Despite Nineteenth Constitutional Amendment Provisions President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Becomes Defence Minister;Legal Opinion Divided Whether Such Action Violates the Constitution

The Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday swore-in a 64 member Council of Ministers including 25 of cabinet rank and took the portfolio of Defense himself. The Swearing-in was held at the Magul Maduwa or Audience Hall of the Temple of the Tooth here.

President Gotabaya’s taking up a cabinet post has become a contentious issue with opposition lawyers arguing that the 19 th.Amendment of 2015 precludes him from taking up any cabinet portfolio.

But there are other legal experts who say that the relevant constitutional provision has to be read with Art 4 (b) which says that the directly elected President exercises the sovereign power of the people through the Executive and therefore he can take up any cabinet post including defense.

Senior Supreme Court lawyer and MP from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), M.A.Sumanthiran, said that the President has violated the constitution which says that the Cabinet of Ministers shall be Members of Parliament and the President is not a member of parliament. He is directly elected by the people, but he is not a member of parliament. He is the Head of the Cabinet, appoints its members and presides over it, but he himself is not an MP and therefore cannot take up a cabinet or any ministerial portfolio.

Continue reading ‘Despite Nineteenth Constitutional Amendment Provisions President Gotabaya Rajapaksa Becomes Defence Minister;Legal Opinion Divided Whether Such Action Violates the Constitution’ »

President Rajapaksa Swears in 25 Cabinet Ministers Including Prime Minister Rajapaksa, 39 State Ministers and 23 More MP’s as District Coordinating Committee Chairpersons at Temole of the Tooth in Kandy; President Holds Defence Ministry Portfolio While Premier takes Charge of Finance,Buddha Sasana, Urban Development, Housing and Religious and Cultural Affairs Ministries

The Cabinet of Ministers and State Ministers of the new Government led by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) were sworn in before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.The swearing in ceremony was held at the Magul Maduwa (Audience Hall) of the historic Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic premises in Kandy this morning (12).

The President has repeatedly stressed the requirement of an efficient Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to build a prosperous nation in the future.

According to “Saubhagyaye Dekma” (Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour) policy statement the composition of the Cabinet has been formulated in a pragmatic and a realistic manner to implement the national programme. Special attention was paid to the areas of national security,economic development, infrastructure facilities, education, health and sports in the process of formulation of the ministerial structure.

The new Cabinet of Ministers comprised 25 Ministers including the Prime Minister. There are 39 State Ministers. 23 Members of Parliament have been appointed as District Coordinating Committee Chairmen.

Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa Swears in 25 Cabinet Ministers Including Prime Minister Rajapaksa, 39 State Ministers and 23 More MP’s as District Coordinating Committee Chairpersons at Temole of the Tooth in Kandy; President Holds Defence Ministry Portfolio While Premier takes Charge of Finance,Buddha Sasana, Urban Development, Housing and Religious and Cultural Affairs Ministries’ »

“Gotabayan” Sinhala ultra-nationalism will find itself no less out of joint with emerging, evolving international reality

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa repeatedly made two requests of voters during his electioneering walkabouts. One was that they had given him 69 lakhs (6.9 million) of votes at the Presidential Election but now he wanted 79 lakhs (7.9 million) votes. The other was that he wants a two-thirds majority. He didn’t get his first wish, but has surely got his second and strategically more significant.

He got 6.8 million votes which is a fraction less than that which he polled in November 2019. His personal best remains the ruling party’s ceiling. The voters are certainly not dissatisfied by his performance but aren’t sufficiently high on the ‘Corona-superhero’ hype to boost their endorsement.

Five years ago, in 2015 August, Mahinda Rajapaksa had lost the presidential and parliamentary elections, was not the leader of the SLFP, had been denied the Leadership of the Opposition and did not lead a political party of his own. Five years later, Mahinda Rajapaksa is the ‘Rocky’ of South Asian politics.

Significantly, for the first time in four, he was sworn in as PM at a Buddhist temple, which was also a first for any Lankan PM. The new times are the very old times.

Continue reading ‘“Gotabayan” Sinhala ultra-nationalism will find itself no less out of joint with emerging, evolving international reality’ »

The Indo -Lanka Accord and the Sri Lankan Tamils

By
D.B.S.JEYARAJ

Today (29 July) is the 33rd third anniversary of the Indo-Lanka Accord. It was on 29 July 1987 that former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and then Sri Lankan President Junius Richard Jayewardene signed in Colombo the agreement between India and Sri Lanka known as the Indo-Lanka Accord along with two letters described as annexures. The Indo-Lanka Accord at that time brought an end to the ongoing armed conflict between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Tamil militant organisations.

Signing of the Accord-1987-pic via: The Hindu

The accord among other things bestowed upon India the responsibility (shared with Sri Lanka) of ensuring and protecting the security and safety of all communities living in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka. Clause 2.16(e) says: “The Governments of Sri Lanka and India will cooperate in ensuring the physical security and safety of all communities inhabiting the Northern and Eastern Provinces.”

While the Sri Lankan Government agreed to implement the proposals outlined in the accord, clause 2.14 stated: “The Government of India will underwrite and guarantee the resolutions, and co-operate in the implementation of these proposals.”

The Indo-Lanka Accord provided India a permanent “say” in the affairs of Sri Lanka as it had to underwrite the resolutions and guarantee their implementation. Also, it was – in theory at least – responsible for the safety and security of all people living in the north and east.
Continue reading ‘The Indo -Lanka Accord and the Sri Lankan Tamils’ »

Poetry For Reflection On Sri Lanka’s Election Day

By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sri Lanka or Ceylon as it was known earlier has faced many challenges and problems since Independence from Britain in 1948. We have had military coup attempts, communal riots, pogroms, armed revolts, external military intervention, assassinations of heads of State, terrorist violence and above all a long secessionist war that threatened to tear apart the country.

What Sri Lanka can be proud of as Asia’s oldest democracy is the fact that despite many formidable challenges and crises the country continues to be basically democratic. Elections are a crucially essential feature of democracy. Despite many problems, Sri Lanka has continued to have elections. We’ve had many flaws in conducting elections in the past. Despite these flaws Sri Lanka can be proud of keeping the light of democracy alive.

Today 5 August is a Day of Decision for Sri Lanka as it faces yet another election to elect a new Parliament for the country. It is being conducted in a very difficult environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic threat. Under prevailing conditions, it is unlikely to be a “perfect” one.

In spite of the imperfections, Sri Lankans must continue to keep their democratic tradition alive and strive for greater perfection in the days to come. For this, as many voters as possible should exercise their franchise. They must vote early and go out to booths in large numbers while adhering to health rules like face covering and maintaining a metre distance from each other.

Continue reading ‘Poetry For Reflection On Sri Lanka’s Election Day’ »

Tamils Desiring a Silk “Verti” May Lose Even Their Cotton “Verti”.


By

D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The Rajapalsa regime is all out to get a two-thirds majority in Parliament through the forthcoming elections on August 5. The avowed objective of such a steam -roller majority is to promulgate a new Constitution or enact Constitutional amendments unilaterally. According to Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna(SLPP) ideologue Prof. Gamini Lakshman Peiris a strong Governmemt is necessary to bring about Constitutional changes without relying on smaller political parties.”Pohottuwa” theoretician Gevindu Cumaratunga explains that such a huge majority is required to adopt a new Constitution that would reflect the historic victory achieved on the shores of “Nandikkadal” lagoon against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

pic via: facebook/President Rajapaksa

What all this means is that the Government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is going to target the 19th Constitutional Amendment of 2015 as well as the 13th Constitutional Amendment of 1987 in their envisaged Constitution making exercise. 19 A is very likely to be abolished completely while 13 A may be drastically amended reductively. The reasons for Rajapaksa antipathy towards 19 A is well-known as the “Medamulna” clan opines that it was brought to stifle the family politically. As for 13 A the long -cherished dream of rolling back devolution and centralizing power by Sinhala hawks will be fulfilled by negating it. A path has been found already by mounting criticism of Provincial Councils as economic white elephants.

Continue reading ‘Tamils Desiring a Silk “Verti” May Lose Even Their Cotton “Verti”.’ »

SLPP’s mother of all landslide Victory Gives President Gotabaya Rajapaksa an Opportunity to Remint Sri Lanka


by C.A.Chandraprema

With the seats won by the SLPP on its own, together with the seats of allied political parties like the EPDP, TMVP, and the SLFP (Jaffna) the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government easily crosses the 150 seat mark to obtain a two thirds majority in Parliament. This writer still remembers listening to the results of the 1977 election over the radio as a 13-year old. The results of every electorate as they were read out seemed to go to the UNP. At that time, what constituted a landslide was for one party to come out on top in a large number of electorates. However, as a proportion of votes, the J.R.Jayewardene led UNP got only a modest 50.89%. To a generation used to the proportional representation system, that would seem almost disappointing. However at that time, it was an epoch making victory because no political party had ever got more than 50% of all valid votes since Independence. Until 2010, the UNP’s victory of 1977 was what was referred to as the mother of all electoral landslides.

The Mahinda Rajapaksa led UPFA got 60% of the popular vote and 144 seats at the Parliamentary election of 2010, thus eclipsing 1977. Now, the Parliamentary election of 2020 eclipses both 1977 and 2010 as the mother of all electoral landslides. The yahapalana conspirators presented the political divide in this country to the people as ‘everybody else’ against the Rajapaksas. Now the people treat ‘everybody else’ as one party and the Rajapaksas as another party. As the results were rolling in on Thursday evening one thing that was glaringly obvious in almost every polling division, was that the total number of votes polled by the ‘everybody else’ political formation was less than half of that of the Rajapaksa led SLPP.

Rajapaksas emerge stronger than ever

This marks the conclusion of a remarkable journey that began in January 2015 at the point that the Rajapaksa triumvirate led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa was literally thrown out onto the street by means of a well-orchestrated conspiracy hatched by elements both local and foreign. This is a story straight out of the history books. A successful and popular government ousted from power by foreign conspirators and local traitors with the people rallying around their fallen leaders to restore them to power is a recurring theme in the history of politics, not only in this country but worldwide. We have just seen this historic theme being played out in Sri Lanka to a picture perfect finish.

Continue reading ‘SLPP’s mother of all landslide Victory Gives President Gotabaya Rajapaksa an Opportunity to Remint Sri Lanka’ »

New Rajapaksa Government Will Centralise Power Through Constitutional Change But is Not Likely To Abolish Existing Provincial Council System

By P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan parliamentary elections, held on August 5, the results of which were unofficially out on August 7, have sent a number of politically significant messages. These are as follows:

Getting Two Thirds Majority

The results have shown that it is possible to get two- thirds majority even under the Proportional Representation System (PRS) which facilitates the entry of a number of parties, even small ones, into parliament, preventing efforts by a big party to form a government of its own without the support of small parties.

The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, has got 145 seats, just five short of 150, which is the two-thirds mark. But it has allies like the Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Party (2 seats); the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (1 seat); the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (1 seats) and the National Congress led by Athaullah (1 seat) which will enable it to muster two thirds. Thus in total, the SLPP has got 150 in the House of 225 or two thirds. Few believed that two-thirds was possible. Party organizer Basil Rajapaksa was himself aiming only at 135.

Continue reading ‘New Rajapaksa Government Will Centralise Power Through Constitutional Change But is Not Likely To Abolish Existing Provincial Council System’ »

Tamil Progressive Alliance Representing Hill Country Tamils Retains all Six Seats From Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara – Eliya and Badulla Districts Held by TPA in the Last Parliament

By

Meera Srinivasan

For almost all Opposition parties in Sri Lanka, Wednesday’s general election spelt huge losses in the face of the landslide victory secured by the ruling party of the Rajapaksas. But one group stood out.

The Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA), which represents Malayaha Tamils in the island’s Central, Uva, Sabaragamuwa and Western Provinces, retained all six seats in Parliament. While the number is small compared to the coveted two-thirds majority that the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) secured in the 225-member House, it is not insignificant.

How did the TPA’s MPs make it, despite being part of Sajith Premadasa’s weak Opposition alliance and despite a contest with powerful rivals in the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) aligned to the ruling SLPP?

Continue reading ‘Tamil Progressive Alliance Representing Hill Country Tamils Retains all Six Seats From Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara – Eliya and Badulla Districts Held by TPA in the Last Parliament’ »

Indian Envoy Gopal Bagley Calls on Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and reiterates the strong desire and commitment of the government of India to work very closely with the new government and Parliament in Sri Lanka for further strengthening comprehensive bilateral cooperation.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa to congratulate him on his party’s big win in the recently held parliamentary polls, the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay, called on the newly elected leader in Colombo to congratulate him on the “emphatic victory”.

“The strong mandate received by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa provides a fresh opportunity for the two countries to enhance bilateral engagement, including mitigating the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Indian High Commission here said in a statement following the meeting.

Mr. Rajapaksa’s ruling party secured a two-thirds majority in Wednesday’s polls.

Continue reading ‘Indian Envoy Gopal Bagley Calls on Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and reiterates the strong desire and commitment of the government of India to work very closely with the new government and Parliament in Sri Lanka for further strengthening comprehensive bilateral cooperation.’ »

Tamil National Alliance Tally of MP Seats Decreases From Sixteen in 2015 to Ten in 2020

By S. Rubatheesan

Apparently fed up with rhetorical nationalist party politics and failure to address the urgent needs of the former war torn regions, North and East voters have sent a clear message to their main party the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at the August 5 general elections. The TNA, officially known as the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), suffered a big set back by winning only ten seats, including one on the national list. The TNA had won 16 seats in the former Parliament.

In the Jaffna district the TNA’s seats were reduced from five to three, and in the Vanni district its number was reduced from four to three. In the Batticaloa district the TNA won only two seats compared to three at the 2015 elections.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance Tally of MP Seats Decreases From Sixteen in 2015 to Ten in 2020’ »

Our history is replete with politicians who were stripped of their seeming invincibility. Two-thirds majority or not, there is no reason to think that the impermanence of power will be different this time around.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Any one of us indulging in melodramatic weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth on Wednesday’s election victory of the Rajapaksa-led ‘pohottuwa’ (Sri Lanka Podujana Party, SLPP) must heed the admonition that this has come five years too late down the line.

The sum of failed political legacies

Clearly, these lamentations should have been evidenced when the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe alliance commenced betraying key electoral promises in its 2015 upset win which was hailed as ‘stunning,’ in much the same way that editorialists gush over the Rajapaksa comeback in 2019 and 2020. Then we had lame justifications as to why corruption cases against fraudsters of the Rajapaksa regime were not progressing, a whitewashing of the Central Bank bond scams under its own watch and a constitutional reform initiative influenced by political jockeying as much as a spluttering transitional justice process.

By all this, it must not be thought that no democratic gains ensued. On the contrary, there were significant advances. Regardless, the whole was undercut by the sheer inability of the ‘yahapalanaya’ alliance to reach out to the pain and travails of the electorate, from Devundara to Point Pedro. Instead, a debilitating elitism persisted, becoming the persistent stamp of that administration.

The ‘yahapalanaya’ elite believed condescendingly that Colombo could dictate what was good to the great unwashed and could pull the wool over everyone else’s eyes. When the Central Bank financial scandal erupted, some Ministers were heard to say that villagers would probably mistake James Bond for the bond scams.

Continue reading ‘Our history is replete with politicians who were stripped of their seeming invincibility. Two-thirds majority or not, there is no reason to think that the impermanence of power will be different this time around.’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn-in as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for the fourth time, before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara

By

Lahiru Pothmulla

Former President and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn-in as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for the fourth time, before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara this morning.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa was sworn in at the auspicious time as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka’s 9th Parliament before the President and President’s Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundare amidst Pirith Chanting and blessings by the Maha Sangha.

President Rajapaksa paid his respect to his elder brother, the newly appointed Premier, and the two brothers embraced each other before paying homage to The Buddha at the Temple’s shrine.

The Maha Sangha led by Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara Chief Incumbent Venerable Professor Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangharakkhitha Thera chanted the Jaya Piritha to bless the new Premier, the President and the newly elected members of parliament.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn-in as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for the fourth time, before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara’ »

Group of “Gotabaya Golayas” From Viyathmaga and Yuthukama Enters Parliament as Both Elected and Appointed MP’s From the SLPP

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Civil society organisation Viyathmaga has emerged as an influential group within the SLPP (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) parliamentary group with eight out of nine contestants gaining entry into parliament at the just concluded general election.

The SLPP won 145 seats, including 17 National List slots. The parliament comprises 196 elected and 29 appointed members.

Of the winners, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera (328,092) and Dr. Nalaka Godahewa (325,479) polled the highest preferential votes in Colombo and Gampaha electoral districts, respectively.

Continue reading ‘Group of “Gotabaya Golayas” From Viyathmaga and Yuthukama Enters Parliament as Both Elected and Appointed MP’s From the SLPP’ »

Rajapaksa Rajya! Vandana, Vandana! Voters of Sri Lanka Have Through Their Franchise Handed Over the Sovereignty of the People to the Rajapaksa Kingdom

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

The voters of Sri Lanka have created the new Kingdom, the Rajapaksa Rajya.

This is a very rare example of how a democracy can move into a realm ensuring the sovereignty of a single family. It will certainly be recorded in the history books of this era, documenting the vast move from universal franchise to a grand revival of the royal or Rajya Rule of the past.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and all others in this realm of power have reached the peak of their power, just as the Royal rulers of the past. Hail Rajapaksa!

Having very comfortably won 145 seats from electoral voting, the SLPP only needs five more seats, from its Nominated Members totalling 17, to make the 150 for two-thirds of the Parliament. It is a political saga that has beaten all previous political leaders. Getting two-thirds from an election based on proportional representation is certainly bigger than JR Jayewardene’s 1977 five-sixth majority in the old parliament, with fewer seats and elected on first-past-the-post.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksa Rajya! Vandana, Vandana! Voters of Sri Lanka Have Through Their Franchise Handed Over the Sovereignty of the People to the Rajapaksa Kingdom’ »

SLPP in Landslide Win with 145 5eats Including National List; Sajith’s SJB Comes Second with 54 Seats; TNA Third with 10;JVP gets 3; UNP Loses Badly with only One National List Seat; Other Parties Together Gain 12 Seats

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has secured a landslide victory at the 2020 General Election securing a total of 6,853,693 votes, which is a percentage of 59.09%.

