Remembering Rex de Silva

By Lasanda Kurukulasuriya

Rex de Silva

Rex de Silva

It’s hard to believe that Rex de Silva is no more, he left us too soon at 74. He bid his last farewell in his typical modest fashion – unbeknownst to many, cremated within hours of his death according to his last wishes. No public announcements, fanfare or ceremony. But that will not lessen the sense of loss to an entire generation of journalists he groomed, to whom he was mentor, role model and friend during his lifetime.

In those days, as Editor in Chief of the (now-defunct) Sun and Weekend newspapers of the Independent Newspapers group, Rex was a larger-than-life presence. Gifted with a combination of traits few can boastof in a ruthless industry, he was as dynamic as he was well-loved by all around him. It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that in the editorial department, all the guys wanted to be like him, and all the girls had a secret (and sometimes not-so-secret) crush on him!

For those who worked with Rex, the image of that super-cool guy striding into office in his trademark blue jeans with camera slung over his shoulder, will be tempered by the knowledge of his unremitting professionalism and commitment. His enthusiasm was infectious. Always accessible to those who sought his counsel, Rex encouraged his protégés to investigate stories fearlessly, never to be afraid to speak ‘truth to power,’ and to ‘tell it like it is’ on the printed page.

As cub reporters he would give us assignments that took us among people from allwalks of life, high and low, and around the country, far and wide. I have heard it said that this was the best ‘journalism class’ anyone could hope to enroll in at the time.

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Japanese Tamil scholar and Authority on Chola Dynasty Rule Noburo Karashima dies of Leukemia aged 82

By

B Sivakumar

Japanese Tamil scholar and former president of the International Tamil Research Association Prof Noburo Karashima died of leukemia on Thursday. He was 82.

“Prof Karashima died of leukemia. He was planning to visit India in January next, but he cancelled the visit and was later hospitalised,” said Y Subbarayulu, a longtime associate of Karashima.

Karashima had served the International Tamil Research Association from 1989 till 2010. He was professor emeritus at University of Japan and Taisho University.

Karashima, a recipient of Padma Shri award, had been associated with Tamil Nadu for several years. He was an authority on Chola period life and literature.

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Mahinda “Gamana”Goes on at 70: How Mahendra Percy Rajapaksa Began his Political Journey

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj

Mahendra Percy Rajapaksa known to the world at large as Mahinda Rajapaksa reached the magical age of 70 on November 18th 2015. The age of seventy or three score and ten regarded as the span of life has a special aura about it. The Bible (psalm 90 verse 10) says “ The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away”.William Shakespeare observes in his “Macbeth” – “Threescore and ten I can remember well: Within the volume of which time I have seen Hours dreadful and things strange; but this sore night Hath trifled former knowings”.

Celebrating the 70th Birthday

Celebrating the 70th Birthday

Mahinda Rajapaksa observed his milepost birthday on a religious note participating in a Bodhi pooja held at Anuradhapura. He was also in Kandy to pay homage to the tooth relic at Dalada Maligawa. The ex-president met with the Diyawadana Nilame of the Dalada Maligawa, Pradeep Nilanga Dela. Thereafter he called on the Anunayake of the Malwatte Chapter, the Ven Niyangoda Vijitha Siri Thera and had a private discussion. The Venerable Thera spoke to the media afterwards and said that, considering what is now taking place in the country, the former president was now seen to be worthy of merit. The former president also paid a courtesy call on the deputy registrar of Asgiriya Chapter, the Ven Narampanawe Ananda Thera.
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Frontline Socialist Party Leader Kumar Gunaratnam’s Mother Rajamani Gunaratnam Writes Letter to President Sirisena Seeking his Intervention

Rajamani Gunaratnam, mother of Frontline Socialist Party Premkumar Gunaratnam, has sought the intervention of President Maithripala Sirisena to sort the issue of her son’s Sri Lankan citizenship.

She has, in a letter to the President, written as follows –

“I am an 80-year-old retired school teacher. I was born in Undugoda in Kegalle and married to Aadimoolam Pillai Gunaratnam born in Jaffna. The fourth child of our marriage is Premakumar Gunaratnam and he was taken into custody on Nov. 04, 2015 and currently held at the Kegalle Remand Prison. Premakumar was born on Nov. 18, 1965 at the Kegalle Government hospital and received his primary education at the St Mary’s College in Kegalle and secondary education from the Pinnawala Central College. He was a student at the Engineering Faculty of the University of Peradeniya.

“My eldest son Ranjithan Gunaratnam, too, was a student at the Engineering Faculty of the Peradeniya University and was also the convener of the Inter University Students’ Federation. While he was engaged in political activities he was abducted in December 1989. We have not received any information about him ever since and not even received a death certificate. Both my sons were taken into custody and were held at detention centers several times.

Continue reading ‘Frontline Socialist Party Leader Kumar Gunaratnam’s Mother Rajamani Gunaratnam Writes Letter to President Sirisena Seeking his Intervention’ »

Only 3 out of 20 LTTE Linked Tamil Prisoners Selected for Release After Rehabilitation are Eligible to be Released says MA Sumanthiran MP.

By P.K.Balachandran

Only three of the twenty LTTE detainees who were earmarked for rehabilitation prior to release are eligible for rehabilitation, says the Tamil National Alliance MP and alliance spokesman, M.A.Sumanthiran.

He told the media here that most of the 20 detainees have more than one case against them and a few have already served their term and are due for full release anyway.

For a detainee to be eligible for rehabilitation, he has to be released from every case. And this will take time. Only three of the 20 have only one case against them and only these three can be released now, Sumanthiran said.

The TNA MP, who is also a senior counsel in the Supreme Court, said that he had pointed these out to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Law and Order and Justice Ministers, and the Attorney General.

He has also told them that the conditions attached to the rehabilitation and release scheme are not acceptable.

Continue reading ‘Only 3 out of 20 LTTE Linked Tamil Prisoners Selected for Release After Rehabilitation are Eligible to be Released says MA Sumanthiran MP.’ »

Samantha Power the US Ambassador to UN Has in Recent Days Really Stirred Things up in Sri Lanka.

By

Taylor Dibbert

In recent days, Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. has really stirred things up in Sri Lanka. She seems to have met virtually all of the key political players and the optics of her visit to the Northern Province were especially good. From the looks of it, Power left the island looking like a bit of a rock star.

While it’s easy to appreciate the fact that her agenda was wide-ranging, it’s important to keep in mind that, in President Barack Obama’s White House, very few people actually have control over foreign policy.

This means that, for the duration of Obama’s time in office, the trajectory of U.S.-Sri Lanka ties will probably be determined by a small group of people. In essence, optics matter, yet let’s not conflate optics with policy.

So where do we go from here?

Continue reading ‘Samantha Power the US Ambassador to UN Has in Recent Days Really Stirred Things up in Sri Lanka.’ »

Comparing and Contrasting Mahinda,Maithripala and Chandrika with Shakespeare’s Caesar,Brutus and Cassius Respectively

By Dr. Kamal Wickremasinghe

The memory of the key event that led to the 2015 regime change––the defection of Maithripala Sirisena from the SLFP a year ago last week––appears to have sunk without trace in the humdrum, moral-free politics of Sri Lanka. The defection that marked the pinnacle of the project to assassinate former president Mahinda Rajapaksa politically is yet to see its completion.

Notwithstanding that, the event that was made spicier by revelations that Sirisena had shared a meal of hoppers with Rajapaksa the previous night, giving rise to howls of ‘traitor’ from Rajapaksa loyalists deserves a bit more attention.

The electoral defeat of Rajapaksa, who appeared invincible until the defection invoked comparisons with the fall of the Roman Dictator Julius Caesar, with many writers attempting to enliven the undertones of treachery by colourising comment with the hackneyed, historically inaccurate Shakespearean quote, Et tu Brute? It was certainly drama that incorporated many dramatic elements such as characters in conflict and tragic or at least painful resolutions that appear to be still unfolding.

The purpose here is to ‘compare and contrast’ the characters, events and the aftermath of the ‘political’ downfall of Rajapaksa with the ‘physical’ assassination of Julius Caesar as portrayed in William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar ( or Julius Caesar) that debuted in 1599, opening the newly-built Globe Theatre in London (burnt to the ground on 29 June 1613).

The play portrays the hatching of conspiracy by 60 Roman senators to assassinate Julius Caesar, and the momentous events that followed the assassination. Although the title is Julius Caesar, the central psychological drama of Shakespeare’s play comprises the inner struggle of its ‘tragic hero’ Marcus Junius “Brutus”prior to joining the conspiracy against his friend Caesar, at the behest of the leader of the plot, his brother in-law Gaius “Cassius” Longinus.

The leading characters of the play – Caesar, Brutus and Cassius certainly had parallels in the Sri Lankan situation, with Rajapaksa, Maithripala Sirisena and Chandrika Bandaranaike comfortably fitting into the roles respectively, albeit with obvious dissimilarities relating to their levels of power and social background, and gender in one case. Such differences however are irrelevant to the character profiles.

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Arrangement to Rehabilitate and Release LTTE Linked Tamil Detenues Runs Into Legal Difficulties

By P K Balachandran

The Sri Lankan government’s plan to send for rehabilitation and eventual release 217 Tamils detained for alleged links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has run into legal difficulties.

On November 17, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP, M A Sumanthiran, had said that government would send the first batch for rehabilitation in ten days.

But, according to the Minister of National Dialogue, Mano Ganeshan, there may be a delay on account of the fact that some prisoners have more than one case against them.

A prisoner might be qualified for rehabilitation and release in one case, but not in another, he explained.

“We are discussing this issue with the Attorney General to find a way out. In a week or so, it may be sorted out,” Ganeshan told Express on Tuesday.

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Of the Four Women Disliked by Mahinda Rajapaksa he Hated Samantha Power the Most.

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

A glance to the past of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Presidency that spanned nearly a decade would reveal that there were four female names he mostly disliked. The first of that four was Chandrika Kumaratunga. The second was United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. The third was United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay. The fourth was former United States Ambassador to Colombo Michele J.Sisson. Of the four, Mahinda mostly hated or disliked Samantha Power. Whenever Mahinda met with his Cabinet colleagues he used to repeat, “That thin woman in the White House is the person who is creating all these problems for me”.

Mahinda incurred heavy expenditure to create a rift between the then United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power working through Lobby Ford entity in the United States and win over Clinton. Mahinda was told by his Advisors on Foreign Affairs and International Relations that during the 2008 election campaign of Barack Obama Samantha Power had described Hillary as a monster and had insulted Hillary noting there was a rift between Samantha and Hillary.

So Mahinda waited till a battle erupted between Samantha and Hillary, but it never occurred. Thereafter, Mahinda pinned hopes on Hillary’s successor John Kerry. Kerry told the Senate that Sri Lanka would get pushed to the lap of China if the United States proceeded with war crimes charges against the South Asian island nation and also stated in a report that such a stance would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. What Mahinda gathered from that situation was that Kerry would overpower Samantha’s powers.

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What was Samantha Power, Doing on a Vsit to Sri Lanka and most Conspicuously Jaffna, where she met the Controversial Chief Minister?


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

“The Tamil guerrilla fighters in Sri Lanka first developed the explosive suicide vest…”

John Gray- ‘The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom’ (2015)

France’s President dubbed Syria “the biggest factory of terrorists the world has ever seen”. In his path-breaking study of suicide terrorism, Chicago’s Prof. Robert Pape concluded that the Tamil Tigers fielded more suicide bombers than all the Islamist groups put together. This makes Sri Lanka’s North and East arguably the “biggest factory” of terrorist suicide bombers the world has ever seen. Yet, in the eyes of the West, the “victims” are mainly in Northern Tamil society, the very “factory” that produced the suicide bombers, is yet unprepared to denounce them and is preparing to commemorate them — while the “internationally accountable” guilty perpetrators are the armed forces from the largely Sinhala South which stopped the suicide bombers!

Ghastly as the savagery unleashed by the ISIS terrorists in Paris was, they didn’t wittingly slaughter children and babies, whereas in countless pre-dawn raids over decades, marauding Tigers stabbed and slashed to death sleeping infants and their mothers in “border villages”. In the West, citizens of cities hit by suicide bombing terrorists are rightly recognized as the innocent victims and counselled for post-traumatic stress disorder while in Sri Lanka the focus of Western and West-funded “psychosocial” concern are precisely the zones — the lair — from which the suicide bombers swarmed, rather than the ones they targeted. The North and East are regarded as “former conflict zones”, not the island as a whole and still less the Southern two-thirds, including Colombo.

President Hollande correctly called the challenge by the “ISIS army” a “war” and pledged to be “merciless” in “eradicating” terrorism. He denounced the “barbarians of Daesh”. French PM Manuel Valls says France “has an enemy, and that is radical Islamism”. When Sri Lanka strove to “eradicate terrorism” the West warned of a bloodbath and tried to stop us. Any suggestion that the Tigers were “barbarians” and that Sri Lanka’s “enemy” is or was “radical Tamil secessionism” would be labelled racist discourse against reconciliation. Recall that Gaddafi was framed for genocidal intent towards Benghazi when he pledged on TV to “mercilessly eradicate the terrorists”. His country was bombed and he was lynched. The terrorists later stormed the US embassy and murdered the Ambassador. Now the US has no embassy in the Libya it ‘liberated’.

However, the US seems to have two Ambassadors to little Sri Lanka. What was Samantha Power, the US Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN New York and the Security Council, doing on a visit to Sri Lanka and most conspicuously Jaffna, where she met the controversial Chief Minister? The UN is a multilateral posting, and unlike UN officials, UN ambassadors don’t visit countries (member states) unless specifically accredited to them. In Jaffna, Ambassador Power opined that “demilitarization…in the Northern province could not wait”. (Daily FT, Nov 23)

Continue reading ‘What was Samantha Power, Doing on a Vsit to Sri Lanka and most Conspicuously Jaffna, where she met the Controversial Chief Minister?’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa Will be Remembered for Saving the Country even if Found Guilty of Heinous Wrongdoings.

By

Gomin Dayasri

Friends of Yahapalanaya (good governance) are hard to find and an extinguished breed. Needs to search vainly among the coterie enjoying the spill-offs from the gravy train to spot an unseen, unheard chump. Most holding appointments are not the squeaky clean. The genuine good governance supporters have left in dismay after watching it sorrowfully unfold.

Easy as train spotting. See it all on the road and watch the fuel burnt in official vehicles carrying good governance lightweights on their worthless meanderings without checks. Holding such high office are names that have not earned value or without a touch of class. Many are nobodies of some bodies.

Dismissed collectively as political upstarts by a hostile public, conscious of the rising public debt, as prices escalate on market shelves and coins collect and notes disappear in tired wallets. A few do contribute but are tarred by the same brush. Public over the years has been accustomed to seeing mighty corporations melt due to political foolery, irrespective of the government in office. These peddlers of power come from the same nurseries. A cause for anger, on seeing wastage, corruption, nepotism, and inefficiency – is understandable. Yahapalanaya is the same old song, sung again to a new tune by the same croaky voices.

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Will be Remembered for Saving the Country even if Found Guilty of Heinous Wrongdoings.’ »

Samantha Power Appeals to Lankan Leaders to Stop Being Governed by Fear in Thought and Action

By

Dharisha Bastians

United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power yesterday urged Sri Lankans to be less fearful of digging into a complicated past and turned introspective as she denounced current divisive political rhetoric in her own country in the wake of the Paris attacks, as “outrageous”.

“Fear is a bad advisor,” Ambassador Power said quoting UN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was killed in a suicide attack in Iraq in 2003, as she addressed a town hall style gathering for Sri Lankan youth at the JDA Gallery in Colombo last

“The fear that is we dig too deep to a painful past, the pursuit of a bright future might be lost; the fear that certain liberties come at the expense of security are perfectly understandable and reasonable,” she said, in reference to Sri Lanka’s own struggle with coming to terms with the legacy of a painful civil conflict.

