Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem Faces Political Challenges in East

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

The Central bank Governor crisis has been dominating the political landscape at a national level for the past few weeks. However other issues too have surfaced at sub – national level. For instance the question of Muslim political leadership has been causing much controversy at a regional level in the Eastern province. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress(SLMC) is the acknowledged premier political party of the Eastern Muslims. Rauff Hakeem – minister of City planning and water supply – is the accredited leader of the Muslim Congress. In recent times fresh political challenges have emerged in the East against the Muslim Congress chief’s leadership.

Rauff Hakeem -  Minister of City planning and water supply

Rauff Hakeem – Minister of City planning and water supply

Political challenges to his leadership are nothing new to Rauff Hakeem. He has had to face much treachery and many conspiracies from the time he donned the mantle of Muslim Congress leadership after the untimely demise of SLMC co-founder and leader the charismatic MHM Ashraff in 2000. Hakeem has successfully weathered such revolts and intrigues in the past and ultimately triumphed. A significant difference this time is the fact that Hakeem is without two of his most trustworthy and dependable lieutenants at the present juncture. Furthermore a substantial portion of the present problems faced by the Muslim congress chief have been directly or indirectly caused by these two SLMC stalwarts who were at one time devoted Hakeem loyalists.
Continue reading ‘Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem Faces Political Challenges in East’ »

✿ “Roja Malarae Rajakumari” ♛ ♥ ~ Popular Song by PB Sreenivas – P.Susheela Duo ♫

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -4

“Ruritanian Romance” is a genre consisting of stories, novels, dramas and films set in a fictional country. Anthony Hope’s novel “Prisoner of Zenda” based in the imaginary state of Ruritania was the pioneering novel that spawned this popular genre. Literature, theatre and films of this genre are generally about romances between Royalty and commoners occurring in a fictional country with the melodramatic backdrop of plots, intrigues, action and adventure.Many films have been made in many parts of the world that could be categorised as belonging to the “Ruritanian Romance “genre.

"Veerathirumagan"

“Veerathirumagan Aanandhan ♥ Sachu”

“Veerathirumagan” was a Tamil film belonging to the Ruritanian romance genre, It was released in India on May 3rd 1962.The film was screened some months later in Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon. Even before the film hit the screens , the songs in the movie popularised by Radio became runaway hits. The Tamil commercial service of “Radio Ceylon”played a big role in this. In those days “Radio Ceylon” or “Ceylon Radio “ as it was known in India, was most popular over the air waves in Tamil Nadu.
Continue reading ‘✿ “Roja Malarae Rajakumari” ♛ ♥ ~ Popular Song by PB Sreenivas – P.Susheela Duo ♫’ »

“Arjuna Mahendran Cannot be Removed From Central Bank Governor Post as Charges Against Him have never been Proved” States Ranil Wickremesinghe


By Dharisha Bastians

A political tug-o-war over the appointment of the Central Bank Governor continued yesterday, with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe making a public statement that the controversial incumbent Arjuna Mahendran could not be removed from office since the charges against him had never been proved.

“We are not protecting anyone. If the charges are proved I will do the needful,” Wickremesinghe said on State-owned ITN yesterday.

The Premier’s announcement came one day after President Maithripala Sirisena tweeted from his official Twitter account that he would be appointing a new Governor for the Central Bank over the “next few hours,” a sign that the rift between the two leaders on the appointment was widening.

In an interview with the Independent Television Network which was aired yesterday morning, Premier Wickremesinghe directly contradicted President Sirisena with his remarks that he would act only if charges against Mahendran were proved.

Continue reading ‘“Arjuna Mahendran Cannot be Removed From Central Bank Governor Post as Charges Against Him have never been Proved” States Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Deputy Minister Palitha Thewarapperuma Tries to Commit Suicide by Hanging Himself on a Class room Ceiling Fan at Matugama Primary School

by Norman Palihawadane

Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs Deputy Minister Palitha Thewarapperuma was admitted to Meegahatenna Hospital after an unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide yesterday.

The Deputy Minister who had been protesting opposite the Matugama Zonal Educational Office as ten students had been denied admission to Grade 1 of the Matugama Meegahatenne Primary School suspended the agitation and went to the school and tried to hang himself from a ceiling fan in a Grade One class.

Continue reading ‘Deputy Minister Palitha Thewarapperuma Tries to Commit Suicide by Hanging Himself on a Class room Ceiling Fan at Matugama Primary School’ »

Landmark Judgement Against Govt in the National Interest by Supreme Court Over Irregularities in Coal Tender Case

By C. A. Chandraprema

In this country, a court case rarely attracts much attention unless it has to do with something like murder or rape – preferably both. In a nation that has been discussing matters of corruption and graft and illegal money making, it is certainly surprising that a court case involving irregularities in the country’s biggest tender could goes virtually unreported in the media.

What is even more surprising that even the landmark determination given by the Supreme Court in this regard hardly got any publicity at all. It’s true that ordinary folk would not be interested even in sleaze if it happens to be technically complicated. But, then how does one explain the wide publicity that the Central Bank bond issue got? That, too, was a technically complicated matter.

The difference of course is that in the case of the bond matter, the loss to the country has already occurred whereas in the case of the coal tender the Supreme Court has stepped in to shoot a tainted tender down.

The Fundamental Rights case Noble Resources International Pte Limited vs Minister of Power and Renewable Energy et al, is a landmark case because the Supreme Court heard it as a matter of national interest even in a situation where the government contended that the Petitioner did not have the locus standi to invoke the jurisdiction of the court.

The SC observed in delivering their judgement last week that the Court had granted leave to proceed in this case even though the Additional Solicitor General, appearing on behalf of the government raised the issue that the Petitioner did not have locus standi to invoke the jurisdiction of the Court because the Petitioner is a Company registered in Singapore which has petitioned the SC without a local representative.

Continue reading ‘Landmark Judgement Against Govt in the National Interest by Supreme Court Over Irregularities in Coal Tender Case’ »

Who Will Succeed Arjuna Mahendran as Central Bank Governor of Sri Lanka?

By

Dharisha Bastians

President Maithripala Sirisena announced from his official Twitter account yesterday that a new Central Bank Governor would be appointed over the next few hours, ending weeks of suspense and political deadlock about the potential reappointment of the controversial incumbent, Arjuna Mahendran.

But the announcement only sparked more drama and hectic guessing games, as social media and political circles buzzed with speculation about the new appointee and anti-corruption activists celebrated the news as a major victory in their battle against Governor Mahendran, whose 18 months in office have been plagued by scandal and mounting allegations of corruption.

The dramatic day ended with no final announcement on the next Governor of the Central Bank, with Mahendran’s tenure formally set to end today and news of a ‘stalemate’ on the appointment emerging again by late evening. Tweeting from a meeting to raise awareness on chronic kidney disease in Badulla last morning, President Sirisena said: “I will appoint a new Governor to the Central Bank in the coming hours.”

A shortlist of contenders for the position of Governor emerged from sources within the ruling administration throughout the day. High level sections of the UNP were also strongly advocating the appointment of Former Treasury Secretary Charitha Ratwatte as Governor even as late as last night, sources said. President Sirisena was strongly favouring either former Deputy Governor W.A. Wijewardane or current senior most Deputy Governor at Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe. Top economists Prof. Lalith Samarakoon and Dr. Saman Kelagama were also names that were being tossed about as potential candidates for CBSL Governor, highly placed sources said.

Continue reading ‘Who Will Succeed Arjuna Mahendran as Central Bank Governor of Sri Lanka?’ »

“Sri Lankan Military Will Release all Lands Seized from Civilians by 2018” – Mangala Samaraweera Tells UN

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, told the 32 nd. session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Wednesday, that the Lankan armed forces will release, by 2018, all lands they had seized from civilians during the 30 year war.

“Last week the military released another 701 acres of land to the District Secretary of Jaffna, out of which, 201.3 acres were handed over to their original owners on 25th June.

The Government has clearly instructed the military that all the land obtained from civilians must be released latest by 2018, and that the owners of whatever land that may be required for national installations or development purposes would be fully compensated,” Samaraweera said.

Continue reading ‘“Sri Lankan Military Will Release all Lands Seized from Civilians by 2018” – Mangala Samaraweera Tells UN’ »

Fishing Dispute Cannot be Resolved while Indian Fishermen Continue Trawling Relentlessly in Sri Lankan Waters

By

M. A. Sumanthiran M.P.

The issue of poaching by Indian trawlers in Sri Lankan waters has over the years become an increasingly contentious one, seriously threatening the livelihood of Sri Lanka’s fishing community. Fishers being among the poorest communities in both Sri Lanka and India, it is an issue of national concern to both countries.

Indian fishermen practise bottom trawling, which entails scraping the seabed. This not only adversely impacts our marine ecosystem but also has a direct implication for the lives of fisherfolk in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. Sri Lankan fishermen are often forced to stay ashore for fear that these trawlers will damage their nets, their primary asset for livelihood. There have even been incidents of fishermen suffering physical injuries while attempting to save their nets from being damaged by Indian trawlers.

At least 200,000 people in the Northern Province are dependent on the fisheries sector. Most of them are still struggling to rebuild their lives after a brutal civil war. Many of them were displaced, lost members of their family, and lost their homes during the bitter conflict. It is only now that they have a chance to get back to the sea. But their small boats cannot take on the massive, mechanised Indian trawlers.

Continue reading ‘Fishing Dispute Cannot be Resolved while Indian Fishermen Continue Trawling Relentlessly in Sri Lankan Waters’ »

Mangala Samaraweera Tells UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that Sri Lanka is Following Policy of “Festina Lente”(Making Haste Slowly)

(Text of Statement by Mr. Mangala Samaraweera,Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka & Leader of the Sri Lanka Delegation during the presentation of the Oral Update on the Implementation of the HRC Resolution A/HRC/RES/30/1 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council on 29 June 2016 at Geneva)

Mr. President
High Commissioner for Human Rights
Excellencies
Distinguished delegates

At the 30th Session of this Council last October, Sri Lanka, by co-sponsoring the Resolution 30/1, ‘Promoting Reconciliation and Accountability in Sri Lanka’, broke away from the years of disengagement, self-isolation, and confrontation that preceded the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in January 2015.

Sri Lanka, hailed at Independence in 1948 as a potential “Switzerland of the east”, was now ready to come to terms with the many tragedies we have had to face as a nation in the past, and move forward as a brave new country in order to harness the peace and prosperity that our people truly deserve.

President Sirisena, in his Address to the Nation on the 68th Independence Day anniversary on 4th February this year, reiterated his commitment to fulfil the provisions of Resolution 30/1, in working out the contours of a new Sri Lanka.

He said that Sri Lanka is committed to implement the Resolution to protect the dignity of our State, our People and our Security Forces and that we will implement the proposals with patience, discipline and restraint. It will be freedom, democracy and reconciliation that will be reinforced by implementing the provisions of the resolution.

When Sri Lanka’s unity Government marks its first year in office in August this year, there will be many achievements to look back on, with a certain sense of satisfaction.

While consolidating many of the democratic changes achieved within the first 100 days, we have begun taking action on all fronts related to strengthening good governance and the rule of law; promoting and protecting human rights; fostering reconciliation; and achieving economic development; while engaging and working closely with the international community in a constructive manner that benefits the people of our country:

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera Tells UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that Sri Lanka is Following Policy of “Festina Lente”(Making Haste Slowly)’ »

“Organized Groups are Slinging Mud Against me and My Son in Law in Unfair Political Game” – Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran in Interview

By
Asoka Jayasinghe

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran has become a controversial figure in the recent past. Many Opposition parties made several allegations against him and demanded that he should be replaced. The following is a translation of an interview given by Mr. Mahendran to the Sunday Lankadeepa. The English translation is reproduced here from the “Daily Mirror”


Excerpts.

Q:
Who are you, a parachutist to the country?

I am not a parachutist. My father is Charley Mahendran, who served in the Sri Lanka Foreign Service from 1957 to 1998. I was born in1959 when my father was serving at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Washington and I studied at Royal College in Colombo.

I passed my Advanced Level Examination in 1977. I got a scholarship to Oxford University in England based on my performance. There I read Economics and Philosophy and was awarded a First Class. Many opportunities were available to me for good jobs in foreign countries. But I returned to Sri Lanka with the hope of serving my country. In 1983 I joined the Central Bank of Sri Lanka as an official in a higher grade. In 1984 I married a Sri Lankan woman – the daughter of Mr. Nadesan, who was the Secretary of the then Prime Minister, Sir John Kothalawala. My father-in-law was a senior official at the Sri Lanka Civil Service. I served for 10 years in Central Bank from 1983 to 1993.


Q:
Are you a Sri Lankan citizen at present?

No. But I was a Sri Lankan citizen by birth and continued to be so till 2006. Even today I consider Sri Lanka as my country despite the documentary citizenship. However, I was compelled to leave Sri Lanka for Singapore as we had to face many difficulties as members of a minority community during the Rajapaksa Government. During this period Tamil Parliamentarians, journalists, intellectuals and many others were killed.

Security and a good employment were what I sought in leaving Sri Lanka. In 2005 Jeyaraj Fernandopulle criticised me in Parliament alleging that I was supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) through Malaysia. I don’t know whether it was said to create a background to harm me.

Q:
Is Ranil Wickremesinghe your friend? Is that why you were offered the post of Governor of the Central Bank?

Continue reading ‘“Organized Groups are Slinging Mud Against me and My Son in Law in Unfair Political Game” – Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran in Interview’ »

UN Human Rights Commissioner Re-iterates International Participation is Necessary for Accountability Mechanism to Guarantee Independence and Impartiality

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, prior to his oral report that is to be released today (29), said he ‘remains convinced’ that international participation in the accountability mechanisms would be a necessary guarantee of the independence and impartiality of the process in the eyes of victims, as Sri Lanka’s judicial institutions currently lack the credibility needed to gain their trust.

In his advanced oral report made yesterday, at the 32 session of the UNHRC in Geneva, the UN Rights Commissioner said Sri Lanka must keep in mind that the magnitude and complexity of the international crimes alleged, which the OHCHR investigation discovered, could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity and he remains convinced that international participation in the accountability mechanisms would guarantee an independent and impartial probe process.

He also called for an impartial and independent probe on new evidence that emerged recently on the use of cluster munitions towards the end of the conflict by the government Forces and recalled that the OHCHR investigation report also had mentioned the use of cluster bombs.

He noted that in late May 2016, it was reported that Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had in an address to a large group of senior military officers again ruled out international participation in a domestic Sri Lankan justice mechanism – but he remains convinced that international participation guarantees independence and impartiality.

Continue reading ‘UN Human Rights Commissioner Re-iterates International Participation is Necessary for Accountability Mechanism to Guarantee Independence and Impartiality’ »

When Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala Dismissed Central Bank Governor N. U. Jayawarena for on Corruption Charges

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

When Sir John Kotelawala was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, he arranged a banquet for the British Bank Governor at the Temple Trees for which the Central Bank Governor at that time N.U. Jayawardena was also invited. While the dinner was in progress, Sir John suddenly flew into a rage at N.U. Jayawardena, and said, “I say, I am informed that you are earning a lot from the Central Bank monies”. This made NU’s face to turn red. “You’d better understand I can probe your foreign assets under the Foreign Exchange Act,” NU yelled at Sir John.

It was on that day Sir John decided to appoint a Commission to investigate into NU’s corruption and frauds. After the Commission was appointed, and NU was found guilty, J. R. Jayewardene went to meet Sir John and had discussions on behalf of NU. JR advised Sir John, as NU’s caste representation was most essential to the government and the party, to re consider the decision. JR and NU were intimate friends. Sir John chased JR away. It was based on the Commission’s decision NU was dismissed.

Continue reading ‘When Prime Minister Sir John Kotelawala Dismissed Central Bank Governor N. U. Jayawarena for on Corruption Charges’ »

Tamil National Alliance Becoming Increasingly Critical of Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt

By

T.Ramakrishnan

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), till recently seen as friendly towards Colombo, is now turning increasingly critical of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government.

After R. Sampanthan and Mavai S. Senathirajah, another prominent TNA leader, M.A. Sumanthiran, has raised criticism against the government.

Mr. Sumanthiran, who was in the U.S. early this week, told the Congressional caucus on ethnic and religious freedom in Sri Lanka that the initial euphoria among Tamils was “now turning into disappointment”.

He slammed the government for being slow in the release of private land by the security forces, demilitarisation and repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance Becoming Increasingly Critical of Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt’ »

Sri Lanka Seeks Closer Economic Ties with India,China and Other Asian Countries After UK Exit from EU

By PK Balachandran

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU),much to the disappointment of Sri Lanka, has forced the Lankan government to seek closer economic ties with India, China and the rest of Asia.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe announced in Galle on Sunday, that the Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama, would be going to New Delhi next week for talks on the proposed Indo-Lanka Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA).

The Prime Minister said that with the British leaving the EU, the EU might be considerably weakened.