The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) secured a total of 2,771, 984 votes (23.90%).

The Jathika Jana Balawegaya or the National Peoples’ Power (NPP) came at third with 445,958 votes (3.84%) and the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) came at fourth with 327,168 votes (2.82%). However, the UNP only managed to secure 249,435 votes (2.15%) and will be entitled to a single seat from the national list quota.

Accordingly, the votes garbered and number of seats secured by the main parties including National List Seats are as follows :

Continue reading ‘SLPP in Landslide Win with 145 5eats Including National List; Sajith’s SJB Comes Second with 54 Seats; TNA Third with 10;JVP gets 3; UNP Loses Badly with only One National List Seat; Other Parties Together Gain 12 Seats’ »

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna In Landslide Win is Just Five Seats Short of Two/Thirds Majority; Parliament to Convene on August 20th;Mahinda Rajapaksa to be Sworn in as “New” Prime Minister.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s ruling party has won the recently held parliamentary elections, securing a huge majority of 145 seats, just five short of a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

The Rajapaksas’ Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP or People’s Party) was widely expected to win the polls that came nine months after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa rose to power.

His elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who led the caretaker government as Premier, will be sworn in as Prime Minister.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna In Landslide Win is Just Five Seats Short of Two/Thirds Majority; Parliament to Convene on August 20th;Mahinda Rajapaksa to be Sworn in as “New” Prime Minister.’ »

Polling Concludes for Sri Lanka;s Parliamentary Election with 71% Voter Turn Out Despite COVID -19 Pandemic Threat

By

Meera Srinivasan

Polling for Sri Lanka’s parliamentary election concluded on Wednesday with a voter turnout of 71%. The results will be released on Thursday, the Election Commission said.

After postponing the elections twice in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Sri Lanka became the first South Asian country to hold election months after COVID-19 struck, claiming 11 lives in the island. However, the country’s public health sector managed to contain the numbers — 286 active cases as of Wednesday — with support from the Army, drawing international praise, including from the World Health Organization.

Following health guidelines stipulated by the Election Commission, masked voters queued up in polling stations that were equipped with hand washing facilities. They maintained physical distancing with fellow voters, as they elected representatives to the new Parliament, in which the ruling Rajapaksa administration is seeking a two-thirds majority.

Continue reading ‘Polling Concludes for Sri Lanka;s Parliamentary Election with 71% Voter Turn Out Despite COVID -19 Pandemic Threat’ »

“The Gotabaya project is one of ultra-nationalist, polarising, supremacist Counter-Reformation. It does not stand or fall with today’s election result”


By
Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

This column appears on the day after ‘E-Day’. It is a good time to discuss thematic political issues, including those that go beyond the elections.

Most pressing are two core issues which I had flagged back in 2013, the answers to which we shall know with the results of this election.

Interviewed at length by this newspaper in 2013, I stated (in response to a question posed by Chamitha Kuruppu) that: “…there has been an intra-regime change. The centre of gravity is shifting from the pragmatic populism of Mahinda Rajapaksa to a harder, harsher neo-conservatism which is more visibly represented by Gotabaya Rajapaksa… ‘Mahinda Chinthana’ is in danger; it is increasingly overshadowed or overtaken by the ‘Gota Chinthana’…Sri Lanka cannot successfully manage relations with its minorities and also with the neighbourhood and the world as a whole with a bunker mentality.” (‘We are on the road to losing the peace’, Daily FT, Friday 10 May 2013, pp. 11, 15)

This election will show how far that process has gone towards irreversible completion.

In the same category is the question of the UNP in particular and the Opposition in general. Also, in 2013, Ceylon Today ran an interview with me captioned with the quote “UNP has no future with Ranil”. (Thursday, 26 September 2013).

We shall see presently whether that proposition has proven correct.

Real story of 19A

The crisis of the 19th Amendment is the issue foregrounded in the campaign and most directly impacted by the election. The commentaries for and against, ignore the very context and real dynamics of its passage and aftermath.

The Yahapalana victory contained within itself an inherent contradiction which blew it up eventually. The problem was that the candidate had signed two agreements, one which committed him to abolition of the executive presidency, and the other, to the elimination of its surplus power.

Continue reading ‘“The Gotabaya project is one of ultra-nationalist, polarising, supremacist Counter-Reformation. It does not stand or fall with today’s election result”’ »

Aug 5th Parliamentary elections looks like a one-horse race with the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by the redoubtable Rajapaksa brothers on its way to getting a comfortable majority

By P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan parliamentary elections to be held on August 5 looks like a one-horse race with the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by the redoubtable Rajapaksa brothers on its way to getting a comfortable majority in the House of 225.

Partly because of such an expectation or estimation, there is a palpable lack of public enthusiasm about the polls, in contrast with past polls in which political activity was manifest, noisy, colorful, and in places, violent.

However, notwithstanding the ennui, the expected results indicate major systemic and political changes and challenges in the island nation.

The style and nature of governance under a regime led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and backed by a strong SLPP presence in parliament, will be markedly different from the preceding Yahapalanaya regime which was marked by inactivity stemming from internal ideological and political differences between President Matripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. At least partly, these conflicts stemmed from the infirmities in the 19th.Amedment (19A) brought in by the Yahapalanaya government soon after it assumed office in 2015.

Continue reading ‘Aug 5th Parliamentary elections looks like a one-horse race with the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by the redoubtable Rajapaksa brothers on its way to getting a comfortable majority’ »

Sri Lanka is First Runner-up in 2020 World School Debating Championship; Canada wins Competition where 68 Nations Participated ;Sri Lanka Named Best English as a Second Language Team.

Sri Lanka National Debating Team became the first runner-up in the online World Schools Debating Championship 2020, while Canada beat Sri Lanka to win the Championship, in the final held on Sunday.

Sri Lanka was also named the best ESL (English as a second language) team. Sri Lanka team’s Shalem Sumanthiran won the seventh place in the best ESL Speakers’ category.

The 2020 World Schools Debating Championships scheduled to be held in Mexico this year was postponed until January 2021 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the postponement, special online events known as the ‘Online World Schools Debating Championships 2020’ was held from 17th July – 2nd August 2020 with all the debates conducted through zoom.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka is First Runner-up in 2020 World School Debating Championship; Canada wins Competition where 68 Nations Participated ;Sri Lanka Named Best English as a Second Language Team.’ »

New Parliament Elected On August 5 General Election will Meet on August 20th :President Hotabaya Rajapaksa Issues Gazette Notification With Announcement on Aug 3

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has summoned the newly-elected parliament to meet on August 20, 2020 (Thursday) following the General Election to be held on August 5.

The President made this decision under the powers vested in him by the Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Parliamentary Election Act. The Extraordinary Gazette notification announcing the summoning of the new Parliament was issued on the night of August 3, the Presidential Media Unit said in a release.

Courtesy:NewsIn.Asia

Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission Chairperson and internationally renowned Human Rights Defender Dr Deepika Udagama Tenders her Resignation with Effect from Sep 1

by Arjuna Ranawana

Sri Lanka’s Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission, internationally renowned Human Rights Defender Dr Deepika Udagama has tendered her resignation, a Parliament spokesman said.

Director Media of the Parliament Shan Wijetunge told EconomyNext that Udagama’s letter of resignation reached them today and that she will function in her office until September 1.

The Constitutional Council has accepted the resignation and issued a statement deeply appreciating her work and “elevating the work of the Council.”

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Human Rights Commission Chairperson and internationally renowned Human Rights Defender Dr Deepika Udagama Tenders her Resignation with Effect from Sep 1’ »

A post-election SLPP regime will try to consolidate its Sinhala-Buddhist voter base by primarily servicing the latter’s material, political and ideological needs

By P.K.Balachandran

The August 5, 2020 Sri Lankan parliamentary elections are likely to be a one-horse race with the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) being streets ahead of its rivals in popular estimation. Nevertheless, the election campaigns of the various parties have thrown up key issues which will determine what Sri Lanka will be like in the immediate and mid-term future.

The SLPP’s unassailable position is partly because of the splintered opposition and partly because of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s success in containing COVID-19. Given the manifest failure of the previous Yahapalanaya government, the United National Party (UNP) led by former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Samagi Jana Balawewgaya (SJB), led by the former Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa, are on a weak wicket.

The SLPP is hoping and working for a two-thirds majority to bring about vital and far-reaching constitutional changes. But this is not easy to attain under the present election system. However, as in 2010, the government could make for any shortfall by getting opposition MPs to crossover. The on-going poll campaign has thrown up critical issues which could determine Sri Lanka’s future.

Continue reading ‘A post-election SLPP regime will try to consolidate its Sinhala-Buddhist voter base by primarily servicing the latter’s material, political and ideological needs’ »

Disillusioned farmers in Sri Lanka’s “Rice Bowl” Polonnaruwa district ask why they must vote when their suffering persists amid unkept electoral promises

By

Meera Srinivasan

A week ahead of Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections R.A. Karunavathi, a farmer in Chandana Pokuna village in Polonnaruwa, located in the island’s North Central Province, is looking for a reason to vote. “Why not boycott? We are forced to think like that,” she says, obviously fatigued with polls and politicians.

Polonnaruwa district is known internationally for its evocative rock-cut Buddha sculptures and ancient city — now a UNESCO World Heritage Site — that one strand of popular history traces to the Cholas. It is also the country’s rice bowl, with the district’s farmers producing the highest amount — 3 lakh metric tonnes last year — of paddy in the country.


Trapped in debt

As droughts, floods and pests took turns in affecting their crop over the last few years, nearly 60 women farmers in Ms. Karunavathi’s village are neck-deep in debt. “It began with one loan to cope with a failed crop.” And then led to another loan to cope with the first loan. And soon, to a third. “Today, we’re trapped in four, five loans each with no way to repay,” she says, speaking of the stifling impact of microfinance loans that came to their doorsteps, with the exorbitant interest rates hidden in fine print.

“We didn’t know or understand the terms when we signed up for these loans. But now, we realise we are paying up to 200 % interest in some cases,” says K.A. Irangani Siriyalatha.

Continue reading ‘Disillusioned farmers in Sri Lanka’s “Rice Bowl” Polonnaruwa district ask why they must vote when their suffering persists amid unkept electoral promises’ »

Veteran Trade Unionist and Long-standing General Secretary of CWC, M. S. Sellasamy who also Served as MP and Minister Passes Away in Colombo at the age of 94

M. S. Sellasamy (94), a former Minister and veteran politician and the former General Secretary of Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) passed away following a brief illness at his residence in Colombo, yesterday.

Continue reading ‘Veteran Trade Unionist and Long-standing General Secretary of CWC, M. S. Sellasamy who also Served as MP and Minister Passes Away in Colombo at the age of 94’ »

We are positioning Sri Lanka for the potential explosion of communal and ethnic hatreds that may even surpass all that this country has experienced so far.


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

On the eve of a General Election that promises to be (ominously) portentous for Sri Lanka, the inglorious jostles with the plainly ridiculous.

Incredulous attempts to deflect responsibility

A prominent criminal investigator long in the crosshairs of this Government and once in the forefront of majorly controversial cases ranging from massive corruption scandals to enforced disappearances, is arrested. And a Commission of Inquiry probing the 2019 Easter Sunday jihadist attacks is told by the former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) that an ‘unusual increase of Muslim law students’ to Law College in 2012 had led to ‘concern’ reported in 2015 to the ‘appropriate authorities.’
Let us be very clear at the outset. This claim is, by far, the most incredulous attempt to sidestep responsibility by an intelligence officer heading the country’s premier intelliegence service which had been sleeping on the job when hundreds of innocents were killed in April last year, that we have seen so far.

The fact that the intelligence service ignored direct warnings both on the ground in Sri Lanka and from overseas that a major attack was imminent by ‘home grown’ islamists is established beyond a doubt. In that context, the enormous lapse in responsibility thereto cannot be brushed aside by intelligence officers burbling of an increase in law students.

The increase, incidentally, had been determined as ‘unusual’ by the intelligence service reportedly by comparing students in 2003 to 2012 and atrociously, inferring that this was due to infiltration by suspect elements without a shred of evidence to substantiate that claim.

Continue reading ‘We are positioning Sri Lanka for the potential explosion of communal and ethnic hatreds that may even surpass all that this country has experienced so far.’ »

Nationalism, determination, self-confidence and the belief in the capabilities of one’s own people will not be enough to get the Sri Lankan economy going again.

By Gamini Weerakoon

(Gamini Weerakoon is former editor of The Sunday Island, The Island and Consulting Editor of the Sunday Leader)

Politicians and lovers have a common failing: Politicians fighting for survival at elections and lovers during ecstatic moments make rash promises which they haven’t the foggiest notion about fulfilling when the time comes.

Lankan politicians and lovers are more fortunate on this issue than their Western counterparts. In Western democracies, big election pledges are taken seriously and if elected to office, unless the promises are not kept are thrown out at the next election. So, it is with Western women. Making a false promise is considered ‘cheating’ and if not kept, they are out by the ear in next to no time. Lankan lovers are blessed by more tolerant women who value the sanctity of marriage than the credibility of the Lotharios.

General Election 2020 is bound to be a tougher proposition for any party that is elected to office. Levels of the Treasury reserves have hit rock bottom. A near three-decade ‘war’, the JVP insurrection, elections — provincial, parliamentary and presidential elections — the tsunami, looting of government funds by VIPs, money laundering, luxury vehicles for politicos multimillion dollar rackets in addition to the billion-dollar narcissistic projects for perpetuating immortality of some rulers and finally Covid-19 have left the country bankrupt. All that happened without a single significant income generating development project being installed after the Mahaveli project was completed.

Continue reading ‘Nationalism, determination, self-confidence and the belief in the capabilities of one’s own people will not be enough to get the Sri Lankan economy going again.’ »

While Hindu Nationalists Use Rama as Rallying Point Against Muslims in India ,Sinhala Buddhist Nationalists in Sri Lanka Use Ravana as Rallying Point Against “Outside Forces”like India and the West

By P.K.Balachandran

The Hindu epic Ramayana has had the unusual function of providing rallying points for two contradictory and clashing nationalisms, namely, Hindu-Indian nationalism in India, and Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism in Sri Lanka.

While the Hindutvic forces in India have been assiduously turning the Ramayana and its protagonist, Rama, into a rallying point against Indian Muslims seen as an “outside force,” Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalism has been fostering the epic’s antagonist, Ravana, as a rallying point against outside forces like India and the West threatening the island’s sovereignty.

The Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi issue helped the forces of Hindutva prevent the separation of the Backward Classes from the upper castes when the V.P.Singh government implemented the Mandal Commission’s report to give 27% reservations in jobs and education to the Backward Classes, thus “jeopardizing Hindu unity”. Later, the demolition of the Babri Majid and the demand to build a Ram temple in its place, helped defeat the forces of secularism represented by the Congress and the Left parties.

Continue reading ‘While Hindu Nationalists Use Rama as Rallying Point Against Muslims in India ,Sinhala Buddhist Nationalists in Sri Lanka Use Ravana as Rallying Point Against “Outside Forces”like India and the West’ »

Tamil National Alliance Faces Biggest Challenge in Parliamentary Elections in Ten Years After the War Ended.

From Meera Srinivasan in Jaffna

As Sri Lanka gears up for the August 5 parliamentary election, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) — the main grouping representing minority Tamils living in north and east — is facing its biggest test yet in its constituency, since the war ended a decade ago.

Though the Tamils have repeatedly given a huge mandate to the TNA, whether in the 2013 Northern Provincial Council election or the parliamentary polls of 2015, the Alliance — which secured 16 seats in the 225-member Parliament in 2015 — is contesting this election amid what seems a growing disenchantment among voters.

“No matter who gets elected nothing changes in our lives. We vote because it’s our duty, not in eager anticipation that our situation will get better,” said Yesudas Jenova, seated outside her small home just outside Pallai town in Kilinochchi district. Jaffna and Kilinochchi together form one of the two northern electoral districts, while Vanni — including Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya — is the other.

Ms. Jenova’s sentiment, echoed by many across the Northern Province, stems from many reasons. Eleven years after coming out of a war that resulted in huge losses to life and property, the Tamil community is still demanding justice and greater political powers that much of the Sinhala polity does not want devolved to them. The TNA bears the additional baggage of the failed promises of the previous Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe government that it backed, especially on delivering a constitutional settlement.

Meanwhile, the Tamils’ economic distress has only grown, with governments in Colombo and their own TNA-led Northern Provincial Council failing to revive a war-ravaged economy by creating jobs and livelihoods. Registering their disappointment over the TNA’s governance record in the north, they gave a sizeable vote to candidates from the competing Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) and the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC) in the 2018 local authority polls.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance Faces Biggest Challenge in Parliamentary Elections in Ten Years After the War Ended.’ »

SLFP Chief Candidate in Jaffna Angajan Ramanathan Allegedly Violates Election Laws on Massive Scale With the Connivance of the Election Disputes Resolution Unit Head Who was Allowed by the Election Commission to be “the non -playing Captain”

By

Prof.S.Ratnajeevan H.Hoole

(The writer is a member of the Elections Commission. The opinion expressed is his own and not necessarily reflective of the Commission)

EDR Jaffna

The Election Dispute Resolution Unit under the Election Commission (EC) is key to conducting clean elections. I believe it is to gain control of the unit that the Government moved in 10 Government Agents, removing experienced and honest hands like Jaffna’s N. Vethanayagan – who was near retirement, and prompted by the insulting transfer, sent in his retirement papers.

A good example of how GAs and Additional GAs are used to cheat is that, in Jaffna for example, when a complaint of an illegal meeting arrives at the EDR Unit, a call goes to the organiser from the EDR and when the police go there, there is no one to implicate or, catch.

Another example is that when donors sent in supplies to the Kachcheri for those in COVID-19 shelters, the supplies were sent from the EDR Unit to an SLFP MP, whose Youth Front distributed them as from the MP.

