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


By

Sanjana Hattotuwa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Shamindra Ferdinando

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

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

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

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

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

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Saman Indrajith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Excellency,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

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

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

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

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

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

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


By Saman Indrajith

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

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

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

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

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

By Chathuri Dissanayake

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

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

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

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

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

By

Darshana Sanjeewa

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

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

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

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

By Chathuri Dissanayake

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

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

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

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

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


By Ashwin Hemmathagama

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

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

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

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

By

Gihan de Chickera

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

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

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

A;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

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

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

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

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

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

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


By

Kanishka Goonewardena

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Constitutional Struggles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

By Shamindra Ferdinando

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

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

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

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

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

Mrs Charles succeeded Chulananda Perera.

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

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

By

Meera Srinivasan

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

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

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

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

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

By Namini Wijedasa

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

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

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

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

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

By Gehan Gunatilleke

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

The pardon

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

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

A bill having a colourful past

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

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

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

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

By

Colonel R Hariharan

Introduction

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

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

Sri Lanka political crisis and its aftermath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SLFP sources said the nomination was approved unanimously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Sanjana Hattotuwa

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London

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

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

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

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

By Shamindra Ferdinando

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

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

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

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

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


By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

What has Freedom to do with having more Cabinet Ministers?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

By

Bandula Jayasekara

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

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

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

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


By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

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

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

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

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

By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

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

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

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

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

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

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

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

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

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

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


By S. S. Selvanayagam

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

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

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

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

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

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Megha Kaveri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By S.S. Selvanayagam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


By Jehan Perera

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

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

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

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

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

By Shamindra Ferdinando

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

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

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

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

By M. Thevarajah and W.A. Sunil

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

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

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

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

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

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

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

Deepavali Celebrations-Nov 2018-via: @PresRajapaksa

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

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


By Ajith Alahakoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

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

Eerily familiar signs

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

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

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

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


By

Sharmini Serasinghe

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

Dear Minister Mangala Samaraweera,

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

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

So, here goes!

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

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

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

By

Anurangi Singh

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Rajitha Jagoda Arachchi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Saman Indrajith

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Saman Indrajith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Honorable Speaker
Parliament
Jayewardenepura Kotte

Sir,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Saman Indrajith

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

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

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

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

By

Indika Sri Aravinda

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

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

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

By Chaminda Silva

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By

Meera Srinivasan

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

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

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

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

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

By

Camelia Nathaniel

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

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

No farm, no income

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

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

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

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

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

Romesh de Silva PC Appearing For Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Raises Preliminary Objection That Special High Court Has No Jurisdiction to Hear Case Under the Judicature (Amended) Act: Courts will Resume on Jan 31.

By

Shehan Chamika Silva

Raising a preliminary objection in the case filed against former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa the Defense said today the Special High Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case under the Judicature (Amendment) Act.

At the outset, President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for Mr. Rajapaksa said when this Bill was proposed to establish the Special High Courts to try certain types of cases, it was challenged before the Supreme Court that it violated Article 12(1) (equality of law) of the Constitution as the establishment of such courts may discriminate the parties in other similar cases. Thereafter, the SC gave cognizance to the fact that such an amendment may unfairly discriminate accused and aggrieved parties in other cases.

Continue reading ‘Romesh de Silva PC Appearing For Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Raises Preliminary Objection That Special High Court Has No Jurisdiction to Hear Case Under the Judicature (Amended) Act: Courts will Resume on Jan 31.’ »

Hirunika Premachandra MP Tells Parliament of Plan to Grant Presidential Pardon to Ex-MP Duminda Silva by Maithripala Sirisena on Independence Day on Feb 4

BY Saman Indrajith

UNP MP Hirunika Premachandra yesterday told Parliament that she had received information that there was a plan to grant a Presidential pardon to Duminda Silva who has been sentenced to death, on this year’s Independence Day February. 04

Speaking during the debate on Commissions of Inquiry (Amendment) Bill, Premachandra said that there was a group which goes door to door in Kolonnwa area to take signatures for a petition calling for a Presidential pardon for Duminda Silva.

Continue reading ‘Hirunika Premachandra MP Tells Parliament of Plan to Grant Presidential Pardon to Ex-MP Duminda Silva by Maithripala Sirisena on Independence Day on Feb 4’ »

“We will take legal action against 11 soldiers who have been involved in one of the most heinous, gruesome murders in Sri Lankan history,” -Says Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando.

By Chathuri Dissanayake

In an explosive statement, Defence Ministry Secretary Hemasiri Fernando yesterday said 11 soldiers would be prosecuted in the next two weeks over a high profile murder case, and called on the diaspora to submit evidence on crimes committed by any military personnel.

“We will take legal action against 11 soldiers who have been involved in one of the most heinous, gruesome murders in Sri Lankan history,” Fernando said, speaking at a felicitation ceremony hosted by Nalanda College.

Continue reading ‘“We will take legal action against 11 soldiers who have been involved in one of the most heinous, gruesome murders in Sri Lankan history,” -Says Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando.’ »

Recent Visits by US Seventh Fleet To Trincomalee Indicate That Sri Lanka Is Being Rapidly Intergrated Into Washington’s War Preparations Against China.


By Vijith Samarasinghe

Recent visits by US Seventh Fleet vessels to Sri Lanka’s eastern port of Trincomalee make clear that the island nation is rapidly being integrated into Washington’s war preparations against China. The Seventh Fleet, which is headquartered in Japan, is an offensive formation geared for war and includes 60–70 ships, 300 aircraft and more than 40,000 combat personnel.

In early December, the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis visited Trincomalee, in eastern Sri Lanka, as part of the Pentagon’s plans to establish a logistics hub there for the US Navy. USS Anchorage, another Seventh Fleet vessel, and a unit of Marines visited the port last August to assess the port’s feasibility as a logistics hub.

Trincomalee, which is the world’s second deepest natural harbour, is of great strategic military value in the Indian Ocean. It served as the naval command hub for the British Eastern Fleet during the last years of World War II.

Continue reading ‘Recent Visits by US Seventh Fleet To Trincomalee Indicate That Sri Lanka Is Being Rapidly Intergrated Into Washington’s War Preparations Against China.’ »

Remembering Lasantha Wickrematunge On The Tenth Anniversary Of His Assassination

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

‘Spotlight’ shines for the first time in the new year. Although devoted in principle to films, film personalities and film-related matters, the column will deviate in practice this week to focus on a renowned Sri Lankan newspaper Editor whose contribution to his country and people as a Watchdog of the Nation has been immeasurably immense.

Lasantha Wickrematunge Memorial-pics by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

An outstanding member of the Fourth Estate who was professionally qualified as a lawyer but instead preferred the vocation of journalism to give voice to the voiceless. A fearless scribe who dedicated himself to the task of speaking truth to power and remained unbowed and unafraid to the very end. A dynamic personality who was my friend, colleague, Editor and above all one of the most courageous human beings in Sri Lanka.
Continue reading ‘Remembering Lasantha Wickrematunge On The Tenth Anniversary Of His Assassination’ »

The Laws We Have Now Dont Work Because of the “Collectively Gross Deceit of Human Beings who Apply and Implement the Law”

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

There is a distinct commonality between corruption investigations and inquiries into grave human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, apart from ordinary Rule of Law dysfunctions.