This in turn would adversely affect Lanka because the EU presently accounts for 40 per cent of Lanka’s exports. It is therefore imperative that Lanka enters into Free Trade Agreements or strengthens existing FTAs and other economic pacts with Asian countries like India and China, he said.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Seeks Closer Economic Ties with India,China and Other Asian Countries After UK Exit from EU’ »

Malik Samarawickrama Will Fly to New Delhi to Speed up Negotiations on Signing ETCA Agreement with India

by

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka is to send this week its Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama, to New Delhi to speed up negotiations on the proposed Indo-Lanka Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA).

This announcement was made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickemesinghe as part of his package of measures to meet the crisis created by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU). The package includes Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China and other Asian countries and also a stand alone agreement with UK.

Lanka has been having an FTA with India since 2000 but has had difficulty in entering into one with China and Pakistan despite years of effort.

Continue reading ‘Malik Samarawickrama Will Fly to New Delhi to Speed up Negotiations on Signing ETCA Agreement with India’ »

COPE Chairman Sunil Handunnetti Threatens to quit if COPE Investigation on Central Bank Governor is Manipulated to Whitewash Arjuna Mahendran

by Saman Indrajith

Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises Sunil Handunnetti (JVP) threatens to resign from the post if he feels the members of the committee are being influenced by outside forces trying to clear Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran of wrongdoing in the alleged bond scams.

Handunnetti told The Island on Friday that he would resign as COPE chairman if there were attempts by the committee members to delay the report containing the findings of the committee’s investigation into Mahendran’s alleged involvement in the bond scams which resulted in a colossal loss to the national economy.

“The process of compiling the report has reached its final stage. Most probably there would be a vote as regards the issue. If I feel there is political manipulation, I will resign from the post of COPE chairman.”

He said the JVP would never whitewash Mahendran or let the COPE be manipulated.

Continue reading ‘COPE Chairman Sunil Handunnetti Threatens to quit if COPE Investigation on Central Bank Governor is Manipulated to Whitewash Arjuna Mahendran’ »

Govt Rattled as “Conscience Shocked”Supreme Court Strikes Down 60 Billion Rupee Coal Tender in Landmark Judgement

By

C.A.Chandraprema

In a landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court last Friday, the country’s highest court shot down a disputed coal tender with it being said in open court that the ‘conscience of the court was shocked’ by the conduct displayed by certain individuals involved in the process. The Norochcholai power plant requires 2.25 million tonnes of coal per annum and the practice is to award tenders for a three year’s supply – the biggest tender in the country worth over Rs. 60 billion. A dispute arose about a tender floated June 2014 to procure 6.75 million tonnes of coal with one of the bidders saying that the criteria had been changed after the bids had been opened. They went to the procurements Appeal Board which held that the criteria had indeed been changed after the bids had been opened and they recommended that the tender be cancelled and fresh bids called. (A detailed description of this dispute and accusations and counter accusations made appeared in The Sunday Island of Nov 7, 2015 and in the daily Island of 10 May 2016.)

However, instead of calling for fresh bids, a cabinet paper was presented in September 2015 by the Minister of Power and Renewable Energy recommending that cabinet award the contract to a certain party overriding the ruling of the Procurements Appeal Board. One of the bidders Messrs Nobel Resources of Singapore petitioned the Supreme Court saying that its rights had been infringed. The government of Sri Lanka argued that the petitioner had no standing (locus standi) to petition the Supreme Court because it was a Singapore based company which was not incorporated in Sri Lanka. The three member bench comprising Chief Justice K Sripavan, and Justices Priyasath Dep and Upali Abeyratne wanted the petitioner and the respondents to make written submissions as to whether the court can ignore wrongdoing by a public authority due to objections raised on the basis of the locus standi of the petitioner and if there is a misuse of public funds, whether the law requires the court to protect the public interest or to ignore all that on an argument of locus standi? It was after considering these two questions that the Supreme Court gave their landmark judgment last Friday.

Continue reading ‘Govt Rattled as “Conscience Shocked”Supreme Court Strikes Down 60 Billion Rupee Coal Tender in Landmark Judgement’ »

Mangala Samaraweera’s Optimistic Upbeat Speeches and Prevailing Reality in Sri Lanka

By

Taylor Dibbert

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera recently spoke at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs in Oslo. Mr. Samaraweera has again presented a very optimistic assessment of the current state of affairs in the war-torn island nation.

The foreign minister is right to note that recent political developments have presented the country with an unforeseen opportunity. And he, importantly, highlights the passage of the 19th amendment to the constitution, which trimmed presidential powers and reintroduced term limits for the presidency.

Here’s more from Mr. Samaraweera:

“In fact again as some of you may know, we have achieved a considerable amount, many victories, in a short period of time in the area of democratization. Within the first one 100 days itself, President [Maithripala] Sirisena pruned down many of his executive powers as much as he could without going through a referendum as the Supreme Court requested. He reintroduced term limits for the Presidency. He again took away all institutions like the Judiciary and the Public Service Commissions, the Corruption Commissions all out of the grip of Presidential rule and independent commissions are now functioning again and also committed himself for a new Constitution, not merely Constitutional Amendments, a new Constitution”.

With the 32nd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) currently underway, let’s consider Colombo’s transitional justice agenda in more detail.

Continue reading ‘Mangala Samaraweera’s Optimistic Upbeat Speeches and Prevailing Reality in Sri Lanka’ »

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran is Optimistic that the On – Going COPE Investigation Would Clear his name

by Saman Indrajith

Expressing optimism that the ongoing COPE investigation will help clear his name, Central Bank Governor, Arjuna Mahendran said that he returned from overseas to serve his motherland, and the President would decide whether he should continue in his job or not.

He confirmed that he has decided not to seek an extension of his term until COPE clears his name. “The COPE is the best forum I could prove my innocence. I am waiting for the COPE report. It is very important for my reputation”

In an interview with The Sunday Island, the Oxford trained economist and banker laughed when asked about allegations of his extravagant lifestyle and that he stayed in a suite at the JAIC Hilton.

Continue reading ‘Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran is Optimistic that the On – Going COPE Investigation Would Clear his name’ »

P.Samarasiri Likely to Become Central Bank Governor as Incumbent Arjuna Mahendran Decides not to Seek Re-appointment

By Chandani Jayatilleke

A senior Deputy Governor currently serving in the Central Bank is likely to be appointed to head the bank, as incumbent Governor Arjuna Mahendran has decided not to seek a re-appointment until the conclusion of investigations.

Deputy Governor P. Samarasiri is currently the front-runner for the post, top Central Bank sources told the Sunday Observer, on Saturday. The appointment is to be announced by President Maithripala Sirisena, next week.

Mahendran, last Friday, informed the Monetary Board at its meeting that he would not be seeking reappointment as Governor of the Central Bank when his term finishes on June 30, 2016 until the Parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) makes its findings known on issues related to the issuance of Treasury Bonds in the years 2015 and 2016.

Continue reading ‘P.Samarasiri Likely to Become Central Bank Governor as Incumbent Arjuna Mahendran Decides not to Seek Re-appointment’ »

“Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal”-Magnificient Singing by T.R.Mahalingam ♫♥

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -3

“Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal”is perhaps the most popular song sung on screen by the magnificient singer and actor of Tamil cinema – Thenkarai Ramakrishnan Mahalingam generally known as T.R.Mahalingam. He sings this number in the film “Maalayitta Mangai”produced in 1958 by poet and film lyricist “Kavignar” Kannadasan who also penned the words of this immortal song. The melody was composed by the “monarchs of light music” Viswanathan – Ramamoorthy. The song is picturised in the film on TR Mahalingam, actress Mainavathi and a troupe of dancing girls. Mainavathi is the sister in real life of actress Pandari Bai who also acts in the film.

TR Mahalingam (1923–1978)

TR Mahalingam (1923–1978)

The song “Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal, Nilaavena Sirikkum Malark Kodiaal” has been one of my favourite film songs since childhood. I first heard it on radio and later saw it being sung on the screen when “Maalayitta Mangai” was screened at the Vel theatre in Chavakachcheri. The Vel theatre was an asbestos, aluminium and tin structure with a single projector. So there were two intervals. The theatre screened old Tamil films every two or three days. I would frequent this theatre regularly when I was home for the school holidays. It was at “Vel” seated on the gallery last bench, munching peanuts that I first saw and heard TR Mahalingam sing “Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal” on screen. In later years I got a DVD of the film and CD of the songs that I watch and listen to very often.
Continue reading ‘“Senthamizh Thaen Mozhiyaal”-Magnificient Singing by T.R.Mahalingam ♫♥’ »

Sri Lanka’s “Textile Revolution” Ushered in by Ukku Banda Wijekoon

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

“Kollanta Pavement, Kellanta Garment” was a humorous saying frequently repeated during the days of former President Ranasinghe Premadasa. It was an allusion made in lighter vein about the proliferation of garment factories employing girls in most parts of the country during President Premadasas’s rule. The inference was that while young women were being gainfully employed at the garment factories, the young men left unemployed were loitering on the pavements.

Ukku Banda Wijekoon

Ukku Banda Wijekoon

Though aimed as a critical barb at the Premadasa regime the reference to “Kellanta Garment” was in actuality a huge compliment to the Govt headed by Ranasinghe Premadasa. The prevailing reality in those days was that of thousands of young women literally walking to work at garment factories opened in their neighbourhoods. The credit for implementing Premadasa’s policy directive went to his textile industries minister at the time U. B. Wijekoon who set an overall target of opening 200 garment factories and succeeded in setting up 155 establishments during his ministerial term.

The modest and unassuming UB Wijekoon who brightened the lives of thousands of girls seeking employment in the by gone years passed away last week at the Kandy hospital after a brief illness. 79 years old UB Wijekoon’s remains have been handed over – at his request – to the Peradeniya university medical faculty by his family(Sri Lanka’s ace badminton player Niroshan Wijekoon is his son).
Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s “Textile Revolution” Ushered in by Ukku Banda Wijekoon’ »

Sri Lanka Needs India Policy with Multi – track Strategy Instead of Relying on Economic Diplomacy alone

By

Sudharshan Seneviratne

(Complete text of speech titled “IMAGING INDIA AND STRATEGIZING INDO-SRI LANKA SYMBIOSIS” delivered at the India-Sri Lanka Relations in the 21st Century seminar. BCIS. Colombo, 16th June 2016 .Sudharshan Seneviratne is a – Former Professor of Archaeology (Peradeniya), Former Director General Central Cultural Fund and Former High Commissioner to India )

Having returned from India after a premature recall as High Commissioner, I am pleased to make my first public talk at the BCIS. Yet, it is also associated with a sad memory. We had a final meeting at this very hall at a ceremony to launch the journal on International Affairs edited by Tissa Jayatilleke for BCIS published by Sage India. After most guests departed, Lakshman Kadirgamar along with Tissa, myself and Her Excellency Nirupama Rao had a pleasant chat. At that time he revealed plans for the Rajive Gandhi Centre at the BCIS with JNU links. That night Kadirgamar was assassinated. I avoided any official functions here and this is my first visit to the BCIS since then.

Kadirgamar viewed the Indian dimension as a political and cultural imperative and reality. He also had a very personal affection for India and trusted her goodwill. The cultural imperative had a wider scope and a mutually dependent dynamic. To him it was a natural continuum of our legendary and historical relationship with India. This relationship was galvanized through several binding factors. Under his able guidance BCIS became a hub for an India orientation.

In the last three years of his life, a galaxy of Indian academics, military personnel and other specialists in the field of economics and international relations converged at high profile seminars and conferences chartering joint policies on security, conflict resolution, economics and culture. He fine tuned that relationship. It is up to you to decide how much of that dream and vision is alive today or have we lost our way in the Indian Ocean! We need statesmen with wisdom and not mere politicians. Such statesmen are those who passionately love his or her country and who do not compromise national interest. That was Kadirgamae’s valued vision and personality.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Needs India Policy with Multi – track Strategy Instead of Relying on Economic Diplomacy alone’ »

Fisticuffs in Parliament: “Action Hero” Ranjan Ramanayake Thrashed by Mahindananda Aluthgamage in Brawl Between the UNP and SLFP MP’s.


In what seemed like a scene from a Sinhala film two “honourable” members of Parliament entered into fisticuffs within the “hallowed”precincts of the house by Diyawanna Oya on Tuesday June 21st.

Joint Opposition Kandy District MP Mahindananda Alutgamage and UNP Gampaha District parliamentarian and deputy minister Ranjan Ramanayake not only exchanged blows in Parliament but also slandered each other in raw filth, reliable parliament sources said. Both hurled choice epithets at each other insulting both their mothers in the process.

Though Ranjan Ramanayake known as “One –Shot” is a leading actor in Sinhala films and has a larger than life an action hero image, it appears that the portly Mahindananda Aluthgamage had fared better in real life fisticuffs.

Aluthgamage boasted to media personnel that he had hammered Ramanayake while Ramanayake refuted it claiming that he had come out on top in the Aluthgamage vs. Ramanayake. However Ramanayake’s bruised face suggested that Aluthgamage’s blows had inflicted much damage.

Continue reading ‘Fisticuffs in Parliament: “Action Hero” Ranjan Ramanayake Thrashed by Mahindananda Aluthgamage in Brawl Between the UNP and SLFP MP’s.’ »

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

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

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

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

BBCA061714A

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

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

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

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

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

“Dingiri Dingaaley Meenatchi, Dingiri Dingaaley”- Rocking “Baila”-Type Song ♫♥

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -2

“ Dingiri Dingaale Meenatchi Dingiri Dingaale, Ulagam Poara Poakkaip Paaru Thangamay Chiillaaley” was a song that rocked Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon in 1958-59 and the years after. The rhapsodic song from a Tamil film “Anbu Engey?”was widely popular during my childhood days. It was released in Sri Lanka in 1959.No sing song or dance at a party was complete without it. Even at children’s parties this song would be sung or played with every one dancing. Singing Dingiri Dingaaley and dancing to the song was a regular feature of life in those years

"Music has its own language! Linguistic conflicts cannot undermine the universality of music."

“Music has its own language! Linguistic conflicts cannot undermine the universality of music.”

Years later after I entered journalism I found myself being asked to sing “Dingiri Dingaaley” frequently by my Sinhala colleagues in the media. Ethnic relations had not deteriorated badly in the years before “Black July 1983”. Fellow scribes of all communities had cordial relations with each other. When “spirits” were high the journalistic fraternity would engage in a sing- song whenever possible. At such raucous gatherings where many, many songs were sung there would always be a request from Sinhala friends for two Tamil songs. One was “ Adi Ennadi Raakkammaa” from the film “Pattikkaada Pattanamaa?”. The other was of course “Dingiri Dingaaley”. Both were sung in films by the popular play back singer T. M. Soundararajan known generally as TMS.
Continue reading ‘“Dingiri Dingaaley Meenatchi, Dingiri Dingaaley”- Rocking “Baila”-Type Song ♫♥’ »

Southern Skylark Susheela Soars To ‘Record’ Heights In Singing Film Songs ♫♥

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

“Joyous, and clear, and fresh, thy music doth surpass… how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?” – Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘Ode to a Skylark’

An indispensable feature of Indian language films are the song sequences. The songs are usually picturised on actors or actresses who lip-synch them on screen. The voices we hear belong to off-screen singers known generally as playback singers.

P. Susheela with official certificate from the well-known Guinness Book of World Records-PTI poc-Courtesy: The Hindu

P. Susheela with official certificate from the well-known Guinness Book of World Records-PTI poc-Courtesy: The Hindu

The songs sung by these playback singers are pre-recorded for movies. Fortunately for these playback singers they are given credit in the film titles as well as the soundtrack albums. Film songs therefore are identified by the singer who actually sings them and not the actor who lip synchs on screen. Indian movie playback singers have gained much popularity and many, many fans over the years by their singing.
Continue reading ‘Southern Skylark Susheela Soars To ‘Record’ Heights In Singing Film Songs ♫♥’ »

Terrible Massacre of a Four Member Family in Vankaalai Ten Years Ago


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(A family of four in the North – western town of Vankalai in Mannar district was brutally massacred on June 8th 2006. The persons responsible for the cruel act are yet to be brought to justice. I wrote a detailed article about the incident under the heading”Vicious Violence Wipes Out family of four in Vankalai” for “The Morning Leader”of June 13th 2006. I am reproducing the article without changes on my blog to denote the 10th anniversary of the horrible incident- DBSJ)

Vicious Violence wipes out family of four in Vankalai

By
D.B.S. Jeyaraj

13 June 2006

The on going ethnic fratricide in Sri Lanka has seen brutal violence on several occasions. The savagery shown in the slaying of a family of four in the North – Western village of Vankalai last Thursday (June 8th 2006) was perhaps bestiality at its worst. Even the most hardened eyes would have turned moist at the terrible sight of the four victims killed so cruelly by persons who can only be described as barbarians.

Gruesomely graphic photographs of the four victims have been displayed in various sections of the Tamil media. The father, daughter and son were hanging dead in one room while the mother was dead on the floor in another room. The intestines of the seven year old boy are seen protruding. The vaginal area of the twenty – seven year old mother and nine year old daughter were extremely bloody. It appears that the killers have sadistically tortured their victims including the thirty – eight year old father.

