumption of rumblings over the SAITM issue, due to concerns about a double-cross by elements of the Government, generated commentary which was revealing. From the Sinhala ultranationalists, where there should be solidarity, there was only resentment, exposing the hollowness of the ideology and discourse. It is not without reason that Nietzsche warned against “ressentiment” (French for ‘resentment’) and ideologies that arise from it. Their oft-repeated sardonic, slogans were: “There is huge agitation over SAITM but they cannot demonstrate against the new Constitution or the jailing of war heroes!” “They care more about SAITM than the Constitution or war heroes!” “What is the biggest issue today? SAITM!”

Criticizing students and doctors for agitating over SAITM rather than the Constitution or the victimization of war veterans is rather like criticizing a trade union for agitating over a matter that directly concerned its sector of industry and its members, instead of demonstrating over larger national issues. It is like criticizing a person with an acute stomach ache of not complaining more loudly about a headache In this line of argument the only valid and legitimate issues, or the most valid and legitimate issues by far, are those connected to ‘the nation’. It acknowledges no other social or existential reality.

In the second place this criticism reveals the inadequacy of their notion of the nation itself. It is a nationalism without a social content; national sovereignty without people’s sovereignty; national liberation without social liberation. It is, in effect a thin nationalism—a nationalism without the social dimension. It is a hollow nationalism: a nation without the people, without the masses, without the educated youth.

Those who speak sardonically of the anti-SAITM agitation by the students reveal their ignorance of how a nation can flourish, can compete, can evolve. It needs above all, education, and the guaranteed access to education including higher education, to all the people. That is why a nation which defends itself successfully against the world’s sole superpower, and punches well above its weight in the world arena, namely Cuba, invests far more in education than most nations of the world and spends more on education and research than on its excellent military.

Continue reading ‘The “Wanna-be UNP” Sinhala Far Right is “Anti -UNP” Only Because the UNP Is Multi-ethnic.’ »

“My entry into politics is certain.”- Tamil Cinema Superstar Rajinikanth To Form Own Political Party and Contest All 234 Seats in Tamil Nadu.

The decades long guessing game has finally come to an end. Superstar Rajinikanth, the actor loved by the masses in Tamil Nadu and beyond, has officially announced his entry into politics.

On Sunday, dressed in a white kurta and pants, Rajinikanth walked into the Raghavendra Kalyana Mandapam in Chennai’s T Nagar to an audience of excited fans and TV cameras that were ready to finally capture the moment. As Rajini walked on stage, the fans cheered for their ‘Thalaivar’, who had announced an announcement less than a week ago.

And minutes later, the question that Tamil Nadu has been asking for decades was answered in six simple words: “My entry into politics is certain.”

To a roaring audience, Rajinikanth said, “I will form my own political party and contest from all 234 seats in the next assembly election.”
Continue reading ‘“My entry into politics is certain.”- Tamil Cinema Superstar Rajinikanth To Form Own Political Party and Contest All 234 Seats in Tamil Nadu.’ »

“Sack Me If You Can”: Mahinda Rajapaksa Challemges SLFP Central Committee To Terminate His 50 Year Long Party Membership

By

Ravi Ladduwahetty

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in an exclusive interview with Ceylon Today last afternoon, dared the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Central Committee to terminate his membership from the Party in which he has been a member for the last 50 years since 1968 and a Member of Parliament for the Beliatta electorate since 1970.

He said: “It was I who salvaged this country from the most brutal terrorists the world has seen. It was I who rebuilt this country and also the SLFP in the post-war history as the President of the country and now it is very easy for the Party that I resurrected to sack me.”

Continue reading ‘“Sack Me If You Can”: Mahinda Rajapaksa Challemges SLFP Central Committee To Terminate His 50 Year Long Party Membership’ »

What is Required in the New Year is For Those in Political Power to Observe a Simple Standard of Commonsense and Integrity.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

As we enter upon a New Year pregnant with hope and foreboding in equal parts, the inglorious epitaph of the past twelve months qualifies to be none other than the adage ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’


A tug-of-war between the old and the new

Certainly the signs of the establishment resisting the pressure of people-power for change in the January 2015 vote for a new Executive President of Sri Lanka were evidenced very early on in that year itself.

As this tug-of-war went back and forth in the years that followed, it was during the past year that battle lines solidified and a once inspiring impetus for reform lost its way in the darkness of disillusionment.

It became increasingly ridiculous to protest that ‘well, this is anyway better off than what we had during the Rajapaksas’. The fact of the matter was that that the Rajapaksas were never a measure of reasonable comparison. That decade represented the nadir of Sri Lanka’s decades-old Rule of Law crisis. Yet in significant ways, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe unity alliance lapsed into the old ways of its predecessor regime, even conceding variations on the extent and nature of that lapse. And as the divide between the urban privileged and the desperately marginalised became starker with economic disparities at the core, law and order floundered and the United National Party became mired in an unsettling tangle of bond scam allegations and corrupt ministerial types et al.