That is the amazing chutzpah with which performers engage in the same evasive dance while at the same time, propagating the myth that the law, as it currently stands, is somehow lacking in significant respects. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Setting the ‘bar’ abysmally low

Though we may applaud legal reforms that more clearly define parameters of state accountability, the fact of the matter is that the legal tools for enforcing this are/were more than adequate even prior to law reforms.

Why the law does not work is not because of the law itself per se. Rather, it is because of the collectively gross deceit of human beings who apply and implement the law.

That evidence stares at us in the less than prepossessing examples of those, who despite being notionally aware of the law, lie through their teeth to gain political advantages. In that list is included none other than a Professor of Law and numerous ‘President’s Counsel,’ some in the garb of woefully non-performing Ministers no less.

Continue reading ‘The Laws We Have Now Dont Work Because of the “Collectively Gross Deceit of Human Beings who Apply and Implement the Law”’ »

Karthik Subbaraj’s “Petta” is Exactly what he Promised – a Tribute to Rajinikanth with the Director’s Trademark Twists.

By

Sowmya Rajendran

Before we see Rajinikanth on screen, we hear the song Vantha Naal Mudhal, Indha Naal Varai. It sets the framework for what we’re about to see – Rajinikanth from those days, until now. Karthik Subbaraj’s Petta is exactly what he promised – a tribute to Rajinikanth, with the director’s trademark twists. And like all of Karthik’s films, sparks fly in parts of it.

For fanboys and fangirls, Petta offers a fun spot-the-Rajini-film reference game. His name is Kaali (from Mullum Malarum – and the director of that film, J Mahendran, appears in a small role in Petta; the song ‘Raman andalum’ appears at a crucial juncture too), he has an origin story similar to that of Thalapathy, there’s an Anwar (Baasha) who plays an important role in his life, the ‘paambu’ joke, a Rajini staple, gets a nod, as well. A thread in the story develops along the lines of Thalapathy but is then subverted, Karthik-style, there’s even a ‘Muthu watches’ in the background in the fight scene before the interval.

The first half, in fact, suffers from acute Rajinitis, with Karthik unapologetically stuffing every frame with “mass” – or his interpretation of it. Rajini certainly looks stylish but you wish the director had given him something more to do other than alternating between flicking his sunglasses and hair, in between beating people up. We meet him as the temporary hostel warden at St Woods College and by the end of the film, I was still left dissatisfied by the flimsy explanation for why he was there in the first place.

Continue reading ‘Karthik Subbaraj’s “Petta” is Exactly what he Promised – a Tribute to Rajinikanth with the Director’s Trademark Twists.’ »

“Viswasam” Starring Ajith is no Classic but it Doesn’t Aspire to be Anything more than what it is – a ‘Family Rural Entertainer’

By Sowmya Rajendran

After touring Eastern Europe in Vivegam, which didn’t go so well, Siva brings Ajith back to Tamil Nadu and reinstates him in a veshti-white shirt. It’s a wise move, because Viswasam is familiar territory to the director and he appears more sure-footed of what he’s doing than in his previous ambitious venture.

One can even say that Siva has risen like his favourite phoenix bird from Vivegam. And flown to the land of Veeram and Vedalam which the bird knows all too well.

Oh the elements are still there. The hero has a pack of yes-men around him whose primary duty is to hail every move of his. As in times of royalty when the king’s arrival would be preceded by a minion reading out his titles and praises, so too in Tamil star vehicles.

These duties are fulfilled by Thambi Ramaiah, Robo Shankar, and Yogi Babu every time Ajith appears on screen. As Thookudurai from Theni, Ajith is quite comfortable bashing goons up and running a rice mill on the side.

He’s one of our few heroes who can pull off roles that require him to look sophisticated and also fit into a rustic character – as Thookudurai who displays a cheerful ignorance of English, he’s very likable indeed.

Continue reading ‘“Viswasam” Starring Ajith is no Classic but it Doesn’t Aspire to be Anything more than what it is – a ‘Family Rural Entertainer’’ »

Police Probe Uncovers Link to Military Intelligence Unit Operating Out of Giritale Camp in the Case of Abduction and Disappearance of Journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda Nine Years Ago But Investigations Stalled as Army Refuses to Cooperate.

By

Dharisha Bastians & Aanya Vipulasena

From Colombo to Giritale to Akkaraipattu, CID sleuths have pieced together the abduction of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda on January 24, 2010 and linked it to a shadowy military intelligence unit operating out of the Giritale Army camp. But four years after the investigation began, the case has hit a wall, with the military refusing to cooperate

Nine years after journalist and cartoonist Prageeth Ekneligoda disappeared without a trace, investigations have uncovered a gruesome abduction plot allegedly orchestrated by a military intelligence unit operating out of the Giritale Army camp.

The case took a stunning turn when two military intelligence officials attached to the Giritale Army camp provided matching confessions before a Magistrate that were told that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had allegedly given the command to abduct and later, kill Prageeth Ekneligoda, the Lankaenews cartoonist who had been a fierce critic of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family.

Using mobile phone records to link officials working under the Directorate of Military Intelligence at the Giritale Army camp – known as 3 MIC to the abduction, vehicle refueling records and extensive witness testimony, CID investigators led by IP Nishantha Silva, OIC of the Gang Robberies Branch, have been able to piece together the Ekneligoda abduction from Colombo on January 24, 2010, his interrogation at the Giritale camp and his suspected murder and disposal 173 km away in Akkaraipattu, and Ampara two days later.

The abduction took place two days before the 2010 presidential election, in which incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa was contesting his former Army Commander, General Sarath Fonseka for the Presidency.

Continue reading ‘Police Probe Uncovers Link to Military Intelligence Unit Operating Out of Giritale Camp in the Case of Abduction and Disappearance of Journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda Nine Years Ago But Investigations Stalled as Army Refuses to Cooperate.’ »

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa May Announce His Readiness To Be President But There Are Many Issues Blocking His Journey Towards Power.

By

Don Manu

Just ten days before the newly set up speedy High Court’s judges begin to hear on a daily basis to its final finish the charges levelled against him of misusing public finances for personal use, Gotabaya Rajapaksa put the nation on notice when he announced for the first time his solid intention to run for the Presidency of Sri Lanka.

In a speech delivered last Sunday at the Viyathmaga meeting, in Colombo, he declared — in the manner Seventh Day Adventist and others denominations of the Christian faith are given to quote Luke’s 12:35 and paraphrase its meaning and herald the coming of Christ “Jesus is coming, are you ready? — that he would come forth as Lanka’s saviour and present himself as a presidential candidate if the people were ready to embrace his advent.

No doubt, he would have known even before the words drooled out from his mouth, the immense odds stacked against him in his elusive quest to bear Lanka’s Sword of Excalibur, which in the Rajapaksa family mentality only a Rajapaksa is entitled and destined to bear. The Triumvirate in Lanka’s Pantheon of its Political Gods: With Mahinda taking the place of Brahma as its creator, with Chamal as Vishnu the Preserver and Gotabaya as Shiva the Destroyer. With Basil perhaps following them as the Holy Ghost in the Christian Trinity found at the Devil’s Altar as the imperceptible Unholy Apparition.