The scene of this terrible massacre was in a village called Vankalai in the North – Western district of Mannar. Vankalai is situated north by north – west on the mainland . It is four and a half miles away from Thallaadi military base.. It is about six miles to the South – East of Mannar town.

In recent times the people of Vankalai had been retiring to the St. Annes and other churches during nightfall. Staying at home during night was not safe due to the security situation. The victimised family too used to do that. The family had been absent from Church on Thursday night. When relatives and neighbours checked on the following morning they found the entire family dead. The victims had been hacked, beaten, tortured and hung. The mother and daughter seemed to have been violated sexually.

The brutal massacre has resulted in much tension. Though there are no eyewitnesses to the actual killing or torture the people of Vankalai suspect members of the security forces as being responsible. The state and its media have denied security force responsibilty . There has been a counter charge that the tigers were responsible. Few people in Mannar believe that. The Catholic Bishop of Mannar Joseph Rayappu has stated that those responsible for security were behind the massacre.

Continue reading ‘Terrible Massacre of a Four Member Family in Vankaalai Ten Years Ago’ »

“Armed Forces Will Enthusiastically Support President Sirisena if he Gives Gotabhaya a Responsible Position”-Rajiva Wijesinha

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

(Former National List MP and Prominent Academic – Author Rajiva Wijesinha has a reputation for speaking out forthrightly on issues affecting the nation at large. In this exclusive interview with the “Daily Mirror” Prof.Wijesinha responds to questions on a number of matters including the track record in governance of the present Govt, ethnic reconciliation, internal politics of the SLFP, Maithri- Mahinda relations, Leader of the opposition,resentment in the armed forces and the future role of ex – defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa).

Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

Excerpts From the Interview –

Q:
You were one of the few MP’s who crossed over with Mr. Maithripala Sirisena in November 2014. You supported him at the January 2015 Presidential poll. He was elected president and you were made a state minister. Subsequently you resigned from that Govt but remained supportive of President Sirisena. However after the August 2015 Parliament elections you were not appointed a national list MP. Why do you think that happened and where does it leave you now?

Rajiva Wijesinha

Rajiva Wijesinha

A;
I suspect I fell victim to the internal warfare between supporters of President Sirisena and President Rajapaksa. I took seriously the President’s decision to give his predecessor nomination, since that was the best way of promoting a SLFP / UPFA victory, and ensuring indeed that the party was not decimated.

But those around the President panicked him with stories of what a Rajapaksa led SLFP victory would mean for him, while in turn this was fueled by the latter’s supporters claiming that they would be revenged on the President if they won. Neither side took note of the reality that the party was not likely to win an absolute majority, and that even if it did, there were enough solid supporters of the President to ensure that the Prime Minister would be someone he chose (though it would of course have had to be with his predecessor’s support).
Continue reading ‘“Armed Forces Will Enthusiastically Support President Sirisena if he Gives Gotabhaya a Responsible Position”-Rajiva Wijesinha’ »

“Neela Vannak Kannaa Vaadaa” – Uplifting Lullaby Sung By Balasaraswathi Devi ♥ ♫

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Favourite Film Songs -1

This article is the first in an on going series about film songs I have come to love over the years.Watching Tamil movies on screen and listening to Tamil film songs over radio was an integral part of life for me as a child growing up in Colombo. The Tamil ‘Varthaga Oliparappu’ or Commercial service of ‘Radio Ceylon’ was a treasure trove of film songs.

NV

Apart from broadcasting the latest Tamil film songs even before the films concerned were screened in India, the commercial service also aired specific programs about films being currently shown in theatres in the island. Popular radio announcer Mailvaganam conducted these programs where film songs were featured regularly. Thus one was able to keep abreast of contemporary Tamil film music courtesy ‘Radio Ceylon’ in those wonderful days of yore.
Continue reading ‘“Neela Vannak Kannaa Vaadaa” – Uplifting Lullaby Sung By Balasaraswathi Devi ♥ ♫’ »

An ‘affair’ of the mind between a nubile undergrad and her ageing professor

By D.B. S. Jeyaraj

Asoka Handagama’s latest film ‘Let Her Cry’ is currently being shown in theatres on a limited run from 13 May to 10 June. The director apparently preferred to utilise the gap in between already-scheduled releases and screen his film rather than wait for 16 more months in the queue to get a release. The 104-minute-long film’s title in Sinhala is ‘Ege Esa Aga,’ which means ‘The corner of her eye,’ but the filmmaker seems to have opted for ‘Let Her Cry’ as the official title in English.

Rithika Kodithuwakku  & Dhritiman Chatterjee ~ 'Let Her Cry'

Rithika Kodithuwakku & Dhritiman Chatterjee ~ ‘Let Her Cry’

Asoka Handagama has a track record and reputation for causing controversy through his cinematic creations. The ace filmmaker has the temerity and ability to wade into unchartered territory where few have dared to venture before and explore explosive issues in an unconventional manner. Each one of his earlier feature films – seven in all – are unparalleled cinematic achievements resulting in passionate debate and heated discussion. ‘Ege Esa Aga’ seems to be no exception.
Continue reading ‘An ‘affair’ of the mind between a nubile undergrad and her ageing professor’ »

AIADMK Leader “Amma” Jayalalithaa Has Tamil Nadu At Her Feet Again

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Jayalithaa “Amma” has done it again! The supreme leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (AIADMK)has triumphed at polls held for the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Elections were conducted on May 16th 2016 for 232 out of 234 Constituencies in the state legislature known as the Legislative Assembly. The elections commission rescinded polls for two electorates due to irrefutable evidence of pre-poll malpractices.

Newly elected Chief Minster J.Jayalalithaa at at the State Legislature ~ May 25, 2016

Newly elected Chief Minster J.Jayalalithaa at at the State Legislature ~ May 25, 2016

Unlike Sri Lanka ,there is no proportional representation scheme in India. The Tamil Nadu poll was held under the first past the post winner system where the winner takes all regardless of the percentage of votes polled.The AIADMK with a few miniscule allies contested in all 232 electorates as a single entity under the party symbol of twin leaves and obtained 134 seats.

[After presenting a bouquet to greet his leader, J. Jayalalithaa, on her victory O. Paneerselvam, seeks her blessings at her Poes Garden residence, Feb 2002]

[After presenting a bouquet to greet his leader, J. Jayalalithaa, on her victory O. Paneerselvam, seeks her blessings at her Poes Garden residence, Feb 2002]

The AIADMK got 131 while its allies also contesting under the two leaf symbol got 03. The chief opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK) got 89 while its allies won 09. Of the DMK ally tally , the Indian National Congress got 08 and the Indiam Union Muslim League 01.
Continue reading ‘AIADMK Leader “Amma” Jayalalithaa Has Tamil Nadu At Her Feet Again’ »

When “The Da Vinci Code” Film was Banned in Sri Lanka by the Rajapaksa Regime 10 Years Ago

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

( Dan Brown’s best selling novel “The Da Vinci Code”published in 2003 created much controversy. Ron Howard’s block buster film based on the novel with the same name was also equally controversial. “The Da Vinci Code” starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou was banned in Sri Lanka in May 2006 by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa after the Catholic Bishops Conference appealed to him. I was then critical of the action and stated so in an article written for “The Sunday Leader” under the heading “A Christian perspective on the da Vinci Code movie ban” in which I also questioned the conduct of the Catholic church leaders on the question. I am now re-producing the article written 10 years ago without any changes to denote the tenth anniversary of the ban on “The Da Vinci Code”film – DBSJ)

DVC P

President Mahinda Rajapakse has ordered the Public Performances Board to ban the screening of the movie ‘The Da Vinci Code’ in local cinemas and on local television channels. Apparently the Catholic Bishops Conference made the appeal through an epistle .”The decision to ban the film was taken on an appeal by the Catholic Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka” , President Rajapaksa reportedly told the Daily News.
The film directed by Ron Howard starring Tom Hanks is based on the novel written by Dan Brown. The book has remained on the best seller’s list for three years at a stretch since it was first published in 2003. It has been translated into 44 languages and has sold 52 million copies so far. 40 million copies were sold in North America and at least 100 million Americans are estimated to have read the book. The film released two weeks ago grossed the highest box office sales for North America the first week and shows signs of being a Hollywood block buster.

The ” Da Vinci Code” (DVC) has raked up a controversy. There is no doubt that the Controversy has contributed tremendously to its sales. Now the film too seems destined to be a hit due to the same. Banning the movie in some Countries will no doubt lead to a boom in pirated VHS or DVD’s. This is what will most probably happen in Sri Lanka. Even as I write this article there comes news that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi has ordered the movie banned in that state too.

The Catholic Bishops of Sri Lanka as well as leaders of the Christian Clergy in Tamil Nadu have sought and obtained a ban on the movie. They seem grateful to the rulers for adhering to their wishes. I have seen the movie twice so far and intend seeing it again. The first time was for entertainment. The second ( possibly third ) viewing is due to a spirit of inquiry. While understanding the reasons which prompted these Christian Clergymen to request a ban I want to state after seeing the film that I am not in agreement with them on this.

The request for and decision taken to ban the film can be critiqued for at least four reasons.. Firstly it can be condemned on the basis that it infringes upon the right to free _expression and artistic freedom. Secondly it can be criticised for its abuse and misuse of power. A decision to ban a film can only be taken by the Public Performances Board. In this case the President has imposed his decision arbitrarily. Thirdly it can be seen as an unwarranted overreaction. A sledgehammer has been used to swat a fly. Fourthly it can critiqued as an affront to the Christian faith. The Catholic Bishops are supposedly acting in the interest of Christianity but the end result of this initiative would actually be insulting to Christians.

It is the fourth aspect that I wish to amplify further in this article.Let me state at the outset that I write this piece in my personal capacity as a Christian and not in my professional capacity as a Journalist.This piece is written primarily from a Christian perspective as I believe fervently that Bishops, Moderators, Presidents and Chairpersons of the Christian Religion cannot decide unilaterally on what films should be viewed or not viewed by the faithful flock.

Continue reading ‘When “The Da Vinci Code” Film was Banned in Sri Lanka by the Rajapaksa Regime 10 Years Ago’ »

Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) “the Greatest Heavy Weight Boxer of All time”, Passes Away at Hospital in Phoenix


By
Jon Schuppe

MA

Muhammad Ali, the silver-tongued boxer and civil rights champion who famously proclaimed himself “The Greatest” and then spent a lifetime living up to the billing, is dead.

Ali died Friday at a Phoenix-area hospital, where he had spent the past few days being treated for respiratory complications, a family spokesman confirmed to NBC News. He was 74.

“After a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, Muhammad Ali has passed away at the age of 74. The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening,” Bob Gunnell, a family spokesman, told NBC News.

Retired boxing champion Muhammad Ali waves after he received the Liberty Medal for his humanitarian work, during a ceremony at the National Constitution Center, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Retired boxing champion Muhammad Ali waves after he received the Liberty Medal for his humanitarian work, during a ceremony at the National Constitution Center, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Ali had suffered for three decades from Parkinson’s Disease, a progressive neurological condition that slowly robbed him of both his legendary verbal grace and his physical dexterity. A funeral service is planned in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Even as his health declined, Ali did not shy from politics or controversy, releasing a statement in December criticizing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. “We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda,” he said.

FILE - Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali exclaims "Why me?" when informed his draft board in Louisville, Ky., had reclassified him 1-A in the draft, Feb. 17, 1966. Ali surrounded himself with youngsters from his neighborhood as he told of his feelings in-pic courtesy of: AP

FILE – Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali exclaims “Why me?” when informed his draft board in Louisville, Ky., had reclassified him 1-A in the draft, Feb. 17, 1966. Ali surrounded himself with youngsters from his neighborhood as he told of his feelings in-pic courtesy of: AP

The remark bookended the life of a man who burst into the national consciousness in the early 1960s, when as a young heavyweight champion he converted to Islam and refused to serve in the Vietnam War, and became an emblem of strength, eloquence, conscience and courage. Ali was an anti-establishment showman who transcended borders and barriers, race and religion. His fights against other men became spectacles, but he embodied much greater battles.

Continue reading ‘Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) “the Greatest Heavy Weight Boxer of All time”, Passes Away at Hospital in Phoenix’ »

Gunning Down in Broad Daylight of “Virakesari” Journalist Aiyathurai Nadesan in Batticaloa Twelve Years Ago

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj


(Aiyathurai Nadesan serving as Batticaloa correspondent of the Tamil daily ”Virakesari” was shot dead in broad daylight in the heart of Batticaloa town by assassins belonging to the Eastern breakaway faction of the LTTE on May 31st 2004. His killer was believed to be none other than Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillaiyan who was later to become the first chief minister of the Eastern Provincial council. I am reproducing without any changes the article I wrote then for “The Sunday Leader”, to commemorate Aiyathurai Nadesan’s 12th death anniversary)

The death of any member of the journalistic fraternity is distressing. More so when a scribe is gunned down in broad daylight by ‘unknown’ assassins for the ‘crime’ of writing something that displeases people with pretensions of power.

The sadness is even more acute when the journalist was some-one known to you for more than 25 years and was immensely helpful as a source of accurate news and stimulating views.

Aiyathurai Nadesan was shot dead on May 31 at about 9:35 a.m. in Batticaloa. He was riding his motor cycle to work when the assailants shot him dead at point blank range on Boundary Road. Leaving his home on Lake Road, Batticaloa at 9:20 a.m. Nadesan had followed his usual practice of picking up his Virakesari copy from the boutique next to the Virakesari office on Central Road.

Continue reading ‘Gunning Down in Broad Daylight of “Virakesari” Journalist Aiyathurai Nadesan in Batticaloa Twelve Years Ago’ »

“One-eyed Sivarasan” The Mastermind Behind Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Rajiv Gandhi (August 20, 1944-May 21, 1991)

Rajiv Gandhi (August 20, 1944-May 21, 1991)

Rajiv Ratna Gandhi – India’s Prime minister from 31st October 1984 to December 2nd 1989 – was assassinated at Sriperumbudur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu exactly twenty – five years ago on May 21st 1991. Rajiv Gandhi as he was generally known was in Sriperumbudur to address a propaganda meeting in support of Congress party candidate Ms. Maragatham Chandrasekhar. The 47 year old Indian ex – premier was then immersed in a hectic political campaign to win the Indian Parliamentary elections.

Chandrasekharam pillai Packiachandran alias Sivarasan

Chandrasekharam pillai Packiachandran alias Sivarasan

It was then that a Sri lankan Tamil girl known by the name of “Dhanu” got close to Rajiv Gandhi and gave him a sandalwood garland. The be – spectacled girl in an orange and green churidar then bent down respectfully to touch Rajiv’s feet. She set off a concealed explosive device that was strapped to her body. Rajiv Gandhi, the assailant Dhanu and at least 18 others were killed in the blast instantly. 42 were seriously injured.

A few of the injured also succumbed to their wounds in hospital later on.The “human bomb” assassination that was soon to become a hallmark of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organization rocked India and shocked the world.
Continue reading ‘“One-eyed Sivarasan” The Mastermind Behind Rajiv Gandhi’s Assassination’ »

Remembering Rajiv Gandhi on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of his Death

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Twenty – Five years ago on this day (May 21st) Rajiv Gandhi was killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil eelam(LTTE). The date of Rajiv Gandhi’s death has poignant significance for me personally. May 21st is the date of my birth. My birth and his death, which happened thirty – seven years later, are inter-twined in my consciousness. Rajiv’s memory looms large on each birthday. Some people who wish me regularly on my birthday remind me of this. I think of him very often on my birthday. It is hard to believe that twenty-five years have passed since Rajiv’s death.

Signing of the Accord-1987

Signing of the Accord-1987

Initially I had welcomed the Indo-Lanka accord of July 1987 but soon became critical of India after fighting broke out in October 1987. As time went on my thoughts about the Indian role and Rajiv Gandhi too began to change. Looking at the predicament of the Tamils I felt that the Indo – Lanka accord with all its short – comings would have been much better for Tamils in particular and Sri Lanka in general if it had been allowed to be implemented fully from the time it was signed.