Continue reading ‘What is Required in the New Year is For Those in Political Power to Observe a Simple Standard of Commonsense and Integrity.’ »

Sinhala ultranationalist Discourse which is of Parochialism and Neo-tribalism, can Never Defend the National Interests of Sri Lanka.

By

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

There were strange reactions to Sri Lanka’s political responses to and UN vote on the issue of Jerusalem. There are those spokespersons of the Sinhala Far Right who criticized the Sri Lankan stand and the cross-party political consensus as instances of double standards. The argument was that those who could not combine to defend Sri Lanka from the charges leveled at it in Geneva, and did not rally round Lord Naseby’s revelations, had banded together on the remote issue of Jerusalem.

These strange reactions to Sri Lanka’s vote on the Jerusalem issue reminds us of the kinds of human beings there are. There are those who recognize the criteria of right and wrong, and those whose notion of right and wrong is based on who is seen to commit it.

There are those of us who criticize the government and the Sri Lankan foreign ministry because we think they are adopting the wrong stand on this or that issue or on foreign policy issues in general. If and when the government takes a right stand we are therefore not reluctant to commend it.

Sri Lanka has taken the correct position on two issues this last year. We voted with almost the whole world at the UN when the Cubans moved their annual resolution against the US economic embargo, or blockade as Cuba calls it. 190 countries voted against the US embargo. Only 3 voted against the resolution and among them was the US itself. The other issue on which Sri Lanka took a right stand was of course Jerusalem.

These two issues were exceptions to the rule of the Sri Lankan government’s gravely erroneous foreign policy, most especially in Geneva. We must condemn the rule and commend the exception.

Continue reading ‘Sinhala ultranationalist Discourse which is of Parochialism and Neo-tribalism, can Never Defend the National Interests of Sri Lanka.’ »

Cabinet Minister Mano Ganesan Given STF Security To Protect The TPA Leader From Colombo North Politicos With Underworld Connections.

By

Ajith Siriwardana

Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA) leader Minister Mano Ganesan had been provided with Special Task Force (STF) security with a backup vehicle with five STF personnel, STF sources today said.

Meanwhile, the Minister said in a statement that he faced serious security issues and sought the intervention of President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and had also written to the IGP in September.

“Certain politicos in Colombo are behind these threats. I have discussed with President Maithripala Sirisena. I have also explained my situation to Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe at different occasions. Some fallen politicians are all out to destroy my party and block the fair representation I seek for the communities my party represents in the city council,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Minister Mano Ganesan Given STF Security To Protect The TPA Leader From Colombo North Politicos With Underworld Connections.’ »

Overseas Assets Acquired By Sri Lankan Politicians and Bureaucrats Through Criminal Means Have Been Located Abroad and “Provisionally Identified”

By Namini Wijedasa

Some assets located overseas have been “provisionally identified” as being the proceeds of crimes committed by certain politically exposed persons (PEPs) of Sri Lankan origin, authoritative Government sources revealed this week. While they declined to say who these persons were, PEPs typically include politicians and bureaucrats.

These were the outcomes of investigations conducted by the CIABOC (Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption), the FCID (Financial Crimes Investigation Division) and the CID (Criminal Investigation Department), they said. “As at this moment, a few assets have been provisionally identified as proceeds of crime committed by certain politically exposed persons (PEP) of Sri Lankan origin.”

In financial regulations, PEP describes someone entrusted with a prominent public function. They generally present a higher risk for potential involvement in bribery and corruption by virtue of their position and the influence that they may hold.

Continue reading ‘Overseas Assets Acquired By Sri Lankan Politicians and Bureaucrats Through Criminal Means Have Been Located Abroad and “Provisionally Identified”’ »

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year To All” – Seasons Greetings From D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year To All”
– Seasons Greetings From D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Christmas is you, when you decide to be born again each day, and let God into your soul. The Christmas pine is you, when you resist vigorous winds and difficulties of life. The Christmas decorations are you, when your virtues are colours that adorn your life.The Christmas bell is you, when you call, gather and seek to unite. You are also a Christmas light, when you illuminate with your life the path of others with kindness, patience, joy and generosity. The Christmas angels are you, when you sing to the world a message of peace, justice and love. The Christmas star is you, when you lead someone to meet the Lord. You are also the wise men, when you give the best you have, no matter who. Christmas music is you when you conquer the harmony within you. The Christmas gift is you, when you are truly friend and brother of every human being. The Christmas card is you, when kindness is written in your hands. The Christmas greeting is you, when you forgive and re-establish peace, even when you suffer. The Christmas dinner is you, when you served bread and hope to the poor man who is by your side. You are, yes, Christmas night, when humble and conscious, you receive in the silence of the night the Saviour of the world without noise or great celebrations; you are a smile of trust and tenderness, in the inner peace of a perennial Christmas that establishes the Kingdom within you. A very Merry Christmas to all those who look like Christmas!”