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South Asian Muslims in ISIS are Treated as Being Inferior to Arab Fighters and are Tricked into Deployment on Suicide Missions

Dreaded terrorist group ISIS does not consider South Asian Muslims, including Indians, good enough to fight in conflict zone of Iraq and Syria and treated as inferior than Arab fighters but often tricks them and push into suicide attacks.

According to an intelligence report prepared by foreign agencies and shared with Indian agencies, fighters from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh as well as certain countries like Nigeria and Sudan are considered inferior to Arab fighters.

There appears to be clear hierarchy wherein the Arab fighters are preferred as officer cadre and provided better arms and ammunition, equipment, accommodation and salaries.

“The fighters from South Asia are usually housed in groups in small barracks and are paid less than the Arab fighters and are provided inferior equipment,” the input says.

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Should Laws be Enacted to Protect Estimated 50,000 Sex Workers in Sri Lanka From Violence and Harassment?

by

Hasini Rupasinghe

Despite the reluctance to openly discuss this subject, is evident that sex workers are abundant in contemporary Sri Lanka. Although they are condemned in terms of cultural and religious aspects, their existence cannot be denied. No rational person would take up sex work over the choice of other work. No girl’s ambition is to become a prostitute as she grows. No parent or teacher dreams of a child to sell their bodies.

Even in countries where prostitution is legal, there are no institutes to specialise in sex work. Then why is this popular? How come it is trending? It was recently revealed that there are about 50 000 Lankan women engaged in prostitution. Sex workers have become a part of the community and should be given correct attention.

This is quite a sensitive topic and is hard to approach, as the widespread notion is that prostitutes corrupt society and bring negative values to the social structure. While poverty tops the list, coercion and desperation may be other reasons for women to be inclined towards sex work.

In many instances the need to provide for children would drive divorced or widowed women opting for sex work. That reasoning goes to the thousands of child-burdened war-widows especially in the North and North-East, who have suddenly become bread winners without education or employable skills. Drugs, human trafficking and failed adolescent experimentation could be other possible rationales.

Sex work/ Prostitution is not legalised in Sri Lanka. We are often filled with news about brothels being raided and prostitutes being arrested. Organisations such as Centre for Sex Worker’s Rights (CSWR) and women’s rights activists have been demanding legal rights in order to create a recognised position for them in society.

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“Sri Lanka will not Allow Other Countries to Establish Naval Bases in the Island”- Ranil Wickremesinghe

By P.K.Balachandran

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that Lanka will not allow other countries to set up naval bases in it.

“We would like to reiterate that there would be no naval bases allocated to other countries within Sri Lanka,” Wickremesinghe declared in his keynote address at the 6 the annual international naval conference called “Galle Dialogue” at the south Lankan port city of Galle on Monday.

The Prime Minister’s remark is significant in the light of China’s alleged bid to set up a naval base in Lanka as part of its plan to set up naval bases and civilian ports nicknamed the “String of Pearls” across Asia.

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Presidential Commission of Inquiry Probing 16 “Mega Corruption”Cases Drops Action Against 15 of them Except for Ex-MP Sarath Kumara Gunaratne


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate and inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges has dropped investigations into at least 15 cases on the grounds that the state didn’t suffer revenue losses due to those transactions.

Having completed investigations into 16 cases, the Commission had recommended further legal action as regards only one of them, authoritative sources told The Island.

The Commission late last week informed the Attorney General and the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC) to initiate action against former UPFA Gampaha District MP Sarath Kumara Gunaratne and four former Ceylon Fisheries Corporation officials over the Negombo lagoon development project implemented during the previous administration.

All complaints received by the Commission dealt with alleged corrupt transactions involving those who had been in power or their associates. The Commission admitted terminating investigations into 15 cases.

Continue reading ‘Presidential Commission of Inquiry Probing 16 “Mega Corruption”Cases Drops Action Against 15 of them Except for Ex-MP Sarath Kumara Gunaratne’ »

Mainstream Islam in Sri Lanka Being Tolerant and Benign is our Greatest Defence Against Islamic Radicalization.

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Last week, terrorists of the Islamic State butchered 130 men and women in Paris while they were – as one newspaper put it – indulging in life’s innocent pleasures: watching a concert, a football friendly and drinking beer by the roadside. Those terrorists – at least five of them – were identified as French Muslims.

A week before that incident, Sri Lankan Muslim organizations, led by Jamiathul Ulama came together to demand that the government in Colombo denied visa to one rabid Islamist preacher, Jainul Abideen, the founder of Tamil Nadu Thawheed Jamaat. Abideen was invited by Sri Lanka Thawheed Jamaat, a fringe group of Wahhabis awash with Gulf money. The government conceded. Abideen was refused a visa for a second time. In 2005, the government denied him an entry visa on the same grounds.

Obviously there is no direct link between the two incidents in Paris and Colombo. But, the threat of growing Islamic fundamentalism is global.

The nihilistic cult of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) now boasts the allegiance of 36 terrorist groups around the world. In other parts, Al Qaeda, its affiliates and franchise groups are vying for the gory mantle of being the Salafi Jihad’s torch-bearers. Muslim communities worldwide are the swamp that Jihadist fish swim and proliferate. In this vast global lake, resistance that emanates from some small corners like ours to this virulent radicalization matters. If nothing else, the response from mainstream

Sri Lankan Muslim organizations, which stood up against Abideen tells us, that they are more enlightened than many of their counterparts in the world. (The Muslim Association of Britain, once hosted Anwar-al-Awlaki, a Yemeni-American terrorist preacher and a recruiter for Al-Qaeda on a lecture tour).

Sri Lankan Muslim community has not yet been fully exposed to Salafi- Jihadi fundamentalism that has extended its tentacles from the Middle East to South East Asia and Sub Saharan Africa. (Though more and more local Muslim women, especially in the East wear Burqa, the all-encompassing Islamic garment).

However, given the global reach of fundamentalist Islam, no community is safe from exposure — including our own.

Continue reading ‘Mainstream Islam in Sri Lanka Being Tolerant and Benign is our Greatest Defence Against Islamic Radicalization.’ »

Conduct of President Sirisena Shows that he is Still a Conventional Political Creature with no Elevation From That Level.


by Upul Kumarapperuma

At the time of the campaign for presidency, Maithripala Sirisena and his team advocated for a new political and socio economic culture in the country, which had become the main attraction for the upper middle class, the middle class, and the minorities to cast their vote for electing him as the President.

Unlike other politicians, President Sirisena made a self-proclamation that he would play an apolitical role in his national government. Both terms namely “Apolitical President” and “National Government” were able to win the hearts of the aforementioned sectors as the country was fed up with the political turbulences created against the opposition during the Rajapaksa rule.

The imminent necessity of having an apolitical President was triggered by the conduct of then President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He grabbed enormous power for the sake of law and exercised that for his survival. Therefore, the country believed that an apolitical leader would be the foundation for a depoliticized society and a social structure which would run separately from the whims and fancies of politicians.

Continue reading ‘Conduct of President Sirisena Shows that he is Still a Conventional Political Creature with no Elevation From That Level.’ »

Distributing Cash Vouchers Instead of Free School Uniforms will cause new set of Problems

By Udaya P. Gammanpila

The late President R. Premadasa introduced the free distribution of school uniforms to ensure that poor children would not avoid schooling because of the non-availability of uniforms. Although governments changed several times, nobody stopped this vital project which has immensely contributed to keep Sri Lanka’s literacy rate above the world average.

The United National Party (UNP) government in 2002, considered the distribution of school uniform clothes as a time consuming and tedious task. It found that the process of calling for tenders to distribute school uniforms was totally unnecessary. Hence, it introduced a cash voucher to replace uniform clothes. The value of the voucher depended on the required size of the material and its cost in the market. After the distribution of vouchers to parents, a set of new problems cropped up.

Continue reading ‘Distributing Cash Vouchers Instead of Free School Uniforms will cause new set of Problems’ »

President Sirisena Clarifies that he has no Ambition of Becoming an Executive Prime Minister After Abolishing Executive Presidency

Obtaining the approval of the Central Committee members of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which he now leads, to show it was their initiative, President Maithripala Sirisena last Wednesday gave a two-page ‘note’ to his ministers. Titled “Amendments to the Constitution,”He timed it for the week that marked the first year since he quit the previous Government to contest the January presidential election against Mahinda Rajapaksa.

It read –

“In the Manifesto published as the Common Candidate of the alliance at the Presidential Election and in public statements we stated that two major Constitutional Amendments will be undertaken, if I were elected as the President. (Maithree palanayak – Sthavara Ratak)

“These two amendments were:

1. To abolish the Executive Presidency and transfer powers to Parliament.

2. Amend the proportional representation electoral system and ensure democratic participation of the people through a more democratic electoral system.

“Though we succeeded in amending the constitutional provisions relating to executive powers of the President and to re-establish the Independent Commissions within a short span of time, we have to admit that we have not been able to fulfil the total aspirations of the people. Though we attempted to reach agreement on an acceptable framework to revise the electoral system, this exercise failed. We are aware that our electors who looked forward to an era of good governance would not have been happy with the outcome. We have observed that there are many critics who openly criticise the failure of our political parties, the government and its leaders. This is not a secret.

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Clarifies that he has no Ambition of Becoming an Executive Prime Minister After Abolishing Executive Presidency’ »

Cleverly Crafted UNP-SLFP Coalition Budget for 2016:The Good, The Bad and The Dangerous

By

C.A.Chandraprema

The first fully fledged budget of the UNP-SLFP coalition was as cleverly crafted as the circumstances would permit. The government had some difficult reforms to implement not just because the IMF recommended them but because the reforms mentioned in this budget were a prominent part of the UNP’s own parliamentary election manifesto.

In order to head off possible resistance to those reforms, the government has sought to give more concessions to the people – a wise strategy. The levy on potatoes was reduced by Rs 25 per kg, big onions by Rs. 25, the price of a 400 gram packet of locally manufactured milk powder has been reduced to Rs 295/- and the local milk powder manufacturer, will get a subsidy of Rs 30/- per 400 gram packet. Infant milk powder has been reduced by Rs. 100 per kg. The price of canned fish (425 grams) has been reduced to Rs. 125. Certain varieties of rice also have been brought under price controls.

The maximum retail prices of sprats and dhal have been reduced to Rs. 410 and Rs. 169 respectively. The price of a gas cylinder has been reduced by Rs. 150. The private sector which was rattled by the super gains tax has been pacified with a corporate tax rate of 15% with a higher rate of 30% for the betting and gaming, liquor, tobacco, banking and financial services, insurance and leasing and trading activities.

The maximum personal income tax rate has been fixed as 16% and the tax free threshold has been raised from Rs.750,000/- to Rs.2.4 million – a move that will no doubt make a lot of private sector employees happy. The 2.5 percent withholding tax on interest on fixed deposits has also been lifted. The Rs. 10,000 allowances will be considered for the pension payment at the time of retirement.

Continue reading ‘Cleverly Crafted UNP-SLFP Coalition Budget for 2016:The Good, The Bad and The Dangerous’ »

Maithripala Tells SLFP the Party Would have Treated him in Style like Chandrika if he too Hailed from an Aristocratic Family

By

Prasad Gunewardene

Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake, last Friday, unfolded the debut Budget of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Government which was people-friendly and development-oriented in nature. While introducing relief to the consumers on several essential food commodities, priority was focused on health and education while taxes were imposed on several sectors and items.

Overall the Budget did not place many burdens on the working class. So, the new Government has drawn up economic plans for the coming year. Though the Government of Unity successfully introduced the Budget aimed at developing the country, while providing concessions to the people, the political front of the Unity Government looks to be in turmoil with infighting raging by the day in both the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP).

In the SLFP, the group loyal to Mahinda Rajapaksa is planning the formation of a common front to contest the next Local Government elections due in March 2016. In the UNP, the Avant Garde controversy has caused disunity in the rank and file. Though it was reported that President Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe had advised the ministers in question not to clash in the open over the controversy, the battle continued much to the embarrassment of the two leaders.

Continue reading ‘Maithripala Tells SLFP the Party Would have Treated him in Style like Chandrika if he too Hailed from an Aristocratic Family’ »

Premier Ranil to Move Resolution in Parliament for setting up a Constitutional Assembly to Formulate a New Constitution for Sri Lanka


(Significant Highlights of a Draft Resolution that is to be Moved in Parliament by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for the Setting up of the a ‘Constitutional Assembly.to Formulate a Draft Bill to Enact a new Constitution for Sri Lanka)

• “THIS HOUSE RESOLVES THAT: There shall be a Committee of Parliament hereinafter referred to as the ‘Constitutional Assembly’ which shall consist of all Members of Parliament, for the purpose of deliberating on, and seeking the views and advice of the people, on a new constitution for Sri Lanka, and preparing a draft of a Constitution Bill for the consideration of Parliament in the exercise of its powers under Article 75 of the Constitution.

• The Hon. Speaker of Parliament shall be the Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly. There shall be seven (7) Deputy Chairmen of the Constitutional Assembly, who shall be elected by the Constitutional Assembly. In the absence of the Hon. Speaker, the Constitutional Assembly shall elect one of the Deputy Chairmen to chair the sittings of the Assembly.

• A Legal Secretary to Constitutional Assembly and assistants to such Legal Secretary; and Media (including Social Media) Staff of the Constitutional Assembly (are to be appointed). The Media Staff shall set up and maintain a website and use other appropriate media, towards giving due publicity to the process for the adoption of a new Constitution for Sri Lanka. The Media Staff shall ensure that the proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly and its committees, as well as public representations/submissions are documented and published on such website along with such other relevant expert or technical opinions.

• The Prime Minister shall, at the first meeting of the Constitutional Assembly present Resolution for adoption by the Constitutional Assembly, calling upon the Steering Committee to present a Resolution proposing a Draft Constitution Bill for the consideration of the Constitutional Assembly (prior to its submission to the Cabinet of Ministers and Parliament).

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Maithripala Govt Removes Ban on 8 Organizations and 269 Individuals Proscribed by Mahinda Govt as “LTTE” in 2014.

By

P.K.Balachandran

By a gazette extraordinary issued on Friday, the Sri Lankan government lifted the ban on several outfits and individuals previously thought to have been working for the LTTE.

On March 21, 2014, 16 organisations and 424 individuals were proscribed under the UN Act No: 45 of 1968. But, the latest gazette notification bans only eight organisations and 155 individuals.

The de-listed organisations are: Global Tamil Forum (GTF); British Tamil Forum (BTF); National Council of Canadian Tamils (NCCT); Tamil Youth Organization (TYO); World Tamil Coordinating Committee (WTCC); Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC); Australian Tamil Congress (ATC); Tamil National Council (TNC).

Organisations which are still banned are: the LTTE; Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO); Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC); World Tamil Movement (WTM); Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE); Tamil Eelam Peoples’ Assembly (TEPA); World Tamils’ Relief Fund (WTRF) and Headquarters Group (HQG).

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Who is Samantha Power and why is she Visiting Sri Lanka?

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

“So in Sri Lanka’s case, I don’t think anybody’s disputing the right of a sovereign government to put down a rebellion within its territory, never mind one as brutal as the LTTE, but the question is, how you go about doing that and whether you observe the laws in war. Again, my government – Louise Aarbour is here from the International Crisis Group that has done very important work on Sri Lanka, on the ground there, in terms of what was done. Again, the reason that we have these principles is to stand by them.