Political Achievement

The Indo-Lanka accord signed on July 29th 1987 by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J.R.jayewardeneI is the only tangible political achievement gained by Sri Lankan Tamils in the sphere of ethnic relations in post-Independence Sri Lanka. It is against this backdrop that I think of Rajiv Gandhi and all what had transpired in the aftermath of the accord in a contemplative mood. I write pensively therefore of Rajiv, his death and its aftermath and also of his legacy the 13th Amendment and would be relying to a great extent on some of my earlier writings as I walk down memory lane.
Continue reading ‘Remembering Rajiv Gandhi on the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of his Death’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, The “Pithala Handiya” Explosive Attack And Sarath Fonseka

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

GR032213

Former Sri Lankan army commander Sarath Fonseka came out with a bombshell statement some days ago in Parliament. The ex –army chief now a Cabinet minister in the Sirisena – Wickremesinghe Government accused his erstwhile comrade -at – arms and former Secretary of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of having “stage managed” an assassination attempt on himself nearly ten years ago in order to win sympathy for his family the Rajapaksas. Fonseka who was serving as army commander at that time was referring to the incident on December 1st 2006 in which a suicide bomber belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) tried to ram an explosive laden three –wheeler into the vehicle in which Defence secretary Rajapaksa was travelling in.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa


Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, The “Pithala Handiya” Explosive Attack And Sarath Fonseka’ »

How Kandiah Ulaganathan Alias “Col” Ramanan of the LTTE was Killed by a Sniper in the East 10 Years Ago

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(This is an article written and posted by me ten years ago on May 26th 2006 under the heading “Life and Times of Kandiah Ulaganathan – (“Col” Ramanan)”. It is being re-posted here to denote the tenth anniversary of Ulaganathan alias Ramanan’s death)

Kandiah Ulaganathan known to the world as “Col” Ramanan of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was killed on Sunday May 21st 2006 . Ramanan fell victim to a sniper or hidden gunman as he was inspecting the forward defence lines (FDL’s)at Vavunatheevu in the region known as “Paduvaankarai” (Shore of the setting sun) on the west of Mattakkalappu Vaavi or Batticaloa lagoon.

Ramanan was a senior commander serving with the tigers since 1986. Rising from the ranks he has held many different positions within LTTE folds during the course of his tumultous career as freedom fighter. It was only a few weeks ago that Ramanan was made Lt. Col and nominated as deputy – military commmander of Batticaloa – Amparai LTTE by tiger supremo Velupillai Pirapakaran.

“Col’ Bhanu from Ariyalai in the North ern Province is in overall charge for Batticaloa – Amparai districts as Special Commander. Senior tiger leader Nagesh had been appointed military – commander for both districts with Ramanan as his deputy. Both Nagesh and Ramanan are sons of the Eastern soil. In addition to being deputy military commander Ramanan was also supervising the intelligence wing in the region with Keerthy running day to day affairs.

Ramanan had been on an inspection tour of LTTE positions along the lagoon shores from noon that Sunday 26th. He was almost winding up that evening when he reached Vavunatheevu. He was chatting merrily with tiger cadres manning the frontline outposts when an accurate bullet from a sniper’s rifle smashed into his skull.

Continue reading ‘How Kandiah Ulaganathan Alias “Col” Ramanan of the LTTE was Killed by a Sniper in the East 10 Years Ago’ »

How 13 Tamil Civilians Were Killed By the Navy and EPDP in Allaipiddy – Velanai on May 13th 2006

By D.B.S. Jeyaraj

(This is an article written and posted by me ten years ago on May 16th 2006 under the heading “Navy –EPDP Kill Thirteen Civilians in Allaipiddy – Velanai”. It is being re-posted here to mark the tenth anniversary of the killings. No one has been prosecuted or convicted for the killings so far)

Thirteen Tamil civilians including two women and two children were killed in three incidents of violence on the night of Saturday May 13th 2006 in the Allaipiddy and Velanai islets off Northern province’s Jaffna peninsula . Another man and woman were seriously injured while at least eleven businesses including a telecommunication centre were destroyed through deliberate arson. Personnel in civils from the Sri Lankan Navy and cadres of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP) were suspected of being responsible.

Those of us who read English poetry of an earlier vintage may recall ” The Cottar’s Saturday Night” by Robert Burns. Scotland’s national bard had written a masterpiece about the calm ,serene life of a humble cottar as he settled down for the night peacefully with his family in his cottage. It was however a different night of deadly violence that lay in store for the victims of an extended family in Allaipiddy on Saturday May 13th 2006.

Continue reading ‘How 13 Tamil Civilians Were Killed By the Navy and EPDP in Allaipiddy – Velanai on May 13th 2006’ »

Tragedy Descends Upon Pallebage as Parts of “Saamasaara Kanda” Mountain Crumble and Fall.

By Dharisha Bastians in Aranayake

pic courtesy of: DailyFT

pic courtesy of: DailyFT

The wails of Prema Adikari, 58, mingle with the howls of a small brown dog as they both stare at the muddy remains of a collapsed house on the hill through sheets of rain falling in the area again Thursday morning. A red collar made of twisted string is still fastened to the dog’s neck, a sign that he once belonged to someone in the landslide hit area. Villagers in Pallebage, say the dog has been howling for two days, when parts of the mountain crumbled and fell, crushing small settlements that lay upon its slopes.

Prema Adikari says her brother and his family of three lived in the house on the hill. “The neighbours had shouted for them to leave but I don’t think they heard over the gushing waters of the canal nearby during the rain,” she explains sobbing.

Behind her, a team of elite army commandos rushed up the slippery mountain to dig through the rubble in an effort to recover three bodies residents claimed were buried in the landslide debris. Adikari was convinced they were the remains of her family that was crushed by the mudslide on Tuesday evening.
Continue reading ‘Tragedy Descends Upon Pallebage as Parts of “Saamasaara Kanda” Mountain Crumble and Fall.’ »

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Counters Allegations Against Him In Interview

By C. A. Chandraprema

Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran’s term of office ends in June this year. There have been calls from opposition politicians as well as good governance activists for the government to investigate alleged malpractices in the issuance of treasury bonds during his tenure before reappointing him for another term. One of the bond issues was investigated by the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) but parliament was dissolved just before the day on which the report of the COPE sub-committee headed by D. E. W. Gunasekera was to be tabled inP. In this exclusive interview with The Island, Governor Mahendran contests the allegations against him.

Q. If you look at the front page of The Island today (Wednesday), Mr D. E. W. Gunasekera has called for an investigation into what he refers to as the ‘bond scams’ before your term is extended in June this year. He calls this the biggest scam in Sri Lankan history. Aren’t all these problems due to the fact that you started going in for bond auctions instead of direct placements as was the earlier practice?

Continue reading ‘Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran Counters Allegations Against Him In Interview’ »

58 Killed, 132 Missing Due to Lanslides:414,827 Persons Affected by Rains and Floods with 43 dead and 28 missing- Over 300,00 Evacuated as Kelani River Rises by 10 feet

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The death toll from the Aranayake landslide in the Kegalle District could rise to 135, Disaster Management Centre (DMC) Media Spokesman Pradeep Kodippili told The Island yesterday. He, however said the figure had not been confirmed officially.

According to the latest figures issued by the Disaster Management Centre (DMC): disaster have left 58 persons dead; 132 are missing

The Officer-In-Charge of Aranayake Police confirmed only 11 deaths from massive landslide and said 135 remained missing. “Search operations are still going on.”

The National Building Research Organization (NBRO) yesterday declared another 170 landslide prone areas in six districts and called for immediate evacuation of residents from those areas.

In addition a total of 43 people had been confirmed dead due to floods and related disasters across the country since last week.

Continue reading ‘58 Killed, 132 Missing Due to Lanslides:414,827 Persons Affected by Rains and Floods with 43 dead and 28 missing- Over 300,00 Evacuated as Kelani River Rises by 10 feet’ »

Canada Ready to Help Sri Lanka set Up Robust Accountability Mechanism With Foreign and Commonwealth Investigators,Prosecutors and Judges.

Canada is willing to assist the Sri Lankan Government to set up a robust accountability mechanism to investigate and address serious violations of international law during the war, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

Issuing a statement on the seventh anniversary of the end of the war in Sri Lanka, the Canadian Prime Minister said he is encouraged by the Sri Lankan Government’s commitment to seek accountability.

Continue reading ‘Canada Ready to Help Sri Lanka set Up Robust Accountability Mechanism With Foreign and Commonwealth Investigators,Prosecutors and Judges.’ »

Similarities and Differences Between Jayalalithaa “Amma” of Tamil Nadu and Mamata “Didi” Of West Bengal.

BY RONOJOY SEN

May 19 decided the fate of two of the most powerful women politicians in India: Jayalalithaa and Mamata Banerjee. While Mamata expectedly returned to power in West Bengal, albeit by a larger margin than expected, Jayalalithaa became the first chief minister in Tamil Nadu in three decades to buck anti-incumbency.

Though there are striking similarities between Jayalalithaa and Mamata, the differences are equally stark. The way they ran their campaigns in the 2016 elections offers a clue. Mamata crisscrossed West Bengal for nearly 60 days addressing some 200 rallies; Jayalalithaa on the other hand was present at only 30-odd election meetings.

But first the obvious similarities. Both Jayalalithaa and Mamata are undisputed leaders of their respective parties, the AIADMK and the Trinamool Congress. The two parties are virtually identified with the two women leaders and theirs is the last word in the party. Both Jayalalithaa and Mamata are larger than life though the very fact that the former is known as Amma (mother) and the latter as Didi (elder sister) point to subtle differences on how they are not only seen by the public, but also on how they want to project themselves.

Continue reading ‘Similarities and Differences Between Jayalalithaa “Amma” of Tamil Nadu and Mamata “Didi” Of West Bengal.’ »

With Clear Lead in Over 125 out of 234 Seats , Jayalalithaa led AIADMK Poised for Historic Victory in Tamil Nadu.

Poised for a successive term in office with her party establishing clear leads in over 125 seats, AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Thursday said her party had managed the “historic” win despite absence of an alliance and hailed people’s faith in her.

Making a victory speech from her Poes Garden residence amid a steady stream of visitors, including top officials, she thanked the voters for choosing her party and vowed to work with a new found energy for the welfare of people of Tamil Nadu.

“I am overwhelmed by the resounding victory the people of Tamil Nadu have given us. My party and I are indebted to the people of Tamil Nadu for giving this historic victory,” a beaming Ms. Jayalalithaa said even as hundreds of supporters swarmed her house.

Continue reading ‘With Clear Lead in Over 125 out of 234 Seats , Jayalalithaa led AIADMK Poised for Historic Victory in Tamil Nadu.’ »

“I Call Upon the Entire Nation to Remember on May 19th the Brave Armed Forces Who Sacrificed Their Lives”

By

Mahinda Rajapaksa

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in a hard hitting statement yesterday blasted the authorities for releasing hardcore LTTEers numbering a few hundred, while armed forces personnel were being arrested and held continuously without bail.

“My government did not try to exact revenge from LTTE cadres captured at the end of the war. We rehabilitated and released more than 11,000 LTTE combatants. It was only around 200 to 300 of the most dangerous terrorist operatives who were kept in detention with a view to taking legal action against them for various crimes,” he explained

The full text of President Rajapaksa’s statement:

On 19 May 2016, we mark the 7th anniversary of the victory of our armed forces over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam which had officially been designated by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation as the world’s deadliest and most effective terrorist organisation outranking even Al Qaeda. This was a victory that captured the imagination of the whole world. I consider it a privilege to have been able to give political leadership to the armed forces to enable them to achieve this feat which has become an inspiration to all countries beset by terrorism.

Continue reading ‘“I Call Upon the Entire Nation to Remember on May 19th the Brave Armed Forces Who Sacrificed Their Lives”’ »

40 People Killed and Over 100 Missing Due to Floods and Landslides Created by Torrential Rains in Sri Lanka

by Maheesha Mudugauwa

Mudslides set off by torrential rains rushed down rain-soaked hills in two districts, sweeping away scores of houses and killing at least 40 people in three villages during the past two days, Disaster Management Centre (DMC) said yesterday. More than 100 others are missing.

Sixteen people were killed by a landslide at Kalupahanawatte in Bulathkohupitiya and the bodies of 16 people killed by a landslide in Elangapitiya village in Aranayake in the Kegalle District have been recovered. Another landslide occurred at Kadugannawa, killing six people on Monday.

Continue reading ‘40 People Killed and Over 100 Missing Due to Floods and Landslides Created by Torrential Rains in Sri Lanka’ »

President and Constitutional Council Must Thoughtfully Reflect Before Extending Term of Central bank Governor in June.

By

Chandra Jayaratne

Civil Society breathed a sigh of relief post “January 8th 2015 Change” and looked forward to commitments of Transparency, Good Governance, Rule of Law and Ethical Conduct of Leaders, returning, being respected and strictly complied with in governance.

The resignation midterm of the last Governor was indeed good news. The expectations were high upon the new appointee to serve the balance term being an ex- Central Banker, with requisite experience to give leadership to this important public institution. This view prevailed, despite Civil Society urging the consideration of a more recently retired Central Banker to be the choice.

In any event, the civil society expected greater transparency, focus on delivering core accountabilities, assurance of effective macroeconomic governance, financial stability, effective disclosure, independent and integrity driven decision making and policy directives, coupled with giving independent advice to the government to be the core values driving the Central Bank. These expectations were to supplement assuring an end to the use of the Central Bank and its resources and policy making powers, to further political and personal objectives and seeing an end to conflicts of interest driven pump and dump style management of public resources of the EPF and suspect practices in long term bond issues.

Civil society, reflecting on the outcomes of Central Bank governance over the past 15 months can only conclude that their hopes have been dashed and that the governance platform and results realized are no better than under the previous regime. The new Governor must take total responsibility for this situation, as he has failed to live up to expectations of society.

Continue reading ‘President and Constitutional Council Must Thoughtfully Reflect Before Extending Term of Central bank Governor in June.’ »

My Reasons for not Wanting to Climb Sri Pada Mountain Again.

By

Bandula Jayasekara

For whatever reason, I never wanted to climb Siri Pada better known as Samanala Kanda (Butterfly Mountain/Peak). I wouldn’t call it Adams Peak because it was Robert Knox who called it that. Knox could have called it Butterfly Peak instead, because Adam was nowhere near this peak. I once went to climb it with three German and Danish friends and decided not to climb it when I saw the mayhem and commercial like activities at Nallathanni. However, this time I climbed it in the interest of the viewers of Sirasa TV Pathikada. In a way I am glad I climbed it, because I can share with you with my views and thoughts, and tell you why I will not climb it again. It is up to you, if you want to climb it.

It is true, we call it Samanala Kanda. But, I hardly saw butterflies there. Even the butterflies have left the Butterfly Mountain because it has become a disgusting environmental disaster. I saw more filthy hotels and traders and more polythene rather than the nature I expected until I climbed to the peak. It was filthy, smelly, dirty and full of garbage. I pity the innocent village folks who climbed it with faith and devotion to the Buddha. None of them cared. They accepted things as it were. I don’t think the Buddha ever wanted innocent people full of devotion to climb a peak like that. I regret very much, I didn’t find the climb serene and peaceful as it should be. Many who I spoke to agreed. They told me they were helpless and only could share their thoughts with me.

Continue reading ‘My Reasons for not Wanting to Climb Sri Pada Mountain Again.’ »

Canada Welcomes Decision Taken By Sirisena- Wickremesinghe Govt to Call off “Victory day Parade”

by Shamindra Ferdinando

Against the backdrop of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government calling off Victory Day Parade held annually to celebrate Sri Lanka’s triumph over the LTTE, Megapolis and Western Province Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka has organised a war heroes’ commemoration at Panagoda Army Cantonment tomorrow (May 19) at 3.15 pm.

Minister Ranawaka will make a special statement at the Bodhirajarama temple in the cantonment. The JHU heavyweight will explain the circumstances leading to the cancellation of the Victory Day Parade to pave the way for religious observances and cultural events.

The military brought the war to a successful conclusion on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon on the morning of May 18, 2009.

The main government sponsored event will be held at the war memorial parliamentary grounds with President Maithripala Sirisena’s participation at 4 pm today (May 18).

Continue reading ‘Canada Welcomes Decision Taken By Sirisena- Wickremesinghe Govt to Call off “Victory day Parade”’ »

DEW Gunasekera Urges President Sirisena not to Extend Term of Governor Arjuna Mahendran Without Probing Central bank Scams.

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

Communist Party (CP) leader D.E.W. Gunasekera on Monday urged President Maithripala Sirisena not to extend the term of the Central Bank (CB) Governor Arjuna Mahendran, which is scheduled to end in June, without a thorough investigation into alleged bond scams during his tenure.

Former Chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Gunasekera told a media briefing at Dr. N.M Perera Centre in Borella that the appointment of the CBSL Governor was the President’s prerogative.

Referring to the good governance activist and former Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Chandra Jayaratne’s recent letter written to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requesting it to oversee the activities of Sri Lanka’s government bond market, Gunasekera stressed that the CBSL was not providing information regarding government bond issuance since its first scam was revealedby the media last year.

“I haven’t seen any media reports on recent bonds scams of the CB and the reason was that the CB was hiding the bond issuance details from the public,” he said.

Continue reading ‘DEW Gunasekera Urges President Sirisena not to Extend Term of Governor Arjuna Mahendran Without Probing Central bank Scams.’ »

Is Mangala Samaraweera Mocking Mahinda Rajapaksa or Is Mahinda Rajapaksa Mocking Mangala Samaraweera ?

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Mangala Samaraweera had written a letter to Mahinda Rajapaksa last weekend. In this open letter he had mentioned that war crimes had taken place during the war. While Mangala was accusing Mahinda of war crimes, Mahinda completed his visit to Uganda and returned. Mahinda went to Uganda to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni. There was an element of excitement at this function when President of Sudan Omar al Bashir who has been accused at the International Criminal Court arrived at Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony.