So what made Gota go for the kill on an all-or-nothing basis to seek the nation’s highest office, knowing full well that the odds are against him?

Continue reading ‘Gotabhaya Rajapaksa May Announce His Readiness To Be President But There Are Many Issues Blocking His Journey Towards Power.’ »

The most Rabidly Racist and Communal Content – Ranging from Imagery and Photography to Content and Commentary – is to be Found in the Constellation of Pages around Gotabaya Rajapaksa.


By

Sanjana Hattotuwa

Sirisena, Wickremesinghe, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his brother Chamal and Karu Jayasuriya!

The last week saw media frame prospective candidates for an office that the incumbent said, nay, swore on 9th January 2015, he would never seek re-election to and would be the last to occupy. Evidence of Sri Lanka’s sickeningly bankrupt political culture is again to be found in how, leaving aside unequivocal promises four years ago, even the catastrophic events of late 2018 and its entrenchment have not resulted in any meaningful measures to abolish the Executive Presidency. While the government continues bizarrely, blindly and blithely with business as usual, the names paraded as Presidential aspirants offer some interesting insights.

Early last week and soon after Chamal Rajapaksa noted he, too, was open to throwing his hat into the circus, I noted flippantly on Twitter, with two images that juxtaposed him and his brother Gotabaya, that this was classic A/B testing. A technique used in marketing, A/B testing at its simplest is the projection, production or promotion of two or more alternatives, with reactions or responses to each acting as signals around what is an intended or desired outcome. Websites do this all the time, invisibly. From search results to changes in the design and layout, leading websites are in constant A/B testing mode – refining rendering based on context and a multitude of other factors with the aim of retaining audiences, increasing consumption or converting visits to purchases.

In the political domain, what we are seeing is a parallel process – quite brilliant I may add – of first proposing the most heinous and horrendous of candidates so as to engineer a public mood swing away from them, and on to those who would if first proposed, be roundly dismissed. In other words, the very real fear of the worst candidate being elected as Executive President, and the clear licence that office affords for madness to mutate, may guide the public towards alternatives who are in fact no more decent, democratic or liberal, but aren’t overtly tainted as architects of extra-judicial murder, abductions, war crimes and violence. Proposing some of these names ensures, thus, the mere illusion of choice and is designed the ensure the validation and continuation of the status quo.

Continue reading ‘The most Rabidly Racist and Communal Content – Ranging from Imagery and Photography to Content and Commentary – is to be Found in the Constellation of Pages around Gotabaya Rajapaksa.’ »

Chinese Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan Extends Apology for Non -Use Of Tamil in Projects Undertaken by China in Sri Lanka at Meeting With Cabinet Minister Mano Ganesan and Guarantees Usage of Tamil with Corect Spelling In Signs and Nameboards.

The Sri Lankan Ministry of National Integration, Official Languages and Social Progress will be teaching Tamil to the staff of the Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka and other Chinese nationals in the island wanting to learn the language, cabinet minister Mano Ganeshan said in a press release here on Friday.

The Chinese Ambassador in Sri Lanka Cheng Xueyuan had told him during a meeting earlier in the day, that the staff of his embassy, Chinese corporate executives and even Chinese visitors to the country may want to learn Tamil, and sought the Minister’s help.

Continue reading ‘Chinese Ambassador Cheng Xueyuan Extends Apology for Non -Use Of Tamil in Projects Undertaken by China in Sri Lanka at Meeting With Cabinet Minister Mano Ganesan and Guarantees Usage of Tamil with Corect Spelling In Signs and Nameboards.’ »

Police Claim to Have Seized 100 KG Explosives and 100 Detonators Hidden in Makeshift Warehouse Within Wilpattu Wild Life Sanctuary:4 Persons From Radical Muslim Group Arrested.

Sri Lanka’s police seized a haul of high explosives stashed near a wildlife sanctuary following the arrest of four men from a newly formed radical Muslim group, officials said Friday.

Elite police commandos and detectives stumbled on the explosives which included some 100 detonators from a make-shift warehouse near the Wilpattu national park, police said.

“Following information received by the CID (Criminal Investigations Department), they found 100 kilos (220 pounds) of high explosives and 100 detonators,” police said in a statement.

Continue reading ‘Police Claim to Have Seized 100 KG Explosives and 100 Detonators Hidden in Makeshift Warehouse Within Wilpattu Wild Life Sanctuary:4 Persons From Radical Muslim Group Arrested.’ »

Legal Experts Dispel Doubts and Fears Of Proposed New Constitution and Explain Merits of Enacting a New Constitution

By

Anuranghi Singh

Is the new Constitution as bad as it is claimed to be – With many politicians alleging that it calls for Federalism in Sri Lanka and stating that it defeats the military victory earned by the valiant soldiers of the country. The claim is that the zero draft of the proposed new Constitution and the suggestions put forward by the experts disguise Federalism, and that the intention behind the new Constitution is to separate the country through political means.

United National Front (UNF) Parliamentarian Dr. Jayampathi Wickremaratne rebutting these claims, sat down with the Sunday Observer to explain the aims of the new Constitution.

After Parliament unanimously set up the constitutional assembly in 2016, it had to be decided whether there should be a new Constitution or a mega Constitutional amendment.

“When you address all shortcomings of the existing Constitution it seemed necessary to have a new Constitution rather than going in for an overhaul. Only amendments can be accommodated but the foundation will be archaic. Rather than build a new Constitution on an old and crumbling edifice it is better to have a new Constitution,” Dr Jayampathi said.

Expressing his personal views and on behalf of his party (United Left Front (ULF) which is of the opinion that Sri Lanka needed a democratic Constitution, he went on to give his reasons for a new Constitution.

Continue reading ‘Legal Experts Dispel Doubts and Fears Of Proposed New Constitution and Explain Merits of Enacting a New Constitution’ »

300 Including 23 Children Under 12 Years Identified Up To Jan 18 From Skeletons Excavated From Mass Grave In the Midst of Mannar Town

By Meera Srinivasan

From 10 feet away, it looked like a grin, the row of teeth stretching from ear to ear. Freshly dug out from many layers of soil, the mud-covered skeleton lay on its spine, awaiting a number.

“That would be 283,” says W.R.A.S. Rajapaksa. He is standing on an elevation inside the site, located at a busy junction in Mannar, an island town in Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province. In his blue smock, the Consultant Judicial Medical Officer at Mannar District General Hospital looks like a surgeon, except that this operation is taking place under the sun, inside a messy soil pit. So he is also wearing a cap and rubber boots.

On a Monday morning earlier this month, at least four skeletons were clearly visible at the site, while parts of another were protruding from the soil. Where they lay — some piled one on top of the other and a couple to the side — it was at least two metres below ground level, says Rajapaksa, the chief investigator of the latest mass grave to be found in Sri Lanka.

As of Friday (January 18), 300 skeletons, including those of 23 children below the age of 12, have been identified. Members of his team that comprised fellow judicial medical officers, forensic archaeologists and analysts had resumed excavating the skeletons after a break for Christmas and the New Year. Wetting their brushes in a cup of water, they gently pried aside the soil deposits over the bones, making them visible, little by little, to the world they had left behind.