“In the event that they’re just thrown out there, then there can be perverse consequences, but again, I think our struggle is to rationalize and ensure that they are more binding than they have often been.” – Samantha Power, at an International Symposium on preventing genocide and mass atrocities while serving as US President Barak Obama’s Special Assistant for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights.

Samantha Power is the Ambassador of the United States to the United Nations and her high profile job goes hand in hand with her work as a human rights activist. She was a war reporter from 1993 to 1996 covering Yugoslav wars for US News and World Report, The Boston Globe, The Economist, and The New Republic.

Focal person

She is also considered to be US President Barack Obama’s ‘focal person’ who monitors human rights actions, investigates, researches and establishes policies on human rights, genocide, war crimes, International Humanitarian Law (IHL) for the administration’s specific understanding.

She is in town today.

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Cold War Between Minister Harin Fernando and MP Chatura Senaratne Heats up Publicly

BY

RASIKA JAYAKODY

Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando was livid early this week as he got to know that UNP MP Chathura Senaratne, the son of Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, visited his ministry in search of some documents pertaining to alleged deals done by the Minister.

Senaratne, despite his links with the SLFP, he contested the last Parliamentary election on the UNP ticket and got elected to Parliament from the Gampaha district. In the run up to the last Presidential election, he was a stalwart of the Pivithuru Hetak National Movement, led by Parliamentarian Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera.

Chathura rose to fame a few months before the Parliamentary election this year, when he challenged former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to defeat him from the Beliatta seat. Although Chathura’s challenge was akin to David challenging Goliath, the statement went viral on social media and the young politician instantly became a known character among the country’s political circles.

Those who made Fernando aware of Chathura’s moves told the Minister that a Secretary of the Deputy Minister of the same ministry assisted the Parliamentarian. The Deputy Minister of Fernando’s Ministry is Tharanath Basnayake, a young Parliamentarian of the UPFA who received a portfolio from President Maithripala Sirisena. Fernando received information that the Secretary of his Deputy Minister was previously affiliated with Parliamentarian NamalRajapaksa.

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Indictment Filed in Colombo High Court Against Supreme Court Judge Sarath de Abrew for 2 Counts of Sexual Abuse Under 365 B of Penal Code

By Lakmal Sooriyagoda

The Attorney General has filed an indictment in the Colombo High Court against Supreme Court Judge, Sarath de Abrew with committing grave sexual abuse on a domestic helper on or around June 26 this year.

The indictment has been filed under two counts on committing grave sexual abuse, which comes under Section 365 B of the Penal Code.

This is the first time a sitting Supreme Court judge has been indicted in the High Court on a criminal charge.

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What Hampers Justice is not the Absence of Sufficient Law or Capable Officers but the Lack of Will.

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

There is an uncanny sense of déjà vu in the air.

The persistent recalling of worrisome history is pervasive, whether in regard to roguery relating to public funds, ministers appointing relatives to state offices because they are ‘trusted’ or the intimidation of citizens and students.

Continuation of an abusive state apparatus

Unlike its infinitely cruder predecessor, this new Government is more inclined to likeable optics on liberal reform. But would optics alone suffice? And in the absence of once strident critical voices, who were (rightly) outraged at Rajapaksa misdeeds, this question becomes even more acute.

This week, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is reported to have sworn in all solemnity that if state agents were ‘proved’ to have ‘questioned’ relatives of missing people who had met the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, they would be disciplined. This was in response to the Working Group’s considerable public disquiet in that regard.

These are tormenting echoes of the past. As late as last year, such ‘questioning’ was a prelude to the enforced disappearance of these unfortunates. While thankfully such atrocities are seemingly no longer part of deliberate state policy, Sri Lanka’s security apparatus appears to have continued with little change despite the turnover in political leadership early this year. This is evidenced by the Avant Garde controversy, to name just one example.

Continue reading ‘What Hampers Justice is not the Absence of Sufficient Law or Capable Officers but the Lack of Will.’ »

Cabinet Decision to Abolish Executive Presidency and Amend Election Laws is a Welcome Move

By

Lucien Rajakarunanayake

The Cabinet approval to go ahead to abolish the Executive Presidency and change the electoral system, is a welcome move to the core of the policies approved by the people in the mandate given to President Maithripala Sirisena in the Presidential Poll of January 8 this year. This should help revive the public discussion and debate that was alive from March 2014, and came into sharper focus with the attempt by Mahinda Rajapaksa to seek a third term in office, as he completed his 69th birthday last year.

With this Cabinet decision we move towards realization of a major policy of governance that had been promised, but not implemented by two Executive Presidents – Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the implementing of a policy that the UNP had called for since 2001, but did not have the parliamentary strength to proceed with.

The record on this promise to abolish the Executive Presidency is most interesting. In October 1994, the JVP obtained a pledge from the SLFP presidential candidate Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, to implement this, and consequently withdrew their presidential candidate in the election that followed. Although CBK won that election with a huge personal majority and the next presidential poll too, the pledge was not carried out. While she lacked a parliamentary majority for the purpose, there was also no political campaigning to achieve this goal.

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Obama Administration Should use Samantha Power’s Visit as an Opportunity to Recalibrate Washington’s Rhetoric on Sri Lanka.

By Taylor Dibbert

Samantha Power, America’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), is in India and Sri Lanka from November 18 – 23. In India, she’s set to meet human rights activists, members of civil society and senior government officials. On November 20, she’ll give a speech about UN peacekeeping.

While far less significant on the geopolitical front, Power’s visit to Sri Lanka could be a tricky balancing act. Regarding the Sri Lanka portion of her trip, the U.S. mission to the UN has stated the following:

In Sri Lanka, Ambassador Power will highlight the United States’ commitment to strengthening the bilateral partnership, and she will underscore U.S. support for the country’s efforts toward reconciliation, accountability, and lasting peace in the aftermath of a devastating civil war.

In Colombo, she will meet with senior government officials, community leaders, civil society groups, and youth.

Continue reading ‘Obama Administration Should use Samantha Power’s Visit as an Opportunity to Recalibrate Washington’s Rhetoric on Sri Lanka.’ »

First National Budget of Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt Proposes to Provide Relief to the People by Reducing the Prices of Essential Commodities

By

Sandasen Marasinghe, Irangika Range and Disna Mudalige

The 70th budget, the first ever budget of the National Government presented by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake in Parliament yesterday, proposes to provide relief to people by reducing the prices essential commodities.

The budget has been designed to promote rural development, industry development, guarantee the land rights of the people and solving their housing issues while laying special emphasis on the education and health sectors.

The minister proposed in the budget proposals to reduce prices of 11 selected essential commodities. It was proposed to reduce price of a 12.5 kg cylinder of gas by Rs 150. The tax on 1 kg of potatoes, onions reduced by Rs 25 each.

The price of locally manufactured 400g packet of milk powder by Rs 30, while a1kg packet of infant milk powder by Rs 100. It was also proposed to bring down the maximum price of 425 g tin of canned fish to Rs 125 while the maximum price of 1 kg of sprats was brought down to Rs 410 as at most of the places it is sold at Rs 800.

The minister also proposed to sell a kilogram of dhal at a maximum price of Rs 169 .

The price of 1 litre of kerosene is proposed to be reduced by Rs 10. Rs 3,000 million is to be allocated for the provision of these concessions,” Finance Minister Karunanayake said.

“The prices of essential food commodities in the market have increased rapidly since the previous government had not implemented any action to manage price fluctuations during the November and December season,.the minister said”

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Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake Presents 2016 Budget Described as “A Budget for all”

The Unity Government yesterday presented what the Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake described as “a Budget for all” providing relief to the masses, the working class and the private sector, initiating reforms , opening up the economy for foreigners and non-residents as well as heavily taxing vices.

Government MPs hailed the 2016 Budget but Opposition members breathed fire saying it reflected failure and spelt disaster for the economy and the country.

The private sector’s initial reaction was one of cautious welcome with some saying it is a people and business friendly or a “win-win” Budget whilst others opined that it was a zero-gain Budget.

Independent analysts said Budget 2016 was comprehensive and progressive though it lacked the so-called “revolutionary” element which the Finance Minister assured many weeks ago. Initial reactions to tax proposals were mixed but more clarity and a well assessed response is likely in the next few days.

However, wrapping up a four and a half hour Budget presentation, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake termed Budget 2016 as “an unprecedentedly innovative set of proposals encompassing benefits and opportunities for all strata of the society.”

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TNA Parliamentarian M.A.Sumanthiran Calls Upon Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran to Accept his Continuous Offer of Assistance for Northern Provincial Council

Northern Province Chief Minister Mr C. V Wigneswaran issued a lengthy explanation yesterday in response to allegations that he acted against the Tamil National Alliance at the General Elections held in 2015. In this regard, I welcome his confirmation of incidents I have highlighted previously. The acceptability or otherwise of his explanations and his interpretations of his own conduct are matters to be decided by the party.

Honourable Wigneswaran was specifically handpicked by the leader of the Tamil people Mr. Sampanthan to function as the Chief Minister of the Northern Province. The people responded expressing overwhelming support for the leader Mr. Sampanthan’s choice. This support for Mr.Sampanthan has been continually demonstrated at successive elections.

There is a sacred bond between the Tamil people and their leader. Those who attempt to sever this bond have been rejected by the people in the past, and they will continue to be rejected by the people. Each of us is duty bound to act loyally towards the party and its leader.

As far as I am concerned, there is no room whatsoever for compromise with respect to the need for loyalty. I affirm that my actions in relation to party affairs will continue to manifest this unequivocal position.

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UN Working Group Discovers “Secret Underground Detention cum Torture Center” in Trincomalee Naval Base

By P.K.Balachandran

The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID), which has just concluded its visit to Sri Lanka, had discovered a “secret underground detention cum torture center” located in the Lankan naval base at Trincomalee in the Eastern Province.

Giving details of the “successful discovery” at a press conference here on Wednesday, Ariel Dulitzky, a member of the UNWGEID, said that the center might have been used officially or unofficially from 2010, going by the date scribbled on the wall. The walls had blood stains, he revealed. And the structure of the complex suggested that “systematic torture” was conducted there, the UN official said.

Although there were only 11 or 12 cells in the complex, the number of those who were detained or tortured there could have been “many more”, he added.

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Govt Announces Six month Time-frame for Abolition of Executive Presidency Through a new Constitution

by Zacki Jabbar

The government yesterday set a time frame of six months to abolish the executive presidency through a constituent assembly.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, addressing a news conference at Sirikotha said that the Cabinet of Ministers had unanimously approved proposals by President Maithripala Sirisena to scrap the executive presidency and also introduce a new electoral system based on a combination of the first-past-the-post and proportional representation systems.

A committee headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would within the next three weeks produce a draft of the proposed amendments, he noted.

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“Govt Exploring Possibility of Providing Remanded FSP Leader Kumar Gunaratnam some Legal Relief -Mangala Samaraweera

by Zacki Jabbar

Leader of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), Premakumar Gunaratnam alias Noel Mudalige who was further remanded yesterday for allegedly violating immigration laws by the Kegalle Magistrate, could receive some relief, the government said.

“We are exploring the possibility of providing Gunaratnam with some legal relief “, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera told a news conference in Colombo.”But it all depends on what the court determines.”

The Minister pointed out that the FSP leader had been accused of overstaying his visa.

The law had to be applied equally to all those alleged to have committed offences, he said adding that considering the circumstances of Gunaratnam’s case, he could receive some relief.

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All Lawyers at Kegalle Courts Appear for Frontline Socialist Party Leader Kumar Gunaratnam Further Remanded Until Nov 27th

By Saman Indrajith

Kegalle Magistrate Prasanna Alwis yesterday ordered Leader of the Frontline Socialist Party Kumar Gunaratnam further remanded till Nov. 27.

The order was given when a case against Gunaratnam for violating immigration rules was taken up at the Kegalle Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

When the case was taken up all attorneys-at-law present in the court stood up and appeared for Gunaratnam.

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Did Health Minister Senaratne “Accept” Five Million Rupee Bribe “Offered” by Avant Garde Chairman Senadhipathi?

By Dharisha Bastians

Explosive revelations about the ongoing Avant Garde controversy continue to shake the ruling Government, with new audio tapes emerging yesterday that appears to implicate a senior aide to Minister Rajitha Senaratne as accepting a Rs. 5 million bribe from the chairman of the private maritime security company in the dock, Nissanka Senadhipathi.

Minister Senaratne, who is presently overseas, then released an audio recording to counter the first recording that appeared on the news and gossip website, lankaenews.com, which purportedly shows that same aide informing Senadhipathi that the Minister had refused the money.

The second recording appeared on Minister Senaratne’s verified Facebook account, with the title “Proof of Rajitha’s innocence: Audio tape proving that Rajitha Senaratne refused the money sent by Nissanka Senadhipathi”.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa Enlightened: “Bale Thiyanakota Mole Ne;Mole Thiyanakota Bale Ne”(When Powerful no Wisdom; When Wise no Power)

(Text of an Editorial appearing in “The Island” of November 18th 2015 under the heading “MR at 70”)

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa turns 70 today. Candles must now be costing him more than the cake as Bob Hope famously said.

Nothing hurts a politician who has savoured power more than being voted out. Mahinda made the mistake of banking on people’s gratitude to win elections without giving a tinker’s cuss about allegations of corruption, nepotism, cronyism, abuse of power, scandals etc. against his government. He thought people would continue to vote for him faithfully because he had provided unwavering political leadership for the country’s successful war on terror.

Cocky, he cherished the same delusion as the builders and owners of Titanic, which they considered invincible. He misjudged a political iceberg in his path and took what lay unseen underwater for granted. He sailed on, oblivious to the lurking danger and heedless of warnings only to have the shock of his life on Jan. 08

Continue reading ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Enlightened: “Bale Thiyanakota Mole Ne;Mole Thiyanakota Bale Ne”(When Powerful no Wisdom; When Wise no Power)’ »

Mahinda Rajapaksa is a Lion Whose Decade of Rule Represented the Virtues and Flaws of the Lions

By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka


“I’m sorry Mr. Boucher, what can I do if our terrorists aren’t Islamic?”
– President Mahinda Rajapaksa to US Asst. Secretary of State Richard Boucher, May 2007

The terrorist barbarities wrought on Friday the 13th November 2015 in Paris remind us of the Tiger terrorist slaughter of civilians in Naiaru, Kokilai, Anuradhapura, Maradana, Pettah, Dehiwela, the Central Bank, Kebitigollawa, Arantalawa, Kattankudy and innumerable border villages—massacres which were at least as large as those in Paris when we regard the respective sizes of our countries’ populations. For decades, the daily sound was of the sirens of ambulances and the wails of the bereaved, the scene was of hospitals under siege with the flood of the wounded and dying.

When he was elected President in 2005, Mahinda Rajapaksa took over a divided country, battered by suicide bombings, assassinations of leaders and overrunning of military camps; a state in retreat, a nation humiliated, a military unprepared and demoralized, a country in the coils of a seemingly endless war waged by a highly motivated and confident enemy with heavy artillery, a navy and a fledging air arm and a global support network.

When he left office a decade later ours was a country without war, liberated from terrorism, a reunified territory, a Sri Lankan state with its borders restored to their natural boundary the Indian Ocean, a fast-modernizing economy, and a landscape which showed no trace of a thirty year conflict.

A man or woman is judged by the scale and scope of the challenges he/she faces, the manner in which he/she faces them, the way in which those who came before him/her faced that challenge, and the relative performance of others in his/her own time and at other times, living in other places,facing the same type of challenge.

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Samantha Power may have to Discuss “Yahapalanaya Hell” with a Govt Protecting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

It is reported that United Nations Representative of the United States, Samantha Power, is expect to visit Colombo shortly. She may be arriving to evaluate the progress with regard to the Resolution passed at last September sessions of the UNHRC in Geneva.