– Pope Francis

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

Is the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Truly Ready to Embrace Real Change?

By

Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath’s recent comments (in an English Daily) on his party’s stance on the national question makes interesting reading; especially in the context of the current constitution making process.

Herath, asked to explain the JVP’s current position, vis-à-vis, the ethnic problem and power devolution as a means to resolving it, responded that though the JVP still believed the provincial councils system wasn’t a solution, it was now part of the system.

He went on to elaborate: “There is a dialogue going on the constitution-making process. The Tamil parties that were extreme and demanded federalism, are not doing so now. They have taken moderate positions. It is unrealistic to achieve federalism in Sri Lanka. In such a context, the JVP is agreeable to resolving the national question with certain modifications to the current provincial councils system, rather than leaving room for the aggravation of the problem further. If other parties too take this position, we will fall in line to proceed with modifications to the provincial councils system.”

Herath spoke on the need for further discussion on how modifications or amendments could be brought about without leaving room for separation and that his party had taken a flexible approach to these issues.
When reminded about the JVP’s stance that the provincial councils system was a stepping stone for separation, Herath said there was a need for change in the thinking to suit the times, and as a party, the JVP has embraced change.

Continue reading ‘Is the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Truly Ready to Embrace Real Change?’ »

Maithripala Sends “Warning Signals” to Ranil and Mahinda By Appointing Piyasena Gamage as State Minister of Law and Order as a Check and Balance to “Rajapaksa Friendly” Sagala Ratnayake.

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed newly sworn-in legislator Piyasena Gamage as state minister for law and order in a move that sought to reduce the authority of a very close ally of the prime minister.

Sirisena, who is at loggerheads with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) gave the influential portfolio to Gamage, a member of the Sirisena-faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

Gamage became a minister after SLFP’s Rajapaksa-faction MP Geetha Kumarasinghe was unseated because she was found to be holding Swiss citizenship at the time of contesting the August 2015 parliamentary elections.

The latest appointment to the law and order ministry came amid SLFP’s criticism of cabinet minister Sagala Ratnayaka, a close ally of Wickremesinghe.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Sends “Warning Signals” to Ranil and Mahinda By Appointing Piyasena Gamage as State Minister of Law and Order as a Check and Balance to “Rajapaksa Friendly” Sagala Ratnayake.’ »

President Sirisena Says He Wont Hesitate To Use The “Kaduwa”(Sword) Against Relatives,Friends or Party Supporters In His Fight To Create A Corroption -free Pure Culture.

By

Sandun A Jayasekera

President Maithripala Sirisena said today he would not hesitate to use the ‘sword’ on his relatives, friends or party supporters in his journey to create a clean, unstained and a people-friendly political culture.

“In my journey with a sword to create a clean, unstained and a people-friendly political culture and to bring up a group of unblemished and untarnished politicians, I don’t care whether it is my relatives, friends or party supporters who get cut by my sword,” the president said quoting the Bhagavad Gita.

He said he wanted to create a rule in Sri Lanka similar to that of Lichchhavi dynasty that ruled the ancient kingdom of Nepal from 400 to 750 CE and Dharmashoka who ruled India from 269 BC from ‘Pataliputta’.

Addressing a convention of leaders and representatives of 31 political parties under the theme ‘Power of the country and village to Freedom’ having pledged to support and contest on the UPFA ticket under the betel leaf symbol, the President said the vow taken at the opening of the convention by all political parties was the best stepping stone to launch the campaign to create a culture of clean politics and clean politicians in the country and eliminate corruption in politics for ever.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Says He Wont Hesitate To Use The “Kaduwa”(Sword) Against Relatives,Friends or Party Supporters In His Fight To Create A Corroption -free Pure Culture.’ »

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

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year Friends!

It’s Christmas season again!

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

3094745339_49b55d6510_b

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

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

Nativity scene-Near Central Park, NY-Dec 2015

Nativity scene-Near Central Park, NY-Dec 2015

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

Former Health Minister Siva Obeyesekere the First Woman Recipient Of “Deshamanya” Award Passes Away In Colombo

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sri Lanka’s first woman recipient of the “Deshamanya” award and former Health Minister Ms. Siva Obeyesekere passed away peacefully in Colombo on Saturday December 23rd 2017. The Former parliamentarian for Mirigama known popularly as Siva was 88 years of age.