Continue reading ‘300 Including 23 Children Under 12 Years Identified Up To Jan 18 From Skeletons Excavated From Mass Grave In the Midst of Mannar Town’ »

President Sirisena Praises Philipines President Duterte’s Brutal War Against Drugs and Crime as an “Example to the World and Personally to me”.

By Hannah Ellis-Petersen South east Asia correspondent

Sri Lanka’s president has praised his Philippines counterpart Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, which has taken thousands of lives, calling it an “example to the world”.

In a speech during a visit to the Philippines this week, Maithripala Sirisena said he intended to replicate Duterte’s ruthless approach to tackling illegal drug use.

“The war against crime and drugs carried out by you is an example to the whole world, and personally to me,” said Sirisena. “Drug menace is rampant in my country and I feel that we should follow your footsteps to control this hazard.”

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Praises Philipines President Duterte’s Brutal War Against Drugs and Crime as an “Example to the World and Personally to me”.’ »

Is the Sri Lankan Navy Conducting a Private War Against Indian Fishers Poaching In Our Waters While Spreading False Propaganda Through Newspapers to Evade Culpability ?

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Newspapers of 16 January report Indian poachers turning on our Navy. An earlier incident of 23 December where poachers really used violence was hardly reported. All this mis- and non-reporting raise questions of the veracity of our Navy and the irresponsibility of our press to us reader.

These newspapers have become willing propaganda tools of the Navy, spreading falsehoods that shield the Navy from any culpability. This article reports my best reconstruction of events.

Recall that early in the morning on 13 January (Sunday) in the northern seas a total of 28 Indian fishermen were interdicted on the charge of entering Sri Lankan waters without permission. This has been confirmed by the Navy, admitting that they, the Navy itself, had taken them into custody.

Seventeen fishermen from four boats were arrested in the Delft area and taken to the Kankesanthurai Navy Base, and a further 11 in seas in the proximity of Kilinochchi were interdicted, and taken to the Kiranchi Naval Base.

Accordingly, the 11 arrested in Kilinochchi were handed over to the Assistant Commissioner of Fisheries, Kilinochchi and charged. There is no controversy over the Kilinochchi arrests.

Continue reading ‘Is the Sri Lankan Navy Conducting a Private War Against Indian Fishers Poaching In Our Waters While Spreading False Propaganda Through Newspapers to Evade Culpability ?’ »

TNA Spokesperson MA Sumanthiran M.P. Tells MTV Directly That “They Will Be Taken To Task” for “Continuously Engaging In Dangerous and Deliberate False Reporting”

(Text of a communique released by the TNA Media office carrying excerpts from a speech made by Mr.MA Sumanthiran MP in Jaffna)

The media is busy reporting on what various individuals say about the draft Constitution, but don’t look at what draft itself says. The media is intent on reporting deliberately false and misleading news regarding the Constitution. There are many forces in the South that are hoping to prevent a new Constitution being passed, and the media that support such forces spread such false “news”.

“NewsFirst” is one of the worst offenders. They are here today. I hope they report this in full.

Continue reading ‘TNA Spokesperson MA Sumanthiran M.P. Tells MTV Directly That “They Will Be Taken To Task” for “Continuously Engaging In Dangerous and Deliberate False Reporting”’ »

D.A. Rajapaksa Museum Case Against Ex -Def -Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Six Others Will be Heard on a Daily Basis from Jan 22nd by a Special High Court Trial-at-bar Bench Comprising Judges Sampath Abeykoon (President),Sampath Wijeratne and Champa Janaki Rajaratne.

By
Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Permanent High Court Trial at Bar has decided to hear the D.A. Rajapaksa Museum case against the former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa from January 22.

The case was taken up before the Special High Court three-judge bench comprising Judges Sampath Abeykoon, Sampath Wijeratne, and Champa Janaki Rajaratne this morning(Jan 17).

Continue reading ‘D.A. Rajapaksa Museum Case Against Ex -Def -Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Six Others Will be Heard on a Daily Basis from Jan 22nd by a Special High Court Trial-at-bar Bench Comprising Judges Sampath Abeykoon (President),Sampath Wijeratne and Champa Janaki Rajaratne.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Elder Brother and Hambantota District MP Chamal Rajapaksa Says He is Also Ready to Contest Presidential Elections Like His Younger Brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

By

Sujith Hewajulige

Hambantota District UPFA MP Chamal Rajapaksa speaking to the media yesterday said that he too is ready for the forthcoming Presidential Election.

He said further that Gotabaya Rajapaksa says that if the people are ready, he is also ready to contest for the Presidential poll. If I am also suitable for the post of President, I am also ready for it.

Courtesy:Daily Mirror

Was the Role Enacted by Jacqueline Fernandez in the film “According to Mathew” Present a True and Fair Portrayal of the Real Ms.Dalrene Ingram?

By

Rajitha Weerakoon

Was Dalrene Ingram guilty of killing her husband? Was she aware of Mathew Peiris’ criminal designs and the method of killing he carried out? Did she respond to his advances while her husband was still living?

The continuous stream of film goers heading to cinema halls to see “According to Matthew” seeks answers to many doubts that cloud their minds. Curiosity seems to have returned even after several decades, just as in the aftermath of the crime.

The filmmaker Chandran Rutnam may argue that it was not an Agatha Christie detective to provide answers, and that his job was not to exonerate anybody or pin the guilt, but to stick to facts. “According to Matthew” however, is based on a true story that rocked Colombo in the late 1970s.

Therefore, instead of going by the premise that Dalrene too was found guilty by a court of law and received the death penalty, it is only fair that the filmmaker gives a realistic portrayal of her and treated the role with understanding and sensitivity. For the reason that Dalrene was the motive of the double murder, could she be made a partner to the crime?

Continue reading ‘Was the Role Enacted by Jacqueline Fernandez in the film “According to Mathew” Present a True and Fair Portrayal of the Real Ms.Dalrene Ingram?’ »

Support pf All Party Leaders to Be Sought to Pass Motion in Parliament Enabling the Holding of Early Provincial Council Elections Under the Old Proportional Representation Voting System.

By

Sandun A Jayasekera

Non-cabinet Minister Ajith P. Perera yesterday said he would speak to Home Affairs, Local Government and Provincial Councils Minister Vajira Abeywardana to see the possibility of presenting a motion in Parliament to hold PC polls under the old system as soon as possible.

The Non-cabinet minister who represented the UNF at party leaders meetings with the Elections Commission, told Daily Mirror that he was aware that the cabinet of the 51 day Rajapaksa government –though unconstitutional – agreed in mid-November to prepare a legal draft to hold PC polls under the Proportional Representation Electoral system.

“I believe the UNF Cabinet also can follow a similar approach to this issue and move a motion in Parliament and pass it with the support of all party leaders paving the way for early PC polls,” Minister Perera said.

However, Minister Perera said the UNF’s position was that elections to all 9 Provincial Councils must be held on a single day and not in a staggered basis.

Continue reading ‘Support pf All Party Leaders to Be Sought to Pass Motion in Parliament Enabling the Holding of Early Provincial Council Elections Under the Old Proportional Representation Voting System.’ »

British Prime Minister Theresa May Suffers Devastating Defeat as House of Commons Votes Against “Brexit Deal” By 432 to 202 .