Ahead of her visit to Colombo, a meet was held in Colombo between President Maithripala Sirisena and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Following that meet, Gotabaya revealed that the President had given him an assurance. The assurance is that the President would never betray the trust of the Armed Forces.

Gotabaya held media conferences after meeting the President to emphasize that the President had accepted his (Gotabaya’s) view point with regard to war crimes allegations levelled by America.

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Doctrine of Buddha is more Powerful than Executive powers and Privileges Enjoyed by Political Leaders and Politicians

By

Prasad Gunewardene

Buddha’s doctrine is practical and powerful than the executive powers and privileges enjoyed by political leaders and politicians by virtue of being elected to such offices through the votes of the people. Those leaders rule through provisions embedded in Constitutions to either consolidate or protect them. Some use such Constitutions with a view to rule forever. But Nature and the Doctrine of Buddha is more powerful.

Over the past four decades with an executive system of Constitution in force we’ve witnessed how our Rulers used the Constitution for their benefit. They paid homage to many venerated Buddhist Temples and Sites and made pledges for the people and the country from those hallowed precincts. The valuable advice given by true Buddhist prelates were ignored. Leading Buddhist prelates were either insulted or intimidated to safeguard political power.

This Writer is a Catholic who has hope and faith in his religion whilst respecting and following the Doctrine of Buddha which is the only practical way to lead a brave life with a clear conscience.

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President Sirisena who Swore Upon Sobitha Thero’s Coffin to Abolish Executive Presidency to Present Special cabinet Paper

By Dharisha Bastians

President Maithripala Sirisena will present a special cabinet paper today, proposing wide ranging constitutional reform, including the abolition of the executive presidency and major changes to the country’s electoral laws.

President Sirisena, who swore upon the coffin of respected Buddhist Monk, Maduluwawe Sobitha last week that he would do everything in his power to abolish the presidency in accordance with the Thero’s wishes, said the cabinet paper will be presented to his Ministers at the weekly meeting today.

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Prof G.L.Peiris Objects to Govt Ameding PTA and Releasing LTTE Suspects after Rehabilitation.

By Dasun Edirisinghe

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris yesterday warned that the government decision to amend the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) was ill-advised.

Addressing the media at the N. M. Perera Centre in Borella, he said that the government had buckled under pressure from the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) and the Tamil National Alliance.

The government would amend the PTA as the first step towards repealing the Act, Prof. Peiris said, adding that the government was implementing an election pledge given to the TNA and other groups in return for votes at the last presidential election.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government had rehabilitated about 12,000 LTTE cadres and released them, but the remaining 235 in custody could not be released simply as they were responsible for acts of terrorism, he said.

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Tamil Prisoners Suspend Hunger Strike till Dec 15 after Assurances of Release after Rehabilitation by Govt Minister DM Swaminathan

A hunger strike launched by the LTTE suspects in four prisons demanding their immediate release has been suspended till Dec. 15.

Hunger strikers suspended their action at 8.00 am yesterday following an assurance given to them by Minister of Prison Reforms, Rehabilitation, Resettlement, and Hindu Religious Affairs D. M. Swaminathan in the presence of TNA parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran and Commissioner General of Prisons at the Welikada Prisons on Monday evening.

Minister Swaminathan told The Island that over 153 suspects taken into custody under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) had been engaged in the hunger strike. Of these 28 were in Anuradhapura prison, nine in Batticaloa, 12 in Bogambara and 104 in Magazine prisons. Of 104 in the Magazine prison, 24 had been given bail on Monday.

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Wimal Weerawansa Threatens Joint Opposition Pull out from All Party Conference Convened by President Sirisena

By Dasun Edirisinghe

Former Minister Wimal Weerawansa said that parties in the joint opposition will consider withdrawing from the All Party Conference (APC) called by President Maithripala Sirisena if the government was not prepared to take decisions on reconciliation and accountability issues based on the APC resolutions.

Addressing the media at the N. M. Perera Centre in Borella, the National Freedom Front Leader said that the UNP government, especially Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera had plunged the country into a difficult situation by jointly sponsoring the US resolution in Genera against Sri Lanka.

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C.V.Wigneswaran Must Change his “Ayatollah of Tamil Nationalism” Posture or Resign Chief Minister Post with Dignity like Tilak Marapana

by K. Thirukumaran

Aside from the intra-Party issues, the first elected Chief Minister of Northern Province is not serving the constituents whom voted him. Mr CV Wigneswaran while in office he has shown “conflicts of interest” with people who are not beneficiaries of the Northern Provincial Council.

Instead he is largely giving voice to the small vociferous section within North-East/Sri Lanka and the diaspora. His actions on the genocide resolution is a prime example of this.

Mr CV Wogneswaran at The Northern Provincial Council-Feb 2015

Mr CV Wogneswaran at The Northern Provincial Council-Feb 2015

It is not about “passing the resolution” or the term “genocide” but it was a spotlight on NPC taking matters beyond its mandate and slipping from established norms and our failure to showcase our credibility in “governing” – something we “demand” from The governments of Sri Lanka!

In the aftermath of May 2009, the Tamil side was depicted as not having a democratic side and diaspora organizations such as TGTE and NCCT came out and said they have formed people elected bodies. These bodies have only held one public election since formation. Amidst such diaspora setup, the genocide resolution was drafted by a diaspora member known to the Chief Minister and tabled and passed just after a new government took office.

The Chief Minister’s actions are hindering the other relevant every day life matters that NPC must and could address, which were also prominently outlined in the TNA manifesto of NPC.
Continue reading ‘C.V.Wigneswaran Must Change his “Ayatollah of Tamil Nationalism” Posture or Resign Chief Minister Post with Dignity like Tilak Marapana’ »

Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt Getting Ready to Deport Kumar Gunaratnam Alleges Frontline Socialist Party

By Saman Indrajith

The Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) yesterday announced that it would mobilise all social, civil society and human rights organisations that had pledged their solidarity with them to secure the release of party leader Kumar Gunaratnam, who is now in remand custody for violating immigration laws.

Addressing a press conference at the Centre for Society and Religion in Colombo, party’s Propaganda Secretary Pubudu Jayagoda said that they were now convinced that the government was getting ready to deport Gunaratnam.

“But, we reiterate that the matter is entirely political and would mobilise all forces to secure Gunaratnam’s release,” Jayagoda said.

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Human Rights Commission Chaired by Dr.Deepika Udagama to Take up Avant Garde Issue with Attorney – General’s Dept

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Chairperson of the newly constituted Human Rights Commission (HRC) Dr. Deepika Udagama yesterday assured that she would certainly look into the Attorney General’s Department.

Addressing the media at the HRC head office at Kynsey Road, Borella, Dr. Udagama stressed the importance of protecting the independence of the AG’s Department, the judiciary and the police. She was flanked by Commissioners, attorney-at-law H. Ghazali Hussain, attorney-at-law Saliya Pieris, Ambika Satkunanathan and Dr. U. Vidanapathirana.

Dr. Udagama was responding to a query by The Island whether the HRC would intervene in the wake of an influential section of the government questioning the conduct of the AG over his handling of the vexed Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS) issue.

Asked to explain how the HRC intended to restore public confidence in the AG’s Department, Dr. Udagama said that the HRC would take it up with the AG.

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Tamil Prisoners Call off Hunger Strike Following Discussion with Minister DM Swaminathan,MA Sumanthiran MP and Prisons Commissioner General

(Text of a Press Release Issued by the Tamil National Alliance Media Office on November 17th 2015)

The hunger strike launched by the Tamil political prisoners has been temporarily called off until 15th December 2015.

The prisoners have come to this decision following a discussion with Minister D.M Swaminathan, Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian M.A Sumanthiran, and Commissioner General of Prisons on the decisions taken at the meeting of high level government officials yesterday.

The prisoners acknowledge the efforts of Hon Minister D.M. Swaminathan, Hon. M.A. Sumanthiran and the Commissioner General of Prisons with regard to their release.

Terrorist Assault on Innocent Civilians in Paris is Predictable Outcome of Military Escalation by US and European Imperialism

By

Alex Lantier and Barry Grey

The terrorist atrocity carried out in Paris by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been seized upon by the United States, France and the other imperialist powers to intensify the policies of war and plunder that destroyed entire societies in the Middle East and created the conditions for the growth of reactionary forces such as those that killed 129 people and wounded hundreds more last Friday night.

These forces have been funded and armed by Washington and France and regional allies such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey. ISIS itself is a product of imperialist machinations in Libya, Syria and Iraq, just as Al Qaeda was the product of the earlier anti-Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. ISIS and other Al Qaeda-linked terror groups have been used as proxy armies to carry out regime-change in Libya and prosecute the war for regime-change in Syria.

The criminal assault on innocent civilians in Paris is the predictable outcome of US and European imperialism’s relentless escalation of military operations.

Continue reading ‘Terrorist Assault on Innocent Civilians in Paris is Predictable Outcome of Military Escalation by US and European Imperialism’ »

85 Tamil Prisoners Prefer to Undergo Rehabilitation and be Released Rather than Seeking Bail States Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake

By P K Balachandran

The Sri Lankan government has said that it proposed to send Tamil Tiger detainees for rehabilitation before releasing them, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP M A Sumanthiran told Express on Monday.

Sumanthiran said that at the talks held with the Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake at the Prime Minister’s office earlier in the day, the government told the Tamil leaders that the first batch will go for rehabilitation within the next 10 days.

Minister Ratnayake said that 85 prisoners had submitted in writing that they would rather go for rehabilitation, leading to release, than seek bail and go through the tedious legal process.

Continue reading ‘85 Tamil Prisoners Prefer to Undergo Rehabilitation and be Released Rather than Seeking Bail States Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake’ »

Are Some Govt Politicos Trying to Pressure A –G Dept into Turning Avant Garde probe Into a Witch-hunt Against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa?

By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana resigned last week after an uproar in the Cabinet, over his perceived pussyfooting on the ongoing investigation into the floating armoury of the Avant Garde Maritime Service Limited (AGMSL).

Mr. Marapana’s only ‘offence,’ it appears, that he earlier told Parliament that the considered opinion of the Attorney General was that there was no considerable and admissible evidence to institute a legal case against the weapons that were found in the ship, MV Mahanuwara during a police raid.

The docked ship was raided at the Galle Harbour soon after the Presidential election in January this year. (Last month, a second ship, MV Avant Garde was raided when it returned to the Galle Harbour after a voyage in the Red sea)

Mr. Marapana who himself was a former Attorney General and leading lawyer stood by the AG’s department, while some of the boisterous members of his Cabinet and several others outside appeared to suggest that the AG should cater to their whims and fancies.

It was not Mr. Marapana, but his opponents, who were interfering with the case and by their action, trying to influence the AG’s department.

Now, emboldened by their ‘success,’ those very individuals want Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe removed, again because the latter too had stood by the AG’s department.

Continue reading ‘Are Some Govt Politicos Trying to Pressure A –G Dept into Turning Avant Garde probe Into a Witch-hunt Against Gotabhaya Rajapaksa?’ »

UPFA Must Unite to Set up UPFA Govt Again Instead of Propping up UNP Govt Says Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva

By Ernie Dambadeniya

People had now realised that the so-called yahapalana government took them for a ride and they were regretting the mistake they made on January 08 after falling for Facebook campaigns, Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said.

Addressing a meeting held at the Uva Karandagolla in Ella area on Saturday (14), the Minister said that people had made a wrong decision on January 08 because the opposition activists had duped them with the help of social media including Facebook. Having fallen for false propaganda, they were now paying for their mistakes.

Continue reading ‘UPFA Must Unite to Set up UPFA Govt Again Instead of Propping up UNP Govt Says Transport Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva’ »

MA Sumanthiran MP says Party is “Deliberating”Over Initiating Disciplinary Action Against Northern Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran

By Mohamed Haniff

Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran says that his party Illankai Tamil Arasu Ka-chchi was “deliberating” on what disciplinary action to initiate with regard to Northern Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran’s refusal to go to Canada and raise funds.

The fifty one–year-old MP told The Island yesterday that TNA leader R. Sampanthan and he had been to Canada during the Provincial Council elections and attended a fund raiser with the help of the TNA branch in that country.

“We exerted our energies and it was extremely successful. All monies collected there were sent to the Treasurer of our party via the Central Committee. The action taken by Mr. Sampanthan and me helped bring in great financial benefits to our party. It was this that prompted us to request Mr. Wignes-waran to go to Canada and raise funds for the general election.”

Continue reading ‘MA Sumanthiran MP says Party is “Deliberating”Over Initiating Disciplinary Action Against Northern Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran’ »

Did President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Consult their Parliamentary Groups Before Co-Sponsoring UN Resolution?Asks GL Peiris

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris yesterday alleged that the recently established All Party Conference (APC) to discuss the unanimously adopted Geneva resolution wouldn’t serve any useful purpose.

Prof. Peiris claimed that it was nothing but an attempt to deceive the people. “It is very difficult to understand what purpose is to be served by seeking the views of political parties at this point.”

Sri Lanka co-sponsored the resolution against the country adopted on Sept. 30.

The APC first met on Oct. 22 with the participation of President Maithripala Sirisena. A second meeting is scheduled to take place shortly.

Continue reading ‘Did President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe Consult their Parliamentary Groups Before Co-Sponsoring UN Resolution?Asks GL Peiris’ »

Around Direct and Indirect 5000 Jobs Lost Due to Govt Decision to Hand Over Avant Garde Operations to Navy

A senior former official of the Avant Garde Maritime Security Services yesterday said that around 5,000 people have lost their jobs due to the closure of the company.

“Around 5,000 people who were employed by the company on direct and indirect capacities have lost their jobs due to the government decision to hand over the operations to the Navy,” the firm’s former Manager of Commercial Vessel Protection, Lt Col (retd) Nilantha Jayaweera said.

Jayaweera said around 150 foreign ships which previously sought services of Avant Garde to protect their vessels from possible piracy attacks has now stated that they will seek such services from elsewhere.

He said some foreign ships were currently facing difficulties in obtaining security for their ships due to the sudden closure of the company.

Jayaweera said the offices maintained by the company in five countries have been closed and the employees have been requested to return back.

Continue reading ‘Around Direct and Indirect 5000 Jobs Lost Due to Govt Decision to Hand Over Avant Garde Operations to Navy’ »

Has Sirisena Govt Signed New Agreement with Avant Garde on Oct 20th that Cannot be Cancelled Before Expiry Date?

by Bashana Dissanayake

Although higher officials in the government states that all tenders with regard to the supply of weapons to Avant Garde had been cancelled, it is learnt that the government has signed a new agreement with Avant Garde on October 20 this year.

The Sunday Leader is in possession of a copy of the new agreement the government entered into with Avant Garde and according to it, the agreement cannot be cancelled before the expiry date.

This agreement was signed after Avant Garde gave an assurance that they will pay the outstanding dues to the government.

Continue reading ‘Has Sirisena Govt Signed New Agreement with Avant Garde on Oct 20th that Cannot be Cancelled Before Expiry Date?’ »

Dysfunctional “Yahapalanaya” Govt Shows Signs of Coming Apart at the Seams

By

C.A.Chandraprema

The government that came into power promising good governance or yahapalanaya is already showing signs of coming apart at the seams. Even the unexpected demise of Ven. Sobitha was being blamed indirectly on the yahapalana government with the late monk’s closest political associate, Dr Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri of FUTA fame telling The Island that people began questioning Ven Sobitha about the doings of the yahapalana government and were expecting the senior monk to do something to correct the course of the government and that the Ven. monk’s health deteriorated because he just couldn’t take the pressure. It also so transpires that President Maithripala Sirisena had not gone to see Ven. Sobitha during his final illness not necessarily out of callous indifference but possibly out of fear of what the ailing monk may say to him the president’s detractors say.