As a result, considering the avalanche of complaints, the EC decided to remove the EDR Chief in Jaffna, but he pleaded that he would not be able to function as an SLAS officer after that. So out of sympathy he was allowed, in the Chairman’s words, to “be the non-playing captain.”

Continue reading ‘SLFP Chief Candidate in Jaffna Angajan Ramanathan Allegedly Violates Election Laws on Massive Scale With the Connivance of the Election Disputes Resolution Unit Head Who was Allowed by the Election Commission to be “the non -playing Captain”’ »

Committed to the ideas of excellence in scholarship combined with activism for social justice, Neelan and Sithie were a nucleus around which scholars of South Asia, young and old, gathered.


By

Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy

(written for the 21st Death Anniversary of Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam)

This is the time to remember Neelan and Sithie Tiruchelvam. Along with Kumari Jayawardena, their living rooms were spaces where scholars and activists from all over Sri Lanka, South Asia and the world came to think, discuss, break bread and just laugh. They helped build institutions that brought together the best of young people from all over world with inquiring minds and a thirst for justice. This was the 1980s and the 1990s. It was a time when ideas were important. Today we are all implementers. Along with people like Charles Abeyesekere, Suriya Wickremesinghe, Savithri Goonesekere and Gananath Obeyesekere they created a sense of solidarity and a space for the “community of the sensitive” to be protected and warded off from the brutality that was taking place outside.

Neelan and Sithie Tiruchelvam

I met Neelan and wife Sithie when I was an undergraduate in the United States. Then followed a pattern that I have come to recognize with countless young intellectuals all over the world. Neelan and Sithie opened their living room and made it the centre for debate and discussion for South Asians, creating a sense of an intimate community that, though scattered, lingers even today. For years after Neelan’s death, Sri Lankan members of the intimate community would meet on the day of his death anniversary and paint the place on the street where he was assassinated. Reclaiming the space that was our motto. The paintings were erased in the name of beautifying Colombo.

Committed to the ideas of excellence in scholarship combined with activism for social justice, Neelan and Sithie were a nucleus around which scholars of South Asia, young and old, gathered. Neelan would awe us and Sithie would challenge us so that we became better human beings and better citizens. It was a Camelot moment in the history of research centers in Sri Lanka and came at a time where a desperate Sri Lanka was searching for anchor with regard to political, social and economic identity.

Continue reading ‘Committed to the ideas of excellence in scholarship combined with activism for social justice, Neelan and Sithie were a nucleus around which scholars of South Asia, young and old, gathered.’ »

Economic mismanagement by Gotabaya Rajapaksa govt is the main cause for the suffering people were undergoing and not the Coronavirus pandemic says UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe

by Zacki Jabbar

Former Prime Minister and leader of the UNP Ranil Wickremesinghe is hoping there will be a high voter turnout at the forthcoming general election, which, he believes, will prove advantageous to the UNP.

“The higher the number of votes cast, the better for the UNP,” Wickremesinghe said in an interview with The Island, while travelling across the country to address a series of public meetings.

Asked how the UNP would perform with the Samagi Jana Balawegaya vying for a share of its vote base he said, “We are the largest party. It all depends on how many come to vote. No party is sure of that. If there is no fear of the Coronavirus, more people will go to the polling booths. We hope a large number of persons would cast their votes. The higher the percentage, the better for the UNP.”

Wickremesinghe said the people, in a short period of eight months, had got fed up with the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration, due to the problems they were facing on many fronts including the home economy, as a direct result of leaders in what he called the Family Party––Podujana Peramuna, pulling in different directions.

Continue reading ‘Economic mismanagement by Gotabaya Rajapaksa govt is the main cause for the suffering people were undergoing and not the Coronavirus pandemic says UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe’ »

“Do we want this ‘new normal’ of unchecked power, ‘authoritarian leadership’ and militarisation to facilitate or ensure economic growth and the sustainable development of our country? – Friday Forum.

( Text of a Media Release Issued by the ” FRIDAY FORUM” on 29th July, 2020 Under the Heading “VOTING IN THE ELECTIONS 2020: FOR PUBLIC OR RULERS’ WELFARE?)

On August 5th 2020, we as citizens will choose the people who may join the President in governing this country for the next five years, if a Parliamentary system of governance under the present 1978 Constitution continues. Parliament has not functioned for 4 months- well beyond the limit set by the Constitution- so we do not know what will happen after the elections, and how or when Parliament will meet.

We have exercised ‘people power’ and cast our votes at Elections many times. It is our experience that those we elect to public office tend to forget us and our needs and concerns soon after they take office, often with fanfare and publicity. This election is a defining one, conducted at a time when the country is facing the double crisis of a debilitating debt burden, and an unprecedented economic and public health crisis. It is therefore important to reflect on our current situation, and cast our votes to help achieve the kind of governance that will hold our rulers accountable to us, and provide primacy of place to citizens’ well-being, when they exercise their powers.

The Friday Forum identifies the following issues as of critical concern to all of us:

Continue reading ‘“Do we want this ‘new normal’ of unchecked power, ‘authoritarian leadership’ and militarisation to facilitate or ensure economic growth and the sustainable development of our country? – Friday Forum.’ »

It’s a dirty picture — that’s what Sushant Singh Rajput’s death reminds us about Bollywood

By Shekhar Gupta

The coronavirus pandemic has also unleashed a rash of viral memes. My favourite is one which has a patient asking a doctor when he thinks the scourge will end. “I don’t know,” says the doctor. “I am not a journalist.”

It is with that sobering thought that I dare to wade into the story of actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, and what it tells us about Bollywood. Now, I know you could turn around and confront me with that same meme: You think you can hold forth on cinema just because you are a journalist?

I speak from experience. One reason I love my job is the diversity of experiences it provides, and the fascinating people I interact with.

I have hardly ever written about a film, except for the sociology of the odd remarkable one like Dil Chahta Hai (2001) and Lagaan (2001). But, having to shepherd India’s premier film awards (Screen Awards, owned by The Indian Express Group when I also functioned as the company’s CEO between 2000-2013, besides editor-in-chief) exposes you to this incredible universe.

Incredible, because for something so public, open, and dependent on the wishes of crores of ticket-buying people, or ‘bums-on-the-seats’ in the insiders’ language, it is also the most opaque business you can find. Any outsider would find it impregnable and suffer many heartbreaks, as even one as successful as Sushant probably did.

Continue reading ‘It’s a dirty picture — that’s what Sushant Singh Rajput’s death reminds us about Bollywood’ »

” Sri Lankan authorities Must end all forms of harassment, threats, and abuse of legal processes and police powers against lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists”- Joint Statement by Ten International Human Rights Organizations.


The Sri Lankan government should end the targeted arrests, intimidation and threats against the lives and physical security of lawyers, activists, human rights defenders and journalists, 10 international human rights organizations said today. A campaign of fear has intensified since the 2019 presidential election, and has cast a shadow over the 2020 parliamentary election campaign.

The United Nations, as well Sri Lanka’s partners and foreign donors, should immediately call for full respect, protection and fulfillment of the human rights of all Sri Lankans, and particularly to halt the reversal of fragile gains in the protection of human rights in recent years.

Numerous civilian institutions, including the NGO Secretariat, have been placed under the control of the Defence Ministry. Serving and retired military officers have been appointed to a slew of senior government roles previously held by civilians. The authorities have recently established military-led bodies such as the Presidential Task Force to build “a secure country, disciplined, virtuous and lawful society,” which has the power to issue directives to any government official. This represents an alarming trend towards the militarization of the state. Many of those in government, including the president, defense secretary, and army chief, are accused of war crimes during the internal armed conflict that ended in 2009.

Continue reading ‘” Sri Lankan authorities Must end all forms of harassment, threats, and abuse of legal processes and police powers against lawyers, human rights defenders and journalists”- Joint Statement by Ten International Human Rights Organizations.’ »

UNP Expels 115 Members Following Working Committee Decision: 54 Out of 102 Previously Suspended for Seeking Nominations From SJB and 61 Local Authority Members Axed

By Asiri Fernando

The United National Party (UNP) yesterday expelled 115 members, after its Working Committee affirmed a pervious decision to terminate the membership of those who sought nominations from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) for the upcoming General Elections.

UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said the Working Committee which met yesterday decided to strip party membership of 54 persons out of the 102 who were suspended.

“The Working Committee, which met on Tuesday morning, decided to revoke the party membership of 54 of the 102 who were suspended after the findings of an investigation was discussed,” Kariyawasam told journalists yesterday, pointing out that several decisions regarding the Party’s future were also taken at the meeting.

Continue reading ‘UNP Expels 115 Members Following Working Committee Decision: 54 Out of 102 Previously Suspended for Seeking Nominations From SJB and 61 Local Authority Members Axed’ »

Rajapaksas are Canvassing for a Two-thirds Majority to Introduce a New Constitution Without Telling the People Anything About What is Going to be in it

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the fellow travellers of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) are asking for a two-thirds majority in the general election. For what? They want to abolish the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, one of the few progressive constitutional provisions to be adopted in the independent history. (It moderated the excesses of the executive presidency). Mr. Rajapaksa also wants to introduce a new constitution. But, he has not said what would be in it. The sheer absence of detail is disturbing. The arbitrariness with which it would be deliberated is terrifying. Its implications for the democracy of the country would be crippling.

Except in a democratic decay, you don’t canvas for a new constitution, the mother of all laws of the land, without telling your voters about its basic tenets. ( This is not altogether new, though: the Parliamentarians of the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa administration placed their signature in a blank paper that would later become the impeachment motion of the then chief justice)

Information is crucial in making an educated decision, not least when it pertains to the Constitution of the country. Responsible political leadership would have presented an elementary draft of the key elements of the purported new constitution. Instead, Mr. Rajapaksa and his coterie are prodding the public to vote for something that would make fundamental changes to the fabric of the Republic, without telling as to what those changes would look like.
The Rajapaksas seem to think they could decide for the country of 22 million people. This manifest strongmen obsession with the state as the personal fiefdom is extremely deleterious for the country. One should not mistake the nation’s constitution to your family heirloom. The Middle East and Africa are ripe with cases full of that misfortune.

Continue reading ‘Rajapaksas are Canvassing for a Two-thirds Majority to Introduce a New Constitution Without Telling the People Anything About What is Going to be in it’ »

Chamal Rajapaksa Brings Retd Gen. Boniface Perera to Jaffna and Introduces him as the Next Governor of the Northern Province

By

Prof.S.Ratnajeevan H.Hoole

(The writer is a member of the Elections Commission. The opinion expressed is his own and not necessarily reflective of the Commission.)

Old and new attitude to laws

The old style of election management is to use the army to scare voters from areas not friendly to the Government. Chamal Rajapaksa brought General Boniface Perera to Jaffna last week and introduced him as our next Governor. That sent chills down my spine, bringing back memories of how a Vanni Special Forces commander ethnically cleansed areas surrounding Vavuniya (S.R.H. Hoole, Democracy Undermined by Discrimination, Colombo Telegraph, 15 March, 2019. https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/jaffna-hate-crime-leadership-by-northern-chief-c-v-wigneswaran/)

However, some things have changed positively under our commission. The old style of election management was to do favours to all and be in their good books. An egregious example is the 2005 Presidential Election result being certified despite the victor’s agents bribing the LTTE to prohibit Tamils from voting. This Commission took the hard decision to implement the law strictly. That is why we no longer see notices and banners placed all over. Old habits linger, however.

The contrast between old and new styles of enforcing laws is exemplified by the law on carrying pictures of candidates on any vehicle. §74(1) (a) of the Parliamentary Elections Act of 1981 prohibits any flag or banner on any vehicle, except that used for the conveyance of a candidate. In §74(1) (d) it is explicitly stated that the photograph of a candidate is prohibited in any vehicle except in one used for the conveyance of a candidate. While subsection d is explicit, the old style is to say pictures of another candidate on a car carrying a particular candidate comes under the flag or banner of subsection (a) and look the other way when a vehicle carries pictures of multiple candidates. It ignores subsection (d) which allows only the picture of the candidate. Indeed, other pictures do not cover flags and banners of subsection (a). As a result, some of our Assistant or District Commissioners of Elections (ACEs/DCEs) have been impounding cars and arresting their drivers violating the law. Where the ACE/DCE likes to be nice to everyone, such offending vehicles are let off saying the pictures are like the permitted flags and banners.

Continue reading ‘Chamal Rajapaksa Brings Retd Gen. Boniface Perera to Jaffna and Introduces him as the Next Governor of the Northern Province’ »

How can there be peace or stability, if the guiding ideology of the state sees a potential enemy in every non-Sinhala-Buddhist?

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

This week, 27 years ago, Sri Lanka was burning.

During Black July, Sinhala mobs murdered not just Tamil men, women and children; they also killed prospects of peace and stability. They torched not just Tamil property, but also to prospects of economic development.

Black July was the darkest episode in the post-Independent history of Sri Lanka, a colossal failure in morality, decency and civility. It also constituted a critical abnegation of reason, sanity and intelligence. The orgy of violence gave wings to the separatist cause and to the LTTE. It opened the floodgates of war and insurgency (the JVP was proscribed in its immediate aftermath, to provide the UNP government with a scapegoat).

The opening up of the economy in 1977 had caused a massive surge in growth and employment and income generation. Like with every such radical transformation, it had also resulted in huge socio-economic dislocations. By the early 1980s inflation was skyrocketing and economic inequality has reached alarming levels. Faced with growing discontent in the Sinhala South, the government adopted the time-tested method of scapegoating the minorities.

Blaming Tamil businesses for Sinhala poverty and Tamil professionals for Sinhala unemployment was not limited to rank racists such as Cyril Mathew. Even relative moderates like Ronnie de Mel saw a use value in racism. “The Tamils have dominated the commanding heights of everything good in Sri Lanka,” the then Finance Minister opined in the immediate aftermath of Black July. The solution was to “restore the rights of the Sinhala majority” (The wages of envy – The Economist – 20.8.1983).

In the eyes of its perpetrators and defenders, Black July was a necessary measure of political chastisement and socio-economic recalibration. For many a Sinhala supremacist, it epitomised the ideal Sri Lanka, a land where even the most poorest and marginalised Sinhalese was more potent than the richest, the most highly placed non-Sinhalese. The same mindset was evident in the attacks against Christian churches in the early 2000s and in the recent mini-riots targeting Muslims.

Continue reading ‘How can there be peace or stability, if the guiding ideology of the state sees a potential enemy in every non-Sinhala-Buddhist?’ »

July 1983: Two Northern Attacks and One Island-wide Anti-Tamil Pogrom

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The fourth week of July revives bad memories among most Tamils who lived in Sri Lanka during the month of July in 1983. It was in that week in July that large-scale violence was let loose upon Tamils living in various parts of Sri Lanka including Colombo and suburbs.

“Black July 1983”

The week long spree of anti-Tamil violence saw over 4,000 Tamils and some Muslims – mistaken for Tamils – being killed. Thousands were injured. Some of the injured were killed in hospitals. There were close upon 300,000 displaced persons as a result. Around 130,000 of these were housed in makeshift refugee camps.

More than 2,500 business enterprises ranging from factories to petty boutiques were damaged or destroyed. The number of houses and dwellings and vehicles damaged or destroyed has not been fully estimated yet.

Continue reading ‘July 1983: Two Northern Attacks and One Island-wide Anti-Tamil Pogrom’ »

Sri Lanka’s 72-year-old democracy is being Transformed into some sort of military regime with the appointment of military and ex-military officials to key posts in civilian administration

By Gamini Weerakoon

(Gamini Weerakoon is a former editor of The Sunday Island, The Island and Consulting Editor of the Sunday Leader)

War is a continuation of politics by other means’ is a saying of a Prussian general, Karl Von Clausewitz around two centuries ago.
In recent times in this country, the use of this Prussian military and political wisdom is observed in the reverse. Politics, it appears, continues to be subject in multiple ways from the outcome of a ‘war’ that ended 11 years ago.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the defence secretary and Mahinda Rajapaksa the president of the government that won ‘The War’ against terrorism and they were proclaimed the leaders and victors of ‘The War’. General Sarath Fonseka, the Army Commander who led the forces and staked a claim to the title of the ‘Leader and Victor’ of the War, found himself behind bars. The Duumvirate of Mahinda and Gotabaya gained acceptance as the Leaders and Victors of ‘The War’. The resilient Sarath Fonseka, undaunted too took to politics and is now running in the General Election for a seat in parliament while holding the rank of Field Marshal.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s 72-year-old democracy is being Transformed into some sort of military regime with the appointment of military and ex-military officials to key posts in civilian administration’ »

Amending the Antiquites Ordinance Through a Committee Including the Maha Sangha May Lead to the Fashioning of an Exclusivist Political Narrative that Further Marginalises Sri Lanka’s Minorities.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

There is a measure of dreadfully coincidental irony in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa determining this week that Sri Lanka’s pre-colonial Antiquities Ordinance must be amended in order to reverse ‘destruction caused to antiquities’ following a meeting held by his Buddhist Advisory Council even as public outrage grew over a 13th century ‘Kings Court’ in Kurunegala being summarily torn down by the town’s ruling party mayor.

Antics in regard to ancient history

The bulldozing of what is touted to be King Buvenekabahu’s ancient assembly hall by a Rajapaksa local authority acolyte had been justified on the basis of road development. We were treated to the unseemly spectacle of the embattled mayor loudly protesting to all and sundry that the site had been used for activities of ‘ill repute.’ His opponents however alleged that its demolition was to unearth buried ‘kings gold.’ As militant Buddhist monks waded into the melee and a committee of officials from the Archaeology Department concluded in interim findings that this was an archaeological site with no permission given to demolish, considerable sound and fury resulted.

Judging from the antics of the Government as well as the Opposition, it was almost as if this was the sole topic afflicting the nation. Indeed, the tactical parry and thrust of ruling ‘pohottuwa’ politicians in responding to a controversy which may otherwise have been only of passing interest, revealed the selective reading of history which has become their distinct political stamp. Its district leader and a former Minister strutted and shouted that he would not allow a ‘hair to be touched’ on the mayor’s head. Almost on cue, a ‘pohottuwa’ political ally disagreed, claiming that this was not the ‘difference’ expected from the Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Presidency and that the law would take its course.