By

Heather Stewart and Daniel Boffey

Theresa May has pledged to face down a vote of no confidence in her government, after her Brexit deal was shot down by MPs in the heaviest parliamentary defeat of the democratic era.

On a day of extraordinary drama at Westminster, the House of Commons delivered a devastating verdict on the prime minister’s deal, voting against it by 432 to 202.

The scale of defeat, by a majority of 230, was greater than any seen in the past century, with ardent Brexiters such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson walking through a packed division lobby cheek-by-jowl alongside passionate remainers.

As noisy protesters from both sides of the Brexit divide massed outside in Parliament Square, the prime minister immediately rose to accept the verdict of MPs – saying she would welcome a vote of no confidence in the government.

“The house has spoken and the government will listen,” she said. “It is clear that the house does not support this deal, but tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support.”

In a raucous Commons, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, confirmed he had tabled a formal motion of confidence in the government, backed by other opposition leaders, which MPs would vote on on Wednesday.

Continue reading ‘British Prime Minister Theresa May Suffers Devastating Defeat as House of Commons Votes Against “Brexit Deal” By 432 to 202 .’ »

Pseudo ‘Buddhist monks’ are the Primary Cause of the Morally Bankrupt Sinhala-Buddhist Laity of Sri Lanka.


By Sharmini Serasinghe

As a Sri Lankan first, as a member of the predominant ethnic community- Sinhalese, as a follower of the Buddhist philosophy and as a grandmother, I have taken it upon myself to address the youth and young adults of Sri Lanka, amongst them – the future leaders of Sri Lanka – through this open letter, as I consider it incumbent upon those of us now in our 50s and beyond to advise and do our utmost, to guide those of you who have obviously been misguided and led astray by the unethical and unpatriotic, with selfish and devious agendas.

Dear people, for 70 years, we as a people have been used, abused and made fools of by politicians, irrespective of the political party they represent. Today, you, your parents and even your grandparents are used, abused and fooled products of those self-serving politicians.

To start with, over the years, the quality of our sacrosanct free education system has been tampered with and made to deteriorate by successive governments to such an extent that it now focuses ONLY on academic qualifications. This defacing of the education system has been cleverly designed to produce academically qualified fools who are easily hoodwinked, brainwashed and are unable to think independently for him/herself. And those of you who have fallen victim to this phenomenon, are the primary manipulative tools of the devious politician.

Continue reading ‘Pseudo ‘Buddhist monks’ are the Primary Cause of the Morally Bankrupt Sinhala-Buddhist Laity of Sri Lanka.’ »

President Sirisena’s First Four Years in Office Were Most Transformative in Terms of Building Independent Institutions, Restoring Fundamental Rghts and Rolling back the Authoritarianism of the Past.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

The election of President Maithripala Sirisena four years ago on January 8 was a watershed moment in Sri Lankan politics. However, since then, it has lost its allure. This year’s anniversary was, by and large, abandoned by its early supporters. As he enters into his final year, the president himself looks as if he is destined to a single term. Yet, by any account, President Sirisena’s first four years count as one of the most transformative; in terms of building independent institutions, restoring fundamental rights and rolling back the authoritarianism of the past. Those developments were also not possible without the President’s actual commitment — and now his detractors, sizable number of whom are partisan acolytes, might want to ride roughshod over this assertion.

President Maithripala Sirisena was not the only president who promised a greater democratization as a key election pledge. Chandrika Kumaratunga rode to power on the promise of abolishing executive presidency, and completed her two terms and retired, and was subsequently forced out of active politics by her successor Mahinda Rajapaksa. There is nothing much to crow about her ten years in power, which were, by and large, a lost decade, economically, politically and militarily. The worst military casualties of the Eelam war were reported during that time along the highway of death as she sought, in a politically influenced ploy, to open a Main Supply Route (MSR) via Tiger infested Wanni.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena’s First Four Years in Office Were Most Transformative in Terms of Building Independent Institutions, Restoring Fundamental Rghts and Rolling back the Authoritarianism of the Past.’ »

British Labour Party Moves Vote of No Confidence Against Theresa May After She Loses Brexit Deal Vote by 230 Votes But British Premier Expected To Retain Confidence of the House

By

Peter Walker

After Theresa May’s huge defeat over her Brexit deal, parliament and the country face an uncertain next few days. On Wednesday, a no-confidence motion in the government will be debated. If the government loses there could be a general election. But even if she defeats the motion, the prime minister’s next steps are hazardous.

Why will there be a no-confidence vote?

Immediately after she lost the Brexit deal vote by 230 votes, May said that such was the “scale and importance” of the defeat that she would give time for such a motion if tabled by Labour, or even one tabled by a smaller opposition party. Jeremy Corbyn immediately confirmed Labour would do so.

What is the procedure for this?

Continue reading ‘British Labour Party Moves Vote of No Confidence Against Theresa May After She Loses Brexit Deal Vote by 230 Votes But British Premier Expected To Retain Confidence of the House’ »

“Thaippongal”a Traditional Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving is Now Celebrated Widely By Urbanised Tamils Disconnected with Soil and Nature while Rural Cultivators Face Hardship and Extinction.

By

M.Mahasenan

Can the boiling-over the ‘standardised-pasteurized’ milk on a corner of an apartment on a gas stove be considered Thai Pongal in its strictest meaning remains a troubling question for us today.

The Pongal sweet rice thus made is offered to the sun that beats down through the high rise window. You are lucky if you have an east-facing window.

One may argue that the festival should be celebrated as a ritual to keep alive the Tamil traditions-of course, a valid argument.

The Tamil festival of Thai Pongal is essentially a harvest festival, may be originating from the times when man started tilling land and settling down along river banks and fertile soils. Some historians trace harvest festivals to as far back as 5,000 years. Similar harvest festivals are found in almost all cultures across the world being a pastoral-agricultural festivals.

However, among Tamils across the world even today, Thai Pongal is celebrated. However, the festival that is celebrated today (that is January 15, 2019), is predominantly a Tamil cultural festival based on Tamil calendar system marking the first day of the Tamil month of Thai dedicated to the sun.

It is celebrated four-days annually in accordance with the Tamil calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, the dates range from January 14 to January 17.

“The day also marks the start of the sun’s six-month-long journey northwards (the Uttaraayanam). This also corresponds to the Indic solstice, when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac Makara or Capricorn. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation to the sun for a successful harvest. Part of the celebration is the boiling of the first rice of the season consecrated to the sun,” says Wikipedia entry on Pongal.

Continue reading ‘“Thaippongal”a Traditional Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving is Now Celebrated Widely By Urbanised Tamils Disconnected with Soil and Nature while Rural Cultivators Face Hardship and Extinction.’ »

“Since Eastern Province Has No Chief Minister, Ministers or Council, the Governor Can Take Over Powers of the Chief Minister, Ministers or Council To Solve Issues” Says New Eastern Governor MLAM Hizbullah.

By Mirudhula Thambiah

Newly-appointed Governor of the Eastern Province, M.L.A.M. Hizbullah, in an interview with Ceylon Today says, “I created a problem by being selected as the Governor of the East. I will find a solution very soon. I know how to tackle them. The protesters will be satisfied when they see my work. I will see that every community is satisfied within two or three months. I will prove it.”