We understand that even prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had not gone to see Ven Sobitha during his final illness but that obviously could not be due to any fear of what the monk may say to him because Wickremesinghe himself is the principle victim of yahapalanaya. He got his party supporters to vote for Maithripala Sirisena on the pledge that the executive presidency would be abolished and executive power entrusted to the prime minister and the cabinet. Yet this did not happen and the UNP which won the August 2015 election just as well as Chandrika Kumaratunga won the 1994 parliamentary election has been unable to form a government and are relegated to holding less than half the cabinet portfolios with the best subjects allocated to the president’s cronies. Naturally dissension is spreading within the UNP at grassroots level.

It will take a while for this resentment to boil to the surface as the marginalization of the UNP has come about only after August this year. Until the parliamentary election, the UNP was generally OK, and were controlling the best portfolios in what was essentially a UNP led government even though there were a considerable number of UPFA ministers who held portfolios of secondary importance. The UNP rank and file are now waiting for the budget and the allocation of money to the ministries in the hope that may alleviate some of their woes. The real fireworks in the UNP will begin only early next year if the rank and file find that their hopes do not materialize even after money is allocated to the ministries.

Continue reading ‘Dysfunctional “Yahapalanaya” Govt Shows Signs of Coming Apart at the Seams’ »

Sobitha Thero the Desmond Tutu of Sri Lanka Dies Disappointed Without Finding a Nelson Mandela Here

By

Rasika Jayakody

It is common knowledge that politics leaves one with strange bedfellows. Former JVP Leader Somawansa Amarasinghe, a seasoned campaigner who has been in the ‘business’ for over 45 years, is no exception.
In April 2008, Amarasinghe made a bold decision to expel his firebrand Propaganda Secretary, Wimal Weerawansa, from all positions the latter held in the party.

The main accusation levelled against Weerawansa was the ‘strategic blunders’ he made by aligning himself with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. They alleged that as a result of Weerawansa’s conduct the party was branded as an ‘ultra-nationalist’ political movement, moving away from its socialist and internationalist principles. This was the key ideological difference occurred between the JVP leadership and Weerawansa, finally resulting in the latter’s removal from the party.

Following this unexpected development, the JVP leadership and Weerawansa fired cannons at each other over various personal and political matters. Somawansa Amarasinghe, at one point, charged that Weerawansa did not even own a bicycle when he defected from the JVP. Amarasinghe, the brother in law of former UNP General Secretary Sirisena Cooray, alleged that Weerawansa amassed wealth after he broke away from the party and joined hands with the Rajapaksa administration.

Weerawansa, in response, ridiculed the JVP leadership over strategic decisions it made after 2008. When the party decided to support the Opposition’s ‘common candidate’ Sarath Fonseka at the Presidential election in 2010, Weerawansa dubbed it as an affiliation with forces who “brutally suppressed” the JVP during the 88-89 insurrection.

Continue reading ‘Sobitha Thero the Desmond Tutu of Sri Lanka Dies Disappointed Without Finding a Nelson Mandela Here’ »

Tamil Nadu Extremist Islamic Leader Jainul Abdeen’s Attempt to Visit Sri Lanka Foiled by Moderate Muslims

By PK BALACHANDRAN

He is the Tamil face of extreme Islam. Moulvi P Jainul Abideen, better known as PJ, the founder and star speaker of the fundamentalist Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath (TNTJ), who was denied a visa to speak at an Islamic convention in Sri Lanka last week believes what he preaches is “true Islam”.

The Muslim community in Sri Lanka, which has borne the brunt of many riots and attacks from both Buddhist hardliners and the now destroyed Tamil Tigers think otherwise. PJ has been invited by the Sri Lanka Thaweed Jamaat (SLTJ) for the release of the Sinhala translation of the Koran on November 8.

The All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulema and other moderate Muslim organisations opposed his entry, and the the Lankan government obliged. The Muslim groups felt that PJ’s Wahabi views on Islam could create tension among the Sri Lankan Muslims.

Continue reading ‘Tamil Nadu Extremist Islamic Leader Jainul Abdeen’s Attempt to Visit Sri Lanka Foiled by Moderate Muslims’ »

Tilak Marapana Explains Why he Resigned from Cabinet in the Interests of the Country and Party

By Tilak Marapana P.C Former Minister of Law and Order and Prison Reforms

My association with Avant Garde Maritime Services Limited (AGMSL) began in January this year. They came to see me with another known lawyer.

I learnt that the company was providing maritime security, a requirement necessitated by increasing incidence of piracy in the seas in some areas near Sri Lanka.

Their vessel MV Mahanuwara was holding weapons for maritime security and had been raided by the Police. The Police had reported to court on the basis that the weapons on board were illegal.

The last paragraph in the Police ‘B’ report filed for this purpose said it was necessary to obtain a statement from Nissanka Senadipathi, Chairman of AGMSL.

Police said if he was permitted to leave the country, the recording of a statement from him might get delayed. The court was asked to stay his departure.

Mr. Senadipathi told me he had learnt that the Police were to file action to freeze his bank accounts also. This was when he had been doing this business for the past two years with the approval of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of External Affairs at the time.

Continue reading ‘Tilak Marapana Explains Why he Resigned from Cabinet in the Interests of the Country and Party’ »

Sri Lanka’s ‘Truth-telling’ Monk Sobitha Thero Called for Broad Ranging Democratic Reforms

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

George Orwell once reminded us that ‘in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.’ That powerful injunction came immediately to mind even as the flames dimmed this Thursday over the funeral pyre of Sri Lanka’s inimitable ‘truth teller’, the Most Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha who led the ‘yahapalanaya’ (good governance) upsurge this year.

As the South mourned its radical monk, the North and East shuddered to a near total shutdown over the Government’s release of a mere fraction of Tamil prisoners long held under anti-terrorism laws without charges or trial. In both respects, this encapsulated continuing deep strains in Sri Lanka, post-January 2015.

Posing scathing questions

So in that same stubborn spirit of truth-telling, let us forsake the pieties and the hypocritical eulogizing for the moment. The fact remains that in recent months, the Ven Sobitha seemed indignant in regard to the performance of the administration which he helped install.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka’s ‘Truth-telling’ Monk Sobitha Thero Called for Broad Ranging Democratic Reforms’ »

“I Made Statement in Parliament to Reveal Truth to the People About Allegations Concerning Avant Garde”-Tilak Marapana

Tilak Marapana, who resigned as Minister of Law, Order and Prison Reforms over a conflict of interest issue pertaining to the controversial business entity Avant Garde told his side of the story to Piyasena Dissanayake.

The following are excerpts of the interview.

Q: There’s considerable concern in the country about the operations of Avant Garde….

A: First of all it must be mentioned that this is a company that is involvedin local and international operations legally.


Q: What is the status of your relationship with Avant Garde?

A: There is no relationship at present. I first met Nissanka Senadhipathi, Chairman of Avant Garde, way back in 1993. He was at the time a member of the security staff of President D B Wijetunga. I didn’t meet him or speak with him after that until very recently. In fact I was not even aware of his association with Avant Garde. It was only in the last week of January this year that I met him. He came to see me along with a lawyer. This was at a time when stories about arms deals and Avant Garde were splashed all over newspapers.

Continue reading ‘“I Made Statement in Parliament to Reveal Truth to the People About Allegations Concerning Avant Garde”-Tilak Marapana’ »

France Declares State of Emergency,Deploys Military and Closes Borders After Seven Simultaneous Attacks in Paris

By Alex Lantier

Horrific scenes of bloodshed filled the streets of Paris last night, as multiple simultaneous terrorist attacks starting around 10 p.m. claimed at least 140 lives and left at least 110 wounded, including dozens in critical condition.

Shortly before midnight, French President François Hollande announced that France was closing its borders and imposing a state of emergency under a 1955 law that suspends key democratic rights.

Several areas of Paris were on lockdown early Saturday morning, and authorities called on Parisians to stay inside, as police helicopters circled overhead and paramilitary police and army units deployed across the city.

According to anonymous high-ranking officials cited by the media, there were at least seven nearly simultaneous terrorist attacks, which were likely coordinated. These attacks included:

Continue reading ‘France Declares State of Emergency,Deploys Military and Closes Borders After Seven Simultaneous Attacks in Paris’ »

Samantha Power , US Sri Lanka Policy and the Multitude of Promises made by Maithripala Govt

By Taylor Dibbert

Samantha Power, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, recently spoke at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit in Mexico City. As she mentions at the outset, this is an initiative that deals with “the ideas of getting governments to work with civil society to create more open, accountable institutions and societies.” Officially created in 2011, the Open Government Partnership is something that merits support.

Surprisingly, Power devotes a noticeable part of her remarks to Sri Lanka, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean that’s still recovering from a twenty-six year civil war that some suggest left 80,000 to 100,000 dead.

Continue reading ‘Samantha Power , US Sri Lanka Policy and the Multitude of Promises made by Maithripala Govt’ »

Night of Terror”in Paris:At Least 149 Killed and Over 70 Hostages Taken in 7 Co-ordinated Attacks on Nov 13


By

Sophia Phan, Esther Han, Julie Power, Eryk Bagshaw

Ivor was sitting in a Paris restaurant when Twitter informed him that shootings and a hostage situation were unfolding just metres away.

At least 149 people were killed on Friday night in Paris, including at least 70 hostages at a theatre, in seven coordinated terrorist attacks across the French capital. \

“It was a blood bath.”

Five gunmen were reportedly killed, reported Le Monde, the French newspaper. Gunmen are still on the loose, the borders have been closed, and the French Government has mobilised 1500 soldiers. The death toll is being constantly updated, as the real scale of the surprise attacks unfolds.

“It is horror,” said French President Francois Hollande, who attributed the attacks to terrorists. He promised “a remorseless response against those responsible.”

Others called it a “night of terror” on a scale never seen before.

Continue reading ‘Night of Terror”in Paris:At Least 149 Killed and Over 70 Hostages Taken in 7 Co-ordinated Attacks on Nov 13’ »

Effects of Emblematic Corruption:Anatomy of the Avant Garde Affair and its Aftermath

By

Dharisha Bastians

In the end it took only five days for the unthinkable to happen.

For the first time in recent memory, a minister of Cabinet rank was forced to tender his resignation following a massive public outcry over his attempted defence of a private company implicated in a major arms scandal. After five days of intense public and civil society pressure and the threat of mutiny within their own ranks, Government leaders realised the wolf was at their door.

When Minister Tilak Marapana informed the Prime Minister and the President that he would be resigning, neither protested. Hoist as they were by their own petard, neither Maithripala Sirisena nor Ranil Wickremesinghe could afford to keep the Minister inside their Cabinet while pretending to be delivering good governance. Given Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s position on the Central Bank bond controversy, the prospect of his sacking Marapana seemed remote. But Wickremesinghe confidants said the Prime Minister had been in agreement since last week that time was up for his Law and Order Minister after his outburst in Parliament last week.

Tilak Marapana was Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s appointee for the job of overseeing Law and Order and Prison Reform after the UNP-led alliance clinched the most number of seats in the 17 August Parliamentary election. Marapana is an unelected legislator; a senior lawyer brought to Parliament through the UNP National List. Before the UNP-led coalition claimed victory in August, Marapana was already ensconced within the new Government, as Advisor to the Prime Minister. As a former Attorney General and Solicitor General, it was believed that President’s Counsel Marapana would be helpful in the mammoth task before the new administration – to act against a host of major corruption scandals that had ultimately proved fatal to the Rajapaksa regime.

Continue reading ‘Effects of Emblematic Corruption:Anatomy of the Avant Garde Affair and its Aftermath’ »

Sri Lanka is a Country where some Journalists have laid down their lives for Speaking the Truth


By

Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena

For much of post-independent Sri Lanka, State violence has shaped and defined the parameters of human existence. Particularly in recent decades, coercion was exercised on the media through the shadowy tentacles of a deep security State.


A death chant for democracy

The impact therein has been crippling. Five years ago, in a column appropriately titled ‘A Death Chant for Democracy’ (Sunday Times, September 12, 2010), I asked this question: ‘When liberties are taken away and when democratic institutions die, is it even worse than human beings dying?’

So many of us were forced to put up with the subordination of the human spirit as civil liberties were violated and the law became irrelevant to victims. Is there anything worse than a lawyer who faces a court to argue constitutional rights, knowing from the outset that the effort is futile? And how pitiable is the plight of a journalist forced to write half-truths or outright lies in order simply to stay alive?

This is the reality that faced many Sri Lankans every day during the past several years. And even as we apparently emerge from the abyss today, with presidential and parliamentary polls stamping a rejection of the decade-long Rajapaksa rule, these searing memories stay with us.

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka is a Country where some Journalists have laid down their lives for Speaking the Truth’ »

Ministers Clash:Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha says President has Cancelled Contracts with Avant Garde but Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Denies it

By Dharisha Bastians

The Avant Garde controversy continued to cause major divisions in the ruling administration, after Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksa denied reports that the President had ordered the cancellation of all Government contracts with the private security firm.

Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne, speaking to reporters at the cabinet briefing yesterday contradicted the Justice Minister’s remarks to the press, saying Rajapaksa had been present at Wednesday’s special Cabinet meeting, but stayed silent through the entire discussion.

The Justice Minister told reporters that there had been no decision made at the special cabinet meeting to cancel the deals with Avant Garde.

He said President Maithripala Sirisena had only asked officials to look into the possibility of cancelling the deals and handing the operations over to the Sri Lanka Navy.

But Senaratne yesterday dismissed Minister Rajapakse’s remarks.

Continue reading ‘Ministers Clash:Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha says President has Cancelled Contracts with Avant Garde but Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Denies it’ »

Weapons Given by Police to Rakna Araksha Ltd on Defence Ministry Orders were Found on “Avant Garde” Ship Hired by Avant Garde Firm

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Police headquarters yesterday said that the weapons they handed over to Rakna Araksha Lanka Ltd. (RALL) on the instructions of the Defence Ministry under the previous government had been found on Sri Lanka Shipping Company-owned Avant Garde (formerly MEROU) tug chartered by the Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS).

Police headquarters stressed that there hadn’t been any weapons transfers to Avant Garde and the guns had been given to fully-state owned RALL.

The police were responding to our front-page story yesterday, headlined ‘Arms issued to police ended up with Avant Garde.’ The report was based on a statement made by Health Minister and Cabinet spokesman Dr. Rajitha Senaratne early this week.

Addressing a public rally at Warapitiya in the Aluthgama electorate, Dr. Senaratne said that weapons issued to Nikaweratiya and Elpitiya police stations had been found on board Avant Garde. Avant Garde carried over 800 assault rifles of two different types.

Continue reading ‘Weapons Given by Police to Rakna Araksha Ltd on Defence Ministry Orders were Found on “Avant Garde” Ship Hired by Avant Garde Firm’ »

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne says Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Fits the Description “Goda Perakadoruwa” Better than him.

by Zacki Jabbar

Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday that Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe had proved he was a ‘Goda Perakadoruwo’ by his conduct over the Avant Garde floating armoury issue.

Addressing the weekly Cabinet Press Briefing in Colombo, Senaratne said that Wijeyadasa had called him names including ‘Goda Perakadoruwo’, but that was a description befitting Wijeyadasa and not him. “The Justice Minister’s statements on the Avant Garde issue has exposed him for what he is and the people will judge him accordingly. He cannot erase what has happened by calling me names.”