Continue reading ‘Amending the Antiquites Ordinance Through a Committee Including the Maha Sangha May Lead to the Fashioning of an Exclusivist Political Narrative that Further Marginalises Sri Lanka’s Minorities.’ »

Names of Dutugemunu and Parakramabahu Eclipsed by Buvanekabahu as Electoral Politics Takes a Great Leap Backwards Into History


By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

Electoral politics has taken a huge leap back into history. King Buvenakhabahu II and the Kingdom of Kurunegala are big players in the politics of 2020, pushing the realities of economic and social hardships of the country and people into a holding bag among the key opposition players.

The Pohottuva Players in the current political drama must be having great pleasure in seeing how the electoral politics have moved away from the call of the people to a shout from a little known history. The roles of Mahinda Rajapaksa, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa are suddenly taken by the Commissioner General of Archaeology, the Road Development Authority and the Mayor of Kurunegala. What Karuna Amman did with his story of killing thousands of Sri Lankan soldiers for the LTTE, and Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s con talk about cricket match fixing for an Indian victory have been pushed far behind, as the opposition players are looking for victory through King Bhuvenakhabahu and the Kurunegala drama of calculated disaster.

With just a couple of weeks to go for the August 5 general election, the main opposition players – the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) led by Sajith Premadasa and the UNP led by Ranil Wickremesinghe are displaying the realities of loser politics. The SLPP of the Rajapaksas will keep calling for a two-thirds majority in parliament, in their campaign to regain political power and supremacy in the country. But the current twist of politics is the rise of Buvenakhabahu II and Kurunegala into heights of the opposition campaign, which brings more than a big laugh to the Rajapaksas, whose hands await the grab of a parliamentary majority.

Continue reading ‘Names of Dutugemunu and Parakramabahu Eclipsed by Buvanekabahu as Electoral Politics Takes a Great Leap Backwards Into History’ »

Govt Revoking Circular 5/2001 Will Lead to Hundreds of Thousands of Forest Cover Lands Being Released to Local and Foreign Investors for Large Scale Commercial Agriculture That Will Harm Small Farmers

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

The government’s recent move to do away with an important land circular, announced by the Cabinet Spokesman, Minister Bandula Gunewardena on 02.07.20, has opened up a can or worms that can tunnel into many areas of government policy. Circular 5/2001, issued in August 2001 by the Ministry of Forest Resources and Environment at the time, was intended to protect hundreds of thousands of acres of forest cover that were not regulated under existing Acts of Parliament by bringing them under the Forests Department. With the impending revocation of the circular, these forests will lose this protection and revert to the control of District and Divisional Secretaries, who will not be bound by the strict conditions spelt out for the release of these lands for ‘other purposes.’

The rationale given by the Cabinet Spokesman who claimed that activities of chena cultivators were being hampered by the circular, is extremely disingenuous. It presents the revocation of circular 5/2001 as a move to help poor farmers, whereas it is part of a much larger ongoing project that seeks to do just the opposite – by releasing land to private investors for large scale commercial agriculture (‘economically productive purposes’). This is a policy that has long been pushed by the World Bank and western governments, that many analysts say will harm the interests of Sri Lanka’s farmers, who are mainly smallholders. Environmentalists have with one voice deplored the move to do away with circular 5/2001.

Continue reading ‘Govt Revoking Circular 5/2001 Will Lead to Hundreds of Thousands of Forest Cover Lands Being Released to Local and Foreign Investors for Large Scale Commercial Agriculture That Will Harm Small Farmers’ »

President JR Jayewardene Created the Infamous System Which Enables MP’s of the Ruling Party to Enter Into Business Transactions With the Government and PLunder Public Property

By

Victor Ivan

From 1948 to 1978 Sri Lanka had a parliamentary system of government. A fully-fledged parliamentary system of government on British Westminster model was established by the Soulbury Constitution, which gave Sri Lanka the Dominion status. The position of the Governor General under the Soulbury Constitution and that of the President appointed under the Republican Constitution of 1972 was more or less similar to that of a Constitutional King. The Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, who is accountable to parliament, served as the centre of power.

This system worked well, performing an optimal role until it was turned upside down in 1978. Up to then everything went well and smoothly except the issue of protecting the Constitution and acting in conformity with it. The citizens had the opportunity to change governments from time to time through elections. Usually in most elections there occurred a change of government. High standards were maintained in Parliamentary proceedings. The Parliamentary debates were of high standard and the attendance at Parliamentary sittings and Working Committee Meetings were satisfactory. Legislation was done well and the monitoring role was fulfilled satisfactorily.

The Members of Parliament came under close scrutiny and the laws restricting election expenses were strictly enforced. A system of tracking election expenses was in operation. There was also a system in place which deprived those who violated election laws, of their parliamentary seat. The old parliamentary system faced a military coup in 1962 and a violent uprising in 1971 successfully.

Continue reading ‘President JR Jayewardene Created the Infamous System Which Enables MP’s of the Ruling Party to Enter Into Business Transactions With the Government and PLunder Public Property’ »

Jeevan Thondaman, Ceylon Workers Congress and The Tamils of Nuwara- Eliya District

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The hills of Nuwara – Eliya are vibrantly alive with the hectic sounds of Parliamentary electioneering! Nuwara – Eliya district with its picturesque landscape and salubrious climate elects eight members in the 225 member Parliament of Sri Lanka. 577,717 registered voters in the district are eligible to cast their ballots at the forthcoming elections scheduled for August 5th.

Jeevan Thondaman

The Nuwara-Eliya electoral district has a unique place in the electoral map of Sri Lanka. It is the only district outside the Northern and Eastern provinces to have a Tamil speaking majority comprising Tamils of recent Indian origin, Sri Lankan Tamils and Sri Lankan Moors. According to the 2012 Census the total population of Nuwara -Eliya was 711,644. Of these Tamils both Indian and Sri Lankan were 410, 200 (57.6%), while the Sinhalese numbered 282,053(39.6%). Sri Lankan Moors totalled 17,652 while other groups numbered 1,730.

There are four electoral divisions in the Nuwara -Eliya electoral district. They are Nuwara -Eliya – Maskeliya, Kotmale, Hanguranketa and Walapane. The Nuwara -Eliya -Maskelia electoral division is a merger of the old Nuwara – Eliya and Maskeliya constituencies under the first -past-the-post election system. About 75% are Tamils in this electoral division, The other three electoral divisions Kotmale, Walapane and Hanguranketa have 53%, 26% and 21% Tamils respectively.
Continue reading ‘Jeevan Thondaman, Ceylon Workers Congress and The Tamils of Nuwara- Eliya District’ »

SLPP vs SJB: The 2020 election is a Battle Between the Breakaways


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Democracy in Sri Lanka came to rest on stable two-party system much before it did in India. When Yahapalanaya distorted that system by hooking the moderate-(statist) nationalist SLFP up with the neoliberal-globalist UNP, a breakaway from the SLFP was inevitable.

With the UNP failing to produce an elected leader of the country for 30 years, a breakaway from that party was long overdue. This situation has given birth to two ‘breakaways’, the older, nationalist, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the younger, populist, Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB).

The August 2020 election is shaping up primarily as a fascinating clash of these two newly-emergent forces.

Continue reading ‘SLPP vs SJB: The 2020 election is a Battle Between the Breakaways’ »

Tamil National Alliance Releases Election Manifesto Emphasising Mahinda Rajapaksas Repeated Assurances to the Indian Govt that it would “implement the 13th Amendment in full and build upon it so as to achieve meaningful devolution”.

By

Meera Srinivasan

Campaigning for Sri Lanka’s August 5 general elections, the country’s main Tamil party has foregrounded the promise Colombo made to New Delhi on power devolution, the need for greater connectivity to India from the northern Palaly airport, and the need to expedite the return of Sri Lankan refugees living in India.

Releasing its poll manifesto in Jaffna on Saturday, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) — an amalgam of three parties with the largest representation from the Tamil-majority north-east in the last Parliament — said that during the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency, the Sri Lankan government “repeatedly assured” the Indian government that it would “implement the 13th Amendment in full and build upon it so as to achieve meaningful devolution”.

While the promises are yet to be fulfilled, the TNA manifesto pointed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the Sri Lankan Parliament in March 2015, when he observed: “When we accommodate the aspirations of all sections of our society, the nation gets the strength of every individual. And, when we empower States, districts and villages, we make our country stronger and stronger… I am a firm believer in cooperative federalism.”

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance Releases Election Manifesto Emphasising Mahinda Rajapaksas Repeated Assurances to the Indian Govt that it would “implement the 13th Amendment in full and build upon it so as to achieve meaningful devolution”.’ »

Sri Lanka’s tiny community of Malays (40,189 as per the 2012 census) had an overwhelmingly dominant position in the island’s military and police in the colonial period,

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lanka’s tiny community of Malays (40,189 as per the 2012 census) had an overwhelmingly dominant position in the island’s military and police in the colonial period, thanks to the trust the Dutch and the British had in this immigrant group in the context of hostility from the indigenous Sinhalese.

But come independence in 1948, political and State patronage shifted wholesale to the majority Sinhalese community which affected the composition of the forces also. Only one Malay, Brig.T.S.B.Sally, rose to the highest position in the army and that too as an Acting Commander. However, the Eelam Wars in the 1980s and 1990s led to an expansion of the army and police, and a handful of Malays came to hold important commands. In the police, three Malays rose to Deputy Inspectors General level.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s tiny community of Malays (40,189 as per the 2012 census) had an overwhelmingly dominant position in the island’s military and police in the colonial period,’ »

Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority Wants to Officially Research the Aerial Route By Which Mythological Demon King Ravana Brought the Abducted Sita in his “Pushpaka Vimaanam” or “Dandu Monara”

By

Meera Srinivasan

Sri Lanka’s Civil aviation authority has said it will lead a research project to study the mythological character Ravana’s “aviation routes”.

In a recent newspaper advertisement in Sinhala, the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka has sought any relevant documents and literature from the public, asking them to contact an email ID and phone number to research the topic “King Ravana and the ancient domination of aerial routes now lost”.

When contacted, an official at the Authority said the project sought to bring out an authoritative narrative about King Ravana as “there are many stories”.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s Civil Aviation Authority Wants to Officially Research the Aerial Route By Which Mythological Demon King Ravana Brought the Abducted Sita in his “Pushpaka Vimaanam” or “Dandu Monara”’ »

Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne yesterday Tells CID that it Institute legal action against journalist Dharisha Bastians if they are able to find evidence that she had sought to obstruct investigations

Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne yesterday told the CID that it could investigate and institute legal action against journalist Dharisha Bastians if they are able to find evidence that she had sought to obstruct investigations into the alleged Swiss Embassy abduction case.

The Colombo Chief Magistrate indicated this after lawyers for Bastians clarified to Court that the journalist’s computer had been seized on 10 June. At a previous court date, Attorney at Law Shiraz Noordeen, who represented the journalist, indicated to court that the laptop may have been seized by the CID on 4 June, because the Police had visited the reporter’s private residence on two occasions without a warrant.

Continue reading ‘Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne yesterday Tells CID that it Institute legal action against journalist Dharisha Bastians if they are able to find evidence that she had sought to obstruct investigations’ »

How Sirimavo Bandaranaike Became The World’s First Woman Prime Minister 60 Years Ago.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Sri Lanka known as Ceylon made history 60 years ago when Sirimavo Bandaranaike was sworn in as the world’s first woman prime minister on 21 July 1960.

The first paragraph of a news report in the prestigious British newspaper ‘Guardian’ dated 22 July 1960 stated as follows: “Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike, Leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, made history today when she became the world’s only woman Prime Minister. She is the sixth Prime Minister of Ceylon since independence in 1948. Her party secured 75 of the 151 elected seats and will be supported by eight other elected members and six appointed members. This will give her an absolute majority in the House of Representatives.”

I was six years old when Mrs. Bandaranaike became Prime Minister in July 1960, but I am still able to remember the excitement that enveloped the country when she was appointed PM. Our family was then living in Hulftsdorp in a multi-ethnic area where Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and Malays lived together, though Muslims were the majority. It was part of the then multi-member Colombo Central constituency which elected three MPs.
Continue reading ‘How Sirimavo Bandaranaike Became The World’s First Woman Prime Minister 60 Years Ago.’ »

Why Cannot the Police Which Waited fo 15 Months After April 2019 Bombingds Wait Two Weeks More Until Elections Are Over And Summon ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiuddin for an Inquiry?

By
S Ratnajeevan H Hoole

We have the police to uphold law and order, and to support democratic institutions. Unfortunately, there are dangerous signs that they, the police, are a tool in the hands of the government in power. It is as sad an indictment as it is ominous to our democracy.

There is ample evidence that criminal activity by those aligned with the government in power have no investigations going on against them. And then, with the change of government, there is sudden interest in such long forgotten cases. We bystanders are never sure if the police cleared the suspects after investigation and the new government suddenly finds evidence as a vendetta, or there was really a crime and the police suppressed investigations and after the change of government a proper investigation is being launched. Such a state of affairs is bad for democracy and an indictment on the police as a political tool.

Continue reading ‘Why Cannot the Police Which Waited fo 15 Months After April 2019 Bombingds Wait Two Weeks More Until Elections Are Over And Summon ACMC Leader Rishad Bathiuddin for an Inquiry?’ »

To Sinhala hardliners rallying round the Pohottuwa Party, the mirage of Sinhala immortality remains and Gota is the flag bearer.

By Gamini Weerakoon

Higher Education Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Bandula Gunawardena in the current election campaign has been promising to establish so many universities reminiscent of politicians in the past promising to open public toilets in towns where they were addressing political rallies.

We have been unable to keep an accurate count of the promised universities but we can recall promises made to Kalutara, Matara, Badulla (or somewhere in the Uva), Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura (or somewhere in the district) and more.

In the initial stage of university education, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) had only one university that produced world class graduates who shone in international academia and fora. Now we have 15 state-run universities but internationally recognised graduates in this country are hard to find.

When Bandula Gunawardena speaks of ‘universities’ we are wondering whether he is speaking of ‘tutories’ of which he is an acknowledged authority having made a name for himself as a tuition master (Tuition Sir) before his entry into politics. Bandula G should know that establishment of a university requires massive investments — land, buildings, equipment and non-academic staff and more importantly, academic staff with doctorates. But the brain-drain is continuing. Graduates, who have been granted scholarships abroad, are reluctant to come back home. Perhaps Viyath Maga thinkers of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa may say that this country has a surfeit of intellectuals and no more are needed.

Continue reading ‘To Sinhala hardliners rallying round the Pohottuwa Party, the mirage of Sinhala immortality remains and Gota is the flag bearer.’ »

The mantra of patriotism, the worship of the ‘Ranaviru’ (warriors) and the myth of the Sinhala Buddhist master race.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

If Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany and the unfolding multiple crises in the United States teach us anything, it is that a country is lost not by a spectacular turn of the coin in a single event but by a series of challenges to the moral resistance of a people, each one a little deadlier than the last. Silence as the response to the first transgression of an autocrat, an authoritarian is papered over by the reassurance offered to oneself that this is only a small evil. But as the extent of that evil gets bigger and bigger, it finally overcomes everyone and everything in its path.

The slave mentality and the ‘unfree citizen’

Thus too, the human mechanism of coping with evil is not only to ignore its cruelty but also to applaud it wildly. As the Nobel Laureate Boris Pasternak, once driven close to suicide by the Soviet regime’s repression of his critical writings, said when writing on the terrors of the October Revolution, ‘the unfree man always idolises his slavery.’ Nothing changes very much, it seems, regardless of the era, the people or indeed, the country. The devices of propaganda remain the same throughout; repeat a lie enough times and eventually the people will believe it to be the truth.

These are reflections that are not out of order in this nation where the mantra of patriotism, the worship of the ‘Ranaviru’ (warriors) and the myth of the Sinhala Buddhist master race has been hideously warped into an ideology that is the very opposite of what the Gautama Buddha taught. But regardless, the adoring faithful fall for this propaganda as much as hard core supporters of United States President Donald Trump continue to beat his drum even as Americans struck by covid-19 die like flies in a country which boasts the best medical health experts who are routinely ignored. What drives this slave mentality, one can only wonder?

Continue reading ‘The mantra of patriotism, the worship of the ‘Ranaviru’ (warriors) and the myth of the Sinhala Buddhist master race.’ »

Two Rajapaksa Centres of Power in Ruling Party After Presidential Electionsl One is Around Gotabaya and the Other Aroound Mahinda

By

Victor Ivan

After the Presidential Election, it became evident that there were two centres of power within the ruling party. One power centre was built around President Gotabaya. The other was centred on the President’s brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa

The confusion caused by the COVID-19 epidemic has not yet disappeared. In the circumstances, the Parliamentary Election is compelled to be held amidst a growing threat of a second wave. This situation will act as a factor that might dampen the election fervour and enthusiasm. Nevertheless, the election will serve as a gauge that tests the strength of the ruling party and the Opposition.

The ruling party may win the election. But, if it fails to produce an impressive result, it will have an impact on weakening the strength of the Government. The Government was able to secure 6. 9 million votes in the Presidential Election. How many votes will it be able to secure in this election?

Continue reading ‘Two Rajapaksa Centres of Power in Ruling Party After Presidential Electionsl One is Around Gotabaya and the Other Aroound Mahinda’ »

We Have Come to the Manifesto Stage of the Election Campaign but the Real need is for a truly new manifesto for progress, honesty and Service; and not the Pipe Dreams of glory for Political families, crooks and catchers.

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

We have come to the Manifesto stage of the current election campaign. The Samagi Jana Bala Balavegaya and the UNP have now issued their manifestos, on meeting the challenge of the Podujana Peramuna.

The Manifesto was a declaration of importance in world and local politics in decades gone by. There was the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels in 1848, the October Manifesto by Nicholas II (1905) in an effort to cease the Russian Revolution, the Fascist Manifesto of 1918, Mein Kampf – Hitler’s manifesto in 1925, the Oxford Manifesto in 1947 giving the basic principles of Liberal Internationalism, and many more such political documents in the decades that followed.