Q: How do you view the ‘hartal’ that took place in the Tamil areas of the Eastern Province last Friday (11)? Why do you think those from the Tamil community are against your appointment?

A: When a Muslim is appointed Governor, some from the Tamil community are against it. This hartal was unsuccessful and most shops were open. The problem is only among a few people. Other than that, people from all three communities-the Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese opened their shops and did not support the hartal, so it was a failure.

However, I do not blame them, because this is the current situation in the Eastern Province. If a Tamil representative had been appointed as Governor, the Muslim community would have protested. They may not have confidence in a Tamil Governor.

With the powers vested in me as Governor, I will establish a Secretariat with immediate effect under the purview of the Provincial Council in the East. The duty of that Secretariat will be to check on each issue and try settling issues using our powers, so that unity among communities can be established.

The only solution for this situation is to build a relationship between communities rather than blaming each other. My duty is to build unity among
communities.

You say people in either community would have opposed the appointment of a Governor from the other community. You say that is the current situation in the East. Why do you say so?

A: Although the war is over, there are many unaddressed issues within the Tamil and Muslim communities in the post-war period. There are issues related to land, culture, schools, jobs appointments, development, which affects both communities. So far, nobody has taken action to resolve these issues. Every representative emphasises on unity, but we cannot expect them to live together without solving the issue.

How would you act as a mediator among all three communities in the East to ensure and create reconciliation?

Continue reading ‘“Since Eastern Province Has No Chief Minister, Ministers or Council, the Governor Can Take Over Powers of the Chief Minister, Ministers or Council To Solve Issues” Says New Eastern Governor MLAM Hizbullah.’ »

“We know there should be a Presidential election this year. I am ready if you are”:Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Indicates He Is Ready to Contest Forthcoming Presidential Elections on an Inclusive Nationalist “Jathikathwaya” Platform.

Giving the clearest indication yet of his intention to run in the upcoming Presidential elections, former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has said he is ready to take up the challenge when polls are called, possibly towards the end of 2019.

Speaking at a ‘Viyathmaga’ event at Water’s Edge on Saturday,Rajapaksa argued that he advocates ‘Jathikathwaya’ over ‘Jathiwadaya’. According to him, the former is defined as inclusive and egalitarian nationalism while the latter is divisive nationalism. He contended that Sri Lankans need to embrace ‘Jathikathwaya’ to develop the country, pointing out this message needs to be delivered to the masses ahead of a likely Presidential election later this year.

“We know there should be a Presidential election this year. I am ready if you are,” Rajapaksa said to a cheering crowd at the end of his speech. During the short address, Rajapaksa called on professionals to unite to build a common identity that could be embraced by all Sri Lankans.

“I wish a peaceful and prosperous New Year not just for you but for the entire country. This is because many are of the view that the country must be directed to a better path than the one it is on now.

Continue reading ‘“We know there should be a Presidential election this year. I am ready if you are”:Ex-Def Secy Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Indicates He Is Ready to Contest Forthcoming Presidential Elections on an Inclusive Nationalist “Jathikathwaya” Platform.’ »

‘Thai Pongal’ the Harvest Festival of Tamils

By P. Krishnaswamy

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

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

Courts Order “Derana TV” to Hand Over Unedited Footage of Interview with Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa By Dilka Samanmali Aired on Aug 19 2007 to CID to Aid Investigations Into Murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge.

By

Anurangi Singh

The unedited footage of an interview with former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa aired on a private television channel over a year before Lasantha Wickrematunge’s assassination, was ordered into CID custody by the Mount Lavinia Magistrate’s Court last week, as friends and colleagues marked a decade since the senior journalist was assassinated in broad daylight.

OIC of the CID Gang Robbery Branch Police Inspector Nishantha de Silva made an application to court to obtain the original and unedited footage of an interview with former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa aired on August 19, 2007 from Derana TV’s News Manager.

Lasantha Wickrematunge was assassinated on January 8, 2009 as he was driving himself to work, at the Bakery Junction in Attidiya. Assailants on a tight formation of motorcycles intercepted The Sunday Leader Editor’s vehicle and stabbed him in the head and torso, delivering brutal blows that proved fatal. Wickrematunge succumbed to his injuries after undergoing emergency trauma surgery at the Colombo South Teaching Hospital in Kalubowila.

In a chilling portion of the interview aired by Derana TV in August 2007, about 16 months before Wickrematunge was murdered, the then Defence Secretary refers to journalists writing ‘filth’ about him then driving around alone in their cars, making driving gestures with his hands for the camera. This portion of the interview was shared widely on social media last week.

Continue reading ‘Courts Order “Derana TV” to Hand Over Unedited Footage of Interview with Ex-Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa By Dilka Samanmali Aired on Aug 19 2007 to CID to Aid Investigations Into Murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge.’ »

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa Should Call his Venomous Mouthpieces to Heel if he has a Smidgen of Political Good Sense Left in Him.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

White vans and ‘black media’ aside (which I will return to later), Sri Lanka has seen politicians insulting judges in Parliament under cover of parliamentary privilege in the past.

Staggering and scurrilous abuse

Each time, these attacks have been discomfiting, indicating the extent to which the ancient law of privilege can be abused for partisan political advantage. Even so and notwithstanding that unpleasant history, this week’s attack on particular judges by a Rajapaksa frontline supporter in the House on the basis that only judicial officers of a ‘Christian’ persuasion are promoted and that favouritism is shown to a selected few in the judicial service by the recommending body (the Constitutional Council) is by far, the most staggering if not scurrilous abuse that we have heard up to now.

It is direct intimidation of the judicial institution, once the Rajapaksas’ favourite plaything when they brought a sitting Chief Justice to Parliament to undergo a show impeachment, subjecting her to vulgar cross-talk. The fact that such allegations are made unabashedly and with a straight face says much for what Sri Lanka has become today, a seething pot of racist, religious and communal hatreds as opportunistic politicians stir the toxic brew with relish.

Continue reading ‘Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa Should Call his Venomous Mouthpieces to Heel if he has a Smidgen of Political Good Sense Left in Him.’ »

The Greatest Defenders of the Worst and most Unprincipled, Partisan Media come from Within Government.

by Sanjana Hattotuwa

The appointment of a new Army Chief of Staff. A fresh denial around the use of chemical weapons. The denunciation of a civil society protest against mainstream media supportive of the constitutional coup, not by members of the SLPP, but by those in the UNP and government. A photograph of a former President, the incumbent and the Prime Minister, comfortably seated next to each other, enjoying or at least at a musical show. Newspaper headlines and reports framing dire warnings by the former President, who true to form, relies on the capture of emotions over fact or principle.

In just the second week of January, we are presented with the template for what the year ahead holds. It is not looking good, but despite the obvious anxiety, I continue to maintain, is counter-intuitively rather beneficial. The greatest contribution of the constitutional coup to conversations around the grasp of Sri Lanka’s democratic potential was to place in the open and very clearly, who stood for what and where. This endures.

The closest I’ve personally got to Shavendra Silva was on a journey back to Sri Lanka from New York, where as dratted luck would have it, I sat next to him on both legs of the journey. I made it a point to not engage in any conversation.