Continue reading ‘Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne says Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe Fits the Description “Goda Perakadoruwa” Better than him.’ »

By Co-sponsoring UN Resolution Maithri-Ranil Govt has Paved the Way for Lanka’s Political and Military Leaders to be Hauled up Before International Criminal Court

By

Mohan Samaranayake

Now for some time, both before and after the January 8 change, whenever the question of Geneva human rights process targeting Sri Lanka came up for discussion, a major concern expressed was whether, at the end of such process, Sri Lanka’s political and military leadership during the war against LTTE can be taken before the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, The Netherlands, for trial and punishment. Every time this was raised, UNP big wigs kept on asserting “have no fears, no Sri Lankan can be taken before the ICC since Ranil Wickramasinghe who served as Prime Minister from 2001 to 2004 prevented Sri Lanka from signing the Rome Statute of the ICC”.

During the recent Parliamentary debate on the UNHRC Resolution L. 29, on Sri Lanka, co-sponsored by the United States, Sri Lanka and other partners, according to media reports, the same assertion was made by no less a person than the Minister of Justice, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC without having any doubt about what he was telling. Proving the age old dictum that “a lie repeated becomes the truth” many people seem to believe this statement. Even an astute and well informed Journalist like the Editor, The Island apparently believes it as he wrote in his editorial titled “A Trojan Horse” on 18 September 2015: ” Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe takes pride, and rightly so, in the fact that, he, as the PM of the UNP- led UNF government (2001-2004), prevented Sri Lanka from being a signatory to the Rome Statute and thereby, foreclosed the possibility of its political and military leaders being hauled up before an international war crimes tribunal”.

Since my knowledge about how Sri Lanka didn’t become a signatory to the Rome Statute is contrary to the repeated assertion by UNP big wigs, in order to make sure that I would not err, I did a fresh search to ascertain the facts pertaining to this subject and following is what I have found:

Continue reading ‘By Co-sponsoring UN Resolution Maithri-Ranil Govt has Paved the Way for Lanka’s Political and Military Leaders to be Hauled up Before International Criminal Court’ »

Governor Arjuna Mahendran says Central bank is Safest Place to Keep Employees Provident and Employees Trust Funds.

by Zacki Jabbar

Insisting that the Central Bank was the safest place to keep Employees Provident and Trust Funds, Governor of the Bank Arjuna Mahendran said yesterday he had no objections to the monies being moved elsewhere.

He told The Island that according to the law both Funds came under the Labour Ministry and that was its logical place. “It was in the 1950s that the Labour Department handed over EPF monies to be managed by the Central Bank. If the government now wants to move the Funds to another body, there is no objection on our part.”

Asked whether the proposed Public Trust would come under the Labour or Finance Ministry, Mahendran said the possibility was the latter, but it would be better to wait until the budget was presented to get a clearer picture.

Continue reading ‘Governor Arjuna Mahendran says Central bank is Safest Place to Keep Employees Provident and Employees Trust Funds.’ »

President Sirisena Revokes all Agreements and Orders Avant Garde to Hand Over 3400 Weapons to Navy;IGP Instructed to Prosecute

by Zacki Jabbar

President Maithripala Sirisena has directed that all agreements between Rakna Araksha Lanka Limited and Avant Garde Maritime Services be revoked and the offenders be prosecuted based on the original report of the Attorney General’s investigation into the company’s dealings.

The order had been made at a special meeting the President chaired on the Avant Garde controversy at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday, Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said last night.

He revealed that as as a first step, Avant Garde had been ordered to hand over all its weapons said to number around 3,400 to the Sri Lanka Navy. “The Inspector General of Police has been instructed to pursue legal action based on the Attorney General’s original findings on Avant Garde’s operations, which were first presented to the National Executive Council earlier this year.”

Continue reading ‘President Sirisena Revokes all Agreements and Orders Avant Garde to Hand Over 3400 Weapons to Navy;IGP Instructed to Prosecute’ »

Govt Planning to Release 217 Tamils Being Detained Under the PTA After Rehabilitation


By PK Balachandran

The Sri Lankan government is considering a proposal to release the 217 Tamils currently in detention under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), after putting them through a program of rehabilitation, the Minister of National Dialogue, Mano Ganeshan, told Express here on Wednesday.

Ganeshan recalled that the Mahinda Rajapaksa government had released over 12,000 cadre of the LTTE, after subjecting them to a rehabilitation program. He said that the Lankan Security Forces have developed expertise in the rehabilitation of militants, and the facilities at the rehabilitation centers are now of international standard. “They don’t look like torture centers, as they did in the early days,” Ganeshan said.

But for the time being, the policy is to release the detainees on bail on a case by case basis. On Wednesday, 31 detainees were to be released on bail but since no one came to stand surety for them, the prisoners were sent back to prison. Each released detainee had to have two LKR one million bonds. They would also be required to report to the Terrorism Investigation Department every other Sunday. They would be barred from leaving the island. Ganeshan hoped that the bonds would be furnished in the coming days.

Continue reading ‘Govt Planning to Release 217 Tamils Being Detained Under the PTA After Rehabilitation’ »

Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe Says he will Neither Resign his Portfolio nor Let Ex – Def Secy Gotabhaya rajapaksa be Arrested

BY Dilanka Gunatileke

Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said, he will not relinquish his ministerial portfolio because the charges against him are baseless.

He added that he will also not allow former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to be arrested.The Minister told Ceylon Today that the charges against him regarding the Avant Garde issues were made by ‘deluded socialists’ in their overwhelming anger against him and that he has no links of any nature with the Avant Garde company.

Continue reading ‘Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe Says he will Neither Resign his Portfolio nor Let Ex – Def Secy Gotabhaya rajapaksa be Arrested’ »

Release of Tamil Political Prisoners and the History of Discriminatory Behaviour Towards Tamils by the Attorney – Generals Dept

By

Taylor Dibbert

What’s the deal with Sri Lanka’s Tamil political prisoners?

Due to October hunger strikes in prisons across the country (with prisoners demanding amnesty), President Maithripala Sirisena had given assurances that he would take a decision on this matter by November 7. Some have suggested that this meant prisoners would be released, but the next steps had always been somewhat unclear.

There were subsequent reports that 61 prisoners would be released by November 20.

Recently, a hunger strike has commenced anew.

More disturbingly, today, bail for 31 Tamil political prisoners was denied. This problem lies with the Attorney General’s department, which has a longstanding history of discriminatory behavior towards Tamils.

Why does this matter?

Continue reading ‘Release of Tamil Political Prisoners and the History of Discriminatory Behaviour Towards Tamils by the Attorney – Generals Dept’ »

DEW Gunasekera Opposes Govt Plan to Amalgamate EPF and ETF Funds After Moving them out of Central bank Control

By Mohamed Haniff

Former Chairman of parliamentary watchdog committee on public enterprises D. E. W. Gunasekera yesterday told The Island that the move to amalgamate the EPF and ETF and move funds out of the Central Bank’s supervision wasn’t acceptable.

Former Minister and Communist Party General Secretary was responding to a statement made by Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva at the Information Department on Monday. The economist said that the funds would be managed by a newly appointed board of directors. The Colombo District MP also asserted that the proposed outfit could do a much better job than the Central Bank. The Deputy Minister questioned the safely of funds under the supervision of the Central Bank.

Veteran politician, Gunasekera, who once headed the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) said: “I am totally opposed to Dr de Silva’s statement. Most Sri Lankans feel that the Central Bank is the least corrupt state institutions. Even I think so.”

Continue reading ‘DEW Gunasekera Opposes Govt Plan to Amalgamate EPF and ETF Funds After Moving them out of Central bank Control’ »

Modicum of Suspicion Among Sections of Govt MP’s Against Conduct of Ministers Ranawaka and Senaratne over Avant Garde Affair


By

Rasika Jayakody

The special Cabinet meeting on the Avant Garde controversy, held on Monday, was supposed to be full of fireworks and high drama.

A group of Cabinet ministers, over the weekend, held lengthy discussions to exert pressure on the government calling for Minister Thilak Marapana’s resignation over the Avant Garde controversy. They stressed Marapana’s conduct with regard to the Avant Garde company amounted to conflict of interest as he was retained as a lawyer for the company, at one point. While making his special statement in Parliament, Marapana also used the term ‘my client’ to refer to the private security company which is at the centre of a major controversy.

The UNP MPs who gathered at the Temple Trees on Monday for a group meeting did not mince their words about the Avant Garde issue. Apart from Rajitha Senaratne and Patali Champika Ranawaka, regular critics of the Avant Garde issue, Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Ajith P. Perera and Arjuna Ranatunga also urged the Prime Minister to expedite action against wrongdoers. They repeatedly said they could not face their voters at the grassroots level as the new government came to power on the promise of ‘nabbing thieves’ and ‘taking action’.

Avant Garde issue a political volcano?

Continue reading ‘Modicum of Suspicion Among Sections of Govt MP’s Against Conduct of Ministers Ranawaka and Senaratne over Avant Garde Affair’ »

Marapana was Responsible for Misleading UNP Leaders DB Wijetunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe in the Past

By

Upul Joseph Fernando

Before Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera fell ill he accused the government of not apprehending the culprits involved in corruption. He charged that the government was wasting time while the iron was hot to make use of it. The main charge made by the thera was that the Government was trying to sweep the controversial Avant Garde probe under the carpet. While the thera was breathing his last, Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana was trying to give saline to the Avant Garde issue by trying to protect that company. When Maithri and Ranil requested Marapana to quit the ministerial portfolio, the thera had left this world. Marapana resigned last Monday.

Who is this Tilak Marapana?

After the 1994 UNP’s defeat at the General Election, Ranil appointed the Attorney General of the D.B. Wijetunga Government to the United National Party (UNP) Working Committee. In the early days of the UNP Working Committee meets, a UNP member asked a pertinent question from Marapana. “The story goes that you misled President Wijetunga to hold the general election prior to the presidential election. Is it true,” he asked? Marapana sported a mischievous smile and said it was done on astrological predictions. “There was an astrologer whom President Wijetunga and I knew. He pushed the President to first hold the general election stating the UNP could win,” Marapana has told. “We were defeated because we first held the general election,” the member hit back. “Yes… those things happen that way. Even if we went for a presidential election we would have been defeated. No one can change the destiny,” Marapana quipped in lighter vein.

Continue reading ‘Marapana was Responsible for Misleading UNP Leaders DB Wijetunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe in the Past’ »

New Battle Begins as Minister Lakshman Kiriella Confronts the Police Recommending Tough Action Against Khakied Culprits who Assaulted Protesting Students

By

Prasad Gunewardene

University Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella having collected all facts that led to the recent clash between the Police and the Higher National Diploma in Accountancy (HNDA) students and the subsequent untruths unfolded by the Police to the public is now ready to take on the Police to recommend tough action against the culprits in the Police. The Police earlier claimed that the students became aggressive as there were no officials at the University Grants Commission (UGC) to meet the students. Police also lied before the public that students were not assaulted but only dispersed.

All people who have clear visions saw the video clips on the national electronic media and the social media how policemen armed with batons assaulted a female student who was crying in pain. According to the minister, when the student protest had taken a turn towards the worse, a Police Sergeant had run into the room of the Secretary to the Commission and stated that the Police could accompany five students if the Commission was ready to start a dialogue on the student demands.

When the Commission Secretary had agreed, the Sergeant had left his walkie-talkie and the baton on the Secretary’s table and had left the room. The UGC had later returned the walkie-talkie, but kept the baton as a proof for evidence. Minister Kiriella claims that the baton is the best piece of evidence to challenge the Police claim that there were no officials at the UGC at that time to meet the students. The Secretary had remained till 9.00 p.m. on that day.

Minister Kiriella addressing the media last week, made a serious charge that while the UGC officials were ready to meet the students, the Police had assaulted the students. Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan also told Parliament that the Police ran after retreating students and assaulted them mercilessly. It was crystal clear that the Police never used force to disperse the students, but used criminal force with batons to launch a merciless attack on the students.

Continue reading ‘New Battle Begins as Minister Lakshman Kiriella Confronts the Police Recommending Tough Action Against Khakied Culprits who Assaulted Protesting Students’ »

North Indian MP Tarun Vijay of BJP Urges Sri Lanka Govt to Prescribe “Thirukkural” Tamil Verses by Thiruvalluvar for all Students in the Island


BJP MP Tarun Vijay has urged the Sri Lankan government to prescribe classic Tamil poetry collection Thirukkural for all students in Sri Lanka – Tamil as well as Sinhalese. Thirukkural, one of the most important works in the Tamil language, was written by Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar.

“I told them please don’t limit it to Tamils alone, it is good for everyone,” Tarun Vijay said while speaking to reporters after concluding his five-day tour to Sri Lanka.

Tarun Vijay and Sri Lanka’s minister for rehabilitation, resettlement and Hindu religious affairs DM Swaminathan discussed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen cultural ties between the two nations. The BJP MP presented a copy of Thirukkural to the Lankan minister and urged him to spread its universal more vigorously.

“Buddha and Thiruvalluvar are the greatest icons of truth and peace and also they are eternal threads of friendship between India and Sri Lanka,” Tarun Vijay said.

Continue reading ‘North Indian MP Tarun Vijay of BJP Urges Sri Lanka Govt to Prescribe “Thirukkural” Tamil Verses by Thiruvalluvar for all Students in the Island’ »

Reconciliation Means Putting the War Behind us while Accountability Means Remaining Mired in War and Reviving it


By

Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka

The main aim of Government policy and of the “international community” in relation to Sri Lanka is said to be “political reconciliation” between the Tamils and Sinhalese through accountability and constitutional change.

An accountability push runs counter to a reconciliatory national consensus. The Good Friday Accords which brought peace to Northern Ireland did not have an accountability overhang. The legendary civil war in Spain in the 1930s continues to have as an insurmountable legal taboo, official investigation into the events and casualty figures of over eight decades ago.

Reconciliation requires putting the war behind us, while accountability means remaining mired in the war; revisiting, reopening, reliving and reviving it.

Reconciliation requires that the Sinhalese and Tamils recognize that they’ve been both victims and perpetrators; that no community has a monopoly of victim-hood and virtue, or guilt and sin. And yet, accountability for the last stage of the war does not get us to the whole truth, only a misleading portion of it — burying the rest.

Continue reading ‘Reconciliation Means Putting the War Behind us while Accountability Means Remaining Mired in War and Reviving it’ »

Marapana Resigns to “Protect the Govt” but says “Avant Garde Operation is Legal”and “Attorney –General Opinion is Correct”

By Dharisha Bastians

In a historic twist being hailed as a great tribute to good governance crusader late Maduluwawe SobithaThero who passed away on Sunday, Law and Order Minister Tilak J. Marapana submitted his resignation to President Maithripala Sirisena, shortly before his Cabinet colleagues looked set to demand his sacking at a special ministerial meeting yesterday.

Marapana’s resignation marks the first time a cabinet minister in Sri Lanka has been forced to resign following public outrage over a perceived conflict of interest and an alleged implication in a corruption scandal.

“I have never interfered with the Avant-Garde investigation, but because these investigations are being conducted by the Police, there is a belief among MPs and the general public that if I remain in this position the inquiries could be impeded,” Marapana said, addressing the media from his residence last morning.

Minister Marapana said that he had met with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Sunday night to inform him of his decision. He told reporters his resignation letter had also been dispatched to President Sirisena yesterday.

“I hoped that the special Cabinet meeting could be settled peacefully after my resignation,” the former Minister explained.

Continue reading ‘Marapana Resigns to “Protect the Govt” but says “Avant Garde Operation is Legal”and “Attorney –General Opinion is Correct”’ »

Lankan Minister Marapana Resigns Due to Vehement Opposition From Fellow Ministers Senaratne,Ranawaka and Ranatunga

By P.K.Balachandran

The Sri Lankan Law and Order Minister, Tilak Marapana, resigned on Monday, after some influential fellow ministers vehemently opposed his decision not to pursue a high profile case against Avant Garde Maritime Services Ltd., (AGMSL), a controversial company which maintains a floating armory and supplies weapons and Sea Marshals to vessels plying in pirate infested areas of the Indian Ocean.