Former Health Minister Siva Obeyesekere (May 7th 1929-December 23, 2017)

Sivagamie Verina Dassanaike who was born on May 7th 1929 studied at Ladies College Colombo. She married former Attanagalle MP, Senator and Deputy Finance Minister “Deshamanya” James Peter Obeyesekere in 1948. Both JP and Siva Obeyesekere were founder members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party(SLFP) in 1952. JP Obeyesekere who served as Attanagalle MP and deputy minister passed away in October 2007.

Continue reading ‘Former Health Minister Siva Obeyesekere the First Woman Recipient Of “Deshamanya” Award Passes Away In Colombo’ »

Vibrancy of Bethlehem will Convert Christmas into a Peoples’ Festival of Discernment, Resistance and Transformation

A Christmas Reflection by Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Bethlehem is the little village in which Jesus was born. It was here, that the unseen God emptied himself to become human in the form of Jesus, so that humans could hear and know God best through the idiom of the human, and rise to a fully integrated life. The festival that commemorates this historical self-giving act of God taking flesh, known as the incarnation; is Christmas.

pic via: @KhaledBeydoun

pic via: @KhaledBeydoun

Jesus’ life elaborates on God’s act of selfless love and the crux of His teaching calls us to live the incarnation. Living the incarnation in turn requires that we rise above self-interest to serve and include the other, especially the vulnerable, as Jesus did. But this is half the task. We are to also carefully discern and contest oppressive greed that excludes the other, especially the vulnerable, as Jesus did.
Continue reading ‘Vibrancy of Bethlehem will Convert Christmas into a Peoples’ Festival of Discernment, Resistance and Transformation’ »

President Sirisena Hints Strongly To SLFP Loyalists Of Possible Split With the UNP In Coalition Govt After Local Govt Elections

President Maithripala Sirisena, who is at loggerheads with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), has strongly hinted at a possible split of their coalition mid-way of its five-year term.

The President told his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) loyalists that he has decided to carry out the “second stage” of his daring political bravery of defecting from the then strongman president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government in November 2014.

A rank outsider, Sirisena quit his Health ministry portfolio and challenged his former boss at the snap presidential election of January 2015. He won spectacularly with the support of a UNP-led rainbow coalition clamouring for good governance after a decade of autocratic rule.

On Friday evening, Sirisena said the way to save the country from the scourge of bribery and corruption was to strengthen his SLFP which he described as the only “clean political force in the country.”

“Without strengthening the SLFP, I don’t see any clean political force that could save the country at this time in its history….

“As I took a courageous and bold decision to leave the (then) government on November 21, 2014, I have today decided to take my next major step. It will be in the interest of the country and its people to ensure a clean political force,” he said.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Hints Strongly To SLFP Loyalists Of Possible Split With the UNP In Coalition Govt After Local Govt Elections’ »

Malaysian PM Abdul Razak Meets Northern CM Wigneswaran Without Meeting TNA Leaders Despite Objections By Prime Ministers Office and Foreign Ministry Officials.

(Excerpt From “Talk At The Cafe Spectator”Column in “Sunday Times”)

Malaysia insisted on meeting with Wigneswaran despite objections by officials
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Abdul Razak’s two day visit to Sri Lanka was not without controversy.
One incident came at a scheduled meeting Premier Razak had lined up with Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was infuriated that none of its leaders had been chosen for the meeting. One of them raised issue with Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Continue reading ‘Malaysian PM Abdul Razak Meets Northern CM Wigneswaran Without Meeting TNA Leaders Despite Objections By Prime Ministers Office and Foreign Ministry Officials.’ »

DK-DMK Dravidian Movement Split in India and the Decline of Tamil Separatism

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

India gained freedom from Britain at midnight on August 15th 1947. At the time of Indian independence there was a separatist movement in South India spearheaded by the “Dravidar Kazhagham” (DK) or Dravidian association led by E.V.Ramaswamy Naicker popularly known as “Periyar”(Great Person). As stated in an earlier article the DK demand was for a separate state in South India comprising areas where the Dravidian languages Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Tulu were pre-dominantly spoken. The envisaged state was called “Dravida Nadu”(Dravidian state).

Although the agitation for a Dravida Nadu had been conducted intermittently from 1940 onwards the chances of Britain partitioning South India too and creating a “Dravidastan/Dravida Nadu” on the lines of the proposed Pakistan were extremely remote. India was on the verge of Independence from the British in 1946/47 but Dravida Nadu was not on the agenda. As political stakes were raised and India/Pakistan partition became inevitable the question of Dravida Nadu was totally eclipsed.
Continue reading ‘DK-DMK Dravidian Movement Split in India and the Decline of Tamil Separatism’ »