This country saw the importance of manifestoes with the rise of the left parties – the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and the Communist Party (CP) and the later breakaways of the Left Movement. The LSSP and CP manifestos did bring out and present new political thinking in the country, which saw important changes such as Free Education, the extension of Free Health, the early nationalizing of the Bus Services and the Port of Colombo, and the pro-socialist political thinking for decades to follow.

The manifestos of today are not the stuff of good politics. The Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and UNP have displayed their party divisions, rather than policies to meet the needs and demands of the people. It is a Premadasa vs Wickremesinghe rivalry rather that a Janatha Sevaya or Service to the People thinking. The Pohottuva has the Gotabhaya Rajapaksa pledges for his election last November, and hardly anything new to meet the current and possible post-Covid situations.

Continue reading ‘We Have Come to the Manifesto Stage of the Election Campaign but the Real need is for a truly new manifesto for progress, honesty and Service; and not the Pipe Dreams of glory for Political families, crooks and catchers.’ »

Citizen’s Collective Named “Nidhahasa” (Freedom) launched by Group of Responsible Citizens on 8 July in Colombo ahead of Sri Lanka’s crucial elections scheduled in early August


A group of responsible citizens have come together in a citizen’s collective, ‘Nidahasa,’ to upholding and defending Sri Lanka’s most valuable political legacy and hope – democracy. The movement was launched on 8 July in Colombo ahead of Sri Lanka’s crucial elections scheduled in early August.

At a press briefing held in Colombo on 15 July, the movement stressed the crucial responsibility of the government to safeguard the citizens amidst fears of a second wave of COVID-19, with increasing numbers tested positive within few days across the country.

Continue reading ‘Citizen’s Collective Named “Nidhahasa” (Freedom) launched by Group of Responsible Citizens on 8 July in Colombo ahead of Sri Lanka’s crucial elections scheduled in early August’ »

Former CID Director Shani AbeysekeraSays who was suspended from service for seven months with no formal inquiry so far has filed a Fundamental Rights petition in the Supreme Court seeking an order yo reinstate him to his previous position.

Former Director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Shani Abeysekera, who is under suspension from service, yesterday filed a Fundamental Rights petition in the Supreme Court seeking an order reinstating him to his previous position.

He cited the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Maj. Gen. (Rtd.) Kamal Gunaratne, Acting Inspector General of Police C.D. Wickramaratne, Chairman K.W.E Karalliyadda and other members of the National Police Commission (NPC), and Attorney General Dappula de Livera as Respondents.

Continue reading ‘Former CID Director Shani AbeysekeraSays who was suspended from service for seven months with no formal inquiry so far has filed a Fundamental Rights petition in the Supreme Court seeking an order yo reinstate him to his previous position.’ »

Sumanthiran’s Unconventional Reaction To Sarvanapavan’s Newspapers Targeting Him

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

It was the morning of Saturday 4 July. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) had organised a meeting to discuss the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections at the ‘Ilankalainger Mandapam’ (Young Artistes Hall) in Nallur, Jaffna. The meeting was for all TNA past and present members of local authorities as well as Parliamentary Election candidates in the Jaffna electoral district. The avowed objective of the meeting was to discuss and devise strategies for the Parliamentary Election campaign. As is well known, the TNA is currently the premier political configuration of the Sri Lankan Tamils living in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. The TNA obtained fourteen elected and two national list MP’s at the 2015 elections.

The meeting had around 100 participants consisting of Pradesa Sabhai members, municipal councillors, ex-provincial councillors and Parliamentary Election candidates. It was chaired by former Northern Provincial Council Chairman C.V. K. Sivagnanam, who is perceived by many as the right-hand man of Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi (ITAK) Leader Somasundaram Senathirajah, known popularly as “Maavai”. The ITAK is the chief constituent of the TNA.
Continue reading ‘Sumanthiran’s Unconventional Reaction To Sarvanapavan’s Newspapers Targeting Him’ »

Comrade Shan and the Tamil Militant Armed Struggle; A Birth Centenary Tribute To Nagalingam Sanmugathasan

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

The China of today is vastly different to the China that I knew of in my younger days. Thinking about the China of those times evokes memories of many things like the cultural revolution, red guards, the great leap forward, the red book of Chairman Mao’s thoughts and above all Mao Zedong himself who was known then as Mao Tse -Tung. In the post-Deng Xiaoping China very little is stated publicly about Mao Zedong the founding father of the Peoples Republic of China. Modern China is rapidly progressing along the “Capitalist High Road” that was so forcefully denounced by the Chinese Communist leader of yore. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned Mao seems to be virtually forgotten nowadays.

Nagalingam Sanmugathasan in China with Chairma Mao

There was however a time when a vigorously vibrant leftist political party espousing the policies and ideology of Mao Zedong known as Maoism flourished in Sri Lanka. It was known as the Ceylon Communist Party (PekingWing) to denote its pro- China leanings as opposed to the other pro- Soviet Union Communist party (Moscow wing). Beijing was spelled as Peking then. At its heyday the Ceylon Communist Party(Peking Wing) controlled many trade unions in the mercantile,industrial, agricultural and plantation sectors. It also spearheaded a massive socio-cultural movement that greatly helped to abolish the cruelty of caste oppression in Jaffna. The party was also the nursery in which Rohana Wijeweera the founder -leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna(JVP) was nurtured. After the demise of Mao and rise of Deng, the Sri Lankan party remained faithful to pristine Maoism and condemned the new revisionist line.Despite suffering several splits, defections and declining membership, the party along with other like-minded international Marxist-Leninist groups formed the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement(RIM) to re-affirm Maoism. Subsequently the party re-invented itself as the Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist).
Continue reading ‘Comrade Shan and the Tamil Militant Armed Struggle; A Birth Centenary Tribute To Nagalingam Sanmugathasan’ »

Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism/supremacists will weaponise the Presidency and ‘Palestinianise’ the Tamils and Muslims who will have neither autonomy at the periphery nor equal, non-discriminatory citizenship in practice.

By
Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

An attitude of arrogant myopia; rejection of the outlook of scientific rationality; regarding intelligence-gathering as sufficient and downgrading scientific medical investigation/data collection/analysis (hence the Sri Jayewardenepura pullout); ignoring the Chief Epidemiologist-led, medical specialist-driven, globally acknowledged best practices constituting the managerial model of successful COVID-19 suppression; brusque contradiction of the warnings of the GMOA; a pandemic decisioning and command-and-control hierarchy in which medical expertise comes second to military/ex-military expertise; a personality cult of absurd exaltation (“world’s best anti-corona leadership”); a “Chosen People” ideology and absolutisation of the regime’s regionally relative success (“come to a corona-free country”); the deification of the military, attributing omniscience and conferring omnipresence (administrative and armed); and frequent executive placement of square pegs in round holes – with the squarest in the roundest – have cumulatively permitted a preventable, pluri-provincial proliferation of COVID-19, with army personnel figuring disproportionately as corona-afflicted/agency in the new wave or round.

Who will be accountable?

Opposition politicians who urge postponement of the election have it more wrong than right though, while the Chairman of the EC has it more right than wrong when he declaims: “Every day without the election is a day without democracy! No election, no democracy! No election equals dictatorship!”

Meanwhile, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is hoping for the rest of the Infinity Stones on 5 August 2020. They will ensure supreme and absolute power. His brothers are on an electoral expedition, assiduously seeking to acquire them for him. Supreme and absolute power will enable GR to redirect the destiny of the island, remoulding it by imposing his vision upon it.

Continue reading ‘Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism/supremacists will weaponise the Presidency and ‘Palestinianise’ the Tamils and Muslims who will have neither autonomy at the periphery nor equal, non-discriminatory citizenship in practice.’ »

Though Mahinda Rajapaksa Says He is for Abolishing the 19 A , Will The PM Opt to Get His Wings Clipped by Doing So Or Prefer to Enjoy Full Prime Ministerial Powers Granted Under 19 A?

By

Austin Fernando

With the General Election campaign warming up, reference is made to the 19th Amendment (19A) in positive and negative forms. The positive form was highlighted recently by the civil society actors, supporting the 19A. The negativity of the 19A is highlighted mostly by Government politicians led by the Prime Minister (PM). The demand made by the former is to refrain from giving a two-thirds lead to the Government to nastily meddle with the 19A. The latter demands a two-thirds lead to abolish the 19A.

What is so wrong with 19A to abolish it? A simple answer from an anti-19A exponent is ‘because it reduced the much-required executive power, especially for the President’. A 19A supporter would say ‘because abolishing is demanded by persons who want politicisation of institutions, which is detrimental to administration and democracy’.

If the incumbent President and PM win the forthcoming General Election, certainly they will, as openly admitted, attempt to erase the 19A for several reasons. Is it because they are disinterested in depoliticising? Usually, they are interested to depoliticise when in Opposition; when in power they politicise everything. Humorously, the day when the 19A is abolished there will be parliamentarians who voted for 19A in 2015 to depoliticise, raising their hands to abolish it now, to politicise. Similarly, some raised their hands for 19A intending depolarisation, who earlier raised their hands for 18A to politicise. One common factor in both is they did and do so in the name of “strengthening the hands of the Executive”. This is sham and shameless politics in Sri Lanka!

Continue reading ‘Though Mahinda Rajapaksa Says He is for Abolishing the 19 A , Will The PM Opt to Get His Wings Clipped by Doing So Or Prefer to Enjoy Full Prime Ministerial Powers Granted Under 19 A?’ »

Covid-19 is here to stay. People will have to adapt. The world is not experiencing a second wave: it never got over the first -The Economist

It is astonishing how rapidly the pandemic has spread, despite all the efforts to stop it. On February 1st, the day covid-19 first appeared on our front cover, the World Health Organisation counted 2,115 new cases. On June 28th its daily tally reached 190,000. That day as many new cases were notched up every 90 minutes as had been recorded in total by February 1st.

The world is not experiencing a second wave: it never got over the first. Some 10m people are known to have been infected. Pretty much everywhere has registered cases (Turkmenistan and North Korea have not, though, like Antarctica).

For every country such as China, Taiwan and Vietnam, which seems to be able to contain the virus, there are more, in Latin America and South Asia, where it is raging.

Others, including the United States, are at risk of losing control or, in much of Africa, in the early phase of their epidemic. Europe is somewhere in between.

Continue reading ‘Covid-19 is here to stay. People will have to adapt. The world is not experiencing a second wave: it never got over the first -The Economist’ »

Tamil National Alliance Leader R.Sampanthan Tells Tamil media that the International Community and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are “Standing Behind Us”


By

Meera Srinivasan

With the campaign for Sri Lanka’s August general election heating up, India and its role in resolving the lingering national question have begun figuring prominently in the election discourse, especially in the Tamil-majority north and east.

Addressing a recent public meeting, the Tamil National Alliance’s (TNA) former parliamentarian S. Shritharan said: “India is watching us closely, pointing to inadequacies in our campaign, they tell us you should be a formidable force, and work with hill-country Tamil leaders, only then we [India] will be able to pressure Sri Lanka.”

To be such a “force”, the TNA needs to garner at least 20 seats, he said. His remark comes at a time when the alliance is grappling with visible tensions within. India has not commented on Sri Lanka’s general election.

Continue reading ‘Tamil National Alliance Leader R.Sampanthan Tells Tamil media that the International Community and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are “Standing Behind Us”’ »

Lanka Sama Samaja Party Strongly Opposes The MCC, ACSA and SOFA Agreements With the USA


By

Prof. Tissa Vitarana

President Gotabhaya Rajapakse had requested the Cabinet of Ministers to submit their opinions on the Prof.Lalithasiri Gunaruwan Report on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement with the USA. This has now been extended for a further two weeks. Though not a Cabinet Minister, but as the leader of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), which is a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Podujana Alliance (SLFPA), I wish to express the opinion of the LSSP on this controversial proposal.

The LSSP views the MCC agreement, and the two other related agreements (ACSA & SOFA), as totally opposed to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and that the SLFPA Government should not sign any of them if it wishes to safeguard the real interest of Sri Lanka and its people.
The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) had correctly opposed the MCC agreement while in the Opposition as it would divide the country and have other ill effects.

Accordingly the President had appointed the Gunaruwan Committee to submit a report. In this Report the Committee has pointed out the dangers of the MCC agreement to our sovereignty and territorial integrity and that it violates our Constitution and Laws. It also mentions the fact that the American company that would be preparing the digital register of all land holdings in the North and other areas would be able to get possession of a huge extent of land for foreign exploitation. The entire profits could be sent abroad. The Gunaruwan Committee is to be congratulated for producing a factual and comprehensive document which highlights the dangers to the country.

The passing reference in the Committee Report to the fact that they had come across some references to USD 10 million in some documents which needed to be looked into, was pounced upon by the US Embassy in Sri Lanka and by the USA’s political agent in Sri Lanka, UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe, to be used as a red herring to discredit the report. Whether this sum was paid or received in advance is irrelevant to the charges made by the Gunaruwan Report, which nevertheless retains it validity. There are several countries that have suffered badly as a result of MCC agreements. Some of these are also mentioned in the Gunaruwan Committee Report.

Continue reading ‘Lanka Sama Samaja Party Strongly Opposes The MCC, ACSA and SOFA Agreements With the USA’ »

Recent Spike in Coronavirus Cases in Sri Lanka Makes Election Commission “hope and pray” that the general election could be conducted on August 5 as scheduled Says its Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya

By

Meera Srinivasan

The Election Commission of Sri Lanka is “closely monitoring” the situation following a recent spike in coronavirus cases, and “hopes and prays” that the general election — that was postponed earlier — could be conducted on August 5 as scheduled, its Chairman said.

Postal voting for the island nation’s parliamentary election began on Monday — with some 700,000 officials eligible to vote — amid heightened security, after health authorities reported a spike in COVID-19 cases on Friday.

Continue reading ‘Recent Spike in Coronavirus Cases in Sri Lanka Makes Election Commission “hope and pray” that the general election could be conducted on August 5 as scheduled Says its Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya’ »

I May be a Doctor Fighting COVID-19 But Now I am Only a Daughter Crying in Isolation For Her Departed Father!

By
Dr. Nachiar Thondaman

(Dr. Nachiar Thondaman working in a middle-eastern country is the eldest daughter of CWC Leader and Sri Lankan Cabinet Minister Arumugan Thondaman who passed away on May 26th 2020. She arrived in Colombo days ago but is undergoing quarantine isolation in accordance with anti-COVID health procedures.Unable to participate in her Father’s funeral proceedings, Dr. Nachiar took to the pen and wrote down her random thoughts as a letter to him in a bid to cope with her personal tragedy. By doing so, she has revealed the softer side of Arumugan who has a tough strong man image due to his style of politics. A part of this letter was read out by her brother Jeevan at Thondaman’s funeral. The Daughter’s letter to her Father is published here in full)

“Appah” Arumugan with Children Nachi, Viji &Jeevan

Dear Father,

How are you doing? It has been days since I got that dreaded call and found out that you had left us. After hours of travel and endless tears, I eagerly reached home only to be quarantined. Every day I see what this disease can do, and how many lives it has taken, however my irrational anger is deafened by my duty as a doctor.

Arumugan With Eldest Daughter and Son in Law on Wedding Day

Continue reading ‘I May be a Doctor Fighting COVID-19 But Now I am Only a Daughter Crying in Isolation For Her Departed Father!’ »

No Action Taken Against Suspect Policeman Implicated in Welikade Prison Massacre of 2012 Who Frogmarched Photo Journalist Within High Court Premises


By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

From a photojournalist being frogmarched by a suspect cop implicated in Sri Lanka’s 2012 Welikada prison massacre in the very premises of the High Court this Friday as aghast bystanders scuttled out of the way to lawyers being obstructed by members of the Special Task Force (STF) from conducting confidential consultations with their clients when visiting prisons, the signs are becoming quite unmistakable.

A perfect storm of the law being mocked at

This is a return of the big, bad wolf with a hideously familiar politico-police-military nexus, perhaps with more ferocity than before in this Covid induced nightmare. Add to this, the phenomenon of lawyers being arrested without reasons being given and we have the perfect storm of the Law and the Constitution being rendered a palpable mockery. For those less acquainted with the tortuous details of our impunity culture, it must be said that the Welikada prison massacre was no ordinary case. Indeed, this was more grisly than other killings given its occurrence within the walls of a state institution mandated to protect its inhabitants.

As the testimony of witnesses revealed in the High Court trial last year, following studied silence for eight years, the arrival of seven hundred and ninety eight STF and army commandos with automatic weapons, ostensibly on orders ‘from above’, at the Welikada Prisons on November 9, 2012 to ‘clean’ it of ‘undesirables’ soon intensified into a cold-blooded massacre of 27 prisoners. Gruesome accounts of how the killings took place, how teargas was flung into padlocked cells and how prison officials hid in horror, unable to stop the massacre, were recorded during the trial. Some officers testified that even now, they could hear the screams of the murdered echoing in their ears.

Continue reading ‘No Action Taken Against Suspect Policeman Implicated in Welikade Prison Massacre of 2012 Who Frogmarched Photo Journalist Within High Court Premises’ »

Being a military man, our new President inducted the military even for traffic regulation in Colombo. Many unthinkingly found it praiseworthy little realising the doors they were thereby opening widely to the detriment of our democracy.

By

Prof. S.Ratnajeevan H.Hoole

(The writer is a member of the Elections Commission. The opinion expressed is his own and not necessarily reflective of the Commission)

Elections are soon due in the Syrian Arab Republic, Sri Lanka, Belarus, Montenegro, Iran and New Zealand.

From responses solicited by ACE, the Electoral Knowledge Network (with several heavy-weight affiliates like the UNDP, IFES, etc.), most of the experts are in agreement that the military in an electoral process should be used sparingly; limited to security issues and not interfere in the electoral process. It is also important that voters and other stakeholders have sufficient trust in the military if their role is to be seen as legitimate.