Ministers Rajitha Senaratne, Champika Ranawaka and Arjuna Ranatunga charged that Marapana wanted the case dropped because he had been the company’s lawyer before becoming cabinet minister. Marapana’s argument that he was only following the Attorney General’s advice, fell on deaf ears.

Continue reading ‘Lankan Minister Marapana Resigns Due to Vehement Opposition From Fellow Ministers Senaratne,Ranawaka and Ranatunga’ »

“Tilak Marapana has been made a Scapegoat to Protect this Govt” says Udaya Gammanpila


With the resignation from his ministerial portfolio to safe guard the unity in the government, Tilak Marapana has become the scapegoat to protect this government, said Pivithuru Hela Urumaya Secretary and Parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila.

He also said that some persons are dumbfounded as it has been revealed that there had been no “Mega Deals” in the Avant Garde transactions as was told to the public. “Some members have taken the stance that someone or other should be arrested in connection with the Avant Garde incident,” Gammanpila said.

“They say if no one is arrested, they would withdraw from the government,”Gammanpila said.

He made these observation yesterday at a press conference at the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya Party head office.

Continue reading ‘“Tilak Marapana has been made a Scapegoat to Protect this Govt” says Udaya Gammanpila’ »

“When I Represented the Avant Garde in January 2015 as a Lawyer,I was Neither an MP nor Minister”-Tilak Marapane


The floating armoury and Avant Garde issue was debated in Parliament last week. Ministers who drew the attention of the House, Minister of Law and Order and Prison Reforms, Thilak Marapana, Minister of Justice Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, Cabinet Co-Spokesperson, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake, Deputy Minister of Power, Ajith Perera spoke to the Daily Mirror.The following are excerpts from the “Daily Mirror”Relating to Tilak Marapana.

You claimed that the Police was wrong in boarding the MV Mahanuwara as it was illegal for it to be berthed at the Galle Harbour. What is your justification?

This ship had asked permission to enter the Galle Harbour and had received blanket approval since they had to replace the ship due to rusting. And they got two extensions of time to be berthed since September 2014. Once they transfer their cargo they will return to international waters. To be anchored in the harbour they had acquired permission from the Customs Office, the Defence Ministry, the Sri Lankan Navy and I have seen these documents of approval. The weapons on board belong to foreign companies having been licensed and certified in those countries and need not be licensed in Sri Lanka. Then according to Navy and Defence Ministry protocols the containers are opened under supervision and a boat travels to the foreign ship and hands over the weapons. This process is monitored by the Customs officials throughout.

Continue reading ‘“When I Represented the Avant Garde in January 2015 as a Lawyer,I was Neither an MP nor Minister”-Tilak Marapane’ »

How and Why the LTTE Evicted Muslims from the Northern Province 25 Years ago in “Black October 1990”.

By D.B.S.Jeyaraj


Twenty – Fifth Anniversary of Muslim Mass Expulsion From North by LTTE

The Investigation launched by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has in accordance with its terms of reference probed the period of time from the 2002 February ceasefire until the end of the war in May 2009 to ascertain whether war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations occurred in Sri Lanka during the final phase of the war as alleged. The focus on these particular years has naturally led to the overlooking of many other terrible incidents which happened in the years preceding 2002. Notable among these horrors is the mass expulsion of Muslims from the North by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE).

The twenty-fifth anniversary of this cruel, inhuman episode in the history of Tamil –Muslim relations in Sri Lanka is being widely remembered at present. It was in October 1990 that the tiger organization (LTTE) forcibly expelled the Tamil speaking Muslim people from the Northern Province in an atrocious act amounting to ethnic cleansing. Within a few days the Muslims were chased out of their homeland where they had lived for many, many centuries.

Mosque in Chavakachcheri, October 2010

Mosque in Chavakachcheri, October 2010

The mass expulsion of Muslims from the North in 1990 was a humanitarian catastrophe. Uprooting a people from their habitat at gun point and driving them away after depriving them of their cash and jewellery was despicable and unpardonable. I have often written about this tragedy in the past. I now intend to focus upon this mass expulsion on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. I shall be drawing on some of my earlier writings in a bid to revive memories of this mass expulsion by relating in brief the tale of this terrible tragedy. I also want to trace the sequence of events that led to this sordid exercise in which the Tamil speaking Muslims were chased out by their gun toting linguistic brethren.
Continue reading ‘How and Why the LTTE Evicted Muslims from the Northern Province 25 Years ago in “Black October 1990”.’ »

Marapana has been Forced to Resign for Speaking the “Truth about Avant Garde” says Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa

By Norman Palihawadne

Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana, being an honest politician, had told the truth about the Avant Garde issue in Parliament, ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa said yesterday.

Rajapaksa told The Island that many thought that Marapana had been forced to resign for speaking the truth.

Continue reading ‘Marapana has been Forced to Resign for Speaking the “Truth about Avant Garde” says Ex – President Mahinda Rajapaksa’ »

Tilak Marapana Tenders Resignation in order to Prevent any Investigation on Avant Garde “Being Hampered in any way on Account of me Being the Minister”.

BY SHAAHIDAH RIZA

The Minister of Prisons Reforms and Law and Order Tilak Marapana stepped down from his portfolio yesterday (9) over the Avant Garde controversy which was brewing in Parliament last week.

Addressing a press briefing yesterday, he said…

“If any investigation arises with regard to Avant Garde, I don’t want it being hampered in any way on account of me being the Minister, therefore I tendered in my resignation.

I understand that the public are not happy about this conflict of interest. Therefore I do not wish to encourage criticism about me influencing investigations. I am, however, confident that I am not in the wrong.”

He further added that the controversy with regard to Avant Garde arose due to a lack of understanding of the said matter.

Continue reading ‘Tilak Marapana Tenders Resignation in order to Prevent any Investigation on Avant Garde “Being Hampered in any way on Account of me Being the Minister”.’ »

Colombo Govt Reluctance to take even small steps to reach out to the Tamil Community Needs to Change


By Taylor Dibbert

Sri Lanka’s new government, led by President Maithripala Sirisena, has now made a range of assurances via an extensive reform agenda and is now faced with the trickier task of implementation. Elections in January (when Sirisena defeated the increasingly authoritarian Mahinda Rajapaksa in his quest to win an unprecedented third term) and August parliamentary polls, combined with the recently passed UN Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution on Sri Lanka, have presented the country with an unanticipated opening.

The Sirisena administration has set out a wide-ranging plan and may be tempted to deprioritize the more controversial war-related matters. Nonetheless, failing to recognize that transitional justice, including accountability (for wartime abuses), is an essential part of the government’s broader governance and institution-building agenda would be a significant mistake. Thus far, Colombo has been reluctant to take even small steps to reach out to the Tamil community. That needs to change.

On October 25, Rajapaksa, delivered a predictable speech. Unsurprisingly, Rajapaksa has problems with the latest HRC resolution on Sri Lanka, which is designed to promote human rights, justice and reconciliation in the divided island nation that’s still recovering from a civil war that spanned nearly three decades. Rajapaksa doesn’t want to see meaningful international involvement in the country’s transitional justice process and hopes to protect the military. Here’s part of his speech:

These plans that are being made to persecute members of our armed forces cannot be implemented without amending the law. Parliament has the power to thwart all these plans being made to victimise our war heroes who sacrificed so much in the war against terror. I appeal to all Members of Parliament regardless of party affiliation, not to allow the passage of any legislation aimed at persecuting members of our armed forces. This is a matter that goes beyond politics and is about our country, our nation, our sovereignty and our self respect.

Rajapaksa goes on to state that Sri Lanka is “now faced with the most perilous moment since independence in 1948.” That’s simply untrue.

Continue reading ‘Colombo Govt Reluctance to take even small steps to reach out to the Tamil Community Needs to Change’ »

Law and Order Minister Marapana Pre-empts Sacking from Cabinet by “Voluntarily” Tendering Resignation to President Sirisena

Minister of Law and Order Thilak Marapana holding a press conference at his residence in the morning of Monday November 9th 2015, announced that he was resigning from his ministerial portfolio. Marapana’s announcement came even as his cabinet colleagues were at a special meeting to discuss the conduct of their fellow minister over the avant garde armoury affair.

When the special cabinet meeting began in the morning President Maithripala Sirisena informed Cabinet ministers that he had received the resignation letter of Law and Order and Prison Reforms Minister Tilak Marapana.

Meanwhile Tilak Marapana convened A special press conference at his residence and announced his decision to resign from ministerial office

Continue reading ‘Law and Order Minister Marapana Pre-empts Sacking from Cabinet by “Voluntarily” Tendering Resignation to President Sirisena’ »

Wimal Weerawansa Seeks to Rejuvenate his Political Life Through Attractive Actress Sunny Leone


By

Ranga Jayasuriya

Wimal Weerawansa, our rabble-rousing politico, fulminates that Sunny Leone, the Canadian- Indian adult film star turned Bollywood actress is tipped to visit Sri Lanka, allegedly at the behest of the government. This, he says, is a plot to promote the casino business and, like everything else, is part of a ‘conspiracy.’

In those desperate times, Weerawansa seems to be juicing on Sunny Leone for his political survival. Those like Weerawansa, who were political hit-men of the ex-president have found their political lifespan fast running out, since the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa. It was Rajapaksa who utilised Weerawansa, Ven. Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara and other least salubrious individuals to expand the reach of his regime.

Rajapaksa set the agenda and his goons followed it, though, some time, trying to do better, they drove their myopic campaign to extreme ends, even inconveniencing the ex- president (in the incidents such as the attack on Muslims in Aluthgama.)

Continue reading ‘Wimal Weerawansa Seeks to Rejuvenate his Political Life Through Attractive Actress Sunny Leone’ »

What is the Position of Australia on the Arrest of its Citizen Noel Mudalige/Premakumar Gunaratnam in Sri Lanka?

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Australia has chosen to remain mum on the recently arrested Australian citizen Noel Mudalige though the government says he will be treated as a foreigner.

Authoritative official told The Island that the leader of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP) had given up his Sri Lankan citizenship to become an Australian citizen several years back, and, therefore he should be dealt with according to Sri Lanka’s immigration and emigration laws.

The Australian High Commission declined to comment on Mudalige’s arrest or action taken by the mission to secure his release. An Australian HC official told The Island that the HC wouldn’t comment on such matters.

Well informed sources told The Island that Australia hadn’t raised the issue with the Foreign Ministry.

Continue reading ‘What is the Position of Australia on the Arrest of its Citizen Noel Mudalige/Premakumar Gunaratnam in Sri Lanka?’ »

Artistes and Political Activists Launch Campaign to Secure Release of Remanded Frontline Socialist Party Leader Kumar Gunaratnam

By Saman Indrajith

A group of artistes and activists gathered at the Centre for Society and Religion in Colombo yesterday to decide on a campaign to secure the release of leader of the JVP splinter group Frontline Socialist Party, Kumar Gunaratnam, who is currently in remand.

Addressing a press conference after their meeting, Vidarshana Kannangara of the Activists for Political Freedom said: “We campaigned hard to send the previous regime home in the hope that a government under President Maithripala Sirisena would not suppress the political rights of the people. We have made a mistake. We never expected the new government to adopt the same dictatorial methods as its predecessor. Unfortunately, we are now compelled to oppose the government we helped form.”

Continue reading ‘Artistes and Political Activists Launch Campaign to Secure Release of Remanded Frontline Socialist Party Leader Kumar Gunaratnam’ »

Rauff Hakeem Reveals Conflict of Opinion Within Sirisena – Wickremesinghe Govt

By Cyril Wimalasurendre

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauff Hakeem dropped a bombshell in public on Saturday when he revealed that there was a split in the government.

Addressing the 26th convention of the SLMC at Polgolla Hakeem declared: “There is a conflict of opinion within the government. This crisis is evident from President Maithiripala Sirisena’s decision to summon a special Cabinet meeting.”

The SLMC convention was held at Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre at Polgolla, Kandy.

Continue reading ‘Rauff Hakeem Reveals Conflict of Opinion Within Sirisena – Wickremesinghe Govt’ »

“I told Cabinet that as Justice Minister I Cannot Let you Arrest Gotabhaya Rajapaksa” Discloses Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe

by Manjula Fernando

Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, dismissing accusations levelled at the government and some of its ministers by JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake over the Avant Garde case in Parliament on Wednesday, said there was no case under the PTA, Explosives Act or the Firearm Ordinance and he did not want to be branded as a Justice Minister who has no knowledge of Sri Lanka’s laws. “There are no criminal elements to the case to initiate action under the said statutes,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Observer, questioning why the Avant Garde operations were deemed a threat to national security now, and not in 2012 when it started operations.

Q: Taking part in the adjournment debate on Wednesday, you said you prevented the former Defence Secretary from being taken into custody by the police, acting on the Attorney General’s (AG) advice. Can you elaborate on this statement?

Continue reading ‘“I told Cabinet that as Justice Minister I Cannot Let you Arrest Gotabhaya Rajapaksa” Discloses Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’ »

Tamil Nadu Muslim Fundamentalist Thowheed Jamath Preacher Jainul Abideen(PJ)May be Denied Entry to Sri Lanka

By P K Balachandran

The Sri Lankan government is likely to deny entry to Moulvi P Jainul Abideen, better known as PJ, the founder and star speaker of the fundamentalist Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath (TNTJ).

A powerful section of Lankan Muslims who fear that PJ’s presence in the island will disturb intra-Muslim and inter-religious harmony are putting pressure on the government to cancel his visa. Earlier in 2005, PJ was deported on the same grounds.

P Jainul Abideen PJ had been invited by the Sri Lanka Thawheed Jamaat (SLTJ) for the release of the Sinhala translation of the Koran on November 8.

The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) issued a statement appealing to the SLTJ not to send PJ in the interest of peace and communal harmony. Some went to the court alleging that the Sinhala translation has grievous flaws and sought an injunction. Express learns that the Defence Secretary has advised the immigration authorities to review his case in the light of the objections.

Continue reading ‘Tamil Nadu Muslim Fundamentalist Thowheed Jamath Preacher Jainul Abideen(PJ)May be Denied Entry to Sri Lanka’ »

Sri Lanka to Amend Laws on Foreign Fishing Boats to Curb Poaching by Tamil Nadu Fishermen

By P K Balachandran

The Sri Lankan cabinet on Wednesday resolved to amend the existing law to regulate fishing in Lankan waters by foreign vessels in view of the considerable increase in poaching.

A note presented to the cabinet by Fisheries Minister Mahinda Amaraweera said that while legal actions have been taken years against foreign vessels which were illegally fishing in Lankan waters, a tightening of the regulatory mechanism has become necessary now in view of “considerable changes at the regional and international levels.”

Continue reading ‘Sri Lanka to Amend Laws on Foreign Fishing Boats to Curb Poaching by Tamil Nadu Fishermen’ »

The Northern Provincial Council can develop the North, if they have the Courage, Wisdom and Willingness- S.Thavarajah

Economic Development is a policy intervention endeavour for economic and social well-being of the people. Under the NPC there are 31,027 employees, out of which 968 are at senior level. Why can’t the NPC make use of these 968 senior level officials innovatively? What is needed is human endeavor. The NPC can achieve Economic Development if the available manpower and the resources are utilized in a creative and fruitful manner. Said S.Thavarajah, leader of opposition, Northern Provincial Council, addressing at the Jaffna Managers Forum on the “Role of Northern Provincial Council (NPC) in the Economic Development of the North” on 1st November 2015.