A man barred from attending a UN committee on peacekeeping while serving as the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Sri Lankan Mission in New York, due to the allegations of war crimes which continue to stick and stain, was nevertheless found entirely fit by the President to be appointed as the new Army Chief of Staff. For a while now, the proclivity of the President to pander to populism was evident, manifest in statements that held the Army beyond reproach. Surprising of late is the degree to which those in the UNP, in a race to the depths of impunity, also express sentiments aimed at a constituency they never got the votes from, or secured any popularity in.

Continue reading ‘The Greatest Defenders of the Worst and most Unprincipled, Partisan Media come from Within Government.’ »

President Sirisena Offered Prime Minister Post to Sajith Premadasa on 71 Occasions; 61 Times After October 26th 2018 and 10 Times Before That.

by Zacki Jabbar

Deputy Leader of the UNP and Housing and Construction Minister Sajith Premadasa revealed that President Sirisena had offered him the post of Prime Minister on 71 occasions – ten times prior to October 26 and 61 times after that.

“However, I declined on a matter of principle as I opposed the President’s action of removing the legitimate Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and the unconstitutional dissolution of Parliament on November 9, which was subsequently reversed by the Supreme Court”, he said while addressing a welcome reception at Tangalle Town recently.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Offered Prime Minister Post to Sajith Premadasa on 71 Occasions; 61 Times After October 26th 2018 and 10 Times Before That.’ »

Sajith Premadasa Announces Construction of Four New Model Villages in Weeraketiya, Hambantota Named After Journalists Lasantha Wickrematunge, Upali Tennekoon, Keith Noyahr and Poddala Jayantha.


The Ministry of Housing development this week announced the construction of four new villages in honour of journalists who either lost their lives or were attacked in the line of duty.

Attending the ground breaking ceremony of four Uda Gammana villages to be created in Weeraketiya, Hambantota in remembrance of four veteran journalists – late Lasantha Wickrematunge, Upali Tennakoon, Keith Noyahr and Poddala Jayantha, the Minister of Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs, Sajith Premadasa said having Media freedom in a country only further strengthens its democracy.

Continue reading ‘Sajith Premadasa Announces Construction of Four New Model Villages in Weeraketiya, Hambantota Named After Journalists Lasantha Wickrematunge, Upali Tennekoon, Keith Noyahr and Poddala Jayantha.’ »

Expert Committee “Draft Constitution” Report Tabled in Parliament Abolishes Executive Presidency and Recommends Bi-cameral Legislature with 233 Member Patliament and 55 Member Second Chamber

By P.K.Balachandran

The Constitutional Expert Committee’s report, which was tabled in the Sri Lankan parliament on Friday abolishes the powerful Executive Presidency and replaces it by a Westminster style parliamentary system with a powerful Prime Minister and a ceremonial President.

As per the report which can be described as the “draft constitution”, the President will cease to be directly elected by the people and will instead be jointly elected by a bi-cameral legislature comprising a 233 member “Parliament” and a 55 member “Second Chamber”. The President will be elected by a majority of the whole membership of the two Houses.

This will make a huge difference to the moral authority of the President. Presently, the President enjoys an enormous sense of power because he is the only occupant of a high Sri Lankan office who is elected directly by the entire voting population of Sri Lanka. Others come through smaller constituencies (and also through parliament as in the case of the Prime Minister).

Thus, a directly elected President can legitimately claim that he is the quintessential repository of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. An indirectly elected President can make no such claims.

Continue reading ‘Expert Committee “Draft Constitution” Report Tabled in Parliament Abolishes Executive Presidency and Recommends Bi-cameral Legislature with 233 Member Patliament and 55 Member Second Chamber’ »

Abysmally Low Attendance by MP’s When Constitutional Assembly Convened on Jan 11: Only 28 From Govt, 17 UPFA, 9 TNA and 2 JVP Present When CA Commenced.

By Saman Indrajith

Poor attendance at the Constitutional Assembly (CA) meeting was noted yesterday with only 56 MPs being present when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presented reports pertaining to constitutional reforms.

The CA met, at 10.00 am at the Parliament chamber after a lapse of over a year. The meeting was convened to table five reports pertaining to the constitution making process following deliberations at the Steering Committee headed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

Only 28 government MPs, 17 UPFA, nine TNA and two JVP MPs were present at the commencement of the meeting. The number of Government members increased to about 47 during the course of the debate. The CA comprises 220 MPs. The five parliamentarians of the National Freedom Front, led by Wimal Weerawansa decided to leave the CA in 2017.

Continue reading ‘Abysmally Low Attendance by MP’s When Constitutional Assembly Convened on Jan 11: Only 28 From Govt, 17 UPFA, 9 TNA and 2 JVP Present When CA Commenced.’ »

Time for Public to Demand That Legal action Be Taken Against Those Involved in Covering Up and Suppressing Evidence in the Assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge Case Like the JMO and Senior Police Officials!

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

We have just completed the tenth anniversary of the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge. A decade after this political brutality under a government with a bloody record of such violence against society, media freedom and democracy, we still await the killers of Lasantha, and those who wanted it done, caught in the clasps of the law.

The failure to bring the killers of Lasantha to justice is one of the biggest failures, or rather the largest political hoax, of the presidency and government elected in January and August 2015, with a huge promise to restore democracy and bring the violators of the law to justice. It is a crooked hoax for which all parties of the so-called yahapalanaya cannot escape responsibility.

There is good talk today about the presence of an independent judiciary, unlike what we had in the recent past. There is also a commendable initiative on provisions for the Right to Information, which need further improvement. But the continued failure to bring the killers of Lasantha Wickrematunge before the law raises serious doubts about this government’s trust in an independent judiciary and its deeper respect for the Right to Information.

This applies to the rival leaders of today’s government – President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Continue reading ‘Time for Public to Demand That Legal action Be Taken Against Those Involved in Covering Up and Suppressing Evidence in the Assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunge Case Like the JMO and Senior Police Officials!’ »

JVP Flays Mahinda Rajapaksa For Spreading Misinformation and Hatred About a New Constitution and Says Ex-president Should be Ashamed of Himself.

By Saman Indrajith

Former President and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa was spreading hatred and circulating misinformation about the new Constitution among the people, JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Parliament yesterday.

“Rajapaksa has now become an orb of hatred. He recently visited a temple and said that by April a new Constitution would be introduced and the country would be separated. He said the new Constitution would establish a Federal State. What lies are these? Why spread false information? We wouldn’t have minded if it was someone else who go around saying such things. But this is a Former President we are talking about. He was the President in this country for some good ten years. He should be ashamed of these actions.” Dissanayake said.

Dissanayake expressed his displeasure at Rajapaksa led group depending on racism and religious animosity to gain power. He urged Rajapaksa not to create uneasiness among the general public and to conduct himself as a responsible leader.

Continue reading ‘JVP Flays Mahinda Rajapaksa For Spreading Misinformation and Hatred About a New Constitution and Says Ex-president Should be Ashamed of Himself.’ »

Premier Ranil Asks Constitutional Assembly Members To Decide What to do Next as Neither Steering Committee Nor Experts Committee Reach Agreement on Draft Constitution.


By Ashwin Hemmathagama

A report prepared by the Panel of Experts for the Steering Committee based on the Interim Report, six Sub Committee Reports, the Report of the ad hoc Sub Committee assigned to look into the relationship between the Parliament and the Provincial Councils were presented to the Constitutional Assembly yesterday.