Several experts also stress that where the military is employed in an electoral process, it is imperative that it falls under the command of the electoral management body (EMB). The example of the 2006 Venezuelan presidential election is given as one where there was friction over the chain of command and soldiers did not always follow civilian orders as they should have.

Although the military was used extensively in the 1994 South African elections, no norms for its use were established by the Independent Electoral Commission. One practitioner sees the Bangladeshi military’s leading role in a massive voter registration effort as justified because of its unparalleled logistical capacity and good reputation.

Writing of ‘Election as Warfare: Militarization of Elections and Nigeria’, Dr. Azeez Olaniyan and Olumuyiwa Babatunde Amao of Ekiti State University and University of Otago, respectively, have an important paper in International Affairs Forum (Spring 2015). They state that one major issue emerging from the governorship elections conducted in the Ekiti and Osun States of Nigeria is the presence of heavy security forces during their conduct.

Continue reading ‘Being a military man, our new President inducted the military even for traffic regulation in Colombo. Many unthinkingly found it praiseworthy little realising the doors they were thereby opening widely to the detriment of our democracy.’ »

Remembering Nagalingam Sanmugathasan, Sri Lanka’s first and only hardline communist

By Veeragathy Thanabalasingham

Many of Sri Lanka’s Leftist leaders began their political life in the early part of the last century with the laudable intention of bringing about radical changes in the politics of the country. But within two decades, they had become prisoners of the very past they were trying to break out of.

The lure of power and privilege that came with ministerial and other high level positions in government made them embrace the politics of class compromise and collaboration.

Their reliance on opportunistic shortcuts in the name of “tactics” to attract votes in parliamentary elections had severely damaged the integrity and the future of the Left movement in Sri Lanka.

However, there were a few exceptional leaders on the Left who never succumbed to opportunistic tendencies. Among them was Nagalingam Sanmugathasan, one of the leaders of the country´s communist movement, popularly known as ´Shan´. His birth centenary fell on July 3, 2020.

Continue reading ‘Remembering Nagalingam Sanmugathasan, Sri Lanka’s first and only hardline communist’ »

Why Couldn’t the President or Prime Minister Intervene and Stop the Nonsense of Kumar Sangakkara Being Grilled For 9 to 10 Hours By the Police Over an Unsubstantiated Complaint by a Minister?

By

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Quite recently in a town in Germany—significantly in what used to be West Germany, not formerly communist-run East Germany—a statue of Lenin was erected after a court battle, and made world news. Having been a bit of a Lenin buff myself it reminded me of a Lenin quote which ran “…one crucial event, one critical lesson of the past few weeks…was like a flash of lightning which threw more of a glare upon reality than anything else.” (27 March 1921)

That is a perfect definition of the ‘fake news’ of match-fixing and the questioning of Kumar Sangakkara for nine to 10 hours.

Two cricketing greats were questioned during that week. One, Aravinda de Silva, who was named by Wisden as the World’s Greatest Batsman at a certain point in time. He was questioned for six hours. The other is of course Kumar Sangakkara, whose distinctive contribution to cricket made him the first-ever non-British citizen, and I might add, non-white, to be elected the President of the venerable MCC. (Very few Sri Lankans have broken such glass ceilings—Prof. A.J. Fernando, my maternal uncle, elected the first-ever non-white President of the World Confederation of Physiotherapists, was one).

Sangakkara is the world’s most popular and respected Sri Lankan. He is also someone most of us Sri Lankans are proud of, and that’s one of the few things we can agree upon.

Continue reading ‘Why Couldn’t the President or Prime Minister Intervene and Stop the Nonsense of Kumar Sangakkara Being Grilled For 9 to 10 Hours By the Police Over an Unsubstantiated Complaint by a Minister?’ »

How Ex- LTTE Commander “Col”Karuna Was Deported To Sri Lanka in 2008 After Being Arrested, Detained and Convicted in Britain

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj‘

With Parliamentary Elections being scheduled for 5 August, most political parties and independent groups contesting the polls have commenced their respective campaigns in a big way. The hopelessly-divided chief Opposition, seemingly bereft of valid issues to raise, has eagerly seized upon the ‘Karuna Amman admission of Elephant Pass killings’ to target the SLPP Government.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and ‘Karuna’ Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan

It is well-known that Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan alias Karuna, former Eastern Regional Commander of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who broke away from the Tigers in 2004, actively collaborated with the armed forces, after Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected President in 2005. The services rendered by Karuna and his Tiger breakaway group known was of immense value to the ruling regime in successfully prosecuting the war against the LTTE then.

Continue reading ‘How Ex- LTTE Commander “Col”Karuna Was Deported To Sri Lanka in 2008 After Being Arrested, Detained and Convicted in Britain’ »

How “Col” Karuna’s Eastern Tiger Revolt Was Crushed By LTTE Chief Prabhakaran

by D.B.S.JEYARAJ

Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan alias “Karuna Amman” a.k.a. “Col” Karuna has got himself into hot water by shooting his mouth off at an election meeting in the East. The former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) commander for the Batticaloa and Amparai districts who defected from the tigers after revolting against former LTTE supremo Veluppillai Prabhakaran in 2004 later collaborated with the Sri Lankan armed forces and played a crucial role in the military defeat of his erstwhile organization.

Prabhakaran and Karuna

He was amply rewarded by the Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Govts which nominated him as national list MP twice, appointed him twice as Deputy – minister of National Integration and Rehabilitation and even made him a vice-president of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party(SLFP) then.

Currently Karuna Ammaan is the chief candidate on the Amparai District list of the ‘Ahila Ilankai Thamizh Maha Sabha’ (All Ceylon Greater Tamil Council). With an intense election campaign being conducted , political party speakers and propagandists are engaged in banter and riposte with each other giving as good as they get. So when the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) Chairman of the Karaitheevu Pradeshiya Sabha Krishnapillai Jeyacyril stated Karuna was more deadly than the corona pandemic, Karuna too responded at another meeting.
Continue reading ‘How “Col” Karuna’s Eastern Tiger Revolt Was Crushed By LTTE Chief Prabhakaran’ »

Karuna Ammaan’s Boast of Killing 2000-3000 Soldiers in One Night at Elephant Pass.

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Vinayagamoorthi Muraleetharan alias “Karuna Amman” a.k.a. “Col” Karuna is currently very much in the news. The former Eastern Regional Leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who broke away from the LTTE in 2004 and collaborated with the Sri Lankan armed forces in combatting the Veluppillai Prabhakaran-led Tigers appears to be in trouble today due to shooting his mouth off at an election meeting.

Pic taken on March 8, 2004-Karuna with cadres after the split~(pic~courtesy: Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai)

The LTTE’s eastern warlord’s defection along with thousands of cadres weakened the Tigers considerably then. Furthermore, the information and assistance provided by Karuna and his band of erstwhile Eastern Tigers was of immense value to the Sri Lankan armed forces in their fight against the LTTE at that time.

Yet, all that seems forgotten today as many voices bay for Karuna’s blood over a provocative statement he allegedly made where he reportedly claimed to have killed 2,000-3,000 soldiers in one night at Elephant Pass.

Continue reading ‘Karuna Ammaan’s Boast of Killing 2000-3000 Soldiers in One Night at Elephant Pass.’ »

President Rajapaksa must get Mahindananda Aluthgamage to apologise in his presence to at least the three senior cricketers, Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara for the damage Caused by this Shameless Politician

By

Neil Perera

(former Honorary Secretary BCCSL and Manager of several Sri Lanka Cricket teams)

The outburst of Mahindananda Aluthgamage, about alleged match fixing in the 2011 Cricket World Cup final, has received wide publicity in the sporting world, so much so that an article has appeared in a newspaper of a relatively unknown cricket playing country, Kenya. An extract of a news item that appeared in one of the Kenyan newspapers, reads as follows: “Headline – Sangakkara grilled in World Cup probe” – “Sri lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara was questioned for nearly 10 hours by detectives probing explosive allegations that the 2011 World Cup Final was fixed under his captaincy. Sangakkara, 42, was called into the Police Special Investigating Unit examining the conduct of the Final, which Sri Lanka lost to India in Mumbai.”

“I came here to give a statement because of my responsibility to the game and respect for cricket,” Sangakkara said after his questioning by the detectives. “I hope that at the end of this investigation the truth about the allegations, made by former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage, will come out”.

Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa must get Mahindananda Aluthgamage to apologise in his presence to at least the three senior cricketers, Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara for the damage Caused by this Shameless Politician’ »

“If President Rajapaksa signs the MCC agreement he will commit political suicide” – Federation of National Organisations

By

Arjuna Ranawana

A Nationalist organisation is saying that if President Gotabaya Rajapaksa signs the controversial Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) he will “be committing political suicide.”

Addressing a press conference in Colombo, on Tuesday, July 7, the General Secretary of the Patriotic National Movement Dr Wasantha Bandara said it is clear the President will not enter into this agreement.

The press conference held in Colombo was organized by the Federation of National Organisations, of which Bandara is a member.

Bandara told EconomyNext today July 8 that the committee the President appointed to review the United States funded MCC agreement comprised people who vocally opposed the deal when the former government was moving towards signing up.

He said Professor Lalithasiri Gunaruwan who headed the committee reported correctly about the agreement that it violates the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

Continue reading ‘“If President Rajapaksa signs the MCC agreement he will commit political suicide” – Federation of National Organisations’ »

Premature Explosion of Bomb at House of Rehabilitated Ex-LTTE couple in Iyakkachchi Leads to Uncovering of Plan by Group of ex-LTTE cadres and Youths to Mark “Black Tigers Day” in Mullaitheevu on July 5th;Two Bombs and Detonators Discovered;Injured Husband Taken to Anuradhapura While Teacher Wife is Arrested

By Dinasena Rathugamage

The bomb which exploded prematurely in a house at Iyakkachchi, Kilinochchi, on Saturday, was to be taken among other things to Mullaithivu for a clandestine operation to mark the Black Tiger day, which fell on Sunday, according to police.

The first Black Tiger, Vallipuram Vasanthan, drove a small truck laden with explosives into the army camp at Nelliady, Jaffna on 5 July 1987, killing himself and some soldiers. Immediately afterwards, LTTE cadres stormed the camp overwhelming the stunned soldiers.

Investigators said a group of former LTTE cadres and several youth in Kilinochchi had been planning to mark the Black Tiger Day.

Continue reading ‘Premature Explosion of Bomb at House of Rehabilitated Ex-LTTE couple in Iyakkachchi Leads to Uncovering of Plan by Group of ex-LTTE cadres and Youths to Mark “Black Tigers Day” in Mullaitheevu on July 5th;Two Bombs and Detonators Discovered;Injured Husband Taken to Anuradhapura While Teacher Wife is Arrested’ »

A new constitution by itself is no panacea for Tamils as Federalism is a “no go” area for President Rajapaksa but there are a host of other “doables”.

By

Col R Hariharan

Election contretemps

The much debated and delayed Sri Lanka parliamentary election is now scheduled to be held on August 5. After missing two dates set earlier for the election, after the disposal of eight fundamental rights cases, the Election Commission (EC) announcement came with a lot of conditions on conduct of campaigning as well as the elections, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each general election has its own flavor; but never before Sri Lanka had to conduct an election when the administration was fighting a global pandemic threatening the country. This makes the present election extraordinary because the Covid-19 pandemic has dislocated normal life and queered the pitch of usual election narratives of political parties.

However, the gods seem to be favouring President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the Covid pandemic is showing signs of being tamed. The virus strike rate started falling by end of May and as on June 30, it stands at 2042 cases with only 10 deaths, according to WHO statistics. This is a record any nation can be proud of; and it comes in handy to boost the election prospects of the President’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). Yet another good news for the public was the lifting of the curfew imposed to contain the pandemic from March 20 onwards; the day-long curfew had continued for more than a month, before the timings were modified to night times in most of the areas.

The election will test the ability of the Election Commission (EC) and the administration to conduct it as per the health guidelines to control the spread of the virus.

Continue reading ‘A new constitution by itself is no panacea for Tamils as Federalism is a “no go” area for President Rajapaksa but there are a host of other “doables”.’ »

President Rajapaksa Appoints Five Member Committee to Examine and Report on Developing the State -run Jaya Container Terminal and the East Container Terminal to be Constructed Together With India and Japan

Wading into the issue of the East Container Terminal (ECT), President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday appointed a five-member committee to examine and report on how to develop both the State-run Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) and the new ECT of the Colombo Port.

The committee is headed by Ministry of Ports and Shipping Secretary M.M.P.K. Mayadunne, Ministry of Industrial Export and Investment Promotion Secretary M.P.D.U.K. Mapa Pathirana, Ministry of Roads and Highways Secretary R.W.R. Pemasiri, Ministry of Power and Energy Secretary Wasantha Perera and Sri Lanka Ports Authority Chairman Gen. (Retd) R.M. Daya Ratnayake are the other members of the committee.

The committee, according to the President’s Media Division (PMD), has been tasked with examining several issues including the procurement procedure and related concerns with regard to the development of JCT, assess Jaya Containment of the compliance to the Cabinet decision, and the observation of the Minister of Finance connected with the Cabinet Decision dated 26 July 2017, on enhancing the deep berth capacity and modernisation of the Jaya Container Terminal (JCT) of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and also examine as to why JCT was not developed prior to ordering of required machinery.

Continue reading ‘President Rajapaksa Appoints Five Member Committee to Examine and Report on Developing the State -run Jaya Container Terminal and the East Container Terminal to be Constructed Together With India and Japan’ »

“The constitutional proposals in Sajith Premadasa’s manifesto are identical to the proposals in the draft constitution tabled in Parliament by UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe in early 2019” – Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa

(Text of a media release issued on July 5th 2020 by the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa under the heading “SJB a cat’s paw of communalistic political parties”)

The leader of the newly formed Samagi Jana Balawegaya was the UNP presidential candidate in 2019. The manifesto that Sajith Premadasa issued for the presidential election titled in Sinhala ‘Sri Lankawe idirigamanata seemawak netha, ekwa gamana yamu’ had a chapter titled ‘Janathawage Vyawasthawa’ on pages 15-16 which contained the following proposals.

• Replacing the word ‘unitary’ with the formulation ‘undivided and indivisible’ in describing the Sri Lankan state.

• Devolving the powers of the central government to the provinces to the maximum extent possible.

• Creating a second chamber of Parliament made up of provincial council representatives to further limit the powers of the central legislature.

• Abolishing the exclusive financial powers of Parliament and allowing provincial councils to raise funds independently.

• Placing the district secretaries and divisional secretaries under the purview of the provincial councils.

• Setting up a separate constitutional court to adjudicate in disputes between the central government and the provincial councils.

The constitutional proposals in Sajith Premadasa’s manifesto are identical to the proposals in the draft constitution tabled in Parliament by UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe in early 2019. An essential precondition to the division of this country is to remove from our Constitution the phrase ‘unitary state’ which has a special technical meaning. The international community can then take note of the fact and act accordingly.

Continue reading ‘“The constitutional proposals in Sajith Premadasa’s manifesto are identical to the proposals in the draft constitution tabled in Parliament by UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe in early 2019” – Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Summoning Sri Lanka’s celebrated cricketers Before investigation committee to inquire into a wild allegation by a politician with a sleazy reputation was to simply demonstrate that those who are in the seats of power can humiliate anyone and disparage anyone.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

What does the summoning of Sri Lanka’s celebrated cricketers to appear before a special investigation committee of the Ministry of Sports tasked to inquire into a wild allegation by a former Sports Minister that the 2011 ICC Word Cup cricket final was ‘fixed’ have in common with the ad hoc appointments of Task Forces and Commissions of Inquiry?

Riddle of the Rule of Law

This may seem like the fabled riddle of the Sphinx which, as the ancient legend has it, used to sit outside the city walls of Thebes and ask riddles of anyone who passed by. The most noted of these was the question as to “what goes on four legs at dawn, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening?” Those who could not answer were fated to die by the monster. That is, until Oedipus responded correctly by saying, ‘”man, who as a baby crawls on four legs, then walks on two legs as an adult and in old age walks with a cane as his third leg…,” whereupon it was the Sphinx which became so enraged that it immediately committed suicide.

Those who wish this country well may indeed hope and pray that the citizenry will answer the riddle of the Rule of Law that we face as correctly as Oedipus so that modern political monsters may be consigned to a similar electoral fate as the Sphinx. For answering this riddle at least is not that complicated as the Greek myth. Ridiculous allegations relating to a match played nine years ago by a politician known best for his sleazy reputation was not with the intention of actually following his complaint through but simply to demonstrate that those who are in the seats of power, can humiliate anyone, disparage anyone.

The powerful message conveyed here is not only the fact that the allegation was made, as farcical as that may be but also that, a purported ‘inquiry’ was instituted. And the dropping of this ‘inquiry’ in the face of a public outcry or not, is no reason to cheer as some opposition politicians seem to think.

Continue reading ‘Summoning Sri Lanka’s celebrated cricketers Before investigation committee to inquire into a wild allegation by a politician with a sleazy reputation was to simply demonstrate that those who are in the seats of power can humiliate anyone and disparage anyone.’ »

Electing an MP of one’s choice is a bedrock principle of parliamentary democracy That is now being endangered by the Elections Commission’s actions.

by C.A.Chandraprema

As the parliamentary election campaign gathers momentum, candidates belonging to all political parties are chafing under the Elections Commission’s decision to implement the 1981 elections law to the letter. At this moment, the rule that all candidates are most annoyed with is their inability to display their number so that voters will know who to vote for. Only those with the wherewithal to be able to get their numbers known to the voting public through advertisements in the media will be able to survive such restrictions. But even in such cases, there will be so many such advertisements appearing in the formal media, TV and newspapers, that none will stand out except for those of the richest candidates who will be able to afford longer and more intense coverage.

Last week, this columnist wrote on the Elections Commission’s decision to implement the law to the letter stating that this may motivate Members of the new Parliament to change the law once they are elected. That was due to the fact this writer has been drawing attention to these incongruities and anomalies in the elections law for years. Last week’s column drew some sharp rebukes from politician friends on both sides of the divide. One said that it was all very well for journalists to be discussing the practicalities of the elections law but for those contesting this election, life has become a nightmare. To be sure, there is another side to this story, which has to be laid out. Even veteran politicians who have been contesting elections for years have to inform their constituents about their number so that they can get the required number of preference votes.