It is reported that at that juncture, Ambassadors from Western Countries who were participating in the ceremony, got up and left the venue. The reason was that the President of Sudan was ridiculing the warrant issued by the International Criminal Court and visiting countries friendly towards him.

When the President of Sudan arrived, the President of Uganda introduced him while severely criticizing the International Criminal Court. At that moment, former President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa was among the foreign leaders present. The problem is that, Mangala provided air tickets to Mahinda to go and attend the Ugandan President’s swearing-in ceremony and to salute the President of Sudan.

The other thing is why is Mangala silent on the decision taken by Uganda to invite Mahinda and not the present Head of State of Sri Lanka to this function?

Continue reading ‘Is Mangala Samaraweera Mocking Mahinda Rajapaksa or Is Mahinda Rajapaksa Mocking Mangala Samaraweera ?’ »

Mervyn Silva Entrusted With Task of Turning “Joint Opposition” Into a Joke in the Eyes Of The Media

By

Rasika Jayakody

Media Ministry Secretary Nimal Bopage ran into a storm recently when he sent out a press communiqué cautioning the media over the term ‘Joint Opposition’.

Even the highest echelons of the political sphere were perturbed over Bopage’s press conference as they thought the move would boomerang on the government, in some way or another.

However, Bopage’s press communiqué – intentionally or not – was a manifestation of the ruling coalition’s political concerns. Although the Joint Opposition group does not have a significant stake in Parliament, they make a lot of noise on the government, causing trouble for the government on multiple issues. They hold press conferences on a daily basis and ensure a strong presence in the media space. This, needless to say, may be a worry for the ruling coalition which is already grappling with a number of economic and political issues.

Many thought Bopage’s press communiqué would contribute to the government’s problems rather than solving them. Some said Bopage should have complained to the Speaker over the matter, without the media directly. Some opined that Bopage should have kept silent on the matter, allowing the media to exercise its will over the ‘controversial’ term.

It was in this context that former Minister Mervyn Silva, a strange political creature of our time, convened a ‘special press conference’ on Monday. A day before the press conference, Silva was present before the Police Financial Crimes Investigations and many assumed that the press conference might have a connection with the FCID matter.

However, the journalists who went to cover Silva’s press conference were surprised to see a giant banner displaying the name ‘the Joint Opposition.’ For a moment they thought Silva was going to extend his support to the ‘Joint Opposition’ group whose leader is former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Continue reading ‘Mervyn Silva Entrusted With Task of Turning “Joint Opposition” Into a Joke in the Eyes Of The Media’ »

Maybe President and Prime Minister Will Mark 7th Anniversary of War’s End With the People of the North?

By

Dr.Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

It is now seven years since the end of the war and the onset of a post-war situation. In that time the roots of conflict were not addressed but sustained and even reproduced. In the North and East, people observed that things may have looked better, but felt worse. There and throughout the country, rights were at best irrelevant and at worst subversive. Then, sixteen months ago there was an election that promised to change everything. In order to do that though, some things had to be put on the backburner if those things were to be ever addressed at all. The overarching priority was to win the election and irrespective of ethnicity and religion, people voted for change, hitherto considered impossible.

Are we now on the road to reconciliation, to a post-conflict world in which the sources of conflict are not sustained and reproduced? Yes, No, Perhaps, Maybe?

Continue reading ‘Maybe President and Prime Minister Will Mark 7th Anniversary of War’s End With the People of the North?’ »

Time To Stop Talking About Corruption in Sri Lanka And Start Taking Serious Action

By Vishwamithra1984

“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.”
~John Steinbeck

It’s time we stopped talking about corruption and started taking some serious action!

Commissions and committees have outlived their usefulness. The people are tired and sick of the pace at which these various bodies, whether they are armed with judiciary powers or not, proceeding against whom allegations are dragging on. The public ire and wrath is greatly amplified by the fact that one of the critical issues on which the current regime ran its Presidential Campaign in January 2015 was corruption, nepotism and lack of good governance on the part of the Rajapaksas. Eradication of corruption and nepotism and setting up of good governance were the promises held out.

The people, by and large, decided to throw the Rajapaksas out despite the fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa, the defeated Presidential candidate, presided over the defeat of the brutal Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) led by Prabhakaran in a cruel war. The people decided that the harm and injury done unto the character and core values of Sri Lankan life by the Rajapaksas justified their verdict. I’m sure it must have been a hard decision to arrive at. Yet they did.

The election itself was tainted by some unprecedented violence and cruelty visited upon those who opposed Rajapaksa. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cohorts played a very diabolical game of electioneering. Their campaign reflected a mind, character and ‘means of achieving ends’ of a desperate and cruel cabal of men and women. Most of the Ex-President’s men and women today stand accused of gross indulgences in corruption, nepotism and violation of fundamental rights of the people.

The people delivered their verdict. Now it’s up to the country’s governing parties and the judiciary system to deliver theirs. Any delay and hesitancy will be construed as incompetency at best and denial at worst. Whichever way one takes it, it’s not good for the present day rulers.

Continue reading ‘Time To Stop Talking About Corruption in Sri Lanka And Start Taking Serious Action’ »

Changing Over From Coal to Liquefied Natural Gas Would result in Power Plant Being Shifted to Western Coast of Sri Lanka Instead of East Coast Sampoor

By P.K.Balachandran

The governments of Sri Lanka and India will begin discussions on replacing coal by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the 500 MW Indo-Lankan power plant to be set up at Sampoor in Eastern Sri Lanka, the Lankan Power Secretary, Dr.Suren Batagoda, told Express on Tuesday.

“ At the moment, the changeover to LNG is only an idea to be discussed. No decision has yet been taken to replace coal by LNG,” Batagoda added in clarification.

The Lankan High Commissioner in India, Esala Weerakoon, confirmed to Express that President Maithripala Sirisena had requested Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to replace coal by LNG in view of objections from environmentalists. Weerakoon also said and that, as per the assurance of the Indian PM, his officials will discuss the changeover with their Lankan counterparts.

Continue reading ‘Changing Over From Coal to Liquefied Natural Gas Would result in Power Plant Being Shifted to Western Coast of Sri Lanka Instead of East Coast Sampoor’ »

President Sirisena Must Instruct SL Navy to Arrest 10 Tamil Nadu Fishing Trawlers Every week Until Poaching Is Stopped

By

Dr.Steve Creech

“India seeks Sri Lanka’s help to stop Indians fishing illegally in Sri Lankan waters”.

This isn’t quite how the Indian press worded Narendra Modi’s request to Maithripala Sirisena when they met in New Delhi on Friday. The headlines in the Indian media said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pushed for a permanent solution to the issue of Indian fishermen during his talks with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena. The issue is of course illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by Tamil Nadu trawlers in Sri Lankan waters.

A recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations’ Asian Pacific Fishery Commission ranks IUU fishing by Tamil Nadu trawlers in the Sri Lankan waters of the Palk Bay as ‘Hot Spot No. 7’ in its regional review of IUU fishing by foreign fishing vessels. The FAO UN report estimates that the number of vessels engaged in IUU fishing in Sri Lanka was 2,625 trawlers, 278 gill-netters and 650 outboard motorboats in 2010. The catch that is illegally harvested by Tamil Nadu trawlers from Sri Lanka waters is estimated to be 100,000 metric tons, annually.

The UN report’s finding tally with records of sighting of Tamil Nadu trawlers in Sri Lankan waters by the Sri Lankan Navy. According to navy records Tamil Nadu trawlers made 282,864 illegal fishing trips into Sri Lankan waters between the end of the conflict in 2009 and December last year. 15,374 trawlers fishing illegally in Sri Lankan waters were individually identified and the ID numbers communicated to the Indian High Commission in Colombo, according to navy sources.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Must Instruct SL Navy to Arrest 10 Tamil Nadu Fishing Trawlers Every week Until Poaching Is Stopped’ »

President Sirisena Asks Prime Minister Modi to Convert Proposed Coal Power Plant in Sampoor to Liquified Natural Gas Power Station

BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has asked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to convert the Sampur Power Station in Trincomalee from a coal power plant to one powered by liquified natural gas (LNG).

Modi has responded positively to Sirisena’s suggestion, and asked his officials to discuss the issue promptly with their Sri Lankan counterparts, and move forward.

This was revealed to The Island here today by Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Esala Weerakoon.

The Sampur project figured in the bilateral deliberations between the two sides on Friday. President Sirisena raised the issue, and Modi reacted to the former’s suggestion favourably.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Asks Prime Minister Modi to Convert Proposed Coal Power Plant in Sampoor to Liquified Natural Gas Power Station’ »

Military Security Provided to Ex – Defence Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to be Replaced by Police on a Stagggered Basis

By Dasun Edirisinghe

Army security provided to former Defence Secretary Lt. Col. (Retd.) Gotabhaya Rajapaksa too would be removed in stages according to the government’s policy decision to hand over the VIP security to the police commandos, the Defence Ministry said yesterday.

Addressing the media at the Government Information Department, Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi said the Police Special Task Force would ensure and take responsibility for the former Defence Secretary’s security without any lapse.

Answering a query by The Island, he said, at present 50 Army commandos were deployed in the security detail of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who was the Defence Secretary 2005-2015. The government forces crushed the LTTE terrorists under Rajapaksa stewardship.

Continue reading ‘Military Security Provided to Ex – Defence Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to be Replaced by Police on a Stagggered Basis’ »

Aviation Minister Jayaratne’s Unqualified Daughter Sachini Nayanthara Appointed to Newly Created Post of International Relations Officer at Civil Aviation Authority

By

Nirmala Kannangara

Director General, Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka (CAASL) continues to be in the public eye, aligning himself as he does, with successive governments in order to safeguard his position. This is despite the numerous malpractices he has allegedly been involved in over the years.

It is surprising indeed that the good governance administration which came into power 17 months ago promising to take action against all state officials who misappropriate public funds and give relief to the general public, has so far failed to take action against CAASL which continuous to be a den of corruption. Despite the assurances given, the present government too has allowed the same old shady state officials to continue in corruption and in some instances given them more facilities to misappropriate public funds in the guise of providing ‘better services’ to the industry.

Following our continuous exposes on alleged malpractices taking place at the CAASL, it has now been revealed how its Director General had allegedly hoodwinked the Department of Management Services of the General Treasury during the latter part of the previous regime to get a new post created at the Authority specially for the then subject minister’s offspring. This he saw as a means by which he could gain immunity from being investigated for the malpractices he was engaged in, at the expense of public money.

Continue reading ‘Aviation Minister Jayaratne’s Unqualified Daughter Sachini Nayanthara Appointed to Newly Created Post of International Relations Officer at Civil Aviation Authority’ »

Tamils Have Moved Away From the 1976 Vadddukkoddai Resolution For Tamil Eelam After 1987 Indo – Lanka Accord says TNA Leader R. Sampanthan.

By

T.Ramakrishnan

In a strange coincidence, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan will participate together in a public event on Saturday, which marks the 40th anniversary of the Vaddukoddai resolution.

The two leaders will be in the ancient Indian city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh to take part in the valedictory event of the Kumbh Mela.

Forty years ago, Mr. Sampanthan — then a member of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) — was one of those who supported the demand for Tamil Eelam (independent country for Sri Lankan Tamils) while Mr. Sirisena’s political mentor Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the all-powerful Prime Minister.

Continue reading ‘Tamils Have Moved Away From the 1976 Vadddukkoddai Resolution For Tamil Eelam After 1987 Indo – Lanka Accord says TNA Leader R. Sampanthan.’ »

Similarities Between Sri Lanka Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Last week, ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa travelled to Uganda to grace the inauguration ceremony of President Yoweri Museveni, who was sworn-in for his fifth term. It could have been a bitter sweet moment for MR, who like his host, dreamt of being the President for life and amended the constitution to that effect, but, alas, then lost the election to his former health minister. MR was among an illustrious gathering of African leaders, including Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, the last named is implicated by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

Some Western envoys at the event reportedly walked out in protest after the host made disparaging comments about the ICC. If the Ugandan President- who unlike our local politicos has not forgotten his old friend in his bad times — is just another tin-pot dictator, that would not make much news. After all, Africa has bulk produced such individuals over the decades. On the contrary, Museveni was earlier feted as a new African statesman and a pioneer of a new generation of smart African leaders, who had a vision and a drive to bring stability and relative prosperity to a region ravaged by kleptocratic despots, warlords and cross-dressing cannibals.

Under Museveni, who first came to power in 1986 ending a long running civil war and later elected to presidency in 1996, Uganda has recorded steady economic growth, investment has flown in (So did some Ugandan Indians who were early kicked out by Idi Amin) and the country has introduced free primary education. However, over the time, Museveni, like his Sri Lankan counterpart succumbed to the temptation of power, amended the Constitution to remove presidential term limits, and now rules the country for his fifth term.

Continue reading ‘Similarities Between Sri Lanka Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda’ »

Lankan Navy Is Building Church Hall for Pilgrims in Kachchatheevu On a Written Request Made by Catholic Bishop of Jaffna Diocese

By

P.K.Balachandran

Contrary to reports emanating from Tamil Nadu, the Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) is not building St.Anthony’s church at Kachchativu on its own, but is doing so at the written request of the Bishop of Jaffna, the local parish priest, Fr.Jeyaranjan, told Express on Sunday.

Bishop Rev.Dr.Justin Gnanapragasam had made a verbal request to the SLN in his speech at the last St.Anthony’s Feast held at Kachchativu on February 22. He followed it up with a written request to the Sri Lankan government, Fr.Jeyaranjan said.

The parish priest of Delft Island who is also in charge of Kachchativu, clarified that it is the Catholic Church in Jaffna which is building the church, and that the SLN is only carrying out a contract.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Navy Is Building Church Hall for Pilgrims in Kachchatheevu On a Written Request Made by Catholic Bishop of Jaffna Diocese’ »

Lankan Navy Commander Refutes Baseless Charges In India About Naval Facility Being Built in Kachchatheevu.

By

T. RAMAKRISHNAN

The Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) on Sunday dismissed reports that it planned to build a naval facility on the Katchatheevu islet, which was ceded by India to Sri Lanka during the June 1974 bilateral agreement.

Talking to The Hindu, SLN Commander Vice-Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne termed “baseless” the reports that the Navy had planned to install a detachment on the islet. “Our role in the proposed construction of a new shrine at St. Anthony’s church has been blown out of proportion,” the Commander added.


After Vikas Swarup’s observations

The Commander’s attention was drawn to observations of the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs in the Indian government, Vikas Swarup, a few days ago that the Indian High Commission had been asked to provide more details on the reports and the move to build a shrine without informing India.

Recounting how the Navy got involved in the construction of the shrine for which the foundation stone was laid a week ago, the Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne explained that when the annual two-day Katchatheevu festival took place in February this year, the help of the Navy was sought by both the Diocese of Jaffna and visiting Indian pilgrims, mostly fishermen, for putting up a new shrine as the existing one was too small to accommodate the pilgrims and it was very old.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Navy Commander Refutes Baseless Charges In India About Naval Facility Being Built in Kachchatheevu.’ »

India Goes Ahead With Sampoor Power Project But Lankan Govt is Divided With Ranil Faction Supporting And Maithri faction Opposing

By P.K.Balachandran

The Indo-Lankan project to build a 500 MW coal fired power plant at Sampoor in Eastern Sri Lanka is on, despite opposition from an influential section of the Lankan government, reliable sources told Express on Sunday.

“Reports about the project being abandoned had come out in the past too, but these proved to be baseless,” the source said. .

Only the other day, the Board of the Trincomalee Power Company Ltd., which is a Joint Venture between the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) of India and the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) of Sri Lanka, had met in Colombo and decided to float a global tender at the end of May for the construction of the 2X250 MW plant.


And it is learnt that India has thrown its full weight behind the project. New Delhi sees it as a critical part of its strategic interest in having a say in the Lankan energy sector.

Continue reading ‘India Goes Ahead With Sampoor Power Project But Lankan Govt is Divided With Ranil Faction Supporting And Maithri faction Opposing’ »

MP From TNA Allegedly Imports Land Rover Diesel STA/Wagon Sports AB10 Dynam SDV6 Luxury Vehicle at Undervalued Price

by Madura Ranwala

A TNA MP has taken delivery of a tax free luxury vehicle, a used Land Rover Diesel STA/Wagon Sports ABIO Dynam SDV6, this week by underestimating the real value of the vehicle and paying only Rs. 1,750 as Customs Declaration fee. It is the second luxury vehicle cleared so far by parliamentarians.

According to a top Customs union source, though the vehicle had been declared as second hand, it was virtually brand new.

The MP has violated the Customs Ordinance by underestimating its value and exceeded the permit limit of USD 60,500 parliamentarians are entitled to.

“Under the Customs Ordinance, underestimating a vehicle value is a fraud”, a senior member of the Sri Lanka Customs Unions told The Island last night.