As the Steering Committee was unable to reach common ground on most of the areas under discussion to prepare the proposed draft, the Steering Committee Chairman Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe wanted the members to decide the next step following the presentation of the reports.

The first report elaborates on Fundamental Rights and Freedom, Language Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy, which are the chapters proposed by the Sub Committee on Fundamental Rights. The chapter on Citizenship was reproduced from the present Constitution. Political party representations in the Interim Report of the Steering Committee and the comments and letters submitted by Members of the Panel of Experts are found as schedule I and II to the report, respectively. A subject-wise summary of the speeches made at the debate on the Interim Report of the Steering Committee at the Constitutional Assembly and the recommendations submitted by the Chief Ministers of the Provincial Councils were among the reports moved.

Moving the reports, the Prime Minister wanted the members of the Constitutional Assembly and the general public to read them all and take them up for discussion as per the decision taken by the Steering Committee on 25 October 2018.

Continue reading ‘Premier Ranil Asks Constitutional Assembly Members To Decide What to do Next as Neither Steering Committee Nor Experts Committee Reach Agreement on Draft Constitution.’ »

UNP Position is that Articles 2 and 9 of the Constitution Relating to Unitary Status and Position of Buddhism Should Remain the Same Declares UNP Leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.


By

Disna Mudalige, Camelia Nathaniel and Amali Mallawaarachchi

Drafting a Constitutional Bill depends on the support of the Constitutional Assemblyand any such draft requires the support of a two thirds majority, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

Addressing the Constitutional Assembly, the Prime Minister yesterday said public opinion is always respected in proceeding with Constitutional reforms.

The PM stressed that the UNP’s stance is that Articles 2 and 9, which deal with the unitary status and the status of Buddhism, should remain the same.

Continue reading ‘UNP Position is that Articles 2 and 9 of the Constitution Relating to Unitary Status and Position of Buddhism Should Remain the Same Declares UNP Leader and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.’ »

UNP Issues Special Statement Condemns “Black Media Mafia” Whose Real Faces Were Exposed While Appreciating Media Institutions which Accepted Letters Presented by Protesting Activist Groups.

By

Lahiru Fernando

The United National Party stressed it had no involvement in the protest carried out by a number of social activists’ groups opposite several media institutes in Colombo on Thursday.

Issuing a special statement yesterday, the party said the UNP is committed to promote and protect the freedom of media.

The statement also said another regrettable fact is that these media institutions are branding the participants of these peaceful and civilized protests as NGO members and conspirators while crowning those who stage protests violating laws and promoting violence as patriots.

Continue reading ‘UNP Issues Special Statement Condemns “Black Media Mafia” Whose Real Faces Were Exposed While Appreciating Media Institutions which Accepted Letters Presented by Protesting Activist Groups.’ »

Colombo Commercial High Court Orders NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa to Pay Rs.10 Million to JVP Gen -Secy Tilvin Silva as Compensation for Publishing and Distributing Book Titled “Neththa Venuwata Aththa” in Violation of Intellectual Property Act.


By

Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Colombo Commercial High Court yesterday ordered National Freedom Front Leader Wimal Weerawansa that compensation of Rs. 10 million be paid to JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva.

This is for publishing and distributing the book titled Neththa Venuwata Aththa in violation of provisions of the Intellectual Property Act.

In his judgment, Commercial High Court Judge Ruwan Fernando ruled that several articles contained in the concerned book have violated the publication rights, economical rights and moral rights coming under the Intellectual Property Act No.36 of 2003.

Meanwhile, the Commercial High Court further issued an order restraining Wimal Weerawansa from printing, publishing, selling and distribution of the book titled Neththa Wenuwata Aththa.

Continue reading ‘Colombo Commercial High Court Orders NFF Leader Wimal Weerawansa to Pay Rs.10 Million to JVP Gen -Secy Tilvin Silva as Compensation for Publishing and Distributing Book Titled “Neththa Venuwata Aththa” in Violation of Intellectual Property Act.’ »

Centre for Policy Alternatives Urges President Sirisena to Immediately Review the Appointment of Maj-Gen Shavendra Silva as Sri Lanka Army Chief of Staff in the Light of Serious Allegations Levelled Against Him.

(Text of Media Release Issued by Centre for Policy Alternatives on Jan 11th 2019)

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) is deeply concerned by the recent appointment of Major General Shavendra Silva as the Chief of Staff, Sri Lanka Army (SLA) and urges President Maithripala Sirisena to immediately review the appointment in light of serious allegations levelled against Major General Silva.

These are made in a context where the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) made significant commitments to address accountability and usher in reforms to end the culture of impunity. Inaction at this moment will demonstrate the unwillingness by the political leadership to move forward on its own commitments.

Continue reading ‘Centre for Policy Alternatives Urges President Sirisena to Immediately Review the Appointment of Maj-Gen Shavendra Silva as Sri Lanka Army Chief of Staff in the Light of Serious Allegations Levelled Against Him.’ »

Recent Signs Clearly Indicate Maithripala Sirisena Is Getting Ready to Contest the Presidential Elections Again

By

Kelum Bandara

That President Maithripala Sirisena desires to be the next presidential candidate surfaced once again when newly appointed General Secretary of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Dayasiri Jayasekara made some utterances to that effect early this week.

Jayasekara said that his party wished to field President Sirisena as the candidate for the next presidential elections.

The President has been harbouring such an ambition right throughout despite his pronouncement in the run up to the 2015 presidential elections that he would not seek re-election. On earlier occasions, his intention of contesting for the second term became obvious when he parried answers to the direct questions posed to him by the media with regards to his candidacy.

Continue reading ‘Recent Signs Clearly Indicate Maithripala Sirisena Is Getting Ready to Contest the Presidential Elections Again’ »

Sri Lanka Should have a Competent Ambassador Acceptable to the Russians, in Moscow Because the UNF government has Tilted its Foreign Policy in Favour of the West at the Expense of the Country’s Traditional Friends-The Island.

(Text of Editorial appearing in “The Island” of January 10th 2019 under the heading “The hunt begins?)

The JVP has torn into Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Russia Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, who, it says, backed the 26 Oct. government change. It has, however, stopped short of explaining how he did so. Is it referring to his political writings? There is no love lost between the JVP and Dr. Jayatilleka and, we believe, the former has sought to settle old scores.

There has been no formal complaint against Ambassador Jayatilleka as far as we are aware. He is no stranger to controversy and it is up to him to defend himself in case of charges being brought against him. But it is not clear from the allegation at issue against him whether he has done anything so serious as to warrant disciplinary action. However, a person had better prepare himself for serious trouble when the JVP flays him, for its diatribe is a harbinger of the government’s hostile action against him.

We have a government which won’t hesitate to bring back anyone from abroad save Arjuna Mahendran. Let those who are all out to hound Dr. Jayatillake from his job be told that Sri Lanka should have a competent ambassador, acceptable to the Russians, in Moscow, because the UNF government has, in its wisdom, tilted its foreign policy in favour of the West at the expense of the country’s traditional friends.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Should have a Competent Ambassador Acceptable to the Russians, in Moscow Because the UNF government has Tilted its Foreign Policy in Favour of the West at the Expense of the Country’s Traditional Friends-The Island.’ »