It’s nearly 40 years since the Parliamentary Elections Act of 1981 was passed and there is much speculation as to why the Elections Commission decided to implement that law in its entirety at this election when it was never implemented at any previous parliamentary election. For one thing, this is the first time that a parliamentary election is being held by the present Elections Commission, which was appointed only at the end of 2015. Until this Elections Commission was appointed, the work of the Commission was carried out by the Elections Commissioner who was Mahinda Deshapriya. If this election was also being held by him in his capacity as the Elections Commissioner, the greater likelihood is that it would have been held in the old way with certain provisions of the elections law being ignored by an agreement between the Elections Commission and the political party secretaries.

This writer is probably the only journalists who has interviewed all three members of this Elections Commission together. That was on a programme on ART TV some years ago. At that interview, this writer brought up this issue in the parliamentary elections law and it transpired that Mr N.A.Abeysekera one of the members of the present Elections Commission had been in the Legal Draftsman’s department when the 1981 Parliamentary Elections law was drafted. If he had something to with drafting the present elections law, it’s unlikely that he will be happy that sections of the law are being openly ignored by the elections authorities, the police, the political parties and the candidates. So we can perhaps guess where this push to implement the elections law to the letter may have come from.

Continue reading ‘Electing an MP of one’s choice is a bedrock principle of parliamentary democracy That is now being endangered by the Elections Commission’s actions.’ »

Police End Inquiry Into Alleged Match Fixing of 2011 World Cup Final:Match Fixing Allegations by Mahindananda Aluthgamage Rubbished by After Probe by Special Investigations Unit

by Imesh Ranasinghe

The probe into whether the 2011 Cricket World Cup final was fixed so that Sri Lanka would lose launched by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) of the Ministry of Sports is over.

The head of the Chief of the SIU SSP Jagath Fonseka has told Media that the statements of cricketers who were questioned are genuine.

A statement released by Police headquarters at 4:20 pm said no evidence of match-fixing has been revealed.

Continue reading ‘Police End Inquiry Into Alleged Match Fixing of 2011 World Cup Final:Match Fixing Allegations by Mahindananda Aluthgamage Rubbished by After Probe by Special Investigations Unit’ »

Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s Claim of Having Complained to International Cricket Council in 2011 About Match Fixing in 2011 Denied by Head of ICC Anti Corruption Unit Alex Marshall Who Says There is no Record of Any Letter From Sports Minister Then

by Rex Clementine

Hours after Sri Lanka Police announced that they were discontinuing an investigation that the 2011 Cricket World Cup final was fixed, the International Cricket Council issued a statement saying that they had no reason to believe that the final was corrupt or did not feel the need to initiate an inquiry.

Police were instructed to start investigations by the government after former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage claimed that there was foul play in the 2011 final, a close game won by India. Aluthgamage also said that he had asked the ICC in 2011 to investigate the game.

“There is no record of any letter regarding this matter sent by the then Sri Lanka Sports Minister to the ICC,” Head of ICC Anti Corruption Unit Alex Marshall said in a statement.

Continue reading ‘Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s Claim of Having Complained to International Cricket Council in 2011 About Match Fixing in 2011 Denied by Head of ICC Anti Corruption Unit Alex Marshall Who Says There is no Record of Any Letter From Sports Minister Then’ »

Sri Lanka Increases Surveillance along its northern coast following reports of some Sri Lankan refugees in India attempting to return by boats following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic

By

Meera Srinivasan and T.K. Rohit

Sri Lanka has raised surveillance along its northern coast, following reports of some Sri Lankan refugees in India attempting to return by boats following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, authorities in Tamil Nadu denied any large-scale attempts by refugees to leave the country illegally.

“We have alerted the Navy, coastal police, grama sevakas [local administrators]and fisher folk to be alert,” P.S.M. Charles, Governor of the Northern Province, told The Hindu on July 2. “We have received information that some of the refugees are trying to leave India because of the coronavirus situation there. They might just hop on to fishing boats and enter Sri Lanka illegally,” she said.

The Sri Lankan authorities’ apprehension seems to have risen after a father-daughter duo, who were residents of the Pooluvapatti Sri Lankan Refugees’ Camp in Coimbatore, arrived in Sri Lanka from Tamil Nadu by boat early in June. Sri Lankan police took them into custody on arrival and also arrested six other Sri Lankans who “helped them” enter the island.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka Increases Surveillance along its northern coast following reports of some Sri Lankan refugees in India attempting to return by boats following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic’ »

Ilham and Inshaf: Why Did The Ibrahim Brothers Become Suicide Bombers?

By Samanth Subramanian

There’s a video of the exact moment Inshaf Ibrahim decided to abandon his life as a rich young man and turn into a mass murderer. In one sense, he had made up his mind weeks earlier, which was why he was loitering in the Cinnamon Grand hotel’s breakfast buffet on Easter Sunday last year in Colombo, strapped into a knapsack of explosives. Once he arrived, though, he appeared to dither.

Later, investigators picked him out of CCTV footage, standing near a vacant table, wearing a baseball cap and a T-shirt, his back to the camera. In the footage, he moves like a perplexed penguin. Two steps forward, half a step back, a turn, another turn: a choreography of hesitation. Perhaps he is reconsidering?

But no, the investigators concluded; he is waiting for more people to come in. Finally, a microsecond of stillness, arms heavy by his side; then his hands reach toward the front of his waist, and the film goes dark.

Continue reading ‘Ilham and Inshaf: Why Did The Ibrahim Brothers Become Suicide Bombers?’ »

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Tells Tamil Media Representatives That “the TNA did not speak about issues such as lack of drinking water, road development to ensure easy access or issues with regard to overall economic development in the North”


Renewing his pledges to address issues in the North, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said the Government will set up a mechanism to increase investment in the Northern Province to improve living standards in area and support communities still struggling to overcome the impact of the conflict.

The Prime Minister expressed these views during a meeting held with representatives of the Tamil media at Temple Trees.

He acknowledged investors were not keen on investing in the Northern Province and noted the Government will introduce measures to lower the risk for investors and encourage job creation in the region still lagging behind most human development indicators and provincial contribution to the Gross Domestic Production (GDP) even though the conflict ended 11 years ago.

“We are always pushing investors to invest in the North and we have taken measures to lower their risk and increase their returns. When I was in office I introduced several programs to develop infrastructure in the North, which will encourage investors to invest in the Northern Province,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa Tells Tamil Media Representatives That “the TNA did not speak about issues such as lack of drinking water, road development to ensure easy access or issues with regard to overall economic development in the North”’ »

The UN Core Group on Sri Lanka Wants SL to ensure that the country’s democratic space remains open and accountable and callsfor detentions and arrests to follow due process and be compliant with international norms and universal rights


The UN Core Group on Sri Lanka yesterday called on Sri Lanka to ensure that the country’s democratic space remains open and accountable, and called for detentions and arrests to follow due process and be compliant with international norms and universal rights.

UK International Ambassador for Human Rights Rita French delivered this statement on behalf of Canada, Germany, North Macedonia, Montenegro and the UK, who make up the Core Group on Sri Lanka.

She cited the example case of lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah, who has now been detained for almost three months without charge or presentation before the court, and called for an end to impunity for the violations and abuses of the past.

She also reiterates the Group’s profound disappointment at the Government’s decision to no longer support the UN resolution which the previous Government had cosponsored.

Continue reading ‘The UN Core Group on Sri Lanka Wants SL to ensure that the country’s democratic space remains open and accountable and callsfor detentions and arrests to follow due process and be compliant with international norms and universal rights’ »

There is no evidence that any Lankan Muslim turned to armed violence and weapons training against Sinhalese, BEFORE the anti-Muslim agitation by the Bodu Bala Sena


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

The regime’s promises and claims of “putting professional expertise first” is belied by the fact that having placed ex-military brass is in charge of everything from archaeology to agriculture, not to mention virtue—matters in which they have no particular expertise—President Gotabaya Rajapaksa delivered a parade-ground dressing down on prime time TV to the Central Bank economists.

By contrast, one didn’t see on TV news the President upbraiding whoever was responsible for sending the Navy unprotected into anti-corona roundups and on home leave without testing.

The President didn’t seem to know or care that the Central Bank Chief Prof. W.D. Lakshman has been the economics teacher of generations of university students (his Sinhala-language textbook is the standard work), the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo, an authority in his field whose service to the larger field of education and by extension the nation, deserves respect. Any president sets a public example, and should set one of respecting an authentic “guru” (not a fake “viyatha”). That’s a sign of virtue.

As Dr. P.B. Jayasundera would confirm, not even the perfectionist President Premadasa launched a public tirade against experts and top professionals in his employ. Today, an “angry autocrat” style is in.

Continue reading ‘There is no evidence that any Lankan Muslim turned to armed violence and weapons training against Sinhalese, BEFORE the anti-Muslim agitation by the Bodu Bala Sena’ »

Parliament must pass laws that MPs cannot engage in defamation of members of the Election Commission so as to make the EC look the other way out of fear when party leaders wreak havoc.

By

S.Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Our main job on the Election Commission is to uphold election laws and conduct free and fair elections. Of necessity, this involves interdicting election law violations, usually by powerful politicians. Politicians promote the fiction that when they violate the law, we must not name them; that naming them is to violate Commission neutrality. As a result, after the Parliamentary Elections Act was enacted in 1981, there has been no major conviction of a politician, although several violent election violations have occurred during certain polls.

A powerful former militant who successfully attacked Elephant Pass and took it over, issued a video in Nov. 2017 using hate speech on Muslims for electoral gain. A complainant sent me the video and I passed it on to the Commission which in turn sent it to the Police. The matter seemed to have died there because subsequent to crossing over to the government, he has been in favour, working with our governments in alleged atrocities; mainly against Tamil politicians and civilians and hunting the LTTE. He can spill lots of beans.
That militant gentleman is contesting elections and, presumably, is aware that large sections of the Tamil public blame him for his supposed betrayal of the LTTE. He who issued the video in February 2018 to tap into Tamil communalism against Muslims now, as elections near, badly needs that vote again.
The governments in turn have handled him with kid gloves because, if charged with anything, he can reveal the criminal activities in which he allegedly colluded with our governments. So that complaint from Nov. 2017 was in abeyance for two and a half years – until last week. Sinhalese nationalists object to his boast and have to be appeased. The CID Cyber Crimes Division therefore called me and wanted a statement from me on what they called my complaint. Analysts I spoke to say that this testimony they want from me is to scare this writer into silence and tap in turn into Sinhalese communalism. And once the elections conclude, the matter will be dropped because they dare not confront him.

Continue reading ‘Parliament must pass laws that MPs cannot engage in defamation of members of the Election Commission so as to make the EC look the other way out of fear when party leaders wreak havoc.’ »

Had Veluppillai Prabhakaran heeded the advice of Comrade Shanmugathasan he and his militia may not have been obliterated on the banks of the Nandikadal lagoon.

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

Birth Centenary of “Comrade Shan On July 3rd

A political personality must be judged against the backdrop of his/her own time but also viewed with the benefit of hindsight so as to ascertain the more lasting relevance of his/her effort. So it is with Nagalingam Sanmugathasan, better known as N. Sanmugathasan and best known as “Comrade Shan”, the centenary of whose birth falls of July 3rd 2020.

To reverse the usual sequence, let us begin with the time we are living in. Noam Chomsky, the world’s most prominent and influential public intellectual said in a widely quoted recent interview that we are approaching the most dangerous point in human history” He followed it up in a more recent interview on the current wave of protests in the USA saying “The first thing that comes to mind is the absolutely unprecedented scope and scale of participation, engagement, and public support. If you look at polls, it’s astonishing. The public support both for Black Lives Matter and the protests is well beyond what it was, say, for Martin Luther King at the peak of his popularity, at the time of the “I Have a Dream” speech.” (Jacobin magazine June 2020)

In order to understand the historical roots of the strong protest movement –which surveys show has 61% of white participants, though the Black Lives matter movement is the core– the US media has begun to seek out figures from the old Black Panther Party (BPP). Counterpunch magazine recently interviewed Billy X Jennings, Black Panther Party veteran, aide to Huey P Newton, pall-bearer of George Jackson, and BPP archivist, on the subject of the recent protests. In answer to a question he replied: “I would take this back to some learning. When I first joined the BPP I read a book called Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung. Mao said that at some point “a single spark can start a prairie fire”. We are seeing the spark in the streets since Floyd’s murder….”

Mao Zedong was a titan of 20th century history and one of the most consequential history-makers of modern times. He was a great ideological, intellectual and philosophical influence on several generations. Even today, the leading French philosopher Alain Badiou regards himself a Maoist.

Continue reading ‘Had Veluppillai Prabhakaran heeded the advice of Comrade Shanmugathasan he and his militia may not have been obliterated on the banks of the Nandikadal lagoon.’ »

“Karuna may have given up murdering people, but the yahapalana cabal has not given up trying to divide the country” – Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday urged Sri Lankans not to get distracted by minor issues overblown by the opposition like Karuna Amman’s campaign claim that he killed thousands of soldiers in one night at Elephant Pass, but to have the broader picture in mind when it cause to politics.

“If we are able to distinguish what is important from what is unimportant and always have the broader picture in mind, our people will always be the winners”, the Premier said.


The full text of the PM’s speech on “Defeating domestic and foreign conspiracies against Sri Lanka”:

Continue reading ‘“Karuna may have given up murdering people, but the yahapalana cabal has not given up trying to divide the country” – Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

The silence of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka is shameful given that former greats of the profession stood up to the State even in the most chilling of times.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

Governance in Sri Lanka today is transitioning from a constitutional (albeit flawed) system of checks and balances to tugs of war between competing political power centres that are constrained not by the Constitution or statute but by the sheer praxis of force. In that unseemly struggle over which looms the spectre of a militarised command hierarchy, civil liberties of individuals will receive short shrift. We see that with powerful effect today.

Transition to a state of exceptionalism

This transition must be clearly acknowledged so that expectations as well as strategies thereto are tailored to its crude realities. This would apply across the board, including to conventional beliefs regarding the promise of impartial justice on constitutional principle. Lamentations therefore when the Bench fails to deliver are useless. Let me be clear. This is not to downgrade constitutional institutions or to minimise the high importance of voices of conscience who make themselves heard above the political din, the cowardice or the self serving interests of their colleagues.

One such example was the Fort Magistrate who, this week, prevented officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) from showing photographs of an attorney, arrested under the country’s anti-terrorism law, to children before the lawyer was produced to the children in an identification parade. According to the CID, the suspect had been allegedly indoctrinating the children in jihadist ideology. That clear violation of the law was stayed and the identification parade was consequently cancelled.

Continue reading ‘The silence of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka is shameful given that former greats of the profession stood up to the State even in the most chilling of times.’ »

Should the leader of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka not have the right to make statements that relate to the politics in the country, which will affect voting by Catholics?

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

The restrictions of Covid-19 have not removed the enthusiasm of the General Election, with statements by non-leader candidates drawing more attention than huge crowds at meetings or the distribution of goodies among voters. Karuna Amman and Harin Fernando are the main players in the current political drama.

The Elections Commission has controlled the crowd size at meetings, and certainly moved to stop the goodie spread, with its move to stop former president and present SLPP candidate Sirisena, distributing scholarships to students and having tea with older supporters in Polonnaruwa.

Karuna Amman, alias Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, was a Tamil Tiger fighter for over 20 years and a regional LTTE leader as well. Later, he was the leader of a breakaway faction of the LTTE – the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pukkal – and mind you, also a National List MP of the Mahinda Rajapaksa UPFA government, Minister of National Integration and a Vice President of the SLFP. That is his great spread of politics in Sri Lanka, after the years in terrorist combat and leadership.

He has taken pride in being more dangerous than the Covid-19, and greater pride in telling that he killed more than 3000 army soldiers at Elephant Pass and other battlegrounds of the LTTE. The CID has now recorded a statement from him on this soldier-killing saga. But, why did the CID have to bother about this at all. Does the Police not know that loud, screaming or even shrieking boasts are part of the electoral politics of Sri Lanka?

Oh yes, the boast here was about 3000 soldiers killed. There are louder calls now for the death sentence to be imposed on this brutal killer, even though that sentence is suspended in the country.

Continue reading ‘Should the leader of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka not have the right to make statements that relate to the politics in the country, which will affect voting by Catholics?’ »

Many of Mangala Samaraweera’s “New Deal” Proposals are at variance with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision for the country as spelled out in his 2019 elections manifesto.

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

Former minister Mangala Samaraweera’s decision not to contest the upcoming parliamentary election, despite his name being on the candidates list, is unlikely to have been an arbitrary one. Samaraweera is not the type of politician to fade into oblivion simply based on the chance that he may lose. An advocate of far-reaching neoliberal reforms, his leanings towards a pro-US foreign policy are well known. A high point being his signing up to make Sri Lanka a co-sponsor of a US-led anti-Lanka resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in 2015, when he was foreign minister. In all likelihood Samaraweera has a clear political plan in mind, for which he has powerful backers.

Days before his announcement to the people of Matara that he was stepping down from parliamentary politics, and asking them not to tick his name on the ballot paper, Samaraweera issued a wordy statement on his proposals for economic reform. Titled ‘A New Deal for Sri Lanka,’ it described, in apocalyptic tones, a picture of doom and gloom that he said the country was facing, soon to manifest in conditions of mass unemployment, debt and hunger. For the first time, a default on sovereign debt was expected, he said. In the electoral context, it remains unclear to which faction the former finance minister will hitch his political fortunes.

Fast-tracking the MCC

Two days after the New Deal statement, on 9th June, the Sri Lanka police carried out a brutal assault, followed by arrests, of a group they said planned to stage a demonstration near the US Embassy in Colpetty, over the murder of George Floyd, an African-American, by a White police officer in Minneapolis, USA. Video footage that went viral showing the man being suffocated under a policeman’s knee, shocked the conscience of the world. It triggered unprecedented protests in cities across the USA and Europe, that drew tens of thousands of multi-racial protestors for days on end.