Continue reading ‘MP From TNA Allegedly Imports Land Rover Diesel STA/Wagon Sports AB10 Dynam SDV6 Luxury Vehicle at Undervalued Price’ »

Construction of 2nd St. Anthonys Church in Kachchatheevu by Sri Lankan Navy Suspended Due to Protests By Indian Govt

The construction of a new church on the island of Kachchativu has been stopped by the Sri Lankan Government after India raised issues over it.

Navy Commander Ravindra Wijegunaratne told the Sunday Times construction work had been suspended until the issues were resolved. He said the Navy had been asked to undertake the construction by Jaffna’s Bishop the Rt. Rev. Dr. Bernard Gnanapragasam.

The foundation stone was laid last Monday. Vice Admiral Wijegunaratne said the Bishop had pointed out to him during last year’s Kachchativu feast, attended by thousands of devotees from Sri Lanka and South India, that the existing church was too small.

Continue reading ‘Construction of 2nd St. Anthonys Church in Kachchatheevu by Sri Lankan Navy Suspended Due to Protests By Indian Govt’ »

Faultlines Dividing Moderation From Extremism Run Through Each Civilization and Each Religion.

by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Have you learned nothing from history?”

Freud (The Future of an Illusion)

In the US, Donald Trump, the orange-haired billionaire whose claim to fame includes a string of spectacular business failures, is about to become the official nominee of the Republican Party. In the UK, Sadiq Khan, the son of immigrant parents from Pakistan, defeated an insidious campaign of religious fear-mongering to become the mayor of London. Mr. Trump, whose anti-immigrant plans include building a wall along the border with Mexico and an outright ban on Muslims entering the US, announced that he will most probably make an exception in the case of London’s new Lord Mayor. Mr. Khan politely turned down the concession, warning that Mr. Trump’s incendiary rhetoric “…risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of the extremists.”i

Mr. Trump, in his obsessive desire to gain the presidency, has embraced Salvationist politics, portraying himself as the political saviour of white Christian Americans. In this advocacy of government of, by and for the ‘chosen people’, chosen on the basis of a primordial identity, Mr. Trump is no different from the Islamic State (IS) or fundamentalists of any other religion or race. From orient to occident, extremists of every race and fundamentalists of every creed have a similar aim – the purification of the land (reinen in the Nazi parlance) by evicting/suppressing the racial, religious or politico-cultural ‘Other’.

In Sri Lanka, before Black July and the long Eelam War, there was the myth of the encroaching Tamil who was taking over ‘our’ schools, ‘our’ universities and ‘our’ government jobs. Today there are similar whispers about the moneyed Muslim who predominates in ‘our’ shops and ‘our’ holiday resorts. In between there was – and will be – grousing about the insidious Christian who is converting ‘our’ people.

Continue reading ‘Faultlines Dividing Moderation From Extremism Run Through Each Civilization and Each Religion.’ »

While President Sirisena Was Addressing Anti – Corruption Summit in London , Ill-informed LTTE Supporters Demonstrate Against Him at Wrong Venue

by Sujeeva Nivunhella in London

Pro-LTTE activists in the United Kingdom got it mixed up and protested at the wrong venue in the belief that visiting President Maithripala Sirisena was attending the Anti Corruption meeting at Marlborough House.

This was, in fact, a separate conference initiated by the Commonwealth Secretariat for Non Governmental Organization Group members.

While the LTTE sympathizers were demonstrating, the Sri Lankan leader was addressing the Anti Corruption Summit at Lancaster House in London.

He said the Sri Lankan people defeated the former corrupt regime at the last poll and elected his government democratically.

Continue reading ‘While President Sirisena Was Addressing Anti – Corruption Summit in London , Ill-informed LTTE Supporters Demonstrate Against Him at Wrong Venue’ »

Criteria and Procedures Adopted By Constitutional Council For Selecting suitable Candidates Must be Transparent Urges UN Special Rapporteur Monica Pinto

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

In a notably pungent observation at the close of her mission visit to Sri Lanka this month, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Mónica Pinto took pains to remind Sri Lanka’s Constitutional Council of one fact.

This was that the Council, set up with great expectations under the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, must make its rules of procedure and functional regulations publicly available. As she pointed out in her preliminary findings, the criteria used to evaluate candidates’ suitability for a given position by the Council must be in the public domain. Such transparency would ‘contribute to dissipating possible accusations of deliberate opacity and arbitrariness’, it was noted.

Why this reluctance to adhere to basic rules?

Even though this recommendation was largely (and unsurprisingly) ignored by the media, it remains by far, one of the most important findings in this mission report. It homes in on a specific lynchpin of the regime change last year, namely the commitment of the ‘yahapalanaya’ (good governance) administration to ensure that the evils of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution are rolled back. For that objective to be achieved, the transparency and the public accountability of the Council is paramount.

Continue reading ‘Criteria and Procedures Adopted By Constitutional Council For Selecting suitable Candidates Must be Transparent Urges UN Special Rapporteur Monica Pinto’ »

Thiyagaraja Arasanayagam Awarded Gratiaen Prize 2015 For His Unpublished Poetry Manuscript ” White Lanterns – Wesak 2011″.

Poetry took centre stage last evening as Thiyagaraja Arasanayagam was awarded the Gratiaen Prize 2015 for his unpublished manuscript ‘White Lanterns – Wesak 2011’. The annual prize recognises the best work of creative writing in English by a Sri Lankan resident and comes with Rs. 200,000 in award money.

This year’s judging panel for the 23rd edition of the Gratiaen Prize included Captain Elmo Jayawardena, Tracy Holsinger and Dr Dinali Devendra. The five writers shortlisted this year were vetted from over 50 entries.

Among the shortlisted works this year were Ashok Ferrey for his novel ‘Ceaseless Chatter of Demons’, Shehan Karunatilaka for his novel ‘Devil Dance’, Chammi Rajapathirana for ‘Traveller’s Tales’ – the author’s memoir about autism, Grace Wickremasinghe’s collection of poetry ‘Closure’ as well as Thiyagaraja Arasanayagam, himself.

Continue reading ‘Thiyagaraja Arasanayagam Awarded Gratiaen Prize 2015 For His Unpublished Poetry Manuscript ” White Lanterns – Wesak 2011″.’ »

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera Writes Open Letter to Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

By Mangala Samaraweera

(Text of an open letter written to Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa by Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera)

My dear Mahinda,

I still vividly recall the first time I met you. It was at the SLFP Party Headquarters on Darley Road in June 1988, which I attended in my capacity as the new SLFP organiser for Matara. I also remember being moved by the impassioned speech you made during the meeting about the widespread disappearances across the country and the responsibility of the SLFP playing an active role in finding these persons. I found your words exhilarating and it was the beginning of a long friendship. At the end of the meeting, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike who chaired the meeting called you over and introduced me to you as Mahanama’s son.

Having graduated from Central Saint Martins in London as a fashion and textile designer, I was more at home in the bohemian artistic world of London at that time having qualified as a fashion and textile designer. My belief that I should do something about the large scale disappearances and other human rights violations in the South especially in and around my birthplace, Matara, finally pushed me to leave the comfort-zone of fashion, art and design and become a full time politician. And then we became ‘brothers-in-arms’, championing a number of democratic, progressive and humane causes. This led to the formation of the Mother’s Front Movement on the verandah of my ancestral house in Walpola, Matara in 1990 where you graciously accepted my invitation to be a co-convenor, along with me, of this historic movement.

Buoyed by the attention the Mothers’ Front was receiving, you started portraying yourself as a savior of human rights. You also became a champion of the free media and workers’ rights. In fact, we attended the inaugural meeting of the Free Media Movement at the New Town Hall together. You also took a leading role in the Padha Yathra protest made against alleged human rights violations of the Premadasa administration. Your single minded commitment to many of the values I too cherished since my student days struck a familiar chord bonding our friendship even further.

However, the many statements you have been making lately, especially the recent statement made by you opposing the Human Rights Council resolution, brings me genuine sorrow because it reminds once again that your role as a great human rights defender and upholder of democracy was merely an act done for the sake of political expediency while you were in the Opposition.

In fact, I realised this bitter truth only after you climbed to the top of the greasy poll of power and became President ten years ago. If you remember, before parting company in 2007, I sent you a thirteen page handwritten letter emphasising my concerns that your policy of dismantling democracy, ignoring reconciliation and violating the basic tenants of good governance would lead to the country’s ruin and your own downfall as well. But instead of learning from those mistakes, I fear that stubbornness, hate and greed continue to cloud your judgement, leading you down the very same path of destruction.

Continue reading ‘Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera Writes Open Letter to Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa.’ »

Lankan Foreign Ministry Paid For Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Business Class Travel to Uganda for Musaveni ‘s Swearing In Event

By
Dharisha Bastians

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s much-hyped trip to Uganda this week was plunged into controversy after documents emerged showing the former leader had requested the Government to pay his travel expenses and facilitate his visit to the African country.

The ex President was invited to attend the inauguration of the controversial Uganda President Yoweni Musaveni who was sworn into office for the fifth time this week after an election that the opposition claimed was rigged.

Daily FT is in possession of several documents proving that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid Rs. 425,000 for business class travel for the ex President from Colombo to Kampala, via Dubai. The ticket has been issued by World Air Pvt Ltd, a ticketing agency located on Havelock Road, Colombo 05, on 5 May 2016 in the name of RAJAPAKSA PERSY/M. The ticket has been invoiced to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Highly placed sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Daily FT that the Ministry had only agreed to pay for the air ticket, and declined to bear costs for the former President’s accommodation.

Rajapaksa and his entourage had booked rooms at the Speke Resort Munyonyo for the duration of their visit.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Foreign Ministry Paid For Ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Business Class Travel to Uganda for Musaveni ‘s Swearing In Event’ »

The truth about Udayanga Weeratunga: Is the government playing Russian Roulette?

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

The ‘controversy’ surrounding Sri Lanka’s former Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga was revived again with the recent visit of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to Thailand. A photo uploaded on the web by Weeratunga of himself standing beside his relative Rajapaksa during this visit, has gone viral. This episode led to renewed allegations from the yahapalana government – this time around the charge being that Weeratunga is ‘wanted’ in RUSSIA over arms smuggling, and for questioning over the death of Noel Ranaweera, a former employee of Sri Lanka’s mission in Moscow. There were calls to ‘probe’ the Weeratunga-Rajapaksa meeting in order to ascertain Weeratunga’s whereabouts and track him down.

Days after the Weeratunga-Rajapaksa meeting in Thailand, UNP National List MP Nalin Bandara at a media briefing at Sirikotha said that the Russian government had told the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry that Weeratunga is ‘wanted for questioning’ in Russia over charges of weapons smuggling to rebels, and that the Russian government had even named the rebel groups.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Colombo has confirmed that Weeratunga is not “wanted” for any offence in Russia. Responding to a phone query the embassy’s Press Secretary Evgeniya Altukhova asked “Wanted – by whom? That is the important question. In Russia, Udayanga is not wanted for any questioning. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia has nothing to ask him. We have no suspicions of him.” Referring to the remarks made by the MP, Altukhova said “I can only question his sources,” and that the information “is not from us.”

She observed that the Ukrainian ambassador too has made a statement rejecting the accusations made against Weeratunga, but qualified the remark by saying this would have to be independently checked. “If Udayanga has any problem, the only problem is in Sri Lanka” she said.

Continue reading ‘The truth about Udayanga Weeratunga: Is the government playing Russian Roulette?’ »

Police TID Arrests 4 Top Eastern Ex-Tiger Leaders Who Worked With Military Intelligence After War Ended

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

A widespread security crackdown has been underway in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. Over 20 former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)organization have been reportedly taken into custody over the past weeks in a staggered security operation spearheaded by the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID)of the Police.Almost all of the ex-LTTE cadres are being detained under provisions of the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). They are being reportedly interrogated by TID officials at Jaffna, Vavuniya, Boosa and Colombo.

SLP

Many of the arrested ex-tigers were persons who had surrendered after the war ended in May 2009. They had been detained for a period of time and later released after being put through a rehabilitation process. Some of the ex –tigers currently arrested are reportedly persons who have not gone through the process of rehabilitation. They had apparently not surrendered after the war and had evaded capture in the past. While close upon 12,000 former LTTE members who surrendered have been released after rehabilitation , it is also estimated that about 4,000 ex-tigers who did not surrender continue to remain in Sri Lanka. There are also large numbers of former LTTE members who have fled Sri Lanka after May 2009. These include both rehabilitated and non – rehabilitated ex-tiger cadre.
Continue reading ‘Police TID Arrests 4 Top Eastern Ex-Tiger Leaders Who Worked With Military Intelligence After War Ended’ »

Did President Request Prime Minister to Reconsider Appointments of Finance Minister Karunanayake and Central bank Governor Mahendran?

By

Dharisha Bastians

Maithripala Sirisena travelled to London yesterday to attend an International Anti-Corruption Summit organised by the British Government.

The summit is aimed at ‘driving out the culture of corruption wherever it exists’. Some of the world’s most corrupt political leaders will flock to London this week, an irony that was not lost on British Prime Minister David Cameron who was recorded telling Queen Elizabeth II recently that the leaders of Nigeria and Afghanistan, two countries he referred to in the conversation as “fantastically corrupt”, would be attending the Anti-Corruption summit.

The Sri Lankan President attends the summit in London on a slightly different footing. As the reformist President who was swept to power on an anti-corruption, good governance and transparency platform, even one year later he continues to be recognised by the international community as a progressive politician trying to make Sri Lanka fit better in a world crying out for more transparent government.

But President Sirisena’s problems at home trying to reform a political system riddled with corruption, nepotism and shadowy wheeler-dealing are far removed from his global image.

On Sunday (8), most of the political firmament turned up at the Cinnamon Grand for the wedding of Rakitha Rajapakshe, Media Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and son of Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe.

‘Wedding of the year’

Few members of the Yahapalanaya administration feel a compulsion to keep up appearances of austerity in public life. At the Rajapakshe wedding, over 800 guests were in attendance, with the hotel’s Oak Room car park closed off and used as a massive banquet tent for the ceremony. Every guest was sent an electronic key card with their invitation, to be carried along with them to the wedding. At the Atrium lobby entrance to the main ballroom, ushers swiped guests in on computers that displayed their name and table numbers and escorted them to their tables.

Continue reading ‘Did President Request Prime Minister to Reconsider Appointments of Finance Minister Karunanayake and Central bank Governor Mahendran?’ »

Why are the Attacks on “Rivira”Editor Upali Tennekoon and “Nation” Associate Editor Keith Noyahr Not being Investigated?

By

Malinda Seneviratne

After the late Lalith Athulathmudali was killed in April 1993, many pointed fingers at the then President Ranasinghe Premadasa whose wrath the murdered man had earned by breaking away from the United National Party along with Gamini Dissanayake and others to form the Democratic United National Front (DUNF). President Premadasa vehemently denied involvement and publicly declared his innocence

A commission was appointed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga to probe the assassination as part of an election pledge, even through investigations carried out by the Police and Scotland Yard had concluded that Athulathmudali was killed by Appiah Balakrishnan aka Ragunathan, allegedly an LTTE affiliate. Those findings of the Commission implicated President Premadasa by the logic of association. Later, these conclusions were set aside in the Writ Application No. 1, 2 and 3 of 1999 filed in the Supreme Court by Sirisena Cooray, and former DIG Seneviratne.

Now, more than 23 years after Athulathmudali was assassinated, his brother Dayantha, speaking at the Lalith Athulathmudali Memorial Lecture on May 9, 2016, has called for a fresh probe. Much has been written about these several investigations and the entire affair has been shrouded by controversy and intrigue, leaving the general public still in doubt as to the true identity of the assassin and his paymaster. As such, Dayantha Athulathmudali has all the right to demand a fresh probe.

Some might object pointing out to the date of the crime and the length of time that has since passed. However, if truth is the objective, then time cannot be an objection. This is exactly what’s wrong with the various calls for probes regarding alleged war crimes. It is wrong to privilege a particular time period, especially in a war that lasted close to three decades.

Continue reading ‘Why are the Attacks on “Rivira”Editor Upali Tennekoon and “Nation” Associate Editor Keith Noyahr Not being Investigated?’ »

Govt Perturbed Over Intelligence Report About Basil Rajapaksa Meeting Serving Sri Lankan Army Major – Generals


By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Recently the government received a report from the Intelligence sector. The report stated that Basil Rajapaksa had secretly held discussion with several Major Generals of the Army. As soon as this report was received the government became perturbed. Generally, if Army officers are to meet not only politicians of the Opposition, but even government politicians approval has to be obtained from the Army Commander. The Major Generals have met Basil sans any such approval.

This meeting took place a while after media reports appeared that Major General Chagi Gallage who was in Jaffna had had a heated exchange of words with Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Media had also reported that subsequent to this incident Chagi Gallage was transferred to Colombo. When the government received this report from Intelligence sources that Basil had met the Major Generals, they immediately took steps to remove Army protection provided to Mahinda and Gotabaya.

Mahinda’s media office had later issued a video tape where the Army members who had been in the security contingent of Mahinda worshipped at Mahinda’s feet prior to leaving their duties.