The Full text of his speech is as follows:

Before I delve into the subject matter given to me to address today i.e. “Role of Northern Provincial Council (NPC) in the Economic Development of the North”, let me first look into what is meant by Economic Development. Economic Growth is often misconstrued as Economic Development. Economic Growth is measured in terms of increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or Gross National Product (GNP) and in terms of increase in GDP or GNP per capita, means per person.

Whereas, Economic Development is a policy intervention endeavour for economic and social well-being of the people. It is really the growth of the standard of living of the people of a country. Its scope includes the process and policies by which a country improves the economic and social well-being of its people. In fact, Economic Growth is only one aspect of the process of Economic Development.

Economic Development is measured in terms of ‘Human Development Indicators (HDI)”. The UNDP in 1990 introduced the indicators for measuring the HDI. Number of items such as Education, Poverty, access to Technology etc. is listed by the UNDP as the measure of HDI.

For example the economic growth or for that matter the GDP of China and India are much higher than Singapore, New Zealand and Belgium. But in terms of Economic Development or HDI it is vice-verse.
Having said that let me now look into the factors that influence the Economic Development of a country. Any text book on economy would reveal that access to capital, availability of natural resources, conditions of foreign trade, political system, economic policies/system adopted by the Government, availability of human resources including skills and technical know-how etc. are the factors that contribute towards the Economic Development of a country.

Continue reading ‘The Northern Provincial Council can develop the North, if they have the Courage, Wisdom and Willingness- S.Thavarajah’ »

Kotte Naga Vihara Chief Incumbent Ven. ​Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera passes away in Singapore

The Most Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera, the Chief Incumbent of the Kotte Naga Vihara, has passed away at a private hospital in Singapore early this morning, the Sri Lankan Mission in Singapore confirmed.

The Thera was rushed to a Singapore hospital on Tuesday (03) night due to a sudden illness.

Continue reading ‘Kotte Naga Vihara Chief Incumbent Ven. ​Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera passes away in Singapore’ »

How can Cabinet Spokesman Claim Two Senior Ministers Speaking in Parliament were not Speaking for Govt?

By

Kishali Pinto Jayawardene

At one time, we had women survivors of rape and abuse in Sri Lanka praying that the Goddess Kali may visit their attackers when they failed to get justice in courts. Probably they still do. But in that most singular of ironies, we now have Ministers joining those ranks of the vengeful as they prayed to God in Parliament this week to punish gross corruptors, given that the law has been rendered virtually silent.

Anti-corruption claims only ‘rhetorical’

This is despite grandiose assurances by their own ministerial colleagues that the drive against corruption is not ‘pure rhetoric’ as they committed to anti-corruption treaties abroad with the requisite fanfare. Yet such claims are useless, merely proving the self-defeating nature of classically circuitous arguments.

For, on the face of it, what we have so far is only rhetoric which explains why some Ministers have started praying. That failure cannot be remedied by more and more rhetoric. Indeed, the so-called ‘yahapalanaya’ (good governance) battle against corruption has apparently been reduced to a secretive game of smoke and mirrors, with basic legal procedures being disregarded to calamitous effect amidst key state agencies fighting with each other. What greater nonsense is this?

Do Sri Lanka’s leaders believe that its citizens are like gullible children, to be beguiled with sweet words even as political roguery prevails?

From his Medamulana hideout, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa must be laughing uncontrollably no doubt.

Confusion in regard to ministerial functions

An excellent example of this monumental confusion emerged from this Wednesday’s adjournment debate in Parliament on the floating armoury maintained in Galle by a private maritime security company, Avant Garde during the Rajapaksa regime.

Regardless of disputed facts and counter-facts which are pending before court, there are core questions in issue. The first question concerns the propriety of Minister of Law and Order Tilak Marapana carrying a brief (as it were) for Avant Garde in his ministerial capacity on the floor of the House, referring moreover to information that had come into his hands when functioning as a counsel for Avant Garde. The Minister had, on his own admission, appeared as counsel for Avant Garde in January 2015.

Minister Marapana’s explanation was that his onetime client had given him permission to speak. But fundamental questions in regard to this defence of a former client under cover of parliamentary privilege and in a ministerial capacity no less, remains of paramount public interest. Second, the Law and Order Minister’s allegation of grandstanding by police officers acting on ulterior motives in regard to the Avant Garde arms controversy immediately raises eyebrows. The impact of such a negative statement by the Minister on the morale of the Department of the Police coming under his own Ministry will almost certainly be devastating. Unsurprisingly this ministerial denunciation drew a brisk commendation from former President Rajapaksa soon thereafter.

Need for legitimate criticism

Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapaksha’s sentiments in regard to the controversy were no less problematic. On his own admission, he had intervened to prevent the arrest of former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa based on a ‘legal assessment’ of the issue.

So are the Ministers of Law and Order and Justice speaking and performing in their capacities as lawyers or as ministerial functionaries? This is a perfectly legitimate question. The agencies tasked with deciding to arrest or not as the case may be, are the prosecutors and the police. A ministerial intervention into a legal process, emanating from the knowledge (or otherwise) of that particular functionary, infringes on the remit and extent of his authority. This would have been scandalous in any jurisdiction respecting the Rule of Law. Not so in Sri Lanka, it seems.

The legality of the Avant Garde floating armoury remains to be ruled upon by the court. Nonetheless, it is disturbing to hear government representatives say that criticism of the relevant prosecutorial or legal process leaves the country vulnerable to outside allegations that Sri Lanka’s domestic processes are subverted to the extent that they are no longer workable. This is an argument that sounds remarkably similar to attacks made by Rajapaksa propagandists on critics of the former regime not so long ago. Such crippling language should change at least now. The national effort should be to critique and improve domestic processes rather than stifle scrutiny based on disingenuous reasons.
Cabinet responsibility cannot be shirked

Equally at odds were the passionate defences mounted by the two Ministers (one a former Attorney General at that) of the Department of the Attorney General, referring copiously to their own legal practice and experience thereby. Again, the public is left uncertain as to whether the two Ministers were speaking as lawyers or as ministerial functionaries, which latter capacities were certainly what they were purporting to represent in the House.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet spokesman stated later in a poor damage control exercise that the two Ministers did not speak for the Government. This is an unacceptable claim. In what parallel universe can two senior Ministers disassociate themselves from government while expressing sentiments in Parliament in their ministerial capacities? Has Sri Lanka’s political establishment become completely blind to the principle of collective Cabinet responsibility?

The Government’s answerability to the people in whom sovereignty resides, as our Constitution optimistically tells us, is disregarded at will. As of now, the euphoria of January 2015 seems very far away indeed for the ordinary citizen standing aloof from these bizarre happenings.
Defeating the people’s victory

Sri Lanka’s tragic curse is that its political leaders have historically been shrewd, communalistic and opportunistic on the one hand or inept, helpless and ineffectual on the other. Unfortunately this ruinous dynamic still continues, defeating and indeed mocking the democratic gains achieved this year.

Indeed, if the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration wants to pave the way towards its own fall, it cannot (uncannily enough, just as much as the Rajapaksas did), act with greater aplomb to ensure precisely that very result. This is not limited to the Avant Garde issue but embraces the entire spectrum of anti-corruption action or lack thereof. Whether swift action will be taken to arrest increasing public anger in this respect still remains to be seen.

In the alternative, dangerously uncertain times loom ahead for this country and its people.

Courtesy:Sunday Times

Attempts Underway to Solve Avant Garde Issue Through “Consensus” as Internal Crisis Deepens Within Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt

by Shamindra Ferdinando

With the Maithripala Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government in deepening crisis over the stinking Avant Garde affair, a last-ditch-effort is being made to reach a consensus on the issue, political sources said

President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will meet warring members of the cabinet on Monday morning (Nov 9) to discuss a way out of the turmoil. With those wanting to clear Avant Garde of any wrongdoing and other demanding action expected to stick to stand, Monday’s meeting is likely to be a stormy affair.

Well informed sources told The Sunday Island that the majority seemed to backing the stand taken by Ministers Rajitha Senaratne and Patali Champika Ranawaka that the Avant Garde enterprise should be thoroughly probed and those responsible for violations punished.

Continue reading ‘Attempts Underway to Solve Avant Garde Issue Through “Consensus” as Internal Crisis Deepens Within Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Govt’ »

Persons Under Police Investigation are Members of the Constitutional Commission which Appoints the Police Commission

By Udaya P. Gammanpila

“We shoot to kill. Contrary to the common belief that we can only shoot at legs, we can also shoot at heads”.

This is not a statement made by a thug such as Choppe from Maradana, Soththi Upali from Gothami Road or Thatta Some from Wanathamulla. This was the Police Spokesperson of the Good Governance Government in this Maithri Era.

He made this statement to justify the brutal police attack on students studying for the Higher National Diploma in Accountancy (HNDA).

Students came to the University Grants Commission (UGC) premises in a protest march demanding degree level recognition for their four-year diploma. When they reached the UGC, there were police officers who were equipped with batons to welcome them. They had blocked the entrance to the UGC with mobile iron barriers. No senior officer of the UGC came out to discuss the grievances of the students. Nor was a delegation of students invited inside to discuss the issues. The well organized protest march was rendered futile because of the lukewarm treatment by the authorities. When the students realized that the authorities were not responding positively to their protest, they became emotional. Although the police ordered them to disperse, they refused since they did not want to go back with empty hands.

Continue reading ‘Persons Under Police Investigation are Members of the Constitutional Commission which Appoints the Police Commission’ »

Current Lot of “Lankan Leaders” Discarding Ideology Prostitute Themselves Willingly Without Requiring any Pressure

By Susantha Goonatilake

A few days ago China’s President Xi Jinping visited the UK. And the British media reported that the British leaders had “groveled “, “kowtowed”; “the USA lost its best friend to its rival”; the 19th century “Chinese humiliation by the British was now reversed” and China was “out to restore the prestige it lost 175 years ago” to the British.

The Western media further noted that Britain had really rolled out the red carpet, the Chinese leader was driven in a gilded carriage,given a lavish banquet by the Queen where the Duchess of Cambridge’s dress was red coloured – the Chinese colour of good luck, stayed at Buckingham Palace, addressed the British Parliament, and was constantly attended by the Queen or Prime Minister Cameron. And the Queen spoke of a UK-Chinese “global partnership”. Wow! Lecturing Britain, had calculated her wins and losses. (In parenthesis, one should note that our President Sirisena on his own visit to the UK gushed that the same Queen shook hands with him without gloves-I have seen her twice at close range shaking hands without gloves-and that Cameron had walked up to his car to greet him. This kind of naivety – to put it mildly – on the part of a new President is perhaps excusable).

Now China’s sense of earlier humiliation and today’s confidence are because she, as observers have noted, sees herself as a civilisation state -having a continuous historical narrative from circa the 3rd century BCE. This continuity is provided by her majority Han ethnic group which current research indicates is not genetically pure but mixed. Contributing to this civilisational whole are her three cultural strands Confucianism, Taoism and the foreign import Buddhism. China unlike recent western nation states has, therefore, a long-range view from its long historical memory.

Continue reading ‘Current Lot of “Lankan Leaders” Discarding Ideology Prostitute Themselves Willingly Without Requiring any Pressure’ »

Govt Faces Huge Crisis as Ministers and MP’s Demand Resignation or Termination of Three Ministers Over Avant Garde Issue

By Dharisha Bastians

Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana’s staunch defence of the private security firm Avant Garde this week has precipitated a major crisis in the ruling Government, with ministers and MPs now demanding disciplinary action against the senior UNP lawyer and two other ministers.

Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said he and Urban Development Minister Champika Ranawaka had warned the President at a heated cabinet meeting on Thursday that they would be compelled to make a major political decision unless steps were taken to deal with the errant Ministers.

“There is definitely a conflict of interest,” Senaratne said in reference to Minister Marapana’s former legal representation of Avant Garde in its corruption case. “The Prime Minister said that when his ministerial appointment was made, the Law and Order Minister was not to get involved in the Avant Garde case, or give instructions to the Police on the investigation,” Senaratne said.

Continue reading ‘Govt Faces Huge Crisis as Ministers and MP’s Demand Resignation or Termination of Three Ministers Over Avant Garde Issue’ »

Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe Exposes Shady Deals by Rajapaksa Regime in Constructing Kandy Expressway

By Ashwin Hemmathagama

The unsolicited proposals and the commissions that changed hands to construct the Kandy Expressway during the previous administration were brought to light in Parliament yesterday by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

According to the Premier, the Kandy Expressway, whose construction is ongoing, should have started from Katunayake instead of connecting Kadawatha and Pothuhera wasting public money.

“This Expressway was planned from Katunayake to Kandy in 2003. But somebody changed it having considered the high payment compensations payable for properties which would be acquired on the Pothuhera side. You were looking at high commissions. If had a say on this project, ideally the Expressway would’ve been from Katunayake to Kandy,” he said.

Continue reading ‘Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe Exposes Shady Deals by Rajapaksa Regime in Constructing Kandy Expressway’ »

Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne Dismisses Claims by Ministers Marapana and Rajapakshe that Avant Garde had Acted Legally

by Zacki Jabbar

Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday that those who had protected Avant Garde Maritime Services despite the existence of an Attorney General’s Department finding that the company had acted illegally and should be prosecuted, would be dealt with legally.

Responding to questions at the weekly Cabinet Press Briefing in Colombo, Senaratne dismissed claims by both Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana and Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapaksa that Avant Garde had run a floating armoury at the Galle Port legally.

The main goal of those who had backed the Common Presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena to come to power on January 8, this year was to establish good governance and rule of law and that would be achieved regardless of various obstacles that had been placed in their way, Senaratne emphasised, adding that President Sirisena had summoned a special Cabinet Meeting on Monday (09) to discuss the Avante Garde issue.

Continue reading ‘Cabinet Spokesman Rajitha Senaratne Dismisses Claims by Ministers Marapana and Rajapakshe that Avant Garde had Acted Legally’ »

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa Returns Fire Against Sarath Fonseka;Threatens to File 500 m Rs Lawsuit against Ex-Army Chief


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, PC, yesterday alleged that the on-going onslaught on the Avant Garde Maritime Services was meant to pave the way for another local venture to take over the lucrative business.

Minister Rajapakse alleged that the present government was under heavy pressure to move against Avant Garde Maritime Services to enable a takeover.

The Justice Minister was responding to the spate of allegations directed at him by Democratic Party Leader and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, at a special media briefing held at his main party office at Pelawatte, Battaramulla on Thursday. The former Army Chief also accused Law and Order and Prisons Reforms Minister Tilak Marapana and Public Administration Minister Vajira Abeywardena of having clandestine relationship with the company under a cloud.

Fonseka accused Rajapakse of receiving money from Avant Garde owner retired Major Nissanka Senadhipathy, formerly of the Army Commando Regiment.

Continue reading ‘Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa Returns Fire Against Sarath Fonseka;Threatens to File 500 m Rs Lawsuit against Ex-Army Chief’ »

Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka Opens Fire on Ministers Tilak Marapana, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Vajira Abeywarde Over “Operation Avant Garde”

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Democratic Party Leader and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka yesterday emphasised that Minister of Law and Order and Prison Reforms Tilak Marapana and Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC, should be held responsible for undermining ongoing investigations into questionable operations undertaken by Avant Garde Maritime Services.

Field Marshal Fonseka said as President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had devolved powers to respective ministers, in this instance, Marapana and Rajapakshe they were accountable. The DP leader was responding to a query by The Island at a special media briefing called by the party at its new main office at Pelawatte, Battaramulla.

The Sinha Regiment veteran asserted that the position taken by Marapana and Rajapakshe couldn’t be justified under any circumstances. The DP leader alleged that the stand take by a section of the government had severely hampered the ongoing probe.

Continue reading ‘Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka Opens Fire on Ministers Tilak Marapana, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Vajira Abeywarde Over “Operation Avant Garde”’ »