The incident also triggered renewed debate over the structural aspects of racism and police violence in neoliberal society. Floyd was not the first such victim. “In the dominant narrative, the debate is framed in terms of “racist policemen” or African Americans that ‘do not respect the police,’” wrote Silvia Arana in a 2016 article in ‘Latin America in Movement’ website. “But the reality is that the racism and the abuse of police power fulfill a vital function for the neoliberal system: the police are used to repress poor African-American communities, with the aim of avoiding any form of rebellion in the face of the sacking of resources and the concentration of wealth in the hands of the elites.”

Continue reading ‘Many of Mangala Samaraweera’s “New Deal” Proposals are at variance with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision for the country as spelled out in his 2019 elections manifesto.’ »

All Candidates Suffering Under irrational and inexplicable restrictions Imposed by Current parliamentary elections law Who Get Elected to Parliament Must Get Together And Enact Much Needed Amendments to Election Law

by C.A. Chandraprema

An issue that this writer has been highlighting in this newspaper from time to time for the past several years has now finally come home to roost and how! Today it has become a national issue affecting the candidates of all political parties in the country. This Parliamentary election will have to be fought strictly according to the rules laid down in the Parliamentary Elections Act of 1981. One cartoonist aptly portrayed the situation by depicting the present election as a situation where all contestants are standing by to participate in a swimming contest with their hands tied behind their backs and with the Chairman of the Elections Commission with the whistle to signal the start. Another cartoonist depicted a candidate putting up a poster of himself with his number in his own bedroom because the Elections Commission has banned the display of posters everywhere else.

The evening news bulletins showed one candidate in the Badulla district, being forced to remove stickers advertising his candidacy on a vehicle. A previous news bulletin showed a car that had been ‘caught’ by the police for no other reason than it had stickers advertising a candidate. Last Thursday’s Divaina reported former Parliamentarian P.Harrison as having told supporters that he will have a picture of the Chairman of the Elections Commission with his (Harrison’s) number put up in his office so that the Elections Commission will not be able to take it down. On Thursday, officials from the Elections Commission visited the headquarters of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya in Colombo and ordered them to remove images of Sajith Premadasa from the signs on the building because he is a candidate contesting the election. Former Minister Ajith P. Perera was shown standing in front of the SJB headquarters complaining that the new rules imposed by the Elections Commission were very unreasonable.

SLPP candidate Indika Anuruddha was shown on the TV news bulletins expressing his perplexity as to why all these restrictions are being applied at this election when such restrictions were not applied at previous elections.

Continue reading ‘All Candidates Suffering Under irrational and inexplicable restrictions Imposed by Current parliamentary elections law Who Get Elected to Parliament Must Get Together And Enact Much Needed Amendments to Election Law’ »

A tongue lashing by the President of senior officials in the banking sector may please those who want the President to exercise dictatorial powers in governance.

by Prof. Savitri Goonesekere

During the last few weeks, the media has paid a great deal of attention to fundamental rights cases filed in our Supreme Court. The electronic media, typically expressed half-truths or incorrect information on what these cases were about. Sadly, but perhaps not unexpectedly, opposition parties who should have been concerned with the matter, failed to contradict the toxic messages on the TV, regarding this litigation in the Supreme Court.

Most people thought that the petitioners were just being nasty, trying to prevent a General Election, and challenging the President’s right to dissolve Parliament. Opinions expressed, in analyzing the legal provisions were either dismissed as irrelevant legal jargon, or another contribution to partisan politics.

When the Supreme Court dismissed all the petitions, on June 2, 2020, after long hearings, without giving reasons, there was closure on the debate. Their Lordships had expressed a unanimous opinion that all the petitions had no merit, and that was the end of the matter.

Some of us, analyzing the issue of postponed elections and incapacity to summon a new Parliament, due to Covid 19, requested the President in public appeals to act under Article 70 (7) of the Constitution.

Continue reading ‘A tongue lashing by the President of senior officials in the banking sector may please those who want the President to exercise dictatorial powers in governance.’ »

Milinda Moragoda urges political parties to consider abolishing the Provincial Council system

Milinda Moragoda, Founder of the Pathfinder Foundation and former Cabinet Minister, called on political parties to clearly state their positions on the Provincial Council system in their policy platforms for the forthcoming general elections. He urges parties to consider repealing the 13th Amendment, thereby abolishing the Provincial Council system.

Moragoda reiterated his earlier proposal that the Provincial Councils should be abolished and power be directly devolved to empowered and reconfigured local, urban and municipal councils, since these bodies operate closest to the citizenry, and are thus in a better position to address and solve community-level problems.

Continue reading ‘Milinda Moragoda urges political parties to consider abolishing the Provincial Council system’ »

Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake asks CID Officers to Leave His Chambers After They Tried to Show Photographs of Arrested Lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah To Children Prior to Recording Statements From Them; Identification Parade with 10 Child Witnesses Cancelled Due to Defence Lawyers Protesting Against Exercise to “Legitimise an Illegal Process.”

Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayaka said in open court that officers of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had attempted to show photographs of Hejaaz Hizbullah at his chambers prior to the recording of statements from two children.

When the matter was taken up before Dissanayake on 24 June, he told Hizbullah’s lawyers that prior to the recording of the statements from the two children, this attempt had been made: “I want to reveal this. The CID officers tried to show pictures and I had to tell them to leave the Chamber.”

Two children had made “voluntary statements” on 12 May to the Magistrate on camera regarding Hizbullah. An identification parade was to be held including Hizbullah with 10 children being summoned as witnesses to identify Hizbullah.

Continue reading ‘Fort Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake asks CID Officers to Leave His Chambers After They Tried to Show Photographs of Arrested Lawyer Hejaaz Hizbullah To Children Prior to Recording Statements From Them; Identification Parade with 10 Child Witnesses Cancelled Due to Defence Lawyers Protesting Against Exercise to “Legitimise an Illegal Process.”’ »

Gotabaya a Standalone President Acting Extra-Constitutionally Without a Parliament

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

JR Jayewardene and Gotabaya Rajapaksa:A tale of Two Executive Presidents – Part Three

The entry of Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa into the presidential race in 2019 brought about a paradigm shift in the mode and manner of contesting elections by major political party fielded presidential candidates. In the past all candidates who fancied themselves as prospective executive presidents paid special attention to minority community parties and voters in Sri Lanka. Gotabaya Rajapaksa changed all that in practice.

Many reasons in favour of an elected executive president were trotted out by the J.R. Jayewardene-led United National Party (UNP) Government in 1978 when it introduced the executive president system to Sri Lanka. One of the plus points mentioned was that the executive presidency was advantageous to the numerical minority ethnicities of the country. This assertion that the executive presidency was beneficial to the minority communities of Sri Lanka did have a certain degree of validity.

Continue reading ‘Gotabaya a Standalone President Acting Extra-Constitutionally Without a Parliament’ »

If the Incumbent Lankan Regime with its ‘Asiatic Authoritarian-militarist mode’ is Perceived by India and the US as having Transitioned to a category of China’s “most favoured” States Like Pakistan,Cambodia and Myanmar the Consequences could be Unfavourable.

By

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

It was hardly a textbook example of the “correct handling of contradictions” (Mao). Future historians may conclude that the achievable dream of the 21st century as an Asian Age in a multipolar world order, died in mid-June 2020 in the Himalayas, in the Galwan valley in Ladakh.

The ferocious and lamentable clash between India and China with its tragic loss of lives is probably unlikely to escalate into armed conflict, but it marks a parting of the ways; the relationship will never be the same again. This rift will impact a number of important world forums and initiatives negatively. More fundamentally, it is certain to have inaugurated a fairly prolonged if low-intensity Cold War in Asia which will significantly impact and reshape global alignments and the overall strategic balance of forces in all regions, and most critically, the strategic dynamics in our own South Asian region.

World history today is being driven and will be driven in the foreseeable future by the relationship between the Great Powers—the USA, China and Russia—and the role that the Big Powers like India and emergent powers like Iran, Turkey and Indonesia play in relation to that Grand Triangle.

Continue reading ‘If the Incumbent Lankan Regime with its ‘Asiatic Authoritarian-militarist mode’ is Perceived by India and the US as having Transitioned to a category of China’s “most favoured” States Like Pakistan,Cambodia and Myanmar the Consequences could be Unfavourable.’ »

Premadasa Impeachment Move Showed That a President Facing a Hostile Parliament was Vulnerable.

by D.B.S.Jeyaraj

JR Jayewardene and Gotabaya Rajapaksa: A Tale Of Two Executive Presidents -Part Two

Junius Richard Jayewardene’s reign as Executive President which began in 1978 came to an end in 1988. Even at the tail-end of his tenure, the grandmaster of political chess did toy with the idea of contesting for a third term by amending the Constitution again. Fortunately, for all concerned, such an eventuality did not occur.


JR was dissuaded from taking the extreme step of contesting a third time. He was 82 and his wife Elena was determined that JR should retire from politics. JR too was so inclined. By July 1988, it became known among close confidantes that JR was not going to contest again. But in a tactical move to keep the SLFP guessing and presidential aspirants in the UNP quiet, JR kept the question of his contesting again wide open for a long time.

Continue reading ‘Premadasa Impeachment Move Showed That a President Facing a Hostile Parliament was Vulnerable.’ »

Five Inernational Organizations Call Upom Sri Lankan authorities to stop targeting, intimidating, and harassing journalist Dharisha Bastians and her family and Ensure Their Safety

(Text of a Media Communique Released by the Human Rights Watch of a Joint Statement Issued by the Amnesty International,Committee to Protect Journalists, Front Line Defenders. Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders on behalf of Beleaguered Sri Lankan Senior Journalist Dharisha Bastians)

The Sri Lankan authorities should stop targeting, intimidating, and harassing journalist and woman human rights defender, Dharisha Bastians, and her family. The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Front Line Defenders condemn this assault on human rights and press freedom in Sri Lanka and call on the Sri Lanka Police to immediately stop the harassment and ensure Bastians’ safety.

Bastians is being targeted by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in its investigation into what the Sri Lankan government maintains is a false claim of abduction by an employee of the Swiss Embassy. Swiss officials assert that the incident took place. Since December 2019, the CID has tried to link Bastians, and several others, to an inquiry into the alleged false accusation by the Swiss employee, seemingly attempting to prove some form of conspiracy. Pro-government media have conducted a campaign against Bastians and her family, supported by attacks on social media, labeling her a traitor and criminal.

Bastians is the former editor of the Sunday Observer newspaper, a state-owned English language weekly. She is also a contributor to the New York Times. Bastians has written extensively on human rights, militarization, corruption, religious freedom, democracy, and political rights in Sri Lanka. Her writing has consistently highlighted the struggles of people targeted by successive governments, especially religious and ethnic minorities.

Continue reading ‘Five Inernational Organizations Call Upom Sri Lankan authorities to stop targeting, intimidating, and harassing journalist Dharisha Bastians and her family and Ensure Their Safety’ »

JR Jayewardene and Gotabaya Rajapaksa: A Tale Of Two Executive Presidents

By
D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was sworn in as Executive President on 18 November 2019 has been in office for six months now. He has been compelled to cope – and continues to cope – with several challenges during his brief but eventful tenure.

However, it is not my intention to evaluate Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidential performance in this article. Instead I would like to focus on how the nature of the executive presidency has undergone transformation in a very unique mode in the past few months that he has been in office.

Due to exceptional circumstances, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is arguably Sri Lanka’s first “standalone Executive President not dependent on the Legislature” today. In this he may have surpassed even the presidential vision of Junius Richard Jayewardene who introduced the presidential system of government in 1978. Jayewardene, known popularly as “JR,” envisaged the powerful presidency functioning in tandem with Parliament. Even though JR wanted a president not dependent on Parliament, he always acted through Cabinet and Parliament and preserved the parliamentary system without trying to operate outside it.
Continue reading ‘JR Jayewardene and Gotabaya Rajapaksa: A Tale Of Two Executive Presidents’ »

COVID-19 has compelled us to ask questions about leaders and leadership. What kind of leaders do we have?

By Krishantha Prasad Cooray

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You can take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”_ — Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was a rare leader. It would be hard to imagine two individuals like Mandela inhabiting the earth at the same time. In fact, very few countries can boast of several leaders like him in their respective histories. This rarity is probably why he is celebrated not just in South Africa but the world over. Nelson Mandela is the leader every country wants to have but doesn’t. The Nelson Mandela yearning gains greater currency when the world, a nation or even a political party faces a serious leadership crisis.

It can be said with certainty today that COVID-19 not only took the world by surprise but threw it into confusion and even chaos. Unexpected turns of events can do that, but if humankind has overcome adversity that arrives unexpectedly and in magnitudes of this nature, more often than not it is because of resolute leadership.

COVID-19 exposed a lot of weaknesses and errors in multiple spheres of humanity but none so stark as our lack of good leadership. There was no global response to speak of. The World Health Organization, for all its good intentions, was caught wrong-footed. The leaders of powerful nations quickly opted to play a blame-game, pointing fingers at each other. Naturally, while there was no concerted global effort to combat the pandemic, individual countries, including the economically powerful, floundered.

Continue reading ‘COVID-19 has compelled us to ask questions about leaders and leadership. What kind of leaders do we have?’ »

The Plot Within the TNA Targeting Party Spokesman Sumanthiran

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Mathiaparanan Abraham Sumanthiran was in the eye of a raging political storm some weeks ago due to a YouTube interview given by the 56-year-old President’s Counsel cum politician to the “Truth with Chamuditha” show. A few of the questions and answers in Sinhala were picked up by a Tamil TV – reportedly aligned to a northern politician which allegedly mistranslated the words of Sumanthiran with a mischievous slant. This in turn led to a cacophony of angry voices over mainstream Tamil media and social media — within and outside Sri Lanka — berating the former Jaffna district parliamentarian and accredited spokesperson of the Tamil National Alliance(TNA) and Ilankai Thamil Arasuk Katchi(ITAK) for what he had purportedly stated in the interview.

Political attacks being launched against Sumanthiran is nothing new. The lawyer -politician with liberal, relatively-moderate views has been the favourite target of “hawks” on either side of the ethnic divide in the past. The striking difference this time was that much of the attacks emanated from within the TNA in general and the ITAK in particular.Many TNA ex-MP colleagues of Sumanthiran including ITAK leader Somasundaran”Maavai” Senathirajah issued statements critical of Sumanthiran without even contacting their erstwhile fellow parliamentarian to verify facts. This was followed by many Tamil media reports about a series of “consultations” organised by Senathirajah among TNA ex-MPs to discuss the removal of Sumanthiran as party spokesperson and ouster from ITAK.
Continue reading ‘The Plot Within the TNA Targeting Party Spokesman Sumanthiran’ »

The “Crucial flaw” affecting credible investigation into any ‘high profile’ crime in Sri Lanka is its “capture by the political arm of the State”- Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena.

By

Meera Srinivasan

As investigators in Sri Lanka move into the “final stages” of the probe into the April 2019 Easter terror bombings, concerns over apparent lack of adherence to due process have risen from several quarters.

Sri Lanka police recently said they are about to conclude investigations of the deadly serial bombings that claimed 279 lives last year; having arrested over 200 suspects in connection with the case. However, as more arrests make headlines, lawyers, civil society activists and rights groups flag apparent lapses in adherence to the law.

In particular, the April 14 arrest of attorney at law Hejaaz Hizbullah has drawn much attention. The lawyer has been in detention for two months after he was arrested under Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) that civil liberties activists have long wanted repealed. The former Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe government, having promised to repeal the Act, didn’t.

Continue reading ‘The “Crucial flaw” affecting credible investigation into any ‘high profile’ crime in Sri Lanka is its “capture by the political arm of the State”- Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena.’ »

Ex-Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera Writes Letter to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa In Defence of the Central Bank After President Gotabaya Rajapaksa castigates CB Officials Publicly

Sri Lanka’s ex-Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera has come out to defend the central bank after it was slammed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for inaction saying a credit guarantee scheme is needed to help move loans.

Ironically Samaraweera’s economic program was hit by monetary instability in 2018 triggered by pro-cyclical rate cuts and liquidity injections which led to a collapse of the currency in that year, leading a fall in demand, slowing growth and a spike in inflation in 2019 (stagflation).

In an open letter to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is also finance minister Samaraweera said the central bank has taken a number of initiatives after the Coronavirus crisis.

The central bank had cut rates, cut the reserve ratio, bought Treasury bills injecting liquidity and lost foreign reserves.

Continue reading ‘Ex-Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera Writes Letter to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa In Defence of the Central Bank After President Gotabaya Rajapaksa castigates CB Officials Publicly’ »

If President Rajapaksa Continues to Centralise Power in the Presidential Secreariat Like Appointing an ex-DIG an Ombudsman Thereby , Dupicating Constitutional Institutions Then What is the Need For a Constitution in Sri Lanka?

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

If President Gotabaya Rajapaksa can be so bold as to set up institutions running parallel to constitutional bodies situated in his Presidential Secretariat, the consequential question arises as to what need is there of a Constitution for Sri Lanka?

Duplication of constitutional institutions

This query becomes pertinent in regard to the recent appointment of an Ombudsman, a retired Deputy Inspector General (DIG) to boot, tasked with inquiring into public grievances and complaints. That appointment was made despite a constitutional office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman) being functional for decades, albeit historically critiqued in respect of the limitations of that office.

This is even more an insidious undermining of the constitutional process than the appointment of military-led Task Forces to take over manifold civil and policing functions, ranging from building a lawful, disciplined and virtuous nation to protection of archeological sites in the East. We would expect more Task Forces, stuffed with military and police appointees to be on the horizon with all the deadly inevitability of an incoming tidal wave. But even so, to duplicate constitutional institutions is quite another manifestation of the steady creation of an omnipotent centralisation of power in the Presidential Secretariat which has gone largely unremarked.

Continue reading ‘If President Rajapaksa Continues to Centralise Power in the Presidential Secreariat Like Appointing an ex-DIG an Ombudsman Thereby , Dupicating Constitutional Institutions Then What is the Need For a Constitution in Sri Lanka?’ »