Continue reading ‘Govt Perturbed Over Intelligence Report About Basil Rajapaksa Meeting Serving Sri Lankan Army Major – Generals’ »

Sri Lanka’s Day of Shame When Its Robust MP’s Engaged in Mob Violence Inside Parliament


By

A. Patabendige

It was the Speaker of a rainbow coalition House that said at an International Parliamentary Union (IPU) meeting at Lusaka, Zambia (and not Geneva, SL’s Everest in submission) that SL “is one of the countries with a robust and strong democracy, Parliamentary democracy”. On 6 May 2016 SL’s people had a close shave with that ‘democracy’ if it was just ‘one’ or not. The IPU, if not National Geographic, must still be trying to pinpoint that SL after what happened in that ‘one’ on 6 May 2016.

On that day there was a free for all in that ’one’ democracy. It went on for 11 minutes. It started after the PM, responding to objections about replacing the security contingent of the former President from Army to Police, asked FM Fonseka to speak. He did so, carefully reading, possibly for the first time, from a prepared script. Hooting began from the well of the House, where some opposition MPs, followed by some Government MPs were gathering. A well known ‘lion’s’ roar could be heard well.

Repeated and forlorn cries of “shame there are school children in the gallery” went unheeded. Not one leader ordered, instructed, or directed the unruly MPs to get back to their seats. No riot act was read. Some party leaders were seen intently leading, inches from the bellowing mob. Although the cries of ‘shame’ continued, no one took notice. The school children had seen worse.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Day of Shame When Its Robust MP’s Engaged in Mob Violence Inside Parliament’ »

Entry of JVP Into Student Politics Led to Pernicious Form of Ragging and Student Violence In Universities

By Kumudu Kusum Kumara

If Sri Lankan university academics turned a blind eye to ragging and student violence as they are accused of by some, the reasons for that could be complex. Ragging and student violence in Sri Lankan universities have been linked to student politics to which the teachers’ politics also has been linked at certain times and varying levels. Students and teachers in the universities shared an interest in politics from the early days of university, when the traditional left parties such as the Communist Party and the Lanka Sama Samaja Party dominated the university political scene. There was a healthy atmosphere of political activism mainly among students.

Teachers adhered to ‘Queensbury rules’ of staff politics that kept staff politics away from students. However, these rules were discarded soon even before the end of the first decade since the University of Ceylon was shifted to Peradeniya. In the 1958 tar brush campaign against Tamils at Peradeniya, university teachers influenced students. Students were manipulated more openly in politics during 1970-77 period where both the manipulated and those who manipulated them received rewards, in terms of political patronage and protection.

In the history of Sri Lankan universities ragging has been traditionally interpreted as a measure to level out the influence of class element among students in terms of economic and social background and habits, the school one attended, and whether one was rural or urban.

Continue reading ‘Entry of JVP Into Student Politics Led to Pernicious Form of Ragging and Student Violence In Universities’ »

Sri Lankan Navy Builds Second St.Anthony’s Church in Kachchatheevu at Request of Jaffna Catholic Bishop Justin Gnanapragasam

By P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan Navy (SLN) is building the second St.Anthony’s church in Kachchativu at the request of the Bishop of Jaffna, Rev.Dr.Justin Gnanapragasam.

The foundation stone of the church was laid on Wednesday after it was blessed by the Vicar General of the Jaffna Diocese, Rev.Joseph Das Jebaratnam, in the presence of the Deputy Commander of the SLN in Jaffna, Com. Meril Sudarshana, and the Parish Priest, Fr.Anthony Jeyaranjan.

Naval spokesman Capt.Akram Alavi told Express that the construction will be completed in six months so that the next St.Anthony’s Feast (in February 2017), could be conducted there. Built over an area of about 3,500 sq ft, the church will cost LKR 10 million (USD 68,617).

During the Feast this year, the Bishop of Jaffna had requested SLN chief, Vice Adm.Ravi Wijegunaratne, to construct a new church as the existing one is too small to accommodate the thousands who come from various parts of Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lankan Navy Builds Second St.Anthony’s Church in Kachchatheevu at Request of Jaffna Catholic Bishop Justin Gnanapragasam’ »

The Prime Minister is Fast Becoming the Country’s Most Polarizing Personality

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

This May Day I resisted the siren song of being participant-observer (engaging in “participatory action research” as the late GVS de Silva termed it), and preferred to stay home, surf the three channels that provided live coverage of the main May Day mobilizations, track the newscasts on all channels, and peruse the social media and still photographs, especially the overhead shots, over the next few days.

On the morning after, my impressionistic conclusion was that the UNP (whose demonstration was more impressive than its meeting) came first by either a nose or a whisker, followed by Kirillapone and Galle, in that order.

Kirillapone with its gigantic inverted T shape consisting of thick crowds on Baseline road, High Level Road and up to the Arpico Nawinna showroom, was perhaps one and a half (or quarter) times as large as Galle—and this without any state patronage or even the official status of the Opposition.

That said, for all effective purposes what we saw on May Day were three political formations, which while not of identical size, were (to borrow Dr. Henry Kissinger’s phrase) of “essential equivalence” or “rough equivalence”.

Continue reading ‘The Prime Minister is Fast Becoming the Country’s Most Polarizing Personality’ »

No Disciplinary Action Against SLFP Members Attending Kirullapona May Day Rally Discloses Dilan Perera

by Dasun Edirisinghe

State Minister of Highways Dilan Perera yesterday said the SLFP would win the forthcoming local government election together with party strongmen and people who gathered at Kirulapone and Galle May Day rallies.

Addressing the media at the party headquarters on Darley Road, Perera said SLFPers who had attended the two May Day rallies wanted to unite former Presidents Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisena to achieve victories at future elections.

Perera said the SLFP would not take disciplinary action against its MPs who attended Joint Opposition Kirulapone May Day rally ignoring the party’s May Day rally in Galle.

Continue reading ‘No Disciplinary Action Against SLFP Members Attending Kirullapona May Day Rally Discloses Dilan Perera’ »

Distrust between the Sinhalese and Tamils is almost total Due to Bigots on Both Sides

By Vishwamithra1984

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?”
~E. M. Forster

On to your right is the vast expanse of the deep blue sea. From the South-East tip of this island country, Arugam Bay, all the way up to Point-Pedro, the northern most point of real estate in Sri Lanka, the continuous break of wave after wave on the high waters of the Indian ocean reminds one of the relentless sagas of life represented by a ferocious ocean whose mysteries and splendor never cease to frighten the timid and charm the eternal voyager.

When speeding on the highway from Kumana, the birds’ sanctuary bordering on the Yala-east wildlife reservation, to the virgin beaches on the eastern coast, one is encompassed by the sheer delight of depthless seas and the caressing breeze. It is enlivening the spirit and rejuvenating the physique.

On your left, spanning the landside from Sammanthurai almost all the way up to Akkraipattu is one single field of paddy, like an enormous green carpet laid on earth, lush and opulent, stretching as far as the eye could see. This, the Southeastern land, they say, is the rice bowl of Sri Lanka. What is visible to the naked eye is the proud product of months’ and years’ labor, from ground preparation to selection of the seed, nursing the young crop, protecting it from wild animals, releasing the precious water from the field channels and organizing the harvesting festivals, recreating the cultural grandeur of a farmer community of years gone by. This stretch of paddy is miles long and contributes to the vast granaries in the country year after year.

Continue reading ‘Distrust between the Sinhalese and Tamils is almost total Due to Bigots on Both Sides’ »

13 Jaffna Youths In Custody due To Police Crackdown on “Aavaa Group”Criminal Gang Led by Kumaresaratham Vinothan of Inuvil

by Norman Palihawadane

Jaffna police yesterday arrested five members of the criminal outfit known as “Aavaa”Group, involved in serious crimes in the Jaffna District. Two hand grenades in the possession of the suspects were recovered.

Leader of the group, Kumaresaratnam Vinothan (21) from Inuvil also known as ‘Aavaa,’ had been taken into custody on January 06, 2014, but the group had been operating in the district, the police said.

The suspects arrested yesterday were from Chunnakkam and Nallur areas, the police said.

According to police a group of about 25 young gangsters had been engaged in crimes including kidnappings and armed robberies.

Continue reading ‘13 Jaffna Youths In Custody due To Police Crackdown on “Aavaa Group”Criminal Gang Led by Kumaresaratham Vinothan of Inuvil’ »

From Saravanamuttu to Muzammil 12 Out of 25 Mayors of Colombo Have Been Tamils or Muslims


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

London has elected its first Muslim and non-White mayor, Sadiq Khan, a son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, who will now be the first Muslim mayor in a Western Capital. World’s media was effusive, noting how politics in the UK’s metropolitan hub has over the time transcended race, religion and the skin colour; One report called the new Mayor ‘Citizen Khan’, (After the main protagonist in Orson Welles’ cinematic masterpiece, ‘Citizen Kane’). Some others were less charitable, a news portal, (Predictably enough) in the US flashed: The Muslim Mayor of Londonistan.

courtesy: dailymirror.lk

courtesy: dailymirror.lk

Funny enough, it struck me that we have had Muslim and Tamil mayors in our capital, Colombo for decades, even though no one appeared to have noticed it.
Continue reading ‘From Saravanamuttu to Muzammil 12 Out of 25 Mayors of Colombo Have Been Tamils or Muslims’ »

Since 1964 May Day Rallies in Sri Lanka Have Become Events to Show Strength of Political Parties Seeking State Power

By Sumanasiri Liyanage

Media was unusually attentive of May Day 2016 mainly because of the assumption that May Day 2016 would be critically decisive for the future of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Although he has been out of power for 16 months, it seems that the politics in Sri Lanka, at least in many peoples’ mind, still continues to revolve around Rajapaksa.

During the last 50 years, May Day has, as an occasion where the wage-earning class is supposed to show its strength by raising demands to protect its living and working conditions and upholding its solidarity with their brothers and sisters in other countries, lost its meaning in Sri Lanka. The sad story that brought about disastrous outcome for the Sri Lankan working class began in 1964, when the principal working class party in Sri Lanka, the Lanka Samasamaja Party (LSSP) deviating from its original principles, entered into a coalition government with the SLFP as its junior partner.

Since 1964, May Day has become an event to show the strength of the political parties seeking governmental power. Thus, May Day has been transformed into a part and parcel of parliamentary politics. Only a very few working class organizations have stood for the independent working class principles.

Continue reading ‘Since 1964 May Day Rallies in Sri Lanka Have Become Events to Show Strength of Political Parties Seeking State Power’ »

Different Ethnicities in Sri Lanka Have conflicting views on Constitutional Reform Issues Like Nature of State and Devolution of Power

By P K Balachandran

The Public Representation Committee (PRC) set up by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to ascertain the views of the public on constitutional reform, encountered sharp differences on ethnic lines.

Express learns from reliable sources that the Sinhalese, Lankan Tamils, Muslims and Plantation Tamils of Indian origin held different and conflicting views on the Nature of the State, Devolution of Power and the Unit of Devolution.

The PRC would be submitting its report with its recommendations to the PM any day after May 11.
The report will then be sent to the Steering Committee of the “Constitutional Assembly” which is a committee of the entire membership of the Lankan parliament charged with the task of drafting a new constitution for the island nation.

Continue reading ‘Different Ethnicities in Sri Lanka Have conflicting views on Constitutional Reform Issues Like Nature of State and Devolution of Power’ »

India Likely To Provide Assistance for Developing “Ramayana Trail” Tourism Project in Sri Lanka

By

T.Ramakrishnan

India’s assistance for the Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka may be finalised in a high level meeting between the two governments next month. India’s help has been sought for development of infrastructure or amenities in the sites that form part of the Ramayana circuit.

About a dozen places have been identified as part of the circuit and Sita Eliya in Nuwera Eliya of the Central Province is one of them, according to Janaka Sugathadasa, Secretary of the Tourism Development and Christian Affairs, Sri Lanka.

Sita’s captivity

Legend has it that it is in this place that Sita was held captive by Ravana. About a week ago, Mr. Sugathadasa visited the Sita Eliya where the renovation of a temple for Sita was under way. “The temple’s consecration is scheduled for May 18,” said V. Radhakrishnan, State Minister of Education in the Sri Lanka government, who is one of the Members of Parliament from Nuwara Eliya.

Continue reading ‘India Likely To Provide Assistance for Developing “Ramayana Trail” Tourism Project in Sri Lanka’ »

Serious Rise of Crime in North Due to Near Total Absence of Tamil Speaking Persons in Police Force says TNA MP Sumanthiran

By P.K.Balachandran

The alarming rise in crime in Jaffna peninsula since Eelam War IV ended in 2009, is attributed to a variety of factors, but one of the principal causes appears to be the absence of Tamil-speakers, especially ethnic Tamils, in the local police force, says M. A.Sumanthiran, Jaffna district MP and spokesman for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Describing the situation as being “very serious” , Sumanthiran said that unless Tamils are recruited at all levels, crime detection will continue to suffer grievously and result in further widening the “trust deficit” that has always existed between the Tamils and the powers-that- be in Colombo.

The trust deficit could be seen very clearly in the statement issued by the Bishop of Jaffna, Rev.Dr. Justin Gnanaprakasam, on the crime situation in the northern peninsula.

The Bishop wondered if the increasing incidents of robberies and street violence involving gangs armed with axes, swords and machets, and the surge in youngmen taking to drugs and alcohol, reflect a “scheme” to destroy Tamil society and culture.

The Bishop was pointing an accusing finger at the Central government in Colombo and its agencies, the police and the armed forces, without naming them.

Continue reading ‘Serious Rise of Crime in North Due to Near Total Absence of Tamil Speaking Persons in Police Force says TNA MP Sumanthiran’ »

Visiting UN Special Rapporteurs Concerned Over Manner in which Ex-LTTE Members Are Being Arrested in Sri Lanka

By

T.Ramakrishnan

Special Rapporteur Juan E. Mendez seeks transparency on “the reasons and evidence on which a detention order rests.”

The United Nations has expressed concern over the reported manner in which the Sri Lanka government has arrested of former activists of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in recent weeks.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Mendez, who was in Sri Lanka along with another Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers Monica Pinto for nine days, told journalists on Saturday that the manner of “the arrests of rehabilitated persons alleged as happening recently – by plainclothes agents, after days of being followed and after asking questions to family members, neighbours and associates – raise fears in the respective communities and only add to distrust about the motives for those re-arrests.”

Continue reading ‘Visiting UN Special Rapporteurs Concerned Over Manner in which Ex-LTTE Members Are Being Arrested in Sri Lanka’ »

Crowds at Kirullapone UPFA Rally Larger Than Campbell Park UNP and BRC Grounds JVP Rallies


By

C.A.Chandraprema

From the reports and comments about last Sunday’s May Day rallies that have been appearing over the past week, it became obvious that The Island was the only newspaper or media organization that had a staffer monitoring the crowds in all three main rallies held in Colombo. This year, what was important was not the speeches being made but the crowds present at each of the May Day rallies. This writer observed the three main rallies in Colombo at their peak after 4.30 pm onwards and kept giving a running commentary to certain politically involved individuals about what we saw at the various venues.

What we had to report about the Campbell Park rally was that there were a remarkable number of buses and a huge crowd, but it was less well organized than last year and the crowd present seemed to be smaller. The JVP rally seemed to be slightly better attended than last year because there were fewer empty patches in the BRC grounds. The JVP always has a large decoration covering a good part of the grounds so that the crowds attending look bigger to the outside. The JVP should have been able to attract a record crowd this time because they were able to get the upper hand in protesting against the alterations made in the fertilizer subsidy. Even on the ETCA with India, it is the JVP that had the lead over the Joint Opposition at least in rhetoric.

Furthermore, the government’s declining popularity should have improved the JVP’s crowd pulling capacity by leaps and bounds but it has not. This perhaps is a sign that the JVP’s role in bringing the present government in power has had a negative impact on their political prospects. The whispering going on in political circles about pressure being brought on Anura Kumara Dissanayake to step down from the party leadership probably has something to do with the need to sacrifice someone if the party is to survive the opprobrium attaching to it after the yahapalana coalition misadventure.

Continue reading ‘Crowds at Kirullapone UPFA Rally Larger Than Campbell Park UNP and BRC Grounds JVP Rallies’ »

47 Parliamentarians,260 Provincial Councillors From UPFA with Over 2000 Local Authority Members Attended Kirullapone May day rally

By

Rasika Jayakody

The power struggle within the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has reached a whole new level after the UPFA rebel group’s May Day rally at Kirulapona. It has now compelled the SLFP decision-making bodies to take swift and drastic action to restore unity and discipline in the party.

The UPFA rebel group, or, ‘Joint Opposition’ as they call themselves, from the beginning, planned their May Day rally as a propaganda stunt. The Lalith Athulathmudali stadium at Kirulapona was chosen as the venue as it offered them many additional advantages.

For instance, aerial photographs showed that the rally was jam-packed and all adjacent roads were blocked. Such photographs were widely shared on Facebook and other social media platforms by ardent Rajapaksa supporters. However, this doesn’t underestimate the crowd drawn to the Kirulapone rally. According to various eyewitness accounts, nearly 30,000 people attended the Joint Opposition’s May Day event. It is also important to understand that this only amounted to one-third of the crowd attracted by the UNP rally at Campbell Park.

Continue reading ‘47 Parliamentarians,260 Provincial Councillors From UPFA with Over 2000 Local Authority Members Attended Kirullapone May day rally’ »

Foreign Ministry Agrees to Implement 58 Conditions Imposed by the European Union in a bid to Regain GSP Plus


In its haste to regain the GSP Plus facility, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has agreed with the European Union (EU) to implement a sprawling list of 58 conditions linking human rights, national security and other domestic concerns with trade, a document obtained by the Sunday Times shows.

Among the 58 conditions imposed are to revoke the Prevention of Terrorism Act, to expedite cases of remaining detainees, to introduce a new Human Rights Action Plan, review the status of the Tamil diaspora organisations and individuals on the terrorist list, to devolve power under the new Constitution, return all private lands to owners in the North, adopt a policy of National Reconciliation and on National Resettlement, finalise the re-settlement of all displaced persons, and to ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances with accompanying legislation as well as issue certificates of absence.

The EU insists that the conditions be met before Sri Lanka can even consider applying for the GSP Plus.

The stringent stipulations come with short deadlines (most have now elapsed) and were accepted by the Foreign Ministry “without any form of negotiations” at the EU-Sri Lanka Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights in January, authoritative sources said.

Continue reading ‘Foreign Ministry Agrees to Implement 58 Conditions Imposed by the European Union in a bid to Regain GSP Plus’ »

SLFP Dissident MP’s who Attended Kirullapone Rally Engaged in Informal Talks with Party Hierarchy to Stave Off Disciplinary Action Being Taken Against Them

By Rasika Jayakody and Uditha Kumarasinghe

In a bid to stave off party disciplinary action for attending the rebel UPFA break-away May Day rally, the dissident SLFP parliamentarians in the UPFA rebel group have begun talks with senior SLFP leaders to work out an “amicable settlement”.

Party seniors told the Sunday Observer yesterday that overtures had been made by the rebels and that discussions had begun through informal channels.

These sources disclosed that in the event of a resolution being moved in the next SLFP Central Committee to take punitive action against those SLFP MPs who participated in the Kirulapone May Day rally, measures would first be taken against only those who had a previous record of rebellious actions against the party leadership.

The ongoing discussions between the rebels and the hierarchy will decide the process, they said. A further proposal to heal the rift is a proposal to vest party responsibilities in some dissident SLFP MPs currently in the UPFA rebel group.

Continue reading ‘SLFP Dissident MP’s who Attended Kirullapone Rally Engaged in Informal Talks with Party Hierarchy to Stave Off Disciplinary Action Being Taken Against Them’ »

Various Forms of Torture Still Practised in Sri Lanka States UN Rapporteur on Torture After 9 Day Trip to Island

By P.K.Balachandran

Various forms of torture are still practiced by the law enforcement agencies in Sri Lanka, but there has been a decline in the number of reported incidents, says Juan E.Mendez, UN Rapporteur on Torture, who toured detention centres in the island nation between April 29 and May 7.

Briefing the media on Saturday, Mendez said that 90 percent of the convictions under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in Lanka are based on “confessions” made to the police in detention. As such, it could be safely assumed that these confessions were made under duress, including various forms of torture, he said.

Detailing the common methods of torture, Mendez said that these could range from striking with poles and cricket bats to hanging the suspect upside down while being handcuffed, asphyxation by covering the face with a polythene bag drenched in kerosene, throwing chilli powder into the eyes, to mutilating the genital area.

Continue reading ‘Various Forms of Torture Still Practised in Sri Lanka States UN Rapporteur on Torture After 9 Day Trip to Island’ »

Even if Mahinda Rajapaksa is not a Powerful President Anymore His Loyalist MP’s in Opposition are Passionately Defending Him.

By Chandani Kirinde

Mahinda Rajapaksa may no longer be the all-powerful President of the country, but his ‘troops’ in the form of the “Joint Opposition” (JO) in Parliament, this week, once again showed how passionate they are when it comes to defending him. The latest showdown with the Government, which resulted in fisticuffs between two groups of MPs, took place over the decision to replace the army security detail of the former president with police personnel, a move fiercely opposed by his loyalists.

The news that Mr Rajapaksa’s security has been changed, broke just as Parliament sittings were starting after a three-week recess for the April new year, and provided ideal fodder for the JO group to assert its role in the House.

The joint opposition’s latest showdown with the Government resulted in fisticuffs between two groups of MPs

Continue reading ‘Even if Mahinda Rajapaksa is not a Powerful President Anymore His Loyalist MP’s in Opposition are Passionately Defending Him.’ »

Infamous Right to Information(RIT) Provisions in 19th Constitutional Amendment Must Be Revised.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Contrary to what certain media reports excitably proclaimed this week, the Supreme Court’s Determination on the constitutionality of Sri Lanka’s Right to Information (RTI) Bill held little surprises.

In the main, the ruling did not pose formidable challenges to the basic integrity of the Bill. However, it did reflect a degree of judicial conservatism therein.

Conflict brought about by the 19th Amendment

First, let us look at the widening of exemptions to RTI. The RTI Bill had included information constituting contempt of court among the general exclusions. This was on par with standard exclusions in RTI laws despite the considerable disquiet of advocates who disagree with contempt being used to block the right to know.

Continue reading ‘Infamous Right to Information(RIT) Provisions in 19th Constitutional Amendment Must Be Revised.’ »

Sajin de Vass Gunawardena Accuses Rajapaksa Family Member of Orchestrating Mud Slinging Campaign Against Him By Weerawansa,Gammanpila and Sri Renga.

By Harischandra Gunaratna

Former Parliamentarian and ex-Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalist Sajin Vass Gunawardena yesterday said that a Rajapaksa family member had orchestrated the recent mud slinging campaign against him carried out by politicians Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila and Sri Ranga.

Gunawardena addressing the media at his Borella residence said, “The allegations against me are baseless and there is an organised campaign against me for political gain by a handful of politicians who are in the UPFA and they have not made any specific reference to these allegations.”

Continue reading ‘Sajin de Vass Gunawardena Accuses Rajapaksa Family Member of Orchestrating Mud Slinging Campaign Against Him By Weerawansa,Gammanpila and Sri Renga.’ »

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Appoints 4 Member Committee to Probe Whether Supplementary Estimates Vote was Duly Passed

by Saman Indrajith

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday announced that he would appoint a four-member committee to scrutinise video footage of Thursday’s parliament sessions to decide whether the supplementary estimate submitted by government seeking the approval of the House had been duly passed and to inform the House of the results.

The Speaker made the announcement of appointing the committee when the Opposition MPs raising points of order demanded to know whether the estimate had been passed or not. They pointed out that the voting method and the subsequent results were wrong and distorted the outcome of the vote.

Speaker Jayasuriya said he had appointed Opposition Leader R Sampanthan, former Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, Justice and Buddhasasana Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe and Water Supply and Urban Planning Minister Rauff Hakim to investigate the Thursday’s incident.

Continue reading ‘Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Appoints 4 Member Committee to Probe Whether Supplementary Estimates Vote was Duly Passed’ »

Sad Story of the Banda-Chelva Pact: How the B-C Pact was Formulated, Signed and Abrogated.

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The “Good Governance” Government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has embarked upon a historic exercise to enact a new Constitution for Sri Lanka. The consensual approach being adopted will see Parliament convening as a Constitutional Assembly as and when required to engage in Constitution making. The Speaker Karu Jayasuriya will preside over the Constitutional Assembly sessions.A steering committee headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has been appointed. Sub-committees for various aspects are also being set up.

The current Constitutional Assembly is a significant departure from the Constituent Assembly set up by the Sirima Bandaranaike led Govt to formulate the 1972 Republican Constitution. It is envisaged that the present Constitutional Assembly will in due course after consultation, debate and deliberation , draft a bill to enact a new Constitution and present it to Parliament.

PRIME MINISTER S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (left) and S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, leader of the Thamil Arasu Katchi, shake hands after signing what came to be known as the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact on July 26, 1957 (pic via: The Hindu ~ Also in pic: Symbols of JVP, UNP, SLFP & ITAK; and President Maithripala Sirisena

PRIME MINISTER S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike (left) and S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, leader of the Thamil Arasu Katchi, shake hands after signing what came to be known as the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact on July 26, 1957 (pic via: The Hindu ~ Also in pic: Symbols of JVP, UNP, SLFP & ITAK; and President Maithripala Sirisena

Among the key objectives of the Constitution making process are the abolition of the executive presidency, bringing about electoral reforms and finding a durable political solution as an answer to the long standing Tamil national question. While the resolution of the first two issues do not seem to pose a problem at this juncture , the third issue namely a political settlement to the so called ethnic problem, could prove to be a challenge difficult to surmount. In fact there is a possibility that in a bid to achieve Sinhala majority consensus the legitimate aspirations of the long suffering Tamils could once again be short changed in Constitution making.
Continue reading ‘Sad Story of the Banda-Chelva Pact: How the B-C Pact was Formulated, Signed and Abrogated.’ »

President Sirisena Recalls Being Assaulted While Parliament was in Session by a UNP Govt MP in 1992

By Shamindra Ferdinando

President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday (May 4) said that there had been a far more serious incident in Parliament during 1992 than Tuesday’s fracas.

President Sirisena was referring to fisticuffs between some members of the UNP Parliamentary Group and the Joint Opposition over a controversial decision to replace former President and Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa’s army bodyguards with police personnel.

Addressing a gathering after the opening of newly built auditorium of Royal College, Horana, President Maithripala Sirisena said that he had seen many incidents involving members of Parliament. Having entered parliament in 1989 as an Opposition member, the Polonnaruwa District parliamentarian served as an MP and Minister for 26 years before successfully contesting the January 2015 presidential polls.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Recalls Being Assaulted While Parliament was in Session by a UNP Govt MP in 1992’ »

Parliament Suspends Palitha Thewarapperuma(UNP) and Prasanna Ranaweera (UPFA) For One Week for Instigating Brawl Inside the House

By Saman Indrajith

Parliament yesterday approved the suspension of MPs Palitha Thewarapperuma and Prasanna Ranaweera from Parliament for one week.

Deputy Minister of Internal, Cultural and Wayamba Development Palitha Thewarapperuma and UPFA Gampaha District MP Prasanna Ranaweera were suspended for instigating the clash in Parliament on Tuesday.

When the House commenced sittings Speaker Karu Jayasuriya stated that a special committee appointed by him to look into the clash which broke out in Parliament Well on Tuesday, had proposed that disciplinary action be taken against the MPs involved in the clash.

Continue reading ‘Parliament Suspends Palitha Thewarapperuma(UNP) and Prasanna Ranaweera (UPFA) For One Week for Instigating Brawl Inside the House’ »

Six Constitutional Assembly Sub-committees Appointed for Judiciary, Finance, Law&Order, Public Service,Centre-Periphery& Fundamental Rights

By Saman Indrajith

Members of the sub committees of the Constitutional Assembly were appointed when the Assembly met yesterday for its second day at 9.30 am with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya presiding.

The Leader of the House and University Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella informed the House that Uresha Fernando had been appointed the additional secretary of the Constitutional Assembly.

The Leader of the House also announced members of six sub committees namely the “Fundamental Rights, Judiciary, Finance, Public Service, Law and Order, Centre-Periphery”.

Continue reading ‘Six Constitutional Assembly Sub-committees Appointed for Judiciary, Finance, Law&Order, Public Service,Centre-Periphery& Fundamental Rights’ »

Vedda Falls to Death After Climbing 135 ft Standing Buddha to Remove Beehive Behind Right Arm of Statue

By

Sagarica Rajakarunanayake

We were shocked by a recent newspaper report of a Vedda who had fallen to his death from a 135 ft Buddha statue (thought to be the tallest standing Buddha statue in South Asia) that he had climbed to remove a giant honey beehive from behind its right arm. He had been hired for this task by the organisers of the unveiling ceremony of the statue by President Sirisena.

The officials of the Presidential Security Division (PSD) who had inspected the area had instructed the organisers to remove the beehive. They in their wisdom decided a Vedda would be ideal for the task and hired one from Dambana.

What prompted the organisers would undoubtedly have been the special knowledge among Veddas about bees. What they failed to realize was that this operation was essentially about finding the safest and surest way to go up the 135-foot-high Buddha statue, remove the giant beehive from its height and climb down safely with it.

The Vedda showed right understanding in insisting that the beehive should be removed only in the early hours of the morning, because at this time the bees are largely inactive and will not sting. Refusing whatever protective measures the organisers tried to take, the Vedda had climbed the statue in the early hours of the following morning. Reaching the arm of the statue he managed to seize the beehive but climbing down missed his footing and fell to his death.

Continue reading ‘Vedda Falls to Death After Climbing 135 ft Standing Buddha to Remove Beehive Behind Right Arm of Statue’ »

Geetha Kumarasinghe Replaced by Chandima Weerakody as Galle District Coordination Committee Co- Chair

By

Lalith Ruhunage and K.A.S. Kumara

Galle District UPFA and SLFP MP Geetha Kumarasinghe, the recently sacked Bentara-Elpitiya electoral organizer, has also been relieved of her position as Co-Chairman of the Galle District Coordination Committee.

The controversial MP has been replaced by UPFA / SLFP Galle District MP and Minister of Petroleum and Petroleum Gas, Chandima Weerakkody with the appointment being ratified by President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday.

Continue reading ‘Geetha Kumarasinghe Replaced by Chandima Weerakody as Galle District Coordination Committee Co- Chair’ »

Absolutely No Likelihood of LTTE Staging a Comeback Assures Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has received assurances from both the police and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had been wiped out; therefore there was absolutely no likelihood of the group staging a comeback.

Premier Wickremesinghe said that he sought clarification from the police and the DMI in the wake of recent media reports in respect of resurgence of LTTE activity.

The PM was addressing a gathering at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS) on Tuesday.

Continue reading ‘Absolutely No Likelihood of LTTE Staging a Comeback Assures Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

Every Attempt By President Sirisena To Unify His Party Under His Own Chairmanship Is Failing.

By

Dharisha Bastians

After the success of his dissident May Day rally that drew huge crowds to Kirulapone at the beginning of the week, former President and Kurunegala District lawmaker Mahinda Rajapaksa was on the receiving end of a rude shock on Monday (2) morning.

Hundreds of buses had entered the capital Colombo from remote districts across the island carrying thousands of supporters eager to see the back of the Sirisena administration and ensure Rajapaksa is re-anointed king and commander-in-chief. The Baseline Road and High Level Road, strewn with piles of litter, were testament to the success of the pro-Rajapaksa rally.

The ruling United National Party gathered the largest crowd at its rally in Campbell Park on May Day, with Police estimating a crowd of nearly 80,000 in attendance. A reinvigorated base turned out to prove that in spite of nearly 20 years in opposition, the UNP remains the country’s single largest political party.

The two SLFP rallies saw their crowds split almost down the middle. In Galle, President Maithripala Sirisena’s rally was packed, with parts of the crowd being forced to remain outside the grounds. In the slightly smaller grounds in Kirulapone, the pro-Rajapaksa alliance also packed tens of thousands of adoring supporters of the former President.

The competition for the show of force by the de jure and de facto leaders of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party at May Day 2016 seemed to end in a tie. Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has pledged his commitment to an undivided SLFP, had led some 40 party men to rebel against their Party Leader and President. The separate May Day rallies finally ended the pretence.

Continue reading ‘Every Attempt By President Sirisena To Unify His Party Under His Own Chairmanship Is Failing.’ »

Removing Army From Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Security Poses Major Threat to His Life States Prof G.L . Peiris

By Dasun Edirisinghe

The Joint Opposition yesterday said removing the army commandos from former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s security contingent posed a major threat to his life, while several moves had been made to revive LTTE activities.

Addressing the media at the Dr N. M. Perera Centre in Borella, former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris said the government should reveal the reason for removing commandos from the former President’s security squad.

Rajapaksa’s security had been reduced thought suicide jackets had been found in Jaffna recently, Prof. Peiris said.

Continue reading ‘Removing Army From Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Security Poses Major Threat to His Life States Prof G.L . Peiris’ »

President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Ex-President Rajapaksa Given Police Security Instead of Army According to National Security Council Decision

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

UPFA General Secretary Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera (SLFP) yesterday endorsed the National Security Council’s (NSC) decision to assign police personnel to the security detail of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in place of army commandos withdrawn on May 02. He said it was the NSC’s prerogative to decide on what type of security was required by VIPs.

Minister Amaraweera told The Island that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had also been given police security and, therefore, it was not an issue for ex-President Rajapaksa to receive the same level of security.

The security of former President Rajapaksa had not been reduced and the NSC had only replaced army commandos with police personnel, the Minister reiterated.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Ex-President Rajapaksa Given Police Security Instead of Army According to National Security Council Decision’ »